Tag Archive | insensitive

A state of calamity

Two nights ago I had a complete meltdown.

It started in the afternoon, after my traumatising experience at the pathology collection centre. I’d suffered a mini anxiety attack in the middle of our city’s busiest mall because I couldn’t stop thinking about the man who took my blood excitedly announcing he was going to become a father on Christmas morning. I pictured the way he would share the news with his family. The imaginary scene played over and over again in my mind like a bad video clip on repeat, and I couldn’t seem to turn it off.

When I returned to work I was unable to complete any more tasks for the day, and instead just sat at my desk trying to keep myself composed and looking busy.

On the way home I stopped off in a nearby suburb to collect a large white photo frame that I had purchased on ebay. I stumbled across it quite accidentally on the site, and thought it would look great in our new master bedroom. I knocked on the seller’s door, and was greeted by a slim, blonde woman in her early 30s.

“Hi,” I said, offering a broad smile. “I’m here to collect the -”

“Shshshsh!” the woman interjected urgently. “I’ll need you to keep your voice down. I’ve just put my baby to sleep. Do you have any idea how hard it is to get babies to sleep?”

My eyes bulged in shock, but I said nothing further. I simply handed over the money and took the frame.

Did I know how to get a baby to sleep? Well yes, actually. I’ve put plenty of babies to sleep. In fact, my friends used to joke that I was the baby whisperer. It was all so different a few years ago when hardly anyone in my group of friends had babies. If there was a baby at a party or social function it would be happily passed around the group for all my friends to coo over. But as soon as it started crying, the baby would be thrust in my direction. My friends were terrified of crying infants, didn’t know how to change nappies, and didn’t want to learn. I was the only one in the group who was willing or able to provide care and comfort. Now it’s so different. Now half those friends have children of their own.

I was relieved to finally arrive home, but quickly realised my relief was to be short lived. Our floors are finally being polished upstairs, and our tiler has started working downstairs. The state of the house meant that we would have to spend the night at my parents’ place. I ducked inside to pick up some clothes and medication. On the way out, I checked the mail box. I was quite surprised to see a letter from my sister-in-law Jess.

I have mentioned in the past that Jess has been quite insensitive and hurtful this year, throughout her pregnancy and the birth of her second child. If you don’t remember you can read a few examples here and here.

I have also previously mentioned that after finding myself unable to cope with the constant baby photos on Facebook I deactivated my account about 7 weeks ago. What I didn’t mention was what happened shortly afterwards. It took Jess a few weeks to cotton onto the fact I no longer had a newsfeed to be clogged with photos of her new baby, so she kindly started texting me through photos that I could enjoy and keep. Yay. Just what I wanted.

“What’s next!” I had lamented to my husband. “Will she start sending me photos of her damn baby in the damn mail?”

But I will admit that I hadn’t actually believed that would happen. No one was that cruel.

So when I peeled open the envelope and pulled out a photo of my two year old niece and her new baby sister dressed in pink Santa hats I was completely stunned. Flipping the photo over, I saw my sister-in-law’s scrawl and the words ‘To Uncle Doug and Aunty Sadie, get ready for a pink Christmas! Love Layla and Amy’.

It took me another few seconds to work out the true meaning of the message – because Jess now had two girls and we had no children of our own, the entire family was going to celebrate a girly Christmas day. The entire day’s celebration was to revolve around Jess and her daughters. Of course.

I was absolutely fuming mad. Was that really the kind of shit I have to cop from someone in my own family, a couple of weeks after terminating an unviable pregnancy and less than a week before the due date of another failed pregnancy? The act was low, and unacceptably selfish.

When I arrived at my parents’ place I decided to try relaxing and watching a comedy movie. Doug was out with a mate for the evening, so I could choose whatever I wanted. Flipping through my parents’ dvd collection I came across ‘This is 40′ and decided it would be perfect. I enjoy Judd Apatow movies (yes I’m a sucker for lame humour) and had never seen it before.

The first half of the movie was pretty good and I chuckled along happily. Then came the part where the doctor surprised Leslie Mann by announcing she was accidentally pregnant at 40. Oh no. Oh, no no no.

Leslie reacted by sobbing, clawing at her face and neck, and wiping sweat from her brow. She was obviously horrified to hear the news. I quickly turned the movie off, realising I couldn’t even watch a comedy without being reminded of my failures as a human being.

When I headed out of the living room I saw that Doug had arrived, and sidled up for a hug. But as I moved towards him I realised straight away that he was angry at me.

