Scars Heal.

April 9, 2014 at 4:59 pm | Posted in Moving On., My life, Mythical #2, The End of Trying | 10 Comments

After my last miscarriage, when my grief over our struggle was its strongest, I couldn’t ever imagine feeling okay ever again.

I couldn’t imagine hearing pregnancy announcements without feeling the slice of it along my heart; another cut on top of the many wounds inflicted, over the years, by our infertility.

I couldn’t imagine seeing pictures of pregnant bellies, of newborn babies, of siblings, without feeling the momentary loss of breath; as if someone had kicked me square in the chest.

I couldn’t imagine answering the question, is he your only? without feeling that spasm of guilt and anger and sadness and pain.

I don’t know what happened.

Only that it did.

But a couple of weeks ago, a friend announced her pregnancy on Bacefook, in the most obnoxious-to-a-bitter-infertile way possible – a shirt over her barely-there bump with a cute announcement that there was a baby in there.

And I was really, really excited for her.

Today, my friend D and I were chatting, and she mentioned a friend of hers who’s been trying for a year for her second child (and gone through loss and an ectopic), how a couple days ago, a month before her first RE appointment, got a +HPT and a decent beta number.

And I put out into the universe the thought: please, let it work out for her.

I won’t tell you that everything is hunky dory, because it’s not. My relationship with my body is still incredibly strained, which as a result, has made being intimate with my husband really, really hard.

I still feel a prickle of sadness when I see pictures of older siblings with their baby sisters and brothers. I watch my niece and nephew play together, and wish that we were able to give Lucky that kind of childhood.

But it’s not a source of anguish anymore.

Mostly, I’m happy right now.

I love my family. I love my incessant monologuer, who tells me stories quite literally from the moment he wakes up until he falls asleep. (And oftentimes, he falls asleep in mid story.) I love our dog Happy with his goofball antics and incredibly tolerant nature – even when he’s overwrought:  OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG A PERSON!!! I LOOOOOVE YOU!!!! LOVE ME BAAAAAAAAAACK! I love my never-take-time-for-himself husband, even when he works too much and sleeps too little because he’s focused on being a great dad and husband.

I love that it’s spring, and my running has gotten easier, and I’m really looking forward to the Maine Coast Marathon because a) my family will be there on Mother’s Day, and b) I’m TOTALLY making them take me for lobster and pie afterwards.

(Yes, I might be at the point in marathon training where I am singularly focused on food. In mah belly. When are we eating next?)

But mostly I love that we’re not Stuck anymore, wondering about what the next year of my life will look like. Putting decisions on hold because of potential daycare bills, or nursery plans, or potential pregnancy complications.

We KNOW what our family looks like – right now. And it’s pretty damn good, all things considered.

The Magic of The Internet.

April 1, 2014 at 11:41 am | Posted in And I ran (I ran so far away), Choosing Happiness., Mindful., My life | 6 Comments

I don’t talk a lot about last year’s Boston Marathon, with the exception of the posts I put up last year after it all went down. As you could tell from those posts, I was deeply, deeply affected by it all. Knowing that it EASILY could have been Charlie and Lucky at that finish line, injured, terrified, while I was doing something I love to do? Families of marathoners already make sacrifices – Charlie and Lucky do lots of errands for me in the hours when I’m gone doing my long runs and speedwork sessions.

And so, I hold strongly: I could never forgive myself if something happened to my son or husband because of me.

Not surprisingly, this year’s marathon coverage started early, with in depth reports about the events of the day, the manhunt, the changes to the marathon this year, the profiling of the victims and what they plan on doing this year. And it’s brought up a lot of the same kind of feelings from last year, reminding me of the ever present fact.

I could lose the two people in my life who mean the most to me. Nothing in this life is safe.

I record my workouts on a website called Dailymile. It’s kind of like Facebook, except everyone who is online is an athlete of some kind. Over the years, I’ve connected with a number of other runners and follow their training. I have met a few local people at meet ups: women who have completed Ironman triathlons, ultramarathoners, marathoners, new runners who just got started, cyclists, yogis, etc.

One of those runners, a woman I will call Dallas, signed up to run two stages, totaling 19.5 miles, of the One Run for Boston a couple of weeks ago, before a calf injury flared up. (As an aside, if you’ve never heard of the One Run for Boston: you should check the link out. It’s a relay from California to Boston, as created by two amazing people from England. All funds raised go to the One Fund, which has actually paid real money to the victims of the bombing. It’s just amazing.)

