Buddhism, family, gratitude, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

heading east

Guys! I have been wrapping up the year at work and sleeping a lot, and somehow have slipped into a less frequent writing schedule–but, as with so many things (exercise, meditation, baby prep), I intend to improve my writing habits in the New Year! Many more reflections to come; for tonight, I need to focus on packing for my 2-week trip: to see my family, to a 5-day silent meditation retreat, and to a sales meeting. (hoping I can get away with the same outfits to all three–possible?). But first:

I still have my belly shot from LAST Sunday, taken by my sister in Japantown right before we saw Catching Fire–so this shot is 20 weeks. It looks here like I’m ginormous–in reality, I think we can still say the belly is “cute.”


Tomorrow is the ‘big’ ultrasound, the 20-week (actually 21) anatomy scan. For all the excitement around the gender reveal, I (of course) only care that the baby is healthy. I feel good, and babe is doing backflips a lot (including right now), so as far as my internal checkpoints, all is well. Just bracing myself for what can be a LOT of information (the scan takes up to an hour) and hoping we come out with a great report card.

My dear friend S is accompanying me and I think the universe aligned to send me this particular friend for this particular event–just seems perfect. We’ll have the radiologist write down the gender. After the appt, S will read the result and, of the two onesies I’ll have with me, she will put either the pink one or the blue one in the box (with the radiologist note for confirmation!), and take the other one home so I can’t see it and deduce the result by the process of elimination. I’m bringing lots of tape so I won’t be tempted to peek. I don’t actually think I’ll be tempted to peek–I’ve waited this long, what’s two more days? On Christmas, with the whole fam together, my nieces will open it. This will be a very exciting moment which I can barely think about without bursting into tears.

OK–I wrote more than I had time for–stay tuned for Christmas belly shot, gender reveal, 2013 gratitude, and reflections on 2014.

I wish each of you a joyous holiday season full of peace and love!




family, gratitude, homebirth, IVF, meditation, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

more on how it feels

As I sit down to write after an action-packed biz trip to NYC, I’m reminded of how I’d like to set a New Year’s intention to slooooow down. The evolving pregnancy will require it and I’m craving it. Fewer plans on the calendar, please. This whole fall has felt like a blur as work has required so much of my time and energy, with only the rare quiet moment to sit with my belly and contemplate the life ahead. I need time to be (we are human beings not human doings), especially as I approach 20 weeks and realize we’re already halfway through. And especially as I have a little being on the way who may have an agenda that goes beyond peace and quiet.

The trip was truly great–friends and colleagues all seemed delighted with my news, and for the record not one person who doesn’t know about my process ever asked about the father (sometimes I share, sometimes I don’t, but it’s nice that people are leaving it up to me). Also, not one work person has asked who is going to cover for me while I’m out, how I’ll handle this job with a baby, how long I’ll be out, or when/if I’m coming back. It’s all about how joyful the news is, how I’m feeling, when I’m due, and if I’m finding out if it’s a girl or a boy. Everyone says I look and seem happy. Which is always a lovely thing to have reflected back to you. I do feel happy!

One of my favorite comments was from my work friend JB (famously not a fan of kids) turned to me at the end of a drunken holiday dinner and said meaningfully, “I want to be the friend you turn to when you need a break from talking about the baby.” She also offered to take the kid out for her 16th birthday (she’s sure it’s a girl).

Meanwhile, I’m so aware of how this type of news can push all kinds of buttons for people, having been on the other side for so long. Behind the scenes, some are struggling to get pregnant, or are not on the same page as their partners about getting pregnant, or aren’t sure they’re with the right partner to have kids with, or aren’t sure if they want kids at all, or had a super-rough pregnancy/birth/newborn experience, or miscarried, or maybe some are where I was two years ago–definitely wanting it but with without the dad half of the equation. So I’m especially grateful to receive these joyful reactions, while feeling compassion for the inevitable mix of emotions people are experiencing, as I did while sharing in other people’s joyful news over the years while feeling like I couldn’t get my life to move forward. (I recently saw this Onion article, “Report: Everyone Starting New Exciting Stage of Life Except You.”) I also love how the reactions from parents (especially new parents, shout out to G) have a level of intensity that goes beyond words–tears, touching the belly, wanting more details, awe over what I’m about to experience.

