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

Monday, June 19, 2017

#Microblog Mondays: How To Tell People You're Not Adopting Anymore

Wouldn't it be great if I had the answer to this unpleasant business?

Sadly, I don't.

I do a MISERABLE job telling people our news, and I've been doing it at an incredibly slow and excruciating rate of about 4-6 people per week, give or take two people.

The problem is, I feel the need to justify why every time I spill the beans, and so I end up telling people all about my autoimmune eye problems and my mental breakdown and I really don't think that's necessary. I should be able to just say, "We are no longer pursuing adoption -- it didn't work out for us" and leave it at that.

But instead I list out everything, I feel the need to say how long we did IVF before, and how incredibly hard everything was--as though I am convincing myself of the merit of our decision, too. I end up sounding a little loose in the screw department and a lot like, "See? This is the right decision, I can prove it, we did SO MUCH to try to have a baby and in the end it took over everything and had major health impacts and we chose to live a life not in stasis anymore...see? See how much it makes sense?"

I even practiced with a friend today, in anticipation of being asked for updates at the retirement party after school (no one asked, which was both a relief and a concern), "We are not pursuing adoption anymore and that's all I'd like to say about it for now." There's no way I'll actually succeed at saying just that, so I'm grateful no one asked but also worried it means a) people know through the grapevine but are quiet about it or b) people are tired of asking how it's going and not getting a good prognosis.

I feel like I need to just rip that bandaid off, go "Facebook Official" on the damn thing and send an email out to my school thanking everyone for their support but in case they haven't already heard, we are done with our family building escapades.

I am just so nervous about the possible fallout, of being accused of "giving up on my dream," of being told I wasn't meant to be a parent, of facing questions again of why we aren't pursuing a different kind of adoption (especially foster). But this creeping trickle of "hey, just wanted to let you know if you haven't already heard..." is killing me slowly.

I think this week is bandaid-ripping time.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Monday, June 12, 2017

#Microblog Monday: Honeymoon

I was mortified when I realized that last week was our 11th date-o-versary, eleven years since we kissed on a bench on our first date, and we acknowledged it NOT AT ALL. I totally forgot until Sunday, when I was getting a massage and talking about how Bryce and I met.

I guess we've had some heavy things on our minds, so we can be forgiven just this once.

One of the less heavy things is the planning of our amazing trip to the California Coast, which I am calling our honeymoon. Literally, when reserving our room in the hotel we're spending the most time in and it asked for a reason for our stay, I saw "Honeymoon" and was like, YES. That's right -- this is our GODDAMN HONEYMOON. We started infertility stuff before our wedding. The weekend I visited my best friend and wrote the letter where I proposed to Bryce, I was reading The Conception Chronicles, because I wanted to know what I was going to face as we knew we'd have trouble conceiving (trouble, ha ha HA ha ha). The day of our ceremony in the backyard, I signed for Ovidrel in my wedding dress. It's been CONSTANT.

So yeah, this is our honeymoon, the start of our new life just us two, a celebration of our love and ability to endure through pain and loss and heartbreak galore with our relationship strong and adoring.

We decided to do the California Coast -- flying into San Francisco, going to Napa for a few days, then going to Carmel-by-the-Sea for some Monterey Aquarium and Big Sur action, then down to Pasadena so we can visit with my dad, then back up to Santa Barbara for romantic beachy nature time, and then back to San Francisco, two weeks from when we flew in, to head home.

It's a crazy road trip with real romantic inns and views and activities planned.

Happy Honeymoon to us --  it doesn't make up for what we've lost, but it's quite the consolation prize and we are fortunate to be able to do it, using some of the money that was earmarked for adoption. Bittersweet poetic justice in that, but this is what we've got. And I am SO looking forward to it (even though a chunk of Highway 1 recently fell into the ocean...which isn't concerning at all...). After years of stagnance, a bit of extravagance is lovely to plan.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Space, Haunted By Ghosts

I bought a lamp this weekend.

Isn't that exciting? The thrills of my life lately.

It actually IS exciting, as it was a bit of a splurge and I just love the details in it, and it is part of the continual transformation of the upstairs little room into MY space, MY room.

It's got branches! And it's three-way, so soft light to bright light options.
It hurts even to say that, MY room, instead of The Baby's Room. Even though no baby actually lived here, and no baby actually existed that was kinda-sorta-definitely going to be ours, it's a hard thing to think of this room as something else, something other than what we'd planned for it to be.

I bought the lamp where we bought our living room furniture, and I'm looking for a piece to go where the crib was, something with some closed storage so I can move some of my craft supplies up from the basement where they languish fairly ill-attended. The shop owner was asking what kind of space I had, what kind of furniture finishes I had, and all I could manage was, "Well, it's a 90-square foot space, real small. It used to be another kind of room and now it's...not. I would like it to look as different as possible from what it was before."

I didn't tell her what it was before. I didn't feel like it. I felt the dark hole opening up inside me though, and a shadow overtook me and followed me the rest of the day.

For as beautiful as the room is becoming, it's going to take a while to think of it as a rebranded space. The ghost of What-Could-Have-Been lingers, and will be somewhat exorcised when my desk arrives on Tuesday and I can find a piece to go where the crib once was.

Things like this make it hard:

Creepy stuffed animals looking down on me. The owl on the left is a puppet, the barn owl I just love, the elephant was a gift from my grandmother, and the teddy bear is a really nice soft classic thing from a retired social studies teacher. I donated the rest, but these I wanted to keep. Maybe.
Do I donate them? Hang on to them somewhere a bit less visible? I am still filling the shelves in here, deciding what to put where. You can see this cast of characters from the street. Maybe it's not the best idea to keep them here.

But then there's the chaise lounge corner, which is turning out quite cozy (need one more pillow though, not quite right yet): 

I found the owl print at Target. It isn't nursery-like, but there were owls in here for a reason and I really, really liked this one. It reminds me of something my grandfather once had, I think. My memory is fuzzy on this one but it called to me and was the only one in the store, so I bought it...

Coy little thing.
And lastly, I hung this cat bell that my father gave me, I think from Japan, above the weird raised cat sculpture print we bought at a Renaissance Faire a few years ago: 

I always sort of envisioned an Owl & Pussycat theme in here, but then it became the Treetop Friends stuff on the bedding with birds, and so I sort of abandoned it. Well, happy Owl & Pussycat office theme. It is super cozy. 

And also sad. 

I am real, real sad tonight. I am struggling today, which is totally normal given the loss sustained. The shifting of our house to spaces that fit the life we actually have, not the one we wanted so much that just didn't come to fruition. The reorganizing, realizing I have all these things I was saving for our children and don't know what to do with anymore (jewelry from my childhood, books from my childhood, things I just don't know what to do with now that there's no next generation to gift them to). 

I am looking forward to the arrival of my desk and bookshelf Tuesday. I am looking forward to closing out this space and making it mine, all mine. It is a healing thing, but hard, so hard. I've vacuumed several times since we disassembled this room from what it was, and in doing so erased the marks from the feet of the crib. Except for one, which I can see has survived, next to the baseboard. A tiny impression of what once was, what was hoped, and what now belongs to someone who can actually use it. 

