A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Hot Baths, Cold Water; or, Another Two Week Wait

I'm back from the wilds of Maine! I watched my youngest sister graduate, ovulated, tricked Lawyer Guy into pressure-free sex, and ate a lot of excellent locally grown/caught food. Not in that order.

I ovulated either CD 20 or 21, right on schedule. And the sex was well timed and well spaced out, not that I know what either of those things mean anymore. I so want this to be it. I so want to be reading a positive pee stick two weeks from today. I tell myself every two week wait that this won't be the month and that I've just got to keep trying, but inside I'm thinking, "Why not? It happened once, why can't it happen again?" And then another voice answers with, "Yeah, but it hasn't happened ten times more than it has, so why would this month be different?"

It gets pretty crowded in my head during the two week wait.

After the CBEFM had confirmed ovulation, on the last day of the trip, Lawyer Guy and I took a bath together. It's something we like to do on vacation, but thanks to my zealous protection of his sperm and all things related to them, we haven't done so in 18 months. He was tired from the long drive and from days spent with my family (whom he loves but who also drive him crazy) and I thought a bath would relax him. It did.

But of course, immediately afterward the wheels in my mind started turning. "Hot baths can decrease fertility. It can take three months for sperm counts to replenish. We're going to the RE in three months. We could have just killed all our chances at conceiving until September. If it doesn't happen this month, we're screwed." And on and on and on.

By this point, I've pretty much turned the possible regrets off. My husband needed to relax and do something with me that was not about making babies. The bath wasn't blisteringly hot or anything, so I'm sure it will be fine. And even if it's not, it's only two cycles we've been set back. Plus, who the hell knows what our problems are anyway?

But I have come to the conclusion that if this cycle doesn't work out we'll be visiting the RE in late August/September. Some days that terrifies me. Other days it feels inevitable.

Finally: thanks for your feedback on the letter to Clueless. I'm going to send it tomorrow and I'm not going to await or expect a response. Some of you mentioned wanting to "plagiarize" the letter in e-mails to your own friends or family. As long as you use proper MLA citation, that's fine. Just kidding. Anything in there that speaks to you or communicates your feelings is open and available for you to use.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Biting the Bullet; or, Sending Out An SOS

After weeks of dithering, I finally decided what to do about Clueless Preggo (aka the Friend Formerly Known as Recently Trying). Every option I'd considered sounded both appealing and dismal. Getting together for dinner would make me feel like a strong, capable person, but would probably lead to days of weeping and self-laceration of emotional wounds. Sending an e-mail would be quick and direct but brusque, impersonal, and too open to interpretation. Calling her on the phone would allow for honest and open communication but could also turn into an all-about-me sob fest. And sending a card would show thoughtfulness but also might seem too much like a goodbye.

I didn't spend too much time thinking my way through any of the options in detail but let them rumble around in my mind, watching to see what seemed to attract the most stress and what attracted the least. The least stressful option was definitely sending a card, so that's what I decided to do.

Today I bought an adorable yellow card. On the cover is a baby clothesline and the word "congratulations", but as it doesn't say "on your new arrival" or "on your little one" or something like that I think it can work for a pregnancy congratulations card as well as a new baby card. I also picked up a mini-book of baby names filled with lovely photographs. And then, when I returned home, I sat down and wrote the following:

Dear "Clueless",

I am so happy for you and Mr. Clueless. You are going to be amazing parents, and this baby will be very loved. Your families must be so thrilled to welcome the new baby. I'm truly glad that it sounds like everything is going so well with your pregnancy.

Things with me have been hard, and I say this not to dump cold water on your happy time, but just to let you know why I haven't been as involved a friend as I would like to be. I'm still sad a lot, still wondering when I'll get to be a mom, and starting to consider seeing a specialist in the next few months.

It's difficult sometimes when I'm so down and disheartened to be excited and cheerful for other people, even when I want to be the same happy kind of friend I used to be. I need to take each day as it comes--sometimes I feel up for more, sometimes I need to protect my heart a bit.

