Monday, May 26, 2014

Excited AND Scared...

 Time has a way of marching on whether I'm ready or not... and so here we are, getting ready to go in for our actual retrieval-and-transfer cycle. I took my last birth control pill today (and antibiotic for the uterine banding and I'll take my last lining-stabilizing estrogen pill tonight... my medication list just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger and now, for a short time, it will be just fish oil, prenatals with CoQ10, and Pregnitude! A relative reprieve!). Usually I'm all excited for that last BCP -- "This is it! Last Pill! For a really, really, really long time!" but I've been burned so badly on believing that things are "the last" anything (last cup of coffee, last glass of wine, last margarita, last stims shot) that it registers and then just kind of leaves me with more dread than excitement.

Don't get me wrong, like Little Red Riding Hood sings in Into the Woods, I'm both excited AND scared for this upcoming cycle. It fluctuates between 80-20 scared and 80-20 excited, and I think maybe the healthiest thing would be 50-50 but I can't seem to manage that. Like the song continues, "I know things now, many wonderful things..." except replace wonderful with terrifying. I am newly afraid of cancelled cycles. I would like to believe that it's a given that we will make it to transfer but I just am not as confident as I used to be on that front given my last experience. I would like to believe that it is a given that we will have frozens from this cycle, especially because it is split with donor sperm and there's this little piece of me that thinks of donor sperm as this magical, superhuman stuff that can fertilize a zillion eggs in one fell swoop, but I worry I can't count on that, either. (And I also worry that the donor sperm will prove to be the healthier embryos from the getgo and the fertilization report will be both encouraging and very, very sad for us and our attempt to join both our genetics together.) We've never NOT had frozens since our first two IVF cycles--with our current doctor at the helm we've always had at least two frozen embryos to transfer. But who knows? And then, the last time I transferred eggs that were mine into my uterus I got pregnant only to lose it two precious weeks later. Really, a week and a half. So there's that fear, too. There's the fear of not having an answer for why this hasn't worked for us and getting through all of our cycles with nothing left despite all the valiant efforts of procedures and treatments and searching for new things to address (that keep coming). There's also the fear of getting pregnant and being too afraid of all the things that could go wrong to enjoy it, and I have spent DECADES fantasizing about being pregnant. I am not naive, I know pregnancy comes with discomfort and pain and unpleasantness all the way around, but it also comes with joy and anticipation of a life-changing addition and the power to MAKE A HUMAN BEING inside of you. That has a powerful draw.

On the flip side, I am excited. I'm excited to actually make it to retrieval and see the difference a fancypants lab makes. I'm excited to give our genetic material another go and hope for the best. I'm excited to be Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise (except I am decided NOT excited for the beta testing). I'm excited to see follicles grow, hopefully more cooperatively this time with just the right amount of robustness, and I'm excited to see how many embryos we end up with, how many chances. I'm excited for the possibility that the extra embryos are icing on a pregnant cake, that maybe our number finally comes up and this ungodly hell is finally over. I dream about the day when we are no longer on this merry-go-round of torture in every possible way. I dream about finally being free to buy things for a baby that exists and not just in my head. I dream of taking all the things we've bought for the mythical baby out of drawers and crawlspace tubs and displaying them outwardly in our little room because it's finally REAL. I have excitement for these things. But first, mainly terror.

And exhaustion.

I did SO WELL with Egg Boot Camp. I have been on some supplements since JANUARY. I had been caffeine and alcohol free for months and had cut down on sugar in the weeks before supposed retrieval and I had been exercising regularly and doing lots of yoga and optimal acupuncture appointments and felt pretty zen. I am the opposite of that now. I realized the other day just how upset I've been about the cancelled cycle. I feel robbed, because I prepared so incredibly well for a cycle that went bust in a really irritating way, and I just got a bit burnt out on it all. There was no way I could keep all that up through June. No. Way. And, on top of it, I felt betrayed because I did all the things you're supposed to do to optimize your chances and my follicles were STILL not cooperative--they were robust but not evenly, they shot my estrogen to the sky without full maturity on my eggles, and all was lost. So... was it worth it? I'm not sure. I've been modified on everything, but I do not feel particularly prepared.

