Monday, December 28, 2009


Miscellaneous snippets:

A dear friend posted on her f-book page about how this was her first Christmas as a mother, and how she was more excited about seeing her boys with their gifts than about her own gifts. And it made me chuckle because of my own reaction. A few years ago in the throws of infertility angst, it would probably have made me seethe with jealousy, and I would have stifled a tear or two because she got to be a mother and I didn't. Or something. But now? Now I thought "awww, you were previously excited about your own gifts? Man, my family Christmas sucks ass in comparison then, because I'm never excited about getting gifts." I think the last time I can remember being excited about getting gifts was when I was about 7. I have been disappointed ever since. No, I should rephrase that. I don't get disappointed because I now have sufficiently low expectations. And actually, this year, I got quite a good haul - from the family I got some nice jammies (that I can get into - I have in the past received clothing that is too small, as a "hint" to make me want to lose weight), a cute silver necklace, a bottle of vino, and chocolate, and from friends I got an interesting cookbook, more vino, more chocolate, a cool reusable shopping bag, and a couple of gift cards. Not bad at all, really.

I met a nice man who is interesting, and who maybe kinda seems interested in me. Whether it will go anywhere, I have no idea, as I am the worst, most lame person in the history of lameness at flirting. But he bought me a cup of coffee last week, and then on Thursday I got a Merry Christmas hug. So, we'll see. I hope he's the patient type. And that he perseveres in the face of lameness. But it has brought up all sorts of feelings about if I can get him to try to have kids together as a last ditch effort on my part (nota bene: we haven't even had a date yet, so this is wildly inappropriate thinking). And I came to a realization, which startled me. I realized that it is more important for me to approach any potential relationship in its own time, than to be a crazy person and try to rush somebody into ditching contraception just because I have a half-baked fantasy that 9 IVFs were wrong and that I'm actually still fertile. So, finally, a relationship will be more important to me because of its own merits than because of anything it can provide me in the way of kids. I think that's a pretty huge step, as it means I am at last putting away all of the kid fantasies, and am getting on with real life. Whatever real life has in store.

I freakin' love the public library. Just saying. Every time I go (which is sadly not often these days due to school commitments) I am bowled over by how libraries have changed with the times. You can renew books over the internet. You can order them over the internet. They have magazines! DVDs! All sorts of things. For freeeeee. Awesomeness. If only they had all my school books, I'd be set, as I wouldn't have to pay hundreds of dollars every year to get new text books. Anyway, this year I am determined to keep going to the library even during school time, so I can have a little mental break from studying with some nice piece of fiction, or whatever.

Merry New Year, one and all. I hope that if you are crushed by your own infertility pain (or any pain, really), that 2010 is the year that things finally go your way. Even if that means getting off the pain treadmill and finding other things to do with your life. Because that can be rewarding too, I promise.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Do you dream of home?

I don't know about you, but until recently I never dreamt of my own house when dreaming of anything set at any home. It was always either the house I grew up in (I lived in the same house from the time I was 6 months old until I left home at 18) or my paternal grandparents' house (similarly, they never moved when I was a kid). Even if the dream was set in the present day. Or if I was conjuring up a scene from a book. It would be set in one of those houses. Other relatives' homes or even other homes that I have lived in never really factored in to the equation, even though they or I may have stayed in them for long periods of time, but I assumed that because they were not "permanent" meant they were lost to my unconscious. Although sometimes I'd dream of my maternal grandparents, and those were set at the house they lived in the longest (that I remember), but if they weren't the main characters in the dream, their house wasn't in it either. I suppose I assumed you get hard wired to certain archetypes of "home" so I figured mine was set. I'd be interested how those of you that moved around as kids dream of home.

Until this weekend. I dreamt of my current house. But more specifically, it was a bit of a nightmare. You see, my house got broken into. AGAIN. And I lost my brand new laptop, and more importantly, more sentimental jewelry (my mother's and great-grandmother's engagement rings). The police said that I'm now being targeted and watched, because now they know that I live alone, that I'm out of the house a lot, the house isn't very secure, there's no big dog, and I have expensive taste in electronics (I'm paraphrasing here). And there's a huge crime wave in the neighborhood and they're trying really hard to catch them.

Blah. This time the front door was damaged as they jimmied the lock. I have had it repaired, but I have ordered a new, swankier, tougher door, with no soft wood that can be splintered with a pry-bar type of a deal. I can't wait for it to be installed, as I don't feel all that safe any more. [Yes, the alarm was on, and went off, but it was a smash, run in and grab type thing. They were long gone before the police and I arrived.] I also have the alarm company coming on Wednesday to beef up the alarm system.

