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Beer, bonding, birds & balance!

After Wednesday’s horrid shock, we were all terribly shaken up. Even though my parents didn’t say much, I know that along with K & I, they felt pretty roughed up too. While K had his work to lose himself in, the three of us just sat silently for many hours, unable to do much beyond staring into space. The wonderful man my husband is, he somehow convinced all of us to step out in the evening to cheer us all up even as he, himself, was clearly shaken up too. Since my dad is really fond of beer, he took us all to a biergarten nearby. I refused to have anything; I was still numb. As the evening progressed, I finally felt myself relax, one garlicky sweet potato fry at a time 🙂

They all managed to convince me into having a gluten-free beer, my first beer in over two years (I used to LOVE beer!!!). It was delicious, the best beer I’ve had in forever! The stilted conversation soon started flowing over the awkward little mounds of sadness and shock that we all were carrying within us. We all drank, my mom also joined in. They kept pressuring me to have another beer. It was almost like they wanted me to get a little tipsy, loosen up a bit. Well, loosen up we did. We spoke of things as they were, things as they had been. We gave voice to our collective frustration and anger at why this struggle had continued for so long and was still going on. K teared up as he thanked my mom profusely for all her help in the past three years, the way she helped me through each surgery, every procedure. Eyes were misty and hearts were baring themselves. It was sad but so sweet, all of us reaching out to each other, sharing unspoken apprehensions, acknowledging the deep love we feel for each other. I thanked God for blessing me with such a wonderful family. I feel so darn lucky my husband gets along so well with my parents. Perhaps, for the first time ever since we got on this journey, I did not feel guilty about consuming alcohol!

On a different note, ever since we got back from Colorado, I’ve been leading a pretty slothful existence. Partly because I was in a lot of discomfort from the retrieval and then in serious pain from the period that followed. I was beat. The thought of physical exercise just did not appeal. I was also sleeping late and waking up late which meant I wasn’t having my thyroid med on time and eating breakfast really, really late. I realized I need to snap out of this self-imposed sloth-dom. Thursday night, I went to bed early and woke up on time for my med. Made breakfast and then decided to go for a walk on the bay trail.

A simply brilliant sight awaited me. How was I to know that the 2014 Birdsong Conference was being held today!! Here are some sneak peeks:

I was, at first, taken aback, then delighted both to see these little fellows congregating so solemnly all along the shore and also to hear their non-stop chirping. I swear it felt like they were all gathered there for something terribly important!

Here’s another ‘breakout session’ :))

I don’t need to tell you, do I, that I came back from my walk feeling infinitely better, almost buoyant even! It felt like that scene was created right there and then just to uplift me!

So that’s where I’m at. Feeling relatively peaceful, although not entirely without anxiety about the forthcoming results. Acupuncture this week really helped me relax. I have also decided to finally get proactive in finding a good therapist. Therapy has helped me greatly in the past when I was dealing with a really traumatic phase in my life and my acupuncturist has been urging me to find someone to talk to for the longest time. She feels I will benefit from unloading myself to someone who is not emotionally invested in me; someone whom I can say anything in front of without any worries that they will react. I have avoided it altogether for the longest time, partly because my acupuncturist herself does such a great job of keeping me sane and partly because I did not want to add yet another item to our already burgeoning fertility expense list.

But, especially after Wednesday’s shock I think I need it. A big reason why I felt so shaken up was my reaction to the whole nonsense. It gutted me to the core in an unimaginable way and while I cannot control in advance how I feel in the coming future to whatever life has in store for me, I want to work on cultivating an inner peace and fortitude that will hopefully help me when needed. Therapy is part of this plan. Returning to yoga and starting meditation will also be key. It’s been a very tumultuous three years and I really want to invite some balance into my life.

4

Cloudy with a chance of tear-falls!

