My birthday is tough. Didn't used to be, but every year it's a little tougher. Sometimes I wonder if I would care so much if I already had that little family--do you care that you're inching towards forty when you have your little ones at your side? For me, turning 38 is a reminder that I was 33 when I started this mess, and that each year I tried to pull a Chelsea Clinton and have my Year of the Baby, but with no results. I shudder to even try to call a year THE YEAR, because I thought for sure 2013 would be Year of the Baby, and now it is impossible for 2014 to be Year of the Baby. Is the year I am 38 the Year of the Baby? Maybe. I am still in a timeline where I could feasibly give birth to a full term baby before my birthday next May. It is not impossible. I just am not sure how to keep holding on to the hope that THIS YEAR is THE YEAR.
But I do, don't I? Every year I see the promise of a new beginning despite having that promise beaten out of me at the end of each year.
So am I sad to be turning 38 on Monday?
As tacky as it might seem, I was touched by a meme on Facebook. It said, "Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many." Well, that sure made me feel small and whiny. It resonated. Even though I don't have that (literally) tiny little thing that we've been working so hard for, I sure do have a lot. I am reasonably healthy despite the infertility, the celiac, the asthma. My conditions are managed and while upsetting, they aren't life threatening. Lately. (Hey, remember when infertility became life threatening and my wayward baby lodged in my tube and distended it to the point of bleeding as they removed it? SO MUCH FUN.) I haven't had a life threatening tragedy in quite some time. I feel very sad and affected emotionally by my infertility, but it's not actively trying to kill me. The celiac sucks but I am not getting blood transfusions and iron IV treatments like my Dad, so I really don't feel like I can complain too much about not being able to eat cheese danish. As evidenced by my chub, there's a lot of crap I CAN eat. Like Cadbury mini-eggs. Mmmmmmm. And, as long as I faithfully take my twice a day inhaler, my asthma is no issue. So, I am healthy. I have a wonderful husband and a beautiful home and I do not want for any basic needs. I am fortunate. I have a job I love and that I think I'm pretty good at, and that's not something everyone can say. I have beautiful furry family members, and my gross cat (seriously gross, like his nose was flaking off and he was losing fur on his face and he just constantly shed pieces of himself all over the house) seems to be perfectly healthy and cozy thanks to a change in food. There's a lot I have going on that's good, really good. I get another year of this goodness. I am grateful. I actually feel like celebrating a bit. It's true, especially with so many tragedies lately, that I am being afforded a gift, the gift of another year, that others are denied all the time.
For all my gratitude at the things that are spectacular, for all my happiness at getting another beautiful year on this planet, I still hang on to a little bitterness.
I'm 38, and I'm still not pregnant. And while that's not everything, it's surely SOMETHING.
At this point, I will be 39 when I have my baby, if I am lucky. I will be in my mid-40s when I take my child to kindergarten for the first time. This is not a tragedy, for sure. But it is not how I envisioned things. Which doesn't mean that's bad, not at all. Someone at school today said, "babies will keep you young!" For one, I don't feel particularly old. I am goofy, I laugh my evil laugh in class ALL THE TIME, I do stupid things like accept a challenge to eat an Atomic Warhead Super Sour Hard Candy in class. I make my husband search the house for Easter treats I've hidden for him, while I clap and giggle like a 5 year old. Life is fun. I make it fun, to some extent. But, even with that, I am sad that my parenthood experience is hopefully coming so late. It will be perfectly fine, just a different experience than I thought. Each birthday reminds me of this. Reminds me that I'm older, our risks are higher, our odds a bit lower, my body a bit more tired and a bit less springy. So birthdays make me a bit sad, too. Maybe a lot sad at times. And I feel a little ungrateful, but at the same time, this is something that infertility has bequeathed to me. Thanks a lot. You've made birthdays a little less fun.
Bryce is doing a great job making my birthday interesting and exciting. This year we're not going away, because the 40th extravaganza was a lot going on, and I'm fine with being more low-key. BUT, there is some kind of secret surprise waiting for me on Saturday. Something from 10-1. That I must be dropped off at. And that my best friend has vetted as "something I would like." So I'm not SUPER anxious, but not going to lie, this surprise three-hour-event has me a bit nervous! What IS it? I doubt it's a spa day, my husband is way too practical to do that, especially since I get a massage 2x per month as a self care measure. Is it a class? Is it some kind of event? He's not going with me... what does THAT mean?
But do you see? Do you see what he's done? I'm so OBSESSED with this mystery that I am virtually FORGETTING TO BE SAD ABOUT MY BIRTHDAY. Genius. Absolute genius. And then, we are going out for a fancy schmancy dinner Saturday night, and then he is cooking for me on Monday and I get to open all my prizes that have been filtering in through the mail. And...I am suspending Egg Boot Camp on Saturday and Monday. (And maybe today, I had two GF "beers" in the fridge that I really should drink up before they go "bad.") So good wine and good cocktails and good food are in my future. And whatever the hell that Saturday thing is.
That Bryce, so thoughtful.
And so it goes--another birthday upon me without a baby or one on the way, but I have DATES for my redo of the hideous cancelled cycle, and a hysteroscopy to rid myself of my leetle friends (the polyps) on May 15th. Which, thanks to kismet, falls on the 8th grade DC trip, so I will be out and NOT MISSING ANYTHING! No sub plans necessary! No missed instruction! WHAT A FREAKING GIFT! (Those of you who teach will really get this--it is the best prize ever. Almost like an anesthetized vacation!) And then June, June is the month of the try. The month of the retrieval and the transfer, and my doctor will be on for both events. A re-do of all re-dos. No more cancellations, ovaries, I mean it!
My birthday can't be all bad. It's not all good, but this year I'm feeling a bit more hopeful and a tad less bitter. Older and wiser, I guess. Grateful for the life I have, while still pining for the life I don't have, but that really ought to be by now. Looking forward to a weekend with my husband, a weekend of celebration and surprises, a birthday that makes me forget my dusty ovaries and my empty womb. A birthday that maybe holds more promise than loss.
At least that's how I'm going to choose it, this year.