Saturday, March 29, 2014

Having Myself a Little (ugly) Pity Party

So, my life has been completely consumed with school lately, as it is Annual Review season (meetings with families and CSE committees and students to discuss this year and next year's IEP). All-consuming. Plus, the dreaded state ELA tests are next week, and I've had a lot of lesson planning to do, and I've been busy with my second job as an unofficial Fertility Coordinator for myself with the insane amount of paperwork required for all we're doing. So I've been a little missing from the blog world.

First, the paperwork. We are moving a semen sample and our six 2PN embryos from the donor egg cycle over to our new clinic, which seemed like it would be somewhat easy to do. Wrong. In February we filled out all the paperwork from our previous clinic, which involved notary publics and mailing multiple sets of paperwork as at first they only sent us what was needed for the embryos, not the sperm. Then more notary public for the semen transfer. We keep getting bills for the storage for both, but we can't pay them because they will prorate it for just the months we stored everything at Clinic #1, and we were kind of hoping to have that be just January and February. Except what wasn't made clear to us was that we need to fill out JUST AS MUCH PAPERWORK from the new clinic in order for them to receive the frozen goods. And again, notary involved. Since we don't have one in our pocket, that means waiting until a Saturday so that we can go to the bank and get it stamped. All that didn't get settled until last weekend, which means hopefully we're only paying for one additional month of storage before we have to pay for this year's storage at Clinic #2. Plus the shipping, which is of course expensive since they treat embryos like kidneys or hearts -- someone must accompany them as they are living tissue. The sperm not so much, but hopefully they are shipping it all as a package deal.

Why are we transferring the sperm? It's a sample from a year or two ago, and so it's "younger Bryce" -- he wants to wait and see what Monday's sample looks like before deciding which one to keep. Whichever one is better we keep, and we destroy the other. Who knows with sperm? SO MUCH COORDINATION! Also, they are going to thaw our 2PNs, I'm assuming sooner than later, and grow them out to Day 5, and then we'll see if we have anything to store. Then it gets complicated.

Because we are doing a 50/50 split with the donor sperm, we will actually get to see three different sets of embryos with all this brou-ha-ha. 1) my eggs and Bryce's sperm, 2) my eggs and donor sperm, 3) donor eggs and Bryce's sperm. The only permutation we're missing is donor eggs and donor sperm. What a scientific way to look at this! Of course, it's too bad that you can't tell much about an embryo by looking at it. Can't judge the book by its cover, so to say. But we can look at fertilization rates and get a better idea. And we're still holding out hope that we won't have to use the donor sperm, but we are glad we have it since overwhelmingly it looks like that's our issue. But, at the same time, we have a new lab that we're working with, so who knows if maybe that makes a difference with all our own materials? WHAT A SURREAL POSITION TO BE IN.

So now, the pity party. I am going to sound pretty small and bitter, and for that I apologize minimally. Why minimally? Because I don't want to disregard my feelings, no matter how ugly they may be.

I am finding myself on an infertile island. I am finding myself in a position where it seems that everyone is getting pregnant all around me, fertile and infertile, and I AM ALL ALONE. I know this isn't really the case, I know that there are other people who haven't "crossed over," and I know "crossing over" is tenuous for a good long while. And this really didn't start with the infertile piece.

It started with a moment I easily could have missed on facebook, for I am not "friends" with the person who I discovered was pregnant through a post someone else who I am "friends" with placed on the other, apparently pregnant, person's wall. (How weird is our society that all of these words make sense for social interaction or so-called social interaction? wall and post and friends) The person in question is apparently pretty far in a pregnancy. I am genuinely happy to hear that this person is pregnant, as I know she's wanted a family for a long time and she had a heck of a time finding her lobster and having all those pieces fit together. So why did I cry for a good hour after reading that post? BECAUSE WHEN I WORKED WITH HER, IN THE 2010-2011 SCHOOL YEAR, SHE HAD NOT EVEN MET HER HUSBAND YET. I had done two IVFs by this time, and not to draw comparisons and make this a competition or anything, but I had been wildly unsuccessful TWICE with high-level infertility treatment intervention and she was still looking for her lobster (if you don't get this reference you need to watch Friends) and now, I am still applying high-level medical technology to my cause and she has met a person, gotten engaged, gotten married, and gotten pregnant, and IT WAS NOT A WHIRLWIND. It was a decent timeline. I just have been trying to have a baby and not succeeding for THAT LONG that it's possible for someone to go through all the "normal" life steps and get pregnant in the time it took me to do two more fresh IVFs, two frozens, a donor egg IVF, and a frozen DE IVF, and look for a new clinic. All with nothing to show for it but pictures of my pregnant fallopian tube and the accompanying scars on my lower belly and a precious picture of a little sac in my uterus to prove that this is possible. A lot of loss. A lot of grief.

