Thursday, May 27, 2010

Totally tubular

Tubes are clear, uterus is as shapely as ever!

I must say, though: HSG number two hurt like a motherfucker. This surprised me, as my first one was painful but not unbearable, and this was before I'd had various things thrust up my cervix, so I expected to be much more of an old hand. Perhaps it was the fact that the catheter fell out and had to be reinserted three times. I made a bunch of pathetic noises. But I kept telling myself: If you can't handle this, you had better stop trying to get pregnant STAT.

My RE noticed my tattoos (again), and said, I guess you used to be a little bit wild! I don't know, man. What counts as wild these days? Probably my wildest activities would be classed as some species of Victorian prudery by today's kids. His little efforts to put me at ease are always such failures. He likes to ask how my grants are coming, how worried I am about getting tenure...always the most relaxing topics!

After today, I can't imagine wanting anything near my lady parts again, but should that change, I think I'll just chance it. Using condoms feels too ridiculous, and I'm probably not even ovulating according to my normal timeline.

Finally, in case anyone gives a shit, below is my mix CD. I tend to like multiple songs by the same group on a mix (God knows why, when there's so much awesome shit I could be putting on there), and you should know that my husband's tastes are waaaay folkier than mine, that he's not into punk, and that he doesn't like U2. I know. I married him anyway. He has other redeeming qualities.

I hope at least some of you have marginally tolerable weekends. I realize that's a lot to ask, but I like to challenge you. Reach for the stars and all that.

Semi-Charmed Life / Third Eye Blind (Takes me back to a time when I liked to have SEX!)
Gimme Sympathy / Metric
Bigmouth Strikes Again / The Smiths
Wenn dein Herz zu schlagen aufhört / Wir sind Helden
Hey Jealousy / Gin Blossoms
Train in Vain / The Clash
Porridge / The Woggles
Swallow my pride / Ramones
The Wake of the Medusa / The Pogues
Help I'm Alive / Metric
Wenn es passiert / Wir sind Helden
Everything I Build / The Stills
The Lion Sleeps Tonight / The Tokens
The Card Cheat / The Clash
Stormy Weather / Pixies
Sweet Mary Jane / Ramones
Gin and Juice / The Gourds

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

To contracept or not to contracept?

Pssst...Got know...a....CONDOM? Because I might need a couple. I'm coming up on ye olde fertile windowe, you see, so I'm trying to figure out how to approach the fact that, while I don't believe sex will get me pregnant, I'm not supposed to be trying. And what with our romantic Pittsburgh getaway, it's possible sex will occur.

I imagine it will be clear to you guys that I should do something to ensure I don't accidentally get knocked up before I'm allowed to. But here are the reasons I can't quite imagine stopping by the Student Health Center and grabbing a handful of rubbers.

1. I've had well timed sex for around 20 months, with a few good IUIs in there, and had only a shadow of a pregnancy.
2. My RE kept telling me that the three month waiting period post surgery was arbitrary. That the field doesn't have sound reasons for that recommendation, it just seems about right. Sometimes people cheat. And he didn't say, Don't cheat. He didn't say, Use contraception. Probably because he assumes I'm a responsible person, not a baby-crazed wolverine.
3.  I'm a grown woman and should buy my condoms at the drugstore.

It's true all that well-timed sex was with my Old Uterus, not my shiny new one. And sure, the chances that I'd actually get knocked up are slender, but if I did, the consequences could be pretty bad. (I might miscarry. I don't think I could handle that. I feel like I've spent the past six months crawling out of a dark pit, and a miscarriage would put me right back down there, without the strength to move. On the other hand, for some reason I feel like if I ever do get pregnant, I'll have a miscarriage for sure, so I might as well get it over with. Super rational.)

My HSG is tomorrow. I guess I'll put off this decision until I know whether my tubes are even clear.
I'd almost forgotten to freak out over the possibility that everything will be a huge mess. Best get on that!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm a baby killer

I'm sorry to post this while so many of you are teetering on the precarious edge of pregnancy or dealing with a loss, but hey. Salt For Your Wounds is my middle name (and yes, I get a lot of annoying questions about that...). A bit ago I was complaining about the fact that my dear friend got pregnant again immediately after her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. Well, she had an ultrasound, and no heartbeat was detected. I guess my selfish thoughts killed her baby. And those thoughts now seem quite mysterious. I mean, I was bummed because I was looking forward to commiserating with her when I see her at the conference in Germany, but now I can't even fathom why I wasn't just focusing all my energy on desperately hoping that she'd still be pregnant. And while there is no shortage of simple explanations, naturally my mind went a crazy academic place. So here you go. Feel free to stop reading at this point--I'm sure you've got some split ends that need attention.

