Eli's Corner


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aaaaaahhhhhhhgggggggggg

With all the money I’ve spent on therapy, you’d think I’d have a handle on this.  I don’t.  Today I am a relationally inept, sobbing moron.

My shrink’s general take is that my mother was a narcissist, meaning that my needs were never important, so now I have this deep cry to have people see my needs coupled with a crippling inability to make my needs known.  I’m not sure what I think about that first part (I’ve always thought she was more inept than narcissistic…but in this book I’m reading, I’m pretty much the poster child for a narcissist’s progeny.  So there’s that.)  At any rate, whatever the reason, I’ve successfully ensured that I have zero support from pretty much everyone in my life except my husband and my shrink.

Ok…not true.  What I don’t have is the support that I want from the people that I want it from.  That’s more accurate.  And today it’s coming to a head.  For starters, I stayed home from church to avoid being asked why I’m not going to a baby shower for my friend’s “oops” baby.  Background: I MC’d her wedding in August, then she called me afterwards to say she was preggers and keep it on the DL…she literally said, “It was one of those ‘first time’s the charm’ things.”  (No, it wasn’t.  You don’t have to say that. Quite frankly I don’t give a shit whether or not you were having sex before you got married, but fuck you so very much for getting pregnant on accident when you didn’t want to.)  That was my internal monologue.  Externally, I said a lot of nice and supportive things and then hung up the phone and wept for an hour.

I contemplated attending her shower, but my DH talked some sense into me and told me I absolutely did not have to do that.  So I didn’t.  But the shower was immediately after church with a bunch of church ladies, so I skipped church.  This is why I’m sitting at home.

Aaaaaand I get a bunch of emails from my sister.  The anniversary of my Dad’s death was a few days ago, and today she sent me all these sobby emails about how her kids will never know their grandfather.  Granted, that sucks.  But guess what?  She gets the chance to know her kids, so that’s nice.  Also, she knows I’m doing IVF and hasn’t reached out to me about it once.  Not once.  Not a word since I told her about it at Christmas.  She’s my fucking sister.  She sucks.  I’m not sure why she doesn’t make any attempts on this front, but she doesn’t.

Oh, then there’s my potentially-but-we’re-not-sure-yet narcissist mother.  She doesn’t know that I’m on the brink of menopause or that I’m doing IVF.  I had planned on telling her when I was down at Christmas, but there was not a moment of genuine communication between us, and I thought, why?  She is a source of precisely zero support – we’ve spoken about my miscarriage on exactly one occasion…months after the fact…and she offered (by way of comfort, I assume) that she thought she might have had a miscarriage once but she wasn’t sure.  So I figured I’d save the energy of bringing her into the loop on this simply because she gave birth to me.  There’s really no other reason I’d want her to be involved.

Finally, (only nowhere close to finally – I haven’t even started on my in-laws or other friends – but finally for what I’m saying here) my SIL, typically very self-involved, has actually been showing some interest and expressing concern about this, so, feeling a need to connect with someone, I reached out to her today and let her know where I was at in the process and that we’d probably know the # of eggs late next week.  There was some promising back and forth about what the process is actually like, and a little sympathy, which was nice.  Then – POW!  “Then they grow up to be snotty teenagers.  Parenting’s really hard for us right now.  You can be praying about that.”  It was the last straw for me.  I’m sick of taking it up the ass and pretending that people’s myopic comments don’t bug me.  I’m sick of the high road.  It’s painful and lonely.  So I struck back: “Well, you have living children, so that’s a bonus.”  Stupid, but whatever.  She, alarmed that the conversation was turning away from her, wrote back about what their emergency actually was…and she begged me not to tell anyone so I won’t. But seriously. I’m sure it seems big to them, but it’s basically a teenage rite of passage and they need to calm the hell down.  I haven’t written back, because I can only think of dismissive things to say.

I think with this post I’ve officially crossed the line and will now never be able to make this blog public.

