Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Creating, the Gift

She told me I used to drag my doll around the house, gripping her by the hair, her legs dragging on the floor. Was I going to turn out to not be the nurturing kind?

But now, mom has watched me go through these years of infertility, and sees me face the likely reality of living child-free. (see, I can’t even say NEVER, yet).

And she told her friend this: “I wish I could carry her baby for her.”


Not to mention she knows her girl parts couldn’t possibly support that, but to hear her want to give a gift like that to me moved me. A wonderful friend offered as well – but estrogen is bad, bad, bad for a breast cancer survivor.

Even though this is not on my mind as often these days, it forms a bit of an undercurrent that will always be there, sort of like how it is when someone dies. You don’t ever forget them, and you think of them tenderly, but they will never be part of your life.

The other night my husband cried in his sleep. In the dream, someone at work casually asked the question, “So, do you have kids?”

The flood of emotions comes through at unexpected times.

Sorry for not blogging reliably! I’m deciding what to do with this blog, since my focus is shifting. What’s happening now? Photography – and I am happy to say I sold 2 framed prints this month! My goal is to have a website up by next spring to sell my work. That is BIG for me.

And a tip for you: check out Mumm’s at the bottom of Napa Valley. Yum. A girl day, drinking champagne in the sun and ooh-ing at their fantastic photography gallery. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guns or Dumplings.

It started innocently enough – I invited M over to be assistant chef for an evening of Hungarian dumpling-making. Specifically, plum dumplings, which require Italian sugar prune plums. It’s quite a process, that results in the kitchen, and me, being completely covered in white flour. I’m sure other people are much better at this than me. But it's a tradition. The first time I did it, I had my phone cradled in my neck, listening to my mom instruct me. I rolled out the potato dough, and then she said "ok, now turn it over." Let's just say - that was easier said then done, as the dough was pretty much glued to the countertop.

I had high hopes for successful dumplings tonight, but it turned out a gunman near the San Rafael Bridge caused a big ruckus, and the bridge is shut-down, so there will be no dumpling making tonight.

On another note, I’m noticing bellies lately. Pregnant ones. And noticing moms. My hairdresser’s daughter, who coincidentally shares my name, invited me to come to her dance performance last week. It was a BIG deal, as she went to Alvin Ailey Dance camp, and got to dance with the pros and put on a show at a big, grown-up stage – where Alvin Ailey usually performs. They had top-notch choreography and costuming and it was simply fantastic. And she was a star. Out in front, proudly doing her thing, and doing it REALLY well. Her mom could hardly stay in her skin. “Look at her. LOOK at her. Can you believe it? She is BEAUTIFUL.” At the end, the starlet came out, and was presented with roses and hugs and squeals and adoration and support from about 25 women. Twenty-five strong, gorgeous, creative role models. Including her mom. We were all like surrogate moms, all so excited for her.

When I walked back to my car, I was elated.

When I walked back to my car, I cried.

Just realizing, really, that I won’t have that. I won’t have a mom’s pride at her daughter’s success.

So now I’m committed to being part of other kids lives in a deeper way. Having lunch with “the girl next door” on Friday. She is now 18 years old, in college at the Chicago Art Institute, and a budding photographer and artist. I can’t wait to see her.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Turn me off.

Specifically, I mean turn off the thoughts. They aren’t bad, necessarily, but they are  -- well – in my way.

When I was trying to get pregnant, and was pregnant, I did a lot of things that were good for me. I ate really well, of course didn’t drink, meditated, did yoga. Now, after years of saying I’d take an actual meditation class, I really did.

This is how it works: we sit for a while. During the sitting, I gently ask those pesky thoughts to leave. Then the new ones come. I ask them, too, to leave. I repeat this many, many times. I wonder how much time is left. I wonder about my to-do list. I ask these thoughts to leave (again). Then, once my legs are good and numb, it’s time for a walking meditation. Initially, I mistake this for a race, and get up and too fast and move too fast. So I focus on each step. I try not to look around, at these 50 people walking silently in rows, slow motion, heel-toe, heel-toe through a maze of yoga mats, blankets, wooden back rests and notebooks. This may  look  silly to someone looking at us from the sky. Or even from the next room.

Then the teaching. I’ve always wanted to learn more about Buddhism. I am what they call a recovering Catholic. I think deep down I’m really Jewish, but the part about them not believing in Jesus kind of throws me. Truth is, I really don’t know what I think.

When I get home, B asks how “class” was. “Great,” I say. “What did you learn?” “Well, I learned that sentient beings who have not been transformed have ignorant, defiled minds.” He takes this quite personally, and we get into an argument.

