Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My 'gift'

Every year for Christmas, baby Jesus gives me my period. I am sure you will think I am exaggerating or simply lying, but the truth is: I start my period on Christmas Day, every year. Every. Single. Year.

And lest ye think this year was any exception, I assure you it was not.

After the miscarriage, I really thought that the next time I got pregnant I would just know it. But what's ended up happening is I have known that I was pregnant for the last two months in a row, only to discover, I don't actually know jack.

Well, what I know now is PMS symptoms and pregnancy symptoms are absolutely identical. I even get nauseated during PMS. It's really the best.

My sister had her baby about two weeks ago now. As I hold little Ava and feel unequivocal love and tenderness toward her, I can't help but think some kind of magic baby dust has to be floating in the air and if I just hang around her long enough, I'll get to have my own kid.

A more likely story is I'll have to break out my trusty Machine -- the most expensive ovulation predictor known to man -- and give that sucker a whirl again. It makes baby-making really romantic. In Opposite Land.

A friend remarked last night on the dwindling of entries here on Tired & Stuck, and I could only say:  I think the three of us are getting tired of saying the same thing over and over again. This is not one of those things that gets easier as time passes, unfortunately. It's harder to think about every month. It's faith-breaking and has that deep-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach feeling you get when something is unjust; not right; unfair; straight-up wrong -- and there's pretty much nothing you can do about it.

True: there are worse tragedies in the world. We know it, and we have perspective. But when your heart wants something so bad -- your brain can't reason it away. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Guide for the TTC Crowd

I don't need to tell you the holidays are hard.

Something about our childhood memories colliding with our adult hopes wraps us up in a strange nostalgia. We miss the past and we miss the future.

We miss those who aren't with us. We miss those who have never been with us ~ like the cherub-cheeked children we imagined in our life.

And it's not just the trying-to-conceive crowd. Plenty of people feel sick to their stomachs for the entire month and a half between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Plus, Christmas (as much as I love it) is about the birth of a child.

I suspect part of the problem is that while we are simultaneously missing the past and the future, we are not at all celebrating life as it is right now.

I refuse to let my child-free status tap the joy out of the most joyous time of the year. I'm not saying it's easy, but choosing to have a good time is the first step to having a good time.

So, here's my guide for how to survive.

1. Skip the holidays. Extreme this may be, it's a legitimate survival approach for those suffering raw emotional wounds, like a recent miscarriage. If 2011 delivered this kind of disappointment, I'm not going to tell you to deck the halls and have a good time. Hunker down in a dark room with movies and ice cream and magazines. Keep your phone nearby and your friends on speed dial. We send our love and prayers and hope to see you happier in the New Year.

2. Say no. December's dance card fills up quick. It's OK to sit out a few songs. Only go to the events you know you'll enjoy. I typically avoid large parties with lots of guests. I say no to the big parties, so I can say yes to the smaller gatherings with my closest friends.

3. Don't spend the holidays with anyone to whom you have to explain yourself. Families are complicated, and some families are more complicated than others. If yours has a habit of bringing up painful topics as dinner discussions, tell them in advance that all fertility talk is off limits. Or make alternate plans.

4. Know what you're going to say. Even when you are picky about which events to go to and who to spend your time with, someone is bound to ask you, "Do you have kids?" "Are you planning on having kids?" "Have you thought about seeing a doctor?" "How is it going?" "Are you still trying?' Etc. Etc. John used to joke, "We had kids, but the economy got bad so we sold them." Or, he would say, "No, we don't have kids. We play board games at night." At this point, I usually respond with an abbreviated version of the truth.

5. Consider putting "trying" on hold until the New Year. If the disappointment of not getting pregnant is going to ruin your Christmas, I suggest giving yourself a break from peeing on sticks.

6. Music. Maybe it's just me, but happy songs make me happy. Sad songs make me homicidal. Pump up the volume accordingly.

7. Create new traditions. Sleep in. Drink cocktails. Get away. Last year, John surprised me with a night at the Fairmont right before Christmas. He knew I had always wanted to stay there (and the rates are surprisingly low in December). It was a great treat and something we would be less likely to do if we had kids. 