I’m angry and sad and lonely and hopped up on a lot of drugs right now.  I’m terrified that it won’t work and terrified that it will.  Work is stressful, life is hectic, and I am barely holding on.  I wish people could understand that without me having to say all of that point blank and begging them to pretend that my shit matters for 10 minutes.  I probably need to work on being vulnerable – but I’m afraid I might actually be surrounded by particularly shitty people.  Of course, children of narcissists tend to think that they’re surrounded by particularly shitty people.  So I probably need to work on being vulnerable.  Some other day.  If I try today, I’m just going to piss everybody off.

****Update*****

My SIL apologized for being insensitive.  Unexpected.  Impressive.  I also apologized for being insensitive, we are now both back to trying to be supportive, and I shall remove her from the List of People I Shall Never Trust Again.  (Can you see what it’s like to live in my head?  Exhausting.)

My mom still totally sucks, though.

Look at that.  I’ve made it through another day.


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sunshine award

Hey all,

I’ve been nominated for the Sunshine Award!  Yay!  I have to confess I had no idea what that was – being pretty green at all things bloggy – and it took me a minute to figure it out.  It kind of reminds me of the old chain letters you used to get.  Yes, I’m old enough to remember chain LETTERS, none of this email-this-to-100-people-or-your-cat-will-die crap.  I’m talking mail a pair of panties to 9 friends and you’ll get 200 pairs of panties in the mail.  I never actually did that because it was a lot of postage, and I felt weird getting panties in the mail from strangers.  Also, really, who needs 200 pairs of panties?  But this I will do, because it means that A Calm Persistence believes that I am a writer who brightens other people’s days – which is amazing and awesome.  Especially since I write pretty honestly about some pretty dark things on here.  I think we all need each other in this journey, and sometimes the honesty perhaps shines a light in the dark.  And if there’s any kind of silver lining in this process, it’s thinking that your going through it might then help you carry the burden with someone else a few steps of the way.  To be told something like this brings a little ray of redemption into the whole thing, and that is pretty wonderful.  And if I can help introduce you to some of the brave women who have been helping me along the way, then I welcome that opportunity.

Incidentally, you should read A Calm Persistence‘s blog.  Here is one good reason why:

stay positive

See what I mean about we need each other?  Ok.  Down to business.  This is my first ever award and I’m determined not to mess it up.

The rules are:

Include the Sunshine Award icon in your post – done!

screen-shot-2013-10-10-at-3-22-59-pm

Link to the blogger who nominated you – check!

Answer 10 questions about yourself – see below

Nominate 10 other bloggers to receive the award – ibid

Make up 10 questions that are super long and/or annoying to answer (ok, I invented that rule) – check!

Link to your nominees and let them know you nominated them.  – part 1 done and part 2 will do once I publish this – whew!

Ok – here are the questions I need to answer:

1. Why do you Blog?

I started blogging as an outlet for myself in the TTC process.  I typically journal to sort out my thoughts, but I thought perhaps if I did an anonymous blog, maybe someone else dealing with the same things might come across it and find it helpful.  At the time I had no idea there was a whole community out there.  Connecting through this medium with others on this journey has been an amazing resource and encouragement for me.

2. What are you most proud of?

Honestly, I know it sounds kind of pathetic, but at this point I’m just proud that I’m keeping on keeping on.  It’s been a rough few years, but stuff like this teaches you a lot about yourself.  One of my favorite quotes is “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste,” and my hope in all of this is that it will not be wasted but that somehow I will manage to stop wrestling God long enough to allow him to use this to shape me into a sturdier, kinder me.

3. What is one thing you want to learn how to do?

Dive.  I’ve always had trouble with getting inverted (flips, dives, cartwheels, what have you).  I’m an avid swimmer – goggles, swim cap, the whole 9 yards, but I’ve never learned to dive and am now at the point where it’s just embarrassing.  (As one gets older, it turns out, one really finds fewer and fewer scenarios in which bellyflopping and cannonballing are considered acceptable methods of entering a pool.)

4. If you could have any super power, what would it be?

This one:

Only less kill-everybody-and-start-world-war-III and more visit-my-family-whenever-I-want-and-have-dinner-in-Istanbul-tonight.  Also, it opens up several career paths:  search and rescue, crime fighting, crime, transportation-for-hire, smuggler, coyote, etc.

