Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pen-on-paper, stamp'n'send forgiveness

My sister-in-law is here at the moment.

The SIL who, selfishly, son-of-a-bitch-ishly, is pregnant again.

Same SIL whom I have not looked in the eye since I found out. I have been rude, bitchy and generally given her the cold shoulder.

It is not me to behave like that and it has been tearing me apart.

Anyway, she is here as my husband (an architect) is designing her a new house for her growing family. She looks green with morning sickness and visibly gagged when I put down a coffee for my husband near her. I nearly asked her if she wanted a plate of sardines but I restrained myself.

When she looks at me she looks wounded, as though she expects me to say something short and gruff. And I know she dares not complain about her morning sickness or fatigue to me.

How has this happened? I am a doctor! I am supposed to have (and thought I had) a calling to help, nurture and heal. To protect and support. And yet, not only am I not empathising and caring for a member of my own family who needs my help, I have been outright mean to her.

So I have decided to write her a letter, a proper pen-on-paper, stamp'n'send deal to apologise and explain.

I hope she will forgive me.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Waxed, washed, worthy.

I've had a comparatively good day today.

Because I've been working from home the last couple of weeks, I've allowed my bruised and battered self to let things slide. A lot.

There were at least two full days last week that I did not get dressed properly or wear a bra. Or even clean my teeth.

I worked only in short spurts, punctuated by languishing sessions watching crap on and having little pity parties reading your blogs, empathising and feeling sorry for myself. I developed quite a taste for soft-boiled eggs with buttered soldiers. And I did not make the bed.

What a sorry sight!

But today I decided I really needed to climb out of my own pit. I refuse to let my infertility take over my life. I have so much to be happy for! I've got a wonderful husband whom I adore, I've just graduated as a doctor and I'm about to move into a new house by the beach. I'm healthy. I have great friends (even though, some of the bastards ARE pregnant).

So I got up early, did the washing, scrubbed the bathroom, tidied the house, found my sexiest set of knickers and picked out a pretty dress for the day. (I must say, I do have a smokin' waist: suffer in your jocks, pregnant ladies). I went and got a bikini and leg wax and got my eyebrows tidied up. I made myself feel pretty, organised, and, most importantly, worthy.

Finally I've decided to do my best to put all those horrible emotions behind me. I'm going to get out there with my chin up, smile, actually BE happy for the pregnant people around me, and enjoy my life. With or without the babies.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Remembering hope

Five days until the first IVF clinic appointment.

I hope then the fog will lift and I will start to discover hope again.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

A horrendous crime of being born

It is dark, lonely and hateful down here at the bottom of this infertility pit. The only thing that I despise more than my barren useless uterus (or 'uselesserus') is myself.

Not only am I mistreating my sister-in-law for her unforgivable, insensitive crime of getting herself pregnant, I am angry and resentful of my three-year-old niece for her horrendous crime of managing to get herself born in the first place.

Over recent weeks, Iris and I have been the best of mates. Since I have finished med school and am on holidays, Iris and I have been spending lots of time together.

Over the weeks we would cook together, read together, make up silly songs and dance. Swim. Giggle. Munch on fruit salad. Pretend the front lawn is the ocean and we are dolphins. Or sharks. Or dolphins swimming away from sharks. On one occassion we were Mummy and Daddy crabs and we sought out and adopted all the rest of the imaginary crabs in the ocean and taught them how to make lasagne.

But this week, to my shame, I can barely look her in the eye. I am so envious and jealous, angry and sad. She represents all that I want but cannot have. I can't bare to play games with her. I lie to her and tell her I am working. I am a bad person. And (worse) a bad aunty.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


The malevolent little jar of folic acid tablets in my bathroom drawer mocked me again this morning when I was looking for my toothbrush.

I have been taking the tablets, religiously, pointlessly, daily for three years.

"Enough," I rage.

I pitch them into the bathroom bin so hard that I break the jar.

Up yours, folic acid. I give up.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SOS from the Qantas Club

I sit at the bank of computers in the Sydney Qantas Club lounge, throw back a full glass of champagne and focus on the screen. I hope that the civilised people around me don't notice the tears welling in my eyes.

I open my webmail. As it loads I head back to the bar for a refill, walking the back way to avoid my brother Narcissus and his family, who are sitting across the room. It has been a nightmare of a weekend with them and my sanity, previously tacked together with flimsy thread, is rapidly unravelling.

Sitting back at the computer terminal I write an SOS to my best friend in Perth:

>Help. In own private hell. Losing it.
>Self-medicating. Three glasses of champagne. Irony.
>Aphrodite pregnant. I am supposed to be happy for. Three years of trying to get pregnant f**ks with one's head.
>It is supposed to be my turn.

It hurts to see the words on the screen. I rush to the Ladies', lock the door, curl up on the toilet seat and cry.

It is my second episode of uncontrollable tears this weekend.