Perhaps it takes more than one night to have this meditation stuff and the studies sink in. Tonight I will try again, to sit, and let in who I am; to discover more about who and what I, and all us humans, are about.

FYI, I’m all the way off my background hormones. I’ve been taking them for years, and since they are about 2x the level of hormone replacement therapy, I thought it was time to wean myself off. It’s funny, as if my body was just holding out just in case we wanted to continue to try. As soon as we made the choice to stop, my cycles begin to change, and now they may be disappearing. It’s a strange feeling.

Photo: 'Dandelion' -- taken this week, on the trail by the house. Theme: Looking for Light. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

at the river

Thinking I’d rather be sitting
Legs splayed
In a cool a river
In the hot sun
Watching my man
Into the water
18 again
Maybe next time
His wife
Will have the tiny bikini
And the gold earrings
And the flat belly
Of her 18 yr old self
As she watches him, wanting him to jump, but
Not wanting him to jump
Then kissing his cool skin
Before we get
back to the car.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

It’s getting bright in here

My chiropractor, bless his heart, wants to support my photography – so he asked for prints for his new office, saying he wants to display them and sell them and tell his clients how wonderful I am.

I brought over 2 boxes of framed prints, about a dozen images. Seeing them altogether like that was eye-opening. The oldest one (about 4 years old) “Dancers at the Guelaguetza” was bold and bright and full of action. The ones a few years ago were dark. Beautiful, yes, but many taken at night, many showing the strange beauty of isolation:  light on a lone tree, no people. I’ll say the word I’m thinking: barren.

Recent images are dreamy, like the people and plants and picnic benches are waking up. There’s color, but it’s subdued. Gentle, soft, easy on the eyes, intriguing, the ballet dancers think about their next move, or maybe what they’ll have for lunch. The picnic bench awaits for someone to take a seat, though a storm awaits. The trees are glorious in their muted greens and browns, bits of eye-popping yellow and orange emerging, but you can feel the stillness.

I think the brightness and color are almost ready to come out again. Call me madcap, but I see a parallel between my photos and my inner self. I see the optimism of infertility treatments, and I see the dashed hopes, and now I see myself opening the curtains, breathing life into my world. Getting braver.

I’m really in love with my husband now, perhaps it’s because I know it’s gonna be just him and me. I hold onto him tighter, I stay in bed longer, I laugh with him harder, I forgive him faster.

I’m taking this class again: Slice of Life Project – hopefully this time will be disciplined and have the time to throw myself into it!

P.S. Our trip to Utah was SO amazing, I’ll post some pics.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Three things. Ok, really it’s just one. BRAVERY.

I just signed the form, the one about “disposition of the embryos.” I actually had to sign it twice, this time because the first one was stolen out of my husband’s car. I thought it would/should feel earth-shaking to release them for the benefit of science, but as I muttered something about “the end of an era” the notary coolly asked for my thumbprint, and said “staple this to that.”  

Here’s what's up for me.  I want to
  1. tell my husband how he has enriched my life.
  2. stand up for my integrity and my opinions at work. I’ve been a weenie.
  3. have ‘check-ins’ with my husband to open up any issues before they get out of hand.
 It’s about bravery, and about being real. Being authentic. Is it ever hard for you? It takes a lot of fearlessness to live through infertility. Now, it’s as if all my strength has gone to infertility, and I’m more fearful in other areas of my life. Afraid to lead, afraid of being wrong, or looking stupid or silly. Am I just too tired to deal with fighting any more battles? Can't handle one more bruise? Perhaps its the string of failures that makes it harder for me to believe in myself.

The one area I feel more confident right now is the one that used to really scare me: putting my photographs out in the world. I have 3 pieces up at a show this week, and had 2 shows in April, and now my chiropractor wants to use my prints to decorate his office (and support my photography). I feel movement here – something stirring, and it’s not a baby. It’s me, living my life.

Friday, May 27, 2011

the locket

I wore the locket again this week, the one I wore when I was going through infertility. I would keep photos of the embryos in it while I was going through a cycle. This time, the locket is empty. In a good way. It's cleaned out, ready, but not anxious; just open and willing, for whatever is next.

Our vacation seems to be on the same track as the locket: empty, open spaces of Utah -- lots of hiking, biking, driving, photographing, and just being together. I can hardly wait. Except I haven't packed yet and we're leaving in the morning! Hoping there's a bit of sun and warmth up there. (what? SNOW??)

