Gratitude Work

Sorry for all the picture posts lately. I’ve been slammed with birthday celebration duties, on top of end-of-the-school-year responsibilities along with copyediting tasks and there is just not much time for posting. I wish I had more time to put stuff out there, but right now I just won’t. Probably next week.

In the meantime I’m focusing on gratitude. I saw my therapist today and we hashed out some of my current anxieties. She suggested I do some gratitude work every day, to help me focus on what I have. I agreed it would be a productive way to go, as I do feel so much overwhelming gratitude for my life right now. So I shall start today and just say that I am so incredibly grateful for my family. I am a truly fortunate woman.

Me, Isa and our mountain man

Lacking a Plan

Tomorrow is my weekly acupuncture appointment. Tuesday is our class with Kaiser. Both have my thoughts bouncing all ove the place.

These past few days have been difficult and finally I realized why I’ve been having such a hard time. Part of it is what I like to call The Reckoning. This is the part where I am trying (but failing miserably) to accept that there is something wrong, that we’re one cycle away from officially being infertile. The Reckoning is obviously hard to handle on a lot of different levels. Mostly right now I’m cycling through bouts of disbelief and anger, both tinged with lingering, ever present, sadness.

The disbelief has really been intense. I just can’t believe that we’re. I don’t understand how it happened. If anything I should be more fertile than I was before. I’m doing yoga more regularly, without graduate school I’m decidedly less stressed, my relationship is in better shape, the B6 I’m taking has lengthened my luteal phase and my cycles overall are longer and more consistent. All signs point to me being better off than I was the last time, and yet then, in 8 cycles (over 11 months) I was able to get pregnant twice while this time, I’ve managed to do accomplish exactly nothing in three more cycles of actually trying.

I just don’t get it. I’m flabbergasted. I really did NOT think I was going to find myself here. And I’m angry about. Really fucking angry.

But I’m also confused and scared and freaked out that I don’t have a plan. I think that is really what I’m having the hardest time with right now, I have NO FUCKING PLAN. And I know it’s silly to expect that one should have a plan when one hasn’t even started testing or anything, but remember, I don’t expect testing will reveal anything conclusive and so really, I feel I should already have a plan now. Or better said, I would feel A LOT better if I had a plan now. Frankly I’d feel better if I could conjure even an inkling of how I’d like to proceed.

Mostly, I’m just not sure what *I* should be doing. Do I keep going to acupuncture, even while we’re testing and then if/when we start treatments? Do I stop the acupuncture and focus on the Western approach? Do we actually go ahead with treatments or just keep trying on our own? Would electing to have treatments mean I’m just too impatient? Would a cooler, more collected woman than I just wait it out and see what happens? If we do wait longer, how long do we wait? I just have no fucking idea what the answers to any of these questions should be. And frankly, I don’t expect any RE we see at Kaiser will be willing (or even able) to sit down with me and have the lengthy conversation needed for me to feel confident in our next steps.

So that is where I am right now, struggling to accept that we’ve arrived at the front door of secondary infertility and unsure if I should knock to be invited in and except its hospitality or if I should simply walk away, hoping I’ll stumble upon pregnancy of my own accord, sometime in the not too far away future.

Staycation

It’s an interesting–and unintended–side effect of meditation (and a calm mind): I don’t know what to write about here. Without despair fueling my 1000+ word posts I just can’t think of what I should say. I’ve so rarely had this problem in my 3+ years of blog writing, I wonder how I’ll handle it.

I’m glad this past week is behind us. Isa was sick at home for three days. On Wednesday I took a sick day because I was coming down with what Isa had. I thought I’d be able to send Isa to school that day but it turned out she wasn’t well enough yet so my sick day ended up being a caring-for-Isa day which didn’t allow for much rest or rejuvenation. Between two days of writing sub plans (I also stayed home with her on Monday) and getting sick myself, the week was a tough one. As I’m writing this late Sunday night I have absolutely no voice. If it’s not back tomorrow things are going to be rough.

This coming week was supposed to be a short one for me. I was planning on taking Friday off to fly to New York for a wedding. But that wedding was supposed to take place at Chelsey Piers and the venue was pretty much destroyed in the hurricane. This past Thursday an email went out announcing that the wedding has been postponed indefinitely. I feel just awful for my friend and his fiancee.

Luckily Jet Blue credited us without any cancellation fees. We have a year to use the money we originally spent on the tickets. I’m not even sure if the wedding will happen in the next year, I have no idea what their plans are.