“Did you just sit around all night watching television?” he demanded, seemingly ignoring the fact he had spent the evening at the driving range perfecting his golf swing. “You didn’t even bother to pick up some of my clothes from the house when you were there, and there’s no sheets on the bed in the spare room! It’s late! You could have put sheets on the bed hours ago! Now I’ll have to do it!”

I did feel really guilty, especially about the fact I’d picked up clothes for myself but not him when I was at our house. He had completely taken over domestic duties since I had my methotrexate shot. He had been doing all the cooking each night, washing the dishes and doing all the laundry. I could understand why he was angry that I hadn’t even been able to do this one thing for him. I hadn’t thought about him at all.

“I’m sorry.” I spluttered. “I don’t feel well.”

He rolled his eyes and stalked off to find some sheets. Feeling dejected, I headed into the bathroom and started stripping my clothes so that I could take a shower. Peeling off my underwear I noticed the blood immediately. My period had properly begun. Again. My third period in five weeks.

Suddenly I was howling. I went from calm to utterly hysterical in about 12 seconds, having completely lost the ability to control my emotions. There was nothing I could do to stop myself.

Doug rushed into the bathroom to find out what was wrong. I was sobbing so violently I could hardly speak.

“I just don’t feel well.” I managed to repeat.

“I know things are tough at the moment.” Doug said. “But if you don’t feel well why did you watch that movie? Why didn’t you just go to bed? How can I help you if you won’t help yourself? I don’t want to listen to your self-pity.”

That was all it took to send me completely over the edge.

“Get out.” I spat, turning on the shower. “Just get out.”

Without another word Doug left the bathroom and I stepped into the shower cubicle. I washed myself, then just let the hot water wash over my body as I shook and sobbed. Suddenly I could feel my chest tightening and before I even realised it I was having trouble breathing. I started gulping in big lungfuls of air, but I still didn’t feel like there was any oxygen in my body at all. I knew I was having a panic attack, but it felt like I was dying.

I hopped out of the shower, dried myself and wrapped my fluffy towel around my body, all the while gasping for breath. My gasps became quicker and quicker. My hands were on my chest and around my throat. Suddenly the room started spinning. I couldn’t breath. I just needed air. I was going to collapse if I didn’t start breathing. Why were none of my gasps pushing air into my lungs? Looking at myself in the mirror I saw that my skin had lost all of it’s colour, and my lips were turning blue.

I don’t remember how I started breathing again. I don’t remember Doug coming back into the bathroom, or how he calmed me down. But I know that he did. I remember him helping me sip water, dressing me in my pyjamas and putting me to bed.

Then he lay with me on the bed, in the dark, rolling me over so that my head was on his chest, his left arm wrapped around my back, his right arm around my shoulders and his legs locked over mine.

I knew he felt bad about the things he had said earlier. I realised that they had been blurted out in the heat of the moment, without knowing what I had been through already throughout the day. The last few weeks had been hard on both of us, and sometimes when people are worn out they snap. His careless remarks had simply been the straw that broke the camels back.

Doug rocked me gently as I continued to cry, telling me that it was okay to be upset. We stayed that way for forty-five minutes, my tears puddling onto my husband’s chest. Somehow I managed to drift off to sleep.

The next morning I awoke feeling like I’d been hit by a bus. It was almost as if my body had gone into some kind of shock. I was so slow getting dressed for work, missed the bus and ended up arriving half an hour late. Two different colleagues asked if I was okay, thinking I had the flu. One even suggested I go home, but I insisted I was fine.

The entire day I felt like I was on the verge of tears, even though those feelings of anxiety had dissipated. I had severe stomach cramps and indigestion type pains, despite not eating much of anything at all. I kept rushing to the bathroom thinking I was going to vomit, but instead I just dry heaved. I was a total wreck.

After work Doug met me in the city and we went to see a movie. We hadn’t had a date night since before we started our last cycle of IVF, and he was trying very hard to keep my mind off things and make me feel better. I shivered violently throughout almost the entire movie even though I was wearing a thick cardigan. Doug had both his arms wrapped around me, rubbing his hands up and down my biceps. It must have been so uncomfortable for him to stay in that position, leaning over the armrest that separated us, for a two and a half hour movie.

Last night I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and I slept solidly until 11am this morning. I feel so much better today. I’ve kept some food down and my mental state seems to have stabilized. I still have a hormonal headache but I feel like a human being again. I’m incredibly tired and imagine I’ll probably sleep for another 12 hours tonight.

This has just been a really long, really hard year for me. I feel like all the shit in my life has been slowly building for the last few months and my panic attack was the climax. Now I’m hoping I can stay under the radar and just slip quietly into 2014. It would be really great if this year could just end now.

