A Series of Left Behinds

My first indoctrination into the concept of The Rapture was when I started working at my current job. Back then, I was still an office gal and so every morning, I would drive to to office and park the car next to that of our office manager. Her license plate holder always intrigued me: IN CASE OF RAPTURE, THIS CAR WILL BE UNMANNED.

I thought it was an odd statement. Up until that point, my only exposure to the concept of ‘rapture’ was the kind you find in bodice-ripper literature. While nothing is out of the realm of possibility, I had a hard time seeing our very proper office manager announcing to the world that she would abandon all caution when driving in the event of unmitigated pleasure, let alone that she would attempt unmitigated pleasure while driving. I chalked it up to the general rule about the Quiet Types and left it at that. I thought about asking her, but if it was what I thought it was, frankly, I didn’t want to know.

Then, I happened to read an article in Newsweek about the Rapture (the capitalization gave me a clue that this was a proper noun rather than an adjective of desire) and it all clicked into place. Of course, the car would be unmanned. She would be up in heaven while the rest of us were left to slog it out down on earth. I thought this was just fascinating. There were so many practical issues – when would it happen? what if you were in the middle of something really really important (like on the can)? what if not all of your family came along? do pets go too? what do you do up there? do you watch everybody else slog it out? who is considered to be a true Christian? is there an appeals process if you think you are and you aren’t called?

Not surprisingly, there is a very popular series of books about what happens after the Rapture, the Left Behind series. I haven’t read them myself, but they are very popular.

I have to admit I’ve been feeling a bit left behind this week. We are in that excrutiating state of moving forward with very little momentum since it is a mock cycle. No hope for pregnancy What. So. Ever. Nada. Zip. Zero. I’m popping my nightly Estace but I can’t quite convince myself of the progress that it represents. Our actual FET seems ages away in August.

We are also increasinly being left in the reproductive dust of our friends. A couple we knew and hung out with in the town where we used to live just had their second child, their first child having been conceived right after we started trying. So, three years on, we have the dubious distinction of two miscarriages and they have two kids. And, of course my best friend now has a 1-month old baby girl. Our other friends’ baby just turned 1 in May. We are officially down to two other couples that we know who don’t have children.

With each new child, we lose common ground with our friends as they ascend to that new place where we can’t follow.

With every child, we are left farther and farther behind.

I know we are not in a race, but how long will it take before we are all on equal footing again?

image: buddhakiwi

Baby, You’ve Arrived!

I received an email today letting me know that my best friend had her baby on Tuesday. Baby M is a gorgeous beauty of a girl and very healthy. I am thrilled for my friend and her husband, who reported that they are both exhausted. I will no doubt be hearing this one quite often in the coming months and (probably) years. Baby M has wonderful parents who will be loving, kind but still let the kid know who the parents are. What an adventure they have ahead of them.

And still, I would be lying to say that I am not even a little sad. While it is not nearly the level of what it was when she told me that she was pregnant, I can’t say that I am completely immune. It makes me miss our babies. I miss that we weren’t able to bring them home with us or be utterly exhausted after coming home from the hospital carrying this precious cargo with us.

In the past, I would try to cheer myself up by reminding myself that above all, I believed that I would have a child. Now, I just don’t know. What is shocking is that I am perfectly ok with that. I would love to bring home a baby, but I know that it may not be in the cards.

For the time being, I am happy and sad at the same time. I am happy for her that she has this wonderful new being in her life and I am sad for me that I don’t. But, I am not sad because I don’t know if I ever will.

But, the good news is that I finished the quilt for M on Monday and she was born on Tuesday. Nothing like getting it in under the wire!
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In other news, I have posted my first entry on our trip to Paris on my other blog. Check it out!

And, thanks to everyone for your wonderful comments about my last post. I’m very glad that so many of you were able to get something out of it. Isn’t that what the blogosphere is for?

Unraveling

I thought I was doing pretty well last week. I had reached the point where my trip somewhere wasn’t ruined by the sight of a lady with the tell-tale bulge. I was calm, serene – but the dam had to burst sometime.

Things started to unravel Friday afternoon. I hadn’t slept well all week, I was working extremely hard on a project at work that is easily the most important of my career (no pressure!) that also happened to be extremely challenging, all while trying to make the most of my ‘down time’ at night with self-improvement and overall creativity. Needless to say, by the time Friday rolled around, I was exhausted – mentally and physically. I suspect that this set me up for being unable to handle all of the crap that was thrown at me.
First, on Friday I realized that come the beginning of next month, it will have been Three Long Years since we officially threw out the birth control and began planning who was going to take our new little urchin to day care. No matter how I looked at it, I could not see the positives – all I could see was that three years later, it’s still just me, the guy and the furry beasts. Sure I can get pregnant! Sure my tubes are clear! So far, it hasn’t done me a damn bit of good. I found this utterly depressing.