5. What is your best piece of advice?

Be kind to yourself.

6. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?

I aspire to do what my totally inspiring in-laws have done with their money: pick a just standard of living and stick to it.  Then continue to work hard and invest wisely so that you can give extravagantly.

7. What is your favorite season? Why?

Summertime!  Sun on my skin, bra-optional sundresses.  (Don’t worry, I’m pretty flat-chested.)

8. What is your all time favorite meal?

First date with my now-husband.  He took me out to a 5-star French restaurant in San Francisco.  Neither of us had ever eaten a meal like that before (it involved pear soup with african peppercorns, a quail, a souffle, and chocolate mousse to end your very life).   The food, the conversation – and, doubtless, the swirling pheromones, made it the meal of a lifetime.

9. What is your favorite song?

Right now?  Probably this one.  It’s kind of been my anthem in my TTC process:

10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?

Well, when it comes down to it, I guess we could live almost anywhere in the world, but we live where we live (Vancouver), so I guess the question then is why.  I mean, it’s very pretty and nice, but it’s also rainy and expensive.  I think the thing that keeps us here is the community.  There are just some seriously cool people around here.  And they seem to have time to hang out, whereas in San Francisco, we had to book 3 months in advance to do anything with anybody.  Also, he’s got family nearby.

Ok, next step: As many of us do, I follow a lot of wonderful blogs, and these are just a few of them.  These all happen to be women working to build their families – most are trying to conceive, some have adopted, some are redefining what family means to them.  All are honest, brave and human.  These blogs have encouraged me, helped me feel less isolated and crazy, and have inspired me.

Here, in no particular order, are my nominees:

Adding a Burden

Redeeming Infertility

Project Sweet Pea

Abby Hummel

You Can’t Choose When

Stupid Stork

Hey, Myrtle!

Hang Your Hopes From Trees

On the other side of the belly button

The Elusive Second Line

And here are my questions to you:

1. Why did you start blogging and why do you blog now?

2. If you were running for President (or Prime Minister or whatever your head of state is) what would your platform be?  (Not trying to make this political…but wondering what social issues matter to you most.)

3. Of all the places you’ve been, which one would you like to return to?  Why?

4. If you could go back in time to the beginning of your TTC journey and tell yourself one thing,  what would it be?

5. If you were being interrogated by the CIA (or the KGB or MI6 or whatever your country’s scary secret police is…in my country it’s the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, I guess, which is just so Canada…our scary cops wear cute outfits and ride horses) what song would they need to play over and over to break you?

6. Any random hidden talents?

7. One of your top 5 quotes ever? (Because I always find it hard to pick my #1 of anything.)

8. What’s your proudest moment before the age of 10?

9. Best fictional book you’ve ever read (or one of your top 5):

10.  What question do you wish I had asked you?

Play along if you like!


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the other losses

This whole process puts such an enormous strain on relationships – even the ones you thought were unshakable. In the past month, I’ve gone through this with my two closest friends. It’s brutal. I think these friendships will emerge intact, but they will be changed.

H2 was my maid of honor, and I was hers. She had two miscarriages in the past couple of years, and she was a tremendous support to me in mine. This last pregnancy she had was fraught with difficulty, but her baby made it. He’s been in the NICU for about 3 months, and he’s still not ready to go home, but he’s defied all the odds a baby born at 24 weeks faces and is (in my mind, anyway) a bona fide miracle child.

I know it must be so hard for her to not have him at home, to be able to hold him, feed him, tuck him in at night. I’ve tried my best to support her. I found a place online that sells micro preemie clothes and sent her some. In those early days, I wanted her to have something that was specifically for THIS child, not potentially for some later child who might have better chances. As weeks went by, though, it became less clear how to be supportive, but I made my awkward attempts. We live in different countries, and we communicate mostly by text now, so it’s not like it’s been in years past. Somewhere in there it all blew up. I got a cutting message from her that I was saying the wrong things. I was livid, as I felt like I was giving her the best I could and had been sucking it up forever that she was telling me the wrong things.

