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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Intruders Be Warned August 5, 2011

Z's embarrassed of the yellow magazine. Don't judge him.

 

The kids in our neighborhood are getting restless. There has been a rash of car break-ins recently and an attempted home invasion. One night not long ago a young man knocked on a front door at 10 o’clock at night. The owners didn’t answer [because in the South, no one visits or calls after dark]. The boy went around to the back of the house, unscrewed the light bulb in the porch light and tried to kick in the back door. The owners scared him off and called the police. Reportedly, the police arrived 20 minutes later and didn’t take a report. Our rabid neighborhood watch is going nuts. Don’t try to outsmart a bunch of old Special Forces guys. Things will get real in a hurry.

Z and I were talking about the attempted break-in over breakfast. Z said he would get anyone that broke in our house. That’s dumb, I said. He looked up from his bowl of Fiber One and went on a rant. I’ve heard it all before. When I asked him if he wouldn’t feel bad for hurting a kid, he said let that be a lesson to his friends. It gave me a headache trying to reconcile what I was hearing.

Z and I have opposing views on gun control. We basically vote down party lines. My opinions about automatic weapons make him groan in disgust. His opinions on concealed carry make me think I’ve married a nut. I can tolerate it because Z is a fanatic about gun safety and the weapons stay out of sight. It lets me live in my Happy Place where guns don’t exist.

Z insisted that we go to the gun range today so I could practice. No, I’m not going, I said. He persisted. Z doesn’t get adamant about much, but he was adamant that I practice with a pistol. I fumed the entire way to the range. In one respect, I get that, if there are guns in the house, you should know how to properly handle them. It would be ironic if someone did break into our house and harmed me when I had a means to protect myself within reach. On the other hand, I honestly can’t see myself doing it. When I lived alone, and in highly suspect areas, I kept my old aluminum softball bat under my bed. I know, rock-paper-scissors, a bat is no competition for a gun. Then again, if you get close enough, I could smack your eardrum into the next county. I mean, I didn’t get married until I was 37 years old. That means I dated for 20 long, hard years. I have enough repressed rage in me that I’m pretty sure I can unleash a wild fury on any man trying to hurt me. He’d cry then he’d call his momma to apologize for being a problem child. Who needs a gun with those skills?

 

We won't talk about the ones that aren't on the target.

 

Z went easy on me and only had me shoot one magazine from each pistol. Z refreshed my memory on how to load the magazine, turn on — and off! — the safety, and line up the sites. The 1911 was the heaviest and easiest to shoot. I actually hit the bull’s eye with that one. The Glock 34 was lighter, but I wasn’t as accurate. I still hit the target though. The Glock 19 was a beast to shoot. It was the smallest and lightest and I couldn’t hit a barn with it. Well, I hit six shots in the target [barely] and six outside of the target. If I try to shoot someone in the foot, he’s definitely going to get it in the liver. Sorry, Mr. Intruder.

 

Policing the "brass" from the cheapy Russian practice ammo.

 

Really Liking: The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Training Log: Yesterday I cycled and ran. The hip/foot affliction seems to be gone. Had my first migraine in three months today, so slept about six hours this afternoon. Back to cycling and running tomorrow.

 

Tiny Room Tour: Thank you, Charleston! July 11, 2011

The mermaid that ogled my shrimp and grits at Hyman's Seafood.

Zef and I just returned from our first romantic getaway since our honeymoon. We have a tendency to take family-oriented vacations. While vacations with the family can be fun, it often has an adverse effect on the will to procreate. So I’ve planned three romantic mini-vacations for us: Folly Beach/Charleston, SC, Outer Banks, NC and Banner Elk, NC. First up was Folly Beach and Charleston.

Folly Beach is about 10 miles south of Charleston. It’s a quaint little beach that lacks the mega mansions that run along Isle of Palms north of Charleston. We arrived on Friday evening after hooking up Mike the Toothless Cat with elder care provided by my parents. We were going to spend the weekend just enjoying each other’s company and not worrying about the projects back at home. I warned Z ahead of time that I accidentally booked a room with a full size bed. We have a queen at home and, in my estimation, it’s not nearly large enough. I am not a cuddler. Having the bed all to myself while Z was deployed was heavenly. Meanwhile, Z slept on a cot for three years. The vastness of our queen sized bed is too much for him. He’s like a baby fresh out of the womb, he wants to be swaddled. He looked at the tiny bed with glee.

As I now sit on the bed in our 12 by 10 bedroom, I realize that the room we had at the B&B was almost the exact same size — except it included a claw foot bathtub, toilet and sink, right beside the bed. The innkeeper called it European. I’ve never been there, but I’m pretty sure they have walls in Europe. And there are some barriers that should not be crossed, romantic weekend or not.

Our strategy was to avoid the Tiny Room for as long as possible throughout the day. We spent most of our time in downtown Charleston shopping and eating. Marion Square has the absolute best farmers market on Saturday mornings. I bought some cute earrings from a really nice artist and her husband. I bought some art for our bedroom from a cool girl that does woodcut pieces. I desperately wanted a pint of these beautiful plump blackberries. Their drupelets were like fat little baby cheeks and I just wanted to gobble them up. If Zef hadn’t of been there, I probably would have bought two pints and sat in the grass and eaten them. But Z is Republican and he doesn’t eat berries in the grass.