I woke up today feeling craptastic. The weather outside echoed my sentiments. It was cloudy, dull and uninspiring. I willed myself out of bed and got busy reinstating the house to some semblance of order from its nightly state of slipshod-ery (my darling husband has quite the knack for creating chaos!). I set oatmeal to boil for him, ignoring the rumbling protest in my tummy. I should eat, my mind reasoned, it’s important for me to eat on time everyday. Screw that, said my heart. I felt awful, a naked piece of yearning in a slowly careening-out-of-control world. What if this doesn’t work? What if, after another round of injections and monitoring and medication and travel and sleepless nights and hormone-induced emotional hell, I am still sans baby? Still flat-tummied and still bereft? How will I go on? You have a backup plan, persisted the annoyingly sensible voice in my head. Something’s gotta give, sometime. I stuck a mental tongue out at this piss-pot. How do I blame others for always expecting me to be strong when my own frickin’ mind doesn’t allow me the luxury of self-pity?!!

Depositing the steaming hot oatmeal in front of K (buried about ten thousand feet deep in his cyber world of emails, presentations) I walked over to the bedroom and started folding the laundry with energetic enthusiasm, hoping to drown the voices in my head. As I tidied up the room, my eyes fell on the journal I had started earlier this year. Wanting desperately to believe that my baby could listen to me even if he/she hadn’t taken form yet, I had taken to writing letters to my unborn child. Painfully honest, searing letters from a guilt-ridden parent-to-be who feels personally responsible for taking so long to get her baby in this crazy world. I wrote about my hopes and my disappointments. I wrote about baby’s family and how they were all awaiting her arrival. I wrote about my misgivings and my fears. I started by writing everyday but could not keep that up for long. On days I felt particularly down, I could not write. Perhaps because it made me feel like a cheat. How could I tell my baby that I believed in her existence and yet acknowledge being submerged in despair. I continued writing though, sometimes more frequently than others.

And then the IVF started. I wrote with a purpose now. I felt the time was soon that she would come to me. I told her to hang in there. When we were told that we had made only 3 blastocysts which would be biopsied, I begged her to be one of them. I told her I would make her the happiest human being on earth if only she would trust me and let me be her mother.

It did not happen. One email destroyed our carefully constructed world of hope as all three blasts turned out to be abnormal, a heart-rending revelation made all the more painful with the realization that all three were baby girls. My baby girls. Whom I could not give birth to. Because nature likes to screw with me. I cried so much in those days that I thought my body would stop making tears. I wailed and screamed in sheer pain; I ranted against a heartless God who was seeing all this happen and yet not doing a thing about it. I was told that donor eggs were my only option going forward. I lost a part of my heart that day. And, from that day onwards, I could not write to my baby. I could not face her after what happened. Even though I know I could not have done anything to prevent it from happening.

Seeing that journal today brought back lingering painful memories. Perhaps brought back into focus because we are about to start another IVF cycle. About to place our trust in medicine and in science and in God all over again. As I commence, anew, this effort to make my baby, the one person I long for most is my mother. I want to hug her tight and feel her love for me, calming my festering wounds and soothing my fears. And then, I want to let the tears fall.

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I don’t want to be like this.

I have been trying to work since morning. I made a commitment to myself this weekend that I will pay far more attention to my dissertation than I have so far. I intend to stick by that commitment. It’s hard, though. I sit at home and work and it gets lonely. I know I have the option of going to a library/ coffee shop but I stay home so that I can eat fresh, home cooked food and also because the library is overrun with little kids and babies and the coffee shops usually have nothing that I should be eating/ drinking.

It’s been an okay morning so far. I have been making some sort of progress. But now, right this very moment I am unable to go on. I feel frozen. I feel annoyed. Angry, actually. My head hurts. I am pissed off. I was going through an online forum and it just struck me how story after story expresses pervasive hurt, anguish, lament and a debilitating frustration at not being able to conceive. It hurts me. It shakes me up. I read this everyday so why now? I have been dealing with this for almost 2.5 years so what’s new? I don’t have an answer. All I know is that it fills me up with a white-hot rage even as it drains me of vitality and so I find myself in that no-man’s land between a scream and a tear, between protest and despair.

I am angry at those who bear kids so easily and then spend all their lives complaining what a hassle parenting is. I am angry at those who are careless enough to let their children suffer while they pursue selfish paths. I am angry at those who think infertility is a passing phase and that I should just snap out of it! And I am particularly angry with those whom I love the most, the ones that surround me, the ones I call family and friends. Close friends. They anger me most because while I know they care (and that they care big), I am unable to accept their concern, their love. The relentless snark inside me keeps saying it’s easy for you to say, you haven’t been down this road. Their affection rankles, their sympathies infuriate me most.

