A New Understanding

The bad news: My therapist won’t agree to see both of us unless we commit to bi-monthly couples counseling for at least six months. At this point we don’t feel that is the best option for us so for the time being, I’m going to keep going solo. We’ve agreed that we’ll definitely go in the future, either out of unforeseen necessity or before whatever treatment we decide to do this summer (if any at all). I’m definitely bummed we can’t just go in every once in a while but I understand my therapist’s requirement of consistency. It’s nice to know it’s available when we need it.

The good news: We had a really good conversation tonight and I was able to air my concerns about his attitude and he was able to voice his concerns about things as well. Luckily we both heard, and understood, each other.

This is what we learned.

Basically I told Mi.Vida that I felt the diet (and it was made clear early on that his big issue is no longer the restrictions but the amount of prep time it requires–so really “diet” means “cooking”) should be a very manageable exercise. I argued that if we were in it together, if we approached it with a positive attitude, it could be a really fun exercise in healthier eating. I just didn’t believe it warranted the negativity Mi.Vida felt toward it.

Mi.Vida explained that he feels stretched thin without all the cooking and that he believes the stress of the diet/cooking negates the physical advantages. He feels like all the time cooking and cleaning afterward are creating even more of a rift between us as we have even less time to hang out together. He also doesn’t understand why all the recipes have to be so complicated and time consuming.

He understood what I was saying and I respected his points, and he did the same with mine, so we came to the following compromise:

1. We’ll cut down on the amount of “elaborate” recipes that take a long time and require us to eat dinner really late. We’ll only do these 2-3 times a week (or less). The rest of the time we’ll eat leftovers or the simple medleys of chicken/quinoa/green veggies that we used to fall back on a lot.

2. We’ll cook together once a week, preferably on a Saturday or Sunday.

3. We’ll try to be more positive about the diet and consider it an opportunity to eat healthier foods while improving our meal planning/executing skills.

Mi.Vida also expressed concern that he didn’t know how I was feeling about any of this. He worries that I’m holding all my sadness and negativity in to protect him. While I have been known to pull this move in the past, I assured him that I’m not doing it now. The truth is I’m not really sure how I feel about any of this. I’m working through my shock and greif slowly. I’m also trying to take what I learned during our struggles TTC#1 and after our loss to create a game plan that I know works for both of us.

Our first attempt at TTC was really rough but it had one important silver lining: I learned what both of us can handle. I realized tonight that everything I’ve been doing so far to cope with this has been with one goal in mind: to create a path through this hell that we can both handle. I feel acutely aware of what both Mi.Vida and I can tolerate and I want to make sure that at the end of this, neither of us has been forced to endure experiences too far outside of their tolerable zone.

One of the major themes I’ve come across in my research on secondary infertility has been how long the struggle can last. People routinely try for a second child for three or more years. Some never seem to stop trying, they eventually lose hope that their efforts will amount to anything and yet they keep trying, month after month. I know for a fact that neither of us could handle that. I would slowly go insane–living in limbo, constantly disappointed by our failures–and Mi.Vida would quickly resent my inability to move on.

The whole point of this 12-18 month “super natural approach” is that I need to know we did out best for a certain amount of time so that I can move on. If we can’t get pregnant after many months of following a fertility boosting diet, taking supplements and doing acupuncture, I know we’re not going to get pregnant NOT doing those things. After this attempt, I’ll be ready (as I’ll ever be) to move on. Only then will I be able to start discussing adoption or accepting our family of three. This plan is not so much about regret management as it is about damage control. I’m employing this in an attempt to protect our relationship from the unbearable SUCK of secondary infertility. It’s the one aspect of all of this that I CAN control.

Which brings me to the strange line I seem to toe each and every day. On the one hand I want desperately for all we’re doing to work, to have another child born of my partner and my genetic histories. On the other hand, I’m trying to accept the possible alternatives, trying to open my heart to foster-adoption (likely the only kind of adoption we can afford) in an attempt to protect myself from the probable devastation of it not working. It’s a hard line to navigate, between maintaing the hope that this will work (necessary to staying on the diet and enduring many months more of TTC) and preparing myself that it probably won’t. That is the line I’m not quite sure how to walk, and it is that uncertainty that Mi.Vida reads as distance. It’s not that I’m hiding anything from him, it’s that I’m not sure how I’m proceeding myself.

I think we impressed ourselves with our talk today. Neither of us got mad, and while I did cry (quite a few times), it never became about that. For the first time I feel like we’re on the same page about a few key things, or at the very least understand each other. I just hope we can keep having these kinds of conversations, even when shit gets hard again.

