Saturday, 17 August 2013

The long version

I feel a tiny bit like a dickhead since publishing my last post, which I'm aware probably made me sound both ungrateful and capable of finding a complaint about any (potentially wonderful) scenario that life throws at me. Each of your comments gently reminded me though that, despite my own inability to recognize them as such, recent events have been hopeful. Celebration-worthy even. Thank you for feeling excited for me even as I can't seem to muster the energy to do it myself. Thank you for sticking with this dickhead.

As anyone who has been reading for a while will know, I am prone to emotional and physiological oversharing in this space; the ugly as well as the uplifting. Not only did I envision this space from the outset as a record of sorts, one that might help me process and look back on developments as they happened, but I definitely also think that sometimes just the act of getting it out there can limit the corrosive effects of all the negativity rattling around in my brain as a consequence of this crazy train.

So it's in that spirit, as much as for the, erm...entertainment of the interwebs, that I post the following. It was written right in the midst of the chaotic events of the last week of July, when I was juggling all the future possibilities and feeling especially overwhelmed by it all. And then I kind of lost my will and my voice and climbed into that grey track suit and never finished or posted it. Until now.


It's been one hell of a week, and a lot of stuff has happened since I last found time to update. My head's still spinning, so I apologize in advance for the meandering course I'm sure this post will take. But I still feel I need to write it if for no other reason than to make sense of things myself.

It kind of started late last week, while I was still trying to renegotiate the interview time and felt a bit like my prospective employers were leaving me to do all the flexing. (This was not the best way to start a working relationship; it did not exactly endear me to said employers, but a job's a job, right?) There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing in emails, me calling the fertility clinic to see how late in the day our appointment could be pushed, checking and re-checking to see how feasible a certain train journey would be against a proposed schedule... It was stressful guys, and with H's contract due to expire in September, and no clear plans on what we'd do next, it felt like a lot was riding on this. On me.

I kind of lost it a bit then and there, broke down and cried about how random and unfair it all was, got in one of the first of what turned out to be a whole series of fights with H for 'not being supportive enough', after which we had slightly resentful, let's-just-do-this sex what a turn on! because, well, we were still just maybe in the 48hr window indicated by my positive OPK and didn't want to screw up a chance because of total emotional exhaustion petty squabbling. (And then thought to ourselves, 'I can't wait for IVF to come along and divorce this whole process entirely from baby-making so that maybe one day we'll have sex again because we just want to', and then felt awful for thinking that.)

And then I got my shit together and got on a train and gave an awesome interview on Monday. Within an hour of leaving the office, I got a call with an offer of the job, which I accepted. I called H to share the good news, and then I went for dinner with my mom. All perfectly lovely and anti-climactic and low key (and I managed to live happily for a whole 24hrs blissfully unaware that this had finally occurred). But I think H was disappointed with the detached way in which I greeted the news.

Now I should probably state for the record here, in my defence, that this has been a protective mechanism (one I'm far from happy with) that has only recently become fully manifest; my increasing callousness toward and detachment from a world full of wonderful things and good news stories. Like the thick skin that develops on your hands and feet over time, through exposure after exposure to painful elements, stinging barbs, intense heat, it's come layer by layer, and only now do I realize how much I have to cut away to get back to the tender heart of my being.

For the last three years, we've had more bad luck than good. It's sometimes hard not to feel like when S died, not just our hope, but all possibility for the future left with him. It's been a constant and continuous uphill climb, and I'm exhausted. In that time, we've lost two more pregnancies and had the rug pulled out from under us more times than I care to itemize. On several occasions, when we thought finally we have some good coming our way! it all turned out to be a big, cruel, cosmic joke. Not just the babies dying (though obviously that's the big one, the one that's left the deepest scars). On other occasions our hopes and plans for a stable home, a good job offer, were ultimately yanked away from us, once because of a stupid immigration technicality and once because H's Crohn's disease unexpectedly landed him in hospital for five scary weeks during which we thought he'd need to have his bowel resected (which in itself was pretty daunting). I don't know if this is because we somehow unwittingly manage to make really bad life choices or the gods have chosen us for target practice because of now unknown transgressions in a past life, or if we just have had a string of really. bad. luck.

But in short (though not really, given the length of this post): I don't trust good stuff anymore. I don't trust that I'm anything more than the butt end of that cruel cosmic joke.  Hence my hesitation with embracing the good, even when it comes, try as I might. Oh, I'm quite ok with celebrating the little moments; you could even say I have a talent for that (which I am aware is an important life skill to cultivate, and helps to explain my resilience). But the big stuff? The stuff that's supposed to lift you up and, before you even realize it, change the direction of your lifecourse? Profound yet commonplace stuff like bringing new life into the world? Nu uh. Truthfully, I think I've stopped being able to believe in those big, life altering events. I don't believe in epiphanies. I think maybe it's all just a slow shuffle, and some days you manage to bring it and make everything feel shiny and promising, while some days all you really can do is shuffle your feet. So this was all stuff I was contemplating, darting through my brain as I made my return journey to the excited arms of my dear husband.

