I See You: An Open Letter to All The Future Mamas Struggling With Infertility

I see you.

I see you hiding behind your Facebook wall.  Silent and purposefully not “liking” the photos of my babies.

I see you rolling your eyes and saying out loud how annoying it is that my profile picture is of my children and not of me. After all, you are friends with me, not my kids, you don’t want to know what’s new with them, you want to know what I’m up to. You might be blocking me from your feed.  I do post a lot of photos of my babies. I can’t help it. And that profile pic IS what I’m up to. It is not me, but it kind of is me at the same time. But you already know that.

I see you liking the snarky memes about parents being assholes.  Selfish, egotistical, ungrateful fucks.

I see you smiling that fake smile when we talk in the break room about our children.

I see you walking out the door when you think it’s safe to make your escape. I see you eating at your desk instead of joining us later in the week.

I see you crying in your car after going to a baby shower, or meeting your friend’s new bundle of joy or hearing another pregnancy announcement from someone who didn’t even try to get pregnant.  Maybe I don’t catch you every time.  But I know you do it.

I see you at the doctor, staring at the photos of the babies on the wall, wondering if that will ever happen to you.  Thinking that maybe it won’t.  But going back anyway.

I see you staring at me in the waiting room, a mother, wondering what the fuck I’m doing in there and wishing me out of your sight.

I see you watching in horror as you bleed, much more than you should be bleeding, as you feel yourself losing it. Him. Her. Maybe even Them. Knowing you will not ever be the same after this.

I see you out shopping, trying to avoid looking at the cute baby things.  I see you, very rarely, pick up something from the rack.  You always put it back. Except that one time. That special thing you saw and couldn’t help but buy.  No one sees it because it is hidden in the back of a closet right now, but you think of it often.

I see you cringing at every insensitive and thoughtless complaint about pregnancy or parenting.

I see you watching a mother hug and cuddle her child as she waits to checkout.  I see you watching another scream at her kid in the backseat while the child cowers. I see the rage in your eyes as you witness both encounters.

I hear you screaming.  Even if you’re only doing it on the inside.

I see you struggling, even though you are trying not to show it.

Don’t worry.  You’re hiding it well.

It’s just that since I’ve been there too, I know you’re there.  I want you to know that I see you, that you’re not alone, and even though it feels like it will -and even though it feels like it will – the anxiety, anger and despair really won’t last forever, even if there is no guarantee of a biological child as an end result of all the turmoil.

If you are looking for support, Reddit has a phenomenal infertility group  and RESOLVE, The National Infertility Association, has resources as well.

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The Office Is The Only Hope

The office is the source of hope.

But it brings with it, more.

 

Fluid filled, cystic anxiety.

Blood soaked uncertainty.

Regression, after success.

Loss.

 

It brings stomach aches and heart palpitations.

Emotions and exposed nerves that are scrubbed raw,

to maintain sanitary conditions in the sterile environment.

 

It’s a recurring nightmare that offers the promise of a dream.

The office is the source of hope.

But, it is not free for the taking.

 

You must pay, with more than only money or time.

You pay with undignified prods and pokes and pills.

With screams and moans that are saved for later.

With tears that are held back and with some that escape.

With exhaustion.

 

And even with a visceral reaction to the office itself, you keep going back.

It’s where you hate to be

and want to be

and must be.

Because the office is the only hope.

Waiting room

The Reproductive Endocrinologist’s Office Is The Only Hope For Those Dealing With Infertility (Photo credit: Melissa Venable)

Dream #9: Little Boy and Burning Blimps

DREAM:

We are traveling and part of our caravan involves several blimps.  From where we are we can see out in front of us through a large domed window.  There is an accident – people are screaming and scared.  There is a little boy about 8 years old by himself, crying.  We can tell things are going from bad to worse.  The blimp in front of us explodes, fire and gases are hurl towards us, break the domed glass and sweep over us.  I grab the boy and cover him with myself, hoping we don’t get burned too badly.

ANALYSIS:

BLIMPS: Dream Moods informs me that riding in a blimp could indicate an inflated view of myself.  Alternatively, it could be a metaphor for my weight and issues about my physical appearance.  Hm.  Analysis Option A)  I have an over-inflated view of how much I am able to help my students.  Really, we can’t make that much of an impact, right?  Some days I think so, other days, not so much. 

Example: I teach my 4th hour some yoga breathing exercises to de-stress. One says he feels better, one writes a poem about breathing and de-stressing and one “macho” kid practices his breathing at home.

I made an impact! 

Counter Example:

Me:  You have 2 more class periods to finish this test.

X:  No I don’t.
Me:  You do.

X:  Why are you doing this to me?  You are so mean.  You’re dumb.

Puts test in random file cabinet

Me:  I’m not mean or dumb.  You know that.

X:  Your cat is ugly

Me:  Are you just saying that to be mean?

