I've heard that word a lot in these past years.
You're so strong
I'm not strong enough to do what you do
You're strong for so many
During our first IVF (when I conceived Ruby) in 2005 so many people said that to me. I didn't think I was, or that we were. We didn't have any choices, we just did what had to be done. We wanted a child, so we did it, and thank the heavens, it worked.
After Ruby was born, (a labor that lasted for 3 days, culminating in me pushing for 13 hours at home before transferring to the hospital for a c-section that induced a complete panic attack in me on the operating table) friends and strangers alike said it again. I didn't think so. I did the best I could, and in the end it wasn't enough to push a baby out, and then i lost my mind on the operating table and had to be knocked out, so that I don't remember meeting my child for the first time.
This year has kicked my ass. Three IVFs - two frozen and one fresh - with nothing but heartache to show for it. I started 2009 with a hopeful heart that I would end it with a second child to nurse. I'm ending it with nothing but empty arms and an even emptier bank account.
Ruby is autistic. There are so many things that play into this statement, but this year, the over riding theme has been discovery and planning and more heartache. I love my child more than anything under the sun, but it's heartbreaking to know that your child will face more difficulties than her peers, she may have to be in special classes, and who knows what challenges lay ahead.
Yesterday I had a long time patient bring me to tears. She's had a shit of a year, is in the middle of a wretched divorce watching her life disintegrate before her eyes, desperately trying to create a new, amazing one in it's place. She asked me if it was painful to hear about all the 'normal' things her kids do.
"Sometimes" I reply
"Is it like when you see a pregnant person, or a new baby?" she asked
"yeah, thankfully it doesn't all happen on the same days" I quip
"Oh god!" she says, bursting into tears "I had no idea, you never talk about it"
"Of course I don't, I'm the doctor I am supposed to keep it together, take me out for drinks and you can hear my sob story"
"I don't know how you do it, you're so strong" she says "Infertility, special needs child, running a business, and you still bake the bread and do things for other people. Any one of those things happening in a year would break most people"
I hugged her and shrugged it off. I'm just doing what needs to be done, I told myself. Anyone in my shoes would just buck up and do the same thing. I don't have any other choice, I have to keep moving, doing, trying or... or what? I don't have any other choices.
Today her words reared up, pushed me down and made me cry the ugly cry. Ryan had taken Ruby swimming and I was preparing brussels sprouts for our early thanksgiving dinner with friends, when I found myself sitting on the floor crying "why why why why why!"
Why is there no baby in my arms?
Why am I not pregnant?
Why is this so god damned hard?
Why is MY child challenged by autism?
Why can't she tell me what makes her so upset?
I had a good cry over the brussels sprouts while listening to Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson. I cried and cried and yelled and wailed. And then I got up, and finished preparing dinner.
I'm not stronger than anyone else out there. I'm just as breakable as every one else. I just keep breathing.
Sometimes, I'm the toughest girl I know.