And also the questions I get from women who haven’t yet had babies, because I know I asked these of friends in the past. “What does it feel like–is it so gradual that it just feels normal, or does it feel really new and strange?” I say both. This is a sensation and a time that I want to experience in the moment–there’s nothing like it, it doesn’t last forever, and I can imagine it would be hard to really re-access the feeling long after it’s over. It is so gradual that it feels normal–my flat belly seems like such a thing of the past (I find solace whenever I see a mom with a flat belly!). Yet the belly is new enough that I don’t know exactly where it is in space and I graze it against things like the refrigerator door. Squeezing past someone in the airplane aisle felt really weird today. It feels a lot like when you eat too much and your belly feels a little stretched (and when I eat too much now it feels super duper stretched). Also itchy. Today I noticed that my belly button is looking a little stressed. Mostly I can’t believe that my body is producing such a nice pregnant-looking belly, like in pictures. Everything’s in the right place.

I’m also so grateful that my body is embracing this process with ease so far. People ask me all the time if I’ve been sick or exhausted or had any number of weird or difficult symptoms, and the answer is basically no. I feel great. I eat more and sleep more and I have gone all soft where I used to be muscular, but I feel energetic and all bodily functions are doing their thing without any big problems. Second trimester rocks. After four nights on my friend’s pull-out couch, I was beginning to perceive achey hips but I’m going to chalk it up to the sofabed and start sleeping with a body pillow. I still can’t believe that UCSF put a microscopic embryo inside my uterus and now I’ve gained 15 pounds and there’s a moving baby in there as long as a banana. A miracle.

People also ask about the sensation of the baby moving. I monitored the feeling for about a week before I was convinced it was the baby because at first it just felt like the digestive clicks and rumbles that happen normally. But it was the same feeling in the same place with some consistency. Then it started getting stronger. It really feels like a tiny baby moving in my belly, literally. It’s usually a series of taps or a little shimmy. It’s easy to think it’s always a kick but could be a little fist or butt or head moving around in there. It’s always pleasant, and wonderful to know, viscerally, that baby’s doing fine. The strongest kick was during a company meeting this week in which I was sitting directly across from the president who was running the meeting, and I had eye contact with him when it happened–my reflex was to bend forward slightly and put my hands on it. It felt like more of a stronger swirl in the lower right, maybe two-footed. No one noticed.

I’m not craving any foods in particular but did have almost a whole glass of red wine over a period of a couple of hours last night, which was nice. After even one sip, I feel this nice glow in my extremities, and I swear the baby started doing a happy slow dance.

Just before leaving for NYC, I went to a holiday potluck of the SF Homebirth Collective. These people are rad. I have lots of new friends there who go to prenatal yoga with me and now there will be a dinner party at my friend N’s, with J, and M, and their nice husbands, and we’re all due in April/May. There is a LOT to talk about. Em walked in having just wrapped up a birth and looking sleepy but happy, and after giving me a hug she said my bloodwork results came back and all is normal. Next up is the anatomy scan on 12/23.

I couldn’t get an earlier date and you have to call the radiology dept precisely at 8am or they don’t pick up the phone! So, I am going with it–2pm on Monday, 12/23 and I fly to meet my family in Chicago at 6pm. I don’t have anyone to go with me, and this is a big one where they measure every single thing they can. Most people I know are either working or already on vacation, including my sister. Anyone have flexibility and want to come see my babe?

And, of course, this will be the big gender reveal! However, since I’ll be so close to seeing my family, and Christmas, I’m thinking I’ll have them not tell me and instead write it on a piece of paper and put it in an envelope to be opened later. I picture having my little nieces opening it on Christmas morning with the whole family beside themselves with anticipation. THAT’S going to be exciting.

