Friday, September 29, 2006

Exodus

Today is my birthday. Thirty-five.

My ovaries are in lockdown to prevent any eggs from trying to make a run for it, via my bellybutton. Because according to the literature, 35 is when they head for the hills.

I am not one of those people who trumpets news of her birthday to everyone in the village. Nor am I one who gets mopey and depressed (about birthdays anyway. Were this to fall during PMS, Al Roker's birthday could make me mopey and depressed).

I do have some thoughts, though. Some are birthday related, most are not.

My sister's and brother in law's best friend was killed on my husband's birthday. He is being laid to rest on mine. My sister was really saddened when we figured that out, but I just said to her, "He'll always be a part of our family."

I have a friend, a best friend, that I first met while doing prenatal water classes at the local Y. Six months after our babies were born, we began a friendship that was decidedly centered around the rigors of breastfeeding, the torture of sleep deprivation and the vehement objection to letting our babies cry. There were weeks that I would see her five days out of seven. We would meet at the mall just to get out of our houses when our eyelids had to be propped open. We shared encouragement when trying to teach our babies to eat solid food without losing our sanity. I cried with her as her baby went through some emotionally and physically painful testing to make sure she didn't have a swallowing disorder, when the solid foods took longer to master than expected. We took our toddlers on a train ride to a neighboring town, then laughed hysterically as she flashed her breast to an unsuspecting commuter while nursing. She has cried with me through my three miscarriages.

Last Saturday, on my husband's birthday, she had her second baby.

It has not been as hard as I would have thought. Recently, I had the chance to speak to her over the phone, and she admitted that when she came home from the birthing center (a mere twelve hours after delivering) she did nothing but cry. She was, and still is, overwhelmed. And I put myself in that situation, mentally, and think, maybe the universe knew that I wouldn't be ready to have another at this point. Small consolation.

I am excited to meet her new little one. But something saddened me when we got off the phone. My friend said, "Take care." Take care. As though...it is going to be a long time until we see each other again.

It's not such a bad comment, and maybe we won't see each other for a couple of weeks. Not only do I have to take into consideration her exhaustion factor, but on top of that she is typically a nervous wreck about babies, germs, infection, etc. So, she is probably not willing to let anyone near her new baby yet.

But in those two words, I guess I felt the wide chasm between where she is and and where I stand. There is an inexplicable gulf between us. It isn't anyone's fault. It just is.

I was pregnant before her last fall, and I wanted so desperately for her to get pregnant, so that we would have each other's support again. But, she and her husband weren't quite ready. Actually, she wasn't, considering the generous dose of morning sickness she gets when pregnant.

Then, all of a sudden I realized she was talking about folic acid. A lot. She was pregnant and hadn't said anything to me because of my loss. I was excited for her to be pregnant. But, I just had to grieve another unexpected loss...that dream of being pregnant at the same time and all it meant to me.

I know, it's a small thing. But that's what I find with miscarriage. It hits you at odd and often inappropriate moments. Like, going to the dentist and being able to get x-rays, when you thought you wouldn't be able to.

So turning 35 has the same effect. I'm happy. I'm okay with being 35 (although I still don't know who thought it was a good idea to put me in charge). But, I was supposed to have a baby by this time. Now, I'll be lucky if I have another child (at all!) by the time my next birthday rolls around.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why do I distrust condoms?

Seriously, I must have a problem with Durex or something. I am starting to convince myself for the second cycle in a row, that I have managed to circumvent the best latex that Proctor and Gamble has to offer and gone and gotten pregnant.

But this is really strange.

Okay, today is two weeks past the first day of my last period. I guess, in clinical terms, it's CD14, right? Yesterday I felt a little peevish around the midsection, like mild menstrual cramping, and beyond hoping that my period was actually going to arrive (which just wouldn't be a good sign for trying to procreate, I believe) I preferred to believe that I was ovulating (which would be sort of textbook).

Fast forward to middle of the night. I was sleeping, as I am wont to do while laying in my bed in the middle of the night, but maybe restlessly so. During a toss or a turn (I'm not sure which), I awakened enough to realize that I had the spins. That's right, bed spins. As if I had gone to bed drunk and had not yet slept it off (ironic, no, in light of my previous few posts?).

Now, who gets dizzy in the middle of the night? So badly, that it is actually noticeable?

I refused to get up and go to the gym at 6:00 because I was still reeling. When I did finally get up to use the potty, er, toilet (sorry, got a three-year-old informing my vocab at the moment), I truly, nearly fell over trying to sit down. Completely out of control. And sitting there, I could not get my eyes to focus on one spot on the floor, because the floor kept moving in a clockwise rotation.

