This is How I Midlife Crisis

I’ve been… funky lately.

I don’t know how to explain it exactly. It all started a few months ago when I was approached by a recruiter for an AMAZING company– likely one you’ve heard of and very likely use everyday. They are huge in the space I work in. If it had been two years ago, I would have peed my pants. As it was, I was like… meh.

I went through the motions and did a few interviews, but after the second one it was pretty clear that I was not the droid they were looking for. No big deal.

But it bothered me. Because “meh” isn’t my usual response to anything. And this overall meh-ness seems to have stuck with my like a little grey cloud for the past several months. It’s not raining. But it sure as shit isn’t sunshine either.

I can’t figure it out. Since I can’t figure out what it is, I can certainly tell you what it is not.

  1. Chick. Yes, he is a handful, but I adore him– even when he pulls baby dramatics. Parenting a tiny human is hard, but on the balance I’ve found a groove that works.
  2. My job. I really love my job. I love my team. 
  3. My running. I’ve been able to get that back into my life which is amazing. It’s not like it used to be- I now squeeze it in during lunch or between meetings. But my practice is back and that means everything.
  4. My family. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but they have largely been okay. Yes, my dad has his moments, but we seem to be riding out the rough patches nicely. Any drama doesn’t involve me and is often happening hundreds of miles away.

Here are some contenders for what it might be.

  1. My home. I rent a two bedroom apartment. It works… for now. But since Chick was born, I am having a downright primal urge to “settle down.” The trouble is I don’t want to settle down where I am.  I don’t see a future here… my city is changing a lot. It’s no where for middle class people to live. Conversely, the ‘burbs are so expensive, not to mention devoid of any kind of diversity. Think lots of wealthy white people with advanced degrees. Oy.
  2. Mr. O’s family. Mr. O comes from a fairly large family, so there are family-events almost every weekend. We are obliged to go, are peppered with comments about our baby/parenting/plans to have more, and I go home to complain for the next two hours about how intrusive and weird everyone is. There is more– indeed, I could write a post on this very subject. But in summary, both Mr. O and I are interested in getting far, far away.
  3. The Northeast. I’m actually having a hard time coming to terms with this one. See I grew up in the South, but never felt at home there. I went up North for college, and felt almost instantly lighter. But now… I’m tired of the winters. I’m tired of all the people almost literally piled on top of one another. I’m tired of the strange hyper-competitiveness over “success” and want everyone to just go away.  
  4. My job. Yes, I know… I love my job. I’m also thinking I may have gone as far as I can here. I’m still waiting on an official promotion, but once I get that… What next? Also through some complete accident, I work in tech. It’s tough being a woman working in the tech industry, even when you’re not explicitly in engineering. It’s very young, white, and male… and lo! I do not identify as any of those things. They just aren’t my tribe– my people are teachers, writers, non-profit fundraisers… Tech, however, pays me a livable wage, and I am the breadwinner.

I am, by nature, a problem solver. I see the problem, and for the first time EVER I have no obvious solution. And so I embrace the thrash, hoping that one of these days my path forward becomes clear. Sorta like a magic 8 ball.

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The Non-Scare

Oh, what a weekend I’ve had… Lest you worry, Chick and I are fine. Okay, CHICK is fine. I am fairly convinced my insides are going to fall out any minute.

Thursday evening was my 24 week check-up. As I drove to my appointment, I felt this strange burning pain right at my breast bone. Nothing incapacitating, but also very odd. Good thing I was going to my check-up, eh?

As I lay down on the table, I explained to the midwife what was happening. The usual “Does it hurt when I do this? What about this? Or how about this?” ensued. To which I responded, Yes, no, and no. Acute pain, but mostly localized to a 1 inch square. The midwife seemed worried.

“You see, that’s where your uterus is…”

“What? How did it get all the way up there?”

Concerned looks, either because I have no concept of pregnancy anatomy or because something terribly wrong is going on with my insides.

After conferring with a few others on staff, the midwife sent me home with instructions to rest and call immediately if things get worse. This is not something one wants to hear from a medical professional, though admittedly it could be worse.

At this point, the pain was really really real. I hobbled back to my car and went home for some rest. Though the pain didn’t get worse, it didn’t really go away either. Additionally, it traveled down slowly over the course of the evening until it landed right around my belly button.

Meanwhile, Chick was moving like a prize fighter. Had this not been the case, I wouldn’t have slept through the night. Ironic, isn’t it? My baby punching my insides made it easier for me to sleep.

Come morning the pain had not gone away. Midwife wanted me to come in for an ultrasound to make sure Chick was alright, and the soonest I could get in was 1:30.

Again, not something one wants to hear from a medical professional.

