Category Archives: Blogging

Blank Space

I am not quite sure what to do with this blog.

Regular readers (if there are still any) will have noticed that I haven’t posted regularly since very early in the year and haven’t posted at all since April.

It’s a result of a combination of several different factors:

1. I’ve been working really hard on my book revisions which ate up all my mental bandwidth to the point that any more time in front of a screen was exhausting, even if I was going to be writing for fun. I did get Q. to read it when I had planned, after which I finished most of the revisions, then got mired for a while until I gave up and spent two days rereading favourite books, at which point my brain was clear enough to resume work. I’m now at the ‘so few things left to do it’s like pulling teeth and soooo painful’ stage and I am going to get it sent back to the press by the end of September. There. I put it in writing. It will be so.

2. I’m not sure what this blog is for any longer. The older E. gets the less I feel I can write about him (he starts SECOND GRADE next week- HOW did that happen??!!). I wish I hadn’t been as lazy with recording P.’s second year, as this is a lovely memory box for E’s toddlerhood. But I feel like my training wheels are off as a parent. I know my strengths and my weaknesses and I’m better at taking the long view and I don’t need to hash as much out on here as I used to. At the same time, it would feel weird to end it- I’ve been in this space for over ten years now.

3. I want to write more under my own name and I don’t think this blog is the place for me to do it.

4. I have so much less free time and I’ve continued to prioritize reading over anything else. I’ve read lots of good books this year (and a few great ones) and reread some favourites (I haven’t reread a book since 2015).

But since writing, like everything, is easier when it’s a habit, I’ve been aware that I’ve been neglecting writing (or writing that isn’t book-related). I’m hoping now that the revisions really are close to being finished I’ll be able to carve out a bit more time and space to sit with my words here while I think about next steps.

4 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Books, Life after the PhD, Writing

NaBloPoMo (ish) 2017

I’m in a rut with my non-research related writing (in that I’m not doing any of it).

I have a Google Doc called “Future Blog Posts” that keeps getting longer because I add new ideas to it but never actually write any of the old ones.

So I’ve decided to shamelessly adopt Ana’s idea to post 30 times in November. Not a true NaBloPoMo because I’m not going to post every day (not least because today is the 2nd and I didn’t write anything yesterday), but a similar end result if I stick with it.

It’s a tall order, but we’ll see how we go.

3 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Butter scraped over too much bread (a.k.a. modern motherhood), Writing

Inadequate gratitude

I have not done well over the last couple of months with responding to, or even acknowledging, comments. It seems to be all I can manage to get the words out. But I wanted to say just how much I have appreciated every comment and message of support and offer of further support via email. I do know I am not alone.

I am still trying to get assigned to a counselor with the reproductive mental health program I’m now registered with. But I have a second appointment with the psychiatrist on Monday. I know I need help. I know I cannot carry this alone. I am reaching out and asking for the help I need.

But in the meantime, I am so very glad I can come here, spill out my heart, and know that you are reading.

Thank you.

4 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Friends, Grief, Loss

Support shout-out

Goodness, it has been a while since I posted. E. and I just got back from a lovely week-long visit with the grandparents- we travelled by train and it was just delightful.

But in lieu of a proper post from me, please go and send some love to a trio of special ladies:

Marianne just did a ‘last chance’ round of IVF while living in the middle east and now finds herself pregnant with twins!

My very dear labmonkey is about to have her egg retrieval for her first (and hopefully last) round of IVF.

And Egg has survived the first anniversary of the devastating second trimester loss of her second son.

They are special to me, and all of these things are hard for different reasons. Please go and sit with them for a while.

4 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Friends

Burn Me to Ashes

I am a bad writer.

Not,  I hasten to add, when it comes to getting words down on paper or, as is more likely to be the case, the screen. Sometimes I even put them down in combinations that look elegant and clever. My supervisor has always praised the clarity of my writing (an all too rare thing in academia).