Anyway, Dallas ran a test 5 mile run the Wednesday before her stages and realized she wasn’t sure she’d be able to do the whole thing. So she went on Dailymile asked for people who might be interested in flying to Texas, then roadtripping with she and her sister to Oklahoma to run with her.

The mileage happened to dovetail perfectly with my training – this weekend I had a 20 mile run on the schedule. And interestingly, I was registered for a 20 mile race that Sunday, but was feeling pretty uninspired. Marathon training this winter has been HARD, weather-wise. More wind and cold rain were in the forecast for Sunday’s race.

I felt like a roadtrip to run in sunny Oklahoma would maybe put the spark back in my own marathon training. Another girl (who I will call Oregon) volunteered too.

I had never met either one of them before the weekend, but they seemed like such great people and I was all for the adventure.

So that’s how I found myself on a plane on Friday morning, heading to into Texas. I met up with Oregon at the airport and Dallas picked us up from there. We all drove to Chickasha, OK for the evening, had a good dinner, and settled into our hotel room for the night.

After a quick half mile warmup, our stage started at 6:45 in the morning. It was dark and chilly, but we were running right into the sunrise, and you could feel the promise of sun and warmth. The route we were running – a 9 and 10.5 mile leg which followed SH 152 from Chickasha to Minco, OK – was a series of hills. It’s funny, because I had this idea that Oklahoma would be more like Kansas – pancake flat, with a road that stretched as far as we could see. I was wrong! The part of Oklahoma we ran was NOT AT ALL FLAT. For most of our 19.5 miles, it was one hill after another.

But still, a great run. Along the way we saw red rocks and valleys, lots of cows and windmills, a couple of dogs that tried to herd us into their cow pasture, and lots of drivers who didn’t want to yield. In fact, one woman called the Oklahoma state police because “there were three high school girls running in the middle of 152!” Which gave us a huge laugh – the three of us are most definitely MANY years out of high school.

And we met such great people:  the woman who owned the convenience store at the end of stage 147, who wanted a picture with us, who told us she was proud of us;  a former Marine from St. Louis who was running one of the group stages that night and was too excited to wait. And of course, the founders – the amazing people from England who started this all.

When we finished the second stage, literally moments after telling Oregon and Dallas I barely cried in front of my husband… I lost it. I sobbed. For my running club friend, yes. But for me, too.

It’s too much sometimes, to think about. We went through so much suffering to bring Lucky home, and the idea I could lose him because I’m doing something I love… it’s just too much to process.

I swear, runners are amazing people. Because we ALL exchanged hugs – real hugs, real comfort – and tears. And, too: the amazement that we could play a small part in a this huge undertaking.

And then it was time to drive back to Texas, so I could catch my flight back home. Within 4 hours of finishing this amazing run, I was back on a plane, heading to my family.I don’t really believe in fate, or that all things happen for a reason.

But I also love how the weekend worked out. It was my reminder from the universe: we are all connected… and all drops cause ripples.

In Transition.

March 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Posted in And I ran (I ran so far away), Choosing Happiness., Infertility, Mindful., Moving On., The End of Trying | 5 Comments

Ugh, you guys. I have 5 different posts sitting in my drafts folder right now.  I wish I could just hit “publish” but I hate how wandery and rambling they are.

It’s so hard to collect myself to write about anything of substance lately.

I was thinking about that on the way into my client engagement today.

(It’s funny – as much as I loathe commuting, I do enjoy the quiet time. Lucky is an incessant talker, a monologuer. Often at the end of a long day, or a weekend, he talks so much that my ears ring when he’s asleep. Quiet time is a rarity in my world these days.)

Anyway, so on my way into Boston this morning, I was thinking about how hard it is to publish any of my words right now. I was thinking about how I didn’t want to put them into the computer, how I couldn’t really find a POINT to it all, how there was a lot to say but most of it was ephemeral stuff that didn’t really have much meat to the subject.

It’s because I’m in the middle of… well… transition.

Ending treatments – for real this time – has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for my life.

You see, before now, I was operating my life on the assumption that if I worked really hard, I’d get what I want. It just took perseverance and hard work and dedication. I’ve spent YEARS working hard on things I’m not good at – getting my MBA, then my Masters in Accounting, then working as an auditor and accountant, even though a professor told me I didn’t have the detail orientation to make a good accountant.

