Wednesday, June 22, 2011

What's New, Pussycat?

Yeah, yeah...I know it has been about 6 weeks since my last blog post. I haven't given up blogging; rather, I've struggled to find enough hours in the day. That might just be an excuse. Maybe the real reason I haven't blogged recently is because my life hasn't been all that interesting as of late. But that sounds pathetic, so I'll go with "I've been busy" and promise to re-commit myself to this blog to the best of my ability.

So what's new in my life since early May? Let's see...I decided to start working again, starting this fall. The plan is to lay the groundwork for a return to full-time teaching by spending Daniel's last year of preschool as a part-time substitute teacher. I was welcomed back to Upper Dublin with open arms, and I'll probably start with 2 or 3 days a week of subbing. Who knows where it might lead? It's extremely daunting to think about returning to the work force after a 4-year absence. But it's also pretty damn exciting to move in such a purposeful direction after spending the past 2 years floating around in pregnancy limbo. I never allowed myself during that time to think about going back to work because I always thought I'd keep trying to have another baby. But now, even with the possibility of adoption still very much present in my mind, I want to take control of my life. I'm tired of watching time go by. I have so much more to offer this world, and it's time to put up or shut up.

Daniel turned 4 on June 13th, and we started 3-day potty training boot camp later that week. To say I was dreading those 3 days is an extreme understatement. I expected it to be pure torture. Boy, did I feel foolish when it went off (almost) without a hitch! Daniel is kicking some serious potty training ass, already telling me when he has to go and running to the potty by himself -- and he hasn't even been trained for a full week! I'm still kind of in shock that my baby is potty trained! It's about damn time, but anyway...

I have a new niece, courtesy of Peter's brother and sister-in-law. Her name is Isabel, and we went to see her at the hospital earlier this week. She's tiny and precious, and I've already bought her a girly outfit! I'm excited to be an aunt of 2 now, and I will try to best the best and coolest aunt I can be. I'm also happy for Daniel to have a new cousin, even if she won't be able to play with him for a couple of years. I know that he is going to be such a wonderful role model for both Ian and Isabel. Whether or not he ever has a sibling, he will always have family.

So here we are, moving towards the end of June. Summer has officially begun, and Daniel is in camp. I spend my days exercising, playing with Daniel, and contemplating how and when to proceed with the exploration of the adoption option. I'll let you know what I decide. I'm sure I'll have plenty to say about it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to Make a Quick Buck Off Your Shattered Dreams

Today I dragged a large Rubbermaid container filled with my best maternity clothes to a consignment store in Manayunk. I knew it had to happen sooner or later, and as much as I was dreading having to deal with the reality of the situation, I was eager to get a large chunk of it out of my house. One step closer to closing the book on this painful chapter of my life. So I did my research, found a place that would accept my stuff, and made an appointment to consign the remnants of my life as a pregnant woman.

As the store owned lifted each item out of the container and examined it for stains or defects (of which there were none, of course -- I wore these clothes for only one pregnancy, after all) I was consumed by simultaneous feelings of warm nostalgia and bitter sadness. Each shirt, skirt, and pair of paneled pants represented a time when I was naive but optimistic. I was a working woman with a miraculous life growing inside of me. I loved my maternity clothes. Wearing them made me feel special. Today, as I watched this woman toss each item of clothing into a pile and mentally calculate the value of my happy memories, I felt lonely. Like an opportunity was being taken from me. Like I had lost my chance and I had to give up the trophy.

It doesn't bother me so much that another pregnant woman is going to wear my maternity clothes. Actually, it may sound completely selfish, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that I was more comfortable with the thought of a stranger wearing my stuff rather than a friend or relative. If I was going to let go of these clothes, I wanted them as far away from me as possible. And now that they're out of my house, I'm relieved. When that first consignment check arrives in the mail, I'll spend it on something special for myself. Something personal. Because only I'll truly know what I had to give up to earn that money.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Royal Rita's Treatment

Daniel and I were fortunate enough to have the opportunity this morning to get a "behind the scenes" tour of a Rita's Water Ice location in Perkasie. The owner, Mrs. Lisa Feldman, was our gracious and generous hostess. We arrived an hour before the store was scheduled to open for the day, so Lisa and her husband Michael were in full prep mode. As busy as she was, Lisa cut no corners in showing us everything there is to know about operating a Rita's franchise.

Our main reason for being there? Cotton candy. No, really. Lisa's daughter Ilene is a big fan of the new flavor and when I mentioned it was one of Daniel's favorites, she suggested I obtain some for him...and quick! And that's how our VIP tour came to fruition. Daniel is obsessed with cooking and preparing food these days, so I knew it would be a thrilling experience for him. Once he took in all the sights, sounds, and smells, he began to feel more at ease. By the time we were ready to leave, he had pretty much commandeered the place.

