-Ben Fountain, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
I was going to write a cutesy little post today recapping my Thanksgiving weekend and my feelings about what I cooked, and how I miss my mom. But I got another idea based on some things that have happened in the last few days.
In the last few days, there has been some really awesome news in IF Bloggy Land. Anne at The Second Bedroom got a positive pregnancy test (that's what we call a "BFP" in the IF world, to my non-infertile readers) the day before Thanksgiving. Anne was probably the first person in this community to read and support me in my journey, and she is kind and good and will make a wonderful mother. And then a few days ago, Stupid Stork, whose blog posts pretty much kept me going during the darker days after my miscarriage, who considers Frida Kahlo to be the patron saint of infertiles just like I do, and who is pretty much the reason I started blogging about this stuff, got her BFP. Her infertility journey has been crazy and scary, and seeing her get a BFP made me so, so happy. I mentioned all this news to Jeeves at different points in the last few days and he said, "Everyone's getting pregnant! They're dropping like flies!"
But, no. No no no. Because Marcy just got another negative, and Kasey's last cycle didn't work and she's starting IVF soon. And there are so many others who are still at it. And I know they are happy for the pregnancies they see in the IF community, but sad for themselves.
Over the weekend I got to visit with Kate (whom you may recall is my BFF and she is about 6 months pregnant and I am throwing her baby shower in January) and her family in Jersey. Kate's little sis has struggled with infertility for over 3 years now. Her second IUI worked, and everything was looking good, but she miscarried because the embryo implanted too close to a uterine septum (which had been mostly removed, but a small percentage was left behind). Suffice it to say, she and her husband were devastated. She got pregnant again through IUI, at the same time I did back in May, but a couple of weeks after my miscarriage, she miscarried too, this time with chromosomal issues. She has been my cycle buddy for most of this year and we would text to cheer each other on, and we supported each other when we found out the surprising news that Kate was expecting. I haven't told her I'm pregnant yet. I kept waiting for the right time, and then I decided to just wait until I was a little farther along, but here I am, almost 12 weeks, and I still haven't told her.
While visiting Kate's family (which included her sister, her parents, and grandparents), the conversation turned towards Kate's pregnancy and her very difficult first trimester. There was a lot of pregnancy and baby talk for a good chunk of the evening. It didn't bother me, because even though no one at that table knew I was pregnant (except for Kate and Jeeves, of course), I am, and being pregnant does help make certain conversations that are torture when you're not pregnant suddenly palatable. Still, I squirmed thinking of Kate's sister and how this must sound to her, especially when she had to get up and go take her Gonal-F shot. At one point I looked over at her and she didn't roll her eyes, but she had a look on her face like, "Ugh, fertiles." And I smiled and nodded, because I know. I know.
When we said good-bye, I hugged her and wished her luck on this cycle, and she asked me how things were going for me and I said, "Good, I'll tell you about it later." I may be alone in this, but I'm a firm believer that the best way to tell an infertile you are pregnant is not face to face. It is via e-mail or phone call or text message. Give me a goddamn chance to cry for myself, and then I will be happy for you.
Then I got home from this weekend and I logged into Feedly because I have been waiting with baited breath to see what happened in the lab with Smile's eggs. It wasn't all bad news - they got 4 to fertilize, but 4 out of 20 certainly confirms her fears about her egg quality. And I know she's scared that these 4 little badasses won't be good enough. And then I noticed that another blogger who comments a lot on Smile's posts had also had her retrieval on the same day, but when I clicked through to read how her fertilization report went, I was sad to see it was a disaster, and she and her husband have decided that they are done with treatments.
We, as a community, get good news and that fills a lot of us with hope and keeps us going. But there's always bad news in there too, and it's hard for me to not think of the women who are struggling, even as I see friends getting positives.
In Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, which I quoted above (and one of my favorite books I read this year - it's so, so good, you guys), our hero, Billy, who is home for a short leave from the Iraq War, is musing over things his Sergeant, who was just killed in action, used to say to him. A lot of the book deals with the notion of fear. I realize that it may be an inartful comparison - I certainly don't mean to equate war to infertility, but I do think that a lot of the fear that Fountain talks about is the fear of things beyond our control. Fear about things beyond our control is pretty much where the Infertile lives all the time. I used to repeat that line "Don't be scared. You're going to be scared, so when you start, don't be scared," whenever I would allow my mind to wander to what would happen if x, y, or z treatment did not work for us. It became like a mantra. It didn't make me less scared, but somehow recognizing the fear helped me put it aside and not live in it.
I don't have any great epiphanies to share. But I'm just writing this so that the women who are getting their BFPs know that I am so happy for them, I hope the rest of this journey is smooth and easy and drama-free, and I do believe they give a lot of women hope. But I'm also writing this so that the women who have gotten bad news, or who are in the middle of a scary cycle, or who don't know what the future holds know that I'm thinking of them, wishing them courage and hope.
Jeeves and I set up our Christmas tree this evening, and we had a Christmas music-only station on. I heard a quote that I liked because it made me think of all of you. "What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace." To those of you in IF Bloggy Land, I am wishing you much courage for the present, and hope for the future.