This photo is overdue–here is me a week ago at 19 weeks, on my street, last Saturday, taken by dear friend C. Her little daughter S put her hands on my belly and said she feels it’s a boy (like almost everyone else!). 20-week photo to come soon. Lots of love to you!


Buddhism, family, gratitude, homebirth, meditation, outdoors, parenthood, pregnancy, privacy, single mom by choice, SMC, writing

13 weeks

Hi guys,

I had the best weekend. Now I’m sitting on the couch listening to the wind in the leaves outside on this stormy evening, woke up a couple of hours ago from a 3.5 hour nap and ate a big bowl of pasta. Watched a West Wing episode in which (spoiler alert) Matt Santos won the California primary, now I’m listening to Lou Reed’s Take a Walk on the Wild Side.

Started off with my beloved restorative yoga class which is geniusly timed at 6:30pm on Fridays and helps me let go of the work week and melt into a puddle (according to my teacher V, one class can make up for four hours of sleep). Dear friend C stopped by with amazing treats from Clement Street and we drank tea and caught up on the craziness of life–love it when friends stop by (please do).

On Saturday, I got up early and baked, picked up my laundry, and headed to prenatal yoga. It was only my second time attending and the teacher Jane knows my name and calls out adjustments to protect my lower back (which has not been doing great–I’m going to try swimming). I learn so much from the intros and what women at 26 weeks and 34 weeks and 19 weeks report is going on with their bodies, and the energy in the room is intense, pregnant mamas and dozens of gestating babies. We picture the babies, we connect with them. Namaste, the lights within me bow to the lights within you.

My new friend J is so sweet, it’s so instantly bonding to share the timing of our pregnancies, and I’m not just saying it because she started reading my blog! She brought her friend N, also on a similar schedule, also working with Em as her midwife, and we trekked together afterward to a potluck lunch of the SF Homebirth Collective.

We walked in, and there’s our yoga teacher Jane, midwife Bee, midwife Em, and it’s like I know everyone and am already showing up with two friends. All this has happened just over the last 2-3 weeks–I’m in a new club. After catching up with those three, we predictably camped out by the buffet and grazed. N tells me that Em will start having me keep a food journal so I am consciously enjoying all the bad stuff I’m craving (mostly lots of sugar, carbs, and dairy) while no one is monitoring me. (By the way, when I said Em strives for smaller babies I meant just not overly big babies, of which there seems to be a growing number.)

After being so strongly identified as a Single Mom by Choice and attending SMC meetings in SF, it felt really strange to have men around. These were doting dads, sensitive guys, the kind my sister would call “lesbros.” A whole different dynamic and sweet how the dads factored into the birth stories–the spiritual connection, the way the dad never really knows what’s going on until afterward but is in the birth tub doing his best to help. A different vibe, not alienating, just different, like oh yeah–men. I am part of these two niche groups–SMCs and homebirthers–maybe at some point I’ll meet someone who is part of both and meanwhile am just grateful for what I have in common with both communities.

We heard four different birth stories, each around 10-15 minutes each, each totally unique and beautiful and dramatic, each moving. MAN you just don’t know how it will go until it’s happening.  All the babies were there and doing great and the moms were teary and grateful. Their midwives smiled listening and filled in details when asked. One woman was in labor for three days, one had her water break at 34 weeks and had to be induced in the hospital, one knew she’d have a big baby and had choreographed and memorized the maneuvers for shoulder distocia–and then it actually happened and they did the dance as planned and got the 9.5-lb baby out in 1.5 minutes.

By the end of the lunch, I think J and N and I were saucer-eyed after hearing so much about pregnancy and then so much about birth and also seeing the babies and the kids and even an 11-year-old boy running around.  We needed naps. But I was off to the next thing.

First, though, J took my belly photo because my sister is out of town. I couldn’t crop my head without cutting out Sutro Tower, so fortunately a little cloud blew by and obscured my face as I strive to maintain online anonymity!

