Change Your Hair, Change Your Life

Last Thursday, sitting in my hairdressers chair at 5:20 pm, I decided on the spur of the moment to change my hair colour. I have been a red head for most of my life. By 8 pm, I was a brunette.  A brunette with hair so dark it almost black. On Friday, all day, people stopped to tell me they liked my hair. People who had not seen me in a while asked what I was doing differently. It’s not just the hair, it’s not just the weight loss. One woman finally hazarded a guess ” You look happy. Your eyes are sparkling. You carry yourself differently”.

I’ve been thinking about this, thinking about it in the light of yesterday’s post about what I will do when this project is over. I had planned, all those month’s ago, to get pregnant very close to the end of the project. Well, let’s be clear, I had planned to try and get pregnant, to try and stay pregnant, to try and deliver a living child.

In December, just before Jamaica, I went back to the fertility specialist. I’ve been struggling ever since. Not because of what the specialist said – she’s both kind and honest. My changes aren’t great. They never were. The numbers for fertility treatments aren’t spectacular, less than 50-50, compounding the result of the pre-eclampsia, my numbers for live birth are dismal. It’s not the pain of another miscarriage, a thing that has become old hat, and is, if I am truthful, not earth shattering to me. No, the risk lies in another baby in my arms for 30 minutes. That pain far eclipses yet another miscarriage. I should think myself fortunate to only suffer another miscarriage. I do not think I could survive the funeral of another baby.

In came the rolling blood pressure monitor. The truth about blood pressure monitors and me is this: I see them, and I am not sitting in an office, healthy and whole. You hook me to them, and I am back in a hospital bed with alarms going off, my son and I dying in concert. Now my kidney’s are mostly whole, my heart no more damaged than it was at my birth, an MRI proves I didn’t have a stroke. In any doctor’s office, in any place where others would take it, my blood pressure is alarmingly high. White Coat Syndrome, as real as my son’s death, the only legacy of pre-eclampsia. It frustrates me that I cannot master it, that I cannot control it, but in some strange way, I make my peace with it. If that is the only remaining problem of the way pre-eclampsia ravaged my body, well it is not so bad. It is a thing that I can live with. I escaped with good fortune. I will not call it weakness that blood pressure monitors disturb something deep within me.

The LPN looked at my numbers. I wasn’t too concerned. I knew what my BP was at home. I knew I didn’t have a blood pressure problem. Instantly she started in about how I had to be on medication, how I was at huge risk. I explained, patiently, that I had to stop taking my medication because it dropped my BP too low. I passed out. I explained that my GP was fine with my home numbers, I explained that I was fine. I do not have a bp problem, at least not yet. I have a doctor problem.  

And not so subtly she made it clear to me, I have no say. I am not a person, I am a patient. My body is not my own. The doctor will decide. And suddenly, where I didn’t expect it, I had a fight on my hands. I could feel my back getting up, I could feel my frustration, I was impotent, all over again. If I want to get pregnant, I will play by their rules, even when their rules are dumb. I will justify and explain, I will not be a partner, I will be the combatant. The woman who is too stupid to sit down and shut up. The woman who will not get on the ride and do what she is told.

I am reflecting on this, the feeling of powerlessness I had in that specialist’s office, and how very much I hated it. I am reflecting about having a baby, and laying it out. It contrasts starkly with the power I have found in myself, in my work. I wonder, more and more, about why I am so willing to put my body through hell and huge risk, to have a baby. And I think back to that terrible feeling of powerlessness and control, to being almost victimized, and I wonder why on earth I would willingly do that to myself. Why would I willingly gear up for a fight when the outcome is so uncertain? Why would I sit down and shut up, trade person hood for something so unlikely? 

In some abstract sense, I would like to have a child of my own. I would like to have not just Gabriel, but a living sibling as well. And yet, I’m finding, I don’t want a child so badly that I’m willing to play the game. I don’t have the fight in me for it.

There’s that woman, the woman with the dark hair. The woman that people look at and see happiness. 3 years ago, I suppose I would never have believed it – that happiness and I would find each other. I am happy. I love my job, I love my life. It’s a good life. I’ve seen better than the fight. I’ve seen happiness now.

And I’m looking at that woman, almost outside of myself, and I’m wondering, really wondering. Why would I take that away from her? Why would I plunge her into someone else’s game, a game that statistics say she will not win. Why would I do that?

This entry was posted in Flying with Warthog Air, Pre-Eclampsia, TTC # 2. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Change Your Hair, Change Your Life

  1. loribeth says:

    I had tears in my eyes reading this. Obviously, it’s up to you to decide whether the possibility of a future child is benefit enough to take on the risks. The urge to have a child is a powerful thing, and there are some women who will not stop until they have one, somehow, some way. But sometimes, for some of us, the price becomes too high. And (although I know there are some who would disagree), motherhood is not the only way to happiness and personal fulfillment and to contribute to the world. (((HUGS))) Whatever you decide, I hope that happiness stays with you!