Friday night we went out with some friends to a local festival. Upon arriving, what is the first thing I see? Very pregnant ladies. Two of them, in fact. Couple that will all of the homeless kitties we saw in the park, and I was in a sad state.

Saturday, we go out to lunch and pick the restaurant mainly based on the fact that it has outdoor dining since it was a gorgeous day. This time, the hostess was pregnant and there was a very pregnant (and extmremely chic) lady there as well. Oh, and the hair salon has a very pregnant stylist (not mine) who had to walk back and forth in front of me. Am I destined to have this thrown in my face? I was officially getting discouraged and depressed.

Today, we went to the grocery store – the new one up the street that I hate with a passion reserved usually for the worst of the worst – and wouldn’t you know it? Our checker was pregnant. And, I passed a woman talking to another woman about how she started to show immediately. Plus, one infant, and several six-ten month olds. I think I have officially reached my breaking point.

Talk about hitting you when you’re down – I was already feeling depressed this weekend and then I just keep being reminded of the two babies I have lost and the fact that I can’t even make it to the bulging stage. I want to be as big as a house! I don’t want to be able to see my feet, I want to complain that I look like a whale because all of it means that I’m pregnant with a sentient being who kicks and sleeps and belches, all in my tummy – who will arrive with my eyes and his nose and look like all of the ancestors that we’ve ever had.

I know that there is an ebb and tide of grief – just like there are hills and valleys in life. I know that last week was the ebbing and this weekend was the tide. It just hurts so much, but there is no detour, no way around it. And, better out than in.

I still wish, though, that I could reach that point where it didn’t bother me. I suspect, though, that it’s like most things – some days you can and some days you can’t. These just happened to be “can’t” days.

Encore!

Oh my. Does everyone remember my friend John*?

No? You should read this brief little post before going forward. Go ahead. Take your time. I’ll wait.

[Mrs. X looks out the window. Ooh! There’s that lady who always walks in the neighborhood who desperately needs to wear a sports bra. Honey, if you have B’s or bigger, they shouldn’t be swinging – and yours are definitely doing to the two-step. Buy a freakin’ bra!]

Finished? Ok, so yesterday morning before I went on my walk, I checked my email. Usually, this is pretty anti-climactic. Yesterday? Not so much. There was an email from John. I had long ago lost hope that he was finally getting back to me on my last email in which I shared with him the news of our first loss and our struggle with infertility.

I wasn’t disappointed. Not only was it not an email finally acknowledging that we had a loss, it was pictures of the kid’s christening, with the harpie wife thrown in for good measure. To make matters worse, there was no message, it was just a generic, ‘come see my on-line album that I’m sharing with you’ bullshit. Needless to say, I didn’t look at the pictures. All I could think was “you have got to be freakin’ kidding me.”

So I spent the first 1.5 miles of my walk pondering how I should respond. Actually, I should re-phrase that. I knew exactly how I wanted to respond – I’ll spare you the expletives – but I needed to figure out how to do in a nice way while also edumacating him as to what an insensitive ass he was being.

I finally settled on this: I sent him a response email, congratulated him for the umpteenth time (I swear I’ve congratulated him on this kid more times than I’ve congratulated anyone else on the birth of a child) and then …. I asked him to stop sending me baby pictures. I told him about our second loss in a row – after IVF, no less – and told him how hard it was for me to see baby pictures right now.
image: idsfa
What I didn’t say was how insensitive I thought he was being by continuing to send me this crap when I’ve been so honest with him about all that we have been through. I realize that he’s a guy and therefore, he’s not necessarily blessed with the sensitivity gene, but we were really good friends in graduate school and I would think that general rules of friendship would mean you would AT LEAST RESPOND WHEN YOUR FRIEND TELLS YOU THAT SHE’S HAD TWO MISCARRIAGES! A simple ‘I’m sorry’ will do the trick.

As expected, I haven’t heard anything back from him and frankly, don’t expect to. But, I make this solemn pledge – if he sends me anymore freakin’ baby pictures – after I’ve specifically asked him not to – he’s getting blocked. No more Mrs. Nice X.
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In other news, Spot Watch ’08 continues. To paraphrase the immortal words of Rick Moranis as Dark Helmet in Spaceballs, “She’s gone from brown to pink!” That’s about as momentous as it gets. Still no flow. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. If things continue on their current spotty trajectory, I will get serious about getting things moving.

I’m off to do more drunk quilting. Kids, don’t try this at home.

Duly Noted

image: Joe Shlabotnik
After graduating from high school, I attended and graduated from a fairly well-known, private mid-sized university. At the time, this school was one of my “safeties”. Now, this school would certainly not offer me admission if I showed up with the STA scores that I had then. The farthest I’d probably get would be the waiting list. What a difference 14 years makes!

