This Mortal Coil

This past week, Mr. X and I have both been suffering from what can only be described as Crises of the Existential Variety. 

His moment of existential angst struck while he was climbing on the Stairmaster at the gym we recently joined.  In that moment, all he could ask was, why? Why am I climbing the stairs to nowhere (any relation to the Bridge to Nowhere)? What is the point?  He came home rather despondent about the greater questions that this Sisyphean challenge posed: what is the purpose of doing the same things over and over again, with no sense of progress or ending? 

My moment of angst hit when I was pondering what to have for dinner a few nights ago.  Nothing made my stomach grumble in anticipation – there was no item, either in the house or out of it, that would make me go, “I want to have that!”  This may seem trivial to you, but to a gal who gets to splurge her points on dinner, it is a very important meal. 

I’ve also been trying to minimize my booze intake – I usually have a lovely glass of wine with dinner pretty much each night, but now I’m trying to get it down to 2-3 times a week, which frankly is making me cranky. It’s not the alcohol I miss, as much as it is the sense of relaxation I get takinng that first sip of a nice glass of Rioja.  So, dinner time has gone from one of my favorites to yet another part of the day when I have to be good. Blah.

I think it is safe to say that we are, the both us, utterly in a rut.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  That seems like all we do these days is repeat, repeat, repeat.  Take the dog for a walk, feed the animals, go to work, come home, take the dog for a walk, feed the animals, go to bed.  And, no matter what activities I try to think of that would make me want to break out of the rut, none of them really give me that push that I need.

On paper, I have a lot of things I want to do:

  • projects to sew for Christmas presents;
  • I’m still saying that I will cross-stitch and sew stockings for the animals for Christmas (not that they would care a lick), but the pattern I have is so cute and I can personalize them!
  • I need to make the calendar of kitty pictures for my parents because if I don’t, they will disown me and we’re counting on the inheritance to fund our grand style of living (kidding people, kidding)
  • I have until the end of the month to order our Christmas cards and get a ridiculous discount from Shutterfly
  • so many books and magazines to read, including the four new titles I picked up for a song (ok $4.50) at the library book sale this past weekend including Bleak House, The Awakening, Portrait of a Lady, and The Thorn Birds (a girl needs her mind-candy, after all)
  • work on the book

But, it all seems so trivial to me.  Does any of it matter in the greater scheme of things?  What is the purpose? I tried answering this question for Mr. X when he was trying to find a purpose for climbing stairs to nowhere.  The easy answer is that it is exercise and that is good, but when you look at the end of the day and say, I climbed 50 stairs – does that mean anything? Anymore than saying I bought five pairs of shoes or I made six pies?  It is the quantification of accomplishments that I think we’re getting hung up on rather than the purpose of those accomplishments.

I want to again feel the joy of doing things for the sake of doing them not because I think I should be doing them.  So, the next time I ponder those Sisyphean stairs, I won’t think about it in terms of the accomplishment of climbing a specific number of stairs, but rather the pleasure I get in knowing I accomplished a goal that I set out to do. Isn’t that what we really try to do everyday?

images: top right – rscottjones; bottom left – Steve Took It

Redux

Mr. X and I have secured a ‘complimentary’ consultation on October 22 with another RE up the way from Dr. Uterus.  I filled out the release so he could obtain my records from Dr. Uterus ahead of our consultation.  But, I also decided that it was a good idea to fill out the dreaded 10-page patient questionnaire about our history.  This way, he has as much information as possible ahead of time, and I can test whether or not he actually reads what I send in, as not reading the information I provide that has been requested is in my top five peeves of all time.

It seems like I’ve had to fill out alot of these lately – a new one for the gyn I saw for my pap smear (which they didn’t bother to read – hence the surprise that I’ve now had 2 miscarriages), one for a rheumatologist who I saw for unrelated issues, and now this one.  Each time, I had to answer that question:

How many pregnancies have you had? Answer: 2

How many live births? Answer: 0.

So much joy and so much sadness translated into questions with numbers for answers.  And so many experiences broken down into charts, or yes, no, explain.  I found it so trivializing to have to quantify all that we have been through, even though I understand why it is necessary. Just once, though, can I give you a narrative instead of answering your imprecise questions, or having to read the question, “what are the names of your children?”

