Privileging Parents

I mentioned on Twitter today that I was feeling like the people in my “real life” community aren’t supporting me. And that it’s especially hard when I see them seemingly bending over backwards to support others. I think that feeling would be hard regardless, but it stings especially because I feel like it’s happening because we aren’t yet parents and most people don’t yet know about this pregnancy. Allow me to explain.

When I talk about my real life community, right now I am primarily speaking of the local military community. As some of you know I used to volunteer for my husband’s squadron. I’ve worked very hard to give support to the members of his squadron and their families. So it especially stings when I don’t get the same kind back. Again, we have received some support from some lovely friends and I am totally grateful to them. But they have been few and far between.

I know I have said that when my husband first had his surgery I posted on Facebook asking if people could provide meals. Two people did. Two. One of those people reads this blog and knew I was pregnant. The other actually found out I was pregnant around that time because she was giving away all her maternity clothes and I wanted them so I told her. Although she had offered a meal before she knew that.

Today I saw a meal train thing for a woman who I don’t know who had surgery. I don’t know anything about what kind of surgery or why she had it. Just that she had surgery, would be in the hospital for a few days after, and had a kid. And the meal train was full of people bringing meals for like weeks. Including people who are my friends on Facebook who didn’t offer me a meal. And I can’t help but wonder if the disparity has to do with her having a kid. Like, here I am a woman who isn’t working or in school right now and doesn’t have kids, what possible reason could I need help cooking while taking care of my invalid husband? Do you have any idea how exhausting it is to take care of someone after surgery? Even if I wasn’t pregnant it would be significant. The feminist in me also wonders if it had to do with the fact that it was a woman having surgery, not a man, but that’s another issue.

Among middle-class married people, and especially in the military community, being a parent is privileged. It just is. Events are catered to your needs. People drop everything to help you out. I have to be honest, it hurts when someone who used to be a friend who dropped me because she couldn’t handle my depression jumps at the chance to babysit a mutual friend’s kids while her husband has minor surgery. I’m glad someone is helping my friend but damn, she couldn’t even “help” me by staying my friend on Facebook?

This post is all over the place and probably not really making my point. But I’m sad. I feel like people here don’t like me anymore. (And don’t even get me started on the people here I grew up with.) There are people who I know would gladly be doing things to help me right now but they don’t live here anymore. The other day I was having really bad back pain and having trouble just standing up. We didn’t have anything prepared for dinner. I asked for help on Facebook and the only response I got was from someone three states away wishing she was here to help. She is also someone who now knows I’m pregnant (pretty much all our close friends know now). The people who are here ignore us like we don’t need help. I can’t help but ask myself, is it because we aren’t parents?

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My whole life I’ve been told I’m too sensitive. Maybe I am, I dunno, is there such a thing? But that’s not the point.

I had a rather difficult evening and night last night. I was at the thesis show for the honors art program at my school when I found out that a guy I know, who I guess I consider a friend but it’s hard to say it’s not like we communicate outside of seeing each other on campus, had won the art competition I entered a couple of weeks ago. A lot like when friends get pregnant I was struck with immediate strong feelings of happy for him, sad for me. He wasn’t sure who had come in second, I checked my email just in case but it was just a rejection letter. No prize here. I was really disappointed. Way more so than I thought I would be. I hadn’t really expected to win (the piece I entered was figurative and they have never selected figurative work for this prize) but I was crushed. I’ve dealt with loss/rejection of art stuff before. It’s always disappointing, but for some reason this was just really bad. I was so upset I left the show before even getting a chance to say congratulations on the show to the people in the honors program that I know. Then I felt like a selfish dick

After that I had class during which I was upset and distracted the whole time. The whole damn time. I went home and cried a little to my husband and he comforted me and I thought I was better. I went upstairs to get something to eat, pulled out my phone, opened up Facebook, and saw a pregnancy announcement from the couple we went to NYC with. And I lost it. Completely and utterly lost it. Dropped my bag, threw down my phone, collapsed on the floor and started sobbing hysterically. My husband came upstairs thinking I was still upset about the art show loss. We went upstairs to snuggle in bed and I proceeded to have a complete breakdown. All the crying that hasn’t been happening over the past few months came out. Beyond ugly cry. And then I had an existential crisis about art and oh my god what if I’m not good enough, what if this isn’t the right career for me, what if I’ve made the wrong choice again? Which morphed into I’m invisible at school, nobody supports me, nobody acknowledges me or my work except for the one teacher I TA for. I just utterly lost my shit. And my poor husband tried to comfort me but kept saying things that only made it worse.