    P.S. While I do have to take bp meds now, I definitely suffer from white coat syndrome every time I get my bp taken at my ob-gyn’s. Do you think it’s any coincidence that some of the happiest hours of my life were NOT spent there?? It’s always much better whenever I have it taken at my friendly GP’s.

  2. Michele says:

    You have me in tears and shaking my head yes. I still cant believe we continued treatments… I remember being pregnant with Bobby and Maya and us deciding that, this was it. We werent whole beings… we couldnt do it again. We had given medical science the entire try. With Nick and Sophie, they didnt know… So with Alex, they watched (and we still lost him). With Bobby and Maya, we cerclaged and… still delivered in the 2nd tri, just long enough that they were able to be okay. But not again. And it does hurt, because you want it so much, but when a m/c is the “easiest” painful outcome, you know it’s time to stop.

    Sending you so much love and warm thoughts.

  3. Jane in London says:


  4. Brunettes have a reputation for being smart and wise.
    I dislike clinicians who can’t partner with their patients, it’s 2011, not the Crimean War!
    I am happy you love your life, your work, your place, and sometimes you just can’t sign yourself up for any more loss.

  5. Msfitzita says:

    There is a lot to be said for peace and hard-won happiness.


  6. Maureen says:

    (((hugs))) and peace.

    I have to agree with Loribeth statement that “motherhood is not the only way to happiness and personal fulfillment and to contribute to the world”

    Because of my health issues, I went through a phase of looking for research that was done on the effects of the relationship between the health care provider/patient and outcomes. Then as a health care provider, I periodically get re-interested in this subject. The more positive the relationship, the better the outcomes (as rated by both the patient and the provider and sometimes by pure data) and vice versa. Then the related studies that a provider that is a good match for you, might be a bad match for me if we have different personalities as far as health care issues go.

  7. Jamie says:

    I remember that feeling – loss of control, spiraling. I don’t truly remember it like I would if I were the one sitting in the office like you were, but I remember a shadow of it. It would be tough to willingly play that game again.

    Abiding with you . . .

  8. Ya Chun says:


    Doesn’t sound like a special ‘specialist’.

    I think pregnancy is inherently risky, just people normally blindly stumble into it. And you are risk time a thousand.

    I wish you do get your living baby. It’s a hard road. I am wondering myself if I want to try again -it’s just so hard. And I am sure your blood pressure would find that to be true.

    Take care of you and the Mr. xoxo

  9. HereWeGoAJen says:

    I don’t have any words of wisdom but I will be thinking of you.

  10. a says:

    You should not have to fight with your doctor/nurse. They should be your allies in the war that your body wants to wage against a baby you might carry. Are you getting the same story from your doctor as from the nurse? Can you switch doctors? Do you want to?

    Throwing aside your life to chase a wish – well, you definitely have to weigh the cost of that. Once your project is finished, perhaps your next challenge will be to make that decision. Best of luck…

  11. B says:

    best wishes

    you have certainly done everything you can to make your body healthy and well for another pregnancy. Kudos to you for doing it, even though you did it for other reasons.

    I don’t get any better at just another failed ivf or just another chemical. They all still hurt. quite a bit.

    The slow death of hope hurts too.

    I guess you can find some comfort in the fact of your own recovery – both physically and emotionally. Maybe it makes risk taking easier?

    take care


  12. Jacinta says:

    Mrs Spit, a second opinion perhaps?
    Speaking for me, I couldn’t have gone through a subsequent pregnancy without the fantastic medical care I had. It found me, I didn’t find it, but it is invaluable. Keep looking.

  13. linds says:

    I wish there was an easy answer to this for you. This thing called life is a tricky, tricky thing.

  14. Sue says:

    I ignored the nonverbal messages I got from my OB and my Peri and I will always live to regret it. I had to push to get the care I needed, when, as my former therapist noted, “You can’t be the teacher and the student at the same time. It’s their job to take care of you.”

    I’m so glad you’ve found peace, happiness, the wonderful woman you are. Still torn in 7 different directions, I am envious.

    What an amazing accomplishment to reflect on and understand who you are, how you are, what you want and what you can and can’t live with. If not completely, you seem just about there.

  15. Trish says:

    Oh my. This post. Much too close to home. My stomach is aching and I have tears.
    I’m beginning to believe that MFM specialists are all secretly sadists. The one who “pulled the trigger” (his words) when Robbie was born and now my new one, you can almost feel the negativity oozing from their pores. My RE told me maybe I should just see the MFM alone and not comanage with my OB. I told her there was no way I could take that. The MFM would shred me. I need the optimism of my OB. I need someone to smile once in a while.

    I still don’t know if we’re making the right decision. I have the fight, I think, but I’m’ not sure if it’s fight for a sibling or fight against letting pre-e take my choices.

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