I really don’t want to be like this.

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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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Love, life and %#$!&@ (Part 1)

Struggling with fertility, in many ways, feels akin to trying to find love (ask me, I’m an expert at both struggles!). You spend a big chunk of your life expecting it to happen naturally, you dream up gargantuan Hollywood-ian fantasies of what it will feel like and you tell yourself that once you meet that special someone, life’s pretty much going to take care of itself.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

What happens instead (esp. if you’re a dramatic, ambitious and entirely unrealistic sort like me) is that on your 30th birthday you find yourself alone at the local liquor store to grab a bottle of vino and the old man behind the counter takes one look at your ID and exclaims ‘oh you’re thirty… wow!’ and you can’t quite figure out whether he’s feeling happy for you or sorry that you’re obviously celebrating alone as you glug the Irish whisky shot he offers gratis even before he can say cheers! What also happens is that after several years of dating a string of douchebags while all your friends waltz off on their gilt-edged honeymoons, you start losing hope that you will ever find someone. You realize that you no longer have the energy or the inclination to don vertigo-inducing high heels and gyrate with strangers in cavernous rooms with psychedelic lighting and that, horror of horrors, internet dating might not be such a bad idea after all. You get frustrated, then hopeful, then plain depressed as nothing works out and you find solace in Gai Pad Krapow and Ben & Jerrys chocolate fudge brownie ice cream. You long for someone to watch Seinfield re-runs with, someone to travel the world with and someone who will love you in your pajamas as much as he loves you in your LBD.

And then, quite suddenly, out of nowhere you find this guy -this charming, sexy, handsome guy who teases you, flirts with you and drives 50 miles every weekend (racking up $$$ speeding tickets in the process) to take you out on the most wonderful dates. You watch, jaw hanging, as he opens his heart to you and tells you in the middle of a nightclub that he can’t wait to be a daddy. You swoon as he goes down on one knee and implores you to marry him and make him the happiest man on earth. And one day, just like that, you wake up, turn over and watch your husband sleeping like a baby and you marvel at how perfect he is and how you love being his wife.

That’s when fate decides to fuck with you. Again.

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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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The pieces that do fit.

It’s been a rough month. And the immediate future does not promise to let up on the pressure. I have not battled this thick, smog-like overwhelming sadness in a long while. Not for want of trying times. Oh no, life’s doing its darnedest best to keep me on my tippy toes! It’s just that, all along, somewhere within me the hope has remained alive that soon, one way or the other, things will happen just the way I have always wanted them to and I will get my perfect little baby, snoozing contently in my arms. But now… now I do not feel so sure of anything. What has happened in the past few weeks doesn’t exactly make for a grand tragedy. Yet it has, in one fell swoop, wiped me of that very basic necessity -hope! And now the hard task of recapturing that hope, one moment at a time, looms ahead.

But is this really all that is? Granted, having a child is probably the most important thing in the world for both my husband and me. And yes, I do cringe every time someone tells me how this experience will make me stronger, more resilient blah blah. Why do I have to be God’s favorite work-in-progress, I protest! But I have to admit, there is a lot that is good and pure and warm and blessed that I need to keep reminding myself of. So here’s my attempt at counting the blessings, for there are so many of those -the blissfulness of loving companionship, the unflinching support of loved ones, the luxury of material comfort, the means to afford fertility treatment, the access to great doctors and medical facilities, the asset of a thinking mind, the list just goes on and on…

I have always believed in the jigsaw-puzzle-ness of life. Pieces that click, force fits and empty spaces. The unabated joy of finding just that right bit of sky amongst many that mimic its reality. The sweet satisfaction of completing a complicated puzzle. I used to love jigsaws for how they would reveal a story -softly, gently, one piece at a time.

Why then do I only look at the empty spaces now? Why is my focus only on the gaps that remain, the pieces that are missing? For is it not true that for every piece that chooses not to reveal itself just yet as the perfect fit to the amoebic curves that exist, there is the silent fortitude that the completed portion of the puzzle displays?

Here’s to my story and to the patient, perseverent efforts to make it come to life!