Tuesday morning I get out of bed despite significant pain still lingering throughout my abdomen and despite swollen eyes, red and itchy from late night bouts of crying into the duvet so I don’t wake MJ. It is a struggle, and while getting to work to get things done and be productive sounds surprisingly exciting to me, I dread the unfortunate consequence of such an action: namely having to leave the comfort of my bedroom and interact with the world.
When we started last cycle’s IUI, I made the decision to wean myself off my anti-depressants in hope that I would be pregnant and thus not able to be on them anyway (I made a similar decision about coffee three painful years ago). This was, for the record, a really horrible idea, and I must admit that I knew it was even as I did it. For one, I didn’t consult my doctor. I didn’t consult my doctor because my doctor has annoying hours only right in the middle of the day and works thirty minutes from my work office and I simply could not afford the time off required to get out there. For another, going off your medications while trying to do an IUI is an incredible mind fuck. All those potentially happy pregnant symptoms like headaches and being light-headed or dizzy, they are also the annoying side-effects of stopping anti-depressants. So not only did I convince myself of a false hope through bad evidence, I did it all while not on mood stabilizers. Guess who you don’t want at your party right now.
Two weeks ago while MJ was shooting a needle full of HCG into my ass, one of our co-workers was giving birth to her “accidentally got pregnant” baby. This week marks the return of another co-worker who gave birth to her planned and conceived right away baby two months ago. Down the hall is our co-worker due in October. Behind my office is our co-worker who just became a grandfather. Sometimes, work feels like the Fire Swamp from the Princess Bride. I tread carefully avoiding my own plumes of fiery anger over life’s unfairness, my own snow sand of depression pulling me down, or even those nasty emotions of unusual sizes which broadside me during an otherwise innocuous lunch or court hearing.
People at work know my business. While my frequent absences and even one period of full FMLA long ago convinced me that others had a right to know about the illnesses that kept me out of the office (often then resulting in more work for them), it was not long nor a far cry for everyone to learn of the infertility as well, even if I never actually told them or spoke to them about myself. It is generally a good office with a good group of people, but even the best person has a hard time hiding pity. And I can spot their pity a mile away, or at least down the hallway to where my office is. A hallway I must now try to navigate while heartbroken, physically broken, and mentally unstable. I spend all morning getting ready just dreading the moment someone actually sees me, or particularly kind of co-workers approach me to ask how I am doing.
To prepare I navigate the twenty minute commute by driving along the lake shore and blaring music. I start with my iPod on shuffle, avoiding all Elliot Smith songs, until giving up entirely and putting in an old Beastie Boy album, enjoying the distraction it brings. A messy office is another welcome sight, able to consume the morning time I have before court actually starts and from there it’s off to the Courthouse for hearings all morning. If only they weren’t so far apart in timing. If only I didn’t have these small chunks of time in between – twenty minutes here, fifteen there; not enough to go back to the office to work, not enough to just catch my breath and then move on, but exactly enough to have my mind slow down, even stop thinking about work for a second and remember the reality of my life right now.
Never have children, echoes in my brain like the sad refrain to an indie drama film. Something in black and white with lots of skewed angles and long, painful cuts of people ad-libbing for a more “realist” approach. I get consumed with the DA opposite me for most of the morning, who keeps her cellphone, the case of which is covered in pictures of her newborn on the top of her desk, and then fiddles with it between each hearing so the multiple photos get flashed by me every time. I get consumed with the fear of running into any of my co-workers who might ask me something as simple as how I am today. I get consumed in general by the frenetic nature of my own mind currently. In a rare moment of clarity I think again that it was really a bad idea to go off my medications right now.
Though I try to fill each second with work, my thoughts consistently betray me, and sadness seeps in like a bad cut under a poor quality band-aid. By the middle of the day I can be found driving to a lunch meeting with the windows up and The Beastie Boys tossed aside for the full Best of the The Smiths collection, now playing very very loudly. My personal rendition of “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” is particularly well done and a bit harrowing, if I do say so myself.
I don’t know yet if this is really the start of moving on; of saying, “that’s it, we are never going to have kids, so let’s start living some other life.” There is still a lot MJ and I have to discuss and decide. There is still a 150 dose of Follistim burning a hole in my medicine drawer. There is still some hope, isn’t there?
What I do know is that my mind is pushing me towards being done. It may be a self-defense mechanism, a wall going up saying I can’t take it anymore. Or it may be some realism finally kicking in, finally realizing there was never really any hope. But it is also likely it’s the upside down way my clinically depressed brain often processes things – the irrational, angry, sour grapey part of my mind that is stomping around – a child in ill fitting chunky shores who is ready to feel sorry for themselves and expects the world to join in now or else. Or else she’ll get angry. Or else she’ll break down in tears.
When my pregnant co-worker, who I also like very much, brings me my favorite chai out of the blue I thank her and then break down and cry in the back of an auditorium where we are forced to spend our lunch for mandatory training, which includes a presentation on employee resources for stress and mental health issues. I ironically cry through the entire power point and leave with no interest in contacting the presenter or anyone involved in her program. When a second co-worker and good friend stops in briefly and asks how I’m holding up, I bite back tears and explain that I am either too sad to go on, or am furious beyond reason, it just depends on when you catch me. Since furious seems more productive, I swap ipods with MJ and listen to lots of Rage Against the Machine until the work day is over.
On the way home, with the windows down and The Smiths back on, Morrissey sadly crooning over the realities of the world, I let myself cry freely, no longer concerned about getting through the day anymore, or about being productive, or about who is going to see me. I look forward to getting home and I look forward to my bedroom where I can lay in peace, snuggle with my fur babies and wait for MJ to come home and join me. I sing “Ask” twice because it has always been a favorite of mine, and I get choked up both times at the line “nature is a language, can’t you read?” I sing “You Just Haven’t Earned Yet Baby,” cause I can only handle it once and cause it is almost too bitter, even for me. But I linger, as the car drives past the lake with the sun still bright, shinning against the water, on the sad complacency of “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.” And I think, be it anger or sadness, maybe just learning to accept one of them; to accept anything, maybe that’s what I really need.
I think to myself, that if I’m going to cry, then I’m going to cry. And if I’m going to be angry, I’m going to be angry. And telling myself one or both is wrong, or trying to be one when I fell the other, or none when I feel both, doesn’t make anything better. It doesn’t make it easier. It doesn’t count as dealing. I might want to be done. I may want to move on. I may wish to hid in my bedroom forever, but that’s not life. I have a lot to deal with, a long way to go, and a lot of setbacks ahead of me. I’d rather accept all of that now, then to oscillate wildly from here on out.