Tuesday, June 22, 2010

love in the time of cholera, or infertility

Mr. August and I are not having a good run of it. Not at all. This infertility business keeps driving a wedge between us and it just keeps getting deeper and deeper. Sometimes, it is more manageable, sometimes it is unbearable. This week, we're in the unbearable stage.

I feel really heartened to read the accounts of other women blogers who have talked about feeling very much in tune and supported by their partners. I know what the studies say about the stress of infertility and its impact on couples. I find it astounding that some of you have gone through hell and back, with years of IF procedures, and still feel very much a team with your partner. I know you are grateful for that. I can read it in each of your sentences, and in-between all your words.

Mr. August is VERY supportive, wonderful, loving and warm. It is actually mostly my fault that it is driving a wedge between us. We've struggled with the disparity in our feelings over the last year. When our fertility treatments failed in October, I was crushed beyond words. For Mr. August, he was sad to see my reaction, but not really sad about not having biological children. For him, he had always dreamed of adopting children.

How perfect is that! The man who dreams of adopting marries the woman with no eggs.

It sounds so simple when I write it like that. It sounds like it could work out so well. But it's not, at least for now. And maybe it's just a matter of me coming to a different place with my grief. But in the mean time, I'm having a hard time feeling like we are on the same team, even if I *know* we are.

If any of you also feel the dividing effects of infertility between you and your beloved, please comment. I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

death anxiety

I've been having these dreams...yes, about death. I used to teach the Death & Dying course at the University where I'm studying and part of the course involved discussing death anxiety. Most of the time, death anxiety is much below the surface for people. Since what maintains anxiety is avoidance, we all do a very good job of avoiding death in our lives. In fact, there is a whole death system set up so we don't come into contact with the reality of death on a day to day basis. Think about it: Have you ever seen a corpse in a hospital? Me neither. That's because they carefully hide the bodies once they are bodies and no longer living people. I also think about it when I see roadkill. Just the word: roadkill. It's kind of awful because what it is actually, is a little being that was alive very recently and now is dead. The little raccoon or squirrel or dear was walking around minding his or her business and got hit by a car and died. When do we actually think about that when we see it on the road? It's hit and miss for me.

Anyway, I've been finding that my death anxiety has really gone north (can I say that?) since the failure of the infertility treatments. My anxiety has gone up in general, but the death anxiety just kills me (sorry, I couldn't help it). And it's been in my dreams lately. I'm having dreams where my friends are getting cancer, or I'm getting cancer. Last week I had the most vivid and terrifying dream about my beloved friend Abigail who is traveling the world at the moment. In the dream, she fell from a great height and died. Her husband and I were left to figure out what to do with her body and I was so paralyzed by my grief that I couldn't do a thing. Just an awful dream (and I emailed her to implore her to be extra careful, since my dreams are sometimes premonitory).

Aside from the obvious connection between grief, an emotion that has been close to my heart lately, and death, I think there is also another piece to look at here. I think I've been struggling lately with the fact that my genes won't be passed on, that there won't be a little girl or little boy who looks like me, that when I die, I will not leave a (first degree) biological relative behind (unless I die before my parents). It's really sharp when it hits me. I'll be at a coffee shop and see this little girl with her mommy, and the little girl has beautiful red curls and the cutest nose and her mommy looks like an adult version of her. And I won't ever have that.

In a way, this is a death, except that there is an absence of an actual person to mourn. There was never a baby, never a miscarriage, never even an egg. Just my hopes and dreams; may they rest in peace.

I feel like one of the cancer dreams had something to offer. In the dream, a friend form school who did in reality have cancer as a teenager had found out that her cancer was back. It was devastating news. I couldn't bear it, I was so devastated for her. And in the dream, it somehow became more important to find the right word to say that the cancer was back. And the word that came up was Resurgence, which wouldn't be applied to a return of cancer after remission. I've looked up the definition of resurgence and here is what I found: "A continuing after interruption; a renewal." and "A restoration to use, acceptance, activity or vigor; a revival"

I've written down the definitions and pasted them on the wall in front of my computer. Maybe it's not death that awaits, but a resurgence instead.

Monday, June 14, 2010

made it through another weekend

My goddess! These weekends are killing me! But I made it through, semi-gracefully. The shower went pretty well. A friend who knows that this is all very difficult for me decided that she would make me cocktails as long as I would drink them (confession: I had 2 and was tipsy). I actually did help in the moment, except that I can't really tolerate alcohol too well, so it's not a long term solution to these gatherings.

Another community gathering on Sunday evening that I was hosting at our house. A pregnant friend who was due last Thursday came late and lingered. And it's one thing to linger and another to linger and go on and on about the upcoming birth. I wanted to scream! And these friends are very sweet, loving, kind people. I really do love them, I just can't stand them at the moment, through no fault of theirs (or mine, I guess, but that's a harder one that my therapist is really trying to work on with me).

I'm gathering myself a bit of momentum for a big post on egg donation. I can't do it now, since I want to go to yoga this evening, but I need to write to sort out where I'm at with it. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 11, 2010

the wedding/baby shower

Like many women with IF, I have made it my personal rule NOT to attend baby showers. I'm sorry, but I just can't do that. Baby showers are like this: Open wound. Pour salt. Repeat. That's what they feel like. So, why do it. I sometimes get unpleasant reactions when I state that I won't be attending, but I can deal with that. I've pissed people off a number of time, and never has death ensued.

Today, a friend in my community is having a wedding shower. Three other women friends and I are throwing her a shower because she is getting married next week. Wedding showers are technically ok. Correct? Well, maybe not. This bride is pregnant with her first child and naturally very excited by these wonderful changes in her life. In addition, her sister and another woman are bringing their babies. And finally, another friend in our community was due yesterday but hasn't delivered yet so she may also come.

Yes, I know that I got myself into it. And I know that I can do it. I'm just realizing in this moment that it will be difficult and I am trying to buttress myself to stand tall in the face of this difficult task. I can't even be in the company of pregnant women at the moment without feeling a ton of pain. That's such a hardship because many of those pregnant women are my friends.

The woman whose shower is today called last night and wanted to check in with me about how I suddenly left a gathering last week without saying goodbye. I just told her I was having a hard time and needed to be alone, which was the truth. She then moved on to tell me they had their ultrasound and that they are expecting a girl. And then I needed to be happy with her. Later, when I found myself ruminating about it, I noticed I was mad at her; but then I stopped myself. "Be mad at infertility" I thought to myself, "not at her joy". This helped me get through the moment.

I'm signing off to go bake cupcakes for the shower. Beet/chocolate cupcakes, no less. I have more to write about, so I'll be signing in again.