10/26/13, Twin Peaks:

10-27-2013 8-11-29 PM

If I had any photoshop skills I was going to make that a Halloween mask, but I do not. I did want to keep my happy smile.

Next, feeling very sleepy, I drove across the Bay Bridge to Oakland to see Thich Nhat Hanh. He is an 87-year-old Buddhist teacher from Vietnam who looks maybe 63 and has had an extremely long and influential career (e.g. he convinced MLK Jr. to come out against the Vietnam War)–he has over 800 monastics in Southern California and France, many of whom were on stage behind him. TNH (or Thay (pronounced Tie) which means Teacher in Vietnamese) is a diminutive, handsome man with a twinkle in his eye. He has a very soft voice which matches his humble demeanor and a Vietnamese accent that reminded me affectionately of Dr. Tran. Despite his quiet voice, his words were so powerful and poignant. At one point, I started crying and had to hold my breath to keep from inappropriately sobbing in the theater. It’s all OK. It’s all going to be OK. Some highlights:

  • Our mother, our father, and all our ancestors all live within every cell of our bodies. Even after your grandmother is gone, you can apologize to her for something you said that was unkind. You can let her know you’re sorry and you won’t say something unkind like that to anyone else. And you can see your grandmother smiling to you, forgiving you. In this way, you can transform the past.
  • TNH gestured to the sunflowers beside him on the stage and said that they were evidence of the kingdom of God, that the kingdom of God is available to us every moment of every day if we are mindful. What is the sunflower made of? Non-sunflower elements: the sunshine, the rain, the minerals in the soil. What are you made of? Non-you elements: your ancestors, your experiences, your community. And what is happiness made of? Non-happiness elements: and this includes suffering. You cannot know happiness until you know suffering.
  • And this is where I lost it, because it feels like all the imperfections and frustrations and challenges are part of the road to happiness–we’re all right on track. He said that experiencing suffering makes us more understanding and compassionate to others, and when we share our suffering it can ease the suffering of others. This is when I thought of my blog. It seemed to bring so much meaning to what I’m trying to do here.
  • TNH said that when we send our children to places where they are too sheltered from suffering, they won’t learn the elements of happiness. They won’t learn how to be understanding and compassionate. And this is the cause of so many conflicts and crimes…
  • He told a story of a German woman who came to one of his retreats. She was married to a business man, very happy at first but then he was away and working all the time. She needed surgery in the hospital and he couldn’t even be there. He said that he was planning, in two years, to transition out of his job and spend more time with their family. Then their son was in the hospital and he couldn’t be there again. Soon after that, the husband was killed in a car accident. A reminder to not lose sight of what’s really important–money and fame and prestige are not what bring happiness. Love and understanding bring happiness. Time with family.
  • He talked about how couples communicate and that you can’t love someone you don’t understand, “Darling, do I understand you well enough? If not, help me to understand you better.”
  • Another theme was consumption–think about what you eat. Think about what you read, watch, listen to. If you watch scary shows, it might exacerbate your fears. He said there are different seeds–and we should practice “selective watering.” On the way home, I listened to jazz instead of junky pop.

I ended this epic day at the beautiful new house of M and P and their two kids under two–they made an amazing dinner of which I certainly ate more than my share.  M can’t wait to give me all her mom and baby gear as soon as she’s done with it (last night it was post-pregnancy clothes and a boppy pillow), and I’m so grateful for her generosity and also those who heard my plea and offered me maternity clothes, thank you A and L and D!

Today I had no plans, a luxurious gift. Big week to come: my first midwife checkup is on Tuesday.

Grow, baby, grow!

Lots of love and Happy Halloween to you xo

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


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


meditation, parenthood, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC

9 weeks

It’s 7:52pm and I’m sleepy but I have a sweet potato in the oven and a little time before lights out. It’s been hard to make time to write with all this sleepiness, and also with fears of this turning into just another pregnancy blog, but watch me push past the fatigue and insecurity to bring you this message.