No, I am a bad writer because the thing I hate to do, more than almost anything else in the world, is edit my own work.

When Q. writes, he is water on stone. He isn’t fast, and he isn’t pretty, but he is inexorable, unyielding, merciless. If Q. has an hour free in his day, he will go and write 150 painstaking, thoughtful, deliberate words. Q. quite likes the editing process. He writes and rewrites and fiddles until at last he is satisfied. When I edit his work (for I edit all of his work), there is always evidence of this tinkering, sentences where Q. thought about two ways to construct his idea and didn’t quite manage to erase all traces of the one he chose not to do. Q. misses those errors when he proof reads his own work because his eye sees the sentence he decided to write and skips over the remnants of the one he discarded.

When I write, I am fire.

An idea will simmer and slowly burn within, like hot coals. I will mull on it, chew on it, dream on it, until at last it explodes inside me, a roaring conflagration that demands I put my fingers to the keyboard (usually because the deadline for when the piece of work is due has drawn so near I can no longer ignore it). When I write, I burn. I hollow myself out. On a good day I write 1000 words in an hour. When I was writing the first draft of each chapter of the dissertation, once I actually started writing (and wasn’t just thinking about writing) I set myself the goal of 1500 words each day. Usually I’d reach that goal by 10 or so in the morning and I’d either keep writing if I was in the middle of something or I’d stop and go back to reading and researching. Some days I wrote 3500 or 4000 words- good words, quality words, words that are still there in my thesis.

I write blog posts (the only thing I’ve written in the last six years that wasn’t coursework essays or conference presentations or scholarship applications or dissertation chapters) in much the same way. An idea will float around in my head for a week or two (or more). When I finally sit down at the computer, I usually produce it in one sitting because I’ve already written almost all of it in my head. I read it over, tinker a little bit, and hit publish. I have never sat on a draft of a post for weeks at a time. I have never rewritten one over and over again. I either write the post, or I don’t.

When I am writing well, it feels like flying.

And when the draft is finished, and I have to turn back to the beginning, I fall to earth.

When I was doing my Master’s degree, at a university in the UK with enormous snob appeal, I did a course in my first term where the professor had me write a 2500-3000 word essay every week. Every week he’d give me a reading list of around 30 books, and every week I’d read as much as I could and then cry in my room until I had no time left and I HAD to sit down at the computer and write. And every week I’d write it, and then I would drop it off in his mailbox and go and have fun that night because I was free of it, and then two days later we’d meet in his office for a couple of hours and he would tell me everything that was wrong with it and then give me a new topic and a new reading list and I would go back to my room and cry for a while and then I would go back to the library and get the books on the new reading list and start again.

Every week.

It was absolute torture and a terrible blow to my self-esteem (because I had been the darling of my undergraduate department and I had won this huge scholarship to go to this fancy university and now I felt like I was being told how stupid I was on a weekly basis), but it had an unexpected benefit.

That professor taught me to do it right the first time.

In my undergraduate days, I was a tinkerer. I would finish essays two weeks before they were due, just so I could leave them alone for a week and then look at them again.

I didn’t have that luxury with him.

That course made me a better writer. It made me more decisive. It taught me to cut to the heart of a matter. It taught me to write clear, faultless prose the first time out.

Most of all, it taught me not to be afraid of dumping words, hundreds of words, onto the blank screen. The way I wrote those essays- a sharp, concentrated burst of writing- was largely the way I then wrote my Master’s thesis a year later and the way I have written my doctoral dissertation, just on a much, much larger scale.

It’s not that I don’t edit my work. Of course I do. The first draft of every single one of my chapters of my dissertation was filled with notes in bold to myself. I revised every chapter before I sent it to my supervisor. I revised the entire thesis before I sent him the full draft. I revised the thesis again in light of his comments before I sent it to the committee, and I am revising it yet again right now before it is sent to the external examiner.

