A (treacherously long) reply

So, an interesting thing happened. I wrote my post on Friday, a post I thought was rather positive, a post explaining that I was more than these tortured diatribes about ovulation, (or a lack thereof) and suddenly people starting coming out of the wood work to express their concern, some via comments, some via emails. A few of these people mentioned they had been reading me for an extended period of time. My guess is for others it was there first time here. And yet they all had something to say, they all had opinions to express.

It has been a strange experience, to have people come here and say these things to me. It certainly hasn’t been a positive thing but I’ve tried to keep it in perspective. I haven’t written anything here until now because I honestly had no idea what to say. I have had very tempered reactions to all of this. I haven’t let it sink in really, haven’t allowed it to penetrate the skin. I’ve tried to keep myself in a bubble, to watch all this happening from behind a window. Unfortunately it was just a regular window–not reinforced, not bullet proof–and at some point that window shattered and I found myself standing there, suddenly exposed to all of people’s concerns and opinions. And it hurt.

I do want to say, that one of the reasons I was able to stand behind the glass for so long was the amazing response of people in this community coming to my aid, defending and protecting me. I can’t tell you how validating it felt to read three or four comments in my defense for every comment that brazenly criticized me. If it weren’t for the brave women who stood up for me, this would be a very different post indeed.

I’m not sure where I should go now, what I should do. Do I respond to these criticisms and concerns? They don’t feel like troll comments per se and I know, in either case, it is my choice how to move forward. Do I recognize them anymore than I already have? Do I respond to them?

I guess I do want to make a few things clear, even though I feel like I’ve touched on all these points in past posts, it seems that people have either missed my explanations, or willfully ignored them when communicating with me.

First of all, I know I’m in a shitty place. I’ve commented on that multiple times. I also recognize that this is a very stressful time in my life: buying a house, starting an incredibly stressful school year, packing, moving, starting my daughter in preschool for the first time, worrying about how all these transitions will affect her, and of course trying to get pregnant while weathering depression without my medication. Each of these is a mind fuck on it’s own, together they are a perfect shit storm of mindfuckery. I get that. I SEE THAT.

Of course most of those things I can’t control. What people seem to be concerned about, what they think I can control is:

1) My desire to have another child. (And my expectation that having another child will make everything infinitely better)

2) My disappointment in my body.

3) My depression. (Through therapy and medicinal management.)

So let’s look at these, shall we? Give them each a bit of breathing room.

1) My desire to have another child.

It honestly makes me laugh to try to sum up the complexity of this one, especially since I used this space to record the painstaking efforts we took to reach a decision about having another child (including over six months of couples counseling). I have explained that my desire to have another child is a mixture of biological imperative (a phrase which I use to quickly give name to the impenetrable need I feel to have another baby, a need that overwhelms rational thought) and our desire to give our daughter a sibling and create a family of four. Mi.Vida and I BOTH want to experience parenthood with another child and we BOTH are willing to make sacrifices to do it.

Having said that, I think I’ve also made it abundantly clear that I DO NOT expect adding to our family to be a cure-all for my woes. In fact, I’ve written multiple posts about the ambivalence I feel about having another baby and my ability to manage two small children and be an adequate mother to both of them. I am SURE that having another baby will add strain to my life and my relationship. But I also believe it will add incredible joy and fulfillment, just as my daughter has. In my quest for a first child I couldn’t know how hard the transition to parenthood would be but I have been brutally honest in chronically that difficult transition and I feel I have been just as honest in admitting that my intense desire to have another child flies in the face of the reality of how challenging it will be. Both Mi.Vida and I know it will be hard but we also know it will be wonderful.

2) My disappointment in my body.

Ah my body. This is a hard one to thoroughly (and succinctly) outline because my fear and distrust of my body goes back a long time, to basically the beginning of my “becoming a woman.” It is tightly entwined in my mother’s story of struggle and loss, as our early fertility-related issues mirror each other (extended periods of amenorrhea) and were ultimately unexplained by the medical establishment. I KNOW I could be easier on my body and I strive to approach it with forgiveness but the truth is I am always vaguely terrified that this cycle will be my last and my body will just stop cycling, as it did for a solid ten years. I do recognize that some of my fear is unfounded, and that other women in my position might handle the whole thing A LOT better, but I am me and I’m doing the best I can.