I guess I'm trying to say that I care a lot about you even when it's hard for me to show it. And that I can't promise to be there for you in the same way I once could, but I can promise to do my best. Things could improve for me soon--I hope they do! This could also be a very long road ahead. Either way, I look forward to better times with you and your little family.

Secret Sloper

Clueless knows about the miscarriage and about how long ago we started trying, so I didn't see the need to spend much time explaining our situation. I also realized in ruminating on the card option that what worried me about it was the fact that I don't really know what I want from Clueless. I don't want to ask her to leave me alone and then feel in a few weeks like I'm capable of handling her pregnancy after all and have to backtrack. I don't want to make a big deal about how hard this is and how sad I am and then call her in two months with a "Guess what?!?!" and force her to pretend like this never happened. I don't really want anything from her other than space to feel what I feel when I feel it--and for her to know and accept this.

So the card is much more about me and my feelings than about her and her actions (or potential actions). It's trying to explain where I am, not asking her to do anything.

I'm going to send it along with the book next week after I get back from my youngest sister's college graduation. I hope she takes it well. I haven't a clue how she'll respond, and for now I'm okay with remaining the Clueless one.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Purple Dresses, Red Velvet Cake!; or, Weekend Recap

Only time for a quick post today. Life is a bit crazy with day-long grading sessions and paper writing and Junior League meetings and sisters' graduations to prepare for. But I wanted to fill you all in on my incredible weekend!

Lawyer Guy threw my 30th birthday party-- not a surprise, but exceptionally fun, nonetheless. My family and friends were there, including my NYC roommate of 3 years who now lives in California. She and LG coordinated a surprise visit and she came singing into my room at 8 am the morning of the party to wake me up! She and I had brunch together, got our hair done, and went to Bloomingdale's in SoHo before the party to get our makeup done. I went unusually heavy with the smokey eye, which may have been ill-conceived, but hey, I only turn 30 once and if I want Cleopatra cat eyes, I'm gonna sport Cleopatra cat eyes.

Then came the party at a restaurant downtown with delicious food and lots and lots of Cava for everyone! I had friends from all over the country come in for the party. There were old friends from junior high, high school, and college and my fabulous new friends from the last few years-- how amazing to see the way I keep adding people to my circle while still deepening my long-term friendships! I felt so much love and support. It was just a wonderful evening, topped off with the most delicious red velvet cake ever and lots of presents!

The next day, a little hungover and very tired, Lawyer Guy and I bid farewell to Roomie (who spent the night of the party in our guest room) and drove down to my hometown for the baptism of my BFF Doctor Lady's baby boy. She and her husband flew in from California, as well, for the weekend's many festivities. I got to meet the little man for the first time, and it was great. No tears (well, from me. He shed quite a few!). The service and lunch afterward were family-only with the exception of LG and myself. Watching my friend mother her son was amazing.

I must confess I was a little deflated yesterday and today. Only natural after two such special days, I suppose, and some recalcitrance from Pissy the CBEFM. But my mother-in-law told me to remember how loved I felt at my party when I'm blue in the future, and I'm trying to hold onto that. I have so many good people surrounding me in this life, I am truly lucky.

To finish, a picture of me and Lawyer Guy (faces mostly obscured, of course). I want to show you all the dress, which wound up not resembling any of the options I gave you. It's short, I have a black sash tied around the waist pinned with an antique gold broach in the shape of a leaf, and I'm wearing strappy black Manolos.

Have a great rest of the week, lovelies!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In Which I Do My Best Impression of an Antebellum Heroine; or, Odds and Ends

Thanks for the advice on the Clueless Preggo front. I'm still pretty stymied about what to do. Sometimes the thought of sending her an e-mail or card feels best. Sometimes the thought of dropping off the face of the earth feels best. And just yesterday I felt like I could handle a face-to-face dinner, somehow. I think what I'd like best is a face-to-face where we agreed not to talk about or acknowledge her pregnancy, but I'm not sure how I can get that (since I'm sure on her end, the whole reason she wants to get together is to talk about the baby and the baby-mandated move to the suburbs I'm positive is on the horizon). That's how my SIL and I handled things during the last months of her pregnancy, but she and her husband aren't big sharers anyway, and we never had to have a conversation about ignoring the elephant in the room.

