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Saturday, November 01, 2003

Procrastination


I guess this is what I started writing this blog for. But I have been putting it off. Hiding from it I suppose. Not just here, but in life. But last night it really did hit me. I am 36 years old, and I am never going to have kids.

This is going to be long. Not sure if I will even publish it, but I need to write it.

Start at the beginning.

I was married. Very happily married. Everyone of our friends thought we were sickeningly married. Yeah, we had arguments, and we didn't always get on, but most of the time it was good. Not jut good, but great. He made me laugh (something he still has the capability of doing like no-one else can). I made him laugh (something I still think I manage to make him do). Then, around 7 years ago, we decided to try for a baby. Couple of months, nothing happened. We don't tell anyone - well, it just seems a bit crass really. But then my best friend admitted to me her and her boyfriend were going to try. One month later, she rings me to tell me she was pregnant. I am pleased for her, but a little jealous - she managed first month, I was now in my third, and still trying. And on it went.

A year later, we (I say we, but it was me who pushed for it) we go to the doctors. He talks us through the tests - gives X a little plastic bottle to *cough* you know what in to. I have to go for a blood test on a specific day of my cycle. So, a few days later he goes into the loo to 'fill' his bottle, and we run it straight down to the hospital. On the necessary day, I go for my blood test. Now, I have very deep running veins. Really difficult to find - I was once kicked out of giving blood, because they couldn't get any. The nurse tries. And tries again. And tries again. And again. After the 6th attempt, she goes and gets the doctor. He tries twice more, then decides to go for a 'femoral stab'. This is as awful as it sounds. They basically just stab the needle in from a great height into your inner thigh. And you know what? He missed!! At this point I think he realises I am about to turn into a gibbering wreck, so sends me home, and asks me to come back next month, to book the last appointment of the day and make sure it is him, and he will make sure he gets the blood next time. By the time I get to the car, I am actually in hysterics. It was the weirdest thing ever. A huge part of my brain was in control, I was driving, I was also aware that I was howling and crying and moaning like a banshee, yet seemed totally incapable of stoppping it. It was almost clinical the way I was watching myself fall apart. Anyway, I get home, and I ring the X. I can't make him understand anything, other than he has to ring work and tell them I am not coming in.

One month later, I am back at the doctors. X is with me, because I asked him to come along and drive because it probably isn't all that sensible for me to be driving. I am a complete nervous wreck. X is a complete arrogant prick, making sure I know he is taking half a day off work to come along, and that he hopes it doesn't take long. I should have realised then the sort of support I was going to get in the future. I go in, and this time he manages to get some blood from me - I was there for 45 minutes, and he got two small vials instead of the four they usually require, but he managed it. And off it went to the hospital for tests.

And yet again, one month later, we are back at the doctors. He gets the test results out. He turns to the X, and goes through each of the things they test for. And to sum it up, basically X doesn't have a huge number of sperm, but they are very agile, and so in terms of being able to father kids, he is pretty average. But that's not how the doctor put it. Oh no, he spent 15 minutes reassuring X how it was no reflection on him being a man, his sperm count was below average, but that wasn't the be all and end all of fathering children. I was starting to get annoyed - for god's sake! I had my fingers down my throat making gagging noises by the end, he was using so many cliches. Then he turns to me. "Your hormones aren't as high as we would expect, so I am referring you to the specialist at the hospital". And we were out of the door. I was fuming. He had spent all of the appointment reassuring my husband about his virility, and I was dismissed with a wave of the hand. What about me? When we got to the car, and I actually had my mouth open to comment on the fact that he had offered me no reassurance, yet had pretty much dropped a bombshell regarding my ability to have kids, X turns to me and says "Well, that's good news"' Huh???? "At least I am not firing blanks".

That was 6 years ago. Even writing it still hurts like fuck. I had just found out that I might not be able to have kids. All he could think about was he was ok, what great news.

Two weeks later, and X had still made no comment to me. No matter how much you try and think logically, when someone tells you you are not producing the right hormones in the right amount, you feel guilty. I felt awful. And I felt betrayed. Both by the doctor - which I could live with - but also by the man I loved. So I asked him what he thought. It was hard. I wanted to run and hide and pretend it wasn;t happening, but I brought the subject up, and asked him what he thought.

He was so blase.

"We just wait until we see the specialist," he says.

"No," I say. " I mean what do you think, not what are we going to do."

"About what?"

Big breath. In. Out. "About me, maybe not being able to have kids."

