Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Look Behind

2010, you were not the banner year I had hoped you would be.

But hey, you certainly didn't suck as bad as 2009. So that's something.

This morning, I thought I would dig up my resolutions for this year and see where they stand. This could be affirming, or simply a masochistic exercise. Let's see, shall we?

I started 2010 with the admission that:
there are things that have nothing to do with will, will power or even desire. There are some things that are completely out of one's control. And for a classic type A, honor student, overachiever, that lesson is a damn hard one to learn.
And a lesson that 2010 has continued to pound into my thick skull. You see, this time last year, I was secretly giddy with the idea that a baby just might be a possibility in 2010. As you know, that just wasn't so.

In 2010 we explored gestational carriers, set off on another FET cycle (which we canceled) and came to the realization that we were tired, really tired of spending 100% of our emotional and physical energy on baby-making.

I can sense that some people (mostly those who have no clue as to what any of this entails) are disappointed that it seems like our family building is on hold. But you would make such GREAT parents.....

Uh, yeah. No fucking shit.

Others (employers) seem relieved.

Here's the thing: I am just not in a baby-at-any-cost frame of mind. I am not there. And I don't think M is either. I think there are some things we each need to do to get our heads right before we can jump into all of this again.

I know this because someone (who I love) asked me at a cocktail party recently if I wanted to meet her gynecologist who also happened to be there "because he knows some people who want to be surrogates." And I wanted to scream. Up until that moment, I was feeling fabulous, sexy even, sipping on a carefully made dirty martini, shmoozing, making small talk, laughing, you know, acting HUMAN. And in that flash of an instant, everything I didn't have and everything I would have to do to get it came flooding into my mind and just wouldn't go away. So much for the party. So much for me as functional conversationalist.


If we are to be parents, there are now 2 options that are left for us: using a gestational carrier, or adoption. We aren't there with adoption yet. We are more connected to the idea of a GC. Because we have some gorgeous blastocysts on ice and we may have a potential GC who is a family member. But there are still hurdles (note the several conditionals in that previous sentence). Still obstacles to face. Still many, many things that could go awry. I'm not sure if 2011 will be the year for all of this. I'm not holding my breath. But knowing there is a shred of hope in the air, well, sometimes that's enough to keep from losing it altogether.


So, back to the resolutions. In 2010 I said my goals were:

To have a body I am proud of.
I mentioned 30 lbs as an ideal shed, but recognized that wasn't a terribly realistic goal. Well, how about 16? That's not so shabby, hey? 2010 was the year I emerged as oh my gosh, do I say it? a Runner? This was verified by the fact that I received a subscription to Runners World from my in laws for Xmas. I now have 5 race tags hanging from my bulletin board, a PR of 30:52 for a 5K and my sights set on a half marathon in June. M and I have been doing the vegan thing for almost 2 months now...I'm giving myself a +1 for this resolution.

To continue the process of healing.
We started seeing a therapist late in 2009 and while that was helpful for a while, after a few sessions it felt like she had helped us as much as she could. We chose to say farewell and for a while, swam through our sea of grief solo. We didn't drown, but we weren't going anywhere either. A few months ago, actually before we set off on the canceled cycle, we started to see a new acupuncturist. First me, then M. Now we are hooked. She fits us well.

Somehow, acupuncture feels more proactive than therapy. You bitch, you cry, then someone feels your pulses and pokes you with pointy things. It is cathartic. And the fact that we had some cash in my FSA that we had to use or lose has meant that we have each been getting our acu fix almost weekly. Those glory days are counting down, but we will definitely continue this process and this practice into 2011.

I don't think healing ever stops, just as missing Isobel and Jovita will never not be a part of our days, but looking back on my blog for this year, I think I can see some progression. As our acupuncturist would say, these pulses are not the same as the ones that arrived here months ago. I don't know what that means but I think it is sufficient to get another +1 for this resolution.

To be happy with the thing I do to make money and
To start acting like the director I know I should be.
I am definitely feeling better about things than I had been. After months of studying, I took my CAE (certified association executive) exam earlier this month. After months of thinking about it, I put my name in for a pretty significant political position in my field. I doubt I will get this specific job, but I like the fact that just putting my name out there has been met with first surprise and then support by my peers. I think it might help them see me a little differently in the future - not as a second-in-command-who-might-be-in-charge-someday, but as a someone-who-could-do-this-and-do-this-well-right-now. I'm pretty jazzed that I actually did some pro-active and scary things to get a +1 here.

