Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Monday, June 19, 2017

#Microblog Mondays: How To Tell People You're Not Adopting Anymore

Wouldn't it be great if I had the answer to this unpleasant business?

Sadly, I don't.

I do a MISERABLE job telling people our news, and I've been doing it at an incredibly slow and excruciating rate of about 4-6 people per week, give or take two people.

The problem is, I feel the need to justify why every time I spill the beans, and so I end up telling people all about my autoimmune eye problems and my mental breakdown and I really don't think that's necessary. I should be able to just say, "We are no longer pursuing adoption -- it didn't work out for us" and leave it at that.

But instead I list out everything, I feel the need to say how long we did IVF before, and how incredibly hard everything was--as though I am convincing myself of the merit of our decision, too. I end up sounding a little loose in the screw department and a lot like, "See? This is the right decision, I can prove it, we did SO MUCH to try to have a baby and in the end it took over everything and had major health impacts and we chose to live a life not in stasis anymore...see? See how much it makes sense?"

I even practiced with a friend today, in anticipation of being asked for updates at the retirement party after school (no one asked, which was both a relief and a concern), "We are not pursuing adoption anymore and that's all I'd like to say about it for now." There's no way I'll actually succeed at saying just that, so I'm grateful no one asked but also worried it means a) people know through the grapevine but are quiet about it or b) people are tired of asking how it's going and not getting a good prognosis.

I feel like I need to just rip that bandaid off, go "Facebook Official" on the damn thing and send an email out to my school thanking everyone for their support but in case they haven't already heard, we are done with our family building escapades.

I am just so nervous about the possible fallout, of being accused of "giving up on my dream," of being told I wasn't meant to be a parent, of facing questions again of why we aren't pursuing a different kind of adoption (especially foster). But this creeping trickle of "hey, just wanted to let you know if you haven't already heard..." is killing me slowly.

I think this week is bandaid-ripping time.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Monday, June 12, 2017

#Microblog Monday: Honeymoon

I was mortified when I realized that last week was our 11th date-o-versary, eleven years since we kissed on a bench on our first date, and we acknowledged it NOT AT ALL. I totally forgot until Sunday, when I was getting a massage and talking about how Bryce and I met.

I guess we've had some heavy things on our minds, so we can be forgiven just this once.

One of the less heavy things is the planning of our amazing trip to the California Coast, which I am calling our honeymoon. Literally, when reserving our room in the hotel we're spending the most time in and it asked for a reason for our stay, I saw "Honeymoon" and was like, YES. That's right -- this is our GODDAMN HONEYMOON. We started infertility stuff before our wedding. The weekend I visited my best friend and wrote the letter where I proposed to Bryce, I was reading The Conception Chronicles, because I wanted to know what I was going to face as we knew we'd have trouble conceiving (trouble, ha ha HA ha ha). The day of our ceremony in the backyard, I signed for Ovidrel in my wedding dress. It's been CONSTANT.

So yeah, this is our honeymoon, the start of our new life just us two, a celebration of our love and ability to endure through pain and loss and heartbreak galore with our relationship strong and adoring.

We decided to do the California Coast -- flying into San Francisco, going to Napa for a few days, then going to Carmel-by-the-Sea for some Monterey Aquarium and Big Sur action, then down to Pasadena so we can visit with my dad, then back up to Santa Barbara for romantic beachy nature time, and then back to San Francisco, two weeks from when we flew in, to head home.

It's a crazy road trip with real romantic inns and views and activities planned.

Happy Honeymoon to us --  it doesn't make up for what we've lost, but it's quite the consolation prize and we are fortunate to be able to do it, using some of the money that was earmarked for adoption. Bittersweet poetic justice in that, but this is what we've got. And I am SO looking forward to it (even though a chunk of Highway 1 recently fell into the ocean...which isn't concerning at all...). After years of stagnance, a bit of extravagance is lovely to plan.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

My Space, Haunted By Ghosts

I bought a lamp this weekend.

Isn't that exciting? The thrills of my life lately.

It actually IS exciting, as it was a bit of a splurge and I just love the details in it, and it is part of the continual transformation of the upstairs little room into MY space, MY room.

It's got branches! And it's three-way, so soft light to bright light options.
It hurts even to say that, MY room, instead of The Baby's Room. Even though no baby actually lived here, and no baby actually existed that was kinda-sorta-definitely going to be ours, it's a hard thing to think of this room as something else, something other than what we'd planned for it to be.

