So I counted them all up.
Shit. How did this happen to me? To us? How?
I need a drink.
So I counted them all up.
Shit. How did this happen to me? To us? How?
I need a drink.
Five years ago, pretty exactly, we were here. And it was such a beautiful place to be.
Whereas we spent this afternoon going through all the paperwork from all our medical tests and procedures, making sure we had a full set of all the relevant results for H to sneak into work and photocopy tomorrow, for the benefit of the Riverside Clinic. And this is not a beautiful place to be. Not at all. Five years, and all we have to show for it is an inch-thick stack of doctors’ letters.
I have friends who can talk of nothing else but whether or not their four-year-olds did or did not get into their primary school of choice, and how silly and expensive the uniforms are. And I am not able to join in. And I should, I really really should, be joining in.
And then, of course, there’s the Trial-By-Drive-By-Mother’s-Day. It is not Mother’s Day in the UK. We did that in March. I’m not sure I need all my favourite social media to be plastered with variations of ‘honk if you love motherhood!’. Nevertheless, I am clearly wrong and making a private gesture of affection to, well, your own mother, is inadequate and the only way to prove you love her and love being a mother (hurrah for you) is to post passive-aggressive self-aggrandising horse-wallops about it on all the internets. Because if you just send the poor woman flowers, who’s gonna know. And if you accidentally grind broken glass into the hearts of everyone who has lost their mother, or never had a mother, or was abused by their mother, or who can’t be a mother, so what, eh? Serves them right for not being normative.
(No, really, there are people on the internet who think that if you’re not a mother, you’re not even a woman, and nothing you are doing could possibly be as worth-while as raising children, and you know nothing about love and self-sacrifice, you selfish selfish party-hopping waster. I think they might have a hard time selling that one to Mother Theresa or Susan B. Anthony or Emily Dickinson or Queen Elizabeth I or Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell or Amelia Earhart or… you get my point, I hope. *Flail-hands*)
Anyway. This post is brought to you by Bitter McTwisted The Angry Infertile and Not Enough Tequila.
So, H and I sorted through the letters, and I had a panic attack (whyever not?) and H had a moment of ‘not listening! Am made of teflon!’ which neatly derailed the panic attack because I had to stop and shout at him, and then we had a prolonged and weepy conversation about how fucked up my family was for a change, and then my mother rang to offer me moral support and millions of pounds to do this possible IVF also three nights in a health spa if I liked or possibly craniosacral therapy because that is the new acupuncture, and I felt like an idiot. And then we went through the letters properly and with tears in our eyes because, actually, this recurrent miscarriage business is really, really, really fucking horrible.
And, possibly in self-defence, I find I keep losing track of how many miscarriages I’ve actually had, and when. Things I was so sure I’d never do. Surely each and every one was burnt into my brain forever. Surely. And now I must go back through my blog and my diary and my inch-thick stack of letters, and count them all.
H and I have been going through a Bad Patch, relationship-wise.
I, even I, May, the Greatly Articulate, do not have the words to be fair, to be reasonable, and to be accurate about it all.
Disclaimer! There has been no adultery, violence, addiction, crime, financial misdemeanor, lies about Really Important Stuff, or any other Irrevocable Deal Breaker. You may continue serenely in your opinion that May and/or H is and/or are sweetness and rectitude personified who chiefly need a cuddle.
We just fundamentally came adrift on the matter of infertility, miscarriage, treatment, progress, lack of progress, what to do next, etc.
Since the chemical ‘pregnancy’ of Valentines’ Day 2011, I have been considerably more gung-ho about pursuing treatment than H. H has dealt with it all by simply pretending none of it existed, not infertility, not adenomyosis, not PCOS, not endometriosis, and absolutely not the nasty little biological fact that his wife was getting older.
I will be 38 in less than a month.
I have dealt with it by wasting appalling amounts of time and energy in trying to get H and I onto the same page about treatment-or-not. OK, same chapter. Same book? Same section of the library?
