Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The open road

I spent yesterday in Other Ohio City with my sister in law and mother in law. Over lunch, while my sister in law was in the restroom, my mother in law asked me in a meaningful way how things are going. (I told her last year that we'd been trying for a while. She's so desperate for grandchildren that I couldn't leave her wondering whether we were ever going to be ready. But Mr. Bunny doesn't want her all up in our business, so she doesn't know anything more than that.) Not well, I replied. She said, What you're going through is one of the hardest things in life.

I was surprised. By now I'm accustomed to no one understanding the pain that IF brings. I take it for granted that people's reactions will always be: BUMMER! Let's talk about ME! She offered to listen any time I wanted to talk. It was a pretty perfect offer of support, really. And it will remain perfect, as I will not be taking her up on it. Part of me wants to, but a) Mr. Bunny is not okay with that, and b) the chances are good that she'd say something awful soon enough.

ANYWAY, the nicest part of the day was the drive to and from. There's something about a solitary multi-hour drive that makes me really weepy. I think it's the combination of several things: listening to music (often stuff I have strong emotional associations with), the fact that driving is hypnotic and puts me in mental state where things start bubbling up, the special kind of aloneness that comes with driving (you're solitary, but there are other people everywhere), and the open road stretching out...all the space around you... I don't really know what brings it on, but I know it's a thing for me. I once drove from New Mexico back to Berkeley and basically wept all the way through Arizona. In my black volvo with no AC, listening to the same Pixies tape over and over...

Anyway, this drive was far from epic, but I did find myself weeping. (Aren't you glad you weren't sharing the road with me, what with me being all hypnotized and blinded by tears?) Life is just wretched and sad sometimes, and a girl needs a Big Weep.

It also happened to be day 21, my normal day o' PMS. That might have had something to do with the tears as well...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The days have slain the days

Because I am olde schoole, I have a paper calendar. For those of you who have never seen such a thing, it's like the calendar on your phone, but made of paper. (You can find out what paper is here.) Of course I use electronic calendars too, but it's nice to have a hard backup in case there's no internet. Anyway, I get an academic insert for my Filofax, meaning it starts in August. So I just got my 2010-2011 insert, which is always a happy moment for an organization and tidiness nut like me. Out, out, ye old grubby insert! When I put in the shiny new one, one of the things I do is mark people's birthdays, which requires going through the old calendar. This year, the process really highlighted the prominence of my attempts to get pregnant. All those discretely marked cycle days, all those appointments...all those subtextual DISappointments.

It's wonderful to be able to put all those days aside and start with a nice, clean slate. But I don't have any illusions about what this year's calendar will contain. However irritating it may be to you guys that I don't have any real hope for myself, I don't. I anticipate another year's worth of fighting the good fight. But I am at least ready to fight again. I guess. Since I must.

Now that I think about it, the poem from which my title comes is full of great lines for IF, if you sort of squint and ignore the exact source of his grief. I myself am off to depart and ponder whilst driving 3 hours to Other Ohio City, to pay an exciting visit to Mr. Bunny's sister and mother. NEVER FEAR! You'll get to hear more about that soon.

Monday, June 28, 2010


I'd always wanted a wing back chair, because they are so lovely for curling up in. But I could never find one that didn't offend my fairly modern sensibilities (plus, most of my life I couldn't afford to buy furniture). Luckily, they became fashionable a few years ago, so my husband got me one from Restoration Hardware. It's perfect: blue-green with dark wood legs. It's my chair, just as the low-backed chair is Mr. Bunny's. I'm very fond of my chair, even though I don't spend much time in the living room (where it resides) unless we have guests. Yesterday I was wandering around house tidying things, and saw the chair from across the room. I realized I haven't sat in it for a while, and this is because when we have people over, BFB* is almost always there, and it's become her chair. It's good for nursing, you see. So I get the couch. And I realized that I've got all these mental  images and, indeed, plenty of photographs, of her being all MOTHER in my chair. That shit ain't right, I concluded. So I sat down resolutely in my chair and told myself the following: This is your chair. You will sit in this chair pregnant with your child. You will nurse your child in this chair. You will sit in this chair while your child runs around the house, when he (turns out it's a boy) leaves for school for the first time, when he tries to sneak into the house as a teenager, when he comes home from college. This is YOUR chair.