In social psychology, there's this thing called optimal distinctiveness theory. The central idea is that humans have very strong needs both to belong to social groups, and to be distinct from others. We can manage these opposing desires by creating self-concepts that include ingroups (and therefore outgroups) that give us the right balance. The relevance to my friend's dead baby? Since I can't belong to the ingroup of mothers, and therefore my sense of belonging is threatened, I can hook up with a new ingroup, infertile women. This gives me the requisite sense of belonging, and also allows me to feel distinctive: I ain't like those boring baby makers. In many ways, this community is perfect! But the downside is that membership is in flux, and this can be painful. People arrive in this hellhole, and we bond over mutual suffering. We emphasize the good aspects of the identity (We're so compassionate! We're so strong!). We form subgroups so that we can have even finer-grained senses of belonging and uniqueness. But the reality is, we're all desperately trying to get the fuck out of this group, and terrified of being the last one left. So it makes sense that I felt abandoned when it looked like my friend was departing--it was a threat to my identity.

Yeah, yeah, some of you are all enlightened and shit and never have these nasty feelings. Fine. I'm too grumpy and sad to really give you the credit you deserve.

And...I should probably note that none of you need worry that I'm going to kill your baby too. I am happy to say I've felt nothing but joy and cautious hope for each of you. I can be all enlightened and shit, too.

Monday, May 24, 2010

An Ideal Day

Sundays in our household start out well, but often by noon both of us are in a funk. I was thinking this might stem from a mismatch in how we'd like to spend the day. We're in agreement about coffee and paper, but after that, we diverge. I usually want Mr. Bunny's help with some yard or home improvement project, he usually wants to lounge around. Neither of us wants to go grocery shopping. So we generally compromise, which results in neither of us getting what we really want. This weekend I suggested to Mr. Bunny that we give him an ideal day. That we simply do what he wanted to do instead of negotiating. Though I had to do the grocery shopping and didn't get any yard work done, this plan worked out pretty well for me, too. We had brunch out, went to a movie, spent some time lying in the yard...not too shabby. It was almost as though getting to decide what he wanted to do made him more likely to choose fun things. In any event, my hope is that he will choose to return the favor some Sunday in the future.

Meanwhile, thanks for the awesome music recommendations! I look forward to making some new friends and chillin' with some old ones.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Music me up, bitches!

The weekend after this one, my husband and I are hitting the road and driving to...Pittsburgh. I know, WHY? Well, back when I asked y'all how to flip the psychological switch that would transform me from Conception Crazed Bunny into Laid Back Summer Bunny, gingerandlime suggested we find some random place a few hours away and go there for a weekend. We're not quite willing to go to any random town--what if there are no epicurean dining experiences? I drove across the entire country last year, and have had enough of Cracker Barrels! So we settled on Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, while perhaps not the canonical romantic getaway town, does have special importance in the lives of the Bunnies: it's where we first met. Well do I remember arriving at BFB's rehearsal dinner and seeing Mr. Bunny across the room! Well do I remember getting shitfaced and passing out in his hotel room bed, forcing him to sleep on the floor! While I'm not interested in recreating that last experience, it should be a fun time. But, long drive = need for mix CDs. Unfortunately I used up all my new music recently to make him a mix CD for our Germany trip, so I need your help. Got a favorite driving song or a song you've been really into lately? Let's have it! I promise not to mock your taste. (Hey, if it were up to me, we'd just have the Ramones on endless repeat.)

Also, while you're letting me order you around like a slave, can you reassure me that I shouldn't be freaked out by the ENORMOUS LUMP that has appeared in my left breast? I'm not scrambling to arrange a mammogram because it showed up so suddenly, and right when I got my period. So even though this has never happened before, I'm assuming it's going to go away. RIGHT?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I cannot tell a lie...

This weekend BFB said something about how it's so sad that she's moving and when I get pregnant on my first IVF cycle she'll miss my whole pregnancy. I thought...IVF!?!? I ain't gonna need no stinkin' IVF! Then I was taken aback. By my own mind, which is quite an achievement. But I now have to cop to the fact that while I'm striving to be logical about my chances, and clinging to my hard-won acceptance that I may never be a mother, apparently some part of me is thinking that soon....