I have a therapy appointment scheduled for Thursday, so I think I'll go over all this then and see what my therapist thinks. Maybe she can help me tease out what I really want.

* * * *

I got some good news this week. The semi-half-assed abstract I sent off to a conference two weeks ago was accepted! So I'll now be heading out to Portland in October. This is of course calling to mind the first conference I attended in London last July. When I applied and was accepted to that conference I was positive that I'd be pregnant by the time I attended. No socializing over pints at the pub for me, I thought. Now here I am, almost a year later, still not pregnant. But at least I'm making no assumptions about this trip to October. I'd like to be pregnant by then. I hope I'm pregnant by then. But who the fuck knows anymore. Maybe I won't be able to go because of monitoring appointments at the REs. I'm not going to worry about it until the time comes.

One little additional thing: this is the second conference I've applied to and the second conference where I've been accepted. The first was the biggest conference in my field for UK academics. But you are very, very wrong if you think this makes me feel confident about my work. Nope. I've assumed that either: the conferences didn't get as many submissions as they expected; these conferences aren't actually all that good; my abstracts were good enough to trick them into accepting me, but my presentations will depress and appall them. Eh, I'm just going to go back to not thinking about it again.

* * *
One of my younger sisters is getting married next summer in California. August 2011. So far away, right? But being 9-months pregnant in August would mean conceiving in December. That's seven months from now. That's two months after we're planning to make our first visit to the RE. That's entirely possible.

So I very well may be forced to confront the possibility of delaying treatments in order to guarantee I can attend my sister's wedding. I envisioned this possibility back when I had the miscarriage in November. I don't need to tell you guys how much either would hurt: missing the wedding of my first sister to marry; delaying getting started making babies even more-- pushing it ever closer to the two year mark.

I'm not actively fretting over this. I recognize that a lot can happen in seven months. It's just there in the back of my mind. One more worry-stone to add to the pile. One more thing to not let myself think of, Scarlett O'Hara style.

Fiddle-dee-dee. Tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Why Can't I Quit You?; or, Folie a Deux

You know how this is a break cycle? You know how I'm relaxing? You know how I'm just letting nature take it's course and not trying to intervene or stress my husband at all?

Sigh. Allow me to show you an unsent letter to an old foe:

My Dearest Pissy,

How did it all go so wrong? We had one of the best first dates of my life. We laughed, we talked, I shared my dreams and fears with you. I was so afraid to trust again, but you supported me! You gave me all the confirmation I needed, just when I'd given up hope. And you were right, dearest Pissy. You told me my Peak Days and rewarded me with a BFP. I thought we would be companions for the rest of my (reproductive) life.

But since then, everything has changed so much. You're so unpredictable. I never know how you're going to react to what I give you. I know many relationships thrive on variety, but they also need stability and security. And Pissy, your two days of High and ten days of High, your ever changing Peak days-- it all became too much. I needed some time away to clear my head. I needed to say goodbye.

But I just can't leave you. Even when I know we're no good for each other, I still can't do it alone. Pissy, the box of pee sticks from my knocked-up internet buddy arrived yesterday, and like a junky just out of a mandatory rehab stint, I was jonesing for my fix. That foil wrapper peeling away between my fingers, the slow creep of blue as the strip absorbed my pee. Pissy, it was good to be back.

Just don't tell my husband.

Your Victim, Your Lover,
Secret Sloper

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Two Friends; or, How to Handle a Preggo

Yesterday after my session in the library, I had drinks with a Grad School Friend whom I've grown very close to since the beginning of the year. She's the friend I took to the opera a few days after learning the m&m had died, and since she learned about the miscarriage she's been incredibly supportive. She is yet another Recently Trying Friend, but as she's 38 years old, I'll be much more okay with her getting pregnant first (plus she several cycles in now, so not another first-time-lucky friend to deal with).