At the end of the day, after a few explanatory emails were exchanged, what I think is that we were each giving each other what we ourselves needed…in my case, it was acknowledgement. I was working hard at demonstrating to her that I understood that what she is going through must be so painful. I even felt like acknowledging this was an expression of love to her, a sacrifice on my part, because, despite all of this, she has not one but three living children. And this last little one, who looked for all the world like he wouldn’t pull through, is actually going to make it. I feel like she’s incredibly fortunate, even though this is hard. I’ve never had a living baby out in the world. I don’t know what it’s like. So I tried to imagine what it must be like to have your baby be alive but not with you, and to sympathize. But she was well in touch with the hard part, and she didn’t need to be reminded of it. My efforts were only rubbing in her face what was already so difficult.

She, meanwhile, was giving me what she needed: hope. Looking at the bright side. Focusing on what’s going well. Telling me things are not that bad, that they will get better. But what she doesn’t understand about what I deal with is that I don’t have a baby in the hospital that I can post pictures of. I don’t have a single thing to point to to say “this is why I hurt.” I have an invisible disease, and I have an absence. People don’t relate to those things. They don’t remember them. Or if they do, they just have no idea how to talk about them. So nothing is said and nothing is done, and the world marches on. What I actually don’t need is for people to look in the bright side. I just need someone to sit in the dark with me.

So while my heart is crying out for someone to please acknowledge that what I am experiencing is real, she is making light of it. And while she is desperately needing to look forward to good things, I’m harping on the hard thing. And we’re both busy and exhausted and keeping our heads above water and accidentally hurting each other while we’re trying to help.

We emailed back and forth and settled it at this: We love each other. We’ll sort this out. Later. We’re too maxed out with our respective situations and our life circumstances to sort it out at the moment, but we will sort it out. We’re just putting everything on pause. I don’t have to be her cheerleader at the moment, even though I’m trusting she knows in my heart I’m wishing her and her little boy every good thing. And she doesn’t have to be my confidant, but I’m trusting that when the dust settles, we’ll be able to find each other again. I wish we each had the capacity to be there for each other during what are rough times for both of us, but we just don’t.

Then there’s the other friend, the one I was pregnant with – a year and a half ago, we were incredibly close and had everything in common. We worked together, got pregnant about the same time, even got laid off on the same phone call. Then she had a baby boy, and I lost mine. She’s now a full-time mom, and I work with my husband in a field unrelated to the work we used to do together. If we’re honest, we have little to talk about. We try, but it’s hard. I find it particularly hard. I finally had a clear-the-air talk with her about it – because I felt like she deserved my honesty and not some kind of fake pretendy thing where we all act like nothing’s going on. She told me she understood if I needed distance, and she wouldn’t take it personally, but she wasn’t giving up on this friendship. I appreciated that.

She was also a bastion of hope and positivity, bowling me over with her enthusiasm and certainty that I WILL have children. Part of me feels glad that somebody feels that way, because I certainly don’t feel it anymore, but part of me just wants to say, “Here’s the thing –  just because it worked for you doesn’t mean it must work for me – that the score has to be evened out somehow. We might need to live with this dissonance.”

I didn’t say that though, and then she told me my least favorite story – the one about the friend who went to go adopt a baby and suddenly got pregnant. (EVERYBODY has a friend who has that story…don’t even get me started on that story…) I ended up telling her that sometimes closure is kinder than hope.

I realized while speaking with her that I’m not giving up on hope, but my hope cannot be that I will be able to have a child. Because when it comes down to it, the universe does not owe me a child. Neither does God.  My hope has to be that no matter what happens, I will be able to embrace my life. Whether I have my own kids, somebody else’s kids or no kids, I have to believe – even to swear to myself – that I will be ok.  And even though there’s some bitterness now, I have to believe I will be able to adjust and not live in the shadow of what “should” have been.