I know you're not supposed to compare yourself to others, but how the hell are you supposed to feel when you seem to be swimming in one of those Endless Pools and everyone else is in the ocean? I feel like I'm stuck on a treadmill, sweating up a storm going nowhere, and everyone else is Forrest Gump, running cross country. Literally.

This is where my feeling of left-behindness and yes, jealousy, really get ugly. Because I am happy, genuinely happy, when fellow infertile people get pregnant. But it is getting harder and harder for that not to get swallowed up in the conflicting emotion of AGAIN? Someone who is struggling is pregnant AGAIN and it's not me? Happy--not a cop-out, not a lie, I am really happy for everyone who has made it to a double line and positive betas and pictures of baking babylings. But incredibly, desperately sad for me. I used to get a little jolt of hope, and I could say "if she can make it, I can make it!" But now it's harder to take that attitude, because I'm still here. I'm still sitting here with my empty uterus and empty guest room with drawers full of onesies and pregnancy books just waiting to be used.

I had a community of ladies through fertility yoga, and one by one they got pregnant and I didn't. A few were also unsuccessful and either found closure in living child-free (not an easy decision to make in the face of so much technology and "hope" thrown at us) or began pursuing adoption, another path that is hopeful but full of a mountain of paperwork and heartbreaks of its own (and let's not forget the vast expense). Many, many of the ladies passed me by and left for prenatal yoga, and then started talking about having a second child. And now they are. An announcement just came through (facebook again, remind me why I participate in this when it tends to cause me such pain?) that someone is having another baby. Happy, I'm happy, because I know how badly she wanted a second child, but how is it POSSIBLE that people I did yoga poses to try to get pregnant with just a few years ago are having their SECOND babies thanks to technology? WHY CAN'T THIS WORK FOR ME?

It makes me feel like an utter failure. It makes me feel incredibly lonely. And then I feel horrible, because I should be happy. But, as my awesome therapist says, "Stop shoulding on yourself!" I feel how I feel. I am sad and lonely and worried that I am chasing a dream and that this is just not going to happen the way I hoped it would. And I cannot tell you how happy I am that people who have suffered through infertility on the blog world are getting their ultrasounds and betas and making announcements... but can I be perfectly honest and say how sad it feels to have a blogroll full of ultrasounds and tentative happiness? It feels like I am even further left behind.

I realize that I am going into another cycle and that I could very well be an ultrasound person soon... and I don't begrudge anyone their joy or their pictures (I mean, I click on them, right?), and when I congratulate you, I MEAN IT. It's just so hard to try to think that that's going to me in a few months because I have done this to myself over and over and it's never been me. There's a first time for everything, and maybe this is my time. I refuse to say my turn, because I find that phrase incredibly insulting. There's no line, there's no "take a number and you'll be pregnant next," there's no step I have to take before it can be me next. It either is or it isn't. And it's not like I want other people to suffer with me, because this sucks. I just hate feeling like the last one picked in gym (and oh man I know what that feels like), like the girl with no one on her dance card and everyone else is waltzing away. I hate feeling this way, because it feels small and ugly and it takes away from what should be joy.

It's another way I am damaged by this experience, I guess.

This pity party won't last long. I'll pull myself out and try to stop feeling a little more bummed with every good news post on facebook or blog. I don't want to sink deeper into a feeling of hopelessness, especially since I start meds in less than a week and I have a lot to look forward to.

It's just so hard when you have years of NO in your face and you try so hard to cling to NOT YET and to take other people's success as a beacon of hope that it can be you too, but after a while you just feel a bit defeated and very, very alone. I just can't think positively all the time, I've taken hit after hit and while I wouldn't do this if I didn't believe success was possible, it can be awfully hard to believe that this truly is possible and maybe my belly will be expanding in a joyous way and not a drowned-my-sorrows-in-too-many-GF brownies way.

