Invidious comparisons

So I’m fine. Period is quietly going away, and while I have been having odd out-breaks of insubordinate back-ache, I feel very much better than I did this time last cycle. Also, despite the wildly heavy bleeding on days two and three of the cycle, the spotting-and-bleeding tail-off seems (seems touch wood cross fingers etc.) to be much lighter and of shorter duration. (Goes off to touch some more wood).

Is this due to the fact I was taking an effective NSAID for all three of the first three days of the cycle (rather than taking it for one day, then being unable to take it for the next two because of Impossible Stomach)? Or is it because I wasn’t actually having a teeny-tiny early-weeny miscarriage? I have been checking my charts (why yes, I am completely OCD, and I have detailed charts of every SINGLE cycle for the past five years), and the ‘period’ following a chemical pregnancy, even if said chemical didn’t even make my period late by so much as seventeen minutes, has always been markedly more vile than the period following, well, ovulating nearly two weeks earlier in a more sperm-free environment.

Eh. Not that it’s hugely important either way. Beyond the cheery face-slap of Mother Nature’s ‘oh, it’s a dead embryo. Why are you crying? I’ll give you something to really cry about!’ school of parenting.

Anyway. The weekend before said period of miraculous drug-use arrived, H and I had our sixth wedding anniversary. And we counted on our fingers (at least, I did. H is a proper grown-up and can count inside his head without even moving his lips), and worked out we’d been together for 18 years. Which is a lot of years (I feel very old and leathery). I was seventeen when we first kissed each other (in the rain, under a tree, because we’re British. Ahh, bless. Like hell I’d sit under a tree in the damn’ rain kissing nowadays. I’d be all ‘seriously, sweetheart, find me an open pub in the next three minutes, or else).

We bought each other jewellery by sensibly going to the shop together and considering all the options like two cardigan-wearing book-sellers comparing first editions of Harry Potter (why yes, complete with out-breaks of camp bickering. We do this to disconcert the natives), and then had a fancy dinner in a nice restaurant, where we held hands while talked about astrophysics (this had nothing to do with the fact I quite fancy Brian Cox, really it hadn’t), whether or not polenta really is disgusting (no it isn’t. I just can’t cook it), and whether we wanted to go to the Shetland Islands at some point (yes. Yes we do, H). This is what romance is like when you’ve known someone for over half your life and are still in love with them. It no longer comes neat. And in fact it’s better on the rocks, or mixed with tonic. Or, in my case, bitter lemon.

Meanwhile, one of my many cousins gave birth a few days ago, a fact none of my family are yet sick of telephoning, emailing and texting me about. One relation called to tell me, in tones of vast disapproval, that the baby’s name was Edna, and when I, utterly charmed, cried ‘Oh! Like Edna St Vincent Millay!’ my relation replied ‘who?’. I explained, and the relation said ‘oh. I thought it was short for Edwina’*. There was a very awkward pause. Keep in mind, my family likes to think of itself as part of the intelligensia, FFS.

Anyway, like all good little infertiles, I answered everyone in tones of delight, and then in private had a little weary misery moment. This cousin who has given birth was one who also had Female Troubles, but nevertheless got successfully up the duff the very day she pulled the goalie, why yes, I have been told this by the woman’s own mother, you know. I am very happy that she did, and that her Female Troubles haven’t blighted her life and destroyed her control over her reproductive future. I just wish people would stop comparing Exhibit One, female, with dysmenorrhea, possibly endometriosis, in her early 30’s, pregnant on first try, no miscarriages, to Exhibit Two, female, with fibroids, adenomyosis, PCOS, possible endometriosis, some kind of blood-clotting disorder, in her middle 30’s, five-and-a-half years of trying for a successful pregnancy, seven miscarriages. There is no comparison. Exhibit One dodged a bullet. Exhibit Two was hit by a hail of them. End of.

H is kindly remembering to ask me if I’m OK from time to time, and is laughing at all of my jokes no matter how bleak, sarcastic and depressing.

And then another relation, who has been married for five years, and who has a five-year-old (yes, up the aisle looking like a ship in full sale, extra page-boy very nearly an embarrassing extra wedding-guest), is getting divorced. I said I was so sorry. I meant it. It’s awful. And they’re both such nice people. They have been through Some Shit together. We all thought they’d weathered it. Apparantly not.

