Sorry to be such a downer recently, but I walked away from this blog for over a week and now that I’m back, I’m returning to it for the very reasons I started it in the first place: it’s a place of catharsis for me.
I’m struggling with the holidays this year. Part of it comes from the influx of pregnancy and birth related things happening in my life: people I know, bloggers I follow… after nearly 3 years of blogging, I’m one of the few left in my original reader of blogs that I follow who still hasn’t resolved in some way. It’s frustrating. On one hand, I’m thrilled for them, as we all are for each other when we find success in some way.
And we all know how it feels “keeping up with your blogging Joneses” as well: that tinge of jealousy and self-pity.
It’s amazing how both jealousy and support are the finials of the same balancing pole as we tread lightly the high-wire path of infertility.
. . .
Part of my coping issue right now is the fact that Larry’s turning 30 later this month. Which means in just six months, I’ll be turning 30. And even though I’m married and have a house, I was certainly not expecting to be childless by 30. In fact, I wanted to be one and done by the time I turned 30.
As we turn the calendar now for a third set of holidays sans children, I realize I still haven’t let go of so many fantasies I had about becoming pregnant and starting a family.
But let’s talk about fantasy for a minute.
. . .
For whatever reason, I feel like fantasy is a loaded term, implying some kind of sexual satisfaction. But let’s face it, we fantasize all the time: a fantasy is like a detailed daydream of the way we imagine our lives could be. I’m sure many of us fantasized what our wedding day would be like. I know I did: barefoot on the beach as the sun set in the middle of the summer.
In reality? We got married in the dead of winter in a formal, black-tie affair. I wasn’t wearing some flow-y thing either: I had a bustle, a crinoline, and layers of silk taffeta (and I looked friggin’ incredible). I still talk about how awesome my wedding was. Guests of our wedding still talk about how awesome it was. And yet while the fantasy and reality were two very different things, I didn’t weep for the lost fantasy.
But infertility is a little different – it’s filled with so much loss. It’s not just a change of plans. Infertility is the death of fantasies that may have been intrinsically core and central to our self-identities.
. . .
The holidays remind me of one of those fantasies and on Facebook, it’s be pregnancy-announcement-tastic. Apparently everyone had a lot of sex during the month of October because these announcements are happening in droves in my social networks.
I’ve always fantasized about how we would tell our parents we were pregnant. In this perfect fantastical world, we’d time everything perfectly so we could do the big reveal over the winter holidays. I always wanted to have both sets of parents open gifts that said “World’s Best Grandparent” and make the big reveal that way.
It’s not terribly original, but it’s my fantasy.
And then there’s one I always kept extremely close to my heart, one that I only told Larry for the first time in 15 years just last week when I mentioned I was going to write this post.
I always wanted to tell his parents – not mine – at the Passover seder table. Passover is a very special holiday for me: it’s one of the first I celebrate with Larry and his family, and it’s filled with such deep tradition and meaning that it’s one of my favorite holidays of the year, Jewish or otherwise. I have long admired Larry’s younger sister Rachel and how she would sing the Four Questions (typically said by the youngest at the table).
In recent years, I’ve had the privilege of doing the Four Questions because I’m technically the youngest Jew at the table (I converted in 2007). Plus, it’s a chance for me to ham it up and sing, something I don’t do nearly enough of.
And now, my super-secret pregnancy reveal fantasy:
Steve, my father-in-law and leader of the Passover seder, would turn to me and say, “Keiko, would you like to read the Four Questions?”
I would reply, trying to stifle a wide smile, “I would love to, but technically I’ll be doing them in proxy since the youngest Jew at the table won’t be able to do them for at least another 9 months.”
To which we’d respond to the puzzled looks around the table and announce that yes, we were pregnant.
(For the record, I am totally that person who who hijack a thousands-year old ritual dinner element to tell everyone she’s knocked up. Remember that bit about me being a ham?)
. . .
That’s my dorky fantasy. There are others: how I’d tell my sister. How I’d tell my close girlfriends. How I’d even reveal to Larry. There’s the fantasy of how we’d even MAKE a baby in the first place: a night of passionate lovemaking while musing on baby names in the afterglow.
But… they’ve changed. A lot. There’s no surprise element when I blog publicly about my personal journey. As of right now, I plan to blog about every step of the way. That might change. But for now, that’s the plan.
And Larry and I maintain the kind of relationship with both sets of families that they’ll be in the loop every step of the way as well. When we go for a beta, they’ll know only shortly after we do, because they’ll have been following along because we’ll have shared it all with them anyway.
. . .
For as much progress as I’ve made, the path to coping and healing is not linear. You might circle back on feelings you thought you’d resolved. That’s where I’m at right now, a back-pedaling relapse of coping skills. I accept that I’m infertile. I wrote a letter about six months after my diagnosis, to my genetic child. That too, is a fantasy.
I did it to let that fantasy go.
But I’m not sure how to let these remaining fantasies go.
I’m not even sure if I’m actually ready to let them go at all, to be perfectly honest.
They’re so much a part of my heart. I just don’t want to leave a piece of my heart behind somewhere. But infertility has already done that to me already, hasn’t it? Done that to all of us? Taken away a little bit of who we are?
So maybe that’s why I’m not ready to let these fantasies go… because I don’t want to lose anything else. I cling to tightly to The Way I Want Things to Be instead of embracing The Way It’s Going to Be.
What I need to do is start imagining a new fantasy for myself. It’s just so much harder to do when you’ve lived your whole life imagining one scenario. So I cling to what I know, even if it hurts to hold onto those fantasies knowing full well they’ll never be realized.
I just don’t know what else to do right now in this moment.
EDIT to add (12/8/11): The support and love you have all left for me in the comments has been overwhelming and beautiful. I want to respond to each of you; I’m at a conference today, but I will get back each of you. This has meant so much to me.