anxiety, breakup, dating, family, gratitude, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

time

Baby E is 12 weeks old today. Does it feel like 12 weeks? Yes. And no. What can I compare it to? So many quiet moments and slow days but when looking back it seems like the time passes quickly.

My mom and I just watched the birth video (which she recorded on my iPhone) for the first time. First of all, she recorded it beautifully, keeping the frame perfectly centered on my vagina for almost an hour. Plus the video includes about 20 minutes of post-birth bonding time. It’s feature film-length with pretty nonstop action–the pushes are obviously productive, the chatter in the room like a chorus of female positive assurances, and there I am yodeling like a jungle woman. I had tears running down my face each time we got closer to seeing the sweet little face we’ve come to know so well.

We heard a gurgly newborn version of E’s current cry and watched him move his body in heavy slow-mo as if it were full of beans instead of bones. The intensity of his dark eyes was already there, and his big hands pawing at my chest. We laughed out loud as I, not once but twice, called out the complicated password to my iPad between pushes so the med student Kacy could continue to hold it up for me as a mirror.

Incidentally, if anyone knows of a way to get the video from my iPhone to the cloud or a computer, please let me know. I’m so terrified of losing it although I’m not sure baby E will ever in his life want to stare at my vagina for that long.

I came upstairs after watching to find him sleeping angelically in his sleep sack, a more rounded and rosier version of his newborn self. These days, his built-in superman curl (cowlick) is still going strong. He’s holding his head up pretty steadily and just today started really focusing on grabbing a toy dangling above his head. His hands, once spastic, got slow and steady, and, after a decent amount of crying in frustration, finally grabbed that damn owl’s tail. He loves his mom. He takes mini-breaks from nursing to look up at me adoringly with a big smile.

Whenever I’m here at my parents’ place in northern Michigan, I feel like it’s kind of a time-out from real life and therefore a good time to be reflective. It also feels like all my previous reflective visits are piled one on top of the other so that I’m experiencing those memories often throughout my days here. I remember bringing various boyfriends over the years. When I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, I remember taking a break in there from a middle-of-the-night argument with a boyfriend who had started having second thoughts about ever wanting kids. Then I remember how I signed a lease on an apartment to try to coax a boyfriend of four years into living with me (didn’t work), and how I made plans to quit my job and travel the world with the Alaskan (didn’t happen). I remember feeling like I could not could not could not get my life to move forward.

And then I decided to have a baby on my own. In retrospect, all these guys were poor matches and necessary steps on the way to Dr. Tran and baby E.

And, as my sister B says, it’s so clear that I found my path. What poetic justice that by being overly dependent, I learned to be totally independent.

This 5 weeks in Michigan is almost up, and the time has passed at a comfortable pace. When I’ve come for a two-week vacation, I could never wrangle it to go slowly enough. But five weeks is substantial enough to relax and stop watching the clock or calendar. E got to absorb a big dose of this family he has joined, thanks to the miracle of nature and UCSF, including his cousins and aunts and uncles and Mimi and Chacha and a whole lotta love.

And my maternity leave is about 60% complete, which is a clock and calendar that I would slow way down if I could. But how? Did anyone see this video if the little girl sobbing because she doesn’t want her baby brother to grow up? Sadie doesn’t want her baby brother to grow up

The paradox, of course, is that we want him to grow up and go off and live a meaningful life, but that also means eventually losing these baby cheeks and moving out of my bed. Wah!

I just finished reading Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown, in which she talks about how joyful moments can open up a feeling of vulnerability. The answer is to use this as a trigger to remember to practice gratitude, which keeps us in the moment. I love this!

And I’m pretty sure it’s the only reasonable way to slow the whole darn thing down.

xo

Buddhism, dating, gratitude, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

closer

Well, this is exciting–I sat down not knowing what I would write about and we’ll just see where it goes.