Transition is hard. Making this space over into a beautiful reading and writing sanctuary helps. Still, I am plagued by the ghosts of what will never be. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Gift of Failure

I was driving home from school today when I heard this story on NPR: "Total Failure: The Mountain That Got Away." (You can listen or read via the link.)

The message stuck with me and kept me in the car, rapt.

It was about a competitive mountain climber, Emily Harrington, and how she'd spent her whole life focusing on winning competitions, on summitting mountains, on being the best and finishing no matter what.

Except she did this one climb, in Myanmar, up Hkakabo Razi. It was a hairy journey just to get to the ridge that led to summit, and she found herself exhausted, food stores low, facing the choice to keep climbing and face death as a consequence, or stop and let it go.

The piece had these lines that spoke to me now, in the midst of abandoning my own uphill struggle:

"But she was exhausted and stretched to the limits of her skill as a climber. She felt that if she went on, she might not make it down. 

'It wasn't my time to keep climbing,' she says.

She turned around. And giving up? It may have been the best thing she ever did. Not just because she didn't fall to her death. 

High up on that ridge, she really understood that life wasn't so simple. There were wrong turns, bad weather and bad luck that were beyond her control. It was OK to give up." 

Could that be more perfect right now or what?

Some things are beyond your control. A lesson I seem completely unable to truly grasp onto and solidify for myself. As I occasionally sit here and get all morose in a sea of what-ifs, of examining all of our decisions (What if we'd gotten a second opinion before doing donor eggs? What if we'd gone to CCRM earlier? What if we'd moved forward with adoption sooner? What if someone could have picked us in June, had we not pulled the plug a bit early?), I have to remember that it doesn't matter how many wrong turns were taken, how many series of unfortunate events occurred so that we found ourselves almost on the trail to the peak, but without any more food, too exhausted to trust our footing, and unsure of health (physical and mental) if we were to continue.

Life isn't so simple as Prepare, Train, Do, Succeed. I wish it was.

I love this article because it doesn't extol the NeverNeverNEVER Give Up mentality that is so prevalent. It acknowledges that sometimes, giving up is necessary in order to continue on. That you can learn from that lesson of "This didn't work out for me" or even failure, which I hate using as a synonym for our experience, but it's true...we failed at having a child through every single means that we tried. I feel a little like we failed adoption, but I know that isn't true. Our infertility history going into adoption made every bump in the road feel like a mountain. We'd spent so much time getting to the mountain base that we had no energy to get to the summit after it wasn't quite as straightforward as we thought it was going to be.

So we let go of our dream, when it started to consume us and our health became collateral damage. We let go so that we could keep on climbing another day, on a different mountain. So that we could accept that some things are out of our control, and things don't always go the way you hope or plan. But there is always space for a new plan, a new adventure. (Probably not actually mountain climbing because I am terrified of heights, which is probably going to be an issue when we're driving the Pacific Coast Highway this summer...)

Here's to failure. Here's to knowing when to stop even when it is hard and against all of your work ethic philosophy to do so, but you are literally running yourself into the ground trying over and over and finding no success. Here's to all the new adventures that lie ahead, because we let this one go after a long slog of wrong turns and mishaps that seemed neverending. We did our best, and now we move on -- we'll carry our loss with us but we'll be able to move forward, up another mountain, towards another future that we'll figure out together.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Oh, Okay...So NOW It's Final

I was smacked in the face with the finality of our decision, of our outcome in this whole family building thing on Tuesday, when the woman who provides things to women who are pregnant without it being the preferred option as they start their new lives as parents came to pick up the contents of our nursery, of our kitchen drawer, of our back room storage area.

It was overwhelming. The giant pile of things, of hope, of all the love and support, everything we had for a baby so very wanted and so very hoped for...gone. She teared up as she saw just how much we had to donate, and hugged me and told me how sorry she was that things turned out this way.

I helped her load up her car, and then mine when it became apparent that not only would it take several trips otherwise but that the crib was definitely not going to fit in her car, ever. She hadn't wanted me to do anything, but I didn't feel right sitting on the couch while she loading everything up, and additionally my neighbors decided that this was the perfect time to hang out on the street and have a chat and I felt a little like there was a bit of a spectacle. Having some strange lady taking baby stuff out of our house and into her car without me would probably be stranger than me trying to look cheerful while helping.

Trying. At one point when I offered to help drive stuff she said, "you probably just want this over as fast as possible" and I teared up and said "I just can't look at it all sitting here anymore." And then I cried the entire way home, after we unloaded my car first and she said she'd unload her car, that I could absolutely go and take care of myself.

I am pretty sure that this was the hardest day. It felt worse than any of the other days that have peppered this journey to nowhere. The absence was overwhelming.

I figured out what it is. It's truly, absolutely over. Even if I was like, "WAIT! Let's reopen our homestudy!" (which I'm not), we have no baby gear anymore. We have made our decision and it is final with a capital F. There's no going back. We are definitely resolving our journey childfree. Right now it feels a lot like childless, since I had all these things for a child who existed in my heart, and now that dream is gone. It shifts and morphs between the two -- childless which to me captures the loss, childfree which captures the empowerment of a life that, once we scab over the rawness, will be full of other dreams, other possibilities. Even if it wasn't our desired landing spot.

It reminds me of my uterine surgery -- once that was over, I had absolutely zero chance of getting pregnant, ever. It was pretty close to zero before, but there was no going back, no deciding to reopen the treatment route, no way to have a spontaneous pregnancy "miracle." At first it made me sad, but I was so done with the treatment aspect of things and of birth control that made my body go nuts that I embraced the finality. It came after almost two years of knowing that IVF wasn't ever going to work for me, though. It came after trying other things and having them not work, and then saying, "Okay, uterus, I'm done with you. I'm locking this door and throwing away the key." It was a relief. It frees me to not be as sad when others get pregnant, because that's no longer an option for me whatsoever. I've let it go entirely.

Donating the baby gear is similar, but it happened at warp speed. We only made this decision a month and a half ago, really. I haven't had time to acclimate. Having a nursery you know you aren't going to use is painful, on a daily basis, the kind that saps you slowly. Donating everything all in one day and loading it all up and getting it out in a space of about an hour is excruciatingly painful, but then it's gone. Then the healing can start. Then the empty space in the living room that held the pile of things can be replaced with new furniture, a reading nook where my desk used to be since now my desk is where the nursery used to be. (Well, sort-of-desk. Still the plywood setup.)

I feel like everything is a series of Before and After pictures.

So much stuff. This pile goes about eight feet from one side to the other. 
After I got home and it was all gone. Strangely like the decal-free wall upstairs.

But it's also a series of transformations. That space was only empty for so long before we filled it with a rearranged, new-furniture setup in our living room. A living room that doesn't need space for a pack-n-play, a living room that can have light colored upholstery because there won't be any little sticky fingers wielding markers here. But it's cozy, and each new thing is a step towards embracing this new life we have ahead of us. The After we can look forward to that has a duller sort of pain, and a new kind of promise.