I wound up telling Grad School Friend all about last weekend's pregnancy announcement from Girl Formerly Known As Recently Trying Friend-- whom I would call Recently Pregnant Friend, except that she's almost five months along, so that's not Recent at all, and she should really be called Clueless Preggo for being so clueless and so pregnant.

Where was I? Oh right, drinks and conversation last night.

Grad School Friend (who has done her time in the therapy trenches) had an interesting perspective on my situation with Clueless Preggo. She suggested that my desire to be the strong, competent, together friend who helps other people--the friend who listens to everyone else's relationship problems while she basks in the glow of her own drama-free decade-long union--my desire to always do the "right" thing in each situation, and my fear of being a big downer all the time has placed huge barriers to intimacy between me and some of my closest friends. It's true that I'm much more comfortable in the counselor role than the sad and needy role (unbelievable as that may seem to readers of this whine-fest). It's true that I have rarely brought up my anxiety and sadness and jealousy and all-around crappy feelings to my friends with babies since the miscarriage. I also had not spoken to Clueless Preggo about the above in months, so perhaps she is to be forgiven for not assuming her pregnancy announcement would hit me like a house falling on my head.

So Grad School Friend suggested a phone call to the Clueless Preggo in which I am (amazing as it may sound) honest. That I just tell her that I'm glad this has been easy for her, but I'm so sad for myself and hearing her news brought up a lot of painful feelings that were hard to deal with. That talking to her about her pregnancy is more than I can handle right now.

It seems so simple. Why would someone have a problem with those feelings? What sort of person would object to my struggling with grief and disappointment?

And yet the thought of making that phone call terrifies me, and I'm not sure why. I'm not sure what exactly scares me so much. I know I'm afraid that I'll push people away while I'm struggling and they won't be there anymore when I come out on the other end. I know I'm afraid that my friends will think I'm selfish or morbid or self-absorbed or fixated on my own problems. But the ultimate fear is even beyond that, and I'm still not sure what's at the root of it.

Any thoughts on what to do in this situation would be most appreciated, because I'm doubting everything I think and feel these days.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

School's Out For Summer; or, Different Times Ahead

About nine months ago, I was finalizing my syllabi for the fall semester and learned that I needed to take over as chair of my Junior League committee a year earlier than planned. I looked at the year to come--my first semesters teaching, my last semesters of course work, my volunteering career, and a host of other responsibilities--and I panicked. It seemed so overwhelming (particularly the teaching). But I knew I had to get through the year, so I told myself, "This year will suck. Be prepared. But you'll survive."

I had no idea at the time how very much this year would suck and how much more I'd have to deal with than the busy schedule I'd originally foreseen. But I got some of my prediction right, in spite of that. This year did suck, but I also did survive it. I'm still standing, having taught my last class of the semester, having not completely screwed up a generation of young American minds, having managed to advance toward my own degree, and having hauled myself out of bed morning after morning, forcing myself to comb my hair and brush my teeth and get out the door, even on the days when I wanted to do anything but.

Whatever next year brings, I know two things: I can handle it, and it will be different from this. Whether I'm pregnant again or starting fertility treatments, I'll be doing something new and ideally hopeful. And if there's more heartbreak to come, I'll survive just as I have done.

It feels good to know that I can look at a bad situation and muddle through. Nine months ago I wasn't sure I that I could.

Meanwhile, no more 6:30 am wake-up calls for me! A summer to look forward to--even a busy, hectic, work-filled summer--feels so good right now!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Six Months Later

Dear m&m:

Today it is six months since we found out you were gone. These six months have been the hardest of my life, and I have missed you every day. I don't often think to myself what you would have been or could have been or should have been. I try not to let myself imagine how big you would be by now, how much you would be kicking, how many of your little things would be waiting for you in your nursery. I don't know how many weeks you would be or what size fruit you would correspond to. I didn't follow your growth after you left us because it hurt too much to pretend like that.

But I do remember how happy I was when I was pregnant with you and you were growing, however slowly and unsteadily. I often think about the night I ate so many berries and then threw them all up again not even an hour later. Every bit of discomfort or pain I felt then is precious to me now, because it meant that you were alive.