X:  Yes.  I don’t like you.
Me: That’s ok.  But that should also probably be an inside thought.

X:  PBBBBTTTT!  I can’t work 1st hour!

Me:  You have worked in here before in 1st hour?

X:  Well, I didn’t l…mumble mumble

X:   Opens my desk drawer, and pulls out 10 little laminated pictures of Norm from Cheers (long story).  X uses white out tape to cover Norm’s eyes (all 20 of them) and says “Look!  You can’t tell who he is now!  You can scrape that off, by the way”.

Me:  So, if you’re putting tape on those, you need to scrape it all off.

X:  I will.  YOU can do it too, you know.

Me:  I know.  But I don’t want to.  That’s why I didn’t put it on them.

X:  Scrapes all the white out tape off using a wooden popsicle stick, since it “didn’t feel right” on his fingers to scrape it off with his/her nail.

Me:  It’s 9.08

X:  You’re a 9:08!

X:  Dings bell with wooden popsicle stick.

Class ends.

Clearly, I make no impact.  

Analysis Option B) I’m going to my cousin’s wedding this weekend, where all of my family will be glammed up.  I’m not much for glamor, and anticipate looking somewhat like an awkward, hairy ungulate, clad in a black dress.  In a last ditch effort to not be both chubby AND utterly drab, I have purchased some new, sequined sling backs, and shiny baubles for my neck and ears.  Somehow we must convince my husband that these purchases were absolutely necessary

BURNING:  Dream moods suggest that burning means I need to take time off for myself, and relax, and maybe I am feeling “burned out”.  It adds that dreaming about being burned alive suggests that I am consumed by my own ambition. Ok, WHO doesn’t feel burned out?!  No, really.  I believe stress-free people are on par with unicorns and yetis and krakens.  Stop faking it, those of you who are pretending to be mythical beasts, you’re making the rest of us look bad.

LITTLE BOY: Dream Forth tells me that to dream that I see a boy, as a female dreamer, implies that I am in touch with the male traits of my personality.  Clearly.  This is why I am so good at growing a moustache and so bad at getting “glammed up” for family weddings.

Headache-O-Meter

So, I’m 32 years old, and have been on blood pressure medication for the past 4 years.  (I have also been married for four years…coincidence? (Just kidding, love you honey!) I actually can’t extol the magnificence of this blood pressure medication enough, because as an added bonus to reducing my systolic and diastolic, it has also cleared up my skin.

Growing up, I was lucky enough to clear, unmarred skin.  But, starting in my mid-twenties my skin became my nemesis.  I began to get acne so badly that I would not want to leave the house.  I’m not exaggerating, it was BAD.  Red.  Inflamed.  Uncomfortable.  Monstrous. Distressing.  One time I was on a return trip home, from Italy, and the woman at customs who was checking my passport said my picture didn’t look like me, and was laughing, The only difference between Passport Me and Current Me, was that Passport Me had clear skin and Current Me had about 25 zits on my face.  Yes, 25.  While I’m on the subject, if you are one of those jackasses who asserts that the reason you have such clear skin is the 60 ounces of water you drink per day, or the carrots and tofu you consume regularly, just an FYI – you are being pretty insulting, implying that the reason your friend has a bumpy pod is because they must NOT be doing these things.  I can’t tell you how many times I heard people proclaim that ingesting water, fruits and veggies or limiting sweets was their remedy, which really irked me, since I am also a healthy person who drinks a lot of water, eats many fruits and veggies, and doesn’t eat a lot of fried foods, chocolate, etc…

Turns out this medication blocks androgens, and my acne was actually caused by a hormonal imbalance (PCOS).  This could also be why I have ungodly amounts of facial hair.  Or maybe I can blame that one on my Sicilian and Black Irish ancestry.  Either way, THANK GOD FOR WAX AND LASER HAIR REMOVAL.

Anyway.  Back to the blood pressure meds.  When I first started the medication, my doctor regularly asked me if I had been experiencing any headaches. Headaches could indicate high potassium levels, a signal that the kidneys are starting to fail – a possible nasty side effect.  I realized after a few visits, that I couldn’t tell if I had been experiencing headaches as a result of the medication, because I woke up with a headache almost every day, anyway.  How could I not realize I had a headache every day?  I am not sure, but I didn’t, or I didn’t think anything of it, until I was asked to let him know if I started getting headaches.  Weird, eh?

What causes daily headaches?  Clenching or grinding teeth?  Sinus pressure?  Husband complaining that I left the lights on, and cupboards open, again?  Nothing life-threatening like a brain tumor, I’m sure, just enough of an annoyance so that I couldn’t accurately answer a doctor’s question, and perhaps accounts for about 2% of my daily bitchiness.  I am not even sure why the doctor felt the need to ask me about the headaches, in the first place, since I get blood drawn at the lab every 6 months, checking on those K+ levels.  Clearly a much more accurate measure than the headache-o-meter.