Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Story #1

Twenty five fantastic friends (and mom) helped us break in the new house for the holidays. Anyone who knows us knows we can be late for even our own parties. At 7 pm, when the doorbell rang (30 minutes early) I yelled “still naked! Be right out!” After our wonderful Christmas eve party, we were utterly exhausted Christmas day. We slept in, and made salmon toast appetizers for our Christmas Day dinner at a H and R’s house, where we happily gorged on crab. Yum.

By that evening, 8 pm felt like 3 in the morning. My husband, mom and I barely made it in the door before we stripped and put on our jammies RIGHT when the phone rang. Our new next door neighbors called to say they’d been watching for our car so they could come by and wish us a happy holiday. SOOO nice, really. I missed them the day before so was glad to see them in spite of feeling like a tired blubbermouth.

They brought a gift, some wine (white). “We don’t drink, so I hope this is OK,” she said. “It’s perfect!”. After being in a gift exchange the night before with some fine gifts as well as an old used book, I was leary of the wine, understandably. We enjoyed some time together, and the next day, while making chicken cacciatore (which called for white wine) I thought why not use the wine from last night? A 1997 chardonnay (who keeps chardonnay for a decade?? Or more???). Clearly that wine was something somebody gave them that’s been stashed in a closet for years. We tasted it – almost a bit thick, deep honey color, bit sweet, little acidic, with a bad cork. “Is it going to ruin the cacciatore?” I asked.

Today, we looked it up on line.
Apparently, I don’t know what really expensive wine tastes like.  The magnum is worth $300, and this – only $115. Ouch! 

Today, I am thankful for:
  • being surprised
  • my husband at my side christmas morning
  • croissants from williams sonoma, also on christmas morning
  • artificial christmas trees (that's another story)
  • little girls singing in front of the tree
  • friends, and all their loud chatting and laughing filling up my house
  • my new neighbors
  • you -- who read this blog! thanks for your support, and I'll be writing more in the New Year! Wishing you love.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Brown or Green?

Like two tween best friends, my husband and I stand in front of the mirror and the light. “Do these pants go better with my shirt?” he asks. I immediately notice two things: first, we’re actually dressed kind of the same, as same as men’s and women’s clothes get. He: brown and black nice knit sweater, brown pants, black shoes. Me: brown knit top, black skirt, brown/black leggings. The next thing I see: his pair of brown pants? “These are green pants,” he says. He argues with me. He tries to convince. I say sometimes people see things differently, and actually, that’s ok. Please don’t try to make me believe they are green. Because they are brown.

This is a microcosm of our marriage. Seemingly the same/similar, in sync and spooning, then we open our eyes and realize just how differently we see things. And honestly, there’s NO convincing him that the world may not be the way he sees it.

Like one of the core arguments couples have over and over during the course of their lives, this is one we keep dealing with. We're getting better at seeing each other's point of view. But it's our desire to control that gets our goat, even when it’s something as simple as deciding about green onions or shallots in the clams linguini tonight.

Really, I’m just trying to help, aren’t I? If your husband announced he wanted to make clams tomorrow, wouldn’t you happily jump on the shellfish bandwagon, resurrect that great Giada recipe, and offer to get the pasta, parsley and accoutrements while he goes to Aliotos for (too many pounds of) clams? Then it happens, the argument over shallots vs. green onions. Really I don’t care, and the grocery list says so, in plain English: GREEN ONIONS. He slams the door, leaving a stormy kitchen behind.  I ask myself the big question: will we ever grow up (and stay that way?)

So here’s what’s going on, and sorry I haven’t written in so long. 

I’m still trying to let go of the last embryos. The doc basically, quietly, gently, hinted that we should look at other options: adoption or child-free living. But I haven’t said the words yet, and checked the box on the paper that says “we ask that these embryos be destroyed”. It’s that word: destroyed. As if there hasn’t been enough destruction around all this!  I’ll let you know.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Dear Mom,

Acquiring things.
Acquiring more things.
Then tossing, giving, letting go of things.

I’ve observed my mom’s love of thrift stores and yard sales and consignment stores, and over the years she’s consistently, steadily accumulated objects (as have I, truth be told). Now, at the age of 86, (and may I add for the first time) she’s on a binge. But this time, a binge of purging, not one of gathering.

She calls me and gives me the purge report of the number of  bags donated. She also unearths things of value in between the stuff that has no real history or attachment, the flotsam and jetsam of stuff grabbed on a whim or given to us years ago.

Yesterday, she found a letter I wrote when I was four.

Then I didn’t quite fully understand how letters and mailing worked yet. I wrote a Dear Mom letter on the outside of the envelope, after licking the envelope closed with my young lips. I told her how much I loved her and finished the sentence with our address and a drawn stamp and put it in a mailbox. It found its way back, thanks to a caring mailman.

I love how things you treasure resurface in the mess and clutter of our lives. What have you let set aside only to have it find its way back to you? Is there something you hope to find??

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Storm

I loved Miami as a kid. This wasn’t the cool South Beach of today. This was the era of kitchenettes, canvas and rubber rafts, plastic oranges with orange drink inside, jalousie windows. This was the Miami of the 1960’s: hot and humid; land of shuffleboard and salty sea.

I loved watching natural disasters, fully trusting that they would not affect me, and maybe naively thinking they didn’t really hurt anyone/thing. My dad occasionally indulged my awe of nature’s power, including once in Miami.

“Want to watch it come in,” he asked? So I eagerly marched up towards the picture window of our motel room as Hurricane Betsy (or Alma, or..) burst into town. The seas got dark like the sky, the wind was incredible, and no, my dad wasn’t crazy, I swear. After a little while, we backed away to safer territory.

The next morning, the happy beachfront was left a disastrous scene of nature’s trash. The coke machine that I used less than a day before, was no longer dispensing that ice cold small glass bottle. Everything had been whipped by the sandy wind, including our sandblasted car.

Why am I telling you this? Tomorrow is the anniversary of my dad’s death – over 20 years now. When I went to Yosemite last week, I had a huge rush of wishing he could be with me; that we could again take our walks in nature and be quiet and listen and see the world a little differently for those moments together. I was surprised by how momentarily overwhelmed I was by the lack of his presence. Then I looked at the calendar, and remembered. As if my body has some internal clock that knows when it’s close to mid-October, and close to that day that he “fell asleep” almost on his bowl of melting ice cream, a victim of sepsis/poisoning, not the Parkinson’s he had struggled with for so many years.

So here’s to memories – the weird ones, the sad ones, the beautiful ones. I carry him with me always, and will even eat a pork chop tonight, just in memory of him.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Needles, schmeedles. I'm having fun.

A full moon.
A warm night.
Eating expensive hot dogs with my man at Giants Stadium while
Sharing a simulcast opera experience (Aida) with 30,000 people.

I feel good. Been living my life lately, and getting back to what I like – biking on the coast, walking in the park, having dinner with friends on the deck, watching my night-blooming cereus blossoms open, enjoying wine with the girls, museum hopping, and learning how to dance Bollywood style.

Am I distracting myself from the REAL QUESTION? Sure.

My man is interested in adopting. He didn’t at first when we began all of this, but he’s had a change of heart. Guess watching your wife go through 4 miscarriages will do that.

Not sure how I feel, so I thought maybe it’s time to call in for help. Maybe a session with a therapist who specializes in infertility would help me/us sort all this out; it’s a huge decision, after all. He didn’t exactly understand the point of it, though.

I’m back to the REAL QUESTION: How does one know when enough is enough?

