Sunday, November 25, 2012

Being Thankful

Bryce, Jess, and the Thanksgiving spread (all GF!)...
and not a small selection of booze behind us.
Happy belated Thanksgiving to everyone! The holidays are upon us and it is a mixed bag. I have been lax in my bloggy duties (both posting and commenting, but I am trying to catch up) because I hosted a family Thanksgiving and had family in from out of town, which required a lot of preparation and very little downtime. But I've had this post brewing in my head for days if not more, and I need to release it from my subconscious.

My mom is taking the picture. It's a nice full table,
just no kids running around.
The holidays are a funny time for me as an infertile woman, for us as an infertile couple. It is a time to be thankful for all that we have, but it is also a time when the baby-sized hole in our lives is painfully present. There is no kids table at our Thanksgiving. We do not have grandchildren to help entertain visiting parents or add that extra layer of joy and laughter to our home. We have cats, who are very snuggly and affectionate but just not quite the same as a cooing baby or a giggling toddler. I can make a kick-ass Thanksgiving spread and have food to feed many more people than actually were in our home, but I can't make a baby (yet). It's a lot to take in.

This is made even more bittersweet by my emotionally abusive relationship with Facebook. Facebook, you bring me flowers when you catch me up with friends I haven't seen in a while, but then you call me barren and empty when you scroll me through page after page of baby photos and ultrasound photos and bump photos and evidence of everything everyone else is so thankful for that we can only dream of at this point. I am happy for the new and burgeoning families out there, happy for Christmas crafts and milestone onesies and first cupcakes and first turkey and hospital photos and family portraits that will no doubt decorate the onslaught of baby-splattered Christmas cards we are about to receive. Your joy is palpable and I am happy for those who have this--either easily or hard-won through battles like mine. Many of the babies and small children I see online were born not of candlelit evenings or liquor-induced whoopsies but of injections and waiting for nurse calls. They are families born through birth mother sacrifice and joyous airplane days, not joyous pee stick bathroom moments that are immediately shared as though tragedy is something you hear about, not something you experience. I don't begrudge anyone their family, but I especially don't begrudge the ones that are happy endings to arduous journeys. It's just incredibly hard to see everyone's miracles when ours are so short-lived. It leaves us feeling very alone.

But we're not alone--we have each other. We share a relationship made stronger through all this unfairness. We have families who fill our table at Thanksgiving. We have friends who care about us and cheer us on. We know this, but it is hard not to feel sorry for ourselves when evidence that we have been left behind (sometimes two or three times over) when it comes to extending our family is all around us--on Facebook, via email updates, via the families (with mommies and daddies 10 years younger than us) that inevitably sit at the tables next to us at the diner...everywhere. Everywhere but car seats in the back of our cars or cribs in the little room that will someday have small people rifling through the picture books, not a sad 36 year old lady with no one to read bedtime stories to. (Again, unless you count the cats, and I haven't quite traveled down that road yet.)

So while a holiday entirely centered on giving thanks and sharing with family can be difficult for us as we mourn the chances that ended poorly and our continued childless state, it is nice to reflect on what we are thankful for. There is actually a lot, even though there is a gaping chasm of nothingness where what we would love to be most thankful for is missing. But there is a lot to be thankful for.

