January is named after Janus, the two-faced god of classical mythology. The idea, obviously, is that the start of a new year entails looking both forward and reflecting on the year which passed. I can't say 2012 was happy. A miscarriage, two failed cycles, and not only are we out of embryos but Husband wants to take a break -- for who knows how long?
It isn't that 2012 was without anything positive. And all I have to do is enter the hospital each day to feel fortunate.
But I felt so very sad on New Year's. I love New Year's Eve. It's when we all gather for a huge party at Mama Phyll's and it's freilach and fun and not fancy but just a nice evening with tons of family and friends. Part of it was probably the strain of hosting my in-laws for the previous week, the fatigue of working a full day of Infectious Disease consults, and not even having time to shower before heading over to the party. Whatever the cause, I just wandered through the party feeling lost. I don't fit in with my sister or my little cousins. My sister is a college freshman, and my cousins are young adults but single and not settling down right now. I don't fit in with my parents' generation or my grandparents'. I love my family more than life itself, but at the metaphorical dinner party, I have outgrown the kids' table and haven't quite made it to the grown-up table. The only place I don't feel lost is with my baby cousins. With little children you don't have to be anybody. You just have to be honest and silly and imaginative. And so the best moments of New Year's Eve were with my little cousin, S. She is five years old and was wearing a white party dress with silver beading and white earrings. I stole precious moments tossing her up in the air while her laughter melted my heart, and then, one precious glowing ember, at about 11:00pm when I found her sitting on the stairs watching "Brave" on the iPad because she was tired, and she snuggled against me and nearly fell asleep with her head on my shoulder and I could pretend. I am lucky. My little cousin is a warm child with a cuddly personality, and loves me to throw her in the air, or make her into a package to deliver to Mama Phyll or Auntie Diane. But I have read James Barrie. All children, except one, grow up. How long before she's too heavy to play these games? I am probably lifting at least a third of my weight already and though she helps, it strains my back. How long before she loses interest? She fills a void.
So now, after a vacation which was anything but restful (thank you, Mother-in-Law!) I am back at work, on the Infectious Disease service. I am already exhausted and behind on my reading, but at least it's ID. I know my ID. I can Gram stain with my eyes shut. I love detailed histories and physicals. I like treatable illnesses and I like the cerebral aspect. I read Mandell. I like the meticulous attention to detail, or as Ghosh would say in Cutting for Stone, "constant vigilance!" The fellows think I am on their level. I am good at so few things. It helps to have something I can claim.
Okay, so I want to brag for a moment. Every internal medicine resident in the US took an in-training exam in mid-October. It's a full-day multiple-choice exam testing all aspects of internal medicine.
I scored in the 97th percentile nationally.
That, dear readers, is something infertility can never take away!
So why is it Mama has decided I should do Rheumatology for the lifestyle? I hate the musculoskeletal exam. I hate the side effects Prednisone gives my patients. And I don't want to spend my life taking care of fibromyalgia. I actually like general medicine and infectious diseases. And if God doesn't see fit to bless me with children, the only choice I see for me is to let work consume me. Why do I need a lifestyle if I don't have children to enjoy? So I can sit home and mourn that which never was? So I can get a manicure and go shopping and do yoga? Sometimes I just want to be numb. And at least when I work twelve hours a day, I come home too tired to think much about the only thing I really want in life.