Last year when I went to my dentist for a crown, he began the process with a needle filled with dripping novocaine. Then another. And another. I’d wait for my mouth to feel “big”. Then he'd test. ZING!! Then another shot. And, yes, another. Then he said “OK. Today is just not our day. Let’s stop here and reschedule.”

As tempting as it was – just one more – I’m sure the next one will work --- he stopped. The next time I was nervous as hell, but realized he was right. Two shots, two tries, and we were good to go.

Well, the last 9 years have “not been my day”, at least as far as fertility goes.Now, my needles and syringes and alcohol pads and vials are in a brown box by the bed.

He was smart to stop the shots.
Would I be smart, or foolish, to stop??

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recess and Enlightenment

I’m a leftover girl. I bring last nights dinner tidbits to the office most days. Yesterday, my lunch went into a bag marked “Andrea”. I suddenly felt like a kid, taking my lunch bag to school.

But I’m older, and recess isn’t quite the same as it used to be. My grown-up self chooses yoga over kickball, and lunch is my gourmet leftovers and not one of the (ick!) lunches I remember dad made for me, this one in 4th grade: bologna on rye with too much warm butter, melting in the New Jersey heat, augmented by a too old banana, darkened with age. The teacher, noticing my tall skinny self, decided she would lay down the law and make me stay at my desk through recess until I ate every bite. Gag me. Really. I can’t blame dad, though. Buttered rye, cold cuts (usually salami) and tomatoes were the staples of his Hungarian lunch, along with hot yellow banana peppers and a beer.

This morning, it was fall as I did yoga on our deck. As I moved through my downward dogs into shivasina, a conversation kept floating through my mind. I met a dear friend last night for a yummy cocktail(s). We had some scheduling problems, and between soccer and play dates and more, she carved out a couple of ours for us. After my bad bologna story, she told me about folks in a nearby office who actually do “recess”, and she was ready to play. When she asked about what’s up with our quest to have a baby, I recognized that if I was blessed to get (and stay) pregnant, I’d see myself parenting a lot like her. I asked her: so, tell me the truth, is it really all worth it? Is it really the best thing ever? Is it the most frustrating thing ever? You see, I was having my doubts about the endless soccer/baseball/music schedules and challenges of finding time for yourself and ….her answer: “I LOVE BEING HIS MOM. For me, it’s all about who I get to be.” Just then, the sun peeked over the neighboring tree, and bathed my yoga-d body in warm yellow light.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

It's Nice here in Nowhere Land


It’s not that bad living here right now, in the land of in-between. This is the space I’m in after nine years of infertility treatments and not knowing what’s next. It’s not too bad, this land of no needles, no blood tests, no crazy insane mood swings, no extreme fluctuations of breast and belly sizes (my friends HAVE been noticing), and no numbers that excite then disappoint.

This is where my man and I reconnect in new ways, and wonder what our lives will turn out like. Will we be happy with a baby? Happy without a baby? We are fortunate to have some choices left, like adoption. But it feels the power of choice is a burden. Is it really up to me to make this choice? What if it comes down to being simply too tired to fight the battle to build a family, or what if I’m just too broke?

I’m thinking of doing this "dreamlab" to open my mind and heart a bit to make a decision I’m honestly kind of scared to make.

For now, we’re painting the back room (that was a baby room.) Out with the yellow; in with soft gray. For now, it will be our TV room. After all, paint is cheap. We can always go back to yellow, and reenter the land of hope.

photo: from the train window, france 2009

Friday, September 3, 2010

Off with her Head


These retro salt and pepper shakers have the boy and girl seated on a little wooden bench, kissing. But a few months ago, by accident (?) and coincidentally (?) after an argument with my man, I dropped them while cleaning off the kitchen counter. Actually, I didn’t drop him, only her. I broke off her head. When I put her back on the bench, I stepped back. Exactly, I thought. That’s exactly how I feel right now. Like he’s ripped my head off with his words.

It was a week of negotiating emotional landmines. Tiring, yes. Productive? No. And in the midst of it, a friend’s wedding, filled with love, hope, innocence, fun, excitement, authenticity. And my man, the officiant at the wedding.

That weekend and for the days following, he told me every day he loved me.
He told me he’d marry me again, today, every day.
I didn’t believe him. Well, kind of but not fully.
So I told him I wasn’t “quite there yet” after our fight(s) the week before.

You guessed it, that started another fight.

But this time was different. Now, the landmines were REALLY right in front of us, one after the other. No, I didn’t mean to hurt him by not being available to pick up his tux Thursday. Yes, I’ve planned for this wedding too. Yes, I’m your partner. Yes, it takes me a while to get over these blow-ups. Yes, it’s confusing when you’re happy and we have a delightful weekend one minute and the next you act like I’m the devil incarnate in a wife. No, NO, you are NOT going to blame me for the fact that I wasn’t ready for years to marry you or have children with you. No, that’s not the reason, I am not the reason, we have not had children.

That’s when it all came out.

Crying. Anger. Good, old-fashioned real anger. Yes, he was angry, and rightfully so. Angry that he may not ever get to be a father. Frustrated beyond belief that he can’t fix it or change it. Sad that he hurt me with his words, that he acted out.

Forgiveness, sweet sweet forgiveness.

We are together, after getting pregnant 3 times in one year, with one making it to 5 weeks, one to 7 weeks, one to 2 weeks. Together. And not knowing what’s next.

I have been looking forward to this whole baby-making quest being resolved.
But I didn’t count on all this emptiness.

I’m ok. Just want you to know. Really – I am, we are. I just wanted you to know what’s up.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

no lines


I noticed it about a minute before A said it. “You have a beautiful complexion.” The 18-year old blushed and almost involuntarily batted her lashes. “Really?” “Yes” A said. “Not a wrinkle. Just smooth and lovely.”

I remember being 16, and have my friend Gerilyn’s mom say that to me. She pointed out the 2 lines etching her forehead. She was right, I didn’t have those. I hadn’t noticed my virgin forehead before. I felt lucky, and felt secretly like I’d always be the young one, the lucky one, the one being watched and encouraged.

Last night I was excited to be with a set of young women who worked hard to get to this moment. Now, they are each headed off to begin the next phase of their lives: film school in LA, to art school in Chicago, UC Berkeley for philosophy studies, and one to Spain for her semester abroad. Each one was smart and beautiful in her own way.

Then the old photos came out – of young girls on a couch, covered in beanie babies. Back then, they were little and all giggles. They’ve known each other for years, and have shared laughs, kinship and a deep knowing of each other that arched over all these years -- a friendship throughout changes in schools, stuffed toys, boys, birthdays, tears, and all that comes with growing up.

Seeing the old photos made me realize I may never see those moments with children of my own. I may never witness this sacred and crazy passage of time, and have the opportunity to look back and say: “God, you looked so funny then! Do you remember…..”

When you don’t have children of your own, it’s less clear, this passing of the torch. You move forward with your life, and the march of the next generation is quiet and almost invisible to you. But here they are now, eager and thrilled and ready to explore and dream about being in charge of themselves and their world. They have moved from behind and are moving to the forefront. I see clearly that it’s their turn now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

bumps


All it took was to focus on what was in front of me. That meant NOT looking all the way down at the endless but beautiful set of moguls/bumps on the ski run below me this past winter. And by just committing to three bumps, and recommitting over and over, suddenly I was actually making it all that way down the steepest run I have ever navigated. What scared me a year ago, I had conquered. Not gracefully, mind you, and not quickly either, but whatever.

That’s what I’m trying to do now: just focus on what’s in front of me. If I look at the bigger picture, I get scared that the picture may not include kids. How can it be? To do all this, and end up here? To forgo so much?? What now? It feels empty? See, these questions are the start of it, and lead me into the land of frustration.