Eventually I calmed down and decided I would try to sleep. I pulled out my phone wanting to make a quick Facebook post and saw another post from our friend. Apparently the pregnancy post was a joke. The wife was logged into the husband’s account and thought it would be funny to make a post saying they were expecting.

I’m not sure if I was more angry at them/her when I thought it was real or when I learned it was a “prank.”

When I thought it was real I was upset because:
a. They’ve been married all of about seven months.
b. She’s about to go on a deployment and getting pregnant right before would be really irresponsible of her. (I’m assuming it would cancel her deployment?)
c. They didn’t tell my husband and/or I before announcing it on Facebook despite being really close to my hubby and knowing about our infertility struggles.
d. They were either announcing stupid early, like first positive test early, or they were pregnant in NYC and didn’t tell us (although now that I think about it she was drinking a lot so that wouldn’t have made sense, anyway).

When I learned it was fake I was upset because:
a. Fake pregnancy posts are fucking hurtful.
b. They can’t claim ignorance. They knew about our stuff before and she has been liking several of my National Infertility Awareness Week posts this week.

I just don’t understand how she/they could think this joke is okay, especially this week. It’s not okay. It’s not funny. It’s not “just a joke.” It’s hurtful. I’m angry. I don’t know if I should send her a private message or just leave it alone. I’m going to address the issue of fake pregnancy jokes without naming names in my last NIAW post on Saturday. Maybe that will get the point through. Or maybe some people are just so oblivious it will change nothing.

But I am NOT too fucking sensitive about this.

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State of Mind

I know, I said I wasn’t going to be posting. But I feel like if I don’t get this stuff out of my brain and onto the page it’s just going to drag me deeper into the muck of depression.

But before I get there, let’s talk about New York. It was great. It was also exhausting. I am reminded that my husband and I are no longer spring chickens and we both have physical issues that make long days on our feet extra challenging. No lectures on how we’re going to manage to chase a kid please, we will cross that bridge when we get to it. The best part of the trip was getting to spend time with the other couple we were staying with. The wife is one of my husband’s best friends, they went to college together and actually dated briefly during that time, and have remained close. She and her husband live on the other side of the country and we pretty much never get to see them. In fact, the last time we saw them was their wedding and the time before that was our wedding which was when we first met her now husband. So suddenly being together in a small NYC apartment for 6 days was pretty intense. But there was an instant comfort level, which is good because to get to the second bedroom one had to walk through the master so privacy was not really a thing.

I was lucky that I didn’t have much homework to deal with during Spring Break so I pretty much didn’t think about school the entire trip, which was wonderful. Just not having that stress was huge. I tried not thinking too much about the infertility stuff but that didn’t totally happen. I talked about it with our friends quite a bit actually, in part because there was an awful lot of alcohol flowing on the trip and drinking can make me confess-y. I found out some things about the woman. She is Air National Guard and about to leave for a deployment. Although they’ve only been married since September she and her husband have been together for several years. I knew all that. But I learned that when she gets back from the deployment they will probably start trying to have kids partly because she’s worried it won’t be easy. It seems her mom had infertility and took something like seven years to get pregnant with each of her two daughters. So my friend is worried that something like that will happen to her. I told her that I hope it doesn’t but if she ever wants to talk about that stuff I’m here. I got the feeling she appreciated that.

The timing of the trip with my cycle worked out pretty well. I was at the end of my period when it started and just starting to take OPKs at the end. We didn’t have to worry about scheduled sex but did manage to get some private time in despite the weird bedroom situation.