(For the record, my babies are named Jellybean and Phoenix.  But, I will never, ever write that on your questionnaire.)

It’s Not You, It’s Me.

This phrase has always been thrown around as the ultimate, break-up parting salve.  I think I’ve been on the receiving end just once, but once was enough.  What it said to me was, “it is most definitely you.” Seeing as how that is my one and only personal experience with this phrase, I tend to look askance whenever I hear it and translate into my own personal version.

As I have gotten older (and hopefully a little wiser), though, I’ve come to understand that there are some situations where this sentiment, “it’s not you, it’s me” holds true, when the person genuinely has issues far and beyond what the other person is dealing with and so they are genuinely “it’s me”. 

I’ve been having some “it’s not you, it’s me” moments recently, moments that I think all of you can appreciate at some time or another. What is that I speak of? Allow me to explain, albeit in a rather circuitous manner.

Starting Down the Path

All of us in the IF community start out working toward one goal and one goal only – to have child, by hook or by crook.  Some make it, some don’t, some take the paths less travelled, that may or may not involve children.  No one path is the right way, by the way. And, I’d like to think that everyone, at some point, gets to a conclusion, whatever that conclusion may be.  

But, even for those who do end up winning the beta lottery, not everyone gets there in the same time, and there is no merit system or seniority.  Some don’t welcome their bundle(s) until years after they started down the path, others have better luck.  And while those who win are understandably and justifiably thrilled, there is the bittersweetness to it because of all those who are left behind, who may have had not had their lottery dreams fulfilled and are left looking at an empty (fill in here) _____________ (a) room, b) heart, c) uterus, or d) all of the above).

Recently, several of the blogs that I follow have featured very poignant and existential discussions as to their purpose since the writers have moved on – one is pregnant and the other recently adopted.  Both are no longer “infertile” in the classic sense, but both are having growing pains, for the lack of a better word, about where this leaves their readers.  Bless both of them for having the temerity to even broach this topic, which I think is much thought of, but not very much discussed in the IF blogging community.  And bless both of them for remembering that there was a time when they both had difficulty reading blogs such as theirs have become, and for recognizing that there will be those who have followed their stories but now can no longer follow the journey because it is just too hard.

I admit to being One of Those People who (sometimes) just stop reading once someone gets in a family way because it is still painful, but I think more importantly, I can no longer really relate to this person’s experience.

It’s not you, it’s me.

But, what of the “read and support” credo?  In response to one of these posts, Ms.Prufrock said,

It has always confused me how some bloggers are abandoned when they get what all of us infertile bloggers want. Isn’t that the point? Why do we bother supporting each other through treatment, loss, the adoption process, etc, then jump ship when all that hard work pays off? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

I’ll admit it, I was very bothered by certain people who were there for me throughout my IUIs and IVF, then decided that it was all too much once I got pregnant. It isn’t fair that not everyone is going to get what they want, but nor is it fair to withdraw support because it’s all too hard for one to cope with. It’s an unsympathetic view, I know. Guess what? Raising a kid is hard too, support and love might just be required then as well!

I see the logic – we should be there for each other through thick and thin, pregnancy, miscarriages, positives and negatives. Unfortunately, I cannot practice it, at least not all of the time.

Where You Go, I May Not Follow

I cannot opine for other bloggers who do this, but I can explain my prediliction, in the form of a handy SAT-esque analogy. 

When I was a junior in high school, I was friends with a lot of seniors.  I had lots of classes with them and found them to be infinitely more interesting than the people in my own class.  I followed them and supported them in their quest to find the ‘perfect’ college and marveled at their accomplishments.  I wished them well upon graduation and tried to stay in touch.

But, when they went to college, they had moved on to a place and time in their lives for which I had no frame of reference or ability to even relate.  They were in college, dealing with issues like snotty roommates and oversleeping for their 8am class.  I was sweating AP tests.  They were trying to decide if living on campus was really the way to go. I was trying to stay up and listen to my music without waking up my parents. 

I couldn’t even begin to offer them any support.  To be sure, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to support them, it was that they were in a phase of their life that I knew nothing about.  I could not relate, understand or really support them because I had no personal knowledge of what they were experiencing.  Since I couldn’t relate, I couldn’t offer what I considered to be meaningful support.  (And, there was a teensy amount of jealously because I wanted to get to college AQAP.)  