I know none of us gives up on this vision until we're forced to. Hope is unkillable, and we should know. But it would be nice if, as my next actual opportunity for conception gets closer (and since I got the BIG BLEED today, it's a little closer! I love you, bleeding uterus!), the logical part of my mind would reassert itself. Because otherwise crashing disappointment could very well be in store for me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A dream come true, and a possibility

This Sunday was Mediocre Institution's commencement ceremony. I participated in the festivities for two reasons. Firstly, to enact a fantasy BFB and I concocted almost ten years ago, when I was in college and she was in grad school. In this fantasy, we were faculty at the same institution. We would attend commencement together, sit in the back, and (because these ceremonies are quite boring) drink from flasks we'd hide in our robes. Of course we never thought we'd actually have the opportunity to do this. The chances of us getting jobs in the same place were incredibly slim. Nevertheless, when I finished my PhD, she gave me a flask engraved Dr. Bunny. And when she finished her PhD, I gave her a similarly engraved flask. And this year, the dream came true. We attended commencement. We sat in the back. We drank from our flasks. It was AWESOME. Next year she'll be gone, but at least we had our moment, and that's pretty remarkable.

I also attended the ceremony because my husband was graduating. He's only 20. Does that creep you out? No, for serious, he just finished his MBA. As I listened to the speaker droning on, I began thinking about the fact that he started this program the same month we started trying to conceive. And that things might get better for us now that he's done. Because...lately I've been feeling bummed about things in our household. We have become incredibly lumpish. We spend all our time together watching TV. I probably only cook dinner twice a week. Other days it's take out in front of the TV. He's put on about ten pounds and that freaks me out. Our sex life is not so great. In short, my life has turned to shit.

I'd been attributing these changes to IF and to the death of my father. But...he's been working a full time job that requires lots of travel while simultaneously getting this degree. And while I certainly told myself on many occasions that he was stressed and I needed to cut him some slack, it didn't really occur to me that him being LESS stressed might change things. might! It might actually be the case that life gets better without me having to do anything! HOT DAMN!

Or things might stay the same and I'll just become super resentful. Stay tuned!

(Special request: I'd be grateful if you could avoid leaving me a comment in which you say, SUX 2 B U! I'm so glad my partner and I have an awesome sex life and that my partner is perfectly fit and lively, and that we spend all our time making delicious food and creating wonderful works of art and having intellectual conversations...and, by the way, I have really shiny hair! While I'm sure that's all true, it would make me feel even more ashamed.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fuck you, Mama.

My mother and I have been cordially estranged for the past eight months or so, ever since she told me she couldn't pray that I get pregnant. It's cordial in the sense that no unkind words have been spoken and that I am polite and sometimes even pleasant when obliged to interact with her. It's an estrangement in that I have reduced communication to the bare minimum. She doesn't know about the IUIs or the surgery or any of it. We've spoken maybe twice since Christmas, and exchanged a few letters. In my last to her I thanked her for leaving me alone. So when she left a message on Thursday asking me to call, I assumed my grandmother had died.

But no. She wanted to tell me she'd heard a NPR program claiming that the sound of a mother's voice is comforting. She then said (you know, in her comforting mother's voice), Everything is okay. You're fine, everything's good.

Like with the I can't pray comment, it might not be obvious why this made me want to sever all ties with her immediately. Her intention is clearly to be supportive. And if she doesn't know what's going on in my life, it's because I've shut her out. But I feel like once again she's managed to find something to say that a) denies my pain, and b) suggests that rather than suffering, I should just let the universe do with me what it will.

Is it unreasonable to think no one is entitled to tell me everything is good? I feel I've been clear that everything is not good, though I've not given her the details. (And I'd totally give her the details, except she keeps demonstrating this penchant for undermining, hurtful comments.)

I guess my choices, beyond writing about this and hoping you guys will validate my pain (So you know what's expected of you! Don't let me down!), are to write to her explaining why she can't say things like that and why she needs to really, really leave me alone for REALS (I could even ask her not to respond, to avoid the next hurtful comment...) or to add this to the ever-increasing sum of rage I feel towards her. What with my super-sophisticated understanding of the human mind and all, it's pretty clear which is the more responsible choice. But it's so hard to want to repair a relationship with someone who has just sucker-punched you.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Last night I removed the steri-strips over my incision (with my RE's permission, of course) intestines fell out.

JUST KIDDING...and I got my first good look at my new lower abdomen. On the one hand, it's not so bad. I'd imagined the scar being thicker and nastier, and it's thin and tidy. On the other hand, there's a huge scar in my lady region! At the moment there's also an unattractive wodge of flesh over the incision. My RE tells me it's fat that got disrupted and has settled there and will go away at some point. Soon would be nice. But most noticeable to my seamstress eyes is the fact that the line that goes from my navel to regions below is now off by a few degrees. (I believe this is called the linea nigra, and not everyone's got one. So if you're like what the fuck are you talking about, don't worry your pretty little head about it. If you don't have one now it may show up when you get pregnant. So just go ahead and get pregnant, 'k?) In addition to looking weird, this also means the incision is not perfectly bisected, so it also looks crooked. As shown in Figure 1, which is not to scale, by the way.