It was a luxurious weekend–I got a mani/pedi and the cleaning lady came, I went to check out a new farmer’s market in my hood with neighbor L and it’s like the perfect farmer’s market you have always dreamed of–two blocks of California peaches, tomatoes, greens, berries, cheese, bread, olives, eggs, honey. The air was warm with golden morning sunlight and I ate an almond croissant on the spot which will be my new favorite Sunday morning tradition.

I read a LOT about pregnancy and birth over the weekend and did some research on midwives–the same names are starting to surface in the recommendations so I will hopefully interview a few of them in the next week or so. I’m also re-reading The Age of Innocence which could be an apt title for this phase of my life pre-single-motherhood. (Next up: Orange is the New Black.)

I also slept a LOT. Two words: naps and snacks.

I went to an SMC friend’s baby shower today. I couldn’t find anything to wear, honestly nothing felt or looked right. In desperation, I pulled out the maternity bag brought by my friend M and found the perfect dress. A criss-cross top with empire drawstring waist–and cute! This is not to say that my body has actually changed yet–I probably have months to go before showing. But it’s also true that nothing was as comfy as this dress and that probably speaks to all the eating I’ve been doing. Relief. (Thanks, M!)

It still feels a virtual sometimes. I know I’m sleepy and hungry and my boobs are sore and I saw the heartbeat last Wednesday and by all definitions I am pregnant. Yet, hanging around moms-to-be with big bellies and moms with babies makes it oddly less real rather than more–there’s nothing to look at yet. It’s more of an idea. It’s something I tell rather than show.

I would love to connect more with this being who is by all accounts growing one millimeter a day deep inside my belly–primary evidence being my deficit of energy and calories. As with so many life questions, I believe the answer here is meditation. So, let there be 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes at night. One of the books says, “make time to connect with your baby.” I will report back.

Last night was a huge milestone: my last injection! And my last estrogen patch. So from now until 10/19, the end of the first trimester, I am on progesterone suppositories and that. is. it. No more daily injections after literally hundreds over the past 6 months. Thank you, drugs, and farewell.

I don’t think I told you my estimated due date! It is: May 4th. May the Fourth be with you!

May the Fourth be with my little nugget too.

good night xo


acupuncture, anxiety, family, fertility, IVF, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

the faith and the love and the hope

I’ve been hesitating to write lately, not sure what to say until the definitive results of Wednesday’s ultrasound. Then I realized that whatever is at the core of that hesitation is itself something to write about, so here I am with a cup of tea.

I suppose I’m afraid of sounding too triumphant or too full of dread when I really don’t know yet who’s in there, where they implanted, or if their hearts are beating properly. So much is still unknown.

We have a lot going for us:

  • we transferred two
  • both embryos tested genetically normal
  • my beta numbers were high

And yet: everything depends on Wednesday.

I’m not especially feeling triumphant or full of dread, managing to walk a line of relative peaceful neutrality as I exercise mildly, eat impeccably, and sleep up a storm. Buddha willing, I will maintain this as Wednesday approaches.

Olga made a point of telling me that Dr. T. insisted on doing this ultrasound for me, which of course I found reassuring. My sister will be there by my side. We will look at my uterus on a screen and see with our own eyes who has taken up residence.

I keep putting this in the plural and I know the top question on everyone’s mind is: one or two? Interestingly, I’m not as fixated on that question. My fervent wish is that I have greater than or equal to one.

On Friday, Walgreens let me know that my refill on estrogen patches would cost $300. I called my insurance to find out that if you order the same drug more than three times from a retail pharmacy, they consider it a maintenance drug and ping you $225 for not using their mail order service. And of course I needed it for Sunday night. So, I posted on the SF SMC listserv and asked if anyone could spot me some patches to tide me over.

The response was overwhelming and generous. Responses from all over the Bay Area. Responses from friends out of town (B wished she could remember where they were in her apartment, J offered to describe to me how to break into her house in San Rafael). I was instantly and deeply aware of this amazing community of hundreds of women to which I am connected.

