I have a secret.

I have a multitude of secrets at present, it seems. I have a sexy surprise for B, unfolding as we approach our five year wedding anniversary, and a secret Pinterest board to go with it. Would you like a hint? Let’s stay with the theme, shall we, and think B–as in belly and breasts, boudoir, bedroom eyes, Brigitte Bardot, rounded curves in shadows that take the shape of B, and think blabbermouth because now I need to hack into my husband’s email to delete the alert that this post exists. Or envision S–for sultry in stockings, spike heels, silhouettes, and skin…oh, scandalous! Imagine L for legs and lacy lingerie. Have you solved the riddle yet? It involves a few hours with my wedding photographer, one “nightstand book” too exhibitionist for the coffee table, and two more months of starving and sweating with my personal trainer before sunrise. The best part: it has absolutely nothing to do with making a baby. How refreshing to funnel my energies into a project that at once thrills and engages my overactive imagination and actually promises a tangible reward in exchange for exertion. Therein lies the beauty of endeavors like this or dieting or renovating the house: it follows a predictable equation of A+B=C (investment garners dividend) and in that sense it is the polar opposite of ART+Money+Time+Hope=Who the fuck knows? I crave these kinds of logical and dependable undertakings in my life at this juncture given the nonsensical and entirely unexplained nature of the last four years spent slogging through infertility and repeat IVF failure only to arrive at a bunch of test results that reveal a batch of euploid blastocysts and a luscious triple-layered, in-phase endometrium inside a uterus with zero anatomical abnormalities: diagnosis GOK (God only knows.) I need some do-this-get-that-and-here’s-how in my life.

What I also need are pursuits that vitalize and help me reclaim the vast regions of myself devoured by this IVF-ride. Even my wedding anniversary stopped registering as a celebration of love and devotion and partnership, insidiously redefined as a grim marker of another year of loss and failure, the twain having been unfortunately synchronized at the outset. You may remember that I spent last year racing around New York City trying to have a D&C to resolve surprise-miscarriage #6? Yes, some intolerably ironic twists of fate have contributed to the association, but I digress. This photo shoot has engaged my creativity and my inner fashionista; it fuels the motivation to get healthy and fit. It shifts the tone of the burgeoning spring, the run-up to my birthday and summer, from feeling like a fat and hopeless loser whose body and soul has been ravaged by hormones, injections, hapless toil and abject failure to a reawakening of self-esteem and empowerment: yeah, I’m 35 and I’m sexy as hell. What of it? And then I shall laugh and laugh at all the fertile bitches in their mid-thirties with their stretch marks and saggy tits and varicose veins. (Truth: I would trade my body for my baby in a heartbeat, but I feel the need to create some justice in this space.)

Mostly, I need to feel like a woman: alive, erotic, feminine, desirable. I need to get on the same team as my body and begin to diminish this lens through which I view the image in the mirror as ugly, sterile, broken, and worthless. I made the mistake of watching Match Point last week, when I was blindsided by the juxtaposition of pasty, stringy-haired, antiseptic and infertile Chloe (Emily Mortimer) against the carnal magnetism and voluptuous appeal of Nola’s (Scarlett Johanssen) highly fertile hourglass. The former fails to conceive while her husband carries on a tawdry affair with the latter, and in the grossest of cliches, she quickly becomes pregnant with his unwanted love child. I was already grappling with it, but the movie was a reminder that this notion did not spring at random from my own twisted perception, and it felt like it set me back a few weeks in healing and revival. Why do men have so much language with which to articulate the state of one’s manhood–words like virile, castrated, emasculated–when women have none? Where is the female counterpart to this verbiage, or do these conceptions of women not warrant their own vocabulary? I keep groping for some expression, and the words always settle awkwardly, like an ill-fitting dress that hangs in an undefined sack or puckers and strains in various places because it was tailored for someone else. I feel like my womb is a house of death. I feel like someone cut out my ovaries and I am one penis short of a sex change. I feel unsightly and undesirable in my barrenness, which sucks, frankly. I need to proactively change the narrative somehow, and I hope some sizzling professional pictures will help.

In other secrets, the path forward from CCRM has, in fact, revealed itself. In a word, one might describe it as counterintuitive, my clandestine side project. But I won’t tell. This one stays mum until it arrives somewhere substantive.

24 thoughts on “I have a secret.

  1. Great post! I was nodding along the whole time. That’s what half marathon training was for me: a way to reclaim my body and see how working hard towards a goal can actually make it happen in non IF world. A girl in my support group also went the boudoir photo route and her hubby loved it!


    • Yeah, we have that running thing in common. I haven’t written about it, but I’m planning to do my first 10k in June–same idea, work hard, achieve something, feel accomplished. I started racing last year, but mostly 5ks. Something has to balance out the mind-fuck of IF.


  2. Girl. You never cease to amaze me. What a wonderful project and I am seriously jealous that you have this kind of creativity to do such a thing for your anniversary. Enjoy the whole process and I love it that it has absolutely nothing to do with fertility. What a fresh breath of air. Have a great time doing it. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Good for you! I did something similar for my husband last Valentine’s Day and it did help me to appreciate my body instead of cursing it. I’m sure your husband will be thrilled ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Hot! This is such a fabulous idea. 35–oh my goodness, you are so young! I’m so looking forward to hearing how the shoot goes. I’ve got to tell my husband about this—I’m naive, didn’t rven know this was a thing people did. My DH would die. Oh you’re gonna have so much fun.


  5. I love this…IF does rob us of our ‘womaness’ so well done for taking it back!
    I’m currently planning our wedding and it is so refreshing to put alot of energy into something that is actually going to happen on the date I have planned it to happen!


    • Ahh, wedding planning, so fun! And yes, it promises an actual reward for your investment. I’m sure feeling like a beautiful bride will fan those feminine flames too.


  6. Rock on, you hot sexy bitch!! I can totally relate, as you know, to the need for A+B=C in one’s life. J & I went through a patch in our marriage where we were opening restaurants and getting ourselves into a fixer upper house. We did a lot of the grunt work ourselves and often had very little grocery money, it was risky and seemed endless. A few years into our infertility I recalled that time in a conversation with him and said “why does that all seem so easy compared to infertility”? And he said the obvious: “Because while we gave everything and then some, we got something out of it. Now we give everything and get nothing.” I need A+B=C now like I need water.


    • It’s maddening to work so hard for nothing only to then work so hard for a compromise. When you’ve sacrificed an endured so much, it magnifies those feelings of entitlement and injustice. But that’s not really how life works, I guess. At least not for some of us.


  7. Good for you for taking the bull by the horns and DOING something to make yourself feel better. This is always something I have struggled with (still do). I usually just let myself go and cursed my body (inside and out) and thought, “why should I be good to my body when my body hasn’t been good to me?” I’m so glad you are taking a step to boost your confidence as a woman. Too often we let TTC take over and it can really make us hate ourselves when it doesn’t go the way we want it to. Kudos to you and I bet your hubby will be blown away. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Oh, trust me–I have had lots of self-loathing phases like that, but it does feel good to proactively choose something else even if I am still pissed that my body has betrayed my in the baby-making department.


  8. Pingback: ‘Barren’ Barbs: On Women Hurting Women | The Empress and the Fool

  9. Pingback: Tale of the Failing Perfectionist | The Empress and the Fool

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