The War

Inside me, there is a war being waged. And it’s not just a war between all the medications I am on. Seriously, there are 22 daily pills and one daily injection all vying for territory in my bloodstream.

No, the war inside me is a nasty, vicious one with no clear victor in sight and no way of knowing when it will end. It is the war between hope and doubt.

Those two are always duking it out.

Hope makes me think that the months and months of waiting to try again, of doctors visits and medicines and needles and ultrasounds and diet changes and acupuncture have made a difference and that this month, things will be different. Then doubt creeps in to tell me I’m getting all hoped up for nothing. Babies won’t grow in this body.

Hope makes me think that one little twinge holds all the answers. Doubt tells me it’s the broccoli I had at lunch.

Hope tells me to eat pineapple this week for implantation. Then doubt reminds me I’m so freaking far beyond getting help from a piece of fruit.

Doubt makes me think my body will never have the ability to do what it is supposed to do. Then hope swoops in and lets me believe that maybe just maybe the universe will cut us just one tiny little 9-month break.

Stupid hope and awful doubt.

Hope keeps me eager. Doubt keeps me safe. And I don’t know which one is worse.

Such is the hell of yet another two-week wait.

I’d have written this sooner, but I had a needle in my arm/stomach/hand

I have this secret writer’s fantasy where I’m at a dinner party, and the woman sitting across from me is some giant publishing mogul, but I don’t know that because we’re too busy talking about how fascinatingly witty I am, when she tells me she wants to pay me a lot of money to write a book. And I say “Wow, what a coincidence, I already have it started.” And then I hand her a manuscript that just happens to be in my purse, and she leaves immediately so that she can meet with some other giant publishing mogul to talk about how wonderful I am. And somewhere in there I am also two inches taller and eating chocolate cake.

But since there’s just a tiny chance things might not go down like that, I figure I need a backup writer’s fantasy. And in the last few weeks it’s become increasingly clear what that backup writer’s fantasy should be: My phone rings and it’s some textbook company asking me to write a book about needles. And I say, “Well it just so happens that I have a lot of experience with needles.” And it would be true because, seriously, these last three weeks have been a blur of needles #ThingsHeroineAddictsSay.

Okay, so I don’t really know anything useful about needles. But this is all to say that I’ve been a bad bad blogger lately because I’ve had a lot of stuff happening, most of which involves needles.

Three weeks ago we learned that magically, my insurance provider would agree to pay for the majority of my IVIG treatments. I was still not 100% clear on what IVIG was, but I knew Dr. Kwak-Kim said I needed it in order to carry a pregnancy and that it was off-the-charts expensive and that most insurance companies refuse to cover it, so I was like “get that IV into my arm right now.”

Dr. Kwak-Kim requires that all her patients’ first doses are given in her office. This is mostly because a large percentage of people have a serious allergic reaction. And strangely enough, that didn’t sway me away from wanting the IV in my arm, stat. So we flew back to Chicago for the infusion.

By the time we got there, I had learned up on IVIG enough to be mildly freaked out by it but not enough to not want it. Despite my nerves and me being convinced that my body is cursed to all things babymaking, it all went incredibly well. The infusion lasted about three hours and I got to sit in the most comfortable chair I’ve ever seen inside a doctor’s office. Seriously, I want to live in that chair.

I’ll be continuing the infusions every other week until our still-unconceived baby is born. But thankfully the infusions will be with a home infusion nurse in our family room. And damn, I am already missing that chair.

While we were in Chicago, Dr. Kwak-Kim’s nurse practitioners did a few more tests, adjusted some of the dosages on the many medications I am on, and gave us the green light to start the babymaking this month. Which is huge news because it means we can finally have sex without me having to yell “pull out” in as sexy a tone as I can muster. And also, it means we could maybe, possibly get pregnant.

Which brings me to my next needle adventure. Daily subcutaneous Lovenox injections. Which is a fancy way of saying that I am shooting up in my stomach with blood thinners once a day.

Last night marked my sixth injection. And my husband and I are starting to get our injection routine down. After dinner I make a joke about needing to shoot up. He gets the ice and the cotton balls, I get the pre-filled syringe and the alcohol wipes. We sit on the floor and examine my belly for a single square inch that isn’t already bruised (which is getting harder and harder to find with each injection). Then I ice the chosen location while he takes the cap off the needle and I pretend to ice some more because I need more time to mentally psych myself up for this.

