Alas…

I still have a mild panic attack every time someone posts on a forum about finding a strong heartbeat or two at seven weeks. Every seven-week ultrasound I’ve ever had (two so far) has been crushing news. One was a malformed sac (after I already lost the first twin as a blighted ovum). The other was a big beautiful sac without the right stuff in it — another blighted ovum.

That’s my entire history of pregnancy over the past four years.

Breathe. Breathe.

Maybe some day it won’t be like that. But God knows one thing I’ll never know in my life is a carefree pregnancy. Even if I ever do see two lines again, I’m going to be a wreck.

Breathe. Breathe.

Feelin’ Groovy

I’m going to buck my usual trend and write when I’m feeling good. The weather is freakishly gorgeous, with the trees all blooming in late February (and a lot of those blooms still hanging on), I’m making a huge Thai chicken salad to take to a friend’s house, and she and her husband have a delightful daughter named Ivy who’s just kind of on my space cadet wavelength — and she has Girl Scout cookies, some of which will soon be mine.

I’m editing a thriller about a war between Israel and Iran and can hardly believe I’m being paid to do it. My husband is loving his new job and bursting with ideas for the future. I’m getting very close to finishing my novel and feeling pretty good about it. The feedback I’ve gotten about it so far has been encouraging.

And I gotta admit, much as I’d rather be growing a baby, I’m pretty stoked to start up the spring soccer season and get to play pickup games in the park and full-field games with my rec team.

Oh, and I’m eating ripe blackberries.

I take a walk along the river almost every night — have ever since we moved to Tulsa three years ago — and there’s always been something bittersweet about it, because I keep thinking, “Next year I’ll be pushing a stroller on this walk.” And every year I’m wrong. I keep thinking, “In three years, my toddler is going to be asking me questions about the birds and the moon.” But that magical date just keeps getting pushed off and pushed off.

I want to share that walk with someone. And not just anyone. Someone innocent, someone who’s family, someone who belongs to me. Not in an ownership kind of way, but in a “We’re joined forever” kind of way.

And it’s hard not to feel impatient when something so incredible seems to recede into the horizon, disappear into smoke, year after year after year.

But I finally just recently started to find a little bit of chill about that. Not in a “giving up” kind of way, but in a “This is my life and my kids will come when they come, probably sooner than later” kind of way. I might not be quite as young and pretty and vital as I hoped I would be when it happens, and we might end up with fewer years together than I would choose, if I had a choice. And that’s something to mourn — and then move on from.

Anyway, somehow I don’t feel quite so beaten by this. For the moment anyway, it’s not quite a constant pain. It’s in the back of my mind. It’s a thing. But life is good, and there’s every reason to hope things may actually be even better if I can just hold out another year or two.

And there is a lot to enjoy in the meantime, if I can just remember, and not spend too much time focusing on what’s missing, even if it is the “main dish” (as my husband put it).

(Of course, I teased him and said, “Hey, I thought I was the main dish.” He started to sputter and backpedal a bit, and I laughed and said, “Just kidding. I know exactly what you mean.”)

So here’s (still, and not quite as miserably) hoping.

P.S. A writer on another blog put it very simply: Some of us just have to work harder to build our families than others.

I commented:

That’s a great way to think of it. Math comes easily to me. This doesn’t. Those are just the breaks. Not everyone can be good at everything. It’s not a judgment or a punishment. It just happens sometimes.

Here’s to laboring toward our children in more ways than one and ending up joined forever to the perfect little beings, whom we will never take for granted for a moment.

Grace

It occurs to me that I mainly tend to write posts here when things are going wrong and I’m feeling low. It’s a coping mechanism that “vomits” out the bad feelings so I can get back to feeling all right a bit quicker. Then when I feel pretty good again, I usually don’t feel like writing anymore, just enjoying life.

So these habits probably end up giving a skewed idea of my average mental state.

For the record, when I’m in a hole, I usually know, deep down, that I will get out of it, one way or another. I’ll scrabble back onto solid ground before too long and keep on truckin’ toward the promised land. Sometimes the hole is deeper than others, and sometimes it takes longer than others, but by now I know it’s a process. I’ve developed all kinds of coping mechanisms, and one of them is throwing little tantrums on the relatively anonymous space of the internet. (I don’t share this blog with almost anyone from my “real” life. Most of those suckas don’t get it — just like I didn’t get it until I was in it — and thank God for them they never will.)

Also for the record, when I’m in a hole and vomiting rage, I usually don’t want advice. I don’t want to be told everything will work out in the end, because no one knows that. And I sure as hell don’t want to be told that I should just calm down, because this is a marathon, not a sprint, and there are no guarantees. (Yeah, someone from a forum that should know better laid that one on me recently.)

Believe me, after four years, I am very well aware that there are no guarantees (and that this ain’t a sprint), and I’ve already been given every kind of advice you can imagine — some asked for, some good, mostly ill-informed and idiotic. Fellow sufferers of this scourge usually give better advice, but it’s rarely news to me.

I know I don’t have any right to demand things from the people who are kind enough to read and comment on my blog. I guess this is more like my own advice (ha) when dealing with anyone who’s in a deep hole, especially someone who’s been in many deep holes before, especially on an ongoing basis for years at a time.