After the cancelled cycle I was really sad and really frustrated and I kind of gave myself a week or two to be completely hedonistic. But then I sprained my stupid ankle. So I was limited on the exercise front. And school has been insanely busy lately, even though annual reviews are over, so I didn't have as much time anyway even if my ankle wasn't preventing me from doing my yoga/pilates stuff and even walks. Then, once my ankle felt better, I went in for the hysteroscopy and was on an exercise moratorium following that. I've been able to do something for a week now, and I've been going for walks and doing light yoga, but I still feel like I am going into this cycle less than optimally on the physical front. And probably the emotional front, too.

The question is, is that so bad? Maybe I put too much pressure on myself. I did all those things and it didn't really make a difference with the cancelled cycle, so maybe I don't have to be quite so gung-ho about bodily preparation. I did start acupuncture back up on Saturday, and while I plan on doing the wheat grass shots during stimming, I think I'll do every other day. I don't think every day is necessary. Maybe I can be a bit more relaxed going into this cycle and that will help in some small way.

I wish I could turn off my insane need to control every little thing. I wish I could let go and really just let what it's going to Once we're in it I don't really have a choice, but this lead-up-time is fairly difficult. I want to be hopeful, but I fear worst-case scenarios. I want to give myself the best chance, but really at this point it feels like that's all it is--chance. If this is going to come through for us, if we're going to become parents through pregnancy, it's either going to mesh up or it's not. It's amazing to me how many tiny parts have to whirr and click at just the right time to make a baby happen. A tiny misstep and nothing comes to fruition. So who am I to think that drinking a frothy green juice is going to make a difference? That I need to be in prime shape for this to happen? I mean, I'm not in prime shape largely due to infertility, so it really feels like a losing battle. I only have a week left before I start stimming and strenuous exercise is off the table. Am I going to drop 8 pounds in one week? Not in any healthy way.

So, I spent much of this holiday weekend gardening. Preparing my vegetable bed for the Birthday Tomatoes my best friend sent me and ordering the rest of my veggies and herbs. I'm behind the 8-ball on planting, but whatever. I think we finally just passed danger of frost so I don't feel so bad. I plant pretty mature plants so I'm not worried. I did the first of my flower runs yesterday and moved stuff around. My lupines, the ones that got me so excited last year for producing one perfect flower, now have SEVEN buds (update--NINE!). Both plants are beginning to flower. Which is exciting but I also know is not necessarily a good omen for my own propagation. I wish it was, though. I've been tilling soil and digging holes and weeding and squatting and pruning and lifting and fertilizing all over the place. It's a good way to prepare in every possible way because I'm down in the earth and I'm caring for living things and I am making them thrive and reproduce and flower. Flowers are reproductive organs after all, so it's got to be good juju along with good exercise. I am righteously sore after yesterday's 5 hour long gardening spree. And it makes me feel good that I can create life. Not human life, not yet, but I am capable of making something grow.

I will end with pictures of my little flowerbabies, that help my body and my mind and have been the best preparation for this cycle I could do. They take my mind off my troubles, they condition my body, they bring me happiness and satisfaction. I hope they bring a little beauty to your day, too.

Lupine that's never bloomed before...
can you find the buds?
Lupine that bloomed last year, only with THREE
buds you can see ready to go and more hiding...
Also LOVE the Korean lilac behind it. 

And now for some columbine love... I have several varieties and they ALL CAME BACK this year despite a difficult winter. The pretty rose-and-yellow-colored one was a variety I had two plants of and they didn't come back at all last year. This year they reappeared under my bleeding heart. What a welcome surprise!

So old fashioned...

Like a happy purple daffodil!

This is my absolute favorite shot. Love the colors
and love how it turned out... so vibrant.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Got Me A Spiffed Up Uterus

Hysteroscopy #3, DONE. Actually, on all the charts and paperwork, they called it a polypectomy, because this time they knew they were going in to remove some squatters, which was odd. But polypectomy at least can't be confused with hysterectomy, which I accidentally called it when talking to my husband, and he was horrified that they would be removing my uterus since we kind of need that thing, and I realized I misspoke. Polypectomy just sounds kind of colon-y.