- Each other. I am lucky to have the love I share with my husband. We are truly a team, and a kickass family of two.
- Our families. They show their support in different ways, but they are incredibly supportive and want to see us happy.
- Our friends. We are grateful for the people who cheer us on when we're ramping up, who ask us how we're doing, and who mourn with us when the tide turns tragic. People who will see silly movies and go for walks and listen.
- That we have the ability to pay for fertility treatment without a huge amount of sacrifice. Don't get me wrong, it's hard to shell out the tens of thousands of dollars and see no return, and we have sacrificed a lot and feel financially shackled to the sharps containers, but we aren't racking up debt in this quest and we aren't facing really, really tough decisions when it comes to what we must give up in order to pay for the opportunity to expand our family. We have worked very hard to be in this spot, and we do stress about coming up with the large sums of money all at once, but we are grateful that we can afford treatment. Others are not as fortunate.
- That I can make an (if I do say so myself) amazing Thanksgiving dinner and share it with others. I am thankful for my gorgeous turkey, which was my best yet this year.
- That somehow I can keep trudging through this incredibly difficult time in our lives and not totally lose it. I am definitely at a breaking point, but I am not broken. I am sad almost all of the time but am able to function and do well at my job and separate that out. Infertility has not quite destroyed my spirit, and I will keep fighting to keep it from doing that. It's trying incredibly hard, but we still have enough hope to stave off the attacks and keep them from doing permanent damage.
- Our kitties. They are not children, but they are part of our family and they bring us so much joy. You can't be sad for long when a soft, fuzzy kitty nuzzles your neck and settles into your lap for a purry snooze.

There. I am sad, and I am frustrated by the fact that we are still on this ride with a ways to go before we have the chance to photograph our own "My First Thanksgiving" bundle, but we have a lot to be grateful for. And a lot to look forward to. Someday.

Me, my mom, and my grandma. I would love to add a fourth
generation to this picture next year...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Power of a Song

I had absolutely no idea how powerful a song could be. I know that music speaks to your soul, and can bring you to tears. I just didn't expect the reaction I had last night.

It was a cozy day--rainy and sleety and cold. We had slept in and gotten a late start on the day. We ran errands, we went to some neat little shops, we cleaned and organized around the house. While on our errands, we received beautiful compliments on our relationship from virtual strangers. While at the bank, there were these robot wind-up toys on the counter. Bryce said, "That girl one reminds me of something, I can't put a finger on it..." I looked at it and immediately knew what it reminded him of. "It reminds you of Joan Ri.vers' character in Space.balls!" He started laughing--that was EXACTLY what he was thinking! The teller thought it was great--she said, "Well, you're certainly with the right girl." It was such a small thing, but so amazing to realize how in sync we are. Then, at one of my favorite shops for home decorating, we got into a conversation while checking out with way too many candles (I have a seasonal candle addiction, luckily so does Bryce). The ladies at the counter asked how long we'd been married, and that we seem so happy and in love. That we always come in as such a complement to each other, and how lovely that is to see. Then, actually, Friday night at our weekly Mexican food date night, we sat across from this lovely Scottish couple who were a few beverages in and very friendly--they also talked to us about their daughter's traditional Scottish wedding but then said we looked like such a loving couple, such a wonderful pair. It was a weekend of post-anniversary affirmations that we have such an awesome relationship, even through all this shit, that we ooze happiness and compatibility. It was a beautiful, ongoing compliment.

We topped off the night at home, with a bottle of Saint Estephe bordeaux, candles making our house smell like oranges and spice, leftovers (not so fancy) and roasted Delicata squash (so super yummy). We decided to play a trivia game, Foodie Fight. (It's all about food preparation, serving, wine pairings, restaurants, famous chefs, etc. etc.-- yes, we know we're total food/wine snots and nerds to boot.) The game is a lot of fun and we're pretty even with it--I have a creepy memory that retains all kinds of random facts, but Bryce is incredibly well-versed in food, food science, and restauranteurs. I had put on a mix of music--some torchy jazz, some torchy Tom Wa.itts, what I thought was going to be mostly Antonio Bada.lamente jazz but was more creepy movie score (thanks a lot, Blue, and a sprinkling of Barry W.hite. What could go wrong?

Well, there was a song listed in our music server (yes, nerds, I know) as Barry Whi.te, but it so wasn't. It came on towards the end of the night. I love this song, but it had a reaction totally unexpected and visceral.

The song is Sexy Thing by Hot Cho.colate.