It’s not about me

Last Friday was Mi.Vida’s self imposed deadline to talk to his boss about getting a more significant raise to accompany his very significant promotion and significantly augmented responsibilities. You may remember that Mi.Vida was given this promotion at the beginning of the calendar year. For almost five months he’s talked about asking for a raise but not actually done it. We’ve established in our counseling sessions that Mi.Vida has (mild) disordered anxiety about confronting his boss for a raise, though when I ask if he wants to see Sara, our counselor (not her real name), by himself, he says he doesn’t need to. From what I understand, Mi.Vida has spent the last five months not asking his boss for a raise for various reasons: he doesn’t think he’ll get one, he wants to leave anyway so he doesn’t see the point, it would be better if his direct boss were there to support him (she was on leave for a while), he’d rather avoid the conflict, he’s anxious about it.

As last week wore on, I had a feeling Mi.Vida wasn’t going to talk to his boss about the raise. At first I felt frustrated and betrayed but as the day loomed closer I realized Mi.Vida’s reluctance to ask for a raise has nothing to do with me. In couples counseling he promised himself, in front of me and Sara, he would talk to his boss, but he never promised me. His failure to do so is not a betrayal of our trust or his love for me, it has everything to do with him and his issues. And with that realization, a deep understanding washed over me: so many of the issues between Mi.Vida and I don’t involve me. They are HIS issues and they have little to do with our relationship. It’s an incredibly freeing realization. It’s also terrifying.

It makes sense that I made all this stuff about me. I mean, it seems, for all intents and purposes that these issues are about me, or us, because they directly affect our family. How much money Mi.Vida makes, how happy he is at his job, the standard of living we hope to achieve, these are all very important to our family as a whole, but they aren’t integral issues to our relationship. They are Mi.Vida’s issues, that he has to figure out for himself. For months I’ve thought that the answers to these questions were wrapped up in me and his feelings for me, but they aren’t. Mi.Vida needs to think about these things for himself.

Why is he not asking his boss for a raise, really? Is the anxiety of the actual moment really paralyzing for him? Is he ambivalent because he doesn’t want to be there? Is he reluctant to ask for more money, or look for a new job (there has been glacial progress on that front for the past year as well) because he doesn’t really want to make more money? What standard of living does Mi.Vida hope to achieve? What sacrifices is he willing to make in his professional life to achieve that standard of living? These are the questions Sara asked him to consider before our next appointment.

In the past I would have believed his answer to any of those questions was a reflection of how he felt about me and our relationship. If he LOVED me he would want what was best for us. If he really wanted to be a part of our family, he would make that work. Of course, in my mind, what was “best” for us and what would make it “work” were what I wanted for our family, or followed the compromises I was willing to make. But Mi.Vida’s answers to those questions are about who he is fundamentally as a person. It’s not about me. At least, the actual answers are. The only thing that concerns me is the steps he wants to make after he’s figured out the answers.

Mi.Vida has a lot of soul searching to do to figure out what he wants in life. Right now he is paralyzed, by a belief that there is no job out there that could provide him the money he needs to support his family AND the fulfillment he hopes to achieve personally. Basically he thinks he can be happy making not enough money or miserable making too much but that there is nothing in between. I know how he feels, I feel the same way. It’s a hard wall to come up against. But just as my struggles with this issue aren’t, at their core, about him or our relationship, neither are his about me.

This morning I tripped on a box of law books that have been sitting in our hallway for over three years. For THREE YEARS I have asked Mi.Vida to get rid of those stupid law books. Every time I give up and say I’m just going to do it, he swears he’ll do it himself. But then he doesn’t. For the past three years I’ve seen those law books (every time I pass them in our narrow hall) as a reminder of Mi.Vida’s shortcomings, as a reminder of how, even when he knows something is important to me, he still doesn’t follow through. Today I tripped over those law books and started my same internal monologue.

But then I stopped myself. Those law books aren’t about me. I tried to make them about me by asking him over and over to move them, but they aren’t about me. They are about Mi.Vida and what motivates him to follow through and do something. That box of books is never an issue for Mi.Vida, he doesn’t have to move it away from the wall and sweep around and under it once a week. He doesn’t have to find places for all the other crap that doesn’t fit in our house. He hasn’t moved those books not because he doesn’t love me or doesn’t care about me but because he doesn’t care about those books. They are constantly overshadowed by the millions of other things that are more important for him to do.

Mi.Vida and I are different people. I can’t determine what I would do in a situation and then use that same expectation to judge why he is or isn’t doing something in the way I would do it. And I can’t see all his decisions as a reflection on how he feels about me. That is not an accurate representation of things.