Whew..I'm getting woozy again just thinking about it.

My hubby brought me a glass of oj, but that only served to anger my innards, a bit. Not enough to reject the thought of already-made-thus-reheatable chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. But even one of those didn't rectify the situation. In fact, I had my husband go into work late so he could drive the little one to school with me because I just didn't trust my driving ability (no snarky remarks there, please. I am a very good driver.)

Now, after sitting and watching some recorded tv for a bit (I am such an Aaron Sorkin whore), I felt better. I managed to pick up my daugher from school and get her to her yearly well-child checkup, but sitting here, without a solid meal in my system, I am feeling it again.

So, I ask you, because dr. google apparently does not understand my symptoms all that well, can I be pregnant? Yes, we have had sex, but always with protection. In tact throughout each encounter. (Okay, okay, if you must know, there might have been a little fooling around before the actual barricade was put in place. But that only leads to pregnancy on the Lifetime channel, right?) I feel kind of crappy below the neck, too, but again, this all has to be way too early for me to have bonafide symptoms.

I have no other explanation, except that maybe my hormones are doing some kind of over-the-top welcome dance for the newly hatched ovum.

Or, that I have the flu. Which is so much less fun to write about.

Or, that I am crazy.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Soapbox removed and other stories

And now for some perspective.

I grew up two houses away from my mom's parents. They were like a second mom and dad to my brother, sister and me. They had boats and old cars and a huge garden filled with green beans, cabbage, and tomatoes and one year they even built a chicken coop for a dozen fuzzy chicks that eventually turned into hens that wouldn't lay any eggs. They wintered in Florida and each Christmastime we would tearfully say our goodbyes and eagerly await spring break on sandy beaches, playing shuffleboard or driving their golf cart with them. My grandmother was my mother's best friend. My grandfather practically raised my brother (despite the fact that, yes, my dad was around). They were best friends. I can't remember a weekend passing without spending at least one night at their house, waking up to french toast or Sara Lee coffee cake.

One February night in 1985, my dad was at a conference in the same town where my sister was at college. I was 13 at the time, and whenever my dad was away, I got to sleep in my mom's big king size bed with her.

At one o'clock in the morning, the phone rang. Someone had been hurt.

My mom kept saying, "I want to see her, dad. Can I see her?" She was blind with grief and because she kept saying "Dad" I thought it was my dad calling about my sister.

It wasn't.

My grandmother had been killed by a drunk driver. It was her dad she was talking to, whom she was begging to see her own mother. She wouldn't ever see her mother again.

This event changed my family forever. My mother was probably suicidal for months (years?) after, although my father made a good effort to watch her and keep things normal for us. My grandfather lived with us for months after returning from Florida for my grandmother's funeral. It was not easy. He was not easy. Grief was thick in our house.

So when I wrote what I wrote yesterday, that old devastation surfaced in me again, as it always does when I hear of senseless, stupid deaths involving drinking and driving.

I stand by what I wrote yesterday. My views on drinking and driving have probably informed how I keep (or don't) my friendships and romantic involvements. I simply don't drink that much, although I have when I lived in cities where public transportation or the ability to walk everywhere has taken the driving part out of the decision.

I guess I was expecting the silence on some levels, but I also thought that there might be a couple of you that would say, "I, too, have lost someone in this senseless way."

I hope none of you have to go through it.

Before I spoke with my sister, I was working on a post about infertility, so I'll go ahead and put that up now. Thanks for the chance to vent.

****************

When I started reading blogs, I was recovering from my third miscarriage in seven months. And I started with just a handful of blogs. Less than that. I kept up with them from my parents' house where I went on a two week vacation. I started my own.

Now, I have so many blogs listed in my favorites that they can not all be displayed on my screen at the same time. (Really, I need to update my links on this site, but I'm illiterate when it comes to html and I just don't have the time.)

There are women I read about who are due any minute. There are women who are just digesting the news that is announced by two pink lines. There are women who are grieving their own losses, or impending losses. And there are those of us who are waiting, getting psyched up to try again.

I go back and forth between the hurt I feel for those who have been laid low and the thrill I feel when someone announces a doubling second beta. And I try to discern exactly where I fit in all of this.