Finally I take the syringe from him and I aim it toward the magic, non-bruised spot on my belly. I try really hard to just jab it in there, but, like a 6-year-old getting ready to jump off the high-board at the pool, I totally lose my nerve halfway there, and I end up only lightly grazing my top layer of skin. My husband yells that I am going to hurt myself more this way and to just jab it in there already. Which gives me just the right amount of internal anger I need to get a good stab going.

Once the needle is really in, I push down on the plunger and feel the grossest, stingiest, weirdest feeling ever as the medicine goes in. Then I pull the needle out, exclaim that that was the worst one yet, ice the injection spot, and make my husband put everything away and get me something to drink. I now have carte blanche to be a bitch for the rest of the night. At some point in the future I will need to increase the injections to twice a day, which gives me an excuse to be a bitch whenever. Right honey?

And now, because of all of this, I have a backup to my backup writer’s fantasy: An epic baby book. A baby book unlike any baby book that’s ever been created before. Sure, it’ll have the classic first ultrasound pic and the screaming, crying, right-out-of-the-womb pic. But those will be on the last page. Leading up to them will be every syringe, every IV bag, and a photo of every bruise on my belly. It’ll be a real, legendary kindergarten show-and-tell piece. The title: I did this for you, baby.

What one year of recurrent pregnancy loss has taught me

A few weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our One-Year Wedding Anniversary. The date also officially marked our One-Year Trying To Get Pregnant Anniversary. Because when you get married at age 33 and 34, you gotta get right down to business.

We had a dinner reservation at a fancy restaurant, where we sometimes go to celebrate fancy occasions with fancy food and fancy drinks. But before we went to said fancy dinner, we sat down on the couch and looked through our wedding album.

We looked at every moment of our wedding day, from the shots of me needing 5 people to help me get into my dress, to our first kiss as a married couple, to the photos of my brother-in-law laughing so hard he started weeping during my sister’s toast. It was the perfect day, and we relived it all.

And I realized that the person I was that day in the white dress is so very different than the person I am now. That glowing, beaming girl in all in those photos wasn’t just tanner, slightly slimmer and more made up than the me that exists today. That girl was incredibly naïve.

That girl thought this next part would be easy. She figured having a baby was as simple as throwing out the birth control. She had the next 10 years planned out. That girl had no idea the year that awaited her.

It’s been a doozey of a year. And it has changed me. But in a way that’s made me wiser than I ever was before. In fact, here are 5 life lessons I’ve learned from my year’s battle with recurrent pregnancy loss. 

Stop planning everything

I’ve always been the kind of person who makes things happen. I decide I want something, and then I work and do whatever it takes to get it. So of course, when it was time for us to have a kid, my husband and I bought a big 5-bedroom house in the burbs and I found a family-friendly 9-to-5 job nearby. Only one part of the master plan failed. The kid part.

The whole, “But we had a plan” thing is I think what has anguished me most this past year. It’s made me livid with the universe, my fists-raised upward and shaking wildly, “how dare you mess with our plan!” As if the universe gives two shits about our plan.

No, the universe just laughs and says “If it weren’t for my randomness, you’d always be bored.” And I know she’s right, that sassy wonderful insane bitch.

Everyone really is fighting a battle

I’ve always loved the quote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” But I don’t think I really got it until this past year. Not until I was secretly bleeding out a pregnancy while being bullied by a client on a conference call. Or until I was enduring what I feared to be miscarriage cramps while an impatient woman huffed and puffed behind me at the pharmacy counter at CVS.

This year has made me rethink all my daily interactions. It’s made me catch myself when I start to grow agitated with someone and slow my words when I begin to make a snide remark. Because if I could have been secretly dealing with what I was secretly dealing with, what might others be dealing with that I know absolutely nothing about.

You are your only advocate

Before this year, I always just figured that if there was ever something physically wrong with me, a doctor would find it. As long as I had my yearly checkups, did my annual blood draw and reported any noticeable changes, they’d tell me if there was something I needed to worry about. Because they’re doctors, and they know that kind of stuff.

But doctors are also people with lots of patients, lots to keep track of, and secret battles of their own. And they don’t know you like you know you. So if you’re unsure about their treatment plan, speak up. If you want them to take a second look, say so. If you want more or different tests done, demand it. Stand up for your health. The worst thing they can say is “Get another doctor.” Which, by the way, is never a bad idea anyway.