Just do the 3 bumps in front of you. See your focus and claim your intention. Clear your body and mind, just sweep out those cobwebs. Just one thing at a time. Trust that it will feel good, even. Know you will make it to your destination, even though it’s not in your field of vision right now.

These are the things I tell myself.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Human

I really wanted to see the aliens have sex in Avatar. It’s like so many other PG or R rated movies… right when the moment really gets hot, they pan.

I’m not as sad as with previous miscarriages. I've steeled myself a bit. The bereft animal sobs that made it hard to breathe came only the first night, in the car, on the phone with M. So I'm being gentle with myself. Watching minutes of movies when I have time, and dining out with my man. Nothing better than a white tablecloth and a corner table and a nice bottle of red, combined with some hand-holding and eye contact and connection with him to make me feel better.

Been dealing with everyday chores seemingly endlessly. Broken dishwashers, refinance paperwork, my mom's place. The list feels thin, and transparent. Below it, a giant undercurrent runs through my life, through each waking moment; a current that may move our lives in a new direction, or not. It's still a little dark and I can't quite see yet, but it will become clear.

He said it too.

He’s tired.

It doesn’t feel exciting to try anymore. It feels expensive and not likely to succeed. But he is excited about adoption. I'm not sure; my emotions are a swirl of many feelings.

I’ll tell you this: I keep seeing the vision I had in my mind nine years ago when I asked myself if I wanted to have kids, after years, sadly, of vacillating. I expected my usual long list to come out, with pros and cons and logic and reasons and tangibles. But instead, when I closed my eyes, I saw an arm. A small child arm, nothing more, reaching out, but slipping away.

That’s when I decided YES, I wanted to try.

And so it is.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Freak Out


My emotional state yesterday reminded me of the day I called my friend M, while sobbing and stuffed into the bathroom at the seamstress shop with my to-be-altered wedding dress, a few weeks before my wedding. “It’s all wrong,” I cried. “We’re supposed to be HAPPY and not arguing! We’re getting married for God’s sake!” After giving me a moment to let it all out, M (in a kind way) laughed at me. “It’s OK,” she said. “This is all normal, I promise.”

She was right.

Yesterday however turned out to be anything but a normal day.

The pregnancy is already over. My number went down.

We questioned if I did too much over the weekend, if the mopping of the floor was too much, if the watering and weeding put me over the edge, if our fight yesterday morning contributed to the lack of peace in my womb. Should I have just sat my butt down, lulled into serenity by a warm blanket, a book and soft kisses?

My man got the call and brought himself to my office to give me the news personally, so we could hold each other. I think he’s tired too.

I’d like to tell you about our adopted embryos. They come from good stock. Junior Olympic swimmer, tennis player, baseball player, healthy, happy. Seemed a totally perfect fit. I’m just so sorry it’s not worked out. I’ve been pregnant 4 times: once 14 weeks, once 7 weeks, once 3 weeks and now 2 weeks. Not sure what we’ll do next. Nothing, something, adoption, use the last 2 embryos we have, I don’t know.

I wonder if our house will be too quiet. I wonder if we need to invite more children into our lives. I wonder if this is how it’s meant to be. I wonder if I’ll mistakenly talk baby talk to a dog, making everyone around me gag. (I promise, I won’t.)

I have to find something good in all this, I just have to.

Infertility treatments and clinics are in the business of hope. For us, nine years and tens of thousands of dollars worth of hope.

“Hope is such a dreadful word.” That’s what an old poet said to me once, on the beach. I think there’s some truth to it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

P or not P


To recap:

The doctor said the embryos were good, but not top grade. He said we should really consider a gestational carrier because the chances of me getting and more importantly staying pregnant were so slim. Against his and by ob/gyn's advice, we figured we'd try anyway. Why not; the cost is low; we may as well play this out. If it doesn’t work, so be it. At least we will have tried.

This cycle, I only did 2 acupuncture sessions before the embryo transfer, and haven’t been doing my nightly meditations.

This cycle, I really let go of expectations.

This cycle I went beyond thinking “any outcome is fine with me” and really believed it.

Before this cycle, I ventured into new territory, and pictured by life without a baby, without raising a family. I put other images into the photo album of my future. Pictures of retiring early, and joining the Foreign Service, so my man and I could enjoy more travelling adventures. Pictures of finally being done with the fertility journey. No more shots, no more wondering wishing hoping, no more miscarriages, no more lack of wine and caffeine and exercise and plane trips. Pictures of a new home, filled with laughter and ease and friends and family visits. Pictures of good health and fun dinner parties.

He got the call Friday with the test results.

I’m pregnant. Highest number yet for the first P-test of all the times we’ve tried.

I’m freaking out. I’m intolerant of my man’s actions. I’m worried that he can’t handle this, that I can’t handle this, that this is all a mistake. What was I thinking? I’m too old for this. There’s a reason this hasn’t happened. Be careful what you wish for.

What’s the lesson here: you don’t get what you want until you don’t want it anymore???? I’m so sorry to admit all this to you, I’m sorry I’m not brimming with wide-eyed excitement. What’s wrong with me?

Maybe this is hormones talking, I don’t know.

But boy, could I use a glass of cabernet.

Photo: Half Reality: Sculptures by the Sea, Sydney Australia, 2009

Friday, August 6, 2010

Testing, testing.....


Just another poke, after the 2 pokes last night, and the pokes every night – shots to support my body and the embryos.

Today’s poke is the tell:
Am I pregnant or not?
Truthfully, I’ve been avoiding the question all week. I kind of shut down when I stopped feeling pregnant. But there’s really no way of knowing, it’s possible to not feel symptoms yet.

Here’s the real truth:
I’m mad. I’m just plain mad, underneath my tired optimism and my level-headedness. I feel betrayed by doctors, by modern western medicine, by acupuncture, and by my own body. I feel foolish, hopping on the embryo transfer bandwagon when I’ve been unsuccessful so many years and so many times. Trying AGAIN? Yes, a glutton for … something. Oh, I know, a baby! A family! Contributing to a new life!

My man has been supportive. Chipper, even. I can hardly take it. But it’s good, really. He’s optimistic for both of us, since I’m on E. My needle is way to the left, the reserves low. In fact, I think I'm ready to pass clear over to the other side; a side where the needle isn’t red on a black background, but it’s open sky, full of possibility, and transparent, and tastes like warm summer strawberries and feels like soft clover between my toes. Somewhere where my heart remains truly open, without the effort it takes today.

Oh look… the sun just came out.

photo: Children in market halls, Oaxaca Mexico, 2008. Had so much fun playing with these kids.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

connecting


Feelin’ it...or not feelin’ it? I scan my body for signs of breasts that don’t want to be touched, a uterus that’s busy making a spot for an embryo, breathing that takes more effort, and a throat that has a hard time keeping food down. I felt these things the first week, perhaps from the meds, perhaps not. Now I don’t feel them at all. I cleaned Saturday… perhaps too much? Ah! There I go again, blaming me for somehow causing the potential lack of a burrowing embryo, a connection too thin and tenuous between her cells and mine.

So I decided to connect with myself last night by meditating at Spirit Rock, with zen master Ed Brown who made me laugh like my closest friends. One of my biggest challenges while going through a cycle is navigating the lands between accepting what’s happening (not forcing things) and desiring, wishing for the big outcome. Sometimes letting go leaves me flat and not 100% authentic and not 100% feeling (perhaps another word for that is denial?).

