Thursday, April 13, 2017

Every Day A Little Better (Except Tuesday. WTF, Tuesday?)

Now that it is Thursday, I can tell you that every day seems to be a little better. Some of that is because of fun new prescriptions that are helping combat the side effects of the Prednisone and helping me to sleep (as well as even things out). Some of that is kindness and connection. Some of that is me actually doing the things on my list and doing a slightly better job of Do Nothing (thanks, Mali).

Why Tuesday? WHY?
Tuesday was rough, though. It started with waking up stuffed full of sinus poison, that seemed to have made a beeline to my lungs. I did the choking cough myself and blew my nose for seemingly forever to try to clear the horrific headache and poison feeling that was my sinusy head. I cried. I wailed WHAT NOW? I CAN'T TAKE ANYMORE! and felt disconsolate before it was even 7 am.

But, I had something to look forward to. I was supposed to go get a midweek massage at 11 with my lady who saw me on Sunday for what was supposed to be a 1-hour session and once she had a closer look/listen went out and called her next appointment and asked her to shift a half hour so I could have 90. THAT IS SPECIAL. And a positive thing (that happened Sunday). But TUESDAY, I got up and showered and put actual clothing on that had buttons and zippers and went to go drive to my appointment...and discovered that my car battery had died. It just sputtered and refused to turn over. I could have cried. Actually, I did cry. I called the massage place, as at this point it was clear my car was NOT going to magically start and I was going to have to cancel very last minute, and I begged them not to hit me with a cancellation fee because "This has quite literally been the worst week of my life, sniffle sniffle sob sob." Thankfully they obliged. I did sound on the verge of hysteria. They were probably scared to say no.

I went inside, decided to get the mail from the front door. In opening the front door, something large and skittery fell on my left arm, so I flailed it and on the ground was a HUGE FREAKING SPIDER. It was like, half-dollar size. AND IT HAD BEEN ON MY ARM. I freaked out, and was just like, COME ON!!! But, you will be proud, I did not kill it. I shooed it out with some mailing card. Even though it jumped (thankfully AWAY from me) and was real disgusting, I sent it back outside and then used the back door for everything the rest of the day. I am STILL opening the door and closing it while inspecting carefully for his return before passing through. UGH.
Apparently this is called
a grass spider.

With my car dead, I had to to go find someone to take me to my doctor's appointment. Which was vitally important. After a couple calls to people who are aware of my situation because they have asked me how I am doing (whether they knew about the events of Friday or not), I found a friend who could drive me. Which I was so grateful for.

At the doctor's office, the nurse who took my vitals dropped the thermometer and it completely dismantled into a zillion pieces. "It's because I'm in here," I said, totally unironically. I felt cursed. I felt like Job. I felt like Lieutenant Dan, strapped to the mast of the fishing boat in the storm, putting my middle fingers up to the sky and saying "WHAT NOW?" (Except don't ever ask "what now?" because there is ALWAYS something else that can happen, or maybe that's the anxiety talking.)

But, at the doctor's I got what I needed even though it was probably the hardest doctor's appointment I've ever had. I got stuff to help me sleep and to even out the rough edges I thought I could sand on my own. And then I colored some more and had some tasty bbq for dinner and hung out with Bryce, and then had the best, deepest night of sleep I've had in a month. Thank you big pharma.

Oh, the kicker? When Bryce got home he went to charge up my car with this portable battery charger thing we have. THE MOTHEREFFER STARTED UP WITH BARELY A SPUTTER. WITHOUT the charging. It's like my car didn't feel I could drive yet or something. (Although why I had to sacrifice my massage is beyond me.) It was SO weird.

The Good Things, The Little Betters
There are far more of these than there are moments like Tuesday, thank goodness. I will bullet them for you as they are plentiful and it is nice to see them all laid out: 

- On Wednesday I was so much more refreshed having actually slept well. I did a little yoga of my own devising in the morning. I took a shower and drove, for the first time. The car started without a problem. I made it without feeling too panicky. 

