Monday, November 9, 2009

On Being an UnMom

So now that I am miraculously, unbelievably, but quite apparently happily married, (I'm happily married! How did that happen?), one would think my life would be, well, good? Yes?


I'm in my mid-forties. And we don't have kids. And it sucks.

Pretty much 98% of all my married and divorced friends have kids. I live in a world of parenthood. One of my volunteer gigs is at the local day school. My synagogue is crawling with children and pregnant women. I have siblings and siblings-in-law who want and expect me to have a great deal of involvement with my nieces and nephews. I have children and children-related stuff coming out of my ears. But none of these children are mine. I am an UnMom.

So I finally sucked up my courage and made an appointment with the best reproductive endocrinologist in the state. Literally. Apparently this man has gotten half my shul pregnant. So to speak. I have to wait about a month for the appointment, but he is supposedly The Man.

I've been married for more than six months now. I put off the whole fertility treatment thing because for some reason, I thought that since I was actually in a good, honest, wholesome marriage now, maybe God would just toss me a pregnancy or two. But it's not happening. I've never been pregnant. Ever.

It's gotten to the point where, in consoling a friend of mine for her third miscarriage, the following incredibly stupid sentence came out of my mouth: "well at least you know what it's like to be pregnant." Yeah. I said that. She is a good enough friend to understand the place of extreme narcissistic pain from which that comment emerged. She actually sort of laughed and said that was the first honest thing anyone has said to her since she lost the baby.

The funny thing is, there is nothing medically wrong with me or my husband. We got tested in the first version of our marriage. Nothing wrong but our ages, that is. But all my chemistry was supposedly in good working order, even considering my age. It just didn't happen. I figured if you added the stress of a horrible marriage into the equation, that probably kept me from conceiving. Or maybe it was the lack of magical pixie dust. Who the hell knows?

That's the thing about this whole fertility thing. Lots of it comes around to plain old mystery. And helplessness. And pain. Long, deep, pain. It's a whole other kind of abyss from the pain of divorce or singleness. It's sharper and nastier and makes jagged, messy cuts. You wake up every morning, and the pain says to you: you think you're in control of your body? Hah! Guess again, loser. No baby today. No baby for you. Loser! UnMom!

And the pity. Good Lord, the pity from my friends is the worst. The look-exchanging. The offers of being called "Auntie WebGirl." Seriously, if you know a childless woman, don't offer her auntdom of your kids. It's so demeaning. Think.

In-vitro fertilization treatment cost between $20-25,000. And in some states (like mine), none of that is covered by health insurance. Yeah. It's like they are saying, not only are you a loser because you can't have a kid on your own, but now we're going to gut your savings account. Ha ha.

Ha ha.

And what does The Husband have to say about all this? Well, he's confident that if we do IVF, we'll have a kid. He's completely, ridiculously confident. Even when I quote the horrible, bleak statistics, he just ignores it all. He won't say anything negative. He won't think anything negative. He just tells me we should go in there, throw money at the doctors, inject me full of hormones twice a day for two months, etc. and the baby will happen. It just will. Of course it will. Why would God get us to this point and then not give us a kid? Why indeed.

My favorite part of being my friends' token Childless Woman is hearing the stories of miracle babies. Yes, I'm being incredibly sarcastic. "WebGirl, my sister-in-law's best friends brother's wife just had twins at 47. 47!! Isn't that amazing?" Yes sirree Bob, I've heard all the stories. You would think that women over 40 are just exploding with babies, based on all the stories I hear! Why, we are just dropping babies like bunnies, aren't we!

The reason these stories are dumb is because all of them, every single one of them, are exceptional. For every woman over 40 who has had a healthy live birth, there are dozens of others who are having multiple miscarriages, or can't conceive at all, or have had babies with birth defects or genetic disorders, etc. The urban legends are the rare successes. So please. Again. You know that friend of yours who is over 40 and is childless? Don't tell her any damn stories. The stories don't give us hope. They just make us jealous. And they even reinforce our hopelessness. Frankly, everything reinforces my hopelessness. Yeah. I'm not an upbeat kind of gal.

So I have an appointment in a month. My friend who did IVF at 35 warned me that the first thing this doctor will do is recommend that I use donor eggs. I'm not doing that. Forget it. I almost don't see the point. I want my own children. My own genetic children. Doesn't everyone?

I'm scared of the appointment. I'm scared that I'll get tested and the doctor will tell me that my chances of getting pregnant are next to zero. That my eggs are not viable. That my body is broken. That I will never be a mother, (but good news, I can always be an auntie!). I'm so scared.

I took one of those (probably useless) home fertility tests, because I have strong masochistic leanings. It came out fertile. But what does it know? I'm old. I'm so freakin old.

