Bionic Mamas

you're not losing a vagina, you're gaining a son


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Addled All Over

Sometimes (read: most of the time) I think I am making things up about my body. That my ailments are manifestations of my addled brain alone, that I imagine or make myself ill as a means of proving to the world that I am special or deserve attention or something.

Is this related to a childhood with a chronically ill mother, one in which I was constantly reminded by the world (though not by her, I hasten to assure you) that she was Sick, that I must never think of my own body, because hers mattered most? Is it related to my fear that I will become sick like her? To, perhaps, an illogical resentment of her being sick? To an even more irrational (but very American) belief that being sick is a matter of morality, health a question of will power? Maybe.

An example: at the Baby Factory the other day, I was divested of several vials of blood, then sent to talk to billing. I leaned against the cubicle wall while the nice woman there showed me paperwork. I was dizzy and had trouble following her points, finding the words I needed to ask questions. But it wasn’t that much blood, after all, not nearly the vats they’d taken before our original, surreal IVF orientation, which I spent convulsively shuddering under a large, wool shawl. Probably I was using the knowledge that blood had been taken as an excuse to indulge myself. Just in case, I ate part of the pastry in my bag while we waited to meet with the scheduler, Maribelle. See? There’s the I indulgence, right there.

Maribelle came to lead us back to her office, and I made sure to walk very close to Sugar, to consciously notice when she slowed her pace. We have to stop so Maribelle can unlock the door, I told myself, carefully, the way you remind yourself to be careful when drunk. (Our acting teachers always said that it was a mistake to play drunk characters as out of control, that what typifies drunkenness is excessive attention to control, where a sober person can relax and still move her body correctly.) I sat down careful at the desk, thought methodically and hard about whether the dark marks on the roof across the street meant it was raining. I planned my route to get a coke after the meeting. I fought the urge to put my head against the glass and close my eyes, and I pretended that I understood what Maribelle was saying, because of course I could understand it if I’d just stop indulging myself.

Sugar watched how firmly I was blinking, how I was graciously apologizing for needing dates repeated, for misunderstanding the protocol and forgetting about the polyp-check. She told Maribelle I’d had blood drawn, and the next thing you know, Maribelle had produced a can of apple juice and a cup, apologizing that the juice wasn’t cold.

And what do you know? After I drank the juice, I didn’t feel dizzy anymore, I could find at least some of my words, and the calendar wasn’t so hard to interpret, either. I don’t much care for apple juice, especially warm, so maybe that it worked means I wasn’t just indulging myself, after all. Maybe I wasn’t well.

Similarly, I found myself wondering last night, when I was finally done with a long, crampy day of first taking care of the Bean, then teaching a night class, then traveling on late-night trains and subways (none of which combines well with serious narcotics), finally able to take first one half and then, still achy, another half of the Percocet tab I’d been thinking of all day, whether I’m just exaggerating the pain of my periods. Sure, they used to be excruciating, but what if I only think I need strong drugs now because I’m afraid of feeling pain, not because the pain I feel now really is all that bad?

Please just take the medicine, Sugar says. You’re not addicted to it, and there is no downside to treating your pain. So I did, a little convinced I just have her fooled, too.

But you know, I don’t think it’s my fear of pain that woke me up, two hours later, gripping my stomach and belly, feeling those familiar knives and stones. I think, maybe, I’m not as healthy as I would will myself to be, if only my will had anything to do with it.


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News From the Front

The bottom of the front, specifically. The front bottom, if you will.

The appointment went well. Dr. Baby Factory did not, after all, yell at me, you will be relieved to hear, though as always, he had that sad look that Sugar reminds me is mostly just how his eyebrows are shaped. His hair’s gotten a bit shaggy, as if the four years since we’ve met (is that all?) have taken him from being the 11-year-old star of the piano recital (as I always thought of him after seeing the picture in his office of him sitting ramrod straight up on one of the Today Show’s couches) to a 15-year-old with a garage band and a penchant for eschaton.

