Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bump This!

I feel like I'm in some strange D-list movie from the 60s - something along the lines of "Valley of Bumps". Everywhere I look, there they are: distended bellies pointing out, to no one in particular, that they belong to someone who is completely oblivious to my personal hell.

Of course that's probably not entirely true of ALL of them. I'm sure that, thrown in with the colorful mix of Fertile Myrtles proudly pushing their Peg Peregos - or, the more glamorous ones, Silver Cross prams that I am embarrassed to say are, in my humble opinion, the motherhood equivalent of the iconic quilted Chanel bag - there is one or the other who is still cautiously optimistic after the trials and tribulations of Trying To Conceive (which, btw, is now a common acronym among many - something that makes me, quite frankly, just want to THROW UP).

Lately, I've barely managed to keep the crescendo of cascading panic attacks at bay. I can count on one hand how many years I have left until I'm going to be my MOTHER's age when she had me - and she had me quite late for her generation. And then there's this nagging feeling in the back of my head - you know, that dusty attic room you keep under lock and key because it houses your most unpleasant superstitions and insecurities - that maybe I jinxed myself.

Confession: I have been "planning" for motherhood quite a while before I actually felt physically and mentally READY. With every single one of my friends toting around at least one child - and me, in tow, happily running along to children's boutiques and little shoppes - it was just a matter of time before I found something irresistably cute.

See, I thought I was being smart. Get a little blanket there, maybe a silver feeding spoon - and stash it all away like a chipmunk with a healthy harvest of nuts. Needless to mention, this is quite easily one of my most embarrassing little foibles. Because, really? It's kind of like the line in that movie The Wedding Planner: "Those who can't do, plan." (or something to that effect). I guess that, on some level, I thought that if I was prepared, then things would go smoothly. I wouldn't have an unplanned pregnancy and have to scramble to find cute things for my bundle of joy. But - and I hate to sound like a total snob - the biggest part of it, I guess, was seeing what a lot of other people did with their kids. Entire meals plastered across pill-tastic faded Walmart t-shirts. Infants glued to television sets. Little girls in Mini-Whore-Me outfits. It was enough to make me want to gouge out my eyes sometimes. So, I thought: well, we may not be hobnobbing with the rich and famous, but that doesn't mean my kids have to look like they came straight from the favelas either.
Enter a whole new world of shopping. Within less than a year, I was semi-fluent in the high-brow fashion world of baby boutiques. Smocked dresses, christening gowns, embroidered cardigans...Before I knew it, I was kitted out for the next two babies which, as it turned out, never did show up.

And there I was, with all these hopes pinned to my booty, so to speak - and suddenly I felt like a big fat loser. What had I been thinking? How ridiculous! Who shops for unborn, unplanned and not-at-all-in-the-making babies??? So I sold some, donated others, and went to a lot of baby showers. Pretended that the gift I brought wasn't something that I would've put on MY CHILD. The one that, as it now looked, I might never have anyway.

After a while, I started remembering something my mother had once told me a long time ago - some superstition or old wives' tale, if you will: you should never make up the crib before you bring your baby home safe and sound. And then, the other day, I either heard or read something that extended this "belief" to cover any and all child-related accoutrements. Suddenly I had a moment of uncertainty - in a way, you could say that padlocked door to The Unmentionables in my head flew wide open - and I thought: did I put the cart before the horse and somehow jinx us???

From a rational point of view, that's all a bunch of nonsense, of course. But maybe that's the point all of this has made abundantly clear: none of this makes any sense, and there's neither logic nor reason involved in what we go through when dealing with infertility. I have moments of lucidity when I think, hey it can still happen or we can adopt; or maybe we can just have a lot of pets or something. There are days when I meet up with someone and their kid turns out to be a little, grouchy, miserable mini-tyrant - and I think to myself, PHEW, thank God I don't have that problem (incidentally, this frame of mind is particularly evident when I hear tales of Exorcist-like vomiting etc).

Lately, I've been feeling a lot more panicked - not just about the whole baby issue, but about life in general. I always believed that there was a natural progression to life: you're born, your parents give you a set of values and a code of ethics to guide you in life, you live and learn - and eventually find someone you love and get married. Everything else, I thought - foolishly, I now realize at the 11th hour - would just "happen". It never occurred to me that having children would be something I would have to "work" at. For the better part of my life, I didn't give either marriage OR babies ANY thought whatsoever - watching my parents, I just thought, this is the way the story goes. It never entired my mind, for a split second, that I might not meet someone and get married or that, even if I managed to find that, I would still be denied what one could argue is a basic right of being a woman. I mean - sometimes it really gets to me: the sheer indignity of getting periods - the ONLY reason for which is procreation - and still not be able to bear children. I mean, it's like as if you won a competition and then they told you, hey by the way, you know that $10,000 prize you were competing for? We just made that up! HAHAHA!