WARNING: I have put some pictures of the procedure at the bottom of the post, because I think they are neat and interesting. Bryce said, "You are kinda doing for the uterus what Katie Couric did for the colon." Yup, I'll take that--the Katie Couric of the Uterus. Behold, my innards for your informational viewing! I did try to put one of the less disturbing (and to me hilarious) photos first so that if you have photos on your blogroll and I grace it, I won't cause mass upchucking. The pictures are neat but I wouldn't recommend looking at them if you're, say, blog reading and eating at the same time.

This surgery was different from the others, because we had to travel to Buffalo and go to an all new hospital that was unfamiliar to us. First off, my other two hysteroscopies were in an ambulatory surgery center, not a hospital. Something about being in a bona fide hospital ratchets up the stress. Secondly, we had to leave the house at 6:30 to get there for my 8:00 appointment since pre-op testing was first and the surgery was scheduled for 10:00. That hurt. But, we got there right on time and didn't stress about being late, so it was worth it.

My body was not cooperative last week prior to the surgery, which almost had it cancelled. I will never understand why my body just does not do these simple little things I ask it to do. Everything else is being taken over by medications and doctors, and all I needed my body to do was NOT BLEED whilst I was on the Pill prior to surgery. But Tuesday I spotted and by Wednesday I was full on bleeding, like heavy, gross, clotty blood that had me worried I wasn't going to make it through a 40 minute class period before flying to the bathroom to prevent a Carrie moment in the halls. Because of course I was wearing a dress. It was that bad. I talked to my doctor, who hadn't been worried about the spotting but then was really confuzzled by the heavier bleeding. "You're sure you didn't' miss a pill or two?" he asked. HA! AS IF! Nope, no missed pills. Then I remembered that my pills had been laying on the table and when I came home earlier than usual the sun was right on them... maybe the sun had zapped all the fake estrogen out of them! Faulty storage was killing my cycle! Nope, he nixed that as a reason. We had two choices -- double up on the pill and go ahead with the hysteroscopy, hopeful that that would reveal the culprit; or stop the Pill, bleed for real, and start up a week or so later, delaying our cycle by two weeks. NO THANK YOU. My doctor seemed to think that the doubling up should taper the bleeding, and that we could get to the bottom of things, and so that's what we did.

The bleeding did taper but man was I foul that night. Slamming things around, screeching, "MY BODY SUCKS SO MUCH! WHY? WHY MUST MY BODY COCKBLOCK ME AT EVERY FREAKING TURN? AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!" Poor Bryce. He just watched me go beserk and gave me a hug when it seemed I wouldn't stab him for trying to be nice to my idiot body.

Thursday morning I still had to wear a stupid pad to the hospital because while the blood had tapered and was no longer horror show, it was still bright red spotting. I began to freak out and wonder if maybe, maybe in the cancelled cycle some eggs released later and I was somehow pregnant and now miscarrying my cancelled cycle baby. This is straight up crazypantsness, because I had an 8 day period after the cancellation and it was one week after I stopped the drugs (thank you, luteal phase defect) and we had ABSOLUTELY NO SEX AT ALL until after the period and I'd been on the Pill for a week, so that would be pretty impossible. Bless me, I am capable of such optimism that I thought that was possible. And I thought it out, that it would really stink to get pregnant that way and lose it, but then that would be really good for the possibility of us getting pregnant in an actual cycle, so while it would be weird and sad it would actually be somewhat good news. It is painfully apparent that I have lost my grip on reality with all this trauma. Luckily, my HCG was negative at the hospital and so I didn't have to contend with a short lived miracle crazy pregnancy loss. MY MIND WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS.

All the pre-op testing went well, until I realized that Bryce was going to be with me only in the ambulatory wing, and as they wheeled me to real pre-op, where I would get my IV and everything, they would drop Bryce off in the surgical lounge. Which sounds much nicer than it actually was. I was nervous about this, because for some reason despite being under a gazillion times in the past 4 1/2 years I was certain something would go hideously wrong this time and I was at risk for being a goner. No idea why. I swear my anxiety keeps ratcheting up higher and higher the further I get in this process.

As I was being IV'd and hairnetted (no pictures, sorry) and asked about my ticker that was hopefully stronger than my feelings of foreboding, my doctor came in. He said they were going to remove the polyps (assuming there were more than one), figure out the bleeding, do the scratch biopsy to prep my lining, and use this new tool they use in orthopedic surgery to shave down cartilage that would actually lower risks and be more precise. THEN, then he said they would be looking for just one. more. thing. A journal article he'd read mentioned this uterine banding that they'd found in women with recurrent pregnancy loss. And, he said, while they're not the same, recurrent pregnancy loss and implantation failure are often treated similarly with good results. He said there was about a 10% chance that I had this banding, and that it was the result of infection (?!), and that if I did they would treat me with a broad spectrum antibiotic for 10 days or so and that should clear things up. Just one more possible foil to implantation that could be lurking.

