The Dragon Lady wants me to try yoga

To me, exercise has never been exercise unless it ends with my near lifeless body laying in a collapsed lump on the ground in grave danger of drowning in the gallons of sweat pouring off of itself.

So, basically, I’m a long distance runner. But after my first appointment with the Dragon Lady, I knew my running days were behind me, at least while we were trying to get pregnant. Because, as the Dragon Lady says,

“You run, you move hormones up and down up and down all bad!”

So when I asked her what kinds of exercise I should be doing, she said that word. That word I’d been hearing over and over again and automatically vetoing in my brain for the last 10 years.


It’s not that I’m against yoga. In truth, I never really understood what yoga was. I just vaguely knew that it involved bending, bowing and singing. And those are ing words I don’t really partake in. At least not in public.

I also knew that yoga is a quiet, reflective form of exercise. So there would be no unquiet music or unquiet machines to cover the noise of the unquiet things my bowels do when they’re being exercised. I can’t help it, it just happens. Runners, you understand.

But when the Dragon Lady tells me to do something, by god, I freaking do it. So I search online and find a somewhat unintimidating-looking yoga studio near my house. And come Saturday morning, I grab my cheap yoga mat that has previously served as my post-long-run, lay-down-and-try-not-to-die mat, and walk into my first ever yoga class.

I tell the happy, stretchy, incense-enveloped instructor lady at the sign-in desk “I’ve never done this before and I can’t even touch my toes. But look, I have a mat!” I have no idea why I tell her that, or why I am proud of the fact I have my own mat. She happily assures me that I will be just fine and she will help me through class.

I realize then what I have done to myself. I have graduated myself from likely being That Girl Who Farts In Class to That Girl Who Farts In Class And Needs All The Special Help. Reluctantly, I enter the room where my painful humiliation will take place.

As people are entering and settling on their mats, I make a few observations.

  1. Yoga people hug. A Lot. And there are lots and lots of reasons for the hugging: Not seeing each other for so long. Seeing each other sooner than expected. Someone having given someone else assistance on a backbend last week. Someone looking good in purple, etc. Suddenly, I feel naked from the hug I am not wearing.
  1. Everyone has smooth under-feet. Everyone, except me. Holy shit, I need to start scrubbing the skin off my under-feet pronto.
  1. I really should have gotten here earlier. The only places left to lay down my mat and prepare for torture are front and center or a tiny back corner right under a shelf.

I opt for the tiny back corner under the shelf. The happy, stretchy, incense-enveloped instructor enters the room and tells everyone to enter Child’s Pose. I frantically look around the room to see what everyone else is doing, and I try follow suit.

The next hour or so is a lot like that. Happy, Stretchy Incense-Enveloped Instructor Lady says something I don’t understand, people all start bending and moving in different ways, I stare at them and try to mimic their arms, their legs, their toes, their deep breathy nose sounds. And I realize that I must be mildly succeeding, because Happy, Stretchy Incense-Enveloped Instructor Lady is walking around the room to slightly reposition people, and she has not had to come and adjust me once. Add on to that the fact that I haven’t let one single fart squeak out, and I can’t help but think to myself, I AM A YOGA GODDESS!

I contemplate quitting my job to spend my days practicing poses, burning incense, and perfecting my henna tattoo art while eating only granola. I do like granola.

Then the cool down, meditation part begins. My newfound ego is rocked to its core when I realize I am terrible at closing my eyes, laying perfectly still and clearing my mind of all things. I find myself wanting to have one eye partially open, just to make sure that everyone isn’t silently standing around me, laughing at the new girl who fell for this old close-your-eyes-and-lay-still trick.

Despite all my effort, thoughts keep cropping up in my mind. Clear mind. Clear mind. Clear mind. Shit we need paper towels. Clear mind. Clear mind. Granola is crunchy. Clear Mind. Clear mind. Taco Bell. Clear mind. Mustard socks. Why is this so hard?!

Before I know it, we’re all sitting upright singing chants and bowing and class is over. And I am strangely addicted. I want more. More bending. More stretching. More bowing. More singing. More of the ing things I swore I’d never do.

Until the next morning when I step out of bed and it suddenly feels like my muscles all took part in an experimental drug trial and didn’t tell me. But I vow to go back to yoga again.

And, in fact, I have, every week for the last 5 weeks or so. I’m actually making progress, I think. My arms no longer shake when I’m in Downward Dog. And I can now clear my mind for about forty seconds before thoughts of lunch start creeping in. One of the other instructors even knows my name. On second thought, that may be a bad thing.

