Friday, August 31, 2012


The past few days I've been finding it harder and harder to connect with this space. Part of it has to do with the demands of daily life. I started teaching again this week, resulting in my spending most of my waking hours responding to emails, meeting with students and just trying to keep my nose above water (the 'head' is a pipe-dream). I'm loving every minute, but obviously it doesn't leave much time for anything else.

But on another level, I've felt a pull to disconnect from the ALI world. Unlike last year, where I felt I had so much to say, I'm feeling a lot more silent. Part of this has to do with us being on hold for expanding our family, as no adoption agency will work with us until after our move. The other part is not knowing how to connect with others who are moving on. In a way, it feels like that after everything Grey and I have been through, we no longer belong.

I struggle with these feelings of exclusion and limbo on a daily basis. A lot of it has to do with the mind-set of this process and how driven everyone is to resolve. I've yet to meet anyone who undergoes fertility treatments who truly believes they won't work. Yes there's always the worry of failure, but there's also the promise of hope. So to be on the end where things haven't worked with no future plans for attempting to make them work isolates me from others. The adoption process is even trickier based on our current circumstances. It's not that we've failed, but more like a failure to launch that's put me into a funk.

In short, I'm trying to figure out where to go from here, redefining my role. I still firmly identify as being infertile, but now more than ever as one of those unspoken cases where a happy-ending isn't as clear. While others around me move forward, finding some resolution, I instead feel like train-wreak that one passes, allowing those that travel through to silently feel relief that life isn't as bad.

What's hard about all these feelings is that most of them are not valid. Sure, others are moving on and finding their babies while we've stopped all efforts. But Grey and I aren't drifting aimlessly. During this break from the TTC madness, we've focused on repairing not only our relationship but also ourselves. For the first time in my life, I finally feel that I am in a safe place to talk openly about all that we've lived through and to actually beginning repairing the damage. We're both breaking old patterns and getting in touch with anxieties and fears about ourselves and our future. None of it has been easy, but we're already seeing the benefits from this. On top of this, this break has really allowed us to better understand why we want children. To explore what it is we want from the role of being 'parent' as well as to really assess whether we have in place qualities to allow children to grow and thrive. This assessment has been incredibly important because of how lacking it is in general in the world. I'm particularly sensitive to this lack because it was lacking in my own life for so long. No child should be a  possession.

In addition to all this work, there's been good things too. Grey and I have developed a weekly ritual of pulling Angel Cards. This was mine for the week

We've also been playing in the garden more recently. Grey's basil and flower boxes are doing very well and the fuchsias did incredibly well this year. I've also discovered a new plant called Melothria scabra, also known as a 'Mouse Melon.' When you see the fruits, it's not hard to see why.

All in all, we're doing well. Better than expected, actually. There are still moments of sadness and anger, but as the days go by I'm feeling more at peace; almost resolved considering our lot.

I guess the whole point of this diatribe is that I'm struggling to figure out where I belong. I'm struggling because we didn't get our happy-ending and yet I know we're going to be okay. Surprisingly okay. All of which isn't what one is suppose to be experiencing when living with infertility and loss because this peace is suppose to be reserved for when you finally resolve. When you're finally holding your children. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bitter. Infertile. Podcast!

Late to the party, but better late than never.

At the beginning of August, the brillant and beautiful Mo from Mommy Odyssey decided to create a podcast about infertility. And being as brillant (and beautiful) as she is, she decided to expand this to include all aspects of infertility, from RPL, to IVF, to adoption and even parenting after all the madness.

I am beyond honored to be included with these three women. Read here, here and here for more background (said far better than I ever could hope to).

And then go HERE to listen!

For future podcasts, please visit the Bitter Infertiles website.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Drama queen. The urban dictionary defines this as: 1) an overly dramatic person; 2) someone who turns something unimportant into a major deal or blows things out of proportion when ever the chance is given; 3) an annoying bitch who always feels like every insignificant problem in her day is a disaster of Hurricane Katrina proportions.

The warning for definition '3' is 'if you value your sanity, avoid these psychic vampires like the clap or you'll never have a minute's peace.'

I've been feeling like a drama queen as of late, with the events from this last year allowing me to reach new and exciting heights. Initially I was doing a good job of justifying the drama, assuring myself that what I'm dealing with isn't a minor and definitely life-changing. Still, I'm burning myself out. And I'm worried I've beyond burned Grey out.

