Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Good JuJu

In all the cycles that I have done so far, I have had my rituals to keep me company. It seems to be a cumulative process--with each cycle I gather more rituals and just can't seem to abandon any of the previous ones in case they just needed time to work. This cycle has been no different--I kept many of my previous efforts to control the uncontrollable and cajole the universe into gifting us with a child. But I added on this time. Significantly. I added rituals, and I added symbols into my daily life. Sometimes I feel like a crazy person for all that I do on a daily basis, but I have found that by no means am I all alone here. Some of my rituals have been adapted from others who also find the need to bring some ceremony into all this infertility hoo-ha. To bring some extra good luck. To, even if they are normally completely logical people, invite a little magic into their lives in hopes it makes a difference.


My rituals were pretty similar this time--I burn red candles every day, I bought onesies, I display the onesies in our bedroom, I listen to Circle + Bloom meditations every night, I write in my IVF journal every night before I go to bed. I switched out my red candles to tealights so I could burn them down each day, and burn two at a time to convey my openness to (or lust for) twins. When I do burn a bigger red candle it's a double-wick (again with the twins). I didn't stuff baby clothes in pillowcases this time, but I did decide to display the onesies in our bedroom instead of in the guest/FutureBaby room, for a change of pace. We even got a surprise ritual--my doctor had a fertility statue that was gifted by a successful patient. I was definitely not expecting to have a fertility statue waved over us at our baseline appointment in our highly clinical setting, but I was all for it! I tried to figure out where she's from, and it looks like she's most similar to a fertility image from Ghana. Here she is:



Starting with the fertility statue, the symbols I invited into our process were different than before. I love owls, and owls have been my good luck charm, but I thought maybe it was time to mix it up a bit. They haven't exactly been the magical totem creature I had hoped so far, so maybe they just needed some friends. The owl itself wasn't a fertility symbol, it was a critter I felt drawn to (something that is apparently contagious...owls are very "hot" right now and, snob that I am, it makes me irritable). I have received some beautiful owls that I love in the course of this cycle, and I definitely think they still hold some luck. But maybe I needed to do some research on actual fertility symbols. Get some hard-core fertility juju in this house.


Oddly, I started with my earrings. I have a ton of earrings, which most of the time I forget to wear. But, over the years I have been given quite a few interesting earrings and I have kept them all, even if they weren't something I would wear at the time they were gifted. I have earrings all the way back from high school. I thought I'd look through and see if there were any fertility symbols lurking in my jewelry. I did an internet search, and found that I had not one but FOUR pairs of hefty-fertility-symbol earrings!


Kokopelli
I have a pair of Kokopelli earrings that I'm pretty sure were a birthday present from my Mom many years ago. I had no idea that this hunchbacked flute player was actually a powerful fertility deity in the belief system of Native Americans in the American SouthWest! I knew he had something to do with music, and he was a trickster figure, but no clue on the fertility piece. Apparently that hump is full of fertile prizes. According to two different legends, the hump is a sack full of seeds for the spring harvest, OR it is a sack full of unborn children that are disseminated to maidens. The seeds make for a prettier picture (otherwise, taken literally, that sack is a horror show), but I like the idea that this flute playing trickster is running around delivering babies to the ladies. He's a slightly more attractive stork. Apparently Kokopelli's flute brings the spring and melts the snows. Another legend said that villages would celebrate all night when they heard the spring flute of Kokopelli, dancing and singing and making merry. In the morning all the maidens would be pregnant. Now that is a powerful fertility god! Kokopelli has also apparently been censored in the versions that show up in jewelry and wall art and tattoos. The original Kokopelli had a ginormous, um, attribute, also signifying his role in the fertility arena. Now he just has a huge flute. Maybe that flute is an ancient insemination blowgun. Who knows? The Kokopelli earrings went into heavy rotation.


Lotus
The lotus flower is a fertility symbol and a symbol of rebirth, among other things. It is found in Ancient Egyptian, Hindu, and Buddhist traditions. The cool thing about the lotus flower is that it rises from the muck and mire to bloom, pure and beautiful, at the top of the water. It apparently sinks each night and rises back up each morning, in a cycle. It's a flower that's tied closely to creation stories in several cultures--the sun god rose from a lotus, the world unfurled from a lotus in the universal sea, the Brahman was found sitting in the center of a lotus at creation. It's a beautiful flower, with a beautiful backstory. And I just happened to have beautiful silver and amethyst earrings that Bryce bought me in Bar Harbor, on our annual beautiful vacation. They are handcrafted in Tibet, and I was drawn to them. I didn't notice until later that the silver diamonds held lotus flowers. It was kismet! 


Frogs
They're trying to hold hands...
I don't even know where I got my frog earrings...I think I bought them myself in college. They are silver and dangly and I don't wear them hardly ever...until now. Because, as it turns out, frogs are also a fertility symbol. In multiple cultures, too. In Ancient Egypt, frogs were the symbol of the midwife goddess, Heqit, who oversaw conception and birth. Each spring when the Nile flooded and receded and the crops could grow, millions of frogs came out of the mud. So frogs were also a signal of spring and the bountiful harvest to come, thanks to that muddy fertile soil. Similarly, in ancient South America (very fancily called "pre-Columbian Meso-America" in one article I read), frogs were a symbol of spring and coming rains. Tribes in ancient Peru and Bolivia would put out little frog statues on the hillsides to bring on the rain and the fertile conditions needed for harvest. In a nice parallel to the  Ancient Egyptians, Ceneotl, the goddess of childbirth and fertility, was also represented by frogs (odd looking frogs with many teats. Which is weird because frogs don't nurse, but whatever). Who knew that frogs were so closely tied to fertility legend?



Ankh
The Ankh, a cross with a loop at the top, is an Ancient Egyptian symbol for life. But it is also a fertility symbol (not a stretch, from life to fertility). And, it just happens that my stepfather, on his travels to Egypt maybe 10 years ago, brought me back some Ankh earrings straight from...Egypt. That is some serious authenticity! The actual symbol is a melding of female and male representations--the loop at the top representing the womb, and the bar of the cross hanging below representing a phallus. Combine the two together and BAM! You've got the union of both which hopefully results in fertility and the beginnings of life. I was excited to find another meaningful way to wear the Ankh earrings...the last time I wore them for an extended period of time was when I co-taught a unit on Ancient Egypt in sixth grade. Call me Ms. Frizzle.


And...Elephants!

That was it for the earrings, but I actually found one more symbol that was meaningful, again across cultures. Apparently, the elephant is a powerful symbol for fertility. In India, some people give gifts of little clay elephants to the bride and groom for fertility encouragement. I actually found a website while trolling for more information today that said that for fertility feng shui, you should put an elephant figurine in your bedroom for better baby luck. Holy guacamole, this was a great find! Because earlier in my cycle, I had read something about elephants when looking up my earrings, and I had borrowed a small ceramic elephant from my mom to put in our bedroom.  I had unwittingly practiced some powerful feng shui. I'm sure it helps that this particular elephant is a teapot, so it is a vessel meant to hold something (much like myself) AND the lid of the teapot is a little baby elephant. TWO elephants for the price of one! Seriously, seriously good juju.


So, with all of this madness going through my brain, what I can take from it is that I feel like I have done everything I can to make this work. I know that frog earrings are just frog earrings, but if there is some ancient hoodoo lurking in them (doubtful, since I probably bought them in Santa Monica) I will take the help! This is a time when so much is out of my hands. I may not be able to guarantee that my eggs will fertilize or embryos will implant, but I can put an elephant in my bedroom.

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