Sometimes, I can channel the fear, anxiety and misgivings of the women who feel doomed to repeat their current or latest loss. I know that there is very little standing between me and miscarriage number 4. Just dumb luck. Yet, I haven't gotten to the point of utilizing ART. My pregnancies are destined to be old-fashioned in their beginnings, aside from the intense scrutiny the whole process will be subject to. For one, in all the testing, my doctors have not found anything untoward in my reproductive tendencies. For two, we simply cannot afford the massive expense of very much ART. (Or perhaps, we would not choose to afford it, and since our health care does not cover it, we'd be forced to really weigh how much we want another baby in light of the effect that decision would have on our bottom line.)

So, can I really relate to all that is going on out there in the world of infertility. Do I consider myself infertile? Or even secondarily so? No. I don't. But I do believe I'm in denial.

Where does that leave me? I love the stories of success that are about to happily wrap up, as I picture myself in that boat in about 10-12 months. Yet, the stories of loss resonate deeply with me. I have been surprised each time I miscarried, because when you lose one pregnancy it is called a fluke. I naively believed that if the first one was a fluke, the only way to fix that was with the next pregnancy. When the next two failed, I was at a loss to comprehend how to fix it anymore.

So I am proceeding a little naively, with much hope crumpled between my sweaty hands. I want the next one to work, as does everyone in this situation. But I feel like my hopes and wants are very simplistic. Like, I want to get pregnant the first month I can try again. And I want my lining to be amply thick and my progesterone in abundant supply. I don't have to worry with this next try about needles and follistim or Clomid. And because I feel like my journey might be pretty straightforward, I feel like a fraud even worrying or writing about it.

Of course, the last three started exactly the same way. Naively, hopefully, simply.

I gues what I'm wondering is: do I have to continue to suffer just to belong?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

I am angry

I am angry today, and I don't care who I take it out on.

My sister and brother-in-law's best friend was killed by a drunk driver last night. He leaves a wife and four children. One of them is my niece's best friend. A twelve year old girl. The rest of them are younger.

Look at your children right now. How would they survive if you were killed?

Last night, after working a college football game to make extra money, the best friend drove home. About a mile before he got there, he pulled off on a dark road to help a girl who had driven her car into a ditch. The drunk driver hit him and killed him, rendering him unrecognizable. His shoes stayed at the side of the road.

There is nothing I can do for him, his family or my sister's family, grieving as though they have lost a brother.

But this is what I want to say. If you drink and drive, you are a scourge on the human race. If you drink and drive, you should be thrown in jail for life. And I don't mean this in the third person objective such as "If one drinks and drives, one should be thrown in jail."

I mean YOU.

And if you think I'm not talking to you because you limit yourself to one beer or one glass of wine, and feel that you're okay to drive, you are wrong. Because that one drink could mean the difference between driving in a designated lane, and thinking that the tail lights in the breakdown lane indicate it's open to traffic.

With all we now know about the dangers of drinking and driving, shame on you if you drive with any alcohol in your system. And if that offends you, well I guess it says more about you than it does about me. Rationalizing your right to drink over everyone else's right to safety. Do you really need to defend drinking that much? Is it really necessary, for us to feel that we live in a free and tolerant society, that you be able to drink your one (or more) drinks without interference and still drive. Is it in the Constitution somewhere? Did I miss it? Are you too important or ignorant to call a fucking cab?

And don't for a moment think that I'm a hypocrite when it comes to this. I have approximately two drinks per year when I am out and that is only on the rare occasion that I can convince my husband not to have a drink. So that one of us can be stone cold sober to drive. But I would rather skip the drinking to know that I am in control. So that's what I do.

Don't you think you could do the same?

And remember my sister's best friend the next time you let your friends convince you that they are okay to drive when you know better. I know I will. Your children and parents and spouses and friends would probably appreciate someone stopping you from killing yourself behing the wheel. Why not have the courage to do the same for those you care about, no matter how uncomfortable it is.

Fuck.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

My thoughts have been with Julia all day. She's having a rough go of it and recently encouraged her readers to send along profanities or hopeful stories or something, dear lord, to cheer her (the fuck) up.

I volunteered the following story in a comment. Then I thought, maybe a few people who cruise by here would appreciate this as well.

This is a true story, filled with amusing profanity.

One day my niece, who was four at the time, came home in tears from preschool. My sister asked her what was wrong, and found out that my niece was extremely upset with the teacher for not writing any of her "words" up on the blackboard that day.

Being a protective lioness, my sister called the teacher immediately to find out exactly why her daughter had been wronged. This is what she found out.

Each week, the preschool class discussed a new letter of the alphabet. That day they had arrived at "F." The teacher was prompting the students to come up with words that started with F. One by one the students raised their hands, offered a word, and the teacher wrote it out on the blackboard for them.

