The last day of vacation, the day before we leave our cabin on the lake, is one of the hardest days.
The afternoon is a frenzy of packing and taking the boat out of the water and my MIL and FIL getting completely packed so my MIL can slip away at 6am, before the triathlon starts. She hates goodbyes and endings… and she just wants to be in her own house.
We have spent the day at an amusement park this year – Lucky and my nephew are just tall enough to ride alone, and the two of them want to ride everything there. We get back just before dinner, and Charlie runs off to help my FIL get the boat out of the water.
My MIL comes by to vent. I never should have said things were going really well between us. He’s been snippy with me all day and I’m about ready to smack him.
I soothe her by saying, The last day of vacation is hard.
Later, after the pizza and the packing up of the cabin and the gathering of all the things we’ve dropped all over during the course of the week, Charlie and I are sitting on the couch, sipping wine and listening to the waves lap at the shore through the open windows of the cabin.
It’s just that I look forward to this all year, I tell him. And now have nothing to hold on to: next year’s trip is SO far away.
So we dream about taking another trip, coming here for a long weekend this fall, knowing we are booked up for weekends through September. And anyway, it wouldn’t be the same, just the three of us, in the cooler weather, where we can’t spend the day playing in the water and sitting on inner tubes and Lucky and his cousins can’t roam between four cabins like the flock of ducks that comes by every day.
We’ll wait until next year.
And it’s so far away.
This year, Charlie’s cousin’s boat is still in the water, and Charlie decides to do one last early morning fishing trip, since he’s caught only one fish all week. We are mostly packed, and when my phone wakes me up at 6:30, the pink tinged light in the window tells me it’s going to be another glorious day.
I make coffee, open my journal, and write a bit. But then a voice inside me tells me, Go outside, and I listen.
The lake is as still as glass, the orange and pink glow of the sun reflecting off the water. I breathe in; the air is cool and clear, with a hint of fall. I hear only the hum of crickets, and I’m reminded of the passage from Charlotte’s Web:
The crickets sang in the grasses. They sang the song of summer’s ending, a sad, monotonous song. “Summer is over and gone,” they sang. “Over and gone, over and gone. Summer is dying, dying.”
I should feel sad; vacation’s over, and summer’s nearly over.
But inside me, I feel something else. Quiet. It’s a solid calm that’s centered deep inside; I almost feel like I can touch it in the center of my chest.
The anxiety, my closest companion all summer – is it gone? I take a cautious moment and look for it. It seems to have evaporated, or left for a little while. All I feel is quiet and calm and easy breath, even when my mind starts casting about, looking for the worry. What about the packing? You really should take a shower, Serenity, Lucky will be up soon, and make sure you get him some breakfast and you should text your dogsitter and make sure that Happy gets home okay.
The thoughts buzz around me, swirling in the morning air.
All summer, whenever my mind starts up like this, I’ve had a physical reaction to the worries. A tightening of my chest. A feeling my heart will beat out of my chest.
I can feel is that solid quiet.
I look forward to this all year.
Ah, the irony of writing a post where I say I’ve been writing every day since I started vacation, and I have a goal to write every day… and then not being able to write at all one day.
I did not write anything yesterday but review notes for the person that is helping me test controls. The woman I work for wants me to step up and manage this new person, which is fine, but it also really kind of sucks. I was envisioning a situation where I could do my own work and the other person does hers, end of story. So far from feeling as if I am extracting myself from my current work situation, I feel like I am getting more and more entrenched.
I keep reminding myself that nothing is forever, and really, it takes only a conversation to alert her that I cannot work this project next year.
* * * *
Anyway, so here I am, sitting in my kitchen, stealing time to write while I wait for the babysitter to come so I can work for the day.
Mel had a great post yesterday.
Show up and write.
So here I am.
I have to admit I’ve had a hard time writing in my space because I feel like there are SO many blogs out there, with so many people who have much better things to say that I do. This idea wars with my other idea that there IS space for me in this community, the infertile who made it to the other side but remains one of the few that is working to accept that the family she was given is her complete family.
It’s hard sometimes for me to read other blogs, too. Where are the people like me?
I see all these posts with people who are done with family building, and the general theme is that they feel like their family is complete. I usually see those posts where they see their older child playing with the new baby, or they post a picture where the kids are interacting.
Those posts are written with such warmth and thankfulness and happiness that it used to make me ache with longing.
