Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Trying (and Failing) to Cope

Ok, so it's been a month. One whole month or only a month, depending on how you look at time following a personal tragedy. I really don't feel like I'm being melodramatic here. I feel more lost at every missed shot at our dream, a dream that so many people don't even have to think about achieving, a dream that seems further and further away each time we fail at what should be a natural process. Yes, we've only done IVF twice and there are people who have done it 4 or more times. But we've had 5 embryos decide not to stay for whatever reason, and I can't help but take that personally and hard. I am functional on a day to day basis but feeling like this process is changing me. I am more often than not sad, angry, irritable, and just plain lost feeling. I feel so badly for Bryce, who on top of being the recipient of my irrational displaced anger, has to stand there and watch me feeling so low. I thought by now I would feel a little better. But I don't. And I have to find some way to turn it around, because I can't go into another IVF cycle with dead eyes. It's just not sending the right message to the Universe.

A few things happened these past few weeks that have showcased how I am just barely hanging on, and how this emptiness in our otherwise fabulous life is eating away at my well-being:

The Crying Baby
Two weeks ago I decided that I needed a massage. It was the day where I am observed at close range for the entire day by a parent and consultant, and on this particular day there wasn't anyone available to support me from the school community. I knew it was going to be a rough day, so I scheduled a 4:00 massage at the place that does my fertility yoga classes. I was so proud of myself for caring for my well-being in this way--knowing that it would be a pretty awful day and preparing some pampering for right after. I showed up and went through the screened in outdoor waiting area. An older woman was waiting for her daughter to come out and was bouncing a completely adorable, but "fresh" 3-month oldish baby on her lap. I smiled and passed her to go in to reception, and inwardly congratulated myself on not feeling sad when passing the baby. I went into the waiting area and settled in with a magazine when it started. The baby started crying. That heartrending, wracking baby cry that goes through me and leaves a raw aching wound because I am not a mom who can soothe that cry. It was far away, but started to sound like it was coming closer. I focused on the magazine. I breathed deeply. And then the lady brought that sobbing baby to the couch opposite mine to try to comfort him. I just couldn't take it anymore. I went into the reception area and said "Can I please move to the other waiting area upstairs? Because I just, I just, I just can't." And I started sobbing myself. How horribly sad and embarrassing. The receptionist, who knew that I just failed a cycle, came over and hugged me and said she was sorry and of course--but then I felt worse. Other than a commiserating "I'm sorry," there was no need for an apology--this place has a fertility clinic in it but it is also a wellness center, a spa, a yoga studio...people are allowed to bring their babies there. It just was too much for me to handle. I enjoyed my massage but it took 15 minutes for the hot, silent tears to stop soaking into the face pillow.

The Knuffle Bunny Incident
The same week as the massage incident, the Early Childhood class that is killing me slowly had a fun assignment. We were to choose an age range (I chose 3-5) and select 10 picture books that would support children's self esteem, developmental progress, and navigating life's challenges. I was excited. I love picture books, and love picking out books for children. So I headed to the library. I was determined--I can go and look at children's books, in the children's library, and be a totally normal person about it. I can celebrate children's literature without any bitterness or sadness. And it started out that way--honest. I picked books about new siblings, books about being different, books about working mommies coming home, books about sharing and not hitting. I picked up The Adoption Book and started to get teary eyed and so put it back and chose It's Okay to be Different instead. I was doing this! I was passing young families reading to their little tiny children and not overwhelmed with sadness that this wasn't my afterschool activity! I was strong and coping like a champ! Or... not. I picked up Knuffle Bunny because I love it and what child hasn't lost their lovey? And then I noticed the new Knuffle Bunny book-- Knuffle Bunny Free. I haven't read it yet, and so sat down and got to business. Big mistake. Warning--I'm totally going to spoil the ending here. In the third Knuffle Bunny book, Trixie is older and she is taking Knuffle Bunny on a trip to Holland to visit grandparents. As you can guess, she leaves the bunny on the plane. There's no recovering that bunny now, and so Trixie has to cope with losing her lovey and imagining life without it. No choice. She has this beautiful dream of Knuffle Bunny visiting all the children of the world on that plane and bringing them the happiness and comfort that it brought her. She decides maybe she is a big girl and doesn't need the bunny anymore. They get on the plane to go home and wouldn't you know it, that freaking bunny is in the pocket right in front of Trixie (eye rolling here, like that would ever happen). But, there is a crying baby on the plane and Trixie decides to be a big girl and be generous and she gives that baby Knuffle Bunny because he needs it more than she does. Now, up to this point I am fine. It is the end-end that got me. Trixie gets her first letter from the boy's parents, but then the last spread is a letter from her dad about how proud he is of her. And pictures and a timeline of how he hopes that when she grows up, and goes to school, and gets married, and has her own baby, that her baby is just like her. And....meltdown. Because you look at that progression--education/career to marriage to baby--and it seems so natural and so easy. No daddy writes to his daughter and says, "When you go to school, and after a 10-year detour through hell meet the person you were meant for and marry him, and then go through infertility treatments, maybe you will have a baby and she will be just like you. Or maybe not." I barely held it together in the library and made it out to the car and sobbed for half an hour in the car, and then for another half an hour when I got home. It's just so unfair that we can't have the easy timeline.

It seems every day there's something else that reminds me. It's so hard because life goes on, and I have to find some way to deal. There will be babies in waiting rooms and stores. Babies cry all the time in Wegmans and I just have to figure out how to ignore the heartbreak so I can buy my organic milk without looking like a lost soul, a crazy depressed lady. There will be pregnancy announcements and birth announcements and a parade of babies on Facebook. I will, at some point, maybe need to hold a baby. I will try not to freak that baby out by quietly sobbing onto its new-baby-smelling head. I can try to avoid things that will make me sad but it's not always possible. Unfortunately I can avoid going into Pottery Barn Kids but all the strollers in the mall aren't quarantined to Build-A-Bear and Carter's...they tend to roam free and all I can do is put my dead eyes on and pretend not to see them. Pretend not to see how young the parents look who are pushing these strollers around and pretend not to calculate in my head how old I will be when my kids are 5, 10, 16. (I did this in Robotics last night and was horrified to think that if we are successful this next time I will be 51 when my child is 16 and possibly on a Robotics Team. Very depressing.) I need to not let the bitterness swallow me up and change who I am, on a permanent basis. It is ok for me to feel angry and bitter and jealous, and it is ok for me to tell people that I just can't cope with certain events right now. It is not ok to stay that way all the time. I don't want to turn into one of those creepy dried apple faces, squinty and pinched and bitter. I just have to hope that I will go back to me sooner than later, so that I can handle the crying babies and depressing children's book montages and swarms of fertile people in the mall. And do it with a smile and maybe even a sarcastic joke, like I used to be able to.

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