"Oh that? Well, we just go to the specialist...."

"NO NO NO. Please, tell me what you think about me."

"Well, what do you think about it?"

Another deep, deep breath. "I feel guilty."

"Well that's just stupid."

"Yeah, I know. But it doesn't stop me feeling it. And I am having a real hard time coping with it. And I don't feel you are giving me any support."

"Well, what do you expect me to do about it?"

"Well, for a start, what the fuck did you mean by 'What good news I am not firing blanks'? How the hell was that supposed to make me feel?" I was a little angry by now.

"Well, laugh, because that was just a joke."

"I might have believed that, had you then gone on to ask me how I felt, make sure I was ok, reassure me you still thought of me as a woman and it made no difference to how you feel about me."

"Well, that's just stupid, of course it makes no difference".

"So why didn't you tell me that? Why have I had to ask for it? Look, all through our marriage I have always been the strong one, making you talk about the things you find difficult to talk about, sorting out when we have had problems. This time, I can't do it. I need you to do it. I need you to make me talk about it, because I am not going to do it on my own. I feel awful, I feel guilty, and I just want to crawl in a hole and hide. So please, you are going to have to do it."

"Oh, ok".

So, we left it at that - sort of sorted out, I still felt angry at his total insensitivity to me, and to the whole making babies situation.

Two months later, and I am bursting at the seams. This is just going round and round in my head. X is just happily living his little life like nothing has changed. And so, I am forced to bring it up. Ask him why he hasn't, when I asked him to, while I have been curling upinside with guilt. "Oh," he says, "I thought you were fine because you weren't talking about it." Huh? I had explained that I was having trouble talking about it, and he just seems to have forgotten that? Well, thanks a lot! So, I go through it again. Wuite patiently I feel, considering how much like shit I feel. tell him that I need him to talk about ti, because I am not talking about it because of my problems, not because there aren't any problems any more.

Six weeks later. I bring it up again, as he has just been pretending nothing is wrong. I am angry this time. We have a screaming match. Of course, I bring up the "I am not firing blanks" comment in his face. Not the nicest thing, I know, but I was just so angry. That really was his attitude to it all - he was okay, so he had no problem to deal with.

And so it went on. And on. Eventually, after another 6 months, we go to the specialist. It involves a repeat of the tests, and a repeat of the humiliation of being told he is ok, and I am not. A little more senstively this time, as it was a woman doctor, but by this time the damage has been done. I get put on hormone pills, and have to go for monthly blood tests just to make sure they are working.

Now, these hormone pills are, to put it frankly, a fucking nightmare. They completey mess with yourhead - imagine PMS for 3 and a half weeks out of 4. Imagine the period pains from hell, and triple them. Add to this the guilt and emotional turmoil I was already under. Further add to that the fact that not once, ever, has the X made any attempt to make me feelokay about myself. Oh yeah, he fetched my pain killers and a glass of water when I had period pain. He cooked dinner on the nights I couldn't move from the sofa from being doubled in pain. But I got no emotional support at all.

And so it went on. For eighteen months. Every month or so, I would end up screaming at him, pleading and begging him to talk to me, to try and help me not feel guilty. And every time, he promised he would do it. And every time I believed him. And every time he let me down.

I have several hospital visits, to see other specialists, checking my insides as well as my hormone levels. One day in particular stands out. He had taken the afternoon off work, to drive me to the hospital. I was going for what is called a hysterosalpingogram, or HSP for short. This is a pretty invasive procedure, where they inject a radiographic dye into the uterus, and then on into the fallopian tubes. They can see if there are any blockages. I was nervous as hell. It is painful - like normal period pain - and also pretty humiliating - think cervival smear with 8 spectators! On the way there, X is being a complete arse. We row, of course - by this time it was par for the course for every appointment we had, we had a row on the way there, mainly because I was so uptight, and he was just pretending nothing was wrong. And what a big favour he was doing me taking time off work to take me there, when in essence it wasn't his problem was it?

Anyway, we get to the carpark, shouting at each other. I sit there. I have reached the stage where I am frightened to open my mouth, because I am about to fall apart. X, in all his glory, gets out of the car, storms around to my side of the car where the window is open, leans in, and shouts at the top of his voice "What the fuck are you trying to prove?" I get out of the car, scream at him, "I have been trying my hardest not to cry! I am about to go in there for a fucking awful experience, and I really don't want to turn up in tears, and have been trying not to cry, and you just made me anyway you insensitive fucking bastard!" Tobe fair, he did look shocked - it was clear he hadn't even thought about how nervous I was. But that just made me mad - why on earth didn't he know that? How come he hadn't realised I was nervous? It was supposed to be his job? Love, honour and cherish and all that?