Dr. BF is who first suggested I go to Dr. Russian’s practice for OB, although in fairness he specifically recommended Dr. Robot, who left the practice in my first trimester.  Nevertheless, I decided I would tell him to rethink recommending them, if not for Dr. Russian’s appalling manner (which I know you all believe me about, but which could sound like the whining of a delicate flower) then for the way Dr. Skinny, the head of the practice, dismissed out of hand my was-that-an-abruption bleeding in the days before labor.  It is with deep pleasure that I report to you that he already has a call into Dr. Skinny, because he keeps having her patients come to him, get pregnant, and then refuse to return to her practice.  (Smart women!) So I guess it’s not just me.

While we’re on the subject of Dr. BF, can I just say what an absolute artist that man is at a pelvic exam? Seriously, he is the only person ever whose haven’t hurt; even his double pap smears don’t hurt. (Yes, I am a special snowflake and regularly cry over medical messing about in my lady business(es).  My cervices are on the inside for a reason.) I have to say that here because, 1) it is worthy of praise, and 2) there is no non-creepy way to express this sentiment in the moment.

So, the various bottom lines:

  • I will be making a lot more “bottom” jokes around here in the coming months.  Enjoy.
  • My CD 2 numbers are, I think without digging for my old notebook of data, the best they have ever been.  (FSH 5.6, E2 a shockingly low-for-me 39.)
  • My famous endometriomas (aka, “chocolate cycts,” if you are into ruining your ability to enjoy chocolate forever, which I am not) have apparently disappeared (?) (!).  Is this even possible?  I have noticed less back pain in the past few months, but I certainly felt plenty in cycles since being pregnant.  I am befuddled.  I’ll work on being glad, but right now I’m too confused.  At any rate, the dildo-camming didn’t give me the usual sensation that a smoldering rat is trying to scramble out of my lower back, which was a nice change.
  • We have lots of embryos, and Dr. BF seems optimistic about our chances, or as optimistic as his eyebrows will allow.

Scheduling is a bit of a annoyance, more so than I had anticipated.  I have the good insurance for six months, March-August.  I naively assumed this meant time for several cycles, but I had forgotten that the Baby Factory closes for IVF and like matters three months of the year, and two of those months are April and August.  When the scheduler explained that an April cycle, which was what I had begun to imagine, wasn’t going to happen, I felt bathed in adrenaline.  March?  March?!?  That’s so soon! But waiting doesn’t make a lot of sense, under the circumstances, so March it is.  Then I drank the warm apple juice she’d brought when I got woozy missing the half-gallon of blood they’d siphoned off for still more tests.  When a few molecules of sugar reached my brain, I remembered that I can’t do March, because Dr. BF wants me to come back early next cycle to see if a polyp is what’s making me spot so much before my period or if it’s just my good buddy endometriosis.

So May it is.  I am not entirely sorry to wait, though I had gotten myself slightly excited about Just Doing It.  I am worried that between the possible polyp and the closures, my six months of insurance just became three (and that’s assuming there’s no polyp or that it can come out quick-like in April).  However, billing had a surprise for us: the less-good insurance (under whose begrudging, code-careful auspices we had this consult) actually covers quite a bit more than we had thought.  Doing a cycle with them would still be more expensive than with the good insurance, but it sounds at the moment like it wouldn’t be impossible, especially if we planned ahead and got the drugs while I’m still on the good plan.

May gives me time for a few more visits to the favorite cocktail bar I am just now falling back in love with.  It also gives me some time to get worked up about various parts of this whole gig I wasn’t expecting.

For instance: more shots.  When I was first contemplating IVF, I decided I could deal with the little needles for stims but not the big ones for progesterone-in-oil, and Dr. BF agreed that I could use coochie bullets — excuse me, vaginal suppositories; excuse me, non-American readers, pessaries — instead.  They were messy and sort of annoying, but I was never sorry to be missing the intra-muscular missile to the butt I’d read about on other blogs, still less the bruises and lumps and lingering scar tissue.  But I guess now I get to learn for myself what all the fuss is about, because Dr. BF says (and, I regret to say, that the study I found on the topic agrees) that the delivery method really does make a difference in FET cycles.  Dr. BF says that during my IVF cycle, I was making some progesterone on my own, but that during a medicated FET, I won’t, which means that small differences in efficacy can mean big differences in results.

