Thursday, August 11, 2011

Some People's Kids

A blog I absolutely ADORE, Rants from Mommyland, recently posted in their "Domestic Enemies" series about what those trying to become a mom. I can's my story.

When I was growing up there was a catch phrase in my house, whenever someone did something stupid: "<ugh> SOME PEOPLE's kids...!"

It became a mantra, and to this day I still hear it resonate in my dad's baritone voice. Usually when I have done something completely ridiculous and/or spilled. Because-- that happens a lot. I'm not graceful.

Of course, before I became a parent myself, I was, of course, an expert on parenting. Aren't we all? I was sooooo Gwyneth: knew the answer to every problem and was ever-so-eager to share it. I was probably a complete and utter tool in that regard, to be honest.

My then-husband (now, EX) and I used to ruminate about what a great plan it would be to start a movement to develop a "No Kid" section in restaurants. Being night owls, dual-income-no-kids (DINKS) it was just SO irritating to try to enjoy a meal with SOME PEOPLE'S KIDS having a snot-infused screaming meltdown two feet away. We were absolutely convinced other DINK's would be thrilled to eat a grown-up meal, in peace.

The allure of kid-free dining changed around the time we stopped rabidly avoiding pregnancy and instead started seeking it... Casually at first, with the "whatever happens, happens" approach. I had medical issues that I knew could be an obstacle, but starting off, I felt justifiably sort of optimistic.

Unfortunately, optimism withers away when each month goes by with nothing to show for it. And another. And another...

A few months past the "gee, this-is-much-harder-than-expected" realization, I became crushingly, soul-achingly aware of other people's kids. They were freakin' EVERYWHERE... friends were knocked up left and right, month by month. A lot of them were even unplanned--seriously?!

Wow, yeah, guess that calendar method didn't work for you... but, excuse me-- I have to go take my temperature. Again.

It seemed like all the latest gossip rags were celebrating a flock of new baby bumps...population explosion!

Oh, but me? Well, *I* was peeing on sticks and getting poked, prodded, tested, and examined by people whose first names I never even knew. There were lots of lab coats and "hold still, please" and feeling vulnerably alone and exposed under cold fluorescent lighting. There was a lot of pain (physical and emotional) and exasperation, fear, and frustration.

And THEN, I started oral fertility meds. Ho.Ly. CRAP.

A word about that: for the lucky ones who DO get to see that stick turn blue, those medications CAN be a godsend. But they sure do come with a price. Not just financial (though that's bad enough), but physically, emotionally, and with sever cost to your overall sense of well-being.

My drug was Clomid. From what I've learned, my Clomid experience was fairly normal. I had a little nausea on the first day... and by the second, was generally down for the count with a migraine.That would last the next 2-4 days-- during which time we were supposed to be trying to conceive.

Yeahhhh... the slightest motion made me hurl, but there's work to be done, right? Absolutely the most UN-romantic, UN-pleasant physical activity ever.

And the emotions... like nothing I'd ever known. Alien forces took over my brain and I knew-- I KNEW-- I was totally irrational, and powerless to stop myself from saying those words or doing whatever crazy thing. I often saw myself in the third person, wondering who the heck that crazy woman was who looked like me except with zits and a box of Suzy-Q's.
But you keep trying, because those tests still show it's mayyyyybe possible, and the doctor hasn't given up yet. So you can't, either.

Having always been the girl who was willing to work hard for anything, no matter what--here's an obstacle to overcome, and by God, you never backed down before!! Right?

Except... at some point, the risks of treatment and lack of progress add up. The score sheet is no longer balanced.

Instead of the bubbly chit-chat, the nurses at the clinic start greeting you with that sad, sweet smile...and thus, you know where you stand. You're one of "those" now.

During the drug treatment, my (ex)husband took me on an extended weekend trip for my birthday. I'd been on the Clomid for nearly a year and we were waiting for the that month's confirmation (good or bad) for a state of the union kind of thing.

I'd hit the limit on using Clomid, and the doctor had said we'd need to consider the next step of procedures. My birthday month loomed larger because of that "do-or-die" status, along with being one more push even farther over 30...and closer to "advanced maternal age," with all its related pitfalls.

