Coming to Terms

TGIF. Seriously.

First off, thank you everyone who left words of encouragement yesterday. I can’t tell you how much it meant to know that others understood how upset I was. I know that in the grand scheme of things it’s not that big a deal. I know that people have had to wait infinitely longer to try, and then get pregnant. I know this. I don’t think missing this month would have been so hard if I hadn’t put myself through so much to get ready. These past two weeks have been so hard, and I endured it all so I could give it a try this month and then we missed it and it was all for nothing. That was a hard pill to swallow.

There are other reasons missing this month bothered me and I’ve been trying to parse them out in my head. I think the number one reason it upset me so much is that I like to be in control. I like to plan for every possible contingency and when I intend to do something, it generally gets done. I sensed that Tuesday was the day and I even bought the extra Pre-Seed just in case, even though I knew there was a chance it might arrive later that afternoon (as it did). And then I got home and events out of my control–our fight and Mi.Vida feeling sick–ruined my plans. And I HATE that. There is already so much about TTC that is out of my control, fumbling the stuff that is in my control drives me batty.

My reaction to this has also inspired me to look more closely at how I feel about TTC as a whole. The truth is, I’m not in an incredibly hurry to get pregnant. In fact, if we had gotten pregnant this month, and the pregnancy stuck, the due date would have been difficult to manage. Of course I assume we won’t get pregnant on the first (or second or third tries), or that the first won’t stick, so we’re starting early.

And the truth is, this is almost certainly my last chance at being pregnant. Despite my burning desire for a third child (more on the insanity of that soon to come), it’s not financially possible. So this is it. And there is a part of me that is sad for that, to know this is it. And I want to savor it. I’m the kind of person that enjoy the build up to the vacation almost as much as the actual vacation. So I’m not in a huge hurry to be pregnant. I’m really not. So why am I freaking out?

I think the thing is, I’m not scrambling to get pregnant but I am scrambling to be done trying. Unfortunately the two are mutually exclusive. I can’t just decide to get pregnant and do it. If I could, all would be fairy queefs and unicorn farts. But I can’t. And the truth is, I hate TTC. I loathe it. And while I don’t need to get pregnant immediately, I don’t want to be trying for a long time.

I’ve been trying to determine what about TTC is so horrible for me and I think I’ve figured it out. Every cycle that we don’t get pregnant I feel like we’ve failed. I mean, we have failed, right? We’ve failed to get pregnant. We set out to do something and it didn’t get done. And while I know that it’s not the same as failing at other things in life–because I don’t have control over the luck involved in actually getting pregnnat–it feels the same to me. I don’t like failing and TTC is chalk full of it.

Also, there is an irrational part of me that feels like every time we don’t get pregnant, it means the next time we have less chance of getting pregnant. I know that isn’t true, not really. I know that it’s like rolling a die and at school I roll die all the time. I use a six-sided die to dismiss my sixth graders because sixth graders are obsessed with “fair” and nothing is less biased than the roll of a die. And there are times I roll that die and roll that die and can’t hit either of the last two rows left to dismiss. And every time I think, maybe 4 and 6 will be the numbers I need to get pregnant and I just won’t roll them for the longest time. So I get it, in my head, but in my heart every negative test means that something might be wrong, that I have even less of a chance that it will happen the next time, that my opportunities are running out.

So yeah, I’ve been grappling with all that these past 24 hours and it’s been enlightening, to say the least. I’m trying to move past this busted month because really, what else can I do? My options are to wallow or move on. I guess the latter is the more productive choice, thought it can be a hard one for me to accept.

There is one thing making me feel better, and I wrote about it here, at my new blog. It has to do with faith, which I didn’t think I had for the longest time, but now I realize I do. And it brings peace. And for that I’m thankful.



Mi.Vida and I just had a bit of a fight. Or rather I was yelling at him. The details are pretty insignificant but as I spouted grievance after grievance I actually realized what was bothering me. Although Mi.Vida tells Little Bear (i.e. me because I’m holding her) what a “great mommy” I am and how thankful he is that I take such good care of her, I feel like so much of what I do goes unrecognized while much of what I don’t do is pointed out. There is so much that Mi.Vida doesn’t see, like the hours of playing with Isa and the fact that there is so little time to do anything else. He doesn’t see that the bathroom towels get taken down, washed, and hung back up. He doesn’t realize that while many things don’t get picked up off the floor, all the toys and books I’ve taken out during the day to appease Isa do make it back into their rightful spots. And while the dishes from last night might not get done, usually the ones I’ve used during the day do. So I never hear a “thank you for changing, rinsing, storing, washing, drying and putting away Isa’s cloth diapers” which would be fine, except I do hear a “why is the stroller still out and blocking the front hallway?”