Not empty anymore.
So much seating now! 
It feels good to have change, to have movement, to have things not stay the same anymore. It's a soothing balm on the raw ooziness of letting our dream go.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Packing Up the Nursery

Last summer I went to visit friends from high school, and we went out to lunch. It was fun to see everyone, although not so fun to be the only woman not a mom at the table when the conversation inevitably went to PTA, choosing a house based on school district, public vs private school, birthday parties, etc. etc. etc. I may have felt a little fish-out-of-water and irritated about it (but not upset with them, this is a commonality, this is the stuff their lives are made of), so when someone asked, "How is adoption going?" I may have answered like so: "It's slow, actually, and hard, and sometimes you feel like you could be a parent any second and you feel real hopeful and sometimes you wonder how you would go about returning a nursery." Ha HA ha ha ha, gallows humor for the win.

Well, except here we are a year later, facing a nursery we no longer have a use for, more than two years into a failed experiment in family building. I don't really feel comfortable with returning things since so much was bought for us (and that window is likely closed, given that our showers were over a year and a half ago). So we decided to box everything up into tubs and get it into the back room this weekend, and look into places to donate to.

It's going to be real fun to answer the question, "What did you do over Memorial Day weekend?" tomorrow. "Oh, I don't know. I dismantled my dreams. You?"

We found a place that sets up women who have decided to keep pregnancies they weren't initially excited for through my mom, and there is a woman who is due in July with a little girl who will likely get most of the gear we have to donate. The person who runs it is coming tomorrow to get everything, to take the sum total of our hopes and dreams (and everyone else's hopes and dreams for us) out of the house and give it to someone else who can actually use it, who will truly benefit from and get some joy out of everything that caused me so much sorrow when we packed it all up yesterday.

Such as putting all those tiny, rolled, washed-and-ready-to-wear onesies into a compact sterilite tub. Well, not all of them. I kept a couple for some unknown reason, maybe proof that this actually happened, that once upon a time we believed we could manifest this tiny human into being.

So many cute little things that we couldn't fill.

The tiniest ones are on the bottom. So many I bought during IVF, in fits of hope and magical thinking that buying onesies would bring a child to us, show the Universe that we were serious about this whole thing. Huh.
That wasn't the hardest one though. Strangely enough, peeling off the owl and tree wall decals was the worst. It literally felt like I was ripping a newly formed scab off a very deep wound and the pain was almost physical. Those decals really made the nursery LOOK like a tiny person's room, and now there's just this one little corner left with lovebirds that I felt I could leave as a sort of nod to what the room was once going to be.

Nothing but blank wall space now. I don't know if you see it, but I think it looks as bereft as I feel.

All that's left of the decals. I want to find something to go above the two birds, but I just don't know what. Probably something mildly snarky. Or a heart. Or both.
It's hard, so hard to see all these absences where so much hope once lived.

We did move the cubes into the reading nook, and the little owl rug that we bought in Southwest Harbor, Maine, two years ago.

Worked perfectly.

Hey, little owl(s).

The dresser went into my closet, replacing little rickety cube things that held bras and pjs and yoga pants and swimsuits with something more solid and grown-up, even though it was meant to hold tiny things.

The room is pretty empty now, minus the indentations in the carpet where the crib and dresser used to be, and the real fancy piece of plywood and sawhorse desk setup I'm typing on right now. We did order a desk, which hopefully comes in less than two weeks, that fits perfectly where the cubes used to be and is an L-shaped thing with a bookcase along the side so there's storage and drawers and surface area but compact enough for this tiny room that is being refashioned into my office.

Also, I bought a beige chaise lounge online today. I think it would be nice to have a little reading/napping spot in here, by the window. I had my heart set on a futon so it could also hold a guest, but apparently I can't find one that will fit in the limited length we have and through the door clearance that also doesn't look like a piece of crap. Oh well, a chaise lounge will be super swanky and luxurious feeling. Maybe I'll get into a cocktail dress and lay on it with a martini in my hand. Regardless, the setup in here will be different than anything that's been here before, which will feel good. Freeing.

Lots of clearing things away. Lots of moving stuff out. Lots of feeling like there's a giant hole of emptiness inside me. For some reason, the poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes runs on repeat in my head (alternating with "Everything Is Awesome," which is mildly concerning as that's my anthem for lost marbles, although I'm replacing it with "Everything is awful...everything is cool when you're part of a team, everything is awful...when you've lost your whole dream..."). The whole "What happens to a dream deferred" bit bothers me, because it's not deferred. It's gone. But I feel like stinking meat, like I might explode. It is definitely, definitely a heavy load.

It's good to get this done, to clear things out and get them to people who truly can use them, who might not have what they need without this massive donation. But man, doing it all so quickly sure does give me whiplash. It makes me feel sad. And angry. And like I'm swimming in disbelief that this is where we ended up. Even if it is the right decision for so many reasons, even if it allows us to let go of this dream we've been chasing at so much personal cost, it hurts so much to physically let go of all the things that represented all the hope we had that we'd get that call and be chosen and finally become the parents we wanted so badly to be. The grief, frankly, is overwhelming. But it will not be this raw always. Soon our house will look differently and we will continue planning our vacation and we will start seeing more of the positive aspects of leaving this struggle behind. But now? Now it sucks.

Sorry, not a microblog at all, I guess I was backed up from not writing in two weeks. If you want to read more #Microblog Mondays, go here and enjoy! 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Making Changes, One Sign & Space at a Time

Toward the end of last school year, a special friend gave me a beautiful sign, which fit perfectly in the nook where our glider lives and matched the color of the upholstery and the owl pillow which my sister gave me before that glider ever existed. It fit the decor, and it fit the hope that we felt that it would ring true sooner than later, despite having had three opportunities that weren't the right ones and a lot of radio silence. I cried when she gave it to me because it was such a beautiful sentiment. It felt true and immensely possible at the time. even though nothing had panned out yet.

But now, it just smacks of shattered hopes. Because it's not quite true, now is it? This is not a wish that magically came to be, no matter how much we wanted it to.

Now it makes me very, very sad, because we are in this place of transition, having made a very difficult decision...since it has become clear that the impact of our many years of limbo and waiting and living as though we could be parents without actually ever becoming parents has taken a toll on my health (both physical and mental), and we are both exhausted. Thanks in large part to my April crisis, we have come to an end to this chapter...left holding nothing but a lot of sadness and frustration. And hope for a new future we have to re-envision, but right now I feel a bit in the muck.

A couple weeks ago, after a weekend of de-cluttering, Life Without Baby work, and finally putting my Baby Binder in the flower box with all the other relics of infertility, I had to go to the grocery store to pick up a prescription. I was feeling too puddle-y to go by I made Bryce come with me.

And there it was, a little wooden sign, in a display by the checkout lines, that I just had to have.

As a general rule, I hate decorative items with words on them -- those "Always Kiss Me Goodnight" or "Live Laugh Love" things are not for me, because they sort of feel like they are yelling at me -- STOP TELLING ME HOW TO FEEL, THROW PILLOW/SIGN/WALL DECAL!  (That said, a delightful throw pillow for the new couch that says "Fuck. This. Shit." is one of my favorite recent purchases and will probably stay on the couch FOREVER.)

