Yesterday I had my eighth solo appointment with Quirky, my infertility counselor. I first met her over two years ago, when she came to speak to my Resolve support group about tips for getting through the holidays. She doesn't take insurance and is out of network, and at the time I wasn't in a good financial position to start seeing her. But, once we made the decision to pursue donor embryos, I called her to see if I could work through some of my anxieties and fears with her. Turns out she was able to do our requisite pre-donor counseling session as well.
I like Quirky - a lot. And I like working with her. I have been seeing therapists fairly continuously since I was 17 (I have struggled with depression and anxiety since I was very young). Chance, who started as Mr. Hope's and my family counselor, started seeing me one-on-one about a year and a half ago. In the beginning, he was just the kick in the ass I needed to start making some serious changes in my life.
But after a while, the one thing I needed to talk about most in therapy was my infertility. Plucky, the therapist I was seeing prior to chance, had this bad habit of comparing my infertility to that of Julianna and Bill Rancic, as that was literally the extent of her knowledge. Hence one of the reasons I stopped seeing Plucky, because hi, really? Julianna and Bill?
But Chance isn't much better when it comes to the babymaking blues. In fact, lately I've been considering taking a break from therapy, since I haven't been getting much out of my sessions with him for months. He had Mr. Hope and me come in together on Christmas Eve, to make sure we were okay with everything going on, and I sat there for half an hour recounting what had been happening before he sent us home. In the parking lot I turned to Mr. Hope and said, "Is it me or was that a colossal waste of time?"
Quirky, though...Quirky gets it. (In)fertility is her bailiwick. Pregnancy, loss, adoption, donor gametes - you name it, she covers it. And yesterday she really took me task.
My appointment with Quirky was for 2 p.m. Yesterday was the first day I'd been home alone in a week. It was the first day without holiday craziness or house guests. I was supposed to get up, work on my freelance project, do some laundry, make some soup, and balance the checkbook. Instead, I sat on the couch and binge-watched an old sci-fi show on Netflix, drifting in and out of sleep as I did.
Before my appointment I had to drive to my office to pick up my bottle of vitamins. I'd run out at home and Mr. Hope was freaking out that one day off prenatals would be enough to do Nugget in. On the way there I listened to a sweet, country-flavored pop song on repeat and, out of nowhere, started crying. In the car. While listening to Taylor Swift. (The song is "Stay, Stay, Stay" if you're interested.)
Then I had to pick up an audiobook at the library. More tears. More frustration about getting stuck behind old people and people on their phones and generally crappy drivers.
So when I arrived at Quirky's office, I wasn't doing so hot. I was still sniffling back some tears. I was wearing zero makeup and my hair may have been slightly wet from the shower I took before I headed out.
"Talk to me," she said. "What's going on?"
I told her about watching What to Expect When You're Expecting.
"Why would you do that?" she asked immediately.
"Maybe," she said. "Or maybe you needed to cry."
"More likely masochism."
I told her that I realized right after Mr. Hope left for work that my boobs had stopped hurting entirely. I mean, there was nothing. I could mush them with my hands and there was not a single spot of tenderness. I told her that I knew then I'd lost the baby.
She said, "You realize it doesn't work like that, right? Even in a normal pregnancy, symptoms come and go like that. When you lose a baby, your symptoms don't disappear that quickly. It takes a while for your body to catch up."
I shrugged. I did a lot of shrugging yesterday.
(Side note: when I got back into my car after the appointment, and buckled my seat belt, I winced. Guess what? Boob tenderness back with a vengeance.)
I talked to Quirky about what a horrible person I was, because the weekend with Mini-Hope was so rough. I told her that 80% of the time I don't even like Mini-Hope, and this makes me wonder if I'm even fit to be a parent.
Quirky said, "I don't believe you think that at all. You know you're not a horrible person. How old is Mini-Hope? Ten? She's not going to be likable a lot of the time. And it's okay to feel this way. Why are you being so hard on yourself? Why aren't you giving yourself any love right now?"
So then I proceeded to outline all of the reasons why I am a piece of shit not deserving of self-love. And she proceeded to tear down my reasons one by one.
We talked about a lot of things yesterday. About how part of my devastation over this miscarriage limbo is due to the fact that this could be Mr. Hope's and my genetic child. When I found out only one embryo implanted, I was convinced it was the donors'. When the embryo stopped hitting benchmarks, I became convinced it was ours. Mr. Hope has said he doesn't care whose it is, and that we'd only be testing after birth to make sure we had the right medical history. But that's his feeling, not mine.