Two days ago I hit rock bottom. But I’m still here. I’m still surviving. I’m taking one breath at a time. I refuse to stay down. I will make it through this. I will.


A rant about insensitivity

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned previously that I recently joined a new gym. As part of the joining fee, I was given three free sessions with a personal trainer.

I already see a personal trainer. Not one of those gym bunny trainers, the kind of trainer that has his own private studio and has a more thorough understanding of the needs of clients. I find the personal trainers at gyms are usually time poor and stressed, because they are paid on commission, and often just go through the same stock standard programs with all their clients. They’re the kind of trainers that seem to think a workout isn’t a workout unless you’ve vomited. My trainer actively avoids his clients vomiting because he understands it’s actually counterproductive to what we’re trying to do. If you vomit, you’ve wasted your whole workout. Gym bunny trainers like to shout a lot. They seem to think they’re stars on The Biggest Loser. They also don’t know what they’re talking about when they give out nutritional advice. I find the whole thing really off-putting.

Anyway, I decided to take up my new gym on the offer and booked in my first session with the only female trainer on the gym’s staff. I figured while I’m on this month’s wait in the dreaded between-cycle gulag I may as well find interesting ways to distract myself. My regular trainer is a male but also incredibly understanding of my IVF journey, given he himself is an IVF baby. He modifies all my workouts to suit my personal needs on any given day (based on where I am in my cycles and what medications I’m on) and also works regularly with Doug and my cousin Phoeobe. We’re great mates. But I chose a female trainer this time because I knew I’d have to give a spiel about IVF to explain why I’m limited in which exercise machines I can use and didn’t feel comfortable telling all that to some strange man.

My trainer introduced herself as Mandy. A tall, thin woman in her early forties. She seemed nice enough and we settled down in the gym’s “assessment room” to take my weight (still 74kg) and measurements. We then got onto my medical history and I explained I’m going through IVF.

“May I ask why?” she said, tapping her pencil on the desk.

“Sure…” I replied, unsure exactly why she needed to know but not unwilling to share. “I have severe endometriosis, adenomyosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, blocked fallopian tubes, hyperprolactinema, and I am anovulatory.”

“Oh that’s terrible!” she said. “I understand completely how you must feel. I have endemetrolosis myself.”

Endometriosis I thought, but said nothing.

“Don’t worry you’ll be fine love,” she continued cheerily. “Endometrolosis didn’t stop me from having kids. I have four!’

I smiled politely and still said nothing. I often find people say these types of things to me when they find out I’m infertile. They want to tell me some sort of uplifting story about how their friend or their friend’s sister or their friend’s sister’s hairdresser got pregnant and how I’ll be just as lucky. They don’t understand that these stories actually hurt me and rub in my face the fact I’m unable to accomplish what I was basically designed to do. Something billions of other women have managed.

“Then again, of course I have four kids,” the trainer went on. “My husband is so fertile he could get a dead stick pregnant!”

Then she started to laugh and laugh as if she’d said the funniest thing she’d ever heard. I didn’t laugh. In fact, it took everything I had not to get up and storm out of the gym. Here’s what I wanted to say to her:

First of all, it is not my husband’s fault that I can’t get pregnant. He is not in any way inferior to your husband.

Second of all, there is no possible way for you to tell whether your husband is super fertile. It does not take one to make a baby. It takes two.

Thirdly, your husband could not get me pregnant. I don’t care if he has the most fertile sperm on the planet. His junk isn’t getting to my eggs because a) my fallopian tubes are blocked and b) I don’t ovulate.

So screw you, gym trainer. Your nutritional advice was stupid and wrong, your jokes were insulting and your workout was too hard. Your aim should never be to “wipe the floor” with your clients until they can’t move anymore. That’s just bloody dangerous.

People have no idea just how hard and debilitating it is to be infertile. To understand that you may never have children. Just because I am young doesn’t mean I have a lot of time left to “sort myself out”. Just because I am going through IVF does not mean I will have children. IVF is not some magical bullet to pregnancy – it is hard, traumatic and exhausting. And only half of women who go through IVF end up having children. I am sick of people thinking they can say whatever they like to me. And I won’t be swallowing my feelings with a smile and accepting that shit anymore. I’m done.

I cancelled my other two free sessions.

I am 27

I handled my birthday so well. I’m actually incredibly proud of myself.