Well, I'm not laughing. I'm not crying either. I feel like I'm hovering in this state of constant anxiety. This infertility issue is suddenly making me feel OLD and it keeps reminding me of my own mortality. Maybe that's partly because, all of a sudden, that dream life filled with laughter and joy, with little babies and family holidays - that all went up in smoke before I could say WHAT?

Sometimes I think, so what. I can do without it. I can learn to live without having kids. I can get a tropical bird or something. I can play with someone else's kid - and hand it back when it starts revisting with lunch. But I know that, deep down, all that's just big talk from someone in pain and in denial. Because, really? It's all out of my hands. It's not like, say, if I were single. I could tell myself - do I want to raise a child by myself if I don't find someone I want to marry? I don't know. I just feel like someone tied a noose around my neck and hung a great big boulder around it - every which way I move, the noose just gets tighter and tighter.


So here we are, coming up on the holidays again. I love this time of the year. I love the changing of the leaves and I love when it starts to get cold. I love bundling up with big sweaters, scarves and hats. I love dashing into a warm, cozy coffee shop to meet a friend over steaming hot coffees. I love decorating the house for Christmas.

But this year, it all seems a little harder; my heart a little heavier. Everywhere I go, it's Bump City. The other day, at the post office, I saw this petite, thin woman with a bump so big, it made me wonder how she managed not to fall forward all the time. And it's in all the magazines - ads for strollers, for kids stores, advice for safe-guarding kids against flu season etc etc etc. I'm starting to get sick of it. I feel like saying, guess what, WE DON'T ALL HAVE KIDS!!!

It's also a trying season for me as I'm seeing more and more people with newborns or infants - and many women who barely gave birth a couple of months ago and are back at work, eager to resume their careers. It makes me wonder: why would you want to have a baby only to leave it in the care of strangers for the better part of its formative years? Sometimes, I indulge myself in the heart-wrenching fantasies of what I would do if I had a little baby: how I would bundle it up with ear muffs and warm snuggly blankets, talk and sing, delight in every little smile, in the grasp of those tiny little fingers that magically form through this most amazing of all miracles. And every time that I come back home, these days, I feel like a big sigh is just sort of making me slump a little more.

The truth is that I'm tired. I'm tired of this membership I didn't ask for to a club no one wants to belong to - and that still seems so fraught with lack of consideration. People ask and say the craziest things to you, sometimes - and I wonder, how would they feel if they were in your situation? These days, everytime someone asks me whether I have children, I feel like I have to put on this brave front - almost indignant, like I don't LIKE children. Like, somehow, in saying that I don't, all my most private misgivings, fears and heartache actually are written on my face like on a billboard.

So what do we do? Where do we go from here? Sometimes I think it would be so much easier to have people to talk to about all this. But then I feel that so many women approach this situation in an entirely different way than I do. I don't feel like I could EVER proclaim to the world at large, face to face, the exact amount of time that we haven't been using birth control, or how often we have sex, or my personal feelings on this issue. I somehow feel that so many women I've met immediately throw their entire marital relationship at you like some sort of Cliff notes - even if you didn't ask. I am privy to a ridiculous amoung of superfluous information - some of it extremely personal - about people I hardly know. One woman went so far as to describe in some detail the extent of the sexual dysfunction in her marriage - making me want to start flailing my arms wildly and scream T-M-FUCKING-I!!!!

So here I am. I don't have any answers - just a lot of questions, a lot of worries, a lot of sadness in my heart. I don't have any comfort to share or give, because I don't know what you can say to someone in these shoes. Nobody wants to wear them because they hurt, but you don't get to choose whether or not you do - so what do you say? Tough break? It'll be ok? Because, really? I don't know that. I don't KNOW that it's going to be ok - for me, for you, for any one of us who deal with infertility. Is it ever going to be ok if you can never, ever get pregnant? Can you ever REALLY come to terms with being denied like that?

I know that other people may find comfort in their faith. They may say to themselves, it's all in God's plan (or, as the case may be, not so much). I take a less religious approach and tell myself that things happen for a reason. But then that just begs the question: what's the reason? WHY NOT ME??? What did I do that was so terribly that I shouldn't be able to have a child? And how come there are all these other people who couldn't possibly be WORSE examples: crack addicts, teenagers, people in abusive relationships or people who just have kids because they either don't know about birth control or don't care. All these people who have kids that they don't care about, don't take care of, don't give the love and affection to that so many who can't have kids would. Where's the fairness in all that? Where's the grand master plan in all that?

