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Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ha Ha Ha

My brother called me this week to let me know that my blog isn't funny.

"Infertility isn't really an amusing topic," I told him.

"But it used to be funny. Before you started reading eight pregnancy loss books a day."

(Add obligatory, Paul Shaffer-like drum roll to cue laughter)

It has been making me pause. And consider things that I hadn't really stopped to consider. Serenity had a great comment this week that when she had an early miscarriage, she didn't know whether she was mourning the loss of the baby or the failure of the cycle. And take that a step further because sometimes I didn't even know whether I was mourning the failure of the cycle or the failure of myself as a woman.

(Um...Mel...this really isn't funny. Where are the stories about putting on knee-high boots and accompanying your husband into the sperm palace rooms?)

When we conceived the twins, there was a third sac--a blighted ovum. The RE directed our attention away from the sac, continuously talking about the twins every time I asked about it. And I barely acknowledged it except for when I lost the sac 8 weeks into the pregnancy and ended up crying in the therapist's office. And again, was I crying about the fact that the baby didn't form or was I crying from fear over seeing that much blood and cramping during the pregnancy.

Or was I just mourning the entirety of the experience of infertility itself?

(Damn, Mel, seriously, put down the pregnancy loss books. Pick up something light. Something fun. There's a Plum Sykes piece of fluff in your book bag. Read that.)

Sometimes I wonder if it's healthier to keep barreling through--keep trying after the loss, move on to adoption, have a few more tests--or whether it's healthier to pause for a bit. Give yourself time and space to mourn that is imposed by your own needs rather than matching your mourning time to the IVF slots at the center. How many people have jumped into the next cycle before they were emotionally ready just because they couldn't really handle the idea of sitting out a cycle and not trying? I know I can't stand the idea of waiting. I'm impatient by nature. And any time I was told that we had to sit something out, I became a bleeding mess. When I talk about a self-imposed break, I mean at any point in the process--not just after a pregnancy loss. Because there's a lot to mourn even if you haven't suffered a miscarriage or a late term loss. There's a lot to mourn in infertility itself.

(Plum Sykes? The Debutante Divorcee is just breathing in anticipation for you)

And I think sometimes I only considered those losses in terms of what they meant: what did we learn? How can I stop this from happening in the future? What is the greater meaning of this loss? Rather than taking pause and considering the emotional side of the loss. At some point, I started thinking like an RE instead of thinking like a woman trying to conceive. I was emotional, but I took the emotions out of the process and instead the emotions were directed at myself--at my own failures, at my own short-comings--rather than at the not-yet baby.

(For the love of Jesus Christ Almighty, put. down. the. pregnancy. loss. books.)

A man and a woman walk into a fertility clinic. The woman tells the RE, "we want a baby. With my eyes and his nose." The RE rolls his eyes and says, "his nose? I wouldn't do that to a kid even for the $12,000 IVF price tag!"


See, it really isn't funny.


royalyne said...

Your post is hitting home today. I've been considering that "self-imposed break" thing for a few days now. Maybe it's the new dog (Lexi joined our family on Tuesday), or having sex 3 times in one day last time I ovulated (no letting the sperm build up like we're supposed to, just having fun and tiring ourselves out), or feeling comfortable in our new house (repainted the living room a very calming deep sage/olive green), or maybe it's those 2 weeks between ovulation and CD1. I don't gain much hope during the 2 week wait, after 2 1/2 years I'm pretty much out of usable hope, but I get complacent in my life, like I can handle what I've got right now. Give me a week. AF will arrive and I won't think about anything but ovulation and timed intercourse, but this week I'm OK without a baby.

And then I move my arm. The pain of shredding a vein, then a faulty blood-sucking tube on attempt #2, and then finally a successful blood draw on the other arm. I look like a drug addict today, bruises and puncture wounds on both arms. 7dpo testing done just a few minutes ago. I did it for a reason, how can I consider a break? Isn't that like breaking your own arm just to see the hot ER doctor? I don't benefit from it if I don't see it through to the end. So, my hypothetical arm is broken, do I want the cast I seemed so determined to get just a short time ago?

I've stopped being emotional about it, I feel like an outsider looking in at my own infertility. Maybe I need the break, to let my emotions come back. But what if they don't? Will I be able to forgive myself if I give up on my not-yet baby? And that is why I don't actually break my arm, no matter how hot the ER doc (not even McDreamy), because I don't know those answers yet. Give me some time, AF will come and knock some sense into me.

Carol said...

You're very right. My way of coping with each failed cycle is to have a plan in hand for the next one. Then my attention is focused forward, not back. And I get very upset every time they tell me I have to wait a couple months. Otherwise it's too painful. And I also know what you mean about when you do get emotional - are you mouring the loss of what you thought might be a pregnancy? or mourning a failed cycle? or mourning the fact that you can't get this done? I've never failed at anything I've tried in my life - ever. And it bothers me a lot that I keep failing at this.

An no - it's not funny. But I do have to say that I appreciate the humor in a lot of these blogs. It helps lift you out of the dumps, if even for just a few minutes.

mary said...

