Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Lost Weekend

Three o’clock on Saturday morning I awakened from an episode of Freudian wish fulfillment. I dreamed I was throwing all the vials of the IVF hormones I would begin injecting in a few hours down the sink. I flipped the switch on the garbage disposal but instead of a crunchy growl it started crying hysterically and spouting paranoid nonsense: “Thank God, Buffy and Jody had Uncle Bill. I mean, what would have happened to them? You have to outlive me Graham because I don’t have an Uncle Bill or even a Mr. French. All I have is an old Mrs. Beasley!”

I’m afraid this dream was a harbinger of the next two days. Soon I would be filling myself full of fertility drugs and busting the springs off the bonkers scale. On the bright side, I hear I'll also be able to throw a baseball really really far.

It was six thirty when Graham left the house on a covert mission. What was open that early in the morning? I couldn't think of anything I’d want from the gas station, the gym, or the emergency room. I don’t know how he swung it, but he returned with Eggs Benedict: my favorite breakfast and my last meal before I faced quasi-lethal injection. “Crazy girl walking,” I announced marching into the kitchen. I lingered over that pool of hollandaise as long as I could until the clock struck the sticking hour and Graham handed me my syringe full of Frankincense and Myrrh. Their real names are Menopur and Bravelle, but those remind me of menopause and figure skating respectively, so I changed them to something that makes me think of Christmas. I hummed a little “Deck the Halls,” stuck the needle in my stomach and pushed the plunger. I chased the shot with my pills. It may take urban sprawl to raise a child, but in our house it takes a pharmacopoeia just to have one. “Fa la la la laaa, la la, la laaa.”

Noon time. So far, so sane. My Doxycycline nausea was wearing off and my appetite was turning on. A sandwich seemed like a reasonable idea. As I grabbed the knob on the sliding lid of our vintage aluminum breadbox I felt all reason leaving me. It wouldn't go up. It wouldn't move. It was holding my bread hostage. How DARE it? I felt something burn through my body. This was it. The coven arrived: Lizzie Borden, Madame Defarge, and Samantha Stevens in a really bad mood (which is what she was when she played Lizzie Borden in a Movie of the Week, so that's weird, right?). It was time to direct Graham to the strength of a higher power. He was going to need it.

“Graham, heed the words of the prophet Rob Thomas and his apostles the Matchbox 20. You’re about to see something you don’t want to see. Open your hymnal to the album More Than You Think You Are, track 4, verse 1: 'I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell/I know, right now you can’t tell/But stay awhile and maybe then you’ll see/A different side of me.' And boy did he ever.

It was at precisely that moment that I decided nothing was going to keep me from making that sandwich, so I turned and slammed my fist through the breadbox. Satisfied, I said to Graham, “This is broken. Would you take it out to the trash please? We no longer have a breadbox problem.” As I was getting an ice pack for my hand I heard him mumble, “We no longer have a breadbox either.” How DARE he?

This is how it works. To you, the female Reader, I ask you to imagine a time when your lady hormones have caused you to want to pick up a rock and throw it at a chipmunk or pick up a rock and throw it at yourself just to see how it feels. Take that sensation, multiply by 7,000 and you’re half way to your state of mind during the first few days on IVF stimulation drugs. The slightest stimulus will cause you to huff and puff and blow down the mortar and bricks of domestic tranquility. The worst part is you’re not really a huge bitch, so after these episodes the remorse is debilitating. I plead my case with the following scene.

It was seven o’clock Saturday night when my mother called to ask what channel Lawrence Welk was on in Elk Rapids, MI. I yelled, “Why are you bothering me with this? You’ve seen every episode a hundred times. Why don’t you watch something else? What’s wrong with you? Can’t you find Murder She Wrote? How DARE you!” and I hung up.

At five past seven I called back. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. It’s on your PBS station channel six. I’m so sorry. I’m crazy.”

“I know,” she replied.

Oh, no....

“What do you mean you know? You don’t know? No one knows!” and I hung up again.

At nine past seven I called back. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m only crazy this weekend. It’ll get better soon.”

“If you say so,” my mother answered her voice thick with doubt.

I handed the phone to Graham before I had a chance to bellow something else at her for which I'd have to call back and apologize. That could go on all night. By then I was curled into a ball on the cold tile of the kitchen floor sobbing. Sidney, my Yorkie, walked over and looked me in the eye and then turned away clearly disappointed in his person. Sidney doesn’t suffer fools. Gizmo, my Pomeranian, crept up and laid down beside me because Gizmo actually is a fool.