Mi.Vida thinks that it all has to do with the fact that I know there are things about our apartment that he doesn’t like hates and so I internalize all the little things I hear him say out of frustration or annoyance. This is probably true. So he’s going to try to be better about not mentioning them so much and I’m going to be better about not getting bent out of shape when he does.

I also realized that I need to let go of my hopes for how Mi.Vida is feeling and how he deals with those feelings. It’s okay if Mi.Vida is not very happy right now. It’s okay if he feels overwhelmed at work, ineffectual at home with Isa and generally tired and worn out. Of course, I’d rather he didn’t feel that way and I will do whatever I can to ease those unpleasant feelings. But I don’t need to do so so desperately. Mi.Vida’s happiness right now doesn’t have to portend the future. I don’t need to feel threatened by his struggles right now.

The truth is, having a baby is a huge transition. Transitions can be very hard but many times they pay off and in the end, you’re happier for having made the change. We may not be happier, right now, that we were a year ago. But I bet in a year we will be happier than we were before we had our daughter. I hope we are much happier. In fact, I’m betting on it. In the meantime I just have to accept that this part is challenging and that each of us handles those challenges distinctly. And that is okay.

BUENAS NOTICIAS – It was a gorgeously warm weekend and I enjoyed being outside in the warmth so much.

Getting Settled

Happy Monday! I can’t believe the weekend is already over and it’s Monday once again. I also can’t believe this is my 10th blog post! I feel like I’ve found myself here and I hope others have found something worthwhile as well.

Well we made it down to my folks’ house yesterday, kitten and all. Mi.Vida is staying up at the apartment tonight as he has a late meeting with the folks involved in his music blog/website. He’s not sure if he’ll make it down tomorrow or not, as he has yet another meeting with the same people on Monday night. I do know that I’m going to miss him dreadfully until he returns.

Squeaks, as I call our kitten in this blog, is doing well in the new house. She is a bit skittish and all over the place but she seems to be coping fine. She slept next to me while I attempted to start my grad school work. Unfortunately I was not very successful. She slept okay last night, and I hope she doesn’t destroy anything while she’s here. She not generally a scratcher or a chewer but she is not generally in unknown houses either. We shall see what happens. All I know is everything at my parents’ house is considerably more expensive than at our dinky little apartment. I hope we’re not writing them any exorbitant checks at the end of our stay.

I am saving a little money this week though. First of all, on Friday I canceled acupuncture because I hate going when I’m actually having my period as it feels like kind of a waste. So I saved on the cost of the appointment and on the herbs, which I’m not going to miss out on because I have small amounts left from past months that I can take until next week. I also had to cancel therapy this Wednesday because I’ll be down in Redwood City and I’m not going to drive all the way to San Francisco in rush hour (both ways) for one appointment. I’ll just have to post an extra blog entry to get me through. Now don’t get me wrong – both acupuncture and therapy are very beneficial, but not going every once in a while is like a breath of fresh air on the financial front. It also saves me quite a bit of extra time. So I’m pleased that this week I’ll have more money in the bank and more time to get things done.

The time component is especially important since I did not get much done on the grad school paper front last night. It wasn’t for lack of trying, but I just couldn’t come up with an idea. I have to write a lesson plan and I just couldn’t think of an activity to base it on. I hope I can find some inspiration at school tomorrow because I have to get on that ASAP! Oh grad school, why are you so relentless?

