First comes love….
Then comes marriage…
Unless losing my mind and my sanity count for something. Oh yea, and lets not forget embarrassment (Nothing like continually exposing your lady bits to rooms full of strangers. And do you really want to know what happens to that should-be-radioactive, neon dye they shoot into your ovaries after the HSG? Didn’t think so.), confusion, loneliness, disappointment, grief, and a lot of anger, because there certainly is no baby carriage.
A lot of tears though. Enough tears to fill up a baby carriage. Tears every time I see a baby carriage.
Because I am…
(I can do this. Take in a deep breath. Exhale….)
For a person who was never quite sure I wanted a baby, I can not say how much this has rocked me to my core. It’s like everything I used as a landmark in life has shifted and everything I knew to be true, is not. Maybe the fact that I wasn’t always sure I wanted a baby is karmic retribution rearing it’s ugly head. Maybe being on the pill for a hundred years broke my lady parts. Maybe my busted plumbing is God’s way of telling me I’d be a crap parent. Maybe my head will pop off or spontaneously combust from wondering about the “what ifs”.
The thing about infertility is that it’s not neat and tidy. It’s not clearly defined. You can’t put it in a box with a clear border; a defined beginning, middle, or end. Why can’t it have an expiration date? Like a carton of milk. It’s unpredictable and has these huge implications that bleed into all areas of my life. It’s ALWAYS there following me around. A constant companion (I should name it. Eugenia or something equally ugly.). And more often than not it’s like this big, huge, elephant in the room. Sometimes I feel like it tramples me over. And over. And over.
I can not convey what it’s like to go through. It’s impossible. And maybe that’s a good thing for people who haven’t dealt with infertility. I don’t wish it upon anyone. The feelings of loss and despair are not quantifiable. Dr. Linda Applegarth sums it up pretty clearly saying “Having difficulty getting pregnant can cause as much grief as losing a loved one but it’s different. It is chronic and elusive. There’s a fear that life will be eternally empty. Some feel a sense of damage and brokenness; it goes to the heart of who they are.”
The heart of who I am.
Who am I? I know what I am not. I am not a Mom. I will never hear anyone say “I love you Mom.” I will never hold a beautiful, incredible miracle in my arms that my husband and I created.
What defines ME? How do I begin to define who I am when everything I thought I would be, I am…not? Complex identity issues, anyone?
How do I navigate myself in a world that constantly bombards me with pregnancy and “family” paraphernalia? How do I not feel invisible in a time of designer handbags and designer babies? Or judged by helicopter parents & grandparents for not having any kids? Living in a small town that’s a veritable breeding ground, people don’t always understand why I don’t want to be part of their kid-centric worlds. Let me help you out with that: IT IS TOO HEARTBREAKING. The “Mom Culture” is so pervasive and I know most don’t realize it because it is their everyday life, but comments often come across as gloating to those who have empty arms. Try as I might, I can not understand complaining about not being able to nap. Or for having to change your plans because of a temper tantrum. Ultimately this is what you signed up for and your “bad” days will pass. Unlike you, I will live my loss every single day.
I wonder if I should print up a handbook with a picture of Eugenia the Elephant on the cover. Or a set of etiquette rules. While I try and let most insensitive comments and situations roll off my back, they still zing. Especially when it’s someone close to me who I feel should know better. I feel pressured to show up, wherever I go, with a smile on my face, even to kid centered events, even when it hurts to smile (baby showers, birthday parties, family events, Christmas) because it appears I have an “easy” life. My wound is certainly not visible. It’s not an open, raw, oozing wound. I have nothing to show for it. You certainly can’t see it. You can’t see what my insides feel like on a triple dose of fertility drugs because the normal dosage has no effect. You don’t see me throwing up in the bathroom before surgery because I am so scared and nervous. You don’t see when I don’t get my period at all. For months. Or the cancer scare that accompanies that. You don’t see how tears negate the spot-on aim of my pitching arm (Thankfully. For the TV’s sake and my husband’s sake.). You can not see how it breaks my heart every time I see a mother locking eyes with her baby. You don’t see how a little piece of my soul dies every month my hope is dashed. Again. And again. You don’t see the pain that permeates every square inch of my being. It’s a continual struggle and it tests both my husband and me to our limits.
Sometimes laughter helps, sometimes sarcasm, but sometimes the easiest thing for me to do is hide. Isolation is definitely one of my defence mechanisms (along with the odd bottle….oops, I mean glass, of wine, bourbon, tequila…). I’m not saying being alone is the best thing and I’m not trying to be selfish. It’s a simple matter of self-preservation.
And as much as I like to think I’m okay…I’m not sure I am – my infertility is always there. I wonder if Eugenia likes Balenciaga handbags? We might be together for a while and it would be nice to have something in common.