So one thing I guess I could use about now is some PIO pep-talking, should you have any on hand.  I’m not upset by needles per se, but I am no great fan of personal pain, especially deliberately inflicted, in my own home, every day for three months.  Call me crazy.  However, I also realize that a miscarriage I would always fear I could have prevented is worse.  Great choices, these are.

Okay, I know there are worse choices, I KNOW.  I know that, as subfertile lesbians go, I am sitting very pretty, what with the good clinic and the good insurance and the bewildering array of embryos.  It’s just…I had forgotten what this part, when fear and uncertainty loom so very large, feels like.  Frankly, I thought I got to skip it this time.

Mel asked the other day, after my first return to the Baby Factory for CD 2 blood work, whether I found that some of being back was much easier and some was ten times harder.  Yes.  That is exactly how I found it.  At first, I was giddy, almost, being back in such a powerful place without the dread and exhaustion I remember from the last time around.  This is a cinch, I thought, walking right up to the check-in computer to type my name.  The first time I came in, I stood awkwardly in front of the receptionist’s desk for some time before a woman in a pompadour, whom I did not yet know was nosy as the day is long and none too quick on the uptake, informed me in one of those New York lady klaxon voices that still startle me that I was doing everything wrong, as though it weren’t understandable that a person might imagine their office worked like every other office on Earth.  This time, the receptionists were new and muscle memory guided my hands through the menus as surely as if they were ticket machines at Grand Central.  Bam! I thought, jabbing the CD2 bloodwork button, my doctor’s name, my insurance carrier.  I got this.  I even made a self-deprecating joke about sperm to the guy ahead of me in line.  (Sorry, sir.  I should probably not be allowed in public alone, at least not while giddy.)

As I waited for my name to be called, a strange nausea crept over me.  I hadn’t, I realized, been comparing my present-day self with the me who had first come to the Baby Factory at all; I’d been comparing myself to my memory of that person, a memory colored by knowing that my first visit was only the beginning, that there were miles to go, disappointments and fears and more than a few crying jags.  In fact, that very first me, the one the receptionist startled, was a lot like this me: happy, excited, hopeful.  I had mainly wanted to go to an RE because of my mysterious lady-part arrangement and because my insurance covered it and the Gyn I’d gone to was a dick, so why not?  I imagined we’d leave with a plan, buy some sperm for home use, and have a baby in less than a year. Although our story ended happily, that original me sure had another think coming.

The PIO surprise was like a bucket of cold water to the face in part because I thought this time was going to be so easy.  Aren’t FETs supposed to be so simple compared to a fresh cycle?  I suppose it is simpler, in that I don’t have to come to the office much and won’t get OHSS this time, but I had forgotten that simpler isn’t the same as easy.  I know what to expect from an IVF cycle, but an FET is nevertheless new to me, bringing with it all the anxiety that attends medical novelty.  That I know how to get to the clinic and where to buy a coke after they exsanguinate me for science does not mean I know anything about what’s going to happen, and worse, it doesn’t mean I have any control over the results. I know I’m a lucky subfertile lesbian, but dammit, why can’t I just be a fertile one?  I thought skipping the rounds of IUI this time would make me feel fertile, but that fantasy is crumbling now that I remember that this “fertility” still involves doctors and needles and tenacula and fear.  I never really believed this when we were trying to conceive the first time, but it turns out this secondary infertility jazz is, to paraphrase Smarshy’s memorable image, just a different bag of ass.


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I Figured It Out

OH!

The reason I am a staticky ball of anxiety — like, if you turned off the light, I’m sure you could see little lightning flashes around me — isn’t that I am having cold feet about returning to the Baby Factory, per se.

It’s PTSD from that horrible postpartum appointment with Dr. Russian. I was just like this before my last lady-parts doctor’s visit too, even though nothing terrible was on the agenda. Maybe I will always be like this from now on. Fun times for my lucky readers!

I realized talking to Sugar just now that the reason I wasn’t worried about my bloodwork visit the other day but I am scared to see Dr. Baby Factory himself is that I have in my mind that he will somehow yell at me about something. What he’d have to yell at me about, I don’t know, but then, I wouldn’t have thought there was a lot it made sense to ream out a limping, anemic mother of a six-week-old for, either.