I have added content, clarified the argument, made reference to more scholarship, updated translations. I have moved large sections of text from one chapter to another as the thesis drew closer to completion and the order of the argument became more apparent.

I have only very rarely touched the prose.

Vast, vast swathes of the thesis stand pretty much exactly as they looked when I frantically hurled them onto the screen while composing that first, very rough draft.

Every time I wrote a first draft I thought it was garbage.

It’s not garbage, though. It never is.

And now I really am in the endgame, and I’m at the point where I can and should edit the thesis not for content, but for style and presentation and order of argument. One of my committee members is not in my field and she has made some very detailed and helpful suggestions for changes I could make that would make the thesis more accessible to historians who don’t specialize in my era.

They are very good suggestions.

They would require me to read the thesis, in its entirety, very carefully.

I would rather do anything right now than do that.

The problem with fire is it burns out.

Every time I reach the final stage of the writing process, the point where I should take a good hard look at my prose and take the time to make changes and rewrite sentences, I find I am so heartily sick of reading it that I just can’t be bothered. I read it one last time to make sure I haven’t missed any glaring grammatical errors, and then I hand it in.

I am unbelievably sick of my dissertation right now. I hadn’t touched it since I sent it to the committee in mid-June, and as soon as I picked it up again last week all the loathing and frustration and boredom sprang back up as though they had never left. Reading it makes me physically ill.

I am done with it. SO done with it. I want nothing more than to do the last few content suggestions my committee members have given me and call it finished.

But if I want to call myself a writer, if I want to really be a writer, if I am serious about tackling one of the books that is in my head during this year at home, I have to learn how to edit my work.

I have to make those changes suggested to me by the committee member outside my field.

I have to find a way to not burn out.

5 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Life after the PhD, PhD, Writing

Please send some love

If you read me, please go over and give some love and support to my very dear friend at Good Egg Hatched. She has just suffered a devastating loss, at almost 18 weeks. It’s her eighth loss; her fifth since she started trying to give her son a sibling. They did IVF with genetic screening. This was a healthy embryo.

This was supposed to work.

This universe is just so unbelievably fucking unfair sometimes.

My heart is breaking for her. Please show her she is not alone.

2 Comments

Filed under Blogging, Friends, Loss

(Not) Feeling Groovy

All my blog posts right now are about the emotional side of things. I thought I should jot down some bullet points on where I’m at physically (although the emotional stuff will creep in again. It always does.):