I chose the offer that was located closest to me, a woman I met over a year ago at an SMC meeting. We quickly ran through our histories and statuses–we both miscarried last summer. We’re both on our second IVF transfer. And we’re both pregnant–she is 4 weeks ahead of me.

She confided about her anxiety that something will go wrong–she is trying to manage her stress and having a hard time, going to ultrasounds every 10 days, obsessing over reaching the magical 12-week mark when you’re more or less out of the woods.

She said that her acupuncturist reminded her not to resist the anxiety, but to surrender, to feel the fear and the pain of past loss and how hard it is to live with uncertainty, let it flow. It was a great reminder to me–honor whatever shows up. Awaken to the present moment. Sit and breathe. Be present with what is. My prescription from the universe.

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love,
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the 
                                          ~T.S. Elliot
anxiety, fertility, IVF, meditation, pregnancy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

today’s beta

I spent the weekend peacefully and then this morning found myself back in the center of the fear spiral–anytime there’s an inbound call coming from Olga I seem to have more than a little PTSD. Understandable, right??

I sat with my phone on my lunch hour waiting, heart pounding. I watched the usual time range of her call (1:45-2:15) come and go. I noticed an email in my inbox called “How to Let Go of Fear and Live Life with Courage,” and read it. It helped a smidge. It got me to breathe. (I copied it below for you–it’s lovely.) Fear spiral! What if what if what if! I finally had to go in for a meeting, turned my ringer off. Two minutes after turning the ringer off, I checked the phone one last time–a voicemail! I ran into a conference room.

Olga: “Hi, it’s Olga calling from UCSF, how are you? Your number went up nicely, congratulations! It went up to 7,504, so that’s fantastic!”

AHHHHHHH! The number is great. I haven’t googled my beta numbers because they seem high but there’s a huge range and all will be determined at the ultrasound. I called Olga back and she was totally pleased and congratulatory and wanted to know if I have an OB lined up (haven’t done one bit of research and it’ll be a midwife) and we scheduled an ultrasound with Dr. T. on 9/11, at which point I will be 6 weeks 3 days, and I will find out how many babies we’re talking about.

Which means today I am 5 weeks 2 days.

And you won’t believe what that means: counting backward, Day 1 would be my birthday, July 28.

It’s a birthday miracle!! xoxoxo!


How to Let Go of Fear and Live Life with Courage

Fear is sticky, like glue. The initial emotion of fear may only last a few minutes, but if we let it linger, it can get stuck in our system for days, months, or even a lifetime.

The sensation of fear is effective if it protects us from real threats. The fight-or-flight reaction has helped humans escape life-threatening dangers over the millennia. But in this era of thinking, creating, and problem solving, our fears are usually unfounded. And when fear sticks in our system, it becomes a toxic influence on our choices, emotions, and actions.

Here are a few tips for getting fear out of your system:

1. Label it.

The first step is to simply notice your fear. As soon as you feel that tightness in your chest, just say, “I’m feeling afraid.” By labeling the fear, you separate the feeling from who you are. It is just a sensation.

2. Accept it. 

Once you notice your fear, don’t judge yourself for feeling this way. You’re human; to feel fear is part of our DNA. Instead, be proud of it–if you’re feeling fear, you’re likely pushing your comfort zone and fighting the good fight. Let the feeling flow through you.

3. Let it go.

This is the hardest part, because a part of our mind feels safer clinging to the fear. It feels productive, and we worry that if we let go of the fear, it’ll sneak up and catch us off-guard.

But there’s a difference between being aware your risks and clinging to fear. Let your fear go, and like a passing rain shower it will soon dissipate.

4. Focus on the present.

Most people dwell on future outcomes (that will probably never happen) or past failures (that don’t define who we are). We can avoid useless fear by instead focusing on the present.

How do you get present? By stopping right here and now, and taking a breath. As soon as you feel that knot in your stomach, stop everything you’re doing and just sit with it. Turn off your phone, step away from your computer, and take three breaths. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.