Speaking of my cycle, I have no idea if we hit my fertile window this cycle or not. We had sex the day I had a positive OPK but then I was feeling very ovulation symptom-y two days later when we were scheduled to have sex again but it didn’t happen. Those of you on Twitter know that I got pretty pissed at my husband that night, but the truth is I was super depressed that day myself and it would have been difficult to make sexy time happen. But I wanted to at least try. Oh well. Nothing we can do about it now. We are continuing our every other day sexy time until cycle day 20 as directed. Whatever happens happens, right?

About the depression, it’s been really bad. I’m not sure where it’s coming from. Some of it is certainly from the sense of overwhelm that I have with school. I have so much to do in the second half of this semester and then I freaking graduate which is insane. There was a long time when I was certain this day would never come. It’s also been a struggle trying to balance the rest of life with school stuff. For instance I need to get my car repaired. There’s a hole in the muffler and I am due for an emissions test and I can’t imagine passing with a hole in the muffler. But I’ve been so busy and stressed that doing that has felt impossible but now I’m running out of time. Also I still haven’t gotten rid of my old car that died. It’s just sitting parked outside taking up a parking space and making me feel guilty every time I see it. I haven’t dealt with it in part because of sheer laziness but also because I have a weird emotional attachment to the car I drove for 15 years. I feel like I need a scheduler to come tell me exactly when I need to do all these things. Don’t get me started on doctor’s and dentist appointments. Those will likely not happen until after graduation. But the depression, oh the depression. It was so bad on Thursday morning that I emailed a friend to get the info to call and make an appointment with the people who do confidential counseling on base. Because I just need to talk to someone and soon. Although I’m also not excited about fitting that into my schedule. And as I said on Twitter, if these Femara cycles don’t work I’m going to make an appointment with my psychiatrist to go back on Zoloft. Especially if the next step for us is IUI. I don’t think I could handle it otherwise.

Jumping back to the New York trip, one thing that I kept thinking about is how it was something we absolutely couldn’t do if we had a kid. And something we probably wouldn’t have done if I were pregnant because of the expense. So it was really nice to take advantage of the opportunity now. I’m trying to focus more on these kind of things that married people without kids do, because like all the annoying fertiles always say, we should do it now before we have kids and can’t. I hate hearing that, mostly because it usually feels like it comes from a place of jealousy of our “freedom” but it’s not exactly untrue. There are definite advantages to not having kids, even more so after I graduate and we become a DINK (dual income no kids) couple assuming I find some sort of work. I still want the kids, but for now at least we can take advantage of what we have without them.

Now that I’ve written all this I should probably get off my ass and be productive. I have no idea when you’ll hear from me again, unless it’s on Twitter where I can’t seem to shut up.

The Cool Kids

It’s not you, it’s me.

I have this thing about not being one of the cool kids. I regularly feel excluded from things. And I know this is my issue; that it’s way more about my perception than about anyone actually consciously excluding me. It’s also an issue that has come up pretty much as far back as I can remember.

I could regale you with stories from elementary school, high school, the first college years, and so on, but I don’t think that’s really necessary. I’ll just say that I’ve always had friends but I’ve always felt like I’m on the outside of every group. I was the sort of kid who was friends with both the nerds/geeks and some of the cool kids. And I always felt on the outside of both groups, just sort of orbiting, never fully accepted.

Even now, in the context of school, things are hard. I obviously don’t fit in with the traditional students 10 years younger than me, but I don’t feel like I fit in with the other non-traditional students either. Most of them are much older, or parents, or both. I’m just sort of hanging out in my weird world. Which isn’t to say that I don’t have friends at school. I totally do. Not a ton, but a few and that’s great. But I generally find I have more in common with my professors than my classmates.

I feel similarly about the military spouse community. I’m not a mom. I’m not a young kid who still wants to party before having a family. My hubby and I are several years older than most couples with similar rank to his, yet they all also have kids. I’m a freaking unicorn.