To counter act the all of this, I've been working closely with our therapists. With each EMDR or marriage counseling session, I find I'm emerging not as a calm and collected individual, but one that is rattled. I'm also struggling as we reprocess memories and emotions, restructuring the way I deal with stress and pain. A lot of this has to do with me not believing that I'm justified in my anger over everything that has happened, mainly because of my inherit believe that I'm cursed. Still I'm trying. But, damn, it's hard.

There was one particular session that stuck with me, though, that has been giving me something to work towards. Dee was talking about her son and how she parents. As I told her my fear of repeating the cycle of abuse with my own children, Dee looked at me and validated my fear. How most people will fall back into patterns that their parents taught them during their childhood. That, as good as our intentions may be not to be like our parents, we inherently will because that's what we know. And that breaking such patterns requires rewiring our brains to eliminate them. In short, it's not as easy as we like to believe.

Hearing this gave me some hope. Grey and I have been working very hard to heal and break dysfunctional patterns. The progress has been slow, though, and both of us have been discouraged by this. To have Dee (and later David) validate how hard this is made me like less of a failure.

I guess the point of all of this is I'm trying to break the drama queen trend. Failing daily, but trying. Hopefully I'll get to the point that I'm no longer avoided like the clap.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


A belated welcome to all those from ICLW! Just a brief background: my husband Grey and I have been TTC for 2.5 yrs. We were diagnosed with 'unexplained infertility' in January 2011 and began treatment in June 2011. After 3 medicated IUIs, with all of them being negative and me learning first hand how much negative betas suck, we decided to pursue IVF in December 2011. The cycle was outstanding by medical standards, with my REs bringing in medical students and residents to observe our textbook stimulation. We ended up with 8 embryos total, 2 of which were transferred. I got my first BFP ever on December 28, 2011. On January 1, 2012, we learned something was wrong and I was diagnosed with a blighted ovum with a D&C to follow. We did a FET on March 12, 2012 and were hopeful when the first beta came back high, doubling every 36 hrs. 4 days after being reassured that 'things looked great' I started spotting, which turned into full bleeding with clots. I was diagnosed with a completed miscarriage on April 1, 2012. Disheartened, we decided to try one final FET on June 12, 2012, with our two low-grade embryos that weren't suppose to survive the thaw. On June 19, I started experiencing symptoms and had hope that maybe the third-time was the charm. On June 22, 2012, we learned the cycle had failed and the next day decided to end our journey towards a biological child. We are currently in transition as we prepare for a move to Boston, MA in 2013. In the meantime, we are healing and preparing ourselves for the adoption process.

A couple of nights ago, in order to escape the usual, Grey and I decided to watch Les Miserables. I've never seen the movie, the musical or read the book (I know, I know . . . bear with me), but I've heard enough analysis from Grey over the past 8 yrs of our marriage to understand the plot and why it's a seminal work. Considering everything we had recently been through with neighbors, it felt like it was the perfect time. As I watched the story unfold, I found it easy to relate to Valjean and his plight. I admired his conviction to live his life to his moral standards despite living in constant fear of being discovered, but as I neared the end of the film, I began to relate more and more to Javert. Here was a misguided individual who's one great fault was seeing things in black or white. And yet, given his background, it's hard not to blame him for his views despite wanting to hate him so much. Because to escape is beginnings he had to view the world as being black or white. It was necessary to survive.

Last week Mel wrote a post about tolerance that's been haunting me. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend doing so and then doing so again after it's had a chance to sit. The comments section is worthwhile too. Anyway, what's been haunting me is my realization that I view tolerance in a different light from what I did a few years ago. The younger Cristy would have naively stood on her soapbox and proclaimed how necessary it was to practice tolerance and to treat everyone fairly. The younger Cristy would have preached at the top of her lungs about how all humans come into this world equally.

The younger Cristy didn't know what evils exist in the world.

Yes, we need to teach tolerance. We need to learn how to coexist with one another, even those who make our skin crawl and we wish would go play in traffic. But the events from the last couple of weeks have made it resoundingly clear why stereotypes exist. Why certain things are taboo. And all too often, as much as people scream about equality and tolerance, it's always interesting to observe a 'not in my backyard' response when a particularly difficult group moves in.

