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

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 myself...so 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 Wa.rs 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 people...it'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 end...to 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.

DOES THAT SEEM RIGHT TO YOU?

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!