- I decided to go to the grocery store to get shrimp for dinner, This is a big thing, because grocery stores for some reason are a big trigger for me (now that I am being honest about things) and I frequently feel like I need to get the hell out of there, fight-or-flight style. BUT, I had had a bit of a tiffle with Bryce about this chicken that's been sitting in our fridge that expires 4/17 and we keep getting takeout which is lovely, but that poor neglected (expensive, organic) chicken NEEDS TO GET EATEN. So I may have said something sort of snippy about the chicken and it wasn't a nice thing to say right when your husband who is being very patient and loving through your breakdown is off to work. So I decided to make the shrimp. Which meant I had to go to the grocery store. 

- But before that, I went to this little store on the way called The Bird House. Because I wanted to do a little walking around, and quite honestly I wanted to give myself a treat. And they have these neat nature earrings there, which some are kitschy but others are quite lovely, and I found exactly what I was looking for. I bought these: 
The bottom one is blurry because they literally flutter, the way they hang.
They were everything I wanted. Butterflies transform from caterpillars into something totally different, and in the middle, in the chrysalis, they are just goo. So I am sort of in a chrysalis right now. And monarchs in particular have a very long journey that they travel. We're going to pretend that I would be the kind that goes home to Mexico, because they don't die every so couple of hundred miles and rely on reproduction to get to Canada. The ones that fly home make it the whole way (if they don't get eaten by birds or starved by genetic engineered fields) and don't depend on the reproduction to get them there. Which is good on my end. And they clump in trees and make them look like they are on fire, like a phoenix. Yeah, I'm mixing metaphors. It works though. 

- I made it through the grocery store without having my heart rate jump up too much, and I got the shrimp (although accidentally two times what I needed), and I went home. (I also bought things for a certain someone's Easter basket. You don't need kids to do the fun wacky things, you just have to do them inside the house because people frown when 40 year olds take part in egg hunts.) 

- When I got home, I put the pretty magnets I had bought for myself at The Bird House up on fridge. 
So cute, right? They actually had owls in the same art as paintings we have in the nursery. I DID NOT BUY THOSE FOR OBVIOUS REASONS. These are equally cute and do not make me want to howl. 

And then I got inspired. See, I have a couple magnets. I have that Helen Keller quote that I love: 
This one I like. Because who knows what is behind that happiness door?

And then there is the magnet that I clung to and clung to and is part of the Cult of Hope and BELIEVE HARD ENOUGH and It Will Come True. It has been bringing up some feelings for me lately. And I sort of made it into a bit of an installation: 
Do you see what I see? 

I can honestly say I can love it now. I think I will keep it this way. When Bryce came home it took him about 20 minutes to notice and then he just laughed, and laughed, until he had to put his head between his knees. He said, "Oh, babe, that's the healthiest thing I've seen you do in days. I love it." 

- On Wednesday, my prizes came in the mail. I had ordered something mundane (Swi.ffer cloths for all that dust), something fun (a new matte cream lip gloss that is bright and tropical looking), and two things that are hard work but necessary. I bought these: 

My skunk "Fall Into Reading" bookmark friend tells you which is first. 
See, here is the thing. I have been eyeing Life Without Baby for a good six months. Not because I am GIVING UP HOPE. But because I know I am near the end of my floss-thin rope and I need to know that everything will be okay if things do not work out the way I planned. The way we've fought and struggled and really pushed so hard for so long. I have been floating this idea for a while, and I get met with a lot of resistance from people who love me and even people who have been through the infertility wringer themselves. But the thing is, if I don't start accepting that this is one of those happiness doors, and SEE it as a happiness door, then I will be worse than goo. And I am already goo. So I bought the books. And I started reading Life Without Baby.

And I cried. Because everything she said was my truth. It is the right book for me to read right now. It does not mean we are done right this very minute, but it is a very important piece of this process. I am accepting a hard reality, but I am accepting it so I can be free. I read a book that had nothing at all to do with infertility, The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon, and in it a character says, "It's still hard for me to believe that my future is going to be different from the one I'd planned." And that sums it up. Which is why I think the book on the left will be very helpful, too, since I have always tried to plan the unplannable. It works out great for tight lesson plans and units. Not so much for the messiness of life. Even if by some miracle (and you know how much I hate the word MIRACLE) we manage to have a placement come through before our time is up, I will have peace knowing that I am prepared for that other door. That I can welcome that other door, albeit with a shit-ton of mourning. But I can't ignore it any more. It is not a horror story. 

