On September 22, 2011 I ended a long and arduous chapter of my life. I successfully defended my dissertation. I officially graduated in mid-December. And now…here I sit.
Let me tell you, this wasn’t my plan. My plan involved conceiving in a relative brief amount of time. You see, I thought I was due since I had been working on the PCOS for 8 months by the time we actually started ttc. I had changed my diet, I was taking the supplements, I had started acupuncture. What else did we have to do?
To recap, in April of 2010 I started working on the PCOS in an attempt to regulate my cycles. At that time I was estimating that I had about 12 months of work to go on my dissertation. In October of 2010 we moved from our home in Denver to Southern California. This really screwed my body up. I think it was largely due to the ginormous amounts of cortisol rocking through my system from PhD stress and cross-country move stress. Alternatively, the herbs, diet, and excercise did a number, and my body didn’t know what the fuck had happened. Not the answer.
Regardless, we moved forward with ttc in January of 2011. My thought was that we would conceive in six months time. I would also finish my dissertation and defend in six months time. This would leave me three to six months of rest and relaxation before having a baby sometime in the winter of 2011/2012. Our stay in Southern California was only supposed to last 18-24 months, so I would be able to stay home with the baby and, upon relocating back to Denver, start looking for a job at that time. This would allow me six to nine months of unfettered bonding and breastfeeding time with baby. Yeah!
Well, here I sit in Spring of 2012, barren as can be. What has happened in the meantime? Two of my good friends, also in the PhD program, got pregnant on the first try, defended their dissertations, and then had babies shortly thereafter. They also both landed fabulous tenure-track positions at Research I institutions. One of them just had her second baby. Another good friend, not in academia, got married and started ttc. She also conceived on the first shot at the “advanced maternal age” of 35. She is due in two weeks. Another friend with thyroid problems was placed on medication for the thyroid issue as well as birth control pills to regulate her hormones. The brief period between taking the thyroid medication and starting the bcp’s resulted in a baby. She noted that it was the only time they had had sex in four weeks. They were not actively ttc.
And…here I sit.
Where does that leave me? I live in an area of the US that I often find antithetical to the way I want to live my life. Our ticket out of here is a job and we are still in the midst of the greatest recession since the Great Depression. I’ve applied and applied and applied for jobs. Since I have opted to forgo life as an academic, it appears as if I have effectively educated myself out of the job market. So, not only can I not have a baby, I also am decidedly unemployable.
“Given your fabulous credentials I wanted to contact you personally and let you know that we will not be including you in the final pool of applicants for job X.” This was the actual quote from an HR manager.
This also complicates our journey through the land of infertility. Thank goodness we have health insurance, but it only covers diagnostics, not infertility treatments. SoCal is expensive. We can’t really afford treatments unless I have a job. When we got pregnant naturally during Lucky Cycle #10, I referred to the baby as our Free Baby. You know, not counting the copays for lab work, doctors visits, the HSG, the next HSG, metformin, supplements, acupuncture, and numerous ultrasounds. Other than that, a free baby!
It was a joyful seven weeks.
The pregnancy allowed me to relax. One of the two looming goals had been achieved. I could focus on this portion of my life, right at that moment. It felt amazing.
Now I am back to square one. Trying to simultaneously find a job in Denver and have a baby. It feels as if the two are at odds with each other, but I don’t know how to focus on just one. Frankly, I’m not young enough to stop the baby-making and focus on my career. Not if we want to have more than one child. Also, I just can’t sit around waiting to fall pregnant. This could take another two or three years. I’ve been unemployed for six months and I am tearing my hair out.
So, here I sit. I’m trying my best to be present in the moment, while also accepting any karmic messages that my be coming my way. I won’t lie, it has been incredibly difficult. The result is a demoralizing, sad, and frustrating place to be.