Before this blog, I started a blog years ago called “I should be writing.” I know it, I feel it, it’s that thing that comes up for me when people ask–what do you really want to do? what’s your passion project? what’s your dream? Yet I somehow resist Annie Lamott’s advice: “butt in the chair.” So many things that must get done first–from enough sleep (which lately is #1), to work, to errands, to keeping up with friends. And no, I won’t get on my own case right now while I’m 30 weeks pregnant and am doing a generally impressive job of balancing it all. But, let’s be honest–this is an interesting time to write about. And, even though I have no visceral sense yet of the sleep deprivation and bodily fluids and overwhelming love about to take over my life, I hope I’ll keep finding the energy to write. Blogs, books, miscellaneous projects that lead in cool directions.

Right now, I’m watching Arcade Fire on Austin City Limits while the baby makes ripples on my belly.

I like it when I put my hand on my belly and it feels like the baby is feeling around on the other side, curious as me about who’s out there. Sometimes he does a booty shake. Sometimes it feels like he is purposely tickling me on the side. I think he already has a sense of humor.

He is my passion project right now, obviously. Nothing at all competes with that. I just watched an interview with Anna Daveare Smith, talking about her goal of making the world better. What am I doing to make the world better? I am working on putting another lovebug into the world.

I know it’s all bigger than my to-do list–I need less doing and more being as my due date approaches.

I visited two dear friends in the suburbs over the weekend, both with big houses and husbands and three kids each. I sometimes get so used to my alternative path that I forget how alternative it is, hanging out with my single mom friends, comparing notes on navigating the challenges of our expensive city. This is my new normal, the life I created, the life the universe provided. No, my son probably won’t have the backyard and excellent public schools and laundry rooms of my youth as long as we stay here. But he will have an incredible city full of opportunities at his doorstep, his own room (a miracle), and so much love.

Someone asked me recently if I felt miserable and couldn’t wait for the pregnancy to be over. I don’t even speak this language. Yes, I’ve been super lucky with an easy physical experience. But after all it took to get here I wouldn’t trade in one minute. I’m happy to be here, exactly here, with 2+ months to go. I have a bunch of visitors about to flood in over the next couple weeks. They will help me move furniture and organize closets and celebrate. This celebration feels bigger than all previous ones combined.

So, yes–we’re back to gratitude. We have everything we need. “The love you seek is already here.” good night xo

 

dating, family, gratitude, outdoors, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

boys

Now that I know I’m having a boy and it was instantly pre-destined and perfect the minute the blue(ish) onesie came out of the box, the whole world is offering boy generalizations and ideas and advice (and clothes, thank you A!!!). Before I knew what I was having, my stated line was that my whole family is girls, we know girls, we would adore a girl, and a boy would be a whole new exciting and mysterious adventure. I never had a brother or even a nephew. I don’t have that many close guy friends, don’t keep in touch with exes, and have gravitated more and more toward female communities of SMCs, pregnant ladies, midwives, and moms. The only man in the house is still in utero. I have a lot to learn!

And I guess I will learn it all from him. The generalizations are sweet and well-intentioned and probably grounded in some truth but may not apply to all. For example:

  • Boys love their mamas. While my brain instantly plays devil’s advocate and says, “well I love my mama and I’m a girl,” I know that this is really getting at what is unique about the mother/son relationship–they complement each other as opposites, the nurturing feminine and the protective masculine. I really know so little about this and am going off what people are telling me. I love the idea that the baby chose me and we already love each other a lot.
  • He will love going backpacking with you in national parks. I like to think that my kid would dig this either way, and maybe there’s an equal chance that he or she wouldn’t. But it’s a smidge easier to picture a boy getting deeply excited about tearing up a muddy mountain trail and encountering wildlife and learning how to start a fire. (Even if not, I’ll probably force him to go anyway…)
  • Finally, someone to carry on the family name. With all the girls in my family, our surname is perceived to be in some jeopardy. But it is important to notice that I am carrying on the family name by giving it to my son and have no plans of changing it, ever. My single sister seems to be in no hurry to ditch her name in the near future either. So let’s not give this boy all the credit just yet!
  • He will come out with a crown on his head. This one is from J, who was the last-born in a huge family of mostly girls. I think that when his family looks at him, there is indeed a crown on his head. When he goes to visit his family in Venezuela, his grandmother starts crying days before he gets back on a plane to the US. However, even with all us girls, my parents have never once even minorly alluded that they ever wished for a boy or anything different than who we are, and their reaction to this boy is no different. This boy will not be treated as royalty but instead as the fantastically perfect addition to the family that he already is. Period.
  • Yay–I won’t have to go through the pink, sparkly, fairy princess phase! As much as I would like to believe this is true, I know that my boy might be girly. If he wants to grow his hair and wear a skirt, you know me well enough by now to know that I will let him. I guess I’m glad that at least if he goes this direction it will be a sign of individuality rather than conformity, and I won’t say more since I may have another baby and it may be a girl who is obsessed with Disney!
  • Boys are more of a handful as kids and girls are more of a handful as teenagers. Really? It just seems like every phase of development has its challenges, some easier to handle than others, and it’s totally different for every kid. But if you subscribe to this one, tell me why.
  • Boys are pretty straightforward. I get a lot of reassurance from thinking this is true although, again, they didn’t seem so straightforward whenever I was dating them. Are they pretty straightforward and I’ve been overcomplicating things? There’s a good chance this is true (hoping so).