- I also spent time one day this week, forgot which one, talking to a friend of mine who is childfree not by choice, who actually was going to call or text me when I texted her and asked, "would you be willing to talk to me?" She was AMAZING. She (among others) is helping me to see that my biggest obligation is to myself and Bryce, to our life, to our happiness and well-being, and that I owe no one else a thing. This is our life. And she said she talks about me, anonymously, as someone who has really just kept plugging away and how unfair it is that it's always no but how amazing it is that I keep persevering. And I said, "except now I'm a cautionary tale and I think perseverance is actually killing me." So there's that. But the phone conversation was nourishing, and I think it will be so important to find more people who wanted this so badly and it just didn't work out. She was beautifully honest with me about the ways she finds the pros, and her fears about later in life, but she had just so many gems to give me and I took them all and gathered them into my pit to help light it up. 

- I have received encouraging texts and emails from people. I worry a little that I have become the crazy wife in the attic, but it is unbelievable to see just how much support I have. My principal has called twice to check in on me. The first time I got a little tongue-wagging, "Next time, Jess...NO NEGOTIATING." Yeah, that bit me in the butt a bit. I agreed. I have a doctor's note for the time I took this week, but if I need more after break (which I hope I don't) that is an option too, for everyone, which is nice to know if I am still all panicky. Because I'm not going to lie, I am DREADING going back through the gauntlet of care and concern. It is a beautiful thing, but I feel like I need a sign that says "Just say hi and move on until I am settled in a few days." Or something. 

Also, your comments. Every comment is literally like a hug. I feel your huge hugs, your caring energy, all of it. I appreciate the support more than I could ever adequately express in words. 

- A good friend SENT ME COOKIES IN THE MAIL. Like, delicious gluten free cookies! It was a fun surprise today: 
What's in the box? What's in the boooox? (sorry, totally inappropriate S7ven reference)
COOKIES! Nom nom nom. There's more of those frosted sugar cookies for a reason. They are AMAZING.
They came with a note that said, "I think you could use some cookies, lady. Thinking of you and always here if you need anything!" I cried. And laughed. And cried. And sent a Cookie Monster gif to her for thanks and fun. 

- I literally just got an email from the tattoo artist that I want to do my shoulder/back tattoo, whose booking I missed last time. I am hopeful that I can get in on this one, and if I can't, then I will find someone else. Because I am feeling tattoo-y. I feel like that will be part of the healing. I've carried it on my back for so long, I want to make it into something beautiful, and permanent, and metaphorical. And I think I changed my mind. Those two butterflies? I don't want them purple. I want them monarchs. 

- I went for a walk yesterday and did not freak out. I mean, not a lot. I had to breathe a lot. I live in fear of strollers or friendly people who want to talk. I DO NOT WANT TO SMALL TALK. Probably because there is a lot of "Go fuck yourself" lurking right under the surface and that generally doesn't make for good conversation. Also when people say "How are you?" I tend to answer honestly. I did say "good" to some random guy throwing old garden ornaments in a wheelbarrow. I did not say "I am goo today, how are YOU?" That is progress. I am going to go for another walk today. I hope I do not run into strollers. I am not above turning around and running the other way. 

- I met my new therapist today. I love, love, love my therapist, as you know, but she moved out of state and the sporadic Skyping is not working, and now I am in crisis and need to be seen in person and a lot while I get this into some kind of contained and processed situation. So I met someone new, recommended by my lady. She was great. I mean, what could I possibly accomplish in an hour in the midst of all this, but it was enough to get a start. She said You have an incredible support network, and I smiled because I do. I really do. She said That is so important and you are so fortunate. I know. She loved the books I bought. She loved the journaling component of Life Without Baby. She said, Do that. Do yoga. Find more guided meditations. Do Nothing. Make this next week Jessica Rejuvenation Week. Rebuilding Jessica. Nothing, absolutely nothing that is not. I said, "But I was going to write two days on my National Board..." And she said NO. No, you are not going to do that. You are not to do anything for a week except heal and journal and process and breathe and stretch and nurture yourself. 

Well okay then. I guess I better listen. Nowhere to go but up from here. (But know that Tuesdays happen.) Time to replenish, rebuild, reconstitute. Time to breathe. Every day, better than the last. 