I stalked into the hospital. He follows me, not saying a word. We get in, and for once my appointment is on time. I go in, he has to wait outside, they won't let him in. Not that he wanted to come in anyway, but I think at this point he realises he has to do something. And it was fucking awful. The first doctor made a mess of it. After explaining to me what she was going to do, and how much better and easier and less painful it was now than how it used to be done, she had to go and fetch another doctor to come and do the more difficult, painful procedure she had gone on about! Oh yeah, and there was a doctor from America there, watching just for the hell of it I think. Plus all the nurses. And radiographers. And just to topit off I am given the welcoming news that one of my fallopian tubes is partially blocked, which is definitely not helping my fertility problems. Well, cheers mates!

I walk out, head held high, feeling like shit. X is waiting there. He is about to ask me how it went, and I say "Not a word, not now," which is all I can manage. I am determined not to cry in the hospital. I get dressed. He drives me home, not saying a word. We get in. He just turns and walks into the bedroom, and shuts the door. I just look after him, and turn to the living room. I crack open a half bottle of vodka, and just cry myself silly. Two hours, and that half bottle of vodka later, and he comes out of the bedroom. And just starts acting like nothing has happened.

And you know what? He never, ever asked me what happened in there. He knows what happened, because five months later some friends of ours were staying. They had also had problems having children, and had decided to give up trying, the hassle wasn't worth it. I have no idea what really went on - they never talk about it. I can't blame them - we never did either. Anyway, K asked me what had happened, and so I told her about the partial blockage. And so, X knew about it, because he just happened to be there when someone else asked me about it.

I think that was the beginning of the end. While I can never forgive him for the "Firing blanks" comment, I could have moved on from it. Maybe not forgotten it, or entirely forgiven him for it, but it would have faded with time. But this really was the beginning of the end.

And we went back to what was by this time 'normal'. Me being out of control of my feelings for 3 and a half weeks out of 4, him just living his life like nothing was different. Every few months I would bring it up, and it would degenerate into a big row about me forcing him to do something he couldn't do naturally (ie talk to me about a sensitive issue) and me begging him to try at least. I think if he had tried, it might have been different. But he just thought, hey, I don't like this, this is outside my comfort zone and I am not going to do it because I don't like it. He would use excuses like I was pressuring him, or he was so tired when he got home from work that he didn't feel up to it, then when we went on holiday and he had time and opportunity, the excuse was he didn't want to spoil the holiday. He always had some excuse.

By this time there was little chance of us making a baby anyway. I was spending most of my time sleeping in the spare room.

Then the hospital took it one stage further. We got called to a 'group meeting' with other childless couples, for further procedures. Yet more of the drugs. Only this time it got better - I also had to have injections. Even better, I was going to have to administer them myself.

This was the final straw. I couldn't go on with it any more. I couldn't go through all that, and have no emotional support. So I called time on it. I told him I wasn't prepared to go through it. If it was successful, I would just end up with two kids to look after. How would I know what support he would give me once the child was born if it was successful? He was a bit shocked, but just accepted it. It was me making the decisions for him you see. He was much more comfortable with that. He was back out of the driving seat.

But now I am starting to think, well, if I don't want to have his children, then what am I doing married to him? Over the next few months, we ahve periods of getting on okay, then have a huge row, and one or other of us would spend weeks in the spare room. Six months after i called time, I got the job offer in New York City. I really had huge doubts about the whole thing. I also considered going on my own - using it as an excuse to break up and basically run away. He talked me round, and he got a job over there. After the job offers, we finally get around to going to Relate (I say 'we' - I think we should have gone years before this, but I was in my stubborn 'fed up with making all the decisions, you want to sort it out, then you sort out the Relate' phase). Things are slowly getting better, but then he had to leave.

