After the most recent failed cycle, I spent about a week and a half bursting into tears at just about anything. Cute baby pictures, sonogram photos someone was showing around, and most notably, actually hurrying out of one of the local superstores with only about half the items I had come for because I caught sight of an acquaintance I knew had just had a baby with a carrier on her arm. I could not oooh and ahhh over the little one at that moment without the floodgates opening.
The one bright thing I had done this time, however, was to talk with both Arthur and Dr. D while we were in the hopeful phase of waiting and come up with a plan so that I didn’t have to make a decision when emotionally, I wasn’t really up for making a decision of that magnitude. We had all agreed that if the cycle failed, Arthur and I would take a short break from fertility treatments.
Arthur and I really haven’t taken a break from trying to conceive since we started over a year ago. While it’s true that I did put off an appointment with Dr. D until March after Dr. B told us in December that we needed to see a specialist, we were still fully immersed in infertility treatments for those months. We had tried Femara in December, then done a last-hope higher dose Femara cycle in January, and I had my HSG(s) in February. In March, once we had met with Dr. D, we immediately started a Follistim cycle. Even April, which I had to sit out due to cysts on my ovaries, I was on birth control to clear the cysts and we were counting down the days until we could start again.
The last several months have been especially messy. In May, we had a drawn out cycle that eventually wound up cancelled, same in June. In July, we had that beautiful cycle that just didn’t clear the hurdle of resulting in a pregnancy despite all the promise. In a sense, that disappointment was especially hard because neither Arthur nor I had really grieved the cancelled cycles, just hurried into the next one. Without the focus of gearing up for another cycle there was nothing to shield us and we were crushed.
However, once I got over the initial period of desperately wondering if taking a break was the right thing, life happened as it is wont to do. I pulled out my supplies and started working on some painting and jewelry-making again. Before I became an English major and then wound up in my current career, I had planned to go into art. I had taken many, many classes in a number of mediums. I was accepted into the special advanced career art class my senior year of high school and actually won an award for the best portfolio of work out of that class. I even did a number of college art and design classes.
I love doing art. I had mostly stopped doing art in the last year, however, because I was worried that if I was pregnant, there would be a chemical in my paints, fixative, or other supplies that would be harmful. I’m currently working on an art deco style “pools of light” necklace, which involves engraving quartz spheres to wrap wires around.
I started running again. I had an injury that had sidelined me for around three months, and even once I was cleared by the doctor, I worried that if I was pregnant, it might cause me to miscarry. Once I found out that I wasn’t pregnant, I started working back into it. Before the injury, I was running 4-6 miles around 4-5 days a week. At this time last year, I was training for a half marathon, which I successfully ran every step of. Running is one of my best ways of releasing stress, and my time to think during busy days. I’m still only up to about 1-2 miles running (with 2-3 miles of fast walking), but I’m getting there.
Arthur and I slipped back, almost unnoticed, into our old, comfortable routines. No longer did we have to worry about toting my Follistim around, making sure the injection was given at the same time each night. No longer were we having to asterisk all of our plans to see people or get together with “if we don’t have to be at the doctor’s office”. It felt wonderful to actually curl up on the couch, sit together, and enjoy our time together.
Sleep was another welcome visitor. For the last year or so, I’ve struggled with insomnia. Hours of staring at the clock, wondering if I’d ever fall asleep. Nightmares all too often when I finally did fall asleep. About three days ago, I realized that I was falling asleep more easily and staying asleep through the night. I had forgotten how it felt to get into bed, turn out the light, close my eyes, and be asleep within minutes. I had forgotten how it felt to wake up rested.
This was all going well until I picked up a pair of decidedly non-kid-friendly long dangly earrings from my jewelry box and started to put them in my ears. Just as I was giving a sigh of satisfaction, guilt hit me like a thunderclap. I was actually happy. But I wasn’t pregnant. I didn’t have a baby.
Instantly, I was castigating myself. If I didn’t keep my whole focus on the lack of a baby, then I might never get one. Some strange, irrational little part of me keeps shrieking that if at any point I have joy, happiness, or positive emotions related to all those things I’ll probably have to give up, at least temporarily, if we ever have a baby, I will never get pregnant. This is magical thinking at its finest, of course, and rationally I know that’s not the case.
Try telling that to the evil, annoying irrational place in my brain.
Deep down, I know the good feelings are actually a wonderful thing. I need a few months of chilling-the-heck-out without the hormones distorting my moods, constant worry about when the next ultrasound will need scheduled and what previously scheduled event will need moved to accommodate it. It’s not having to poke myself daily, not wondering if my follicle count or E2 levels will be off, not holding my breath daily wondering if today I’ll see blood or get a call from the RE’s office that the cycle has to be cancelled.
And yet, despite having all that weight lifted from my shoulders for a short time, I feel guilty. Guilty for enjoying my life. Guilty that somehow I’m selfish if every penny and thought aren’t devoted to having a baby. Guilty that I’m still not pregnant. Guilty that I’m loving going out and running/walking for an hour. Guilty that I’m cherishing having Arthur and just the two of us for a little while. Guilty that I sat and read for a couple of hours. Guilty for enjoying caffeinated coffee this morning. Guilty for taking over the entire dining room table with my dremel, quartz, and jump rings.
Because isn’t a baby supposed to be the only goal right now? And maybe I’m not focused enough on it? And maybe if I suffer enough, feel bad enough, worry enough, I can somehow make it happen? Somehow I’ll be deemed worthy enough, or at least, if I can’t have a baby, appropriately devastated enough that people won’t look at me and whisper about how women are supposed to have babies, devote their entire lives to the pursuit? Maybe if I can’t get admitted to the mommy club, I can at least warrant sympathy? Or at least not attract the scorn I’ve heard directed at those who don’t have children, don’t have a “real” life, are “selfish”, don’t “know what it is to love until you’ve had a child”?
That last bunch kills me. Every time. Even knowing how false those statements are, it still hurts to hear them spoken aloud or posted on facebook along with smiling pictures of babies.
I just keep reminding myself what several wise people in my life have reminded me. That I have to live my life. Enjoy the good things in it. That taking a break for a few months to allow my body, mind, and relationship to heal is a really good thing. That having fun or working on my hobbies isn’t a selfish or evil thing to do. That I can want a child terribly, but that it’s okay to live now. I also keep reminding myself that plenty of great people don’t have children for one reason or another. That if we never manage to get pregnant, somehow, we will pick up the pieces and go on with life.