Espera/Esperanza

I have entered the Two Week Wait.

This period, as anyone who is trying to get babied will know, is the most horrendous two weeks of the month. Which is about half of the month, so that means that half of my ENTIRE year is spent like this. In Spanish, Esperar means both “to wait” and “to hope.” Those spaniards clearly know about the Two Week Wait.

Much like the Spaniards, I am divided between waiting and hoping during the two weeks. The first week is about the wait. This is a peaceful, rational time. I’m fairly normal. I can go about my business- driving, working, eating food not laden with butter. I don’t obsessively check the app that tracks my period. I just function like a human being. It is a beautiful thing, folks.

Then Week Two arrives. Emotions take over. I start checking my app to calculate *precisely* when my period is supposed to come. I may start speculating on due dates, or idly picking out names. Then I start imagining what’s going on in there, “there” being my cobwebby uterus. Every tiny change or oddity in my body must be “a sign,” right?

Wrong. So far, here is a list of things my overactive imagination has mistaken for early pregnancy.

  • Implantation cramps — Indigestion from exuberant take-out
  • Morning sickness — Nausea from the ever fluctuating hormones associated with my period. Or maybe the take out.
  • Pregnancy weight gain — Actual weight gain associated with overeating and the slovenly lifestyle I have adopted since my mom went into the hospital
  • Shortness of breath — Being out of shape,  thanks to aforementioned slovenly lifestyle
  • Tender boobies — Sore pecks from push ups after my illfated attempt to address aforementioned out-of-shape-ness

About a day or two before my period is scheduled to arrive, I decide this is obviously hopeless. Another month down, and still nothing to show for it. I cave, and drink a glass of wine. Then I feel terrible because if I am actually pregnant, I have done my baby irreparable harm by drinking alcohol. It will come out with three arms and a pathological obsession with Michael Bolton. I will likely cry.

Then my period comes. I’m bummed for a day or two (not to mention the earth shattering cramps) but then I’m okay. It’s like last month never happened at all.

And I’m back where I started.

I Hate Everyone. Including Myself.

Sometimes, it is hard to know if you are a selfish bastard. There are mitigating circumstances, right? Even someone with the sunniest of dispositions is going to break if they are in a seriously shitty position.

My mom has been in the ICU since November. She just started to become aware of her surroundings on December 26th. And now that she is coming to, she is PISSED. When you ask her to smile or follow other commands, she gives you the finger. Sometimes, she’ll tell you that she doesn’t love you and to get out of her room.

My dad isn’t doing much better. Only he isn’t angry, he is devastated. Everything is terrible. Everything. And when they aren’t, he feels compelled to make up terrible circumstance, so that we keep the shit-to-shit ratio in equilibrium. Like when he told all of my mom’s doctors that he had cancer. In fact, he did not have cancer, but when it rains, let’s make it fictitiously pour.

As much as I don’t love their behavior, I get it. They are going through some seriously traumatic stuff. My mother lost two months of her life, only to wake up with life-threatening medical problems.  My father is dealing with a profound grief over my mother’s health situation. Things are admittedly bad, so I cut them a little slack.

Grief and anger are selfish things. They turn us inward so that we can only see our own pain.  They sneak up when you aren’t looking, punch you in the face, go all Tonya Harding on your knees.

Worse, other people’s happiness seems downright offensive. It’s hard to believe that the world keeps spinning, keeps experiencing joy. Doesn’t everyone know that the polite thing to do is to be completely miserable? But noooo… they just keep on having lives, the little a**holes.

Slowly but surely, my own infertility grief is making me a bitter person.  I hate my friends’ completely adorable babies. I’m not being hyperbolic—my friends post pictures of their kids, and I immediately think “I hate you.”  What kind of psychopath hates a baby?

Yesterday, my friend sent me an email that he and his wife are expecting. (They just started trying this summer.) I read the email and cried. What kind of an a**hole cries when their good friend tells them they are having a baby?

Then I hate myself for hating babies and crying about them. I can’t be happy for other people, because their joy puts my sorrow is such stark contrast.  I don’t like this person I am. It’s all fine and dandy to say “Choose to be positive! Turn that frown upside down!” You can say those things, but it also helps when you actually feel it.

I don’t feel it, and I feel like a complete selfish bastard that I can’t. So that means I can add self-loathing to my list of defining characteristics… De-lightful.

The Last Pregnancy Test

Back when I started TTC, I bought a 3-pack of pregnancy tests. Remember, I’m a planner. I thought it would be a good idea to have these around for when I inevitably got pregnant. Which would be soon, right?

So cute, this idea of “planning” when it comes to pregnancy. So so cute…

I went through two of them in the first few months, back before my body had sorted itself out and was having erratic cycles. The last one I used was when I was a week late. You’d think that would be a pretty good indicator of pregnancy, wouldn’t you? Nope. It was a pretty good indicator that my ovulation was pretty whacky. That was all.

But I got over it, and eventually my cycles started going like clock work. I mean, it’s been amazing. *Exactly* two weeks after I ovulate, I start my period. About 7 days before, I undergo an excruciating cornucopia of PMS symptoms. Cramping ensues. And I get sad. Every month for the past year.

