Friday, September 26, 2014

I drop down to earth with a thud

"You'll probably have a good many more and worse disappointments than that before you get through life," said Marilla, who honestly thought she was making a comforting speech. "It seems to me, Anne, that you are never going to outgrow your fashion of setting your heart so on things and then crashing down into despair because you don't get them." 
"I know I'm too much inclined that, way" agreed Anne ruefully. "When I think something nice is going to happen I seem to fly right up on the wings of anticipation; and then the first thing I realize I drop down to earth with a thud. But really, Marilla, the flying part is glorious as long as it lasts. . .it's like soaring through a sunset. I think it almost pays for the thud." 
"Well, maybe it does," admitted Marilla. "I'd rather walk calmly along and do without both flying and thud. But everybody has her own way of living. . .I used to think there was only one right way. . .but since I've had you. . . to bring up I don't feel so sure of it."
Anne of Avonlea, "Chapter XVII: A Chapter of Accidents" by L. M. Montgomery
DISCLAIMER: This post is entirely TMI (and uses words like "blood" and "infertility") but I don't even care because I'm grumpy right now. Reader discretion is advised.

That line by Anne—"When I think something nice is going to happen I seem to fly right up on the wings of anticipation; and then the first thing I realize I drop down to earth with a thud"—has been swimming in my brain for some time now. 

I tried so hard not to hope, and I did a good job, too...for a while. 

Every month I think this could be the month. But it never is.

 I'm coming to terms with that, slowly. 

Oddly enough it helps to say the words out loud, to say the things my brain is screaming but in a calm, deliberate way. 

I am not allowed to be tired or sick or emotional without anyone wondering aloud if I'm expecting. 

"You said on Facebook you were 'so tired' yesterday? What's got you so tired? What's that all about?" a well-meaning friend asked me this morning with a wink and smile and a quick glance at my abdomen. 

Not that. But perhaps that. Or at least the absence of that. 

The absence of that keeps me awake at night, wondering. 

Oh, and Benjamin had croup for a week and it completely botched whatever sleep pattern he had going on so he now thinks the hours between midnight and 7 AM are the official "hang out with mom" hours. 

As if there's no other valid reason for being tired. Pregnancy is the one and only.

"So, are you thinking about having another one?" seems to be a question I field regularly. I used to smile and shrug and lie through my teeth, "Oh, we'll see," as if it's any of anyone's business but I decided that perhaps, if they were asking, they should get the truth so I've started telling people, "We've actually been trying for a year now, so..."

And usually people know what that's code for: infertility. 

It feels good (almost) to watch them reel on the spot a bit, suddenly aware that they have just entered the lair of a sleeping dragon (or at least a very awkward conversation) and there's no elegant way to tip toe out. Most squirm and try to change the conversation. A few will genuinely apologize. But mostly people just squirm.

My friends who had babies around the time Benjamin was due? Nearly all of them have already had another baby. But not me. I just get to be miserable for 50% of the month. Why? Because I'm quite positive I don't produce enough progesterone and thus I bleed for a week before I actually start my period. Because that's super fun. And because life isn't fair. 

So I try not to hope because, oh, the crashing aches. 

But this month was different

I didn't hope when I was a day late, because that's normal.
I didn't hope when I was two days late, because that can be normal two.
Three days late. Don't do it. Don't dream. Don't wish. Just wait. It's coming.
Four days late. Maybe I am more tired than usual? Am I? No. But maybe? No.
Five days late. Five. Whole. Days. Surely this is it. Another baby would be wonderful. Due right before Benjamin turns three. I won't even be 30 yet! It would be here in time for us to make it out to Utah next summer. But stop. You can't be sure. You can never be sure. I'll take a pregnancy test in the morning. That's what I'll do. 

But no need for that. Not anymore. 

My wings of anticipation have once again been clipped mid-flight and I have crumpled to the ground. 

I was typing out a family history today—one of my mom's cousin's—and they managed to have eleven children in fifteen years! I've barely managed to have three children in nine years. Not that that makes me a failure. It doesn't—I just wonder how people can even get pregnant that quickly because I can't, not if I'm nursing (I realize that nursing isn't fail-safe birth control for everyone, but for me it's pretty darn effective...obviously). And not that I have any desire to ever have children born in consecutive years, because I definitely don't. I just hoped that my kids would be close enough together to feel like they were all raised together. 

And maybe they are. The first three certainly are. If my first three are also my last three (and sometimes I tell myself that they will be because the best way to keep wings of anticipation at bay is to be a complete and utter Debbie Downer),* then they still are.

But if they're not my last three, then whoever else comes will feel like the caboose, for sure. They'll feel like they were raised in an alternative dimension of sorts. I know because that's how I feel sometimes about my family. Josie and Kelli are separated by eons. Josie has no memory of ever sharing a home with Kelli. 

We wanted a baby in 2014 and soon became fairly obvious that wasn't going to happen. And now 2015 is halfway gone as well and there's still no baby in sight. "The best laid schemes o' mice and men..." or however that goes.

* And also try to and make myself comfortable with the idea that my three kids are great and wonderful and all that I'm getting.