Holy balls– do you have ANY idea how long the wait from 8:00 to 1:30 was for me? As fortune would have it, I had a therapy appointment with Dr. Macaw that morning, and spent my entire 55 minutes crying. Though I rationally knew this would probably be fine, irrationally I could not handle one more fucking thing in my life breaking down.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have reached my limit for very bad things. No more. Not open for business. I wish I could say I’m some strong, courageous bad ass who can handle any and every speed bump with a smile. But let’s be real. This camel is one straw away from losing her shit.

Strangely, it felt really good to admit this to another person. Outloud. In earnest. Through lots of snot and tears. Between my mom’s death, my dad’s slow climb toward normalcy, my siblings and their own stuff, the completely unnecessary drama from Mr. O’s dad, and upheaval at work, I need this pregnancy to be okay. Perhaps the Universe would listen to me this time when I’ve said I have had enough.

Perhaps.

The next several hours at work were totally surreal. I had an “important meeting” that I couldn’t get to because it was smack in the middle of my ultrasound. Had a moment when I thought about conference-calling in, then realized that was completely stupid. I made my excuses and arrived back at my doctor’s office for the second time in 24 hours.

The ultrasound tech was the most beautiful, decent human. She was chipper and reassuring. With every snapshot she took of Chick, she’d say something like “Now we’re looking at the kidneys, which look totally normal…. This is the heart, which looks absolutely healthy…” And so on and so forth until we established that Chick is still fine. (And still very shy about their face. Someone is not ready for their close-up, Mr. DeMille.)

At this point, it was time to meet with another midwife (my dr/midwife duo weren’t available at this time, which was fine with me.) After looking at the results and examining me, I have been diagnosed with…. Diastasis Recti, or separated abdominal muscles. (Do not google this. It is gross. Or at least it is gross when you realize it is happening to you.)

Truth be told, I sort of forgot what the midwife was saying after she confirmed Chick was okay. I heard “Baby is okay! Mumble, mumble, Diastasis Recti, mumble, mumble, one finger apart, mumble, can get up to three, mumble, mumble…:”

Deep breaths. No one is dying. I’m just experiencing pain like a burning zipper up and down my abdomen. No big deal.

I spent the rest of the weekend wincing around my apartment, and having to ask Mr. O anytime something had to be lifted up or put down. It was tedious, and led me to one or two bouts of feeling sorry for myself.

My abs, once my pride and joy, have separated about one finger width apart. This is not uncommon in pregnancy– approximately two thirds of pregnant women experience this to some degree. It is, however, uncommon so early in a pregnancy or women carrying my size baby. If this were my third trimester or if I was carrying Gigantor, it would make more sense.

No one can quite figure out why this has happened when it did. As my loyal readers will know, this annoys me to no end. I want “Why?”, but it seems my body only responds “Why not?!” One speculation is that my muscles were so tight to begin with, there was little stretch in them. (I had similar lower abdominal pain weeks ago, which one nurse thought might also have been intensified because those muscles were well-developed. This is what 8 years of running does to you.)

I hope this doesn’t sound like a humble brag. Because I am sooooo not into this. Had I know that being in excellent shape with well-defined abdominals prior to pregnancy would lead to tearing? BLECH. I would have cooled my training and eaten more ice cream.

In the meantime, I have no idea what I can/can’t do anymore. From my midwife, I can keep running until my body says no. (But this isn’t no? What the hell does this mean? Talk about completely unhelpful advice…) She also suggested I ditch the pilates and take up yoga, but I’m still convinced this will just make matters worse. Maybe I should just become a bedridden shut in… In my most paranoid moments, I don’t want to breathe too deeply deeply because I’m pretty sure my organs will fall out. Which is shear nuttery but that’s where I live these days.

Just when I am on the brink of crying because I feel tender and sad, Chick tickles me from the inside out.

It is hysterical and glorious.

It is the yin to this weekend’s yang.

Quelle Surprise!

CD1.  You know how I know? I got my period.

I did not, however, get any of the usual accompanying PMS drama. Okay, some sore boobs, but that was it. I was genuinely surprised when I got my period this morning because my body usually makes much ado about the situation. Nausea, acne, crying, tons of painful cramping… this month, I literally did not feel this coming. It is also a few days early, which I’m a wee bit happy about. I’m that much closer to my next cycle when I start IVF.

Is this what it is like to be a normal person? To function like an actual human for the last 1.5 weeks of my cycle?! Sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found you!

Ridiculousness aside, is it possible that my polyps were the culprits of my PMS? Is that crazy? Seriously, any ladies out there who had polyps– did you notice any difference in your period post op?

The Unknowns

“As we know, there are known knowns; there are things that we know that we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” -Donald Rumsfeld*

My first consultation with a “real” RE is just a week away. I’m not exactly sure what I should expect. When I got my period last time, it was on a Sunday morning. I crawled back into bed and cried a little bit. Mr. Ostrich dutifully spooned me, and tried to comfort me.