  • 17 days after the D&C, and I’m STILL spotting. My clinic told me to call them if I was still bleeding after 12. I haven’t called yet, but am starting to think maybe I should. The spotting has stopped at least three times for a day or so, and then it starts up again. The longest gap was actually right after the D&C where I had a fair amount of bleeding the day after, then spotting, then nothing for three days, and then, just when I thought I was in the clear, it started up. It’s not heavy, but there are days where I probably should have gone for a pad rather than just a panty liner. Sometimes I get cramps or a deep ache. Mainly it is just depressing to be constantly seeing blood on the toilet paper, in the ‘loo, on the panty liner.
  • My clinic told me not to have sex until the bleeding had stopped. I just want to be able to feel close with my husband again. The last time I thought it had stopped for good, I told Q. that this meant we’d be cleared for resuming marital relations. “Do you think we’ll remember how?” asked Q., only half joking. My f/s only gave us the all clear for sex at the eight week appointment. The last time before that week had been before the retrieval in mid-December. I’m so tired of our intimacy being controlled by my clinic.
  • My face is breaking out again. In retrospect it started to get bad around the nine week mark, which now makes me wonder if that was a sign that things were no longer going well. Clearly pregnancy hormones were helping to fix my face, and now I can’t rely on them anymore. It’s bad enough that I had to get my youngest sister to teach me how to use foundation so I won’t feel like a leper when I leave the house. I know in the grand scheme of things this is meaningless, but I am struggling with it. I used to have such beautiful skin. Seriously- I got to 34 and a 1/2 before I had to learn about foundation. I hate wearing makeup every day, but I hate how my skin looks if I go out without it even more.
  • I am sleeping ok. It is the one blessing- I have retained my ability to fall back asleep. I started (while pregnant) following my mother’s own rule, which was she simply won’t get out of bed before 6 a.m. She won’t read either- she just lies there. Eventually she managed to retrain her body to fall back asleep. I think I’m making progress on this count. I’ve only been up in the very early morning once since it happened. I still wake up at 4, or 4:30, or 5, nearly every morning, but I’m fighting through it and refusing to get out of bed and eventually my body just gives up and goes back to sleep. And then I have really weird, frightening dreams.
  • I feel disgusting. I am ten pounds heavier than I would like to be (despite ceasing my burrito and poutine diet I appear to have gained more weight in the last two weeks than I did while pregnant). I want, I NEED to start running again, to start (again, sigh) the Couch to 5K program, but I have enough sense to recognize that this simply isn’t going to happen while this ridiculous winter continues. I never used to run when it was below -15 when I was running half-marathons. I’m hardly going to start running in those conditions now. Maybe we’ll catch a break in a couple of weeks. I’d like to get the Couch to 5K over and done with in enough time before we go to Oz to actually feel like I have some momentum to continue while we’re away. But in the meantime I feel fat and ugly and soft and gross and I need to stop eating my feelings, especially when nothing tastes as good as I need it to.
  • Yesterday we went out to lunch with friends and I realized that I don’t want to spend time with other people who don’t know, and whom we’re not planning to tell. They are all childless academic couples, and I don’t want to talk about my dissertation right now because if you ask me about it I freak out and cry (which has been the state of things since July of last year). I felt like I had nothing to say to them if I couldn’t talk about my work. I couldn’t sit there and make small talk and natter on about random things or current events when the whole time all I wanted to say was “My baby DIED and my heart is shattered.” But they weren’t good enough friends for that. So most of the time I said nothing, and the rest of the time I talked to E.
  • I am SO angry. I am angry pretty much all the time. I don’t know if I am angry at myself, or at the universe, or at the baby for not being a good baby after all. But I am just filled with cold, quiet, rage. It occasionally boils over, especially when E. is pushing my buttons. It is exhausting, being this angry, but at least it means I don’t have any energy to feel anything else.
  • I have reread every single Guy Gavriel Kay book I own, and when I finished the last one I went online and used up a gift certificate from my birthday buying the three books he’s written that I don’t already own (technically I do own one of them, but it’s the first book in a two-part series, and I hate having books in a series with covers that don’t match, so I felt it was worth spending another $12 for symmetry). When they arrive, I’ll read them. Then I’ll have to think of something else. I’m not yet capable of working in the evenings, so I do one of three things: I read, I obsess over E.’s room, and I write here. Or I cry, of course. It turns out playing “Into the West” from the LOTR: Return of the King soundtrack over and over and over again just tends to lead to more tears. Given the song used to make me cry on a good day, I probably should have anticipated that.
  • In the moments where I am not angry, I am so very sad. The sadness, the grief, catches me off guard, like a deep, cold wave from the ocean that rears up and slaps salt water hard into my face. Then I push it away again, and the surface reverts to stillness, and I can be grey again. I feel transitory, ephemeral, like I am only gliding through the world, like I am not of it. It feels like an out-of-body experience, except I am always very much present in my body, even when I would most like not to be. But it is as if this reality is so alien, so unexpected, that I can’t quite center myself in it, as if I keep finding myself tucked around sharp corners, blinking through mirrors at my reflection, only to raise an eyebrow in surprise each time at the sight of who is looking back. Is this really me?