I needed to let my feelings (all of them) in, and out. I cried a little, leftover tears for the embryos that came before. And a bittersweet appreciation for my body, which has been through so much.

I left with a smile on my face and in my heart. Wherever I'm going, I'm feeling a bit more connected. And more authentic.



...by the way, you may be interested in great little movie featuring Ed Brown, called "How to Cook your Life"

photo: Stairs, Chiapas, Mexico.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

the big little house

It's been an epic week. Besides the embryo transfer on Monday, my man's house has been under renovation for a crazy long time. Like 8 yrs. It's only 800 square feet. So we've progressed at the alarmingly slow rate of 100 square feet a year. Clearly a snail can move faster. Today, the inside is complete. Tomorrow, a renter moves in, someone who will hopefully love the place, as opposed to us, who loved it but trust me we did our share of swearing -- at it, and at each other. My favorite moments were in the beginning, like the demolition part... using a crowbar and sledeghammer; truly out with the old, in with the new. And the time he enlisted me to dive under the house to weld plumbing in 2' of space, in the dirt, with flames and gas and metal. The day he tested the system, he waited for me at home, with the movie "Das Boot" on. That's the one about the submarine. He had it queued to the part where all the pipes in the sub start bursting, water everywhere. Yes, there were a few leaks in our plumbing at the start.

He really knew how to woo me. He DID woo me here. In front of the fire, in the window seat, on the old plaid couch, at the dinner table, with candles and his famous feta fresh tomato pasta.

Now we finally have a place that's ours, both of ours, that really feels like home.

and maybe, we'll actually have time to spend there now!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Game on! An embryo finds a home.



Yes, I’m bloated, and yes, I’m on drugs, and yes, it’s all good.

The embryo transfer happened yesterday. Two 3-day old embryos, not perfect but good. I was needled by the acupuncturist before and after. My man and I held hands behind the nurses back, as the jellied sonogram tool revealed a map to the embryos’ new home -- out of the petri dish and into my belly.

I stayed home, gorged myself by watching MadMen eating warm foods (good) followed by an ice cream sandwich (not so good).

What’s my mantra?

WHATEVER.

Whatever happens is as it should be.
Whatever happens will be a new beginning.
Whatever happens happens, and then there will be something else that happens.

Basically, I’m giving up control. Call me a bad embryo oven, but I’ve had sips of wine (eee gads!) and even some decaf (yikes). But I am, at the core, as good as I can be and stay sane. Meditation helps, in the midst of a remodel, a refinance, changes at work and changes in my body. Here's who I listen to-- http://belleruthnaparstek.com

Here’s to a healthy, engaged version of whatever!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

imaginings


I want to share with you a poem by my friend Maya, who’s about to begin a poetry tour around the country. Her writing hit home for me today.

not yet

It was a perfectly reasonable fantasy – a house
for sale in the wild hills of Western Massachusetts.
For the price of my city apartment, ten acres,
four bedrooms, a pool, a view, a converted barn with guests’
quarters. A heron glided past in slow motion and I thought,
This could be a place to raise children. Images came
flying then: Planting that first garden, bedtime stories in front
of a winter fire, a puppy the kids would giddily name.
It startled me, the speed at which I let the story start to set,
though something steered me back to the car, a voice whispering “Not yet.”


Visit www.papayamaya.blogspot.com for more writing (and photographs) by Maya.

It’s interesting, when you travel or make life choices, where your mind goes. In Italy recently I wondered (who wouldn't!) what it would be like to live there. LIke the laid-back non-fufu Chianti wine country (makes Napa look like an expensive Disneyland for wine-loving adults), or the stylishly livable Perugia, and the visually rich Cinque Terra, where colorful homes tumble down the hill towards the sea. Imagine, actually SWIMMING in the ocean in the summer, instead of bringing a parka to the beach! Or in Sydney, how I loved watching parents teaching kids about what sculpture is at the Sculptures by the Sea exibit... "See honey, how it looks different as you walk around the art?" Or the kid conversation overheard by the giant boy sculpture: "He looks kinda sad." The other kid replies, "That's because he has a small we-we."

When we bought the house we now live in, my man had his own visions of what life would look like: including the kids, doing their homework around the kitchen table.

Note: tomorrow we have an appointment to check my progress and see if this cycle is a go. I don’t have my usual excitement, to be honest. I’m getting tired of being poked, prodded and having viagara suppositories up my....

Photo: Kids checking out the giant boy sculpture at Sculptures by the Sea, Sydney.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Flash of summer


I’m so happy today I can hardly stand it. Funny turnaround after last night’s depression after learning that a promotional opportunity I really wanted just vanished.

I’m blaming my happiness on the hormones. I think it’s the estrogen; that extra shot of girl power. Or perhaps it’s the corn I just bought at the farmers market; that burst of yellow summer I wait for all year long. Is 12 ears enough? Bring on the corn fritters, the roasted corn salad, and just plain fresh corn with a pat of salted butter, barely cooked because it’s so sweet you could just eat it raw. For years, I pined for New Jersey sweet corn the summers after moving away. As a kid, when you heard ‘THE CORN IS IN’, it meant we’d be eating corn, corn, and corn for dinner.

Here’s to summer, even if it’s fickle, even if it’s summer only in my mind and foggy in the trees. Here’s to real strawberries that are red through and through. Here’s to mint chocolate chip ice cream dripping down the front of my bikini at the local pool. Here’s to swimming in a lake that’s not freezing cold, and winning the race against the boys. Here’s to cannonballs and a hot game of kickball. Here’s to just laying down in the grass, arms out. And lastly, to fireflies. I held one momentarily on vacation in Italy. He looked like a flashing termite.

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/fire-roasted-corn-salad.html

http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/corn-fritters.html

Photo: Summer dahlias at the Friday farmers market

Thursday, July 15, 2010

inklings.


They are surfacing now, the doubts.

Will it be too hard?
Am I too old?

Now I’m afraid of GETTING pregnant. How did that happen, after wanting it, working for it, getting poked and prodded and medicated and meditating and yoga-ing and all that? I’m ready to have this settled, this “are we having a baby” question finally answered.

So this cycle is taking some bravery, just because of that. Because I may get what I wish for and either have a baby (yikes!) or not (ouch.)

The fog has backed off for the day, revealing a bright happy sun, leaving a warm smile on my face. Fear and happiness I know are a choice, but sometimes it happens involuntarily, like the weather. I can’t help but be happy today. And I wonder what's around the corner.

photo taken in Sydney, at Sculpture by the Sea

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Too cute to kill.



welcome back! NOTE: I changed the design of the blog because I thought it was too hard to read. Is this better??

From the new place we can ride our bikes right from the house, exercising those atrophied muscles, letting in all that fresh air. The bikes, well, they needed some fresh air too. Tires flat, handlebars a little dusty, it was time.

Within a quarter mile of the first downhill, the sun backlit the leaves,the pollen and all the little bugs in the air, making this stretch of road feel filled with fairies.

Then CLICK, CLICK TAP TAP, *quiet* TAP CLICK CLICK and I see more and more bugs, and then thousands, the road becoming their bug freeway. It’s what I envision a locust invasion to look like, only cuter. We’ve travelled easily a mile now, and still thousands of are flying up the hill and up the road.

It’s a polka-dotted ladybug migration in full swing. I duck down, realizing that each TAP and CLICK means another dead or wounded ladybug. I’ve never used the words “swarm” and “ladybug” in the same sentence before. But here they are, their wings up and out, fluttering clumsily, but though it seemed like ladybug chaos, there were all going in the same direction (in the opposite direction of us).

When we stop at the bottom of the hill my man has ladybugs in his helmet, his hair, his nose, and I have little red polka-dotted insects in my bra and ear.