My parents were slated to take care of Isa and they were really disappointed to hear we weren’t going away. So we decided to let them take her anyway and we’re going to enjoy a staycation at home alone, just the two of us. I’d love for us to actually go somewhere but we can’t afford that right now. So instead we’ll just stay home and see a movie and eat out and get some drinks at a bar and maybe hear some live music and you know, do the things that adults do when no toddlers are around.

I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to it. Things between Mi.Vida and I have actually been really good lately but our relationship can always benefit from some one-on-one time. The biggest bummer is that we’ll just have missed my ovulation window, unless of course my body decides to postpone things for a couple of days. Either way, I’m sure we’ll be sharing some intimate moments over the weekend.

Have you ever taken a staycation? If so, what did you do?

Do Not Engage Sad-Faced-Emoticon

I had another great weekend. Seriously, it was a ton of fun. I really appreciate good weekends because with work wearing me down like it is I need some positivity to get me through the Monday-Friday grind.

So I was surprised at yoga when my good mood started going south. I was actually surprised for two reasons: (1) Did I mention I was in great mood from the weekend?! and (2) I was at yoga, which usually makes me feel amazing. So I was doubly confused when half way through the class I just started feeling, I don’t know, sad.

I guess the good news is Hope officially left the building. She threw me to the floor, screaming and hollering like a banshee, then spent a few days pointing a gun in my face and holding me hostage, before she got bored, or hungry, or some combination of the two and just got up one day and unceremoniously walked out. I will admit, it was a great relief.

But in her absence I’ve been, well, kind of meh. I have a hope hangover to be sure. Some days are better than others. Some days are pretty bad.

So today at yoga I felt the “meh” feeling descending. And more than anything I was annoyed. I mean, I’d had a great weekend, I was at yoga, finally, after a week of trying–and failing–to go, why the EFF was I getting all sad-face-emoticon on my own ass. I was so frustrated and annoyed.

Lately, when I’ve been feeling sad-face-emoticon I’ve spent a lot of energy trying to talk myself out of it. My angry, get-over-yourself monologue goes something like this:

Seriously girl, enough of this sad sack shit. You have a great life. Just look around you. You own a house, in the city no less. You have a man who loves you. You have a gorgeous, smart, talented, amazing daughter who adores you. You have a job that you basically can’t lose. Your daughter is in a great preschool/day care that you can afford and that she loves. You cat hasn’t drawn blood when she swipes at you in a while. Your life is so great. GET OVER YOURSELF.

And then when my pep talk doesn’t really shake me out of my sadness, I get ever more angry at myself, repeating the whole diatribe to ever more disappointing results. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Today at yoga I started reciting my diatribe when I suddenly stopped. I put the kiobosh on me bullying myself. Instead of playing my same game I just let myself be with my sadness. I didn’t judge myself for it. I didn’t try to explain it away. I didn’t wish it were gone or feel ashamed of it. I just sat with it. I acknowledged it. I recognized it without judgment of any kind. I just let it be. I reminded myself that it was okay to feel shitty, that it was normal, and that I didn’t need to make it worse by feeling bad ABOUT feeling bad. That right then, it I could just be with that feeling.

And you know what? It didn’t hang around for nearly as long as it usually does. It didn’t infect the rest of my evening. And while it’s still around, hanging out in the background like the person at the party you didn’t invite but who won’t leave even though almost everyone else is gone. And that’s fine. I can handle the awkward moments of acknowledging this uninvited guest. I can sit with it, not talking to it, not feeding it with my shit. I can just be with it, and it’s not so bad.

I just need to remember not to engage. I just need to keep reminding myself.

From Bad Ass to Just Plain Bad

Sunday, I was feeling pretty bad ass. Mi.Vida was going to be gone all morning and I really needed to hit up IKEA to get some stuff for our downstairs unit, the one we’re renting out starting October 1st. So I decided I was going to take Isa with me, and we were going to get it done together.

I knew we were destined for disaster but I went in without any expectations, just hoping that we’d get the few things we really needed.

Three hours later we were back at the car with our seven big boxes, a bag full of stuff and a happy two year old. Oh, and we’d even eaten lunch. It was nothing short of a miracle. And I felt like a pretty big bad ass.

When we got home, Isa went down for her nap and I put together her new table and chairs, a kitchen island for the downstairs and a bench/shoe rack for our entry way. Again, I was pretty full of myself and my inherent awesomeness.

Later that night I rode my bike to yoga for the first time. I used to ride 100+ miles at a time but I haven’t even gotten on a bike in the last five years. Needless to say, I was a little nervous to take my sister’s beater up the busy streets by my house to yoga class. But I did it and yoga felt awesome and again, I was quite proud, both that I ventured out on my bike, and that I made it to yoga at the end of a long and tiring weekend.