You weren't meant to live, I suppose, though I will never know why. And yet I am so grateful that I had the chance to love you, even if only for a few weeks. Those weeks were a brief spot of joy in a long, sad year and I will remember them all my life. I hope that they were weeks of peace and joy in the fact of being alive for you, too. I hope that somehow you felt my love.

Your Mother

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Cycle Day 1 To Me; or, Self-Torture in Aisle Four

I forgot to get my mother, mother-in-law, or step-mother-in-law cards today. I mean, completely forgot. Just forgot that that's something people do. I don't even really feel bad about it. I'm honestly impressed by the strength of my own desire to repress all thoughts of celebrating mothers.

But mothers must still be celebrated, even if belatedly. So this morning, when Lawyer Guy and I went to the grocery store to pick up some last-minute ingredients for the brunch my mom was making, we stopped off at Rite Aid and made our way to the card aisle.

Do you remember poking at your loose teeth with your tongue back in elementary school? I would push against them, feeling the give along my gums, hearing the pop of the loosening root and the releasing suction of the socket. I was addicted to the relief of that pain.

So I stood in a suburban drugstore at nine in the morning, grabbing cards from shelves labeled "Mother's Day: For My Daughter," "For My Wife," "For the Mother-to-Be," picking them up one after the other and reading the doggerel verse, the cheap glitter coating my fingers. I hate mass-produced greeting cards. I like to buy my limited-run letter-pressed cards printed on eco-friendly materials and designed by independent card makers from locally run stationery stores. I'm a paper snob.

But one of these cards caught my eye, curlicued print and all.

"This would be nice for you to give me."

"Well, one day I'll give you one."

I didn't receive any cards this year, and the one I picked out for my mom said something about calling her on dark days. I added a subtitle about screaming at her, too.

I did get an e-mail, though, from my former Junior League chair. The one who revealed she had a miscarriage in her past.

"Thinking about you today."

It's nice to be thought of.

Friday, May 7, 2010

This Has To Be The Bottom; or, How To Destroy Secret Sloper, In Three Easy Steps

Step #1 (Friday): Have Recently Trying Friend make a phone call. Have Secret Sloper answer said phone call-- during the break between the keynote speech and reception at the conference where she is assisting her advisor. Have RTF reveal that she is 4.5 months pregnant and due in September. Have Secret Sloper do some quick mental math and realize that RTF got knocked up her first month trying. And is the third of Sloper's former bridesmaids to do so.

Have RTF mention that: she waited this long because she really wanted to tell Sloper about this in person; they must get together to chat all about this so soon; she's having her 20 week u/s next week; being pregnant is "really hard sometimes."

Cue falsely and desperately cheerful conversation from Sloper, abrupt conclusion to phone call, and sobbing, sunglasses-shielded trip around the block, followed by a dinner with some of the most prominent academics in Sloper's field. (But hey, at least the taxi driver handed her a napkin as she wept in the back seat of his cab on the way home).

Step #2 (Saturday): Bring the original First-Time-Lucky bridesmaid back to NYC for a quick visit with her family before she moves out West for the foreseeable future. Force Sloper to pay a visit to her and her adorable six-month-old son, who was born the day after the m&m ended his or her short life. Hope that retching, choking and other extreme digestive reactions do not ensue.

Step #3 (Sunday): Now would be the absolute ideal time for a nationwide celebration of mothers.

At A Yet-To-Be Determined Moment:
Toss in a visit from America's favorite bloody hag.

This is it, right? The blackest before the dawn? Things are gonna start looking up? The sun'll come out tomorrow?

Cause it can't get any worse, can it? Can it?

Oh, and universe, these are rhetorical questions. Not challenges. Just so we're clear.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

According to Leslie, This Would Be Stage 6; or, What I Don't Want

I want to post about what a wonderful birthday I had. I want to post about the familiar blue box containing sparkly earrings that Lawyer Guy withdrew from a secret drawer that morning (after swearing up and down that the party was my present). I want to post about the shopping trip with my sister to NoLIta that led to me purchasing my birthday party outfit. I want to post about the fabulous dinner LG and I had at Locanda Verde and the wonderful calls and texts and e-mails I received all day from friends and family around the country.