It’s amazing, the surprises nature can throw your way.

We'll see what happens with us. We officially started an embryo transfer cycle yesterday, using the last or next to last set of adopted embryos. Let the games begin.

Monday, July 12, 2010

We can't get that here


Mom called the other day, asking me to pick up a gasket for her little metal stovetop espresso maker, because she can’t buy them in her town. The idea of not being able to buy something because it’s not available seems distant to me now, thanks to the internet and access to global shopping. YES, today, you can pretty much find “it” somewhere.

So I was surprised last month in Italy, when I was told NO. “No, signora, I’m sorry – you JUST missed the artichokes.” And it happened a few more times, this being in tune with the seasonality of local produce and the natural rhythms of the land.

Is that how I approached my infertility? In a nutshell, totally NO. I fully expected YES, each and every time we tried with IVF and all that came before. YES it’s available, YES you can do it, YES it will work. Even though I’m older, even though we’ve seen nature say no, I relied on western and eastern medicine to make it a YES. But it’s been 9 years of NO.

Today, I’m asking the question again, as we just began another cycle. A glutton for punishment? Maybe. Tenacious? Yes. But this time, I enter this process with even more openness and an internal knowing that NO may be alright. Maybe there's a reason for the NO's; maybe we're supposed to do something else; that maybe life really, truly, would be fine either way, another way.

When a friend of mine was trying to get pregnant she told me, “you know, if it’s just he and I, that would be alright.” I envied her flexibility and trust. Back then, “Just us” didn’t feel like a gift, but a punishment; it just didn’t seem fair to not have the choice of family.

Modern medicine gives us choice, but really, how much can we or should we expect??

P.S. sorry to be absent for so long - it's great to be back!

Monday, May 17, 2010

leaving


I have a lawn for the first time -- how suburban! I felt proud on Sunday somehow, with the borrowed electric weed whacker, cutting the overgrown grass, keeping things trimmed, the wire cutting off anything unnecessary. Lots of cutting and tossing... the bag of clothes last week (and NO I'm not keeping the ones that I MAY need because my belly MAY someday get bigger because I MAY get pregnant... 9 years of MAYBE). NOW I am a size 6. Now I have a flat belly, and heck, why not enjoy it! Bring on the skinny jeans! Out with the clothes, off with the hair (to be cut tonight). I'm thinking of bringing my locket with me on vacation: the one that had the secret photo of our embryo inside. Not sure yet how it feels to bring an EMPTY locket -- one just cleared and ready for the next wish?

hugs to you

just to let you know, I"m taking a break from the blog for 4 weeks -- vacation, moving, etc..... but will be back soon, and hopefully it will finally be summer here by the time we get back!

P.S. a poem for today:
"I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit."

— Dawna Markova

Thursday, April 29, 2010

What if?


What if buying our house means we can't have a baby?? Because, for us, we can't just have a baby, we need to buy the opportunity for one.

I feel guilt, to be honest, that I put my wants above our plans for a family. But heck, I've been a renter my entire life. I took it as a sign to say yes to the house when the call saying our offer was accepted came just 30 minutes after the news of the miscarriage. One big NO (baby), one big YES (house).

"Walk through the open door," I told myself. Just go.

Though our quest for mommy and daddyhood may still work out, adoption and surrogacy are paths that require huge investments of time and money, both of which which we are running out of.

As we get older, it seems that our life choices can become more limiting, and options come down to this OR that. Not this AND that one later. I think we are already in 'later.' In fact, later may have already happened. I don't know what's next, and that's the scariest part of all. At least while you're in the middle of infertility treatment cycles and trying, it feels as if you are moving forward. Now we are in a space of not knowing what's next.

The facts: we've spent (it's hard to add it up -- it frightens me) something like $60,000 and 9 years of our lives. Years that I put my career last, and put my health and body and trying for a baby first. Almost a DECADE. And we are inching close to being out of money and out of time.

What if infertility treatments gave me too much of an illusion of control of where my life would go?

But better yet: What if my life will turn out exactly as it should?

This, my friends, is what I believe today.

This post is part of the WHAT IF project, part of National Infertility Awareness Week (April 24th–May 1st).Read more about how infertility affects the lives of women on this blog http://www.stirrup-queens.com/2010/04/bloggers-unite-project-if/. For more information on infertility, go to www.resolve.org infertility101, and for info on National Infertility Awareness Week, www.resolve.org/takecharge.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

BFF

She's amazing, my friend M. Single mom, 2 kids, horse lover and country music dancer. She has breast cancer. Or more accurately, she HAD breast cancer. Diagnosed last year, she's lost one breast, and had many rounds of radiation. When I saw her walk up the stairs, after not seeing her for two years (while she faced her cancer and I faced my miscarriage), we held on to each other, just holding and holding. I was so grateful to see her sunny face, I cried.

I extended my visit to stay with her, mistakenly thinking her breast reconstruction surgery was the following day (it was the next week). When her son found out, he said,

"Mommy, did she stay to take care of you?"
"Yes, Tyler".
"Tell her thank you."
"Yes, Tyler -- I did say thank you."
"No mommy, I mean tell her thank you from TYLER!".

It's these moments with children that really bring up the love quotient. It's these moments I crave. It's these moments that make we want to have my own children.

And M, bless her heart, offered to be a surrogate for our embryos. Can you believe her!! I'm in love with M, with her big heart, her blonde hair, her horse tatoo, her lat muscle that is now her pec muscle. Of course, the surrogacy won't work -- estrogen is the LAST thing her body needs right now. But as they say, it's the thought that counts. And what a giving, generous, inspiring thought that is.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

sounds of change

no! I have not disappeared. At mom's place, dealing with a bathroom water leak, and now I"m home, packing packing packing and ... well, packing.

Three burly men will help us drag too much stuff on Saturday to the new place.

We're all nostalgic already. Lest I forget some of the sounds of home -- here's a few:

1. squirrel feet running across the roof, and FAST.
2. the sounds of the park: "Fido, SIT. I said SIT. FIDO, SIT!!!! FIDO I SAID COME HERE!!!! " Fido never seemes to want to listen!
3. the dove, cooing every morning
4. the boom of fireworks on special game nights
5. the australian coaches with their cute accents teaching little kids sports
6. the sound of snails being crushed on the wooden walkway by people feet.
7. kids chatting on their way to school.
8. doggie arguments, ruff ruff.
9. the high sounds of terns in the park in the middle of the night
10. the dependable sound of the train, every morning.
11. Mariachi music at Mexican weddings; old, sometimes bad, rock and roll for the baseball games.
12. bits and pieces of a gazillion conversations as people walk, run, skate and stroll by.

time to make way for new sounds
and new beginnings!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

view from the window


Joyful. Without judgement. Being of service. Strong in what's right. Ask me anything, my answer is love. Not fear, not 'better than'.

While these things sound quite doable, why is it so hard to live them?

Easter Sunday reminded me to no longer seek life from dead behaviors. It reminded to to LIVE life, and quit with being guarded or unconscious. LIVE life, before it passes me by. Not that I'm a slug, don't get me wrong, it's just that miscarriage #2 (and getting old) can't help but raise the age-old question: so what am I doing here?? What is my purpose?

What's yours?????

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

beauty, meaning and openness


With my camera, I open a new, different window to the world. I love travel photography, and find the camera opens me to new ways of looking and observing and offers new and deeper ways of understanding the people I meet.

I started photography innocently. I said I wanted to photograph “beauty”. Then, I wanted to photograph “meaning.” Now, I just try to be open. I’ve let go of searching for beauty, realizing it’s only one of so many interesting and revealing facets of life.

