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

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

transfer and transition

Hi! I have thought of you often, readers, and how it probably seemed strange that I didn’t post after my transfer. Alas, I am still thumbing it on my phone; the internet self-installation didn’t work, the technician who came today couldn’t get a signal, and they’re supposedly sending someone to the actual telephone pole to fix it tomorrow…I’ve been hanging at the (24hour!) Starbucks around the corner but using the time for work. So it’s time to tap out a slow post in a constant battle with auocorrect in order to send you an update.

The transfer went perfectly. My sister arrived to pick me up and a moment later the doorbell rang again and it was a dozen roses from dear friends M and T. Just then, the valium kicked in and we coasted over to UCSF where we already knew the drill.

We ran into my genetic counselor whose last day in that department was the next day and she hugged me and emphatically promised that I WOULD get pregnant this time and it WOULDN’T be twins. She totally TOTALLY promises.

B didn’t come into the room with me this time because she had a cold. Everything about this try feels laid back, it’s all good, no superstitions or good luck charms or anxiety. Just taking the steps. B worked on her laptop in the waiting area.

Dr. Z was great, Nurse Angela kept rubbing my arm and telling me I was perfect. I was warm and stoned. They gave me this photo of embies #2 and #3 and said they are beautiful, textbook, and survived the thaw with flying colors. Here they are:

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I love those punks!

When Dr Z said, “Think good thoughts,” it felt like my very first try, when what’s her name said the same thing and I was filled with love. We watched on the monitor as a little drop of fluid containing the potential for two future humans was dropped off in my uterus. And that was that.

Oh: they redid my paperwork so it wouldn’t include the genders but we can safely assume it was two boys, two girls, or a boy and a girl.

On the way out of the dressing room, I ran into Dr. Tran! Wait, what? He was even in scrubs so why he didn’t do my transfer I will never know. He also rubbed my arm and wished me luck and looked handsome as per usual and was a generally good omen. Then I went to acupuncture which I slept through entirely, and came home and went to bed at 6.

Since then, I have been wildly distracted by work, unpacking, a wedding, and did I mention unpacking? The kitchen is done, I still have to unpack clothes, books, and the bathroom. I forget about being PUPO for hours at a time. This may change, but for now it’s good. Hoping it holds as long as possible, 10 days to go.

I joined the JCC! They have an amazing gym near my house! All the SMCs are doing it because they have 100+ classes (cuban dance! kickboxing! yoga! swimming!) and child care.

I am floating along, loving all the changes. Amazing how the universe plucked me up and dropped me here.

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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

 

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

receiving

It’s so inspiring be here. Time passes slowly, the sun sliding gracefully across the sky, the clock ticking on the wall of the yoga room, the phases of the day unfolding gradually. No one is in a hurry. Last week, I was literally running from one meeting to the next. This morning, I finished my breakfast, hung around talking and laughing with new friends for what seemed like a long time, and I still have an hour free before our dharma talk at 9:30.

I never have this kind of leisurely pace. Here, even when we’re doing something like yoga or meditation or eating or walking or reading, we’re doing it mindfully, and time takes on a different dimension.

Here it is a holiday weekend and time is not flying by. (Bonus!)

With this kind of time, you get new perspectives, new ideas for ways of being. We’ve been discussing the concept of generosity and giving vs, receiving; we’re in a mindset of receiving. I receive the birds flickering by outside my window, this simple room, a slice of steaming bread just delivered. I receive the lighthearted company of new friends, a full belly, shivasana. In this mindset, we all clear each other’s dishes, offer to get each other a cup of tea, walk together in silence to 5am meditation. In a mindset of receiving, you have more to give.

Meditation this morning was better although I still feel like such a bumbling newbie in the zendo. Getting to my zafu I have down. Sitting for 40 minutes was good, I was on my knees and pretty comfortable. My mind was serene. I listened to moisture falling off the trees and hitting the roof. I heard the frog anthems give way to birds. I heard people around me sniffling and repositioning.

We transitioned into walking meditation and a nun had to redirect me as I was going in the wrong direction.

During the second meditation, I was more restless, I repositioned a lot to avoid the panic and impulse to run away (my teachers laughed yesterday when i asked about this and agreed that torture is not the point). Amazing how quickly my brain goes there when discomfort arises. But the posture clinic and the intense yoga yesterday have me looser, more forgiving, less perfectionist.

Then we segued into chanting and prostration where I was truly lost and a kindly older man pointed me to the right place in the prayer book. It’s good to be new at something and let the wise ones guide you. Lots of bowing. Glad it’s about the Buddha and not some weird California cult.