What those people want, in my experience, is to be seen, even for a moment. What they want is for someone — ideally someone who’s gone through something similar, but not necessarily — to sit with them for half a second and acknowledge that what they are going through is really hard, and they aren’t crazy to feel crazy sometimes. The world is crazy sometimes. It’s goddamned mean sometimes. And when you feel deeply wounded, a part of you goes back to a more childlike state, I think. And what do children want when they are hurting? They don’t want advice! They don’t even want a band-aid, at least not right away. They want a hug.

Once that is done, then perhaps a piece of gentle advice, a book of wisdom (someone gave me The Prophet by Khalil Gibran when I was having  a really tough time, and it helped), or a more positive / probable vision of the future than the doom and gloom in someone’s mind might be in order.

But advice without empathy feels like a slap in the face. Like, “Oh, your problem is easy to solve. Next.” Like, “What are you blubbering about? Just fix it!” It’s deeply alienating.

I know that is not intended, and God knows I’ve done it myself in the past. It’s funny that such a natural human response — “If you have a problem, here’s a way to address it” — is so inappropriate sometimes. Hell, if we were more rational creatures, it would be the best response. (Unless the advice is blithe dumbassery, as it often is with this particular issue.) But we are not rational creatures, at least not as much as we like to think we are. We carry scars, wounds, expectations, beliefs, narratives. And when those are poked at or violated, we feel defensive and frightened. We want a warm hand on our back, not (just) words casually thrown into our hole from the cozier world up above.

And honestly, I think most people feel that way when they are really hurting, whatever the cause.

Now, on to the next question: Shouldn’t I have learned a little bit more grace by now? Knowing all of this is a process, knowing there are no guarantees, knowing the future is usually brighter than we imagine in our dark fears, should I still be falling into holes and throwing internet tantrums after all this time?

There are many things to unpack with regard to this question.

First, actually, the future isn’t always brighter than we imagine in our dark fears. I could never have imagined it taking us more than four years and draining every drop of our savings to have our first child. It was the stuff of nightmares. And for all I know, it might take four more years. It might put us deeply into debt. It might never happen.

Meanwhile, everyone in our life is getting older as the years wear on. Some have already died, and more may die and never get to meet our kids. Hell, one of us might die before we ever have kids. These are real possibilities, and every time there’s a setback, these possibilities loom yet larger. How can your heart not quake in the face of that?

(I guess we all have to deal with mortality in general in our own ways. But when it comes to thinking of my children growing up without X or Y, it somehow makes it that much more visceral and sad.)

Their cousins and the children of our friends are also getting older, so our kid(s), even if born right now, are already aged out of what should be their cousin / friend’s kids cohort. The oldest is in college and the youngest is about to start walking. One was born just before our wedding, and she’s almost four now. She and our kid(s) should have been playmates! Now we’ll be lucky if there’s a five-year gap between them.

OK, but that’s just a subset of life being unpredictable and sometimes cruelly random, which is something adults just have to learn to deal with. And who knows, maybe when they are born they’ll be the babies, the darlings, doted on by adoring older cousins. (My youngest cousin was kind of like this, but he also wasn’t as close to us as the rest of us were.) Maybe by being born a bit later, they’ll see more of the world’s story and maybe be present at just the right time in history to make a difference. Maybe whoever end up being their age-mates will be just the right ones.

I guess speculation can go both ways.

But back to the main point: We are adults. We’ve had enough scraped knees by now, heard enough advice, read enough books, been through enough that maybe this shouldn’t be as hard as it is. Part of growing up is learning to have perspective. I’ve lived in Palestine under military occupation. I’ve seen how bad the world can get. And believe me, I count my blessings in a million ways.

But at the same time, I’ve known so many parents who would give up EVERYTHING for their children. Who love their children more than life. Whose well-raised children are such a joy, such a comfort even in times of loss or tragedy. Who risk their lives to get their children out of bad situations. And I feel like I’m perpetually on the ouside looking in at this miraculous and yet totally fundamental human experience. It makes me feel like a huge piece of my heart and soul is missing, all the time. I never could have understood what this felt like until I felt it.

But is raging on the internet really the best way to deal with that? Shouldn’t I sit in quiet contemplation, or do something good for someone else, or drink some wine, or get a hobby?

Well, first of all, I’VE DONE ALL THOSE THINGS. Multiple times. For years. Yet my emotions still sometimes get the better of me.

OK, so when that happens, should I keep it to myself? Maintain at least some level of dignity and decorum?

Here’s the thing: I didn’t get a lot of emotional support growing up. When I was hurting, basically no one cared, or they just didn’t know what to do about it. To be fair, I wasn’t good at communicating my feelings, either. Sometimes I sulked, occasionally I blew up, but mainly I just pretended like nothing was wrong. Swallowed my feelings. Tried to maintain at least some level of dignity and decorum.

So there’s a part of me that revels in the fact that finally, after all these years, when I’m hurting, I finally have a place to spew those feelings, and sometimes even get a comforting hand from people who’ve been through similar things. It’s not pretty, it’s not always dignified, but it’s honest.