"Family!"

"Friend!"

"Feather!"

My niece held up her hand (ooh, ooh, pick me!)

"Yes?" the teacher called on her.

"Fuck!"

The teacher paused--while the teaching assistant sniggered--then said, "I don't think we'll put that one up on the board."

The class continued to offer new f-words: "Fun" "Fancy" "Furry"

My niece raised her hand again and the teacher called on her.

"Fuck it?"

Now the teaching assistant had to leave the room and the teacher, after composing herself, said, "Okay. Are there any others?"

"Fat" "Fire" My niece raised her hand again. The only child left with her hand up. The teacher called on her.

"Fuck off?"

That is when the teacher decided that they had thought up enough f-words for one day.

I say, at least she got them in alphabetical order.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Near Misses

We had a near miss in the bathtub tonight. That is, during my daughter's bath, we were almost visited by a floater. The brown kind.

I caught her leaning to the side, grunting ever so slightly, and turning, fascinated, to watch bubbles eminate from her bum. Let's face it...we're all mesmerized by our own flatulence, never more so than underwater, so this is no surprise. But when the grunting turned a little more serious, I quickly encouraged her to get out and sit on the pot whilst I dried her off, whereupon she, in turn, pooped.

But before she pooped, she asked me for "pry-uh-see." Privacy, dig?

I removed myself from her Jack and Jill bathroom and rocked peacefully in her glider, while she continued, sounding ever so much like Monica Seles returning backhands on Centre Court. (You'd think she was passing russet potatoes.)

All was well until she tried to wipe herself. Another bath was in order, if you know what I mean. Seriously, she was three knuckles deep into the...stuff.

All of this, of course, while her father is miles away interviewing. Scratch that. Today, he's flown on an airplane, played golf, attended his godson's Scouts meeting, eaten a steak dinner, had the results of the Giants-Eagles game spoiled for him (by me) and is probably enjoying a cold beer right about now. Tomorrow he'll interview. Let's not feel too badly for him tonight.

I miss him. It's a little strange to have so much going on, events which will decide our future, and not be near each other to sort through it all. Yes, they do have phones in CT, but it's not the same as the heartfelt conversations one has in one's own bed with one's own significant other (where he can't get away!). Not to mention that when he returns (tomorrow night) my parents will be in town for a week to celebrate my daughter's birthday. It's probably better that so much is taking up my time and attention right now, or I could do some serious obsessing.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

My Computer Agrees

Last night I was writing a really fascinating post about how boring I am, and how it's probably due to the fact that I only ever see other adults to discuss things like preschool, potty training, and how expensive Whole Foods has become. I made some allusion to my former life as a grad student and how conversations used to revolve around Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried" and its subtle condemnation of our warring society in the face of humanity's quest for morality. I spoke of the BIG words I used to use, although (as though to underscore my vacuousness) I couldn't remember any as I was writing and was forced to use "loin" as an example. A poor example, indeed. And right in the middle of this brilliant expose, my computer crashed.

Oh great. Now I've put my computer to sleep.

I've realized lately that I am a middle-of-the-road person. I'm not bold enough to use my husband's or daughter's names in my blog, but I will describe the vagaries of my bodily functions in painstaking detail. I will never include pictures on this site, but I'll tell all of you that I'm on the verge of divorce when I haven't even discussed that with my husband. Hell, he doesn't even know I write this blog. Unless he's much craftier or suspicious than I give him credit for.

I've got to break out of my shell.

It goes so far, that I can actually say that it is comfortable being in this no-man's-land of waiting for my next period before trying to get pregnant yet again. I mean, it's safe in here. Waiting is half the fun. There's no bad news right now, no worrying, no testing, no pricks (unless of course, we're talking about my husband again), no magic wand, no shuffling my kid to the neighbor's so that I can sit in the RE's office for three hours.

It is calm and at the same time, filled with hope and excitement for what might happen. None of the possibilities has played out yet, so it's a feeling of abundance, this waiting. Anything can happen. When we begin trying, not everything will happen. Some things will start to fall to the side of the road. Perhaps we won't get pregnant right away. (Imagine that!) Perhaps I'll have an anovulatory cycle or two. Perhaps my progesterone will be precipitously low. Or we will get pregnant and there will be spotting. Or a blighted ovum. Or twins!

