I am having a little bit of difficulty with this break concept. I am trying to truly be on a break, but I am finding that incredibly difficult to do. How do you take a break from something as monumental as infertility? I can take a break from treatment, I can take a break from filling my days with infertility-focused things. But I can't take a break from myself. Infertility has been a journey filled with loss, sadness, loneliness, occasional spurts of hope and happiness followed up by crushing grief... and I don't think you can take a break from grief. It sneaks up on you. It seeps out the cracks. I don't have enough fingers to plug the holes.
See, even if you are physically taking a break, you never stop being infertile. You never stop feeling sorry for yourself when the pregnancy or birth announcements come through and you and your husband are still a household of cats, with no baby in sight. I can be happy I don't have to stick myself with needles right now, I can be happy that I can enjoy margaritas and wine. I can relish in sleeping in on Saturdays because I don't have to get up for a) a butt shot or b) a very tiny someone who needs something. The butt shot I can do without. The very tiny someone is a giant hole in our house and our hearts.
Here are the good things about being on a break:
- I can enjoy evening drinks
- I can drink pumpkin coffee (sadly not the pumpkin spice latte, the syrup isn't GF, but I've had luck with DD pumpkin coffee)
- I am not planning my schedule around doctor's appointments
- While I am carefully thinking about what foods I eat, I don't have to be militant about it. Soft cheeses are my friends.
- Bryce and I can plan little driving getaways--a fancy night away for our third anniversary, a Christmas vacation that's romantic and old-timey.
- We can save up the money we'll need for our next steps
- We have enough time that we can save up the money without feeling completely under the thumb of infertility
And here are the things that stink:
- This break is pretty long, by design but also by necessity. I am so jealous of people who can try to get pregnant on a monthly basis. For us it is now a yearly event.
- I am seemingly incapable of not thinking about our longing for a baby during this break. We are technically only a month in (I cannot count August, since we miscarried at the beginning of August and so that month was spent in thought and planning next steps and a whole lot of soul crushing grief), and I am failing miserably at not walking around with my scarlet IF on my chest all the time. I can't stop thinking about it. And I have nothing concrete to look forward to until 2013 in terms of ending this neverending process.
- Because, while I can enjoy the life that we have now, and I am grateful for everything that we share and the miracle that is our relationship and marriage together...I want this part of our life to be over. I want the "getting there" part that seems never ending (THREE YEARS of effort and disappointment and devastation with virtually no payoff) to get to that grand finale, so that we can enjoy our life without all this horrific uncertainty. We can go to dinner without feeling bitter about the family sitting behind us with the baby and the parents are easily 10 years younger than us (those parents will still be young in comparison when we're parents, we'll just have the "parenthood" part to ease the bitterness). Or overhearing people say things like "She gets pregnant if I sneeze on her" that in some other world are funny but to me is an amazingly foreign concept and a reason for incredible unfairness over why this is so easy for others and so, so hard for us.
- I don't know how to do this on a break thing. I don't know what to leave and what to keep. And I feel pretty lost about it.
Just to elaborate on that last one, I have been a terrible blogger. I have a million posts in my head, but I sit down to write them and I freeze up. I'm supposed to be on a BREAK! How can I keep writing about infertility if I'm supposed to be away from that? (Because it's impossible to leave it be, that's why.) I keep getting stuck. And because writing these blogs is a huge part of how I process all this, I am feeling emotionally constipated. I am stopped up but don't know how to fix it while still trying to be a "normal" person for a while.