All I know is he is a boy and he has a sweet face and a fight-the-power fist and is thumping the heck out of me right now. I really do picture a soccer player which everyone says but it’s hard not to when you’re the soccer ball. Em has encouraged me to set up daily “fetal love breaks” where I sit and connect with him and count his kicks and develop an intuition about how he’s doing. So far, even through all my illness over the holidays, I’ve always felt like he is thriving in there and a happy little bug.

I’m in the phase of making epic lists, mapping out projects on the calendar, and feeling like time is growing short… I did, however, learn that the third trimester starts at 28 weeks, so that bought me a little more second trimester time to be really productive. Still feeling good (minus the killer charleyhorse from 4 days ago that still has me limping!).

Here is my growing boy at 25 weeks in the Dolo, courtesy of Ms. R:

25weeks

Grateful for the opportunity to learn how to raise a good man for this world.

Happy MLK Jr Day, peace!

xo

 

anxiety, Buddhism, dating, family, gratitude, meditation, outdoors, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

fearless

I came really close to writing this at 3:45am as I was in the living room having a middle-of-the-night snack for the third night in a row, but wisely decided to go back to bed. Now it’s 8:25am and my living room is blazing with sunlight. I’m sitting in my purple loveseat in the corner bay window with my back to the sun–it’s not high enough yet to shine onto the screen. I can see the shadow of myself on the sofa across from me, twirling its hair, thinking.

Yesterday, I went on a glorious hike at Lands End with my friend K. She told me about attending a retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh recently and how she had multiple epiphanies while there, realizing that she never has to be scared again. Then, as soon as the wheels of her plane touched down at SFO, real life came rushing back with all the fears and stresses of real life, and rather than staying mindful she found herself spending hours and hours catching up on the final season of Breaking Bad.

This sparked so many important thoughts for me. In a flash, I sort of had the same epiphany–we’re stuck in the mire of fear-thinking so much of the time, and for what? Does worrying make anything turn out differently? Does anxiety give us more control? I awakened into that moment–to my own fears, to the warm, sunny air, to the vibrant colors of the ocean, the cypress trees, the families out walking, the parking lot closed due to the federal shutdown. As long as we are mindful, we can choose; and we can choose not to be afraid.

In the next moment, I started cataloging my fears and realized just how scared I am, all the time, about so many things. Absolute baseline is: is the baby OK? I just read in What to Expect that a common feeling in the third month of pregnancy is, “Still, a sense of unreality about the pregnancy (‘Is there really a baby in there?’).” Symptoms are real, and also maddeningly variable, but the interpretation of what’s actually going on inside is extremely virtual. After seeing the heartbeat, it’s much more real, confirmed by medical technology. Then, as time goes by between appointments, more and more uncertain. I find myself making bargains with whoever’s in charge, “If the baby is OK, I can deal with anything else.”

But let’s discuss the everything else, because it’s not insignificant. While it would be imprudent of me to write in detail here about work, let’s just say that in the past week it has become clear that my job will be exponentially more stressful and difficult between now and the end of the year. I really wish this wasn’t happening now, but it is, in my first trimester, and I have to power through. There is no partner to lean on or less stressful job to apply for, this is the deal, this was part of the bargain. I can do it, and I will, but it makes me tremble like a little girl with monsters in her closet.