I went blissfully under and woke in the recovery room to lots of beeping and a lot of cramping pain, and was again blissfully treated with some IV demerol that took that pain right away. In my post-anesthesia-demeroled-stupor my doctor stopped in to tell me all about how things went. I had THREE polyps, I had a big old blood clot that probably was to blame for the weird bleeding, and YES I DID HAVE THE BANDING. Go freaking figure. I don't know whether to be happy about this (maybe it's a piece to our puzzle! Maybe the missing piece! Maybe we CAN have babies with both of our genetic makeup and my stupid uterus has been the culprit all along!) or worried (what the hell is this infection nonsense? what if it comes back? why does my body keep making these polyps? Why do I have blood in my uterus at inopportune times, which is SO BAD FOR IMPLANTATION?). But, everything is all cleaned up and so we're on for our June cycle, which had better be a normal cycle free of wacky estrogen levels and overly prolific follicles that blossom unevenly.


Zlorg the Destroyer in my uterus. Pretty sure this is the fancy orthopedic
shaving tool, but doesn't it look like an evil alien overlord resides in my uterus?
THAT would totally be a problem for implantation. 
Le Polyps Trois... Look at the veins leading up to those bloody-tipped mushroom
looking things. WHAT THE HELL? And, if you note, they're at my cervix again. Which concerns me. Why do I keep making these things? 
Sorry, grossest one. This is the evil blood clot. And, it's really similar to a
sand worm from Dune or something.Definitely a disturbance in the Force. My poor, beleaguered, nerdy cervix!
That's no space station... HA! Couldn't resist. Here's one example
out of three of the weird banding.OK, antibiotic, do your job and
zap that nonsense out of the way of my baby!
Interesting stuff, no? I have what could be a really disturbing shutterfly album of photos of my uterus, inside and out. Three sets of inside and one set of outside from the ectopic surgery. These, though, are by far the most entertaining, provided you don't think I'm really odd for keeping this crap and then showing it to you. I am like the weird grand uncle who keeps a finger in the box that I lost during the war. I want to share my war wound trophies I guess.

After the surgery, Bryce was great. He got my prescriptions while I slept in the car and picked up some pretty flowers, too. That I may have explicitly asked for but whatever, he got them. I rested and slept and then had to take some percoset because man I was a little more painful after this one than the last two. Recovery was slower, too. I still felt awful on Sunday, on Day 4. (Probably because I tried a little gardening, which was probably ill advised, but I stopped once I got really crampy again.) This week I've been tired and a bit sore but things seem to be a bit more well-behaved in my nethers so all's well that's in the middle of ending well.

Let's hope this all proves to be my LAST hysteroscopy, that the next procedure after the egg retrieval and transfer is an ultrasound to check out my burgeoning gestational sac. I mean, the home's all renovated and cleared of the toxic mold that has caused previous evictions, so it should be all set for some more permanent tenants, right? I hope so. I really, really, really hope so.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Birthday Bonanza (Or How About a Little Happiness?)

Bryce did a knockout job celebrating my birthday and making it far less bluesy and far more joyous and romantic. I have a zillion things I want to be writing about right now (my hysteroscopy, my body being stupid again, my thoughts and fears going into this next cycle, yada yada yada yada) but I could do with a little unadulterated happiness. So, I shall tell the story of my 38th birthday in photos and stories.

The Saturday before my birthday was supposed to have that surprise that Bryce had engineered (and was causing me a fair amount of anxiety). Sadly, Friday afternoon he received word that what it was supposed to be had been cancelled for lack of interest. Which was immediately obvious as a crushing blow to Bryce, who had been planning this thing for a couple of weeks. He spilled the beans over dinner--he had gotten me a class at Writers and Books (a local literary resource I've been meaning to explore) on how to turn your blog into an ebook. HOW THOUGHTFUL! How amazing! How crappy that it was cancelled! But, not to be squelched, Bryce signed me up for a 1 hour 15 minute one on one session with the teacher to be done at a mutually convenient time. So all was not lost! It was a very thoughtful gift and not one that I was terrified of (no writing would be done in the class). Of course, there's that thing that says you should do one thing each day that scares you. That would probably be good for me and Bryce knows it, but luckily for me I went the day scareless.