Our counselor (who I swear is pregnant and not telling us, and it’s really starting to make me mad) is going to be gone for two weeks. After that we’re supposed to get together again, the three of us, and see where we are. Then we both need some individual sessions and hopefully, by the end of the summer, we’ll have a general direction mapped out. And while there is a part of me that feels incredible frustration that it’s taking us so long to get wherever we are going, another part of me is grateful we’re at least trying. Hopefully, some day, this will all be resolved and the effort we’re spending now will feel so worth it.

But the trudging through of it is hard. And I’m tired. And I can’t wrap my head around the fact that we seem to have made so little progress while also coming so far. The whole thing feels like a constant contradiction.

Knowing Each Other’s Heart

If there were any one thing I regret as a blogger, it is that by the time I sit down to convey what happens during our couples counseling sessions, I’m just too emotionally drained to do a decent job. I think it is valuable to record them here, both for myself and for those who may not have the resources available to see a counselor themselves, so I muddle through, but I never feel I’m doing them justice. I’m sorry if these posts aren’t very insightful or well written, but I do think it’s important to put them out there, despite their shortcomings.

Last week our appointment mainly dealt with the fallout of our missed month of TTC. We also got some homework to do for this week’s appointment (usually we don’t go every week but this month’s schedule was weird). The homework mainly had to do with our reasons for having another child. We were both supposed to list our fears and reasons for wanting another baby.

Mi.Vida went first, relaying his fears. Interestingly (to me) Mi.Vida’s biggest fears center around TTC. He’s worried it’s going to be difficult for me again and that–as he’s already stretched so thin–he won’t have enough support to give me when I’m floundering. He also worries that prescribed sex will make him resentful. He fears the whole ordeal will be as brutal and heart wrenching as it was the first time. I don’t blame him for his concerns. They are all very valid and understandable, especially given what we went through the first time. I wasn’t surprised to hear his fears but it was still powerful to acknowledge them. I hope I can remember them as we move forward and do whatever I can to make this a positive experience for him.

My fears were more based in the challenges of TTC, possible loss, pregnancy and infancy all while managing a toddler. Basically I’m worried about how I’ll navigate all the difficulties of trying to conceive, dealing with a loss (if we have one), the exhaustion, nausea and discomfort of a pregnancy and then the sleep deprivation and hormonal swings (not to mention breastfeeding struggles) of the newborn months, all with an energetic toddler in tow. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to manage it all, especially not while I’m working full time. It just seems like too much. And after watching our relationship crumble under the weight of one child, I’m terrified of what two will do to us. I worry for Mi.Vida’s happiness and my own sanity.

Next we presented the reasons why we do want to have another child. Mi.Vida’s were all expressed with heartfelt sincerity and I appreciated them very much. He mentioned how much he loves being a father, how he appreciates the challenges of parenthood even if they sometimes feel overwhelming; while he misses the lazy carefree existence of life without kids he also values all he accomplishes as a father. He says he loves the connection he has with Isa and looks forward to nurturing a similarly fulfilling relationship with another child. He also says, for all its nuanced complexities, that parenthood has brought us closer together and he wants to build our family knowing that we, as a couple, will grow too.

I have to admit, every single one of Mi.Vida’s reasons for having another child surprised me and not just because they were so thoughtful and well articulated. I didn’t realize how much he valued fatherhood and its challenges. I didn’t realize how much joy he took in his relationship with our daughter. I didn’t know much he really, truly loved his new role as dad. And I definitely didn’t recognize his belief that we have become stronger through all of this. Hearing his reasons was a eyeopening indeed.

In the wake of Mi.Vida’s reasons for wanting another child, mine felt incredible pragmatic. I want Isa to have a sibling, and I hope they will be close as my sister and I were. I want to have another child, experience the connection I have Isa with someone else. I want to know what it’s like to love someone else like I love her, to have that bond with two people instead of just one. I want to experience pregnancy and child birth again (well, really just those precious hours after childbirth would be fine). I also hope to learn more about myself by parenting another child; the lessons Isa teaches me are more relevant and profound than any others I’ve ever learned. I also want to see who we, together, can bring into the world. I know we are so lucky to be able to have biological children–a mixture of the two of us–and I want to meet another person that is borne of our love and commitment to each other, almost more so since it’s become so hard won.

Sharing our pro and con lists for having another child was a powerful exercise. I think for the first time we really understand where the other person is coming from. I hope that knowing each other’s hearts will help us moving forward, that we will be able to show each other more empathy and compassion, that we will be able to give each other more support. I also hope it will aid us having more faith in ourselves as a couple, in believing we can do this, despite the struggles we’ll surely face.