I had – still have, frankly – a neurotic ungovernable horror of the idea of trying to have a child without my spouse’s full cooperation and consent. I know many partners have been reluctant and uninterested right up until the child arrives, and then become doting parents of the bestest sort. This is not how it works in my family, though. In my family, a partner is reluctant and uninterested until the baby is an undeniable and looming reality, and then said partner will cycle through furious, trapped, raging, hateful, abandoning, depressed, shitty uninvolved parent of epic sexism, and divorced. So. As far as I was concerned, for my increasingly brittle sense of mental equilibrium and inner strength/peace/not-flaking-outness, I needed H to understand what was involved, what was at stake, and to be prepared to ring clinics, make appointments, nag mildly dense and disorganised secretaries etc. while I got on with the Epic Physical Suffering and Angst (this deal still seems absolutely fair enough to me. If H would like to take custody of the uterus while I make the phone-calls, I would be delighted). And H did not get it. At all. Especially not the bit about May getting older and iller and LESS ALMIGHTY FUCKING FERTILE with each passing month.
That, Gentle Readers, was very difficult for me to deal with – his utter indifference to the fact his stalling was directly prolonging my suffering and reducing our chances. Not that he was stalling per se, mind you. If he’d asked for a time out so he could have a good old stall I could’ve gone on the pill or what have you and Not Suffered Epically while he carefully eased his head out of his bum. I wouldn’t've been pleased, but I would’ve understood. And we could’ve negotiated time limits and rules – six months No Talking About It and then we talk about it again, nine months then final decision, sort of thing.
This refusal to talk about talking about it (very meta) also meant that he was never saying he wouldn’t pursue treatment/consider quitting/have sex with me this month. So I would wait for an answer, or hope for a timely shag, or whatever, and it wouldn’t happen, and I’d be angry, and H would explain he had a headache/tummy-ache/bad day/bad leg/bridge was blown up by squirrels, and this only applied to THIS month and NEXT month would be different, and I would shout ‘oh for FUCK’S SAKE, that’s what you said LAST MONTH,’ and H would look bewildered and say, ‘no, last month it was raining/business trip/man-flu/attack of the were-rabbit,’ and I would say ‘DON’T YOU SEE THE PATTERN HERE?’ and H would look even more bewildered and say ‘errr… no?’ and I would throw a cup at him.
No, I’m not saying I dealt with it particularly well either. Constant physical pain will do that even to someone as God-like in her understanding and general loveliness as me.
And then the possible chemical pregnancy this February. On the anniversary of the last one.
I… I shall draw a veil, I think. I don’t want to revisit the past few months in detail. It was all very very angry, and very unhappy, and I still feel betrayed by H, and not as forgiving as I would like to feel.
I believe it only just these past few weeks that it actually dawned on H for the first time ever that the adeno/endo/PCOS/age thing was not actually in stasis at all, and he may have disastrously fucked things up by spending so long on that peaceful river cruise in Egypt.
(I know that when he turned to me the other night and asked, in tones of dawning wonder, if I’d ever considered the fact that my stiff and distorted uterus might actually be a problem, I very nearly jammed my wedding ring up his fundament and walked out on him. Because I have ‘only’ been worrying myself sick about the same fact since I was first diagnosed three or four years ago, which is why I asked every single medical professional we ever did see about it, and why my conversation since has been littered with such terms as miscarriage, bleeding during pregnancy, restricted intra-uterine growth, premature labour, obstructed labour, placenta accreta and post-partum haemorrhage).
Anyway. You can judge either or both of us if you like, but I’d rather not hear it.
I mean it. I will go on a comment-deleting spree if you make me cry and feel ashamed.
