Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rock, Hard Place, Me

I know I need to keep writing like I know I need to keep breathing.  I usually feel it in my bones...the oh, it's time to sit down and write again.  Sometimes I have to stop what I am doing to get the words out.  I knew when I woke up today that I needed to write, but the topic was fuzzy to me all day.  I went for a nice long walk this morning and sometimes I get my ideas there.  Nope.  Not today.  We had a nice relaxing afternoon and Gary cooked dinner and through it all, I kept waiting for a topic to come to me.   Eventually I sat down to pay some bills and thought maybe being in front of the computer would do the trick.  It was then that I realized that I had an idea all along.

My world is so in limbo these days.  I guess anyone could say that and even mean it, but I truly feel that I am stuck in time.  The time after we lost Allie and the time before we were able to have another child.  Do I spend the time mourning the Angel we lost or pining away for the baby we are yet to conceive?  I do not want to look back at this time in my life, in my marriage, and realize I "wasted" it wanting and wishing and not living and learning.  Am I doing that?

Babies are all around me.  And for the most part, I love it.  I love babies.  I had a baby,  I want a baby.  I do not have a baby.

I am happy for all the mom's out there who have babies and who are having babies.  Jealous?  Yeah.  Embarrassed by that?  Um, yeah!  It's kind of like I am between a rock and a hard place.  

Friends is one of my all time favorite TV shows.  It was from the very first episode.  I wanted Rachel's hairdo, I wanted to date Chandler, I wanted to cook like Monica and I wanted to be a free spirit like Phoebe.  I am not sure what characteristics of Ross and Joey I wanted, but I am sure there were some. I never drank coffee but wanted to go to Central Perk and learn how.  I remember watching that show while studying for exams or getting ready to go out to keg parties and just laughing my head off.

Season 1:  Chandler accidentally walks in on Rachel after a shower and sees her breasts, leading to a series of shower peepings.

Chandler: You know, I don't know why you're so embarrassed. They were very nice boobies.
Rachel: Nice? They were nice? I mean, that's it? I mean, mittens are nice.
Chandler: Okay... rock... hard place... me. 

I can picture Chandler saying that line like it was yesterday.  Not 17 years ago. Yes, it's been that long.  I looked it up.  It was such a funny line.  I would hold my fists up in the air like Chandler did and put my head in the middle and I usually got some laughs, too.  I must have said it dozens of times over the years.  Only now, it's taken on a new meaning.

Here's the thing.  I will always be happy when someone is fortunate enough to get pregnant because it's the most magical thing in the universe that can happen.  I will always be sad that my baby, my first born, the baby I felt kick and move and live and breathe inside of me never got the chance to live the life I feel she was meant to live.  Rock...hard place...me.

I feel that people do not know what to say to me.  Do they tell me a mutual friend is pregnant?  Do they mention milestones their children are having?  Will she crack? At work the other day, someone was talking about his wife and how she was due any day.  I started to squirm at my desk.  I did not want to hear any of it!  It brought back so many memories of me, right before I was due.  But then I realized that I did not want them to whisper so that I would not hear or worse, not talk at all for the fear that I might hear.  Rock...hard place...me.

Here's another thing...there is nothing anyone can say or do to me that is worse than the pain of losing our daughter.  Nothing. 

I am not sure where I fall in this limbo space that I am in, but rest assured that as soon as I know, I will let you know.  In the meantime, I will struggle with where I belong and how I feel and if I am closer to the rock, the hard place, or a whole new place entirely.  I am fortunate to have my very own group of "Friends" to help me figure it out...or at least be by my side while I try my best to do just that.  


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Ownership

This past weekend, I had the joy of heading to Virginia, as I do every September, to celebrate the birthday of one of my college roommates and very close friends.  I go visit every year - sometimes a little early in the month if her birthday falls on one of the Jewish holidays and sometimes a little later in the month if my nephew is having a birthday party as they share the same date.  This year I was able to be there on her actual birthday and her sister drove in from Pittsburgh and it was a real treat.  We figured it had probably been about 10 years since our visits collided like they did and all 3 of us had a lot of catching up to do!