When I reviewed some of my recent photos I had to laugh. I now see how photography is also a window into my soul. I told my husband, “I think I’m in my dark period.” hmmm, I guess there's no denying the miscarriage must have had an effect.

Today, I am drawn to the lone tree, to light and shapes of what emerges out of the darkness. I am drawn to rootedness, which sometimes feels elusive. I love the quietness of the night, and photographing while others sleep – and then seeing the same places in the brightness and busyness of the day.

Today is my birthday, and I am good. I am happy to have an amazing husband and a group of friends who celebrate life, make me laugh and are basically really, really good people. As my blue t-shirt says: life is good.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

it's official.


So, it's true. We finally bought our own home. EEKS! I mean YEAH!

I wanted to share with you what my friend M said to me because she says it so beautifully:

"I see how this new home = a new start = receiving what was called for even if other gifts have been denied to you your loving heart and womb, but here are some beautiful things, inspired and welcomed things coming into your life; hooray for new starts... and I send you my fullest capacity to give blessing, to you and your loving B, a blessing on this day when a new home will be yours soon. May you welcome many wonderful things and people, ideas and dreams through your door."

Holy
Holy
Holy

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

tease, tenacious


So I've been not-pregnant pregnant for longer than I've been pregnant. Yes, I'm still testing positive for pregnancy, though it's been almost two months since the miscarriage. Tenacious cells, they are not giving up. It's comforting in some silly way that they are fighters, but the fight was lost weeks ago.

"BEDREST" "BE STILL" "NO EXERCISE, NONE!"

That's what women friends who've had babies say I should have done. The doc says no, we needed blood flow through your body, we wanted you to live normally, just don't run a marathon. (important subtext: it wasn't your fault)

I am running a marathon, but not the regular kind. The fertility marathon keeps you running and striving and working towards a goal, towards a new life. But the training has been tough; the lost battles leave me tired but still amazingly functional. But it's harder and harder to believe in the goal.

I have a secret to tell you. I'm wondering what it would be like to stop. I'm not saying I want to. I"m just imagining a life without this struggle.

All I know is this: it's time for a clearing. A tossing, a freshness, a space for good stuff, for change, for me, for us. Room for friends on a deck in the sun. Room for a dog. Room for leaving behind the bad habits. Room for deep breathing, summer berries, bar stools, magazines and a chaise lounge.

Thursday, March 18, 2010



I am a flat-bellied woman
who wants fullness
in life
I am ridiculously tenacious
trying to believe
in life
unfolding
messy,
wet
beautiful

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

give


B and I had our first "real" talk since the miscarriage this past Sunday. As we think about possibly moving, the place we are now seems more appealing. The tree-lined streets, the great neighbors, the park behind the house, the coffee shop, the walking path. We went around the corner to the local greasy spoon we've never been to, and talked about our fear of moving to, and becoming invisible in, suburbia. "You don't seem that excited," he says. "We should be more excited." Maybe. Maybe not. The feeling underfoot is slippery and dangerous, like quicksand. I'm too scared this new thing, this house, will also be taken away. I'm just holding tight, and these days dreaming big is elusive. I see in my mind's eye just the forearm and hand of a young one simultaneously reaching for me and slipping away. The miscarriage, the drama with the house loan, my mom's health insurance being taken away out of the blue... I am untethered, and in a storm, and in a place I rarely am: untrusting of the world.

"I want to give this to you", he says. I forget how it is for a man, to want to give to his wife. He wants to give me a home, our home. I was already moved, when he said, "But I can't give you babies. I wish I could give you babies." Just then, the 2-year old girl at the booth next to us with her Elmo shirt on wants to say hello. She comes around the side of the leatherette booth, and she flirts, she giggles. I cry. We cry.

This infertility journey asks SO much of you. We ask so much of ourselves, and our bodies. And it's all because we want to give --we want to give SO much, to a person we have not met. To a person who may not even become alive in this world. These almost babies are loved before they even exist. They are named before they exist. Space is created for them -- in minds, in hearts, in 2nd bedrooms across this country and the world.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vegas, baby.


My infertility is like a trip to Las Vegas. Whenever I start a cycle I can't help but hope... "this is the one!" or the ever popular "I feel lucky" (especially when the embryo transfer is on 9/9/09, a VERY lucky day... in China). But each subsequent trip to infertility/Vegas means higher stakes. And for me, disappointment. Followed by I-can-do-it rallying and thumbs-upness. Move from IUI to IVF with donor eggs? More money, more invasive, but it will work. IVF/Donor eggs to Gestational carrier? Way more money, farther from my own body, but worth it. Adoption? (you get the idea). It's hard to know when to stop gambling.. oops, I mean hoping. But I keep going back, the eternal optimist.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

harsh and exciting



Wild Geese


You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

- Mary Oliver

Saturday, February 27, 2010

looking for a sign



As I sit and drink my favorite mocktail (pomegranate juice, red rasberry zinger tea, tangerine juice), I wonder what's next for me.

I'm excited about an e-course I just signed up for. Sixty infertile women coming together online to soul search, meditate and find our way. Infertility feels like a journey through a thick forest, and when you can't see where you're going, it's helpful to at least be going there with others for some of the way. At times I glimpse the sun, or see a glimmer of path. Sometimes its dark in the trees, until the landscape alternates with the big open sky.

When you're in the trees as I am and can't see what's next, you just take a few steps forward at a time to clear your way for the next steps forward, just one foot, one wish, one success, in front of the other.

Here's to finding our way -- all of us.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

pregnancy and sequins


That's the label on the box in the closet: pregnancy and sequins. That cute white summer maternity dress with the big black dots (very '50s), the capris with the comfort band, the black bella band for that not-quite-that-pregnant time. These lie on top of the black dress with silver and white sparkly sequins, long and lovely; the bustier; the 1960's mini dress, strapless with a line of mink on the straight neckline (that fur has been dead for years, that's my justification!) And these all on top of the box of sarongs and beach towels, which are not used nearly enough.

My closet hangers reveal my everyday priorities: business jackets, coats, sweaters, dress pants, jeans, a few summer skirts. I'm thinking I'd like to switch, putting these things in the boxes and instead hang the tropical batik sarong next to that great mink-topped dress and then the sexy bustier? Isn't that what life SHOULD be about? Today I returned the only maternity clothing I bought -- the cute pencil skirt from "A Pea in the Pod". It didn't even have time to make it into the pregnancy box.

Tonight, I watch the Canadian ice dancer, full of grace, who lost her mom a day or so ago. Amazingly present and visibly emotional, she brought the crowd to their feet. I'm proud of her. They show clips of the American skater on the ice at age 3, all cute and curly. I sit here, grateful for mothers and daughters. Grateful for my dad who taught me how to skate. And I have to admit something: (it's goofy, I'll warn you). As a girl, I didn't fantasize about having kids, nor marriage. But recently, I thought that maybe not only would I actually HAVE a baby, but that baby would be a girl, and she would dream of being an Olympic athlete. Hmm, maybe that's where the sequins come in?!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

shot

I got 2 shots of methotrexate in my bum. Also used for cancer treatment, the drug kills rapidly dividing cells, like the ones that are left over in my body from baby-making. It's almost evil to have to put something in your body to kill the thing you were trying to grow. The good part is I felt taken care of. The docs/nurses are doing their best to care for me first, lest this become an emergency situation with an ectopic pregnancy that bursts.

