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

dating, donor sperm, IUI, pregnancy loss, privacy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc

more guys

I’m in a t-shirt and yoga pants, listening to Aimee Mann’s new album (kick A), baking lasagna and peach cobbler for my long overdue rendez-vous tomorrow night with Ju and her three munchkins. I hear the littlest one is a cuddler.

The big headline in neon lights is that AF is back in force! After so many weeks of spotting, I had no idea when to expect her, and didn’t really think it would be so soon. I also didn’t know if I’d recognize her, or if she’d make a weak appearance and give me reason to doubt the true kick-off of a new cycle. I should not have second-guessed her. She reappeared like clockwork and set up house. I asked her if she wanted to guest blog and she glared at me, rolled her eyes, and went back to folding laundry.

Still–her arrival, oddly enough, put me in the best mood. It’s the end of a sad era and the beginning of a hopeful one and I’m out of limbo and back on cycle and I decided to get back into official trying mode this month.

I transported my latest guys from PRS to UCSF on Monday morning–a much different transport than the first time around (My Guys) where it was sunny and I was singing along to the radio and thinking about babies. This time it was foggy, I was listening to an audiobook about finances, and never once thought about babies until afterward when I remembered that both vials on the first transport got me pregnant, which gave me a burst of hope. This transport was three vials. Did I ever tell you that the SMC ladies call them “Pop-sicles”? I sort of can’t believe I’m getting back on this roller coaster.

This morning, I attended a networking event in which one of the panelists seemed to be speaking directly to me about my blog and my recent fears around the security breach and what would happen if everyone knew and was talking about this. The panelist said something along the lines of: “Speak your truth, and then stand behind it. As long as you say it with confidence and good intentions, it will never come back to haunt you, even if people find out who weren’t supposed to know.” I believe in this. This blog is my truth and my lifeline and I can’t tell you how reinforcing it is how many readers tell me, “keep writing!” “keep writing!”

I’m glad you enjoyed reading about the paramedic (with the exception of my dad who said it was a little more than he needed to know, understandable). This one is anti-climactic but I went on a date with a new guy on Friday night. I’ve been trying to find a nickname for him but am coming up empty-handed, mostly because I don’t care and he won’t be sticking around. But it was kind of strange–as you know from my last post, I wasn’t that excited to meet him beforehand. I started telling my friend M about him with, “Well, there’s nothing wrong with him.” which she took as not a good sign. He showed up, was good-looking, tall, polite, smiling, bought me dinner, and we had the most enjoyable conversation. There was actually a moment where we both threw our heads back and laughed and I thought–this is nicer than I thought it would be. We have a lot in common. After dinner we went to another place for milkshakes. Then I hugged him good night and heard myself say, “It was nice meeting you!” which in retrospect is not a super encouraging thing to say, or maybe it was my tone, or maybe I was thinking, “It was nice to have met you!” I went home and never thought about him again. Apparently the same for him as there’s been no communication. No spark! And no nickname.

The Adorable Disaster of many months ago inexplicably re-friended me on facebook one day last week. I can’t imagine what he’s up to beyond a game of passive-aggression and I will not be enticed into that game. I’m pretty sure he passed me on his bike while I was running through the park last week–our eyes locked for a split second and he was gone. Ignore.

On the bright side, I have a date on Saturday and I’m cautiously excited about it. This is The Artist. I think I’m excited because I know next to nothing about him and probably have filled in all the blanks in my mind. But we did trade websites (his art and my music) and admired each other’s work. He seems like a legit real artist who does paintings, sketches, fire arts, book arts, and also teaches and takes graduate classes. His students like him on Rate My Professor.

I should not blog and bake at the same time because I just scorched the top of the cobbler. Ah well… good thing I had leftover peaches and batter, I’ll make another one. Good night!

acupuncture, anxiety, dating, pregnancy loss, privacy, running, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

karma

Last Saturday, the day after my return from Brazil, I went on a 10-mile run through Golden Gate Park with my housekeys, a $20, and my driver’s license in my little shorts pocket. When I was within half a mile from my house, I was suddenly ravenous enough to eat my arm, so I opted instead to duck into Falletti Foods, an outrageously expensive grocery with a buffet of hot food. In my delirious hunger, I grabbed a crazy mix of foods and the cashier totaled it at $14 and change. I handed him my slightly moist $20. He gave me back a $10, a $5, and some change. I blinked and walked away.

As I sat there eating my chicken & artichoke lasagna and french fries, here was the voice in my head, “This place charges an insane amount for its food. They won’t miss $10. I could give it to a homeless person. Redirect the corporate surplus. I should stop being so honest all the time. I could donate it to the Obama campaign. I could keep it. I’m sure it didn’t cost them more than $5 something to make the food I’m eating. But……..won’t I spend the rest of the day stressing about it? What if the cashier gets in trouble? What if it comes out of his check?”

And, with that, I finished up and returned the $10 to the embarrassed and grateful cashier.

This morning, I was running through my neighborhood and saw a BART ticket on the ground. I thought, “I should stop and see if there’s any money on it,” but decided to leave it and see if it was still there on my way back. Half an hour later, there it was. I picked it up. $13.05. The universe gave me interest!

