Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hello, are you there?

Infertility changes you. It dulls your inner light. It leads you to question not only your sanity, but your worthiness. Never have I questioned more my worthiness of love, of happiness, of being a mother, than I have in the past 2 years. The inner light, the love I felt of life, has fled my body like the slow leak of a tire. You can't put your finger on it to stop the leak. You try to refill it, and for short durations, your lungs feel full of air again. But with each negative test, every monthly visitor, the wind is knocked out of your chest again.

You lose yourself to this process. And my god is it a process. The charting, the doctors, the cervical mucus (I'm not kidding), the heightened awareness of your body's every move. It's a total mindfuck to lose yourself of heart and mind in the midst of a time in life when you should be the most self-assured, confident, and collected. In order to be more in touch with your physical self, and by that I mean the fucking cervical mucus, you all but lose touch with your emotional self.

The stronghold infertility has on my life is suffocating most days. A busy day at work is a welcomed reprieve from the other thoughts that crowd my mind during downtime. I went to yoga with a lovely friend last week, and while others were ebbing between an awake/asleep state of mind, I was so very alert. The quiet, peaceful room simply allowed my thoughts to invade my mind and body tenfold. Clearly the point of yoga and meditative rest was lost on me. And for that, I was angry.

Fucking infertility. It makes me angry.

I met with my psychologist today. She's a lovely, spunky woman who drops the "f" bomb - perhaps for my own comfort - and seems just as angry as I am about our current situation. She listens for an hour, interrupts me when I'm being completely irrational, and sends me away with homework. For the last year, I've had the same damn homework - allow infertility dedicated time in your day, invite it in, and then send it away. Why is that so fucking difficult?  It sounds so simple in practice, yet I cannot seem to wrap my mind around the concept. My thoughts seem to invade rapidly, oftentimes without warning. The notion of controlling them seems completely impossible. Nevertheless, I will try.

I will try so that I may find myself again. I will try so that I can be the woman my husband married. I will try so that when (not if) baby Brooks makes his or her (or both - or two of each - hello fertility meds!) grand appearance into our lives, I will not only exude, but I will be the light. I will illuminate myself and others.

Infertility is just a fucking word, one of so very many that define me. I just need to figure out how to move it to the bottom of the list.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dear Husband

Dear Husband,

On this eve of a new year, let me write you this lovenote of a different kind.

2014 has been awful. Those looking in,  and even you, will hear such a statement and remind me of the good in our lives. Our beautiful home, our overcrowded bed filled with furbabies, our vacations, even our material possessions. My intent would never be to overlook these things,  nor to appear ungrateful.  Don't think for a moment, my love, that I fail to recognize just how lucky I am in this life. I remain aware with every blink of my lashes how much we have together.

But this year was still awful. And for that, I owe you an apology.

Infertility took what should have been our honeymoon phase and tossed it out the window. In its place were more tears than I care to admit, more visits to doctors than I'd ever care to count, more frustration, defeat, disappointment, and heartache than I felt I could handle most days.  It turned your optimistic, healthy wife into a depressed, emotional-eating, sad human being. Yet despite this, you would remain true to the inscription in my wedding ring, smile, hug my (slightly larger) body tightly, and remind me that I'm "still your sunshine." For that, I love you even more.

The thing about this road we've traveled is that I've yet to determine what I need from you. I've used up your strength and I've exhausted your kindness. Infertility feels like a beast inside me. I remain fully aware of what a shell I've become, yet I spin my wheels trying to emerge a stronger, better wife.

To imagine my life as anything but a mother is nearly impossible. It feels as though it would require a complete deconstruction of everything I've defined myself as being. My sense of self is woven tightly with a sense of maternal belonging. A fiber strung through every thought in my day is difficult to silence. The yearning in my heart is relentless.

I apologize for losing me. For looking to tomorrow when I should have been looking at today. For being a distant resemblance of the woman you fell in love with.  For completely wasting 2014 in the waiting game of fertility. I let infertility define me when I should have defined it instead.

I don't promise to have any master plan to fix this for 2015, but I do promise to take some time to be more present, to articulate what I need from you at my weakest of moments, to try to contain infertility and grant it less power over our lives, and to work at restoring my health and happiness. Your sunshine has faded and as much as I'm sure you miss her, I grieve her disappearance just as much.

2015 will be our year. It will not be infertility's year. Ours. We will define it.

Always your sunshine,
Me

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Wishes Need A Bubby Too

Each year in the office, we have a craft fair in a rather large training room. Coworkers and vendors fill tables and displays with lovely homemade relics and holiday crafts.

Today was craft fair day. I recall how much I loved wandering the aisles last year. What I didn't recall was how many baby items there were. It seemed every table had miniature booties, beanies, blankets, or dolls. A handmade reminder of where my heart and head have been these holidays.