Unlike after my lap, I'm not going to get all maudlin about this. Not YET, anyway. Things may look better in a few months. Who knows--it may even straighten out. But as much as I tell myself that this is a minuscule price to pay if I can manage to get pregnant, and that it's only the beginning of the ruination of my fiiiiiine physique that would come along with motherhood, I can't help but feel the same sense of erosion of self and, indeed, of self esteem, that's been part of this whole fucking IF experience. I mean, why do I have to get scars in the pursuit of motherhood? Why does wanting a child result in my body becoming uglier and uglier?

I don't expect you guys to have much sympathy for this bit of whining, particularly not Sarah, who's been chopped and diced like a green chile. But this just seems like the antithesis of the romantic vision with which I started my journey. Why the fuck do some women get beautiful and glowing and radiant, while I get empty and...crooked?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Followed Up

My post-surgical follow up appointment was today, and nothing awful happened. Let me just repeat that, as it's not something we can take for granted. NOTHING AWFUL HAPPENED. Indeed, the things that happened were more or less on the good side.

First, my incision is healing well enough that I have been released from pelvic rest. I was initially told six weeks of nothing up the vagina, and it's only been two weeks. Get ready, vagina! I've got a pile of things I've been saving up for you, including an umbrella, a VIKING RUNE CANDLE, and...oh yeah, my husband's penis.

Second, I get another HSG! Okay, this is not actually good. But I was wondering whether there'd be any assessment of the workings of my interior, so I'm glad I'll get to find out if my tubes are still clear. My last HSG was no big deal, though I know it's a nightmare for some women. I will call to schedule that as soon as I get my period. Good times! Lookin' forward to it!

Third, my timeline has not changed. Given my RE's magical failure when it comes to communicating about timelines, this was a big relief. Ten weeks from now we recommence our efforts to get me knocked up. (This time my RE seemed to expect us to do IUI rather than regular intimacy, which is fine with me. Whatever!)

When I think of sitting on the baby-making bench for ten weeks, it feels like an awfully long time. But when I consider that it's my entire summer, it seems incredibly brief. I gots maaaaad partying to cram into that short span. So I'd better get started.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frito Pie: Es la comida de mi gente

I've been wanting to do a Come and Eat post, and finally got off my ass.

I'm extremely white, but was born and raised in New Mexico. One of the foods of my homeland is the noble frito pie. In its canonical form, frito pie involves opening one of those mini bags of fritos, pouring in some chile, and topping with cheese and chopped iceberg lettuce. In its canonical form, it's utterly disgusting. The chile is of the lowest possible quality, with lumps of gristly ground beef. The meal is 95% salt. But...the soul of frito pie is a beautiful, glorious thing. A thing that takes very little time to make, is fairly nutritious, and...fucking rocks. This weekend we did the monthly top-to-bottom housecleaning and therefore earned the right to eat frito pie.

So here's how it works. Step 1: Make chile. You know, however you like it. Here's what goes into mine (it's vegetarian). In that little round jar is my special supply of New Mexican red chile powder. Your frito pie will never be as good as my frito pie because you don't have this special supply of red chile powder, but that's okay. Just limp sadly along with your inferior chile.

Step 2: Assemble. Fritos on the bottom, chile on top, cheese, sour cream, taco sauce, whatever. To make it extra hippytastic, I topped it with some tiny greens from the garden. Frito Pie with Micro Arugula...I can just see it on some fancy-ass menu...In my house we also like to honor the frito pie by selecting the most amusingly shaped frito we can find and using it as garnish. Nom.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The end of an era

Today I'll be taking my last oxy.codone. Isn't it beautiful? For the I've been taking it pretty much recreationally. That is, I don't need it at all for the pain, but it's given me such a lovely, warm, cozy feeling. I'll miss you, oxy!

In addition, tonight Mr. Bunny will be rejoining me in the marital bed. He's been sleeping in the guest room since I got home from the hospital. I suppose it makes me a huge asshole, but I'm not excited to have him back. He's a super loud snorer and tends to toss and turn a lot. (I'm a quiet snorer and only toss and turn a little.) It will be an adjustment. I probably shouldn't have arranged things so that I'm coming off my nice mellowing drug at the same time. I anticipate several days of extreme crankiness.