And my strange, ambiguous emotional state was not helped by what turned out to be a horrific journey. For the last forty minutes on the train, me and the entire train car I was riding in were witness to a vitriolic and aggressive domestic altercation courtesy of a couple who were hepped up on who knows what kind of (probably illegal) mood altering substances and didn't care who knew it. Horrific verbal abuse and expletives were hurled from both sides. In. A. Crowded. Train. What was much, much worse, they had two sweet, small boys with them; the younger was about three, and clearly found a defense mechanism in zoning it all out and focussing as hard as his little self could muster on a pull toy he was vrooming up and down the carriage, finding far too early in life his own necessary means of reaching oblivion as his parents clearly had with drugs or alcohol. But the older one, about five I'd say, was clearly totally cognizant of exactly what was going on, and tried to play (what seemed to me, as a feeling of nausea crept in with the realization), his probably customary role of peace-maker, interjecting plaintively, again and again: Please Daddy. To which one or the other parent invariably replied: Shut the f*%$ up! No one intervened, not even the train staff, because I think they were afraid of the parents. (After stepping off the train at my designated stop, I managed to alert some transport police who then boarded the train to investigate).

Frankly, it was harrowing. It was enough that it triggered one of those (admittedly selfish) 'Really? These people can have kids??' reactions and reminded me of the random unfairness of it all. But to be forced to witness the neglect, verbal and emotional abuse of small children like that, their humiliation at the hands of their own parents, was heartbreaking. I mean chest-constricting, painful-to-breath, kind of heartbreak. It effected me profoundly.

So when I stepped off the train to be greeted by my dear husband, whose arms, as it turned out, were not ready to receive me because of the gargantuan bouquet of exotic flowers he carried to bestow on me...Well, I wasn't really all there. I was overwhelmed and exhausted. And really, as I'm learning just now, my inability to receive and acknowledge good news is clearly becoming something of a problem I need to work harder at. I stiffened as I saw the joy on his face, and knew I wouldn't be able to convincingly play along. And yes, (naturally!) I then picked a fight with him. I am a terrible person, I know. Tuesday was not one of my prouder moments.

But the exact source of all this became clarified for me as we prepared for yesterday morning's appointment at the clinic. We were both edgy and hadn't, thanks to my in-progress meltdown, had the time to compose the careful list of what ifs? and what's next? with which we are typically armed for discussion during a doctor's visit. We fully expected, in light of clinical encounters both more and less recent, to have to cajole a bit, to plead our case, stand our ground against lethargic and disinterested medical professionals who would keep telling us that, thanks to our three 'successful' conceptions, we 'just needed to give it more time'.Truly, we were ready for a fight.

So when we entered the exam room and, within minutes of reviewing our fruitless attempts over the last several months, the consultant asked straighforwardly, How do you feel about moving forward with IVF?...

Well, we were flabbergasted. We were totally unprepared. We were clumsy and sputtering and far-too-grateful in our responses. But the long and short of it is this: we'll have some more detailed investigations done in prepartion for our final intake appointment, we'll attend a mandatory information session run by the IVF Unit at the hospital, and after that, my next cycle will be It. In sum, the appointment was great. Helpful, hopeful, informative. Everything we could have wished for.

And yet, I can't quite bring myself to feel happy or excited about this right now either. I know, I's what we've been impatiently waiting months to be told. The best I can explain it is with what I said to H as we walked home from the clinic in a daze, disbelieving of the good fortune that might finally be coming our way:

You come up against a door that you realize, when you try to open it and walk through, has been locked and bolted. But you really, really want to get through that door, there's something you need on the other side, that your sanity and future happiness depend on. So you fling yourself feebly against it and you kick and you bang your fists, growing weak and tired and developing quite a few bruises and scratches in the process. And all of a sudden, just when you're tired and on the verge of giving up altogether, without any warning, the door gives without struggle, and instead of walking through cool, calm and collected, you fall flat on your face, right there on the threshold, with the extertion of its refusal that in the end, never came. You're momentarily shocked and bewildered, sitting there on the threshold.

That's how I felt this morning as we walked home. I want to, but I can't seem to bring myself to believe in good news anymore. Not yet. Actually, we were both so dazed that, despite having piles of work waiting for us at home and office as we now have to troubleshoot quite a big move in the coming weeks, we stopped for a cider at one of the sidewalk cafes that were teeming with life in the midst of an uncharacteristically hot, sunny summer. We sipped our drinks and squinted against the bright, warming, soothing sunlight which has become so unaccustomed to our ghostly white, pasty selves. And held hands, and just kind of stared into space.

I'm still having trouble dealing


And there, good readerfolk, it ended. That last sentence hanging in the balance just like my befuddled brain, mid-completion, bereft of an ending.

So, fast-forward three odd weeks and I think I'm beginning to process it all. Inevitably, forward we go. I think at heart, at least for now, I'm still not super optimistic about IVF. Right now, I don't feel like I'll ever join that magic, select club who get their healthy pregnancy or happy adoption story and the take home baby that comes with it. I have doubts that IVF will be the magic bullet for us. Maybe (hopefully?) some of that will change as we progress through actual treatments and it becomes more real. Or maybe I still just need more time to process.