We went to breakfast with my parents, a boxing class in the afternoon with friends (and the instructor even let me bring cupcakes along which is quite counter productive to exercise!), and then went to a nice Thai restaurant and the movies in the evening. The day was so busy I didn’t get the chance to be sad that I’m not a mother, or curse the fact that I’m no longer pregnant.

I will confess I still haven’t gone to see a counselor. I’m still coping badly with my emotions. I will get around to organising that, as soon as I figure out what’s holding me back. And I know I do need to see someone quite badly.

The other day I was in the pharmacy picking up more prenatal vitamins (the ones I’ve been taking for 2 years in the stupid hope I’ll be pregnant soon) and I ended up standing next to a lady who looked about 7 months ago. She was also buying prenatal vitamins.

This weird thought popped into my head before I could even stop it. If I punched that belly, her pregnancy would disappear and then she would be just like me. It was absolutely the weirdest thing. I’m not a violent person at all. I can’t even kill spiders or bugs. I was a vegetarian for 12 years and a vegan for 2 years. I only eat small amounts of meat now because I’m iron deficient and I want to be in the best possible health for my future child. I only eat organic meat, and preferably game meat like kangaroo, because I know the animal hasn’t needlessly suffered. Anyway, the point is I would absolutely never ever hurt anyone or anything. In my mind, I wasn’t harming a baby by punching that woman. I was simply making her belly vanish. Making her tummy flat like mine. Putting us back on equal footing. Making us the same.

I told Doug and he suggested next time I have a weird or violent thought like that I should try smiling and see if it helps it to go away. I also told my mother and she laughed hysterically and told me it was the silliest thing she’d ever heard. That didn’t exactly help.

In other news, we get to go see our next specialist in a few days. Finally! Well, I get to go see her. I made a massive cock up and Doug isn’t able to go to our first appointment. He has a super busy job, as you might be able to tell by the fact he’s missed a lot of doctor’s appointments in the past. In order to make sure he could attend this new appointment I locked it into his diary weeks in advance. 22 May. 10am.

Except the appointment isn’t at 10am, it’s at 3pm. I was so nervous and panicked I wrote down the wrong time.So now poor Doug has kept his morning free (at my request) and piled all of his daily meetings in the afternoon. I feel awful and stupid that Doug can’t come and sad that I have to go by myself. I’m thinking of asking my mother to come with me instead for moral support.

What else has been happening in our lives since I last updated? Not a great deal.

Doug’s pregnant sister Jess came to stay at our house last weekend. It was actually really hard to see her. She isn’t sensitive at all to my needs or feelings. She, her husband Rory and one year old daughter Layla live about 8 hours drive away and they came to stay at our place so they could attend a wedding. She walked into the house, no “hello” or “how are you”, just turns to Doug and says “I’m hungry and I need to feed my unborn baby. Give me food.”

I could see Doug falter and not know what to do. He was torn between his desire to protect me, and to do the right thing by his family. In the end I was the one who made her food. I didn’t want a fight between the siblings in the first 5 minutes after Jess’s arrival. She is 24 years old, immature and always been treated like the princess of her family. I understand why she is the way she is. Plus, I just don’t like conflict.

But I kept on looking at her and thinking you tried for 3 months before you became pregnant. That’s just not fair.

Every now and then she would ask a question about me, like “when do you next see the specialist?” and I’d think she cared. But then would immediately segway into “my pregnancy pants don’t fit well, do you think my bump is bigger this time than last time?” or “the baby is awake! I can feel it moving!”

You tried for 3 months. Only 3 months.

Then Rory arrived not long afterwards. He was part of the wedding party, so they’d come in separate cars. He walked into the house, got down on his knees, pushed his face up to Jess’s belly and started talking to his baby. “How’s my little one? Are you growing big and strong? What a beautiful baby you are.”

I could feel the tension radiating from Doug, who was standing by the fridge in the kitchen. The fridge where the photo of our long lost Nemo was still stuck to the surface with magnets. These people were supposed to love and care about us. Why were they doing this to us in our own house?

3 months and now you’re in baby bliss. Just 3 months.

The shining light of the weekend was spending time with our niece Layla. We love her to bits. She has just started saying Unkie Doug and Arny Sadie. She’s a ball of laughter and fun. We babysat while Jess and Rory were at the wedding. We played with chalk and crayons, then sat down to watch Disney movies before I cooked dinner. Sometime during the course of the evening she stopped calling me Arny Sadie and started calling me Arny Mummy. It was weird hearing a little person look at me and call me Mummy, even if the word Aunty was in front of it (or at least Layla’s version of the word aunty). I hope I get to hear it for real sometime soon.