One day I will waddle over this bridge during the Cooper River Bridge 10K.

Instead, we took the extra long [thank you, Z] walk to Magnolias for lunch. Highly recommended. I was hoping for shrimp and grits, but it wasn’t on the menu. I opted for a shrimp wrap, which was amazing. Z had a crab cake sandwich, which was equally as delightful. The night before we ate at The Crab Shack at Folly Beach. Also very good. I had the grilled shrimp and scallops with red potatoes and zucchini. Z had salmon that he said was too dry. The beer and hushpuppies were winners though. The absolute very best place we ate was Hyman’s Seafood for Sunday lunch. I finally got my shrimp and grits [Carolina Style] with collard greens. They make their collards like I do — chopped, but not diced, and still firm, not mushy. Who knew I was a culinary genius? We had a side of fried green tomatoes too. My stomach wanted to rebel from the over stuffing, but I was one fat and happy girl. I’d totally convert to Judaism and marry into the family for daily access to those shrimp and grits. We finished off our weekend of over consumption by stopping at Lost Dog Cafe before heading out of town this morning. Best turkey, bacon and Swiss croissant ever. I don’t even want to step on the scale to access the damage.

We did a lot of walking around Charleston, but not much else for exercise. The early morning runs on the beach never happened. That doesn’t bode well for settling into our next two stops on the Tiny Room Tour: a one room cabin on the Outer Banks and a dormer room on the third floor of a farm house. I hope we fit.

Currently Reading: Bossypants by Tina Fey

Training Log: Oh, let’s just say we’ll start fresh tomorrow, shall we? [Six weeks until my first 5K!]

 

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.]

 

And… we’re back! June 14, 2011

Mysterious, yet stylish.

So it appears my blog is a lot like the summer TV shows — only new during the months from June to August. Consider this my season premiere!

I celebrated the beginning of my summer vacation by having five separate spots of sun damage removed from my forehead and cheeks. I was afraid of coming out of it looking like the Bride of Frankenstein, but thanks to the local anesthesia, I look more like Frankenstein’s basset hound. I’ll be rocking the Jackie O shades for the next week.

Summer vacation is a glorious [and agonizingly short] eight weeks. I have plans. Big plans. OK, not really big plans, but plans, regardless. And because I need to get back on track with my documentary field work and practice my writing, you’ll be privy to all the fun details.

 

Upcoming Episodes:
The Dreaded Fertility Doctor [or Why Can’t We Just Adopt?!]
Renovating the Backyard: Will Z and Teri avoid divorce… and felony charges?
Road Trips!
Training for My First 5K
Planning a Charity Golf Tournament [Who has Xanax?]
And the cliffhanger… Will Teri ever finish a book she starts?

It’s exciting stuff even if I do say so myself. Stay tuned.

 

730 Days Down, 14,600 Days to Go October 17, 2010

Filed under: Family,Marriage,Tradition — Teri @ 8:15 pm

Tomorrow is my anniversary. Zef and I have been married two years. I’ll give him another 40 years. [I’m not ashamed to admit that when I’m 79, I’m trading him in for a 30 year old.] Our marriage has been unique, to say the least. Out of 24 months, we’ve only lived together — strike that — been in the same country together for 10 weeks. Our marriage is conducted through email and Skype messages, and the occasional phone call with maddening static and sound delays. We’re still able to ask about each other’s days, go over plans for the house, talk about the news, laugh, get on each other’s nerves and say I love you.

Z sent roses to my office on Friday. He called shortly after they were delivered. After we hung up, I felt heartsick. I closed my office door and cried. Those are the moments when it feels like the loneliness permeates your entire being. Most days I just tuck it away and stay busy. Whether you like it or not, you have to dry your tears, open your office door and get on with your day.

For a while I wouldn’t do much socially because I felt guilty about having fun while Z was away. Yeah, I’m over that. And Z is OK with it. He already had a base of friends when we met. I had just moved here and didn’t know anyone. It’s taken a good while [I’m not the most outgoing girl] but now I have a base of friends that I love and rely on. They were with me this weekend and they were goofy and fun and lovable and I needed that.

In my ripe old age, and with two years of marriage to my credit, I hold this marriage truth to be self evident:

Love is nothing, nothing, nothing like they say. You gotta pick up the little pieces every day. ~ Liz Phair

As much as I love a good love story, I blame Hollywood for most girl’s unrealistic notion of how a relationship works. [Really, don’t get me started on the Twilight series.] The card attached to my roses read, “To my partner, my best friend.” He really couldn’t have written anything better. Marriage, I like to preach, is a partnership that has to be renewed every day — 50/50, my friend. And if it’s not 50/50, we’re renegotiating. Screw gender roles. Sure, this blog may be about my dalliances with domesticity, but don’t think Z doesn’t have his own monogrammed apron waiting for him when he gets home.

And, so far, I think we’re doing pretty good keeping up with our marriage vows:
I acknowledge my love for you
And invite you to share my life
As I hope to share yours.
I promise to walk by your side
To love, help and encourage you.
I vow to take time to share with you
To listen and care.
I will share your laughter and your tears
As your partner, lover and friend.

Happy anniversary, Z. I love you.