On a TTCing note, I did not take my temperature the last three days because I was having my period and it was the weekend and I was not about to wake up at 5:45am under those circumstances. I realized when I got down here that I forgot my thermometer and decided I was not going to go out and get a new one so I also did not temp today. That is a huge release of control for me, I don’t think I haven’t temped for three straight days since I started TTC. But the reality is, my CD2-4 temps don’t mean that much and the world will keep turning even without three dots on my BBT chart. I’ll get a new thermometer today and start temping tomorrow and all will be right in the world (as least as right as it would have been) and I’ll still be TTC, despite my delinquency. It feels good to accept this and move on. It is nice to know I can relinquish control every once in a while. In the meantime I’ll focus on work and grad school and Squeaks and being back at the rent’s place for the first time in a long time. And all the while I’ll be day dreaming of gleaming bathtubs and unstained linoleum floors.

The Doldrums and the Divine

This morning I threw three impressively-sized wads of used tissues into the garbage on the way to my car. As I dug through my purse for wayward pieces I realized that these were the last remnants of this month’s attempt at starting a family. The rest of the evidence is also in the trash: a digital pregnancy test with the words “NOT PREGNANT” glaring from the window and a life’s worth of hopes and dreams.

I don’t usually test before DPO 13, when a dip in my temperature will let me know a day before my period if I should even bother. I tested last night (DPO12) because I had a feeling it would be negative and I wanted to deal with the fall out that night in therapy and not the next morning on my way to work. Turns out there was more fall out than I anticipated.

Two hours of crying and three wads of used tissue the size of my fist later, I was exhausted but emotionally more stable. I realize that I have gotten “better” since I started on this journey. Starting a family is no longer an obsession in that it does not occupy my every thought. I do feel I can glean meaning from the coming months even without a + on a pregnancy test. Ironically it was my ectopic pregnancy that allowed me to find some peace in that respect. It also helped when I realized that I would never be the young mother I thought I would be. Somehow I fooled myself into believing it was still possible, up until I turned 29 just weeks after my ectopic pregnancy.

While I do feel emotionally stable, I do not feel particularly good. I feel upset, I feel angry, I feel exhausted. I feel so incredibly frustrated. I loathe having no control over the one thing I care most about it; it makes me want to question everything I’ve ever learned about life. The reality is, I have.

We are taught from such a young age that if you work hard, you can achieve anything. I believed that. It has served me well. I wanted to go to Berkeley more than anything, so I worked really, really hard and got in. I wanted to speak Spanish so I took classes, lived in Spain, read only books in Spanish, watched Telenovelas and I became pretty good at it. I decided I was going to be a teacher and I completed an insane credentialing program in 1.5 years and I currently have a job I appreciate very much. But now I’m working on the one thing that matters most, and no amount of effort can truly effect the outcome. It doesn’t matter how much I want it or how hard I try. That it such a humbling experience. I really don’t know how to accept it.

And it’s not for lack of trying. I’ve read so many books on acceptance. Hundreds of pages on a concept I can understand the importance of but don’t know how to practice. Sometimes I think I can accept my situation. Sometimes I even feel grateful that I’m being forced to see the world in a profound and important new way. But other times, when I think of how things might play out, I feel completely overwhelmed. I truly doubt that I’m strong enough to keep going. Accepting the uncertainty is just an insurmountable task. This too is a supremely humbling experience.

So I’ve been humbled… and it’s taught me a lot about myself. I now see how important consistency is in my life, how much I value the idea of hard work = goal reached. That equation feels fair to me and fair is of the utmost important. But there is nothing fair about infertility. Nothing. It’s so incredibly unfair, I just want to write that over and over again, but still I wouldn’t do it justice. I’ve also learned that I deal with issues by taking action. I’m a problem solver. I can’t get pregnant? Well, what can I do to solve that problem? Turns out, not a whole hell of a lot. I can make certain choices and take certain supplements and take care of my body in certain ways, but in the end, none of it matters. It’s just the luck of the draw, and you can have shit luck over and over and over again. I also cherish the idea of control. I don’t think I ever realized how important the illusion of control was in my life. I also didn’t realize it was an illusion. Actually, it’s not an illusion, not entirely, and that is the realization I made last night, with the help of my therapist. I think I’ll save all that for a later post.