Then we were infertile.

And though I recognize that we MIGHT get pregnant and have another baby if we keep going through IVF, the cost of all that Fail is already too high. I’m not sure my marriage or my own self-esteem can handle it.

But the thing is?

Walking away from treatments has made me look at other things in my life differently.

Like marathoning, for example. I don’t need to run marathons to be a legit runner. I don’t need to run marathons to love running. I don’t need to run marathons – I should run marathons only because I want to. And I kind of don’t want to run marathons anymore. After this training cycle, I’m going to take a break from marathons and focus on shorter distance races and trail runs.

It’s like the first time I got glasses. After months of squinting at my friends as they walked down the hall towards me, all of a sudden everything was in sharp relief. I could see each individual leaf on every tree, for goodness sake. And I’m looking at all the facets of my life with this new set of glasses.

What if I don’t turn everything into work?

Yes, that means my hobbies, but it can also apply to my marriage. I have an ugly habit of retreating into anger, believing myself justified in being pissed off at my spouse for something he has or hasn’t done. What happens if I walk away from that anger?

And it applies to my horrid body image, too. What happens if I continue to show my belly in hot yoga? What happens if I accept that I am 5lbs heavier than I was last fall?

So that’s why I haven’t written.

Because I want to tell you how infertility has changed my marriage, my parenting, my body image. I want to tell you about how challenging it’s been in some ways to walk away, and how freeing in so many other ways. I want to share with you how ugly I’ve been with Charlie lately and how we live in this Pattern as a married couple that makes us both miserable. How sometimes I wish I could just run away and start all over again – just moments after being flooded with the intensity of feeling incredibly, humbly, weepingly grateful for my family.

It’s changing, and changeable. It’s not all miserable, but it’s not all happy. And if I write them down in words, they’ll be different tomorrow, and I worry about putting this all on the page and then writing a post which essentially changes everything up.

But it’s where I am right now. In the middle of transition. I don’t really know which end is up. But I’m starting to think that maybe I have a lot more control over my choices and emotional state than I ever thought possible.

Is it possible to CHOOSE happiness? To choose acceptance over anger? To choose to be vulnerable even though it scares the shit out of you and you want to run away and protect yourself?

I don’t know for sure, but I’m starting to think that maybe the answer is yes.

Turning Out My Pockets, Part I – Running.

March 19, 2014 at 4:51 pm | Posted in And I ran (I ran so far away), Mindful., My life | 9 Comments

The thing about not writing that much is that when you DO try and go back and write, it’s full of starts and stops and messy and rust and nails.

I really have so much to say, but it’s all jumbled in my head.

I suppose the cleanest topic I can write about is running.

Last year was our Break Year; after my miscarriage in Fall 2012 I decided I’d focus on losing weight and running a marathon. In hindsight, it was an attempt to take back control over my body. I had this idea that okay, I might not be able to nourish another life, but if my body did something USEFUL – got me a Boston qualifier marathon time while remaining uninjured – then maybe I could make peace with it.

Except that’s not how it turned out.

I had an AMAZING training cycle. There was a 22 mile run I had where I hit my my goal marathon pace for the last 2 miles and finished on SUCH a runner’s high I smile when I think of it today, more than 6 months later. There were speed workouts where I felt like the pace was SLOW, like I could go faster and run harder and I just wanted to laugh with the sheer joy of it. I ran a half marathon comfortably, without a watch, finishing JUST over my personal best time for that distance.

And then race day came, and I held marathon pace for the first half of the race, and then the wheels started to fall off. And I ended up walking far more than I ever wanted, watching precious minutes off my goal time slip off.

The thing with a marathon is that you can’t just go out and run another marathon if you fuck up. You have to recover and start the process all over again.

So I came away from my marathon experience in October with renewed focus. I could qualify for Boston, I knew it. I just needed more marathon experience. Which meant I should run more marathons, OBVIOUSLY.

This winter, my training experience has not been at ALL what last summer was. I’ve had a plethora of runs where I’ve loathed every minute of my run. I’m cold ALL THE EFFING TIME. Granted, it’s been a ridiculously cold winter with little thawing and lots of snow, but still. But even discovering the magic of those throwaway hand warmer things? They’ve only made my runs for the past three weeks tolerable.

Tolerable. More runs than not that feel hard and cold and are without joy. The ones that I like are merely tolerable.