In my actual brain, I know that Dr. BF is a kind, gentle man who will may even be happy to see us and want to see a picture or two of the Bean, seeing as how he was rather small last time they were in a room together. We’ll see if I can get my viciously tense body to listen to reason, but at least my brain feels better.


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Back In The Saddle

…or the stirrups, anyway.

No, no, not in the TTC sort of way, not yet anyway. I won’t spring that on you without some high-octane angst first, promise.

But I did go to the OB/Gyn, for the first time since my postpartum appointment, which some of you may recall ended with me wandering the avenues of Midtown, weeping so hard people were forced to break the NYC taboo on talking to crying people and the one on stopping strangers in the street. (In case you’re wondering, it does take some doing, especially in the blocks around Grand Central.) I was, erm, a little nervous. Related: what is it about filling out those medical history forms that makes me afraid I’ve forgotten my own name, let alone whether I have kidney disease?

You will not be surprised to hear that I did not return to Dr. Russian, as punching her in the face would open me up to more court and jail time than fits my schedule. I stacked the deck a bit by going to Sugar’s doctor, whom I have met before. (In fact, I tried to go to her practice when I got knocked up, but they weren’t taking new OB patients.) Nevertheless, I was feeling pretty shaky as I sat there on the table waiting, gripping my notebook of questions. I fetched my journal out of my purse, for the sense of enhanced safety only another book can provide.

And…she was wonderful. She listened to my slightly quavery explanation of why I was switching practices and said it all sounded pretty traumatic. She said that lots of women push for four hours with a first baby and that it doesn’t mean they aren’t trying, and that they give nifedipine if they even suspect Reynaud’s in the nipples of a breastfeeding mother, because Reynaud’s is so awful and nifedipine is so safe. (See here and here for contrast.)

I haven’t written about this, but one part of labor that I have felt increasingly upset about in recent months is the part where I was bleeding heavily for days at home and Dr. Skinny said it was nothing and then was such a bitch about my calling back when it hadn’t stopped, twelve hours or more after my first call. I’ve talked to many, many women since then about their experiences of labor, and I have yet to hear anything that reassures me it was normal. I suppose it’s possible that it really was just a particularly determined (and large — this was a lot of blood) broken vessel in my cervix, but it’s also possible it was a placental abruption, and there is no way Dr. Skinny could have known it wasn’t via phone. I didn’t think it seemed normal at the time, and I shouldn’t have let her intimidate me out of that. Things turned out okay for me and the Bean, of course, but it’s not a comfortable feeling, thinking that I could have let my baby die — oh, and potentially died myself — because I was too chicken to argue with a doctor. I told the new doctor that, and she looked very serious. That does not sound normal, she said, and no one at this practice would have let you stay at home if you called bleeding that much. That will not happen to you here.

Ultimately, she said that while she couldn’t ethically say things about Dr. Russian to a patient, she was — I think the word was “horrified” — by what I had told her. Then she said so again.

So. Maybe it wasn’t just me.

If this doctor has a fault I am aware of, it is that I find her a little happy to cut, as surgeons tend to be. On the other hand, as much as I don’t want to have surgery for the endometriosis I’ve thus far fail to cure with denial or pregnancy, I’m not sure she’s wrong that I should have it. Things are getting worse, and most months I now spend three out of ever four or five weeks in some amount of pain. In particular, pain in the week before my period is getting out of hand, such that I’ve been dipping into my hoarded Percocet stash to sleep. Nothing else does a thing. The question in my mind is whether surgery is worth the pain of recovery, given that it doesn’t always help with endo. Somehow I didn’t get that question in, but I am being sent back to Dr. Demure, the man who did a transvaginal ultrasound without so much as seeing my legs, to see how my garden of ovarian cysts grows. Well, I imagine, from the way my back feels half the month. I’m also to see a rehab specialist about the way my hip joints fall to pieces and leave me so weak once a month, though she seems unconvinced that isn’t somehow also endo.

