Wednesday, November 2, 2011

This Is Your Life

Do you sometimes get the feeling this can't possibly be your life? That at some point you'll pinch yourself, wake up, and be free of pain from infertility or loss? This sadness and yearning wasn't part of The Plan, the rough timeline of how you expected your life to turn out. It certainly wasn't part of my plan, which included easily popping out at least one kid before age 30.

I started babysitting in middle school. I was the neighborhood babysitter, the one parents trusted with their colicky newborns and large broods. Some of the kids were so special to me that I was a little jealous of their parents. How amazing would it be to parent this child and be around them 24/7?

I never doubted I would have children of my own. When I was 28, everything seemed to be in place to realize that dream. I was engaged to a nice man who wanted to start trying to get pregnant right after the wedding. We fantasized about which features our mixed-race children would inherit. To my great disbelief, our relationship fell apart 6 months before the wedding. I cried to my sister that looking at her children filled me with fear that I wouldn't get married and have children. They reminded me of everything I might not be able to have.

I met my husband a quick 2 months later and we were married within a year and a half. I gushed to my friends that my husband was the first man I'd ever dated. The rest were boys. From a non-romantic standpoint, I was thrilled to be back on track with The Plan.

Unlike my ex-fiance, my husband wasn't on board with trying to get pregnant immediately. He wanted to take a couple of years to enjoy life as a twosome. I suspect that after 36 years of going it solo, he needed some time to get used to one major life change before making another.

When we first got married, we were renting a spacious apartment that happens to be only a mile from my current infertility clinic. I would drive by the clinic's prominent sign on my way to work and think about the women who were patients there. What were their lives like? How did they deal with one of the toughest problems I could imagine? Thoughts would sneak in telling me I could be one of those women in a couple of years. It seemed too awful to contemplate.

I'd always had horribly painful periods and they seemed to be getting worse during those first years of marriage. I was somewhat aware of endometriosis and suspected I had it, but I had other things to worry about. Getting my doctorate, getting married, buying a house--big changes were going down.

The last year of waiting before we pulled the goalie was a long one. I felt like we'd never reach the next chapter, the one I'd looked forward to my whole life. We finally started trying in August of 2009 and I was giddy with excitement. During the first two week wait, I was absolutely, 100% convinced I was pregnant. The sharp twinges I was experiencing were my fallopian tubes cramping up as the zygote traveled to its resting spot. Despite the fact that I'd never heard of fallopian tubes cramping, I was certain mine were. The first period was devastating because I'd been so sure I was pregnant.

Luck came to us very early on when our fifth cycle resulted in a pregnancy. It all fell apart when we found out at 7 weeks that I would miscarry. After the miscarriage, the months of trying started adding up and eventually put us into the infertile camp.

No one thinks they'll become an infertility patient. I'm sure it's the same for other hardships. How did I end up here? How do I go on and cope with the way my life is turning out? Now that I'm the infertility patient I dreaded becoming, I have an answer that mostly works for me. It involves taking Prozac, making myself get up to take a shower in the morning, and finding support from friends. I still have plenty of moments when I think this can't possibly be my life, that it's not possible for me to be in my mid-thirties with no children. It's scary not knowing how this will turn out.

What keeps you going as you deal with infertility and/or loss? How successful have you been at throwing away your timeline of how you expected things to go?


  1. What keeps me going? A few things:
    -anti anxiety/anti depressant medication. I have no shame. I need the meds and actually this pre-dates TTC.
    - I married one of the best men to ever walk the earth. He totally supports my need to cry it out now and then.
    -writing my blog
    - my miscarriage actually taught me to let go of my timeline. I was pg at the "perfect" time for us, and it all fell apart. After that, it didn't matter so much WHEN I get pg again, just that I do.
    -time. Cliche but true. The longer this goes on, the more I have figured out that there is life beyond TTC. There are jobs to pursue, vacations to take, and good times to be had.

