7w1d: Embracing Reality

I refused to even consider maternity clothes when I was pregnant with Rex until I was into the second trimester.  I couldn’t understand how ladies with a barely dry, positive pee stick ran out and started loading up on maternity wear.    What better way to tempt the Fates, than to buy maternity clothes in the first trimester?  I knew how the world worked when it came to the dreaded “m” word and damned if I was going to prove the axiom right.

This time, though, fear has given way to a sort of dress-in the-moment attitude.  The moment currently is that I’m pregnant and I need to dress in something other than flowing dresses because I don’t have that many and my summer tops are feeling neglected from lack of use.   Enter the two Old Navy Maternity shorts that I ordered this morning with no twinge of fear.   At least I’ll be comfortable for the next few weeks – especially on our vacation next week in the Caribbean – and if things don’t work out, I know where I can sell them.  It’s a win-win.

Mr. X and I have also had preliminary discussions of planning for where Baby Lagniappe might sleep, when to tell Rex, and how to handle day care.  We talked about giving breast-feeding another try and what we might need to stock up on again.  And you know what? It didn’t bother me one bit.

There’s a Person In There

For as much as Rex resembles a human, his ability to communicate in the English language has been understandably lacking.  Even I, who believes that he is only months away from SAT prep, understands that grasping the spoken word can take a while when the mouth is unused to working with the tongue to form words, let alone put those words to concepts.

Pointing

During this time, I’ve lumped Rex in the same category as our animals – an adorable enigma with whom I will never be able to have an intelligent, spoken conversation.  While the cats meowed and the dog barked (and barked, and barked) to tell us whatever they felt was necessary, Rex cried to express his thoughts (tired! hungry! pissed! pissed on! poopy!).  Even when his cries evolved into different cries for different situations, there was still that empty space of the one-sided conversations I would have with him.

Today, Mr. X brought Rex home from day care and reported that Rex can make the figure of a circle with his finger when you say “circle”.  He is also beginning to understand ‘down’.  He is trying to say the word sock when we tell him that we’re putting his socks on.  He is trying to say “ball”.  He says dada and mama.   My child is no Helen Keller, but damn do I feel like Anne Sullivan.  There’s a person in there! And he’s learning how to speak our language!

I feel such an amazing sense of accomplishment at this. It’s not that I am responsible for his development – I am one of a whole host of other people.  My sense of accomplishment is that I stuck it out through the infertility, the miscarriages, the post-partum depression, the sleep deprivation, the adorable enigma crying phase, to get to this point where I get to have the interactions that made me want to have a child in the first place.  I get to start communicating with and getting to know a new little person who is mine.

Honey, Hand Me the Vinegar

I had heard that the first year of a marriage after a child is born can be tough.  I didn’t give it much thought at the time.  We were too busy trying to have the kid, so I wasn’t going to worry about what would happen when we had the kid.  I also figured that our marriage had already been Tested by so many things – a full house renovation, a hurricane, two kittens, five years of infertility, two miscarriages, a rescue dog – that having a baby, something that we wanted so badly, couldn’t possibly put us asunder.

Then we had Rex.  And my husband went from being my partner to being  another child constantly needing something and not helping.  At least, that’s how it felt at the time to my PPD-addled severely hormonal whack jobbed brain.  As the sleep deprivation and depression worsened and the laundry and dishes piled up, what had worked in our marriage before as an equitable distribution of the chores turned into an exercise in score keeping and endless events in the Most Tired Olympics.   It drove me crazy that he would come home from work and go on and on about how hard his day was and (I perceived) wanted my sympathy when I had been taking care of our son all day, which was the hardest thing I had ever done in my entire life, thank you very much.