So I cried uncle, and had coffee with my coach last night. I truly expected him to tell me it was marathon training combined with winter training blues, and that I should just suck it up and get through it.

He didn’t say that.

Instead, he told me that marathon training was a huge time suck, and that maybe it was better for me to aim at lower mileage weeks and race shorter distance races. He said, People would be SO much happier if they just went out for a 5 mile run every day. He recommended that I let go of the goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon, at least in the near future, and find the happy in my running again.

Let’s bring the fun Serenity back! he said.

I don’t know why it is that I’ve decided I need to qualify for the Boston Marathon. After what happened last year, even thinking about running it gives me nightmares. Running the race means I’d have to training in winter. And the course is not one of the best marathon courses, either – through the suburbs. Granted, with tons of crowd support.

But still. Suburbs aren’t pretty to run through.

I think, quite honestly, this idea that I need to get better at running marathons comes from this idea that I have to be getting better, showing progress. I can’t just run because I love it – I need to get faster and be better at it with every race. And with marathons, I have this idea that I have to PROVE to myself I am a “real” marathoner by getting better at it. I’m a good runner, so clearly I need to focus on running to my capability, yes?

What that means is I turn it into Work. And making it Work sucks the joy right out of it for me. Instead of running for fun, I’m looking at my watch and worrying about my pace. Instead of finding a comfortable easy pace on the mile long hill in mile 3 of a 5 mile run, I’m pushing myself up and over so I don’t get slower. Instead of feeling strong and capable, I feel sluggish and worn out.

So yeah, I think it’s time to step back and stop this pattern I have of making everything into work.

I will run my marathon on Mother’s Day this year, but I’m not going to do it with any sort of time goal in mind. I want to run the whole thing – the only walk breaks I want to take are at the water stops – and finish feeling happy that I ran the whole thing.

And then, this summer, I’m going to focus on racing shorter distances. Maybe run a half marathon in the fall. Run with lots of my friends. Run without a watch. Run in pretty places where I can swim in the ocean afterwards. Run happy.

Six.

March 18, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Six years ago, he made me a mom.

In some ways, it feels like he’s been with us forever.

But I remember the day he was born as if it were yesterday.

He makes my heart full, even when the whining and negotiating and “Not FAIR!” and the Not-Listening.

Image

 

Making Peace With My Body.

March 8, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Stuff Outta My Head, The End of Trying | 6 Comments

There is is again: The people who have gotten their Golden Tickets feel the exact same way I do.

Do you see? We’re not alone, any of us.

Even though I despair sometimes that we didn’t get to complete our family, it doesn’t mean that people who have completed theirs don’t have the very same thoughts I do.

We are all in this being human thing together, it seems.

______________

For those of you who have been reading me for a long time, it won’t surprise you when I tell you that infertility has done a number on my body image. First it was the fact that we couldn’t get pregnant. Then I got pregnant, and had a ton of stretchmarks. Then I lost weight.

It’s my midsection that has taken the brunt of the self hate over the years – unsurprising, really. When I look in a mirror, all I see are scars: stretched out skin, silver stretchmarks, loose belly… and broken, hateful uterus.

Needless to say, for the past, oh, 9 years, I’ve never shown my belly in public. There was one year I bought a bikini, but then chickened out every time we went to the beach. (Yes, that’s right, I never actually wore the bikini. And then the next season I donated it.)

Since having Lucky, I’ve lost 35lbs. I am in the best shape of my life. I still do not show my belly, no matter how hot the day I run. Just doesn’t happen.

So this winter has been hell on my joints and muscles. I’m cold, quite literally, all the time- it doesn’t matter how many layers I wear. My skin is dry and tight. I feel achy and creaky and stiff and cold and… well, OLD.

I miss warmth. I need HEAT.

Yesterday morning, I finally decided that it was time for me to warm up – and I went to a hot yoga class. I have done bikram yoga on and off now for the past 15 years, and I love it. It’s the same 26 poses in a 90+ degree room for 90 minutes. You sweat SOOOOOO much. It’s awesome.

Interestingly – despite the fact that I am cold ALL THE TIME – I have assimilated to the cold. Because when I first got into the room, it was suffocatingly warm. I started sweating almost immediately. I was dressed in biking shorts, a sports bra, and tank top… and I was worried I was going to overheat.

And as I sat there, I watched woman after woman come in, dressed only in sports bras and tiny shorts. With only a few minutes to spare, I decided, hell with it.