The oscillations of this post mirror my emotions perfectly. One minute I feel overwhelmed and the next I feel like I will be able to get through this. There is a Buddhist story about the day the Buddha achieved enlightenment. As he sat under the bodhi tree he was attacked by thousands of spears that became flowers as they showered down upon him. One interpretation of this story is that your enemies only exist when you allow them to exist. Obstacles can be opportunities if you allow that transformation. You can choose to be tormented by your problems or to be taught by them; you just have to open yourself up to the pain and accept what comes your way. I know this experience is teaching me more about myself than I ever could have known. I want very much to open myself up to my pain and learn to accept it. I hope I will continue to find meaning in the obstacles I face. The only alternatives are disappointment, frustration and despair.

Striking a balance

The first college football game of the season is this weekend. I went to Cal Berkeley and though I was never a big football fan during my four years at the university I’ve since become an active member of the Cal Bears fan base. This is mostly because of the impressive tailgates put on by a group of people that I now know very well and call friends. I met my partner at these tailgates and they will always hold a place very close to my heart. In the past, the onset of football season made the transition from summer vacation to the start of the school year almost bearable. The only problem with these tailgates is the “let’s all get wasted” mentality. Drunk does not even describe what people get at these things; blotto is a word I’ve heard thrown around and though I don’t know its exact definition, I’m pretty sure it’s an appropriate adjective. Let’s just say that the shirts we all have say Cal Drink Squad on the front and demand in big gold letters, SHOTGUN A BEER! on the back. I think you get the point.

Needless to say, in my current state of not drinking much at all, the idea of these tailgates worries me. I know there will be demands to drink and shotgun beers, and I have faith that I can resist that kind of peer pressure. But the reality is, it’s fun to drink at these tailgates. I used to have a good time getting blotto. It’s a nice release and if there is anything I need right now it’s a release. And therein lies the rub. Do I just let myself go and drink at these things? (Though I would never, ever get blotto, I would inevitable reach the intoxication level of tipsy if not bordering on down right drunk.) Or do I sacrifice that frivolity for my most important cause?

I’ve come up against this paradox a lot lately. As I finally feel ready to make compromises in an attempt to bring balance to my life of trying, I’ve become perplexed by how to proceed. There is a part of me, a substantial part, that honestly believes that if I want to have a baby more than anything (which I do) I should be able to sacrifice anything to have one (which I’ve been attempting). This was definitely my mindset during the first leg of my journey, but as the trail becomes more arduous and the destination more and more uncertain, I’m wavering in my resolve. Wavering doesn’t quite capture it, it’s more a chaotic oscillation. The reality is I just don’t know. I want to return to some semblance of my past life and in my past life I imbibed alcohol sometimes to have fun. It was not my primary portal to a good time, but on certain occasions it provided a very welcome respite. I’ve found that I no longer even miss a beer or two during little events like concerts or BBQs where every one is drinking. I can even do a bar night with glass after glass of ice water without batting an eye. But at big events, like weddings and tail gates, I’m going to be painfully aware of my status as the lone and sober spectator.

There was a time when this wouldn’t even phase me. I went to many a wedding and stayed below my 2 drink limit. Back then I believed in my cause, I thought I was doing what needed to be done. The same resolve justified the 5:45am temperature readings (even throughout the summer) and the vile tasting teas and tinctures. But now it’s been a long time and none of that has delivered me to the promise land. My goal still sits deceptively out of reach and as I embrace the idea of acceptance, I have to come to terms with the fact that I have very little control over my situation. How do I reconcile a growing awareness of a complete lack of control with a regimen enforced in a desperate attempt to manipulate that over which I’m powerless? The two seem to be completely at odds with each other.

The Buddhists have a teaching I find particularly hard to wrap my head around; put your best effort forward but let go of the outcome. It is adverse to everything we learn in American society. We’re taught that if you work hard enough, you will achieve your goal – and that is why you work hard in the first place. If you put your mind to it, anything is possible. Try telling that to a room full of people battling infertility! But it is that total disconnect between what we’re taught and the realities of infertility that brings me back to this idea of try-your-best-but-be-okay-with-whatever-happens. I mean, that is essentially the road map of trying to conceive. It’s not as simplistic as all that, but it captures the experience. You do all you can do to prepare your body, you try, it doesn’t happen and you have to pick up the pieces and try again. Because that is the only option.

The more I think about it, the more the idea of giving your best effort but accepting the results unconditionally is the only way to go. So the path that seems impossible is the only one available. In fact, there is no path, just the endless wanderings of someone who knows where she wants to go but doesn’t know how to get there.