I bought the lamp where we bought our living room furniture, and I'm looking for a piece to go where the crib was, something with some closed storage so I can move some of my craft supplies up from the basement where they languish fairly ill-attended. The shop owner was asking what kind of space I had, what kind of furniture finishes I had, and all I could manage was, "Well, it's a 90-square foot space, real small. It used to be another kind of room and now it's...not. I would like it to look as different as possible from what it was before."

I didn't tell her what it was before. I didn't feel like it. I felt the dark hole opening up inside me though, and a shadow overtook me and followed me the rest of the day.

For as beautiful as the room is becoming, it's going to take a while to think of it as a rebranded space. The ghost of What-Could-Have-Been lingers, and will be somewhat exorcised when my desk arrives on Tuesday and I can find a piece to go where the crib once was.

Things like this make it hard:

Creepy stuffed animals looking down on me. The owl on the left is a puppet, the barn owl I just love, the elephant was a gift from my grandmother, and the teddy bear is a really nice soft classic thing from a retired social studies teacher. I donated the rest, but these I wanted to keep. Maybe.
Do I donate them? Hang on to them somewhere a bit less visible? I am still filling the shelves in here, deciding what to put where. You can see this cast of characters from the street. Maybe it's not the best idea to keep them here.

But then there's the chaise lounge corner, which is turning out quite cozy (need one more pillow though, not quite right yet): 

I found the owl print at Target. It isn't nursery-like, but there were owls in here for a reason and I really, really liked this one. It reminds me of something my grandfather once had, I think. My memory is fuzzy on this one but it called to me and was the only one in the store, so I bought it...

Coy little thing.
And lastly, I hung this cat bell that my father gave me, I think from Japan, above the weird raised cat sculpture print we bought at a Renaissance Faire a few years ago: 

I always sort of envisioned an Owl & Pussycat theme in here, but then it became the Treetop Friends stuff on the bedding with birds, and so I sort of abandoned it. Well, happy Owl & Pussycat office theme. It is super cozy. 

And also sad. 

I am real, real sad tonight. I am struggling today, which is totally normal given the loss sustained. The shifting of our house to spaces that fit the life we actually have, not the one we wanted so much that just didn't come to fruition. The reorganizing, realizing I have all these things I was saving for our children and don't know what to do with anymore (jewelry from my childhood, books from my childhood, things I just don't know what to do with now that there's no next generation to gift them to). 

I am looking forward to the arrival of my desk and bookshelf Tuesday. I am looking forward to closing out this space and making it mine, all mine. It is a healing thing, but hard, so hard. I've vacuumed several times since we disassembled this room from what it was, and in doing so erased the marks from the feet of the crib. Except for one, which I can see has survived, next to the baseboard. A tiny impression of what once was, what was hoped, and what now belongs to someone who can actually use it. 

Transition is hard. Making this space over into a beautiful reading and writing sanctuary helps. Still, I am plagued by the ghosts of what will never be. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Gift of Failure

I was driving home from school today when I heard this story on NPR: "Total Failure: The Mountain That Got Away." (You can listen or read via the link.)

The message stuck with me and kept me in the car, rapt.

It was about a competitive mountain climber, Emily Harrington, and how she'd spent her whole life focusing on winning competitions, on summitting mountains, on being the best and finishing no matter what.

Except she did this one climb, in Myanmar, up Hkakabo Razi. It was a hairy journey just to get to the ridge that led to summit, and she found herself exhausted, food stores low, facing the choice to keep climbing and face death as a consequence, or stop and let it go.

The piece had these lines that spoke to me now, in the midst of abandoning my own uphill struggle:

"But she was exhausted and stretched to the limits of her skill as a climber. She felt that if she went on, she might not make it down. 

'It wasn't my time to keep climbing,' she says.

She turned around. And giving up? It may have been the best thing she ever did. Not just because she didn't fall to her death. 

High up on that ridge, she really understood that life wasn't so simple. There were wrong turns, bad weather and bad luck that were beyond her control. It was OK to give up." 

Could that be more perfect right now or what?

Some things are beyond your control. A lesson I seem completely unable to truly grasp onto and solidify for myself. As I occasionally sit here and get all morose in a sea of what-ifs, of examining all of our decisions (What if we'd gotten a second opinion before doing donor eggs? What if we'd gone to CCRM earlier? What if we'd moved forward with adoption sooner? What if someone could have picked us in June, had we not pulled the plug a bit early?), I have to remember that it doesn't matter how many wrong turns were taken, how many series of unfortunate events occurred so that we found ourselves almost on the trail to the peak, but without any more food, too exhausted to trust our footing, and unsure of health (physical and mental) if we were to continue.

