Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Body of mine

A common problem you'll discover among the infertile crowd (and I'm most specifically talking about the infertile individual of the couple) is this feeling as though their body has failed.  It's a theme I've noticed over and over whilst reading about the emotional effects of infertility and in talking to a great many infertile women and men.  An infert will express disappointment in their body, going so far as to feel their body is less than, useless, and/or betraying them.

I never felt this so acutely as I saw others did.  I was aware that my body ovulated improperly.  I realized that my body was incapable of getting pregnant on it's own accord. I was frustrated that I couldn't find a quick, easy fix. I just never out and out blamed my body. I felt spared in that, lucky nearly, that I could remain somewhat rational about it - afterall, we take our small victories were we can get them when it comes to the losing game of being infertile and one of mine was that I didn't hate my body.

Still, when I discovered yoga I began to respect my body again.  Yoga starts with this lovely mindset that you don't focus on what you cannot do. Instead, the focus is purely in what you're capable of.  You can hold a pose for 2 seconds? WONDERFUL! LOOK AT WHAT YOUR STRONG AND LOVELY BODY IS DOING!!  And slowly, in celebrating each little thing I was capable of, I started being capable of more and more in the land of yoga.  Before long I was not only accepting of my body but very proud of it.  I felt powerful and incredibly feminine again - two things that infertility had definitely taken away from me.

I stopped being able to do yoga like I was used to by late March.  Infertility treatments really take a toll on my body by adding weight, increasing fatigue, and decreasing stamina.  Hyperemesis knocked me out of the game completely and by the time I found a way to cope with it, I had lost a lot of energy and muscle. Pregnancy led me to feeling overly fatigued and incredibly activity intolerant.  Still, I managed a few yoga sessions here and there.  Getting back into the mindset was nice - the refocus on beauty and capability.  I was reminded of how wonderful my body is.

And, I was very proud of the fact that, though my body couldn't get pregnant easily, it seemed to be doing a bang up job of staying pregnant this time around. I gave accolades to this little body of mine for that, incredibly thankful especially knowing that there are too many infertile women that cannot say the same. I felt I owed it to my body on the behalf of so many people and things to specifically celebrate it for that victory.

Yesterday it was discovered that my cervix is much too short and already funneling, an indicator of pre-term birth.  A decent measurement for a cervix at my stage of the game (27 weeks) would be at least 3 cm, 2.5 cm on the low end, with good being 4cm.  Mine is an unfortunate 1.97 cm. I was ushered into a room to discuss this with the OB, swabbed for a test called fFN (it's a test based on it's negative predictive value.  Mine was negative meaning it is 99% likely that I will NOT go into labor during the next 7-14 days), and then sent to the perinatologist for further evaluation.  He confirmed the findings and after a short stay in L&D, I was shot up with steroids and sent home on strict bedrest.

I had a hard time last night with being down on myself in a way I hadn't been in a while and mad at my body in a way I'd never been before.  It's a bit difficult for me knowing my body isn't doing the bang up job I had been celebrating. It's very difficult for me to be undeniably reminded of the fact that I cannot do well what comes easily and naturally to the majority of women.  I admit it's a loss of some identity, a loss of that feminine quality I had come to embrace.  I'm not normal and there's just no way around that.

Today I'm going to try to focus on my victories:
   -we discovered my short cervix in time to do something about it
   -as far as anyone knows, this babe is staying put for at least a couple of weeks
   -she's growing strong and well

and I'm going to try to convince myself that this set back and reminder needn't rob me of my beauty, my womanhood, or my femininity.  I am still powerful and lovely. We'll see how I do with that.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sharing the Rain

     When I was in elementary school my mom had an in-home daycare.  I'll bypass telling you about all the loads of fun we had surrounding every holiday and during the summers because neither of us have that kind of time (although let me quickly tell you about the time a kid made himself puke up grape juice on our wall to try to get out of time out - didn't work, my mom meant business).  Instead, I'm going to focus on the rain.  On those lucky days when it would rain while we were on some sort of school break, we would throw on our bathing suits...a good daycare kid always has a bathing suit handy...and run out into the backyard. We'd pretend we'd been stranded in some deserted place and had to fend for ourselves, foraging the ground for fruit that we'd snuck from the kitchen and strewn about.  Eventually we'd make our way into the alley, opening up a whole new world of roughing it. When the sun finally shone, or parents showed, we were soaking wet and completely entranced in our world of make believe.