Finally, my ovaries hurt. I've been having some pinging on both sides that is now primarily localized to the right side. (Please don't waste all your turns, right side! I'm going to need you later!) And I've been feeling a do you say...HORNYNESS. In fact, last night I had an orgasm in my sleep. If you've never experienced this, it's...odd. It wakes you up. This time it extra woke me up because my uterus is not supposed to be contracting, and it HURT. I know I'm supposed to be on pelvic rest, but I guess I just can't control myself, horn dog that I am. So anyways, I think my lady parts might be coming online again. (Though I'm still having fucking hot flashes, estrogen patch notwithstanding.)

In general, I feel like I'm moving back into something akin to normal life. I've been thinking over the things y'all have said about taking advantage of this break. I would love to try to be happy-ish. I'd love to restore my sense of self-worth, my enjoyment of life. (You know, to the extent that I ever enjoyed life.) Maybe I can even achieve some scholarly productivity! (Speaking of which, we're about to analyze the data for the project that's been going on while I've been wallowing in misery. Please please please please let there be something publishable in there.)

But I also feel like I need to DO something to set this new state in motion. Anyone got any advice about how to flip the psychological switch that will transform the next two months from TTC break into fun time?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

In which I pass for one of THEM

My office is across the street from the hospital associated with Mediocre Institution. As it happens, my route to work takes me right past the maternity area. So my morning typically involves seeing numerous pregnant women waddling their way to the entrance for checkups or giving birth or whatever it is they do in there. (I also get to walk past my clinic. HI, CLINIC!) Most of the time this just starts my day off with a little low-level angst, though certainly not enough to make me take the long way around. That route is even less scenic, as it involves the hospital loading dock and what I suspect are the incinerators. I'd rather have pregnant ladies. So imagine me walking down a long, wide sidewalk with pregnant women comin' at me. Feel free to imagine them all pixilated, like an early version of Space Invaders. (Feel free to imagine me being super beautiful while you're at it.) On my recent trip to the office I was making my way down this sidewalk a bit slowly, perhaps with a slightly odd gait. And I was wearing a dress in the baby doll style, because it was comfy. Because my abdomen was swollen and distended.

So up waddles a pregnant woman.
She makes eye contact.
She looks at my belly.
She smiles a smile of camaraderie and shared joy at me.

I wonder if this is as close as I'll ever come to having that we're pregnant and it's so awesome experience.

I shoot her with my laser canon and reach an all time high score.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Boring, frivolous shit

Lest you think all I do is stroke my beard and contemplate my own fascinating inner workings (both physical and mental...though I'm a materialist, in the philosophical, not the Madonna sense, so believe the mental IS the physical), here's some totally non-intellectual foddder. And if you're like I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR STUPID COOKIES RIGHT NOW, I quite understand.

First, I remembered that while sitting on my ass recovering I can BUY things! Things I don't need! Like these shoes! Because how could I not buy these shoes? I found them on a favorite site (JC, have you ever seen this site? Their logo looks just like Milo!) though they didn't have my size. But google led me to another site that Bionic Baby Mama recently turned me on to. The interwebs is so small, y'all! They arrived yesterday and are comfy and cute, particularly if you ignore my skinny, bruised, hideous legs. Now all that remains is to find the perfect accompanying frock.

Second, it's been about month since I planted my garden, and things are coming along okay, although I feel like my greens should be further ahead by now. Yesterday I planted the tomato and pepper seedlings that have been keeping warm inside. I am hopeful that at least some of them will survive and that I'll get a tomato or two. It's hard not to think about eggs and fertilization and death and life and...more death, what with the slugs, but perhaps when I get some actual fucking produce I will think about...uh...I dunno...FOOD.

Also, NEW YOU CAN'T USE AND DON'T CARE ABOUT. 1. Everything you guys write makes me cry, so I think maybe I'm having some real lady hormones again! Or else I've become very invested in what's going on in your lives. It could happen. 2. With a few exceptions (like while laundry is being done) I've been wearing Mr. Bunny's pyjama shirt for two weeks straight. I'm not sure I'll be able to tolerate human clothing ever again. Though I guess I'll have to, as it's a little risqué for teaching, and, more important, my new shoes don't go.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Best Friend with Baby speaks