Some people have urged me to stop temping or using OPKs. Honestly, I haven’t even used OPKs much this time around because I ran through the ones someone sent me for free pretty quickly and I only used them again this month because I found a few hiding in my sock drawer. So not using them again will be easy for me. Not temping might be harder, as my body doesn’t produce a significant amount of CM when I ovulate so really temping is the only way to know we can stop having sex, unless we want to have it every other day for two weeks, which is my new “window” for ovulation.

3) My depression.

And finally, my depression, which honestly I’m realizing is more a mixture of anxiety and depression which I’m less familiar with as the anxiety aspect has only reared it’s ugly head in recent years. Recent comments and emails have urged me to focus on resolving my depression before continuing TTC. There seem to be two ways people think I can “resolve or treat” my depression/anxiety and that is therapy and medication. I have actually been attending therapy until quite recently when my therapist became unavailable and unfortunately she goes on maternity leave in a month so extensive work with her in the near future is impossible. It might seem easy to just find someone new but it really isn’t that simple. It takes months to create a productive rapport with a new therapist and just as long for them to really learn who you are and what issues you face. I don’t have the time or money to invest in starting a new relationship with a therapist right now. I just don’t.

As far as medication is concerned, that is also not a cure-all for depression or anxiety. Everyone responds to the various medications differently and I KNOW from experience that there are many medications that I do NOT respond well to; over the years I’ve been on over a half dozen SSRIs and many of them were not helpful to me at all, some even made me feel worse. There are also very few SSRIs that have been “green lighted” for pregnancy, and even those come with known and unknown risks. If I knew there was a miracle SSRI out there that would make me feel great AND be safe during pregnancy I would definitely take it, but such a drug does not exist and right now I just don’t feel like the risks outweigh the benefits FOR ME.*

I want to reiterate, again, that I am not doing as badly as my posts here might lead one to believe. I am still finding enjoyment in life. I get up, shower, put on clothes, dress and feed my daughter, spend the day with her, enjoy being doing things with her, all without struggle. I still find joy in the things I love, like eating out at restaurants in our neighborhood before we move and seeing The Dark Knight Rises on the IMAX (So good, so, so good). I know what crippling anxiety/depression looks like FOR ME, and that is not where I am right now.

Bringing together all of 1, 2 and 3 above is the final suggestion, why not just wait and try to get pregnant later, when everything has calmed down? I can see the wisdom in that move and for some I’m sure it makes the most sense. Again, I’m not sure it is the right move for me. I already waited six months longer to start trying than I wanted to. So far I’ve been trying for five months and have yet to get pregnant. My daughter is almost 27 months old and I would like her to have a sibling between 3-4 years younger than her. That might seem like an arbitrary reason to keep trying for some, but for my partner and I, it is enough.

So, I hope that makes clear where I am and why I am choosing the path I am on. I’m didn’t write this post to try to convince those who are concerned or critical of me that I am doing the right thing; I already know in my heart that this is what I need to be doing, difficult or not. And I know that while I could be doing a better job at it, I am getting by and I will strive, as always, to do better. I write this because I want to have an accurate account, on the record, of where we are right now so that later, when I look back I will know.

It is for that reason that I also want to insist that truly, things between Mi.Vida and I are good, better than they’ve been in a long time. We feel a lot of excitement about our new house (more on that soon), we are actually enjoying the sexy-time parts or trying, even if sometimes we’re very tired when we enjoy it and all in all things between us are great. Mi.Vida has been incredibly supportive of me when I’ve felt down and I’ve been careful not to expose him to my passing fits of neurosis. We’re actually in a really positive place, despite what it might seem like here, on this blog, despite what people are obviously assuming.

I guess my final statement, to end this treacherously long excuse for a post, is to make a promise: I promise that I will try harder to express a more complete version of myself on my blog, if only to keep those of you who are truly concerned from worrying too much about me. While it’s true I am not as compelled to sit down and write about the unicorn farts and fairy queefs in my life, I can make it a point to do so and I will attempt that in the coming months.

Thank you to those of you who felt inclined to contact me out of concern and not out of judgment. I do appreciate your words of support, encouragement and suggestion.

*Please know that this is not a judgement against women who have taken or are taking an SSRI during pregnancy. I took one for most of my first pregnancy and I felt it was the right thing for me to do at that time and I absolutely trust and believe that anyone who is taking an SSRI during pregnancy is doing what is best for them and their child.