I am just...not happy with any of this, and I don't know how to make it better...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Letters From The Edge

Do you ever find yourself feeling like you're standing outside of some 5 star restaurant, in the pouring rain, looking in and watching all these lovely people in gorgeous clothes, feasting on the most amazing foods? Kind of like being an adult version of Curly Sue?

That's how I feel a lot of the time. I feel like I'm observing this whole motherhood thing from a distance. Almost like when you're not totally asleep, but not quite awake either. You sort of have a vague sense of what's going on around you but aren't actively participating.

To be honest, I never thought that blogging would help me. I didn't think that sharing my thoughts and feelings - in all their gritty, raw honesty - would make me feel better. It never occurred to me that, somehow, somewhere, there would be other women - struggling just like me - and that their words of encouragement and sympathy would somehow be like a band-aid. Yet...that's exactly what's happening.

At a time when I feel I can't confront the reality of infertility with those who are, arguably, closest to my heart, it seems almost strange to find comfort in the words of people I don't know - and who, for all intents and purposes, don't know me either. Yet, somehow, in that sense of anonymity, maybe the real issues become more clear and less clouded by other considerations.

Today, I had one of those moments that felt like a snapshot in a movie. I saw this woman with a little child in a stroller. At first glance, nothing new - I'm almost becoming numb to the sense of injustice, longing and despair that floods me like some venomous chemical. But as I watched, the little child - I couldn't quite tell if it was a boy or a girl - became ANIMATED. It stretched, laughed, smiled, giggled, reaching for its mother as the whole world in its little eyes.

And I felt like someone had literally reached into my chest and pulled out my still-beating heart. Ok, I know - that sounds overly dramatic and graphic. But I felt that I needed to use words that would lend this sort of strong, almost violent, quality to the force of the pain I felt. In my mind, like some sort of torture device, the scene keeps replaying - but, in this bizarre masochistic way that the mind was of rendering the pain even more unbearable, the scene keeps replaying...only I'M the mother...and it's my little baby casting its eyes adoringly on me, giggling as I tickle it and talk to it. Loving the sheer adulation, the eternal bond formed between mother and child.

Lately, I've been having nightmares a lot more. I keep dreaming of getting old and everyone I love dying around me. I think it's this sense of not having new life around me; of not having off-spring to raise and to keep me grounded in my later days. And so, barely grazing my early 30s, I have moments when I feel like I'm entering the last decade of my life. This whole ordeal is literally sapping the life out of me. I try...I try so hard not to let it get to me ALL THE TIME. But then I find myself sitting across from a couple with a little girl, for example - like I did today - and this family unit, so cohesive, so loving, so in tune with nature...And I feel left out. I feel like some shaggy old dog sitting in the rain, begging for scraps.

There are times when it gets worse than others. Sometimes I hear kids screaming or misbehaving and I think, THANK GOD I don' t have to deal with THAT. But then, I always think - that wouldn't be me. That wouldn't be me, trying to "reason" with a 2-year old, as opposed to being firm and setting boundaries for the child whose life I am solely responsible for. Because, at the end of the day, as women, I think that our responsibility towards the life we bring into this world is greater than that of anyone else - after all, we carry the unborn child with us, nurture it even before its birth, bond with this amazing "being" that we are able to produce.

I wish there was an easy way to deal with this - but then, I guess, anything worth having is worth fighting for. Sometimes I think it would just be as well if we adopted - but then, that's hardly even a consideration at this point, since we'd probably have to take out a loan just to cover the ridiculous fees involved in adoptions. And the weird thing is this. Before I ever felt ready to have children - long before we had any evidence that there might be issues with conceiving - I always considered adoption as a viable option. Not just instead of giving birth, but AS WELL AS giving birth. In some sense I felt that, if I was going to be a mother, I should be selfless enough, also, to give a home to a child who had no parents.

Ironically, it seems, that fate has decided both of these issues for me: we probably won't be able to conceive naturally, and other avenues may not be open to us for financial reasons. Isn't that just the biggest joke? All these people who have a ton of kids, can't support them, even beat and neglect them...all these orphans, foster kids etc...And here we are - you, me, every other women going through this ordeal - with so much love to give...and no one to give it to. You really have to wonder about the ways of the world, sometimes.

I try to take comfort in these wise words that "this too shall pass" - but I can't help but wonder: will it? Will there be a happy ending, one day? Will there ever be hope? Or will this just be a dark chapter in our lives that will forever cast a shadow over our marriage?

When you get married, and you say your vows, and you consider the traditional "for better or worse, in sickness and in health" - how many of us assume that we really will be put to the test? How many of us, occasionally, think: would this have happened if I had married someone else? Would this have happened if I hadn't waited to have children? Would this have happened if...?