So, the choices, the possibilties just keep narrowing, once the journey begins again in earnest. Right now, I'll admit that I like the wide-openess of waiting. It's like the night before the Spring Break Vacation. You know you're going. You're packed and the camera is loaded with film. The car is full of gas and you are having trouble sleeping. But...there is something delicious in still having the whole trip in front of you. Something not disappointing, anxious yet not stressful about the moment just before.

Friday, September 15, 2006

See Spot Run

I have decided to call my period "Spot."

I know that standard terminology for a period is AF, which stands for "Aunt Flo." This is too passive for me. My period begins with a tenative, crumby appearance on toilet paper; some might call it spotting...get it? Yet, I have no way to know exactly when my period will start in force. None of my aunts would be so unpredictable in their arrival. Secondly, they certainly wouldn't forget the progesterone, even when showing up uninvited.

But the truth of it is that "Aunt Flo" sounds very warm and cozy, like someone who would crochet a soft blanket or make cocoa. My period is not like that. Let's review:

Spot makes me hormonally unbalanced and may yet be responsible for me divorcing an otherwise acceptable man.

Spot makes me bleed heavily on previously undetermined days (and has ruined many a pair of cotton underwear).

Spot makes me cramp.

Spot gives me headaches of the ilk that make me want to vomit for relief.

Spot makes me jealous of women who are pregnant.

Spot makes me jealous of women who are trying to get pregnant.

I've heard some women talk of getting their first period as though it were a tribal celebration. The elder women in the family would gather round, give the newly initiated woman a backrub and a steaming hot cup of tea. Then they would muse in hushed tones on the joys of being a woman.

There is but one joy associated with menstruation, that I can think of. The ability to get pregnant (although as we all know, that can and does happen to girls who have probably not yet menstruated, also). That is the only "benefit" to this monthly (or whatever) inconvenience.

The cruel twist is that getting your period assures no one of being able to get, stay or healthily remain pregnant. And now that I've experienced the crushing blow of getting periods when I wanted to be pregnant, or having my first period after losing a precious pregnancy, I don't think menstruating is such a good deal.

I've read about women who doubt themselves because of their infertility. They are, in their own words, bitchy, petty, angry, bitter, confused, you name it. They (and I) feel betrayed by their bodies and the bodies of those around them that seem to gestate effortlessly. It is treacherous to be a woman; Spot is at the center of this particular maelstrom.

Don't expect to hear me say "Good dog" any time soon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Writer for hire: Now with addendum

Of all the indignities heaped upon one woman, I can't believe that I have spent a significant amount of time today writing a cover letter for my husband. So he can get the job that will cause us to move.

And I've been enjoying it.

Oh, the shame. Yes, I have a background in writing. Getting caught up in the endless array of choices to describe one's professional life ("aggressive leadership" and "cultivate relationships" and so on) is somewhat of a thrill to me. As long as it's not my job search. Then I become a twit.

The move is seeming more and more to be our destiny. However, this could be coming from the side of me that has learned to prepare for bad news: take information that I feel must be crammed in and choke it down, because it just won't fit through the pipeline of my dreams, already overcrowded with cast-offs and erstwhiles.

(Picture me with my skull hinged and opened, revealing an overlarge puffy pink brain, into which I am pounding doo-dads, screws and twigs with the back of a spade, while most of it spills out.)

In other words, I am a bit of a gloom-and-doomer. I like to perserverate. I like to worry, literally: rub my brain over something until it softens and gleams in my mind's eye.

However, the flip side is, I just cannot imagine him not getting this job. I've tried, and circumstances just don't warrant such thinking. I can't explain without boring myself, but it seems that the whole thing has been his for the taking since the position opened. We've just been ignoring the call.

Plus, his cover letter is, like, totally excellent. It "seeks out challenge" and is "result-oriented".

Crap.

Addendum:
Upon reading this post, I realized that my certainty of B's getting the job and us moving may seem gratuitous or incomprehensible if you don't know this: he has an interview scheduled for next week, and it was set up well before the cover letter was even composed. So, the wheels are in motion, regardless of the niceties of the job search dog-and-pony show. I think the fact that he's being flown in to interview speaks volumes, also.

That said, I have been wrong before. It's true. I just can't ignore my gut on this one.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Moving Out, the Musical

Because it is Sunday, and I have at my disposal a husband to chase the babe, I have been saddled to the vacuum cleaner most of the morning. I really do a great job of letting the pills of dust and floating pillow feathers and dried leaf bits build up to a tidy crust that is soooo much more satisfying to vacuum than a relatively clean carpet that was vacuumed only , say, last week. When you can actually see where the vacuum has been, not because of the wheel marks, but due to the variation in shade, that is brilliant.