  1. Your obliterated magnet is perfection. It reminded me of when we first got home from the hospital last summer following our daughter's premature birth and death and standing in front of our refrigerator -- who knows why, I did a lot of wandering and staring aimlessly those first few weeks -- and my eyes fell on the printed page I'd put up when we first started IVF the year before. "Good things are going to happen!" it says in BOLD. And the page is filled with other positive affirmations and quotes. I stared at it and I nearly laughed. You know, the maniacal kind of laugh that only comes when you're just at the lowest of the low, in such deep grief that you don't even recognize yourself. It came from such a dark place, my want to laugh at that paper on the fridge. That positive piece of paper that was only meant to buoy our spirits as we took that IVF plunge. It did the trick at the time but now, it just feels like it's mocking us. And yes, the paper is still there, and I don't know why -- although I've covered it with other things because I can't stand looking at it. I keep thinking about taking it down but in the end, I don't. Maybe because we've lost so much that it feels like if we DO take it down, we'll be removing the one shred of hope that still remains. I don't know. But I DO know that I love how you handled that damn magnet of yours. And I'm glad it felt good. Maybe it's time for me to do something similar with that paper of ours...time will tell.

    Sending you lots of good vibes -- keep working on YOU and doing what you need or, you know, doing NOTHING. Because that's likely the best possible thing you can do for yourself right now. And I hope you can get in sooner rather than later for your massage <3

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I feel like there are things from the beginning of the journey and there are things that you find at a different point that make you wonder how you could be so blatantly optimistic. But hope isn't an altogether bad thing, and if covering that paper helps for now, that works. I have a whole vision board hiding behind a hutch in a storage closet. I know it's there, I just don't want to dismantle it quite yet. That magnet felt like it was mocking me though and pushing me in an unhealthy direction. I am so glad you like what I've done to it... :) It was incredibly freeing.

      I am so sorry for your loss that you've endured and keep enduring, and I wish for you hope and peace moving forward. This journey is so freaking hard, and there are so many ways for it to beat you to a pulp. But there are so many ways to get back up, too. I think I just need to redirect my sails a bit. Maybe hop on a different boat.

      Thank you for the good vibes, and I am going to do my damndest to DO NOTHING. It is really hard for me to do but I am going to do it. I have another massage a week from Sunday, but I think I will try to get on the cancellation list. Thank you for your beautiful comment -- I so appreciate your words and love and vibes.

    2. After nine years of this crap, I'm with you, I definitely feel like it's perhaps time to jump onto a different boat. When we started this journey back in 2008, we weren't naive as my parents struggled for 7 years to have children and my cycles have always been a mess. But if you would have told me that after nine years, we'd still be without living children and reeling from the death of our Evelyn...Well, let's just say it's probably better to not have a crystal ball because this isn't something you want to know is coming for you. When we posted that "Good things are going to happen!" paper, it was our last ditch effort to summon up some hope. At that point, it had been 7 years and I'd had open heart surgery, we'd had a miscarriage, and we'd been through treatment after treatment at the infertility clinics without success. So we were at "the end" of the treatment line. You know the place. It's a shitty place to be. So we have it all we had and 4 IVF cycles later, we got pregnant with Evie and her twin, who we lost early on. So when Evelyn died, it felt especially cruel. She fought hard for 9 hrs in the NICU but her little warrior body was just too worn out. This journey is one I will never understand and one that I cannot even quite believe we're on. When is enough, enough? How much pain can a person take? Adoption is the best path forward for us but as you well know, there are no guarantees and the journey is long and hard all on its own. I don't understand how it is decided who will have an easy time of child bearing and who will have to endure such hardship. Wishing you peace and comfort -- I still (believe it or not) harbor hope for us both. (Apologies for the l o n g comment)

    3. Oh please don't apologize for the long comment! It's like having a chat with you over a cup of tea (I'd prefer coffee but I can't have too much caffeine or my heartrate goes canary right now). Thank you for sharing your story and commiserating. I am so sorry for your loss, for the double and gradual nature of it, for all of it. I think that's the big question, right? "When is enough, enough?" That's been my grapple. And everyone's enough is different, and there's just so many layers you can go through. We had an enough with our own genetics, and then an enough with fertility treatment, and we are nearing our enough with adoption and the whole journey. Nine years...that's a long time. But we all get to decide our own enough. It's just so hard when faced with that never give up mentality that makes me, personally, feel a weird obligation to others, to not be disappointing, to not be seen as a quitter. WHICH IS CRAZYPANTS. It is so interesting to look back on everything from this vantage point and all the ways that hope is peddled...but also that hope is necessary. So I wish peace and hope for you as well, and I appreciate the hope you harbor on my behalf. The time is limited, but you never know.