Grey and I live in a neighborhood that is stuck in transitioning. We moved into our building during the boom years before the financial crash in 2008. At the time, we watched like-minded young couples moving into homes next to third-generation homeowners who were barely able to make ends meet. Our neighborhood was up-and-coming with the promise of parks, sidewalks and affordable living. Following the crash, those that were able to cut their losses and run did. What originally promised to be our new beginning became a nightmare. We soon learned first hand what mental illness looks like and it wasn't long before we learned about the drug houses and the sex offenders that lived nearby.

Still, Grey and I were hopeful. The neighbors that stay were energetic and interested in building community. It wasn't long before a neighborhood watch program moved into our area, compelling everyone to work with the city to eliminate crime and make our community safer. I cheered the first time I saw the neon vest of the neighborhood clean-up crew and the packs of stroller moms who patrolled the streets to make it known that they were watching. We had hope.

Then I learned about what we lived with. I learned about the convict in our midst.

For years I've done my best to be tolerant and accepting. I believe that every person should be judged on their merits and how they live there lives. Still, it's hard to ignore patterns. It's hard to sit by and watch those that need to stay away from certain avenues willfully make decisions to pursue them anyway. And when you get burned and wonder about whether your front door can withstand a blow, it's hard to find one's tolerance fading.

The truth is, I'm bitter about our lot. I'm bitter that treatment failed. Bitter that I can't give my husband the children he deserves. I'm bitter that I came from a dysfunctional family and that they made me the low man on the pecking order. And I'm bitter that I live close to someone who makes my home unsafe. That on top of losing everything else, I have to lose this too.

Therapy is helping on this end. It's nice to have someone who's seen plenty of this type of dysfunction be able to verify that what my gut is telling me is correct. That distancing oneself and silence are the best courses of action. Still, it angers me that we have to learn these lessons too. That one live-changing event wasn't enough.

Monday, August 20, 2012


On Friday, I had an emergency EMDR session with Dee. Following the stress from the last couple of weeks, I was having multiple panic attacks. Dee managed to fit me in due to a last minute cancelation and we began the session talking briefly about the events that were triggering the panic before getting to work.

I've been using EMDR as a way of process both my pregnancy losses as well as the failed rounds of treatment, but Dee has been wanting to delve deeper for a while. As torturous as infertility has been, she believes that the trauma caused by a dysfunctional family is only exacerbating the situation. I need to be healthy if we are going to be able to proceed with adoption and part of being healthy means also coming to some resolution about the abuse.

As I clutched a Kleenex, Dee began the procedure. Digging deep into my past we revisited the first time I vividly remember being struck and verbally assaulted by my mother. I was 9 yrs old and my parents had left us in the care of a babysitter. The sitter had demolished the aquarium my mother had recently purchased and stocked. When my parents came home, she blamed me. So as my father drove the babysitter home, my mother climbed the stairs to where we were sleeping and began interrogating me. I don't remember what happened after my mother realized I had been falsely accused, all I remember is the pain and the tears.

As terrifying as that incident was, it turns out that wasn't the key to the panic. The key came while Dee was helping me reprocess that incident, reminding me that as terrible as all of that was I'm now safe. And the more she repeated 'your safe,' the harder I shook my head. Finally I opened my eyes and looked right at her. And I told her a tale I haven't spoken about in many years.

When I was 18 yrs old, I decided to get my first tattoo. Being from the midwest, there were only a few acts of adulthood that really appealed to me: I wasn't a smoker, I had no desire to gamble, joining the military wasn't my idea of a good time and strip-clubs didn't have much appeal. In addition, I had been dreaming about a tattoo for a couple of years. On my 18th birthday, I quietly left my parents' house and walked into a tattoo parlor for my first tattoo. It wasn't anything overly original (a tiger on my hip with its paw extending a little bit down my leg), but it was my first act of independence. Considering I was an 'A' student with a bright future, this was my bit of rebellion.

When my mom found out she stopped speaking to me for 3 months. I can't begin to tell you how damaging it is to live with someone who pretends you don't even exist. I spent many nights apologizing and trying to amend the situation. I begged, pleaded and even tried reasoning with her. Nothing worked. Finally, she dropped the ultimate bomb: either I have the tattoo removed or forgo college. I spent about a month looking into options to finance college on my own. With no one helping me, I became an easy target for military recruiters and bankers interested in preying on the naive. I'm lucky I didn't sign anything. Finally, with a heavy heart, I made the decision to remove the tattoo. Paying for most of the procedure myself.

