Sunday, January 17, 2010


Two weeks without a post makes me feel like I am avoiding something. Walking around an obvious elephant. So I am going to start typing until me and the pachyderm collide.

I started dismantling the Xmas tree yesterday afternoon and that makes me a little sad. Neither M nor I are "yay! Christmas!" kind of people, but the tree has always been our favorite part, particularly when we started to see it as a visual reminder that "life endures, and longer, warmer, better days are inevitably ahead."

Part of me wants to shed the tree, wipe clean any remnant of 2009 and move forward full on into the new year. Which, by the way, I have already decided is the "Year of m." But part of me seems physically unable to close the lids, pull down the lights and wrap tissue paper around the girls' ornaments.

That part of me realized yesterday that in a parallel world, they would be here, and we would soon be getting ready for their first birthday. Two girls. Two daughters. Soon turning one.


I hate those realizations. The ones that smack you in the head like a loose wet branch as you walk along, one foot in front of the other, face down, instead of looking forward, like you should be. Like I should be.

Because there is so, so much promise in this new year, I can barely stand to talk about it for fear of jinxing a single thing.

My mom asked me "what's new" yesterday afternoon and I filled that conversation with little things, walking around the big things a'brewing. Each for a number of reasons. But even the "filler" (better times at my job, finding a therapist that feels like a good fit for me and M. - and actually going - showing off the scabs on my knuckles from hitting the heavy bag) got her (and then me) excited.

Long story short, I think 2010 is going to be an eventful year. I am willing it so.

But if there is one thing this adventure has taught us, 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.

But there are other things that are completely and totally within my power. So while we wait for other things to come into place, there is time to focus on those resolutions:

M and I have been hitting the gym at least 3 times a week and exercising a little more restraint with the evening beverages. Fried food has been eliminated. Consumption of meat at a minimum and only when we know where it came from (i.e. from our favorite butcher). Ideally 30 lbs. would be shed this year. But that's not really the goal. The goal is to have a body I am proud of.

I've mentioned our therapist a few times now, and while I don't see her being a permanent structure in our life, I do see her as very important for us right now. Our initial visit with her got us through the holiday season and set some big things in motion. So much so that we joked about being slightly apprehensive about the second one - what's going to happen next?? That visit left us thinking hard about relationships outside of our own that we are struggling with. We are still chewing on the conversation. We'll see where we take it. And we will continue to see her. For as long as it takes. Because we want to, we need to, continue the process of healing.

Had I written resolutions a few months ago, "to have a new job" probably would have topped the list. But after exploring some other options, having a "come to Jesus" meeting with my boss, and really thinking through what I want, what I want is to be happy with the thing I do to make money. I want to feel like my skills and education are fully utilized (and appreciated) and that there is motion and momentum in my career. So, to that end, I've decided to try to earn a CAE (certified association executive) this year, and to continue having honest conversations with my employer about things that I think could be different/better/improved. In short, I am going to start acting like the director I know I should be.

Now we get to the hard stuff. The goals that are harder to define, harder to measure, harder to do:
  • to show more patience and compassion - to hear the words that were meant, not necessarily the ones that were said.
  • to pay attention to friends and their needs, not just how they respond to mine.
  • to minimize envy.
And here's where the elephant punches me in the face with his wet sloppy trunk.

I was recalling my reunion and follow up phone call with my birth father to a friend of ours the other night and he sat quietly for a minute. And then said, "dude, did you say that shit out loud?" Yes. "Don't you think you were a little harsh?" Probably. "Well, what are you going to do next? Is this how it ends?" (crickets) I'm not sure. And I'm not. But it doesn't feel good where things are. So I think I need to think that through a little longer. I can't break into someone's life, fuck with his reality (oh that girl you never thought you would meet, well here she is and p.s. she doesn't really like you) and then disappear into the sunset. Some things need fixed here. Or at least mended. It seems we may have the topic for session #3 lined up.

And while we're there, I might confess what a heavy, heavy weight is on my heart when I think about a person I love that I am avoiding. Allegedly for my own self-preservation. She is pregnant. And joyful. And it is killing me. Like no other pregnancy before. She has never been anything other than supportive to us - in pregnancy, in sorrow, in trying to be joyful again. She loves us. I love her. But the thought of seeing her right now makes me shrivel and want to cry. So I dream of her. And I dream of telling her all the things I want to say in person. I contemplate giving her my maternity clothes, then weep at the thought of seeing her in them. I cannot imagine not having this person in my life, but I cannot cope with the emotions flooding me right now.

And this all feels so stereotypical and dramatic and I bet if I read this in another blog I would be rolling my eyes over it right the hell now. But all I know is this pregnancy is affecting me like no other, perhaps because the doors of any future possibility of my own are sealing so firmly shut. I know I am not being the friend I want to be right now. I know my avoidance is hurting me more than anyone else. I know that she is patiently respecting my absence and will probably not say a word until I initiate contact. But when will that be?

Monday, January 4, 2010

Where the Times Finally Get It Right

2009 must have been the year that traditional media sources (aka those that we wish would know better) realized the comment-making (aka revenue producing) machines that stories about infertility, loss, adoption and assisted reproduction techniques truly are.

2009 was the year I stopped taking the New York Times seriously:

Preemie Twins Cost a Lot of Money!
All Infertile Couples Are Octomoms Just Waiting To Happen!!!!
Surrogates Are Horrible People That Will Take Your Money and Keep Your Babies!

Not the actual headlines but they might as well have been. Rather than being all the news that's fit to print, these stories played off the basest of assumptions, perpetuated fears, cultural and class stereotypes and generated the comments and controversy that have editors (and sales reps salivating.)

Why don't these people Just Adopt?!
If G*d wanted you to have a baby, you would!
It's probably better you lost your baby - he/she was probably busted anyway...
Infertiles are bitter, selfish and far too sensitive! Get over yourselves!

That's enough. You know these far too well.

Sometimes you hear people with post traumatic stress disorder talk about triggers. Things, smells, instances, sometimes even thoughts that throw them back into the throes of the trauma that altered their lives.

These stories were my triggers. Heart-racing, tear-streaming, fist-shaking, immobilizing rage inducing triggers.

But damn if I don't love a good acrostic. And the crossword, well, this is what calms us. Doing the puzzles. Together. Every night. In bed. It is our life, our routine.

So the Times Magazine still finds itself in our bag as we wave goodbye to M's parents every Sunday.

This Sunday, I was shocked. Nearly knocked off my feet. Could it be? I do believe the Times finally got it right.

And I am guessing they have no idea.

There, on the last page of the Magazine, tucked away in the last paragraph of Robin Black's charming essay about being chosen for a home repair reality TV show (and then denied), lay the truth about loss:
How did this happen? Really? There were unanticipated losses, grief that enveloped us for years. A stillbirth. A beloved child with special needs. Challenges we never imagined we’d confront. None of it amusing. Nothing like a situation comedy. We’d let go of so many easy assumptions, and in the process we let other things go as well. Gradually, we adjusted, even became stronger. But the evidence of our faltering remained, the facade of our home stubbornly unable to mend itself.
The honesty and beauty of these words take my breath away and all I can say is, yes. Yes, I know what you mean.

Somehow, this little confession tucked away in a larger piece feels more real to me than the shouting headlines, the confrontation and aggression of the comments section. It is not obvious. If you blink you just might miss it. But it is there. And in retrospect, colors the entire story in a new shade.