Saturday, 7 September 2013

Silent things (saying it)

So, this past week was interesting. Not in an exciting way, as in I had a bunch of adventures or anything. Just interesting to live through.

I started a couple of blog entries in  the past couple weeks, and didn't end up posting either, because I couldn't decide if they really communicated  what I needed to say.

Try to summarize, Turtle.

1) We were kind of "trying" this past cycle. Maybe. I actually spent quite a few days wondering "are we actually  trying?" That sounds so inane. How can I not know if we are or aren't trying to get pregnant? But in the past few months, as opposed to say, a couple of years ago, the whole idea of "trying" has become fraught with savage emotions, and it really isn't surprising that I/we have avoided thinking about it or discussing it.  We haven't been "trying" in  the sense of timed intercourse since January (the male factor diagnosis). Even though I said at the time to Mr. Turtle that we could keep trying because "you  never know," I realized soon after that my actual feelings were completely the opposite. I almost welcomed the MFI diagnosis because I wanted a break from TTC and the overwhelming sense of futility it was giving me.

But then I started seeing Dr.Q. Our goals are to lengthen my cycle and improve uterine lining.  I had appointments timed to cycle days. She gave me advice about what to eat, my mental state, when to start OPKs, when to have sex. It was reasonable advice.  I was feeling good: some of the treatments were to improve libido, and maybe it worked. So what the heck, we went for it, without really specifying if we were or weren't trying. We had a pretty good run until Mr. Turtle came down with a bad cold.

Ovulation signs were open to interpretation, so I wasn't really sure where in my cycle I was. Between the chance that I ovulated too early, and Mr. Turtle's cold, not to mention lazy sperm, well, chances of a natural pregnancy were never good. But no matter how rational I think I am, my mind always finds a  way (with the thinnest possible justification) to conjure up belief that pregnancy could be possible. I'm actually a bit bewildered to find that cozy little cocoon of denial always there, waiting for me.

2) The Period arrived on Tuesday. It wasn't a surprise. It came at the end of my first day back with the students. I don't think I even registered that much disappointment. I shrugged off the denial cocoon and focused on  the rest of my life.  I was happy about my day at school and looking forward to resting well and having more good days at school with the new students.  I went to bed calm, at a decent hour.

And then I woke up at about 3:00am.

I don't know what it is about 3:00am, but no matter how happy or at peace I think I am, it's NEVER the peaceful happy thoughts that come to mind. Nope. Infertility, futility, death, illness, imaginary fires, stalkers, offences given or received, omissions, delusions: that is the stuff of  3am thoughts. Philip Larkin pretty much nailed the 3am mind in Aubade.  Even though my spiritual canon contains more thoughts and poets than dear old Phil, there are times - those sleepless nights - when he might as well be the only poet in the universe.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape. 
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know, 
Have always known, know that we can't escape, 
Yet can't accept. One side will have to go. 
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring 
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring 
Intricate rented world begins to rouse. 
The sky is white as clay, with no sun. 
Work has to be done. 
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

A few days ago, I told another good friend via email about the infertility. To try to give her a picture of how it felt, I wrote: "It feels like we are perpetually grieving someone who never existed. It's a real mindfuck sometimes."

As I lay awake at 3am, I realized: I haven't actually grieved yet. I've thought about grieving. I've read about others' grief. I've circled it. I've described it. Which means I've distanced myself from it. Well, suddenly I had no distance. Suddenly there were tears, and a terrible solitude closing in around me. I wanted to reach out to Mr. Turtle, but I no longer even believed that a human touch could comfort me. Touch just reminded  me of how fragile and barren I was and how life itself could be snatched away any moment. So I huddled in on my own chilly body and wept silently.  I don't know exactly how my thoughts went. I just knew that I was Not OK. That I had been OK when I went to bed, and now I wasn't.

2) I wasn't OK in the morning either, obviously because I hadn't slept much, and because the coldness and sorrow was still there. I didn't say much about it to Mr. Turtle. He knew I was off but I couldn't put my thoughts into words. I went to work. I was quite grateful for work this week. Despite the fact I had to get up early and accomplish things and interact with people, which was painful sometimes, I realized how lucky I am to have a job that is interesting, demanding, and meaningful. As much as I wanted to be hiding in a small burrow of misery, that would have made everything worse. Working at a job that didn't require my mental or emotional energy would also have made it worse. I was in the best possible place.

3) I phoned the fertility clinic again about my Fragile X test. This is the test result that will probably decide the ART path we take: Flare IVF or donor egg IVF.  But until we have it, we can't do anything. To back up a bit: we were referred to the fertility clinic back in January. Intake meeting was in May. Since then it's been tests, tests, tests. One follow up in June, One follow up in August. But we're not on the IVF waiting list. I'm not on DHEA yet (although I would have started taking it if I'd known how freaking long I would be in limbo waiting for the test result. Well, fertility clinic phoned back. Now, at our last appointment (August) Mr. Turtle and I are both thought we heard Dr. Cotter say that 1) they would tell me the test result over the phone 2) if the test result was negative, that we could register in the IVF program without meeting with her again.  Well, last week the nurse said that yes, they had the test results but she was not allowed to say them over the phone, and that we had to book a  follow up appointment. Which is not until October 2nd. I didn't argue because what was the point and anyway I was late for a meeting. But seriously. If we had understood the process we could have booked a followup in August for this month and know the test results now, but instead we are waiting weeks and weeks for the follow up appointment again.

Just curious: do others wait this long for follow up at other clinics? is it different in the States? somehow I've got the impression that other people get treatment faster.

