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.
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.