And here’s where I confess: I would get angry at a lot of those posts. I was jealous and bitter.
Of course it’s easy to feel like your family is complete when you get what you want, I’d think.
I know, I’m awful. I used to hate those feelings.
But for so long, I felt like I was MISSING something. There was a piece missing, a part missing. The baby I didn’t get to have. And though I had the very same thankfulness whenever I looked at Lucky – because, really, how LUCKY we got with him, it’s nothing short of amazing – it never lasted.
I wanted more.
I wanted my baby, the one I lost. The one that made me feel sick and who had a beating heart. I wanted her, the one who didn’t make it.
I wanted my arms and heart and belly to be full again.
I wanted to be able to post on my blog, looking at Lucky and our new baby, how complete I felt.
And I have still have days where I long for that baby, still feel that expansion and contraction of pain in my heart and belly whenever I see an infant; a visceral want that comes from a deep, deep place inside me whenever I snuggle with my nephew, or hold a baby. And it’s still hard for me to see pictures of siblings, because my heart hurts when I realize that Lucky will never know what it’s like to have a brother or a sister.
I think that’s the hardest part for me to accept; that Charlie and I have siblings who are such a big part of our lives, and Lucky will never get to experience that kind of love.
Whenever I tell people, or say out loud, there will never be another baby, I now have this deep, unshakeable sense of peace. I sometimes look at Charlie and Lucky and Happy, and I feel that same warmth and thankfulness and happiness that I see in those Complete Family blog posts.
Our family IS complete. There isn’t anything missing, no piece we need to find and fill into our family. The four of us (and yes, I count the dog, who is quite decidedly NOT the same as having another child… but oh so wonderful a companion.) make a unit that’s distinctly ours.
Acceptance. I haz it.
This acceptance is not at all what I thought it would be.
Over the years of fighting infertility to bring home the family we had dreamed of, I saw acceptance as a mirage, an oasis in the far distance. It was so hard for me to say the words, We may never have any more children.
Even with the “may” in there, it was hard to think about.
Even as I was giving away clothing and baby gear, I never really thought I’d ever look in the mirror and admit that we’d never have another baby in our house.
Even as we walked away from treatments, I had the idea, maybe. Maybe we’ll get lucky again, this time with a surprise pregnancy. Or maybe we’ll adopt. Maybe we’ll change our minds someday and go back to treatments.
I needed that maybe. I needed the hope that our walking away wasn’t final, that we were leaving the door open a crack just in case we changed our minds. I needed to sit with the decision, the hope, the fear, the fail, the bigness of the decision to stop trying. I needed time and distance from the cycle of hope and fear.
I don’t need the maybe anymore.
Our family is complete; we will never have any more children. And yes, it hurts to say that.
But it also feels right to say it, too.
Mel had a post a few weeks ago about her new bullet journal, how she spends time putting her thoughts on post-it notes and has no real organization of those thoughts. She posted a couple of days ago; her little red notebook Charlotte has changed her life.
When I had my lightbulb moment, I realized I needed a good place to brainstorm and write down ideas for going out on my own. So the very day, I went to Staples and picked up my very own bullet journal.
Mine isn’t red, it’s black. And I named her Athena.
I initially set Athena up similar to Charlotte. I don’t need another calendar – all of our stuff is in google AND on a large dry erase 12 month calendar in our mudroom. So for the calendar page, I merely write down a few words about that day; the things that stick out for me. On the opposite page, I have a list of tasks that are more future-oriented; most of them relate to going into business for myself; networking ideas and people I should talk with, as well as a list of bills in the future I need to remember (like my life insurance policy, CPA renewal, camp fees, etc). The third page is a miscellaneous page, where I record blog post ideas or menu ideas or running training ideas or dog training ideas.
And initially, for the fourth page, I tried doing a “May Daily List” which would be a daily list of tasks. But it didn’t really work for me; I already have task lists for work and for home in places that are easy to access. I didn’t really need one place for both; my process works for my life project management.
So I deviated.
* * *
Last week my friend D mentioned to me that she had heard of an app called Happier. And she didn’t know much about it, but it was a place where you could record your happy moments during the course of the day.
And it seemed to me a GREAT idea. Because the longer I see my therapist, the more I start to see just how many times I actually sabotage my own happiness. I will take a moment – maybe even a few hours – where I feel amazing and good and happy… and turn it into something that’s negative.