Life isn't so simple as Prepare, Train, Do, Succeed. I wish it was.

I love this article because it doesn't extol the NeverNeverNEVER Give Up mentality that is so prevalent. It acknowledges that sometimes, giving up is necessary in order to continue on. That you can learn from that lesson of "This didn't work out for me" or even failure, which I hate using as a synonym for our experience, but it's true...we failed at having a child through every single means that we tried. I feel a little like we failed adoption, but I know that isn't true. Our infertility history going into adoption made every bump in the road feel like a mountain. We'd spent so much time getting to the mountain base that we had no energy to get to the summit after it wasn't quite as straightforward as we thought it was going to be.

So we let go of our dream, when it started to consume us and our health became collateral damage. We let go so that we could keep on climbing another day, on a different mountain. So that we could accept that some things are out of our control, and things don't always go the way you hope or plan. But there is always space for a new plan, a new adventure. (Probably not actually mountain climbing because I am terrified of heights, which is probably going to be an issue when we're driving the Pacific Coast Highway this summer...)

Here's to failure. Here's to knowing when to stop even when it is hard and against all of your work ethic philosophy to do so, but you are literally running yourself into the ground trying over and over and finding no success. Here's to all the new adventures that lie ahead, because we let this one go after a long slog of wrong turns and mishaps that seemed neverending. We did our best, and now we move on -- we'll carry our loss with us but we'll be able to move forward, up another mountain, towards another future that we'll figure out together.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Oh, Okay...So NOW It's Final

I was smacked in the face with the finality of our decision, of our outcome in this whole family building thing on Tuesday, when the woman who provides things to women who are pregnant without it being the preferred option as they start their new lives as parents came to pick up the contents of our nursery, of our kitchen drawer, of our back room storage area.

It was overwhelming. The giant pile of things, of hope, of all the love and support, everything we had for a baby so very wanted and so very hoped for...gone. She teared up as she saw just how much we had to donate, and hugged me and told me how sorry she was that things turned out this way.

I helped her load up her car, and then mine when it became apparent that not only would it take several trips otherwise but that the crib was definitely not going to fit in her car, ever. She hadn't wanted me to do anything, but I didn't feel right sitting on the couch while she loading everything up, and additionally my neighbors decided that this was the perfect time to hang out on the street and have a chat and I felt a little like there was a bit of a spectacle. Having some strange lady taking baby stuff out of our house and into her car without me would probably be stranger than me trying to look cheerful while helping.

Trying. At one point when I offered to help drive stuff she said, "you probably just want this over as fast as possible" and I teared up and said "I just can't look at it all sitting here anymore." And then I cried the entire way home, after we unloaded my car first and she said she'd unload her car, that I could absolutely go and take care of myself.

I am pretty sure that this was the hardest day. It felt worse than any of the other days that have peppered this journey to nowhere. The absence was overwhelming.

I figured out what it is. It's truly, absolutely over. Even if I was like, "WAIT! Let's reopen our homestudy!" (which I'm not), we have no baby gear anymore. We have made our decision and it is final with a capital F. There's no going back. We are definitely resolving our journey childfree. Right now it feels a lot like childless, since I had all these things for a child who existed in my heart, and now that dream is gone. It shifts and morphs between the two -- childless which to me captures the loss, childfree which captures the empowerment of a life that, once we scab over the rawness, will be full of other dreams, other possibilities. Even if it wasn't our desired landing spot.

It reminds me of my uterine surgery -- once that was over, I had absolutely zero chance of getting pregnant, ever. It was pretty close to zero before, but there was no going back, no deciding to reopen the treatment route, no way to have a spontaneous pregnancy "miracle." At first it made me sad, but I was so done with the treatment aspect of things and of birth control that made my body go nuts that I embraced the finality. It came after almost two years of knowing that IVF wasn't ever going to work for me, though. It came after trying other things and having them not work, and then saying, "Okay, uterus, I'm done with you. I'm locking this door and throwing away the key." It was a relief. It frees me to not be as sad when others get pregnant, because that's no longer an option for me whatsoever. I've let it go entirely.