  1. I have no answers. I do wonder why people are so obsessed with other peoples fertility. It's off. Join a non Lds group. I was at mops yesterday and we were playing "I never" although they call it "god's blessed me" and only three of us had four kids. The majority have two or three. It is the expected norm and while they do clap and cheer when someone gets preggo they don't constantly expect it or put any two year pressure on people. They are also very open about fertility issues. Last night at bible study we had three fertility issues mentioned. The first was talking about how it took her over three years to get pregnant the first time. When she finally did she looked back and realized they were at a point where she could afford to finally have her be a stay at home mom. Something that would not have been possible until that point. The next was talking of the joy of finally adopting a baby after three adoptions had fallen through. The last mentioned the joy she had when she it became obvious they would never be able to have children and her sister donated eggs for her. I also have a friend who just got her first baby after almost twenty years of marriage. Eight failed invetro attempts and a few years waiting on the adoption list. They got the call out of the blue a baby was needing a family and watching the joy he brings after so many years is so beautiful. I know that I've come to a place where I think maybe I will never hold another baby. I worry that crazy c-section with cheetah has left my uterus to scared to have any more. I use my miscarriage as proof of this in my mind. It can be painful to think about especially when others are pregnant or have had more kids but I figure god most have some plan. Maybe god knows three kids will make a life of adventure easier, or maybe you are destined to have four but the next is going to be another baby Rachel and he's waiting until school is done, or maybe another baby Benjamin and he knows that being so far from family and with Andrew so busy that would be super difficult at this time. I don't know and I'm sorry that each month is so disappointing and painful for you. I pray god will lighten your heart. Have you considered maybe talking a class or two. Maybe it is a good time to start that part of your life. I know you'd enjoy it and it might ease your mind a little while you wait. Sorry for the totally unsolicited advice I just decided to do this new challenge and it actually brougt so much calm to my spirit. I didn't realize how stuck in my misery I'd been until focusing on this new thing lifted my focus away from my fertility /mommy misery.

    1. I just wanted to clarify that I think there are lots of people who understand your plight within our church I just mentioned my other mom's groups because I feel like we have a real cultural ideal on how we think family size and spacing should go that just doesn't work for everyone. I just don't feel that pressure with this group. I feel like they are able to celebrate motherhood outside of that and it takes a lot of pressure off of me. Also they are much more open about loss and challenges. Every month in October we "celebrate" (that isn't really the right word...but it is loss child awareness month). Someone who has lost a child always talks to us, we sing and then anyone who wants to light a candle for a lost child, miscarriage, or child birth wound does so. We all cry and I always complain that I hate it, but at the same time I appreciate being allowed to feel those feelings and share them. Does that make any sense? Also I wanted to point out I'm not going back to school yet. I picked a different challenge but I think you'd do marvelous in school and that's why I mentioned it!

  2. ^^^ what she said. Wow, Crys! Also, I'm sorry you're going through this, Nancy. And I'm sorry it gets brought up in awkward ways by insensitive questions. That is a really good Anne quote, by the way.

  3. I am so sorry for your pain, Nancy. I love you. I say "Wow, Crys!" too. I was frustrated so often by my children being so sporadically placed--I wanted you all to be closer. But in retrospect, I think that the family I was blessed with has been perfect for me. Even though David and Josie are 11 years apart, his life situation (also not what he thought he preferred) has made it possible for them to be friends. Their time spent together in Wales really brought some closeness to Josie and Patrick. Despite the age differences, they are good friends. My mom and her brother Roy were 20 years apart (at least) but their shared love for music and gardening brought them together and they became great friends. I think you are the awesomest mom, and your children are so blessed to have you. Josie and I were talking about insensitive questions that people ask--and I include myself in that. We all need to improve at getting to know people through conversation without hurting feelings. I repeat, I love you. My friend C. is so much on my mind now. She had only miscarriage before baby A. She held her breath for 12 weeks into the pregnancy because she didn't dare to hope that she would actually be carrying a baby--that it would "stick." A's difficult birth may have left her unable to carry another baby. And A only lived for two weeks. I can see some really hurtful conversation possibilities in C's future, and that makes me feel sad. How can we as a culture get better at kindness and sensitivity?

    1. One more thing: I was thinking about what is different from when I was growing up? And I think it is this: people are under the illusion that they have so much more control over fertility than they actually do. When I was a child, it was just normal that families came in all sizes. Because we all just thought it was up to God, or up to chance. There was no ubiquitous pill or diaphragm or whatever to stop pregnancy. There was no in vitro. My parent's generation-- you got what you got. So there was not room for judgment in same way that there is now--because if you want to be pregnant, why aren't you? And if you don't want to be pregnant, then why are you? As if all the many biological possibilities can be reduced to a decision. As if each individual person has control over their body completely.

    2. Wow. I just won't shut up! I was also thinking that when I was a child, the size of family was not at all connected to religion. I had United Church of Canada friends in families with 7 children, and Catholic friends in families with 4 children, and Buddhist friends from families with 3 or 6 or 4 children. My point being that all families were just whatever they were!

  4. It was so difficult after having Emily when we just weren't able to have another. That certainly wasn't my plan, but now I can look back and see that things turned out okay. It's just hard going through these "thud" moments, isn't it? We love you no matter what.

  5. I'm very sorry for your disappointment, Nancy.

  6. I'm so sorry to hear you're going through this. Apparently 1 in 8 couples will deal with infertility and I'm proud of you for speaking up and saying something, especially when people who have no business asking ask. The friend I emailed you with a couple weeks ago? She and her husband have also had infertility problems. I'd be happy to connect the two of you again, because I know she's involved in various communities, on and offline for those affected with infertility. Just let me know! *hugs*