There has been this lone pregnancy test sitting in the back of my bathroom cabinet for the past year. I’ve been tempted to bust it out when I’ve been really impatient with my body. As anyone who has tried getting pregnant knows, that two-week wait is a killer. I don’t get too bad until the last 7 days. That’s when I get nutty, and my brain darts to the back of my cabinet.

The last pregnancy test became a symbol. I had sort of decided that THAT test would be “the one.” It made refusing to use it so much easier. I didn’t want to ruin it with my pee and inevitable negative result. Its presence meant that I was handling this process with logic and self-restraint. It was my consolation prize. “I may not have a baby, but at least I have that last pregnancy test! I have my dignity!” So far, I have resisted.

That is until this month. Because this month, my body did everything it normally did…. except the period. It was more like an ellipsis. I missed a day. Another one. Then a third. So I figured… “Why not break out that test?”

Now, don’t get your hopes up. Nothing good came of this. On Friday, I woke up, broke out the test, peed, and waited the obligatory 2 minutes.

Whooomp, whooooomp…. A big, old, fat negative. And six hours later I sat on my couch with my period and my cramps, but without my self-righteousness.

I’ve lost a lot throughout this whole TTC process. (I will regale you with a full inventory of this at some other point.) And for everything I’ve lost, I’ve replaced it with something. Not always a good something, but hey… there is a void. It begs to be filled. Among those things, I’ve lost my faith in faith. I replaced it with science and logic. If I just measure and control the f@ck out of this process, it feels like less of a personal defeat every month. So instead of hope and prayer, I have ovulation calendars and pregnancy tests. Or HAD pregnancy tests. Le sigh…

Oddly, I’m less upset by the loss of the last pregnancy test than I thought I would be. I don’t know that this is a good thing. It feels like just another in a long string of let downs. But how do you go through this without becoming a bit of a pessimist?

By buying another stupid, f@cking pack of pregnancy tests, that’s how.

On Fixing Things That Aren’t Broken

It has been a while since my last post. Only this time, I have a great excuse. Or a crap excuse, depending on how you think about it.

My mom has been in the ICU since November 1. It is a terribly long and terribly terrible story, one involving botched medical procedures, removal of muscle, skin, and most of a colon. Oh, and did I mention a stroke? Yes, let’s throw one of those in.

The good news is that my mother is alive and feisty. In fact, for Christmas she gave my dad the finger. (Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Norman Rockwell!) I’m cautiously optimistic that she is improving, but she is by no means out of the woods. Her doctors think she will require some kind of inpatient treatment for a year.

I went to visit my family three times in the last two months. I spent Christmas in the ICU with my mom. I gathered around her hospital bed with my brother and sister, and cried. I sat next to my dad in his bed, and held him while he cried.

This has put things in sharp focus for me.  It made me realize how important starting a family of my own is to me. Someday I want people to cry over my hospital bed, DAMN IT! As of now, I’ve just got Mr. Ostrich and he hardly cries. (He is from New England. They don’t emote up here.) I need to breed or there will simply not be enough pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth when I die. I want to have created a family that cares enough to support and love each other the way my parents have. Is that too much to ask?!

Which brings me to the topic at hand: my dusty, empty uterus.  During my last post, I wrote about going in for an HSG, to see if there was any blockage.   Drum roll, please… It’s all good in my hood! It was a thoroughly unpleasant procedure, but at least it checked something off the list as to why Mr. Ostrich and I haven’t successfully created a little chick of our own.

For months, I was convinced that there was something wrong with me. The emotional browbeating that you can do to yourself in a situation like this absurd. My body was betraying me. Get that- I was betraying myself.

You’d think that this news would be a comfort. But it isn’t. Because there is nothing about me to fix.

So… let’s step back for a minute. All my ultrasounds, blood tests, and HSG test have come out “fine.” There is speculation of a smidge of endometriosis on my left ovary, but nothing that would be causing difficulty in conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Or specifically, are you thinking what Mr. Ostrich is thinking?

When my doc started all my infertility tests, he also gave me a referral for Mr. Ostrich to have his own analysis done. I got all mine scheduled right away. Him? Not so much.

This represents a fundamental difference between me and Mr. Ostrich.

If something is broken, I rush in with 50 plans to fix it. There will be flow charts! There will be milestones! Hell, I may even PowerPoint!

If something is broken, he sits back for months until he is ready to fix it.  There will be no communication on progress. One day, I will turn around and he will have addressed said broken something. Quietly, eventually done.

When all the proverbial shit hit the fan with my mom, I had a heartfelt discussion with Mr. Ostrich about starting our family. I asked him to make getting his junk inspected a priority. And because he is a sweet, wonderful man, Mr. Ostrich now has an appointment in a few weeks.

Now I wonder if he is doing some browbeating of his own.  If I’m not the broken one, what if he is? I’m not so worried about the medical implications, mind you. What is it like to be on the other side, watching the person you love most turn inward like I did?

Of course, this is all conjecture. I’m sure his tests will come back fine. My doctor will say “Huh… that’s weird. I guess you’ll just have to keep going at it FOREVER with no results. Good luck with that.”

I will end up alone at 80 with no one to cry for me but the nursing staff at the home I will be wheeled into by my nieces and nephews who all have real parents to deal with.