I enjoy posts where women interview their husbands about the manly side of infertility (you know, the side that smokes cigars and uses chain saws) or, in general, where the more physically involved partner interviews the less physically involved partner. I've never been inspired to do it myself, but I have considered interviewing the other main character in my life, BFB. After reading Secret Sloper's recent post about her best friend, I decided to do it. What follows is an interview conducted over IM. A few things I'd like to say at the outset. First, BFB has promised never look for this interview, and we can trust her. So if you have any thoughts, feel free to voice them as you won't be hurting her feelings. Second, it's possible something she says might make you feel bad or annoyed, and if so, fuck her! I'm doing this because I'm curious about what the experience looks like from the outside, not because I think she deserves a voice or something. 'Cause when it comes to IF, she doesn't. Her little sadnesses, while real, are trivial bullshit compared to what you guys are going through. If that makes any sense. And third, I realize this is an exercise in navel-gazing between two good friends, so may be of limited value to others. (Plus it has a certain self-congratulatory flavor...) But I learned a number of interesting new things by doing it. And if you can't be bothered to read it, you might at least enjoy knowing that a) she's envious of my internet friends, and b) I call her an obnoxious bag of fecundity.

Bunny: Okay. Here's my first question. What does my experience look like from the outside? I know that’s broad, but…

BFB: Oh, wow, yeah, that is a big question. It looks like it sucks, obviously, but that's not a particularly interesting observation. One thing that I didn't really appreciate before is how crummy it is for being both punctual (you get to have a sequence of MANY individual disappointing and miserable events) and unbounded (it goes on and on and you don't know when it will stop, and in a way I guess it doesn't ever stop — you will still feel certain ways no matter how many babies you have). Okay, so that's one thing. Another is… hmm, I'm finding this hard to articulate, but it's something like how much it can trump almost anything else. It gets first dibs on your schedule and your emotions, which must be really exhausting in its own right. At the moment, I find that I'm thinking of the experience as something separate from you that kind of assaults you. That's probably not right. But I'm trying to say that I'm impressed that you remain so much YOU while dealing with all this shit, and also that it seems pretty clear that it's something that can take up a lot of your sense of self. Ugh. Does that make any sense at all?

Bunny: Sure! Although on that last point, I'm not sure I believe you. I feel like a very different person. My sense of self has taken a real hit. Sometimes maybe I just pretend to be me. You know, 'cause gelatinous weeping person is less interesting to be around.

BFB: Well, don't we all. I'll always love you, my gelatinous blob friend. But yeah, that seems like a really hard part of it — keeping a sense of yourself aside from Being Infertile, or whatever. Also, I was really struck by what you said the other day about how it's hard to connect all the procedures to the desired outcome anymore. Oh, it's just this thing I do, having abdominal surgery and being wretched. It's my hobby!

Bunny: I think those are some good observations. Either you're astute or I've just been very clear about the sucky aspects. Some infertile women feel that their fertile friends don't understand how much it absorbs every moment of their existence, is all they think about, CAN'T be pushed aside... etc.

BFB: Well, you are articulate! Also, we've made a real effort to actually see each other often, which probably helps.

Bunny: So you said "didn't really appreciate before". I think before I had this experience I thought infertility (IF) only happened to sad losers with low sperm count. I was astonished at the lengths people went to in order to get pregnant. I was an ignorant, insensitive asshole. What was your prior experience?

BFB: Well, before we actually started trying to conceive, I'd been reading a few blogs by women dealing with infertility. Partly just because they were smart and funny, and partly because I had this idea that I should be prepared for the possibility. Soooo, on the one hand that helped to preempt some ignorant notions I might have formed. But on the other it has made me unfortunately hyper-aware and twitchy about how people think about "fertiles".

Bunny: Oh, I bet.

BFB: And so, quite aside from interacting with you and your specific experience, I've sometimes oscillated between feeling defensive (I'm not "a fertile"! People who have babies aren't necessarily ungrateful cows, even if they are ambivalent or sad!) and feeling like I am in no position to get to feel defensive about anything.

Bunny: Yeah, I think that's perfectly understandable. The whole ingroup / outgroup dynamic is unfortunate. Though also necessary.

BFB: It is, but… exactly.

Bunny: We could have a long conversation about it, but it would probably get really academic.

BFB: Ha, yes, I was just thinking the very same thing. I guess the other thing I want to say on that same topic is that one thing that has made me sad is the sense that fertility seems to give me automatic lifetime status as a Fortunate Person, which I certainly am, in more ways than just that! But… it means that I don't feel entitled to look for much in the way of sympathy when things aren't perfect. Which, whatever, it's probably good for me to get over myself sometimes. And I can always cry at Mr. BFB. This dynamic isn't something I particularly attribute to you, by the way. It's just there.

Bunny: Sure, I can see how that would be the case. I've felt something a little similar in that I've got this cushy job... Do you think that would have been less of an issue if you hadn't been reading IF blogs? You know, if you'd kept yourself more ignorant?