I’ve been stuck lately. Stagnant. I can’t figure out what to say or how to say it. Maybe it’s all the cover and query letters I’ve been writing. Maybe it’s the letter of recommendations–for myself–I’m painstakingly slogging through. Maybe it’s the energy it takes to send my work out into the ether and hope someone sends something back, even if that something is a rejection letter. Maybe it’s the fact that every time I walk into my classroom I think of how I have to take each and every poster off the walls, how I have to pack up every book and every supply in every drawer. And then, weeks before school starts again, unpack it all. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m having one of those weeks with Mi.Vida where things aren’t even bad but I still find myself wondering if we’re going to make it. Maybe it’s just that I’m tired.

Anyway, couldn’t think of much to say. Sorry for the radio silence.

And sorry I still haven’t posted a NIAW post. I would promise that I will, except I might not. So I will just apologize.

I did finally (after a fabulous yoga class tonight) press publish on a post at my other blog I had open for over a week. It’s about whether students and teachers should be Facebook friends. I’d be curious to know what you think.

Exorcising Some Dark Shit

As you might have noticed, I’ve been a little absent from this space lately. One reason is I have been working on my new space, which I’m really starting to love. But the bigger reason is I just haven’t had that much to say here. Or better said, there isn’t much I’ve wanted to say here, because there definitely is shit to say.

Last weekend was hard for me. I found out some family friends (really they are Mi.Vida’s friends), are having another baby. Their children will be exactly two years apart. Oh, and they will be visiting us in June, when she is 8 months pregnant.

It really upset me.

A lot.

It isn’t even that she got pregnant easily again (I’m assuming this but at a perfect two year distance I’m pretty sure it’s a correct assumption). It isn’t even that they have never and will never have to deal with loss. It’s not even that they both have great jobs, which they love and which make them great money, or that they own a wonderful house, and are living the lives they have always dreamed of, that they always wanted.

What bothered me is all they HAVEN’T had to deal with. What bothered me is that they HAVEN’T had to deal with loss or struggled with TTC. They haven’t had to fight about if and when to have another child because one partner wasn’t sure or there wasn’t enough money. They haven’t had to wonder if they’d ever make enough to expand their family. They haven’t had to wonder if they could even build their family if they ever did manage to make enough. They haven’t had to go to couples counseling for six months to negotiate when to have another child, to tediously cobble together a treatise on family building. They haven’t had to ponder a future at a job they hate. They haven’t had to give up their creative dreams to just barely but not really support their family. They haven’t had to do ANY of those things.

And of course, I would never wish they’d had to.

Ultimately, me being upset has nothing to do with their (seemingly) picture-perfect lives. Actually it has everything to do with my not picture-perfect life. It has everything to do with the fact that, for me, there is no “haven’t” in any of the above sentences.

Turns out I’m still having a hard time coming to terms with a lot of aspects of my life. I envisioned it a certain way and it’s not that way. I still have to struggle for so many things I expected to take for granted. And I’m still upset about it. Bitter even.

And I know I have SO MUCH. And I know SO MANY struggle more than me. Have lost more than I have lost. Feel deeper pain than I feel. (Yes, I know there is no pain olympics but I also KNOW that many, many, MANY people suffer more than I do). I know that in many ways I live a charmed life. I know that people reading this probably think I live a charmed life and that I have no reason to complain. I’m sure to some I look like a real housewife of insert-expensive-place-here bitching about how one of her favorite nannies wants to take a week off because her grandma died and it’s just SO HARD to make my schedule work with that kind of inconvenience. I get it. But this is my life, and it’s hard for me sometimes (I’m really miserable at my job and really scared to start TTC again, and some other shit too).

Luckily we went to couples counseling the day after this person crisis took place. Our therapist helped us both understand where I was coming from and helped Mi.Vida give me the validation I needed.

So yeah. That is where I have been. And that is why I haven’t been writing. Because I haven’t wanted to write that. But I wouldn’t come back here until I did. So I’m spitting it onto this page and hoping that by exorcising it I can move past it and return to write something of worth here.

In the meantime, this is all I’ve got.

Family Drama

There is so much to say but I’m too hurt to say it. The last few days have left me depleted, exhausted, over wrought. I just don’t have much left in me.

The morning after I wrote Thursday’s post, my IL’s sat Mi.Vida down and expressed their intense concern over the methods I was using to discipline my daughter. They believed I was “withholding” food in at attempt to force her to say “please” (I have NEVER not given my child food to make her say anything) and that “time outs” in her crib were not only developmentally inappropriate but detrimental.