The net result of all this Weltschmerz is that I am thoroughly under the weather. 2013 has been The Year Of The Unwellness. I began February with norovirus. Then I had the possible chemical pregnancy that shattered me. Then I had the flu – proper, six days of fever, laryngitis, cough that lingered for weeks, oh-God-I-feel-awful flu. Then I got my period again and that was again shockingly and lingeringly painful. And then, right in the middle of that cycle, out of nowhere, I got thrush. I spent a week with my favourite lady-parts a fiery itchy hell-circle of No Sleep For YOU! (Canesten sorted it out. Canesten and I are kissing in a tree). Then I got my period again last Tuesday and I was horribly sick. I haven’t vomited that much that hard for nearly two years. My entire intestinal tract, from mouth to… well… anyway, none of it is speaking to me, and Cute Ute the Destroyer is still rampaging about bleeding everywhere and generally acting like a baited wolverine chained to a stake. And I’ve had two migraines already. And violent cramp in my leg, almost certainly due to dehydration, so now I can’t walk normally. And hayfever, now that bloody Spring is bloody here at bloody last and all the bloody trees are bloody flowering.
Fuck my life.
Heya, Best Beloveds. I’m sorry I’ve worried you by going into a month-long sulk of advanced and extreme sulkiness. Nothing massively exciting or new has happened, and I was having something of a crisis. Let me make itemised lists at you, given that it’s my ‘thing’:
Item – H and I have not been very pleased with each other. I mean, I still love the man dearly, but for a while there I didn’t like him very much. Remember the Possible-Chemical I had for Valentine’s Day this year? It upset me badly, and also upset H badly, and H had an ‘oh, that reminds me, I am actually very sad about all the previous miscarriages’ mind-fuck moment, and ran off into the Cul-de-Sac of Solipsism – actually, he’s been spending quite a lot of time in the Cul-de-Sac of Solipsism since he began counselling – and I had an ‘I have been completely abandoned by the entire Universe and frankly, this is not a good moment to be abandoned by the entire Universe’ shriekathon and yes, it was oodles of fun. So, the past month, we have mostly been having very un-amusing fights.
Item – One of the Big Things We Fight About is the fact H has been dragging his feet and digging his heels in and in extreme cases wiping the whole saga from his memory when it comes to Moving Forward In A Forward And Purposeful Direction when it comes to actually treating the causes of our infertility and recurrent miscarriages. It’s not that H doesn’t want kids – he does, very much. But he very much does not want to be the infertile tragic couple who need to do all this medical shit with no guarantee it will work, so he tries to pretend it isn’t happening, which may be good for his psyche but it is very bad for his marriage, as, fuck it, we are the infertile tragic couple who need to do medical shit. Especially as my uterus is something of a destroyed wasteland, and my immune system is a silly, silly bitch who can’t tell an embryo from a tumour. We had the ‘I am 38 in May and you have destroyed my only chance to have a child with your foot-dragging nonsense’ talk. Yes, I went there. Which was very un-amusing.
Item – H is now playing a ridiculous game of phone-and-email-tag with Doctor Fourth Opinion’s distressingly ditzy secretary, to set up LIT and intralipid schedule and work out who, when, and how he will have an HIV test and so on. We’ve been given a provisional date for LIT of ‘April’. Oh, for the sake of fuck. But at least H is On It, and no longer on his prolonged river cruise in Egypt.
Item – Then I got flu. I spent a week with a fever. I haven’t been so unwell from a mere germ for years. I missed several days of work because I was so ill. I’m still hoarse, three weeks later. OH GOD I WAS SO VERY VERY ILL.
Item – And then I got my period. Ow. It’s day 14 of this cycle and I still haven’t had a day I could get through without at least one dose of painkillers.
Item – This makes me rather poor company, and I apologise to the friends I visited last week in a state of disgruntled mutism. Hi! It was all totally me! You were lovely and delightful and charming and made gluten-free cheesecake you absolute STAR!