4 Comments

Filed under 2.0 Pregnancy, Anxiety Overload, Blogging, Grief, Loss, Mirror, Mirror (Body Image), My addled brain, PhD, Running, Sleep

Love

Readers, you have no idea how much your comments mean to me. They make me cry, every time I get a new one, because they make me remember, but it means so much to not be alone. I’m not really in a space where I can respond right now, but please know how much they are appreciated.

2 Comments

Filed under 2.0 Pregnancy, Blogging, Friends, Grief, Loss

ICLW

Hello ICLW readers!

*looks suddenly bashful*

This is my first ICLW.

I’ve been blogging here for five and a half years.

I don’t really have a good excuse for not joining in earlier. When I first started blogging I very quickly found a bunch of other bloggers in similar situations, so I guess I never sought out more people. And then when I did get pregnant, and when I did safely bring our son into the world, I didn’t really feel comfortable signing up to subject new readers, people who didn’t already know me, to all of my musings and moanings about pregnancy and the transition to parenthood. And then I just got flat-out busy being a mum and the idea of committing to something every day for a week seemed to be all too much.

So what changed?

Well, partly it’s because I’ve realized over this past summer just how important blogging is to my mental health and I’ve vowed to make a bit more time for it.

Partly it’s because many of the women who were my first blogger friends are now no longer blogging, or only posting once in a blue moon. They’ve completed their families, or they’ve moved on from their blog, or they’ve just drifted away. When I had to switch from G.oogle Reader, I realized just how empty my blogroll was getting. So I’m hoping to meet some new friends this time around.

But mostly it’s because we’ve just started the process of trying to add to our family again. I’m just about through my package of birth control pills and should be heading in to the clinic at the end of this month to see our f/s and to get the ball rolling. And so, for the first time in a long time, I feel like the infertile part of me is rising to the surface. I was able to keep her pushed down and hidden for much of the last three years, but the realization that we weren’t going to be one of the lucky couples who get to have a second baby that is conceived in love and not with the finest medical help money can buy brought it all back. And feeling more infertile made me feel more like a part of this community again. I know I’ll always be a part of this community, and I know that my feelings about pregnancy and parenthood are a product of my infertility, but for a while I just wasn’t in an infertile head space, and I didn’t think it was fair to start posting on other people’s blogs, people for whom their infertility was still right front and centre. But time passed, we started thinking about expanding our family, and my infertile self came right back.

So here I am.

I’m Turia. On here my husband goes by Q. Our son is E.- he’s twenty-seven months. I’m Canadian, Q.’s Australian, and E. holds passports for both countries.

E. is an IVF/ICSI baby, the product of a three year struggle to get pregnant.

I’ve got PCOS, hypothyroidism and endometriosis.

Q. is fine.

Infertility wreaked havoc on my life the first time around. It destroyed my self-confidence, my mental and emotional stability, my physical strength, my sense of myself.

I’m a little bit gun-shy of going back to the clinic and opening up old wounds.

But right now my longing for a second child is stronger than my fear.

We’ve got two snowbabies, blastocysts from the same cycle that brought us E.

We’re planning to thaw one out in September and hope it proves to like my uterus as much as its cycle-sibling did.

When I’m not obsessing over the future size of my family I’m a PhD student, probably a year or a bit less away from defending, and currently finding the whole process a giant, soul-destroying slog. Expect rants.

I love to read. That’s an understatement. I’m a love it like the fire of a thousand suns, stay up too late to finish the book you can’t put down, join the public library anywhere you ever live because you can’t go a moment without having access to all those books kind of girl. Even in the depths of preparation for my comprehensive field exams, when I had to read five or six books per week, I still managed to squeeze in the occasional book for fun. It’s a sanity check. Another big sanity check for me is running. I’ve just started again after a three year hiatus. Once I ran half-marathons. Now I’m struggling to manage twenty minutes. But I’ll get there. Expect rants.