First up was a lesson in making the water ice. Daniel loved pouring the cotton candy syrup into the machine and pushing the "start" button.

While we waited for our batch of water ice to set, Lisa showed us how she bakes the soft pretzels, fills the custard dispenser, and "mixes" the tubs of water ice to keep them from becoming lumpy and watery. We helped blow up some balloons to decorate the front of the store, and raided Lisa's "prize patrol" shelf for some tchotchkes. Daniel even got to watch the security camera footage from the comfort of Lisa's office (perhaps his favorite part of the whole tour). When all was said and done, and the crowd had begun to gather out front in anticipation of the store's 12:00 opening, we gathered up our goodies to go. Lisa sent us home with a quart of cotton candy and a quart of root beer (Peter's favorite), two soft pretzels, and a big smile on a certain 3-year-old's face.

Thank you to Lisa for making us feel so special. I suspect that Daniel will not forget his Rita's backlot tour for a very long time. It doesn't take a whole lot to entertain a child. A couple of buttons to push, a deflated balloon, the feeling that he's doing something extra-special. Oh, and a cup of delicious cotton candy water ice doesn't hurt!

This is what brain freeze looks like, my friends:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All the Cool Kids are Doing It

Have you ever felt like you were the only non-pregnant person in the whole world? I'm not just talking about the direct correlation between how hard you are trying to get pregnant and how many of your Facebook friends have announced their pregnancies that very week. Rather, I'm thinking back to each of my pregnancy experiences and remembering all of the celebrities who got knocked up at the same time. When I was pregnant with Daniel, Julia Roberts was expecting her third child. Christina Aguilera and Nicole Kidman had their babies around the same time. We were a sisterhood of mommies, suffering exhaustion and sore breasts "alongside" one another.

With each of my unsuccessful pregnancies came envy and disgust. How dare Nicole Richie have a second child when her first isn't even as old as Daniel? What justice is there in the world when Tori Spelling can have a second healthy pregnancy and I can't even get past the first trimester? Does Heidi Klum REALLY need a fourth kid? And so on. As I mourned my losses, it seemed like everyone in Hollywood was procreating. Even during my last IVF cycle, Celine Dion gave birth to her "miracle" twins. I really wanted to share that miracle with Celine.

Now that I've decided to end my pursuit of having another biological child, I still get a little hot under the collar with every Posh Spice or Jessica Alba. These celebrities just keep popping them out like it's the trendiest thing to hit Hollywood! I find myself obsessively poring over E!Online, searching for the next "big" announcement. Selma Blair, Jane Krakowski, Jewel, Natalie Portman, Mariah Carey, and on and on and on. Is Khloe Kardashian preggers or not? Will someone please tell me and PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY???

But I'm starting to notice another trend. Sandra's adopted baby boy Louis. Sarah Jessica's twins via surrogate. Nicole's daughter via surrogate. Sheryl Crow's adopted boys Wyatt and Levi. I could go on, but you get the point. Just today, I read about Elizabeth Banks (Avery on 30 Rock) having a baby boy via surrogate. Her exact quote was: "I have been very fortunate in life both professionally and personally...The one true hurdle I've faced in life is that I have a broken belly. After years of trying to get pregnant, exploring the range of fertility treatments, all unsuccessful, our journey led us to gestational surrogacy..." Now THIS is a woman to whom I can relate! Broken bellies unite!

If we follow Hollywood's example, it appears that there really is no "right" way to make a family. Sure, you can do it like the Beckhams and procreate like there's no tomorrow (all while maintaining your svelte, angular figure), or you can do the best with what you've been given. Elizabeth Banks' announcement today filled me with pride. I'm now part of an elite club. A group of high-profile women who are turning lemons into lemonade via adoption, surrogacy, and even stopping after one child (Shout-out to you, Courtney Cox, who suffered many miscarriages before giving birth to Coco, and then moved on with her fabulous life as the mother of an only child.) I've never been this trendy in my whole life.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Moving On

I am confounded by the fact that it is already the end of March. It has been over three months since my successful IVF cycle came to a devastatingly screeching halt. And just this week, I actually thought to myself, "I'm finally starting to move on."

What does "moving on" look like for me, you may ask. Well, for starters, it involves closure. By some strange and masochistic twist of fate, I received two key pieces of mail this week: one, a bill for $40.00 due to my OB-GYN at Jefferson for services rendered last winter before my March loss. The other, a refund check for $140.00 from Abington Reproductive Medicine for the months of embryo cryo-storage that we did not utilize. Nothing like an unintentional (but nonetheless stinging) slap in the face to force you to face the reality of your situation. So there's that. I'm no longer a patient of either practice, my accounts having been settled and my file having been shelved in a musty basement somewhere.