At eight o’clock I ended the night early in preparation for the next day. It was the sanest decision I’d made in thirteen hours. Looking at my box of Unisom, I figured 7 or 8 should do the trick. I took a half of one and fell blissfully asleep. There was quiet rejoicing throughout my home.

Sunday morning showed no promise of improvement. I went downstairs for my shot, but the only Christmas song I could think of to accompany it was “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch.” Graham asked me if I felt like eating something. “No thanks, I’m having water weight for breakfast.”

I fell onto the sofa and decided to watch home movies. Oh what horrible ideas we have when we’re under the influence. I watched myself running along the beach, smiling, pretending I didn’t want the camera on me. "Come here and look at my long hair,” I called to Graham. "Look at my unlined skin; look at my body and my carefree manner! Why didn’t I have kids then?”

“What year is that you’re watching?” Graham asked.


“You were eleven.”

“Yeah, you make a good point.”

The home movies whetted my appetite for more nostalgia. I needed something relaxing, comforting, and soothing. Naturally, that was Little House on the Prairie.

“Will you get me some Half-Pint?” I asked Graham.

“You're not drinking on those meds!” he reprimanded me.

“No, not a half-pint. Some Half-Pint. You know, Little House? I’m up to season eight. That’s the one I need.”

We live three hours from the actual Walnut Grove, yet there was not a set of Little House season eight to be had in Minnesota. What did I have to do? Drive 160 miles to the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum and act the whole thing out myself? (My secret dream.) Normally, I’d order it and wait, but these were not normal days. These were more like the "end of days." When Graham told me there would be no Tragic Mary or Insipid Carrie, no Stoic Ma and Strangely Sexy Pa, no Almanzo with his pageboy haircut, I flipped. I walked into the living room and swiped my “silver” Boston Terrier statue, Bruno, right off the coffee table. I picked it up and noticed the “silver” had chipped away. The woman I bought it from said it was real silver-plated!  How DARE she? “I’ve been had! Call the fuzz!” I screamed and threw Bruno across the room. Not only was it paint, it was hollow, and it smashed into a million pieces. Now I had to go stomp on a cat statue just to restore balance in the universe.

That was the nadir of the weekend. Graham and I were both exhausted: me from the drugs and him from the minefield he’d been bouncing around in for two days. We knew why we were doing this. We knew the discomfort was temporary. We knew that someday we’d get to the good part, but at that moment we both felt as broken as Bruno.

Graham tried one last time to console me. “Do you really want the Little House season eight anyway? Season eight ‘jumped the shark.’ Nobody bought that Nancy character. She was no Nellie Olsen.” I began to remind him that I don’t like any expression that reflects negatively on The Fonz when I was struck by epiphany. We were sitting on the floor picking up pieces of hollow dog. “Graham," I explained, "today I killed this dog statue and yesterday I beat the crap out of a breadbox. You’re canvassing the state looking for Little House On the Prairie DVDs, bribing the Suncoast Video guy with a hundred bucks if he can lay his hands on a set in Wisconsin. I don’t even know if Sidney still lives here, he's so pissed. And I’m sticking needles in my gut and calling it Christmas. Don't you get it? You and I, the two of us, we have jumped the shark!” There it was, and man did I need to find it: the funny. After two punishing days I finally found some funny. And we sat on the floor and laughed.


  1. Nice one as always

  2. Indeed, it feels like Christmas. I got to read this for free. What an amazing gift!

  3. Ali, your skills as a writer are truly wonderful. Thank you for sharing what you are going through, and doing it in such a spectacular way. I'm sure there are other women going through what you are going through, and you are helping them 'find the funny'. good for you.

  4. First of all, I applaude you again, for your bravery to share, and for your honesty. Next, I love you more everyday for our shared obsession with Little House, and NOW for Family Affair...since my Father is Mr. French's identical twin.(seriously).
    You are amazing. And remind me never to read your blog in public again...people tend to stare when one is crying into an iPhone.

  5. I thought I was the only person who had to read your blog in private! I usually cry and laugh at the same time. And where did the picture of you and Mrs. Beasley come from? I probably took it but I sure don't remember! I've been afraid to call until you were heading back toward "normal."
    Your child(ren) may never completely understand what you went through to bring them into the world. But I shall take it upon myself to enlighten them. And I shall do this right around the time they are turning into self absorbed teenagers. Ha!!

  6. Dagnabbit, babsim... don't mention the "t" word! Talk about hormone-overload and rage and rollercoasters.

    "Slammed my fist through the breadbox."

    So good my hand still hurts.

    "I talk!"
    "I talk!"
    "I talk!"

    Keep on talking, Ms. Radish...

    Picked out a name yet?

  7. Who knew MSHS had such great talent. Glad you are doing well! Love your writing!