I wish you all a lovely holiday weekend, filled with love and fun.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Decluttering a Life

We were in the garage, my friend and I, thinking it really was not to lofty a goal to drive an actual car into my actual garage.

“I thought you didn’t have a dog,” she said, as she pulled out a large clear bag (the zipped kind that once held a blanket) from the row of boxes and boxes on the garage shelves. “That’s my dead dog bag,” I replied. When you look at it objectively, perhaps it is a bit nutso to have stuff from your dog (and cat) so long after they are gone. I looked at the contents: nylabone, collar, dog dish, kitty dish, cat collar, dog bed cover, the last chewed Frisbee, the last chewed tennis ball.

Then I saw the small manilla envelope. Labelled 1/95, it had 3 bulleted items listed on the front:

  • A bit of Tux’s fur
  • Tissues with my tears
  • (I forget the 3rd thing because I was too busy crying after reading the 2nd  thing)

Why the holding?

Why can’t I see it the way the Buddhists do – life as a river, constantly changing and evolving? It’s like I want to stop the river because it was fun there, and sunny, and just a plain old nice spot. But it runs through my fingers anyway, and really even a dusty bag of stuff doesn’t really resurrect those times. And here’s the thing. This bag held DEAD dog stuff. It’s a memory of his death, not his life.

What’s on the other side of the dead dog bag? Well, the baby rug, of course. And up above, on the other shelf? The box labeled “pregnancy and sequins.” The few pregnancy clothes I didn’t give away, plus some fancy clothes I never wear.

The rug goes on craiglist today.

And I think the decision’s been made.

I just needed to hear him say it. And it didn’t come after an hour long conversation, colored by red wine or deep discussions. It came much more humbly, on a cloudy Saturday, as he got out of the shower, and I was still in, as we talked about to-do lists and doctor appointments.

My ob/gyn wants me off the hormones. I’ve been on them a long time, in a holding pattern, keeping my uterus at the ready should we choose to jump on the bandwagon again and use those last 2 embryos.

“It’s reality,” he said. “Just like today is Saturday the 14th. This just wasn’t our path. We wanted it to be different, but we can’t change that.”

I felt relieved, I think.
But now I’m kind of sad. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

It's been a while!

It’s true. I’ve been avoiding you. My head in the sand, my heart covered up, busy with work, busy with photography, busy with home improvements and the daily stuff of sorting whites from colors, hiring a tree guy, making chimichurri sauce to go with the steak, taking a walk at the reservoir to eye the white pelicans (the feathers on top so cutely tossled by the breeze), eating falafel, getting a pedicure, painting a bedroom. Brown.

So really, I’ve been avoiding the embryo question. Very well, I might add. It’s strange, you know, to not be waiting for something. The world of infertiles is filled with waiting … for the next test, the next shot, for the doctors opinion about the lining, for the embryos to become blastocysts, for the pregnancy test, then the wondering....Will it last? Will they survive? Am I doing everything I possibly can to nurture these little morsels of life?

I did everything, at least everything in my power.

Recently I thought about what advice I might give other infertiles. It lead to what advice I may want to give myself.

Corey Whelan, in an article about infertility, reminded me of a very important thing (I’m paraphrasing)…“Ask yourself this: how much time do you want to spend in the doctors office, versus time on the playground with your kids?”

For 10 years now, I’ve been caught up in the process. Hard to imagine I could have a 10-yr old daughter by now. But I don’t. Here’s the thing: I’m smart, I’m dedicated, but I may not be lighting fast about things. Why? I’m a believer. I believe things will work out, if I give it enough effort, if I give it enough time, if I do the right things.

But the end result is that I often stay too long.

One thing I can say about my life: for all the big things/questions, things that scare me and perhaps excite me  – I always feel grateful to have done them. And I only wish I would have done them sooner.

Today, if I was to give advice to me, it might be this: Honey, you have tried, so hard and for so long. You are tired. It’s OK. Really, it is. It’s ok to grieve about this. It’s ok to talk about it, or not. There’s no reason why this didn’t work, and sometimes we just never know. But what you do know is that the next phase of your life cannot and will not begin until you let go. I know it’s hard to dive off that cliff, but you’ve jumped off cliffs before with great success. Don’t be afraid. The people you love will be there to catch you.

And here it comes, the voice. “But what if you gave it one more try? What if?"

What's next????

Thursday, February 17, 2011

a message

Why? She asked me.
The words that came out of us (over a champagne lunch) were: love, awesome mom, obsessed, let go, sorry, and yes - another glass of wine, please.

