Rocking Her

The woman got the call and listened to the numbers being given to her.  Her eyes widened, her heart sped up.  She couldn’t believe her good fortune.  Only a few months into the process, when last time took three years.  So soon?!  She was by herself, in the bathroom, away from the crowd.  She hung up the phone, elated. She looked in the mirror at herself, in her pink puffy dress, her dark hair swept up into a voluminous bun, her lipsticked mouth hanging open.  She went into a stall and clicked the lock. She smiled. Then she second guessed.  Did the lab tech say 70? Or was it only 7?  So she called back, standing inside the stall.  And the lab tech giggled as she recited the joyous news for a second time.  And then a third. Her husband, on his way to meet her, called the same lab tech, who got a kick out of telling the numbers for yet a fourth time.

When the couple saw each other at the party, they gave each other a knowing smile, and a hug.  I love you, they each said.  The I love you, while true, was a private code that meant I’m so excited to start this journey with you, again.  And the couple celebrated, with mocktails, two parties at once.  One public, one private.

A few days later, another call, from another lab tech. Not as happy, not laughing. The lab tech had a shaky voice and said things very slowly.  She took forever to spit out the numbers.  Hurry up!  the woman wanted to say.  Just say it!  But instead she said, Okay. Okay. Okay.  And a few days after that, another lab tech said I’m sorry.  And she gave the woman the Tragic Numbers.  Numbers that left her like the word looked.  Sliced apart.  Numb.

The good news is that the woman came home to a nursery that was already full. Full of her One.  She cracked the door and crept into the nursery while the One slept, so beautifully curled up, on her side. She settled into the rocking chair, with her cocktail in hand, and stared and stared and stared, filling her heart with her One’s scent, her One’s contentedness. She breathed in her One’s perfume and tried to breathe in her One’s serenity.  And it worked as well as it could.

He came in and saw her rocking and staring and knew she had been sitting there for a long while.  He opened his mouth to ask her what she was doing, but he stopped himself.  He knew.  After looking at her for a bit, he turned and looked down at their One, and he bent over and rubbed his One’s back and after only a second, she awoke. She sat up, instantly covered in smiles, even though she had been disturbed from her slumber.

The woman realized that deep down she’d been hoping her One would wake, and she greedily scooped her up into her arms and hugged and hugged and hugged her.  Her One sleepily squeezed her right back, and their bodies encircled each other.  And it felt good.  Her One warmed her and relaxed her and alleviated her pain.

But, her One’s great comfort also profoundly saddened her, because for while she sat in the chair enjoying her One, she knew she losing her Two.  She pretended that she was rocking her One to sleep, when both he and she knew that her One was really rocking her.

rocking her

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Badges of Honor

I have been practicing yoga for almost 5 years now – I began on the recommendation of my family doctor, when I was struggling with anxiety.   From the moment I started, I was surrounded by teachers I connected with and have missed very few weeks without attending a session ever since.  It has changed my life; it has made a tremendous difference in improving my anxiety and mental health.  It has also tightened and toned me up a bit, which is not my purpose for practicing but is a nice added bonus.

I practiced yoga throughout our struggle to conceive, and was lucky enough to be able to continue throughout the entire duration of my pregnancy with Baby Grouch. For as much as I practice, I oddly only have one yoga shirt, which I love.  It is long and fits perfectly, so I never have to think about it, adjust it or mess with it.  Or rather, it used to be that way.  I stretched out the belly from practicing while carrying the baby, but haven’t yet found a suitable replacement so I’m still wearing the same coral shirt I’ve had for years.

The only problem with this, is that now, when I’m in shoulder stand, my shirt, that used to stay snugly on my hips, now slides up to my boobs and exposes my belly. And there’s not much I can do about it, once I’m in shoulder stand, other than stare right up at my stomach, since my hands are pinned to the floor and turning your head in this posture can damage your neck.  So, at least once a week for the past year, I’ve had a few minutes to stare at my post-baby saggy pooch.  The fat underneath my belly button has been stretched out, so when I’m upside down, the skin sort of crookedly hangs a bit over my belly button.  It’s not very pretty.

I think everyone’s heard the cliché about mothers who are “proud” of their stretch marks, their flabby underbellies.  They’ve “earned their stripes” yada yada yada. It used to annoy me, and still does, a little.  I can understand being proud of your children, or proud of who you are as a mother, or the choices you have made.  But, what’s the deal about being proud of your inability to get back into pre-baby shape?  I didn’t get it.