Never put stock in a plastic stick

I mean, seriously. We live in an age where people can hold international meetings on their watches, and I’m basing my whole future on a plastic stick with two lines? A stick I just peed all over? Contrary to my entire life’s beliefs, pregnancy tests are not magic fortune tellers. Most times they work. But a lot of times they don’t. So when in doubt, get a beta.

Enjoy this day.

Did I mention I’m a planner? To the extreme. And part of being a planner is constantly looking forward to the next mile marker, the next exit, the next big thing down the road. And when that next thing is suddenly so very unattainable, you’re left looking down a road that now seems empty, long and desolate – just waiting for the one thing in the distance that would make it not so desolate.

But what you don’t see is that there are things all around you that would make the road less desolate, if only you would just look at them. Look at them and really enjoy them. A cup of coffee. A night with friends. A new lunch spot. A co-worker who brought cookies.

Look at these things. Enjoy this day.

B.O. for a baby

Let’s play a game of Would You Rather. Except this time, there won’t be alcohol or the possibility of getting flashed by your chemistry lab partner. Ready? Would you rather be free from the grips of B.O. for the rest of your life, or have a baby? Would you rather be called Smelly Gym Sock Girl or That One Childless Woman Over There?

Last week, I started reading the book “It All Starts With The Egg” which talks about the science of egg quality and gives ideas for things you can do to boost it. So if you’re like me and have a big fat 0.0something when it comes to egg quality (AMH), it’s a book you probably rushed out and grabbed as soon as you heard about it. I did, and I started reading it like the bible. Thou shalt not eat non-organic fruits and vegetables.

In addition to outlining nutrition guidelines and beneficial supplements, the book brings to light all the toxins in the world around us that could be hurting our egg quality.

A year ago when we started trying, I made a conscious effort to rid my life of all BPA. So long, big plastic cups that hold a ton of water. Check ya later, fake Tupperware that’s now stained orange. But this book opened my eyes to other toxins in my life that I had never thought about.

For instance, I never considered that my kitchen coffee maker, which I drink from every morning (no more than 6oz though, thank you) is also likely overrun with BPAs that are slowly killing me and my eggs one 6 ounce cup at a time. Immediately, I quit coffee cold turkey.

But then there’s the phthalates. I didn’t know about the phthalates. I also had no idea how to pronounce the word phthalates. But I know now they’re bad. Oh are they bad. And they’re in everything. Shampoos, conditioners, body wash, lotions, perfumes, deodorant, anything with “fragrance” in the ingredients list. Holy shit, the phthalates! It seems these things are also leeching into my bloodstream and ruining my eggs. Forever.

So I immediately ran to Whole Foods, and got new body wash, new lotion, and new deodorant. All with all-natural ingredients and absolutely no fragrance. Yeah, take that you phthalates.

So here I am, thinking that I’ve mastered this whole egg quality thing. I must be so phthalate-BPA-And-other-random-toxin free that my eggs are going to become super eggs, like mini Arnold Schwarzeneggers all huddled up in my ovaries. Yeah, I think to myself, I got this now.

Until I raise my arms to stretch and realize that I have the worst case of Lady B.O. I have ever smelled. Damn, I miss my phthalates.

I am a walking home inspection report

Anyone who has ever bought a home knows all about the dreaded home inspection process. You have found this wonderful home that’s not just perfect for you, it’s perfect for your future you, your future mini yous, and the dogs and cats and barbeques you just know you’ll all have together one day in the yard that will surely be 72 and sunny all year round.

Amazingly, you and the sellers even agree on a sales price and terms of the sale. And so aside from the whole mortgage thing the only big step left is the home inspection. Yeah, you figure there’s likely one or two things wrong with the house – a wall that needs to be reinforced or a little roof damage here and there. But these are things that can be fixed relatively easily.

And then, you get the home inspection report. It’s 50 pages. Filled with problem upon problem upon problem involving things you don’t understand, things you can’t pronounce, and things you never even knew were supposed to be part of a house. This one perfect house is so very secretly riddled with problems, you wonder how on earth anyone has ever even managed to buy a house before.

Well, after my long-awaited appointment with Dr. Kwak-Kim in Chicago, that home inspection report is me.

To back up a bit, I had been awaiting my appointment in Chicago for decades (9 weeks). So when it finally arrived, I was so excited I didn’t even think to worry about the things she would find. I was like a kid on Christmas. A kid who just couldn’t wait to have a transvaginal sonogram while having 22 vials of blood drawn from their arm. It was magical.