      Thanks for having a virtual cup of tea with me! I appreciate your company. :)

  2. It's so amazing to read about all the good things you are doing. I love this sentence: "I am accepting a hard reality, but I am accepting it so I can be free." Yes indeed.

    1. Thank you so much. That is a good sentence, for sure. Actually seeing it all on its own made me tear up. I am sure trying to do all the things (and NOT do all the things) that will make this into a better situation, for the long haul but most importantly to get me out of goo state. Thank you so much for the love!

  3. This is such a nice post to read! I love all the positive things...gifting things to yourself, the sweet gestures from friends, the new therapist (yay!), new meds (double yay!). All such good things!!
    I had a car experience JUST LIKE THAT only everyone ended up just thinking I was crazy. Like, yeah, I woke up and forgot how the hell to start my own car. SO frustrating and WTF for sure.
    Love the magnets. I have an owl story I need to blog about, thanks for the reminder! The earrings are Beautiful!! Love all the meaning in them. And the tattoo...DO IT!!! Such healing there. I have quite a few from my dark time, and they remind me how far I've come.
    There is a quote (Winston Churchill, I ~think~) that I read somewhere during my dark time "When you are going through hell, keep going". And it's so true. The best you can do is use the meds, go to therapy (seriously, I was never a believer in therapy until I did it.), work through all the steps but most important keep putting one foot in front of the other, taking each moment as it comes. One step becomes one moment becomes one day.
    You've got this, Jess. And all of us here, we've got your back. So much love coming your way tonight.

    1. I'm glad! I felt like, Holy crow, this is almost as long (if not the same) as the anatomy of my breakdown, but this one made me feel happy. I like chronicling the little steps to crawl out of the pit. Tuesday was a backslide, but then monarch earrings. And surprise cookies. So yeah. Ooh, looking forward to the owl story. I love owls, but then they got super popular, but I've managed to still love them. :) I have another tattoo I want, I might go ahead and get that one while I wait to see if this one artist will do my shoulder/back. Get the itch out. Although I'm not sure I'm supposed to do that sort of thing on all these meds. Maybe the prednisone will make me reject the ink or something. ARGH. What are your tattoos of? Sometimes they are personal, but I love a tattoo with a story. And yes. therapy is so important. One foot in front of the other sounds about right.
      THank you so much for all the love and support. And I love that Churchill quote. (Never never never give up is supposedly his too, but I wish I'd found the Going Through Hell magnet, because I wouldn't have shredded it into fangs)... :)

  4. I have to do a double-take with the "Never give up" magnet. I think you should replicate and sell on Etsy. Seriously.

    That aside, I'm glad you are being so proactive about healing. Including buying those books and diving into exploring a path so many fear. I did this too ("Sweet Grapes" was the book I read, recommended by Lavendar Luz). It confused many outside looking in but knowing what that road looked like made it easier to make future decisions because I now knew that happily ever after was possible even if it wasn't the way an envisioned. I'll add one more to your list, which is apost by Mali called Infertility's waiting room:

    Continuing to send oceans of love and support. You may be goo, but goo is transition.

    1. Ha! Thank you. I can't imagine having the energy to shred magnet after magnet for Etsy, that one had a special energy. Bryce is with you, though... He thinks a lot of people would want one. Thank you for directing me to Mali's post... it was beautiful, and just perfect for my current headspace. And I love the doors analogy. I am in that collapsed and exhausted state. I need to read more of my books, because I've been avoiding, using the holiday I'm not really celebrating as an excuse. Ha. Thank you for the oceans of live and support. And I live that, goo is transition. It sure is.