I took my tank top off.

There I was, in only a sports bra and tight spandex shorts. For the first few poses of the standing series, I felt naked. I alternatively wanted to avoid my eyes in the mirror, but could not stop looking at my gut. I had all sorts of awful thoughts: how wide it looked, how my stomach hung over the waistband of my shorts, how pale my skin was, how my thighs – even in marathon training – still rub together.

But then.

The thing about yoga is that you HAVE to be in the present; you have to focus on your muscles and breathing and the poses. And as our teacher led us through the rest of the class, I was sweating hard and felt my muscles and joints opening up and smoothing out. My aches and pains went away.

I was finally WARM.

And I can’t tell you the moment it changed… because I don’t even know what happened.

But. All of a sudden, looking at myself in the mirror didn’t embarrass me. It made me proud; to see where I’ve been. I might not be the most flexible one in the room. I have stretchmarks and extra fat and skin on my belly. I have a uterus that isn’t hospitable enough to give me another child. I have thighs that rub together.

But I also have muscles in places I never knew you could have muscles (with soreness today as proof!). I can run 10 miles comfortably, all at once. My husband and I share a love of cooking and good food. I carry my almost-6 year old upstairs every night because he “wants to snuggle.”  My uterus might not be hospitable enough to carry another baby, but it nutured my Lucky for 37 weeks and 2 days. This body fed that little boy exclusively for 6 months and gave him nourishment until he weaned at 9 months.

And you know something? I have spent too many years hating this body, watching myself in mirrors and critiquing the way an article of clothing fits; how it stretches over my belly and hangs in the butt and how my pants ride up over my calves that are too muscular to be classified as “skinny.”

It feels like I need to break this particular habit I have, of looking in a mirror and hating what I see. It’s LEARNED behavior, you see – years of telling myself I’d be happy if I just lost a few pounds and maybe then my belly wouldn’t be so poochy and I could walk along a beach in a bikini without feeling self-conscious.

Pretty much ever since puberty, I’ve not felt comfortable in this body of mine.

And it’s time to take it back.

So I spent 90 minutes without a shirt in a hot yoga class.

And I’m going to do it again next Friday.

The Golden Ticket.

March 4, 2014 at 2:27 pm | Posted in Moving On. | 13 Comments

So I have a draft saved, an update post – all about how infertility has affected my body image, my parenting, and my marriage. And every time I go back to it, I keep tweaking things here and there… but I can’t seem to press the “publish” button.

Why?

I’m not actually sure I can blame IF for the way I feel about myself, my parenting, or my marriage.

What I know: Right now I seem to be in a place that’s bleak and dreary. Maybe it’s the awful winter, or maybe it’s knowing we’re done with family building, or maybe it’s because I’m coming up on 40 and am realizing that the horizon is NOT wide open for me anymore.

I feel as if I’ve spent my whole life, up until this time, looking for the Golden Ticket, always looking ahead for that next chocolate bar – the bar which might actually hold my ticket to lasting contentment and happiness.

My whole life has looked like that. Wow, I’m in kindergarten – hey, next year I’ll be a first grader! Wow, a fifth grader! A middle schooler! And look how old I am now, I’m in high school. Cannot WAIT until college. Wow, I’m here, in college. What will I major in? Crap, I am graduating college in May. I need a career. Nope, that career isn’t awesome. I’ll go back to graduate school for a practical career. Except, wait, I hate marketing. Another graduate degree – accounting would be recession-proof! I’ll never have to worry about being out of work. Now what? Oh. Pick a partner. Marriage. Let’s start trying for kids. Oh, no kids yet? Okay, fine, let’s look for a house. Found one? Great! Wow, I’m pregnant, finally. He’s two, we should start trying for a sibling… all right, well, that didn’t work out so well, but thank GOODNESS it’s over. Shit. Now what?

I never did find that Golden Ticket. And I feel like I’m standing outside of the Chocolate Factory gate, looking at all the lucky kids who DID get their Golden Ticket – the people that completed their families AND work a career they love AND qualified for the Boston Marathon AND can actually be photographed in a bikini.

At some point, we enter a place in our lives where we run out of milestones yet to meet. My education: complete. My family building efforts: complete. I have a husband, and a son, and a house, and a dog, and a job, and many responsibilities. There are options open to me, of course, but all require sacrifice and energy and time I no longer seem to have.