With each step, each finger I stroked across each item, I felt the formation of a lump in my throat. I swallowed hard and smiled merrily at my coworkers, exchanging pleasantries as I fought the good fight within. I admired a crocheted bib and a brightly colored dog-print quilt.

I knew I didn't need any of these items. Why torture myself with a purchase for what isn't? But I loved them. I've always loved handmade gifts. And for some reason today, they were special.

So you know what I did? I swallowed my tears and I bought them. It was the most nervous I've ever been making a purchase, as if they'd look at me with pity for buying a gift for a child I've only wished for. "But they don't know," I reasoned with myself as I made my purchase and returned to my desk. In hindsight, my face was probably an advertisement for my emotions.

I felt a bittersweetness wash over me as I tucked it away at my desk. I ran a finger across the satin binding of the quilt,  remembering how much I adored my "bubby" and the countless hours I ran my chunky little digits across the smooth, cool satin trim. I loved that blanket.

I bought a blanket for a baby we don't have. I texted two close friends and my mom, hoping they'd make me feel less crazy. And they did. Reassuringly, they reminded me I was just getting ready for the baby we would someday have. 

And someday, somehow, what isn't will turn to what is and I will lovingly wrap that child in this blanket and hold them close to my chest. I will remember when they were just a wish. A wish I bought blankets for, because wishes need a bubby too.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Watchpot


I had a maintenance visit with my psychologist last week. First, let me premise it with this: I love that bitch. She is completely realistic, she uses the f-bomb, and she has no problem telling me when I'm being fucking unrealistic. SeewhatImean? She rocks. So I'm sitting in her office smiling through tears and trying to articulate the craziness inside my head when a statement bubbles out of my throat... it came quickly in a series of incognizant word vomit as I'm prone to do. I shit you not, it went something like this: 

I'm stressed the fuck out and I don't understand why idiots get pregnant even fat idiots and I stopped working out because I've completely crashed and burned and now the cellulite has taken over my thighs and I figure my husband wouldn't want to have sex with me anyway and I wouldn't blame him and not to mention WHY DO I HAVE SUCH A DRY VAG ALL THE TIME?!?! SHE NEVER USED TO LET ME DOWN!

A moment of silence commences and we make eye contact, both a little surprised at whatthefuck I just said, but then something really odd happens. We both start laughing. Like old friends, it was a hearty, lengthy laugh, until we're both laugh-crying. And she's making notes, so I ask, "did you get all that?!" She nods enthusiastically and confirms "yep, check, Koral and her dry vag, uh-huh."

We conclude that stress is a total cunt, but there are things we can do. $100 bucks later and I've got every moisturizer, home remedy, and vitamin on the market. For shit's sake, I may not be fertile but I'm going to slide my way all over this fucking city! INFERTILE GIRL COMIN' ATCHA, schlorrrppp! Sidenote: I'm still waiting for the "Zestra Rush" they market. So far, let's be serious, it feels a lot like like icy hot and nothing like a rush. I put it on to be all sneaky-like while I did the dishes. And you know what? Doing the dishes still sucked. Even with an icy, no hot, no icy, no wait, it tickles a little, no, it's hot, vagina.

So now that you've heard about my vagina (it's been a while), are you still with me?

Obviously, infertility has a way of creeping in and becoming all-consuming. Particularly when your mind is an asshole like mine and there's a constant stream of word vomit ruminating in your mind. A quick Google search of Type A personality produced these characteristics:

  • Time Urgency and Impatience
  • Competitiveness
  • Strong Achievement-Orientation
  • Certain Physical Characteristics That Result From Stress and Type A Behavior Over Years

Well mother-fucking-BAZINGA! It was never more glaringly obvious to me than when I was thrust into the uncontrollable abyss of infertility. Our infertility treaters looked at A and B - sperm and eggs. Both of which received an "A+" on their report cards. All prerequisite tests ruled out anything concerning. Our official diagnosis was "unexplained infertility." But, I don't like unexplained things, let alone ones I can't control. So what's a girl to do?

Make a fucking plan, that's what she does! Me and my newly moisturized friend slid into action (get it? badumcha!). I'm thinking outside the box and advocating a bit more for myself. Perhaps it's an act of desperation, but I'm keeping an open mind. Stay tuned for updates. That is, if my new nutritional approach doesn't give me horrendous shits for days and I can't leave the crapper.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

No, Really...

I've got to be honest, you guys. I've completely lost the ability to mask the emotion of infertility. Truth is, I've always sucked at hiding my emotions. I carry them with me in my heart,  and symptomatically, on my face. I'll tell you I'm doing just fine, but if you hold a stare too long or lean in just an inch, I will likely turn into tears. It's an uncontrollable reaction, and one I've come to loathe the most about this journey. Certainly, there are worse things than crying in front of your coworkers, or your husband for the 20th time this week, or even the stranger in a Dutch Bros. drive thru. But it's a bitch trying to convince others you're doing just fine as you're crying over your keyboard. Which explains why my space bar sticks...