The same holds true sometimes for those IF blogging ladies who go on to have a successful pregnancy or parent.  They have moved onto an experience that I really can’t relate to, and in some way reminds me of all that has happened, or not happened, as the case may be.  And, so for personal preservation or just plain selfishness, I must wish you well on your journey, but let you know that I may or may not be ‘present’ on the way. 

It’s not you, it’s me.

Catharsis *updated*

Even before I made the decision to start interviewing other doctors, I knew that I needed to tell Dr. Uterus why I was searching for greener pastures.  He deserves to know and I deserve the opportunity to lay it all out for him.  What I didn’t fully understand was that I also needed the release of telling it like it is. 

Because, before now, I had been too polite, too forgiving or too preoccupied to mention a concern here, or a tear there.  And, how many times did I want to turn my head to the side and ask him in a rather conspiratorial whisper-y tone, “why did you think it was a good idea to share your practice with a high risk OB?” As if, just between us doctor and patient, he would admit, that yeah, maybe it wasn’t a great idea.  Of course, I wanted to ask to be able to tell him how much it bothered me.  I could really care less about his answer.

Initially, as I began to write, I had difficulty not allowing my pent up feelings spew forth onto the page. Pretty quickly I knew that there was no way getting around it, so I let myself throw the words on the paper and then gave them some time to cool down.  Several days later, I went back to visit them and knew that the words needed to be said, but didn’t need to be read.  And, while I took out the more pointed passages, just the act of putting the words down on paper, ostensibly to the person who needed to hear them most, was incredibly cathartic. 

I have finished the letter and I think that it has the right mixture of honesty, detail and feeling.  It isn’t ugly or accusatory or angry.  No bridges were burned or even mentioned.  I simply laid each instance out methodically, like a grocery list, and said, this is how it made me feel.  Whether it changes anything for me or for other patients, present or future, I doubt that I have that much sway.  But, I do know that I was able to tell it like it is and that felt really, really good.    

Now, all I have to do is send it.

Update: I printed it, folded it carefully, placed it in the addressed envelope, sealed it up, put on the stamp, marked it “Personal & Confidential” and walked it those 20 yards or so to the box where it now sits, waiting patiently for the mail delivery lady to swing by and swoop it away on its journey.  He should get it in a day or two.  I wonder if he’ll call about it.  Maybe he’ll apologize, but it’s too late for that, I’m afraid.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

It’s a new dawn, its a new day,
it’s a new life for me
and I’m feelin’ good.

If I were in your position, dear reader, and had been following my sometimes tortured decision making process on whether to seek a new RE, let alone which one, I would likely be sitting there shaking my head thinking, damn, would you just make a freaking decision already! It’s obvious that you need to so just do it!

I’ve been feeling that, too.  Well, maybe with a little less damn.

I’ve realized over the past few weeks as I’ve chewed the cud of this question, that my ambivalence at making a decision is as much about fear of the unknown as it is about letting go of our past with Dr. Uterus.  While our material ties to his office are no longer there, my emotional ties are taking a little longer to sever.  Dr. Uterus has been with us just about the whole time and was the person who gave us the first real chance at conceiving.  He saw me through two miscarriages, performed my tubal surgery, 6 IUIs, 1 IVF, 1 FET and both of my D&Cs.  He has rooted for us, supported us, kept optimistic for us. He’s like the coach who’s players all want to do the best they can, not for themselves, but for him.  I wanted to be in his win column, I wanted to give him that victory.  I wanted to hand over that infant to him so he could grin for the camera with that smile of absolute accomplishment knowing that the child in his arms came into this world because of him.

It’s hard to walk away from that, to leave that unfinished expectation on the table, to say, I’m sorry, you aren’t ever going to have my win.  It’s a testament to him that I want so badly to give him my loyalty for the loyalty that he has given us. 

I had lunch the other day with the friend who originally referred me to him.  I asked her to meet with me to help me decide whether it was time for me to move on.  As someone who has been through an even worse shitstorm than I have been (and has a beautiful miraculous 9-year old despite it all), I value her opinion a great deal. She gets it, and I am forever sad that she had to be the one of all of us to go through it to get it, but I am selfishly thankful that I have her as a resource because of it. 