I need you to notice Bryce's Einstein tie
lurking behind the wine bottle.
I love this man so.
The evening consisted of a beautiful night out at a restaurant nearby, The Revelry. It is a gorgeous place, rooted in North Carolina with very interesting food choices. Here we are, at our little cozy table with our completely delicious bottle of Priorat wine (that followed a craft cocktail--their bar is AMAZING with all sorts of fresh squeezed juices and homemade infusions and oils and interesting ingredients). Obviously, a hiatus from Egg Boot Camp is necessary on birthday weekends. Those windows went all the way around, which was especially awesome because halfway through the night a whopper of a thunderstorm rolled in and we had front row seats to the whole thing. Horizontal rain, crazy lightning bolts, thunder that shook the restaurant, and maybe even a little hail. We were safe inside our food-and-wine-cocoon, enjoying every last minute.

Speaking of the food, it was phenomenal. We decided to go all out and eat our faces off. We started with sharing the Duck Tacos. OHHOLYJESUS they were the most amazing things I've ever put in contact with my taste buds. Freshly made corn tortillas holding shreds of smoked duck in a citrusy marinade with peach cole slaw and freshly pickled slices of ginger. I COULD HAVE EATEN TWELVE OF THEM. I still dream of them. They were amazing.

No picture of salads, but look!
Pretty centerpiece flowers!
On to salad--I got a pretty boring green salad except that it had a dill pickle vinaigrette, because I wanted a rest in between the duck tacos and the duck I was certain to have for dinner (I love me a good roasted duck), and some of the salads had ingredients I couldn't have. Bryce however had a roasted beet salad that I wish wish wish we had photographed because it looked like something out of Star Trek. Seriously. The beets were halved and stuck their little roots in the air and were on a bed of some bitter frisee-like-green with little dots of kimchi puree. They were amazing. They looked surreal, but tasted incredible. I wish I had been more adventurous and gotten that one! Next time...

Then... dinner. I got the Sweet and Spicy Duck Breast over cheddar grits with pea tendrils and pickled cranberries. See how happy I am about my duck? Doesn't it look AMAZING? Those grits were so creamy and delicious, and the duck was perfectly tender on the inside and crispy fatty on the outside like good duck is supposed to be, and those pea tendrils were surprisingly good! It was like having little vines on my plate, but they tasted just like sweet pea pods. I don't like my food to touch normally but in this case every little thing added to every other little thing and the touching didn't bother me one bit. It was so, so good. (See? I didn't say AMAZING.)

Bryce got a burger, which sounds not so exciting but it was completely delicious and well seasoned and came with these frites with a russian dipping sauce and the frites were GLUTEN FREE! They have a separate fryer! Hallelujah!

Dessert was a little harder, as almost everything was NOT gluten free. No creme brulee even, but a lot of really delicious sounding pastries. All was not completely lost though, because they had sorbet. I got this very odd sounding ricotta sorbet, which was actually refreshing and like a really light ice cream. We toyed with the idea of one more cocktail for me, but we left. And then Bryce had an idea...

We'd go get me a glass of champagne. At the restaurant inside our newly renovated Weg.mans, no less. This little Italian place called Amore that we never see people in, and that makes all their own pasta and actually told Bryce that they can't do anything gluten free due to a small kitchen and cross contamination, but their BAR was gluten free. So a glass of champagne at the grocery store restaurant bar that closed 15 minutes after we got there at 10:30 to cap the night! It was delicious. And then we could go get the ingredients for the cake Bryce would make me for Monday, my actual birthday. So, we traipsed around the grocery store, me feeling tipsy and silly (for as much as we had to drink, we were at The Revelry for nearly three hours, so it was well-spaced). Until I made a mistake and thought we could get our Mother's Day cards at the same time. I was fine until I picked up a "for my wife" card and read it and said, "None of these, none of these for me" and started getting weepy. WHY MUST I RUIN THINGS? Luckily Bryce stared at me, said, "What the hell are you doing? Get out of this aisle. Get out of this aisle RIGHT NOW!" And I agreed, hotfooting it to get another ingredient for the cake. Crisis mostly averted.

