Sunday, March 7, 2010

Infertility Hangover

I've got a lot of things swirling around in my head and I'm not sure I'll be able to write it out in a way that makes sense but I'm going to try. I've been mucking around with this post for days now and I can't get it organized in a way that makes sense and I can't get the wording just right, so I'm just going to post it as is and hope it makes some kind of sense.

A couple of days ago I was emailing with a friend who I don't see or talk to much anymore. She was there for me for my first pregnancy, my first miscarriage, my second pregnancy and the premature birth of my daughter and then all the years of infertility that came later. I commented in an email to her that I feel as though I have an infertility hangover. I feel as though I've been down for so long that I'm not sure how to be up again. That being said, I know it's not just the infertility stuff that's had me crying at the drop of a hat lately. There's the difficulty of having two children after being used to only 1 for 6 1/2 years, and the difficulty of a baby who hasn't slept well with few exceptions for 10 months (though he finally is and that's a whole other post), and frankly all it affects my relationship with my husband. I can't think of the right way to describe that at all. I wouldn't say that we are always "at each others throats" that seems too aggressive. It's just that I think we're both pretty disappointed and frustrated with one another and the state of our marriage and so we bicker A LOT. Oh and there's my weight and work situations. Right now I'm a good 25 pounds heavier that my pre-infertility average and even then I always wanted to lose 10 pounds. Long ago I realized I'd never be Hollywood skinny, but I've been really unhappy with my body for too long now. Also, there's the practical matter of my clothes. Hardly anything in my closet fits. Even what used to be my big sizes don't fit and I really don't want and can't really afford to replace my entire work wardrobe. I've been getting by, thanks in part to the fact that I work from home 2 days a week, so I don't have to dress nicely on those days. But it's getting old! And work, well let's just say that over the course of the years trying to get and stay pregnant I stopped caring much. While I don't think I did a bad job at my work, I certainly could have been doing better. The result is that I have been getting the kind of feedback that I was used to and I keep getting passed up for promotion. Even though I know my heart hasn't been in it, it still sucks. But still most of the problems I'm struggling with now are very much related to the 4 years of thinking of nothing but wanting a baby.

Also, I see a distinction between what I mean by infertility hangover, where I'm not sure how to get out of it and the feelings that I know I will always have about pregnancy, childbearing, family size, etc. I truly believe that there will never be a time when I won't feel some mixture of envy, sadness, bitterness, jealousy, when I see someone with 3, 4, more kids, or someone with kids who are close in age, or hear about how easily someone falls pregnant, etc. But I truly believe that the intensity of those feelings will wax and wane and they certainly won't be present all the time, they'll just pop up now and again.

The infertility hangover is more about the lasting effects of the all-consuming, constant depression that became a way of life during all the years we were trying to have another baby. I stopped caring about work, but not enough that I wasn't frustrated when promotions passed me by. I wouldn't say I stopped caring about how I looked, but I certainly didn't have the energy to deal with it.

But I've decided it's time to get rid of the hangover once and for all. I just got passed up for promotion again, I feel awful with regard to my weight and my physical well-being in general. And I have no excuses anymore. Ben weaned himself and now I'm done pumping AND he's finally sleeping through the night, so I'm no longer the walking definition of exhaustion. So, today I started the South.Beach.Diet; I still haven't figured out a way to fit in regular exercise in this crazy schedule, but I CAN do something about my diet. And even though my nicest clothes don't fit, I'm going to try and take more care with how I dress. I'm also going to try to do a better job with my hair and makeup (not a ton, but at least look a little more polished). And I'm going to really try to change my attitude about work and my work habits. I know it won't all be easy, but I'm ready to be up again. I really need to turn things around for myself and for my marriage, and I know that if I'm happier I'll be a better mom and that is the most important thing to me of all.


Lorraine said...

I absolutely get it. You have to concoct such a hazardous framework of hope and protection and pretense and determination to get through serious infertility treatment that it's hard to deconstruct all of that and go back to being "normal". The years go by and it's hard to even know what normal should be like for you at a certain point.

But I think you're on the right track. You have to just try to make little changes that will get you back to the place you might have been before this all took over. The whole experience does change you, and I know there are good aspects to it - being more sensitive to the "hidden" sorrows of others, for instance - but the all-consuming nature of pursuing treatment can leave you somehow depleted. Good luck with getting back to whatever you want "normal" to be!

Penny said...

Wow, for a second there I thought you'd cut and pasted from one of my blog posts. And then I realized I never wrote anything about it, but SO yesyesyes on the weight, the job, the hangover. Ugh. Baby steps, man. I'm really proud of myself right now for flossing and wearing earrings occasionally, and I've got a 10 month old who's weaned too. I started exercising to 20-minute workout tapes after the kids are in bed at night and that's made a small dent, but I think it's more about my diet than anything else.

So! The hangover is a bitch and I'm happy to see you make strides toward getting rid of it too, and I'm only sorry that it seems to be a long process for everyone.

LJ said...

Sometimes getting to the brink is what you need to look at the edge and make a change. I know right now is really tough, and I REALLY get it.

Another Dreamer said...

Best wishes on making the changes you desire. I get it too.