So, my dream. I dreamt that I was in my house, my current house, and there were evil zombie-type people outside trying to get in. They were banging against the living room window and the front door, rattling things, and generally being very menacing and zombie like. But in the dream I knew that I had awesome and terrible magic power, and so I raised myself up and boomed out "by the power vested in me, you shall NOT gain access to this house. This house is SAFE. You will LEAVE this property and not gain entry." And I zapped 'em with the power rays coming out of my hands. And then there were all the zombies with their hands on the windows, melting away and dying these rather horrible deaths. But oh, the evil looks that they gave me as they writhed and melted away were awful and fearsome, and I knew that it was not over and that they were going to try to come back again.

I just need to find my inner awesome and terrible power and make my house safe again, and then I'll be good.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Up, Down, On Pain

Have you seen the movie "Up" - you know, the animated one with the old guy and the house and balloons and the little fat kid?

I rented it last night. Oh my lord, it made me bawl. I'm not sure that that was the intended effect on the moviegoing public, seeing as it's a Disney movie, and all, and I'm sure it is supposed to be a comedy. But still, there was bawling in my house. The kind of crying that is so loud and involved that you have to snort hard to get gasps of breath in your body inbetween wails. The kind of crying that makes your cat look up in alarm at the terrible racket you are making.

You see, at the beginning there's a little montage of the history of how the old crotchety guy got to be the old crotchety guy. It's lovely really, but includes a tiny scene where him and his wife suffer what appears to be the loss of a pregnancy and then never have kids. Presumably because they can't. And of course, to an infertile, this cuts like a knife wound, so it started me off with the sobbing. Of course, they make the best of things, and have a lovely relationship which is shown over the years, but which to my eyes was always tinged with the sadness of what never was. And yet they never get to go off and have the adventures they dreamed of, because there's always some emergency or other to pay for. And then the wife dies. And the man loses his last link to happiness, but has to carry on in his lonely life. And that had me wailing even harder.

It got me thinking of course, if they HAD been able to have children, would we have NOT expected them to still dream of having adventures? Is having children enough of an adventure that it leads to a satisfying life? I think the general answer is yes - it is an adventure into how you can live with your heart walking around outside of your body, in having your heart opened up so wide, with learning about responsibility and caring and having to be there and having to be responsive to that little being even when every fiber of your being is worn out, worn down and just plain bored of just one more repetition of "the wheels on the bus" or whatever. But those of us that do not have children, we seem to be expected to go out and find that grand adventure, that BIG life that is allegedly denied to those with children, to find meaning elsewhere. And if we don't do that, are we failures to be pitied? I suppose we are. I suppose I was pitying the old guy in the cartoon. I suppose that's what I was meant to do. And then we are supposed to cry again at the happy, yet poignant, ending montage. Which I did too. Of course there's a happy ending. It's Disney. And WE have to hope for a happy ending too.

And yet, there's a story there about loss here. And yes, redemption. There is so much love and loss, and pain in the world, that anything that shows it breaks my heart open anew these days. Any death of a child, of a spouse, of a sibling, of a parent, of any loved one, is terrible. Any infertility, especially if it involves a permanent loss - of a pregnancy, of a hope, of a dream, of a link to a genetic child, is terrible. But what gets me is the people who are left behind, who have to soldier on. Who have to continue living their life because it's not their time to die too. What a terrible fate. We who are left behind have to wallow in the grief even while we're secretly waiting for our own improbable Disney-like happy ending, for redemption, for a fat, obnoxious, annoying kid to knock on our door and change our lives.

And yet, I have seen my own pain and how it has changed me. Inside. Without a kid coming along and doing it for me. And would I change that for all the world? That realization that I can change my viewpoint about things and see the good in the bad? Actually, of course I would. I'm not yet so evolved that I cherish all of my pain, that I wouldn't gladly have changed it for success - but I CAN see that it has been in some ways beneficial. That it IS changing my life for the better, and that I can cherish parts of it, parts of my journey. And I am thankful that I can see that much. So why can't I see that pain for others could be good too, in the end? I suppose it's because we all just want to spare everyone from the depths of despair. We see pain in others, yes, even in a Disney cartoon, and are reminded of our own torment. And that hurts.

Nobody wants to go through the depths, the dark night of the soul, and yet the depths is precisely where the rebirth of a new hope, a new life, a new light can take place. It's a scary, horrible place, and not everyone has that new hope experience of course, but I wish, I wish, that those that ARE in pain, that have to go through it, can get something good out of it. I wish that we all could fully live in this wonderful adventure of life. Fully live. Even if we have to suffer through pain and loss and disappointment while we're doing it. I wish we could fully take to heart the words of the wise people who have been there before us and come out the other side. I wish we could all find the joy in pain.