And it’s made me think that motherhood must be a lot like toes. So easy for most people to reach out and grab hold of. But for me, it’s just going to take a little time and stretching.


The unspoken question

My husband and I met on eHarmony. Which means before we could even be introduced to the virtual best-photos-we’ve-ever-taken versions of each other, we each had to answer hundreds of what-if questions about ourselves. Questions like, “What if your partner made less money than you?” “What if your partner’s mother didn’t like you?” “What if your partner became penniless, homeless, armless and legless?”

Once the eHarmony algorithm determined that we were a good match, before we met face-to-face, we had to pass each other’s tests with questions like “how many kids do you want?” and “What’s your idea of the perfect weekend?”

Finally, we met, dated, fell in love, and decided to get married.

But that meant we still had one more rigorous question-and-answer course to pass: The Catholic Marriage preparation course. Over several months, we found ourselves having to answer questions ranging from “Who will balance the checkbook?” to “What is God’s will for you as a couple” and “What does fertile cervical mucus feel like?” No joke.

So by the time we were married, My husband and I had spent two years of our lives answering every imaginable intimate question about ourselves and our future.

Except one.

Not once, in all of this self-reflective nonstop question and answering did we ever have to answer this question:

What if you can’t have kids?

It’s an unspoken question. Because it’s always just assumed that you fall in love, you get married, you get busy and you have kids. At least, if you both want them.

But what if? What if you can’t? What if despite trying and trying and trying, it’s just not in the cards for you? What do you do? How far do you go? What if your partner doesn’t want to go to the same lengths?

Not once did we have to face that question. Not once did we even think about that question. Like every one else, we just assumed…

Until now.

Fortunately for us, his answer and my answer are the same. We’re going to be parents no matter what. No matter if we have to go through years of this. No matter if we can’t have a biological child. No matter if we have to adopt a child. Or buy a child. Or steal a child.*

I don’t recall a specific conversation where “No matter what” was decided. It’s just a mindset we both share. Maybe that eHarmony algorithm truly did its thing when it matched us. Maybe our years of answering questions somehow prepared us for the most important one we’ve ever faced. Maybe it’s just pure blind coincidence that we share the same attitude about it.

No matter what, we’re lucky. I guess really I should say we’re unlucky but lucky. Because we know other unlucky couples who are also unlucky enough to have mismatching answers to that unspoken question.

And I can’t help but wonder how many couples out there have never been forced to find out that they wouldn’t have the same answer to that unspoken question.

Maybe the unspoken question needs to be spoken more.

*We will not engage in any criminal acts. Most likely.

TTW: Trying To Work

I’m starting to think that the hardest thing I’ve done in my 12-year advertising career has been to successfully conceal my reproductive issues.

In fact, it may just be my greatest career accomplishment. At least, of the last year. And that’s saying something, because this last year has been a busy one, career-wise. For the majority of it, I was running creative efforts for a massive sports brand, traveling most weeks, working most weekends, not sleeping most nights, wanting to pull my hair out.

Then came a newer, calmer, 8-to-5 job offer, and I seized it. But with that change came the challenges of starting fresh, of needing to prove my worth, and of waiting the appropriate amount of time before pissing anybody off.

Not exactly easy when you’re ducking out for doctor’s appointments and blood tests left and right.

Working in an industry full of mostly men doesn’t make things any easier. I feel the need to tell them something. That there’s a reason that I have to leave suddenly, almost in tears, to go and see a doctor right this minute. That there’s a reason that when I’m supposed to be talking about that project we’re working on, I can do nothing but stare helplessly at my phone, waiting for a nurse to call me back with test results.

But how or where would I even start? No, I know that for me, personally, telling co-workers what’s going on is not an option. Partly because of the whole mostly-men thing. But also because I’m a private person with a great big vat full of private worries that I like to keep covered with saran wrap.

I worry that they worry about me. I worry that they don’t care enough to worry about me. I worry that I’ll be pegged as unreliable or overly emotional. I worry that I am actually being unreliable or overly emotional. I worry that maybe someone else would handle it all better.

However, before I started acupuncture with The Dragon Lady, I knew I had to say something. Not a lot. But something. After all, it would require me to leave work for two appointments a week for the entire foreseeable future.

So I sent a short email to my two male team-members, vaguely explaining that I was dealing with a small medical issue that would require a couple of doctors appointments every week, and thanking them in advance for understanding.