I hate it when my family breaks up. Nearly every single adult in my family has broken up with their spouse at some point, some more than once. More than twice. I can think of three couples in the whole vast extended mess who made it past their tenth anniversary intact with no priors (admittedly both my parents have now been married to their current spouses for more than ten years, but they’re also both on their third or fourth). And one of those couples is, actually, us. OK, so we’ve only been married for six years, but we’ve been sharing a roof and the bills for thirteen. And H and I have also been through Some Shit (you may have noticed, oh Regular Reader). And we regularly have rows, actually really quite nasty ones, because of Our Shit, and because it is a bloody hard thing to go through, hand in hand singing power ballads or not. And yet we’re still here. And yet, and yet, when another family divorce strikes, I panic, because, Dear Readers, I have no, none, no models at all for how to make a marriage work even when slogging through Shit, and so far I am winging it on a combination of bloody-mindedness, remembering to say please, thank you, I love you, and the fact that I adore H from the crown of his golden head right down to the tips of his misshapen toes. Is this right? Will this work?

*No. No it isn’t Edna. Or Edwina. But it is literary and unusual, and belongs to an author I thought just as well known as Edna St. Vincent Millay, if not more so. And I really was charmed.


21 responses to “Invidious comparisons

  • Illanare

    Ah, Edna, how I love her too. One of my most favouritest poems of all is “Travel”.
    Glad you had such a lovely anniversary. Here’s (lifting coffee cup) to many more lovely ones to come.

  • wombattwo

    Just sending hugs, and also a thought that nobody knows how to get through this shit, we just do the best we can. If anybody gets through this, I am sure you two will.
    Awww… you had your first kiss with H under a tree in the rain? Nothing that romantic ever happens to me. I have a feeling my husband’s response would be “urgh, get off me woman! It’s cold and wet! Let’s go home instead!”

  • Womb For Improvement

    Well done for bucking the marriage trend. I can’t believe you’ll have worse to go through than this so I reckon you’ll do alright, whilst the storm isn’t quite weathered you know how to baton down the hatches. (Shall I stop with the mixed metaphors? I think so too).

    Happy Anniversary (and the coy references to jewellery has me picturing Prince Alberts and tinsel tits).

  • BigP's Heather

    Happy Anniversary.

    Even with knowing couples who have lasted, our marriage is not like theirs at all. You have to find what works for you guys and I think that you have. You communicate which I think is a very large part of success.

  • a

    Bad examples are just as useful as good examples when it comes to learning how to do something properly. For instance, I was “the favorite child” not because my sisters were so wonderful and I made every effort to outshine them, but because they were rotten and I simply did not do (or get caught doing) the things for which they got in trouble. Voila! So, don’t worry about finding a good model. Create your own and you and H will be just fine.

    I had to stop complaining about unusual names when my husband got his way and named our daughter something biblical that EVERYONE will mispronounce or misinterpret through her whole life. And I really like complaining about unusual names (seriously, Apple is not a name for a child!). But congratulations on the new family member – may the next one be your very own.

  • Everydaystranger

    I’m now stuck, wondering aloud both lovely patting-on-the-arm-would-you-like-a-drink things, and debating what Edna’s real name was. I keep coming up with Du Maurier and cannot leave that place, except for thinking about A’s comment and wondering about that (Bathsheba? I got nothing.)

    Also – I think you and H are a lovely couple, and if you ever break up I’ll not have a stable, loving couple to look up to.

    Also times two – we’re both dying to go to the Shetlands.

  • Korechronicles

    I’m also going to be puzzling for days over what Edna is really called…just goes to show how starved I am these days for mental stimulation.

    In six weeks time LP and I will have been married for…well, since before you were born. That’s made me depressed almost instantly. And so many days, when I wonder what I am doing living with this half-wit who cannot follow the simplest instruction and now, as he ages, has to repeat it…twice…before he wanders off to follow it. And nine times out of ten, still stuffs it up.

    But he’s my half-wit and I am most certainly not the easiest person in the world to live with. Even though I only need a little bit of humility to be perfect. One foot in front of the other. Every day.

    And I’d have gone to the Shetlands already except for the fact that I cannot find a month when the temperature is above a level that poses no threat to Brass Monkeys. Even in the so-called summer.