Don't think I actually believed myself. AS IF. But the nice thing about such pronouncements is that I won't find out that I'm wrong for a few years, most likely.

*Have you started wondering why I'm friends with this person when all I do is complain about her and resent her?  Well, this is a particularly tough year for our friendship, plus this is the place where I come to vent. And to answer Pundelina, I'd say 70% of the time I tell her when she pisses me off, but sometimes you gotta let it go. Or else you spend all your time hashing out your feelings. And I gots drinking to do.

Friday, June 25, 2010

In which I complain about my best friend some more, 'cause that's how I roll

BFB came over yesterday. The moment she got in the door, she thrust something at me and was like, Make me some of this. I looked down at the object in my hand. It was a packet of Nursing Tea. To promote lactation.

FUCK YOU, I thought to myself, while dutifully making her tea. It's not like I can ever forget that she is hella fecund, but does she have to rub my nose in it? I wish I could find some I Have a Tenure Track Job and You Don't Despite Years on the Job Market Tea, so I could flounce into her house and tell her to make me some.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


First, thanks so much for the thoughtful and beautiful comments on yesterday's post. I feel like you guys took my random selection of opinions and turned the post into something that could actually be useful to others, just by sharing your experiences and feelings. (I particularly like that some of you articulated the therapy is stupid point of view. Because it seriously is not for everyone. And people shouldn't feel like they have to do it just because all the cool kids are!) A few things: Sienna, Secret Sloper left you a message in her comment (in case she didn't also communicate it to you). CGD is a practicing therapist and has offered to answer questions about the process, which is very generous; you should take her up on it! She also pointed out that Resolve is a great resource for finding help. And finally, I meant to mention that I'd often decide I needed to see someone when I was feeling really awful (in crisis, as they say), but when the awful passed, I'd shelve the idea out of laziness. So if you're contemplating the whole therapy thing, set it up even if you're not currently wanting to crawl into a hole. You'll thank yourself later.

But on to more important things: my BREASTS HURT. No, I'm not pregnant--that would be physically impossible...unless I produce Super Embryos that implant in a single day. (Ooo! Maybe it will turn out to be a vampire baby!) Plus this happened last month as well. Normally the old bosoms start hurting on day 21 of my cycle like clockwork, but last cycle it was around day 15, and came with ADDED LUMP. This month, again on day 15, but the lump has moved to the other breast. I seem to have picked up fibrocystic breast changes! I never should have sat down on that public restroom toilet...

Maybe this would have happened anyway--it's a common condition (Andie, you said you have this--do you remember anything about the onset?). But the suddenness with which it appeared is really suspicious. I  think this is some kind of unpleasant side effect brought on by either the Lupron or the surgery. So I have something else to thank infertility for.

Apparently I can go on oral contraceptives to reduce the discomfort...sweet.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

My therapist said...

I've read a lot of posts from people who are thinking of seeing a counselor, and I always have TONS of opinions about what they should do. And I'm like blah blah blah blah all over their comments. So rather than clogging up comments with my opinions, I thought I'd put them all in one place. That way I can just be like LINK.

Some of you know I'm a psychologist, but I'm not that kind of psychologist. I don't deal with people's problems, I try to figure out how the mind works by conducting experiments. You know, making people pretend to be prison guards and keeping them locked in cages with only a cloth mother and so forth. But as a result of my professional training, I do know a bit about basic processes in human cognition. And I've seen a therapist for a few months at a time, a couple of times in my life. So it's my informed opinion that therapy is a good thing. I know it's a very stigmatized activity for a lot of people, but if you think you want help, don't let the stigma stop you. Also, therapy may be covered by your insurance. I've got no coverage for IUI or IVF, but do have coverage for therapy. The common questions that I see in blogglyland are:
  1. Do I even qualify as someone who could profit from seeing a therapist, or do I have to be super fucked up? I mean, I have no real problems, I'm just miserable all the time.
  2. How do I find someone who is not scary?
  3. I hate the person I found. What do I do?
  4. I think therapy is stupid
So I'll voice my opinions on each in turn. Keep in mind that while these are just opinions, I am obviously right about all of this. If you disagree, you'll receive an electric shock when you try to click away.

