Bluebird Down

The pursuit of domestic bliss, one glorious debacle at a time.

Enough. Enough now. January 19, 2015

It just recently happened that I put a name on emotions I’ve been feeling for the past few years. I slouched in the chair across from the man who taught me how to be a therapist and announced, “I think I’ve been grieving.” His response: “I know.”

Until I scrolled through my blog looking at past posts, I had no idea it has been three and a half years of grieving. Grief is funny like that.

In the Spring of 2011, Z came back after three years in Iraq. In the Summer of 2011, we found out that we couldn’t conceive our own baby. There were doctors and procedures and rolling waves of anticipation and disappointment. There were adoption seminars and background checks and financial wizardry. And there was a meltdown coming. I was on a mission and it took me too long to notice that Z was struggling to find his way back. Back to life at home. With me. With a kid that is already too much trouble.

2012 and 2013 weren’t good.

We at least had sense enough to know that you can’t bring a baby into that.

We fought for each other. We fought against each other. Foughtfoughtfought because it was uglyuglyugly. What wrung out after the sweat and exhaustion and anger was us, refortified.

And yet, I was sinking in the grief for the family that never was. There are two philosophies when it comes to therapy (well, there is more than two, but for the sake of simplicity…). There is the pro sports trainer version where you come to the sidelines with a sprained psyche, we wrap it up, give you some meds and send you back out into society to keep pushing. Then there is the deeper psychotherapy where you let the client come to their own realizations, in their own time, with your support. The first version is easier, but it doesn’t truly fix anything. The second version is more painful and you can sacrifice a chunk of your life to the greater good of your existence. That’s when you make the grand announcement and find out you were the only one that didn’t know.

In the midst, you have to live your life. You have to go to work, because the mortgage company doesn’t recognize existential crises. You have to make dinner. Do laundry. Be a wife, have friends, contribute to your community, when all you want is to be.left.alone.

I avoided babies. It’s embarrassing to admit now. I avoided babies like the plague. It wasn’t easy. While my ovaries were imploding, my friends’ reproductive organs were shooting off like fireworks. Why did I avoid your baby showers and first birthday parties? Because I didn’t want to be the weirdo crying in the corner. Trust me, it would have been uncomfortable for all.

I’m not even sure why I took it so hard. A blend of ego and mortality, for sure. Nothing like being told a major organ system has aged out to make you face your impending doom. And everyone was getting pregnant, why not me? What’s so wrong with me that the universe has decided to pass on me? How is it fair that I can’t have babies, but my job is still to sit down an 8th grader and explain to her that going to the doctor is kinda important when you are pregnant? Plus I really do think Z would have been a great dad. It’s my fault he doesn’t get that experience. Add guilt to ego and mortality, with a heavy dose of emotional exhaustion.

There’s not a good answer. There is only reality and how you face your reality.

And then someone goes and plops a newborn baby in your arms. I did not want to go on the family trip last summer. Babies were going to be there. In case no one was noticing, I avoid babies. Absolutely no respect for my neurosis. So here’s this baby, in my arms, wrapped up all baby-like, looking soft and sweet. I’m holding him at my shoulder level, presumably to chuck him back at his father the first second he threatens to expose me as a fraud. Instead he wiggled his itty bitty butt and settled in. Well, that’s unexpected. I tried to give him to other family members to hold. Nope, you hold him. He likes it. He slept. I relaxed my arms. Appears the coast is clear. I even fed him a few times. I told his mom that I hoped I was doing it right. She responded, “I’m never sure I’m doing it right,” and walked out of the room. Hmmm, how about that.

The second reality check came when someone asked me to write an article about being over 40 and childless. Hand to God, it shocked me that someone identified me as “over 40 and childless.” I suddenly had to focus and face the past three and a half years (that timeline still floors me). I haven’t gotten that article out, because this one needed to come first.

So I’ve been grieving. The sheer acknowledgment has made such a massive difference. Owning it makes a difference. Maybe the real difference is when a baby trusts you with their nap, you trust the baby. Thanks, baby.

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Ay, Caramba! and A Holy Freakin’ Moly July 28, 2011

Apparently today at our house it was Let’s Finally Be Decisive and Change Our Entire Lives Day. Z and I have made three very important leaps forward — leaps into the deep, dark unknown.