As much as people complain about tattoo application, removal is a thousand times worse. The only pain that has surpassed that in my life has been the D&C. It was painful because I had given up control of my body to a mad woman. I still remember the doctors looking at my mother and trying to talk her out of this procedure. It was clear to them I was being forced. And yet, no one did anything. Not my teachers, not my friends and not even the members of my family. They were too afraid of her wrath.

When I told Dee this story, she sat back and said "I'm so sorry." The first time ever that anyone outside of Grey has told me that. And immediately that became our target for the session.

The truth is I'm scared that one day I'll come home and find my mother on my doorstep. I'm beyond angry about what she's done to me and yet I feel powerless regarding protecting myself from her. She's violated my body and been such a source of pain for most of my life that I never learned how to stick up for myself against her. Nothing about her actions is predictable. Everything is a possible trigger and she's used me as her personal whipping-boy for so very long. Initially I thought I had overcome this, that I was doing better. My sister's wedding invitation brought it all back though: all the fear, all the loss and all the pain.

As I cried during the session, I realized something about all of this: I've never grieved the loss of my childhood. I've never allowed myself to. For too long I've been in survival mode, just trying to make it through all the madness. When my mom told me that I deserved my infertility, I took it to heart believing that damnation with each failed treatment or loss. Every bit of it. Sure, I swung back too, accusing her of being an unfit and undeserving mother. But this dance was taught at a very young age. Instead of playing and learning about the world, I was honing my tongue and learning how to brace myself for an outburst.

We have a long way to go still. This process is complex because despite the abuse, there were good moments too. It's the good moments that make all of this difficult as without them I could easily cut my losses. But that's not how the world works. How dysfunction works. The truth is, I've long believed I don't deserve to be a mother. To feel the movements of my child growing within me, to hold them when they first enter the world, to watch them grow and to take joy in watching them become part of the world. But the truth is that I also use to believe that I was unlovable and would never find a partner in life. Grey proved that idea wrong and continues to do so every day. With Dee's help, I want to overcome this last-lingering myth about myself. I want to feel like I do deserve children, just as much as the next person. Because I have done nothing to deserve the venom that was forced onto me, the lies I was told simply to make me subordinate me.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day of Hope

Though my pregnancies were short lived, theses potential children will forever be in my heart. 

"August 19th is a day to break down the walls of society that keep pregnancy, infant and child loss a hush hush subject. People view the death of a baby as just a sad thing that happened. These babies that die are not sad things that happen. They are people, much loved and wanted children. They are brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandsons and granddaughters."
-CarlyMarie Project Heal:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012


It's been a tough couple of weeks here in the Cristy/Grey household. After riding the high from our trip as well as from the summer sunshine, we were not prepared for drama that was lurking. Within a matter of days, though, that all changed. I really can't get into specifics here, but I will say this: it sucks beyond compare to feel unsafe in your own home.

Compounding this was the arrival of mail from my family. Almost a year ago I made the decision to severe contact with all of them. Still this announcement was a blow, dredging up all the pain and feelings of worthlessness caused by their betrayal and abuse. Needless to say, I haven't been coping well.

On Friday to overcome some of the panic associated with all the stress, I did something I haven't done in years; I went to the local driving range and rented 100 golf balls. The goal was simple: envision problems as golf balls and then smack said problems with a 3 iron. Though it worked for calming me down, it didn't offer any solutions.

Needless to say, it's been difficult to reach out to people as of late. Difficult to feel happy for others when I feel like a cornered animal. It bothers me that my home is compromised on so many levels and to know that there really is nothing I can do to prevent anything from happening other than to prepare myself to the worst and hope for the best. Add in the fact that others I know and love are finally doing well, moving on and it stings all the more. 

The truth is, I feel thin. Very thin. With adoption on hold, the question about leftover embryos and a general sense of chaos, I'm feeling overly tried and edgy. I haven't wanted to talk to anybody about this either simply because there are no simple answers and yet I still get well-meant but useless advice on what to do or not to do. 

What I really want is real answers. Honest to good answers. I want a way to resolve this cold war with my family; to get them to either leave me alone or make an honest attempt to rectify our relationship instead of playing the insane cat-and-mouse game. I want some of the crazies that are threatening my home and family to disappear. And I want someone to come forward with a clear answer to our fertility problems. To allow us to finally move on from all of this as well as to show us the road ahead. 

