Friday, November 30, 2012

Ashes, ashes, or, rambling more than I intended

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It surprises you, the animal need.  Leaves you panting.  You want to hunt it down, ensnare it, why can't you? It's there, so close to smell, but why can't you?  The need rises in you, trapped panic, the frantic whycan'tyou.  What words can you use to describe it.  Underneath cold black sky organs heart lungs soul you feel a howl rise in your throat.

This entire infertility mess has been a huge exercise in identity.  I've never been one to shun labels. I've always embraced them.  So, I haven't had a lot of trouble identifying and falling into the idea that this is a group that, whether I like it or not, I belong in.  I'm okay being super open about it, don't mind talking about it.  In fact, I kind of like talking about it because it's a whole lot better than passing as fertile during conversations with friends about who's going to have babies soon.

That said, while I embrace this new identity with, well, not open arms, but maybe cold cringing arms, it's still not easy (duh, right?).  Right now I feel like every single thing in my life is being burned away, leaving me very disconnected and fumbling as I try to rebuild my life.  Everything is bare bones right now -- I'm not even decorating for Christmas -- Christmas is just kind of happening Out There as far as my shitty apartment is concerned, and I'm not shopping with anyone, not hosting anything.  I'm not framing that as a complaint so much as a statement, a "this is my life right now, and it's confusing," statement.  Even if I weren't going through this medical stuff, it'd be confusing, but to throw myself down this rabbit hole has been a tumbling sort of fall.  I feel like I'm stuck in reverse, living in a shitty apartment alone with my dog watching Glee and going to the laundromat and when I drive to visit Patrick every other week or so I feel like a college kid coming home with her laundry.  I'm simultaneously an adult woman dealing with infertility, and a young professional starting a new career in a new city which is exciting, and somehow a vulnerable little college student trucking her laundry back home every two weeks, except I already finished graduate school.

I know I have a problem, but I can't afford to work on a diagnosis right now, so I'm left simply a) knowing I have a problem and b) hoping that if I *do* magically get pregnant without assistance that I don't miscarry again because there's some problem I can't afford to find out about.  Thank you, America.  So my identity is now Paused Infertile, which is different from the Finding Out Working On It Infertile I was a month ago that I was okay embracing, if coldly.  It's a change, and it's been surprisingly more difficult for me to transition to Paused than I thought it would be.  It's like my whole life has been put on pause, and the medical stuff exacerbates it all.  And yet the animal need to start a family is ridiculously still there, because it's, you know, what we're biologically driven to want to a certain extent.  We've been together for almost seven years now, after all.

I identify myself as part of the infertile community, but I am still reeling over that fact, still reeling every time I research how much IVF costs ( it seems better to save money for the big one than burn hundreds of dollars for IUIs with a low success rate since we already had one failed one that was partially covered by insurance and still cost us about $400), still reeling that this is my life, that these are decisions we have to make that are huge.  I want to hit Play on my life, want to unpause everything, want to find that magic key that will solve this puzzle, but I just have to work instead on embracing the Pause.  But it is so strange, even after all this time, to Google IVF, to think about it all the time, because nobody expects this.  It seems like the one identity I so, so want to shed, the Paused one.

It is so strange to be anything.  How strange it is.  I look at my Amazon wishlist from 2010-2011 and I'm like, who was that person, adding adorable kid's books to her list, naively hopeful?  Sometimes Patrick and I talk about baby names, but we talk differently now.  Gone is the "This name would work well with these possible sibling names" aspect because more than one is not in our sight anymore (barring an IVF-twins-incident, yikes).  How strange it is to morph slowly into another person.  Moving and living alone during all of this has just highlighted every aspect of my life and while I'm becoming a different person, it's tough to see those lists, tough to feel myself becoming a different person.  Tough to let go, let go, and let go.  And yet with the new awesome job, I sometimes feel like a pendulum, swinging between immense loss, and actual feeling-good-ness about my work life, a feeling I haven't had in ages.  It's kind of a bipolar existence.

I have never seen photos from the cousin wedding we attended the last two days we thought we were going to be parents.  I hope I never do.  I don't know if I'd recognize that secretly joyful couple awkwardly dancing like awkward nerds do.  And on one hand, that's okay.  These things change people.  We have grown as a couple, and we feel a little older, which, on the downside, alienated us from a lot of our still-partying friends -- which, yes, was a factor in our willingness to cut loose and move and start over (not the close friends, obviously, just the casual people we've been dining with for years because we all stayed in our college city).  It's unsurprisingly difficult to feel the same in your group of crazy nerd goth punk band people when suddenly you're not all just kind of dancing through life and clinking drinks together at monthly bbq's but are suddenly going through serious stuff nobody understands because everyone there is still in the ew-kids-let's-go-get-drunk stage.  We aged ourselves out.  So in a way, this new job in a new city is a strange gift.  I realize that.  I am trying to embrace that.

We are being burned and turned to ashes.  I'm not going to turn to the "rising from the ashes" cliche here because the thing is, in this world, you have to pay to make that flight.  But I really am trying to embrace the good that is moving away, the chance to rise and connect with new groups we aren't aging ourselves out of.  We, Patrick and I, are shedding the identities we held for so long.

I think what I'm trying to say here in all of this is that I simultaneously embrace this identity even while being surprised at every turn that I am, in fact, still definitely having to identify with it.  It doesn't just disappear with the Pause (duh, right?).  How strange it is to be a person you never thought you'd be.  And maybe that's just life.  I could look back on journals from my teens and wonder who that person was, too (though granted, that's a little different).  But everybody gets a bad hand somehow, and this is the one I got.  Someday I'll be able to unpause, but for the foreseeable future, this is the identity I'm stuck with.  Paused.  Paused and trying to kindle some fire from the coals.