The sign that we found toed a line between the kind of kitschy thing I despise but also oddly appropriate to the point of kismet, like some buyer at the grocery store we have was like, "Some infertile couple facing down the end of their journey to have a child will need this right now." So I bought it.

I don't think the people who made this sign meant it to mean what we take it to mean, but it works for us.

And then I did this.

It made me feel sad to change them out, but also lighter. It changes the space from What-Could-Have-Been to more What-Is. That space is a great reading nook, and the chair can swivel all the way around to face the woods behind our house, and it also feels a bit like being in an escape pod in Sta.r when you recline it. I love this nook, actually. It will just have a different purpose than we originally envisioned, like so much else we are working our way through in this difficult, difficult transition.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Out From Under, Mostly

Hi friends...I am so, so grateful for the outpouring of love and support since I wrote last. When you feel so alone in making a decision that you fear will be totally misunderstood, and then have a zillion people holding you in their hearts and feeling for you, it really is amazing.

I have been missing for a little while here because life has been psychotic. Remember how I'm pursuing my National Board certification? Well, ha ha ha, with all the insanity of March and April I really did not get a whole lot done on the, oh, over 70 pages of writing that was required to finish out the second half of that process. I had planned to do a lot over April Break, and then, well, I went a little koo-koo and couldn't quite do that as I was trying to put myself back together again. But, the submission date was May 17th, and I had to get both components in as I have a grant covering the cost and if I don't I have to pay it back (to the tune of nearly $2000), and I wanted to finish SOMETHING that I started, so I worked like a banshee over the past two weeks to get it done. I managed to submit Component 3 on Monday and Component 4 late Tuesday night, after literally writing every day after school until bedtime and all weekend long, minus my mom's graduation ceremony for her graduate certificate at the divinity school and a Mother's Day lunch on Saturday afterwards with my sister and my mom and the guys. SO MUCH TYPING. I wrote and compiled 50 pages for Component 4 over just four days. I sincerely hope I pass.

So, that meant that I wrote and wrote and wrote all Mother's Day. Which is just as well, because this is my first Mother's Day where I have the knowledge that I will never be celebrated on this particular holiday, that it will never be for me. Every year I hoped that THIS would be the year I could be included in Mother's Day, and every year I was left going, "Maybe next year." And this year, it's "Okay, so...never." But, I didn't really get to think too much about it on the day, since I had to type type typity type and edit, from the time I got up to when I went to bed. With the exception of food, which let me tell you, National Board has left me exhausted but also with extra poundage due to the increase in takeout in our household during this time. Because my deadline coincided within days with Bryce's deadline for his course this semester, and so it's been a real house of stress around here. And a real house of non-environment-friendly takeout containers filled with Indian food, BBQ, pizza, Thai... and then sitting for hours. Not the best combo.

And behind all this work is my sadness.

I love on Mother's Day to have a good wallow, and I was denied that this year. So today, I am off on a personal day to celebrate being done and take time to recoup from the insanity that was my push to get my National Board writing done after having my world turned upside down, and also to have my  Mother's Day Wallow. It is now safe to go back on Facebook as most of the Mother's Day posts are below my feed. Well, safe-ish. I am reading Ever Upward by Justine Brooks Froelker and drinking coffee and trying to type even though it hurts, because of yesterday. And in a way it stings to take a personal day. Because those have always been saved in the past few years for my adoption leave, since I get 5 paid days for the adoption of a child, 8 if I tack on my personal days. And so I saved them. Well, I don't have to save them anymore.

What happened yesterday, you might ask?

Well, in a wonderful twist of 2017 being The Year Of Urgent Care, I fell flat on my face walking into school yesterday morning. As in, I was wearing a cute olive green dress and my Dr. Scholl's tan wedges (Dr. SCHOLL'S! Not any stupid wobbly high heel nonsense!), and carrying my bag, and purse, and coffee, and flowers for my TA's birthday, when I hit a seam in the sidewalk going down the hill from the parking lot to the door and my foot teetered and I lost my balance and BAM! I dumped it, hard. Face-first. I am a disaster. I scraped up my knees something awful, chipped my FitBit (although I suspect it took the impact that could have broken my wrist, so thank you, FitBit), and scraped up my left hand. Oh, and my pinky immediately swelled up all purple and raspberry-looking and hurt like a bitch. So I lay there on the ground (did I mention my dress was short? Thank goodness for modest underwear), bleeding, crying, coffee and flower water pouring down the hill, while a coworker who had JUST COMPLIMENTED ME ON HOW CUTE I LOOKED came running to help me. You don't look quite as cute covered in blood and mud with mascara running down your face, let me tell you. I just shook my fist at the sky and was like, "WHY? 2017 has to DIE! WTF!" She ran to get the nurse, and more teachers came out, and the flowers were whisked inside just in time as my TA saw me on the ground as she came in and rushed over, and I took a real fun wheelchair ride through the halls of the first floor to the nurse's office, doing the Queen's wave because I felt so awkward and like a spectacle (although that probably didn't help). Meanwhile, one of the teachers used my phone to call Bryce and tell him that he needed to come pick me up and take me to Urgent Care, and he DIDN'T BELIEVE HER and thought it was a joke, because HOW MANY TIMES IN ONE YEAR CAN YOU GET THAT CALL? Apparently, several. My principal came to see me and told me I needed a bubble. I apologized and said, "This is my second Worker's Comp claim in a few months! [remember the ice skating elbow incident?] I am a LIABILITY now!" and he said, "Well, it's a good thing your assets outweigh your liability." HA HA, yes, but for how long at this point? How embarrassing. I got sent to Urgent Care, told not to come back, and got my bazillionth x-rays of the year. I swear, I should glow by now. Luckily, my pinky is not broken even though it looks terrible, it is just badly sprained, and everything else is just black and blue and scraped up. Oh, and I strained my ribs somehow, so I am in a tremendous amount of pain. I'm never quite sure what movement will cause the excruciating pain, but apparently twisting around is one and putting my arm above my head to do things like shower and get dressed causes it, too. I am a mess.

This doesn't do justice to the way I grated my knees...

My right knee hit harder and is pretty purple today.

My poor hand. Luckily I'm right-handed. My pinky is purple all the way around that first segment. Amazing how much you need your pinky, small as it is...

Swanky new blue splint.

So basically, I finish National Board and my celebration is halted by yet another injury. Sigh.