If I am going to try to get pregnant again in the spring or summer, I’m not keen to have surgery first. I’m hard-pressed to come up with a rational excuse for that — besides that I have no idea what I would do with the Bean for two weeks if my recovery were anything like Sugar’s — but she said it did not sound crazy. Should have asked her why not. In the meantime, I have a legitimate prescription for Percocet now, though she said several times that we couldn’t just carry on like this until menopause. Other than pain medication and surgery that might not help, there is no treatment. Birth control pills help some people, but are a bad idea for people like me, who get migraine with aura and don’t like the idea of having a stroke.

The pelvic exam itself was not much fun, though I think she was as gentle as possible while hunting around for cervix number two. Righty seems to have done the job at delivery, for those who were wondering. The worst part, though, was the groping around for uterus and ovaries and such like. I was doubled-over after and am still in a fair bit of pain, though some sangria left over from our party on Sunday did take the edge off last night. She may have a point about this situation not being tenable.

So! On balance, a win yesterday, I think. Let us hope for another one tomorrow, when I have a job interview at a college in Staten Island. I am hoping that my scanty publication record’s including a book about a forgotten corner of our most ignored borough will give me an edge.


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Harder But Not Worse

Written Sunday night, February 5th.  I’ll be posting this later, when it is very clear that Sugar can’t have gotten the stomach bug in question, because if she finds out that we did, she will fret and fret and fret.  She’s been en route to South Africa for days now, been stuck in snowy Amsterdam overnight without a coat (or her luggage), had her direct Amsterdam-Capetown flight replaced with a whole series of shorter flights and long layovers.  Fear of vomiting is the last thing she needs to add to her worries.

Today was a hard day.

Sugar is on her way to Africa.  She’s been gone since Friday and won’t be back until next Sunday.  The Dane, whose company I had hoped might distract me from loneliness and from feeling overwhelmed caring for the Bean alone, unexpectedly had her second baby on Friday, via a c-section at 36 weeks, after her water broke that morning.  (The new baby, a pink boy slightly bigger than the Bean and much smaller than his older sister was, is doing well and will come home with her on Monday.  We can’t wait to meet the Little Bear.)

I spent Saturday gathering baby things for the Dane, climbing the step ladder and using a long cardboard tube to prod the heavy boxes stacked near the ceiling so that they would fall down to me.  Managing the closet is Sugar’s job, as she is considerably taller than I am, but the baby is here now and needs clothes.  I bought a small ham and extra ingredients for spaghetti sauce on Friday when I heard the baby was coming, but decided I could wait until Sunday or Monday to cook for them.  I arranged to visit her in the hospital today, and tucked a box of cookies into the bag of going home outfits, just in case I forgot to bring them.

The Bean was cheerful enough, even following a diaper explosion unlike any I’d seen from him in months.  Shoulder blades, is all I’ll say.  After he went to bed, I talked too long on the phone with my parents, made freezer food for dinner, and watched Downton Abbey, pleased to have made it through the day without Sugar, to have one day less alone.  It hadn’t been easy to take care of the Bean and get other work done, but I’d managed and found myself less lonely than when Sugar went away before he was born.  Taking care of him has made this trip harder for me, but less grim.

A little later than I should have, I brushed my teeth, fed the cats, and padded into the Bean’s room to pat him one last time.  In the dark, I could see his starry back rise and fall.  I also saw a dark spot, the size of a quarter, on the sheet near him.  I had a sudden fear that it was blood.  I knew it wasn’t, but I turned on the light to check.

It wasn’t blood.  It was vomit.  Raspberry vomit, and that tiny bit was the least of it; it was everywhere and plentiful, pink and red and smelling of peanut butter, his current favorite after frozen berries.  From the look of things, he must have thrown up and crawled away from it again and again, covering the whole bed.  It was revolting and then some, but there was nothing for it but to hook up the washing machine, begin ferrying bedclothes to the bathroom, and wake him up to clean and re-pajama him.  It was past one before I went to bed again, and we only slept a combined 90 minutes or so thereafter, the Bean wakeful and miserable and hot with a fever that would not yield to Advil and Tylenol.

Suddenly, the diaper explosion made sense: on Thursday, we visited with a baby friend of ours and her nanny.  Afterwards, I found out that the baby and her mothers had had the stomach flu, though she seemed fine when I saw her.  I’d hired the nanny to watch the Bean while I teach this week, and in order help him trust her, I encouraged him to eat from her hand.  I have replayed that moment in my head a hundred times since, only with Future Me running in slow motion towards them, shouting, “Nnnnnnnooooooooooooooooooo!”  The nanny got sick on Friday.