And yes, I’m working on not letting myself get into such deep holes in the first place. But that’s a process, too. A meta-process. And I think all my emotion-swallowing when I was younger contributed to how hard things are now. So it’s a whole lifelong thing I’m dealing with, and going through reproductive issues has been a masterclass in learning to deal with hard shit.

And for the most part I’m doing OK. But this shit is hard.

I thank you all for being there for the times when it beats me down a little.

Well, Crap

Turns out it was pointless to get my beta drawn today, because I was just informed the earliest I can possibly transfer will be in May because they are moving the clinic in April from Davis to Sacramento [EDIT: not San Diego, sorry, brain fart!] and they’ve already matched everyone up between now and the move. That would have been nice to know before I wasted my time and money.

So, no 2017 baby for me. And here I had my hopes all up since my cycle started early.

Joke’s on me.

Every year — every damn six months, actually — I think, “This is the rec soccer season when I’ll finally be sitting out, cheering my team from the sidelines, watching my belly grow. This is the spring / fall when I’ll have to give up soccer, but something truly magical will happen.”

And each season, I just end up playing soccer again.

It’s fun.

But it ain’t a baby.

I know one more delay doesn’t seem like it should be that big a deal in the scheme of things. But 2017 was always my “worst case scenario” year. Seventeen is my lucky number, so I always thought, “If this bullshit takes four years — as if that will happen! — at least I’ll give birth in my lucky number year. That’ll be kinda cool.”

And now I’ve even been robbed of that. It just feels like this is never going to end. Seriously, at this point it seems like something magical, something fantastical. People don’t really grow babies in their bellies, do they? It’s just a story they tell, like Santa Claus. I’m chasing a chimera.

It’s like if Charlie Brown finally figured out that Lucy was always going to pull the football out from under him every single time, and yet he had no choice but to keep going for that football.

And I was doing so good there for a while there, too.

Beta Beta Beta, Can I hate ya, hate ya, hate ya?

It’s funny because we’re old… 😛

My BBT was quite low this morning, so I seriously doubt it’s a miracle pregnancy, even though I’ve been having plenty of phantom symptoms. Still, I have to get a beta drawn to make sure it’s under the seemingly arbitrary level of 10 so I can start BCPs and get started on my next cycle. It was 14 on Friday, and the half-life should be around four days, so I should be made in the shade. But my stomach is always in knots before a beta test.

Wish me luck. Will update.

Buying wine on the way home to open when I get the results.

UPDATE: Opening the wine now, because wine. No beta results yet. But I got a new bread knife, which we’ve been needing for two years, ever since our storage unit got robbed while we were in Turkey doing useless rounds of IVF. We can cut bagels again without cursing. Yay.

UPDATE 2: Beta result is 6. Just waiting for CC to call and confirm that I should start BCP today. Onward and upward.

Weirdness

On Sunday I did a half-day meditation retreat (sesshin), which included two hours of sitting meditation and half an hour of walking meditation. It was lovely, and I was feeling so chill afterwards, like everything was happening just as it was meant to happen, and everything would be all right. It didn’t hurt that the view out of the window that happened to fall in front of me while meditating had a view of a tree blooming white silhouetted against a towering pine tree and the deep blue sky.

It was 6 or 7 days past ovulation (according to OPKs), and that evening I started spotting brown. Of course a little part of me hoped it was implantation spotting — after all, we are “trying naturally” while we have a “free” cycle, as much of a longshot as it is. Why not?

The next day there was a small spurt of red blood, and since then I’ve been cramping, and there’s been a steady but very light stream of stringy maroon. It’s only 22 days since the miscarriage, so I seriously doubt this is my period, though that’s what it feels like with the cramping. But it’s not like what most people describe as implantation bleeding, either.

I have no idea what the hell it is. I mean, should I start my birth control pills for the next cycle? I don’t think so, because I really don’t think this is my period, and it’s highly unlikely it’s implantation bleeding. Maybe it’s just the miscarriage kind of cranking back up again, expelling some little leftover?

Hell if I know.

Our bodies are so strange sometimes.

UPDATE: It’s heavier now and redder (on Wednesday, day 4 since it started). Gonna go ahead and call this an early period, and hopefully get an ultrasound to make sure the lining is nice and thin and then get started on the next cycle!

In other news, it’s my sweet husband’s birthday today. 34 years old. (At 37, I feel like a bit of a cradle robber sometimes. He’s younger than my little sister! lol)

I baked him a chocolate chocolate chip cake with chocolate marshmallow frosting and coffee nut M&Ms for decoration. The boy likes his chocolate. ❤ Can’t wait to be a mom and get to treat kids on their birthdays, too!

cake.JPG

Chapter One

Here is a link to the first chapter of my novel, which is rapidly nearing completion.

Spoiler alert: it starts with a coral reef and ends with vomiting…

Chapters 2 and 3 are also available to anyone who wants to read them. Just comment or email me at pamolson at gmail dot com.

Thoughts and feedback are always appreciated. 🙂

The full novel should be ready for beta readers in about six weeks.