Did I mention that I had sprained my ankle a week before? That for some reason, I sprained it WALKING a three mile vigorous walk around my neighborhood and it had blown up like a balloon by evening the next day and I had just thought, "Hmm, my ankle hurts!" (which is a horrible testament to my pain tolerance apparently), and I looked and my ankle had ELEPHANTITIS? It was helped with ice and elevation and one of those compression sock-type braces, but surprisingly stubborn. However, I was NOT going to wear an ugly black ankle brace and sneakers with my cute birthday dress. I was going to wear NICE SHOES. So, for the evening, I took off the brace and wore these lovely sensible mary jane pumps with a 1940s style heel. They had a buckle. They had a low chunky-ish heel. They were fine aalllll night.

Until...klutziness took over. We got out of the car at the end of the night, in our walkway, and I walked towards the door. Halfway down the walk my ankle turned. Turned hard. In an effort not to slam it into the pavers and do horrible damage, I tried to overcompensate. I hurtled myself forward in the other direction, but that ended up looking like a crazy run as I staggered towards the front steps. And launched myself into the flower bed, over the boxwood, and onto the steps themselves. My ankle hurt, but now my forearm hurt worse as I pretty much grated it on the rough stone and cut it on my bicep and put new bruises on my shin. At first, Bryce said, "Why are you running towards the door?" and then he came running over to see if I was ok. I laughed maniacally. I thought it was HILARIOUS that the night ended with me attacking my boxwood bush and landing on the stairs. My forearm beaded up with blood and started swelling as I limped towards the door. Once inside, I washed out my forearm and put the gauze contraption on so it could air out but not be totally raw to the elements, and put that stupid brace back on. Where it stayed for another week or so. All week my arm turned pretty colors and I was thankful I didn't break the stupid thing. My students asked what happened and I told them I lost an epic battle with my stairs. People on facebook largely assumed I was toasted off my rocker and put comments like "Party ANIMAL!" on my picture, which I couldn't NOT share because it was just so classic. First I sprain my ankle walking and then I dump it at the very end of a very lovely night. It didn't make the night a bust at all, it just added some hilarity, in my opinion.

On my actual birthday, Bryce kept the celebrations coming. I came home from work a bit early, and was hanging out at home when he called.
"Are you at home?" he asked.
"Yeah, why?"
"Because I need you to leave."
"Leave? Like for a walk, or can I hide in the backyard?" I asked.
"You need to leave. Like get in your car and drive somewhere. I don't want you walking for the twenty minutes I need."
Hmmmm. So I left. And sat in the parking lot of a local county park like a creeper, wondering what the heck he was up to. Was he confetti bombing the house? Would there be ponies? WHO KNEW WHAT HE WAS CAPABLE OF!

I came back and Bryce was in the window, out and out giggling. I looked in the mailbox and there was an envelope sticking out:
Inside the envelope was my membership to Writers and Books, as well as my first clue. It was a scavenger hunt! (Possibly revenge/inspired by the Easter Present Hunt I sent Bryce on Easter morning. With no kids in the house to do these things for, we tend to go a little overboard with each other and act like total children. Further proof we will be excellent parents one day.)

I had six clues that led me all over the house.

I don't know if you can read these, but they were quite clever.

1) Make your way to the digital gutenburg press. (printer)

2) Race cars, travel through time, fight battles, kill zombies, dusty and white.
This one was tough. I thought maybe it was hidden in our copy of I Am Legend, because it contains most of those things, but I was wrong.
(It was the X-box.)

3) It is closed. It will open again soon. It sits in the center of the table, keeping the rain from my head. Watch for the spiders...
(This was the patio umbrella in our Secret Garden on the side of the house. I have an irrational fear of spiders dropping from it when I open it up... this time only a clue dropped. Thank god!)

4) It comes. It goes, taking with it just enough to sustain the cold. Here one moment, gone the next, like a candle light ________ing in the wind."
(So clever! Flicker, as in the Northern Flicker that sometimes graces our suet feeder off the back patio. WE ARE SUCH NERDS, but this was so much fun!)