Via Flickr Creative Commons by alsjhc

I see now that we were both thrown for a terrific loop when Rex was born which should not have come as much of a shock as it did.  We dealt with the curve ball in our own ways, which for all other major tests had worked fine, but for this one didn’t work at all.  One problem, of course, is that I wasn’t coping hardly at all with the loop and Mr. X was left trying to cope for both of us.  When I did try to cope I turned to keeping score on who did how many chores, how many hours of baby care, how many night wakings, etc. so that I didn’t feel like I was the only one doing anything.  I would build these ‘babycare points’ and try to redeem them for chore duties such as taking out the trash (yay! something easy that doesn’t scream!) or grocery shopping just to be able to do something that I knew I could do and do well.  I also desperately wanted to feel normal, at least for a little while.  How awful is that?

And, I felt like Mr. X was contributing to the problem, not helping.  I began impersonating a snapping turtle when I was around him.  I had an over abundance of frustration, anger and just sheer angst fueled by PPD and sleep deprivation that I would take out on him.  I couldn’t (and never had even a whiff of desire to) take it out on Rex.  In the 20/20 rear view mirror, I see that he did the absolute best that he could considering he had a hormonally challenged wife suffering from PPD, a job to hold down (including a job transfer that was foisted on him the day he got back from his paternity leave) and a newborn who did the usual typical baby things like screaming, explosive pooping and erratic sleeping.  And, bless his heart, he loved me anyways.  He must have been just as frustrated as I was but he kept holding us afloat.

Even in those dark days, though, I never told Mr. X how I felt.  I could see nothing good coming from that and I knew deep down in that tiny little sane place in my brain that I was really, really out of whack and not seeing things as they really were.  But, I did a lot of thinking and soul searching.  I addressed a lot of my long standing issues, issues that had been around long before Rex arrived on the scene but that I could ignore and still have a relatively easy life.   Now, though, everything was on the table, including how I would treat Mr. X.  I decided to make a conscience effort to just be kind to him.  No matter what.  No matter what question he asked, no matter what he messed up, no matter anything.  And, it’s been working.  It’s also been coming back to me.   I can tell he’s thrilled to have his wife back.  I’m so glad I could get back to him too.

Thankful to Feel Thankful

I’m a little late for a thankful Thanksgiving post, but I was rather occupied over the holiday overeating and chasing after the now vigorously crawling Rex (“no, not the fireplace, Boo Boo!”).  And, I had a hard time summoning the blogging mojo after all was said and done.  But, I wanted to share with all of you lovelies who still indulge me.

I have so much to be thankful for, but you know what I am most thankful for?  I am most thankful that I can feel thankful.

Via Creative Commons by Kyle Steed

Because, there was a time not so long ago when thankful was the last thing I would have felt.  Overwhelmed, sad, tired, tired, trapped, anxious – these were all things I felt.  I was so afraid that I had made the biggest mistake of my life becoming a mother.  I didn’t recognize my life anymore and I longed for earlier days when life was boring and predictable and, yes even infertile, because at least then I wouldn’t have to deal with such constant uncertainty and upheaval.  Yeah, really.

I had no perspective on my life, no measure to determine if I was really foundering as much as I felt.  I thought I was a terrible mother to Rex.  Sure, I met his needs, but I wasn’t as much fun as daddy or as loving as his grandmother.  I was pretty certain that he didn’t like me very much and I realized that I agreed with him. I didn’t like me very much either. I could not see how Rex could love me since I didn’t see anything really worth loving.

I made a decision – I could continue down this road of being my own worst enemy or I could slowly begin to love me for me.  I took baby steps in the beginning – no more nasty thoughts about myself, no more worries about what other people thought about me.  In the end, I don’t have to live with them for the rest of my life, but I sure as shit have to live with myself, so why not get along with me?

And I began to feel such peace.  Peace with me, peace with my life.  I accept my life now, all of it.  I embrace it, warts and all.  I see the joy in it and I also see the mundane.  And both are ok.  And, I’m becoming friends with me.  I like myself more.  I put that nasty little voice in a box and sit on the lid. And at the end of each day, I sit back and go over my day thinking about the highlights – good hair day, wonderful moment with Rex, good conversation with Mr. X, delicious glass of wine, and savor those moments.  I congratulate myself on successfully navigating situations that would have earlier brought me nothing but angst.