My meds are in the fridge. My baseline is Monday. Hope is coming, and this dark cloud will lift. I can only hope that soon I can take those onesies out of their musty drawers and update you with my own good news. That this summer will be the summer of expanding waistlines and nausea and exhaustion that are for something good. In the meantime, please do accept my apologies for feeling sad as I congratulate all of the pregos out there, and please accept the joy hiding in my tears, as it really did used to be the other way around not too long ago. I hope to join everyone in this elusive motherhood business and be less a sad little spectator who can't quite make the team despite a grueling training schedule.

Thank you for sticking with me, thank you for listening even if it was hard, thank you for accepting all of my feelings, not just the positive ones. I have to believe that I am not alone in feeling this way, but we don't always air our ugly the way we air our hopes and dreams and THINK POSITIVE mantras. I think it's every bit as important to share the stuff that we feel a bit ashamed of, because while it's hard and it's not pretty, it's real. And maybe you feel just a little less lonely if your ugly thoughts are echoed in someone else's post.


  1. This is such a thoughtful post. Yes, it is just as important to air the negative as the positive! I have watched people in my life move steadily through normal life stages, and like you say, it's not a whirlwind, and yet still they are so far "ahead" of me. I know it's not a race, but time is linear, so we can't help but experience it that way sometimes.

    Because I lost my last in the seventh week, and I'm only at week 5 with this pregnancy, I do not yet feel on the other side. But I also know the crazy mixed feelings that have cropped up when I've heard about other blogger-friends pregnancies---it's truly frustrating, because I want to have the purest feelings of happiness for them, but there is this dark undercurrent of wanting so badly to be on that boat with them. Knowing that, it's a little tricky to write posts expressing what I need or want to write for myself while always keeping my audience, and what they are suffering, in mind.

    I am ashamed to admit (but I love your therapist's comment about "shoulds") that I find myself thinking of women who have recurrently miscarried the same number of times as I have, or a little less (I don't know anyone who has miscarried more than I have---oh my God that is scary!!) and as I see them progress through the first trimester, I have panicky thoughts like: "Please don't leave me behind!" I desperately want them to succeed; I also desperately do not want to be left behind. It's enough to make the sanest person feel crazytown.

    This cycle, you are covering all bases, and you are *going* go figure out this giant science experiment and win. It just takes so damn long!

    1. Thank you so much for your reply. I was most nervous that I would hurt your feelings with this post! I felt it was important because it is such a hard thing to write about and I think, generally speaking, most women have this difficulty in expressing emotions that might make others feel icky. Or, conversely, make yourself feel icky.

      I am thinking of you and holding you in my heart in these tenuous weeks... I am hoping that week 6 is smooth and breezy and all the weeks leading up to your babies entry to the world are free of the incredible sorrow you have had to bear. I have had one true miscarriage (ectopics are a freakshow beast) and I can't imagine suffering that over and over again... the fear of those weeks is terrifying but I am so hoping that you clear those hurdles this time with no oddities, no disasters, nothing but growing little babylings.

      Thank you so much for your ever-present support, especially when I feel ugly on the inside.

      Oh, and my therapist ROCKS THE CASBAH. Not for everyone, but I love me a counselor who drops a thoughtful F-bomb and comes up with cussy-sounding adages to help you be kinder to yourself! :)

  2. Yet's like you are right up in my brain. As we've not moved forward the last two years, I haven't shared much because the only feelings I've been having are negative nancy ones. People don't want to hear the ugly. They just want to tell you that sometime soon you'll be there with them.

    As I was checking out the blogs I follow ( many of which I got from your blogroll) I said to myself, "Are there any non-pregnant infertiles left out there?"

    We also have a baseline appointment this week :) so hopefully, this means great things for the last two non-pregnant infertiles left in the world. :)

    1. OMG! Baseline--that is so exciting! You have worked so hard to get to this point, and I am so happy for you. I hope it's a fruitful month for the two of us!

      Yup, I get tired of the "just think positive" and the insinuation that having a negative thought makes you less of a person, less of a warrior, less likely to have good karma come back to you. That's crap. On the other side, being negative all the time makes people feel less cozy about you, and can drag you into a pit of despair (been there). So, again with my awesome therapist, "it's ok, necessary even, to sit in your shit. Just don't stay down there too long." Or my friend, "You can have yourself a pity party. Just know people won't want to party with you for long." But yeah, tough to see how the blog world evolves and more and more successes ramp up and you're still sitting here wondering why you didn't get invited to THAT party.

      I'm glad I'm in your brain, because it means you're in MY brain and we're not so lonely after all! :) Not so glad for the circumstance, but it is so comforting to know that others feel this way and I'm not some bitchy anomaly.