On pain

And a woman spoke, saying, Tell us of Pain.
And he said:
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your field.
And you would watch with serenity though the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility;
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burns your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with his own sacred tears.

From The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A funny thing happened

See, I was just thinking "hmmm, I really better do a blog post before my 2 remaining readers think I have shuffled off this mortal coil..." when my A/C broke. What's that got to do with blogging, you might wonder. Well, if one doesn't have A/C it gets kinda hot. And when it's kinda hot, you tend to open a window. Or two. So there is my house, sitting there with windows open while I am at work one Friday, thinking "I really should call the A/C repair guys, but I don't want to spend the money and maybe I can last out until the cool weather arrives." And wouldn't you know it, the open windows looked so inviting that a couple of guys just couldn't resist popping the screens off the windows and climbing in. In broad daylight. On a Friday afternoon. As some of my neighbors were walking past with their dogs, and shouting that they were calling the police. So, that was that for my laptop. And my iPod. And some jewelry. Sigh. Off it all went into one of my pillowcases and on to whatever pawn shop/fence is currently paying the most for such things.

So, no computer = no blogging. And you thought I was just lazy - shame on you. Well, OK, I am lazy. Uh, I mean, busy. Uh, well, not living an interesting infertility-related life. But now I have finally got myself a new computer, so I feel obliged to post that I am not dead.

I am doing OK, actually. I'm taking stock of the fact that I'll probably never have kids. You'd think I would have been dealing with that all along, and I have. Kind of. But I always had this fantasy that I'd meet a nice guy and get knocked up the old fashioned way, against all the odds. But the odds are climbing higher and higher every day so it's featuring less and less in my imaginings of what my life is going to be like in the future. And that's surprisingly OK. I spend some time every now and then imagining my child-free life, and it brings me comfort. In fact, it's been one of the main ways that I have used in order to be able to crawl out from the pit of despair. What I do is picture myself at 70 and see what I've been able to accomplish without children - what sort of life I've built for myself. See, without paying for kids' things, and school and college, without needing to live in a place with extra bedrooms in a good school district, I figure you can afford to make different life choices.

In my imaginings I have built up a picture of myself as a thin, elegant lady who lives in a bijou apartment in NYC (or some other great city like Paris or London), who you might find dashing off to a yoga class, or to the library, or to tea with a dear friend, or to a free concert in Central Park. I have a small wardrobe of high quality designer clothes, and I have minimal but carefully cherished possessions. I am happy and serene, and although I don't live an expensive life, it is interesting and fulfilling.

It's funny, when I first started doing this, I set myself a task of picturing ANY sort of life, money no object, reality be damned - let's just picture anything that might make me happy without kids. I had spent so much of my life imagining that kids were the natural progression that I couldn't picture an adulthood without them. So I felt that I had to re-imagine life, and come up with a goal. And this is what gradually emerged. No fabulous yacht sailing around the south Pacific islands, no large mansion, not really anything that wasn't totally unattainable. So when I am wallowing in pity or feeling annoyed with life, I return to this picture, and try to put into action concrete steps that will help me get from here to there. I mean, without kids, why not be totally selfish and just make a life that will feel right.

So, I am doing yoga. I am doing it 2 or 3 times a week, and am getting back to bendiness and am gaining some good muscles. I am slowly losing the weight I gained doing infertility treatments. It's taken me over a year, but I am down nearly 25 pounds. I have a ways to go, but one of these days I will be in shape. Each time something no longer fits right, I am being brutal about putting it aside to take to Goodwill. I am no longer hanging on to bigger clothes in case I need them when I am pregnant. Slowly my giant wardrobe that is mostly clothes I can't fit in is being whittled down. Not that I'm at the stage of buying expensive designer things to replace the stuff I am giving away, but I am trying to think about buying things that are stylish and work well together. See, they're little steps, but they are actual, concrete steps that help me to feel like I am doing something. That I am creating my imagined life.

And there's school. It's a little (lot) crazy right now because we have a big comprehensive year-end exam coming up. But I am liking my class (yes, even the annoying guy has calmed down a lot and is growing on me), I am liking what I am learning and I can use it as an opportunity to have a fulfilling not-too-stressful job and to move anywhere I want when I graduate. And maybe I will move nowhere at all, and will stay put. But it'll be a choice because I like my friends and my life here, rather than just being in my current city because that's where my job is.

So. There. That's where my head is. If I could give one piece of advice to anyone mired in the pain of infertility, it's to start imaging a life without kids. Maybe you'll find that parenting really is the most important thing, and you'll adopt or succeed through treatment. Or maybe you'll find that life might not be so bad and lonely after all.