Her take was, it’s time to move on to greener pastures.  She did understand my need to win won for Dr. Uterus, but also was able to wisely point out that this battle isn’t about him.  It’s about Mr. X and I and our dream to have a child together.  I know in my heart of hearts that she’s right. 

I told Mr. X the other night that I had decided to interview with two other doctors in our area, both of whom, as far as I know, do not share office space with an OB.  He is enthusiastically on board as he has recognized that as the one putting up with 95% of the crap, I get to have a lot of say in who puts me through the crap.  Of the two docs, at least one has a shared risk program (although he is also not covered by our insurance).  The other is covered by insurance, but has been described to me as having the bedside manner of an ice cube. 

But, each represents a new dawn, a new day, a new life for me, yeah a new dawn, a new day. And I’m feeling good.

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A Little Late to the Party

I’ve been somewhat absent from the blogosphere these past few days – partly by choice and partly by circumstance.  I have to say that I’ve enjoyed the break, but I’ve also been a very bad girl about not commenting on other people’s blogs for which I must beg forgiveness.  I shall rouse my inner commenter shortly.

So, what has brought me out of my partial hibernation? None other than the Blog to Blog Love party, for which I am regrettably a tad late, but better late than never.  And, my participation has in no way been influenced by FarmWife saying that my writing is brilliant (your check is in the mail, my dear!).

I’ve not heard of this particular project before, but I think it is way cool, so I will give it a whirl.  Here is FarmWife’s wonderful explanation:

The deal is to visit 4 of your daily blog reads. From each blog choose another blog from their blog roll that you’ve never visited. Try that blog out and see what happens. They may become your new fave, who knows! Then duplicate the main part of this post with a note on whose blog you got it from. Name the four new blogs you are going to read, tell briefly why you chose them and whose blog roll they came from. And if you want, coerce others mercilessly into joining in!

So, here goes.

One Bloggy-Blog

I started with one of my favs Cliz Biz and clicked on The Clutter Museum.  Not only does she have categories such as “Whining Exhortation and Angst” and “I heart material culture” she managed to find a video that combined the Muppets (Beaker!) and Beethoven’s Ode to Joy from his Ninth Symphony, two of my favorite things.  If that is not perfection, I don’t know what is.

Two Bloggy-Blogs

Another blog that I adore with a capital A is the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee.  Laurie, the proprietess, fosters kittens from the Tacoma/Pierce County Humane Society, which alone is amazing, gives them fabulous names (we are now on the Livermores) and then takes amazing pictures of them!  It’s a daily stop for me, especially when I’m feeling a little blue.  Kittens always make me smile, especially since they remind me of when ours were that small and utterly adorable.  She now has links to the blogs that have been set up by the people who adopted some of the kittens that she fostered and one my favs is Phyllis and the Aliens, about three IBKC graduates.  These three look like delicious amounts of trouble. There is even a recorded purr, people!

Three Bloggy-Blogs

Wilma, over at Death Bed Moment also serves a regular dose of hilarity (whether she means to or not) and could be my doppleganger – she too composes fabulous blog posts in that pre-sleep haze that are promptly forgotten upon waking and is having back and neck pain and waiting for her hair to grow.  Hmmm, maybe I’m not an only child after all.  Anyway, I clicked through her blog onto French School Confidential wherein I found yet another kindred spirit, as Anne used to say.   Commenters are Vanity Enablers and she is willing to admit a severe allergy to working with team members. 

Four Bloggy-Blogs

I also read Our Piece of It, which I found randomly and love how random it is.  I clicked through to another blog, Oh What Larks and saw only beautiful, beautiful images.  That is my kind of blog. It appeals to my inner art student who is still lurking, currently subsisting on mini-projects not, full blown artsy things. But, I’ll take beauty wherever I can find it.

So, there you have it. I’m not nearly motivated enough to let these people know what I have done, but some will find out anyway. I encourage anyone – regardless of whether I’ve listed your blog or not – to partake of this experiment. You never know what you’re going to find.

image: Osvaldo_Zoom