Then today happened and I had to laugh at how completely the opposite of bad ass today happened to be. First our daughter woke up at 4:30am and didn’t fall back asleep until 6:30. While she was fine in her room “butt dancing” (as we call it) in her crib, the noise kept both of us for most of the two hours. And of course, at 7:30 when we absolutely had to wake her up for school, she was exhausted and in quite a mood.

Then I couldn’t find my wallet and keys (they are attached to each other) and finally, after much searching, gave up and borrowed Mi.Vida’s car key and grabbed a spare house key. On the way to work I realized I was out of gas and almost pulled off to stop when the 2nd grader I am driving to work this week (for a friend) reminded me that I didn’t have my wallet and couldn’t pay for the gas. Touché 2nd grader. Touché.

Finally we hit some gnarly traffic caused by what I think was a truck on fire. By the time we got there the myriad fire trucks had put it out, but they were still blocking the right two lanes so the slow down was significant. Between the lost wallet and traffic I was really late to work; I just barely got there before my first class started.

Needless to say I was woefully unprepared for my classes and spent each period hastily pulling something together for the next class. I spent my whole lunch getting a lesson ready for my Math 8 class, which has been exceedingly difficult for me. Today’s math classes ended up being one of those where I want to cry at the end of it, not even because they are being awful (which is often the case) but because I know I’m doing a horrible job of explaining what I’m trying to teach. Today I tried to introduce Algebra Tiles and failed miserably. I literally had to hold back the tears at the end of the period.

So Sunday was this bomb day, where I felt like I could accomplish anything, and Monday was a total disaster, during which I felt like I was failing at everything I attempted. I actually appreciated the juxtaposition, and the reminder that we can’t hold on to anything, the good or the bad, because both are ultimately fleeting, even if it doesn’t feel that way at the time.

Ah life, sometimes you provide the most poignant reminders.

Creative Energy

Something happened in the past month, something shifted. When we crossed from six cycles to seven, something just moved inside of me.

I got pregnant after six tries before. Sure, it was an ectopic pregnancy but it was still a pregnancy. The fact that I haven’t yet, after six cycles, just changes something deep within. Months ago I officially crossed the line of “having an easy time of it for the second go-round” and now I’ve crossed the line of “getting pregnant within the amount of time it took the first go-round.” Of course, if I could choose between waiting eleven months and having a miscarriage at six or just waiting eleven months, I’d take the latter in a heartbeat. Hopefully that is what is happening here.

But of course, it could be something else awaiting me, something much more sinister. Maybe I won’t get pregnant for another six months, and then I’ll lose it. Or maybe I’ll lose two pregnancies in the next six months. Or maybe I’ll get pregnant next month, carry it for six months and then lose it. The thing is, nobody knows. My story has not yet been written.

And unfortunately I am not the author of my own story. I think it’s coming face to face with this fact–that you are only vaguely able to shape your own life, that you are not the author of your story at all–that makes TTC so fucking difficult. We walk around with the impression that we’re affecting change in our own lives, and we may be, up to a point, but the reality is that the big plot points are totally out of our hands, they are dictated without our knowledge and consent. We can only wait patiently (or impatiently) for the next chapter to be written.

But I guess, the part of the story we can write, is the character development. I had never thought of it that way until I read a post by Pamela at Silent Sorority. We may not be able to direct the plot line of our lives, but we can determine how the main character–me, myself and I–deals with what she’s dealt.

And that is what I intend to do. The truth is, that shift I was talking about, it has been good for me. I am no longer waiting with bated breath for that second line. I’m no longer planning (or not planning) my life around its possible (but improbable) appearance. For some reason, reaching those thresholds, knowing my situation can no longer fit any description I had hoped would apply (like, it was easier the second time, or I’d actually get paid maternity leave this time), has triggered a paradigm shift. A weight has been lifted. It’s like the pressure of those determiners was stressing me out more than actually getting pregnant did.

Now, that’s not to say that I don’t still very much want to get pregnant. And it’s not to say that I’m still not having a hard time with uncertainty that awaits me. But there is something freeing about these uncharted waters. The fact is, after the expectations of having an easier time of it, or getting pregnant in time to enjoy end-of-the-school-year maternity leave died their slow, painful deaths, there weren’t any expectations to take their place. Except of course the expectation that I’ll some day have another living child. And I will admit, that one is still going strong, but my situation doesn’t warrant an attack on that expectation yet, so I have some time to try to conquer it before I have to worry about it turning on me and making me miserable.