My friend from high school is marrying off her daughter next month. Another friend who is a year older than me is a grandmother, three times over. You cannot imagine how much cognitive dissonance this creates in me. And how much it hurts.

One of my friends is begging me to go see this mekubal guy in New York, who apparently will give me ruby dust to drink and get me pregnant. See, this sort of wacky segulah stuff tests the limits of my faith. Will God, who holds the key to conception, give me a child because I drink ruby dust? I'm thinking, no. My faith doesn't include magical potions.

So what do I do, dear readers, ask you to pray for Webgirl bas Webgirl's Mom? I have so many friends praying for me, baking challah for me, saying Tehillim for me. Will it break through? Will it help? What will change God's mind? Will He remember me? Can God really forget someone? Is God waiting for me to drink ruby dust? Pixie dust? I don't think so. I don't know what to think. I sort of go a little cognitively and spiritually gray when I think about my infertility. It dulls the pain a little.

And will my life have any value if God decides not to give me a child? Hmm. I guess that's the big giant question, huh. Who will I teach things to? What about when I die? Who will be my heir? Who will inherit my stuff? Who will say kaddish for me? Who will remember me? Who will care?

Infertility cuts like a knife. A nasty, serrated, rusty knife. So, enough wound opening for today. Time to go gray again.


Anonymous said...

As someone who's been there, I can really sympatize. We b"h now have children, but we realize that every child is a miracle, whether at 20 or 40.
So I won't bore you with all "miracle" stories, I would like to offer my two cents. I tell you this from first hand experience, so I think I know what I'm talking about.

1. Do not dispair! There are many new treatments available today that were not available even a few years ago. IVF is old hat, it is unbelieveable some of the technology they have today.

2. There is a wonderful organization called Bonei Olam . Please give them a call TODAY. Their counslors are all women who have gone through this themselves, so they understand what you're going through. They will give you *good* advice on doctors, treatments, financial assistance, etc. (BTW, do NOT go to the mikubal, he took our money, and told my wife to drink ink. Needless to say, all she got was a tummy ache.)
It is very important to see the right doctor. There are many quacks out there. Many of them treat all patients exactly the same, pump them full of drugs, and hope for a success. (Please believe me, I heard some hair raising stories about the incompetence of some "top" doctors.) BO will be able to get you discounted rates with the doctors, as well as provide financial assistance to cover the cost of treatment, drugs, etc.
I think though, the most important thing that you will get from them is being able to talk to someone who understands what your going through, someone who has shared your heartache and really wants to help.
I am in no way affiliated with the organization, I am only telling you this because I truly believe they can help you.


SuperRaizy said...

MK is right about Bonei Olam. They help so many people.

lars said...

kaddish dies, because they laugh

RY said...

Bonei Olam is certainly the way to go. MK, you are so right about the doctors. There are many quaks out there, that really don't know what they are doing and it so important to have solid references on them.
WebGirl, please don't despair!
Good luck and keep us posted.

AJ said...

Your remark about the endocrinologist reminds me of a Natalie Portman story. Her dad's a fertility specialist, and she says when she was in kindergarten, the teacher went around the classroom, asking each kid what their parents do for a living. Natalie said "My dad gets women pregnant."

WebGirl said...

Thanks for your comments and emails. We know all about Bonei Olam, ATIME, ovulation kits, etc.

frum single female said...

i know that you may not want to hear this one , but ill say it anyway. whether you have kids or not you are still a vibrant member of society. it sucks unbelievably that their is a biological clock and even that having an older husband does not help. im not a mom and i dont know if i ever will be biologically. and i would like to be one very much. but as important as having kids is it is not really what life is about. its about serving hashem and doing mitzvot. if having kids was the only way one could serve hashem them no one would have difficulty having them.
i have read that couples who go through infertility treatments gain an even stronger relationship whether or not they ever have a child biologically. not the answer you want to hear, (or one i would really want to hear) but i truly believe it. we have to try to achieve our dreams and goal of having a child but if that doesnt happen it doesnt mean you are less than in any way.

WebGirl said...

FSF, I know that what you're saying is mostly true intellectually, but it's very hard to integrate emotionally.

frum single female said...

i hear ya.

Francesca said...

your writing is so clear !
i stumbled upon your blog and after reading this dont' mean to intrude but i am a republican too a die hard pragmatist - someone who doesn't beleive in the airy fairy until I started studying quantumn theory. I have been seeing an energy healer of sorts - someone who has cranial sachral therapy training -- and it has helped immensly for my problems - i thought i would just throw it out there -- cst has helped many many people who haven't been helped by science to heal their own bodies - or let nature take over and help heal us .... it may be worth the try