He got his visa quicker than me because he already worked for the company, and he ended up going over there in May 2001. I was pretty annoyed, he made no attempt to make friends while he was there on his own. He was waiting for me to come and make friends for him. I went over to visit him in June and September, he came over here in August. Things were on the surface pretty okay. Then September 11th happened. He was there, just a couple of hundred yards from the World Trade Centre. He saw the towers fall. He was on his own. He had no friends there. I was thousands of miles away. Not surprisingly, he was stressed. And upset. And traumatised. His boss said he could come over to England for a couple of weeks, as people were working from home anyway. He could go into the Amex offices in Brighton, and work from there. So, middle of September he came over to England for 2 weeks. What he really needed to do was talk about what he had seen, how he felt, ect. etc. Now, maybe I am being a super bitch, but I was buggered if I was going to try and bring it out of him. He wanted to talk about it, he could, I would listen, but I was not going to entice it out of him, as I had always done when anything had bothered him in the past. I didn't see why I should - when I had needed him to do that for me, he hadn't bothered. So, a few days after he arrived home I told him I would listen, and talk to him if he wanted to, but I wasn't going to instigate it. He wanted to talk, he was going to have to make the effort himself.

Now, yeah, I was super bitch. I still feel I was pretty heartless. And to be honest it was bloody hard. I could see he was hurting inside. But there was this huge stubborn streak inside me that couldn't seem to let go. I resented the fact that he still expected me to do what he hadn't been prepared to do for me.

And so, the night before he is due to go back to America, I ask him why he hadn't talked about the attacke to me. His answer? Well, you never asked me to. I hit the roof. It degenerated to this huge, huge argument. This was the first time I truly realised it was over. It wasn't going to get any better. Ever. And, I am pretty ashamed to say, the next night, after he had left for America, I cheated on him. I began a three week affair. I am not particularly proud of it. I never actually set out to do it. But I didn't do anything to avoid it either.

Then my visa came, and I went off to America in November 2001. It was pretty obvious that X was not dealing with the whole terrorist attack thing very well. But I still refuse to force him to talk about it. Then, 3 weeks after I get there, and 1 and a half weeks after my period (which had been unusually heavy) I start to bleed. Not a lot - but it is constant. For 2 and a half weeks. I have one day off, and then my proper period starts. Very heavy again. 2 days after it finishes, I start to bleed again. I am pretty worried by this - it is definitely not normal. X doesn't give a damn - "It's probably nothing". I book an appointment at the doctors. In the meantime, I am doing a search on the internet. And I find sites about ectopic pregancies. And how heavy periods, and bleeding in between periods can be a sign. And I know I have a partially blocked fallopian tube, and had been warned that even if I fall pregnant, I was at a high risk of an ectopic pregnancy. Now, there are lots of other symptoms, none of which I have, but I am somewhat paranoid when it comes to fertility and me being pregnant.

I clearly remember the night I told X that it was possible I might have an ectopic pregancy. He looked up from his dinner at me, grunted "I doubt it," then went back to his food and his TV.

I also remember doing the pregnancy test on Boxing Day 2001, while he was at work. I was home alone, feeling pretty shitty, yet very relieved when it came back negative. He never knew about the test. He never cared enough to know about it. It basically turned out to be stress (something which still rears its ugly head when I get super stressed).

By this time, X is not coping well with anything. He quits his job at the end of January 2002. He says can't deal with the work, but I think it was more to do with the people he had been around during September 11th. Also, I think the previous few years were finally getting tohim. But I think the major factor was he was stressing, and I wasn't mothering him and making him feel all better, like I had always done before. He comes back to England for 6 weeks - goes running back to his Mam for her to look after him.

When he finally comes back to America, I eventually do what I should have done 2 years before. I tell him it is over. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I still oved him - I still do - but we were just making each other miserable. And there was never going to be an end to it. I resented how he hadn't been there for me when I needed him. I doubly resented the fact that despite this, he still expected me to be there for him, and do for him what he was not prepared to do for me. And the major thing - I resent that I am never going to have kids. If we had split sooner, maybe I would have had a chance. And I know that 36 isn't really too old for someone tohave kids. But I am not going to be having kids at 36. It is going to be a very long time before I trust anyone enough to even consider something as permanent as children. I had been with the X for 8 years when we first decided to try, and a further year to find out that he was not all I wanted him to be. Even if I go the fast track route and cut that in half, I am going to be over 40 by the time I get around to thinking about it. And I am not sure the health authorities would do anything for a woman of that age.

So, why did this hit me last night? I am reading a book - a detective trashy novel - and out of the blue it turns out to be investigating IVF treatment. And fertility issues. And I just broke down. For the first time. Maybe it is a good thing. It certainly doesn't feel like it at the moment. It all still hurts. A lot. And I have cried lots just typing this. But then, looking at all I have typed, maybe I needed it. I never expected to end up writing quite this much. I didn't really realise just how much I have been holding inside me. It's taken me 2 hours 20 minutes to write all this. Shit. I didn't realise that either.

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