So what can I do? I can always try my best, and if one Saturday I’m at a tailgate and my best effort translates as having a few drinks, then so be it. I will try again the next tailgate and hope for the best. I can try to accept the results, no matter what they may be. Relinquishing control, even if it’s a phantom control is not something I do easily, but bit by bit I hope to make progress. That is all I can do.

Left behind

I had decided to write a post about my regimen – what my life had become since trying to conceive became its focus. Today’s post was going to segue perfectly into tomorrow’s: a question of how to balance my desire to have a child with the need to live my life. Then I got on gchat and found out my friends went into labor and suddenly none of that really mattered. Suddenly all my mind could see was people passing me up and leaving me behind. The reality is I don’t know what to say about this, but a blog should be about the journey and you don’t always know how to find your way. You shouldn’t gloss over the lost parts just because they aren’t as eloquent.

Today I don’t know how to find my way. Not anymore. It’s hard to find your way when you have no idea where you’re going. In attempts to find my way today I stared blank faced at my screen after I found out. I started tearing up in front of 32 5th and 6th graders on their first day in my class (I turned around briefly and I don’t think they noticed anything). I closed my gchat window when my good friend (who is even better friends with the couple that went into labor) changed his status to JOHANNA IS IN LABOR. I have not yet opened it again. I listened to sad music in the car and let my eyes fill with tears and then dry, over and over again. Upon arriving home I immediately wrote two friends from the message boards who I knew would sympathize with my plight. I acknowledged the hole in my heart. I sighed quietly to myself.

I thought things. I felt things. I thought that some people have all the luck. I thought that it’s just not fair. I thought that I would appreciate what they had more than they could. I thought that I deserved my plight and then I decided that I didn’t. I finally settled on the reality that there is no rhyme or reason to any of it and it’s just the random realization of life. And the finality of that made me despondent. I have accompanied these thoughts to their inevitable conclusion so many times and yet each version is as painful as its predecessors. Knowing the needle will skip back over this same introspection once and again begets a kind of grief-stricken exhaustion. Whirring a relentless static behind every interaction, it falls like a veil over my interpretation of the world.

When I hear news like that of today the drone gets louder, the veil thicker and the heavyhearted exhaustion unbearable. I move more slowly. The days and months seem to stretch in front of me like so many obstacles shining in the indiscriminate sun of a vast desert. Except, upon further investigation, the sun is not so indiscriminate. Some people get to move from oasis to oasis. Some get to find shade or perhaps feel a breeze that is out of my reach. Seeing those people picnicking on the soft grass near the clear waters makes my thirst that much more relentless; makes the sun pounding from above and the heat rising from below that much more unbearable. Sometimes it makes me want to lie down and give up.

It’s not that I want to usurp their position of comfort and ease; there seems to be room for everyone. I’m happy for them in their little oasis worlds, most of them seemingly unaware of the unquenchable thirst tormenting those denied entry into their paradise. I wouldn’t wish this desert life on anyone, I really wouldn’t. And yet there they are, and here I am and I know they wouldn’t mind if I joined them and yet I’m kept apart. No one’s keeping me out, but I can’t get in. And the reason for that is simply, that I can’t. There is no other reason. How does one come to terms with such a realization? How does one walk calmly through the parched desert while their feet simmer on the baked earth and their throats coat with sand? How does one not look longingly at the oases? How does one not wonder, what did I do to deserve this? What did they do to deserve that? It’s almost easier to accept that you can’t have it for some reason, even if you’ll never understand what that reason is, than the unfathomable reality that there is no reason at all. There is no reason is impossible to welcome and hold close to your heart.

So when I see people gaining entrance to these little oases through pregnancy and birth announcements its hard not to feel excluded. Truthfully, it’s hard not to feel bitter and depressed. I’m happy for them… always… but I’m also distressed. I’m trying to receive the melancholy with loving kindness. I’m try to offer up compassion to the parts of me that feel broken beyond repair. I’m trying to take it one moment at a time. I’m trying to remember that I can always endure the scorched earth for just the present moment; it’s only the idea of eternity that looms intolerably in my mind. If I can just learn to embrace the now in place of an assumption of something that may never be, maybe then… one day… in the present moment, I’ll notice soft grass beneath my feet.