Thursday, June 28, 2012

What I Can't Control

It's such a struggle keeping my mindset in a healthy place lately. Going into my 6th in vitro cycle (2nd frozen after 4 fresh), I am having a hard time staying positive. Not that I have to be Super Suzy Sunshine or anything, because honestly even Pollyanna would be dropping f-bombs and hiding in a pint of ice cream at this point in the game, but I do try to be somewhat positive. I try to use WHEN, not IF, when referring to a future as-of-yet phantom pregnancy. I try to think about the good things I have and not the giant gaping hole where the baby that should be isn't. I try to go into a cycle in a place of hope, because you just can't go into a cycle feeling hopeless and come out the other side OK, regardless of the outcome.

The biggest difficulty I'm having is sticking to my TODAY mindset. Just thinking about now, and this day, and not what's coming (or possibly not). That is so hard to practice! It can be so easy to go into a tailspin of worry about things that haven't even happened yet. Things I can't possibly control, but yet I try to do just that in my crazy, control freak mind. I'm getting better, though. Case in point: I have no clue what my virtual due date is for the upcoming cycle this summer. I haven't calculated it. I don't want to calculate it. It's some spring date, that much I can figure out (summer whoopie/laboratory finagling = spring babies), but I am resisting the urge to do what I ALWAYS do going into these things. That due date means nothing until there is something growing inside me. I have enough phantom dates to make me sad, I don't need to add a new one. In the past I've even put dates in my plan book and left it blank after my "due date," thinking I'd be out on maternity leave by then. This is just plain foolishness. It's hopeful, which I guess is good, but man, when that doesn't work out and then you're putting dates into the school year that you were hoping to be out for, it just magnifies the loss of what could have been. So I don't do that anymore. Of course, mentally it's hard not to go to that place. Would I be showing by Christmas? When could I tell the masses safely? Is there a "safely" anymore? I'm not sure. So I try not to go there. Because it is out of my control. It's either there or it's not.

This became a problem at the end of this school year, as I packed up my stuff and got things ready for September and tried to get things as organized as possible for the fall. Getting ready for the fall had a wacky effect on me. It made me unbelievably sad. I figured out that it was because I am so terrified of something happening this summer that would make it hard in the fall, that getting ready for September was triggering some kind of panic response in me. Probably because I didn't have a normal September last year. I don't know what the first day of school looks like in a classroom setting. That was taken from me last year along with my tube and my little lost babyling. And now, getting ready for a new chance at success, I am having a hard time not being terrified by the what ifs. What if I don't get pregnant and I fall completely apart? What if I do get pregnant and am faced with another horrid personal tragedy? What if I do get pregnant and have a complication that has me still viably pregnant but put on bed rest? What if I can't start the school year normally again? What if I get pregnant, I'm perfectly fine, and everything is normal? (That one doesn't usually go in the rotation.) The what ifs don't serve a good purpose. The what ifs are fairly destructive, because they send me into a tailspin, worrying about all of these possible outcomes, when NONE of it has happened yet. Why worry about maternity leave options when I'm not pregnant? Why worry about all the disasters yet to come, when they're still very much yet to come? And hopefully they never come? It seems simple enough to let it all go. But that subconscious is a shifty critter, and she won't give it a rest.

So I try hard to just focus on today. On now. On what's happening at this moment, not what could happen in a dizzying array of possible hideous outcomes. Today I put more plants in the ground, I potted plants that have been waiting on me for weeks (poor leggy things, I hope they get bushy again), and I weeded. I read a book. I took a nap. I vacuumed what seems like a neverending supply of cat hair from the rug in the living room. I made a bunch of phone calls. I washed the (again constantly covered in cat hair) bedroom quilt. I made a delicious lunch for myself. I took good care of myself today. I am preparing for success, not for disaster. I have always said "I don't need to prepare myself mentally for success, I know how that will feel (although less so for having suffered a loss). I need to mentally prepare myself for failure, because that's way harder." That's true, but sad. It's like my motto growing up-- "better to be pleasantly surprised than bitterly disappointed." I think it's time to try to give up the constant preparation for what could go wrong, and just let it go. I can't control any of this. All I can do is feed my body and spirit and shoot myself up with whatever the magic elixir du jour that could get me pregnant is today. And hope that it works, but know that I can't control whatever outcome is headed our way. I can hope for success and try to ward away failure, but it will either be or it won't. So I may as well enjoy these beautiful days of summer without wasting time on those ugly what ifs.  Wish me luck silencing those nasty little buggers!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What Are You Doing This Summer?