Now for the hard ones....

To show more patience and compassion - to hear the words that were meant, not necessarily the ones that were said.
Ok, I think I have gotten much better at this, but I still have a ways to go. Case in point: the person who asked us if we were ever going to "try again" the other night almost got a tongue lashing from me. What the @#$# do you think we've been doing, @#$#@#?!?! Strong thigh squeezes from M. were the only things that saved that dude. Another case in point: the martini/surro instance I referenced above - I am sure what was meant was, there is someone here that I know that I think could help you. What I heard was, let me interrupt your awesome night to make you feel like shit. And both of these instances took me at least a few days to pull out of the funk so....hmmm. Can we call this one even?

To pay attention to friends and their needs, not just how they respond to mine.
This is hard to self-judge. I shall await feedback from IRL pals. No need to leave it in the comments section if its scathing.

To minimize envy.
Well, we can't be perfect, can we? I've been struggling a LOT with this one. Note Thanksgiving, Xmas, M's boss who is being induced right now....I am having a very, very hard time stopping the ouch in my heart with the new pregnancies, birth announcements, babies everywhere. I am fairly certain M is there too. Everything is theoretical until the belly is in your face, the cries in your ears. Mostly it is the happy anticipation, the wonder, the joy, and the fact that we missed out on all of that. Sigh. I'm sounding bitter so I'll stop.

Clearly, a -1 here.


So, all in all. 2010, I shall not curse you. You helped us move a little closer to functional human beings, took us a little further down our career paths. Hopefully, you are putting in a good word for us with your pal 2011.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Because that's what winter's for, right?

I'm a little envious of you who are knee-deep in snow right now. Despite all the hoo-haa, we in my little burg got a whole lot of nothing. Just cold. And wind. What fun is that without snow?

We've been laying low. not as low as Thanksgiving where we dodged any and all stressy family scenarios claiming mental wellness needs, but pretty low nonetheless. Xmas was good - as good as it could get. Which means, despite my days of anxiety leading up to it, it wasn't that bad at all.

it could be better
but it's good enough

That's a fortune cookie fortune that I received ages ago. I can't remember where or when. I'm not even sure if it was pre or post I and J. But something about it struck me. It's stuck on the bulletin board in my home office. I look at it a lot, and depending on the day, I love it. I hate it. Sometimes both. Today it just feels like the truth.


Xmas Eve was with my side of the family: mom, dad, aunt, (very pregnant) cousin, her new husband, brother, brother's girlfriend, yippy dog and me and dutiful M. I feared I wouldn't be able to manage the unwrapping of what I was sure to be mountains of adorable baby girl things. If those things were in the house, they were graciously kept under the tree to be unwrapped in the am. (thank you)

Most of the evening was actually spent with me and M explaining that yes, there are many, many things that vegans can eat, just not a single thing on the butter-drenched table. (don't cry for us - M and I expected as much and feasted on nice wine, gourmet gnocchi and some homemade sauce before we got there.) So, with a fresh bottle of red in hand, we got through dinner just fine.

M. was annoyed at presents from my parents. My brother and I were unsympathetic since, well, this is our lives. To expect that what you unwrap has anything remotely to do with you or that there was any thought put into whether or not you might like/use/know what it is - those are luxuries for other families, not ours. So, I took over unwrapping duties and smiled widely at our snuggie blanket and flannel pj bottom M would never ever EVER be caught dead in, said thank you, moved on. And to be frank, we received far more than I ever expected. My brother and I concur, it was one of the better gift-getting years. M doesn't know what he's talking about.

I was pleasantly surprised by my dad's humor, aggravated by mom's pained silence. She seems to be pissed at all of us (meaning, me, bro, M and dad) but none of us can figure out why. Can't be bothered to waste my font on this right now.

Xmas day was spent at our place. M's parents showed up with the poodles and surprise delights from a new vegan-friendly restaurant down the road. I made pierogi, tried some new recipes (roasted yellow split pea and rosemary dip? stuffed cherry peppers with pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes? damn. good.) and we ate, and ate and ate all day.

