As I battled infertility last year, I constantly felt like I was swimming against the current of life, and as I neared the year anniversary of my miscarriage with no signs that my body ever planned on becoming pregnant again, I was exhausted. Weary. Sapped. Drained. Things that I had previously enjoyed became additional sources of stress, and I saw my struggle with infertility all around me.
Looking back, I realize just how close I came to sinking into a serious depression, and I thank God that Charlie and I made it through that time. I haven’t been diving since last summer, but I can at least entertain the idea of going again one day. Lately, I find it much easier to take a deep breath, and instead of fighting the current, I just let the waters take me where they will. We’re going with the flow in this family, and finding it to be one amazing journey.
Originally posted Wednesday, June 30
A Second Look at Scuba
So, I was in Mexico when I discovered that despite additional medication, humiliation, pain, and driving, my most recent fertility treatment also punked out. I mean, I even carried Charlie’s sperm sample from Memphis to New Albany in a little plastic cup nestled between my thighs to keep it warm. His sample went through the drive-thru at Starbucks, for goodness sakes! Unfortunately, increased awkwardness does not, apparently, increase success.
I took the test the morning before we were scheduled to go diving, and I kept thinking how, with a shy smile, I’d have to explain to the scuba guide how I couldn’t dive because I was pregnant. I would have whispered the word, for fear that speaking it would make it untrue, and followed the announcement with a little giggle to cushion the life beginning inside me.
Instead, as I waited on the beach in Playa del Carmen, I wiped away some tears and swallowed my disappointment. As you likely know from one aspect of life or another, disappointment is bitter, and it aches going down. We boarded the shoddiest excuse for a dive boat we’ve ever encountered (dude was using a modified plastic milk jug to shovel water out of the back), and proceeded to go on another dive where I had to fight the forces of nature—namely current, buoyancy, and the need to keep breathing.
I used to enjoy diving, but lately, I’m fairly sure that it’s something I’m doing solely to make Charlie happy. Diving requires a significant amount of physical energy, but it is the mental strain that is truly exhausting. For example, allow me to share the jilted thought processes from my most recent dive:
1. Okay…time to throw my body, wrapped in cumbersome scuba equipment, backwards over the side of the boat at the same time as three other guys without losing a flipper, mask, etc. BCD inflated? Mask de-fogged? Air flowing to regulator? Check, check, check.
2. Mask is fogging…Damn. Too late. The three other guys are in the water. Roll! (Don’t want to get left behind since this is a drift dive in a strong current, and they’re already 15 feet away. What if I can’t catch up? What if the boat can’t find me? Will I die like those folks in that Open Water movie? That was a stupid movie…)
3. Re-check equipment. Everything in place? Swim to the rope for a calm, controlled descent. And swim. Still…..swimming. DAMN the stupid, insane current. Abandon the idea of calm, controlled descent. It’s time to get down there before I lose the rest of them completely. DUMP the air!
4. NOT sinking fast enough! Should have added more weight. Where are the other divers??? I am completely alone in the entire ocean, and the water is closing over my head. Dump air. Clear ears. Look for Charlie. Don’t panic!!! Claustrophobia…BREATHE!
5. Ahhh….there is Charlie about 10 feet below me. He swims up to grab my leg and yank me on down. (I am breathing now, and I start trying to enjoy the dive while the normal litany of diving mental checks runs through my head simultaneously.)
(NOTE: Reefs are essentially under-water mini-mountain ranges constructed from coral, sponges, and other sea foliage. Different fish, plants, and other points of interest exist at different places along the reef, so the typical dive will move up and down along the reef. I generally do quite well at about 50 feet near the sea floor. However, in what has become a common diving problem for me, every time we neared the top of the reef at 30 feet, I would begin shooting to the top and having to fight to stay down. Without Charlie holding onto me, I would have floated away. So, as the dive continued…)
6. Breathe in slowly. Be stream-lined. Up, up, down, down, DOWN.
7. Fish! Pretty.
8. Check gauges. How much air? How did the guy want me to signal air again? Why can’t everyone use the same underwater language? How’s the mask? Starting to take on water. Dang current is pushing my hood off my head. Up, down, down, DOWN….need Charlie’s hand NOW!
9. Whew! He’s got me. Poor Charlie. I know he must be tired of working to keep us both under the water.
10. Fish! Pretty.
11. Dang. I have to pee! (Changing pressure does uncomfortable things to most gases and liquids in the body.)
12. Up, up, up, SURFACE! Whew. Diving is over… (thank God!)
So, needless to say, after my unpleasant experience, I decided to avoid the second dive and stay on the boat with our Mexican boat driver and stumble through a few attempts at conversation in my limited Spanish. Finally, “Nacho” left me in silence to think about my relationship with diving.
I had many reasons for loving diving in the beginning. Diving allowed me, like Alice, to fall down into another world. And it is a beautiful world! Waving, lacy purple fan coral; pulsating, flower-like sea anemones, and slender stalks of dancing sea grass flow together as one organism. Fish of a hundred varieties, all dressed in shining ballroom finery, dart among the flora with no seeming destination. The color combinations are intricate, detailed, and always perfect. They shock and overwhelm the senses; it’s as if eyes accustomed to mere “land” colors cannot process these underwater shades.
Also, I love the fact that most people don’t dive. It made me feel special to be able to do something unique and to share it with Charlie. Diving definitely works to up one’s “badass” factor by a significant percentage. I liked coming back from diving over Christmas break, marred by fire coral, with pictures of me posing with sharks in the background. Apparently, even the toughest of kids respect sharks. One student actually said to another, “Dude, don’t mess with her. She swims with sharks and fire plants and shit. She’s crazy!” Hell yeah I am. Except that lately, being a badass is just too much work. I realize that cross-stitching and beading won’t earn the same number of “cool” points, but those activities aren’t so complicated.
Perhaps I shouldn’t go gently into the good night, seeking a life of less complication, but my thoughts seem to be leading to the conclusion that the beautiful moments afforded by scuba are disproportionately overshadowed by the difficulties of the process.
The problem? Charlie loves to dive, and he sees us diving together for the rest of our lives. And, though he would never admit it, I think my shortcomings have caused Charlie enough hurt lately. So, since I cannot bear the thought of him being disappointed, I will continue to swim against the current, fight the forces pulling me away, and just keep breathing.