Coincidentally, there’s an SMC here who I met last summer. She is pregnant–after a failed IVF, she went back to IUIs. We keep catching each other on the way to meals and then get cut off as we observe ten minutes of silence at the beginning of meals. Somehow I think we both only want to go there in smaller doses, which seems appropriate here.

There was a yoga pose yesterday where we laid on a bolster going the length of our spine with the bottoms of our feet together and knees resting on zafus, arms splayed out. To me it felt like, “Here’s my uterus, universe! Ready to receive!” We held the pose for twenty minutes.

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

zen

Well, can you believe it? The Guest House has internet. So my pre-posts can now be posts.

I arrived yesterday afternoon, abuzz after zipping in from NY, unpacking, packing, and flying over the Golden Gate Bridge while talking to my mom on the phone. Arrived 10 mins late, only to find that time is a bit fluid here, the Intro to Zazen class had just begun.

Thus began my re-entry into the world of zendos, zafus, Zazen, and zen. The little mat that goes under the zafu also starts with z although I can’t remember it now…

Green Gulch Farm is a gem, an absolutely stunning property below Highway 1 and tucked into a valley just behind the coastal hills. The place could not be more green, could not have more constant birdsong, could not be any closer to the city while feeling worlds away from the city. The buildings are beautiful in their simplicity, with stairways and lit pathways forming a small labyrinthine village. The people in the office welcomed me and I could palpably feel that their pace was about one-third of my own.

Intro to Zazen was brief and covered the important “forms” to follow in formal meditation practice: step through the doorway with a certain foot, take two steps in and bow to the Buddha, bow to your zafu, turn clockwise and bow to the room, sit on the zafu without touching the edge where the monks eat, spin clockwise and get into position. It seems religious but everything has a function to help you be mindful, grateful, present.

Then we started with yoga class which was perfect for my weary jet-lagged body which has not really done yoga in years since I hurt my back years ago. We did resting poses, opened up our hips, almost always were laying down with blankets next to the wood-burning stove.

There are 17 of us. Mostly people seemingly my age, some a bit older, thoughtful, friendly. We ate dinner in the dining hall–nuns carried out giant dishes of food with brown rice, a tomato vegetable stew, and roasted zucchini. We chitchatted and got to know each other a bit, lovely people.

After dinner we did an icebreaker and I realize how many people are overly stressed at work, struggle to maintain a meditation practice, want more in life than a hamster wheel. The teacher had us invite people into the room who are not really here, people for whom we will practice. I thought of many of you.

I went to bed at 9:00 and it was perfectly quiet even though there are many people here.

Alarm at 4:30 (thank goodness I’m on east coast time) and I dressed in many layers to head to Zazen in the meditation hall. I stepped outside in the dark and looked around to get my bearings and there was the full moon like a spotlight in the night sky, it absolutely took my breath away.

I didn’t need my headlamp. Walked in, a nun showed me to my zafu, whether or not I did all the steps right I don’t think anyone noticed, and I settled in. Occasionally there was a gong or a bell. There was a symphony of birdsong.

I felt wonderful and proud and grateful for about twenty minutes and eventually my body started hating it and going into distress mode and I repositioned and breathed and knew I would survive. (I’m going to a posture clinic in 15 mins which will help.)

I survived. Afterward, rather than walking meditation followed by a second Zazen, I went back the Guest House for delicious bread with peanut butter and jam and chamomile tea and then headed out on a walk. The moon now hung pale pink in the lightening blue sky. I crunched down the gravel path alone, through the gorgeous farm with its colorful rows of flowers and leafy greens, saw quail, rabbit, a red-winged blackbird, some horses, breathed the cool air. I emerged at Muir Beach as the sun came over the hills, heading over to the little house I rented with my family two Thanksgivings ago, the first time I officially told my family of my plans to become a single mom.

Facing the sun on the way back, I walked a bit faster to make it in time for breakfast. Everything sparkled in the morning dew. I ran into F, one of my favorite people so far, searching for a very noisy woodpecker he could not see. We strolled in to breakfast: hot rice cream cereal, tofu sweet potato something or other, hard boiled eggs, and hot apple juice.

Over breakfast, I connected with L who has a beautiful Hawaiian name, who is a freelance writer. She’s actually here on assignment. I got so inspired talking to her. Let’s be honest, this is my passion. I just have to start navigating from here to there, and write more, and write all kinds of new topics and formats and just dig in. When we were done she said she’d be glad to talk to me more about it later and I came back here to write this.