Like my Mother’s Day marathon. And it was hot, and my strategy of slowing down in the first half didn’t actually turn into a faster back half of the marathon. And I ended up walking more than I would have liked to. In the moment, though, it was okay, and good. My family was there – they held me up in those miles; I got to see them cheer for me SO many times – and I had energy left for the last half mile, where I started running and didn’t stop – even sprinted to the finish.
You guys, I felt SO GOOD that afternoon. I did what I wanted to, and I didn’t care about the time.
But the next day, when I looked at my splits, I started talking myself down. And by the end of the day, I had decided I was, in fact, no good at marathons. And I FELT shitty about the race I had run just the day before.
It’s ridiculous: I am sharing my headspace with this bitter, angry old lady who finds fault with EVERYTHING and demands that I don’t enjoy feeling good.
And so I have this idea that maybe writing my happiness down will diminish her power over me; somehow I feel like putting those moments into words cements them somehow. Makes them more real. And when they’re real, Agnes (my bitter old angry lady) cannot take them away.
So I’ve been recording my happy moments in my Happier app. And honestly, I love it: I love how you can take a picture of something and attach it to your happy moment. I love the moment of “Eureka!” when I realize I feel good and am in the midst of a happy moment. And I love how easy it is to put it into words.
* * *
And this is where Athena comes in.
It’s not really enough for me to have an app that houses all my happy moments. I need them in a place where I can see them all the time, remind myself when Agnes’s criticism is too big and loud for me to ignore.
So after the “May Miscellaneous” page, I added a “May Gratitude” page. And I am writing those moments that are bigger than just a simple recording in an app; the ones I want to repeat – my points of focus in a given month. I want to make those repeatable and big; large enough to turn the volume of Agnes down.
Athena is my Gratitude Journal.
And I am counting on her to help take the power away from Agnes and put my happiness back in my own hands.
[Tap, tap] Is this thing on?
Man, January is a rough time to lose blogging mojo. It’s cold and dark and I’m full of complaints.
Like about the fact that Charlie got me the best birthday present ever this year – an electric blanket – which I can’t actually USE because it makes my poor husband too hot. Even though the heat is only on MY side. I use it at night to warm the sheets up just before bed.
But I find that writing more increases the chance I’ll get my mojo back.
So, uh. Updates.
Ones that aren’t complaints.
(I have them. I’m sure of it.)
Running, right now, is awesome. I’ve worked back up to 25-30 miles a week, and since I’ve lost weight (10lbs now!) my runs are easier and lighter and faster. Which is good, because it’s dang cold out so I can get them over with sooner. 🙂 But man, I feel SO good. I’m not sure I’ve felt this good about running since the summer I was training for the marathon.
And physical Good totally correlates to emotional Good, too. Mostly. Running is my zen: it smooths out my thorny parts. And good running equals zen, especially lately.
Also; having my therapist back has been AWESOME. In combination with the mindfulness and self-kindness meditation stuff, I feel like a veil has been lifted. Holy cow, have I really THIS awful to myself for this many years? What’s the POINT?
I’ve been working to understand the reasons for my anger, which always seems to be prevalent. Huge breakthrough today: I realized that I get angry at Charlie when *I* am feeling insecure. I apparently go on the offensive in order not to get hurt, or something.
Work, shockingly, is actually, uh. GOOD. I’m working on a new client, which is good, and since I am working from home and boss-lady had her son three weeks ago, I have a measure of autonomy and distance. And so the work is better (marginally, of course), the commute is GRAND, and it’s nice to finally feel like I can enjoy my work, a little. I’m sure I’m doing things All Wrong and when boss-lady engages I’ll be told that, but for now I’m enjoying it.
Lucky is equal parts completely adorable and batshit crazy. I can’t believe we’re thinking about kindergarten right now, but we’re thinking about kindergarten. The elementary school in our district has a lottery for full-day kindergarten slots, so we’re trying to think about other alternatives for him should he miss out on full day kindergarten. We’re going to apply to a Montessori school in a neighboring town that we know does standard full day kindergarten, just in case, but we’re not counting on it since they prioritize town residents.
It’s kind of ridiculous that my kid, who has been in full day daycare since he was 6 months old, might only have 3 hours of school a DAY next year. BUT. Trying not to get ahead of myself, though. We register him for the lottery in March and from what I understand, are told at the end of March if he’s got a full day slot or not. That gives us time to research other options.