1. Do I even qualify as someone who could profit from seeing a therapist, or do I have to be super fucked up? I mean, I have no real problems, I'm just miserable all the time.
Yeah, you totally qualify. Infertility is something therapists specialize in. I know what you mean, though. When I most recently went to see someone because of the IF shit and my dad's death, I had that same sense of not being entitled to take up someone's time. But I shared that with her first thing and she was like, Dude, you have a right to be here. You are dealing with serious stuff. Plus, you're paying me, and if you find me helpful, that's all I need. I guess I also think wanting help and wondering whether you deserve it strangely resembles Mel's Pain Olympics, where we rank the horribleness of different varieties of suffering. If you're hurting, you deserve support.

2. How do I find someone who is not scary?
While your clinic may have a recommendation, I think it's nice to have choices. Go to Psychology Today's find a therapist page. Enter your zip code, select IF from the pull down menu. (Or loss /grief, or do both and see who's experienced with both). Read the profiles of people who are conveniently located, choose someone who doesn't completely creep you out. My personal preference is for cognitive/behavioral therapists. They deal with mind-body relationships, and there's often a scientific basis for their practices. For example, a cognitive/behavioral therapist might tell you that your limbic system (a set of brain structures that deals with emotional regulation) is hyperactive as a result of the stress of IF, which is why you feel so anxious and unhappy. She might give you some coping strategies and exercises to reduce limbic system activity. She might also offer you DRUGS. I personally am not going to take drugs for something that is situational, even though they might make me feel better. This is totally my own deal. There's nothing wrong with drugs. (Hear that, kids?) There are some safe drugs to take while trying to conceive. If you don't want drugs, tell her you don't want drugs. If she keeps forcing them on you, kick her to the curb as she's no good.

3. I hate the person I found. What do I do?
There's nothing wrong with ending a relationship with a professional. But I totally get it--it makes me really anxious, too. I suggest you tell the person, I've gotten enough out of our session(s) that I don't need to come back. That's a bit easier than saying, We're not a good fit, which is another option. Then go find someone else.

4. I think therapy is stupid.
That's not a question. But okay, that's a fair view. The most useful thing I was told by the person I saw about IF was that I was going to feel like shit until the IF was resolved. That while she could help me cope, nothing I could do (unless I wanted some of her DRUGS) would fix me, because the problem was situational. Did I need to pay someone to tell me this? Well, yes, actually, I did. Otherwise I would have continued blaming myself for not being able to snap out of it. And learning about the typical experiences women in my situation go through was very useful to me, as was being told that my distress was real and valid. But therapy is obviously not for everyone, and I'm aware that a lot of people have a negative experience that leads them to the view that it's stupid. I'm not here to change your mind, man, but consider this:

People undergoing prolonged stress need an outlet for expressing their feelings. That sounds all patchouli-scented, but there are good neuroscientific explanations for why talking about your feelings helps to regulate them. Blogland is awesome for expression and support, but the support is only semi-objective and doesn't come with any professional training. For those reasons, a therapist may be able to contribute something.

Want me to express my opinions about anything else? Because I totally will.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

News Flash: Men have feelings

Last night Mr. Bunny asked me how I felt about our return to the conception mines next month. (I've decided that's the metaphor I'm going with--it really does feel like descending into a dark place and chipping away at something immovable, with an ever-present threat of a cave-in... Oh, and there's the black lung...) We agreed that we are not overly psyched about it, but hey, it's got to be done. Then I asked him something I've been wondering about, to wit, how does it feel for him to be around BFB's baby. He said it was hard at first, but is getting easier because babies are so boring. And that BFB is really annoying with her constant yammering about her baby's development, and her foolish belief that her child is precocious. But mainly he just doesn't want to be around her because he's pissed at her for all the suffering she's caused me. I was like, dude, what? I mean, yes, there has been much suffering, but it's not exactly her fault, and what was she supposed to do? Not have children? He said it's an irrational anger, but he feels it anyway. I was kinda charmed by the idea of him being all protective! And it's kinda nice having someone who can be pissed at her so that I don't have to. Marriage is all about division of labor, no?