Today has been hard.  The Bean is better but not well, there was an even more catastrophic diaper incident, and I have been wondering all day when I will get sick, as I almost inevitably will.  If I didn’t catch it from the nanny, I will have gotten it from the Bean, who cannot be dissuaded from shoving his hands into my mouth while nursing.  Certainly there was no visiting the Dane and Little Bear, who need this illness less than I do, nor cooking for them.  My to do list rapidly shrank to, “Do Laundry; Survive.”

Some time ago, the inimitable May wrote a post about those self-important idiots who tell you all the time how hard your life will be with a baby, how you have no idea.  Such proud admonitions are annoying under the best of circumstances, but to those of us who lack babies while desperately wanting them, they are like stone bruises on a heel, so predictable and yet so surprisingly painful with every footfall.  May, who is somehow always right, remarked that indeed various things about life with a baby might be, on a strictly practical level, harder than without one, but they wouldn’t be worse.  I can’t find the post in question, but I doubt I will ever forget that bit of wisdom.

I have chanted “harder but not worse” in my head and out loud hundreds of times in the past eleven months.  Many things about life with a baby are in fact very hard, and it’s easy for me to get lost in that.  It’s easy for me to misplace how miserable it was when I was afraid I would never have the chance to find out how hard it can be.  I assure you, in case you ever doubt it, that the frustrations of a hard day with the Bean here is to that misery as a rain shower is to the oceans.

It’s late again, later than I should be up.  I am well behind on sleep, I have a hard week ahead, and frankly, my stomach feels more than a little dodgy.  But I have spent this weekend feeling more deeply than ever the truth of what May wrote, and I wanted to get this down now, while things are still hard, so that you know that I mean what I say.  Many things are harder, but nothing is worse.


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What Was That All About?

Hey, y’all.  Thank you again and a hundred more times for your comment on my sad post the other day.  One of my blog goals is to start replying to more comments [sidebar: I’ve finally learned that if I reply using WP’s email system, I can also cc the email you used when you left the comment, which means you might actually see my reply, assuming you left a working email]; I’m not sure I’ll manage replies to these ones, only because I feel them very deeply and am having trouble finding words, even after looking under the couch cushions.  But truly, deeply, thank you all.

I’ve been doing some thinking about what made me fall apart so very much just then.  Certainly, the things I mentioned in the post itself — sick, sad Bean; lack of sun and exercise; insomnia (WTF?); cetera — are part of the answer, but a few other things have come to mind, to whit:

  • That pesky anniversary thing.  Several of you have mentioned bad stuff coming up around a year after birth.  For that matter, many of you (too many) have talked about renewed sadness and upset around the anniversaries of losses.  How that part of my mind knows what time of year it is, I don’t know, but I think maybe this is part of what’s going on.  Here’s hoping the outburst at 11 months is somehow protective and that the Bean’s birthday will be only joy.
  • PMS — Okay, I did mention this one, but it makes the list anyway because I’m curious to know whether any of you who have had babies think your PMS has changed.  I think mine has, and I’m hoping it’s partly because of the nursing-related hormone roller coaster and will therefore GTFH eventually.  I’ve always…felt intensely about PMS.  Feeling fat and moaning about same was, given the uncertainties of my cycle, pretty much how I knew it was time to buy pads; some light crying on the last day inevitable; weeping not wholly out of the question.  But it did not used to ravage me so thoroughly.  Crying, yes; sobbing, not so much until now.  (And just in time to try not to scare another creature with unpredictable behavior!)  These days…damn.  Anyone else?
  • Another thing that’s new is the kind and character of my period pain.  It’s been creeping back.  Every month I nurse a little less and I bleed a lot more and things hurt.  I didn’t expect being pregnant to cure my endometriosis any more than it cured my mother’s or than adulthood cured the asthma of anyone in my family, but I can’t help having hoped a little.  At least so far there have been no visitations of the dreaded GI/endo horrors which I positively cannot take care of a child during.  (I remember thinking on the infamous cab ride to the hospital that, while what was happening was very painful, I had been in worse pain many times and survived.  It’s like that.)  I’m not surprised that the pain is coming back, but what I am surprised about is how it has changed.  I’ve always been in pretty bad shape from the sternum down during my period, with belly, hips, back, and legs all hurting in one way or another, but the hip pain in particular has shifted from being something that I mostly noticed when trying to sleep on my side to being constant, beginning even before my period.  It also feels different, like someone is standing behind me, digging curled fingers around the front of my hip bones and then pulling out and back.  My hips and legs also get strangely tired and loose-feeling walking long distances during my period, the way they did at the end of pregnancy and especially after birth. It and the back pain are all-too reminiscent of giving birth, which I think makes me a little panicky and upset even before it’s strong enough that I’m thinking about it consciously.  I’m curious to know whether any of you who’ve given birth and/or been pregnant have noticed anything similar.  (I’m trying not to exclude anyone who’d like to answer but also trying not to be all trigger-y; please forgive inability to find a better way to ask.)  And, you know, whether it ever went away.  Also, pain med suggestions happily accepted.  I was so happy, post the cervix-puncturing HSG, that my pain had gone down so much that I could use Advil instead of Aleve, as Advil takes a week to really tear up my stomach while Aleve only needs two days, but this month I found myself taking half a percocet one night, and taking the other half an hour later.