It took me a while to love my school – it was in a part of the country that I had never spent a lot of time in outside of childhood and the culture shock was pretty shocking. It also wasn’t my first choice school and so I had to go through the arduous process of changing my admittedly unrealistic expectations about the right school for me. Nevertheless, I learned to love and fully embrace my school and I can easily report that I had a truly great time in college (and yes, I did get an education).

So, as I looked in the mail box, I saw the familiar logo. It was the school’s quarterly magazine that is sent out to alumni. In the early years after I had graduated, I coveted this quarterly dose of school pride. As the years have passed – in May, it will have been 10 years since I graduated (dear Lord, I can’t believe it) – I have grown less and less excited about receiving this particular tome in the mail. First it was because I no longer recognized anyone in the pictures. Now, as you have probably guessed, it’s a more pernicious reason.

Inevitably, the Class Notes for my year and those immediately preceeding and following it now contain the same announcement over and over again: so and so is pleased to announce the birth of their first, second, even third child. My years-range has moved past the marriage stage (that was a few years ago – what the early aughts are now peppering their announcements with) and we’ve now moved into baby-land.

What’s amazing is that if you go maybe a decade back in the classes (so those who are 20 years out from graduation), there are very few birth announcements and its all about what that person is doing for their career. I am stuck in that time frame where my fellow alum’s only accomplishment has apparently been the fact that they were either knocked up or got someone knocked up and they had a baby. Are people not advancing in their careers so that their only news is this? We’re talking 10 years since graduation!

You have also probably ventured a guess that part of my hostility comes from the fact that I’m jealous as hell. You are absolutely right. But, what I have realized is that in wanting to place that special birth announcement, I would just be adding to the clutter of announcements that, at their minimum, herald and celebrate someone’s fecundity – something I can’t even come close to boasting about, so far. (Can I send in an announcement that I have endured two years of medical intervention to get pregnant and two miscarriages?)

So, I’m not going to wait to place my announcement when we have a child – however and whenever that blessed event may occur. I’m going to find some other recent achievement that highlights my accomplishments since graduation and send that in. Once again, I will change my expectations of what I should be doing and do what I was really meant to do.

Dear John*

*Name has been changed to protect the insensitive.

Dear John, Friend from Grad School:

I got your mass email yesterday announcing your new email and wanted to let you know that you are flirting dangerously with being on my Shit List. In case you have forgotten, I will outline your previous sins that have gotten you to this point:

1) You emailed me that your harpie wife was expecting on the exact day that I found out that my baby had died and I had been carrying a dead fetus around for a week. I responded with my congratulations and didn’t mention any of my incredible sadness. You never responded.

2) You included me on the mass email with pictures of the new baby when the harpie wife delivered and again, I said the right things and congratulated you. You never responded.

3) You emailed me again to tell me of the new baby and sent more pictures because you couldn’t remember if you had emailed me before. I guess you didn’t remember that I congratulated you before. This time you deigned to ask how we were doing.

4) I responded again with congratulations (because that’s what friends do) and agreed that your baby was the cutest thing on the planet. I also told you of our struggle with infertility and the miscarriage in April. You Never. Wrote. Back. Not one lousy word. A simple “I’m sorry” would have sufficed to let me know that you are at least interested after asking how we were.

5) Now you have sent me a new email address assuming that I want to keep in touch with you. I have no reason to keep in touch. You have obviously just left this one hanging and it will take a lot of groveling for you to get back into my good graces.

So, that’s where we stand. Assuming you don’t send any more emails blithley ignorning what I shared with you, you will not be banished to having your email blocked. One more “I have the cutest baby on the block” email without any acknowledgment that we had a loss and you will officially be out of my life.

Sincerely,

Mrs. X

ps- the addition of the information in the email that you are changing emails so that it will sync with your Blackberry landed you squarely in the tool column. Just thought you should know that.

Yes, You Get a Gold Star.

Warning: ugly infertility thoughts about maternity fashionwear to be liberally spewed. Stand back. Flow is toxic, but amusing nonetheless.

Early this morning, I found myself in a waiting room other than that belonging to Dr. Uterus to get an X-ray of my elbow. It’s been bothering me for the past month, although I didn’t have any particular trauma, just poor elbow posture while cross-stitching and sewing. I finally got fed up and made an appointment at an orthopedist’s office. I was directed to first go to the imaging center on the ground floor for x-rays and then up to their office with my x-rays. Sounds simple enough.

I’m constantly surprised when I am in waiting rooms other than for Dr. Uterus, that there are people other than us infertility girls. There was such a diverse cross-section of people. Old people, young people, really old people, people in wheelchairs, people with broken limbs. You just don’t see that where I usually go. It’s the same parade – well-dressed, well-coiffed, slightly self-concious and very obviously not pregnant. That’s what I see at his office. And the occasional husband.