I’m sitting in a café with a tall Pellegrino. It’s 7:22pm. I have a date here at 8, or “8-ish,” as I believe he said, which bugged me. I can write until he gets here which I will bet you will be in one hour. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being out of my mind excited to meet him, I am a 3.

Sigh. It’s been a wild week. Coming back from the forced respite from this project was a little tough, re-facing the reality of it. But, as my acupuncturist told me a couple of hours ago, why not just continue the vacation until my cycle kicks back in? I can’t really do or plan anything until then anyway. I like that. I’m still on vacation from this.

Coming back, I feel stronger. An unexpected result of this that I am in close touch with my anger. I don’t typically have a temper but lately I am on a hair trigger. Don’t cross a line with me right now, because I’m not putting up with bullshit. I should have done this a long time ago. Toxic people: out. Reactive, ill-considered e-mail, send. Insensitive post: unfriend. Surround me with love and support and otherwise I do not have time for you right now.

I had a shock this week when I met up with a friend who left my company a few months ago. Halfway through lunch, she says, “SO, I hear you’re pregnant!” I was stunned. I’ve been so careful about not sharing this with work friends, only the tiniest handful. I said, “Oh really, who told you that?” And she chirped, “Everyone!”

Well, first of all, I’m not. (Of course, she was mortified.) And second of all, it’s not public knowledge. I feel betrayed by whoever leaked this super-private news that I shared in confidence. I don’t really blame this friend, or the others who heard through the apparent grapevine. They thought it was public. But the floor absolutely dropped out from underneath me.

It dawns on me now (yes, now, 4 months after starting a public blog) that people talk. It’s human nature–this is juicy news to share. People love to be the one who knows first. Rationalization: I’m sure it’s safe to tell, I mean, after all, she writes it all down on a public blog!

It also dawns on me that I have no idea who reads this blog. I know who subscribes to it, but there are anywhere between 30 and 100 views per day beyond that. Are you out there, my boss’s boss? Hello, ex-boyfriends! Greetings to all my enemies, frienemies, stalkers, and identity thieves. You’re all invited. This is a public blog. We’re in this together. Please, please, please don’t F this up.

It’s risky putting all this out there, but you know what? This is my choice. This is how I live. This is so me. I’m loving writing. I keep a cozy loveseat for some of my favorite people in here. I love this!

I won’t subscribe to conspiracy theories… No one is taking this to my boss (right???). This post is about karma. I will be trusting and faithful that this will blog will do more good than harm, and that my readers will hold this information with exquisite respect and care. Lord knows, it’s done me a world of good to share with you, dear readers. The beauty rises to the top, the garbage falls away. What goes around comes around. I forge ahead with love and the best intentions.

And if you don’t like it, you can fuck off!!!!

IUI, outdoors, pregnancy loss, privacy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, two week wait, writing

validation

I saw Dr. Tran on Wednesday, and I love him. I’m definitely noticing a falling-in-love trend with every male doctor I encounter in this process (is it ethical to date the guy who draws your blood? who causes you pain during a procedure? who gets you pregnant?). But Dr. T. has my heart for real.

He invited me into his office and I said, “I’m seeing you at 4pm and last time I saw you at 7am–you must work long days,” and he said, “Yes, I typically work from 7 until about 6, but I love what I do, so I can’t complain.” Aw.

At first, he assumed that I was there to talk about interventions (i.e. meds) but I quickly realized that Olga had conveyed to him exactly nothing about my recent experience. Which didn’t surprise me, since she acted like it never happened. On the bright side, I got to tell him myself, including the part about how Olga let me know over the phone (“I just can’t figure out how you got two positive tests. Was the test expired?”).

He turned his monitor toward me and asked me to show him on the calendar the day of my IUI, followed by the days of the positive pregnancy tests. He said, “OK, yes. You were pregnant. It’s what we call a “biochemical pregnancy.” He compassionately acknowledged the emotional side of what I had just gone through, and said, “But from a medical point of view, I take this as very good news. You don’t have fertility issues. Everything works!”

He even said he would make a gentle suggestion to Olga about how to approach this type of situation. (i.e. in Me vs. Olga, I won.)

I realized that the whole reason I set up the appointment was to hear him say all of the above. And he said it! More than once! I said, “You can say it again, if you want!” (PS do you want to get coffee after this?)

In a nutshell, since everything is working, it’s probably just a matter of time. No need to introduce hormones or trigger shot or ultrasounds for now. He said that if he were in my shoes, he would give it a total of 6 unmedicated tries. I told him about Rio at the end of August, and how that seems to be a natural turning point, after 5 tries (so: 2 more). At that point, if nothing’s happening, I can Rio-valuate.

I practically skipped out of there. It makes me realize how important it is to feel validated. I couldn’t really get through this until I knew for sure that it happened.