Boy, did this hit home. After having another unexpected delay in our donor egg cycle we had to take an unwanted break. I have been thinking lately that I feel like I am climbing a very tall mountain. I vaguely remember that someone told me there is something wonderful at the top of the mountain, but sometimes I forget what it is. I just know I have to keep climbing. Even when I fall down (i.e. miscarriages) I get back up and go on. I have trained myself to stop being so emotional over every loss and every setback because it hurts too much to let myself feel. I just keep climbing. Hopefully when I reach the top the view will be so wonderful I will remember why I climbed for so long and allow myself to start feeling again. I hope so. Let me know when I get there!

mandolyn said...

I don't know, Mel...the account of the human child-to-Pluto sized cricket saga had me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. Tears. From laughing. It was nice.

Josefina said...

I think it all depends in the situation you're at...I've found this blog very funny many times...maybe it's because I feel so reflected some times that I can't help but laugh about's like those comedians that talk about daily situations that make me laugh so hard...I think this is kind of the same..
Maybe your brother isn't so familiar with this issue...

Piccinigirl said...

Mel you make me laugh all the time, and as a very wise woman once said "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion" (you go Dolley Parton!!!)
I am , in reality on a break until January and some days that is ok and some days it isn't. Some days I know I have a plan for the new year and it gets me through, some days I want to lie in bed and sleep through the rest of 2006. Yet your blog, and others too, get me through it, I know I am not alone, I know I can laugh even when I want to cry and I know I can take a break and still want a baby, but need that time off to regroup, to become passionate about TTC and my husband again. To be "me" again.

Anonymous said...

Great post!

I have been on a self-imposed TTC break since my last miscarriage in March. My doc wanted us to take a break anyway (although he was only talking about a few months) - but, I knew at that time that I just couldn't handle TTC again without dealing with the losses. It became blatently clear I never mourned my November '05 loss and it was rolling over into the latest one.

It was hard at first... I was, like you, reading all of the loss books, studying Dr. Google, etc. But, after several weeks of sleepless nights that required medication to get me to sleep and finally a diagnosis that there was in fact a problem, I knew in my heart the break was the right choice to make. I needed to get through all of the anniversaries of my EDD's-not-to-be, the anniversaries of the actual losses, the holidays that I didn't get to enjoy at all last year. I needed to get ME back because I was becoming unbearable living in my own skin...not to mention becoming unbearable to live with in general.

Now that I am in the cusp of TTC again, I am scared as hell. Not scared of the cycle not working - I can handle that. If a cycle doesn't work for me...I don't get a BFP at all - that just means I was able to get through a cycle without a miscarriage. I can move on to the next cycle and start all over again. Hope that makes sense.

What I AM scared of is miscarrying again...and there is always a chance that I could. And, if it does happen again (nothing like being optomistic!), I am not sure I can go on to TTC again.

What my break has brought me was my sense of self again (thanks, Dr. counselor!), a reconnection with my hubby and my son, and a resolution to give up temping and let the doc handle the cycle completely. I am glad I did it... I have my sense of humor back. If I hadn't taken this break, I probably wouldn't be laughing at your jokes on your blog now.

serenity said...

I'm in the beginnings of a break, and I will say I feel a wonderful sense of relief that I don't have to care about medications, I can drink my coffee and wine and not have to really think about TTC. It's good.

But it's really hard emotionally. Again, I can't tell you if right now I'm grieving that IVF #1 and our 3 FETs failed, or that I've just put off being emotional about it until I knew there was very little hope in the near future about getting pregnant. Or maybe it's that I'm sad that I don't know what our next steps are.

Either way, I'm grieving right now. And it sucks. I feel like it's much easier to deal with the disappointment of a BFN on a cycle when you have something to look forward to (changes to your protocol, for example). It's easier to focus on the next cycle and keep the hope up.

You are right on with that.

There are parts of IF that are funny, but most of it is heartbreaking and really fucking hard. Pregnancy loss is one of them. Repeat BFNs are another.

And frankly, that's ok. It doesn't all have to be funny all the time.

So poo on your brother.


heather said...

dh sort of made me take a 6 wk break after our first ivf failed. i didn't want to, i wanted to jump right into my fet cycle. i asked the nurse at the clinic what people usually do and she told me they usually go back to back. as in no break time. dh just thought i needed the emotional and physical break. i'd just pumped myself full of hormones and had 24 eggs taken out of me (a little bit of hyperstimulation bloating came with that). but he also thought i needed an emotional break. i really thought i'd be one of the rare ones who it worked for the first time. but i knew that all this babymaking stuff wasn't just about me. he gets to have a say, and i respect him enough to listen. i took the break, and now i'm glad i did. we took a little trip together, i got to get back into exercise a bit, and with that first fet cycle, i got pg. i know i'm one of the lucky ones that it worked for the 2nd time, but who knows what would have happened if we hadn't taken the break. would my body have been ready to get pg? it ended up being about 2 months between ET's, so my body was back to "normal". it's so hard to "take a break" but i think it was helpful to me.

SmarshyBoy said...

Mel, can you tell me a little more about the knee high boots in the sperm palace room? Please tell me that's something you did. Please.