I feel jealous that you have a baby. A beautiful, healthy baby that poops on you and leaves you with dark circles under your eyes. The one you moan about while laughing and flipping your hair. I am uncomfortable at the degree with which I am jealous of you and your perfect bab-y/ies. I’ve always considered myself a kind person. When a friend or family member cries, I hold her hand and join in. I am not a jealous person by nature and my entire life, I have believed that if there’s something another person has that I want then, by golly, I can go out there and get it too! Until now.
Chances are, I probably want to steal your baby. I catch myself lapsing into a Holly Hunter-southern drawl and telling my husband “to go out there and get me a baby!”
One day, I was even jealous of Octomom. And Kim Kardashian. Seriously? She gets to have a baby right now, but I don’t? Apparently, making a sex tape is the proper prelude to a storybook pregnancy and perfect Vogue-ready baby. I may or may not have Googled “approximate jail sentences for baby-napping.” I’m only kidding. Only the men and women at the NSA know for sure. #Imnotkidding.
I feel heartbroken. Simply put, I feel sad. And gipped. Seeing a laughing baby in a stroller leaves me struggling to breathe due to the cracks that splinter up my chest. Every morning at 3:07am a crushing melancholy wakes me from my sleep. There’s something about that :07 that taunts me. Seven was once my favorite number. Seven was the total, pitiful follicle count at my last Day 3 ultrascan.
I feel alone. I am one of millions of women on Earth right now shouldering infertility. And yet I feel like the only one because this is my problem. I don’t know the other women who also frequent my appointed fertility clinic. I’m unaware of any support groups. I have friends here and there who have been in the same boat, and triumphed and failed through IVF, but our discussions are pragmatic, procedural, about i.u’s and needles. Only a handful of people know the truth of my situation, including my boss (who needed to know why I had to dodge another client meeting in New Delhi due to another doctor’s appointment). Who, consequently, chattered about my problem around the office of our ad agency, thereby reducing all perception of me, my professionalism, and my hard earned Senior title to “poor, pitiful women we should all write off now because her new job is to get pregnant.” And it’s the most dubious pitch she’ll ever win and the odds are tiny; and she’s As Good as Gone, like that last client who left us.” I cannot control the narrative of my infertility story at work, but I’m pretty sure it’s an unsavory one, full of pity and murmuring distrust, eclipsing the previous narrative of “Girl Who Used to Get $hit Done.”
Loneliness over infertility is a thorny kind of bummer that presents few solutions. I’s just not a classy topic of discussion. So I rarely talk about it with anyone in such frank terms. Which is why I’m blogging now. This feels amazing.
I feel grief on a daily basis. I mourn the child that is mine that doesn’t exist and maybe never will. I see him in my mind’s eye. The little fat baby that should be in my arms. I miss him every day. I mourn that child.
To clarify, I would never equate my grief to the ear-splitting agony a parent bears over the death of his or her child. Theirs is the most severe pain a person can possibly endure. I cannot imagine. But my own is a tricky, unintelligible grief as real and soul-scratching as cotton. A grief I never knew existed. It’s unlike the sadness of a break-up, or the grief of losing the family dog. It’s mourning a ghost. It’s mourning thin air. It’s mourning the death of a piece of yourself that never had the chance to be born.
I feel like a broken human being. Human beings with two X-chromosomes are designed to pass on their 23 chromosomes and contribute to the proliferation of the human race. I am unable to do my part. I feel like less a human sometimes – a “break in the continuity of life.” A failure or an aberration that in Darwinian terms render me “unfit to survive” evolution.
I feel unwomanly. I feel unfeminine. And gross. Back to number 5, I feel as unwomanly as I do broken. My cycle is wonky and not up to par; my hips are small and not of good birthing proportions. I get good exercise dodging thinly veiled insults from friends and people named Mom who suggest I eat more donuts and put on some Lb’s, even though I’d kill for a donut but we don’t have donuts in Denmark. And they blame my small frame and low BMI, and suggest I brought this problem on myself. “Perhaps all those years in LA…” or “Your time in a sorority…”
There’s that devilish voice in my head accusing me of wrecking my own body – and yet my kind Danish doctors leave me off the hook. “This happens. We don’t know why.” What I make up for in being unwomanly I compensate for in craziness, which we’ll get to later.
I feel scared. On round 1 of my many IUIs I shrugged haughtily to my doctor, “I got this!” After the seventh failure and an ambulance ride to the hospital over a feared ectopic, the terror crept in. My greatest fear in life is no longer dying alone, an old cat lady; it is never getting to be the one and only thing I’ve wanted to be my entire life: a mom. But the truth is, I became a “mother” the day my mom handed off my newborn sister to me when I was 8, and I thought Silly Mom was letting me have her. For ever. My little sister took to me like Linus and his blankie. I bathed and diapered her, gave her bottles, cuddled her while reading her The Giving Tree, and I sprang her from her crib every night so she wouldn’t have to sleep alone. I was the youngest, happiest child-mom on the block, raising a kid to appreciate Ricky Schroeder and Eggos with peanut butter, to hold her breath in the pool, to be a kind friend and an unapologetic nerd who embraces sci-fi movies and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman on Saturday nights, who can paint her own nails and fire off quick comebacks to bossy parents. Mothering is encoded in my DNA, and the biggest boast I’ll ever make is that I was Made To Be a Mom.