Enough said, I thought.

Two weeks went by where nobody said a word as I mysteriously disappeared for a couple of hours here and there.

But then I realized that they assumed my “medical issue” was that I was pregnant. I caught one of them looking surprised when I reached for a beer during an office happy hour.

I’m pretty sure they’re expecting me to drop the “I’m pregnant!” bomb any day now.

If only.

Our creative and open office space poses another set of problems. There are no walls of any kind. Which means finding a private place where I can hold phone calls discussing the color of my recent vaginal spotting is pretty much impossible. The nurses that call me regularly have gotten used to me telling them to hold while I breathlessly race out to the parking garage and then whisper as if hidden within the description of my cervical discharge is the secret code to the world’s nuclear weapons.

The biggest scare came one day when I was trying to covertly scan and fax medical forms littered with the words Fertility and Reproductive Medicine. All was going well until the printer portion of the printer/scanner combo jammed and a small group gathered around to try and figure out the issue. Suddenly, my world started moving in slow-mo. I was certain everyone’s eyes were piercing my upside-down pages, their x-ray vision super powers suddenly activated, and that they could see every single thing on the pages still slowly being fed through the top scanner.

This was it, I was sure: the end of my professional life as I knew it. Years of meetings in which they all called me “Reproductive Medicine Girl” and drew pictures of broken ovaries flashed before my eyes. I’d have to resign immediately and find a job where I could hide in a dark room and quietly take all my hormone supplements in peace until the world ended or I successfully became pregnant – whichever came first.

Fortunately, my professional life did not end that day. The scanner finished and I was able to quickly grab the stack of papers without blowing my cover. The only thing my co-workers likely deduced was that scanning stacks of paper makes me a flustered hot mess.

It all makes me wonder. How do people do this? How does one successfully hide such a personal yet all-consuming matter all day everyday in a place where projects and thinking and deadlines are supposed to be the all-consuming things? How do people remain productive and engaged despite this massive other unresolved thing filling up their minds? How do they make brain space for it all? And, most importantly, I wonder, have team members had to hide this sort of thing around me?

If so, bravo to them. Not only should I have been more sensitive, I should have lobbied for their promotions.

Because TTW while having problems TTC takes some serious HFS. Holy Fucking Skill.

Impatience is a virtue

Impatience. It’s an ugly trait that has a somewhat pretty side too.

My entire life, I’ve suffered from an acute case of Chronic Impatientitis. Growing up, I was a very unfortunate combination of being both impatient and a late bloomer. Because of this, there was one thing I heard over and over again from my mom. “Your day will come.”

When every single person in my junior high class got their periods and I was still stuck in scrawny training bra land.

“Your day will come.”

When all my high school friends got boyfriends and I sat home with my dog.

“Your day will come.”

When all of my siblings, even my younger brother, found the loves of their lives and got married and I still couldn’t figure out how to stop dating douchebags.

“Your day will come.”

I didn’t get my period until high school. Didn’t get boobs until, well still waiting on those. Didn’t meet my husband until I was 31. Didn’t marry him until I was 33.

So I’ve learned the hard way that impatience will make you miserable.

Because really, it’s just another way of focusing on what you don’t yet have right now, instead of focusing on what you do (disposable income! The freedom to go poop alone!)

But I think there’s a good side to being impatient. Yes it’s the kind of good side that has to be hit with just the right lighting in the right sort of room with a fresh coat of makeup, maybe after a couple of drinks. But it’s a good side, nonetheless.

It’s made me driven in my career – caused me to pour myself wholeheartedly into every work endeavor, working longer and harder than others. Anxious for the reward and prestige awaiting on the other side.

And it’s getting me closer to solving the actual reasons for my infertility.

Impatience is what has made me unwilling to accept a diagnosis of “Bad Luck.” It’s made me fight with my doctors and demand more tests and read books and scour the internet, where I’ve found fellow impatient people who are also fighting with doctors and demanding more tests and reading books and scouring the internet, unwilling to accept their own diagnoses of “Bad Luck.” Together, it feels like we have more answers than most doctors we’ve met.

And it’s all because of sheer impatience.

So to all you fellow Impatients, I raise a glass. Of red wine, because we can right now so we might as well enjoy it. Yes, “our day will come.” But it will come, not because we were patient or just let it happen naturally. Our day will come solely because we have fought tooth and nail for it.