      Here's hoping we join the pregos on the blogroll! Here's hoping in sharing ugliness we can heal and get in the game with everyone else. Somehow, someday. :) Thanks for your support, I am SO grateful for your friendship.

  3. Jess, I really don't know what to say. However, I don't think you need to apologize (even minimally) for the way you are feeling. It is entirely possible to feel "double-scoop" feelings (as a therapist friend of mine puts it). She works with children and explains that is totally possible and normal even to feel feelings that seem completely at odds. She says it is like having an ice cream cone with two flavor being your favorite, yummiest flavor in the whole world, and the other being a pile of dog poo. No matter how yummy that first flavor might be, you've got to get through the dog poo to reach it...and lets face it, it sort of ruins the taste of the whole cone. I can appreciate that you are and want to be genuinely happy for others and feel lonely and beyond sad for yourself at the same time. And I commend you for writing about it, because it couldn't have been easy. I wish there was something I could do or say to make it better. I wish I could make you promises that you will find your happy ending soon...but no one has that authority. It absolutely sucks that you have been at this for so long and have been through so much. It sucks that there are no guarantees. And it sucks that it hurts so bad. The one thing I can promise is that I will attend any future pity parties you have without judgment and will be rooting for you. I really really hope this is the summer you're dreaming of!

    1. Thank you, Kelsey! I love the two scoops analogy. I appreciate you saying something thoughtful even though you prefaced it with "I don't know what to say..." because you totally NAILED what to say. I appreciate every word and I appreciate the lack of promises and the attendance at my pity party... And YES. I hope to be asking you all about pregnancy when I get there this summer, I hope I hope I hope. Thanks for your support!

  4. I haven't been at this as long as you--but I definitely have uncharitable thoughts about others. Mainly it's about the infertility-lite folks. I alluded to it (or maybe actually admitted it?) when I wrote about my cousin who got pregnant after 1 round of Clomid and TI. She says she gets it, but all I can think is NO YOU DON'T, YOU DON'T GET ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT I'M GOING THROUGH. Because the hope, the pain, the sadness, the waiting is interminable. And we just have to live with it. There's no sadness like the sadness in my husband's voice when he tells me that yet another SA had nothing. And what the hell am can I say to make him less sad? And all I can think of is, nobody has it worse than me, which I know isn't true. But damn, if we can't throw ourselves a little pity party every once in a while, who can?

    I hope so, so much that this goes well for you. There are a few people out there who's success I want as much as my own, and your definitely one of them. I'm wishing with every fiber of my being that this is your time.

    1. Thank you so much! It is so helpful to know that I am not alone in feeling this way from time to time, and that it DOESN'T make me a terrible person. It is hard when you are stuck on this path for a long time and even the tough tough cases ahead of you are solved but you're still here, truckin' along. It does feel like "no one has it worse than me" even if that's not true. You can feel like you are just never going to make it to the other side and everyone else will beat you even though it's not a race (but kinda sorta it is).

      I feel for your sadness and the waiting and the commiseration with my ugly pity party. I am rooting for you, too! I would love to shift this pity party into a Congratulations, FINALLY party. Thanks for your support, I so appreciate it!

  5. Jess, you are absolutely not alone! Once again you totally spoke my mind. Thank you for being brave enough to share it all. It is so hard to hear about all the wonderful, beautiful pregnancies in the world, for so many reasons, but especially because I feel even worse, that it makes me feel sad. it's such a mean spiral. WHY NOT ME?! we will know the answer when our babes are in our arms, but until then, I'll join you at your pity party anyday, until we can celebrate together. love you.

    1. Thanks, lady... I'm sorry we're in the same boat, but it is comforting to know that the ugly pity party is not a solo event. I can't wait to celebrate with you!

  6. Jess, I'm so glad you wrote this post! You have such a gift for putting into words what so many have felt (myself included)! Your therapist is spot on, stop shoulding yourself! Your feelings are just that, YOURS! When walking through the emotional, hormonal, and physical minefield of infertility, the last thing you should be worrying about is justifying or rationalizing your feelings. Just know that I am here, rooting for you and Bryce, and cannot wait to celebrate your family when it happens (because I know it will) :)

    1. Thank you, Lindsey--that means a lot! I appreciate your rooting, and I hope that I can trade in the emotional, hormonal, and physical minefield of infertility for the same minefield in pregnancy after infertility... :) I appreciate you weighing in, and I will do my best to stop shoulding myself. ;)