In that pause, you can let the fear run its course. And once the storm has passed, you’ll move on, stronger and better equipped to face life’s challenges.

With gratitude,

Jesse Jacobs, Founder
Samovar Tea Lounge


family, fertility, IVF, meditation, outdoors, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

40 eve

It’s the first time I’ve been home alone since arriving one week ago! In such a constantly boisterous  household with my little nieces around, I’ve been on the family channel with almost constant activity every day, including reading The Phantom Tollbooth with newly-5-year-old E (we got almost 200 pages in) and bouncing in chilly Lake Michigan with almost-2-year-old S (she loves splashing). Given my limited time with the girls in particular, who call me K.K., I didn’t really want to tear myself away for regular grown-up vacation activities like a book or a phone call or…writing. So, I didn’t. I just rolled with the days, inventing inside jokes, playing hide-and-go-seek, and going out for activities like seeing my dad’s horse.

Today, we did the whole unbearable scene of the family waving from the parking lot as the adorables drive away waving their little hands from the back seat. I felt flooded with despair for about ten minutes and then got on with a quieter day. I cleaned, did laundry, did yoga, read the New Yorker, napped, did a couple of online errands, meditated, and now it’s time to write. This is a big preamble, just trying to set the stage here.

I kicked off birthday celebrations on Thursday night with a family dinner, dance party, and jam session. It was the best party ever. As always, my mom masterfully pulled together a delicious meal over at the river house, including a made-from-scratch chocolate cake with pink frosting (my niece E perfected the shade of pink), with a little picture on top for each birthday celebrant: 40 for me, a heart for my sister, Wonder Woman for E, Fallout Shelter for my teenage cousin M, and Charlie Brown for my uncle P. The W family showed up with four bottles of Veuve Cliquot (my favorite) and we ate and drank and danced and then broke out the violin, guitar, and ukelele and played and sang and improvised hysterical blues verses, broke two glasses and spilled another, and it was a glorious evening of love and connection and music. What could be better?? I LOVED it. Party #1 rocked.

Yesterday, I got my birthday wish from my sisters: a financial consultation. (they are both financial wizards). I can now admit that I tried to get pregnant for over a year without really having a clue about how a child would (or would not) work with my finances. We sat down to start crunching the numbers and I realized that my fear was that they would look at me and shake their heads and say there was no way to make it work in San Francisco. But they didn’t–we created an action plan with several steps which will allow me to start saving now for child care.  This is my favorite kind of gift–the whole scenario feels more possible and my vision of the future is more clear.  I started taking the action plan steps today. Thanks, D & B!

Then, D’s husband took us out for a fancy (bday!) dinner and then left us to make room for girls’ night out, which included time in the bookstore followed by a huge monster sundae and hilariously ended before 10pm when there was still some light in the sky.

Tonight is the eve of my 40th birthday. I elected to stay home–B and my mom are in Traverse at the opening film of the TC Film Festival and my dad is playing tennis. After a day of chilly rain, the sun is bursting out over the sparkling water of Lake Michigan. It’s peaceful here. My bro-in-law just texted a photo of the girls at baggage claim in Baltimore saying they miss us already–it’s mutual!

What does my birthday mean to me? Well, first of all, I’m a Leo so I have always pushed the celebration factor to the extreme. Recently someone said to me that I seemed to have a good attitude about this milestone birthday. While I grant you that there are downsides to aging (and at 40, for me, it is primarily about how hard it’s been to get pregnant), I feel it is truly obnoxious to complain when there are so many people we’ve known and loved who haven’t been fortunate enough to make it this far. When we think of the only other possible alternative, we realize that all we can do and should do is celebrate.

Not to mention just how much learning and experience and love and craziness has led up to this day. As a cumulative number, 40 adequately represents it. 39 was just bananas and it got me to 40, to this moment, which is a good one. Now let’s look ahead.