And, I feel thankful. Thankful for my wonderful family, for this beautiful boy who I grew and nurtured and now get to watch every day interacting with the world. Thankful that I persevered through the dark times to get to this light.  Thankful that I made the conscious decision to be present.

Putting the ‘F’ in Fun

My father and I were driving Rex home from daycare the other day and he told me something that I found very interesting: “You were so much fun when you were little.”  

Fun? I had a really hard time wrapping my brain around this – although not because I doubted that I was fun. By all accounts, I was a laugh riot when I was a kid.  What I had a hard time getting was that babies can be fun.  My overwhelming experience thus far with Rex could not be classified as ‘fun’.  Anything but fun.

image: Duncan Creamer via Creative Commons

A few days later, my parents baby sat Rex for a few hours while Mr. X and I went to a classic car auction.

When we returned, my father reported that Rex was great fun to be around.  And, I began to see him through my dad’s eyes.  His excited little leg jig when he wanted something.  His giggle when tickled in just the right spot.  His overall zest and joy for life.  Rex is fun alright.  He is truly a joy to behold.

 

Yesterday, Rex shared with me some of his capacity for fun.  He was on our bed, on his back (in his cockroach pose, I call it – arms and legs in the air swinging madly because he wants to get over on his hands and knees) and I was shaking his little bottom by swinging his legs back and forth.  He LOVED every minute of it – from the shake to the slalom.   And, I admit it: I had fun with him. His little old man heh-heh-heh laugh made me laugh every time which sent him into further paroxysms of joy.

Then, I had this overwhelming urge and held him close to my chest while kissing him on his big fat cheek and I thought, babies can be fun. Who knew?

From Shock To Awww

My first introduction to Motherhood was when she ran me over in the middle of the street with a Mack truck.  I have the tire marks on my nursing bra to prove it.  Our relationship did not improve after this, either.  Motherhood flitted around me like Muhammad Ali, light on her feet and jabbing me in the ribs at the first sign of weakness.  In other words, she was just a total bitch.

Those were dark times for me, people.  Times when I’m certain that Mr. X tiptoed around me like I was Voldemort.  Times when despite all outward appearances, I had a crazed gleam in my eye and could be goaded into either tears or anger at the drop of any object.  Times when I was so wretchedly unhappy that I seriously considered going to sleep with the fishes.

I wanted to be happy, too.  I wanted to be in love with my baby and wax poetic about how I loved being a mom, how naturally it came to me and how I knew that I was meant for this one role.  I wanted to be BFFs with Motherhood, walk down the street arm-in-arm with a cooing, giggling baby.  But, I wasn’t happy.  I was miserable.  And that made me feel even worse.

It continued to get worse in June and July, July in particular.  I can’t say what about that month was so wretched, but I was just drained emotionally, physically, mentally by the end of it.

And then, almost all of a sudden, things changed.  Motherhood and I reached a detente and more importantly…

I fell in love with my baby, this gorgeous creature, and it was and is wonderful.  Finally, finally, I get to feel what I have wanted for so long. I love to hold him on my lap and just feel his solid weight on my stomach.  I love to hear him laugh knowing that at least a few times, I was the one who made him laugh.  I love how when I put him down to sleep at night he squawks, flips onto this stomach and falls blissfully asleep.  I love it because I know that I had a hand in doing that – I gave him all the love and comfort that he needed to know that it was perfectly safe to just pass out for the night.

I feel that heart squeeze now when I look him and I’m just so thankful that I finally have this one final gift.

The Un-Announcement

I have read many posts written by fellow infertiles that say what I am about to –  indeed I’ve written at least one myself.  And, very few have managed not to stick a dagger right into my heart.  Those that did manage to insert knife into tender heart were not call-outs, or insults.  The stab came from their suffusion with emotions that I wasn’t able to experience very often – utter, indescribable joy at the happening of that which seemed to be impossible. 

