After finding out that our second IVF failed, I had a hard time thinking positively. I felt a little suffocated by all the baby things I had scattered so hopefully around our house (bibs in the pillowcases! A onesie on the guest bed! Pregnancy/Conception magazines next to the bed! Baby name books on the table!). Bryce, wonderful man that he is, packed up the tiny bits of baby-bringing paraphernalia and hid them where I couldn't see them anymore. It was really only a handful of items I had allowed myself to bring into the house to let that baby know he/she was welcome and anxiously awaited, but after she/he failed to show up in any small way it seemed like the house was littered with baby crap. After Bryce hid everything, there was a sense of relief. But then I got a crazy idea.
I decided, after hearing about it from friends at a clinic that weaves holistic and spiritual practices into their fertility treatments, that Bryce and I should make a Vision Board. The clincher was an email from a yoga friend, who said that she made a Vision Board after her divorce and everything she put on it found its way to her, one way or another. The idea is that you get a posterboard or cork board (or both) and put a picture of yourself in the middle. Then you surround yourself with pictures and words that embody the things you would like to see in your future--it could be a new career, finding peace with yourself, the partnership you envision in your future that hasn't happened yet, or just what you would like your life to look like moving forward. Or, in our case, what we would like our family to become. You apparently have to be careful--you are feasibly putting out a wish list to the Universe and inviting these things to come to you--so you have to watch to make sure that there aren't hidden mixed messages lurking on the images you choose. If you don't want a dog, you are going to want to cut the dog out of the cute picture of a family having a picnic together. Or else the Universe could bless you with that unwanted dog, I guess. It's a little New Age-y and fruity, but I like it. I like it because it's a bit teacher-y. You have to think about what you want to put on that board, and it opens all kinds of interesting discussions and revelations about what your subconscious is doing. Or you can read into nothing at all, because reading into everything can make you crazy.
So, we have a big piece of foamboard that I thought was ugly so I covered it in pretty fabric. We have a wedding picture in the middle:
The fabric made the blank slate a little less empty and stark. I started on the project with a vengeance. When I start a project, I go a little nuts. I had all the pregnancy/conceiving magazines out on the table and I hacked away at them. (Was I punishing them a little for their poor baby-bringing performance with my scissors? Maybe a little.) If they wouldn't help our baby come to us just by being in the house, I was going to put them to work. I cut out pictures of cute babies that looked like they could be a mix of me and Bryce. I cut out lots of pictures of daddies and little girls, and even scored a picture of a daddy coloring with his twin girls (hello, Universe... I am totally ok with twins...) I found pictures of kids out in the woods, even one really spooky picture from an LL Bean catalog that features two school-age boys hiking at what could be Jordan Pond in Acadia that look creepily like mini-Bryces at that age. I found a picture from a Land of Nod catalog of a nursery that I liked. I started positioning the images around the board.
Then came some of the revelations... Bryce noticed that there were a lot of daddies and babies or kids, and a lot of babies, a few pregnant ladies, but not a whole lot of mommies and babies. I panicked. What if my subconscious skipped pictures of moms and babies because somehow I'm not ready or have some spiritual block against it? What if this is all my fault? And then I stopped being a psycho. I realized that I hadn't put pictures of mommies and babies because I hadn't found pictures where the mommies looked like me (lots of blonde moms in the magazines, and lots of fancy looking brunettes, but no casually dressed, low-maintenance, goofy-looking brunettes. I am underrepresented in these magazines!). So I widened my scope. I looked at what the mommies and babies were doing and focused less on hair color. I went to Barnes and Noble and bought parenting magazines without crying in the car on the way home. Now there's lots more mommies and babies, and family units together that don't physically look like us but are doing the things we want our family to do. It's funny to see what we each choose--I like parents reading books to their children, being goofy at the table, going outdoors and hiking in the woods. I have inquisitive kids out in nature, and a few goofy-looking toddlers making faces because no kid of mine is NOT going to be a goof! Bryce has outdoorsy kids, families sitting together with books, kids loading the dishwasher and cleaning, pictures of toys put neatly away in bins. Organized, happy, inquisitive, bookish, responsible, goofy, outdoorsy kids grace our vision board from all sides. Except apparently I like filling the space from the edges in--nothing is touching our picture yet. Which set off another round of crazypants behavior. "Oh no! I am holding the babies at a distance! We have a moat of emptiness around us!" Luckily Bryce keeps his wits about him when I'm nuts and rearranged some tacked up pictures so some are touching us. Most of the pictures are tacked, so they are not permanently placed. So now the moat has a few bridges around it to babyland.
It's funny that having these pictures of babies doesn't make me sad. It's not a depressing exercise--it's fun, and hopeful, and forward-looking. It's a way to jumpstart our conversations about what we want our family to look like and be, when we finally get to that point where it's more than just two plates around the dining room table. And it's kind of funny to look through all those magazines and find the supremely bizarre stuff that's out there. On an ironic but not quite bizarre note, Kourtney Kardashian graces the vision board not once but twice because she happened to be featured in Parenting magazine and, while I will never wear her crazy shoes or be as vapid as she appears to be, I think she does great things with her baby son that I would like to do. Well, at least in a photo shoot. On the creepy side there are some seriously odd-looking children. Case in point, this ad with a Benjamin-Button-esque baby filling the page--