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Moving along…

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.

Sigh.

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.

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Don’t peek!

I was doing pretty well till last evening. The weekend had been a good one and (despite the apprehensions) I was looking forward to our call tomorrow with Dr S. Around 10.30 at night, the spouse suggested stepping out for a walk and I readily agreed. These late night walks of ours soothe me like nothing else; often we just walk hand in hand and don’t really say much, each lost in a planet of their own making; but just the reassuring feel of my hand firmly ensconced in his makes me feel connected to him. Plus, our neighborhood is so pretty at night what with the moon beaming from its reflection on the lagoon waters and the quiet, leafy streets. It’s the perfect way to unwind from a long day.

So yesterday when we stepped out, I was not expecting to see what I did. As I mentioned in a previous post, I just found out that one of my neighbors is pregnant, heavily so. The couple had been out vacationing and as I passed by their apartment I was just not expecting them to be in there (or to have their blinds open for the world to peek in). I saw her sitting on the couch watching TV, gently rubbing her pregnant belly and I stood transfixed unable to move until K gently nudged me. It was like a well of sadness sprung up inside me. I felt a cold, wet sludge of envy mixed with fear settle in on my tummy. I wanted so bad to be her. To rub my pregnant belly while watching TV as my husband hovers around, preparing a cup of hot tea for me.

There were no tears, though, this time. We went on with our walk quietly as if nothing had happened. More sickening to me than the jealousy itself was the realization that slowly I am getting acclimatized to feeling like this.

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Moody tears with a mind of their own

Another month, another breakdown.

July was exhausting with DH and I barely stepping out from the haunting shadows of our first failed IVF. We tried naturally but our heart was just not in it. Every day we put our energies in healing, in moving on, in planning for the future. Slowly, agonizingly painfully, we started recovering what had so brutally been snatched from us–hope.

On July 30th I turned 36. Every year my birthday reminds me cruelly of my lack. This year was particularly tough. I had hoped so much to have my baby in my tummy on this day but, sadly, it was not to be. Once the day was over, though, I felt so much better. Strangely reinvigorated. And August was thumping proof! A happy, busy month with lots of social engagements, a ton of pre-IVF testing, DH’s birthday and in general a lot of stuff that kept me as sane & content as is possible to be in the circumstances. Some days I even laughed out loud and the sound was so harshly unfamiliar I almost winced!

Which brings us to September. September, that month when the leaves change color and the air whispers secret promises. This is an important month. We get to know the way forward with CCRM. An exciting month. Then why did I, now almost blase to the omnipresent spectacle of heavily pregnant women beaming beatifically in public places, break down last night at yet another Facebook sighting? Hadn’t DH already told me that our neighbor is knocked up?! What was so shocking at seeing her swollen tummy against a lush Hawaiian background that reduced me to a pathetic, slobbery mess? This is why I no longer have a FB account, my mind screamed. Why do I have to torture myself with visiting DH’s FB? It’s not like his friends are immune to pregnancy?!!

I raged at the unfairness of it all. Not why she is pregnant and why not me but more like everyone gets pregnant when will it be my time? Haven’t I suffered enough? What is ‘enough’? How many more tests, painful procedures, disappointments and heartbreaks do I have to endure before it is deemed that I am ready to don the maternal mantle? I silently yelled out at the universe. I let myself feel the primitive want that was crowding my senses. I sobbed hot, angry tears into my patiently accepting pillowcase. DH came to me so many times, hugging me, consoling me, loving me, soothing me in the way only he can. His concern, his love it broke me further. Why can I not make him a daddy? And then, even more sadness, as I see his face fall when he is unable to stop my crying.

I want to be happy, so happy. I want to shop for onesies and choose the best stroller out there. I want to get a pristine white crib from Pottery Barn. I want to smell baby powder and snuggle against oh-so-soft baby blankets. I want to select cute little shoes and take endless pictures. But most of all I want my arms to feel the blissful weight of my child. And for that, I will persevere.

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Looking forward…

I don’t know why but this cycle I have been experiencing a whole lot of fatigue. Some of it I can attribute to broken sleep (spouse sniffles, I toss & turn, spouse wakes up, I wake up… sigh!) but to feel this tired (constantly dizzy, nauseous and light headed) just feels strange. If I didn’t know better, I’d say I was pregnant!! Double sigh!

So, I went for my first ever hypnotherapy session this past Friday. I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Now, I am all about experimenting with alternative medicine so I did go with an open mind. The therapist was a warm, friendly sort who (thankfully!) did not seem in the slightest bit whacko and in fact shared her own life story, which had eerie similarities with mine, quite readily to help me feel better about my own situation. The session though was a different affair. I was absolutely conscious throughout and her voice was not at all what I expected … none of that instant calming qualities that I had hoped for. Anyhow, I did the visualizations she asked me to and for the most part they came easily to me. I had told her before the session that the primary reason I was there was to tackle my latent pregnancy related fears so that is what she concentrated on during the session. I can’t say I emerged from the session feeling all zen but there definitely was a smile on my face and I went home a reasonably happy woman. That afternoon I felt an unprecedented desire to sleep and I took a rather longish nap, which is unusual for me. She messaged me the next day asking me how I felt after the session which I thought was a nice, personal touch!

