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


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


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


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

photo: Stairs, Chiapas, Mexico.