I'm still having trouble dealing... 

But yeah, it's getting better. The door has been opened, and though we haven't walked through yet - we're still peering around, trying to get our bearings from the threshold - it's only a matter of time.


  1. So glad to see your post. There is lots I want to say-as per usually. All stuff you I am sure already know. Really the only, most important thing I feel is that all the crap that you have had to deal with and encounter, along with I'm sure a few things us blog readers aren't aware of happening in your whirlwind lives, gives your body & mind full rights to be cautious at these happy events, the higher we are the further and harder we fall right!. The time will come when you will light up with joy, it's not too far away. Many good wishes. X sally

  2. That's so much to process all at once. It's hard to get your feet underneath yourself when things you've struggled with so long finally start turning around. In odd, awkward ways but all at once it seems. As far as trusting in the big happy things ... well, once you've been let down in the big ways a few times its hard to just be happy without reservations.

  3. Oh Sadie, there are so many emotions here. Thank you for sharing your story with us. For letting those of us who are suffering (and picking fights with our husbands) know that we are not alone.

    I am so sorry you are having trouble dealing. I wish we could go for a coffee and talk it out in person. I am sending you a virtual hug though :)

    Good luck with your IVF, I will be rooting for you.

  4. Ha! You picked a fight with your husband too?? SO much of what you say resonates with my experience recently. Although I still believe in epiphanies, I'm having a really hard time imagining a happy ending to my story. For what it's worth, I can imagine your story having a happy ending. Man, it's such an uphill climb for some people and so effortless for others. Doesn't seem fair or logical.

  5. Yup, I get this. Feeling like nothing good (well, nothing seriously good, like good enough to matter in the grand scheme) can ever happen? Yes. For sure. For me, and perhaps this is psychotic of me to admit, it's that the only thing good WORTH happening hasn't happened yet (AKA, having a baby. Notice I can't even say getting pregnant because that means absolutely nothing anymore. I need a nice 40 week gestation and a living breathing baby at the end, thankyouverymuch).

    I think you'll start to feel more appreciative and like it's real as the things actually occur, like on the first day of your sweet new job and when the IVF actually gets underway. It's hard to believe that the good things are actually happening because we've become so accustomed to dashed hopes that it feels like the norms.

    And wow, I thought I was the only one who picked fights with my husband and then felt like crap about it. Makes it so much worse when he's in a great mood and you intentionally bring him down because you feel down, right? But at least you're being authentic. It's not all sunshine and roses. Ultimately, honesty is so much better than faking it. Heh.

  6. Wow, Sadie, this was an amazing post. I can relate so much to your frank admission that you "don't trust good stuff anymore." It's a very tricky place to navigate emotionally. That story about the cruel parents fighting on the train in front of their young children gave me chills. It makes complete sense to me that you were not able to celebrate your job offer after witnessing such an event and experiencing the whirlwind of thoughts and feelings that it conjured. I'm sure your sweet H with his bouquet of exotic flowers understood. Where would we be without our loving and patient husbands?

    I am so excited about your encouraging doctor visit, and I have a feeling that happy things are in store for you :) Here's to learning to trust the good stuff again.

  7. I can relate to so much of this. It's awful not to be able to get happy when it seems like you should, but I think we get to a place where we're so guarded because all the good things have either been taken away from us or never appeared in the first place. I'm so glad those things are beginning to happen for you, but don't beat yourself up over not being able to jump up and down about them yet. It'll come. It'll all start to sink in, eventually, and the joy along with it.

  8. I can relate to this. I feel like my husband and I have just had years and years of bad luck in many aspects of our lives. It's like the universe has decided to pick on us or something. It is really hard to trust when something good finally happens. I hope you can find a way to celebrate your new job. And maybe even find some hope in moving forward with IVF. Mostly I hope this is the beginning of good things for you.

  9. 'I can't wait for IVF to come along and divorce this whole process entirely from baby-making so that maybe one day we'll have sex again because we just want to'

    THIS is something that I completely thought and felt. We basically gave up on timed intercourse once the IUIs didn't work and knew we were moving on to IVF. And you know what? Sex did get more fun.

  10. Hi there Sadie! I was hoping you could answer a quick question I have about your blog! My name is Heather and my email is Lifesabanquet1(at)

  11. The description of trying to open the locked door is perfect. I completely understand that feeling. It's exhausting to hope and plan and fight and worry so much.
    I hope you love the new job, and that IVF goes your way. You deserve for things to go right.

  12. Yeah, so, all of this is familiar. Been there.... I got what I would have once referred to as my dream job a few months ago. And I was happy, but not the same joy that I would have felt years ago. We're moving forward with IVF, and I'm happy about that, but it's also so hard to believe that will result in a live baby. I feel that while I'm not a negative person, I know longer believe that good things will necessarily happen. I know that bad things happen.

    But sometimes, even in those dark days, the hope sneaks through. For me, and for you. Good luck!


Don't be shy, leave a comment. Your words brighten my day!