I met Mr. Bunny through BFB (at her wedding), and I know that their friendship has suffered since I came on the scene. He's obligated to take my side in any dispute and has gotten to listen to all kinds of me complaining about her, because many aspects of her personality are super fucking annoying. (I can say this because I am well aware the same is true of my personality.) But it does seem that our infertility is putting some extra pressure on their friendship, so it will be interesting to see if they can figure it out. I suppose it might depend entirely upon whether we hit that vein of baby, or whether we end up buried alive under tons of rock.

Friday, June 18, 2010


BFB was over for dinner last night. We were having a perfectly reasonable interaction, when Jane became fussy. BFB started singing to her. Turns out that's one of the things I just can't handle, though I wouldn't have been able to predict it.

It breaks my heart into a billion pieces. I guess 'cause there's something extra intimate about it, somehow. Maybe it's just me. Anyway, I had to scurry off to the kitchen to weeeeeeeeep. So, uh, this special public service announcement goes out to the millions of my readers who are normal fertile women: don't sing to your baby in front of the infertiles. It's mean. In fact, if you wouldn't mind just moving into a dark cave until I and everyone I care about has managed to achieve a solid pregnancy (like, 30 weeks), that would be awesome. Thanks.

Meanwhile, if you've had a failed IVF cycle, would you mind stopping by hope4joy's place to offer some support? (I know I don't need to ask you to visit Adele, because you would anyway.) A big WHY THE FUCK DOES LIFE HAVE TO BE SO HARD? to those two wonderful girls.

But hey, remember the woman who gave me the VIKING RUNE CANDLE? She's now 20 weeks into her 7th pregnancy, after six miscarriages in a row. I know that might make some of you feel worse, not better, and I'm sorry for that, but to me it's a sign of hope.

And on that glorious note, have a splendid weekend! Wear some PANTS!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Extremely exciting update, and a warning. And some whining. And a possum.

Update: I'm wearing PANTS!

I should perhaps note that I'm talking about American pants here, not British pants. Those I wear every day, 'cause I'm all genteel and shit. I haven't been able to wear pants since my surgery because the incision site was too tender. This is not much of a hardship as I'm more of a skirts and dresses person anyway, but every now and then a girl wants PANTS. So today I threw comfort to the winds and put on jeans. And I'm still in 'em.

Okay, that was pretty thrilling, so take a moment to recover. Glass of water? Smelling salts?

Warning: Next week I will most likely be ovulating. And I fully intend to have sex around the time of ovulation. As we know, sex doesn't lead to pregnancy for me, which is why I'm comfortable coming sort of halfway off the bench (no fertility monitor, no stressing about lots of timed intercourse) three weeks early. I mention this because, for me, it's an extra fierce kick in the stomach when someone gets pregnant and I'm not prepared for it. So now you're prepared...for me to not get pregnant. But you can put those balloons away, as this is not my official return to TTC-land. And I wanted a chocolate cake.

Whining. Just in case you're hating me for my ability to wear pants or for my infinitesimally minuscule shot at pregnancy, let me also note that my career is completely FUCKED, everything sucks, and the thought of sweet death taking me felt genuinely nice this morning. Which is not to suggest I'm going to off myself, as I wouldn't, but DAMN life is wearing me down.

And a possum. Just because I like 'em.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


HA HA HA I AM SO FUNNEEEEEEE. I should totally have saved this AWESOME JOKE for a moment when I actually had a negative test (all too soon, all too soon), but I figure this is the only pea my garden will ever produce, so best seize the moment. Or carpe peaem, if you will.

DAMN, I'm hilarious today.

But seriously, ya'll, I grew a pea! Let me prove it to you. Because the internet is full of lies.

OH, HOW WE WILL FEAST TONIGHT! And, speaking of produce, here's where my lettuce goes! Of course I'd rather have bunnies than lettuce. Did you even need to ask?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Not enough drinking, but plenty of me being an idiot

I sooo wanted to give y'all a drunken post, but...I never got drunk enough.