Why, why on earth would a song that's basically a "hey baby" come-on to some sexy lady make me cry?

It's on my stupid playlist. The song's chorus is "I believe in miracles...since you came along! You sexy thing!" and includes phrases like "How did you know, I needed you so badly? How did you know, I'd give my heart gladly?" Again, seems a little creepy. Embryos are not, um, sexy. But I love the whole believing in miracles thing, and I love how it's celebrating this miracle that's arrived, even if for the singer it's some hot ticket he wants to spend sexytimes with, and for me it is an implanted embryo. Because this song is a song that I played throughout my ectopic pregnancy (before I knew that's what it was) and a song I played during my last pregnancy, which was even shorter. It was a song I played during the two week wait to encourage my miracle to happen. It's a song that for some reason, last night, jettisoned me back to a time when I was full of hope and happiness and we thought we had finally made it... and then again to how it felt as I was losing both those miracles. This does not make for a very romantic end to a lovely evening. This makes for a sobbing, crumply wife blowing snot into her husband's t-shirt (totally unintentionally) and feeling like a total, complete, utter failure. We can do this relationship thing with flair and talent, but we just can't seem to seal the deal on that next step.

Earlier on Saturday, when we were eating our late and horribly unhealthy lunch (burgers and fries), there was a two year old girl peeking around chairs in the restaurant. She was adorable. She kept making eyes at us. She giggled. It was a beautiful sound. Bryce stared at her (in a totally non-creeper way of course), and then turned to me. "It's really going to be fun when we nail this" he said.  I was already a little on the quiet side, but I thought and thought and turned that over in my mind. A bit later Bryce was concerned that his comment had upset me. Actually, it made me incredibly happy. We spend so much time getting stomped on in this process that Bryce's protection mechanism is to say things like "It's so hard to believe this is ever going to happen for us" or "I just can't see parenthood in my future." Things that help him cope but drive me batty because they are so devoid of hope and don't exactly put positive, welcoming energy into the universe. So this one statement, "It's really GOING to be fun WHEN we nail this," was a beautiful ray of sunshine. It was a feeling that if Bryce can believe this is actually going to happen, if he can be hopeful and put that WHEN, not IF out there, then maybe we're actually headed down a path that will result in our own little miracle. I loved his statement. And I thought about his statement after I pulled the pieces of my broken heart together after that stupid R&B song catapulted me down a very dark, very sad memory lane. Because part of that trip wasn't sad. Part of it was the incredible feeling of hope and joy that I felt each time I had life growing inside me. The fact that I can't stop myself from getting excited when that positive comes around, no matter how tenuous it is. Even though my track record is horrible, I need to still believe in miracles. And I am so glad to have a husband who is also capable of believing that the miracle isn't pie-in-the-sky. That we will add a miracle or two to our happy household.

And hopefully the croonings of Hot Chocolate will convert back into a sexy song, and not a weird anthem for hope in the midst of loss... once that miracle happens for keeps.

Love That Liebster!

Many, many thanks to Amanda at Growing Griswolds for nominating me for the Liebster Award! This is a blog award given by bloggers, to bloggers with less than 200 followers. You must answer 11 questions given by the blogger who nominated you (great questions, Amanda!) and then ask 11 questions to the 11 fabulous bloggers that you nominate in turn. Liebster is a German word that means all kinds of warm and fuzzy things: sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing and welcome. It's a beautiful thing to be recognized and then be able to recognize others, and spread the love around!

Here are the questions Amanda posed...