And all of a sudden, it’s my kid who has the milestones ahead of him: my kindergartener, who is turning 6 in two weeks. It’s his turn to search for his Golden Ticket.

But wait! I want to scream.  I didn’t imagine my life like looking LIKE THIS!

And so it’s easy to get mad, and blame all sorts of things for why this wasn’t the life I wanted. Infertility robbed us of our second child. My body is to blame for why we can’t complete our family. My husband is to blame for why we need to struggle with doctors and IVF in order to get pregnant. My parents are to blame why I ended up in the career I’m in. If my cousin hadn’t committed suicide 20 years ago, I wouldn’t be such a perfectionist who is worried about making sure her friends and family get the support they need all the time, to the detriment of my own life.

Et cetera et cetera.

But the thing is?

*I* made the decisions on the paths I’ve walked. Not infertility, not my parents, not my body, not my husband, or son, or Amy.

And if I was making choices mindlessly, because I was focused on looking for that Golden Ticket?

It’s really no fault but my own.

I acknowledge that “fault” is a bad word here. It implies that I was wrong somehow, that I made bad choices. But I made those with knowledge and experience I had at the time. Which means they were just choices, not wrong or bad.

What I’m struggling with now is how to change my ingrained habits: Focusing too much on the future and forcing choices upon myself because I need to get out of where I am today. I am realizing that it’s a control thing – this idea that I have to DO something when I’m not as happy as I expected to be. I have to change up SOMETHING, I have to structure a new goal for myself to work towards, because THAT’S my Golden Ticket to happiness!

Why wouldn’t we try again, since our doctor recommends another fresh cycle? Why couldn’t we take another break and then do a fresh cycle, maybe in the fall once running season is over? Okay, if we don’t do that, why wouldn’t I focus then on running the best marathon EVER and qualify for Boston so I can prove to myself that my body doesn’t suck? Or maybe I can totally change up my careers, because accounting doesn’t really make me happy even though it’s pretty flexible and I make good money, it’s just not what I wanted. I think I want to [insert a new career here].

These are all goals for the sake of making goals. If I can’t find the Golden Ticket to Happiness, then maybe I can create happiness by looking for multiple mini-tickets. More is better, and I’ll DEFINITELY be happy when I meet all of my goals, right?

Exhausting.

So here’s what I need to be doing, instead of all of this mindless goal-making.

Nothing.

Do nothing, Serenity. Just focus on the path you are walking right now.

Running-wise, I am training for a marathon in the spring. But my goal is ONLY to run the whole thing. I’d LOVE to have a comfortable marathon experience, since my last two marathons had a LOT of walking in them, a factor of injury and then starting way too fast and not being able to sustain.

Family-wise, We are done with family building. No matter how much the idea of trying again – maybe the next one will work! – niggles at me, we’re done. We’ve spent enough time and energy on family building. We’re done.

Career-wise, the more I think on my current work, the more I wonder if I’m selling myself short. I am a good accountant, and I actually really enjoy the work I do as treasurer of my running club. I love doing budgets and discussing options with people. Why COULDN’T I stay in the field in which I work – except go and get my own clients, maybe small businesses that might need some reporting/budgeting/accounting help? It won’t pay as much as the corporate work for sure, but I bet I could make my own hours.

Marriage-wise, I need to rediscover the man I married without the pall of procreation fail hanging over our heads. It’s so hard to carve out the time and energy to do this when you have the incessant, unceasing needs of an almost 6 year old only child competing with your marriage. There are days where all I want to do is enjoy the SILENCE of my house when Lucky is in bed. But that’s shortchanging Charlie and my marriage, and we really need to tend to it right now.

And maybe, just maybe, when I can figure out how to be still, I’ll find that my Golden Ticket has been in my pocket all along, and I never really noticed it before.

What Now?

February 21, 2014 at 4:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

It’s funny. Even when I believe have found a lasting peace in walking away from treatments?

Any reminder of how much time and energy and suffering we spent on treatments brings on a flare of grief and anger with a depth that scares me.

We couldn’t have known how things would turn out, though. I mean, I was able to carry a baby to term. Why wouldn’t we think we could do it again?

Whenever I get mad at how much time we wasted on treatments, I keep reminding myself: We couldn’t have known.

We didn’t know. We thought that all the struggle would be worth it when we brought home our baby.

But the fact is, we did not bring home a baby. We are done.

So what now?