When it comes to adoption, I have been slowly rolling out the news that we are done. It has been interesting. My principal literally started to cry (a silent man cry) and said he was just so sorry for this, and so sorry that there's a child who won't get to have us as parents. Which made me cry, because it was a beautiful way to put it. He understood, but it is very sad. He was one of our biggest cheerleaders through this process. I told a family friend I've known since childhood who called to check in, as she asked how "The Baby Hunt" was going, and when I said we were done and it was hard and we were sad but looking forward to a new life without the limbo and striving and near misses, she got really upset and then interrupted me and said, "I just want to SCREAM! I'm just so mad on your behalf, it should have worked out, you'd be such amazing parents! You'd be a wonderful mother! Argh!" I told her I appreciated her fury and sense of injustice on our behalf. I have gotten that reaction a few times. Some people ask if we think we'll ever return to the process. I can't think of that right now. Throughout our whole journey I was bad at breaks. Some people are able to put this aside and enjoy life without being in the thick of it as they take a break for a few months, six months, even a year. I envy that ability. I could never do it because I obsessed about wasted time, the clock ticking away, and I just wanted to keep my head down and just keep moving doggedly forward, so certain that working hard would result in achieving our goal. And now, to think of being like, "We'll just take a break and come back to it," well, that's not resolution, is it? You never know what life can bring, and I can't promise that we wouldn't consider something different later if we feel a push to do so, but I hate to disappoint's not likely. If we are going to embrace our life as a family of two and move forward, we have to do it without any What Ifs, without keeping a nursery JUST IN CASE, because otherwise it's not a real resolution. It's just more limbo. And I have had my fill of limbo. We. Are. Done. We need to move forward without any caveat. And that is hard for people to hear, but it is necessary for our survival.

Sometimes, I can't bring myself to tell people. Twice someone has asked me about adoption and I can't do it, I can't tell them that we're done. I don't want to in that moment. And that's okay. I usually tell them it's been hard, and we've had 6 opportunities in nearly 2 years but nothing ever quite works out, and then they say something like, "Well, I just KNOW it's going to work out for you. I PROMISE. You are both just so deserving of parenthood." And I know that if I tell them now it will probably go poorly (and I usually say, "I wish deserving had anything to do with it, but it doesn't..." and don't address the futility of making promises like that) and so I just hint that we won't always have the stamina to keep going, and how very long we've been at this quest, and plant the seed so that it's not a shocker when I do reveal that we are done. Whenever that may be. I haven't really decided how to share that beyond this space and the 1:1 conversations we've been having with people. Which is okay, but at some point I'll have to rip the bandaid off. Because there's a lot of people who fall in that in-between space.

In the meantime, Bryce and I are planning our summer vacation, the extravagant one, to be a honeymoon of sorts. We never did take one, as I signed for my first delivery of Ovidrel in my wedding dress. So now, we start a new life together, knowing that it will be us and the cats and maybe a dog after we take a couple years to be free. We haven't yet decided what to do about our house yet. That's for another time. Right now we lick our wounds and feed our sadness with vacation plans and celebrating THE LAST DAY OF PREDNISONE (which is today! Finally!) with a fancy dinner this weekend.

Thank you again, for all the love and support as we wade through the suck (as Mel put it) to get to the other side, to slowly reach acceptance and look forward to the joy that awaits in our new life together. Of being free of the albatross that was trying to make something come to fruition that just refused to materialize, no matter how we approached it, at least in carrying it so heavily. It will always be with us, but more as a specter and less as a physical load around our necks. And now with my National Board over (and scores not coming out until DECEMBER), and Bryce's class over, we can go into the warmer months with time to rediscover who we are without the quest for a baby, who we are just us two, and what our life can look like in this new reality.

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Finality Of Making The Call

It's over, officially over and the enormity and finality of our decision has me completely wrecked.

Bryce made the call to the adoption agency today saying that we were ending our journey, and I am forever grateful that he held the strength to make the first call (I say first call, because I want to call myself and thank our family advocate and get a little closure there, but I need a little space from today first).

I got the text that it was done while I was getting a haircut, and so my reaction to it didn't start until I walked to my car, to my beautiful Subaru Outback that Bryce bought me for Christmas (!) a year and a half ago so we'd have a safe and reliable car for our FutureBaby. The sadness started leaking out of my face and my breathing wasn't quite sobby but I could feel that my ability to hold myself together was going to be fleeting.

I got home, fed the cats, and walked up the stairs to the little room that's been closed up for a month or so.

I stood next to the crib and watched as my cat jumped nimbly inside, then sat on the soft carpeted floor and stared at all the HOPE that was contained in those 90 square feet, at all the LOVE and SUPPORT that filled it with everything we needed for the baby that didn't come to us before we lost the ability to keep pushing ourselves through uncertainty and loss for any more years, months, or weeks. The butt paste that expires in June that I bought in a fit of hope last year. The board books with personalized name plates that have messages to our Mystery Baby. The handmade blankets and hats and baby cocoons.

And I cracked into a million pieces of shattered dreams and felt the loss come howling out of me, sobbing great heaving clouds of grief into the space that held so much promise. I cried a deep animal cry, nearly identical to the one that came out of me when I found out that bed rest didn't create a miracle and my HCG numbers had plummeted from the thousands to 200 when we lost the only baby that was briefly growing in the right place.

I sat there, soaking in my grief.

And then I started picking up board books and reading them. After a few that made me very, very sad, I picked up this one:

In a moment of abject sadness, this book brought me hope. Hope of a different kind. The text goes like this (by Smriti Prasadam-Halls):

I love you most, I love you best, 
Much, much more than all the rest. 

I love you tall, I love you high, 
Way up in the sunny sky. 

I love you far, I love you wide, 
From over here... ... to the other side. 

I love you low, I love you deep, 
Down where the octopuses sleep.

I love you huge, I love you vast, 
For the fun to come and the fun that's passed. 

I love you big, I love you tough, 
When the path is smooth and when it's rough. 

I love you strong, I love you small, 
Together we have it all. 

I love you wild, I love you loud, 
I shout it out and I feel proud.

I love you soft, I love you still, 
And you know I always will...

I love you close, I love you tight, 
When you're wrong ...and when you're right. 

I love you night, I love you day, 
In every moment, come what may. 

Because I love you with my whole heart, 
From where you where you start. 

All I could think was, THIS BOOK IS ABOUT US.  It was meant for our Mystery Baby, who will remain a mystery forever and who has left indelible scars on my heart, but right now it tells the story of our love. It's a book for us, in this terrible moment, celebrating what we have in each other.

When Bryce came home and found me in the nursery, we sat and were sad together and talked about the phone call and how momentous it is to be done, to have this part of our lives come to an end and not the way we'd planned. I gave him the book to read. We hugged and cried and felt all the many feelings -- the sadness, the difficulty of making a decision, the empowerment of saying ENOUGH and having hope for what is still to come, different as it may be than how we saw our future together.

Today is a hard, hard day. It's a chrysalis sort of day, full of goo and being completely deconstructed so we can emerge something new and beautiful and different than before.

Want to read some #Microblog Mondays? Not more, because this surely doesn't count but it's what I've got today? Go here and enjoy! 

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Best Birthday Present to Myself Ever (Also, I'm Sorry)

I feel I have to apologize a bit because in writing about my disappointing therapy session last week (which I have solutions for, thanks for all the suggestions!), I apparently dropped news that I hadn't mentioned before in a very offhanded way and I didn't mean to. Unintended consequences galore.

So, yeah. We are not renewing our homestudy. We are done. Our journey to parenthood has ended, or is in the process of ending, and it's a very surreal place to be.