And now I sort of do.  Except, I still don’t think PRIDE is the correct term.  You can’t really be proud of something you have so little control over.  The timing of your conception, how easy or hard your pregnancy was, and how long you were in labor are not anything to be proud of, in my opinion, since our bodies, for the most part, are going to just do what they do.  For the most part we did not earn anything, other than being able to truly appreciate a cold salami sandwich and a stiff drink after 9 months of abstaining.

Pride isn’t the right term, at all.  But, honor is.  What an honor it is, to have the privilege of becoming pregnant, to carry around your baby as he or she grows inside you.  What an honor to feel every kick, every hiccup, every movement.  What an honor it is to give birth to a child, no matter how laborious or exhausting the process.  And a stretched out pooch is my mark that resulted from me being able to experience all of those positive things.

It’s an honor to have a child, to be exposed to her freedom, to experience her joy and to witness her little personality emerging before me.  To be humbled and honored by the process and the person does not mean that conception, pregnancy, or labor are not difficult.  And we all know that parenting is hard…..really hard.  So, it’s okay as a mother to take a moment to honor myself, and my mental sanity, even if that means exacerbating the paunch by indulging in Doritos and wine on a semi-regular basis.  There’s something to be said about making sure to honor the part of you that demands to be happy and satisfied.

So today at yoga, I was reminded not to dwell on the pooch or be disgusted by the saggy skin.  But, to embrace it and remember that I am honored and lucky to have stretched out my favorite shirt, as well as my abdomen.

What’s your badge of honor?

yoga

Secondary Infertility: What I’ve Been Telling Myself

It’s no secret that Mr. Grouch and I have been trying for Baby Grouch #2.  We’ve been “not not trying” since she was only a few months old, and we started seeing our reproductive endocrinologist again back in May.  As we embarked on this journey for a second time, I told myself I’d maintain a positive attitude.  That I wouldn’t get sucked back into a self-pitying hole.

I’ve been telling myself  that I should be grateful for my family of three, when so many others are struggling to become parents for the first time.  I am grateful our process wasn’t as long, expensive, or invasive as what many others have endured. I am so very, very, lucky and I tell myself not to be greedy.

I’ve been telling myself that no matter what, I’ll be happy with the family that I end up with, whether we can ride as a group in a small sedan or if we require a van to haul us around.  I have a smart, interesting, silly, happy, curious and delightful one year old who amuses, thrills and amazes me each and every day.   She defines beauty, inside and out. And, if she’s the only child I am able to have, I couldn’t have been blessed with a better little human being.

Yet, a nagging whisper coming from inside me keeps saying But I want one more….If one is this good, two can only be better.

So, as we’ve begun the second round of fertility treatments, I’ve been telling myself that we got pregnant using this combination of meds the last time around, so it should work again this time, and that I just need to be patient.

I’ve been telling myself that I should relax, and if the upcoming blood draw turns out to be a big fat negative, that it will be okay, and we can always try again.

But, apparently it doesn’t matter how much I tell myself those things, however true they may be.

As the two week wait comes to a close and the blood draw date looms ahead, I can’t help but feel incredibly anxious.  I can hear my heartbeat and feel it in my throat.  My face is shiny, sticky, slick with sweat.  My hands are shaky, my knee won’t stop bobbing when I sit. My breath is labored, shallow, my lungs are tight.  My high pitched voice barks at those around me and while I try to rein it in, my responses are often short, brash, sharper sounding than I want them to be.  At first I couldn’t pinpoint my anxieties, but now I know why.

I don’t want the test to be negative.

And even though I have no control over the outcome, and my rational self knows “if not this month, maybe next month” the horrible dark little corner of my heart whispersmaybe never...  And it chews little holes inside me with those words, turning my insides to mush, and squeezes my juices out of the corners of my eyes.

I guess it isn’t just this test that I’m anxious about.  My overreactions, which at first glance appear to be over a relatively trivial event, are really projecting my true fear. Going through this process again (for how long?) with maybe nothing to show for it in the end, other than mountains of bills and valleys of disappointment.

But, just continuing to go through the treatments in an indication of hope, isn’t it? That I must think it’ll work out in the end, and that, in the not-to-far future, my heart will be doubly full and this will all be behind us.  So louder than the dark voice, I keep telling myself.Don’t give up

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secondary-infertility – what i’ve been telling myself-300×300 (Photo credit: Argyropoulos)

If you liked this post you may also like: The New NormalTop 10 Things Infertiles Want You To Shut The Fuck Up About, and the other pieces in my Infertility/Pregnancy page.