I got my hair done this week. This is the first time all the way since August, which is pretty sad and shaggy, now that I think about it.
I was reluctant to get my hair done because I’d mentioned to the hairdresser that we were about to start our first IVF. I mean, it came out a bit more natural than “So I’m about to jab my belly full of old nun pee.” I mentioned it because I wanted her to know that I was doing something nice for myself in preparation for what I expected to be a challenging time.
Oh, how little I realized.
I didn’t want to go back to my hairdresser and have her ask me how it went. So I didn’t go. (Nor did I find another hairdresser, which would have been logical, but honestly I like how the girl does hair.) Going back felt like admitting defeat of sorts, which is also silly because I’ve been defeated how many times now? Gotta get over myself.
So I got over myself. I went back earlier this week.
She didn’t even remember me!
I’ve only gone to her a couple times, so I’m not offended. Besides, she’s a hairdresser, not a Wall Street analyst: so what if she’s sketchy on her customer base? I’m relieved.
Every so often, R. and I realize we’ve gotten ourselves worked up for what amounts to nothing at all. I think it must have been an early RE visit at which nothing happened – probably monitoring for cysts before a Clomid cycle – when I said immediately afterwards, “I shaved my legs for this?”
It has entered our shared language. We say it after a mediocre concert, or an encounter at work that proves less confrontational than expected. It can be a relief, it can be a disappointment. In fact, in the way that he and I eventually find a way to tell a joke about even the worst of everything – even when it still hurts – I’m pretty sure we said that about our first full IVF cycle.
Which, comically diminishing the horrendous grief one feels upon getting confirmation that yes, your thousands of dollars and weeks and weeks of tears and strain have all been for nothing, is about how that moment feels. I shaved my legs – for this?! I took care of myself for all that time, shelled out vast sums of hard-earned money, took time off work, carefully arranged my schedule, set relationships and professional commitments aside, revamped my diet, and for absolutely, positively nothing?
There’s no way around that, of course. To give ourselves the best chance at IVF working, we do all of those things and more. And I believe that I have finally learned the lesson that I cannot protect myself from grief. It will come if it’s coming.
So, metaphorically (and literally) speaking, I shaved my legs again this time. What choice did I have?
Earlier in the week, however, I made a choice. I — well, whatever the opposite of shaving your legs would be, metaphorically — I did that. See, I came to work and there was all this Easter chocolate. Like, everywhere.
I thought about eating it or not eating it. To decline the chocolate: would it give me any possible increase in odds? Perhaps, and that’s a relatively small sacrifice. Give up some Hershey’s eggs, get a baby. Hmm, let’s think about that one.
But then I felt so, so sad. I remembered how I felt when I got confirmation last time that the cycle failed. I shaved my legs for that? I went through all that self-denial and discipline, and for nothing?
And I knew then that the next time I get bad news, I would think back to the moment when I wondered whether or not I should eat that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. And I would grieve the moment when I denied myself even more pleasure, all for nothing.
I cannot protect myself from grief. But I can eat a piece of fucking chocolate.