I don't want to post about the sinking feeling that has been slowly setting in over the past few days, the end-of-the-2ww feeling, the heavy, dull, listless feeling of yet another failed cycle.

I don't want to post about the phone calls I've been guiltily dodging from Recently Trying Friend, whose decision to celebrate her birthday "low key" last month alone with her husband and whose sudden desire to meet up for drinks (after...hmm...let's see...four months of silence) are like some Banksy guerilla art installation all over that freaking wall: PREGNANT LADY HERE. I don't want to post about how even the thought of another pregnant friend in my life--another pregnant former bridesmaid, another shower to paste on a fake fucking smile for, another sequence of interminably similar questions to ask (Did you pick a name? What's your nursery set? Are you learning the sex? When are you due? What stroller are you registering for?)--sets my heart racing and palms sweating and stomach roiling and tears streaming and NO, I CAN'T DO THIS AGAIN! NOT NOW! NOT YET!

I don't want to post about Mother's Day. I don't want to post about trying again. I don't want to post about nieces and obsessed grandmothers with one-track conversational minds and soon-t0-be mamas parading their stretch-jersey swaddled bellies all over town in celebration of Spring and their own delightful fecundity.

I want to post that I'm pregnant. But I can't.

So I'm posting this: I'm taking a break. And contrary to the wisdom of busy bodies everywhere, it's not some nifty new fertility treatment I'm trying out. I'm tapped out. I'm drained. I'm gutted, spitted, and fried.

So enjoy your little nap, Pissy the CBEFM. Return to your drawer, my good friend Tempy. Maybe I'll call you back up to the big leagues next month, and maybe you'll be playing for the minors all summer long.

For the near future, it's just me, Lawyer Guy, and whatever sperm-meets-egg magic the good Lord sees fit to provide.

And you, of course. I can't leave all of you. After all this time, I've gotten used to having a crowd in the bedroom.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

To My Twenties; or, The Last Day

The last day of my twenties is off to a nice start. Yesterday I had my first real-life meetup with a bloggy friend, the amazing Such a Good Egg who is in NYC for a wedding. It was great! I feel like she is someone I would be friends with no matter how we met. Thanks for getting together, Egg!

Then I had dinner with my real-life IF friend and learned more about her recent diagnosis and their treatment plans. It was an emotional chat--as it always is with us--but we also laugh a lot. And drink a lot, too.

And now I'm going to polish off an abstract for a conference, head to yoga, and then go see the Cherry Blossoms in the park. I'm a lucky girl with a great life, and today I know it.


How lucky that I ran into you
When everything was possible
For my legs and arms, and with hope in my heart
And so happy to see any woman
O woman! O my twentieth year!
Basking in you, you
Oasis from both growing and decay
Fantastic unheard of nine- or ten-year oasis
A palm tree, hey! And then another
And another (and water!)
I’m still very impressed by you. Whither,
Midst falling decades, have you gone? Oh in what lucky fellow,
Unsure of himself, upset, and unemployable
For the moment in any case, do you live now?
From my window I drop a nickel
By mistake. With
You I race down to get it
But I find there on
The street instead, a good friend,
X—- N——, who says to me
Kenneth do you have a minute?
And I say yes! I am in my twenties!
I have plenty of time! In you I marry,
In you I first go to France; I make my best friends
In you, and a few enemies. I
Write a lot and am living all the time
And thinking about living. I loved to frequent you
After my teens and before my thirties.
You three together in a bar
I always preferred you because you were midmost
Most lustrous apparently strongest
Although now that I look back on you
What part have you played?
You never, ever, were stingy.
What you gave me you gave whole
But as for telling
Me how best to use it
You weren’t a genius at that.
Twenties, my soul
Is yours for the asking
You know that, if you ever come back.

- Kenneth Koch