See, going back to work was harder than I'd anticipated, because I only have so much energy and as a friend told me, I'm on a REST QUEST. So I have struggled to have the energy to get everything done that I've piled on my plate, and I've done a lot of "off the clock" processing that normally would happen here, and I just. didn't. know. where. to. start.

Do I start with how sad I feel?

How I feel like a quitter? (How Bryce told me if I'm a quitter then so are people who quit, you know, addictive drugs or smoking, which made me laugh and made a perfect kind of sense...)

How I also feel a sort of relief to be slowly shifting myself out from under the weight of uncertainty?

How I feel a crisis in identity, since who am I if I'm not keeping up the fight to become a mom? That the name of my blog is now a lie?

How it doesn't escape me that I posted my video of me reading my audition piece for LTYM the Sunday before everything went so horribly wrong, and everything in it was true and is true: I do have a strong desire to be a mother, but now it seems like it rings hollow? Like I'm going to be looked at like a liar, as a fake, as someone not quite committed enough to "sticking with it," even though when they start testing you for heart attack enzymes in the ER and you have a very public meltdown at school, perhaps you have actually stuck with it enough?

There's more, so much more. It's been weeks of hashing this out and trying to decide what to do and what the right choice is, for us, given our unique circumstances, and I AM EXHAUSTED.

But also, I feel that it is the right decision, despite the ways self-doubt creeps in via imaginary voices and arguments with people who might question our decision. Despite the fact that anyone who we have actually told has responded with nothing but compassion and empathy. As they should, quite frankly. This is a huge loss.

But it's also been a journey that has literally been a series of unfortunate events. At one point in our discussions, Bryce said that the last time he felt truly happy and hopeful that our future would pan out with a child was when we took our butterfly walk when I was pregnant, that incredibly brief moment where everything was the fulfilled promise of all we'd hoped so hard to achieve. That was almost FIVE YEARS AGO. Nothing quite went the way we'd hoped it would, and while I know "waiting is the hardest part" and "if you stick with it, adoption WILL work" are favorite catchphrases, the cumulative effect of close calls and long spells without calls at all and feeling like your LIFE is being passed over and you're not quite sure how long you can live in this limbo makes waiting and sticking with it seem Sisyphean. And you just want to live life out from under the weight, and it's been made clear that your body has its limits with stress and limbo, too.

So there it is. We are done, and I am sad, and empty, and we are slowly making our way around to telling people in our own way, in our own time. But I am only empty in a compartment, because I also see how very, very full the rest of my life is. That I couldn't be luckier to have this life with a wonderful man who loves me possibly more than I deserve, to have all the happinesses that we enjoy and have yet to enjoy. That I can start my 41st birthday knowing that the rest of my forties are going to be different than I thought, but that it's a new beginning.

And so, to get back to the title of this post, which should really be I'm Sorry, (and also, Best Birthday Present Ever)...

I bought myself a fabulous new throw pillow for our new couch, for which I splurged on expedited shipping to get it in time for my birthday tomorrow and it makes me laugh maniacally and do a happy dance when I see it:

Is that not the best thing you've ever seen?

I saw it in my head the other day, and then googled it AND THERE IT WAS. In real life. Purchase-able even! So much happiness in a little square. It's like I finally manifested something, ha HA ha ha.

I can get behind pillows with words on them if they swear and are strangely appropriate for life at the time.

(Lest you think this couch looks strangely like the other one, it's not and here is the temporary arrangement to prove it...the loveseat will go for real when the chairs come. IN LATE JUNE.)

And so we grieve and feel sadness and anger and frustration at the same time there is a bit of lightness, a feeling of CLOSE THE DOOR ON THAT CHAPTER (or volume, more like), and we look forward to all that is to come in this new life together.

Monday, May 1, 2017

#Microblog Mondays: A Good Fit

I miss my old therapist.

She "got" me, and while she had the advantage of knowing me for about six years, I feel like she "got" me from the moment she started running the pre-yoga support group.

She challenged my magical thinking, she made me think about tough things I tried to avoid, until space and distance and internet video communication made it possible for me to use my mask on her.

I'm not sure the new therapist I started with is the best fit. I have the unenviable task of having my next appointment being a conversation about what I need and want versus what I got the last time I saw her, and if it doesn't go well I will find myself in a position to find a new person.

We have decided not to renew our home study, and I shared that at last week's session with the additional information that now we are figuring out what to do with the two months before it expires, and how it is weighing on me, the emotional cost of staring down the end and figuring out whether or not to take advantage of those two months for whatever might come our way and what we can and cannot handle at this point.

The response I got was that there is another agency, somewhere in California, that is known for "quick adoptions" and that she could get that information for me if I wanted; that I should make sure that in five or ten years I don't regret whatever decision I make; oh, and also that part of her work could be helping me to not feel things so deeply, to better weather the storm of the profile opportunities and getting passed by or having to make a difficult decision so that I could continue on with the waiting and the limbo and the stress of endless What-Ifs.


I downplayed how all that made me feel both in her office and after until I stewed on it for a few days and it really made me a bit angry. I did tell her that NO, we are not doing another agency, we had that discussion in December and that is definitively not on the table.

I am truly stupefied as to why I would want to retrain myself to FEEL THINGS LESS DEEPLY when that is something that actually makes me the sensitive soul I am. It is the heart of who I am as a teacher, a wife, a friend --  and that sounds an awful lot like attempting to deaden myself to avoid pain which frankly, would not work for me anyway. That sounds like an empathy-killing exercise. NOTHANKYOU. I did not say any of this, I just gave her a perplexed look and said, "I don't think I'm trying to feel less."

Most importantly, I thought I had made it clear that I was seeking help with coping with anxiety and the grief related to the over seven years of trying to make it to parenthood and facing failure at every single turn, to cope with the fact that WE ALREADY MADE THE DECISION NOT TO RENEW before I even saw her the first time. That the end is nigh, and I want to work through being at the end, not open up brand new doors of complexity on the other side of the country that could cost a zillion dollars not to mention emotional costs (and frankly "quick adoptions" sounds shady as hell). Clearly I need to reclarify what I want to get out of counseling. Bryce feels like this past time set me back, actually. I can't say that I totally disagree.

I feel like I am getting more out of the reading and journaling my way through Life Without Baby. Which was a lot cheaper than what I am paying hourly, and challenges me without offering yet another suggestion that we try something different instead of listening to me facing acceptance.

I thought it was a good fit the first time, but then this second session has really given me pause. I guess it's time to advocate and then not let some weird guilt for a person I haven't built a relationship with yet keep me in a therapy situation that is unhelpful.

I miss my therapist that moved away, so much.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Monday, April 24, 2017

#Microblog Mondays: Ode to A Couch

This is our couch, or rather loveseat, that is going the way of the dodo tomorrow, having been replaced by a more streamlined model that can seat more people. Or one person lying down without legs dangling over the armrests.

I hate its oversized nature, the space it takes up, the fact that this couch existed in the house before me and I did not help pick it out (petty, but true).

This couch has seen so much.

Some abjectly awful: I spent bedrest on this couch, desperately hoping to keep a pregnancy that didn't want to stay; I took the call that my HCG levels had dropped significantly on this couch, and wailed so loudly while curled up on it that a friend who was dropping off orchid food could hear me from her car and chose not to make her presence known.