Who will I be in 2013?


  1. Oh I feel you. You are constantly in my thoughts and I hope this "pause", this walk in the dark woods will soon be over, I really truly hope so. I understand you so well about the pause, I wish I had a crystal ball so I could see the future and plan accordingly. I was just rejected from a Phd position that I really wanted and that was, on paper, a perfect fit for me(veterinarian with molecular biology experience, which is not *that* usual, as most vets would just like to go into clinical practice and hate the lab). Anyhow, all this got me thinking, that in order to move forward with the career stuff I *need* to do an extra (research oriented) master. At the same time, we are doing everything we can to get pregnant. If it does happen soon, and I am pregnant next year, then I don't really see how I could also study full time. If I think hopefully and the baby does happen, then working from home would be an ideal option for us, and for that , startig some kind of business is the best idea.
    But if there is something I have learnt with this whole shenanigan is that we can only do so much (and we'll do everything that we can, within possibilities, cause at any given moment it is all we can do), but at the end of the day THIS does not depend on us, it really does not. I have trouble with the word "infertility" (even though I know perfectly well that by the strict medical definition we are obviously framed by it), because it sounds so definitive, so irreversible. In my mind it sounds like sterile, and that is just not something I am willing to say out loud. Hence, even if I talk about all of this a lot, and even if we are in this train (against our will, like everyone else in this mess), I haven't really got around to make an infertility label for the blog... I would rather call it subfertility or somethng less permanent.
    Anyhow, I do really really wish this will be over for you guys, it is very hard to do, but just taking it a day at a time, doing what you can, and enjoying the little things in the meantime... will put you through, and you will be out of all of this stronger for it.
    Hugs . And congratulations on the new nice job, liking what you do and getting paid for it is not such an easy thing to come by.
    Sending all the good energy your way.

    1. The true loss of control is very hard to take. People think family building is as easy as saying hey, in the next month or so, let's have a baby, and then it happens, and the truth is when things are more complicated than that, it's so hard to come to terms with because the social message out there is babies happen to everyone everywhere at every second!

      And job rejection is so tough, particularly when you're already dealing with a lot of unknowns. Before landing this job I had about 10 other interviews, and funnily this is the one I felt I totally failed the worst. But even those 10 interviews were 10 out of about 100 applications I put out, each carefully crafted to pitch myself to the specific job, each with an individualized cover letter. To go through so many steps for something so wanted career-wise is very, very hard when you get nothing to show for it at the end of the day. I have so, so been there. *hugs*

      As far as the label goes, I find a certain amount of personal comfort in being able to name something. The idea of not knowing what's going on is really tough for me, but to at least be able to pin it under the general subheading of Infertility helps me feel okay about it because I find a sense of common experience within the category. Technically yes since I got pregnant once I should really label what I'm going through as possible subfertility, but since it lasted such a short time I feel like I don't know if it's sub or truly that was a fluke or for now I'm sticking with infertility, until I can wrap my head around a better term. But I've always been a Label It person (hence, librarianship! Cataloging! Metadata!) so that's truly just where I'm coming from there and not prescriptive. :)

  2. Just thinking about this and the more recent post and reminded that it really is incredible how we can and do just deal with things- wade through them - that so many others take for granted. But that the wading does cost us mightily (and maybe has some benefits too, even if we wish we could do without them) and the not knowing... Well that's just the absolute worst. Thinking of you lots.

    1. The not knowing is hard. Going through shit is much easier when you have light at the end of the tunnel. *hugs*

  3. It's so hard, it's so hard, it's so hard. I was just saying yesterday that it's basically impossible for anyone who isn't infertile to understand how deeply psychologically scarring it is. I'm so glad to have these little shots in the dark of online people who pop up and say "me, too" or I'd feel so, so alone.

    I hope you can get medical care soon. Will a new job come with insurance? Ours doesn't cover treatment but it does cover tests (nothing's wrong, I miscarried in 2008, I'm old - be prepared, even with medical care you might not get answers) & some of the IUI medication.

    1. Yeah, it seems to slowly wear you down. :( As for medical care, my old job covered ART up to IUIs and diagnostics and things meant to "resolve" infertility, not including IVF. My new insurance covers nothing, not even diagnostics. :( The diagnostic stuff/treatment I went through unfortunately didn't tell me anything (the frustration I feel at not having had more time with the good insurance is haunting me, believe me). We're tentatively thinking about low-stim IVF since there's a clinic 20 minutes away (small miracle in southwest VA) that offers it for a much lower cost than fullblown IVF, and considering I do ovulate and produce eggs, I'm wondering if talking to the clinic would be a good idea. :-/ No idea though. And I want to do that dye-test thing which I am KICKING myself over not doing when I had the coverage, but we had no intention of losing it all so quickly and moving and arghhhh.

      The online infertility community is so helpful through all of this. It's very easy to get immensely bitter just logging into Facebook, and having people to connect to who get it is so, so good. *hugs*

    2. P.S. I just discovered your blog via a link someone posted on APW and have added you to my Google Reader.

  4. We had a pause in our trying to conceive too. Ended up being for about 6 months and that was probably the hardest stretch for me. At least when we were trying, I felt like I was being proactive, but to just be sitting around, watching other people get pregnant was so, so hard. I was bitter a lot. So hugs, and I hear you.