Decision #1: It’s time to make some babies in a Petri dish. Hey, there is romance and then there is fertility. Don’t confuse the two. Z’s test results were good: The Time Trials were a success! Z made Dr. M run through the options once again. Insemination was taken off of the table. My eggs get more and more decrepit every single day and, as far as Dr. M is concerned,  it’s best not to chance giving birth to a baby dinosaur. [How is that for gender disparity — Dr. M said Z is working with slightly deformed goods, but mine are just aged, and yet THE WOMAN is the problem. Typical.] So we are inevitably back to working with in vitro fertilization. My fertilized eggs will be monitored in the dish for five days before the best and – hopefully – brightest of the bunch get returned to the mother ship. [If I’m going to all this trouble, this kid better be a daggone rocket scientist.] If the first round doesn’t work with my eggs, we go to donor eggs and the process starts again. I’m going to be buying baby food with my social security checks at this rate.

 

This is how I imagine a petri dish full of my babies.

 

Decision #2: Z wants to own a business. We looked into a franchising possibility today and are super excited about it. We’ve been conducting our due diligence. Once things become more concrete, I’ll be less mysterious on the topic. On our way back from the doctor’s office, we are discussing all of the possibilities. Z will manage the business and staff and I will create the marketing plan. I was blurting out ideas when he informed me that he expected me to keep my day job. Say what?! So, wait, you expect me to 1) keep my day job 2) have a kid and 3) also work at the family business? He went into his passive-aggressive happy place trance before he emerged an hour later to declare, “We’ll still need your work health insurance if we have a kid.” That was just rude putting all of the responsibility for our baby dinosaur’s health on my shoulders. I’m going to need Z to work on his daddy and his negotiating skills.

 

Who needs an MBA?

 

Decision #3: I was feeling bold the other day and submitted a writing sample to a local community paper. And lo and behold, I am their new contributing writer. It’s a volunteer position, so I have to keep my day job. [Reoccurring theme, anyone?] I worked on my first story today. It’s 500 words about an upcoming event. I was interviewing the event coordinator, when in mid-sentence, my brain screamed out, “Who the heck do you think you are? You aren’t a writer! You can’t submit this story for publication! You don’t know what you are doing!” My subject was too distracted by the thousand details still to be done and the stifling temperature in the venue to notice that I was having a nervous breakdown in front of her. Luckily I have a really poor attention span, even for my own breakdowns, and recovered quickly. Yeah, I can do this. [I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!] When it becomes a reality and I see it in print, I’ll post it here.

 

I bought these to soothe my apprehension, but they just made me nervous, so I hide them under the bed.

 

All and all, you can’t really argue with a day filled with a baby dinosaur, a husband with a purpose and 500 words for publication. I’ll be thanking my lucky star tonight.

Stress Reading: On Writing by Stephen King. So far it’s more of an autobiography  than a book on writing advice. Pleasant read though.

Training Log: Oh boy.

 

Turkey Baster Not Included July 5, 2011

Filed under: Baby Making,Currently Reading,Family,Food,Training Log — Teri @ 9:05 pm

And, you know, a fertility party is always an option.

Going to the fertility doctor with Zef is nothing sort of hilarious. Let’s face it, you get into conversations with the doctor that are cringe-worthy at best and cause the nervous giggles at the worst. I mean, if you take this all too seriously, you will go nuts — and probably produce a very high strung child.

Today was our follow-up appointment after the Magic Fallopian Tube Discovery. [Open sesame!] It was an early morning appointment, so Dr. M was really rocking his James Earl Jones impersonation. He was quite pleased with our good news. “I knew that was the good one,” he mumbled as he flipped through his notes. We were ready to discuss options.

Option #1: IVF with donor egg.
Option #2: IVF with my egg.
Option #3: Insemination

Wait a minute, wait a minute! Why are we still talking IVF? Good question. And I don’t know the answer. Dr. M says it’s still the high percentage option for getting pregnant. So… why did I have my fallopian tubes Roto-Rootered? Well, because it opened up the previously unavailable option of insemination. Dr. M broke out the model uterus to explain the procedure. No, he didn’t have a turkey baster, so stop right there. But I will have to take medication to turn my ovaries into the human equivalent of a popcorn popper. I was happy [maybe too happy] to hear that testing starts on Zef tomorrow [which will henceforth be known as The Time Trials and will be spoken of no further]. So our journey goes on and on.