Item – Oh, and I visited family. Conversation with my aunts ensued, and The Menopause was the subject du jour. I said, wryly, that I must be the only woman I knew desperately hoping for an early menopause, and alas the ladies in my family keep going until their late 50s. So one Aunt wanted to know why (are you kidding me? Haven’t we discussed this?). I explained (again) that I had adenomyosis and endometriosis. ‘Endometriosis?’ said Aunt, ‘Oh, I had a friend at yoga with that. She had a little operation and now she’s fine. Why haven’t you tried that?’ I blinked. I stared at her. I blinked again. I said, eventually, ‘but I’ve had several operations, Aunt. And they haven’t worked. We’ve discussed this. You gave me all those herbal remedy tips about how to recover from the anaesthetic.’ Aunt, then, shamelessly, started telling me all about Curing All Known Diseases By Yoga. I don’t even.
Item – I am generally getting the impression from a great many friends and family that they’re very much over May being chronically unwell and infertile and the dead embryo thing, ugh. So most people now ignore it all. They ignore it all so well they keep forgetting that being chronically ill means that once a month (32 day cycle. Like FUCKING UNWELCOME CLOCKWORK) I am too ill to do anything, and for three weeks out of five I am in near constant pain and consequently exhausted. I mean, who the hell is chronically ill for years on end, anyway? Oh, right, CHRONICALLY ILL PEOPLE.
Item – Why, yes, I am depressed, thank you for noticing. Why on earth shouldn’t I be?
So H called any number of private clinics until he found one that would do a ‘hycosy’, as they cutely refer to it, without me needing to be their IVF patient or having an NHS doctor’s referral. It’s a well-known clinic, and conveniently near to work, and doesn’t cost a terrifying amount of money, and they share their results with you immediately (which makes a lovely change from the NHS).
And I am going there tomorrow. By tomorrow evening, I will know. We will know. Hurrah.
I am going by myself, as H has a very, very important meeting he can’t get out of. I’ve had HSGs before, and not suffered vastly, so I am electing to be optimistic, take an ibuprofen, and carry cheerfully on. If this backfires, I will thoroughly and happily enjoy the resultant melodrama. Especially if it gets me off work for a few days.
I am still in rather a state of angry grief about the way the last cycle ended, you see.
I am spending a second day at home in front of the telly, because I feel very sick and Cute Ute the Despoiler is making a horrible fuss (Stupid uterus. I dislike her intensely. The feeling is clearly mutual). Shark Week began today, so I hope (but by no means expect, damn it) that therefore I’ll be feeling less-than-dead by Saturday and will be able to sit upright on my pew at this blazin’ wedding.
I’ve done two loads of laundry and cleaned a lavatory. It’s not all been Criminal Minds marathons and hot-water-bottles. Alas.
H and I are trying to be festive. We bought a very (very very) small Christmas tree. We put up some decorations – snow-flakes, a wreath, a couple of reindeer. My dear friend korechronicles sent me a Christmas ornament a couple of years ago, which we hung on the bookshelf. I have some handpainted wooden stars as well I need to find a place for – we can’t hang anything on the tree, because you see, my tree is tiny, and so wee, that I sometimes think the pixies gave it to me**, and it would topple over. I received my first Christmas present – you know who you are, you and your classy classy gift-giving – so I opened it for Hanukkah, and am thrilled to absolute bits.
This year, we are going to H’s family for Christmas, because we feel they need us the most (My family is going skiing. Again. They keep asking us to come, but neither H nor I can ski, and the idea of being stuck with my sisters for a week in a country where I don’t speak the language and can’t just run screaming into the mountains in my nightie for fear of Death-By-Snowdrift, does not appeal). At least I won’t have my period (see last year. That was fun).
However to make up for my NOT having my period over Christmas at the ‘rents or in-laws, the In-Laws are coming to us. Tomorrow. So I can still have my period at them. HAH.
And I keep bursting into tears. I wanted to be pregnant. I haven’t been pregnant for so, so long, I am absolutely terrified that All Is Wrong in there and I can’t ever get pregnant again. I’ve had my lot, and they were all duds, and that is that.