Q., E., and I are just back home in Canada from four months in the U.K. where I was working with a renowned professor and trying not to hate my dissertation, and Q. and E. were mainly visiting every playground in the county. I mean we’re literally just back home- we flew in today. Full disclosure- I’m probably on my way to the airport at the moment. I wrote this post early and scheduled it to make sure I wouldn’t miss the start of ICLW. I didn’t schedule any other posts, so as long as I post tomorrow we’ll all know my plane didn’t go down in a fiery ball of doom like I’m probably currently worried it will (I’m not a good flyer). In the next couple of weeks we have to get over our jet lag, get settled back in to our house, reassure our cats that their world hasn’t ended by having us reappear with the toddler, and start getting ready for the new academic year. Q.’s teaching on overload, I’m a course director for a fourth-year course, and E. will be going to nursery school three days a week. This will be the first time in his life he’s been cared for by someone other than his parents. Expect panic from me. And probably rants as well.

And we’re going back to the clinic.

Well, at least things will be interesting, right?

6 Comments

Filed under (Pre)School Days, 2.0 FET#1, Blogging, ICLW, Running, What were we thinking? (aka travelling with small children)

The longing…and the fear

A few weeks ago one of the mothers in my online birth club posted looking for some advice. She and her husband were thinking about trying for a second baby, but she was afraid of experiencing more loss (her first pregnancy ended in a missed miscarriage).  Everyone responded with thoughtful, caring words. Many of the other women had also experienced miscarriages.

One woman ended her post with these words: “Sometimes you can’t always get your ideal, but you do get a baby!!!!”

And there it was again.

I really love being part of this birth club. I love that all the other women have toddlers born within a month of E. I love that whenever E. does something crazy, I can count on at least a couple of the other toddlers doing the same thing. I love that whenever I start to get stressed about my parenting or feel pressured or judged to do things in a certain way, I can go on the birth club and there will always be at least one other mama who feels the same way I do.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been able to mostly be a mama when I’m on there. Not a recovering infertile, but a mama. They know my history and they know that E. is an IVF/ICSI baby, but it doesn’t define who I am on there.

Lately, though, I’ve felt the infertile side of my motherhood growing in strength. As the summer speeds along, as we get closer to going back to the clinic, as more and more of the mamas on my birth club announce subsequent pregnancies, or give birth (most to second children, but not all the mamas were first-timers on the May 2011 board), as belly pics and newborn shots trickle over the newsfeed, it becomes harder and harder to feel like I’m just one of the mums.

That comment really hit home for me. The woman who made it is a lovely person, and she meant it in the best possible way- that it was silly to worry too much about age gaps, and that whatever form one’s family ended up taking,  it would be the right result. But the unquestioned assumption, that if this other woman (who is now a friend IRL) wanted to have a second baby, she would get her baby, was an attitude that seemed so unbelievably alien to me, it made me feel for a time like an outsider all over again.

It’s not true, you see. I know that. Sometimes you don’t get your ideal AND you don’t get your baby.

It’s hard to write about secondary infertility. I wrestle with putting my thoughts out in public, just as other bloggers have. It’s hard to give voice to the longing for that second child, that extra smile in the backseat, that extra chair at the kitchen table, when you know that there are others who are experiencing that longing, just as deeply, just as painfully, without having the mitigating effect of already having a child who fills their house with love and laughter (and, let’s keep it real here, occasional screaming and crying and shouts of “No!”).

I was one of those bloggers, once. I filled two and half years on this blog waiting and longing and hoping and grieving and yearning, beaten down month after month, feeling smaller with every failed cycle.

And then we got a positive result. And I struggled with how to blog about my pregnancy, but decided to press onwards.

And then E. was born. And I struggled with how to blog about parenting, especially the not-so-picture-perfect moments. It’s hard to admit sometimes you really don’t like your new life when you know that you have readers who would give their everything to trade places with you.