I don't like to clean. Except for those rare times that I love to clean. I am bad at cleaning, because I get distracted by the millions of random pieces of paper, or toys, or missing socks, or DVD cases, or sunglasses, or dirty cups that call out to me on my loops through the house trying to clean. I can't focus on one task long enough to actually finish it. And, you know how "deep cleaning" can be. When you dig in, usually three or four other tasks need to be accomplished first. Before the vacuuming could commence, I actually had to reveal the floor, so to speak, by moving laundry baskets, slippers, more toys, a drying rack, rocking chair, hamper, new Sirius radio still in packaging, video camera, shoe box, et. al. from each object's perch on the floor to my bed.

Which means now my bed could use a good cleaning off.

All of this merriment is actually taking place at the expense of my heart. I look into cobwebbed corners (now stripped of their usual occupants by the hose attachment) and realize that soon these corners will belong to someone else. My comfortable untidiness will be playing itself out in a new house, far away. Yes, I am preparing for that eventuality.

And don't even get me started on having to pack.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The beginning of the end

I think it's time to share a little of my infertility journey, because that's why I started blogging in the first place. And if I were going to therapy, I would eventually be prodded to work over these memories anyway.

What's true is that I am coming up on the first anniversary of the beginnings of my second pregnancy. I know the exact date that conception took place (or, technically speaking the main event which would lead to conception in the days following ) because, as with my first pregnancy, it was a one-time-deal. I had wanted to start trying again, so that our children could be about 3 years apart, so last fall was marked with a bullseye. However, things got tricky with hubby's job and he felt uncertain about his future and this led to us agreeing to temporarily shelve the humping-with-a-purpose.

But there was a random, randy night. Just one. And it was good. Apparently so good that we didn't even attempt it again for awhile. Ahem. For months. And after a few weeks, I had an intuition which turned out to be on the money, because the appropriate pattern of pink lines showed up on the HPT. Pregnant from a "Shot in the Dark." (There would be more of those to come.)

It was now Thanksgiving, involving a trip home to visit all of my family. I convince my conservatively-natured husband to join me in telling my whole family our good news. (I say "join me" because the reality was that I had no ability to stop myself from spilling the proverbial beans. At least he could decide if he wanted to be present.)

I let my daughter tell them "I goin' have bruddersisser." Which no one understood after repeated attempts, so I pushed her aside and shouted, "She's going to have a brother or a sister!" A great cry of triumph went up around the table, almost as though the procreating had been a group effort. My husband nudged me during the ensuing hub-bub to point out my brother wiping at tears. (Not even close to his MO. I felt special and loved, for sure.)

Fast forward two or so weeks. A Monday ("I don't know why I don't like Mondays."). The first prenatal visit. We brought our daughter, to include her and to let her hear the heartbeat, and because we are too cheap for babysitters (because God knows how long you'll be stuck at those appointments...hours, days?).

The appointment went reasonably well. The doctor was new to me, but very calm and sensitive to our worries, which stemmed from a terribly rough go of it when my daughter was born. (Imagine we were discussing doulas, for Christ's sake! Oh, the hubris.) My husband and daughter weren't present during the pelvic, due to my child's fascination with public potties and her need to go on them, ad nauseum, even when she has nothing to "contribute." She did tinkle, actually. But I digress.

I remember telling the doctor that I didn't feel pregnant, but that because I had such an easy first pregnancy, it wasn't particularly alarming to me. Isn't it strange, though, that I said "I don't feel pregnant," rather than "I feel good," or "No complaints." Maybe, as the words were spoken, I was already understanding.

The doctor obliged me with a Doppler, which found nothing. But, she assured me this happened often, usually due to it being too early, or the position of the baby. (Or...)

The next morning, B (my hubby) and I decided we had time for a quick romp in the hay. Actually, it was missionary position in our bed, trying not to wake the toddler in the next room. All fun and games, until...

...the bleeding started later that day. This was the Tuesday before Christmas weekend. A panicked converation with the dr. on call led me to schedule an u/s the next morning with the office. The earliest I could be seen was 4:30 that afternoon (Wednesday, now). The bleeding was intermittent, probably held at bay by my sheer will and the repeated clenching of my sphincter muscles. (Who says Kegels don't work?)

The ultrasound was not great, of course, as this is a story of miscarriage. There was a sac, and a fetal pole, but no heartbeat. Consistent with a 6-week pregnancy. This didn't exactly worry our doctors, until my husband reiterated that this was a "Shot in the Dark" pregnancy. Try as I might, I could find no wiggle room. No lusty encounters vaguely feathering in and out of my memory, to explain away the discrepancies.

