Mom

Ahhh, I thought I could get away with not posting today.

Leading up to today, my attitude about this holiday was: No big deal. What? You think having lost 5 babies bothers me on Mother’s Day? Whatever! Am strong. Am focused. Am warrior woman.

But I did cry. Briefly. Several times. The difference between my sadness in the past and my sadness now is akin to the difference between a tsunami and scattered spring showers. But I was sad, and I spent the day feeling like everyone was looking at me and wondering what I was doing all alone, which of course they probably weren’t. Except for my dramatic, excitable Long-Island-by-way-of-Sicily downstairs neighbors (they live on the first floor of the house, we live on the second) who notice everything.

“Hey kid! Listen!” called out Vinnie, walking toward me in the back yard,  his giant stomach leading the way. “Since you’re all alone on Muthas Day, you’re gonna eat Muthas Day dinner with us, you hear me? Manicotti, spaghetti and meatballs, macaroni–”

“No, that’s sweet, thank you—”

“Whaddaya mean, no? You’re comin!”

“No, I appreciate it, but–”

“Get outta here! No sense you being all alone–”

“I don’t want to.”

And with that, I escaped from the back yard to a tiny corner of the front yard, where I hoped their entire enormous extended family couldn’t look out the window and feel sorry for me. I eventually jumped in the car and spent the day trying to find places where children were not gleefully playing while their mothers strolled behind them, dazedly happy, clutching flowers. CVS was safe (I’ve never browsed so long in the makeup aisles). Downtown, with its idyllic harbor full of sailboats, its walking paths designed especially for the joyously family-ed, was not. But I stayed there for a little while, not feeling sad, exactly. Just wistful. I watched three little girls in pebble-colored dresses encircle their young, giggling, pregnant mother, dancing.

Now I am at Starbucks surrounded by studying teenagers: Better.

Before escaping Vinnie, I talked to my good Mom. For hours. At about minute 2 of the conversation, I started blubbering, “I just want you to know, on Mother’s Day, that you, you’re the one, you know? You’re my support. You’re the one.” Crying, crying. “Everyone else in the family is scared to talk to me about it. Scared to talk to me it seems, sometimes. Like I have some sort of disease, which I do, but you know, the stigma, you don’t make me feel the stigma. You always ask me questions. You listen. You help me figure things out. You’re the one, you’re my main support, thank you so much!”

My mom, crying now, too, whispered: “Of course!”

“I know it’s not easy for you. I know how hard it must be for you to hear all of this stuff I’m going through.”

“It is, I just want to make it all better!”

“I know! But I appreciate so much that you keep talking to me even though it’s hard, and even though you can’t fix it.”

Then we talked about the news I found out on FB.

Remember my last post? Facebooklandia? It’s as if that last post were a siren call for all people closely connected to me everywhere to conceive offspring and announce it exclamatorily on Facebook as soon as possible. Since that last post four friends have announced pregnancies, and one friend has given birth (didn’t know she was pregnant) and appeared in my feed with babe in arms. I took all of this rather well, actually, and even felt happy for them, if a bit beleaguered.

Then on Wednesday, I took a little Internet surfing break at work and my brother’s post knocked the breath out of me: He and his wife are expecting another child 5months from now.

I’m fine with it now, but I was hurt that he didn’t contact me first, either by phone or email, just to give me a head’s-up. The other thing is, my brother has Bipolar Disorder, chain-smokes, is overweight, and hasn’t had a job for years. His wife is also quite overweight. Their home is—well, let’s just say it is noticeably not clean. I hope other women in my shoes have had similar shameful judgmental thoughts along the lines of: Really? They get to conceive over and over, and I don’t? Because I feel like a real dick about those thoughts. But I have them, yes I do (though am in process of trying to shed them like the good yogi/buddha I want to be). My brother also had a son when he was 19. So he’s the one who gets to carry on the family genes in the form of three children, my perennially unemployed, vegetable-phobic, smoking brother, who is (probably literally) a genius but who never figured out how to function highly in the workaday world. He is a kind (now that he is medicated), smart as hell, interesting and interested person, and I am genuinely made happy by the happiness and sense of purpose fatherhood has given him. But man.

Anyway, Mom has some of the same thoughts and we talked about how dick-ish the thoughts make us feel. I told her that, surprisingly, I felt sad and hurt for a couple of hours, but by the time I got home from work, I just couldn’t be bothered to cry or feel wounded. “I wanted to watch Homeland with DH and joke around with him,” I said. “So I just did that instead.”

We both laughed at the simplicity of it.

“Sometimes I just feel so sick of being sad,” I said to my mom. “I can’t quite work up the energy to go there. It’s nice! But also–things just don’t bother me like they used to.”

We talked about the donor egg program at RBA and she was thrilled to learn that we are most likely going to go for it, even though we will have no savings whatsoever afterward and that might cause problems with DH’s parents.

We talked about how hard it is for her to give up the fantasy of my having my own biological children. “For so long now, I’ve had this yearning,” she admitted. “I think to myself, Oh, I can’t wait to see her children. I hope she has a daughter who looks like her.” 

It’s a part of this unexpected trip I have thought about before but haven’t discussed at length with my mom. What is she losing? What long-held dreams does she have to let go of?

She talked about me, her little girl who was beautiful, talented, gifted, smart, and wanting to see me in my kids. She said she struggles with letting go of the fantasy, but doesn’t talk to me about that because she doesn’t want to upset me. I told her that it doesn’t upset me at all. I want to hear what she’s going through.