But I pressed onwards. Partly this was because my blog is my outlet- it acts as the diary I always think I should keep yet never quite manage to do so. Partly this was because in my long months and years of waiting for that BFP, I found it helpful, not hurtful, to read about women – women who became friends – who were successful, and who did become mothers. It gave me hope to see that some people got to have a happy ending. But mostly I kept blogging because I struggled, REALLY struggled with the transition to motherhood, and my readers helped me to pick up the pieces and put them all back together again. My readers never stopped telling me that I was a good mother, that I would adjust, that I would find myself again, that it would all get easier in time. I didn’t believe them at first- I couldn’t believe them- but they were right.

This blog’s focus is shifting again, as we march closer to the fall and our plans for a FET. I’m going to need to start taking bcps early next month to get my ridiculous cycle into some sort of recognizeable state. I feel more infertile than I have at any other point in the last three years. It’s not as though I stopped thinking about my infertility while pregnant, or when I first became a mum. But I had something else to focus on. And after E. was born I could indulge in the daydream that maybe, just maybe, I would be one of the lucky ones whose second child could be conceived in love and not with the help of a team of crack medical specialists (although I am, of course, forever grateful that I live in a time when such a team exists and that Q. and I could afford to engage their services).

That hasn’t happened. I had to give up that daydream. I had to look squarely in the mirror and recognize that my infertile self was staring right back at me.

I’m afraid to go back to the clinic.

I want this time around to be different. I want the presence of E. in our lives to make things easier.

He’s a double-edged sword, in a way. He makes it easier, because we are not childless, because our house is not empty. But he is also a reminder of all that we long for, a reminder of what we are missing with our family still incomplete.

A good friend asked me recently the question that was put to her: What are you afraid of?

I’m afraid of making the wrong decision.

It isn’t as simple as the best result is we go back to the clinic and we get pregnant and have a second baby, and the worst result is we go back to the clinic and we don’t get pregnant, and we expend all that energy and emotion and spend thousands of dollars, and take time and love and focus away from E. and end up with nothing to show for it.

There’s a third option.

We don’t go back to the clinic. We don’t try to expand our family. We call ourselves lucky, happy, complete as a family of three.

‘Tis better to have gone to the fertility clinic and tried and lost, than never to have gone to the clinic at all?

I’m not sure about that.

It seems to me that the best possible outcome is still going to the clinic, getting pregnant, and having a second baby. But the next best option is to play it safe- to turn away from the risks- to refuse to gamble heartache for happiness- to take E. as our miracle baby and be grateful.

And there’s the rub. I’m not much a gambler. And I scared myself (and my family, and my friends) with the toll that our years of trying for E. took on me.

Right now Q. and I have a fairly sensible outlook on the whole thing. Try both FETs in the fall of 2013. If they fail, fall back, lick our wounds, decide whether we want to attempt one more (only one more) fresh IVF cycle in August 2014. If that fails, and any associated FETs fail as well, admit defeat, acknowledge that E. is our only miracle, and get on with life as a family of three.

It looks so easy on paper. Deceptively so.

But I can say categorically that if someone could tell me today that we are not ever going to have a second child, no way, no how, no chance, then I would gladly, gladly turn my back on those FETs, that fresh IVF, the drugs, the ultrasounds, the emotional roller coaster that is ART which never seems to get any easier, no matter how long you’ve been on it. I would gladly wash my hands of the whole affair and choose to spend my time in the next year being entirely present for E., as his Mummy.

It’s the risk I’m frightened of. The gamble that really, truly, might not pay off for us, no matter what the other mothers on my birth club think.

I know now, even more than I did before I had E., that there are no guarantees. I have friends who struggled to have their first child but then managed to have their second without any medical intervention (some even ending up pregnant unexpectedly). I have friends who struggled to have their first child and still needed ART to have their second, but conceived their second much more easily than their first (which gives me hope). On the other side, I have friends who didn’t struggle to have their first child (and whose pregnancies I withdrew from rather than embracing because I was too sad for myself to be happy for them) only to then struggle to have their second. One had three miscarriages before finally carrying her second daughter to term. Another dear friend lost her second pregnancy this summer at 24 weeks gestation. She knew the baby was not going to survive outside the womb, but had expected to be able to continue the pregnancy to full term.