  • Bionic Baby Mama

    happy anniversary, you both. long may it wave.

    for me, the looking-at-dread feeling comes when our more stable, happy-seeming friends split up, especially the fellow lesbitarians. there’s one pair in particular i am still not over, despite the fact that one of them has now married someone else. (a Very Wrong someone, might i add.) i guess i shouldn’t take others’ private decisions so personally, but it is awfully upsetting, nonetheless.

    it makes perfect sense to me, by the way, that a period that is really an early loss would be worse than a regular one. i’m sorry you have had the opportunity to make such thorough notes on the subject.

  • L.

    I come from a family where most people stay together, and honestly wonder if a significant piece of doing so of it is just not thinking about divorce as a possibility. Not all of it, for heaven’s sake, but a piece of it. You know staying together, so you are more likely to assume you will and act accordingly. Whereas if you feel like breaking up is more easily done, it will seem like more of a possibility for yourself.

    (Not you-you, but I didn’t want to write all that using “one.”)

    I’m glad to hear this solution is working for you. I really hope you’ll feel in better health as a result–better iron levels just to start.

  • L.

    PS I don’t think I put that quite right. I don’t think the actual likelihood of breaking up is different among the two groups. But just that experiencing it within close or nuclear family might make it *seem* more possible.

  • fateofthechocolatechipcookies

    Sending hugs to you!! I know how it feels to hear of someone’s pregnancy or birth annoucement. You express delight for them and in front of them but there’s a sadness when we think of why isn’t our time yet. Thinking of you!

  • Hannah

    Happy Anniversary to two wonderful people. You and H remind me of the Velveteen Rabbit in that you have been through so much and have become REAL. Some of your fur may have been “loved off” in the process, but it matters not in the slightest, because through the hardest times, you have been loved through and through.

    Also wanted to say I’m happy to hear this go-round was a bit more bearable than in the past. May it continue to improve each time.

  • twangy

    Yeah, comparisons are odious little feckers. What is it with our human brains that we need to put one thing beside another thing and compare, even when the degree to which one thing is more than another thing is not quantifiable anyway? Levi-Strauss indeed.
    (Ow. That hurt my own little brain.)

    The thing is, Happy Anniversary. Keep sailing, May and H.

  • HairyFarmerWifey

    Eh, I’m not quite with you on the Brian Cox thing. I mean, I can NEARLY fancy him, and then his demeanor and cheekbones just right get on my nerves, and I start imagining what the offspring of him & either Bjork or Sophie Ellis Bextor would look like.

    But I am very totally with you on the difficulties of reconciling Being Pleased and Being A Bit Gutted. And the evils of being compared to The Totally Different.

    And… Yes. I’m pretty sure that ‘please, thank you, I love you’ will work very nicely indeed! They are harder to remember to say than people realise.

  • Bumbling

    *sigh* about the comparisons. And another. *sigh*.

    But on the marriage front? I had all the good examples in the world. My parents? Still married after a romeo and juliet start, a significant uprooting and I’m sure much more. Moo’s dad’s parents? Yup, still married. In fact, I think until I started work I didn’t know anyone whose parents weren’t still married. Oh, the idyll.

    And look where that got me. Although, to be fair, we did make almost 12 years together, and 7.5 married…

    So don’t pay attention to what anyone else did. Or didn’t do. Don’t learn lessons from their relationships. You and H are doing a damned fine job. Just keep doing it. Keep loving. Keep that comfortable, pub-warmed, romance. And enjoy it. You deserve that.

    [And if you ever do go to the Shetlands? I have family there – my favourite auntie and her family – so I can definitely get you local recommendations if you need any!!]

    [And sorry for the delayed comment. I wrote it last night and thought your blog ate it. Then I realised my internet connection was up the spout. 😦 ]

  • Laurel

    P.S. I thought you would like to know that, thanks to you, I had to google “tinsel tits” (I had an idea but I wasn’t sure) and that led me to some BBC economics dude named Evan Davis, about whom I now know some racy rumors…. goodness gracious! (fans self)

  • Trampled into the primeval swamp by mastodons « Nuts in May

    […] next Big Topic of Conversation, was the cousin who had baby Edna about seven or eight weeks ago now. Cousin is down in the dumps, you see. Having a baby to look […]

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