The whole thing tore me apart. I was deeply, deeply hurt. Wounded. This weekend, which was supposed to be really wonderful, and which I had been looking forward to very much, was pretty much ruined.

Mi.Vida went over on Saturday morning and spent three hours speaking to his parents. Saturday afternoon he relayed to me what was said. I had a very difficult time listening. On Sunday morning Mi.Vida and I spent an hour at couples counseling going over the whole thing a second time. I would love to write something coherent and meaningful about what was said but I just don’t have it in me. I’m too exhausted, both emotionally and physically, to recount everything, but I will say this:

– Mi.Vida did an impressive job standing up to his parents and defending me as a mother. And even though at first my hurt made it difficult for me to listen, I am forever grateful for all he did this weekend.

– Even though my in-law’s concerns came from a place of love for Isa, it was inappropriate for them to share those concerns, especially in the way they did.

– This was especially hard for me because not only was someone attacking the way I parent, but they were attacking the aspect of mothering in which I feel most capable. Also, the people attacking me were people I care about and am grateful for. Because of my in-laws’ willingness and ability to watch Isa I can go to yoga when Mi.Vida is away, we can go to couples counseling twice a month, we can enjoy the occasional date night, and we can get big projects done. Also, my FILs willingness to watch Isa four mornings a week this year has allowed me to work part time, a long-time dream of mine. These are not things I take for granted.

– Of course, their excessive presence in our, and Isa’s, lives, make situations like these incredibly difficult and probably do a lot to cause them.

– We have two options as we proceed. (1) Require that Mi.Vida’s parents’ address both of us with their future concerns so we can respond to them as a united front. (2) Listen to, and ignore, their future concerns in whatever way they choose to share them with us (this is possible because, currently, I’m not worried about whether or not they do these things in their own home, if Isa were older it would be different).

– Mi.Vida needs to be more involved with parenting decisions like these. In the past he has relied on me to figure these things out and when issues arise with his parents he feels ill equipped to suppor/defend me. He also feels he’s taken too passive a role in this aspect of parenting and wants to read more books and be better educated to both form and express his own opinions on issues like boundary setting and enforcing.

– When both Mi.Vida and I are feeling hurt and confused we may not have the emotional fortitude to support each other in the ways we want and that is okay, as long as we both understand what is going on. I wanted to be there more for Mi.Vida this weekend but I just couldn’t. He felt similarly. By Sunday night we both were able to come together and give each other the support we needed but Friday and Saturday we were totally incapable of that.

– My in-laws didn’t ruin this weekend for me. They did something and I reacted to what they did. I take full responsibility for the way I reacted and the fact that I felt my weekend was ruined. I do not blame them for my response to what they said, even if I believe what they said was inappropriate. I am responsible for my own feelings.

– Sometimes shit sucks and there is nothing to do but move through it. That was hard for me this weekend.

Couples Counseling: Making Progress

Mi.Vida and I had couples counseling this weekend and I forgot to write about it. I really want to document our couples counseling experience because I think it could be useful to others dealing with difficult moments in their relationships and because I want to be able to look back and see how much we’ve done and how far we’ve come.

At counseling this week we touched on the following:

– Mi.Vida admitted that he has issues to work through, namely his intense anxiety surrounding conflict. Basically he is hypersensitive to conflict and wants to avoid it at all costs. This is making confronting his boss about his raise very difficult for him.

– Mi.Vida recognized that he needs to carve time for himself and the things he wants/needs to get done, like looking for a job.

– I noticed that I struggle focusing on “our” time if we haven’t planned to do something earlier. Last week, when we planned to watch a movie I was able to put my phone and computer away and snuggle with Mi.Vida on the couch, enjoying the film. This week on Saturday, after Mi.Vida came home from seeing friends, we both mucked about on our computers for most of the night, not really doing anything and then lamented the fact that we hadn’t taken better advantage of our time.

– I also admitted that I would appreciate more planned family activities during the weekend because I’m sick of just tooling around the neighborhood when I’ve been doing that all week. I also think we need to practice parenting together because I notice lots of moments of tension when we each want to handle a situation differently. We solo parent a lot, giving each other breaks and time to get things done, and when we parent together we’re not as smooth as we could be or as we’ll need to be to deal with Isa as she gets older and more cognizant of what’s going on.

– Mi.Vida’s homework is to start planning what he’s going to say to his boss, line by line.

– Our homework is to spend at least one hour a week having structured together time (as in not just together in the same room on our computers).

All in all I am very pleased with all we’ve accomplished in couples counseling so far. I truly believe it has fundamentally changed our relationship for the better. I shudder to think where we’d be without it.