No, but really, I'm fine.

The thing about infertility is that people naturally don't believe you. Well - intentioned people,  people that love you, they really don't fucking believe you. The term infertility holds distinctly different meanings depending on the ears upon which it falls. For me, the "in-fer-TILE" (please read with a dramatic emphasis on the word "tile" for maximum effect), infertility looks and sounds a lot like a big fucking question mark. Why them? Why us? When? How? Again? It's 1,456 questions and 2 answers: eggs look good, and sperm looks good. Great... but.... um, those other 1,454 questions over there? Oh, cool, we will just ignore those annoying bitches. Thanks infertility!

To those outside your ineffective cocktail of sperm and eggs, infertility takes on an entirely different definition.  In fact, I'm not sure the word exists in the vocabulary of those on the outside looking in. More often than not, the responses I receive have me convinced that I'm a crazy bitch and infertility isn't a real word. No, no. In fact, if I just believe, pray, relax, stand on my head, rub this oil on my vag, or "stop worrying so much," why, that pesky infertility diagnosis will magically vanish. Whythefuck hadn't I thought of that?! Thanks again, word-that-doesn't-really-exist!

I know everyone means well. And I don't begrudge those who toss their "helpful" advice my way, as they glance at framed pictures of their beautiful children, or regale me with the tale of their long, arduous fertility struggle... of 3 months.

But here's the thing.

I'm fine. And I'll be a lot fucking finer if you wouldn't bestow your wisdom upon me. I know you love me. I know you believe I'm being dramatic, or premature, or irrational. But the truth is, I'm none of those things. My perceptions are my reality. I live this reality each month as waves of optimism fill my heart, dreams float around my head, only to be reminded that it isn't happening this month. It is impossible to shelf an emotion because it no sooner falls out of the fucking box again.

Look, I know it makes you squirm in your chair when you don't know what to say. And I know you want to say the right thing. But you know what? Most of the time I don't need to hear anything at all. And I'm okay with that. And I appreciate a silent hug or understanding nod more than you'll ever know.

And I'll tell you what.... when I'm pregnant, you can give me all the other unsolicited advice you've been dying to tell me but couldn't because that made-up word of infertility threw you completely off.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Kill Switch

I spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing myself. While this trait has proven to be immensely useful in getting through just about anything, there are some days when I just want a break.

A break from my own mind, sounds crazy, right? But the 'me' inside just won't shut the fuck up. Ever. She's an obsessive worrywart with an affinity for downright overkill. Overkill on perceptions, overkill on emotions, just OVERKILL. Quite literally, I wear myself out and I'm left with nothing to give externally because I'm completely tattered internally.

Finding the Switch
MOD introduced me to the term "flipping the switch" when we were working on our rental property. We'd relax away the days, but when it came to working on the house, we'd "flip the switch" and get shit done. We'd get up early, we'd work late, and we'd git 'er done. When we were done, we'd flip the switch off and return to our Tahoe weekends, long hikes, and slowly meander through our days. Just the way we liked it. Just the way I liked me. I'd ride the ebb and flow with seamless precision.

Months turned into more than a year of that dreaded term - TTC (trying to conceive) - and I've completely lost sight of the switch. I'm in this continual overdrive with no brakes.

When we decided to get pregnant, I suppose I was coasting on the naiveté that it would happen quickly and without much thought. And for the most part, that's how it happened. A handful of months and that blessed second line showed up on the pregnancy test. But no sooner had I advertised it to the whole entire world, and we lost it.


A year and a half later, and I'm sitting in my dark office, listening to dark melodies, sobbing over yet another month of effort down the drain. I admit I have lost perspective of anything and everything. I'm defeated and fighting the urge to blame myself, disinterested in nearly everything, and passionate about damn near nothing.

Infertility sucks. It sucks in ways I hadn't imagined. It has robbed me of my self esteem, my passion for even the simplest pleasures, and my new savory relationship with my husband. Somedays, it feels as though it's severed my heart from my body.

And yet, I stare at the calendar once more, calculate dates another time, and take a breath to get back on this fucked up roller coaster. God I hope it's worth it and I can regain what it's cost us both.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pregochondria

I'm back! And guess what the friggin' heck?!

I'm pregnant! Woo-wee knocked up! Yep. It's true. Due in February. I don't feel much of anything yet, it's still very early. Except I want to take epic naps and also cry sometimes while I'm ironing. Wrinkles just make me so sad. And then I feel alone in all my sadness over wrinkles. And there's really nothing left to do BUT cry while ironing.