(I have this little red chair without a seat that I have been meaning to spraypaint lime green or violet for the garden, it's in with my ferns and hostas in the shade garden but I knew just what he meant!)

6) I did so well until the last one...
"If at midnight you were to creep down a dark basement hallway of an abandoned rustic house with nothing more than a matter which way you faced you would always think there was a ghoul here"

"IN THE CLOSET!" I yelled. Bryce looked a little strangely at me. "No, you're in the basement. No closet. Where's the ghoul?"
And when I whipped around, I saw this:

 A beautiful copper birdbath, completely unwrappable, a gift from Bryce's Mom.

He could have totally just jerry-rigged a wrap job, but he sent me on a hunt all over the house and yard to find it in the most fun way possible.


He literally took my birthday and made it impossible for me to be sad about it. How can you be sad about scavenger hunts and delicious food and surprises galore? YOU CAN'T.

Dinner was a home cooked meal courtesy of the man, dry aged rib eye steak with waffle fries and lemon-parmesan asparagus, accompanied by a wine we'd been saving since the year we started dating. A 2006 Amon Ra shiraz that was the first pricey wine we'd ever bought, and it seemed like forever before it would be "ready." But 2014 fell in the early end of "ready," so we popped it for my birthday. It was really, really tasty. (And in case you look it up, when we bought it it was NOWHERE NEAR the price you can get for it now.) We ended the night with Frozen (a gift from my Dad along with Tangled, and because it was my birthday Bryce COULDN'T SAY NO! BWAH-HA HA) and gluten free Gooey Cake, which needed a bit more doctoring on our end but it was delicious and cream-cheesy all the same.

It was a beautiful tribute to another year of life on this planet. It was a beautiful weekend of surprises and laughter and a lot of love. It was a day that made me realize all over again how incredibly lucky I am to have snagged this amazing man, who makes each moment a fun one and brings out the best in me all the time.

We may not have the present we've been longing for, but man, are we lucky to have each other. Thanks, babe, for the amazingly special birthday, and for making me nearly completely forget what we're missing. For a little while, that absence didn't feel like a missing piece as much as a highly-desired addition we'd like to include in our incredibly full life together.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Survival

Sometimes I wonder if it is a cosmic joke that my birthday weekend is immediately followed by Mother's Day. For a time in my life I did not even really notice this phenomenon, and then it became a source of bitterness. It is a one-two punch that I hope one day will turn into a double joy, when I no longer dread growing older (despite knowing that another year is a gift) and I can finally celebrate this holiday as a recipient. 

Until then it feels like the biggest exclusion. Worse than middle school girl antics (and I had my share of that nonsense, so I know). A holiday that applies to some people and not others. A whole day (and really, weeks) where it feels fertility is being celebrated and you are on the other side of what has become bulletproof glass that you just can't seem to break through in order to join the festivities. 

Don't get me wrong--I don't hate on the holiday completely, because I like celebrating my own mother and grandmothers and mother-in-law, but to have year after year after year after year after year where it doesn't apply to me, where my Mother's Day brunch that I put on NOT on Mother's Day for my own sanity (and probably everyone else's) now celebrates my mother and my sister as she mothers two stepsons, and I am the only woman who is NOT a mother in the room... it's hard. The day itself, which is really just any other Sunday, is hard. 

So I find ways to survive it. Because unlike my birthday, which is hard each year because it marks another year that I am older; that my fertility (questionable to begin with) is nearing its expiration date; that I am STILL not holding a baby in my sun-spotted, slightly floppier arms; that I will now be in my mid-forties when I take my first child to kindergarten; that we are still in a horrible holding pattern and paralyzed from making any major life decisions because this ABSENCE hangs over us and so we are 38 and 40 and a bit stuck...despite all that, it is still a birthday, it still is my day, it still celebrates me and another trip around the sun. There's good stuff. (And what good stuff I had for my birthday--Bryce outdid himself making me feel special and loved and I had days of surprises and excitement, which I'll write separately because it makes for a nice and happy and positive post...) Mother's Day holds nothing for me but a feeling of being tremendously left out. A hollow feeling in my uterus that's amplified. A feeling that if I don't exercise the greatest of self-care, then I will surely be a big fat mess on this day. 