Oh, and there’s the tiny question of Christmas, Season of Doom, in that I’ve had two miscarriages over the festive season, and it sucks. The media are doing wall-to-wall baby stories and family stories and babies and families stories and mothers and more babies and every radio is blaring out songs about the wonderful birth of a special baby and people send you cards with pictures of tiny shiny babies on them and Christmas is all about the kiddies, innit? And you don’t know the meaning of love or family until you’ve given birth, allegedly. Why not flay me and roll me in rimming salt while you’re at it?
Pikaia, my first poor little doomed embryo, would be nearly four this Christmas, if she’d actually grown a spine as her nickname suggested she should and lived. Have you seen a nearly-four-year-old in the run-up to Christmas? She’d be so excited you could power a small cathedral city off her for a week. And now she is nearly four, I have so many, many ideas for beloved books and adorable toys for her. I do, I really do, find myself looking at toys shop windows and thinking ‘Would Pikaia have liked that? I hope she would’ve liked that. It’s very cool.’ Or I look at books and think about reading it to Pikaia. And then I have to stop that right now and go and look at a book on astrophysics or baking, because grown women weeping over Dr Seuss are frankly unnerving.
Poor Pikaia. Of all our losses, she’s the one who really haunts me. She’s the only one I ever imagined (however briefly) as a living child, you see (too scarred/scared to do anything of the sort after her). She follows me about like a little ghost, slowly growing up as I grow older. I can see me in my late 50s being haunted by a red-haired university student who keeps forgetting to call home. But for the moment, she’s nearly four. She has fiery copper hair. She loves books and making things and drawing and music. She has a doll or teddy she adores beyond words. She has unusually small hands and feet, because her parents do, and is tall for her age, because her parents were. She is precocious and worryingly articulate, like me, and a little song-bird, like H. I don’t know if she’d be prone to brief but terrifying ferocious outbreaks of temper followed by tears like me, or pouting and sulking like H. I wish I did know. I miss her so much.
And I know I’m not the only one to have a ghost-child. Melissa wrote movingly about hers here (and it touched me particularly because I know that city so well, and can picture it). And then everyone chimed in in the comments, and I thought, see? I’m not mad. We’re not mad. Not mad at all.
* Douglas Copeland.
** Waitrose, actually.
We’ve achieved a little distance now, from October 15th, and the international candle-lighting in memory of lost pregnancies and babies. Let’s breathe out.
You know, it’s an awareness campaign I thoroughly approve of (there are so freaking many of us, and we may as well live in a biscuit tin at the back of the cupboard), and I, too, light my candles and think Dead Baby thoughts, as close to 7pm as I can make it. But I’m not sure its an awareness campaign that, in the end, is for or about me.
What? I hear you cry. But, May, dear girl, you’ve had seven miscarriages! Maybe more! OK, they were all ridiculously early, but they were miscarriages and this really is about you!
And all I can do is look uncomfortable and say, yes, you are quite right, it does include me, insofar as I have lost pregnancies. But there’s the problem right there. ‘Lost’. As if they’d gone down the back of the sofa or fallen out unnoticed in a taxi. As far as I’m concerned, my embryos died, and then I bled and bled and bled and wept and raged and went a bit weird and survived on Ben&Jerry’s and black humour for weeks.
And another problem – the sugar-pink and pastel-blue colour-schemes of these campaigns. I get why these colours – they are chosen to represent little baby girls, and little baby boys, and remind the world that what was ‘lost’ was just that – a child, with a gender, an identity, personhood.
However (and this is what I find… awkward) pastels, culturally, are used as a short-hand for ‘feminine’ – razors marketed for shaving legs, armpits and bikini-lines rather than chins are usually pastel-coloured; as are pens (*snort*), tampon boxes, bra-and-knicker sets, diet-food cartons, hair-clips, purses, vitamins for pregnant/menstruating/menopausal women, mobile phone cases ‘for the ladies’, and so forth. Note, things especially that relate to the more carnal, earthy, and bodily aspects of femaleness – armpit hair, periods, deodorants, being unacceptably zaftig despite the fact many women are supposed to have arses that shape oh my God – are marketed as pastel, as sweeter and daintier and cleaner and less fleshy than the actual reality. It’s unfeminine to have armpit hair and menstruate. And yet I cannot think of anything more female.