I feel angry that the baby I pray I get to have one day will be made in a lab, and possibly through a genetic donor. It creeps me out a little, if we’re being honest. It feels like we are dabbling in Frankenscience – and that the Roman Catholic Church that I was baptized and raised in would raise its eyebrow at my choices. (Though, frankly, they are in no position to judge). The only thing I am more uncomfortable with than IVF is being 50 and childless of my own accord. So I will keep up the hormone injections, the laser therapy, the oocyte monitoring, the harvestations and implantations, on the hope that a patchwork of atheist doctors can give me a baby, because God doesn’t want to. (Bitch).
I’m one confused (non)mother-….. I have friends who have ravaged their body from pills, anorexia, bulimia, booze, and over-indulgent wild-oat-sowing years who got pregnant WHILE ON THE PILL. On a deep and heartfelt level, I applaud their body’s resilience and natural inclination to snap back and procreate! I laughed til I cried when my older, unmarried sister in her late 30s got pregnant by accident. Ooops.
I am awash in confusion, trying to navigate my fertility treatment in a second language. In a country I don’t always “get.” In a nation founded by stoics, where the national anthem is called “Don’t show your feelings” Buck up. Be a man.
The only people who probably understand the mish-mash of jacked up feelings described above are other women who have walked in my precious Kron Krons.
They’ve been there and felt the confusion every time a well-intended friend, relative or stranger glibly tossed out the word adoption, in case we weren’t aware such a thing existed. On the off chance I never got past the word “adaption” while studying the dictionary as a kid. Frustration piles on top of confusion when people offer up their earnest advice along the lines of “I have this friend who has been trying for yearsssss and once they finally stopped trying, voila, they got pregnant! That could happen to you?”
And I stare back blankly and practice my pageant smile, keeping my tongue still. Because my chances of getting pregnant naturally are not slim to none, they are none to none. They are zero point zero percent. They are as zero as zero times infinity, and if it does happen naturally, I will have some ‘splaining to do.
I feel crazy often on account of the ungodly amount of hormones I must inject into my abdomen to prepare for in-vitro fertilization. These hormones are bananananananas and make the sanest, saintliest of woman a complete cuckoo-bird who belongs in Honey Boo Boo’s family. I explained it to my sisters like this: Every month a woman releases 1 good egg from her ovaries, while several other smaller eggs hang back (it’s not their time yet). Then theres the chance that one “æg” will meet a good spermy swimmer and a baby will form. But for me to get pregnant, they need to harvest from my womb a whole $hit-ton of eggs (like a baker’s dozen) so that in an upcoming month, I don’t just cook one good egg, but maybe ALL my good eggs that round, which the embryologists can then futz with and freeze. So imagine the annoying mood swings you get before that Time of the Month to get your “one good egg.” I will have 10 times that surge due to the many days of follitropon-beta hormones being blasted into my belly.
Of all the inconvenient feelings I admit to in this list, the one that makes me the most uneasy is The Crazy. I’m already a preternaturally “passionate” woman who features a carefully managed, yet ever-present crazy streak. BUT. Here’s the thing — I spent my entire 20s and early 30s learning how to Not Be Crazy to such a degree that I now ooze a calm, omm-y vibe that would make the Dalai Lama jealous. I don’t cry very much. I don’t get blue. Don’t mope or wallow or get all “emotional.” Not because I’m not sensitive and emotional – I have the most acute batch of over-abundant feelings, constantly flapping around on high alert, ready to feel something. But I have trained myself to take no shit from no one, including my feelings. I taught myself to toughen up. I credit the many self-help books, the LA-canyon spirit-warrior workshops, the chats with God, the soul-searching, the Oprah, the many fetal-position/carpet-sob-sessions, and the impressive number of payments to Dr. Grenner – ” Therapist to the Stars!” – for making me the happy-go-lucky non-trainwreck that I am today. I am a sensitive, dramatic creature who for 15 years has managed her condition by wearing a shiny armor of steel, impenetrable by no force of evil feeling or wrecking, except for hormones.
My protective layer of outer badass isn’t tough enough to withstand a few thousand i.u.’s of gonadotropin apparently.
So I go from calm, strong, unflappable, poker-faced Friend/Wife/Sister/Coworker, to vulnerable, sad, weepy, moody, bitchy Drama Queen in about 24 seconds, whilst on hormones. Makes me mad.
I realized my bitchiness had reached new heights when the world’s sweetest intern at my work, Christoffer, asked me to grab him a bottle of water after I announced that I was headed to the kitchen to fetch water. And I huffed, “You‘re the Intern! YOU should be getting the water!” as I hobbled down the hallway. He froze. My colleagues gasped. And a thousand Jimminy Crickets descended on my limp left-brain, scolding me for my nastiness to sweet Saint Christoffer. And I apologized to Christoffer a few hours later with tears running down my cheeks, and he smiled and said “No problem!” And I shared the whole story with my husband that evening while adding, “But I was sort of right, right?! He should be getting the water.”
That’s what we’re talking about, people, when it comes to women on hormones. I often wonder if I should wear a flashy, TGI-Fridays-style pin on my shirt that warns my coworkers, “It’s not you! I’m just on hormones! :)” Smiley face! Flair! But again, I can’t do that. Because no amount of spirit fingers will make this topic any less uncomfortable to discuss.
SO THOSE ARE THE 10 FEELINGS
The 10 feelings this sad, grieving, crazy, scared drama queen feels at any given moment due to my fertility struggles. This is my life. And it’s a big, hilarious, tragic mess. It’s where I need to be for some reason, and I’ll never know why.
I just pray it ends in a baby.