The 4-hour appointment involved a series of high tech ultrasounds measuring things like blood flow and uterine lining, collection of blood for 27 different lab tests, a thyroid ultrasound, a complete physical examination and a one-hour consultation with Dr. Kwak-Kim.

The majority of the findings would be revealed to us three weeks later, during a follow-up call with Dr. KK. But on the day of the exam, she open my eyes to a couple of things. One, I have PCOS. This shocked the hell out of me seeing as I’ve been ovulating monthly and neither my RE or his NP had found cysts in earlier ultrasounds. Second, I need to gain weight. What I thought was “healthy” is apparently unhealthy for pregnancy, since a healthy BMI is 19 – 25 and my BMI is 18. Third, balancing all the above is going to be a challenge. I’ll need to limit my carbs to help manage the PCOS and somehow gain 5-10 lbs in the process.

That was just the start. Three weeks later, we had our phone consult with Dr. KK, during which all the hidden cracks in the foundation and wiring hazards were revealed. In additions to PCOS, I have:


Anti-Nuclear antibodies

Anti-phospholipid antibodies*

Natural Killer Cells with high toxicity

Elevated TH1 Helper Cells (pro-inflammatory)

Three gene mutations that cause blood clotting (Factor I, Factor XIII, PAI1)

Elevated homocysteine levels

*These two tests were run previously by my RE and deemed “normal”

So right now, I am on Levothyroxin for my thyroid, Metformin for PCOS, Baby Aspirin and Vitamin E supplements for blood clotting, Folgard because of my homocysteine levels, And vitamin D3 for…well I’m not sure, exactly but why not. That’s in addition to all the supplements The Dragon Lady has me on. I have become a walking pill box.

The plan is that I’ll continue on these meds for 4 weeks, then have another round of blood work. If it looks like the meds and dosing are working, I’ll then add daily heparin injections for blood clotting, Prednisone to lessen the inflammation and IVIG infusions during a planned natural conception cycle.

The kicker? Like most people’s insurance, mine will not cover IVIG. And at more than two thousand dollars a pop, it would need to be administered before ovulation and then every two weeks after a positive pregnancy test for the length of a pregnancy. In addition to the logistics of taking at least 3 hours off work every two weeks to secretly receive infusions, the reality of actually paying out of pocket for IVIG seems unfathomable. Then I start wondering, what happens if it takes 3 months of infusions before we actually even get pregnant?

We’re just not sure IVIG is going to be a realistic option for us.

And it makes me feel like the home inspector just told us the new roof that’s needed is going to cost more than the house itself. Do we do everything else to patch it up as best we can and hope it holds all the same?

Marriage Brain

I’ve heard lots of pregnant people talk about Pregnancy Brain. And maybe one day I’ll get to experience it for myself. That way, I’ll finally have a real excuse for those days when I forget my husband’s middle name, leave the back door unlocked and spell tacos like tacoes. Yes, I’m being extra impressive today.

But until I can claim I’ve been affected by pregnancy brain, there’s another mind-warping brain phenomenon I’d like to officially recognize. Marriage Brain.

Oh it’s real, people.

And it can only be described as the complete disappearance of skills and abilities one once had when one was single

I first realized I was afflicted with a very severe case of this disease one morning two weeks ago. I was running late for work, and upon finally getting myself showered, dressed, blow-dried and headed toward my car, only one thing stood between me and my day: the garage door. Because it had chosen that moment to open 13 inches off the ground and then stop.

I didn’t officially panic until I had pushed the garage door button 33 more times to confirm that the garage door would in fact go down, but it would not – even if it’s little electric life depended on it – go up more than 13 inches. Which meant that me, my car and my blow dried hair were not getting out of the garage that morning.

Frantically, I called my husband who had somehow escaped the evil clutches of the garage door much earlier and was safely at work. Calmly, he walked me through how to pull down on a lever to disconnect the garage door from the electric track, allowing me to open it manually.

As I did exactly what he was telling me to do, I started having these eerie flashbacks. They were flashbacks to a distant time and a place in which I had experienced all this. It was so strange. I couldn’t help but think that I’d done this very thing before.

And then all at once it hit me, I had done this very thing before. At the house I owned all by myself. Inside the garage I maintained all by myself. Whenever the power had gone out, or the opener just wasn’t working, I had known how to do this, all by myself. Nobody had walked me through it. Nobody had ever even shown me. I just knew what to do. All by myself. And now suddenly, one year later, when left all by myself in a house that wasn’t just mine, I was lost. Marriage Brain.

