Monday, July 21, 2014

Maine Vacation -- Balm for the Soul

Ahhhhhh, vacation. A real, summer, ocean-y vacation in Maine. Lobster, sea, rocks, fog, ferries, wildflowers, harbors, pine trees... you really can't ask for more. We NEEDED this vacation. I really, REALLY needed this vacation.

The days leading up to our vacation were hard. I dipped down pretty low into a feeling of interminable sadness. A pit of "what if this never happens?" and feelings that my body is a wasteland, fears of further precious embryos disappearing into the void of my uterus, hating my body for being so flubby and so unable to execute this ONE THING, hating myself for hating my body, dreading the start of meds on vacation, feeling like my capacity to do this over and over again is waning. It wasn't pretty. It went into our visit to Bryce's parents prior to leaving on a ferry to Vinalhaven Island. I looked sad. I felt sad. I was on the verge of tears ALL THE TIME. I cried so hard one night as we stayed in Bryce's parents' camping trailer that my eyes were swollen most of the next day. I felt so hopeless. I felt so lost. It didn't help that on our first day we went to a celebration of life ceremony for a very close friend of Bryce's parents who died a horribly early death from cancer. It was a beautiful send off, on the property on a river behind the market he and his wife built and nurtured into a wine/gypsy jazz/gourmet food empire, with photos everywhere and a large gypsy jazz band and so many people that loved this man. It was amazing to see what a good, full life he had. But horribly horribly sad to see it end so soon, at 59, leaving a wife and two children in their early twenties behind. And all the friends and people that he had known throughout his life. It was incredibly sobering, and made a body realize how important it is to really live your life and cling to what's important -- family, friends, following your dreams. It was sad in general, and then a family member talked to us about how her house is just filled with chaos because she has so many grandkids and the poor widow did not have that kind of constant mess and noise and it would be so quiet here. I felt like a crazy person, but it felt like this woman was rubbing in how she had so many grandchildren and here my mother in law has none, and how crazy all the mess and noise and activity makes her, and I said, "It sounds full of life" and I think it was missed that I was like HOW LUCKY YOU ARE TO HAVE ALL THAT and then I felt like a horrible failure unable to give that to our own parents, and how we are so focused on having children that the fact of our late parenting start possibly robbing us of grandchildren experiences didn't so much occur to me. Until that moment.

But, the next day we went out on a boat. My stepfather-in-law's boat out on Great Pond. It was so, so, so much fun. I forgot everything. I forgot to be sad, I forgot to wallow, I forgot to do anything but laugh maniacally with every bump of wake, every spray of cool Maine lake water. It was a beautiful day, and I tried not to be sad when Bryce laughed at how happy I was and said, "It's just so nice to see you so genuinely happy, it's been a really long time since I've seen this joy in you." Ouch. I guess I have been a little sappy sadpants lately. But, it really and truly was a blast and so beautiful:

The following day we took off for Vinalhaven Island. The ferry ride was beautiful--as we got further from Rockland it got foggier and foggier, and then these beautiful islands would pop up out of nowhere. It made us feel like we were so far from the mainland (when in actuality, on the non-foggy ride back, we realized you can actually see all the little White Islands and even Vinalhaven from Rockland). Both ways we rode up top on the ferry, which probably is the source of most of my vacation color. I am an SPF 50+ gal all the way, but I still burnt up a bit on the sunny ferry. (Foggy sun is the worst because those little water droplets magnify the sun or something... my red thighs were a testament to that.)
Happy heading out to vacation
Seriously, only Maine can have this kind of beauty.
White Islands off Vinalhaven's coast.
Once in Vinalhaven, we realized a few things. 1) We were in for two days of serious rain and fog; 2) That meant the puffin boat was canceled and I shook my fist at the Puffin Gods for I have no idea why they keep their "parrots of the sea" from me...; 3) there is some seriously beautiful stuff on this island; 4) LIES to keep your car back in Rockland, total and complete LIES -- the majority of other guests totally brought their cars, and the parking back in the Rockland Ferry Terminal was $40 for our stay and to rent a car was $55/day, and while they said we could rent bikes for free and get around most of the island, 5) The people living on the island drove giant pickup trucks at maniacal speeds and there were no sidewalks through most of the area, so between the thick fog and the fear of ending up a hood ornament, we couldn't get very far. BUT, we did manage to visit the Lane Island Preserve, a beautiful piece of Maine beauty sponsored by the Nature Conservancy. We visited it three times because we could walk to it and still have the wherewithal to walk trails and scramble on rocks to enjoy ocean views and coastal rocks and stuff. The town park was a complete mystery--we went everywhere looking for it but the maps seemed to have a bit of a Bermuda Triangle thing going on. Nothing had signs. The maps were missing the side street names. We walked one day to try to get to another nature preserve out on Granite Island, and apparently passed the trailhead without knowing it because LITERALLY NOTHING IS LABELED. But all was not lost because it was a seriously beautiful walk despite the rain and fog, and we got a good 12 miles or so of walking in that day between the island preserve and heading out on Old Harbor Road to see something different. When the fog lifted on our ferry ride back, we discovered there were tons of little islands just off the coast of where we were walking that we could not see. Beautiful. I don't have pictures of Booth Quarry, Bryce has those on the camera and I don't know how to unleash them, but that was pretty neat, too. That was a mile and a half walk one way with about a mile of sidewalkless fast-truckness, but when we finally found it it was an old granite quarry filled with water that you could swim in. Very eerie, very beautiful, and I stuck my toes in so I could say I did. I was kind of glad it was rainy and in the 60s because swimming in deep water like that, even not in the ocean, freaks me out. I like to know what's beneath me. Also, walking around the piney edges I couldn't help but be nervous that maybe some maniac hid in the woods to push unsuspecting tourists into the granite-y depths, since there were a lot of places where I imagine kids run and jump into water that's probably 65 feet deep from the edge. My mind has some issues.

Here are pictures of Vinalhaven:
Our room view at low tide, when the water rushed out into the harbor.
It made a terrific noise, but then at high tide it would be
dead silent, which was a little disconcerting.
Lane Island Preserve entrance low tide

Lane Island Preserve entrance high tide
Lane Family Cemetery, what a view

Lane Island Preserve in less fog, low tide

Lane Island Preserve in more fog, high tide

Bryce visiting the ocean (my shoes were inappropriate as we were
just walking around town since it was so foggy but then we heard
the waves and had to see it, so I ended up hiking it barefoot but
didn't dare scramble down to the sea that way).
On the walk out Old Harbor Road in the fog 
Another cemetery, looking over the pond. Love old New England cemeteries.
We tried not to take it personally that the fog lifted on the day we left.
It was a lot of fun walking around the little smidge of the island we could get to, stressful, but fun and full of gorgeous sights. 

Then, on to Damariscotta, where we kind of wished we had spent more time, splitting the nights more evenly (we spent three nights on Vinalhaven, one in Damariscotta). We stayed in a bed and breakfast on the Damariscotta river, a beautiful old white house on rolling grounds with river views everywhere. We drove into town for dinner, but we could have walked (and we did for breakfast in the morning and some Maine Coast Bookstore shopping). It was gorgeous. The innkeeper, Martha, was incredibly personable and had impeccable detail in the rooms--everything was very clean, the views were spectacular, the chairs were cozy, the bed was cozy, the privacy was high. We loved our short stay there. There was, however, a somewhat overgrown orchard to one side of the house with a covered square well. Which creeped me out immensely, because old houses that used to be nursery schools with a river and an orchard seem to me the stuff of horror movies. I could just see a little girl crawling out of that well. It didn't help that our room had a kitchen and a bathroom but down a hall that was semi-underground, with a triple-bolted door leading to the side where the orchard/wellfromhell lived, and to get to the bathroom in the middle of the night you needed to go down this dark, windowless "this once was a coal chute" feeling hallway. Why did the door need so many locks??? I was scared to open the door to the hallway and see a little girl in an old fashioned nightdress crouched in the far corner. Maybe facing the wall. AGAIN, what the hell is up with my mind? I can thank the Japanese film industry for making me forever afraid of creepy little girls (thanks, The Ring). BUT, no such thing existed, and the well was just a well and the hallway was just a hallway, super clean with nary a spider anywhere and a super clean bathroom. The bathroom on Vinalhaven had one spider, a cave spider I named Cavey and felt fine with as long as I knew where he was. Those spindly things don't scare me, but on my face unexpectedly might be a different story. Anyway, Damariscotta was such a peaceful setting and so relaxing that it was a perfect end to our private vacation. AND, the inn had a pool, which although it was only in the 70s, hot sweaty boathouse ping pong prepared us to jump in and enjoy. No pictures of that, though. We really took advantage of everything this place had to offer and will definitely be back for more in the future. 
Private entrance to our rooms, you can see the wall of window
that allowed us beautiful views of the river