My problem, of course, was that it still seemed impossible for me and so I wasn’t feeling particularly charitable to the person who was able to write of joyful news with undertones of “finally, it’s my turn to get out of his hell hole and get back to a normal life” – whether they were there or not.  I still remember very, very well the bittersweetness (with a lot more bitter than sweet, I’m afraid) with which I read those words.  So, I knew that should  I ever have cause to write a post like that, I would do my level best not to break anyone else’s heart with it.*   

And, that moment has appeared to come to pass.  Wednesday brought a faint second line, Friday a darker second line and today a number: 158.  All this means for now is that I am merely paroled from this maximum security prison of infertility, but still one violation away from being locked back up again.  I will be on my best behavior, but ever mindful that I am not free and clear of the spectre of being sent back to solitary confinement. 

So, you can understand if I will not be throwing out the ‘p’ word – I can’t even bring myself to think it, let alone type it for all of the internets to read.  I will not be shouting with joy and the exclamation points are just going to have to find someone else’s blog on which to reside because they sure as hell ain’t going to be on mine.  

Am I happy about this recent development?  I don’t think that happy is the word I would use.  Happy implies that I’m optimistic about the future.  I’ve burned my hand on that stove too many times to even go near it.  No, I think the best I can say is that I am content.  Content that, at least for now, we have good news. 

I humbly ask that if you are so inclined to respond to this news that you simply share in my contentment.  Above all, please no statements that I’m going to be a mom.  I know all too well that a positive test does not necessarily equal squalling ball of infant in nine months.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled (and blessedly snarky) episode of The Young and the Infertile

* This is not to say that the women who wrote those posts woke up that morning intending to impale me.  They just wanted to share their joy and I was being (and still am a little bit of) a petulant 5-year old.

Everything Zen

I could tell you that I have been and am on pins and needles waiting for The Answer. I could tell you that I have been debating with myself about whether or not to pee on the dreaded stick. I could tell you that I’ve been lurking on sites about symptoms at 6dp5dt. 

Unfortunately, I would be lying.  And I suck at lying.  I could never play poker successfully because I suck so much at lying.

zeneraNo, I’ve been surprisingly zen.  I know that I have done everything I can and it is really no longer up to me – well, other than the big no-no’s like shooting up heroin, and rollercoasters.  Luckily, I’ve never acquired a taste for either of these.  Mr. X and I have also discussed how we want to proceed in the event it doesn’t work this time and once again, I am greatly relieved to realize that we are on the exact same page.  We’ve also been discussing other options for our lives regardless of whether we end up parenting.  Building or renovating our dream house has been batted around quite a lot.  In other words, we’ve got plans that extend beyond and do not depend upon what may come to pass.  And that is a great comfort.

I think I’m also still so grateful to be released from the mindsuck of bedrest.  I knew daytime television was a wasteland, but geez.  Even HBO didn’t do much to help stem the tide of mediocrity.  So, to be able to go back to work and get up when I wanted to (!), stay standing for more than 5 minutes (!) and ponder questions headier than how long has it been since I got up last? has been a wonderful gift.  G and I have also been training for pet therapy which is as much about him training as it me, so that has been a great distraction as well. 

And so, what have I been doing with myself if I haven’t been obsessing over the fact that I am in the two week wait?  Lots of stuff.  I’ve been working, cooking (I baked a cherry pie!), reading, visiting with friends, watching BSG with Mr. X (Xena, how could you?!) and enjoying  our first full week of gorgeous warm weather. I also have been guilty of major animal snorgling. It is an excellent way to spend any time, let alone the dreaded 2WW. 

Other than the morning butt shot, no caffeine and no booze, you wouldn’t think that I am where I am. And that’s just the way I like it.  

image: zenera

Not This Time

It’s mid-February and I have been busy resisting  the urge to play the This Time Last Year Game.

ohdearbarb1If I gave in and drew out my worn and dog geared deck of cards, I would remember that I was newly pregnant after our first IVF.  I would remember that in just a few short days, I would start spotting and so would begin the almost month-long odyssey from no hope to hope to no hope

I would note that the Oscars are on this Sunday and that Mr. X and I watched the Oscars last year at his relative’s house, and I couldn’t concentrate because all I could think about was how I had started spotting that afternoon, but I couldn’t share anything with anyone except him.  I would dread reliving the agonizing day until I could get into Dr. Uterus’s office to find out what was going on.  I would remember how awful it was to go through that without Mr. X.  In short, I would have myself a nice case of post-traumatic stress disorder, infertility-style.

