First off, yes, I am a total whore for comments. It is an ugly part of my psyche, I know. But Dr. Phil says I need to love myself and embrace myself for who I am, ugly parts included. So this morning, I woke up, walked over to the mirror and said "Susan, you might be a whore for comments, you might be a pathetic women who cries at work and in coffee shops, you might be a negative thinker and depressive to the extreme, you might even be a former sorority girl, but I LOVE you anyway, dammit!
I just wish it made me feel better.
So, onto the big question.....What are we doing next?
Well, I'm not just going to come out with it. That's not the way cliff-hangers work. You have to read the back story first:
At work, I have a private office and right outside my door sits an older Russian woman with whom I don't work directly. She doesn't speak much English, and our interactions are primarily of the "Good morning, how are you, nice weather, see you later" variety. Nothing more than that.
A few weeks ago, she stepped into my office and closed the door.
"I hear you sick," she said, "that you not well."
"Oh, I had a cold last week, but it's gone now. I'm not sick anymore. I'm fine."
"No. I hear you SICK," she said, pointing to her lower abdomen.
Oh, I thought. She must have heard about the infertility thing, somehow.
I hadn't told her. The only people who I had officially told were two co-workers and my boss. But I was sure my infertility was known far and wide all over the company. During my tenure, I had two ruptured ectopics that waylaid me in the hospital. People hear about things like that and discuss them over lunch.
The woman pulled out a necklace with a huge amber pendant on it. "This is special healing necklace," she grabbed my wrist and placed the silver chain and a note in my hand. "It's from Baltic Sea. It will cure you."
So I gathered the amber pendant was some kind of fertility amulet. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know this woman very well and felt uncomfortable accepting. But would it be too rude to refuse?
"Thank you. You're very kind." I said, politely, "It is beautiful. Thank you for thinking of me."
"May you get better," she said, and backed out of my office.
I sat down, and realized the note was in Russian. I couldn't read it. Later, a friend translated it: Dear Susan, May your cancer be cured.
Shit! She thinks I have cancer! Where did she hear this?
The Russian woman, she is a bit of a loner. She is not plugged into the office gossip network. If she heard this, then probably everyone else had been gossiping about it for months.
Fuck! Everyone thinks I have cancer!
I thought back over the previous months. My conspicuous absences from the office. My constant telephone conversations, in hushed tones, with medical professionals, conversations that would be incomprehensible to the average person except for words like "ovaries" and "uterus". Someone must have overheard me! Or perhaps someone noticed me crying in my office. As I reviewed my mental tapes, I realized that most of my co-workers had either completely ignored me in the few months or had been overly nice. And looking back, I saw they had pitied me. Because they thought I was dying of cancer.
But I'm not sick! I 'm not dying!
I asked a colleague about it, and he confirmed that everyone thought I was suffering from incurable ovarian cancer. That cancer was supposedly the reason I had been hospitalized three times, why I had lost weight recently, why I was always at a doctor's appointment and seemed so depressed all the time. Hhe gently suggested that while he was glad to hear I was not sick or dying, that I sure acted like I was.
He was right. I had known this all along, but this time it hit me like a cannonball in the stomach. OK, a cannoball without a lit fuse. I didn't explode, but I was knocked on my proverbial back for more than a few days.
For over three years, I've lived life as a sick person. I've been poked, prodded, and had every organ in my reproductive tract examined and found defective (I am not kidding: ovaries, tubes, uterus, and cervix have all been found lacking). I've lived at my doctors office. I've seen the operating room more times than most people do in their entire lives. I've experienced internal bleeding so profuse that my blood pressure while lying down was once 65/17. I've consulted with the best professionals in the field. I've become an expert researcher in the vagaries of infertility treatment, a frequent reader of the Fertility and Sterility and Human Reproduction medical journals. I've tried alternative medicine, major diet changes, pills, shots, and surgery. All with no end in sight.
To the outside observer, my life was indistinguishable from someone with a terminal illness. And, I realized, it was indistinguishable to me as well. My infertility had become the biggest tragedy of my life, enough that occasionally (rarely! I'm not suicidal!) I thought death would be better than a life without children.
I realized I didn't want to continue to live that way; I was tired of that shitty life. I couldn't be SICK anymore. I did not want to be a patient for even one more day. I had to stop living the life of a medical experiment. I wanted to stop being a freak of nature immediately, that very instant.
I wanted to be healthy again. But I could not be a quitter when I still wanted a child. So the decision to move on was still not made.
But then, later that day, I received an email from someone who reads this blog. It contained this paragraph:
There have been times when I've read your posts and I've wanted to say, "Susan, it's okay to stop the treatments." After my miscarriage this fall (after two years of IF), many people encouraged me not to give up, to keep on trying. I was so depressed, I felt neither mentally or physically capable of continuing. Yet, I beat myself up, thinking, "if you give up now, it just goes to show that you're not willing to do whatever it takes, and you don't deserve a baby..."
I saw what I had been subconsciously thinking for years printed on my computer screen. For three and a half years I've put myself and my marriage through hell, all because I thought that if I wasn't strong enough to endure every treatment option available, to move mountains if necessary, that I wasn't strong enough to raise a child and wasn't worthy of a baby.
Of course, when a fucked-up superstition like that is examined in the light of day, it is much easier to discard.
So, I "tried on" the idea of adoption. No cycles, no donor eggs, no donor embryos, nor gestational surrogates. Every day since, my resolve has grown stronger. And T has been very supportive because he's wanted to adopt for months.
Already, I feel much healthier.
PS - You'll notice that I still haven't told you whether we're doing domestic (#4) or international adoption (#5). That has its own little story, a post for another day.