And so to the pastel colour-scheme of baby-loss. It is being presented as a feminine, dainty, bodiless thing. The babies are, euphemistically, ‘lost’, which is tragic, and remembered in soft sweet colours, which are non-threateningly not-ookie. And yet, every single woman who has miscarried or given birth to a dead child or had her baby die in her arms knows, really actually knows, that this was a bloody, bloody, painful, messy, ugly, process. It hurt physically as well as psychologically. There was blood and torn flesh and fluids and clots and snot and tears and vomit and no fucking dignity left whatsoever. It was not dainty. It was not ‘feminine’. It was intensely female, yes, and the female body is just that, a body. Made of meat. And this is terrifying.
Very well, so the non-threatening, babyish and feminine colours are ‘necessary’, to make the whole sorry mess publicly presentable – a ribbon you can wear on your coat without scaring small children, a subject you can raise without making your listeners rush away, fingers in ears. I do see that. But also, alas, it has the unfortunate side-effect of minimising miscarriage and infant death. They’re pastel. How can they possibly be a big deal? And anyway, they’re a lady thing, like periods.
So that’s another point – this pastel, feminine view of it all excludes not only the actual horrible truth of the experience, but it also excludes men.
You know, those human beings whose child it also would have been? Who were there when the woman they loved was bleeding and weeping and screaming? Who saw and held the tiny fragile body of their dead child? Who called the ambulance? Who paced the hospital corridors while the love of their life was having the remains of his DNA scraped out of her, away from him, away from anyone who would hold her with tenderness as it happened? The men who are also grieving? The men who already have no words, no place, no socially acceptable way of grieving? Who end up retreating into silence, anger, frustration, pretending it never happened? Because the only context in which the subject is dealt with is public is one of unrelenting, sanitised, saccharine, pastel femininity.
H and I were discussing my Halloween miscarriage of 2009, what with the anniversary approaching and me acting therefore like a harpy with PMS and a nettle in her knickers. H said he hadn’t really remembered it was that time of the year. And then he said he didn’t really ever think about it. And then he cried, because it had been so horrible, and he had been so scared. And it has taken him three years to say that out loud, even to me.
And a final point. The angels. There is a lot of talk, on miscarriage support sites that I have visited, of angels. The baby is now an angel. People say this even when they don’t seem to have any particular religious beliefs. And I do get it. How horrible to think your longed-for child has just… stopped. Ceased. Finished. Over. Gone. How necessary, how important, to be able to visualise them existing somewhere still, perfect in their innocence and freshness, waiting to be reunited with you.
But I am an atheist. And I don’t believe in an afterlife. So, actually, my longed-for children are passed on. These embryos are no more. They have ceased to be. They’ve expired and [not] gone to meet their maker! These are late embryos! They’re stiffs! Bereft of life, they rest in peace! If I hadn’t flushed them down the bog they would be pushing up the daisies! Their metabolical processes are of interest only to historians! They’ve hopped the twig! They’ve shuffled off this mortal coil! They’ve run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible! These…. are EX-EMBRYOS!
And you know how much comfort all the ‘angels in heaven’ talk gives me? Absolutely bloody none. And not only that, it excludes me. I can’t talk about my totally tragically utterly dead embryos because that would be offensive to people who do believe in baby angels. And I very much do not want to offend and upset people who do believe in an afterlife, and who know their own babies actually really are angels in heaven. But that’s the point. I am never going to see mine again. They are not looking out for me in heaven, in the company of all the bloody-minded grouchy atheistical old bastards who they’re related to and who pre-deceased them.
I have a sadness that is full of rage and loneliness and black, black humour, and the organisations and support groups allegedly there to support women like me, well, simply don’t. And they have nothing to say to my husband either.