Unsure what to do in light of my overwhelming combination of dread and panic, my now-ex took me on a surprise long-weekend trip to the happiest place he could think of: Disneyworld.

It was an inspired gesture...

Which turned into a horrible nightmare when, on the first full day there, just before leaving for the luau at the Polynesian, I stopped to use the washroom... and got my period.


Happy friggin birthday! Now you're officially "past optimum conception age," hormonally bottoming out from the Clomid and sudden estrogen change... and at freaking DIS. NEY. WORLD. Ugggh.

Literally, *SURROUNDED* by Some People's Kids.

Everywhere I looked, the Universe seemed to be flaunting examples of (presumed) easily-conceived blessings from God.

Granted, many of them *were* screaming, fighting, whining, and disobeying their luckier-than-I parents...  

But still...oh, God, were they beautiful. Every whiny, snot-dribbling, sticky-candy-faced one of them.

I composed myself as best I could and glibly announced with a snort that we could APPARENTLY go on roller coasters now. My "this-isn't-as-awful-as-it-really-is" answer. Ha!

Luckily, the food was amazing so I focused on that. I mostly held it together until the end of the show when the MC asked for all the children to come up to be with the dancers.

And then invited alllllllllll the parents to take lots of pictures.

And everyone else to "just look at all those beautiful little faces! Aren't they just so precious?!"

And I promptly convulsed into uncontrollable sobs into  my pineapple bread.

Because... every unrealized dream stared at me from that stage.

Every pill, every procedure, every...everything... was right there in front of me.

And, they were someone else's kids. Not mine.

For those of you who have never known the absolute HELL ON EARTH that is dealing with infertility:
You are BEYOND lucky. Count your blessings.

If you were blessed with a child within a fairly short time of deciding you were ready to have one, I celebrate for you.

Just please-- think HARD before you make that offhand comment to your childless friend about how "lucky" she is that she isn't "stuck" changing diapers and just sooooo wiped out from all the late-night feedings and Mom's Taxi errands, or how jealous you are that she has her "time to herself."

It's very possible that so-thought "lucky" friend would give up just about ANYTHING for the chance to feel a child grow and kick in her belly and urge her to eat Taco Bell at 4 in the morning.

She might just be willing to sacrifice every penny in her "lucky" bank account to take whatever drug she has to, and undergo any possible painful procedure to give her just a little, tiny chance to have what YOU have.

And, it could take YEARS... with no guarantee, and even then just end with the shrug of "we don't know what's wrong here. Sorry."

So, PLEASE don't expect your "lucky" childless friend to commiserate with you when you want to vent about your swollen ankles or nausea, or really, any other aspect of pregnancy that's making you miserable.

Because she knows your misery will end-- and you'll soon be gazing lovingly into your newborn's adoring face.

HER misery-- by the way, often accompanied by those *same* misery-inducing symptoms, plus a whole bunch more-- may likely end with nothing. Just a lot of bills and an empty ache that nothing else fills.

So, if she declines an invitation to your baby shower, she's not necessarily shunning you. She just may be unable to face all the stories of the other guests' pregnancies and labor. Or, maybe she just can't deal with seeing one more set of simply adorable hooded towels and snuggly little booties that are about to be filled. By someone else's kid.

If she's struggling in her marriage, know that infertility and its nasty aftermath can be a major factor in the failure of a marriage. It destroyed my first marriage.

The blame, the shame, the hormones, and the cost-- it can all add up to divide even the most seemingly "lucky" couples.

Most of all, keep your heart open to her...

                 because the world is FULL of Some People's Kids.

A side note:
I write on this topic because I have been on both sides of the fertility spectrum: after all those pills and failed treatments, Monkey came to be RATHER unexpectedly, and yet just exactly the way she was supposed to, I think. 

Her daddy was not the person with whom I originally started that hellacious journey. Maybe for me, that was the point... that makes sense, in the scheme of how life has unfolded.

Having been through the absolute HELL of infertility, I have unending love and compassion for those who fight that same battle.

My prayers are with you, as a member of the Anguished Sisterhood of Almost-Moms.

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