It was doomed.

The miscarriage started in earnest the following evening (Thursday) as we were packing up to head to the in-laws for Christmas. Needless to say, we postponed traveling until the morning, and even then I was not up to the challenge. But, my MIL is a retired nurse who encouraged me to come and be taken care of and let my daughter be chased by everone else and what else could I do? Stay home and look at the walls and bleed and pass clots and wonder all by myself "Was that the products of conception? Was that?"

It was an unhappy holiday. I remember having to retrieve a package, for my husband, from the pile that we were taking to Christmas. A baby sling in his size (because the New Native Carrier comes in different sizes, don't you know.). I remember laying down on my bed, while trying to pack, because the physical exertion was just too much. I remember baking some homemade biscuits for Christmas dinner and my MIL making a horrible, twisted "something in the oven, no pun intended" comment to me. I remember being numb.

And the baby sling is still sitting in my closet. Wrapped in blue reindeer paper. Waiting. Waiting.

Waiting.



Thursday, September 07, 2006

School rocks!

Okay, okay. I made it through the first day of school, and I did just fine. I got along with the other kids, I colored inside the lines and I even used the potty. All by myself.

My daughter, in case you were wondering, also did fine. Better than fine. She woke up at 7:20, asked if it was "morning time," and when we responded in the affirmative, demanded to be taken to school. It was a Herculean effort to stall her for an hour and twenty minutes until it would be appropriate to leave. Put on the clothes...go to the bathroom...brush the teeth...eat the pancakes...oh, how 'bout some t.v. At one point, my husband and I took her to the front porch for photos with her new backpack, and she refused to come back in! She was ready damn it!

Then, when I did drop her off, (and take a few more pics), I bent down for a hug and kiss and I could almost see it in her eyes: "Oh. Are you still here?" Even the teacher, upon seeing my daughter jump into an activity when we walked in, said "Oh, she's ready."

I allowed myself to get a little emotional on the long walk back to my car, but I'll tell you, it really hit me as I was waiting in the car line to pick her up. All the little ones, gathered at the doors of the school as teachers walked them to their awaiting chariots. All the brightly colored backpacks and scrubbed, yet now sweaty, faces. So many dreams there. It hurt. I'm not sure why. Or maybe I am.

In other news, I have to confess that I am ridiculously drawn to the show on Bravo, it's a reality show...I'm stalling now because I can't remember the name...maybe it's called "Runway Challenge?" Oh, is it "Project Runway?" I don't watch it enough to know (sure, sure), but whenever I stumble upon it, I simply can't turn away. Designers and wanna-be's doing their best to be catty and awful to each other as they slice and sew fake plant leaves into a ball gown. Well, some of them. The rest are too busy dreaming up impossibly ugly outfits made entirely out of fuschia rosettes or silver gauze that will inevitably win that week's challenge.

If you saw my closet, you would know that I know nothing about haute-couture (although I can fashion a headband out of a bandana in thirty seconds flat). And that might be why I love the show. If you gave me a funnel, some rubber tubing and a rock, I couldn't make a slingshot, yet these people are crafting organza bustiers for dogs. And LOVING it.

Plus Heidi Klum is easy on the eyes.

P.S. No period yet. Hubby still lovable.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Notes from Suburbia: AKA Alanis Morrisette you don't know nothin'

I think it is somewhat ironic that my period seems to have chosen this moment in time to straighten up and fly right. (I don't mean that AF was previously gay or has gone Republican on me.)

For a year I have had remarkably regular periods, coming exactly 21 days apart, except of course, when interrupted briefly by, I don't know, a pregnancy. Or three. But in 365 days I have had enough periods to know that, for instance, on every third Saturday between late January and April 10, my wisest choice of clothing accessory was a maxi-pad with wings, skillfully tucked into my briefs so as to painfully entangle the fewest pubic hairs.

Now that I want to have a period, have taken many tests to determine the efficacy of my period and its hormonal posse, not to mention the battery of tests gauging numerous other bodily functions, my period has decided to go into the Witness Protection Program.

I know this because it has been three weeks. Yesterday. Plus, my period suddenly demanded to be called Emily, when she was formerly known as Tina, and wouldn't leave me her phone number, insisting instead that she call me. From Idaho. And I still find my husband to be amusing. Okay, tolerable. Which means there is not a smidgeon of PMS mounting an attack at this time.