So this brings me to now, to here. I don’t feel like I fit in with the infertility community. I don’t feel like I’m fully accepted, that I’ve been brought into the fold, that the “cool” people like me. Let me be really clear, I’m quite certain this is pretty much entirely in my head. Those of you who read this blog and follow me on Twitter have been lovely and supportive and inclusive. But I still feel left out. And I don’t know why. I don’t know what I’m “doing wrong.”

I have a lot of guilt still about getting pregnant naturally this summer. Even though it ended in what was for me a really traumatic loss, it was a spontaneous pregnancy. I no longer fit into the unable to ever get pregnant club. I don’t fit into the multiple loss club either. I don’t know where I fit. I don’t know why I care.

I’m orbiting again. I don’t know when I’ll ever feel fully accepted anywhere.

Membership Revoked

A lot of the bloggers I follow are currently pregnant. And they all seem to be struggling with the issue of how one talks about pregnancy on a blog that was devoted to infertility. They also have discussed the conflicting feelings about just being both infertile and pregnant. They mention not feeling part of the mommy club and no longer part of the infertile club. I can only imagine those conflicting feelings right now. It’s got to be tough.

All that plus some Twitter conversations today have got me thinking about one friend whose membership to the infertile club I’m ready to revoke. This friend was one of the first people to straight up tell me in real life that she struggled with infertility. She has been one of the few people in my “real life” who I’ve felt like I can talk to about this stuff. But I’m feeling less and less comfortable talking to her about it.

She and her husband had unexplained infertility. She has told me that she thinks that’s harder than having a diagnosis. I don’t think it’s fair to label and compare. Both are hard. They were about to start treatments (I’m not sure what treatments exactly, she didn’t share) when they got pregnant naturally with their first. A few years later she gave birth to their second. And just a few weeks ago she gave birth to their third, an unplanned surprise baby. I get that they went through difficult times before conceiving their first, but I feel like once you’ve had three successful pregnancies without any medical intervention you no longer get to consider yourself infertile.

Is that insensitive of me? Probably. It doesn’t help that she has very strong opinions about how and where I should give birth if we are still living in this area when/if I get pregnant and those opinions are very different from how I envision things. So I just feel like I can’t talk to her about infertility or pregnancy or babies right now.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this? Is there anyone you would like to kick out of the infertile club? Am I just a mean girl?

No Break

We are in my husband’s hometown visiting his family for the holidays. I’ve been really looking forward to this trip for several reasons: I love his family and don’t see them as much as I’d like, it’s a break from doing much of anything, and we get away from the hustle and bustle of a big city. The other reason is that this was looking like a mostly baby free trip. The only kids I was really expecting to see are his niece and nephew and I wasn’t even sure I’d see them thanks to some family drama. But we will be and that’s great. I haven’t seen his nephew since he was less than a month old and he’s 17 months now.
Then today we were at my father-in-law’s house and he starts asking my husband if he’s going to see any of his high school friends. It turns out both of the ones he wants to see have kids under a year old. Awesome. We are definitely seeing one tomorrow night, I’m not sure about the other yet.
So this will not be the baby break I was hoping for but I will suck it up and deal because these are people who are important to my hubby and he wants to see them while we’re in town. At least I can drink if I need to, right?

Green-Eyed Monster

Jealousy has been a constant theme in my life lately. It’s more than just jealousy of pregnant women and families. I can barely look at Facebook without something jumping out and hurting me, even if it has nothing to do with babies, birth, or pregnancy. The baby stuff is easy to explain, but the other stuff is harder to talk about.

A lot of what hurts right now are seeing people go through other milestones. One of my husband’s brothers and his wife are in the process of buying a house. I should be happy for them, but I’m having an incredibly hard time being happy about it. It’s soooo petty and stupid, but I’m jealous. It’s impossible for me to imagine us being able to buy a house any time soon, even if we didn’t have to contend with things like the military moving us around. I’m still a student and we’re living on one income and things have been tight. By the time you’re in your thirties you’re supposed to at least be able to consider buying a house, right? Even more petty, and I’m hesitant to say this because the wife reads this blog, is that I’m jealous that they are able to do this despite being younger than us. I know it’s silly and everyone’s life paths are different and blah blah blah. I feel like a failure.