Also: it’s been fantastic to have Charlie home for the past few weeks, too, for both Lucky and I. The sleep issues we were dealing with back in December have mostly gone away; I think having his Daddy gone made him more needy, and whenever he woke up early in the morning he had to come into our room and bed for comfort. I did find him in our bed this morning when I heard him up, but for the most part, he hasn’t asked to come into our bed or gotten up at some ungodly hour or needed us to walk him back to bed in the cold of the middle of the night because he’s feeling scared.
Not only that, but family dinners again. Awesome.
So really, it’s not all doom and gloom at chez Serenity. Things are starting to look up.
So after I posted that I felt like I was unraveling, I could NOT get the image from my head. All day, I kept hearing the word “unravel.”
Lucky had a string in his sock, you see, on Monday. In the car on the way home. One of those elastic strings which you pull and pull and pull and pull, and you’re left with like 20 feet of elastic and this teeny hole in your sock. And then we got home, and I was met with the letter that essentially reminded me that my uterus sucks.
“Unraveling” was such a good word, and it evoked all these IMAGES in me, and connections, and all of a sudden that night, I had a poem. And I wrote it down. I tweaked some of the language here and there, but the process of getting that poem out was probably a half hour of my time.
Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve written poetry? YEARS. Literally years – my last poem was 6 years ago. Or so.
I used to write all the time, every day. Hell, I carried around a black and white composition book and would stop whatever it was I was doing to write something when an image came to mind. It didn’t matter where I was – one of my best poems (you know, for me, in high school) was done in my trigonometry class my senior year of high school.
Writing has always been my release. I love to create beauty with words.
So yesterday’s comments on my poem – both on this blog and in real life – gave me pause. It surprised me that people reacted to the EMOTION in it, gave me support and reassurance. Charlie merely said, “Wow. This is so sad.”
I wanted to scream, OMG THIS IS SO EXCITING!! I WROTE A POEM!!!
I was that excited.
I don’t know what the process is for real writers, but I find I can’t write about something if I’m in the thick of feeling it. I need some measure of distance in order to shape those feelings into words and images.
So when I wrote that poem that night, I felt… free. Released, somehow.
(And proud of myself, yes. That too. I took something awful – this whole miscarriage heartbreak – and turned it into something that, to me, is beautiful.)
I feel, in a lot of ways, that I am unraveling a ball of twine. It’s like I am connected to an IDEA of another baby with a piece of string, twine, fishing line, whatever – all in the hopes that if I keep pulling, maybe I’ll finally come face to face with my child. Except that I don’t think it’s going to happen for us – even moreso now after this last cycle.
And so the idea that I’ve been holding on, white-knuckled, to an IDEA… that I’ll pull on this string and find nothing at the end… I wanted to explore it some more.
What happens if we DON’T get a child out of all of this struggle? After all we’ve gone through, all the cycles, the fighting we’ve done… what if we end up with nothing? What IF that end of our string is just an idea, a figment, something that doesn’t exist? And what will *I* look like, once I’ve let go of it?
And the thing is. I can WRITE about something like this. Which means that I’m HEALING. Or, at the very least, on the path to healing. Because I can step back and write about the emotions, which means I’m not prisoner to my emotions. I am not drowning, or dying, or losing myself.
On the contrary, maybe this means I’m FINDING myself again. I’m finding my voice. My words. Not only am I able to release some of my grief through poetry, but it’s sparked this desire to write ANOTHER poem (and another, and another, and another).
That’s the silver lining, right there.
A tug at my soul: the flicker
of your heart.
My own speeds in greeting,
matching pace, joining us
with filaments of love
In the space between our heartbeats
you are real
Knuckles white, I am chained to the idea
of you, unable to let go.
You are not there.
I pull, softly at first, then faster,
at our connection, the strings that bind me.
I do not see the unraveling.
Through my tears, I see only you.
a transparent flicker
in my heart’s beat.
I have to say, this week has been one of the worst I’ve experienced in a long time.
But it hasn’t been without its silver linings, though.
My shining star this week: Lucky. Whether he knows I need the extra love or not, he’s been awesome: snuggly and needy and wanting me to carry him and hug him and give him kisses. He wants to hold my hand, and sit in my lap, and he’s very Mommy-focused this week.