Said beautiful view of the river from the grounds
Bryce in the orchard, the well would be to the left of him.
He is such a handsome, handsome fella.
Damariscotta river at sunset
The happy, relaxed, slightly sunburned faces of vacation toward the end.
In the town of Damariscotta, on the river.
When we left, we spent the afternoon in the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens with Bryce's parents. It was a great end to the day, and a gorgeous tour of different Maine ecosystems, from woods to hillside shade to full sun. 

By the end of the vacation, even though I was fully on Lupron and the Levoquin antibiotic that's part of my "implantation failure" protocol, I felt more rested and happy than anything else. I felt more at peace, and so grateful for the life we share together as it is in this moment. Did I see crying babies and have that twist in my chest and painful awareness of the hollowness of my womb? Sure. Did it stick with me all day? No. How can you continue to feel sad when you are surrounded by such peace, such beauty? Impossible. We had so much fun, and because it was all new, we couldn't feel sad that last year we were here and had hoped this year we'd bring a baby. That's the drawback of going to the same places over and over -- it becomes apparent that you are stuck. Here, we were just another couple, having a wonderful holiday together where we ate too much food, drank too much wine, walked until our legs were sore, and took tons of pictures of sea and rocks and fog and pine trees and wildflowers. 

I'd say it was a success, for sure. 


  1. Sounds and looks like it was an absolutely lovely vacation! I am so glad you enjoyed yourself and found some peace. You certainly deserve it! You look very happy and peaceful in the photos:)

    1. Thanks, Kelsey! It really was. I love that photo of me and Bryce at the bottom, I feel like it captures how happy we are capable of being when away from all this! :)

  2. Restoration. I'm so glad, darlin. It sounds like a beautiful place and that you and B connected---and actually had some goddang fun!

    I hear the shadow of longing in your words---you forget for a time, but it comes back in brief jabs. I've been thinking about that a lot lately and, I sound like a broken record, but just know that you will one day be free of that.

    You look really, really pretty and healthy! XO

    1. Aw, thanks, lady! Vacation makes for great photos. Something about the sun, the salt sea air, the unlimited sleep and deliciousness... :)

      It really was restorative, and fun, and beautiful -- we enjoyed ourselves and really tried to let go of all the bilge back home (or in the sharps container I unfortunately had to pack). "Jab" is such a great word for that longing... it is really, really hard to believe that one day I will be where you are and I will be amazed at the suffering that had to come to pass to receive such joy. But I will take you at your word, madam! One day I will be free of those jabs (in the forefront, anyway) and will make it through the suffering to the joy. Gotta believe that... thanks for cheerleading, my friend. That's a broken record I never tire of hearing. :)

  3. Sorry I've been silent--work has been crazy and my home computer isn't working (needs a new charger) so I've been a bit stuck. So thanks for your comments on my blog and sorry I didn't say so earlier.

    I often think about how none of our parents have grandchildren and how hard it must be to be surrounded by other people's grandchildren. Infertility, not just for the infertiles. But, we're lucky--and sounds like so are you--that we haven't had an ounce of pressure or an ounce of guilt from our parents. They all know what's going on, but it's nice that they shield us from that aspect.

    This sounds like the perfect balm to a somewhat crappy spring and a good way to start your upcoming cycle. But I'm so sorry about the puffins, that's such a bummer. But you'll go back.

    The places you went in Maine look incredible. So very beautiful! I'm glad that you two got a chance to get away and that you found a lot of reasons to feel joy.

    1. No worries at all, you certainly have a lot of shit on your plate. No need to apologize one bit.

      It's kind of a ripple effect, right? How infertility affects us now, us later, our parents now and later, our children now and later... kind of a spiral down to sadnesstown if you think about it too much, but yes, it is lovely not to feel a pressure or guilt from the parentals. I think we probably put enough of that on ourselves that more would just tip us over... :)

      It was a wonderful vacation. I am so glad that Lupron decided to wait until I got home to put me in the throes of migraines and poor sleep, and that I was able to truly enjoy the peacefulness of those beautiful places.

      I hope for so much peace for you, too.