Here we are: New year, new Squawk Box post! Remember, if you feel moved to give advice or share your story I would love to post them up. I’m still taking submissions!
Send your stories to: firstname.lastname@example.org
This month’s squawk comes from a new friend, we’ll call her SecondVoice, as she chooses to remain nameless in internetland. I met SecondVoice through blogging. Right near the beginning of my blogging journey when she was starting one of her own! I quickly learned that we’re very similar people and have a very similar sense of humour. Needless to say I fell for her and we’ve been “blolmates” ever since! This clip pretty much sums up how I feel about her, caution for strong language:
Check out her site: At Least I Still Have Humor. You won’t regret it.
Ok, so her story. SecondVoice is in the early stages of coping with her infertility diagnosis. She’s diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and has just started Clomid. Not to worry though, her sense of humour has really only sharpened from the drug. She’s been an amazing, supportive friend through my trials these past months and I’m proud to post her up for you all to read! Hold on to your panties girls! I give to you the magnificent, magnanimous SecondVoice!!
*cheering and clapping*
BTW, the image today is of two birds on separate branches looking at each other. Get it? Birds of a feather, and all that? That’s how I feel about this woman! So glad us two birds have connected!
Written by: SecondVoice
Published with the author’s permission.
My journey started when some romantic Valentine’s Day shenanigans resulted in some unplanned, unprotected sexytimes. We’d been married for almost two years, we both knew we wanted kids at some point, but I was smack in the middle of my first year of law school. So, we really weren’t at a time in our lives where we should be talking about babies in any kind of imminent capacity.
Being a woman who’s prone to over-analyzation, I spent the next couple of weeks freaking out. But I was also realizing that if I did turn out to be pregnant I would be really happy about it. In fact, I was secretly hoping that was the case, especially when my period was a week and a half late.
Obviously and unfortunately, I wouldn’t be on this blog if I was. Aunt Flo came and she came with a vengeance. Worst cramps than I’ve ever had before. No joke. I had to leave church, buy some painkillers from the nearest gas station, and then sit in my car sobbing as I waited for them to freaking kick in already. A homeless guy knocked on my window and said, “Hey. It seems like we’ve both got problems. Wanna hang out?” I am not making this up.
I wasn’t pregnant but the incident did make my husband and I realize that we actually did want kids. Soon. So we tentatively went off birth control.
Fast forward a few months. I’d had several similarly long cycles and was starting to wonder why my periods ALWAYS came so late. I wondered whether I’d perhaps had miscarriages. But I was sure, you guys, absolutely sure that this time I was pregnant. It had been more than fifty days since my last period and I was having all kinds of symptoms. So, even though all the pregnancy tests told me that nothing was going on, I made a doctor’s appointment.
That’s when I got the news that I have PCOS.
I felt like such an idiot. I felt crazy. I’d been bonding with a figment of my imagination, something that didn’t really exist. I’d named it, felt like I’d loved it, for some reason felt like it was a girl. I’d told all these people that I was sure, and now I had to go through and say, “Hey, just kidding. I’m not pregnant and I may never be. Sorry, sister-in-law-who-got-actually-pregnant-the-same-week-I-thought-I-had. Sorry, husband’s-best-friend-who-got-his-wife-pregnant-the-week-before-that. Sorry, other-sister-in-law-who-was-going-to-start-trying-soon. We will not become parents together. And sorry, Mom. Please don’t look at me like that.”
Mostly, though, I felt abnormally hollow, like the emptiness of my womb spread into my entire body. Like all of a sudden what had previously felt like a whole human being now felt like only half of one.
And then I flew to England! Alone! Because I had already planned the trip and had no idea that I would receive devastating news mere days before putting several thousand miles between me and everyone who could support me. That was hard. It was a study abroad program so I kept busy, but I couldn’t completely escape from it. It kept coming up. Like when I had to read an article about cultural rights that discussed why the government shouldn’t take away a woman’s right to have children and I wanted to cry right there in the library. I couldn’t so, instead, I had to Skype my husband in the middle of the night (stupid time difference) and cry to him.
A month later, when I got back, I went into a “fix it” frenzy. I did ALL the research! What could possibly “fix” my PCOS? I went on the most restrictive diet I’d ever heard of, much less tried! I exercised! That alone should show my commitment, because I do not exercise. Over the next month I lost 12 pounds. Hooray! Good for me! My periods became more normal. Awesome!
Only… now what? I had a perfect 28-day cycle but it still ended in a period. I felt like I had reached my weight loss goal and mastered the whole diet situation but nothing had worked. Then, all of a sudden, I had nothing to pour my energy into.
The next month I had a 31-day cycle. Less perfect, but still respectable. And I lost another 4 pounds. So… great. That is officially 10% of my total weight. I am 9/10ths the person I once was. That’s what all the books have advised: ten percent. And it seems to have normalized my cycles somewhat, so great news.
But my cycles still end with periods. And every period still feels like a failure. And I still have to hear updates from Mr. and Mrs. Actually Pregnant about how they got to hear Baby’s heartbeat for the first time and learn Baby’s sex and help set up their nurseries. It’s so super fun to have a running timeline of exactly how long it’s been since I thought I was pregnant and exactly where I would be if I had been.
It’s equally fun to hear that sister-in-law, who was about to start trying, DID start trying and got pregnant on her second go at it. With twins. I’m very happy for her. But I also hate how fast her stomach is growing and how I’m forced to watch it with my own stupidly flat stomach never changing.
The month after she told me she was pregnant I started Clomid. Because enough of this ridiculousness. ENOUGH. But so far all it’s brought me is rage hazes and weeping fits. Not my favorite. And as I stand here at the beginning of the new year, looking forward at everything that’s to come, I can’t help but think of it in terms of due dates and anniversaries. In February we will have been trying for a year. In March, Mr. and Mrs. Actually Pregnant will have their babies and will love them and will blow up my Facebook with their pictures. In July, it will have been a year since diagnosis and I’ll get to celebrate it with the birth of my fertile brother’s twins. If I don’t get pregnant before those events, each and every one of them will be devastating. I’ve barely started this journey compared to the other infertile women I’ve talked to, but trust me when I tell you that it certainly feels like it’s been forever. In fact, it feels like an awful pit of misery that I’ve always been in and will never claw my way out of. An endless, frozen moment of perfect agony and despair.
So, all I can really do is . . . laugh. Despite all the crap I mentioned above, I try to keep some humor. I blog in order to find that humor in a soul-crushing, emotionally depleting process, and I would encourage everyone in my position to do the same. Because when you have to sneak an ovulation kit on the family holiday or stand in line for two hours waiting to get your Clomid on Christmas, having a community know exactly what you’re going through and exactly how ridiculous it feels is really uplifting. It doesn’t fix everything. And it definitely doesn’t manifest a baby (though if babies really were born out of laughter it sure would make “The Talk” a lot easier). But at least it makes the process less lonely, less isolating, and a twinge more bearable. In the words of the heroes of our generation, Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez, “We’re all in this together.”
Keep laughing, friends.