You might be tempted (as my mother often is) to cheer me with the bright side to this absence. Of course, it probably means that my luteal phase is lengthening, that my progesterone has awakened to its role as a team player, and that my uterine lining will be the beneficiary of such events. Plump up that lining.

Who cares? I don't think I'm going to get pregnant right out of the box (no pun intended) anyway, so why can't the fertility gods at least humor me with an ultra short cycle (or at the very least, my blackjack cycle), followed by another one, so that I can commence with the procreating! Or, the practicing thereof.

And besides, does anyone really think that I will not be taking progesterone from the earliest possible moment this time? I don't care if my lining looks like a buttercream layer on a wedding cake, I'll be taking the progesterone. Even my RE advised it during a recent talk. No tests, no biopsies, just the damn progesterone already.

So, who needs the regular cycles.

Is it strange that I have also had to discourage a tiny, demented voice in my head that keeps insisting I could be pregnant? If I were, I would have to be one of the women (and their partners) who outwit the statistics on the condom box. You know, the women who experience a 1-2% failure rate when using a condom for birth control. But, sheesh, what are the chances that I would fall into the 1-2% failure rate?

Ironic, isn't it?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Are you brave?

Recently, I read a magazine article about a daughter who traveled to Mexico to visit her estranged--and dying--father. He was mostly aware of her presence and during a quiet moment asked her "Are you brave?"

It has given me pause, this question. He was asking it, ostensibly, to better understand the daughter whose life he shared only in a vague, shadowy way. But inside the question itself, I think there hides a certain kind of praise already. A certain amount of faith that he would receive confirmation of something he suspected all along. At the very least, the moment between question posed and question answered is rare space to ponder exactly what in one's life could allow for a nod of the head, a quiet "yes."

Am I brave?

I hope so. I think that if I were, my life might be more interesting and satisfying. That's not to say I will ever display the outward acts of courage that universally connote the image of bravery(rescuing my fellow man from a burning building or submerged car). But I think there is a different kind of bravery, an internal function of the word. Perhaps it's time to look deeper.

My husband told me that he was proud of me for going through my D&E with such strength. I think he called me brave. I told him, bitterly, that I didn't want anyone to be proud of me for enduring what I felt to be such a violation. It was a procedure that I decided to have done; how could following through with it be brave? Perhaps there is still too much shame and sense of failure involved in that situation for me to feel that I was being brave.

But, I will allow that maybe, just maybe, my husband was brave for accompanying me into the room, holding my hand and stroking my forehead while it was taking place. (And I am loathe to give him credit for anything in this process, so this speaks volumes). I don't think on that day, during those fifteen minutes, that my husband and I went through the same thing. I was numb, in every sense, I was purposely blocking everything out, which is also not a characteristic of bravery, in my view. My husband had to take it all in, not show his upset, and take care of me (all without passing out at the sight of what was probably a lot of blood). I am thankful for his courage on that day.

I have asked myself, are there smaller ways to be brave? Or does brave always have to be Brave.

My daughter goes to preschool on Thursday. I have looked forward to this day with mostly dread. I know I will feel empty for those few hours a few times a week, at first anyway. It was not an easy decision for me to send her, as she is not even three yet and I know this step begins a lifetime of schooling and all that entails.

When we first pondered the idea of sending her to preschool, it was under the delusion that I might have another baby to take care of, or at the very least, an advanced pregnancy wearing me out. So, we visited a few schools and found only one that was reassuring in their warmth and love for the kids at the school. I put her on the waitlist, and told myself that if she got in, it would be my sign that sending her to school was going to be okay.

In late July, the day that I returned home from the ultrasound showing no heartbeat in the last pregnancy, we got a call from the preschool. There was room for my daughter to attend.

It was a bittersweet moment, but one that I needed very much at that time for a few reasons.

That phone call at that moment taught me that it takes courage to let go of the big decisions, giving them to the universe to hand back when the time is right. And accepting the answer when it appears.

More than that, I know that sending my daughter to school requires courage. Her life is bigger than me, unknowable in many ways, despite my deep desire to protect her and guide her well, despite my need to be her everything. For me to acknowledge that her path is both beyond and separate from mine is difficult indeed. And, well, it's about all the bravery I can muster right now. As Dori said to Marlin, "If you don't let anything happen to (Nemo), then nothing would ever happen to him!"

I'm still searching for ways to be brave, in an everyday kind of way. I don't want to look back on my life and see nothing but an overwhelming mediocrity that has outlasted the meaningless fear that inspired it.

How about you? Are you brave?