It’s two days before we go for the pre-IUI ultrasound this Thursday. I am excited yet incredibly nervous. Just stepping into that office makes my tummy do all kinds of crazy things. The sight of so many pregnant women clutching on to their ultrasound pictures with all the ecstasy of an Olympic winner, of tiny, just-born babies sleeping away in their little bassinets and the memories of that fateful day when my world just upended itself are all still raw for me. As a result, I always enter the office holding on to my husband’s hand for dear life, resolutely looking down at the floor and trying my best to resist the urge to bolt from there. I’m waiting for the day when I have the opposite associations of the place; when I too feel incredibly happy and positive walking into the clinic, glowing with maternal pride.

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FML. No, really.

As I stepped out of the house last evening for an acupuncture session after three weeks, I promised myself that I would no longer indulge my morose state of mind any longer. After all, there’s far greater shit out there that people are dealing with. Like Kim Kardashian’s compounded emotional upheaval of divorce round the corner plus Kanye about to propose plus need to procreate urgently since sis Kourtney has already popped out no. 2 (as in child no. 2 not the everyday stuff). Gosh.

No, seriously though. Kardashian woes aside, there is a lot of serious shit out there that people are dealing with. So I told myself to stuff the pity-fest, hold my head high and strut the street in manner of Carrie Bradshaw doing her thing. And I did. Only to get triple-slapped, Tom & Jerry style. Metaphorically, of course. For my practitioner was very visibly pregnant. Glowing. She was extremely nice about the whole thing, almost apologetic as she announced the fact. I was genuinely pleased for her. As I had been when my previous acupuncturist in LA had told me that she was pregnant. Or when the very first time I went for acupuncture the lady who treated me was 8 months pregnant. I’m not a hater; these are all extremely skilful practitioners all of whom have been very kind and helpful to me plus they are all really nice people. And I wish them all the very best.

But it does nothing for my already peaking frustration levels. As I walked out of the clinic, trying hard to look every bit as composed as I had when I walked in, I could not help but marvel at God’s intended message. Either he is desperately trying to reassure me that hey look all these women around your age are pregnant and so will you be. Or he has one twisted sense of humor.

Oh well. At least the PMS seems to have exited theatrically in a grand finale of thundering sobs. Standing ovation for the period which is finally here!!

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Handling the ‘green monster’!

I have always been a ruthlessly competitive person. Getting me to do something is as simple as showing me someone who is doing it or has done it. Of course this does not hold true for everything at large. NOTHING in the world can make me take up adventure sports, for instance. I find nothing thrilling about hanging upside down from a rickety elevator, yo-yoing headfirst between valleys and cliffs or plunging down vertiginous heights with a mere seat belt type thingy strapped to my torso. No sirree, that’s never going to be me. But yeah, show me a woman who has an immaculately kept house, an envious career and a killer fashion sense and, hands down, I will surpass her in a few months.

Stupid, I know. Juvenile even. Competition is healthy within limits. Competition in personal life is just plain madness. Sadly, I fall into that category. As a little kid, sanity was still a good friend. All I wanted was to be the best student my parents could imagine. In high school it turned into a healthy sibling rivalry (rather one-sided though since my darling brother was too mature for such trivial pursuits even then!) where I would slog away at the books in a desperate bid to perform better than my rockstar older brother who was incredibly intelligent. Towards my teenage years this competitive streak became a (rather pathetic) desire to have a boyfriend; if my friends could, why couldn’t I? Somewhere in my mid-twenties this became a longing to get married. All my good friends were doing it, why should I always be left behind?

And now? Now that I am finally married, after much pining and waiting to find that elusive dream-machine (he’s mine now-yayy!), all I see around me is moms and to-be moms and I want to be them with every damn fiber of my being. I want that swollen belly, I want to share scary stories of childbirth, I want to whisper sweet nothings to my little jellybean, I want to suffer sleepless nights… I want it all.

Which is where the envy rolls in. Like some B-grade Hollywood starlet, made up to the hilt and expecting to be treated like royalty, she swishes into my life, her emerald green cape in tow. She digs her nails into my heart, she wails like a banshee in my ears and she demands, demands, demands my attention 24/7. I log into facebook, I see another friend pregnant. My heart sinks and I deactivate my account (it’s been close to a year and I have not had the strength to get it back on). Yet they keep coming. The pregnant ladies. I see them in the mall, they pop up at school, they litter my neighborhood, they are everywhere! And I wish them well, I do. I am not a monster. I might be short-tempered, irritable, catty, snappy, bratty all that. But I cannot wish harm on even a fly. Or an ant. Or an atom (you get the drift!). But it effin’ hurts when someone you’ve known for so long turns up with a nice, round tummy when you’re slugging it out with your insane dietary needs, your daily temperature taking, your timed intercourse, OPKs et al only to see that stupid f***in’ single line on the HPT month after month after month. Doesn’t help that this someone was also probably a smoker, drinker, typical girl in the city kinda thing. Whereas here you are, diligently avoiding rice, rotis, sugar, ice cream, sodas, chai, any fried stuff, any non-organic stuff etc. etc.

Yeah I know you can’t compare. But it’s tough not to, especially when you have this past of being the last one to find someone, the last one to get married blah blah blah. So I have decided instead to accept it. Accept what I am feeling as a pure manifestation of what I am going through and forgive myself for it. Accept that my feeling envious does not mean that I have transformed into a super-bitch who eats jealousy for breakfast. That I do wish the pregnant lady well and that, when I am pregnant myself, I might even look back upon it and smile, shaking my head wondering how I ever thought I was being mean. After all, people will have sex and they will procreate and the luckier ones will get knocked up sooner. Doesn’t have to mean my turn won’t come.