Oddly enough weddings are tough right now too. And I LOVE weddings. There is just something so special about seeing two people commit their lives to each other. But what’s tough is seeing these couples on the edge of so many possibilities, knowing that one of those is babies. The couple whose wedding we attended a couple of weeks ago is hitting a lot of nerves right now. They are around our age but own a house. They went to Hawaii for their honeymoon, we went an hour away for 3 days the first time and after Wedding 2.0 we spent a week at a beach house with my husband’s mom, her now husband, and his daughter (who was like 6 months pregnant) and her husband. And we were only able to do that because my mother-in-law and her husband paid for basically all of it. When we first got married we talked about going on a Mediterranean cruise as a late honeymoon. Now I can’t imagine ever in our lives being able to do that. The couple who just got married was talking about how they might come visit us sometime soon because they want to travel around a bunch before they start to have kids. That right there stung. We never got to do any of that. Maybe we’ll never get pregnant and we can spend the rest of our lives traveling. Or we have kids and we are blessed with kids but never go anywhere.

Images of people traveling. Tales of great jobs. Photos from late nights partying. Adventures moving to other countries. It is as though everyone else is out living wonderful lives except me. School stresses me out more than anyone I know. I have almost no social life. I don’t have a job. And I don’t even have kids to blame it all on.

I have wasted so much of my life. I am continuing to waste so much of my life. Everything everyone else does stings. It’s not fair to the people I love that I feel this way. But I do.

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Babies and Bellies and Meltdowns Oh My!

Today was a rough one. I knew it would be even last night when I couldn’t sleep despite my body feeling exhausted and I tossed and turned because my brain would not shut off. I almost stayed home from my plans today. Maybe I should have.

You should know that I have pretty bad social anxiety. The extent to which it affects me varies. Sometimes I’m anxious for a while but then I get comfortable and do fine. Sometimes I leave an event early in tears. Guess which one today was.

I do volunteer work for my husband’s squadron. The work primarily involves working with/supporting the other spouses in the squadron. I started doing it in part as a way to help me meet people and deal with the social anxiety. But, and here is a big but, when I have to attend a large event full of spouses like the one today, my husband is usually with me to act as a social buffer. He not only knows many of the people who are strangers to me, he is also an extrovert who is happy to strike up conversations. But of course he couldn’t be there today because he is out of town. Had I not been attending as a representative of the volunteer program I would have simply stayed home from the event all-together. But I had an obligation to my team and I didn’t want to let them down.

I arrived at the start of the event in part because I know how parking gets and I wanted to get a good spot. I walked up to the outdoor pavilion where it was being held and saw that there wasn’t a single person there who I knew well enough to talk to or sit with. I sat down at the corner of a table for a moment feeling like the nerdy kid in the cafeteria who has to sit by herself. I walked away to an area near the entrance and texted my team asking if they would mind if I just went home. I fought back tears. But one of them was just arriving pretty much at that moment and so I waited for her and then joined her and her kiddos at the bouncy house. I had another moment where I almost cried and she gave me a big hug. I can’t quite put my finger on why I was so near tears at that point, I just know I was feeling very raw.

We then ventured into the pavilion to find a seat only to discover it was nearly full. She suggested sitting at a table with three ladies who we didn’t know and I said no. I had seen those three arrive and one of them was very pregnant. So we found another seat and I started to realize just how surrounded I was by babies and pregnant women. The babies were pretty much all really small, like still counting their age in weeks, infants. And the pregnant women were all obviously in their third trimester. I became increasingly uncomfortable.

The other members of our team arrived and people kept asking me if I was okay and I kept fighting back tears and telling everyone I was fine. At one point I finally admitted that I might need to just leave. Then one of my team-members/friends looked at me and realized I was on the verge of tears. She suggested we go take a walk. We walked a little ways away and found an empty table to sit down. I pulled a handkerchief out of my purse and fought to not sob. There was no point in fighting the tears entirely, they were just there, but I didn’t want to totally lose it in public. She and I talked about why I was upset. I explained about the social anxiety, especially with my hubby not there, and the pregnant women and babies. Oh, this friend happens to be 8 months pregnant. BUT she knows what’s going on with us and she is awesome and supportive. She’s been there before with her best friend who dealt with years of infertility and is now 8 months pregnant with twins. We talked for a while and then I left the event.

