Thursday, August 9, 2012

Shiny Happy Pages

I apparently like my mailbox to torture me.

As some of you may know from previous posts, I had the brilliant idea of setting myself up to receive Ameri.can Baby magazine. This magazine is a little free publication put out by Parents magazine, specific to pregnancy and infants. Did I mention it's free? I first saw it in the public library and when I realized that, again, it's free, I thought "What a great way to get resources for my Baby Binder!" Because I have a Baby Binder. I've had the damn thing for years now, filled with ideas on nursery decorating, products you do and do not need, what to register for, ideas for belly photos, and detailed information on stages of pregnancy, birth, breastfeeding, and infant development up through age 2ish. It's grown over the past few years and it can be a really fun thing to look at, when I am headed into a cycle and in a positive upswing. Needless to say in this time of loss and staring into space to see if I can count dust motes floating by because I can't stand to concentrate on anything else, it is firmly shoved under the coffee table and will likely stay there for a really long time.

Here's the thing. I stopped receiving Ameri.can Baby months ago. I think I know why--the due date I gave was the due date if a for-kicks IUI would have worked out, oh, early 2011. So when the marketing folks decided to add "A Special Section Just for You!" it became apparent that my faux baby was heading towards toddlerhood. Short of fessing up that my baby didn't really exist, and giving in to my urges to sign up for real (but my babies keep leaving in ways both anticlimactic and horrific), I decided to let it go. Why torture myself. Why keep confusing the mail carrier when I am obviously not pregnant and there are no children in our house? My baby binder could wait until there was a real, live, honest to goodness baby on the way.

Or so I thought.

Because, during my two week wait for this last, sad little cycle, I got a prize in the mail. I got a free issue of Parents magazine. With the option to purchase a WHOLE YEAR for only $1, plus get a crazy birthday bonanza book that I decidedly DO NOT NEED, but these things don't spoil on the shelf, so why the hell not? Why not start planning my mythical child's first birthday party before he/she is even a gamete in a dish? (Because it's freaking crazy, that's why.)

The problem was the timing of the magazine's arrival. It was at a time of hope and optimism. I took it as a beautiful omen that everything would be just fine. My baby was winking at me through the cosmos. So I read through it, and found a lovely recipe for roasted broccoli that we are positively addicted to now, and put it on the shelf for future Baby Binder-ing. And then, when my test came up gorgeously positive, I ordered it. A WHOLE FREAKING YEAR OF TORTURE FOR ME. I should have waited. For some reason I have three free issues, presumably thanks to my graduation from Baby. But for $1? A whole year of resources for our new extended family? Our little sesame seed needed this magazine. It was time. What could go wrong?

Well, obviously that was a big fat mistake. One of a zillion rules I have to keep learning over and over: DO NOT ORDER MAGAZINES THAT WILL MAKE YOU SAD IF THINGS DON'T WORK OUT UNTIL YOU AT LEAST HAVE A G-D HEARTBEAT. Not that that guarantees anything, but at least it puts you closer. Because I can't seem to get out of the developmental stage that's described in foods people with diverticulitis can't eat. I am forever stuck in seed metaphors. I didn't even make it to a lentil this time, much less the mythical berries and stone fruits.

OH, oh, because ALSO, in my exuberance, I not only signed up for I installed an app on my freaking phone for the service. Which is great when you're looking to see what foods will likely kill your tiny offspring, but not so great when reading about why first trimester miscarriages occur AFTER YOU HAVE ONE. Plus, I had signed up for the emails the last time I was briefly pregnant, and apparently I unsubscribed but my poor ectopic babyling still had a virtual life going on. I was greeted with "JESSICA, your 3-month old is..." It made me sad. I had to delete my "Family Member." Which made me sad again. But then I got to ADD one, one that presumably would finally stay! Oh, the excitement. Except that only meant I had to delete not one but two babies-that-should-have-been-but-weren't from my account within weeks of each other. And I can't figure out how to uninstall the stupid app from my phone. So again, another rule. DO NOT SIGN UP FOR ONLINE BABY TRACKING SERVICES UNTIL YOU ARE IN THE CLEAR. I have up to 6 weeks pretty much memorized anyway. It's the legendary and seemingly unattainable 7 weeks that I can't wait to read about. But I think next time I will just go back and find out what's going on in there after I am a little bit more in the clear. Because all of this exuberance in the early days of pregnancy just seems to be followed rapidly by horrendous, crushing loss and sadness.

I can't help but get excited though. I am a sucker, I fall for this every time. And why shouldn't I? Why shouldn't I enjoy every hour of pregnancy, while I have it? Why shouldn't I embrace the joy of the moment, since as of yet all I have are moments? I am incredibly excited for motherhood. Why shouldn't I plan ahead and know as much as I can about different aspects of pregnancy, birth, and parenting infants? For Pete's sake, I read an entire pregnancy book cover to cover within two days of my positive. Which was not exactly the wisest idea (it was terrifying on many levels, from the toxic wasteland that is EVERYWHERE YOU GO to minute details on giving birth), but it was fun. If I throw even a fraction of the energy into learning about pregnancy and birth options and nursing and all those associated experiences that I have thrown into this infertility bullshit, I will be one well-freaking-informed mama. Understanding of course that you can read all you want but it's another thing entirely when you're in the thick of it. Which, really, isn't all that different with this infertility nonsense. You can read all about IVF and what it's like to fail IVF and what it's like to fail multiple IVFs and have an ectopic pregnancy and a miscarriage, but until you're in it it doesn't quite give you all that you needed to be prepared for it. Same with parenthood I imagine. Except with parenthood there's something positive bolstering you through the tough parts. With infertility there's nothing but the bad stuff. You learn good stuff about yourself and your relationship with your partner and your relationship with those around you, but there's no continuing positive thing that gets you through each day. Just pure determination and the resiliency to believe that hope is still alive somewhere in your battered psyche. That's why it burns my britches when people say things like "Just wait until you have kids! Then you'll know stress and tiredness!" or "You think it's hard now? When you have kids it never stops. You always worry and have worst-case scenarios." Well guess what. The operative part of those "encouraging" gems is YOU HAVE KIDS. You have someone to giggle and gaze lovingly at you, you have smiles and hugs and kisses. You don't have a drawer with a folder of all your embryos who may have been your kids, but are now long gone. You don't have a vision board that shows all the things that you desperately want for your expanded family that has moved from the kitchen to the back office room and is slowly on its way to a closet somewhere because you can't bear to look at it anymore. Because those things ONLY EXIST on the board, in pictures taken of someone else's reality. Not yours. Pictures taken of fake families in magazines like Parents. They may be models, but they are representations that reflect actual people's actual lives (if only a bit shinier and neater around the edges), and for me they reflect a dream that we have that has yet to be realized.

So I'm keeping my stupid Parents subscription, because I paid my dollar for it and I can always shove it in a drawer until I'm ready to Baby Binder again. Because I will be, it's just a matter of time. We will make our tough decisions and move on to our next adventure on this reproductive rollercoaster. And I will be able to stomach looking at those shiny happy people with their smiling toddlers, because I'll be able to once again see Bryce and me reflected in their faces, and our own positive experiences to outweigh all the worry and disaster and hard-won journey to get to that point.

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