I don’t want to use this space to mourn my lost chances anymore. I need to change the way I think and feel about our infertility.

I used to refer to it as making lemonade. Back when we were trying for Lucky, I had hoped that it would being good karma to our cycles; that if I looked at things in a positive light, it might help it work.

But now?

The fallout from my last miscarriage scared the shit out of me; it took me months to claw out of that dark hole of hopelessness.

Changing the way I view our infertility and the End of Treatments is more than just a way to make lemonade or create good karma now.

It is essential – so we can move on. And heal.

So. What now?

I have always been the kind of person who looks ahead and changes up my life when I feel like I am unhappy. Hate my career? No problem – go back to school for a new one. Can’t have a baby? No problem – go to a new clinic and try a new protocol.

I need to learn how to change my feelings without changing my life.

I am considering learning mediation. I have the idea that creating space in my life for stillness might be a good thing for me.

I am also still working with my therapist. After three years of working together, I trust her to help me get down into the heart of the real issues: 38 years of mental and emotional habits are hard to break.

I know that healing is not linear. I also know that I need to take this a day at a time.

And I do know that we will all be okay in the end.

That is something, for sure.

Last Day.

February 20, 2014 at 10:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

I show up in the usual ultrasound department this morning at 6:30, knowing that the first blood draw starts at 6:45.

At 6:45, I’m directed upstairs to the OB/GYN department – apparent there are too many monitoring patients, and for bloodwork only you are seen on the 3rd floor.

I am the first there. They call my name at 7:00 sharp, and I walk in. There are two phlebotomists in the office, one all business, the other quietly waiting by the chairs.

What test? The business one asks me.

Pregnancy, I respond. I nearly choke on the word in my throat.

The quiet one asks me, How are you today?

I admit: It’s not one of my better days. As I roll up the sleeve on my left arm, I point out the pinhead scar on the vein from so many other draws. Think you can work around this? Or do you want to draw from my other arm?

She confirms she can work from it, there’s another vein in that arm that looks good.

And as she’s putting the needle in, she asks me, so kindly: How many is this?

I pause. I have no idea. I don’t know, I say. I’ve lost count. But we did get lucky once – I have a son who is going to be 6 next month.

She finishes my draw, gives me the pad to hold to the vein, and then tapes me up. And she says something which I can’t remember now. Probably empathetic and sweet and nice, because she was the first person who has taken my blood that has really asked me how I am. And I really have the sense she CARES about my response.

But all I can hear, as I’m putting my sweater and coat back on, is her question.

How many is this?

I really have no idea.

How many cycles, how much hope lost, how many embryos squandered?

How much suffering, how much loss?

The tears come unbidden. I can’t stop them – it’s all I can do to get down the three flights of stairs to the main lobby so I can escape into the winter air. I manage to get to my car before completely breaking down.

We started this second round of treatments almost 4 years ago. Of course we’d get pregnant again; after all, we fixed my uterus with surgery and then got pregnant and had our son at term – 37 weeks. It was resolved – we fixed Ute.

But here I am – however many cycles later. With no baby to show for it.

I know it was a fight worth fighting; it’s our FAMILY, after all. But if I had known that we’d lose the war, I would have stopped a long, long time ago.

Because this time around, it’s affected everything. My marriage, my happiness, my identity, my dreams, my hopes, my fears; the very foundation of who I am and what I believe.

I used to believe that if you worked hard enough, you’d succeed. I used to believe that there were battles worth fighting. I used to believe that infertility might bring me and my husband closer together. I used to believe that infertility helped make my heart bigger; it gave me a huge reservoir of empathy and gratitude for where I did get Lucky. I used to believe that if you put something out into the universe, you’d get it eventually, even if it wasn’t in the form you expected.

Today, though, I don’t know that I believe in any of it. I loathe my body. There’s a chasm between my husband and I that I’m not sure we can ever bridge. I have so little control over anything in this life.

And I sometimes want to smack the little girl inside me who thinks that by wishing on a fucking star, I’ll make my wishes come true.

We worked so hard to make our dreams come true.

So hard, we lost count.

What The Next Chaper Looks Like.

February 18, 2014 at 12:45 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Hi.

I’m not sure if any of you even reads this blog anymore.

What happened last spring: I was heartbroken, tired of writing about heartbreak, and I had a falling out with someone over a post I had written in this space.

I felt like I couldn’t write here anymore, I felt as if I needed space. And time. And distance.