Instead, I stuck hating the universe and all that it's taken from us. I'm stuck wondering how much longer this cold war can be maintained before the next big blowup happens. And I'm stuck wondering if there's a way to overcome this latest round of disturbances calmly and logically instead of being pushed into a fight that no one will win. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

In dreams

Last night I had my first pregnancy dream. I dreamt I was going into labor and admitted myself to the hospital. I was confused, as I didn't know I was pregnant, yet when I looked down I was able to see a perfectly round belly and, when I pressed it, feel movement from within. Though I panicked about not being ready (couldn't find Grey, hadn't prepared for this new extension of our family, etc), for the first time I felt a sense of joy that I haven't felt in so long. To believe that this nightmare had finally come to an end. Finally, we were more than a family of two.

And then I woke up.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lessons learned

Our final few days on the East Coast were ones that I had been looking forward to for awhile. Following the wedding, Grey and I had scheduled time to meet with friends, both old and new, as well as take in some of the sights. On Friday before the wedding, Grey came with me to meet Shelley for lunch and walked away from the experience talking about how wonderful it was to meet her. Saturday morning was spent having brunch with Sass, Shelley and Lindsay. I had so much fun talking with each of them about life as well as their journeys and learned first hand how amazing and strong each of them are. I only wish I had had the foresight to suggest a photo.

On Sunday we left Salem and the skunks for New York City. We stayed with Grey's former roommate and his wife, who is currently 7 months pregnant. Initially I was worried about this arrangement, but it turned out to be a wise decision as Grey and his friend were able to spend time catching up. Plus the main topic was not the baby, but all the horrors of homeownership as they had just recently purchased their condo. Finally, Monday morning, Grey and I ventured into the city to meet Jay. I was a ball of nerves for this meeting, as Jay's blog was the first ALI blog I found. What started off as a poorly-worded email asking her if I could knit her some socks has turned into a huge source of love and support. And though Grey had never spoken to her directly, a coffee date with her was at the top of his list. We had a wonderful time seeing Jay, with Grey completely taken with her from the moment we sat down.

Monday evening, as we traveled back to the Pacific NW, I began to reflect on the lessons learned from this trip. There were the obvious ones: windows of opportunity are to be taken, don't assume anything, the importance of being open to adventure, the importance of rest, etc. But there' other lessons that I wasn't expecting to learn on this trip: sometimes you have to let love in and trust that all will be well; sometimes you need to be patient and not push.

For too long, I've been guarding my heart from hurt, worried that opening myself up to hope would hurt me all the more. Granted, this veneer has been necessary in order to survive the past year, but in the process I've shut out so many who would have offered us help, support or opportunity. And I've been pig-headed about following certain roads despite all the signs to do otherwise.

So, here's the truth of our current situation:
1) Adoption and a move, though not impossible, will make things take longer. Hence we need to spend the next few months gathering more details about our situation before we can pursue a homestudy.

2) In the meantime, Grey and I need to make a plan to recover financially from the past 2.5 yrs. As hard as it is to admit that money needs to be addressed before children, we both know that putting ourselves into financial ruin isn't good for our family. And we have a LOT more debt because of treatments than either of us is comfortable with.

3) With financial healing comes healing in general. With the help of David and Dee, Grey and I are pulling ourselves out of the rabbit hole of infertility and finding ways to live again. It hasn't been easy and there's still a lot of work to be done by both of us, but it's happening.

4) And finally, the hardest truth of all: we still have 2 frozen blastocysts. Every time I think about them, I hurt. I hurt because I don;t know what to do with them nor what the right decision is. Going through another round of treatment is not an option at the moment. Plus, as much as I love my REs, I'm convinced that doing anything with this clinic will result in the same outcome. But I can't imagine destroying or donating these snowbabies to science. I never in my life expected to be so attached and yet detached from potential children and it frightens the hell out of me.

So, there's a lot. And I need time to figure out what we're going to do with each of these truths. But I'm learning not to rush things and to trust my gut. Now I just need to learn some patience and watch for opportunities/signs. Please let there be signs.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


From the time we are young, every girl is encouraged to dream about her wedding day. Weddings are suppose to be a time of celebration as families witness the unity of their loved ones and the creation of a new family. It's suppose to be a time of happiness and bliss. But unfortunately more often than not, it's also a time of stress and drama.