And what about once the baby is here–what if I can’t do this job? What job will I do? Recently, new SMC mom C who runs her own business looked at me across a café table and told me how well set up I am with a corporate job and benefits. Yet what about the travel, stress, long hours? So many trade-offs. I dream of a more flexible work schedule but remind myself that I choose to live in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Of course I think I deserve a year off to figure it out… (Kickstarter campaign? Move to Canada?)

Then there’s the wildcard of–what if I never meet a dude? K just told me about a woman she met who was 4 months pregnant as an SMC when she met her husband on match.com. Now their kid is 14. I am taking exactly zero steps to solve this given its relative low priority at the moment, but it’s still big fear that somehow I will continuously make wrong turns and not bump into him for decades longer.

As I sat in the dark at 3:45am wrapped in a blanket, eating cereal, and looking at my laptop blinking on the coffee table, this post started to form in my mind, in the voice of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. A small, vulnerable, scared voice. I am scared of all this! And I didn’t even add in all the random terrible things that can happen, to me or those I love, that are the inevitable last stop of the fear spiral.

K and Thich Nhat Hanh remind me that everyone, EVERYONE, lives with these fears, about money, work, health matters, relationships, family issues, etc etc and if you don’t then it’s because the bottom has never dropped out, and it always drops out eventually. We all have a choice when we’re mindful and present. Am I OK, right now? OK. Call off the fight or flight. There is a lot to be grateful for.

With this post, I am manually shifting into feeling more like a strong woman who acknowledges her fears, her almost complete lack of control of outcomes, her commitment to doing her best with whatever arises, and her faith that things find a way to work out. And things are great today. I woke up 10 weeks pregnant. I put my hands in prayer to say THANK YOU for another beautiful day in my amazing apartment with a baby on the way and everything I need, including you, my dear readers and community of lovebugs.

May your Sunday be fearless. xo

.

anxiety, dating, family, IVF, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

believing it

For my 8w3d ultrasound, I was 71% as nervous as my ultrasound two weeks before. Less nervous because I definitely feel pregnant (hunger, fatigue, etc.) but still nervous because who the heck knows what goes on in there??

Dr. T. quickly confirmed that all is well! I saw the heartbeat right away and he clicked here and there and announced that the baby is 23 millimeters. Which is quite a lot bigger than a raspberry which was my most recent fruit of reference for 8 weeks. Which also means that it more than tripled in size in two weeks. Good job, everybody!!!

The monitor wasn’t at a good angle for me but my sister said she clearly saw the shape of a little baby flash on the screen multiple times. I really never saw anything discernible, so my sister drew a helpful outline to show the position of the baby on the printout:


bebe

 

This printout with the outline makes it more real to me than anything else so far. Because that looks like a baby!  (I didn’t post the previous ultrasound because it looked more like a lentil.)

Time stops in these moments.

I told Dr. T. that it was a bittersweet moment, being my last appointment at UCSF after a long road, and he said, “You have frozen embryos, you’ll be back.” I also asked him if he delivers babies and he said that by coincidence he just stopped last week. Maybe so we can finally date? (Meanwhile, dating is the actual last thing on my mind.) I thanked him from the bottom of my heart and he said I did a good job.

So, I have cleared every last UCSF hurdle and while I do still have 3.5 weeks until the end of the first trimester, I AM breathing a sigh of relief. Because you never know in this life, but it’s looking great.

It feels momentous. Now, when people congratulate me or drop off maternity clothes or give me advice, I will more fully believe that this is ME we’re talking about, me and the little outlined character above, not a fictitious story or daydream or what-if scenario. It’s still a process and we still have a long way to go…but today was a big step toward being a real pregnant lady.

I feel grateful and sleepy and awe-struck and soon I’ll be hungry again even though I had two lunches. Good times.

Thank you, UCSF, Dr. T., Olga, the nurses and embryologists, Maria at the front desk. I am bringing cookies for you all in the coming weeks.

And now I enter the next phase of my prenatal care: finding a midwife. Please pass along your recommendations!!

Weeks and weeks ago, when I first moved into my new apartment, my sister brought over a “CONGRATULATIONS!” helium balloon and for some reason it’s still flying high. This afternoon, it hopped off a side table in the breeze and planted itself squarely in the doorway.