ME: I’m just scared. This advance reproductive bullshit terrifies me.

MR. O: Are you sure you still want to do this?

ME: Yeah, but I’m still scared.

I’ve thought about this since it flew out of my mouth. I’m not one who gets scared that often. Typically, I research the crap out of something until I understand it. (Knowing is half the battle.) But all the “understanding” in the world isn’t making this any less intimidating. There is a lot I don’t know. So there is a lot I can obsessively worry about.

This is a brief summary.

1) I’m almost convinced that after reviewing all my tests, my RE will discover something so obvious like I don’t have a uterus. That’s been the problem all along!

2) I’m worried she’ll order a whole bunch more tests. Some of them are a year old at this point, but I still don’t want to have to do them again. Let’s get this show on the road, damnit.

3) What if I have to stop running? Being able to be outside alone, following the rhythm of my feet, feeling my heart get stronger with every stride… this shit has sustained me through the absolute worst year of my life (thus far.) If I can’t do that because of any treatments, I will lose my frickin’ mind.

4) I have to keep track of things. There are the injections, the sticks to pee on, the showing up for doctor’s appointments on time. You ladies make this look so easy. “I took .75 ml of Magical Baby Powder, and now my KLM levels are at 45.” I have no idea what this shit really means. This seems to require a level of organization that I do not have the skills for.

5) Actual pain. Let’s be real. None of this sounds like a massage for your lady parts.

6) The money. My insurance covers some of it, but there is a lifetime max. I have to get this done before the money runs out.

7) The disappointment. Sure, I’ve dealt with the monthly disappointment, but I worry that I’ll have a higher level of emotional investment in the ARTs. What if the sadness I experience at the end of each cycle now is worse?

8) What if, at the end of all this, it doesn’t work? I’ve got a few more stops along the TTC train, but the end is in sight. All this time, I held out ARTs as the backup plan. But my backup plan has no backup plan.

Yes, I am worrying about this prematurely. I haven’t even had the damn appointment yet. One of the hardest things I’ve had to confront during this past year is that I have no idea how anything in this life will pan out. I have to honor my crazy-lady anxiety, but then learn to let it go.

Nothing is guaranteed, the good or the bad.

 

*Yes, I just made a vague comparison between infertility and terrorism. And yes, this is the first and last time I will ever quote Donald Rumsfeld. I promise.

The Incredible Hulk of Hormones

(Warning: There is a little over-sharing here about bodily functions. Enter at your own risk.)

So far, my body has failed to host a fertilized egg.

There is, however, a pimple on my forehead that I am sure is well into its first trimester.

This is just one of the many thrilling and disgusting turns my body has taken over the last few months. Hormone fluctuations are a bitch.

I honestly don’t remember my cycles being such a rollercoaster of ick before. Yes, I was on the pill for 10+ years, but even before then… it was never this bad. Ever.

My skin was the first thing to go on this baby-making adventure. My forehead turns into an oil slick about a week before my period. I will get zits in my hair. I also have bacne now. WTF?! I thought I left all this crap behind when I got my braces off.

I’m also experience extreme exhaustion. This is how I know I’ve ovulated. Cramps, cramps, followed by an irresistible urge to nap. I have literally put my head down on my desk in the middle of a conversation at work. This has also started up while I’m on my period. I’m completely wiped out the first two days. Last week, I came home on Thursday (CD1) and slept on the couch for an hour in my work clothes.

Then there is the irrational rage. Oh yes… let us not forget about that. It doesn’t happen every month, but there are definitely times when I feel myself getting down right irate about something really minor. Like an email in my inbox. Not the contents of the email, mind you. Just the fact that there was an email in my inbox. I was ENRAGED, but I could rationally see I was acting ridiculous. But still… ENRAGED.

Oooo! Did I mention the bloating? Yet another symptom of my impending menstruation. I get so bloated around the middle that I cannot wear pants. No, really. My pants do not fit me, so I have to wear amorphous dresses or anything with an elastic waist band.

My OG PCP (who sucked, but that’s another story) kept telling me that this is “good.” It means that my body is doing what it is supposed to do, prepping for fertilization + implantation. That might be true, but holy bejeezus… It’s hard enough to feel human through all of this, without the added complication of turning into the Incredible Hulk of Hormones. (You don’t want to see me ANGRY!)

Now here’s a real question for ladies in the crowd who’ve done the Clomid… I’ve had fairly few symptoms (Woohoo!) But since I’ve increased dosage last month, I’ve gotten sick on the 3rd day of taking the medication. Nothing serious… just a sore throat, stuffy nose, and general malaise.

I could also have really bad luck– this would not surprise me in the slightest. Just curious if anyone has heard anything about weakening your immune system while on these drugs.