     By the time I was in middle school my mom had traded the daycare for helping my dad run their own air conditioning company and I no longer thought to head outside in my bathing suit every time it rained.  Still, rainy days were special for me.  I got into the habit of stashing away sugar daddy's for just such a time as a rainy weekend with nothing to do.  Having opened my bedroom blinds and thrown back the curtains so that I could see the rain more clearly from my spot on the bed, I'd grab one of my dad's old Nancy Drew or Hardy Boy books, pop the end of a sugar daddy in my mouth, and let the combination off nature, books, and candy soothe me into the most wonderful sense of security a girl could hope for.

     High school, well, let's just say I mixed my independent nature with a hormonal streak of rebellion that wouldn't be tamed by sugary treats and mystery novels but I still loved the rain.  In between getting into too much trouble entirely too often and discovering the majesty that is interest in the opposite sex, I still managed to find a way to celebrate the rainy days.  In a gesture that suited my rebellion just fine, on those rainy, gloomy, dark days I'd put on one of the cutest dresses in my closet and head to school.  While everyone else was bundled up, comfy style, in oversized shirts and jeans wet around the ankles, there I'd be in stark contrast (or so I assumed). I firmly believed the sunny days didn't deserve all the pomp, anyway.

     Now if you know me at all you know my favorite days are still the ones where it rains.  I got married in a November because I acutely remembered how much it rained the November I'd met K and I hoped for rain on my wedding day.  To mix a couple of my favorite things, I've made K kiss me in the rain a few times and stand with me in it a few others.  I've sat on the porch of our home, steaming hot tea in hand, and let the rain be my companion more times than I can count.  On the rainy days when I don't have to work I wake up early just to be able to see the rain for longer.  I'll open the windows wide, light a cinnamon apple candle, and let the quiet, rainy morning ease my entire being the way nothing else has ever been able to do.  For me there is peace in the rain; there is comfort, there is joy, there is something to be loved and celebrated.  I'm never happier than on the days it rains.

     And I can't wait to share that with my daughter.  I hope she loves it, too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Bad days

     I don't know what it is. I've never been able to describe it properly.  At it's worst, I drowned in it - choking on it, feeling it thick in my lungs.  I used to keep it a secret because I barely understood it myself but I've learned that it happens more often and lasts longer if I keep quiet.  Now I call it 'my bad day' and reach out to whomever is willing to help keep me from going under.

     I've started to recognize when it comes sneaking around. At first, I can't exactly pinpoint what is wrong but I know something isn't right.  I feel too my edges are sandpaper catching on cotton.  It feels tangly and messy.  The roughness turns into a raw, overexposed feeling.  The noises are too noisy, the silence is too silent, everything is just too much of whatever it is. The world is in hyperdrive and I can't find a good spot to jump in and join.  Then comes the sneakiest part of all, the overcompensation of the rawness - I am muted.  I can laugh, smile, and participate as well as ever but it's forced from beneath what feels like layers of glue.  The muted feeling quickly becomes my bad day.

     I guess if I'm going to be completely honest and transparent here (because if not here then where) my bad days are characterized by an overwhelming sense of sadness.  I will sob rolling, hot tears and mourn for things I can't articulate.  It's no use reminding myself that nothing is actually wrong; I'll just cry all the more thinking I must be really messed up to feel so sad when everything is okay.

     Luckily, mercifully, thankfully I manage to put away my pride and reach out to those I trust the most.  Some of them show up in person, physically guiding me out of the sadness until it sheds completely and I can walk without feeling it's heavy weight.  Some of them send texts of encouragement, assuring me that I'm not alone or broken.  Each of them remind me that if I hang on just a little longer the bad day will pass, as it always does.