And I have friends, dear friends, in blogs as well as IRL, who fought the good fight (you see, I always think of it as a battle) to expand their families but had, in the end, to admit defeat, to lick their wounds, to refocus on life as a family of three.

I saw the heartache that decision caused these women, strong women, women I respect and admire. I saw that secondary infertility was not any easier. I saw how difficult it was to come to grips with the realization that their only child, their much-loved, much-wanted, hard-fought-for child, was indeed an anomaly.  That even though they carried a baby to term once, they weren’t going to be allowed to do that again.

I saw this, and my heart broke for these women. But at the same time, self-indulgent though it might be, I felt a stab of fear for myself.

You see, despite what some mothers are able to believe, I know that there are no guarantees in this world.

I know that just because I successfully got pregnant from IVF, carried a baby to term, and birthed him safely into the world, that does not mean I will be able to do this again.

I also know that Q. and I don’t have endless resources. Trying and failing to have a baby takes its toll on anyone, on any marriage, but we can’t try again with the start of every new month- we have to go to the clinic. We don’t have the mental, physical and emotional strength to repeat what we went through to get E. And we don’t have the money, either. It’s harder to rationalize paying out of pocket for treatments when I know that every dollar we spend on that hunt for a 2.0 (money we basically flush down the toilet if we fail) is money we’re taking away from our here-and-now son. Money that could go to his university fund. Money that could buy us a holiday as a family. Money that could buy us a car. I remember a friend once asking how much we’d spent on fertility treatments to get E., and when I told her, she looked at E. and said, “Well, I’d rather have E. than a car”. She was right, but would I have felt that way about that money if we’d ended up childless? Would it have been money well spent if we’d tried but ultimately failed to become parents?

In the grand scheme of things money doesn’t matter, but there’s a limit to how much of my actual child’s present I’m willing to sacrifice in the hope of some elusive future.

Part of this anxiety is related, I’m sure, to my fears about becoming a mother again. Let’s face it, I wasn’t exactly a poster child for maternal bliss. I’d like a do-over, now that I’m a bit older and wiser and I’ve learned that babies really do eventually start sleeping and you can’t ruin them in the first twelve weeks no matter what the books say, but I’m not looking forward to the newborn stage. I’m not looking forward to sleepless nights and unexplainable, possibly inconsolable, crying. I worry about the impact on E., suddenly becoming a big brother. I worry that any next baby won’t have a personality that meshes so well with Q. and I as E. does. I worry about how hard Q. works, and about my own career, and how we will balance everything with another child.

And  yet, when I am able to step back and quiet the nagging internal voices, and take the long view, I have no doubts at all. Five years down the road, ten years down the road, twenty years down the road- I see us as a family of four. I see two heads in the backseat on road trips, a fourth chair at the kitchen table, a child each for Q. and I to hold and soothe on dark nights when the thunder roils into their dreams.

I know that E. will never have the same relationship with any sibling that I have with my sisters. But I also know that he will spend his entire life an ocean away from half of his family- fifty percent of his cousins and aunties and uncles and other relatives he will grow up seeing only every couple of years. I also know that of my two sisters, one is nowhere near considering becoming a mother, and the other is thinking about it, but vascillates.  I know he would be fine as an only child, and we wouldn’t ruin him for life by not giving him a sibling, but it’s entirely possible that he won’t be able to use his cousins as sibling substitutes.

I don’t want E. to be alone in his generation.

And so, even though I am terrified that we are making the wrong decision, that we will look back at this in two or three years time and wish we’d chosen otherwise, we are going to risk the heartache for the happiness, and we will try for a 2.0.

And selfishly, selfishly, I hope that I am one of the lucky ones on whom fickle Fortuna smiles.

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