The other episode happened yesterday.

Sandwiched between a child seat and the window in the back seat of a hire car heading back towards Sydney, my brother takes me by surprise. I am nursing my niece's books, her bag of 'princess stuff', a pink water bottle, a packet of peanut M&Ms and a large hangover from the beach party the night before.

My brother Narcissus is driving, Aphrodite is beside him, and my niece and I are crammed into the back seat with the luggage.

"I am sure you are pregnant Aphrodite," Narcissus announces.

"You are off caffiene and your skin is funny, just the way it was the last time, with Iris."

The unexpectected pregnancy talk grabs me. An icy shiver runs through me and I hold my breath. I hope Narcissus will stop.

But he does not. He launches into a little monologue. Aphrodite beams.

The hire car presses in on me, and my niece's sleeping breath is hot on my neck. I shift uncomfortably in my seat. It is stuffy. I look out the window.

Narcissus' joy spouts forth. He is very excited. He has been desperate to have a second baby. He hopes for a boy. It is just how he planned. He can't wait to have another baby and he will be so tremendously happy.

I tremble. I focus all my energy into doing whatever I can to distract myself from what he is saying.

I look at and label all the cars driving past.

Blue car, yellow van, red 4WD.

C'mon, don't cry.

I look at all the signs and spell them backwards. S-D-L-A-N-O-D-C-M.

C'mon, don't cry.

Narcissus does not notice my quiet distress and continues. He talks about the toys he will buy, the things he will teach the new child. The games they will play. Oh, how wonderful! What fun!

I know I cannot continue to hold it together and eventually decide to have a very hurried 'sleep' where I lean my head towards the window and cover my face with my hands. I cannot stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks. I hope the others don't notice. We are still over a hundred kilometres from Sydney.

Normally when people announce pregnancies it is over dinner or cups of tea or some other time-limited social occassion. I can keep myself together enough to be happy for them for a short time, but then mercifully I can run home afterwards, fall apart, process the news, come to terms with it and move on.

But to be stuck in the middle of it for hours on a claustrophobic road-trip was just too painful. I feel both angry and betrayed by Narcissus and Aphrodite for getting pregnant again: it is MY turn, it is my long term dream. Why do they get given the pregnancy I deserve and have wanted so badly?

The problem with infertility is that it is a process of grief and loss, where over years you are forced to grieve the loss of the family you always felt you were going to have, the baby you want so much. It is a grief from which you cannot heal, because with infertility, every month you have a small hope that pregnancy will happen. It is like having a giant festering wound that just gets ripped open again and again.

Watching friends and family get pregnant, have children and then have them grow into little people during the time you are trying to get pregnant is just torture. You feel jealous and hateful and then even worse because - what sort of monster can't be happy for family and friends during such a special time?

Back at the Qantas Club I have dried my eyes. I return to the computer station and am relieved to see that my best friend has emailed me back.

>Oh love. I'm so sorry. I'll call you when you get home. I love you.
>Keep self-medicating. If you're flying, at least you can keep asking for refills.

Deep breaths. Still another half an hour till we board. I log onto facebook to try to keep my mind off things. Narcissus' new status, uploaded from his laptop gets top billing.

"Narcissus is even happier than before."

The humiliation of the barreness, episode 1

I perch on the last seat of a row of vinyl waiting room chairs. I focus on Judge Judy on the little TV set suspended from the ceiling in an attempt to ignore the hurtful scene around me.

The pregnant woman next to me reeks of smoke. Her Peter Jacksons poke from the top of her handbag and her tuckshop lady's arms reveal tattoos peeking from the bottom of her cheap big-girl's tshirt.

'It's so silly,' giggles a twenty-something blonde to the nurse at the desk in the centre of the waiting room. 'You should have told me you wanted me to pee in a cup earlier. I just went to the loo. I need to pee all the time now I'm pregnant you know.'

'Come on now, love,' laughs the nurse conspiratorially. 'You know it's all part of the torture of pregnancy."

I ignore the blonde, the tuckshop lady and the blamange of pregnant bellies crammed into the waiting room and I focus harder on the television.

I bat back tears as Judge Judy passes judgement and punishment to the bad and the recalcitrant and wonder whose sensitive idea it was to schedule the infertile women into the pregnancy clinic.

We, the infertile, are the bad and the recalcitrant women too, I guess. And we take our punishment with quiet desperation.

barren: infertile; unproductive; dull; stupid; destitute

This is what an infertile woman means to

1. not producing or incapable of producing offspring; sterile: a barren woman.
2. unproductive; unfruitful: barren land.
3.without capacity to interest or attract

4. mentally unproductive; dull; stupid.
5. not producing results; fruitless: a barren effort.
6. destitute; bereft; lacking (usually fol. by of): barren of tender feelings.

Thanks. That's what we infertile women need. More insults! Bring it on: we deserve it!