So, in the absence of the desperation I previously felt, I find energy available for other things. Creative energy. It’s almost as if my body stopped trying to channel all my creative energy into creating a new life, and is just letting it roam free, and now it’s trying to get out.

Frankly, I count myself lucky that I have any creative energy left. After all the stress of the new house, the shit show that is work this year and the tantrum dodging at home, I’m surprised I have any desire to create anything. But I do. And it feels good.

So I channel this creative energy at new pursuits. I jot down ideas for blog posts. I try to iron out the many kinks in the plot line of my novel. It’s funny, whenever I feel overwhelmed by the uncertainty of TTC, I almost always find my thoughts heading directly to my novel. It’s like my mind needs something that it knows it can control. It needs a place where energy expended leads to a tangible result. I may not be able to determine when I get pregnant, but I can choose whether or not to write my book. And I can even decide what happens to the characters in it. It’s an amazing place to throw my energies and I desperately wish I had more time to focus on it.

The truth is, I don’t really have much hope that I’ll get pregnant again, at least not anytime soon. Actually, that is not quite right. It’s not that I don’t have any hope, it’s that I don’t have any EXPECTATION that I’ll get pregnant again anytime soon. I just don’t really think about it happening one way or another. It’s the death of the expectation that has set me free.

I don’t know how long this freedom with last. I doubt I can keep my expectation dead for too long. Surely it will resurrect itself and I’ll be forced to reckon with it once again. But for now, I revel in its absence. I concentrate on other pursuits. I count my blessings and am thankful for what I have.

And I focus on the plot lines, and the character development, that I can control.

Expectations = Sorrow

Yesterday I finally made it to yoga. It had been over a month.

This was my first class at what I hope will be my new studio. We started with some chanting. I have to admit, I was getting kind antsy, I just wanted to start moving my body so badly, when we came to the last mantra. Expectations are the root of all sorrow.

I knew this. I mean, I had read it before and I understood it and believed it to be true. And yet hearing it yesterday was like turning on a light switch I forgot was there. Suddenly the room was so bright, I didn’t realize how dim it had gotten until I could see with a renewed clarity.

There are some aspects of life for which this teaching is painfully obvious. It is my expectation to have another child that makes failing to create one so painful. It is my expectation that my family will look a certain way that makes the fact that it doesn’t so hard for me to bear. And I think other people’s success at family building is so hard for me because it reinforces my expectations: people all around me have the same expectations I have, and their expectations are actually met.

In other parts of my life, it feels harder to apply this teaching, at least at first glance. Work is really hard right now, really, really hard. I feel like the whole thing is a relay race except there is never anyone there to pass the baton off to and I have to keep running round and round all by myself, as I get ever more exhausted and fall ever farther behind.

I cry a lot at work. Suddenly the enormity of all I have to do is staring me right in the face and I don’t have the cojones to stare back at it, so I just break down into massive, heaping sobs.

I was trying to figure out how this teaching, that of expectations being the root of all worry, applied to my work situation. How could I use this teaching to lighten my load. I mean, my work situation is truly challenging, surely this simple yet profound truth can’t change that fact?

But it can. The reason my work load feels so difficult to manage is that I expect it to be easier to manage. The reason I put so much pressure on myself to do a good job is because I expect I will do a really good job. If I let go of my expectation that work will be easy and that I’ll always do a good job of it, my burden will be lighter.

This doesn’t mean I get to spend my school days with movies playing on the projector. But it does mean I can do my best and let go of any expectations of what that might look like. It means I won’t beat myself up so bad when I’m welcoming my students with puffy red eyes and a blotchy complexion.

Today, my daughter executed an incredible feat; she sustained a two hour marathon tantrum during which she literally did not stop crying/screaming for more than a minute at a time. She screamed because we weren’t going to meet our friends at the park, and then she screamed for the entire 45 minutes of their impromptu visit (which they made to make up for not meeting us at the park) and then she screamed while I made dinner, and while she ate dinner, and when her daddy came home and when he left again. She screamed for so long, I didn’t know how she had any scream left in her. Tonight was definitely up there in my Worst Parenting Nights Hall of Fame. It was a massive, epic, all around FAIL.

But you know what, it wasn’t all that bad, at least not for me, because early into the tantrum I just let go of any expectation that it would stop. I did my best to comfort my daughter, to give her what I thought she needed, but when she continued to cry, I didn’t turn against myself. I just accepted how she was feeling without making it about anything else. And honestly, I did a pretty good job weathering that massive storm.

I hope I can hold on to this teaching, especially as we embark on our seventh attempt to get pregnant. The only way a BFN can destroy me is if I expect something else instead. Now I just need to remember that…