My favorite part of our trips to the fertility doctor are when we leave and go to lunch in the city. It’s considerably less stressful. Today we hit Watts Grocery, one of my favorite restaurants in the entire world. I had the tomato, cucumber, avocado sandwich and Z had the chicken tacos. He didn’t especially like his lunch, because he really wanted the pastrami reuben. Unfortunately, eating healthy is not always satisfying. My sandwich was amazing, as were the cheese hushpuppies. I would marry those hushpuppies if it were legal in my state.

And for those of you who are squeamish over all this talk about eggs and fallopian tubes and time trials, I decided to add two new features to my blog: Currently Reading and My Training Log. It’s really to keep me honest and away from Rocky IV reruns rather than keep you entertained, but you never know what will come of it. Right now it will probably just be notations at the bottom of each blog until I get further inspired. May God help us all if I get further inspired.

Currently Reading: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Training Log: Day 1 of a 7 Day Cycle (after two unscheduled and very lazy days off): Activity: Spin (intervals), Time: 50 minutes, Miles: 18.2, Calories Burned: 460, Motivation: Low (refer to previous two days)

 

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Fertility Doctor July 2, 2011

Filed under: Baby Making,Family — Teri @ 12:34 pm

I need this sign.

After Wednesday’s discovery of the Perfect Running Shorts, I was content to give this week a gold star and cruise into the holiday. I didn’t expect any news out of the ordinary — perfect-running-shorts good or otherwise. Especially since I had one last procedure scheduled on Friday before we dove head first into IVF treatments and/or adoption paperwork.

During our sit down with Dr. M a few weeks ago, he mentioned that we could check my fallopian tubes one last time to see if they had opened after my surgery in January. At the time of the surgery, the tubes were completely blocked. The contrast fluid used to test the tubes didn’t even make it out of the gate. Dr. M, who is a straight talker, felt that my fallopian tubes were irreversibly damaged. But! — he mentioned that we could try the test one more time on the very slightest chance that the tubes cleared up. Where I had the time to come to terms with my condition, Zef was still hanging on to hope. Dr. M mentioned several times that he thought the additional procedure would be a waste of time. After a pregnant pause (ha.), he asked our thoughts on the procedure. I was in the process of shaking my head no when Zef popped up and said, “Let’s do it!” Gee, thanks for offering my body up to science, Z. Dr. M, who is a large African American man whose accent is a cross between sing-songy island and James Earl Jones, looked down at his hands and ran his tongue along his metal braces. Apparently he’s been locked in a small room with a hormonal redhead before and he was just going to sit quiet and not make any sudden movements. I glared at Z, who was just like, “What?”, so I threw my hands up and conceded to the test.

I can’t even tell you the name of the procedure because the name is long and they said it really fast. In layman’s terms, x-rays are taken while a contrasting solution is injected into the uterus so it can make passage through the fallopian tubes. No carbon dioxide is involved, so it’s actually not as gross or as miserable as it sounds. I spoke with the doctor and nurse at the radiology clinic before the procedure and gave them the scoop on my surgery. Even this doctor seemed doubtful the the tubes would be open. I was pretty sure too and I dreaded hearing the bad news repeated. The entire time I was talking to them, I had slow, quiet, hot tears running down my cheeks. These are the tears that you can’t stop no matter how hard you may try. Those are the worst tears to witness. If someone is hysterical and blubbering, you want to smack them and tell them to get a grip. But it’s the hardest to watch when someone is trying to keep their composure and they can’t keep the tears from coming. I felt bad for the nurse as she handed me a tissue. She wanted to make things better but some tears can’t be stopped.

The procedure was mildly uncomfortable. I laid on a metal table so the x-ray machine could move over me. As the doctor was doing the procedure, she asked me to tilt my hips from side to side. We did the right side first. Tilt, tilt, tilt, tilt… I felt like a teapot. No dice. The right side is still blocked. The doctor said, “OK, let’s check the left. It only takes one.” Tillllt… stop! It’s open. The left fallopian tube is open. The nurse leans over to look in my face, “It’s open,” she whispered. I think she wanted to hug me.

