Sunday, May 12, 2013

Double Whammy May

May. A lovely month. A month when it is finally safe to put plants in the ground and do containers and it's pretty much warm all the time and the sun comes out to play more often. May is usually perfect weather--70s and not too hot, not too chilly, and you can barbeque and sit outside and remember what the sun feels like after a long Rochester winter. This spring took forever to come but then exploded into the pinks and purples of flowering trees and spring flowers and sunshiny warmth on pasty winter faces.

But May is also home to two days that are incredibly hard for me right now. My birthday, and Mother's Day. My birthday has come and gone and it turned out far less depressing than I had thought it might be (my sad little motto: prepare for disappointment, and you will often be pleasantly surprised!), probably because we had received our donor profile and had dates to look forward to and the long slog of waiting for a process I was having trouble wrapping my head around was moving forward at a brisk march. Plus Bryce outdid himself in making it a memorable weekend of fun and revelry, not a boo-hoo-I'm-37-and-still-we're-not-parents cryfest.

I cannot, CANNOT believe that both of these dates have come around again and I have not had the chance to even try for another baby because of scheduling and hoops to jump through and all the complications of our next steps. We finally have everything set up and dates in place for our donor cycle, but I really, really thought that by this time I would have at least one more try behind me, and hopefully be pregnant. Of course there's the whole situation in July/August last year where I should have a baby in my arms right now, but obviously that is behind me and another opportunity just hasn't been in the cards until now.

This is one of many frustrating things about infertility. Normal, fertile people get to try every month. 12 tries per year. If you have moved on to IUIs, you still have the opportunity to try every month, but it is more exhausting and it involves more drugs and doctor visits and ultrasound wands and so 12 IUIs in a year would be like running a marathon. Or maybe two back-to-back. Then, if you have yet again moved on to IVF, you can try about 4 times a year, maximum, unless you have scads of money to keep dropping, you have a glut of frozen embryos and can manage to do those back to back, or you are a glutton for punishment and your clinic can/will schedule you more than that. I think my record for IVFs in one year was 3, with a frozen in December that had the test in January, then a fresh in April, then a frozen in July. Oh wait, that was last year. I'm tired just thinking about it, but I did it  because I am MORE TIRED of all this rigamarole and want to move through everything as fast and as numerously as we can so that we can get to our take-home baby and call this "history." But then this year came and I wanted to take a break but did not know just how much break was built into this new cycle. And so a whole year has gone by with no chance of conception, no chance of a change in our status as parents-in-waiting to expectant-parents. The level of desperation lurking beneath the surface seems to ebb and flow (but mostly flow these days).

And so here are these two weekends back to back that are difficult. Birthday, done and conquered. Thank you to all who made that special. But here's the thing. EVERYONE has birthdays. It's a celebration that is inclusive--no one goes to the birthday card section and mourns the fact that this personal holiday doesn't apply to them. (Unless you are a ghost or a sparkly vampire. Then I apologize for my insensitivity, birthday cards must be very painful for you.) Enter Mother's Day. An entire day that is hyped for weeks (and seems to have expanded into "Mother's Day Weekend") practically designed to rub the infertile nose in the fact that although this holiday is desired more than anything, it does not apply. AGAIN. This is not a pain that heals with time. This does not get easier after it's your first reluctantly childless Mother's Day, through your second, third, fourth day that excludes you. The anger and pain compounds. It becomes exponential--through the negatives which are a loss unto themselves, and the losses which are too much to bear on this day where you should have had a baby in your arms but the universe decided differently. The need to take care of yourself multiplies. It isn't something you can get over. So you hopefully have understanding family, as I do, who allow you to reschedule Mother's Day and celebrate the moms in your life NOT on this incredibly clique-y, exclusive holiday where leaving the house seems just like an exercise in torture. One day, one way or another, I will be a part of this holiday as a receiver, not just a giver. But for now, I can't even go for a walk without pause because of all the brunches and parties and babies and strollers that make me feel lonely and alone and wondering when all of this is finally going to end.

My sweet baby cherry tomatoes in their refreshed and amended
Grow Bags, ready to be fruitful and multiply. Like me, I hope.
So, I garden in the backyard. If I can be super focused on the pretty but incredibly destructive violets in the front I go out there with my scary weeding tool, but at my peril since inevitably there are grandbabies visiting across the street, one who was born around the same time mine was supposed to be. But, gardening on Mother's Day is healing. I can't seem to cobble together a baby, but man can I tend to plants and help them grow and thrive. Outside. Inside, everything is silk because apparently my green thumb is outdoors-only. I amend soil and move plants and plan new beds and weed, weed, weed. I read and watch silly movies that have nothing to do babies. I enjoy cocktails in the afternoonbecause I can. Maybe I take a nice hot bath, because I can. I celebrate the things I can do because I'm not pregnant. I don't wear gloves when I garden, because soon I will have to (please, please force me into wearing gloves when I garden) because pregnant people can't risk toxoplasmosis and neighborhood cats and rabbits poo in the dirt and it becomes part of the soil. Gross, but so good for the plants. You just can't think about that much as you're pulling weeds and protecting the plants that stay and running your hands through the rich, fertile soil that in part you have made more fertile through purposely adding composted manure and organic plant food. I am like a soil Reproductive Endocrinologist! Ha!

It so important to take care of yourself on this day if you are trying desperately to be a mother and it marks another year of not-mother. Do what you need to. Explain how you need to explain. Ignore the May GLAMOUR magazine that said "It's not ok to...sit out Mother's Day" because it IS ok to reschedule it and honor your own mom in other ways while honoring your own need to nurture yourself and get through another Mother's Day you'd hoped was yours but isn't, not yet at least. A friend sent me a beautiful note that brought tears to my eyes but summed up perfectly how today is a mixed bag -- "Happy mother's day to you my lovely friend. Wishing you much love today as you are on the cusp of your next big adventure and likely thinking of your lost angels today. Love you lots." How perfect. To all you supporting an infertile friend today, this is an excellent blueprint for what to say. For all you fellow fighters on the journey, I hope that you are cared for in the way I am lucky to be by family and friends, by my sister who sent a lovely lotus votive holder our way (oh, lotus, fertility flower extraordinaire...) that happened to arrive yesterday (not so accidentally, I suspect). I have already received so many notes of encouragement and love today. If others in your life aren't so understanding, give yourself space and love today because IT IS HARD. I am thinking of you. And hoping, hoping with all my heart, that next Mother's Day is a whole other experience for all of us next year.
Front garden in spring bloom...avoiding this one today.
Side back garden...the "snow" is cherry blossom petals from
our neighbor's tree. So pretty (but all over the floors now).

Backyard woodland garden, starting to green up. You can't see
the columbines, bluebells, daylilies, Queen of the Prairie,
goatsbeard, and dwarf bleeding hearts, but they're there!


  1. Beautiful gardens and beautiful post! Glad we all made it through yesterday (some of us hobbling across the finish line). :) Happy May 13th! :)

    1. Thank you! Glad now we can hobble towards Father's Day, with hopefully good news on your end! :)

  2. You did it. You made it through one of the toughest days of the year. Thinking of you...

    And also, what beautiful plants you have! How lovely.

    1. Thanks! I like to think that I have the capacity to grow something robust... Now to transfer that ability to my body! Gardening is such a healing activity. I hope you had a good Mother's Day, I'm sure it was bittersweet. Take care!