Some hopeful but with more than a shadow of sadness: heating my butt from progesterone shots that I'd hoped would help us get to our baby; sitting on it while I razored out pages from magazines for the Baby Binder, the backdrop for hopeful photos of us waiting jokily impatiently for our first adoption shoot; sitting and talking about our hopes and dreams and realities during our first homestudy, and then our renewal last summer. We've had a lot of heavy conversations on this couch.

But it's also the couch we sat on where we first said "I love you," forever ago. It's the couch we spend Luddite Nights on, and where we spent Earth Hour by candlelight while I read aloud "The Call of Chthulu" as Bryce was real sick at the time. There's been canoodling on this couch, and snuggling up while we read together -- there's romance steeped in it, too.

There's so much history to this couch, but it's time for a new start, new memories that hopefully have a balance of a lot less pain and a lot more joy.

(I didn't realize you could write a whole post about a couch until I read Mel's post... thanks for the inspiration!)

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Making Progress, A Bit At A Time

This week was better than last week. Part of it was that it was actually Spring Break, so I didn't have (much) to feel guilty about in terms of missing work. There was no work. I didn't have to do sub plans, I didn't wonder what was going on without me.

Part of it was having the medications kick in -- the one that helps me sleep and I can take if I have a panic attack, and the one that takes a couple weeks to kick in, starts with a Z, and will help me long term with my wonky brain chemistry so I don't have those panic attacks in the first place. It's been two weeks for that one and I know it's not all there, but I definitely feel more...myself. Which was one of my fears with medication all this time that I've been denying my anxiety, that I'd feel less myself if I got pharmaceutical assistance. Not true. It's nice to have the horrible buzzing and fight-or-flight feeling gone. Also, the Prednisone is down to 20 so side effects are starting to lessen. They are also weaning me off the steroid eye drops because my eye pressure was a startling 27 at my last week's check.  While that is scary I get an extra day of break because they need to check the pressure again a week after being on what may be the world's most expensive pressure-reducing eye drops, which is tomorrow, and the timing necessitates a full day absence. It is a nice bonus/consolation prize, to get a little extra day in there, although I am really dreading coming back and answering questions and walking through the care gauntlet. I am so fortunate to work in such a caring, supportive place but it is a double-edged sword because everyone wants to know how you're doing and a few people saw just how not-great I truly was. So, it will likely take me FOREVER to get from Point A to Point B, and I can likely forget about prep periods, unless I figure out how to acquire an invisibility cloak.

But, that is just an update on what is, while I'd like to share some progress that I'm making, which is pretty significant if I do say so myself.

Life Without Baby Work
I am so happy that I bought this book by Lisa Manterfield. While I am not so happy about the reason, it is really good work. Although, it is also really, really hard work. I will admit, a part of me was hoping that I would start reading it and be like, "Oh, this isn't for me. This doesn't really apply, I'm not here yet." Oh, no. It was more like, "THIS LADY IS IN MY FREAKING HEAD. HOW DOES SHE KNOW WHAT I'M THINKING???"

I started underlining things like mad that resonated with me. Things like:
- "Sometimes we're prodded toward the decision because we have no other viable options, but in many cases we're faced with choosing between a dream and our sanity." 
- "We'll look at how to know when it's time to let go and how to create an ending for a journey that could potentially go on indefinitely." (emphasis mine)
- "This pursuit is linked so intimately to who you are -- your identity as a woman, your plans for the future, your place in the world--that walking away feels like a complete reversal of who you think you are and who you planned to be." 
- "The problem with hope is that it can become a heavy weight that you carry around with you everywhere you go, and if you don't set it aside, it's going to stop you from truly moving on and healing." 
- "But what is the price of persistence? When pursing a dream affects your health, relationships, or lifestyle, it's not sustainable." 
And this one, that I struggle with as I tend to worry too much about what other people think:
"Remember, this is a very personal journey that's different for everyone, and even though others might believe that if you just keep going you'll get what you want, only you can know when you've taken all you can take." 

This book is taking me a very long time to get through, but that's okay. I am used to reading books on infertility treatments, or dealing with emotions associated with infertility, or adoption, or adoptee experiences, or memoirs about people who have done all these things, and I move pretty quickly through them. I am a fast reader. But this is not that kind of book. The journal prompts are every five paragraphs it seems, and they really require a lot of thought and emotional energy. I could read it without the prompts, but I am a rule follower and I feel it's helpful and so to do the work as prescribed is the right way to go through it. I mean, is this really the kind of thing I'd want to slam through anyway? It's just hard sometimes. I can do at most three journal entries in a day, and then I need a day's space to recoup my emotional energies. The last one I did was, "What have you lost?" and that one was very, very hard especially because we are not quite done yet. We just have a date where we will be. And that date is soon.

Someone asked me if this was the kind of hard emotional work I should be doing at this time. The answer is yes. So much of my breakdown (or meltdown as my new therapist prefers to call it) centered on feeling like I CAN'T DO THIS ANYMORE, I AM NOT OKAY, I CANNOT PRETEND TO BE OKAY WHEN I AM UNDER ALL THIS GRIEF AND UNCERTAINTY. So, feeling like I am making a thoughtful decision, that I am working through everything to make sure that I feel peaceful(ish) with this turn of events and probable transition, that's good work when you don't have to be a functional human anywhere else.

Garden Work
Remember when I said that my disheveled gardens looked like my insides felt? Well, not so much anymore. I got out in the dirt over break and cleaned up several beds. I weeded like a lunatic yesterday (and my neck, shoulder, and low back is real pissed at me for it today, man it stinks to be 40) and got rid of a wheelbarrow-full of marsh marigold, wild strawberry vines, and violets that were choking things out. I rage-pruned the liriope (lilyturf) around the blueberry bushes. Everything looks so much better.

See ya, invasive weeds! 

This bed was FULL of marsh marigolds. Now, just hostas and forget-me-nots. And lots of space to plant new things!

The forget-me-nots by the chimney are blooming first, probably a radiant heat differential from the bricks. That is the nerdiest sentence I may have ever written. But aren't they cheerful? 

Admitting We Can't Do It All
So, Bryce has wanted to get a landscaping service in for a year now, because last year he just couldn't keep up with the lawncare and with starting his PhD coursework and just everything feeling so fucking overwhelming over the last year, he was at his wits' end. Our fall cleanup was pretty dismal (not helped by a heavy snow in November) and the spring state of the gardens and the yard was just causing a lot of stress. But I struggle, because the garden is MY thing. Sure, mow the lawn, but shouldn't I be the one weeding and cleaning up and doing all that stuff? Especially since I don't work in the summer and that's sort of my job? Well, I admitted that I can't keep up either and it was making me feel worse that everything looked crappy. Although this week I did get out and do a lot of clean up myself, we hired our snow plow guy to be our lawn-mowing, leaf-blowing, bed-edging, mulching guy too. And the cleanup was AMAZING. He is also interested in more natural, organic gardening and upkeep, and he respected that my Virginia bluebells were already up and those things are one of my favorites but also SO FRAGILE and rip if you blink at them...and he managed to get all the leaves and detritus with barely any damage. Then I met with the gardening lady he works with, who apparently works with several houses in our neighborhood (and here I thought everyone did it themselves), and she is going to do pruning, which I suck at, and divide the irises, and move some misplaced shrubs about. She also does consulting stuff, so I can work with her and she can show me how to do things at the right times and if I work alongside her it's cheaper because we split labor. She was super nice and said I had a lot of cool stuff and had great suggestions for areas where I need to put new things in. 