Somebody out there knows whether or not I have a gene that if passed on will cause severe mental retardation in my children. That person is not me, and I can't find out for another 3 weeks. This kind of pisses me off. So I'm trying not to think much about it.

I'm telling myself that it really doesn't matter because at this point, we wouldn't be able to do an IVF cycle before Christmas, anyway. I am sure they would not start me on a cycle in  December because that is the one month of the year when the clinic is closed for a week.  And although in December I turn 34, really, what is the point of imposing deadlines on things.

4) Seamus Heaney died last Friday. Poets don't get much fame or respect nowadays, but he was an exception.  I have read his work and looked up to him as a role model for years. What better way to celebrate a life well lived than by reading his work. So I pulled some books and started to read. Came across this quote.

"What is the source of our first suffering? It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak. It begins in the moment when we accumulated silent things within us."  Gaston Bachelard, quoted by Seamus Heaney

Oh, the silent things that break our hearts.

I realized that probably the worst thing I did this past week was refuse to talk to Mr. Turtle when he switched off the TV and asked me what was bothering me. I don't know why. I think I was afraid of crying (again) and looking foolish. Foolish? Well, how do you explain logically how you can be OK one day, and suddenly not OK another? I didn't understand it myself.

Well, we finally talked about it. Mr. Turtle and I have a game where we ask each other: "So what great truth did you learn about life this week?" over Saturday breakfast. No right or wrong answers, but we have to come up with something.

This was mine: that sometimes I'm not OK.  Sometimes the biggest thing going on in my life is heartbreak. It's real. I can't pretend it away. Well I can, but not forever.

It's raining this weekend. I love it. I lay on the couch and read books, blissfully aware that I can fall asleep anytime I wanted. We walked by the side of the lake in the rain, watching the mist, talking about Seamus Heaney and life and death.

I'm doing better.


  1. This was such a beautiful post. I loved every part of it. I am also a fan of Larkin, and the lines you quoted from "Aubade" are breathtaking. They so perfectly capture the loneliness of modernity. And it does feel sad and strange that Seamus Heaney is no longer in the world.

    I know those 3 am thoughts all too well, and I'm sorry you had to go through a night like that. But I am also glad you were able to recognize your grief and finally talk to Mr. Turtle about it. Sometimes grief seems so elusive--it's with us, and yet not something we can grasp and sink our teeth into, not something we can clearly outline and describe. This line you wrote actually made me a little teary: "Oh the silent things that break our hearts." It's so true. It's the unspeakable things that hurt us the most.

    How frustrating about not being able to get the results from your doctor sooner. I probably would have had a breakdown on the phone. From my experience in the state, the waiting time to see an RE as a new patient is usually pretty long (3-4 months). However, once you're a patient, they can usually work you in for appointments on very short notice, especially for something important like those test results. Speaking of which, it really doesn't make sense to me that they can't just tell you that over the phone, especially since your doctor told you they could. Honestly, I have found that nurses often get their information wrong, so I would call back and say you are really not happy about waiting that long to hear the results and the doctor told you they would be able to tell you over the phone so can she please have the RE give you a call.

    I know how hard the waiting can be. It just feels like it's been a whole year of nothing but waiting, doesn't it? I'm thinking of you and hoping next week brings happier things. Your rainy weekend sounds lovely :)

    1. Thanks Annie :-) You are so right about grief being elusive and not something easily grasped, especially when it is for a non-existent child. :-)

      I've gone back and forth about calling the clinic and trying to get the results sooner. Can't decide if it would make me feel better or if it would just lead to obsessing more over something that I can't change, whatever it is. Probably will just wait till Oct 2nd, unless I start to lose it before then. I don't usually break down in front of people; I think it is probably because I have a job with a sensitive population and emotional control is so important. Sometimes I wonder if I'm making things too easy for people though ;-)

      I'm glad you enjoy and appreciate the poetry quotations.

  2. Turtle, I am so sorry you have been having a tough time, but I am so happy you are doing better.

    I know that my experience getting into the IUI program with Saskatoon was pretty smooth, but it's not IVF and our situation is different than yours. That being said, I can completely sympathize with the time delay. Adoption is FULL of delay after delay.

    I hope all the waiting is worth it, and you get your BFP soon. I'm glad you've got a great job to keep you busy while waiting :)

    1. Thanks Gypsy Mama! funny the things we are thankful for when things get shitty!

  3. Ugh I hate 3am's too. They are always fille with sad sad thoughts. My clinic has open window appointments M-F there is a window from 730-10am and if you call the day before they will put you in for the window (unless you require a procedure then you get a time). In the window time you can talk to the APNs or nurses or get test results, but we also can call the 24/7/365 nurse triage line and they always call right back. I would be frustrated too - they should at least give you the results. Thinking of you and Mr Turlte!!

    1. Thanks Kasey. I like the process you describe (open window). I wish they had something similar...

  4. This is a really moving post. And that poem "Aubade"...shivers. I never felt anyone else explain how I get in the wee hours in the morning quite so well. It actually made me feel good to know that I'm not the only one who has those thoughts. I'm glad you finally found the words to talk to Mr. Turtle. It can only help, right?

    1. Yes, one of the worst things about those 3am thoughts is how alone one feels when they hit. Even reading Philip Larkin helps a little! Yes, took me a while to describe the feelings to Mr. Turtle (also I worry about hurting him by being too sad) but it's much better than holding it inside.

  5. What a lovely post about such a difficult time. I'm sorry that it came upon you suddenly in the middle of the night. I'm glad that you were able to speak to Mr. Turtle about it and you were able to find solace in speaking to him.

    1. Thanks! speaking out is so important...very grateful for Mr. Turtle and everyone who reads the blog from time to time. :-)