Friday, August 5, 2011

Cupcakes at Midnight

Photo by Gary Cruz.
Click here to see more of his work.

I've been wanting to write about this essay by Holly Finn since I read it last week. Much of it describes my own experiences and emotions so accurately that reading it was like looking in the mirror.

The author and I are the same age, both started fertility treatments in the fall of 2008, have suffered through the same number of hormone injections, spent roughly the same amount of time on our backs with strangers poking around in our lady parts, and even have similar hairstyles.

Neither of us has a baby.

"When we were young, we were taught again and again that we shouldn't get pregnant. Now we can't."

We both came of age in the 80's, our generation the little sisters of the sexual revolution.  I'd bet good money that, like me, she read Judy Blume's Forever at a young age and learned how to talk openly about sex and birth control and the funny names boys give to their penises.  We were comfortable with our sexuality.  Getting pregnant was an unfortunate side effect, but one we were prepared to prevent.

We both spent our twenties drinking wine, smoking cigarettes, having adventures and loving the wrong men.  We both thought we'd have plenty of time to have children...later.  We trusted that it would happen when the time was right. We took our fertility for granted.  

We both have the urge to grab women like us in their late 20s and early 30s and admonish them to start procreating before it's too late.  I actually did this to a co-worker once, shaking my finger at her like a crazy old hag with an ominous threat, "you don't want to end up like me!"

We're both running out of options and running out of time and so afraid of the irrevocable "never" -  never having children - that we will spend vast amounts of money, time and energy to stave it off.

We both believe in soul mates.  But while mine walks beside me, she is taking this journey alone.  

Her bravery and determination humbles me.  I stand in awe of her and the other amazing women I've met online who are doing IVF solo.  I have so much admiration and respect for these warriors because I know I could not have taken even the first step down this path on my own.   

I have no doubt that without the rare confluence of fate, luck, and meddling schoolteachers that brought Mr. Wren into my life nine years ago, I would be single today.  Would I still be wanting a baby as much as I do now?  Absolutely.  Would I have the fortitude to pursue IVF as a single woman?  Absolutely not.

My fertile friends look at all I've been through in the past 3 years and marvel at my strength, my ability to rebound from all the setbacks and disappointments and perservere.  Yes, I'm stubborn and I act real tough, but when it comes to this, the strength they see is only half my own. 

"IVF brings you to your knees and dares you to stagger to your feet again."

I cannot imagine battling infertility without Mr. Wren by my side, lending support as I stagger to my feet again and again.  He is my rock.  He's my hero.  He wields hypodermic needles with precision and ease, holds my hand through every ultrasound, suffers the slings and arrows of my outrageous hormonally-induced tantrums and still goes to the grocery store at midnight to get a stick of butter when I desperately need to make devil's food cupcakes.  At midnight.

During every IVF cycle, as the tension and anticipation skyrocket along with my hormone levels, Mr. Wren looks me in the eye and says, "remember, no matter what happens, we love each other."  He has no idea how reassuring this is or how much it helps to keep me grounded.  How much I love him.

It's easy, when you want something so badly, to lose sight of what you already have.  I ache for Mr. Wren to be the wonderful father I know he will be, but I can't lose sight of the fact that he is and always will be a wonderful husband.  And whether or not we ever have a child, he'll make sure I always have cupcakes. At any time of day.

I'm a lucky bird.  


  1. I stand by everything I have ever said to you. I don’t think that I would have the courage and the strength to face all that you have faced. Your personal attributes have helped you bounce back time and time again. You really are resilient and resourceful. You have developed coping mechanisms which have worked for you up until this point.

    Remember too that weathering and erosion create a cave which caves in and turns into a rather ugly disaster. When the rubble is cleared and a little more weathering and erosion occur, a beautiful canyon is formed. The Grand Canyon was built over time, not in one day.

    Your friends really want you to get the baby you want and absolutely deserve. We all mess up and say the wrong things, but we all would like to have seen this situation revert itself a long time ago. We all would like to have the power to change things for you or at least have the right words to say. We can only offer an ear and hope that our words and our presence bring you comfort.

    I whole heartedly disagree with this notion that you have in your head that this happened simply because you waited too long. One of the women that I wrote you about started early and still had this situation. Worse yet, her husband, a medical doctor, let his priorities slip out of order and they ended up in marital counseling. Their marriage is still in tact until today.

    Mr. Wren has his priorities in order and he values you for the person you are. He loves you for the truly special person you are. He sticks by you during thick and thin. You stick by each other through thick and thin. I don’t know him, but from what you’ve told me, he really is a super guy.

    Sometimes, the medical mistake that occurred with my pregnancy and my miscarriages back up on me and I certainly didn’t go through the living h*** that you went through. I meet people on the street who concoct seemingly innocent yet absolutely indiscreet remarks and questions that they have no right to. If I wanted the world to know about my medical history or the why of my situation, I would have tattooed it on my forehead.

    Anyway, I certainly hope that I never told you to suck it up or just get over it. We all have thorns in our sides from miserable situations that we have passed through and that we are grappling with -- things we just can't totally leave behind us. This is going to hurt for a long time, but the pain will be buried until some nitwit tears off the scab and throws saphylococcus in it. (Sorry about the extended mixed metafor).

  2. Big hug from this meddling school teacher :)

  3. Anonymous 1: Sometimes I wish I had my medical history tattooed on my forehead so I didn't have to keep saying "I had a miscarriage."

    Anonymous 2: Meddling school teachers are the BEST. Hugs to you.