After 8 years of marriage, I've developed a sense of loathing regarding weddings. Grey and I were part of the first wave of marriages for both our families and our friends, hence we were initially blissfully clueless to all that could go wrong. As the years have gone by, though, we've learned.

There's always drama. 

Be it relatives who are not on speaking terms who both managed to imbibe in too much alcohol. Or the melt down from relatives who are unable to deal with not being the center of attention. Or the wedding being held in an outdoor venue where it's so unbelievable cold that you start dehydrating yourself so you don't have to use the outdoor toilets. Or, my personal favorite, the bonding with family members of the happy couple because all of you and half the guests have food poisoning from the dinner served at the reception.

The main purpose of our trip to Boston was to attend the wedding of Grey's youngest cousin. Initially the goal was to have an opportunity to meet most of Grey's extended family and to bond with his parents and siblings. Upon receiving the "save the date" card last November, I had also hoped to finally be pregnant, praying that IVF would not only give us our baby but a reason to celebrate with our family. The universe had other plans though, so instead we were traveling to this event knowing full well that I would be encountering BIL's very pregnant wife and dealing with looks of pity. Needless to say, I was dreading this wedding.

There was an added element to this story. The groom, a man who is 6 months younger than me, is the only child of Grey's aunt and uncle who also struggled with infertility. Back before ART was even an option, this couple quietly struggled to conceive for 8 years and were resolved to live child-free. Then their miracle baby arrived. I've never met their son, but from the moment I saw photographs of this family I knew there was something special about him. It wasn't until years later that I began to hear their tale. Hence, this wedding was incredibly special as I would be witnessing this family coming full-circle. And because of this, I was determined to not be the source of drama.

The thing is, how does one prepare themselves for an event where everyone is assuming you'll fuck up? Grey and I met with David prior to leaving for our trip and talked quite a bit about checking-in with one another as well as providing a united front. But I was still nervous because of how angry I've been with his family. They've been too silent during our time in treatment and with the recent pregnancy announcement. So, like most couples, as soon as we arrived in Salem, MA, Grey and I had a blow-out. After scaring a bartender, being overly short with our host at the B&B and me taking an extended walk, it was decided that our first evening in Salem would be spent with Grey seeing his family and me going out to dinner with Shelley and her DH. 

Following dinner, I was still agitated. While waiting for Grey to come back to our room so we could finish our fight, I walked through the garden behind our accommodations and called MissC to complain. Midway through the conversation, the universe decided it had had enough of me. And as I was complaining about how-I-didn't-know-how-I-was-going-to-get-through-this-wedding, I saw a small black and white head pop up from behind one of the benches.

"Skunk!" I announced, jumping out of my seat. One of the smaller and cuter skunks I've ever seen, but a skunk none the less. As I begged it to go away, and then wandered over to make sure I could make a bee-line for my room, I realized it had brought its sibling. 

It was in this moment of panic that MissC suggested a fantastic way to get our of the wedding without offending anyone: piss off the skunk. Her reasoning is sound, as no one wants to be around someone who's just been sprayed.

Upon hanging up with MissC and making it safely back to my room, I realized her suggestion was an insightful one. All of the anxiety about this wedding and seeing Grey's family came down to me feeling left out. That, like the skunk, I was seen as more of a threat to everyone around me because of the pain I was nursing from my losses and the experiences from these past 2.5 yrs. When Grey got back, he confirmed this as his family has wrapped him in love and allowed his to express his grief. SIL in particular had been amazing, empathizing with him over everything we've been through as she had suffered RPL before the birth of her only son. 

So, that night, I made a decision to try. The next morning I walked with Grey over to the house his family was staying at and began to interact. To say everything went smoothly is a lie: I could barely make eye-contact with BIL and I stayed as far away for his wife as possible. And there were moments where I became so overwhelmed that walking away from them was the best possible option. But, I was able to play with my niece and nephews. And in doing so, I felt the bitterness and pain from these last 7 months melt away. Children are such a gift. In addition, I started letting Grey's family in. I spent quite a bit of time bull-shitting with my FIL. And when my MIL approached me to give me a hug, I accepted it for what it was. Later on at the reception, I began to feel more bold. I turned to my MIL and hugged her again. And while forcing back tears, I told her how much I hurt and how scared I am for the future. I did the same with SIL and in that moment, she gave me something that I will be eternally grateful for.