I am not feminine. I rarely shave my legs in winter. I don’t wear make-up unless someone’s getting married. I watch the rugby, I wear DMs, I drink Guinness. I wear sugar-pink and pastel-blue about as often as I pole-vault naked into crocodile enclosures. There is nothing demure or discreet about the way I menstruate. The only person I called an angel lately was H, when he cleaned the bath-tub and then ran a bath for me because my back was sore. At this candle-lighting virtual support meeting for pregnancy and infant loss, I am lurking at the back, clutching a glass of gin, lips firmly pressed together in case I start humming the Dead March from Saul. My husband hasn’t even been allowed in the room, and is, I think, sitting on the stairs in the cold, completely alone. And in a hydrangea sea of butterflies and cherubs, I am wearing a blood-red ‘What would Cthulhu do?’ teeshirt in Gothic black lettering, complete with tentacles.
Item – You may have noticed H and I have stalled a little on Forward Progress In A Fertile Direction Also Known As Better Reproducing Through Chemistry. We have all our test results, I have a plan and a clear idea of what I will and will not put up with in terms of treatment. But… [awkward pause]… You see, Dr Expensive’s plan is to do LIT, then do several cycles au naturel, while medicated to the freakin’ eyeballs with steroids and anti-coagulants and intralipids and then progesterone too. H is up for it. I am very (very very very irrationally freakoutily) concerned that we’ll get the timing of the sex wrong (this happens, you know, even to H and May the Defiant Sex-Bunnies Of Doom). Or, we’ll get it nearly right, but it would’ve upped our chances to do it one more time which we didn’t. Or something. And the cycle will end in Shark Week and I am – shall we say concerned? Yes, concerned will do – concerned that I will react very poorly to this and put some kind of strain on our marriage. I am inclined to try IVF, frankly. At any rate, I want to put a definite bloody absolute limit on how many cycles we muck about with freestylin’. Say three. H, however, well, apart from my doing the poor man’s head in re: Correct Timing of PiV, he has reservations about IVF. Reservations he is in fact rethinking, admittedly, but he is currently in a Moving Forward In A Non-Committal Way To Preserve Own Sanity Whilst Trying Not To Freak Out The Wife paradigm.
Item – This, I decided, was a propitious moment to do NaNoWriMo.
Item – Basically, for the month of November, May will be closeted in the study/bedroom/kitchen/living-room floor with her lap-top and all the coffee in the Northern Hemisphere. H has nobly agreed to feed May at regular intervals and chuck a duvet over her every midnight. I did NaNoWriMo once before – before this blog, even, and did in fact write over 50’000 words in one month, and I did in fact get a perfectly useful first draft of a possibly quite interesting detective novel out of it, the only drawback with which was that the hero was as interesting as a roofing tile. Since when, eventually, he had gender reassignment surgery and the novel took off – but NaNoWriMo is for first drafts not rewrites, so New Eve is still in a box somewhere awaiting her redraft and I will be doing something quite quite different. However, the first time I NaNoWriMoed I had neither a full-time job nor a bastard set of damaged innards with a thing about chronic pain and fatigue, so I am asking a vast and complicated ask of myself here. This could be messy. Also faily.
Item – But fret not, Gentle Readers! You will not dwell in the suburbs of my good pleasure. H has also nobly agreed to take custody of the blog while Sturm und Drang is in progress. He his very own self even volunteered unprompted to perhaps take this space to explore his ambivalence to IVF and other such related matters (see? All Items Are Linked And Relevant). So feel free to nag him, starting November 1st.
Item – No news of my SiL. My family is remarkably bad at news. People often get married, have babies, get divorced, move house, and even die in total obscurity. Every few years we have meet-ups and the entire room rings to repeated cries of ‘you did what? When? WHY? WITH WHOM oh my God pass the gin.’ I have called my brother and left phone-messages, but I clearly see that ‘updating little sister one sees twice a decade’ is really, really not on the to-do list, and frankly nor should it be. Just… I worry.