I felt/feel bad and like I let down my team but I was in no place to schmooze spouses today. And they are all really supportive and totally fine with me taking care of myself and leaving. I just wish I wasn’t so sensitive. I wish I wasn’t always the one people have to prop up. I wish I could attend an event full of happy military families and be happy to be there and not resentful of all the young wives with their beautiful babies and bellies.

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I found out tonight that another woman I know is pregnant. Another woman from base who I thought might become a friend but who ultimately did not. The real kicker? I remember when I first met her she had a visceral response to comments about kids and insisted that she absolutely never wanted any. I’m not saying a woman can’t change her mind, but damn. Also, fuck Facebook.

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This story is a bit soap opera-y. Indulge me, or don’t. I just need to get it out of my system.

First a little back story. I met a woman on base in the first few months that my husband and I were married. She seemed like a nice enough person but I also thought, pretty much instantly upon meeting her, that she didn’t like me. At the time I knew basically nobody on base and was rather desperate for friends, so I tried to be hers despite thinking she didn’t like me. Not surprisingly, nothing really came of that. Then we ended up working together on some volunteer stuff and butting heads because the two of us had trouble communicating. I don’t know what it was exactly, but we just couldn’t seem to get our points across to each other and lots of confusion resulted.

Then her husband deployed and she moved away to stay with family during his deployment and at some point unfriended me on Facebook and I was like, okay, whatever. We were never really friends and now at least we don’t have to work together. I was honestly worried when she moved back that she would want her old volunteer position back, but she didn’t. Relief! So she was never completely gone from my life, she just existed on the periphery of it and it was no big deal.

Also relevant to this discussion, while her husband was deployed a mutual friend told me out of the blue that this girl had had a miscarriage around the time he left. I felt bad, and I also wondered if this girl would even want me to know that information. I also, honestly, felt a little bitter that she was still getting pregnant with two kids already when we couldn’t seem to have even one.

Fast forward to now. The book club on base that I’m a member of needed a new admin because the current one a. never really wanted to be one in the first place and b. is moving to a new station in a few months. So I agreed to become admin. It’s a nice distraction and my OCD is helpful for the little bit of work it involves. I didn’t go to the last meeting because we had just gotten back from our vacation and I didn’t feel like driving to base.

Another mutual friend who actually started the book club had been encouraging this girl to start going to meetings. I remember seeing signs of this and thinking Nooooo, book club is a safe, happy place, I don’t want her there. Then getting over myself and thinking that it wasn’t about me and if she wanted to join she should. And apparently she attended the last meeting that I wasn’t at.

Here’s where things come back to this blog. I saw the mutual friend who encouraged her to join book club the day after they met. She told me that during the meeting it had come up that a. this girl is pregnant again and b. she is having a hard time enjoying early pregnancy because she is afraid of another loss. And I was so fucking glad that I wasn’t at that meeting. I think I would have lost it. I would have either started bawling or had to leave, or probably both.

Then, today, I was posting on the Facebook page for the group related to some admin stuff. And then this girl commented confused about something. And I couldn’t really answer her confusion because it was related to the meeting I missed. And then I spent the next couple of hours stressing about me and her not communicating and her not liking me. And when I finally started feeling like I’d gotten over that, I took a nap because of a migraine and had a nightmare about her and book club and talking about miscarriage. Seriously.

Many years ago one of my healers told me about what she called “karmic soul mates.” She said these are souls who keep coming back into our lives, often in a negative way, because we have something we need to work out with them. And they will keep coming back and keep coming back until that is worked out. I’m pretty sure this woman is a karmic soul mate. I think that maybe I need to work out things about communication and not taking it so personally when someone doesn’t like me. I’m trying to see this as an opportunity to grow and learn. I’m trying really hard not to see it as the Universe throwing another pregnant woman in my face.

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