Thursday, July 31, 2008

Emotional Immunities

If I confess that I'm achingly homesick for the little boy asleep in the next room, will you tell me to sit up straight and think of the children in Sudan, or Zimbabwe, (or in Newark NJ, for that matter)? That's about the response that Judith Warner got when she devoted an entire NYT column to the theme of missing her girls at camp. And I'm sure that Judith and I deserve the scorn.

The thing is this. My husband and I leave tomorrow morning for a romantic weekend for two. (The hotel describes our room as a "bridal suite." Ahem. Not a lot that's bridal about yours truly, the lady who's been around the block and up the duff 5 times now. But I digress.) We have never left Turtle overnight before and I'm already feeling bereft. Stomach tied in knots, chest-heaving sighs, bereft.

I know that billions have done this before me. I know that strong marriages make strong families. I know that we'll have a a great time lounging by the water. I know that I should have better manners than to complain about such a problem in public in the blogosphere. But there you have it. I miss Turtle terribly and we haven't even left yet.

In fact, I am feeling rather resentful of my parents for tricking me into letting them take away my child. I literally just got into a "discussion" with my mother over how early they'll promise to get him back on Sunday. If you knew how utterly unsentimental about children I am in general, how ambivalent I was about motherhood in the first place, you'd be better able to understand my own bafflement at the emotions my psyche comes up with.

Why do you think it is that things can hurt so acutely, that, by any rational standard, are actually phenomenal privileges (see spending weekend in pampered relaxation in first world country)? My latest theory is that it must be a kind of emotional allergy.

One leading hypothesis on the rise of allergies in the West is that our bored immune systems are going hay wire. Engineered to fight off typhus, plague, and long winters without fruit, our bodies just don't know what to do in the sanitized world of handi-wipes, antibiotics, and 24 hour supermarkets. So our bodies turn inward and come up with lovely counter-campaigns (like my immune system's brilliant idea to attack my thyroid). Maybe emotions work the same way.

Maybe we are all born with the emotional range to make it through wars and floods and famine. Yet, because most of us cosseted Westerners just don't have much immediate experience with woolly mammoths, we operate most of the time in emotional overdrive. Our feelings are left to cycle through the intense highs and lows that would make lots of sense in tougher conditions, but sound ridiculous applied to the problems of the middle-brow American.

Sorry to go all philosophical on you. But when you're on the verge of a mini break-down over a mini-break, it does get you thinking...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Girls: 1, Maria: 0

Probably not the brightest idea to compare pregnancy hopes to a tragic romance in the first place...Off to comment on the blogs of all the fabulous IComLeavWe folks!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My West Side Story

With apologies to Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim...


I feel sleepy
Oh so sleepy
I feel sleepy and hungry and gay
And so pregnant
That hope is on the rise today

I have spotting
Light pink spotting
And the cramping, the peeing, oy vey!
I feel pregnant
Yes my boobs are very sore today.

See the pretty girl in that mirror there?
Who can that deluded girl be?
What’s the cycle day?
Number 24!
Could be PMS…
Still she hopes for more!

I feel hopeful
But so frightened
Could be puking, then crying oh boy
Cause I’ve been
Just a little pregnant before!

Have you met my good friend Maria
The craziest girl on the block?
You'll know her the minute you see her
She's the one who is in an advanced state of shock

She thinks she's knocked up
She thinks she's in Spain
She isn't knocked up
She's merely insane

It must be the heat
Or some rare disease
Or too much to eat
I mean come on please

Her doctor said no
Yet she says go!
This is not all
That smart as you know!

Once calm and cool,
Waiting resigned.
Now she wants a peestick
She’s out of her mind!

Monday, July 21, 2008

I Heart IComLeavWe

Wow, comments! From cool interesting women. My second try at blogging, like my second try at baby making, did not exactly get off to an auspicious start. But the IComLeavWe is a fine fine thing. And I hope it bodes well generally.

Now, I sat down here 5 hours ago when Turtle was napping with full intentions of writing a long post, having actually forgotten all about IComLeavWe. But then I saw all the great comments. And I remembered! After browsing many blogs; and leaving my required comments; and getting dinner for Turtle (which we ate picnic style on the floor in the living-room air-conditioning); and doing bath-books-bed with Turtle; and eating myself; and doing some more blog browsing, I am now wiped and brain dead.