This makes me sad. Getting shit-faced with J is pretty much my favorite thing, but...I guess we're OLD now. His last night in town, I asked if there was anything he wanted to do that we hadn't gotten around to yet. He went through his checklist. The final item was drink too much. We looked at the bottle of horrible, horrible, beyond vile vodka he brought me from Kazakhstan. We looked at each other. We opted to go to bed.

I did get tipsy enough to make an ASS of myself on Friday night, though, when we met up with BFB and Mr. BFB at our local bar. BFB was talking about her baby, and I was finding her more and more annoying. Finally, she turned to me and said something pretty innocuous like, If you want total strangers to talk to you, just carry a baby around.

I WOULD IF I COULD! I shrieked. Like a craaaaaazy person. Airing her reproductive biznazz in a completely inappropriate way.

The following morning I tried to figure out what my damage was. I realized a couple of things. First, I hadn't anticipated that having mutual friends around (because J and OBR were my friends first, but are now BFB's friends as well) would upset the equilibrium I've achieved where BFB and her baby are concerned. I felt envious again, which I haven't for a while. But seriously--it should have been MY BABY that my friends were fawning over. Or, if they weren't going to be fawning over my baby, there shouldn't have been any fucking fawning.

Thing number two: the closer I get to returning to the baby makin' mines, the less I believe any baby will ever result. I know--I should be more optimistic than ever. And I feel like a jerk for voicing these thoughts in front of people who have Real Problems or have endured Real Hardships. But for whatever reason, this is what I'm feeling. Deeply depressed by the whole prospect. Wracked with sobs in the shower every morning, bursting into tears a couple times a day depressed. So tired of this bullshit. (I know, I know, two years is nothing, but I bet you were tired of the bullshit by your second year too...)

Unable to imagine anything changing, ever.

Fortunately, I've got that bottle of Kazakh vodka. Maybe it's not too late for a drunken post!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Old friends

A few years back the Onion had a nice set of euphemisms for menstruation. My personal favorite: It's 'that time of the month' where 'I'm not at my best' because my 'vagina is bleeding'. Of course, my vagina is not actually bleeding and I resent the implication that I'm not at my best, but then, I'm the enemy of humor everywhere. In any event, I had BETTER be at my best, because two of my dear friends are coming to stay tomorrow.

I've mentioned before that I'm a girl of few friends, but you might be thinking fifteen...ten... I've got five. (This is perhaps part of the reason why I think Facebook is pointless...) So this weekend the majority of my friends in the world will be in one place. I'm going to tell you about them, not because I think you care, but because I want to. So there.

First, there's J. Here's a suitably ancient, grainy photo of us on a backpacking trip (me drinking, as usual). I met J my junior year of high school, when I arrived at a brand new school in a brand new city (Berkeley). I didn't know a soul, but noticed J immediately, due to his enormous mohawk. He's a truly remarkable person: his parents were insane and abusive, his dyslexia was diagnosed so late that his academic record was severely tarnished, but by scratching and clawing his way through life, he's now an engineer. Also the most gentlemanly man I've ever met. And he makes fighting robots for fun. Anyway, he's bringing a girlfriend I haven't met yet. She better be up to snuff. Or else I'll...keep my mouth shut and pretend I like her.

My Other Best Friend is also coming. We've known each other since we were twelve, and she's also an extraordinary person. Her family is horrible and nuts, but she turned out really well. She's like an ethical, kind, compassionate version of me. We haven't lived in the same place since we were fifteen, but have written letters to each other ever since then. When she visits me, she brings the letters I've sent and we collate them with the ones I've gotten from her. Here's the collection--over twenty years of correspondence, packed neatly in white linen bags...except for the ones waiting to be collated.

Both of these people are awesome beyond description, but particularly awesome is the fact that they are childless, and there's little danger of a surprise pregnancy announcement. Both OBR and J have long maintained that they aren't fit to be parents because of the horrors of their childhoods.