My best friend was trying so hard to understand my choices and my drive to have a baby, to have a family. Maybe to people outside of the IF circle it does seem a bit crazy and obsessed. It still stung a little to hear the word. Obsessed. Really? Me? The person who didn't even know she wanted a family until too late?

When you choose what you want to create, must you answer "why?" Can it simply be something you know, like you know you like chocolate, or you know you like the beach better than the mountain. I can't say I dreamt of it all my life, nor that I always knew it would happen. For me, the child question was either a bit of a blank space or at times, a no. Until the day I closed my eyes, and really asked myself, deep inside, and saw in my mind's eye a little arm reaching out.

I still haven't gone deep with myself to check in, as if I'm afraid of the answer. I don't know that the little arm will still be there. But just maybe it will be something else, something that will point me in the right direction.

I'm sorry ya'll! I still have not let go of motherhood, but also haven't moved forward to make anything happen. Still in limbo. So that's why I haven't written. But I'm back, and writing helps me clear my head. Thanks for allowing me this space to ask, and answer, some important questions.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


When I asked Mom, “what would you like, toast or yogurt for breakfast?” she said, “anything, dear.” When I asked if she’d like to go to the art museum or a walk along the beach? You guessed it. “Whatever you’d like, I’m easy.”  

I learned something about myself. I suck at decision-making too (though perhaps I'm not THAT bad). And it’s hard for me to let go of things. I can’t even let go of magazines easily (my husband once did an intervention, and gathered magazines from around the house, and placed them at my feet on the kitchen floor. Yes, they covered the kitchen floor.) Is it a wonder I can’t seem to let go of the last 2 embryos? It’s all about dreams, what’ if’s.

Yesterday I think I took my last pre-natal vitamin (after 9 years).

Here’s what I’m learning:

-         I’m making this all about THE BIG CHOICE. Not just the one about tossing or using the embryos, but motherhood yes or no, adoption or child-free living. Then the choice gets too scary, and I don’t choose.   
-         I’ve been holding it in, not talking to my man. It’s time to talk. In fact, it’s time to get away for the weekend! We leave Saturday morning for a favorite spot in the wine country.  
-         I recognize there will be opportunities as a result of my choice. Yes, this IS final, and yes, it will be the end of something, but then there are beginnings, other ways to have children, other ways to live life.
-         There’s no right or wrong decision. I just need (we just need) to make a no-regrets choice. If I can let go of the embryos without regret, I will. If not, do we’ll do another cycle, and know we’ve done it all. Then check-in with myself, and make another decision. That’s what keeps it moving forward. Incremental change.
-         Also, the answer to the question “do I want to have kids” changes depending in where I’m at in my life. I’ve been on the infertility train for a long time, and I’m drawn to wanting to be a success. I now grant myself the freedom to take a new look inside, and see what’s changed, what hasn’t, so I can make a decision based on what’s real for me and us today.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Letting go and Digging in, all at the same time.

In the movie “Eat, Pray, Love,” Elizabeth walks away from the center of a party (and her husband) to go watch her best friend change her baby’s diaper. “How did you know you wanted to be a mom,” she asks. The friend pulls out a hope chest from under the bed, filled with adorable baby clothes. Elizabeth doesn’t pine for the baby clothes, and says how her box was filled with issues of National Geographic and dreams of travel.

What do you do if you are a mix of these two people? I know it’s not “either – or”, but yet… I feel continually torn. It’s funny to me that I went as far as I did with infertility – 9 years, 3-4  surgeries, endless rounds of tests and cycles of IUI, IVF with an egg donor, and finally embryo transplants (3 cycles) with donated embryos, and 4 miscarriages.

It’s true, I still have not closed this chapter of my life. I have a counseling session this week, we’ll see if I can come to some conclusion – but my prediction is that I’ll spend 50 minutes inside her office sobbing like a crazy woman.

It’s a new year.

But it feels a bit too much like the old one.

The struggle of infertility actually brought my man and I closer together, in spite of the stress and broken dreams. Now, our marriage is… well….edgy, for lack of a better word. Here are some more words: volatile, loving, fun, stressful, warmly intimate and real, routine, exciting, grounded, healthy, angry.

What’s the good news? I skied moguls this weekend. It was SO great to feel the strength of my body, to be outdoors with him and just PLAY god darn it. We needed it. Being in my body really helps my focus and helps my whole demeanor, and I’m so grateful to have the health and means to do it. Friends built a snow saucer/toboggan track, and the 10 year old girls enabled me to flip upside down, laugh, go fast, fall in the snow and just let go….