1) If you were a pickle in a jar, where would you want to be and why?
Hmmm. I would want to be in a mini-fridge in an Airstream trailer somewhere in Acadia National Park, because that is the most gorgeous place a pickle could be. I would be a very happy bread-and-butter pickle.
2) What is your favorite holiday?
Halloween. It's edged out Christmas because a) Halloween is my wedding anniversary, b) Halloween encourages you to go around demanding candy from strangers, c) the weather is gorgeous, and d) selfishly, it is not a family holiday that you have to worry about traveling or gift-giving or making a giant meal for the masses. It is totally stress-free, gluttonous, and silly.
3) If you have a bucket list, what is the most ridiculous thing on it? (Thanks Bree for the question)
I don't actually have a bucket list! But if I did, now that I think of it, I'm sure there would be something ridiculous on it. Nothing crazy like skydiving or deep sea SCUBA, because that could send you off to the bucket and I am a chicken. Probably something like riding a horse on a beach. Because I love the beach but am terrified of horses, but that seems like a really romantic thing everyone should do at some point or another.
4) If you could only watch one disney movie for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
Great question! I would say The Little Mermaid. It was a high school favorite that I saw in the theater and then watched with my girlfriends at sleepovers (Yes, party girls we were not). It has a good story even though it's not remotely true to the Hans Christian Anderson original, the songs are great (Les Poisson being my favorite to sing in a ridiculous Frenchy voice), and it makes me cry.
5) What is your favorite nursery rhyme?
I don't really have one, but I have a favorite nursery rhyme book. It's that Mother Goose picture book with the checkerboard border around the edge. Loved the pictures in that one when I was little and I need to find it for when I read it to someone tiny in my house.
6) Do you have any pets? If no, why not?
Two kitties--Abner (black and white kitty) and Lucky (black kitty). They are super snuggly, although Lucky has been pretty destructive lately and Abner is a little gross.
7) Is your current hair color your natural hair color?
No, not exactly... it's close to my natural hair color but better (and with less gray). My natural hair color is brown, but this one is "Coffee."
8) What do you like to do in your spare time?
Spare time? What's that? During the school year I feel like this is a mythical concept... But when it does exist, I like to go hiking, read, play my violin, and garden. I also like to cook delicious gluten-free food.
9) If you could be any crayon color, which would you choose to be? (Thanks April for the question)
I would be Blue Violet. It's my favorite Crayola purple.
10) What is the furthest you have been away from home and where was it?
I think it was Hawaii... that's further from NY than England, right? A vacation after college graduation that was beautiful, even if it was wasted on He Who Must Not Be Named.
11) How old were you when you got your first cell phone?
20-something... I didn't have one in college. I don't remember if I had one when I lived near NYC, or if I got it when I moved to Rochester (which would have been 25). I think it was in Rochester, I don't remember having a 914 number. There were so many times before that when it would have been helpful to have one. It's weird that so many people don't remember a time before cell phones.

OK, here are my fabulous nominees. I apparently follow a lot of blogs with lots of followers, and spent a week (A WEEK!) feeling guilty about not nominating more. Every additional awesome blog I found that I could nominate was... already nominated. So here are my five lovely ladies, and I apologize for not following the rules...:

Tippy at Tippy & Tidy's Tumultuous Trip to (Twin) Toddlers
Suzy at Our Journey to the School Bus
Princess Wahna Bea Mama at The Princess and the Pee Stick
Kelly at Mommy Mayhem
Peg at Que Sera Sera
Here are your questions:

1) What did you want to be when you grew up, and did you end up doing something even remotely close to that original thought?

2) What was your favorite romantic vacation, and why?

3) What meal is so good that you could eat it every day for the rest of your life?

4) What is something surprising and pleasant that you have learned about your relationship through this process of family-building?

5) Which season is your favorite, and why?

6) What was the last movie that you watched that you were embarrassed to admit you liked?

7) What was the last album you bought (physical or MP3)?

8) What book has really resonated with you recently?

9) What is your most ridiculous fear?

10) What is something that you are super proud of?

11) Do you have a strange/unusual/silly talent? If so, please share!

Enjoy the questions. I feel like I'm setting up an online dating profile for you, but it will be fun to see your answers! :)

Have a wonderful Saturday, thank you to Amanda, and congratulations to the five awesome bloggers above!