Wednesday, January 27, 2010

the birthday blahs

My 32nd birthday is exactly one week from today. Often, in real life, I have a difficult time articulating why and how my birthdays have morphed from a cause for celebration to a cause for depression (and usually, heavy drinking, if I'm being totally honest).

I blame infertility and loss.

It's not as if I haven't had plenty of other disappointments in my adult life: I've had difficulty finding a career that feels fulfilling, I'm not in the place I want to be financially, I don't have as many friends as I'd like.

It's just that all of those issues, and so many more, are compounded by infertility and loss. I know (hope? dream?) that I'd bounce right back from the normal disappointments in life if my soul hadn't been so ravaged. In my weakened state, though, things seem magnified. Normal disappointments loom like giant monsters. And each birthday I've had since we started trying to have a family drives me deeper and deeper into a hole.

Facing the fact that I am another year older also means facing the fact that my eggs are deteriorating, that my overall fertility is declining, and that our chances of achieving successful pregnancy are dwindling. Age is forcing my hand with family building decisions too. If we save for the next couple of years for adoption, IVF is pretty much out of the picture, because I'd be pretty. darn. old. by the time we could recover financially enough to afford it. I just don't know.

I also have to deal with my lack of friends (aside from the previously mentioned Terrible, of course!). Back home, in NY, I had a pretty tight group of girl friends. Birthdays were always a cause for celebration, and a party. But that was then, and this is now. Those girls, they have disappointed me. I know I live pretty darned far away, and they aren't available to celebrate with... but they just haven't been there, you know? And the group of guitar strumming hippies haven't been much better. I know that I have had a difficult time opening up to people since the pregnancy loss brigade has started. I have mostly myself to blame, I know. But they've disappointed as well.

A couple of years ago, a day before my birthday, we were at a bar for some groundhog day thingy. The hippies were there. And one of the girls insisted that we should celebrate my birthday that evening, that I should be glad to have friends who wanted an excuse to share a few drinks with us. so I acquiesced, thinking maybe this could be fun, maybe it would be a chance for me to start to develop some deep friendships here. Hubby and I went home, cleaned the house, prepared for twenty or so people to show up, shopped for refreshments.

And only one couple came. (Not, by the way, the chick who initially pressed the idea on me. Who also happens to be pregnant-to-the-point-of-bursting right now. Oh yeah, and it was an oops.)

I felt like such a loser. It was a really awkward evening, and the couple who showed up left pretty quickly. I guess the sight of party goods for twenty was pretty depressing for them too. I'm not an ogre, I swear. I can actually be funny (when I'm not crying!!) and nice and interesting. I need eHarmony for friend making, but only with other infertiles.

And then, the birthday depression factor is complicated by the fact that every time I have a birthday, I think of my seven dead babies, and the fact that they will never get to celebrate a birthday - not even one. Ugh.

I saw a naturopath today who told me that I need to celebrate myself. Lately I just don't feel like there's much about me to celebrate. I'll try to change my thinking, though, and change my perception of the birthday experience in general.
Okay, pity party over. It's time to workout and get some endorphins going.

ETA: I read this over after my workout, with the endorphins flowing, and it sounds really sad and pathetic. I'm really not like that all of the time, and I'm definitely not fishing for compliments! :) But that's how I was feeling at the time, and how I generally feel when I think about birthdays, so I guess I'll leave it up.


  1. I think the fact that you still have the energy and drive to exercise is one thing (out of many) that you can celebrate!

    The fact that you keep going is another. A friend of mine recently told me she didn't know how I did it (after telling her of another disappointment in our quest for a baby). I told her I just do. There's not really another choice, is there?

    Hang in there, knowing that you have friends (even if they do only exist in the internet!) that support you. :)

  2. Thanks, Jules. And you're totally right, there's not another choice.

  3. Having felt like I've been letdown by "real life" friends before, I appreciate your honesty and can certainly relate. But as Jules said, you do have things to celebrate and there are definitely many out here that support you!

    Besides, you've got to be good people - my husband was born one day before you! :)

  4. Oh yeah, every birthday during our 3 years of TTC was a major downer for me, especially the one that came when I knew I was about to miscarry but hadn't actually yet. Then we adopted our fabulous baby boy 8 months ago, and he made my 30th downright mirthful. Though I did still get in a spat with my husband this morning because he has been falling down on the job of planning my birthday celebration (we were traveling on the day itself), and I'm afraid of ending up with five people in the room just staring at each other. So yeah, I have birthday issues too. But I think that's normal--right??

  5. Hey wifey
    I love that you left this post up cos it's what you were truly feeling. I love your honesty. Sorry about all the things you're feeling negative about. I can totally relate, in fact I could have written this post. I need to find a more fulfilling job, I need to earn more, I need more friends too (mine is a distance issue, also). Like the other commenters I really want you to know how important you are to me-hopefully feeling the love from your internet buddies will help you a bit. But I also agree with the part where you said how all of your disappointments are magnified because of your losses and IF. It would be so much easier to deal with all the other crap if something would just finally go right for once. I get that. While I know I can't fix it for you, I hope and pray that adoption may finally get you that dream. Take care and remember-you have a friend here you can always turn to.

  6. Happy birthday a few days early.
    I'm thinking of you!

  7. If I were closer to you I'd give you a bug hug and then hang out with you afterwards. I need an infertile friend too! Happy Birthday!