The other, happier realization I’ve had about all this mess is that it is not strictly true that, as I had been thinking, I’m stuck on this.  It seems that way, but I think what’s really going on is that I’m slow, not stuck.  I wish I were done turning this over in my head, that I had successfully turned the whole story into an empowering narrative of personal triumph and joy and unicorn poop

[pause for unicorn poop cookies.  These Exist.]

…but the fact that I haven’t been able to do that yet, it has finally occurred to me, doesn’t mean I’ve been doing nothing.

It took me six weeks to even begin to accept that I was upset at all; that’s what the hysterical crying that began after Dr. Russian told me off in my post partum visit and continued for another day and a half was all about.  (And that there was some Crying, let me tell you.  People in midtown Manhattan do not stop crying people walking down the street to tell them it will be okay; it is just not done.  But they did me. And then this weird subway con-artist regular manhandled my baby on the 42nd Street shuttle.  Great day.)  Until then, I was fumbling around, wondering why I felt ashamed of myself, assuming who suggested that I had Encountered Assholes was just misunderstanding the situation.  I think that’s called denial.

Since then, I’ve gone through some valleys of despair, it’s true, but I’m starting to look around and think that maybe it’s not all the same valley.  They tend to look the same — being so shadowy and all — but maybe I’m not going in circles but just on a very long walk, one that ends somewhere with unicorn poop cookies.

(Okay, probably not.  But the disco dust part of those cookies isn’t really for eating, and I’d be much happier with a nice red wine and chocolate.)


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Confessions, Again

Friends, I read your birth stories.  I do.  And I still am that asshole who doesn’t comment on them, or at least not much.  I mark them “unread” so that I will come back when I can clear my head; I leave them open in my browser for days.

I thought it would be better after the Bean was born and I wasn’t scared anymore.  (And I’m not scared anymore — at least not much.  I would do it again, though I’m not sure that’s in the cards.)  For a little while, when I was still high on survival, it was better.  But now it’s worse again.

I hope someday I’ll be able to read about birth being overwhelmed by feeling that I didn’t do a very good job, that everyone else is better at this than I am, than I could be.  You are so strong and so brave and so capable and beautiful.  I don’t want to feel that you aren’t those things, but the internal comparison is brutal.

Probably being home with a sick, miserable Bean and having been stuck inside all week, thanks to my migraine and his cold and the cold outside, and being smushed by the PMS Monster (which really has been worse since the Bean was born, I think, or maybe it’s just that before he came I could blame the misery on not being knocked up) and the attendant maybe-I-just-wasn’t-meant-to-have-children head-echo isn’t helping, and I should have a little sense of proportion and not hit “post,” but I didn’t want you to think I didn’t care about the stories or about you.

I know I should just get over it, but I can’t.  It occurs to me that maybe part of the reason I can’t seem to get that recovery post written is that I don’t feel all that recovered.