  5. I love your "never give up" art installation. It is very healthy!

    I know it's hard to read the books - and that blog post that Cristy recommended ;-) - and contemplate this, but there are so many stories out there that I hope will make the prospect less scary. (I also read "Sweet Grapes" but it never spoke to me in the way that Pamela's Silent Sorority or Lisa's Life Without Baby did.)

    It seems to me you're doing everything right now. Not making firm decisions, lots of self-care, and of course, Doing NOTHING! Of course, none of that is easy, I know. But it's all important. Breathe deeply, take care. Sending hugs.

    PS. Loved your Lieutenant Dan reference. I certainly have felt like that at times, but don't want to tempt fate either.

    1. Thank you! It was so much fun and strangely freeing to do it. And make it fang-y.

      I love, love, loved your post about the doors. I am sad I missed it the first time, but it came to me at the perfect time. I truly feel that your posts are part of why I feel that this can be a happiness for for me, and I've shared so much of what you've written with Bryce as it speaks to fears and things to look forward to and grief rising up but figuring out new focus, new priorities. Your posts give me how where several years ago I would have been to scared to consider then as applying to me.

      Trying so hard to do nothing, but also work through what got me here and how I can move forward in a less gooey state. I am coloring a lot. I am finding it hard to read as much on all the meds. And I feel less like Lt. Dan every day. Ha ha ha. Thank you for the love and support... It truly helps in this crapass time.

      P.S. I read Silent Sorority earlier this year! Also, Avalanche. And I started reading a lot more childfree not by choice blogs. I think part of me knew about six months ago that I was inching towards this door, but I shoved it into my eye. 😉

  6. Love your "never give up hope" installation - that's awesome. The earrings are gorgeous. And a huge "yay" for surprise cookies!

    The Tracy Cleantis book is really good. I also would submit Justine Froelker's "Ever Upward" as a good one about self-care and letting go (if you're looking for others).

    Sorry about Tuesday, ugh, what a day! I swear cars have some sort of sensor for emotional stress and choose to die just at the moment where you REALLY need to be somewhere.

    Like others have said, know that there are lots of thoughts going out for you right now. Sending some of those now.

    1. Thank you! It really does make me happy every time I look at that cut up magnet. I will have to look into "Ever Upward." Right now it is taking me forever to move through LWB because it's hard, so I think I will add that to the list but have hit a limit at the moment. Thank you so much for your thoughts, they are very much appreciated!

  7. Love the Helen Keller quote -- the cut-up "never give up" magnet totally cracked me up. Glad to see you have kept your sense of humour (even if it's on the black side, lol)!! Love the earrings too. I have a similar pair in silver, but I LOVE the monarch effect of yours!!

    Some great reading choices... I can add Jody Day's "Living the Life Unexpected" to the others people have mentioned. And Tracey has JUST come out with her second book... I do not have it yet, but it sounds like it would be right up your current alley -- it's called "An Invitation to Self-Care." :)

    1. The Helen Keller quote is one of my favorites. That magnet is one of my new favorite things...the fangs get all misaligned because it's above the dish drying rack and I get a kick out of making them more and less obvious by the day. :) Oh goodness, an invitation to self-care sounds lovely. I am facing going back to work on Tuesday and while it will be good to be back to a normal routine and I am feeling much better, it is making me twitchy. I will add "Living the Life Unexpected" to the list for this ongoing process... :)Thanks so much for your thoughts! And those earrings are my absolute favorite right now. I wore them every day I didn't feel mostly myself and they were very comforting. Goo results in beautiful things, later. :)

  8. So I'm a) late to the party (an ongoing theme in my life right now) and b) I feel like an ass because I thought I was following your blog, but alas, I was not. Sorry about that!

    Anyway, I'm so happy to hear that you are taking such good care of yourself. You've had one heck of a run and it's a lot for any human to bear. I can't find your email to reach out more formally, but I want you to know that I'm here.

    1. No worries at all! Thank you for your thoughts. It is definitely a cumulative thing where I just can't bear any more. It's hard. I appreciate that you're here! I will be writing back to you shortly! :)

  9. Oh boy I am so far behind in commenting, but I continue to love all of the little things that you are doing for yourself. Keep it up!

    Do you guys have Peapod or something similar so that you don't have to go to the grocery store?