As I turn 40, I am moving into a big, new apartment! I am moving into a new office! I am throwing myself a big party! AND I am gearing up to transfer two healthy embryos in about 2.5 weeks! My good friend T reminded me that I’m entering my fifth decade (thanks for that! 😉 ) –and I’d say I’m entering with extraordinarily positive momentum. It’s easy to say in hindsight that the babe wasn’t meant to be until now. The way the universe is throwing good mojo in my direction it feels like we’re finally almost there, maybe.

(Speaking of the apartment: I received the lease, went back and forth with questions, received the revised lease, and will sign it in person with the landlord in one week when I’m home–and the current tenant is leaving all kinds of great furniture for me! More details when I have the signed doc in hand!)

Tomorrow will be a mellow day. I’d like to be outside as much as possible. Then I’m putting on my party dress and my red heels which are totally over the top for this rural area, and we’re going to our favorite French restaurant where my parents are legitimately great friends with the French owner, and I will hopefully have something like duck and profiteroles and some champagne and we’ll toast the day.

On the occasion of my birthday, I want to tell you how much you mean to me, my dear readers, family, and friends!!!!! Whatever my 40s bring, I’m grateful that you are my companions on this journey. ❤ xoxoxo


acupuncture, dating, depression, fertility, IVF, meditation, outdoors, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc


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!]

anxiety, IVF, meditation, outdoors, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait


Yo! We are 4dp5dt to those in the know. Aka 4 days past 5-day transfer. 10 days till beta.

It was a good few days back at work–focused, productive, forgetting at times, remembering with a smile. I’ve felt every symptom on the list already, so that was predictable. Thrilled to have embie #1 with me. My little, huge secret. (PS 75 microns is the width of a human hair.)

Last night, with the distraction of work lifted away, I found myself sinking into worry over the not-knowing. Then I was instinctively scolding myself for not thinking uniquely positive thoughts during this critical time. I have this image of the perfect two-week-waiter: serene, neutral, intuitive, self-assured, full of faith (does this person even exist?).  Once I became aware of this layered internal dialogue, I did what I have learned to do: I turned to Buddhism.

I put on a Tara podcast. Her soothing and wise voice calmed me and encouraged me not to resist the thoughts–invite them to tea. On the night that the Buddha achieved enlightenment, Mara showed up, a demon who tried to tempt the Buddha away from his spiritual practice. He fired arrows at him all night, but because the Buddha didn’t react, the arrows turned to flower petals and eventually Mara disappeared. There were mountains of flower petals in the morning. Rather than resisting or reacting, we can invite our fears to sit with us, to  have tea with us. So I did. I remembered that I’m on a bunch of hormones. I cried and fell asleep. I moved through.

Tara quoted Annie Lamott, which kind of blew my mind, given their recently prominent roles as my spiritual leaders. The Annie quote was, “My mind is like a bad neighborhood. I try not to go there alone.”

Today, I met up with two SMC friends and was reminded in a big way that I am not alone. I met C, 38 weeks pregnant, for a muffin and tea, then J, 18 weeks pregnant, for brunch. I came away remembering that motherhood at every stage of pregnancy and beyond is about living with uncertainty–heck, LIFE is about living with uncertainty–and I am getting a lot of relevant practice. My SMC friends are inspiring examples–even if there are days when they feel disorganized, they have their shit together in such a fundamental way. And they reflect this back to me. Which makes me feel like I don’t have to solve everything today, since I can’t anyway and neither can anyone.

I swam this morning, exercise being a critical part of the program of keeping me afloat. Swimming will be my new substitute for running, and although I don’t love swimming in the same way, it did feel good. Although wow is it really hard when you’re not in the habit. And kind of annoying with the sharing a lane, and boring with the repetition, etc. But a great low-impact, muscle-toning, cardio workout, and hopefully I’ll get stronger. Swimming and yoga. I signed up for a 3-hour hypno-restorative yoga class tomorrow afternoon with C. Also hoping to get outside into our deliciously cold weekend fog in the morning.

I’m back to being happily-maybe, and sometimes probably. Grateful to be PUPO = Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise. Rolling with it. Making friends with the present moment and all it has to teach me.

night night