Ahhhh, the school year is almost over. Time for wrapping up, reflecting, planning for next year, cleaning up, and starting a well-deserved vacation. I am salivating just thinking about next Friday afternoon. It's been a slow transition towards summer--because I am split between two buildings I had my last day with students in one building last Friday (finals/Regents this week) but my last day with my morning building students was yesterday. And next week is all about finishing out the oodles of paperwork for this year and trying to get organized for next year.

I've noticed that in the past few weeks, I have been asked the question "What are you doing this summer?" what feels like 8 billion times. It makes sense--people who ask either work in schools themselves or know that I teach. There's lots of possible answers to that question, but it trips me up a little bit each time because I feel like I can't totally answer it honestly, which bugs me. What I want to say:

"This summer I will be working hard at getting pregnant. Dear freaking Jehosaphat, I really hope my body can pull its shit together this summer, because I am awfully tired of being a sad sap story. So, I will be doing my 6th cycle and relaxing/being as lazy as possible to try to make that happen. Even though this is unfortunately not a Yoda situation of "There is no try, only do." Pretty much there's only try and resign yourself to the fact that none of it is under your control NONE OF IT. So that's what I'm doing. Getting pregnant. And if not, probably losing my mind and going on an epic Phoe.nix-style bender/mental breakdown, complete with beard and funky sunglasses. What are YOU doing this summer?"

Probably a little over the top.

But the gist is there. I want to say, "I'm trying to get pregnant again, goddammit." But instead, I dance around it.

What I actually say, especially when asked if I'm teaching summer school and I say NO emphatically:
"Oh, I'm going to work in my garden, work around the house, relax, work on my, um, personal project."

Note: Personal Project = GETTING FREAKING PREGNANT (or having massive breakdown)

Sometimes people misunderstand me, either unintentionally or on purpose, because (strangely) my "personal project" either is completely unknown to them or it makes them highly uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. Despite my out-of-control eyebrows and winky faces as I say "personal project," pushing innuendo into blatant "AND YOU KNOW WHAT THAT IS" territory, I will be asked if it's a house project, a renovation, a class, etc. And then I don't really know what to say, so I fudge it and say, "oh, garden stuff."

Which isn't too far from the truth, because gardening is highly relaxing to me and serves a major therapeutic purpose during times of reproductive finagling. See here for my post on Garden Therapy last year. I have my vegetable garden, my six perennial beds, and the containers in our Secret Garden hideaway on the side of the house. The beds include the brand-new butterfly garden that I put in this spring, thanks to my husband's generous and incredibly thoughtful birthday gift of Certified Butterfly Way Station plants (little did he know he'd be the one tilling the dirt for it...). "Garden stuff" isn't too far off because that's a lot of what I'm doing this summer--if I can't seem to grow a baby, at least I can prove that I'm not totally barren and can coax things to grow and bear fruit in the dirt that I tend, if not my body. Maybe my uterus just needs 80 pounds of composted manure, like my tomatoes and peppers. Ha. Ha.