I am at home, again, today. I woke up feeling bizarrely cranky and unfocused, and monosyllabic, which anyone who has met me (or, hey, has read this blog) will tell you is uncharacteristic. Clumsily, I staggered off to the station, thinking ‘bloody hell, the sunlight is bright this morning. Really bright. This can’t be normal for October’.
Yes, well, you’re all sharper than me, so you won’t be surprised to hear that the next thing to happen was a scintillating scotoma eating the woman next to me’s head.
So I went home again, got H to ring work for me (bless the man) and put my head under the pillows for a few hours.
Bugger migraines. Bugger them to hell.
H, being ‘wise after the fact’, pointed out it’s 1) that time of the month for me, 2) I’ve been sleeping badly and 3) I’ve been stressed which = migraine. To which all I could groan was ‘you could’ve said’, to which he hinted I could’ve said, as I was the one behaving like an aphasic cassowary this morning, to which I implied that being an aphasic cassowary, I wasn’t in the best condition to judge my own state of neurological activity, at which point H wisely kissed my eyebrow and crept off to work.
Yesterday was International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. H was, well, I shall say out at his club, because it amuses me to do so, though no doubt he will give me the stink-eye when he reads this (he was at rehearsal. He’s proper talented, you know). So I said I’d be home by 7pm to light a candle, or several, to commemorate our poor little sods of embryos and your losses too, Gentle Readers. And H said he’d text me at 7 to let me know he was thinking appropriate thoughts. So that was the plan.
I admit I was feeling sulky about it. Not because H wouldn’t be there, but because I have been lighting candles for years now and I am very very sick of this twilight, bruised existance as neither mother nor not-mother. I currently am in a Denial Place about it all. I don’t want to think about it very often and I certainly don’t want to dwell on how much it hurts. I don’t want to be Infertile anymore and I don’t want to be bound on this wheel of torment anymore. So, no, I was not being pleased about the idea of lighting candles and focusing on loss and grief. I was going to do it anyway, out of solidarity, and because being in The Denial Place is just one of those places you wander in and out of for the rest of your life when a Bad Sad Thing happens, along with the Acceptance Place, the Raging Place, the Shan’t Get Out of Bed Place, the Reasonably Happy Place, and the Place of Lamentations (I doubt I’ll be here for very long, and I’m spending longer and longer in Acceptance and Reasonably Happy, fash not yerselves), and I didn’t want to face me in a few weeks time when I am visiting Rage or Lamentations, shrieking ‘and you didn’t even light a candle on the 15th and throwing plates. So I noted the location of the matches before I left for work.
Work, however, had a sneaky bastard trick to play. A couple of colleagues didn’t turn up, so I cheerfully (oh, hey, I wasn’t in a hurry) volunteered to hang on for another ten minutes so as not to leave my other colleagues in the total screaming chaos lurch. The manager who was supposed to be finding out what had happened to the next shift, didn’t. The other manager simply sodded off home without waiting to see if their staff had turned up. I ended up staying on an extra 40 minutes, hot and flustered. When H texted me something sweet and moving about Pikaia and our other benighted embryos, I was still on a (very packed, slow-moving) train. I felt angst. Much angst, with added pissed off.
So in the end I lit our candles at about 7:30. Then I ate cheese and rice-cakes. Then I blew the candles back out, went to the cinema on my own, and watched Looper (which wasn’t half bad, or, at least, Jeff Bridges wasn’t half bad, and the plot was fascinating, and Bruce Willis, as ever, was about as interesting to watch as a lump of silly putty, but, like silly putty, can be squashed into the correct shape for purpose and isn’t actually offensive or irritating).
And I had bad dreams.
Sorry, have gone silent, I know. I was all ready to tell you all about The Thing My Boss Said About The Occupational Health Report, and stuff like that. But tonight I just found out that my Sister-in-Law* has cancer, and I am suddenly very small and unimportant.
*(I have half-a-dozen of these. And half-a-dozen Brothers-in-Law)