12 responses

  1. Wow. I just read the comments on your last few posts… I think where the “concern” is coming from is the fact that you (rightfully, IMO) use your blog to purge the negativity. But that’s what people see & feel & it may lead a reader to be concerned about you (or judge you, depending on their intentions). On the other hand, I’ve been reading for over a year, every single post in my reader, and while I certainly noticed you were having a hard time with the TTC…nothing seemed out of proportion to what I imagine most of us have felt. Just that you were more honest about it. I totally related to every word of your posts, though I’ve never written/said any of those things out loud, I felt them, and I’m sure others did too. I don’t think you need to change the tone/topic of your blog, please continue to write what you need to write. Living with depression/anxiety, working full time, being an involved wife & mother…you’re juggling a lot and doing a great job. Best of luck with the upcoming move, that must be so so exciting for your family!

  2. I read your previous post, and the comments, and I intended to respond. I’m sorry I didn’t. Because what I was going to say will work for this post too. You don’t owe an explanation (or reply) to anyone.

    I think people who judge are judging for their benefit, not yours. If they are uncomfortable reading about your struggles, anxiety, and victories (yes, I’ve read about those too), then there’s a simple solution. They shouldn’t do it. They are the ones who should step back, especially if you feel blogging is helping. It astounds me that people don’t think you’ve thought through the options, figured out what is right for you, and rejected what isn’t right for you. (It’s like the “just adopt” brigade. Duh!) You’re an intelligent woman I’d love to meet. Yes, you might be finding life a bit tough right now. All I can say is I’m glad people haven’t been able to read and judge my thoughts during my darkest or most insecure times. Kia kaha (Maori, for “Stay strong.”)

    And don’t feel you need to defend yourself.

  3. What people forget is that our blogs are not accurate representations of reality. They are stories. And we are narrators, making choices. It’s the authorial fallacy of English classes gone by …

    You know your own struggle best, and you know what is best for your family. Unfortunately, when we write in public, we open ourselves up to criticism … we invite judgement, even if we hope for support. Know that there are more people out there that support you than those who make you upset … and even those who upset you think that they have your best interests at heart … they care about you, too.

  4. I just went back and reread the comments as well.

    I wish I had something to say other than this is your space and you should do what you want with it. And I wish more people would judge less and empathize more.

    Hugs.

    xoxo

  5. A very eloquent and clear response. And I hope that now you’re done needing to defend yourself, and can go back to using this space to express yourself and talk about your feelings in the honest way you always have.

    I will admit that I was relieved to read your previous post clarifying that you are not really like this all the time, in real life. I was not sure, and I would be worried if that were the case (not blaming you or judging you, just worried). But using this space as an outlet is a great thing and very healthy, so as long as you have happy times IRL, no worries about being that way here!

  6. Oh dear…I really hope my e-mail was not one of the ones that you felt were attacking you. I really just wanted to give you some support and let you know that you are not alone and that all the changes you are going through right now would cause anyone stress. I’m sorry if you felt like I was judging you…that was not my intent at all. You don’t need to explain anything to anyone in this space. This is YOUR place to come and say whatever it is that is on your mind. Don’t stop doing that, ok?

  7. This is your blog to do with it what you want. No one gets to tell any of us what to write or how to feel. I think you’re doing an amazing job of translating your pain and anguish and stuck-ness into words. Keep telling your story however you want. I (and many others) will be here to listen and support.

    BTW, I’m sorry I don’t comment very often. I tend to read on my phone where commenting is a pain. But I read faithfully and am always interested in what you have to say.

  8. So, I have to admit, I haven’t really read this post, but I read your last one, and then read the comments and thought “Who the fuck do these people think they are?” This is definitely your space to bitch, moan, celebrate, whatever. I’m sorry you’ve been going through a tough time here as of late between lame ass commenters and IRL peeps who don’t get it.

  9. Man. I went back and read all the comments and it was painful. It’s very easy to judge someone, isn’t it, commenters? You are probably one of the most honest bloggers out there and I guess we are seeing that that honesty, the sharing of these thoughts that I think so many people in the ALI community have, makes you vulnerable to criticism. You are brave to put these feelings out there. People need to know they are not alone on this hellish journey of loss, TTC. I have felt these things too: the envy of seeing pregnancies easily achieved and then the subsequent guilt for feeling that way.

    I am so proud to be your friend URL and IRL (brilliant). As for the commenters who feel you must judge? At the end of the day, I am fresh out of fucks to give about you.

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