  2. HRF--my anti-anxiety/depression meds predate TTC, too. I appreciate that you talk about it because not many people do. I totally agree with you that the longer this goes on, the more you find yourself realizing that there's life beyond TTC. You aren't getting the baby you so dearly want, but there is still a lot of life to experience.

  3. Therapy for sure. My husband is also amazing and ultra supportive. He is so positive. The blogging community helps, but can also be a bit overwhelming. I don't think anything takes away the shame. I don't know how to control the sadness and tears. I just try to keep feeling whatever I can and express myself as much as possible. I try to keep myself hopeful and not hold myself to a timeline anymore. The timeline is the part that kills me the most, and letting it go has been insanely hard. Sorry for the rambling here... I just really was touched by what you wrote.

  4. Mag--thanks for your comment. Giving up the timeline kills me, too. I'm still coming to terms with giving up my original timeline. And even though I know short-term timelines are mostly out of our control, I'm always thinking "Maybe I'll be pregnant again by [Christmas/the time I turn 35/etc]." I'm so sorry for your sadness. Look forward to catching up on your blog.

  5. Oh my - I could have written your words exactly! The worst time of day for me is when I lie in bed just before falling asleep. This is the time when I would dream/fantasize about the pregnancy I was sure would come in the next week - or the babies I was pregnant with at the time. Now, I dread going to bed as I don't know what to dream about before sleep takes over. It feels like I have no dreams and the dreaded time-line! I'm just starting to convince myself I need to let go and just be.

  6. Just found your blog and I totally know what you are saying. I'm feeling right now for sure that this can't be my life. Right now I'm not sure how to keep going! It's like I'm trying to figure out how to be normal again.

  7. Hi there! What a sorry thought it is to realize that the new normal is really unlike any normal you would have ever imagined. Mt first few losses were the worst in many ways. My heart breaks to read about yours. I went to babies r us with the Mr. On preggo two. And there was the baby moon that was just a shitty recovery from a D&C. Plans get crooked pretty fast. I'll be keeping up, so I hope you don't mind more assvice now and then.

  8. Hi Detour,

    Found your blog through LFCA - so sorry to read about your losses. I often wonder how this ended up being my life - trying for five years most certainly was not the plan.

    Just wanted to say love the name and idea of your blog - the scenic route to motherhood. :)

  9. Hmm, I'm still getting used to Blogger and I don't see a way to respond to individual comments. Can someone tell me how to configure the comments so that commenters can respond to one another?

    Amanda, when I read your blog yesterday, I felt like I could've written it, I related to it so much! Hang in there--I'm sorry you're going through such a rough time.

    Anna, I'm sorry for your loss, too. I look forward to catching up on your blog.

    Misfit--thanks. Babies R Us, ow. We didn't make it there but stopped just shy of talking about paint colors for the nursery, even though we knew better.

    Andie, 5 years of TTC is awful. I popped over to your blog and was so sad to see your post about the loss of your mother. I'm so sorry.

  10. Hi, thanks for your comment on my blog. This post really hits home for me - it's hard to believe my life went this way. I mean, there are worse things that could happen, of course, but I didn't think a 3 yr wait for our first child would be part of the plan.

  11. I've been thinking for awhile about how to answer your question. I think I was secretly hoping that I'd have some really profound words of wisdom, some sage insight that would make people smile and admire what quiet strength and perspective I had. The truth is, I don't. All I've been able to do is focus on putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes that's really hard. Sometimes I have to make myself get out of bed in the morning instead of calling in sick. Sometimes I have to make myself leave the bathroom stall at work when I've just gotten my period, red-eyed and noticeably less mascared. Sometimes I have guilty daydreams about the wonderful life I could have with my husband if we didn't have kids, traveling the world and eating at great restaurants. Those thoughts make me feel bad, like maybe I don't want it enough or something. But they help me get through that moment, and enable me to just put one foot in front of the other. That's all I can do for now.

  12. missohkay--I know, there are always worse things that could happen, but this is pretty sucky. Thanks for your comment!

    Becky--You have a way with words and what you think isn't sage advice really hits the nail on the head. It really is just about putting one foot in front of the other sometimes.