Yesterday was brunch and visiting Grandma and GF Hot Lemon Poke Cake (mmmmm) and strawberry spinach salad and an egg bake with a cheesy hash brown crust and baked oatmeal and grapefruit segments... And presents for my mom for Mother's Day and for my sister for her birthday in a week. A lot of activity. Which contrasts mightily with today. 

Today, the plan is...HERMIT. Stay at home. Eat delicious leftover brunch foods. Hang out in the backyard and maybe get my pale self a little pink (tan is too much to ask...) while I read a book. (Sadly, not for pleasure, too busy with school, but James and the Giant Peach is fun anyway and I know there will be no infertility subtext.) On my brand new, beachy, turquoise chaise lounge that Bryce bought me at last night. A NOT A MOTHER Mother's Day present of care. I have been yammering about wanting a chaise lounge for summer laying about for EVER, and now I have one! It may have been my sadsapness that earned it, because we had gone first to Pets.mart to get the only canned cat food that doesn't make my cat a revolting gastrointestinal mess, and the checkout lady wished me a Happy Mother's Day. Which had me dissolving in tears in the parking lot, because it was super nice of her to assume I was but I wasn't, and then I had that hollow uterus feeling and the hard little knot of sadness lodged in my chest got heavier and tighter. Then we went to and looked at beach chairs and I was reminded that the last chance I had to go to Cape May with my best friend was thwarted by my miscarriage, and who knows when I will be able to take a beach vacation with my girls again? So I was presented with a pity party present, that I adore and love and is my new warm weather best friend. This chaise lounge figures heavily into my Mother's Day survival plan. 

Additionally, I left the house only once. I wasn't going to at all, but then the siren song of ice cream became unignorable and Bryce wanted some and he bought me the beautiful chair and gave me a beautiful birthday and so how could I not go get ice cream on such a beautiful day? I survived it. Because normally I do not like to leave the house at all. Too many maternity landmines out there. 

It was a gorgeous day, and I wanted to weed, but I also wanted to just take care of myself so I don't cry. Because the crying was LAST NIGHT and I claim Mother's Day as my day to do whatever makes me feel like this day is not happening. So no front yardness because there are so many young families nearby and I don't want to see what I don't have. Yet. 

We are grilling out in the backyard for dinner, and I did several hours of schoolwork so I can be in good shape this week and next (since I have the hysteroscopy on Thursday and I want to treat that like one big hospital-anesthetized vacation). Odd self care, but self care nonetheless. 

The biggest thing... NO FACEBOOK. I had to promise Bryce I wouldn't at all, that if I lapsed he would take my phone, and I have managed not to go on at all today or even look at my notifications. It is really nice, actually. No Mother's Day memes to infuriate me, no onslaught of happy families and babies and bellies and everything we lack to send me into a tizzy of tears and self-loathing. I love to torture myself (the other day's trip to YouTube to watch the Up montage from hell is proof of that... WHY would I do that to myself on purpose? Maybe to try to dislodge the hard little knot of sadness with a good cry?), and he knows me well. I kept my promise. I won't even go on tomorrow except to wish someone a happy birthday. Because the onslaught will continue. I'm sure there will be much to make me feel shitty on Facebook this week, so maybe I'll be offline for a while. 

Lastly, this: 
Do you see my prenatals lurking in the
background? OH THE IRONY.

Champagne makes everything better. It's bubbly, and happy, and after today I will make a bit more effort to be on Egg Boot Camp, but not as stringent. I just can't. I blew my stamina on the cancelled cycle, and now I am just tired and frustrated. So I WILL have some Mother's Day champagne, thankyouverymuch. We will toast that maybe this next year will be different. A toast we keep toasting, on and on and on, but we can't help but hope. 

Happy Mother's Day, people. Happy Mother's Day to those who are new moms, those who are expectant moms not quite ready to celebrate the day denied for so long. And ESPECIALLY to those who are moms in heart, who have no baby to hold but a whole lot of love in waiting for that precious gift yet to arrive. May you survive this day intact. May you have the understanding family I have that allow you to celebrate on a different day. May you love yourself today despite the onslaught of YOU DON'T BELONG HERE all over the freaking place. You are worthy of love. You are worthy of a holiday that doesn't pick and choose who gets to celebrate. Someday there will be a Mother's Day with our name on it. Until then, we will make our survival plans and keep on hoping. I toast to you, babyless moms. May this hellish uncertainty come to an end soon.