Also, I started going to Fertility Yoga again. I went three times. I don't know if I can go back anytime soon. The yoga itself is very relaxing, and I like feeling like I'm preparing my body. But do I need to prepare my body months and months in advance when I am surrounded by reminders of just how infertile I am? The first time I went was surprisingly hard. Probably because the last time before that I got to share that I was pregnant and everything was looking great, and I was looking forward to my first ultrasound. So coming back with my tail between my legs, UN-pregnant and devastated, was not easy. So, at the beginning of class when everyone goes around and says something about where they are and what they need out of the practice that evening, I kept thinking "What am I going to say?" And then it was my turn. And I couldn't say anything. I said "My name is Jess, and..." I burst into tears. I was not expecting that. It took me a minute to get it together and then I sobbed, "I'm sorry, last time I was here I was pregnant and now I'm not and I'm on a break, on a break, on a break, and it will be good and I will get better and we will try again next year since 4 fresh and 2 frozen IVF cycles have not exactly worked out for us so far. I need shoulder-opening poses, please." It was interesting, because while I felt bad about exposing the raw grief of years of losses and doing everything I can to make this work and having it not result in a happy ending because there were so many first-timer Clomid IUI ladies joining up, at the same time I felt kind of like it wasn't so bad to let people know that there is the possibility that the path will be long and arduous regardless of effort. I feel like a jerk saying that, and it's not that I wish that on anyone at all, but I know that I am not alone in having a trip to the baby aisle in Target that has one hell of a gauntlet involved. And it's not a bad thing for people to know that.
I did have a good practice that night after the tears, and I did see a few people I hadn't seen in a while which was nice. So I decided to go back again. The next time I just said "I'm Jess and I'm on a break" and left it at that. Which was a little liberating. But then, someone announced a pregnancy (very exciting--it's wonderful when that happens, especially for someone who's had a very rough go of it herself), and it was fine during class but after class all these people were asking about ultrasounds and when you see the heartbeat and when you see the fetal pole and what to expect from the first weeks of pregnancy and I booked out of there like the place was on fire. Because I know what early pregnancy feels like and I know how exciting it is to go to your first ultrasound. And there it stops for me. Because my ultrasound experiences have been "Hmmm, there's nothing in your uterus, OH SHIT it's in your tube, let's get you into surgery tonight!" or "Let's do an ultrasound and see a sac but a few days earlier than your scheduled viability ultrasound because you are BLEEDING--oh look there's a sac! [go on bedrest, try to keep said sac from leaving, several days later...] Hmmm, I'm so sorry, there's nothing but debris in there." NO HEARTBEATS. No joy in either viewing. So listening to everyone talking hopefully about what their first ultrasounds would be like was very painful for me because I have never had an ultrasound that didn't result in horror.
Still, I tried again this week. And it was the first time that there was no one from the first three waves of people that I have gone to yoga with--there were people I've met very recently, but no other "veterans." I thought I would feel better somehow if it turned over completely. I didn't. I felt worse. I felt like a dinosaur, I felt very alone, and I cried all evening when I got back. I don't think I can do Fertility Yoga anymore, not when I'm on break. There's a waiting list, so maybe I shouldn't be going anyway since my procedures aren't for a while. But ultimately when I go the yoga part is great, but before and after makes me feel awful. And doesn't make me feel like I'm on a break. It keeps me in it.
So instead I'm going to go to regular yoga classes. I'm going to a crazy Yoga Sculpt class on Saturday mornings that is NOT fertility related at all and incredibly challenging. The only disadvantage is I am a chubber in that class and some poses make my hips hurt. Because, believe it or not, my progesterone butt shot sites STILL HURT. Amazing. My body doesn't want me to forget, apparently, either. But, I am trying to beat it into submission with weighted balance poses and side planks and pilates moves.
I am going to try my best to be on a break for the next couple of months. I may not always talk about my infertility during this time, but it is always there, lurking not far under the surface. I can do a better job of dealing with things that while in treatment would send me into a tailspin, but don't forget--I am still infertile. I am still grieving the loss of a baby that should have been. I am grieving the loss of years of treatment that has failed us, and coming to grips with our next steps. I may have a drink in my hand and be able to hold other people's babies at family functions, but inside I am still hurting. It doesn't go away. And so when I remove myself from conversations that can be painful (announcements, baby name conversations, etc.) please know I'm not rude, I'm just still infertile. And not superhuman. I will do what I need to to protect myself. And I will try my best to enjoy this break and not perseverate on the grief, but it is definitely there. Sometimes I need to sit in it. But sometimes I can just sit back and have a glass of Bordeaux and a dry aged steak with my husband on a Saturday night and be truly happy where I am, right now, despite all the mess we trudge through to get to this elusive goal of parenthood.