This is a list, and a confession.
It’s the things I do that consume my time and energy while trying to conceive, in what I believe is a not-very-healthy way. These things are the things I want to say goodbye to. The things that, when we walk away from all of this, I will be so glad to be done with. These are the things that I want to stop doing, and the things that I want out of my life.
1. Buying tests
Ovulation tests, and pregnancy tests. Hundreds of them. Literally. I buy them in bulk (I told you this was a confession) and go through packs and packs each month. OPKs I might use several a day when I’m getting my surge, and one or two a day in the days beforehand. Pregnancy tests I buy at 10miu and I test from 7dpo pretty much every month. Why? Because late implantation is highly correlated with miscarriage. Strangely enough, I’ve never yet had a late implantation (pretty much always a positive by 10dpo latest), but I’ve still lost over half a dozen pregnancies, so as usual, I don’t fall into the normal pattern. The last time my pregnancy tests came through, the customer services lady wrote a message on my invoice saying “I hope it works this time.” Yes – it’s true – I buy so many that they actually know who I am. Anyway, that aside, I don’t want to spend any more money on tests, and I don’t want to spend any more time using them.
2. Obsessively Googling for Miscarriage and Fertility Information
This one is particularly bad. I can’t even count the hours I’ve spent gathering information. Whole days sometimes. If I had dedicated those hours to another cause, like learning piano, or even writing a novel, I would be an expert pianist and multi-published author by now. Especially bad is that I tend to do this when I should be working on other things – i.e. during the precious free time I get while my son is at preschool. Instead, I let the house slip into a disgusting state, eat lunch over my keyboard and read studies from 1997 that discuss the effect of mint tea on the uterine lining of rats.
3. Maudlin reflection on how sh*t it all is
More wasted time. Instead of doing something productive or enjoyable (writing, which I love, or reading a book, which I love just as much), I will slouch on the sofa feeling ungrateful and angry at the unfairness of the world, and then sink into a trashy television series to take my mind off of the “difficulty” of everyday life. It’s a deliberate blocking out of the world, and I also do it to escape behaviours 1 and 2. It’s also yet another totally mindless waste of my time.
4. Freaking out about other people’s pregnancies
It’s horrible. The envy, the jealously, the tears. And it’s totally unnecessary. I know it’s bad, because my wonderful husband, who is eternally supportive of me, once said “You can’t stop other people from getting pregnant.” No. I well know that. And I need to deal with it better. I should be able to be graceful enough to at least manage some enthusiasm and genuine smiles, right?
5. Not taking care of my appearance
I slob around in the same old clothes, most of them bought after I had DS1. I know I look like an untidy bag-lady sometimes, and worst of all is that a lot of the time, I don’t really care. I’m too busy doing 1, 2, 3 and 4 to spend any time on how I look. And that affects my confidence and makes me feel worse. Which exacerbates behaviours 1-4. Deep down, I suppose it’s a kind of self-imposed purgatory. I don’t deserve to look nice until my body functions properly and gives me a baby. Which I know sounds crazy, but I think that’s what it all boils down to.
6. Not committing to any form of exercise
I have tried multiple times to get back into running. And failed over and over again. Even things I still do, I don’t really commit to. I move around, I do a bit of yoga, a bit of strength training… and at the back of my head is the constant evaluation of whether it is worth forming a habit that I will have to stop when I get pregnant. I avoid signing up for races, or joining anyone else in exercising, because I don’t want to make excuses, or feel like I’ve failed if/when I become pregnant. And inevitably, I do get pregnant, which reinforces the behaviour, but then I lose the baby and I’m back to square one. It’s like my life is literally on pause. Talking of which…
7. Living life on pause
Nothing else can get a look in because of what we might be doing in six months. I avoid socialising, I avoid everything. I don’t want to show up for anything while I can’t get this thing right. I can’t focus on work, hobbies, pleasure, or even just being me, because I’m waiting. Waiting. Always waiting, for a baby that never comes. I even avoid close friends, because I don’t want to see them until everything is okay and I’m having that third child. Until we have something to talk about other than pitying questions about how I’m doing emotionally. I want to be enthusiastic and happy and sociable again, but I can’t. Because at the moment it just feels like I’m the failure. Still with no news and sadder every time they see me. I want to burst back into people’s lives with a big smile and a baby in tow and brave story of how we beat the odds. Instead I fear that I may never see some of my friends again, simply because I cannot bear to be pitied and I am afraid they will never see me as anything other than “the one who tried to have another baby but couldn’t”.
8. The emotional highs. And lows.
This isn’t so much in my control, but I am tired of everything always being so damn important. Instead of highlights like getting a good review at work, and lowlights like having to pay out for extra car repairs, we have highlights of adding a new child to our family, or a decent heartbeat at a scan, and lowlights of losing a baby, and being hospitalised for blood loss. I’m TIRED (I keep saying it), of the extremes in emotion. The extremes of what one month brings compared to the next. I want a lower-key existence. I want to celebrate smaller victories and mourn smaller losses. I want a quieter life. I’m done with all the drama. I’ve had enough drama to last me a lifetime – and then some. I want smaller ups and downs.
9. Obsessing over everything I eat.
Everyone who has spent any time TTC knows all about this one. Caffeine, sugar, gluten, alcohol, milk, chocolate, peas, soy, pretty much everything you put in your mouth has a points score. Did I mention I was tired? I’m tired of constantly analysing every mouthful of food. Tired of trying to eat perfectly. Tired of feeling guilty because I ate some white potatoes or I had a squirt of maple syrup on a (buckwheat) pancake. I’m even tired of writing about it.
So there we go. The inner workings of my obsessions.
Obviously, I am not a total basket case (honest!)- I still hold it together enough to run a house and smile at people when I talk to them. I still manage to pull off a pretty good “normal daughter(-in-law)” to both sets of parents. But inside… it just feels like everything is worn out and patched up with sellotape. I’ve had enough. Enough of reading studies on whether eating spinach will raise my progesterone, or how implantation is affected by how much you laugh. Enough of it all. If I’d known this is what we were letting ourselves in for, I think I might have thought twice about getting back on the TTC train. As much as three children is my dream, my perfection, my claim that I have done things PERFECTLY, it’s not good if my dream is slowly destroying the person I am.
And it’ll be a good thing to leave all that behind.