 

The Year of Very Bad Things

Go Shorty, it’s my birthday.

We gonna party like it’s my birthday

I’m not going to sip Bacardi like it’s my birthday because I’m on my TWW.

(50 Cent never saw that lyric coming…)

 

No, really. It is my birthday.

I’m not terribly excited about it. Normally, I love my birthday. I like to think of it as a day to celebrate me and my general awesomeness. I do whatever it is I want, which in the past has included hiking, literary walking tours (#nerdalert) and unicorn piñatas.

I’m also not one who is afraid of my age. I’m (now) 36, and I’m amazing. I’m in no way ashamed or embarrassed not to be 25 anymore. It’s almost an act of defiance to publicly embrace my age. Take THAT, Patriarchy!

This year, I just want it to go away.

35 sucked. It really did. This time last year, I started experiencing loathsome ovulation pain and became convinced that my uterus was in full-on revolt. Two of my friends’ mothers died. My own mom went into the hospital and has not left. My sister has not one, but two autoimmune diseases. And I’m officially sub-fertile.

That isn’t to say that there haven’t been good things. Like… Let’s see… I’m sure there is something in there that wasn’t actively terrible… My husband remained a beautiful, delightful man. My hair is looking fantastic. My cat is the light of my life. I ate good food. Um… I didn’t lose a limb. That seems like a good end-of-year result.

It isn’t that I’m not grateful for the positive things in my life. I truly am, especially because they are in stark contrast to the not-so-positive things. I just  don’t see much use in pretending that the shit-to-glee ratio is balanced at the moment.  Nope, I’ve got a huge ol’ pile of “Very Bad Things” for 35. There are also no definitive signs that 36 is improving, yet I remain open to the possibility. (WIDE OPEN. Do you hear me, Universe? WIDE OPEN TO IMPROVEMENT.)

This morning, I went for a run. I ran up to the top of a hill, which has a great view of the city skyline. I sat at the top for a few minutes, and mentally compiled this list of “Very Bad Things.” I kicked them around for a little bit, and let them know that I’m pretty much done with them. I have no more room for them.

Goodbye, 35. I’ve never been so happy to see the backside of a year.

The one in which I Google. And realize this is a very bad idea.

If my Apps are correct, I am two days away from my period. Which feels about right. Or right-ish. Unlike the last few cycles where my PMS has been nightmarish, I didn’t really start feeling any symptoms until Saturday. And they are pretty low key. Some crampiness. Some sore boobage. But thankfully no fits of blind PMS rage and/or weeping, or nipples that feel as though they are on fire. ON FIRE.

It is around this time of every cycle that I begin to Google, as if by magic some new result will appear that explains everything I’m going through. Today I was reminded that A) I am old, and B) old ladies have a significantly harder time getting pregnant. But I started when I was 33- doesn’t that count for something? Can I get an extension? (Yes, I am trying to negotiate my way out of this. And no, it is not working.)

Also a third of infertility is “unexplained” which strikes me as remarkably high. Seriously? 33% of the time, we have no idea what’s going on? Come on, Modern Medicine. What are you good for if you can’t figure it out a third of the time.

I also read somewhere that couples who are trying for over 3 years have a less than 25% chance of ever conceiving. (I’m in month 23 or 15, depending on how you look at it. Long story…) With no end of this non-baby-making, I see no reason it won’t drag on forever. I blink and it is three years in. I blink again, and I’m old, alone, and eating cat food from a can.

Someone should really invent an app that actively blocks you from Googling fertility-related words during your two week wait. It does no one any good.

On top of all this, I’m visiting my family this weekend to spend time with my mom which always makes me apprehensive. Not seeing her mind you. It’s the circus of despair conducted by my brother and father that I’m not looking forward to.  In good news (because I really could use some) my mom has successfully made it out of the ICU! In not so great news, she is having a tough time with the transition. In many ways, now is when the hard work begins. So I’m headed down to see what kind of help she can get in her recovery.

I’m staying with my dad, which I’m a bit worried about. He isn’t good with boundaries or respecting other people’s feelings. It is all him, all the time. If you tell him that he is talking about things that make you uncomfortable or upset, he will ignore you and keep talking. (This morning, he told my sister specifics about his… er… romantic preferences with my mother. File under: Things Children Should Never Know About Their Parents.) I made Mr. Ostrich promise me that if my dad repeatedly doesn’t respect my boundaries, we’ll leave. I’d rather stay at the Holiday Inn, thank you very much.

Next up for me in my battle in sub-fertility, Clomid Round Three. And no more Googling.

 

I am not a medical professional. I also believe that most of the stuff out there Googleverse is full of shit. So please do not read anything I’ve stated above as “fact” because it was probably found on “babyfairydustsprinkles.net.”