So, rather than play that deck, I choose to open a fresh deck of cards.  On top, is the card of Can-I-tell-you-how-wonderful-it-is-to-not-be-pregnant-right-now?  There is such power and relief in knowing that at least this February will be different.  This February unlike the last two will not feature me getting knocked up and being worried about being knocked up.  This February, all I have to do is just be. 

The next cards in the deck, of course, belong to Dr. Salsa.  But, knowing that the dealer has changed from Dr. Uterus to Dr. Salsa is further helping me avoid playing that old deck.  I think the mind f*ck of trying to get pregnant/being pregnant for the third February in a row and seeing Dr. Uterus at the same time would be too much for my over developed sense of deja vu to handle.  I would feel like I was in the Infertility Groundhog’s Day movie, except the outcome never would change. 

I don’t know if our outcome this time will be any different. But at least I’m playing a gleaming, new and shiny deck of cards that haven’t been tainted or tampered with.

image: ohdearbarb

Thigh Master

Ah, my peeps.  Thank you for your wonderful birthday greetings (and a special shout-out to Shelli, my fellow Groundhogger who also celebrated her birthday on this most auspicious of days). I am home, but I think I left my liver somewhere between Norway and Germany at Epcot’s World Showcase.  We had margaritas from Mexico in Norway. Japanese beer in Japan. German beer in Germany. Another Mexican margarita in Italy. It was absolutely bacchanalian. And, it was the perfect birthday celebration. I – hiccup – highly – hiccup – recommend it. 

Yeah, there were kids. Lots and lots of kids. But 90% of them were probably too young to have the stamina that is required to do Disneyworld and so were in major meltdown mode just about everytime I saw one.  A wailing child in the middle of the Haunted Mansion is an excellent cure for the infertility blues.  

And, there were some pregnant ladies. But you know what? I was actually glad that I wasn’t pregnant. I had plenty of energy to walk all over, I could go on any ride I wanted and I could knock back the liter (yes, you read that right) of beer at the Biergarten with the rest of the non-child-toting 20 and 30-somethings they sat us with at the communal tables.  In short, I was really able to enjoy myself.

And, I did everything within my power to enjoy myself. 

Well, I refused to go on Tower of Terror at Disney Hollywood. I love my man, but that love does not conquer my overwhelming fear of heights.  Luckily, I was able to use my birthday as an excuse not to be guilted into being dropped 130 feet in a randomly programmed nightmare. 

I was having such a good time, in fact, that I almost forgot that I had to start my Lupron.  But, I remembered! I also remembered that I had to give myself the injection in the abdomen.  Let me just say that Dr. Uterus never, ever required such measures. Hips – with their ample cushion of plumpness – were perfectly fine for him.  Not so for Dr. Salsa. Oh no. He has to be different.

So, that was how I found myself in the bathroom of our hotel room, listening to Mr. X howl with laughter as a sophomoric show, pinching my anemic abdomen fat and sticking myself with the Lupron needle.  And what did I get for my trouble? An immediately huge welt that itched and looking like I had swallowed one of those turkey timers.  Not a happy camper.

I called Nurse Chipper the next day and sweetly inquired as to whether this dreadful experience meant that I was allowed to return to my beloved hip injection site. No dice, but I was cleared to use the top of my thigh instead. 

I initially pouted (seriously, I pouted) that I was not getting My Way in this. But, Mr. X, sweet gentle loving man that he is, pointed out that maybe it wouldn’t be so bad because maybe there was more fat to work with on the thigh (why is this starting to sound like a description of the Thanskgiving turkey?).  I did some preliminary comparison pinching and wouldn’t you know? Plenty of deliciously cushioning fat.  For my second injection, it was strictly a thigh night and boy, was it smooth as silk. 

I am officially the thigh master.