But I do have a question. Why do you think the media is playing up motherhood so much right now? I was alive and sentient in the 80's and I feel quite sure that no one knew a damn thing about Goldie Hawn's cute little baby Kate until said Kate was grown and ready to be a movie star herself. Why do we hear so much about celebrity pregnancies now? Why the obsessive focus on motherhood? Even if you try to tune out pop culture, I bet you can name the crazy baby names of at least a dozen celebrity kids.

The reason I ask is this: how am I supposed to discern my own genuine desires for motherhood from the Pavlovian marketing of motherhood that I see around me every day? I mean, I think I do want another child. I think I want a sibling for Turtle. But can I or any other American consumer with a pulse honestly say it's not at least a little bit about the Pottery Barn kids?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Secondary Infertility to the Second Power

Do these entries seem stale to you? Have I lost my edge as a blogger, however dull that edge already was? Is there a recycled, refried, retread quality to my thoughts?

Maybe the worst part of this most recent miscarriage is its awful "back to the future" quality. For many sufferers of secondary infertility, the first child arrives without incident and then the sudden onset of fertility problems comes as a nasty shock. It has happened to several of my friends and I truly understand what a brutal experience it is.

Yet. What I'm going through as a second-time infertility sufferer is different and carries its own particular pain. I am not for a moment going to compare my plight to that of someone in the midst of primary infertility. "One is better than none" cannot begin to sum up the joy that Turtle brings me. Still, I am going to dare to compare myself to regular secondary infertility sufferers and say that I have secondary infertility squared. Secondary Infertility to the Second Power, if you will.

Here's the thing: I emerged from primary infertility sadder but wiser. I had learned patience. I had gained perspective. To get those things, I worked really really hard, in typical type-A fashion.

I started a blog. Joining a community of women on the world wide web made me feel cared for and competent at a time when neither feeling came often. I wrote lots of angry essays and lots of sad ones and more than a few sentimental ones. I also managed a few that were actually funny, if you like gallows humor, and I'm such a compulsive good girl by nature that I'd never spent much time trying to make anyone laugh before (wouldn't be proper). I liked finding that side of myself.

I went into therapy for a little while. I joined a support group. I rebuilt relationships with family members that needed attention. I read countless medical journals, web pages, and women's magazines and I honestly thought that I'd discovered a reason for my miscarriages in the form of inadequate thyroid hormone. I marveled that anything good could come out of the experience, but in the end I felt like a stronger more resilient person, someone who'd learned a little more humanity and humility, someone who knew how to be deeply grateful for motherhood and how to treasure every moment of my son's all too fleeting babyhood.

I coped. I achieved closure.

And god damn it, the closed door has swung back open again. I don't wanna cope. I don't wanna think up clever new ways to say how much infertility sucks. I don't want to teach myself all over again not be jealous and spiteful of pregnant women. Especially not pregnant women I care about. Like my amazing sister in-law. This woman threw me a beautiful shower for Turtle 3 years into her own infertility hell. She even hand-crocheted him a blanket. NO matter. Now, another two years later she has enraged me by making it through her first nausea-free trimester with twins after her first IVF. What kind of person would feel nothing but coiling snakes of jealousy towards someone as deserving as her? I don't want to be that person. I hate myself for being that person. But can I just ask, how DARE she hopscotch right past me to have 2 kids at once, all the while glowing and proclaiming that pregnancy has made her feel the healthiest she has ever felt? How have I slid back to this bad place?

I feel as if I've graduated from from high school only to be ordered to go back to ninth grade detention, with that really nasty math teacher with the saggy two-shades too-dark pantyhose glaring over her glasses at me. How the HELL do I get out of here. Do I really have to take Algebra I again and fight those nasty rumors started by the popular girls? Do I really have to get my heart broken again by one feckless teenage boy after another? Are you gonna make me apply to college again? I been here. I done that. And I am soo, soo, sick of it...I just wanna get on with my life.