Then there's the more tangible aspects of "moving on." Inquiring about places to consign my maternity clothes. This was a much bigger deal than you might think. I haven't been able to look in that guest room closet for months. Cleaning out Daniel's playroom and storing away most of his baby toys. Offering much of my gently-used baby gear to my sister-in-law, who is due in a couple of months. These small actions represent a much more significant step for me, which is to admit and accept that I will never again give birth to my own biological child.

Interestingly enough, "moving on" also holds some positive connotations for me. I've been hitting the gym hard, working to get my pre-"three failed pregnancies in two years" body back. I have a long way to go, but I'm fighting the muffin top with all my might. I'm considering going back to work: initially as a substitute teacher, then maybe full time when Daniel starts kindergarten. I'm rediscovering my identity as a woman, beyond being a mother. I'm searching for things that fulfill me, beyond my precious child. And that is a GOOD thing!

And then there's this: I'm exploring the idea of adoption. Reading books and articles, talking to people, gathering phone numbers. Deciding on domestic vs. international. Adjusting the image I've always had for the future, and learning to like the way it looks. With or without a second child who may or may not look like me. Finding something every day that's wonderful about having only one child. And being okay with that!

I'm nothing if not a work in progress, but I'm moving forward.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

We're on a Break

After an emotionally (and physically) tumultuous December, I came to the realization that my life and I were experiencing irreconcilable differences. We needed some time apart. Enter Florida. This annual staycation could not have come at a better time. The thought of "checking out" for three whole weeks filled my troubled soul with sunny hope. Not only would I get a break from the dreary Philadelphia winter, but I'd be able to cope with my residual December sadness within the safe confines of my parents' vacation home. You can't buy that level of comfort.

So here I sit, sipping wine at 6:00 in the airy living room, enjoying this break from the day-to-day routine that is my life, and finding rejuvenation in the simple act of doing whatever. Reassuring myself that when my life and I do reconcile, it will be a sweet reunion. That I will have put the bulk of the sadness behind me and will find the strength to move forward with purpose and direction. I'm actually excited to see where the next phase of my life takes me. To no longer feel trapped in an unending cycle of hope and disappointment. I'm free. Literally and figuratively. And I'm in Boca. So things are good right now.

In Boca we sleep 'til 9:00. We take leisurely walks around the country club. The dog has a spring in his step. The 3-year-old plays outside until the sun goes down. We swim, we lunch, we chill. And it's just what the doctor ordered for me. Don't be jealous -- I'd still trade places with you in a heartbeat. But I'm healing. I'm starting to learn how to accept my life for what it is, warts and all. Although we're currently on a break, I'm confident that we'll live happily ever after...eventually.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

48 Hours

For 48 hours, I was living a miracle. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. All my previous struggles somehow seemed insignificant. My mantra became, "It was worth the wait." And it was. It really was. For 48 hours, I was living the happy ending I had envisioned so many times. All those times I had tried to make it happen through sheer will. Closing my eyes tight and thinking that if I visualized myself holding a baby, it would soon become a reality. But my miracle was short-lived. With one phone call, it morphed into a nightmare.

Miracles had happened to me before. About 9 years ago, I suffered a stroke and went on to recover pretty much 100%. The miracle wasn't necessarily in the recovery itself, but rather in the details of what was going on at the time of the stroke: I was in a big city (Las Vegas) with top-rate hospitals, I was with friends who had the foresight to call 911, I accepted treatment with IV meds that had a 10% chance of killing me but ended up saving me, and the clot was situated in the right side of my brain (leaving my right-dominant hand unaffected, my speech intact, and my cognition as flawless as ever). Six weeks later, I was back at work as a third-grade teacher. Nine years later, you would never know I was a stroke survivor unless you saw me do side plank pose in yoga. Trust me. It really isn't pretty.

What I'm trying to say is that I've experienced the glory of success before. Unfortunately, when you're going through a tough time in your life, it's easy to forget the miracles that have long passed. Or even the miracle that is staring you right in the face. After 2 years of failed IVF attempts and lost pregnancies, I'm just beginning to realize how profoundly miraculous my child is. Daniel is happy, healthy, smart, and beautiful. When you've lived through tragedies as I have these past 2 years, you don't take those things for granted. But I'd be lying if I said that my miraculous child makes this current tragedy any less painful. Loss is loss.

Don't feel sorry for me; feel empathy for what I'm going through. Reach out and tell me you care. There's nothing you could possibly say that would upset or offend me. Saying something stupid is better than saying nothing at all. Let's acknowledge together that this really sucks for me. There's nothing else you need to say. Just tell me that you understand what it must feel like to be in my shoes. To live a 48-hour miracle and have it all snatched away in a moment. To mourn the loss of a pregnancy while you're still mourning the loss of the previous two. If this weren't my life, I wouldn't believe it was real. But I'm still here. And today I laughed. So I know that I'm going to be okay.