The main event of our weekend was the 2012 Book Festival hosted by the Library of Congress.  It was a gorgeous day and we were excited to head over to check it out.  Right in the shadow of the Washington Monument, there were tents and speakers and the grounds were simply buzzing.

One of the keynote speakers was an author by the name of Lisa Scottoline.  She is from the Philadelphia area and I recognized her name right away and wanted to be sure we heard her speak.  I have read a few of her mystery thrillers and always enjoyed them.  I knew she also had a column in a major Philadelphia newspaper that my mom sometimes clipped out for me to read.  What I did not know is that she has an adult daughter who is also a writer and whom she also collaborates with - quite often in fact.

Ms. Scottoline spoke for close to a half hour on a variety of topics such as where she gets her inspiration, what inspires her to work, why she left a career as a lawyer to become a writer and much more.  She is a single mother and she and her daughter have always been very close.  She addressed that relationship.

I did not take notes so I can't do her speech justice, but her words have echoed in my mind since I heard them yesterday.  She came to terms with her daughter growing up and having a life of her own by acknowledging that she was not "letting her daughter go" but acknowledging that she never "had her" in the first place.  Her daughter was a privilege and a blessing, sure...but not something she ever "owned" and had to thus "let go".  

Sitting there under the big tent with one of my closest friends by my side, my eyes started to fill up.  Wow.  How true are those words??  People are not possessions.  That is not news.  But to hear it in the context of an adult mother and daughter that need to know boundaries in order to be the friends that they are and to share the same profession, it seemed different to me.  Same message, I guess, just different packaging. 

I never "owned" my daughter so it seems bizarre to think I am "holding onto her" or "letting her go".  I want to just learn to "be" with her in my heart and in my soul and I do and she is.

The rest of the weekend was spent in a haze of laughter and wine and cupcakes and fun and it was a weekend I will not soon forget.  I laughed so hard that I had tears.  I like the happy tears so much more than the sad tears. I like being reminded that there are still things to laugh about and people to laugh with.  And if you add in just a little bit of culture like attending a Book Fair, look how much you can expand your mind.  Not a bad way to spend the first day of Fall.  Not a bad way to spend any time at all!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fear

Growing up with two younger brothers, bodily functions seems to be a focal point of many of our conversations.  It was never planned, but it almost always just happened.  I can't say it made my mom very proud, but it made us laugh so hard that we really did not care.

As grown ups, you would think we would have outgrown such talk.  We have not.  Often at a family gathering, the talk will turn to something "colorful" and the people around us will cringe.  Or our mom will say something to us.  Or Gary will roll his eyes.  This behavior just encourages my brothers and me.  Somewhere in the back of mind mind, I do realize that this topic is not a very lady like thing to discuss.  Sigh.

The first holiday season that Gary and I were together was a happy one.  I think Hanukkah and Christmas were close to each other that year so there was lots of celebrating with both sides of our families.  It was my first holiday season with someone really special in as long as I could remember and I wanted it to be just right.  And it was.  We were that goofy hand-holding couple making lists of what we wanted from each other and being giddy that we had someone amazing in our lives.

One night during Hanukkah, my mom made her famous meatloaf for us to enjoy.  And enjoy it we did!  She has been making her famous meatloaf since we were kids and we all love it and request it whenever we get together.  Sometimes after the meal, we went back to Gary's apartment and probably watched a movie or something.  That part I do not recall.  What I do recall is having an upset belly after eating too much meatloaf and excusing myself to go to the bathroom.  And then it happened.  The toilet would not flush.  I reached down for a plunger only to discover there was not one there. I started to sweat...OH MY GOD!  What do I do?  This is my biggest fear realized!!!

I wiped the tears away, took a few deep breaths and walked out into the living room.  I was scared and shaking and in a timid voice, I asked Gary if he knew what my #1 fear was.  He did not.  I then explained my fear of having a toilet not flush and needing a plunger in a home that was not my own.  His reply?  "I do not own a plunger."

I now had a new #1 fear. 