Donating the baby gear is similar, but it happened at warp speed. We only made this decision a month and a half ago, really. I haven't had time to acclimate. Having a nursery you know you aren't going to use is painful, on a daily basis, the kind that saps you slowly. Donating everything all in one day and loading it all up and getting it out in a space of about an hour is excruciatingly painful, but then it's gone. Then the healing can start. Then the empty space in the living room that held the pile of things can be replaced with new furniture, a reading nook where my desk used to be since now my desk is where the nursery used to be. (Well, sort-of-desk. Still the plywood setup.)

I feel like everything is a series of Before and After pictures.

So much stuff. This pile goes about eight feet from one side to the other. 
After I got home and it was all gone. Strangely like the decal-free wall upstairs.

But it's also a series of transformations. That space was only empty for so long before we filled it with a rearranged, new-furniture setup in our living room. A living room that doesn't need space for a pack-n-play, a living room that can have light colored upholstery because there won't be any little sticky fingers wielding markers here. But it's cozy, and each new thing is a step towards embracing this new life we have ahead of us. The After we can look forward to that has a duller sort of pain, and a new kind of promise.

Not empty anymore.
So much seating now! 
It feels good to have change, to have movement, to have things not stay the same anymore. It's a soothing balm on the raw ooziness of letting our dream go.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Packing Up the Nursery

Last summer I went to visit friends from high school, and we went out to lunch. It was fun to see everyone, although not so fun to be the only woman not a mom at the table when the conversation inevitably went to PTA, choosing a house based on school district, public vs private school, birthday parties, etc. etc. etc. I may have felt a little fish-out-of-water and irritated about it (but not upset with them, this is a commonality, this is the stuff their lives are made of), so when someone asked, "How is adoption going?" I may have answered like so: "It's slow, actually, and hard, and sometimes you feel like you could be a parent any second and you feel real hopeful and sometimes you wonder how you would go about returning a nursery." Ha HA ha ha ha, gallows humor for the win.

Well, except here we are a year later, facing a nursery we no longer have a use for, more than two years into a failed experiment in family building. I don't really feel comfortable with returning things since so much was bought for us (and that window is likely closed, given that our showers were over a year and a half ago). So we decided to box everything up into tubs and get it into the back room this weekend, and look into places to donate to.

It's going to be real fun to answer the question, "What did you do over Memorial Day weekend?" tomorrow. "Oh, I don't know. I dismantled my dreams. You?"

We found a place that sets up women who have decided to keep pregnancies they weren't initially excited for through my mom, and there is a woman who is due in July with a little girl who will likely get most of the gear we have to donate. The person who runs it is coming tomorrow to get everything, to take the sum total of our hopes and dreams (and everyone else's hopes and dreams for us) out of the house and give it to someone else who can actually use it, who will truly benefit from and get some joy out of everything that caused me so much sorrow when we packed it all up yesterday.

Such as putting all those tiny, rolled, washed-and-ready-to-wear onesies into a compact sterilite tub. Well, not all of them. I kept a couple for some unknown reason, maybe proof that this actually happened, that once upon a time we believed we could manifest this tiny human into being.

So many cute little things that we couldn't fill.

The tiniest ones are on the bottom. So many I bought during IVF, in fits of hope and magical thinking that buying onesies would bring a child to us, show the Universe that we were serious about this whole thing. Huh.
That wasn't the hardest one though. Strangely enough, peeling off the owl and tree wall decals was the worst. It literally felt like I was ripping a newly formed scab off a very deep wound and the pain was almost physical. Those decals really made the nursery LOOK like a tiny person's room, and now there's just this one little corner left with lovebirds that I felt I could leave as a sort of nod to what the room was once going to be.

Nothing but blank wall space now. I don't know if you see it, but I think it looks as bereft as I feel.

All that's left of the decals. I want to find something to go above the two birds, but I just don't know what. Probably something mildly snarky. Or a heart. Or both.
It's hard, so hard to see all these absences where so much hope once lived.

We did move the cubes into the reading nook, and the little owl rug that we bought in Southwest Harbor, Maine, two years ago.

Worked perfectly.

Hey, little owl(s).

The dresser went into my closet, replacing little rickety cube things that held bras and pjs and yoga pants and swimsuits with something more solid and grown-up, even though it was meant to hold tiny things.

The room is pretty empty now, minus the indentations in the carpet where the crib and dresser used to be, and the real fancy piece of plywood and sawhorse desk setup I'm typing on right now. We did order a desk, which hopefully comes in less than two weeks, that fits perfectly where the cubes used to be and is an L-shaped thing with a bookcase along the side so there's storage and drawers and surface area but compact enough for this tiny room that is being refashioned into my office.

