Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Ghost Of Infertile Vacations Past

While our vacation in Maine was beautiful, made more so by a distinct lack of infertility paraphernalia, the specter of infertility persistently hovered over us. It was more transparent than usual, but still, we were haunted. We made it through the whole week without tears caused by scads of happy young families (and man, does it seem like they get younger and younger, which just makes us feel older and older and even more dysfunctional than usual) flaunting their happiness before our barren (but very happy) twosome. I shopped for onesies and didn't cry. The lowered weepiness quotient was in part made possible because the Whale Museum in Bar Harbor was torn down -- a horrible and depressing sight for us, because it was such a wonderful place and now it is an empty hole where yet another giant hotel is going. Last year we went to the Whale Museum and thoroughly enjoyed it, but it resulted in a spectacular meltdown on my part (including stumbling down the street, blubbering and sobbing uncontrollably) because it was just the place we could envision taking our children to someday--it was full of science-y books and toys and activities for kids and it was full of families encouraging curiosity in their children. I guess I will never know if it would have had the same effect on me this year, because it was torn down to make way for big business. Which then made us more than a little sad because who knows how many things like that will be gone by the time we manage to have children of our own?

Last Night Toast in Bar Harbor
Anyway, the Ghost of Negative Pregnancy Tests really chose to give us a good haunting on our last night of vacation. Every year we go to Galyn's restaurant, a beautiful, classy, but not ridiculous place right on the main street in Bar Harbor that overlooks Frenchman's Bay and Agamont Park, a nice rolling green space. Every year I get salad, and Sauteed (Lazy Man's) Lobster, and a blueberry martini. Every year Bryce gets the Frenchman's Bay Stew and a muddled old-fashioned. And then we get a bottle of wine. Since this was vacation, after all, and I wasn't on meds yet, we did drink despite the closeness to our cycle. We have been cutting back/abstaining for three months now, but I thought it was important for our vacation to be our VACATION. Nothing too crazy, but some booze was totally appropriate. So this year was like the other two years we have gone to Acadia--we got cocktails to start and then Bryce ordered a surprise bottle of wine.

I don't know why, but that bottle of wine (which turned out to be Moet Chandon Imperial Champagne, ooh la la) sent me over the edge into a sea of self-pity. Here we were, toasting the last night of an utterly relaxing vacation, where the infertility-talk was present but not overwhelming, where we could truly get away from it all. And I was sad. I felt like a bit of an asshole because here was Bryce, so excited with his unusual wine choice and "big shebang" end to the trip, and here was me, mopey and teary eyed. Part of the problem was that my seat faced out towards Agamont Park. And Agamont Park was full of young families, baby carriages, ripe-bellied pregnant women...everything we want and haven't yet managed to secure for ourselves. It was like a torture parade and I couldn't quite tune it out. Another part of the problem was that end of vacation meant the start of our cycle. And shouldn't I be excited about that? Shouldn't I be just totally thrilled to be having another chance at pregnancy? Yup, mostly--but part of me is scared shitless. We aren't going into our first, super hopeful cycle like we did last year. We know that a negative test is a distinct possibility and we know what that feels like. And so for as hopeful and excited as I am leading up to a cycle, once I'm in it I start feeling anxious about where we are going. It is hard to "live in the moment" when you have lived through these moments before and had them end badly. I can't help thinking of each hurdle we must cross before we get to transfer of healthy embryos and then can wait for the ultimate hurdle that we have tripped over and lain sprawled, broken on the ground beside. So, the end of vacation was sad to me, because the carefreeness of being in Maine, pretending that we are just a normal married couple who have chosen not to have kids yet and just enjoy each other because we can, was coming to a close. Reality waited at home.

But the number one reason why I was sad was that last year, at that exact time, we were sitting in Galyn's, at a different table with the same view. And last year, we sat there talking about how next year at this time we would probably have our vacation with a brand new baby. We were a little sad looking out the picture window at the seemingly perfect lives of those families (maybe even some of the same families), but we were so hopeful that we would be joining them. We never in a million years thought that we would come back, just the two of us again, with two IVFs under our belt and no baby, no pregnancy. So for me, it really hit home that here we were again, toasting the end of another lovely vacation, heading into yet another IVF cycle. As hopeful as we can be but with the bitter taste of the previous failures tainting our slightly sweet, yeasty champagne.

The majority of our feelings are positive towards this next cycle. We have a lot going for us this third time on the cruel merry-go-round that we just can't seem to get off of. Maybe we'll nab us a baby (or two) and slide effortlessly off that ride. But, with everything we've already been through, it is impossible not to think about the possibility that we could face another defeat. The trick is to somehow balance the two--the upbeat optimism of YES! THIS IS OUR TIME! and the cynical, more realistic IT COULD STILL FAIL. "THIRD TIME'S THE CHARM" ISN'T ALWAYS THE CASE. WHY SHOULD THIS BE ANY DIFFERENT? Unlike last cycle, to protect myself from utter devastation, I have to let the fear of failure be a little more than a back-of-the-brain nugget. But I also want to be positive. I think the tricky part is to go into it hoping for the best, but prepared for what comes next if it's the worst. Somehow to think that it will all be okay either way and let go a bit. Which is way easier said than done. It probably just takes some practice and time--kind of like how by the third glass of champagne I was a little less saddened by the whole thing and could, at least for a little while, be happy that we were still on vacation and heading towards hope.

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