The wedding was beautiful, with the groom's father acting as Best Man, the groom's mother aglow and the happy couple filled with light and love. There was a moment during the ceremony where their rings were passed around the room, allowing each of the quests the opportunity to bless them. I don't need to tell you what I wished for them; it's the same thing I wish for all of us.

The evening after the ceremony was filled with music and dancing. Though there was drama (the couple's landlord's wife took a spill), it wasn't the type I feared. For an evening, infertility took a back seat and the crazy infertile was completely entranced with her niece and nephew as they hit the dance floor. There was spinning and twirling, with each child begging for more and more. And with the spinning and the dancing came a unity that was unspoken; a love that only grows with time.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Freedom trail

Follow the red-brick road

Our first morning in Boston, Grey and I camped out in Boston Common waiting for check-in. During our wait, we made a few discovers: red-eye flights require having one's room available upon arrival, the local bums know the best spots to camp out, that movie theaters are a God-sent for the sleep-derived, sunshine is an amazing drug and, finally, there's a single red line painted on the sidewalks that starts in the Common. For this last point, we also discovered that for someone who is clearly sleep-deprived, this is an incredibly fascinating thing as I literally walked straight into an individual dressed in colonial garb while trying to figure out what it was.
The Freedom Trial is a 2.5 mile (mostly) red-brick path through Boston that leads to 16 historic sites. The path starts in Boston Common and ends on the other side of the river at Bunker Hill. After checking in to our B&B and spending a day catching up on sleep, Grey and I decided to spend the day before my interview walking the trail as a form of distraction. What neither of us expected was that the trail would take us on a journey down memory lane.

Following the first stop on the trail at the Massachusetts State House, we arrived at the Granary Burial Grounds. Being a midwesterner, I'm not accustom to seeing grave stones that have been weathered almost illegible, so both Grey and I spent quite a bit of time examining each one. Though most of the graves marked that of adults, there were some stones for children. As I listened to a father trying to explain to his young daughter why children sometimes pass away, I was overcome with emotion. My children, though they existed for only a few moments, would never have a grave site. And though this seems macabre, it was yet another reminder that they didn't exist to the rest of the world. In the adoption literature, it's continually repeated how important it is to mark these losses and transitions, but until that moment, I didn't really realize how important it is to me. So, after pushing back tears, Grey and I found a moment to talk while standing in front of Paul Revere's tomb. And as I laid a penny on top of the tombstone, talking about how I wanted to generate a memorial for the embryos we lost, the conversation began to shift to our journey through infertility and what we have learned.

The trail continues from Granary Burial Grounds to King's Chapel and the Boston School of Latin before leading to the site of the Boston Massacre. Along the way, both of us reflected on what had happened during the past year as we journeyed into a world that few dare to speak of. During this conversation, Grey began to talk openly about his feelings during each of the events: how defeated he felt after the IUIs failed, how spooked he was once he saw the expense of IVF, how he had cried and prayed during retrieval during our first IVF, the joy and hope he felt in the days that followed as we learned we had embryos and they we're growing and how each miscarriage had affected him, turning him inside out. A lot of this I knew, but what was special about this journey was Grey was exploring these feelings aloud. As we wandered through little Italy past Paul Revere's house, I realized that my husband was finally allowing himself to heal.

And then we hit the courtyard of the Old North Church and things changed. At this point, I had learned first-hand why wearing good shoes is important for a walking tour; something that I had neglected to do.

Across the area where the leather sandal straps met my feet there was pain and blood. With that pain and blood came the memory of both our miscarriage and the loss of control. As we sat down so I could nurse my wounds, it became clear that Grey was frustrated with me. During that moment of heated discussion about how I don't take care of myself and am quick to jump forward into the unknown, we began to talk about the road ahead.

I've written before about how a move, any move, will delay the adoption process for us if we go through an agency. But there is an issue with going the independent route. Too often, these couples encounter scams. Without knowing how to navigate these waters, they often fall victim to those who are more than happy to take advantage of them. I've met a handful of these couples and each of them now has their children . . . after they switched to an agency. In some cases, going the agency route was faster. Still, with this safety net comes inflexibility.

The reality is, Grey is wary of independent adoption. He's spooked because of the scams, he's nervous about the lack of protocol and he's uneasy about the open-ended costs. Costs that can easily run into the thousands if not tens-of-thousands. And, like my feet, he feels I'm not being as cautious as I should.