Marriage brain is also the reason I am completely helpless around a lawn mower. Um, how hard do you have to pull that little string thingy before it starts? Never mind that I owned and operated my own lawn mower every week in my own yard year after year, season after season before marriage.

And Marriage Brain is also the reason I can no longer be home alone overnight. I lived alone until I was 32. In strange cities, no less. And during that time I bought my own house. For just myself to live in. And in all those years, I never once felt vulnerably alone. But now, the minute my husband leaves for a weekend trip, I am convinced there are bad guys hiding in the closets, waiting for this very moment to attack. Or worse, that the ghosts that could possibly live in the attic are going to choose this very weekend to move into the rest of the house. MARRIAGE BRAIN.

And I know it’s not just me. Marriage Brain must be the same reason that some men suddenly forget how to do laundry, how to put their dishes in the dishwasher or how to flush the toilet (but not my wonderful husband who is reading this very sentence right now. You never forget those, baby). It’s either marriage brain that’s to blame, or extremely doting mothers. But that’s another subject for another day.

And here’s the crazy thing. Marriage Brain is a disease for which there is no cure. At least, not for me. Because to get rid of Marriage Brain would mean ceasing to view my day-to-day life as a partnership. And I realize now that even though I once knew how to mow the lawn and fix broken doors all by myself. What I didn’t know back then was just how lonely I actually was. Or how wonderful it is to truly be able to count on someone else. It took finding the right partner to understand that.

So yes, while marriage causes some parts of the brain to dim, I’ve learned it shines a big, bright illuminating light on the things in life that really matter. Just don’t ask me to change the light bulb.

Things hidden in our minds

Last week, I had my 20th treatment with The Dragon Lady. 14 weeks I’ve been seeing her. I don’t want to even try to do the math to figure out how much money that equals. But I’m pretty sure it’d be enough to put our unconcieved baby through a semester of fancy private prep school. By the way, unconceived baby, that is never going to happen. I don’t care if that’s where all your friends are going.

So last week, during my 20th treatment, after we’d reached the final bit of small talk two people who saw each other for one to two hours every week for 14 weeks could muster. After we’d finally run out of topics ranging from The Bachelor (yes, she watches) to the current state of my menstrual flow to why American girls insist on dying their hair. After she had nothing else that she could scold me about. The Dragon Lady said something to me. Something that struck bone.

As she started placing needles in my back, she said,

“So sorry this is happening to you. You don’t deserve this. You did nothing wrong.”

I didn’t know why at first, but immediately tears started to fill my eyes. The Dragon Lady was still placing a few last needles in my back so I silently yelled at myself to hold it together, to not start my chin-quivery ugly cry until she had left the room. And why on earth was my chin all quivery anyway? It’s not like I ever thought that I did deserve this whole miscarriage/infertility thing. Or that I had done something wrong.

But after the Dragon Lady was safely out of the room and I had choked back all the liquid threatening to pour out of my face, I realized that somewhere in some dark crevice of my mind, around the corner from where I stored my 12th grade locker combination, hid the feeling that I did deserve all this. That I had done something wrong. That maybe the last few years had been just a little too perfect and I’d reached some pre-determined happiness quotient and it was time for the universe to knock me down a peg. Or that I’d ruined my body by running or drinking margaritas every once in a while. Or that maybe this was some sort of eventual karmic justice for the times growing up when I skipped class, fought with my brothers or refused to eat my mom’s pot roast.

Somewhere deep inside I unconsciously stored the belief that I had all this coming to me. And I never even knew that feeling existed until someone told me it shouldn’t be there.

And now I see how silly that feeling is. Mainly because it makes this whole thing all about me. And it’s not all about me. It’s about me, my husband, our families, our future family, etcetera, etcetera. It’s not about me, it’s about us.

And also, it’s about you. I struggle to think that there are that many of us out there who have all unknowingly ruined our bodies in the same way. Or have all coincidentally built up the same sort of massive karmic debt. Although if you all like margaritas on Thursdays, once hid your brothers’ lego collections under your beds for two weeks AND grew up hating your mom’s pot roast, we should talk.

Otherwise, I just have to believe it’s just a total random unfair thing. And in case no one has told you, allow me to pass this along,

“So sorry this is happening to you. You don’t deserve this. You did nothing wrong.”

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.