Now, I will rendezvous with my writing gal friends and drink a lot.
CORRECTION: no drinking. no sex. no orgasms, again. Doctors orders. Ouch.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

wind and ectopic pregnancy


Nem tutsz piselni a szelbe


That's Hungarian for "you can't pee into the wind".

This was advice (?) from my 100-yr old aunt, who still lives in Manhattan, still drinks champagne, and likes to tell things like they are (or at least how she sees them). I agree with her about the peeing, but not sure yet about her advice in relationship to our infertility journey. She's advocating for closing the door, moving on, living our lives. She questions how much more my spirit can take, never mind my body. I'm not ready for that conversation yet, but certainly in the next few weeks we'll be looking at our options... adoption, trying again, surrogacy, none of the above.

And for today's update: my pregnancy numbers went up. I know, I know -- you thought I wasn't pregnant! Well I'm not, it's not viable, but apparently the cells that wanted to be the embryo are still in there somewhere making more cells. And pregnancy hormones. We'll see what shows up in the next blood test, but it's possible it's an ectopic pregnancy. As Rosanne Rosanna Danna said, "there's always somethin'... if it's not one thing, it's another...". More wise advice.

Friday, February 12, 2010

wisdom

OK, so I apparently looked like shit on Thursday. My boss sent me home, I guess he could tell I was trying not to throw up. Hmm, think the stress is getting to me.

"You only have one life," he said. "Go home and enjoy it."

So I had to ask myself, have I done that today? If life is a see-saw, and right now I'm on the down side, to get life back in balance, I need to keep piling good stuff on the high side, to bring myself up. And since I couldn't come up with anything on the "enjoy life" front, clearly this is something I need to work on now. So today I went to Kabuki Springs with Marci. A few hours of soaking, of steam, of cucumber slices on my eyes, of salt scrubbing and more soaking and moisturizing and exfoliating and I got into the groove. It was great. I am zenwoman now. At least until I have to talk about interest rates and mortgages again.

That "enjoy life" saying seems so simple, and like such a platitude. But.... what have you done today to enjoy your one life?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Paprika and fights

When I'm depressed, I braise. You'd think with my Hungarian heritage it would be the usual -- goulash, chicken paprikash. But I go for the Spanish Style Braised Chicken. Still, it has the ingredient that does connect me to my past: paprika. Rich, smoky and red, it feeds me.

My world feels like the twilight zone, and I feel uncertain of each next step. Like the recent weather -- ever changing from sunshowers and repeated rainbows to flat gray cold to pouring -- my world my moods and my hormones face new territory every morning.

Today, the new house is in question because of a ridiculous, insane, tiny financial glitch that threatens our credit rating and the entire deal.

Doors open, Doors close.

I just wanted to walk through the open door. Time to (wo)man up.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Unending Love


Since yesterday, I've been thinking a lot about how much love Audrey Hepburn brought into the world, and how she viewed her role as a mother. This poem was read by one of her leading men, Gregory Peck, at her service. It was her favorite poem.

Unending Love
I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times...
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it's age old pain,
It's ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time.
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers,
Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting,
the distressful tears of farewell,
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man's days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours -
And the songs of every poet past and forever.

~Rabindranath Tagor

Thursday, February 4, 2010

the floodgates are open

I get a phone call from a nurse at the clinic, saying how sorry she is; I cry. I feel my sore breasts and larger belly press against the yoga mat, and I cry. The package arrives with prescriptions I no longer need, and I cry. A message on my work cell phone is a PHOTO OF A BABY from some unknown sender -- a misdialed call (what are the chances???). So I declutter, and run across photos of a previous pregnancy that miscarried at 14 weeks. I switch to the TV, and watch season 5 of 'Weeds',and see Nancy Botwin in the early stages of her pregnancy with her Mexican druglord mayor boyfriend. I cry. Then I watch a beautiful biography about doe-eyed Audrey Hepburn, who suffered two miscarriages and one stillbirth before having children. She revelled in motherhood, and later became an advocate for children world-wide. “I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it,” she said.

The flood of tears is stopping. I hope I'm not scaring you with the sadness. Please know, anyone out there, that I appreciate your taking time to read this, and to listen. So many women are going through this journey, and more are finally talking about it. If you know someone dealing with fertility problems, give her extra dollops and scoops of love. Support her and give her the space to talk with you. Anyone who starts cycles of IVF knows it's a roller coaster -- and hopefully well worth it -- but you must be ready for any outcome. Sometimes it's a relatively easy and quick ride, but sometimes it's a long, arduous process. I can say that my husband and I -- though heartbroken -- remain unwavering in our love for each other. Not sure what will crack open from all of this, but I trust that no matter what happens, I will do what I'm supposed to do, and contribute to the world in the best way I can.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

breathing, continued.



This is what it looks like behind the house we are hopefully buying. It's the spaciousness I crave. It's time to just breathe.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Something about my uterus.

What a day. It feels like years have passed since last night. Dr. H attributes the pregnancy loss to implantation failure. The embryo was growing, but couldn't quite get a foothold. Why? Don’t know. An undefined something in my uterus may be to blame. Decisions need to be made sometime, but for today, I just let in and accept today's reality. I want to throw my computer out the window, I want to scream and yell, and I want to stare, with inner blindness, at the TV. I want to clean the house and throw shit out. Out with the old. Out with the trials and tribulations, out with the dashed hopes, out with the wishing, the endless endless wishing. In with peace, sweetness, oak trees and sun, Thai coconut soup, a new start, a gentle rub on the head from my loving imperfect great husband. Now don’t get me wrong, as stubborn and tenacious we are, I’m sure we’ll try again. But today our job is to just love each other and get through it as best and balanced as we can.

When I left San Francisco today, I got lost. It’s a drive I’ve done a million times. It is, indeed, a struggle to find my way now. No guideposts or directions or books. I crave openess and lightness; it’s too dark. I need a clearing to find my way.

Understand I did my best. I want that baby-to-be to know I did EVERYTHING I could to keep her warm and safe. They are like little ghosts, each embryo living inside me for too short a time. They find a home for a bit, but don't/can't stay long enough. No heartbeats for this one, no breath of fresh air through her lungs in 7 months.

It seems easy, doesn’t it, to just breathe in an out, right now. But this little being just can’t quite get to that point. I find it very sad. I know this will work out the way it should, with the pieces of our lives falling into place. But for today, I need to just say: it’s sad. Very sad.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Results

I’m not really in the mood to write but I need to get this out there. The blood test results were not good. Went from 11,000 to 1,700. My cramping and bleeding 5 days ago were signs of bad news. I wasn’t the lucky one. Again. I’m in disbelief, I’m angry, I’m numb. And the offer we wrote on a house on sunday was accepted; we got the call 30 minutes after we listed to the nurse’s message.

I have no idea what I’m doing. How do you buy a house when you don’t know if it’s for a family of two, for three, for four? (They thought originally since my numbers were so strong that I was potentially having twins). We couldn't be too excited about the house because of the news we just had.... I can't tell how I feel about the house, about a lot of things.

I don’t know what to do.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

the secret


I wear this locket everyday. When Marci gave it to me, she thought I didn’t like it. I’ve never worn a locket before. It’s interesting how people respond to it. This week, at least four women have commented, asking, “so what’s inside?” “Oh nothing,” I say. “Is it a photo of Bob?" they ask. "Is it a photo of... (name anything... a favorite pet, a photo of yourself as a child, a favorite XYZ?" One person came close to reaching over and opening it while my hands and mouth were occupied with creamy, dreamy, tiramisu. Now my answer is: it’s a secret.