I came home to that repurposed congratulations. Another reason to believe. xo

anxiety, dating, fertility, IVF, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait

laundromat

Here I am doing laundry at a coin-op laundromat flashing back to laundromats of my past such as in Paris after college which is probably the last time I didn’t have laundry in the building. No, wait–I didn’t have laundry in the Mission but by then I was a wash ‘n fold connoisseur. I may find myself going back to wash ‘n fold but for today I needed the clean laundry pronto and plus am trying to save money. Ironically, when I lived in NYC in the tiniest studio of my life, I had a stacked washer/dryer in the closet which makes me cry with longing when I think of it. This honestly isn’t so bad though (especially with a car)…it gives me time to blog (free wi-fi!) and I’m even sitting on a bench in the sunshine.

I was a little nervous going into the weekend because I reserved the whole thing for unpacking and yet knew viscerally that I needed bigger distractions as I near my test date. I posted on Craig’s List that I’d have free boxes and packing paper available on Sunday which gave me a deadline to get out of boxes, or at least most of them. I woke up and read a story from my Dear Sugar compilation (Tiny Beautiful Things, highly recommend) about how Sugar went to a yard sale at 22 with her mom and noticed a sweet little red velvet dress for a toddler. She found herself wanting it, inexplicably, since she didn’t even know if she wanted kids. Her mom offered to get it for her (it was $1) and told her to put it in a box for later. Three years later, Sugar’s mom died. Ten years after that, Sugar had a baby girl. She found the box with the dress and thought, my mom bought this dress for the granddaughter she’ll never know. Then, seeing her daughter wearing it on her second Christmas, Sugar thought, my daughter is wearing the dress that her grandmother bought her at a yard sale. It was about the meaning of things, and how the meaning changes over time. This made me cry for 20 minutes.

Then, driving over to my old place to meet the piano movers, I heard the song that goes don’t you worry, don’t you worry child. See heaven’s got a plan for you and I burst into tears again. All of this to tell you that I’m hormonal and there is a lot of change to process, the end of an era, the beginning of a new one, and not knowing yet if this try worked or not.

I was just talking to my sister about how I don’t deal well with unstructured time. I spent the rest of the day maniacally unpacking, not stopping for food or water or fresh air, just unpacking my ass off and reading old journals as I set them on the bookshelf, remembering such heartbreaks as my camp counselor B (forbidden), my on-the-fence-about-kids ex-boyfriend N, and my on-the-fence-about-me ex-not-quite-boyfriend M, remembering my dating patterns in three quick dips into my past. And here I am at 40, unattached and on my 11th try to get pregnant, um, remind me–how did this all happen again?! Or not happen? At 10pm I fell into bed with The West Wing and had work stress dreams all night.

(Meanwhile, the place is looking great.)

FET#2 has been the opposite of FET#1. For #1, by this time I was almost cocky, eating for two, etc. Everything throughout the two week wait revolved around the two week wait. I was sleeping and eating perfectly. I had relatively low stress.

This time, not so much. I’ve been stressed, exhausted, and distracted. No routine since the move. I feel nothing much. Whenever I’m hungry, I’m just hungry. When I’m tired, I’m just tired. And when I’m weepy, I am certainly hormonal, likely from the estrogen patches and the progesterone shots. And just because this time is opposite still doesn’t mean it will work.

Driving over here, that Pink song “Try, Try, Try” came on the radio as the sun broke through the fog. My fiercest hope is that I can think of this try in the context of the bigger picture–that it’s all part of one unpredictable and ongoing story as I pursue an ordinary dream, that my babies could be these ones or the next ones or ones after that and this whole long period of trying will have great significance in ways we cannot yet imagine. The meaning has yet to be revealed.

The meaning for today is: the two week wait is not for sissies.