It's bad enough to have this "situation" happen at home, but there I was at my boyfriend's place in the midst of the most romantic season I had ever encountered and I had no way to make the problem go away.  So at 10 pm on a cold Sunday night, we had to run to the local Walmart (it was the only store open) and buy a plunger.  I think we bought several.  I wanted to crawl into a hole and never leave.  Gary was great the whole time and was nothing but supportive.  We got home and fixed the problem and eventually laughed about it.  A lot.

I think about that night often and how scared and afraid I was of something so silly!  Something essentially out of my control.   I was scared that my boyfriend was not going to think I was feminine enough  I was scared that I would somehow push him away.  I was afraid of the incident being a major turn off.  I was so afraid of what he would think of me.  I knew my brothers would laugh and that anyone that knew me well would think it was hysterical, but would my new found love?

So why in the word am I rehashing that embarrassing story?  Well, my mind started to wander the other day about how afraid I am that this journey to conceive and how having another child may have more bumps along the way.  I am so scared of going through all the appointments and medicine and hope and not having a baby in the end.  I am so fearful that our dream to parent a child or children may not come true.  I worry that we may choose adoption and then have to "compete" against other couples who want nothing more than to parent a child.  I am aware that some of my fears are not even rational, but that's what fear is sometimes.

I wrote last week about losing hope and I think so much of that is just plain fear.  Fear can cripple you, if you let it. Many people don't fly because they are afraid.  Or don't like bridges because they are afraid of heights.  Fear is very real and all around us.

For me, the best way to cure my fear is to face it head on.  Look it in the face and and make it stand down.  So to my fear of infertility, I say back off!  I am not afraid of you.  To my fear of never parenting a living child, stand down!  I will watch Gary play catch with our boy or dance with our little girl...I know I will.  I will know a whole new realm of fear when there is a baby that needs us to make his or her world whole.

So I stand by, tall and mighty.  I stand up to fear.  Many fight battles with a shield or a sword, but I think I will do it my way - with a plunger in my hand. That will show my fear!  All kidding aside, it does not matter how I do it, just that I do.  I know that I will conquer it.  I just have to remind myself every once and a while that I can.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hope (or lack thereof)

It came out of my mouth before I realized that I felt that way.  I am losing hope. 

I looked at him and asked if he felt the same way.  He nodded sadly.

There is nothing like the grief of losing a child.  Nothing.  We are not supposed to bury our children.  Period.  But there is a different kind of grief when the journey to have another child proves to be a more bumpy road that you had anticipated.  It's frustrating and sad and consuming.

We try to focus on the good and there is so much good!  But at the end of the day, we are still coming home to a quiet house with no baby.

I bought these stones a few months back and sometimes just hold them in my hand trying to be mindful of their message.  I use them as a talisman to calm and center me.  It often works.

Sometimes I feel like I am losing my connection with my daughter.  The longer she is not here, the less I feel her.  The time I should be spending on her, I spend on hoping for a sibling for her.  

I feel robbed of all the times we did not get to share together.  The longer she is gone, the more that comes into focus.  In the beginning, I was so intent on having another baby so that I could see Allie in that baby.  I could hold her brother or sister and feel her spirit from within.  But there is no baby.  So instead, I close my eyes and picture what might have been...what should have been. And I find myself grieving for the child we lost as well as the child we have not been able to have since.

The nursery was converted back into a guest room.  Most of the time, that's all it is to me.  Sometimes, though, late at night, I wander in there and look at my daughter's hand prints and foot prints that hang on the wall and I have tears on my face before I even process why.  How in the world did I get here?

And that is when I realize that uttering it out loud was speaking the truth.  I have been losing hope.   I am on a mission now to get it back.  To look at the glass as half full.  To hope that we might just get our rainbow after all. 

I said to Gary on our way home last night, "Wouldn't it be nice if there was a baby just dropped off our on doorstep?"  His reply?  "No, we are not even home right now!"  It made us laugh.  And we need to still be able to laugh.

So what is my hope?  To parent a child with my husband.  We can have that dream.  But not without hope.  I guess I just need to be reminded of that every once a while.  I think I got it now...

Vacation or Relocation?

I love a good vacation. Always have. I love the planning and the anticipation and the experience of discovering someplace new.  Once ...