BFB: Maybe! Although it's not like I wouldn't have been able to see that you are right there having a FUCKING MISERABLE time. But, yeah, I probably wouldn't be quite as aware that pretty much everyone agrees that infertility misery completely trumps things like "I lack career success." On the other hand, then I would be even more of a dink than I am, so there's that.

Bunny: Except actually very few people agree that IF misery trumps other things, it would appear. Mainly they're like Why don't you just adopt? Even nice people like Mutual Friend. So I think you somehow managed to arrive at a pretty enlightened view. Moving on. So you'd been reading these blogs...what was it like when you learned I was ONE OF THEM?


Bunny: Which I obviously do and will.


Bunny: Okay, so next question.

BFB: And later I was jealous that now you had Internet Friends of your own that I won't know.

: Seriously? But you've always had YOUR internet friends!

BFB: I know! It's stupid.

Bunny: I think it's sweet. So how much time do / did you spend worrying about my feelings? Either when you were pregnant or now? And if that number is greater than zero, what are some of the specific things you’ve worried about saying or doing?

BFB: Oh my god. I spend loads of time worrying about your feelings! Here are things I have worried about: Upsetting you with my mere presence. Nattering on about myself and my baby. Forgetting to ask how things are going, or asking when you want to think about something else. Overstepping my bounds in acting like I know about IF, both all its glorious technical details and its emotional valences. Taking the wrong attitude with respect to when vs. if you get pregnant. Comparing your experience to something else — which you would think would be simple enough to JUST AVOID, and yet it's a very common conversational strategy. Oh! And finally, and this is a big one, making you feel like I am tiptoeing around something in a way that would make you feel hurt and sad, while also not just gratuitously talking about things that rub your nose in feeling hurt and sad.

Bunny: Things as in pregnancy things you were experiencing?

BFB: Yeah. I think mostly I've just erred on the side of telling you about everything.

Bunny: Yeah, and I have (at least, I think I have) tended to ask.

BFB: You have!

Bunny: You've said you're interested in hearing about what I’m going through, and I believe you. But you don't always ask. So if you’re not asking about it, is it more likely that you're not interested at the moment (because no one can be interested in one topic at all times) or is it more likely that you’re not sure if I want to talk?

BFB: The latter. Sometimes people want to natter about other stuff when they're sad (Mr. BFB, especially, which probably has trained me in this direction) and I don't always see the right conversational opening. But I can ask more if that would feel better for you. However, it really is the case that I would ALWAYS like to know.

Bunny: I think you should feel free to ask. (It's very weird to me that Mr. BFB would rather talk about other things when he's sad. CRAZY! I wonder if Mr. Bunny it the same! It doesn't seem like it, but it would explain some exchanges...) I think it's one of those things where I feel like I'm burdening you if I bring it up and you worry about me not wanting to talk about it, so you're denied my fascinating stories about fascinating me, and I feel...I dunno...unsupported. Not that I'm saying I feel unsupported, which I don't, except to the extent that you can't possibly support me. We just need a code word that sums up the whole I want to hear if you want to talk biznazz.

BFB: We totally do.

Bunny: Ummm...onions is the first thing that comes to mind. In an interrogative tone. Interrogative onions?

BFB: I like it.

Bunny: And of course you have to NOT be hurt if I'm like NO ONIONS! Which places the burden on you, but hey. (Here we talk about the fact that I pretty much avoided her for most of October and all of November. She notes that she worried, while trying not to take it personally. We talk about the Celebratory Pre-Birth Event. We talk about an event where she tried to be sensitive and got shat upon, though this was mainly a miscommunication coupled with my natural tendency to be a sullen asshole.) Okay, next question. What are the experiences you feel like you missed out on because of what I was dealing with?

BFB: Well, so I missed out on the uncomplicated joy stuff. Especially because my family is also small. And I missed you, because you had to hide. And I missed not feeling like "a fertile" or whatever. I was afraid I'd lose my best friend. Thanks for being awesome.

Bunny: Any thoughts on the best and worst aspects of this experience?

BFB: Best: (a) I feel like we actually both know a lot more about each other than we would have if we hadn't had to make such a massive effort to avoid catastrophe. (b) I suspect that because I know how lucky I am, I've attended a lot more to the positive rather than the scary/disconcerting aspects of pregnancy and early parenthood. Worst: The way that your self gets all tied up with your fertility status. I hated the fact that my body could be a big alienating insensitive jerk on my behalf. You get attached to the idea that you aren't your body, you know?

Bunny: Boy do I ever. Trying to believe that is a big struggle. In fact, I'd say at the moment I don't believe it at all. But I hope someday I will, however this turns out.

