April 5, 2009

My Initial Emotional Response (so far)

Finding out that you probably won't be able to have your own children is such a devastating blow. I remember feeling like there's no way this could be really happening to me for the first couple of days after I found out. Since 3/18, I've been through a lot emotionally. Add to the fact that my husband also just got laid off the day after my Dx... yeah, it's been rough lately.

I cry. A lot. You wouldn't think that you'd think about your ability have children every single day, but I do. I can't help it- there are reminders all around me. Take for example, a simple walk to get the mail with my husband. It's a sunny day, and by the time we get to Davis, I've seen 4 strollers, 1 pregnant woman, and tons of kids. They are everywhere. In the grocery store, on TV... pregnant ladies and babies are all over the place. It's kind of that same scenario when a woman has a pregnancy scare- suddenly, the only commercials on TV are for ClearBlue and Pampers.

If you haven't gathered already, I default to self-deprecating humor. It's a defense mechanism I readily recognize in myself, and honestly, it's just the first way I cope with things. I realize this might make others uncomfortable, b/c they think I'm making light of my own terribly tragic issue. It's not that I'm poking fun, or that I don't realize the gravity of the situation. It's just the easiest way for me to talk about it around other people and not be a blubbering mess. As a writer, this comes of usually as cynicism, so I thought it necessary to preface the rest of this post with this caveat.

The day I found out, I cried so much. I cried at work, cried when I got home, cried during dinner, cried before bed, cried when I got up the next morning. My husband cried with me. He was as sad as I was for all the same reasons, and sadder still to see his wife in so much emotional pain. In that first week following both my Dx and the layoff, our marriage has become foundationally stronger than it has been in the last year. If there's a silver lining to be had in all of this, it's that I know I have indeed, a partner for life, through all of life's sorrows.

For the first week or so, I was stuck in the overwhelming sadness of the situation. I was watching futures disappear: of coming out of the bathroom with a positive HPT in hand, telling Arieh he's going to be a daddy; of seeing my child's face for the first time and playing the "gee, he looks like me or you" game; of surprising family and friends with creative, inventive ways with news that we're pregnant... What made me saddest is that we were deliberately waiting to TTC (try to conceive) for another 2 years, so that I had my master's completed, and we had a bigger nest egg. We were getting all of our ducks in a row because it was important to us that we are financially secure when we're ready to build our family. I felt like I was cheated.

In coping, I've moved into a much angrier stage right now. I'm in the "it's just not fucking fair" stage. Because, well, it's not. I'm taking a lot of my anger out on God right now. The good thing is that I haven't abandoned my faith entirely; you can't be angry at something you don't believe in. That's just a logical fallacy.

I've just finished reading Harold Kushner's When Bad Things Happen to Good People, and while I can rationally internalize the concepts he presents, emotionally, I'm just not ready to accept them. God is not to blame for this. Neither am I. Neither are my doctors. Kushner argues that suffering is not caused by God; it is random and indiscriminant. Kushner validates God's existence, saying that God is here to give us strength to work through our suffering. As His children suffers, so to does God. It's a lot to take in at once, and like I said- I get it, but I'm just not ready to accept it.

It's unfair and it angers me. While I appreciate the comments I've received that "well, there's always adoption or IVF," it's extremely frustrating. Why should I have to pay thousands of dollars to have my own children when millions of women have them for free? Like, I get there are thousands of unwanted babies/children out there, but why should I feel guilty for wanting my own biological children? If children are our legacy, our immortality: imagine how terribly isolating it must feel to know that the gene pool for your family stops at you.

I struggle with feelings of inadequacy. I did when I had my ovary removed too; I described it as though I were a tree with a broken branch at the time. That I wasn't a complete woman. Now, with my ability to have my own children practically robbed from me, the effect has been devastating to my gender identity. I'm not saying I think I'm a dude, but I sure do feel like less of a woman. I feel fat. I feel ugly. I feel useless. Rationally, I know these things are not true. Emotionally, it's a struggle every single day.

I'm fairly convinced at my followup appt on 4/24, my doctor will recommend counseling. Until then, I just continue to write. It's theraputic, and it helps me chronicle my emotional development. It doesn't make any of this necessarily any easier, but at least it's something I can do in a situation where I'm virtually helpless.

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