Unfortunately, there were quite a few people ahead of me at the imaging center, and even though I got there on the dot, I got to wait about 35 minutes. During that time, I was treated to not one but three forms of exquisite torture:

1) They had the TV tuned to some daytime talk show. No offense to those who find day time programming scintillating, but I wanted to gouge my eyes out, rupture my ear drums and turn into Helen Keller, it was that vapid, wasting, and truly godawful.

2) There was a woman whose phone constantly kept ringing with a ringtone that was set on nauseatingly loud and it sounded like an infant shrieking. She actually thought it was cute. I swear. And it ringed many, many times.

3) And then there was the real torture. One of the nurses who was calling people into the back was probably about 5 months pregnant. How did I know? Gee. Two things. First, she had the tell-tale bump, and two, she was wearing a t-shirt that declared “Oh Baby!” across the front, which as far as I’m concerned says, “I’m pregnant!” WTF?! Isn’t this a doctor’s office? Aren’t you supposed to wear scrubs on top and bottom? I know that they have invented maternity scrubs. Could you just not find a pair? Are they as scarce as underwear at Britney’s house?

More importantly, do you just have to announce to the entire freakin’ world what is already obvious?! I really just wanted to say, “yes, we all know that you’re pregnant, you don’t need to announce it on your shirt as well. Go put on a nice drab olive green top and get back to work.” It’s one thing to have the obvious bump which makes it pretty clear. It’s another to have it and then remind everyone (meaning those of us who are infertile) that you have it by wearing an announcement as well.

Luckily, she wasn’t the one who called me back. Keeping my mouth shut would have been even more exquisite torture.

16 and Pregnant or 31 and Infertile?

I absolutely loved Ricky Gervais‘ series on HBO called Extras. Ricky plays Andy Millman, an extra who is trying to break into show busines with his own show. He has an almost Seinfeld-ian prediliction for saying the absolute wrong thing at the absolute wrong time and watching the messes he manages to get himself in his truly sqirm-worthy. Another main character is his best friend and fellow extra Maggie (played by Ashley Jensen of Ugly Betty). Maggie is not particularly bright and seriously quirky which she demonstrates with her random questions for Andy such as would he rather have no legs or no arms, etc.

I’ve got one for Maggie- would you rather be 16 and knocked up like Jamie Lynn Spears or 31 and infertile like me? Personally, I’d pick 31 and infertile any day. I can only imagine the world of hurt that I would have encountered had I gotten knocked up at 16. Not to mention that I would have had to make a difficult decision about what to do with the pregnancy as I am certain my parents would have been against me keeping the baby (and I really wasn’t very fond of them at that age). And, there is a lot more public humiliation and shame associated with being very young and pregnant than there is with infertility (my how things have changed).

Despite all of my grousing about our current situation, I wouldn’t trade places with her in a million years.

The Friend Dilemma

I’ve always had a hard time making really lasting friendships. Put me in a room and I can charm or get to know just about 95% of the inhabitants, but I may only be in interested in getting to know 1or 2%. And then it’s a lot like dating. Awkward moments, guardedness about yourself, etc. I’m quite picky about the people I am friends with. They have to be a special mixture of snark and kindness with an adventurous streak thrown in. And now, at least, they have to not be knocked up, focused on getting knocked up or have very young children already. That’s a pretty tall order for girls in my age group.

Given how hard it is for me to make friendships, you would think that I would work really hard to keep the ones that I have made. And I do, with one notable exception. I’ve written before about my dilemma with my best friend. I feel a small measure of guilt on a daily basis that I am not being more strong in dealing with the fact that she’s knocked up and I’m not (and in fact I’m actually going on BCPs to suppress my ovaries in preparation for the most invasive method to get pregnant known to man). I feel as if I should be able to hear whatever she has to say and be an active participant and cheerleader through her pregnancy. I know that is what she would do for me. When I called her with the wonderful news that I was finally pregnant last spring, she screamed into the phone. I was so touched. When she told me that she was pregnant in November, I sincerely wish that I could have done the same for her. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t scream in excitement (although to my credit, I was very good. No crying, no pouting, no hanging up).

Since the initial flurry of emails in which I tried to tactfully and gently lay out what I can and cannot handle (ultrasounds – no way, baby pics after the blessed event – fine), I ‘ve tried to keep a low profile. We have had patches of non-communication in the past just because of fate, so I can kind of get away with being the silent type. But, I know eventually, I’m going to get that email asking how I am and I will have to decide if I want to know how she is, which really means if I want to know how her pregnancy is progressing. If I can’t, I hope that I can forgive myself and that she can forgive me for being – hopefully a temporary – selfish person.