My mind is on fire. I lay in bed, my head on the foreign pillow, my pajamas clinging to my skin which has started to sweat in the stuffy room and I feel anger coarse through every vein. In the dark, I roll from my side to my back and try to think of something else. I can hear MJ’s voice on the other side of the door, out in the living room of his parent’s house which we arrived out a handful of hours earlier for a weekend visit. I can’t make out who he is talking to, his dad or his brother perhaps. I only hear his voice, and an occasional laugh. The laugh quells my anger for a second, switching it over to pure sadness and my cheeks start to ache from the strain of keeping my mouth shut so no cries or gasps escape. When his laugh dies down so does my sadness. The anger returns instead.
Years ago when the housing market was collapsing and Bernie Madoff was being hauled off to jail, and the country was in a heated debate over the bailout, I remember reading a small article in Bust magazine about a woman in New York who’d filled a fascinating niche with a store for smashing things. You could go to her store, pick a white soundproof room, don some safety goggles and gloves, and for a price you could smash things. Plates, cups, saucers, pottery, ceramic figurines, glasses -whatever you felt like, though I doubt it was so much about the thing itself as it was the feeling. Unless perhaps you had a particularly sordid relationship with tea cups or salad plates.
I fantasize about throwing my phone as hard as I can against the bedroom wall, mostly because it is the only thing I have on me that might shatter, and even then I am not sure it will. When I first read the article I thought it was a strange idea. A “break things here” store. I understood the need to get out anger and even aggression, but the overhead and cleanup seemed monumental. The liability insurance alone seemed daunting. I mentioned it once to MJ and he made a face of disapproval. Throwing things and slamming doors are particularly unacceptable to him when a person is angry. I have never thrown anything in anger or slammed a door intentionally, but I understand the impulse. Often when angry I feel as if there is a small girl inside me, standing on the dome of my brain, screaming at the top of her lungs and tossing everything she can find in anger at the sky.
I lay in bed without moving or making a sound, but my mouth opens wide on several occasions, just like that small girl. And when she shouts out loud, I bare my teeth and silently mimic her. I still hear Matt talking and I think about everyone else asleep in the house – his mother, his nieces and nephews, his family. The one we have just learned today we will never contribute to.
There was never really much hope but we had forgotten, or perhaps ignored that. There was just too much wrong with me – how FSH, low AMH, poor progesterone readings, endometriosis, only one ovary. A laundry list of defects, only one of which is sufficient to cause infertility. And so we decided, with our very limited finances to try one time. To try the most we could afford and the most the doctor’s could do. A fully monitored IUI with injectibles at the highest dose our doctor could recommend.
If either of us in old age ever gets diabetes, we will be well equipped in administering shots, and using an epee-pen. We will also already have an excess of needles and alcohol swabs, which now are just taking up empty space in our medicine drawer. We will be absolutely used to shoving needles into each other, or, in my end, having them shoved into me. And this will be good, because we won’t have any children or grandchildren to do it for us.
Since the morning, this Friday morning, I have been slowly realizing the IUI failed. Brown spots can be deceptive, but as the streaks turn red through the day it is hard to deny. In bed I am thinking in anger of the recent trip to the bathroom and the full on period flow that greeted me. We spent the day interacting with his family: catching up, engaging in small talk, but mostly watching the kids as they run around excited to have so much attention, and presents from the family, and fun with Munchkin and his parent’s dog, who follow after them like happy puppies. We interacted and all the while MJ and I were accepting that we are not going to have children. That we had our shot and it is over.
So by bedtime, I am angry. I am a lot of things. I am the cycle of grief jumbled up into an old game of Press Your Luck, each emotion whizzing past in record speed, some coming back and back and then gone and when I press too hard on my buzzer one emotion sticks, the bells and whistles go off and wham! I am angry beyond reason, or sad beyond reconciliation, or bargaining so hard that I’ve already traded in everything about my life and my health for a chance to be a mother. “No whammies, no whammies,” I could chant, but it’s pointless. Every single emotion right now is a whammy.
I lay in bed and think, what if we could do it again? Save up the money, see if a higher dose is possible? I think, what if we really start looking into adoption? I think of all the options. But I also think, what if I just stop? What if I start putting our money into traveling the world? What if we move somewhere more interesting and no longer concern ourselves with what kind of neighborhood this is and what the school system is like? What if I chose to have a hysterectomy and can actually start to live a life without pain? Every new question raises a new possible life, but every new possible life is tarnished by the other lives it precludes.
We haven’t talked yet, MJ and I. About this, about where we go next, about our options or lack there of. We are hear visiting, and this trip isn’t about us, and doesn’t leave us much time to really get into things. I’m trying to cut back on crying in front of others, and he would greatly appreciate not airing our baggage and drama. So I will spend tomorrow as I did today, catching up, making small talk, paying attention to the children. And when the day is over I will lay in the guest bedroom, my head missing it’s own pillow, and I will wait and see which emotion will take over and set my whole self on fire again.