8. Spread holiday cheer. Infertility is no picnic, but it could be worse. Giving back gives me clearer perspective. Shop for charity. Volunteer at a shelter. Collect canned food or blankets or coats or socks. Visit a convalescent hospital or the lonely neighbor on your street. You can't help but be happy when you make someone else happy.

If you have a holiday survival tip, I'd love to hear it.

xo! Christina

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eventually I'll stop talking about miscarriage. Not today, obviously.

Here I am to pour another cup of cheer into your day by talking about miscarriage! Ho, boy. I am a real hoot to be around these days.

Honestly, this is a good day, if you don't count how I almost cried while I was taking a walk this morning. Which: I have kind of come to accept that I am basically going to cry every day for essentially no reason, so it is what it is. I was listening to a song that made me ... happy and sad at the same time, so I got all teary-eyed.

I finally got my period! Again! Continued proof that life is cruel and disgusting; am I right? These post-miscarriage periods are real doozies, lemme tell you. I'll be sitting quietly, and, well ... you recall the scene from The Shining when the blood pours out of the elevators? That is essentially what is happening in my pants. I have bled through almost every pair of pants I own. I sprint for the bathroom. I want to yell: Clear the decks! Hoist the mainsail!

Don't ask me why you would hoist the mainsail. I know nothing about boats and/or sailing. Maybe instead I should yell: Stop the presses! Seeing as how my background is in journalism and I feel the unwise need to tell you every time I buy a new box of tampons.

I think my friends are coming up for air after the miscarriage. It's like the dust has cleared and they're creeping carefully out of the bomb shelter to see if it's safe to venture out. A few friends have surprised me this week by reiterating to me how sorry they are for what happened. They are telling me they're not sure they made it clear early on. Believe me, they made it clear in the beginning. There's no way to properly express your horror or grief about things like that, honestly. When these things happen, it makes us all helpless. All we can do is stand together.

I have very good friends. They are over-thinkers (as I am). Perhaps most women are. I'll return home from a gathering and replay each conversation I had with each woman, turning each word and each raised eyebrow over in my mind to make sure nothing was misconstrued and there's no possibility that anyone had their feelings hurt. I can't tell you how many times I and my friends have spoken later and said: You know that time we were talking? I didn't mean this and I hope you didn't take it like that.

Maybe my friends are just worried about their reactions to the miscarriage because I won't shut up about it. Consider this my very public journal. I keep a journal, normally. I kept one during the pregnancy, and when I miscarried I wrote: Having a miscarriage.

That was it. There was something about putting ink on paper ... I didn't want to literally spell it out there. That journal is for my secret, innermost, darkest thoughts, and I haven't as of yet been able to talk to even myself about that.

I feel sorry for my friends, in a way. Especially the pregnant ones (because of survivor guilt). They don't want to mention the miscarriage and they don't want to ignore it. They've got to touch on the topic to show they care but they don't want to make me feel like shit, either. The ones who know but weren't technically in-the-know because other people told them assume that I don't know they know (confused yet?) -- I see the wheels turning behind their eyes -- they're searching their minds frantically for cheerful things to discuss. They pity me and treat me kindly, and I'll take that, for now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


I think one of the hardest things to remember when dealing with infertility is to keep your sense of humor; if not about being infertile, at least in general. Luckily, I have my husband to remind me.

I came home from having brunch with some friends yesterday, one of whom recently had a baby, and is now having a miserable time breastfeeding. No, not miserable, misery would probably be a step up from what my poor friend is suffering. I was telling Ryan about what was going on, and he asked why she doesn't just switch to formula. "Well," I said, "I guess it's like me not wanting to give up on the pregnancy thing. My body is SUPPOSED to do this. It's SUPPOSED to be an intergral part of who I am as a woman."

Ryan nodded, and took that in. Then, he spoke: "Why don't you let her use your boobs then and you can borrow her uterus?"

Damn, I love that man.