And with that, I will take my warm laundry home. Love to you all.

dating, fertility, IVF, outdoors, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

my 40s

My 40s have been stellar. I’m sleepy but must force myself to blog this before any other big news can pile up:

  • I flew home late Friday night, returning to my cute little studio whose days with me are now numbered. The number is 4.
  • On Saturday, I dropped by my new apartment which was left in beautiful condition by the former tenant, with a big note on the blackboard that said, “Welcome Home, K!!!”
  • I got my hair cut–Nicholas, superhumanly handsome and not my usual stylist, insisted on blowing my hair straight (“They ALWAYS see your hair curly, right?”), and also insisted that I come back at 4:15 with my own makeup so he could do my eyes for my birthday. Then I got a pedicure with B and her sweet new bundle S.
  • I tried to nap but I was too excited about my party. I ended up drinking coffee to fight the jet lag.
  • Arriving in the restaurant, I found one friend sitting with her glass of wine, plus one gorgeous floral centerpiece sent by my thoughtful boss in NYC. 
  • More friends started to flow in and my heart was overflowing with joy. Flowers, champagne, cards, hugs, love.
  • I was so happy. I could have floated around that party forever. I have the most wonderful and thoughtful and hilarious friends, many of whom I’ve known for 20+ years, some less than two months, and they have all been my raft in turbulent waters at one time or another.
  • The food was delicious and we flowed from one course to the next, wine topped off at frequent intervals, the lighting in a soft glow against the brick walls, lots of laughter. These moments are so fleeting and the wine makes them slippery… and before you know it, the party’s over.
  • And then you head to the after party with about 10 friends and drink bourbon until 4:30am and then you’re pretty much so far gone between the joy and the drinks and the time difference and the four decades, you’re maybe hung over for 3-4 days.
  • The next day should have been rougher but I navigated through a lovely baby shower and a birthday party and went to see The Way Way Back with the birthday girl.
  • On Monday, I showed up at my new office on Sacramento Street. One block from my first office in SF when I moved here in 1997, I walk by Starbucks knowing that’s not what was in that space 15 years ago, but not remembering what was there before. Isn’t this the very definition of getting older? I have a window facing south and was delighted when the sunlight found my desk and moved along it for much of the day.
  • At mid-day, my new landlord showed up with the lease, and we sat on a bench in my new lobby and chatted a bit after signing it. I expressed how thrilled I am about this apartment and he seemed genuinely glad. He truly either doesn’t realize or doesn’t care about how much more he could have gotten for that place, and I am his lucky lucky lucky lucky tenant who happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • Later, I called my building manager to give notice and he completely blew my mind when he told me the price he will ask for my current, 400 square foot studio.
  • The universe is sending me a love note.
  • I went on a third date. He’s easygoing, has a nice smile, is older. We’ve gone on a couple of hikes, to the farmer’s market, to dinner. With everything going on, I enjoy hanging out with him and yet there’s no real momentum or wondering what will happen next.
  • Today, I lined up packers to pack my apartment on Saturday (yes, I am paying the $ to keep stress low) and a mover on Sunday.
  • I went to UCSF for my lining check this afternoon. (I saw Dr. Tran in scrubs from a distance–he didn’t see me.) Good news at the appointment: 7.8mm lining, great, and all quiet on the ovarian front (no cysts). I was cleared for transfer next week: Thursday, 8/15.
  • Did I mention: gratitude.
  • I was texting with my friend M in Mexico City tonight, and she said that my new place is “like feng shui. But for your whole life.”
  • I believe it.my new apartment
acupuncture, dating, depression, fertility, IVF, meditation, outdoors, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

hope

First, thank you to all who have reached out to me in so many thoughtful ways. I love you.

It’s been hard to decide what to write as I navigate the aftermath of FET#1. The depth of grief goes well beyond what I’ve previously experienced in this process. I will admit that my last post was written hastily after learning the news myself–I was in shock. I wanted to appear strong to those who might worry that the disappointment would send me into total collapse. I thought I might be able to skip over dealing with it; with margaritas, keeping previously-made plans, and working hard. Keep moving forward.

Here’s a shocker: that didn’t work. By Thursday it caught up with me. I felt the familiar old tentacles of depression wrapping around me and pulling me down. The awful chanting of negative thoughts in my brain. The worst one: I spent my 30s trying to build a family, and I have failed. No one will attach to me permanently, not a man, not an embryo. (Not even a dog!) I sobbed to my therapist. Poor, poor me.