The locket of course holds our dearest wish. It holds a photograph of one of two embryos implanted on January 4. Like a sacred talisman, the locket hangs between my (growing) breasts, close to my heart. It reminds me to keep myself open to whatever the future holds; child or no child. It reminds me that it will all be alright. And it reminds me, constantly, of the possibility inside.

The doctor moved my ultrasound up from week 7-1/2 to week 6-1/2. I'll have a blood test tomorrow to check the numbers followed by an ultrasound Wednesday -- which is when we’ll know if all is well. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

luck, bloody luck.


It’s two shot night tonight. 1 estrogen, 1 progesterone, to support the pregnancy. Bob gives me a shot every day. But today, first he buys me chamomile tea and rubs my belly. Today I’m worried again; my confidence was short-lived.

After work I went to my favorite bookstores to sell a bag of a dozen books (we’re starting to clean out the shelves a bit). After the traipsing, I began to bleed again -- just in front of our home, just like Saturday. Bad cramps, more bleeding, cold body, nervous spirit. This is so challenging. So scary. Because we don’t know. It could be fine, it could mean another miscarriage. “Common but always worrisome,” is what the doctor said earlier this week about the first round of spotting. But now it’s definately worse. I try not to cry. I try to have faith. I will get up in the morning and go to work like everything’s fine. I look at the 4-leaf clover my dearest friend found for me, my golden good luck charm. I feel her love, and I feel the love of the friends around me who we’ve shared this early news with. Please, please let it be alright. Please, a normal pregnancy. Just this once. We’ve paid our dues, we’ve paid our money, we’ve opened our hearts, we’ve hoped, we’ve let go, we’ve hoped again. Hope, luck, faith, love. And science. But perhaps this is about destiny...

Monday, January 25, 2010

what more could you ask for?

Today I am grateful; full of joy, looking forward to raising a child, sharing in a family, and looking forward to launching a child on their own journey. But the journey to pregnancy was long, really long; frustrating, humbling, expensive and filled with doubt.

If you choose to keep up with our blog remember, the odds were not in our favor. We are the random success story. We had the means and the opportunity and our story is a good story and we hope it has a happy ending, but don't be misled, we lucked out. So today I am grateful; for my wife, my embryo, and the help and support of doctors, friends and family. That's all I need today.

Intuition


It’s strong. It’s often right on. It’s the thing I rely on ... but yet often dismiss. A few incidents where I failed to follow my intuition had me driving into Reno, Nevada not Lake Tahoe, California, when I missed the right turnoff (after ignoring the nagging voice that told me to turn on the navigation system). Just as I eased off the gas pedal (after ignoring the idea of slowing and using cruise control) I was greeted with flashing lights and a very expensive speeding ticket.

After these and more lessons about following my intuition I renewed my commitment to listen harder to that voice. The day of the pregnancy test last week, I felt calm and grounded, and prepared for any outcome. But when she put the needle in, I suddenly started sobbing. I knew I was not pregnant. The young woman drawing my blood looked into my eyes, and unwaveringly said, “You’re pregnant, I just know it.” Well, that wasn’t exactly a professional answer since it would be 6 more hours until the test results would come in. She then told me a story about her aunt and uncle who were trying to conceive for something like 18 years, and yes, they did conceive, exactly when they moved on, and bought themselves the house of their dreams. I asked her what the moral of the story was. She said “Spend a lot of money today.”

Though I didn't buy a house or a new car, my test numbers came in: the goal was over 50. My number: 150. Blood test number 2? The goal was 300. My number: 600. I was officially pregnant.

Saturday, after a week of rain, I walked slowly for an hour an a half. I drank in the pink and blue light dancing on the estuary, listened to the terns and watched the egrets. It was stunningly beautiful. Then I started bleeding. I cramped, and I was cold; so cold I sat under a blanket with 2 sweaters and the heat turned up, but it took me 3 hours to warm up.

It’s hard to stay focused in the present, when I've tried for so many years, and pregnancy feels like the thinnest thread connecting me to another young life. I have nightmares about miscarriage, and count the days to when I’’ll get past the longest I’ve been pregnant before (14 weeks). I thought I could be miscarrying and asked for another blood test. WRONG. again. I was blissfully, absolutely wrong. Today’s number? 11,000. That’s strong. That’s very pregnant.

It makes me wonder: Can intuition be that wrong? Did mine just get confused by fear? Has your intuition ever been wrong?

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Is anybody in there?


There are a few rules after an embryo transfer: Basically: take it easy, no alcohol or caffeine, no lifting, and no sex. Specifically, no orgasms. At all. It’s like someone telling you DON'T LOOK AT THE GIANT PINK ELEPHANT. How can you not look?? So, only a mere 8 hours after the transfer, in the middle of the night, I can’t resist it. The orgasm comes in my dream, and I wake myself up as it’s happening. “no NO! Dr. H said no contractions yet, it’s too soon!!!”

Apparently, embryo transfers make me feel sexy or something, because the next night I dream about B’s penis. In it, we’re in an auditorium, watching a show, red velvet seats and all. He says he wants to move up to see if he can get a better seat. Sure, I say. I’ll wait here. Just leave your penis with me. And he does. All of me is clothed, except the penis. It’s rather dark, but nonetheless, I cover his/my penis with my hand... and it’s on with the show.

You would think I’d be having dreams about children, about babies, about holding them in your lap, about how they know the tamber of your voice, the touch of your skin, the sound of your voice. I dream all this in the daytime. In between meditations and work and feeling not bad. Feeling not nauseous, not big-bellied, not pregnent. “It’s fine,” the nurse says. “Most women don't even know they are pregnant yet at this stage!” I say yes, you’re so right. And then I go online to order the cute maternity pencil skirt with the orange and rust colored pattern. Now I feel better.

Friday, January 22, 2010

NEWS.

It’s been a week filled with a new down comforter which came just in time for the kick-ass cold, wet storms; three full end-to-end rainbows arching right over my head, followed by sunshine; and most importantly this announcement:

IT'S OFFICIALLY WEEK 5.

Week five of a brand-spankin’ new pregnancy. I swear my belly, which can no longer fit into jeans and skirts, looks like a 15 week belly. I can’t tell anyone at work yet, and certainly not my mother who's idea of keeping a secret is... well, actually, she has no clue how to keep a secret. Only a couple of my dearest friends know, but you, YOU I can tell. It’s like talking your heart out to the person next to you in the airplane, who you suddenly and surprisingly connect with. The anonymity gives me full permission to say it all. So let’s begin.

This pregnancy has been in the works for (dare I say it out loud) EIGHT YEARS. Ouch. My husband and I have dreamed, we’ve hoped, we’ve shot me up with hormones, we’ve wondered if we were SURE we were doing the right thing, we’ve seen my ankles showcased in those stirrups ten thousand times. As for me, I”ve done the things women due to maximize their chances by bringing mind/body to a happy, healthy place. I’ve lost 10 pounds, I got stronger and fitter, I’ve meditated, I’ve upped my protein intake. I eat warm foods, don’t drink coffee, I routinely get pricked by my darling acupuncturist, and each day I take yet another prenatal vitamin. I’ve made it through 2 surgeries, 3 intrauterine inseminations, 4 in-vitro attempts using a donor’s eggs, 1 miscarriage after 1 pregnancy, 1 biochemical pregnancy, and now three tries of IVF with our dearly adopted embryos.

For what? So someone else’s baby can grow in my belly. (It's a funny concept, now, suddenly). I"ll explain the logistics later -- but for now, understanding that this may be the only glorious time I’m pregnant, my husband (B) and I (Andrea) decided in the excitement of the news of this positive pregnancy test, that we want to chronicle and share this crazy wonderful experience. So here goes!