Validation is so important in this process. I feel its importance both when I’m talking to women who are down about another BFN (big fat negative) or going crazy in the 2 week wait, and I try to say things to cheer them up–but sometimes I’m missing that they just need someone to listen, to hear them right where they are. I feel it when people say to me, “Can you just be more laid back–put it out of your mind, go about your biz, pretend it’s not happening? The stress can’t be helping…” and it’s like UM, SURE I’d love to do that. Can you tell me how? Because, as much as it really is a great idea, I am incapable right now of just Being Less Stressed. Where I’m at is: losing my mind to hope and fear and joy and disappointment. I know it’s uncomfortable, but…can you meet me there?

I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to the blog and the public play by play. Because it’s all about me, total self-absorption, and that’s not how I live my life–I would write about all of you if I thought I could get away with it! The way I see it, this would all be going on in my head, only in a more chaotic, messy format, so the fact of keeping a blog is not influencing how excited or sad or freaked out I get. The blog helps me get it out of my head (which is positive) and helps me rally support around me (which I need). So, it’s win-win for me. Sometimes, though, I feel sorry for you, dear readers, dragged along on all my ups and downs. But, I won’t apologize… It takes two to tango: I’m not forcing your eyeballs onto these words. 😉

Thanks for being here. It’s messy, huh?

Finishing up my work day and heading home to pack for Girl Weekend in Sebastopol. Could this be any better timed? On the agenda, we have a hot tub, canoeing, a rodeo, yummy food, margaritas, yoga, stars, and five amazing ladies. Thumbs up!

pregnancy, privacy, single mom by choice, SMC

shhhh

Dear friends! In my haste to post my news, I didn’t specify that I’m not actually going public for 8 more weeks, which may have been unclear given that this is a public blog! But, for now, let’s keep it off of facebook and any other public forum. I posted a baby-related post today and was trying to speak in code but I see how it looked like a green light. I’m out of town on a business trip and don’t always have access to delete posts. It’s really important to me that my work colleagues not find out until I’m ready to tell them. I’m typing this out on my phone because it feels that urgent! Thanks so much for your messages and more soon from me after I’m home from this super-packed meeting tomorrow night! All is well here. Blood test Wednesday, follow-up test Friday. xo

pregnancy loss, privacy, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

on privacy and openness

Good morning, Day 27!

In general, I’m an extremely open person. If I have a complicated personal situation or TMI storyline going on that is troubling me or exciting me or puzzling me, chances are good that all you have to say is, “How are you?” and I will launch in. It’s how I connect. People usually respond by softening and opening up themselves, given that I so easily lay my heart on the table, and then we’re mutually sharing, and we have things in common, and suddenly we don’t feel like such alien freaks.

Of course, there is such a thing called “boundaries,” as I have learned in many years of therapy. There is an element of the process above that includes an aversion to withholding whatever is going on with me, as if I have judged this person unfit to handle the real back story, which can send me into an internal spiral that this person now realizes I’m lying to him/her by saying, “Fine, how are you?” It’s also tempting to want approval in everything I do, from everyone around me, all the time. But I’m pretty sure that’s everyone.

So, all of the above present an interesting dilemma in the process of trying to conceive as a single mom, which is notoriously cloaked in our culture, often kept secret until the end of the first trimester. I’ve always known that, partnered or not, this clandestine approach would be hard for me to the point of being impossible. I understand being cautious and the heartbreak of having to send a sad press release to the masses. However, in my case, especially un-partnered, it is those same masses that will pull me through. (I acknowledge that I may feel wildly different about this later on and do a 180 and that’s fine too.)

From the beginning, when I was in the thinking/planning/researching phase, I checked in with myself every time a friend said, “So, what have you been up to?” Just checked with my heart and it usually said, “Go for it.” I’ve been building up my support system the way a mama bird builds a nest. http://livestre.am/1kdZa

Of course, this opens me up for comments, opinions, recommendations, and zingers. I’ve already gotten tips on what to definitely do or definitely not do when it comes to giving birth and parenting (“You’re not going to do cry it out, are you?”) and questions that sound more like an indictment (“You do a lot of activities. You know you’ll have to give them all up, right?”) Overall, though, if that’s the worst my people can dish up, concern turned up a little too high and pushed through their own filter of experience, then bring it on. I’m getting better (god willing) at letting things roll off my back. If it really gets to me, I come home and listen to Pema Chodron recordings.

A few times, I have hit an edge. After I chose my donor (a great story for another day), I had friends ask if I would email his photos. That felt instantly wrong. I decided that I will show them only in person, and only if I feel like it. Later, when a TV production company approached the founder of Single Mothers by Choice about doing a documentary, I expressed my interest in participating as a way of raising awareness. After talking to the producer, I was turned off–it sounded more like reality TV. This journey is uncharted–none of us know where we’re headed. Broadcasting on national TV seemed like way too far over the line. I pulled out.

Which brings me to the blog. This  feels so good to write, and I’m so gratified that so many friends are checking in. My number of views is much bigger than expected and: we’ve gone international! I did take the step of keeping it anonymous, although the majority of followers are people I know very well. I may over-share sooner or later and end up with a vulnerability hangover… But, so far so good.

I hope you share it with friends who are considering single motherhood or maybe would just enjoy reading this, but I do ask that you not forward it to anyone I work with. That is the last frontier! Speaking of which, I’m off to a meeting.