Just call me weepy and sleepy.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Before we talk about this blessed little bundle of DNA, let me first break it down for you.

Trying to get pregnant SUCKS.

No, I'm not kidding. And I didn't have to try very long. It is certifiable psychological torture, I'm certain of it. Between "green weeks" on my handy dandy vagina-activity-tracking app, peeing on chipper little smiley-face sticks, and the phantom symptoms that were really just gas, I had truly had enough of trying. Why does nobody tell you this?

I confess, I'm a little OCD about some things. Okay, a lot OCD about many things. So, when we decided to start a family, I took the job to a whole new level. At one point, man-of-my-dreams (let's call him MOD for short), aka my husband, actually said "I AM NOT A MACHINE!" Alright, so maybe I was being a little unreasonable. But, there was a lioness roaring from within my loins. I hate the word loins. Isn't it gross? Regardless, the bitch in my innards was really being quite demanding.

After my green weeks, when MOD was resting up and I was busy trying to control things which I had no control over, I would swear I felt things. Abnormal things. THERE WAS SHIT GOING ON IN MY LOINS! I started to call these abnormalities pregochondria. I was manifesting symptoms that were not there. Or, maybe I was just more in-tune with my body and more aware of things going on. Yeah, let's go with the second one so I'm not completely batshit crazy. But you know what it usually turned out to be? PMS and farts. That's it, folks.

The really charming part of the whole "trying" process was lying in bed, alone, post-BBST (that's boom-boom-snuggle-time, for you rookies). Husband in the other room watching some new episode of 48-Hours that I REALLY wanted to be watching. But instead I was just laying there, letting gravity and nature take their course. Alone. Cold. Sad. Okay I'm lying about the last three. I was really just laying there doing my kegels, thinking about what I was going to eat for breakfast tomorrow, and shooing the dogs away from my nether-regions. Oh don't act like your dogs have never sniffed your crotch post-sex before!

Despite a few months of this funnity shit and the disappointment that came along with a baron pregnancy test, we kept on keepin' on. And you know what? Shit got real.

We got home from work and I slinked away quietly to the bathroom while MOD was at the kitchen table, probably doing something sophisticated, but I can't remember. I peed on the stick, my hand, and over the top of the toilet seat and no sooner had I pulled the holy mess from between my thighs when a second pink line appeared. Seriously. It took like .4 seconds to appear. I hastily set it down and looked away for a moment and closed my eyes, like some idiotic pregnancy test peek-a-boo. I opened my eyes. "I SEE YOU!" the second pink line said. I seriously couldn't believe my freakin' eyes. While I tried to wash the piss off my hands, I couldn't stop staring at my own reflection in the mirror. I just stood there, grinning at myself. If I had thought about it, I should have fist-bumped myself. It may sound cliché, but this moment was something I dreamt about for YEARS.

Promptly forgetting all my grandiose plans to tell MOD when this day finally came, I came flying out of the bathroom and made a b-line (bee-line? be-line?) for the kitchen table. Except, I practically collided with MOD about 2 feet outside the bathroom door. The conversation which ensued cannot be adequately summed up, therefore, I present to you verbatim, the BIG REVEAL:

MOD: Were you poopin'?
Me: What? No I was not poopin'.
MOD: Yeah, you were poopin'. You have been in there a while.
Me: No! I wasn't poopin'. (Plops positive test in front of MOD on the dresser.)
MOD: What? You're not - - - you are? - - WHAT? WAIT - (takes glasses off, sets glasses down, picks glasses up, hovers them over the test, puts glasses on...)

Then some wonderful pleasantries ensued which made the entire moment so endearing and wonderful that I wouldn't have had it any other way. But just know this - if there ain't poop talk, it ain't a day in the Brooks household. Even if it's on the day you find out you're pregnant.

Whenever I get the urge to do any "light" pregnancy reading, I am promptly reminded why internet research is TERRIFYING in every way. I am relatively certain that if the internet and MOD had it their way, I'd live in a bubble my entire pregnancy. Except my bubble would also have enough room for a garden of peas and corn, because you can't FREAKING CONSUME ANYTHING delicious. Like Taco Bell. Or Dutch Brothers Raspberry Black Iced Tea (please, go have one in my honor). Or the molasses cookie I shoveled into my gullet this fine evening when MOD asked me if it had nitrate preservatives in it. For added flair, I quickly shoveled another bite into my mouth and threatened to give him a three-eyed baby if he didn't shut up about my FAVORITE COOKIES EVER. 

Aww look at me, so completely unaware of the horror story my body is about to become. Note the bare belly, because yeah bitches, I'm totally confident enough for a bare belly shot. Talk to me again in a few months, when I'm not-quite showing but I'm not-quite flat either. That'll be a hootenanny.