Streetside of the butterfly garden --
all colorful annuals. My favorite hybrid
spider plant, African daisies, angelonia,
vanilla butterfly daisies, and heliotrope.
And a butterfly house for cooler-weather
Backside of the butterfly garden--
joe pye weed, milkweed, monarda,
fernleaf dill, and lupines that
didn't quite make it. Can't ever
get those pesky lupines to grow.
The truth is my summer is not actually all that relaxing, although I'm going to do my best to make it that way. Infertility has a big part in it, but other things too. Actual plans this summer:

  • I got called for Jury Duty the first week we are out of school. Doesn't that sound like the perfect way to celebrate the first week of no responsibility? Hoping my number is high enough I don't have to come in. If I do, I have a stack of books and will try to make the best of it. Blah.
  • I have the annual Teacher Institute work day, also that week I have Jury Duty (playing the roulette a bit with my high number but I can reschedule the work day). Always fun to spend a 7-hour, unpaid day in a hot school... Hopefully the gamble on the jury duty works out and I can get both out of the way early. When I did teach summer school, I had to take that class the first Saturday after school started. SO GLAD I don't have to do that anymore.
  • Frozen cycle. Sometime this summer, late enough that I can be relaxed from the school year and early enough that hopefully I can avoid any early-pregnancy snafus that would affect the start of the school year (and recover from complete and utter disbelief if it doesn't work in time to be a normalish human being for my students next year). Come on, embryos 14, 15, and 16.
  • Read, read, read, read.
  • Garden, garden, garden, garden.
  • Organize, organize, organize. (Cupboards, basement, closets, etc.)
  • Get ready for the next school year. That's right, non-teachers who think we just laze by the pool all summer long, who glare at teacher posts about not working in the summer and mutter "must be nice" under their breath... Summer is a time of rest and rejuvenation but it's also a time of preparation (and PS, it's not paid). I am teaching two new classes next year in one of my buildings--I'm super excited about it, but it's going to be a lot of work to get everything organized and situated (and of course it will evolve over the course of the school year as things adjust and modify). Lots of reading and planning and researching. And, most of the time school stuff starts up in August, even though we don't have our first day until right after Labor Day. Time with colleagues, time in building, orientations, getting things together so that September can be smooth. Smooth-ish. Hopefully I can completely and totally avoid a situation like last year, where I spent the first week and a half of school in bed, recovering physically and emotionally from my ectopic pregnancy and resulting surgery. That is not the way to start a school year.
  • Cape May! It's been years since I've been on my girlie mini vacation, and barring anything crazy I'm going again in August. Cape May gluten free may be a challenge (no more fried broccoli, fried dough on the boardwalk, ice cream cones, crab cakes, etc.), but I miss sandy beach ocean. I miss the vacation that's a success based on how many books were read and the biggest decision is: Do I read by the pool first, or the ocean?
  • Some kind of mini vacation with Bryce. We couldn't go on our annual Maine trip this year, which is like a little death. We live for that week at camp. We have great memories of those weeks at camp. It's an amazing vacation. But it didn't work out this year and we decided that we would just take a pass and save the money. But I think we need to do something little, because a summer without at least a small romantic getaway would be a shame. Especially given the stressful things we have this summer.

So there it is, summer at a glance. My plans to be relaxed yet prepared for next year's challenges, stress-free yet embroiled in a handful of projects. Number one being...GET PREGNANT. Because it's possible. Because our blasts are beautiful, as they pretty much have been for 4 cycles. Because I'll be somewhat relaxed and able to really rest and encourage that baby or two (or three) to settle in to my tilled, amended, and utterly prepared uterus. And then when people say, "What did you do over the summer" I can say, "the best personal project ever." Which is so much better than "pulled a celebrity-style meltdown and became a bearded experimental musical artist/wildwoman living in a cave in the woods/rehab resident for Skinn.ygirl White Cranberry Cosmo Overdose/crazy catatonic wife in the attic." Which would of course be temporary but still, probably not help me so much socially. And would be totally inappropriate for modeling "What I did this summer" writing prompts. So let's hope I can hold it together, celebrate my summer project coming to fruition, and finally move on to physically expectant parenthood.