It’s been more than a week since we got back from Colorado. Looking back, it all seems so distant… the stimming, the daily monitoring, the sky rocketing anxiety and the retrieval… and yet it also seems pretty darn crazy that I will be doing all these things AGAIN in a few weeks! Strangely though, perversely even, I want it to happen soon (crazy alert!!)… I don’t quite know how to explain this but it’s like as long as I’m stimming I feel there is hope… as long as I am pumping my body with generous dollops of the fertility cocktail, I feel I am DOING something to make my baby. And that’s probably why once I wake up, after the retrieval, I always feel an immense loss of control, a bottomless sinking feeling that there’s nothing I can do but wait from there on.
After a couple days of wallowing in the sadness of the low fertilization, I sat myself down and firmly chided myself for being such a mopey molly when I was technically only half-way through the task we had set out for ourselves. K and I had already given ourselves a few days to indulge in all the food items we regularly deny ourselves just to give us some reprieve from the shittiness of it all. For the first proper meal we had after we got back, his vice of choice was a stiff double scotch while I wolfed down sliders, washing them down with a formidable glass of cabernet, eating like its going out of fashion. Despite the dull sadness that had settled into the base of my stomach, I was so deliriously happy that night I could have passed out from sheer delight!
A little more planned debauchery later, I filled my pillbox, laced up my sneakers and set out for my walk by the bay (no yoga till I get my period) determined to get back to my pre-IVF routine. I made sure to eat well, to take my supplements on time and to get enough sleep. It’s been going well so far but the one thing that I have not been able to get a grip on is how angry I feel. Anger strikes me at the most unexpected times–the middle of the night, for instance–and takes my breath away with the intensity of its ferociousness. I find myself saying vicious, terrible things out aloud in my mind, I torture myself with visions of friends who have recently become pregnant or had babies, picturing their joy over and over till I am nauseous with envy. I clench my fists and rage at God for not even showing me my baby in my dreams. The most innocuous, the most asinine and the most non-obvious situations, comments, pictures, TV shows (you name it) set me off in a steaming, simmering whirlpool of anguished emotions that I struggle to contain. It’s exhausting observing your mind race off in a mindless abyss, careening out of control, taking you in directions you would be loathe to visit under normal circumstances.
I know that at least part of this is courtesy my good friend–PMS. Perhaps it’s the hormonal roller-coaster my body was on but this time, unlike the first time, I can still feel the after-effects. For one, my period is taking much longer to arrive (last time it started within five days of the retrieval. I was told that HCG takes much longer to exit the body as opposed to just Lupron which is what I triggered with last time) and in the process my body is doing weird, crazy shit. For the first few days after ER my lower back throbbed in pain which even 3 extra-strength tylenols would not relieve, my breasts feel like they are encased in wet cement and I keep getting strange twinges in my lower abdomen. Umm, I just realized this is exactly how I felt when I was pregnant. Beautiful.
The sucky thing about all this is that it ruined the festival season for me. The Indian festival season that is. Diwali, the one day I love was a hot mess of tears, angry words, cold silences rescued thankfully towards the evening when we all (my parents and brothers family) got together to pray in the evening. Each day after that, though, has been slightly better as both K and I immerse ourselves into the clatter and clamor of our daily routine, seeking some semblance of normalcy in this increasingly surreal journey.
My brother is just about a few weeks away from moving back to India with his family. We are all spending a lot more time together which is really nice except it is tinged with the sadness of knowing that they’ll be gone soon. My parents will be staying back with us a couple months though which should help with this transition. I love my parents (as everybody does) but as I see them age before my eyes, my heart breaks at the amount of pain they are going through on my account. I know that there is nothing I can do to control it, I know that I try everything I can to be ‘normal’ in front of them but it kills me to see how much this is affecting them as well. They’re at a stage in life where it should be all about spending quality time with the family, enjoying their grandchildren and being taken good care of. Yet they are, all too often, grieving with K & me, holding my hand when I sob uncontrollably, urging me on the phone to believe and to have faith and to never lose hope. When I see the unadulterated joy in their eyes as they talk to their grandson (my nephew) I feel so happy and so sad all at the same time. Happy that they get to spend this time with him and watch him grow (and that he will soon be back with them in India again) and sad because I have not been able to give them this joy yet.
Today all of us had lunch together and then went out to a mall to spend the evening. It was going so well and then out of nowhere there was a literal invasion of heavily pregnant women (I know I know what else would one expect on a Sunday evening!) and even though now relatively de-sensitized to the sight, today I found myself a blubbering mess in Anthropologie as I tried to reason myself out of a total breakdown and concentrate instead on a lovely set of colorful bowls to buy (retail therapy yay!). There is just something so wholesome about a pregnant woman, so serene especially in the way they cradle their bellies protectively that makes me feel like someone just slowly poured acid all over my heart. I feel incomplete, I feel like I am not worthy of being treated special. For what great achievement can I boast of when I cannot even make a baby? Something that seems to come easy to a vast majority of women.
I suspect the PMS was well at work at this point because I no longer cry when I see pregnant bellies. Feel sick, yes; look the other way, absolutely but no, I do not cry as in unabated-hot-tears-streaming-down-face manner. And certainly not in front of pretty much the whole world. Shocked at my own reaction, I walked out of Anthropologie as fast as my legs could carry me stopping only when I found an isolated bench to sit down on. I managed to pull myself together and the next half-hour went by uneventfully when yet another sighting at Z Gallerie just knocked me over the edge. I just don’t know what was wrong with me today but here I was, again, trying hard to keep the damn tears in my eyes even as they kept spilling over. I told my mom that we were going home, that I was tired. My parents looked searchingly at me as I hurriedly said my byes and walked off with K unable to face them for fear of completely breaking down. He held my hand tight and urged me to walk with him a bit before getting back into the car. He gently asked me what it was. That was my undoing. Through loud, choking sobs I told him I didn’t know what the heck was wrong with me but I was feeling terribly sad looking at all these pregnant women. My words were coming out in a rush and I don’t think I was making much sense but he kept holding my hand and looking at me in that way only he can with love radiating out of his every pore and soon I was quiet and feeling much better than I had all evening. He convinced me to go back and join everyone for dinner and I am so glad we did. We had a really nice dinner at a beautiful Italian place and I could see the relief in all their eyes as I laughed with my nephew, devoured my mussels and talked to everyone.
So, things are moving along in some fashion and what matters is that right now I look forward to tomorrow, to waking up, to going for my walk, to having my supplements, to working on my dissertation, to cooking healthy meals and to spending time with my best friend. And that’s a lot to be thankful for.