It was hard to let go of control in this area. I felt like if I didn't do it all myself, it was cheating. But like I told the gardener lady, I can do more in the summer. When school is in session, I just can't get to everything the way I'd like to and so I do need help so I can concentrate on new plantings and windowboxes and containers too and not so much on the other stuff. Except weeding. Despite the hell it wreaks on my body, I really love weeding. It is so satisfying to see a bed full of weeds and then see the wheelbarrow full of your work and the nice clear beds, the plants breathing a sigh of relief that you've removed the stranglers from their roots. I like that work. But it's okay to get help. And they both know that my snake buddy is my friend, so I am not worried about that. 


Bluebells further in bloom
Bluebells right in the middle

Fixing Furniture Problems
One of my plans for not feeling so stagnant was to buy new living room furniture. To get rid of the loveseat and fake-loveseat/bench ottoman setup that we currently have, and get some grown-up furniture that fits the scale of our living room. 

See what I mean about faking seating with the ottoman? Everything is so big and this space is so tight. It's nice, but that loveseat takes up way too much real estate to really only seat two people. Time to go! 
So we went to a local place that sells furniture among other wonderful things, and we found a couch that was perfect. Also two upholstered chairs that are cozy and curl-up-able but not so huge in size. The couch will arrive this week, the chairs unfortunately not for another 8-10 weeks because they only had one in the fabric we wanted and I wanted them to match (they don't match the couch exactly, they are both neutral but the chairs have a herringbone pattern and are a bit darker wheat color not dissimilar from the loveseat we have). We can mix things up with accent pillows. But not ones with words on them. Holy hell, the store was filled with pillows that said things like "Happily Ever After" and "Love Me Always" and "HAPPY HOME."  I put my ass right on that "Happily Ever After" pillow. 

I'm hoping that between these things, maybe little square ottomans with pillow storage inside and a more streamlined coffee table, maybe I can finally host bookclub or have a jewelry lady party. Maybe our living room won't feel quite so hobbitty. I hope the layout I have planned works out, because I am spatially challenged and realized when we got home that the measurement of the couch was for the space designated for the chairs... whoops. I think we can make it work. We will make it work and it will be awesome. 

Emotionally Hard Organization Work With That Coffee Table
So, that coffee table? See the three leather(ette I think) boxes under it? Those are were full of all kinds of emotional bombs. On the side you can't see there are stacks of magazines. I have been avoiding cleaning out those baskets for a very, very long time, particularly the one all the way to the left. 

I have been coloring on top of the sum total of my fertility journey. That box/drawer/basket contains all the pictures I have of embryos. All the surgical pictures. All the protocol sheets I saved, all the bills for tax purposes and FSA purposes, informational sheets, the four notebooks full of notes on doctor's appointments, decision trees, and journals dedicated to daily journaling about each cycle. TWO FILLED JOURNALS OF CYCLE NOTES FROM ALL THOSE IVF CYCLES WE DID. Every card, flower delivery card, amazon gift note, or invoice from a gift or condolence gesture we ever received for our losses or canceled cycles. And at the very bottom, every hospital bracelet I ever wore for a procedure related to IVF, be it a retrieval, a hysteroscopy, the laparoscopy to remove my ectopic pregnancy and tube, or transfer. 

It's a lot of grief in that box. And I wanted it close to our daily life for some reason. I have a friend, who I met through a mutual connection and who is in an adoption journey herself, and the first time we met in person was at a craft store because she wanted to help me figure out how to finagle that stuff in a healthier way, where I could corral it and honor it in a scrapbook maybe and then put it somewhere where I could see it if I wanted to but it wasn't so central to daily living. I never did it. 

Well, she is going to be so stinking proud of me because since we need to move all the furniture for the couch delivery to happen, we had to empty that coffee table, and I bought a pretty butterfly box and I put everything in an organized way into it and then put it out of the way: 

Look how organized and put away that is. 

Such a pretty box for such an emotional bomb. 
Except, I did throw something out, and it was a huge step for me: 

Why on earth do I need to keep these? NOTHING good happened while I was wearing these. Adios, strange grief relics. I release you to the landfill. 
It was sad in a weird way to drop them all in the trash, and then I tied that sucker up and threw it in the bin outside so there was no panicky grabbing them back, and then I felt so much lighter. It was like letting go of some of the weight of that journey, of what those procedures wrought on my poor body, and for no tangible result. So I release them. And with them, a little weight from my grief. 

I was proud of myself for not going through all the things when I put it in the box. I just organized what went there and then put it in the nook behind the glider, for now. There's room for more stuff to go into the box if I so choose, but for now it's encapsulated and out of our daily living space. 

Also, these were in the far right drawer and on the other side: 

This is easily three years of this publication.
I have had a subscription to this magazine for no joke, five years. It was a hopeful thing in the mailbox. Until it wasn't anymore. I have razored so many pages from it that my Baby Binder is in need of a possible second volume, and when I got to that point and didn't feel any closer to an actual baby for whom to use it all as a reference...I stopped razoring. I stopped reading it. It was just too painful. And I sure didn't want to set up a second Baby Binder for a mythical baby. But they kept coming. And I felt it was a bad omen to stop the subscription, even though YOU CAN TOTALLY START A NEW SUBSCRIPTION FOR JUST AS CHEAP WHEN A BABY ARRIVES. 

So when the one on top came, and I saw that adorable little girl and could envision her as mine, in some reality where we got chosen, it was too much. It was Good Friday and I was exhausted and it was the last straw. I just thought, WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF EVERY MONTH? and then I realized how easy it is to cancel the subscription online and I wondered why I'd held myself hostage for so long like this was the most insurmountable task ever. But I did it, and now I won't get them anymore unless I actually need them. In the meantime, I need to find a place for them -- what are some places where you can donate two to three years of a magazine like that? I feel like just recycling them is a waste. However, I don't want them in my house for much longer. Thoughts? 

So that, my friends, is pretty considerable progress. We even went out to dinner both Friday and Saturday night (Mexican Friday, German Saturday) and I did not feel overwhelmed or overly sad. We are working our way through our decision making process, which is really decision made and just waiting to see what happens between now and then. It's exhausting making all this progress. But I'm proud nonetheless. It is so wonderful to feel lighter. To feel less weighed down. To feel like I've smashed the mask. Sometimes I find myself crafting a new one, and I think I'll always struggle with that. If I just keep smashing it, it will be okay. It is hard to realize that, to paraphrase a meme a friend posted on social media, my rockbottom had a basement. But now I'm climbing back up, and hopefully no matter what life will be a much brighter place for it.