Also, I bought a beige chaise lounge online today. I think it would be nice to have a little reading/napping spot in here, by the window. I had my heart set on a futon so it could also hold a guest, but apparently I can't find one that will fit in the limited length we have and through the door clearance that also doesn't look like a piece of crap. Oh well, a chaise lounge will be super swanky and luxurious feeling. Maybe I'll get into a cocktail dress and lay on it with a martini in my hand. Regardless, the setup in here will be different than anything that's been here before, which will feel good. Freeing.

Lots of clearing things away. Lots of moving stuff out. Lots of feeling like there's a giant hole of emptiness inside me. For some reason, the poem "Harlem" by Langston Hughes runs on repeat in my head (alternating with "Everything Is Awesome," which is mildly concerning as that's my anthem for lost marbles, although I'm replacing it with "Everything is awful...everything is cool when you're part of a team, everything is awful...when you've lost your whole dream..."). The whole "What happens to a dream deferred" bit bothers me, because it's not deferred. It's gone. But I feel like stinking meat, like I might explode. It is definitely, definitely a heavy load.

It's good to get this done, to clear things out and get them to people who truly can use them, who might not have what they need without this massive donation. But man, doing it all so quickly sure does give me whiplash. It makes me feel sad. And angry. And like I'm swimming in disbelief that this is where we ended up. Even if it is the right decision for so many reasons, even if it allows us to let go of this dream we've been chasing at so much personal cost, it hurts so much to physically let go of all the things that represented all the hope we had that we'd get that call and be chosen and finally become the parents we wanted so badly to be. The grief, frankly, is overwhelming. But it will not be this raw always. Soon our house will look differently and we will continue planning our vacation and we will start seeing more of the positive aspects of leaving this struggle behind. But now? Now it sucks.

Sorry, not a microblog at all, I guess I was backed up from not writing in two weeks. If you want to read more #Microblog Mondays, go here and enjoy! 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Making Changes, One Sign & Space at a Time

Toward the end of last school year, a special friend gave me a beautiful sign, which fit perfectly in the nook where our glider lives and matched the color of the upholstery and the owl pillow which my sister gave me before that glider ever existed. It fit the decor, and it fit the hope that we felt that it would ring true sooner than later, despite having had three opportunities that weren't the right ones and a lot of radio silence. I cried when she gave it to me because it was such a beautiful sentiment. It felt true and immensely possible at the time. even though nothing had panned out yet.

But now, it just smacks of shattered hopes. Because it's not quite true, now is it? This is not a wish that magically came to be, no matter how much we wanted it to.

Now it makes me very, very sad, because we are in this place of transition, having made a very difficult decision...since it has become clear that the impact of our many years of limbo and waiting and living as though we could be parents without actually ever becoming parents has taken a toll on my health (both physical and mental), and we are both exhausted. Thanks in large part to my April crisis, we have come to an end to this chapter...left holding nothing but a lot of sadness and frustration. And hope for a new future we have to re-envision, but right now I feel a bit in the muck.

A couple weeks ago, after a weekend of de-cluttering, Life Without Baby work, and finally putting my Baby Binder in the flower box with all the other relics of infertility, I had to go to the grocery store to pick up a prescription. I was feeling too puddle-y to go by I made Bryce come with me.

And there it was, a little wooden sign, in a display by the checkout lines, that I just had to have.

As a general rule, I hate decorative items with words on them -- those "Always Kiss Me Goodnight" or "Live Laugh Love" things are not for me, because they sort of feel like they are yelling at me -- STOP TELLING ME HOW TO FEEL, THROW PILLOW/SIGN/WALL DECAL!  (That said, a delightful throw pillow for the new couch that says "Fuck. This. Shit." is one of my favorite recent purchases and will probably stay on the couch FOREVER.)

The sign that we found toed a line between the kind of kitschy thing I despise but also oddly appropriate to the point of kismet, like some buyer at the grocery store we have was like, "Some infertile couple facing down the end of their journey to have a child will need this right now." So I bought it.

I don't think the people who made this sign meant it to mean what we take it to mean, but it works for us.

And then I did this.

It made me feel sad to change them out, but also lighter. It changes the space from What-Could-Have-Been to more What-Is. That space is a great reading nook, and the chair can swivel all the way around to face the woods behind our house, and it also feels a bit like being in an escape pod in Sta.r when you recline it. I love this nook, actually. It will just have a different purpose than we originally envisioned, like so much else we are working our way through in this difficult, difficult transition.