Kissing his head is such a salve for me. A reminder that we got so, so lucky with him. He’s here, right in front of me, and I can pour as much of my love into him as possible.
Which is easy, because I love him more than I have words to express.
Also shining stars: my friends. God, my friends are awesome. They have emailed me, called me, texted me, taken me out to dinner. Listened to me as I sobbed, barely able to get words out. Poured me wine, or tequila, or bailey’s. Made plans for races and stinky cheese nights. They’ve made homemade ice cream for pumpkin beer floats. They’ve sent me cards and love and randomly checked in on me to let me know they’re thinking of me. They’ve taken Lucky for me, without question, when I need to do an ultrasound (or today, a D&E).
And then there are the bloggers who’ve emailed me, commented on my posts, texted me, whatever. Seriously, you all are amazing.
Because I feel surrounded by love, a cushion of support which make me feel less alone and isolated. It makes the harshness of the reality so much easier to bear.
And writing. Oh, writing. I joined ICLW for the first time this month, and I’m finding new connections and commenters and bloglove. And next month is NaBloWriMo. I’ve never actually done it before; committed to writing a post a day for a whole month (what if I have writers block! Ack!) but I think this month I’ll participate.
How I cope: I find something else to focus on in the short term.
I’ve mentioned since this all happened that I am not sure about more treatments. We do have 3 embryos on ice, blasts like these last two. I can’t fathom doing this all over again, starting over. And thankfully, I don’t need to decide anything right now.
So we’ll take a break. I’ll write every day in November. Hopefully my ankle will heal up and I can start running again: my plan for 2013 includes consistent mileage, a couple of half marathons, and a fall marathon, probably local to home. I’ve been talking with my running coach about using his online coaching services to keep me honest and accountable and help me build up my mileage slowly enough that (hopefully) I can avoid injury.
And I can cook. The past few weeks (even now), I’ve had a hard time with food. I am very much looking forward to ENJOYING my food again. Searching out recipes that are healthy AND taste awesome, that fill my house up with amazing smells.
There was a post this week by another blogger I read, where she talks about how her house has both sad AND happy memories. And how somehow she thinks that maybe a fresh start would be nice, but then it wouldn’t have the happy memories as well.
And her last sentence struck me: “I’ll take it all, the happy and the sad. Because the happy makes the sad bearable.”
That is how I feel right now. Right now, what makes this sadness bearable, is the happy in my life.
And there IS happiness there. Just have to keep looking at it.
I used to write a lot.
I wrote poetry. I wrote long rambling love stories. I wrote short stories. I wrote fiction. I wrote blog posts.
Then I stopped. Told myself a lot of things: I wasn’t good enough, I didn’t have the time, I was too busy with building my life, I should file those dreams of being a REAL writer away. I was just a blogger with no time to invest into my words.
Nope. I was an accountant. I CHOSE accounting – I spent a LOT of money for my advanced degrees. We’ll be paying for those degrees for a LONG time.
Being an accountant? Staying in this career? It is punishment for something I did years ago.
I made the decision to get a MBA to prove to my father that I was worth more than what he thought of me. That I was smarter and more capable than he thought I was.
I got the CPA to prove to a professor that I COULD be one, because he told me I’d never make a good one.
When we were traveling last week, I got a bunch of emails about something that blew up at work. It really shouldn’t have been a big deal, but it was.
And all of a sudden, I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
I hate my career.
It’s not the hours, or the flexibility. It’s the career. It’s accounting.
And always before, whenever I’ve asked myself what I’d do if I didn’t have accounting? I never had an answer.
For some reason this weekend, I allowed myself to really LISTEN when I asked the question.
What would I do with my time if I didn’t work?
And all of a sudden, it came to me.
I know how I’d spend my time.
I’d go to the gym every day and run, swim, or work out.
I’d write poetry. Short stories. Character sketches. Fiction. Nonfiction. Whatever.
And then it hit me: I can do that NOW.
I mean, I don’t have hours to spend at the gym, then hours to spend writing. I wish I did.
It’s not much. But it’s SOMETHING.
In the way of a cycle update, the catheter placement went well. I was super sick from the anesthesia on Thursday night, but recovered enough to travel Friday morning. It wasn’t untenable during our trip, which surprised me. I’ll take it.
Catheter came out today, and I take my last pill tonight. Next step is a baseline u/s on CD 2, whenever that is, likely this weekend.
Then stims, probably next week.