“But, you know, even though we’re talking about these things now,” she said, “it is just so not going to matter one bit once you have a baby. I know that without question. That’s going to be your child, your family, and none of this stuff we’re talking about right now is even going to come up. We’re just going to love that baby so much. We’re going to be so thrilled!”

That’s my mom.

She told me that when she revealed to my dad that we’re thinking about the donor egg route, he burst into tears of joy and couldn’t speak.

I said, “Most of the time, I just feel so thankful that I’m alive during a time when this procedure is even possible.”

“Me, too,” she said.

I asked if she would like to look at the donor profiles with me, once I get access to the bank. I had no idea I was going to invite her, but it felt right. She said she would love to.

I guess it hasn’t been such a bad mama’s day after all.

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16 Comments

  1. I’m glad that even though sometimes we see other people that we don’t feel deserve to be parents a million times while we sit and wait to get pregnant, but I’m so glad you have support from your mom like you do. Happy Mother’s Day…you were a mommy 5 times…and I’m sure your babies are looking down at you from heaven. Even though today is hard…you are just as much of a mother than any other mother out there!

    Reply
  2. AB

     /  May 13, 2013

    i hear you. i was unusually calm and happy about mother’s day this year, maybe because i saw kids and joined the migrating hordes heading north on the mta to see moms…in my case, my mom. hung out with my parents, my DHs dad and DH. at one point i was in the kitchen with my parents and was so close to telling them about our decision to try donor eggs and have a child. we’d been talking about how eerily familiar my cousins on my dad’s side seem to me even if i barely even see them: we all share this manic energy. and, for the first time in a long time, knowing that i couldn’t expect that genetic inheritance to possibly show up in my offspring, it didn’t upset me. instead, it made me realize that i’m learning an important lesson all parents (or, pre-parents) must learn – your child is her or his own being, you can raise them, but they will or will not reflect pieces of you in ways you cannot predict. in the end, i didn’t say anything because the conversation strayed, but, i know that when i do say something, it will be more than okay.
    i’m glad you have your mom. she loves you, and that is all that matters on mother’s day.

    Reply
    • I’m glad to hear you had this kind of day, to hear of the peace you seem to have reached! I have actually been talking about the issue you bring up a lot with our therapist—letting go of this idea of a “little me.” That’s the fantasy to let go of, no matter if you use DE or not. But perhaps that is the silver lining to DE—it accelerates or intensifies that particular lesson. When I was young, I was so prized for certain attributes, and, well–that’s conditional love. And I had some resentment about that conditional love well into my early thirties. Maybe DE is going to help me with what would have been one of my greatest challenges as a parent–stopping me from looking for, and enhancing, my traits in my kids, helping me toward unconditional love. I used to think that intelligence and talent were important, but now, I just think about creating an environment in which our child learns compassion. Even if we weren’t using DE, I wonder if there are a lot of silver linings to becoming a parent when 40 instead of 30, along those lines, knowing, now, that the most important gift a child can have is the capacity for compassion…

      Reply
  3. Yes, yes, yes. A million times yes. I am glad that today turned out better than expected. Big hugs.

    Jo

    Reply
  4. Yes, yes and yes. To everything. I definitely have those dick-ish, judgemental moments and then (try not to) feel horrible afterwards. I definitely feel like I have a contagious disease and that people are afraid to talk to me.

    Anyway, your mom sounds awesome and I’m glad your day was an ok one in the end.

    Reply
  5. I have those judgemental moments a lot more than I like to admit. I also wanted to say how beautiful it is that your parents are so loving and supporting. It makes going through this just a tiny bit less terrible.

    Reply
  6. newtoivf

     /  May 13, 2013

    Your mum sounds like a wonderful woman, as all mothers should be. I’m lucky enough to have one of those too.
    I think all women suffering with IF have the “they can have kids….really?” thoughts – I think being judgmental just comes as part of the wonderful IF package!! Xx

    Reply
  7. Vedha

     /  May 21, 2013

    This is such a nice blog and it is so nice connecting with you ,i came across to your blog site as my amh is also 0.2,trying to concieve for 3 years now ,DH not keen on ivf or donor eggs,I am 34 years now not willing to lose faith now.

    Reply
    • Welcome to my blog! Nice to connect with you, too. I’m sorry to hear about your AMH, but happy to hear that you are not giving up hope! 34—so young, in this community (: I know it might not seem like you have a lot of time but I’d like to reassure you that you do. Write to me anytime with questions.

      Reply
  8. A.

     /  May 25, 2013

    I came across your blog in a random search about AMH as well. Mine dropped to .4 from my .95 level @ Cornell last year. I’m actually getting my day 3s drawn later this morning @ LI IVF to mail out to CCRM on Monday. As I leaf through post after post, I am dumbstruck by the parallels between us–too many to list in a silly comment.
    I just turned 34 but have already been through 4 IVF failures and (like you) 5 pregnancy losses. I am limping and bleeding emotionally, and your words have become strangely important to me. At a certain point, I outgrew (through my degree of failure) my IF sisters, and the road has become conspicuously lonely.

    Reply
    • This is the best outcome I could have ever hoped to come out of this crazy experience—to create this blog, and to connect with women like you through it. That anything I can share has become important to you is incredibly validating to me. I want all of this to mean something. Thank you for letting me know that I’ve helped you. It helps me so much just to hear that. How wild that we have this much in common—and you say that there are even more parallels. I’m so sorry to hear about your IVF failures and pregnancy losses. CCRM is of course an excellent place for you to go at this point. Please do keep me posted on what happens there, if you can. I’ll be thinking of you.

      Reply
  1. (Much) more on couples counseling | the unexpected trip

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