While grieving and disappointment and sadness (and even anger at slacker embie #1) are normal and healthy after how much time, money, and effort I’ve invested in this process, I also recognize the ‘poor me’ refrain. It’s a sign that I’m hooking into distorted thinking and descending into a place of hopelessness. I’ve felt it before. There’s a healthy grieving process and then there are the terrorists. The terrorists aim to use this as proof that hope is futile. Thank God I know the difference by now. I knew it was time to use my tools before I sunk any further. My acupuncturist reminded me that depression is a state of static and clenching, and, even if it sounds like the last thing you want to do, it’s important to force yourself to get out and be active, go for a run, be outside. It moves things around, helps you move through.

So, yesterday I hiked from 8-4, with MM, along the stunning, sunny coastline of the Marin Headlands–a big loop from Tennessee Valley up to Muir Beach and back through Green Gulch Farm. I cried to MM that there’s a big scoreboard and my score is zero, to which she responded, “And the game isn’t over yet.”

Toward the end of the hike, I stood at a single high point from which I could see Bodega Bay, Muir Beach, Ocean Beach, Sutro Tower, the GG Bridge, the SF skyline, the Bay, Mt. Diablo, I felt my body in the warm sunshine. My anti-depressant.

This morning, I listened to Tara Brach’s latest podcast, called “Part 1: Hope and the Spiritual Path.” I beg you to listen to this podcast. I command you. It’s one hour. You can listen to a lot or a little. Not only does it perfectly articulate where I am right now in terms of maintaining hope, it has priceless nuggets of wisdom for each one of you. I will listen to it many times. The potential of the oak tree is contained within the acorn. What we hope for is already within us.

There is egoic hope based in fear, and there is a holy hope based in a basic faith that God isn’t just rolling the dice on us. Our lives have meaning. It will be some time before I become a cheerleader for FET#2, but for now I feel, deeply, that I am still on my spiritual path, and this is all part of it, and it is all making me stronger and better prepared for whatever comes next. (That still sounds a little stronger than I feel, but I know it’s the right direction.)

At times, I have wondered how this blog could be inspiring to people–I have tried and failed ten times. Sounds like a bummer. Then, this past week, I have been reading other women’s posts online, and every time I see someone weather a failure and then somehow continue to put one foot in front of the other, my heart soars. I get it.

So, here I go, out for a run at Lands End. xo

[Tara’s podcast will be available within a week or so on her website www.tarabrach.com. Meanwhile, you can access this podcast by downloading the Podcasts app through the iTunes store, search for “Tara Brach. Enjoy, and please report back if you listen!]

dating, depression, IVF, Mother's Day, outdoors, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

mind/body

Just a quick hi, how are you, and Happy Mother’s Day! I didn’t mean to not write for a week–and now the ‘how are you’ texts are flowing in.

I am great. Last week was an exceptionally busy work week and I came out drained at the end of each day and not inclined to keep looking at my laptop. I also was drained enough that I started moving away from things that have proven to keep me energized–when you’re buried, it can seem like more working more now will equal less stressing later, and then when I get home all I can do is watch multiple West Wing episodes to stay awake until bedtime.

I didn’t even realize how buried I was until I went up to Point Reyes on Saturday with MM for a 9.6 mile hike among the tall trees. My body said WHOA!!! and I totally woke up. Today I felt like a new lady.

A theme in my reading and radio-listening this week was the mind-body connection. There are many mysteries about the human body but it is well demonstrated that our beliefs shape our biology (e.g. the placebo effect), and our biology shapes our beliefs (e.g. mental clarity after a run). So why isn’t the whole medical industry focused on helping us feel great about ourselves?

I’ve been reading about childbirth, in part because it’s fascinating and in part because I’m getting my head in the game (with the hope that the rest of me will follow, i.e. belief shaping biology). In childbirth, so much is determined by how the mother is feeling emotionally and how that manifests in her body. Ina May talks about “sphincter logic”–just like the urethra and the anus who can get performance anxiety without privacy, the cervix can be shy. Scare the mom and labor will slow down. Tell her she is “marvelous” and stroke her hair and you might buy yourself a couple more centimeters.

Ina May says (and I’ll take her word for it) that a bunch of men peeing at urinals in a mens’ room will all spontaneously stop when someone bursts in loudly. Shy sphincters!