It only takes one. Well this changes everything. We have an appointment with Dr. M on Tuesday to go over the results and options. Because while the open fallopian tube is amazing news, Dr. M will remind us that my eggs and I are as old as the hills and there is no time to waste. Harsh, maybe, but the truth is easier to handle coming from James Earl Jones.

 

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Off to the Fertility Doctor We Go June 15, 2011

Filed under: Baby Making,Family,Marriage,Tradition — Teri @ 8:09 pm

Disclaimer: While all blog posts venture into too-much-information territory, this post may be playing chicken with the “too” in “too much.” I also recognize that my snarkiness translates much better in person than on paper — so if I refer to an embryo as “the little alien,” you’ll take it all in good fun, won’t you? I mean no harm.

Who you callin’ an alien?

Today was the big sit-down between Dr. M, the trusty fertility doc, and Z, the trusty husband. Despite having relayed all of Dr. M’s information to Z regarding our child bearing potential, Z wanted to hear it straight from the doc’s mouth. Fair enough. I got lunch at Cheesecake Factory out of the deal.

So a little background: Z and I have been working on this potential parenting deal for over a year, since April-ish 2010. Right on cue, possibly as some sort of cosmic intervention, my body went on the fritz. The fritz, I say! There were pieces-parts that went into hyper drive, parts that didn’t work any longer, and frankly, parts I’ve never even noticed before. It was quite unpleasant. After six, seven, eight visits to my regular doctor, I was referred to a specialist in Raleigh — Dr. M. Well that was an unfortunate turn of events, because he promptly slapped me on the operating table. He did some demolition, some renovation, spiffed things up. [Public Service Announcement: If a doctor or nurse ever tells you that puffing up your gut with carbon dioxide isn’t a big deal, slap them and run away. They are lying.] Dr. M was feeling proud of his work until the thing happened that no one wanted to happen — the dye didn’t move through my fallopian tubes. Completely blocked. The freeway was closed to all traffic. In my follow-up appointment, I learned that our only hope for biological parenthood is in vitro fertilization [IVF].

IVF is exactly as complicated as it sounds and a little bit more. Dr. M laid out my options:

Option #1: Using My Eggs – Obviously, the first choice, right? Well… maybe not. Turns out that my eggs are as old as I am. We’ve been together all along. Every woman is born with their lot of lifetime eggs. We never increase, only decrease. And just like our bodies [and, let’s face it, our minds] start getting a little slack around 40, so do our eggs. They just aren’t fresh anymore. The DNA is breaking down, which causes miscarriages, birth defects and special needs children. Now not every 40+ year old egg will suffer, but the percentages are much higher than their 20-something year old egg friends in the house next door.

Option #2: Using a Donor Egg – The kid will be half Z/half stranger baby. I would still carry the baby though. Fun. It would seem I drew the short stick somewhere along the way.

Option #3: The Little Alien – An embryo from another couple is given to Z and me and I carry it as if it is ours. The embryos are frozen and are up for adoption because 1) their biological mommy and daddy have hit their quota on kids 2) their biological mommy and daddy got a divorce and the frozen kids are the ones to suffer. I’m sure there are other reasons too. A good option for some, but it doesn’t sit easy with me.

I explained all of this to Z over Skype while he was away. [All really important decisions in life should be made over Skype.] It was all a bit mind boggling for us. I had been fighting this battle on my own while he was away and was tired. He was, well, away and it was a little hard to wrap his brain around. Hence today’s sit down with Dr. M.

I’m still a fan of adoption — especially since all viable options point toward me carrying another woman’s baby. I am not Mother Earth and I don’t know nothin’ about birthin’ no baby. Dr. M asked, “How invested are you in the birthing experience?” Uh, not very, Doc.

And, for the record, I believe in a very broad definition of family. The family is not just hetero dad procreating with hetero mom to make hetero babies. Yes, families are nice that way, but so are the families with mom, dad, adopted baby… families with mom, dad, alien baby… families with mom, dad, fur babies… families with two daddies… families with two mommies… families with white, black, brown and green (for the alien babies)… and families with whose-kid-is-that? i-don’t-know-but-we-took-him-in. Family is about love and devotion and sticking together, not necessarily biology. So there.

And, you know, there is the It Is What It Is option. Maybe Z and I are just destined to be the cool aunt and uncle handing out sugar and noisy games at all family gatherings.

Time will tell.

[In the time it took me to write this post, 450 babies were born to teenaged mothers.]