My feeling is this: we wanted a biological child. We were unable to have one. We decided we wanted to be parents, period. We decided to pursue the use of donor embryos. But it's not like that was ever our first choice. That was our backup plan. Our only realistic path to parenthood.
It's not that I would love a baby created from donor embryos any less. And if Nugget pulls through and it turns out she isn't made from our DNA, who the fuck cares? It's a baby. OUR baby.
But I feel weird saying these things, even to Quirky. About how donor embryos are our backup because we couldn't make the genetic thing work. About how deeply saddened I am that there might never be a tiny human that's half Agony and half Hope. About how I see these rah-rah donor embryo women in my super-secret FB support group who are all snowflake this and snowflake that, and how I wish I could be like them but I'm not.
I am grateful that embryo donation is a thing. I know it's given a lot of infertile couples a gift they never dreamed they'd have. We may be one of those couples.
But the whole snowflake thing is just a little too precious for me. There, I said it. In the FB group, there was this 10-day stretch of women posting any little thing they found on Amazon that had a snowflake on it. Jewelry, t-shirts, socks, Christmas lights, etc. It's winter and it's Christmas, so yeah, there's a lot of snowflake shit out in the retail world right now. Do we need to post all of it?
I know there are women who embrace the snowflake thing 100%. I get it. I do. The embryos are frozen, see. They're unique. Just like little snowflakes.
I feel like I should add a disclaimer here and say that I don't look down upon anyone who digs the snowflake thing. I really don't. I kind of wish I could be part of this particular sorority, but I'm too fucking bitter and not nearly adorable enough.
Quirky's whole thing was this: "Why are you censoring yourself in here? You need to be honest with me. You need to say what you think and what you feel."
But I'm a good girl. I always have been. I go out of my way to not hurt people's feelings. I have trouble saying no. I hate it when people are angry with me. I don't want anyone to think I'm a bad person. Ever.
In the spirit of being more honest, though, there's this:
I hate being out in the world and seeing women with cute little baby bumps. I will never have that bump, even if I have a pregnancy that sticks. Fat women don't get bumps - they just look fatter.
I hate being out in the world and seeing women with babies who look annoyed to have babies. Or who yell at their toddlers in stores. Or who threaten to spank them when they misbehave. Why can you have a fucking child and I can't? I would never hit my child. Never.
I get irritated by women who get pregnant easily. I get irritated by most pregnant women in general, actually. Unless I know they've struggled with infertility or suspect they have. Then you get a pass, because you had to work really hard for that baby. You, I like. You, I not only tolerate pregnant, but am actually happy for.
I hate the way my stepdaughter is being raised and hate even more that Mr. Hope and I are powerless over it. I hate that she's turned into such a spoiled brat. I hate that she only seems to like me when I say yes to her and give her what she wants. I don't do that very often, so she doesn't like me very often, and this makes me like her even less. I hate that Mr. Hope doesn't nut up and be more of a father when it comes to her, even though I understand where that comes from. (Elevator version: he didn't even know about her until she was almost five, so he missed out on all of those early formative years.)
I still feel responsible for my infertility. I'm too fat. I smoked when I was younger. I waited too long to have kids. I rushed the surgery to remove my dermoid cyst instead of waiting to find a doctor who would've tried to save my ovary.
I'm broken. I can't do the one thing a woman was built to do, even with donor gametes in my body.
I hate that I'm going to lose this baby, and I hate that there's a part of me that doesn't believe I'm going to lose this baby, even though all evidence says otherwise.
At one point yesterday, Quirky said, "I'm concerned that you've already decided how this is going to turn out, when you might not even be going down that path. And you will have wasted weeks being miserable and waiting for something that might not happen."
I said, "So, what? If Nugget makes it and I wasted the first trimester feeling miserable, oh well. I will have a baby. Who cares if I missed out on the joy of pregnancy if I end up with a baby?"
I'd give anything for Nugget to make it. To become a healthy baby in my arms. Boy or girl - ultimately I don't give a shit. C-section? Who cares? Cut me open. Get that baby out.
My birthday is coming up. I'm going to be 39. In fertility years that's like 104, especially if you're DOR like I am. Quirky says it doesn't matter when you're using donor gametes but you know. I'd like to not be on Social Security when this kid enters high school. And god forbid we decide to go for a sibling. I'll be like the only kindergarten mom with an AARP membership.
One last thing: I think my theory on the weight gain was spot-on. Only one day of eating mostly (and not entirely) healthy and I've already dropped almost three pounds. So that's a minor relief.
Got to get ready for Ultrasound #4. Expecting the worst but hoping for the best. (Dear god, please - PLEASE - surprise me.)