This transference of hope is, I think, wise. But I also know there’s an element of self-protection in there. Hope makes everything so much harder. But now as I find myself in my fourth (and quite possibly last) round of IUI, I feel a little like a robot walking through the steps. I’ve promised myself I’d take the holidays off if this doesn’t work, so I’m almost just gritting my teeth and holding my breath until I can get a break for a couple of months. But I’m remembering the innocence of that first IUI attempt, how I was wanting to make my soul and my body a welcoming place to host a new life. And I miss that. I want to engage. But I’m so beat up right now.

And the people who have helped carry me in the past are not able to walk this with me now. I’m finding myself praying more, hoping that God will be able to pick up where they left off. Hoping that this works, hoping that I’ll be ok if it doesn’t. Hoping that of all the things that are lost in this process, I am not one.


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circle of life and that sort of thing

Last weekend was odd.

We were in my husband’s hometown to attend a funeral. His aunt, a woman in whose company one could not help but feel loved and important, a woman with a simple and staunch faith and a glint of mischief in her eye, a woman I liked instantly, passed away from a heart attack.

While we were still driving out, his parents were attending her internment in 32-degree heat. His father got dizzy and fell. His sister had experienced dizziness shortly before her heart attack. His other siblings insisted that he go to the emergency room, where he ended up waiting for over 8 hours.

When I married, I got a fairy godmother. My husband’s parents have a successful business, and his mom happens to be one of the most thoughtful and generous people I’ve met. And not just with money – last year she gave a kidney to a stranger.  No joke.  Anyway, she booked us all in the best place in town for the weekend so we could get some family vacation time since we were all together for the funeral anyway. This is not really relevant to the story except I just wanted to say a girl who grew up eating 99-cent whoppers and day-old prison food could do worse than check into a 5-star resort and be told, “there is a note on your reservation that all charges will be taken care of.”

Once we got settled and said hello to my sister-in-law and her toddler, my husband went to the emergency room to wait with his parents to get the heart x-ray results.

I stayed at the hotel to nurse an astronomical headache, a fit of exhaustion and some truly heinous endometriosis cramps. (I had spent much of the 4 ½ hour drive out there laying as flat as possible with a hoodie over my head to block out the light.)

The sweet girl who brought me room service seemed perplexed that I was sitting alone in my fancy room on a Friday night without the man I checked in with.

She asked how my evening was going.

I said it was about to get better.

She was visibly relieved and said, “Oh good! Are you going out?”

I looked at her dumbly and said, “No, I am going to eat this.”

I saw her face quickly recalibrate as she realized we were dealing with two very different thresholds of “better.” She regrouped and enthusiastically told me that this was practically her favorite thing on the menu. “A” for effort, anyway.

Incidentally, it did make it better.

better.

better.

They didn’t find anything wrong with my father-in-law, although he’s still limping, which has us all a little concerned. The funeral was simple and sweet. And despite the fact that I barely knew this woman, I cried a fair bit. Partly remembering my dad’s funeral. Partly PMS. Partly seeing how much this woman meant to her children and grandchildren. Wondering if I would ever have that chance. Wondering, as more people in our lives become immersed in their own family units, pushing us “extras” to the periphery, if anybody would ever miss us that much. Morbid thoughts, but they’re part of this whole thing, aren’t they?

I felt a little better the next day. We taught my new brother-in-law how to play Rook (a Mennonite must), and we all took our just-turned-2-year-old niece out on a speed boat for the first time. She even got into the inner tube in between mommy and daddy, and despite how carefully my husband was driving, they capsized and briefly went under water. I panicked for a second – she’s been in swimming lessons since birth and they were all wearing life jackets – but it was still a little terrifying. My father-in-law had been adamantly opposed to any of us going out in a boat, citing the many dangers of it over and over. He himself refused to come. I was beginning to wonder if we’d all proved him right. Fortunately, she bounced right back above the water unfazed. We all quickly made a pact to not mention it to grandpa. For her part, my niece covered for us nicely, repeating at various intervals throughout the remainder of the day, “Boat. Nice.”  Think we might have a bit of an adrenaline junkie on our hands.  Poor grandpa.

We came home to our empty apartment, and my husband mentioned that there was something life-giving about having people around you all the time, and he wished we had more of it. I told him that’s why people have kids. He said, “Oh yeah. We should do that.”