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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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The other side of 35.

So… after several days of apprehension, wariness and significant self-imposed trauma, I finally turned 35 yesterday. While, in all honestly, I have to admit that it was a particularly nice birthday I won’t be lying if I say I am glad the milestone is past me. That’s just another quirk of mine I suppose. I tend to magnify the impact of events, snowball style, as the concerned event draws closer. Once I am past the date, I always feel a rather invigorating sense of relief.

It’s a strange precondition of living in a social setup (assuming, of course, that you’re one of those that subscribes to this commonplace notion of urban dwelling!) that we must spend a vast majority of our time speculating on things/ circumstances/ events which often (read: always!) never end up being quite as catastrophic as we initially imagined them to be, so strong is our conditioning to feel a certain way. Looking back, five years back to be precise, I can recall with strikingly vivid detail how every fiber of my being was resisting turning thirty. How a rather (clearly my word of the week!) raucous birthday party put together by some truly caring friends did nothing to assuage the sense of impending doom that I was wallowing in at the thought of stepping up on this crucial pedestal with no one whose hand I was holding, not even a shadow of a person. Today as I think of that achingly lonely woman, desultorily sipping cabernet in her shared Boston apartment, trying so hard not to dissolve into a self-pitying pool of tears, I feel anger then irritation then sadness at the sheer uselessness of it all. Who says that thirty and single spells loser in scarlet letters, font size 78? Why did I have to believe so strongly at that time that being alone (single) on my 30th birthday was something to be deeply sad about? Look how that turned out! Today I am married to a wonderful man who is a partner in every sense and who has given new meaning to togetherness, something I probably never would have believed at the time!

Similarly, even though I know there is a whole thriving industry thanks to women choosing to have babies later in life, yet why is it that turning 35 seems to signal the very nadir of a TTC journey? By no means am I doubting the factual portion of this argument; my point is that why should there feel such a vast, looming impasse between 34 and 35? As several doctors and acupuncturists have told me, while our fertility does tend to decline 35 onwards, the difference between 34 and 35 is not all that huge. Yet, the AMA (advanced maternal age) stamp that many clinics are only to eager to decorate you with adds to that sense of growing frustration; if only I could leash time.

Ahhh… too morbid.

Fact is that I had a really nice birthday courtesy the best husband in the world! Presents and shopping and the most divine Italian food (you guys I had BREAD!! after 5.5 months!! freshly baked, spongy soft, melt-in-your-mouth bread!) followed by a leisurely stroll and a peaceful hour spent browsing my favorite used bookstore … blissful and content is how I felt.

Some highlights:
–the spouse was insistent on wishing me at midnight despite my not-so-subtle surliness… I had Friends on in the background and just as the clock chimed (beeped) midnight, a very pregnant Phoebe’s water broke and all the cast shouted “the babies are coming!!”… my husband and I feel this was a special sign! No seriously, the episode was followed by four back to back ads all featuring babies!
–as I entered my acupuncturists clinic after shopping, she asked me how the week had been. No sooner had I started telling her how I just turned 35 than my eyes teared up and before I knew it, hot angry tears were running down my surprised cheeks! I kept saying I DON’T want to turn 35 like a petulant child being asked to vacate the sandbox because its getting late. sigh!
–at the Italian restaurant, my husband had to gently remind me to stop chowing down the bread like a woman possessed because we did have appetizers and a main course and dessert coming up!
–once we finished dinner, the restaurant’s owner and his cronies sang a delightfully operatic, Italian-style rendition of Happy Birthday for me, complete with cake, candle, ice cream! It was just so adorable!
–my neighbor and her toddler came over to wish me today with a delicious gluten free, wheat free cake and flowers. I spent a merry hour with the little girl on my lap, eating strawberries and icing from me, both of us getting happily smeared in the process!

35, here I come 🙂