From here. With peppermint tea. xo

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

maintenance

I’m in the Phoenix airport on a flight delay due to a maintenance issue and just discovered free wifi and a quiet seat in a dim corner to write. Let’s make the best of this!

My brain is fuzzy after getting up at 3:45am. Although I slept the whole flight here, I feel like I could curl up in the corner and sleep for another three hours. My appetite is a bottomless pit as it sometimes is when I have to get up at an inhumane hour; so far today I’ve had Greek yogurt with honey at home, oatmeal with nuts and berries at SFO, and an egg and cheese breakfast burrito at PHX. I text-waved to my uncles and friend V who live here.

The airport is full of messy, cranky, beautiful humanity in shorts and tank tops. There are throngs of people streaming up and down the corridor to the point that getting across to the restroom is like jumping into a game of Double Dutch and then jumping out again, requiring timing and strategy to avoid a tangle.

These days, staying productive relies so much on battery power. All my chargers are in my checked luggage, so I’m going to do some pre-work (read: handwritten) to make sure my laptop time is optimized on the next flight, since my sad battery only gives about an hour and a half. But, meanwhile, I’m just going to ramble away this half hour on my iPad because this thing lasts forever, and the free wifi is flowing.

So, where am I besides Phoenix… Looking forward to this trip, seeing J and my other work and non-work friends, walking in Central Park with girl J tonight, diligently keeping up good habits of sleeping, eating impeccably (or at least deliciously), and just enough drinking to reassure everyone I’m not pregnant in case they heard a rumor. Work is a tidal wave constantly on the verge of overtaking me, and I’m paddling like crazy to stay ahead of it. At the moment, I am ahead of it. And I strive to take it all with a grain of salt as I do my best and keep space for one other big notable goal in my life.

Three weeks to go. My last bc pill was last night which means the imminent arrival of what Olga insists on calling “menses.” Furtive Lupron injections will continue through this week as I’m staying with a work friend who doesn’t know. The day I get back to SF and head to the retreat, I’ll start Vivelle patches. It’s still feeling long, especially as I circle back on places like Phoenix and NYC where I’ve already weathered some stage of this process or another and here I am, back again with a flat tummy. Everyone in the airport has a baby except me. Just kidding. (But it’s Sunday, so not really.)

In truth, my attitude is pretty darn positive, so let’s not question it. Never question the positive attitude when it’s here! Seek out the good signs. Choose the better outlook and watch it take on a life of its own. Smile and lift your chin and take a deep breath. These are things we can do.

Maintenance complete!!! Good to go. Boarding. xo

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!

family, IVF, parenthood, single mom by choice, SMC, trying to conceive, ttc, writing

Guest blogger: my sister B

My sister B came with me to the retrieval this morning and I asked her if she wanted to do a guest blog post. Here it is!

“Family is the most important thing,” I find myself saying to friends, colleagues and even strangers, on a regular basis in all sorts of contexts.  No question.   It was an honor to be with my sister K today for her retrieval, and to be the first guest blogger on solo mama project!

When she asked me to be there for her today I did not hesitate.  Yes, I gained clarity and conviction in making family a major priority in my life and schedule several years ago, however my strong drive to support K is as much a testament to her unwavering conviction and drive to create a family of her own.

One year ago we sat by a pond at the SF Botanical Gardens brainstorming on a name for her blog.  Her choice to write and express her feelings and her journey has been such a wonderful gift to herself and to us all.   What a journey the past year has been!  K has taught us all so much in the past year about perseverance, passion, and community.

She sat in the comfy chair at the clinic, with a hairnet and hospital gown, covered in a warm blanket, looking up at the nurse.  The nurse put the thermometer under her tongue and K kept her eyes on the nurse with gentle obedience.  She looked so much like a child and I felt a wave of emotion rise in my throat.  I took a breath and cherished the moment.  Her vulnerability was so beautiful and childlike.  She is laying it all on the line for her dream and she has been every day for the past year!

What are you willing to risk it all for?  What are you willing to challenge your emotional limits to create?  What are you willing to share with your community?

I am confident that K will become a parent, somehow some way.  Thank you to each and every one of you who is reading this blog, cheering her on and loving her every step of the way.  I speak on behalf of my whole family by saying that your words of encouragement, calls, texts and emails have meant the world to K and to all of us.

The details of our lives are different yet there is a “solo” in all of our “projects,” and journeys.  Whether we have several parents or one, several siblings or none, or a partner or none.  No matter what our lives look like there is a community, a world, of love and support when we open up to it.  K, thank you for following your dream.  Thank you for being you.  Thank you for sharing the journey with us.  I love you.  Family is the most important thing.