Gift giving. Gift receiving: I am not sure which stresses M out the most. They could be equal. But the moment of unwrapping - that moment so many of us enjoy - he absolutely dreads. And doesn't do a terribly good job of faking it. But he tries. He worries if people will like what he's got them. He stresses over how much someone has spent on him, especially if its something he isn't sure he will you can see, its all pretty stressful. So, the day was good, but I was fairly certain he would unravel at some point.

And....he did. right after he tripped and took a nasty fall taking and armful of presents and puppies out to his parents' car. It just takes an event, one bruise, one loose thread to set the Sad in motion.

But it wasn't so bad. We stopped. We talked. We admitted, presents be damned, who wants any of it when what you want isn't here? Surrounded by so much excess, the absence, man, it hurt. It hurts.

So, we did a shot, grabbed a blanket, went to the couch and hugged. He found a new game on the PS3 to numb his mind. I busied myself with new cookbooks. But mostly, we just sat quietly in each others' presence, because we didn't want to be apart.

And really, that's not so bad.

Yesterday was the final round of our Xmas weekend. Closing off festivities with my brother, his girlfriend and their cast of characters at his house. Gifts ranged from ridiculous (shake weights!) to ridiculous-er (blow-up doll!) and dear sweet baby Jesus please do not let me tagged in any of those photos in FB. I am merely an observer. I swear.

So, we made it. Xmas 2010. Over. In the books. Done! Now to the real goodness, a few days of sleeping in, working from home when the mood strikes, catching up on emails and other pieces of life that are hard to fit into normal days, like um, blogging.

I hope you all had a peaceful holiday, can enjoy some days off and are looking forward to 2011. I so am.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Right Now In This Moment

Two years ago they were here. Today, they are not.

I've written several blog posts for today in my head. Some while walking quietly, others in the dead of night when rage and helplessness overcame me and kept me from sleeping. None really fit where I am right now. Right now as in "right now this moment." Because I've learned that's all you can really count on.

Right now this moment, I am missing I. and J. but that is really no different than any other day. I can't find a way to memorialize this day in a way that is significant to us, because their births and deaths are on constant rotation in my brain. That is a film that never stops. I am trying to train my brain not to get upset when my parents don't remember. Like our new acupuncturist says, "you cannot demand apples from an orange tree." But I can be humbled by the emails, texts and notes we continue to get from friends who do. Thank you. For everything.

We have nothing specific planned for today. Other than being together in quiet remembrance. Like we are just about every other day. I may take a solo run to the trees. I will decorate the live Xmas tree we picked out last night. M. actually just left the apartment to go to a four-hour training for his new volunteer gig. At the ER. He's scared sh*tless. I am amazingly proud. There's more to this than this. But that's a post for another day.

Right now in this moment, I am not sure where we are in our quest to make a family. As you know, plans for a gestational carrier fell through (twice) for reasons well beyond the control of us or the two women who graciously offered. There may be a possibility for the future. But it is just that. A possibility. In the future. No time soon.

But that's ok.

Right now in this moment, I am feeling ok with my life. I think M. is feeling better about his. I was able to lose sleep this week for reasons other than replaying the 72 hours in the hospital in my head. Although, of course, when stress and anxiety hit you from other angles, those images seem to seep in seamlessly to keep it going.

Since our last canceled cycle, the one that we canceled in October, it feels like we've regained just a little bit of control over our own lives. We've each lost about a dozen pounds. I've ran in two 5K's - including one on Thanksgiving day in the sleet (what?!?!). Friday, I sat for a four-hour exam that may give me a little more cred in my profession and some capital letters after my name. This week, I was asked to join two Boards of Directors - one for a professional society that I belong to, another for a political cause that I am passionate about. One invitation I was kind of hoping for, the other came as a complete surprise. M just finished an online refresher course and is putting things in place for some applications of his own.

So what am I trying to say? Right now in this moment, this one right here, I am feeling like we are finally at a point where the Sad is not all-consuming. Where the memory of Isa and Jovi doesn't feel like a hairshirt. Where our inability to conceive now on our own doesn't feel like the end of the world. There is more to the world than this. We are human beings. We have suffered tremendous loss. But what now. What now? It's up to us to ensure that our loss is not the end of the story.

Right now in this moment, I am feeling hopeful, and that hope doesn't center around whether or not there will be a child in our near future. Maybe it will. But maybe it won't. I am a little melancholy. Pretty wistful. I'm only human, right? I wish my daughters were here. But I am I am feeling love, and feeling loved. And I am hoping that gets us through the day.