And, really, it's all those "IFs" that finally make you want to tear out your hair. Because you can never get a straight answer to an "if" question - it's always cast in doubt.

After reading some blog comments over the last month, I've been feeling guilty for not taking into account that Kenton may be harboring the same kind of pain, just not showing it the way I do. And, really? I'm not showing it either. I still haven't told my mom, my best friend, or anyone else that you'd think this kind of information would be shared with. I JUST CAN'T. I can't face the conversation. I can't face the inevitable questions, comments, suggestions, advice...Just the thought of it all makes me feel VIOLATED. So I have to put on a poker face, bravely smile at cute babies and cooing parents, comment on a cute baby here, and adorable toddler there, and just grin and bear it. Pretend that it's not tearing me up inside; that I don't have to fight it every which way - that it doesn't take every ounce of self-control not to burst into tears every day, every minute, every hour...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


For the last week or so, I've been consumed by anger. I can't seem to get a grip and I can't seem to do anything to make it go away. I am just so, so angry.

I saw someone today that I don't like. This woman is a real bitch - excuse me for saying so - and a liar, hypocrite and backstabber. And of course she - like the rest of the female population of the world, it seems - has a baby. I can't think of a person whose motherhood annoys me more. Not just because of her overt smugness but because, as much as I know it's horrible to say this, I just think she doesn't DESERVE to be a mother.

There. I've said (or, rather, written) it.

Maybe that makes me a bad person. Maybe it just makes me human. Maybe it's just one of those things that's like rubbing salt into an open wound.

A lot of times people tell you all sorts of assorted BS when you're going through a rough spot - whether it's a divorce, unemployment, loss of a loved one or any number of things that elicit (or at least SHOULD elicit) sympathy. One of the things that gets under my skin the most is when people act all fatalistic about it, like oh, well, I guess it's just not meant to be. NOT MEANT TO BE??? WTF??? Some white trash retard has 6 kids and that's ok, but then someone like me apparently can't have any (through no fault of my own, it would seem), and suddenly it's some sort of cosmic conspiracy.

If there is a God, he's sure as hell not on my Christmas card list.


Today should actually have been a good day. It should've been fine. I talked to a lot of friendly people (except for one idiot who was trying to be all high and mighty - but then, some people are just like that and occasionally I can almost relate know where I'm going with this). There were no real tragic mishaps today. No one cut me off on the road, no one was rude to me - quite the opposite in fact - and I had a semi-productive day.

But lately, every time I pause to think - about my life in general, my marriage, my future - I feel this black cloud of doom and gloom descend upon me. Suddenly, no matter what else is going on, I am nearing a panic attac and just wish I could literally split the ground and disappear in a chasm. I don't know what's gotten into me. I've had ups and downs before - but this is just completely ridiculous. Worst of all: I can't seem to get a handle on it.





I don't do yoga - not for want of trying, mind you. The whole chanting and listening to some weird instructions to bend my body as though I'm some sort of human Gumby...yeah, not my bag, baby. Pilates? Let's not even go there. So, I guess, the truth is that I really just don't have an outlet for all this pent-up frustration, despair, this anger I feel. I have no way to...let it out and get on with it. So it just sort of hovers like smog all around me.

I considered spending the next three days in bed. Pulling the covers over my head and pretending that everything around me just stopped. Or that, at any rate, my participation in this life was suspended.

I feel ashamed of my feelings, my downtrodden attitude. So many awful things happen in the world, I really shouldn't even have an ounce of unhappiness to contend with. But, alas, that's just one of those things that, if you ask me, aren't nearly as easy to control in reality as one would think.

I talked to my parents earlier today. My mom sensed - of course, as she would - immediately that I wasn't myself. My dad tried to cheer me up - but, try as I might, all I could think was, I am SO not in the mood to talk to ANYONE.

If I had a lot of money, I think I'd hop on a plane to some exotic island and spend a week or so just regrouping. But then - look at all these celebrities and how f***ed up they are. Really??? I mean, sometimes I wonder how you can possibly have issues if you're rich. But then, I guess, while money certainly does make the world go around (latest evidence the astronomic campaign expenditures during this last election), it doesn't buy you happiness.

If you've ever read this book called The Perfume - about a man whose quest to bottle the perfect scent eventually leads to murder - it makes you wonder what it would take to bottle happiness, so to say. I have this little cutout somewhere that says:

"If you have the capacity to be happy someday, you can be happy NOW."

I wish I could just somehow LIVE those words, instead of bemoaning my life for what it isn't. So sad, when you think about it: that I can let this one thing - this fact of being childless - stand in my way of an otherwise happy life. Life is, of course, always what we make it - and right now, dear void, there isn't much in it.