As we continued to Copp's Hill Burying Ground, my anger rose. "How dare he," I thought. "How dare he throw another wrench into this process." And as we reached the graveyard, a storm rolled in reflecting my mood. What I realize now is that my anger was peppered by my fear. My fear of never becoming a mother. What I was failing to do was recognize that Grey wasn't asking for us to stop, but simply to slow down and be more thorough. Instead, I wanted to scream. Scream and cry.

The rain cut us off from what would have been a monster of a fight. And as we scrambled down the trail, it became evident that we would need to find shelter. Shelter came in the form of an Italian restaurant where we were able to sit at the bar and sip some grappa, which helped me calm down. After some food and a bit of entertainment by the owner, I was ready to continue our journey over the Washington St Bridge to the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill.

The hardest part about these last two stops was seeing the families: watching parents play with their children, oohing and awing about the tall ship that was dry docked. At that moment, the dream of completing our family felt so very far away. And I began to doubt myself. How in the world was I suppose to follow my dreams when there had been and continues to be road blocks along the way?

As the park around the USS Constitution was closing, Grey and I wandered to our final destination: Bunker Hill. At this point I was ready to call it a day, yet Grey was insistent on seeing the monument. As we climbed the steps, I noticed that the clouds had parted. And when I looked to the west, I found the reminder to have courage.

MissC has written extensively about rainbows. I'll be honest and say that every time I see them here in the Pacific NW, I always assume that they are from M&A reminding me to contact their mother. This time was different. For one, Boston is a long ways from WA state. The other was the rainbows themselves: the lower rainbow was a double, extending from red to purple and back to red. The one above was fainter, but still visible. At that moment, while others where staring at the granite of the monument and reading the plaques depicting the first battle of the revolution, I was brought to my knees from this sign. For the first time since the miscarriages, I could feel the spirits of the ones we lost were telling me to not give up.

I carried the image of the rainbows with me the following day to my interview. Though Grey credits the smoothness of the experience to me, I know it's due to this renewed sense of hope. Somehow, someway we will find our children. But we need to heal too.

Next stop on our journey: Salem, MA. A chapter about meeting fellow bloggers, surviving a wedding and a family of skunks.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chasing the sun

First off, I apologize for the extended absence. Traveling + limited internet access = very difficult to blog.  To make up for it, I will be posting a summary of my trip over the next few days. Many posts have been mentally drafted, now it's just a matter of sorting the wheat from the chaff.

There are a few things that need to be addressed, though.

First, please send my dear friend Shelley some love today. She received news yesterday that her first round of IVF didn't work. Both Grey and I are heartbroken over the news. We both "met" and spent time with Shelley and her DH during this trip and saw first hand what amazing people these two are. And we were hoping. Hoping that the tides had turned for someone we love.

Secondly, I wanted to give a brief update about the business end of our trip. The original purpose of this cross-country journey was for a wedding (which I talk about more later), but because of the close proximity to Boston, we decided to mix business with family. So, last Wednesday, I had a former interview for a potential postdoc.  As I previously wrote, this was something neither Grey or I imagined would ever happen. Hence I was nervous. Very nervous. Then I started reading your comments. And managed to get Rebecca Black stuck in my head (thanks Mo), which meant I could no longer be nervous as I had "Friday" churning through my head as well as knowing so many were cheering us on. Long story short, I was offered the position. This is contingent on securing funding, but my future advisor Helen is being amazingly proactive in helping me on that end. So, unless I managed to fuck up beyond compare and/or something unforeseen happens, we are officially relocated Summer 2013.

The news from Wednesday has literally pushed Grey and I into hyperdrive. This newfound path, though scary, has helped both of us envision the future. Grey already is making plans, looking for work. In addition, we've both decided to bite the bullet regarding our condo and to become landlords. The Pacific NW will always be our home, so it makes sense to hold on to this property. It also means that we no longer have to worry about the housing market recovering, as we are looking more long term.

Years ago, I chased the sun as I traveled from my childhood home to begin a new life in the Pacific NW. This past week, Grey and I made a similar journey, chasing the rising sun as we traveled to Boston. I don't know what the future holds, nor if this decision will lead to a happier future. But I do know one thing: there's already been a lot of change in the past week. Good change. And ever decision we've made during this time has just felt right. I'm hard-pressed to ignore that path.

Besides, if it doesn't work out, at least it will be one hell of a story.
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