I'm a recurrent miscarriage relapser. I'm back on the sauce folks and this time the binge is gonna be ugly.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

After much pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth...after getting through the fourth anniversary of the due date of my first lost child with a new fourth loss to mourn...after much websurfing and downloading of information on hyperemesis for my family...I decided to try again. Now! I just decided I want one more child and I want to get a pregnancy over with as soon as possible, both because I am sick of this life-in-limbo stage and because I am afraid of my rapidly advancing "maternal age." The husband and I had long talks and agreed that I would be entitled to perfect princess treatment for the duration of any pregnancy (the man, though lovely, does not play nurse well naturally). Dr. Cookie Pie said she'd give me an HCG shot right away, just to speed things along. And the final deciding factor was that, by rare chance, I have no work projects scheduled for August, meaning I'd be unusually free to languish in bed vomiting. Sounds like a plan, right?

I went in to Dr. Cookie Pie to get the shot on Monday, but she wasn't totally happy with the look of my uterine lining. She also said I wasn't ready to trigger, that the follicle needed another couple of days. Come back Wednesday, and you'll be good to go she promised. This actually meant postponing my departure for a business trip from Thursday afternoon to Friday morning in order to be present for the neccessary conjugal event. (No joke that declining fertility with age is correlated with decreasing frequency of sex!) But no problem, I have my priorities straight. I rearranged things so I could be here through Friday morning. In the meantime, Dr. Cookie Pie said we should check my estrogen levels, and promised to have the results STAT. I did notice that she added an HCG level on the lab order, and you'd think this would have rung a bell, but it really didn't.

So imagine my surprise when she called me personally at home at 7 AM this morning to tell me that my HCG is still hovering at 8 from the LAST pregnancy and that I shouldn't waste a trip to her office. It was, really, an extraordinary kindness on her part. And how impressive that she essentially called this from her first 3-second glance at my uterine lining on ultrasound. There's a reason why I call her the smart cookie sweetie pie. But all I heard was, sorry, honey, you're still a very little bit pregnant.

Not only did I lose the last baby, I can't have the next baby, cause my body has still not accepted the facts. I believe it was Anne Lamott who said if you want God to laugh, you should tell her your plans...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

When Dr. Cookie Pie called me with the test results the week before last, she said, "I'm sorry, I have bad news." My heart leaped in my throat and I thought, "oh, no, please not a chromosomal abnormality." When she said the chromosomes were normal, I heaved a sigh of relief. I am strangely grateful to have had another unexplained loss. This is the faceless devil I know.

If I'd had a chromosomal loss, I'd have a whole new set of worries now about declining egg quality, about the prospects of ever having another living child. Yes, I still feel a savage anger, but also, somehow a perverse pride. My little Crumps (that's embryos so small they measure not from head to toe but only from crown to rump) are perfect little Crumps. The fault lies with my body, not my progeny.

I don't know how, but I bonded with this little one. My husband claimed to have a lucky feeling that the baby would be a girl, but I was certain beyond certain he was another boy. And I wanted him too.

The day this wished-for son was conceived (we did an HCG trigger shot, so I was very conscious of and optimistic about conception) I accidentally prepared an entire dinner made of foods beginning with the letter "P"— grilled pork tenderloin with peaches, spring peas, and new potatoes. I had planned the menu around spring foods, purposefully wanting to celebrate birth and renewal. But I never meant to pick all "P's." It seemed so funny and so fated when it turned out that I was *P*regnant. I decided that, though I've never nicknamed an embryo before, I'd call this one by a "P" name and picked "Peeper" for the little spring frogs that seemed to be singing my joy.

Last weekend I went outside after dark, walked down to the frog pond and screamed the loudest most furious primal scream that I could. And the singing frogs went silent. Soon after it began to drizzle; they never made another peep that night. It was an eery moment, one that made me feel, somehow, as though the galaxy had noted my grief and despair.

I know I am a lucky, lucky woman, a woman whose father's house has many rooms. It's just that here in the birthing room the ceiling has fallen in and I'm choking on plaster dust, and the furniture is in ruins, and I don't know whether to try to clean up or whether I'd better just scuttle on off down the corridor into the darkness.