And I had another blog anyway – using my real name. It was about running and parenting and I linked it to Bacefook and thought maybe I’d try my hand at writing as the REAL me.

I’m not sure if it’s surprising to any of you, but I have a really hard time writing there. Mostly because I use my writing as a way to work things/issues/problems out.

And in that space, when I’m writing something, I have this question I can’t shake. Who cares?

Really, who cares?

SO many people post to Bacefook about their plans and hopes and dreams, only to have people “like” and move on. There are so many voices out there, all yelling to be heard.

What then, is the point, of putting my point of view out there?

And over the past year or so, I’ve had people comment here, wondering how things were for me, wondering about our leftover embryos, wondering how me, Charlie, and Lucky were doing.

So last fall I ran another marathon. I had an amazing training cycle, nothing hurt, it was wonderful and amazing. And on race day, I finished with a 45 minute personal best. Our dog, Happy, is growing, and aside from the times he’s a complete butthole, is turning into a wonderful, stinky, goofy, happy dog. Lucky started kindergarten, is learning how to read, and incessantly tells us stories about the amazing things that Bear can do.

And we used up the remaining three embryos we had left in two separate cycles. Both cycles were BFNs.

In fact, I got the last BFN this very morning; at 14dpo, after a night of insomnia where I just kind of KNEW. So this morning I made it official: I photographed the snowy white HPT, and threw away all my meds.

We have reached the very End of Family Building. We are done. There are no more embryos. There will be no more treatments, no what-ifs.

In a lot of respects, the end of treatments is a relief. This last cycle, in particular, was a pain in the ass. It was delayed by nearly two weeks because my uterine lining wasn’t thick enough to meet the clinic’s minimum criteria. And my clinic had a flood, which meant that they weren’t doing transfers and retrievals at New Clinic – instead they leased space at Old Clinic. We ended up back at our old clinic for our last transfer. In fact, we had a bit of a run in with our old doctor, Dr. Hang-In-There, on the day of transfer.

Full fucking circle, indeed.

I’m not surprised it didn’t work. I’m not even heartbroken. There was no more heart to break, no real hope left for us, not really.

And I’ll admit it: I have spent  much of the past number of months feeling alone. I am one of the few bloggers left who was able to have one child through treatments, but not have any others. It’s an in-between kind of hell, honestly – when you have a child, you can’t escape other families, all of whom seem to have multiple children, very easily. You are forced to confront lots of pregnant bellies at daycare, at school, at playdates. There are always questions, Is he your only? or How many kids do you have? 

And there are people in the grocery store who have actually said to Charlie, when seeing how good he is with Lucky, You are a great dad, and you need to have more kids.

Seriously, people? SERIOUSLY?

So to cope, I’ve been searching out people in my real life who have older kids and have announced that they are done with family building so I’m not taken by surprise when they are pregnant again. I have actually sought out people with one child, usually older, and have asked them how they feel about having an only child, in order to suss out whether or not they want to have more. It’s been kind of ridiculous.

But what I’ve discovered over the past few months, too?

The more I talk with women who HAVE completed their families, the more I’m starting to see that I am NOT alone. My grief over the End of Family Building is shared by so many other women – even the ones who have completed their families. I talk with so many women who STILL, even now, look at babies and sigh in longing, remembering what it was like to have a little person so completely helpless and dependent on you.

It’s intimacy on the most pure level, those first few months with your baby.

And it makes sense that all women would feel strongly about letting that go; regardless of whether or not they feel like their family is complete.

The more I’ve talked with women, and discovered they feel similarly to me, the less alone I feel.

The less alone I feel, the more peace I feel about The End of Family Building.

Because instead of seeing it as a choice I was forced into making, I can see it as the natural progress of being female. At one point or another, we ALL come to the point of the End of Family Building, and we are forced to start a new chapter in our lives.

I feel like maybe by focusing on what I DO have – an amazing almost 6 year old, a good man as a husband, a loving dog, a career that affords us financial security and opportunity – that the next chapter will be full enough that I won’t feel as if we are missing something.

So that’s where I am, right now. And though I can’t promise anything, I think I’d like to use this space again for working things out, particularly as it relates to this new chapter. Because I am left with so many questions, after nearly 9 years of trying to complete our family.

Who am I? What will this life – the one I have right now – look like? What do I need to do to find lasting contentment in what I have, and how can I make our life as full as possible?

I hope you all are well.

xoxo

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