BFB:  I hope so too. I mean, I guess I think this: your body IS you, but you aren't your body.

Bunny: Duuuuude.

BFB: Pass the chips.

BFB: (remind me to tell you something about that in person!)

Bunny: Very well. It is about your BOWELS? I BET IT IS! So the “not feeling like a fertile” you think that would have happened anyway? You know, without wonderful me in your life?

BFB: Hmm. Possibly it would have happened in more galling ways, actually. I mean, so, being concerned with the way that I suddenly inhabited this particular identity category with respect to wonderful you


BFB: ... has pretty much completely overshadowed the bullshit I was expecting with respect to the general public. Being lumped in with "moms" or whatever. And you are you, not the general public, so it is more of a genuine, individual identity something-or-other.

Bunny: So is it like, "I'm not entirely comfortable with this identity as pregnant woman / mom, but when I look at the alternative it makes it seem less upsetting to my sense of self. Cause at least I'm not Defective Un-woman"?

BFB:  RIGHT. Noooooo. It is like, "I'm not entirely comfortable with this identity as pregnant woman / mom, but frankly that cultural identity is so patently not very much to do with my real experience, as illustrated by these other identity categories that strike much closer to home." 

Bunny: Hmmm... so are you saying you felt more like me than like the mommies at your birthing class or whatever? (Mommies is shorthand for women whose entire existence is defined by motherhood in a gross and boring way. No offense to those who like the term.)

BFB: Oh yes. And, I don't know, I guess I just didn't care much anymore if some idiot lumped me in with them; I cared much more about not being lumped into a group defined by being unlike you. Or something. I am doing a poor job of articulating this, sadly.

Bunny: So it was more like "I don't care if people see me as a mommy, as long as intelligent infertile women don't see me as an obnoxious bag of fecundity"?

BFB: Mm, yes! Boy, that makes me sound charming. Maybe it's because I'm not a mommy and I know it, but I'm afraid I am an obnoxious bag of fecundity.

Bunny: Well, I mean, the reality is that you are fecund, but you were never obnoxious to me. And I doubt that you were to others. So last question. Ignoring the fact that you might be uncomfortable issuing advice on this matter, any advice on how to keep a friendship strong while going through this?

BFB: I think it's been very good that both of us have talked a lot about what is going on with us, and seen each other regularly, because then an individual shitty interaction gets drowned out. And, on the flip side, as you say, both parties should ideally be very much on board with the idea that there are times when the infertile party needs to hide, and she should recognize that rather than try to fake it. And the fertile party should believe what she says. Even if occasionally the infertile party is in fact mistaken. And if the infertile party has to take solace afterwards in saying that the fertile party is fat and haggard and stupid, and her baby is funny looking, so be it! But, uh, don't let the fertile party find out that you feel that way.

Bunny: Any last thoughts?

BFB: It strikes me that, on top of everything else, I should (and do) feel really valued by the fact that you have gone to such effort to preserve our friendship. I hope you feel the same.

: I do indeed. It is perhaps not shocking that our final conclusion is: WE ROCK.

BFB: Perhaps! It is inescapable, really.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Do you ever forget what it's all for?

Lately I've been feeling strangely detached about the whole baby thing. The notion of an actual child has become extremely remote and abstract. I still hate pregnant women (not you guys, of course, regular pregnant women), but there's a kind of weariness to it. I still find it unpleasant to be around BFB's baby, but not in any visceral way, more in the way that I don't enjoy attending boring meetings. I still want the whole pregnancy-birth-motherhood package, but not with the same desperation--more in the way I want to get tenure or finish saving my yard from that incredibly invasive weed that's sprung up everywhere. You know, long term projects that I can't do much about at the moment. I'm not sure what's up. It could be the months of waiting behind me or the months of waiting ahead of me, or some combination of the two. I might be exhausted from all the hoping and disappointment. Or I might be trying to distance myself from the whole situation, to make the waiting easier or to protect myself from the despair I'll feel when I don't get that miraculous Instant Pregnancy (just add...well, not exactly water) in August. Maybe I'm realizing that even if I do get solidly, safely pregnant, my life will still have its imperfections. I wasn't a sunny person before this, and I won't be after, even if things go my way. Maybe these drugs are just blunting my emotions. I dunno. Anyone else go through periods where it's an effort to remember what it is you're even working towards?

Recovery notes for Gurlee: For the past few days I've been down to one oxy + 600 mg ibuprofen combos in the morning, one around 2 pm and one before I go to bed. Still no real pain to speak of. Today I skipped my morning oxy (just took the ibuprofen) and waked to work (about a mile). I will probably put in a couple hours of low key catching up stuff.