She also talks about a woman who had been adopted and grew up with the fear that her mother had died in childbirth. When she was in labor, her body was holding on to the fear that the same thing would happen to her–until she was asked if anything was worrying her and she articulated it, let the fear go, and her body let the baby be born.

I’m gradually making my way toward finalizing a four-week curriculum for gearing up for transfer, in which I am fully believing I’ll get pregnant this time. I need to remember how much exercise and the outdoors are my natural Paxil. Alcohol has the opposite effect (the anti-anti-depressant). Working extra hours is sometimes necessary but has diminishing returns. Thanks go to Dr. Hawaii for helping me realize I am happy to be entirely and peacefully off the market. Same ducks, new row.

In the coming weeks, I’ll do a two-hour psychic healing session to clean out my chakras. I will make an appointment with B’s “Mayan abdominal massage” lady whom I think of as “the vagina steamer” based on her description. I will write more (promise). I will spend time with people who energize me and avoid the emotional vampires. I will be driven at work and disconnect and recharge outside of work. And I will let my body rejuvenate my mind through maybe a new set of exercise types like yoga, swimming, and extended hikes in the endlessly mind-blowing wilderness.

Some Sunday nights feel like New Year’s Eve, and so be it!

Good night, mamas!

anxiety, dating, fertility, IVF, pregnancy, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

runway

Over this weekend, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I want to spend the next five weeks before my transfer. I’ve been kind of back and forth on this. At first, as I wrote in my last post, I thought–wow, this is a long period of being “off the clock,” an opportunity to run, travel, date, drink, all the things I’ve been more or less avoiding to focus my energy on being healthy, rested, and positive.

After that post, new mom A recommended starting to live as though I’m pregnant now (which frankly sounded boring although I heard an echo of wisdom in it). Then my dad suggested that maybe running a race could leave my body depleted of energy just when I need it to be ready to perform a major feat. Uh, good point. Another friend C raised a virtual eyebrow today when I mentioned maybe putting my online dating profile back up, you know, as a fun distraction.

There were two baby showers this weekend, so I spent both afternoons with my SMC friends. After knowing them for over a year, I love each of them individually and would be friends with all of them outside of having this big thing in common. And having this big thing in common is so powerful and bonding. As I talked through the above considerations, more eyebrows raised, including eventually my own, and I started really thinking about what my goals are for this window of time.

It turns out that giving myself a holiday, easing the reigns and letting go of limits, is really not aligned with my bigger goal here. The few drinks I’ve had in the past week have made me feel foggy and exacerbated my allergies. None of the races I looked at are lined up on weekends that work and the distances made me anxious given how little time I’d have to train. I’ve stayed up past midnight the past two nights and still woke up early. And Dr. Hawaii threw me for a loop this weekend.

It should have been no big deal, let’s meet up for a drink. Still, a pleasant prospect of seeing him again, maybe despite all the poor communication he’d turn out to be great in person again, right? Well, after not hearing from him all weekend he texted me tonight, already back in Hawaii after “a whirlwind trip,” with no acknowledgement that he’d left me hanging on tentative plans (which, of course, were his idea). He concluded by asking whether I have any plans to come to Hawaii. Wow.

We are obviously from different planets. I didn’t expect much from him, and he delivered even less. He doesn’t matter–truly–and I am not heartbroken. I just feel the reminder that opening up means you can get slammed back down, and does it really make sense to take the risk at this critical time? Not that lovely moments can’t pop up at the most random times, and not that I don’t crave companionship, but am I really in a position to go seeking it? Shouldn’t my precious positive energy be directed at the basics that keep me afloat: physical, mental, and spiritual health?

I sense now that there is no spring break from this process and embryo #1 is counting on me to enter into my transfer as ready as I can be, with reduced clutter, minimal interference, a fine-tuned landing pad. Sound body and mind. Inner calm. Focus. Now I’ll develop my five-week curriculum around that.

I suppose it makes sense that when I realized that what looked like a longer-than-usual ‘hiatus,’ I would try to get ‘back to ‘normal.’ I think what I’m realizing now is that it’s not a hiatus, it’s actually a runway.

And this is the new normal.