The funny thing is, I really want both of them to have kids. I think they'd do a great job, in part because their own parents were so awful. I love to imagine little versions of them, and it saddens me that they'd feel too defective to raise a child. And probably it worries me, given my own unhappy childhood... I'm certainly not going to argue with them, as I am capable of understanding that some people genuinely don't want to spawn, but...I am secretly hoping they'll change their minds. Ideally not until after I've had a few dozen fat babies.

Anyway, I expect to be drunk for the next four days, so best wishes to those of you going through difficult times. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Life is like a box of slugs

Given my lax approach to gardening, I shouldn't be too surprised by the fact that my harvest is less than bountiful. I can't be bothered with pest control (despite Andie's kind suggestions...) and figure watering is nature's job. Still, this has been a quite sucky year for my little plot. Some specifics:

Radishes: eaten by horrible white grubs. (Seriously? I thought only humans ate radishes!)
Peppers: eaten by slugs.
Peas: largely eaten by slugs, though some are still standing.
Arugula and spinach: bolted before they really had a chance to grow.
Beets: unlikely to mature at this point. 'Cause, hello, it's June, and they are still just a bunch of slug-eaten leaves.
Beans: eaten by slugs.

So clearly I'm a failure at producing life. And doubtless when I finally have that baby--after all my failed IVF cycles and miscarriages and my switch to donor sperm when my husband leaves me--it too will be eaten by slugs.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

How can I optimize support?

Every day I think of my friend A., who is in the midst of her second miscarriage. (You remember--I killed her baby with my selfishness.) And I never quite know whether to contact her. Does she need to be left alone? Is she sick and tired of thinking ceaselessly about her situation? Is she trying to stay focused on work? Is she going to get my e-mail (I am totally phobic about using the phone so would never call her) at a terrible time? And then I was reading hope4joy's post about the lack of support she's gotten from her family and thought, SHIT, A. might very well be feeling equally abandoned! Simply because I am not one of those people who's magically brilliant in these situations.

Basically, the amount of sadness I feel for her (and all of you who have been there...) incapacitates me.

So I wondered if you guys would be willing to tell me about the kinds of support that have helped you. Particularly those of you who have been through a loss, but really all of you. Of course you're all going to say, It's your comments, Bunny, that got me through those dark times. I know, I know. But surely there are other things.

What are the words that have actually eased your suffering, if only for a moment? How often did you want to hear from those who loved you? In what form? (I mean, how many times can I send her flowers with a note that promises things will get better someday? Is it time to shift to balloons or a clown?) At any given moment, what was the probability that you really didn't want to be reminded of your loss or failed IVF cycle or negative test? (Could you ever actually forget it?) In short, what should I do to help my friend?

I'm afraid the answer is NOTHING WILL HELP. And I guess I know nothing really will. So perhaps the question is simply what should I do?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Bunny

I have returned from my trip feeling refreshed in body and soul. My obsession with baby making has vanished and I feel like I've got my old life back. My husband and I rediscovered our love for one another and are stronger than ever. I can tell I'll have no problem pushing all this IF madness to the back of my mind and just enjoying life! I'm so looking forward to an awesome summer filled with fun and productivity!

Psyyyyyyyyyyyyych. Did I fool 'ya? Were you like, Woah, I can't believe that worked? Did you google cheap flight Pittsburgh?

In reality, of course, this New Era bullshit never works for me and I know it. (Which is not to say it's bullshit for everyone, or that it won't work for you--I'm just special.) The psychological switch has remained unflipped. I was stabbed in the heart when I saw pregnant women all weekend, when I watched BFB with her baby yesterday, when I thought about never having a child (every eight minutes).

Still, it was a moderately good weekend. We both got nasty colds on Thursday, so were hardly in top form. But we played through the pain--lying around in our hotel room, exploring a little, dining out. If you find yourself in Pittsburgh and in need of some contemporary American cuisine, E.leven is afuckingmazing. The vegetarian tasting menu was sublime. My husband had the normal chef's tasting menu, and that was also rockin'.

I am at least finding that I'm not really impatient. Summer always goes too quickly for academics, so I'm finding that my eagerness to have it be August is strongly balanced by my desire to have it be June for a million, billion, trillion years.

Of course...I can't help noting that this is the halfway point for my recovery. Six weeks (more or less) before I get to see that first exciting negative pregnancy test!