– K’s youngest sister B

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

numbers

I think I’ve been avoiding writing, just like I sometimes avoid meditating–with anxiety following me around like a shadow, not wanting it to catch up.

What you need to know is that everything is going fine.

What’s going on behind the scenes is that I’m getting information every other day, and now every day, on my estrogen level and number and measurements of my growing follicles. And I’ve had to consciously back down from a) trying to be an overachiever, b) interpreting, c) doing math, and d) obsessing about the numbers as if it will help me control the final outcome. It won’t. You also need to understand that the numbers at this point are almost irrelevant–you can have dozens of follicles and only a few mature eggs. You could also have only a few follicles but one mature egg that results in a healthy singleton. And everything in between.

At the first appointment, I didn’t know what to expect. This is a vulnerable place.  I felt like the doctors had grim expressions and were disappointed in my number of follicles, which was around 13. It should be noted that they didn’t say anything (at all) to this effect, but when I walked out I felt like a failure and spent the day on the edge of tears. I texted B that I was spiraling and she said, “Don’t interpret. It’s too early to do that and trust your doctors–let them do the work.”

I went to acupuncture the following night and emerged so deeply drained. I asked him if he’d done anything differently than usual, and he said that when you’re that stressed, it’s a long journey to get back to your baseline.

For the second appointment, I brought my sister, who kept me plugged into the irrelevance of the numbers in the short term. Bringing my sis got the docs’ attention and suddenly Dr. Rosen seemed to realize that I was stuck on the anxiety channel and needed strong reassurances–and he gave them to me throughout the appointment. Everything looks really good, you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do, see here on the monitor? Everything is growing, that’s what we want. Don’t worry, you’re doing great, it looks really good. I wanted to celebrate, but my helpful sister reminded me that just like we wouldn’t get destroyed by numbers now, we’re also not going to celebrate. But I did feel way better. My acupuncturist confirmed that my pulse conveyed a much lower stress level the following night (another zapping session, though–afterward, I went home, ate pizza, and fell asleep at 7pm).

At the third appointment, on Saturday, I went alone. Different docs this time, and I didn’t even try to track the measurement of every follicle or do math in my head. I let go, just letting them take over, maybe finally realizing that, no matter what, it will be what it will be. There’s nothing to adjust, except my dosage of meds, which is totally up to Dr. Tran and he hasn’t changed anything since I started. I’m doing everything right, according to Dr. Rosen. All we can do is see how this cycle turns out and have faith that my baby is in there.

I did a pretty good job of letting go on Saturday but I also just happened to be in a terrible mood. I felt like crying about everything, couldn’t bring myself to do the dishes from Tuesday, etc. Still, I managed to finish my taxes AND do laundry, so why I didn’t feel my afternoon was a record-breaking success should be blamed on the hormones. I felt sad and lonely and stuck.

At around 4:45pm, I threw on my running clothes and drove out to Ocean Beach. As I sat in my car getting ready to run, a hurricane-like wind threatened to lift my car into the air. I opened the door and it swung open so hard I thought it may have been damaged. Stepping out into the gale force, I thought YES THIS IS WHAT I NEEDED and began my run along the boardwalk.

I almost couldn’t run straight it was so windy. Specks of sand blasted onto my bare skin, stinging. PERFECT. Despite its ponytail anchor, my hat flew off. Then my hat flew off again. Then it flew off AGAIN. I found myself screaming into the wind FUCK YOU, MOTHERFUCKER and suddenly woke up to my storm-like emotions. I actually started laughing.

Holding my hat in my hand, I continued up the boardwalk with my hair whipping around my face, forming a frenetic, lion-like frizz. I ran up the hill, past the Cliff House, and turning inland into Lands End, where the wind became a mild breeze, the golden afternoon sunlight at an angle that melts my heart.

I needed that. I kept thinking, “This is my natural Paxil.”

Today, after 9 hours of sleep, I woke up better. A gloriously clear day. I picked up my friend C who graciously offered to come with me to my appointment, which are now every day because we’re getting close. It was lovely to have her along although I feel sufficiently detached now, not even particularly asking questions. They’ll tell me if there’s something I need to know or decide.

My likely retrieval day is this Thursday, to be confirmed at tomorrow’s appointment. Then we’ll have real numbers to contemplate: number of eggs retrieved and then the number fertilized. My letting-go skills are getting honed.

My sister has me focused on what it will feel like to have a baby. I’m skipping all these steps in my mind and visualizing the final outcome–the only thing that matters.

Yesterday, my estrogen level was 2,014 (aka my baby’s birth year).

All it takes is one.