Thursday, October 29, 2015

Navigating reconnection

A pattern is becoming established. Every two weeks I send my mother a text, asking if she and my dad will be around to talk. A scheduled time to call is decided on, usually on a weekend evening, giving me time to talk as the Beats will be asleep and to plan. Then, when the time comes, I sit in my chair armed with a phone, a glass of water and a mental plan.

At this point, I've been keeping things vague but answering questions. My mom has been very intent on updating me on all that's happened on there end. Laundry lists about work, the status of my grandmothers, updates on my siblings and nephews. When conversations do come back to me, its usually about my motivations. Why now? What has changed. Though I talk about infertility, I have yet to give them all the details. But I know they can sense something has changed.

One of the hardest parts about reconnection is establishing firm boundaries while also remaining open. To make it clear that while I am attempting to empathize with them, there are also things that will not be tolerated. Grey and I have struggled so much with this, especially as these interactions bring back so many hard memories. All the tools David and Dee gave us are being stress-tested with every interaction. And more often than not I walk away feeling like I'm failing.

But one thing that has become clear too is how much of a weight has been lifted from this openness. The burden of secrecy was impacting all of us in a negative way I hadn't fully realized until now. As I reflect on this, it's hard not to draw parallels between this experience and that of those going through adoption and even the decision to share their infertility journey. To experience yet again why openness is always hard to navigate, but also the benefit for doing so.

We're due for another phone call soon. Grey and I have had many difficult discussions about when to share images of the Beats and how much information we should be sharing. More often than not, things get heated as both of us are struggling. He's still very angry with my parents for their decisions and outlooks. So we continue to work together, being cautious yet open each step of the way.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


We waited until 10 pm to light the candles. Even though those participating in the Wave of Light were instructed to light candles at 7 pm, we still consider ourselves West Coasters.

Standing in the kitchen, we lit 7 small candles. 7 representing those embryos who didn't make it. And as we looked down on those 7 little lights, I watched as Grey cried in a manner I haven't seen him cry in since our losses. I watched him grief for what could have been, but was lost too soon.

There's a stigma associated with loss. Both in that you're not suppose to talk about it, but also who even is allowed to grieve. Grief is categorized based on whether you've ever been pregnant, had seen a heartbeat, whether the pregnancy was problematic from the beginning, from ectopics to those with hosts of other issues. We are pressured by others not to grieve as we are reminded that there are those who lost more. That they had it worse.

And yet, how can one possibly quantify pain? Step inside that person's shoes and determine that they aren't hurting as much? And what good comes from this comparison? Of telling someone that don't hurt as much or could never possibly know how painful it gets? Winning that argument never resolves grief and only isolates further.

So instead we stood in our kitchen and allowed the tears to fall. Because it is only through acknowledging our grief, facing it head on that we can heal. And though we will never be cured of this pain, the scar tissue that continues to form makes us stronger.

Good night my angels. You are forever in our hearts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Confession of an arachnophobe

The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out
Up came the sun and dried up all the rain
And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.

I'm not fond of spiders. Haven't been for as long as I can remember. My parents tried to help alleviate my dislike of them when I was a child by reading E.B. White's "Charlotte's Web" and learning about food webs. All that work went out the window when I learned about Shelob at 8 yrs old and then later when I learned more about the predatory nature of spiders.

The only thing I loathe more are scorpions.

So I've been hard pressed as of late as the Beats have become fascinated with spiders. Starting with Casper Babypant's rendition of the "Itsy Bitsy Spider," to Eric Carle's "The Very Busy Spider," to an entire 2 week unit about spiders at their daycare. Honestly, it's taken a lot to suppress the primal urge to squash and run away screaming. To talk with them about their observations.

And then something unexpected happened. Upon arriving in Boston and moving into our new home, the whole family discovered a common brown spider who resides by the mailbox. The Beats greet her every morning and evening, huddling around her web and excitedly pointing out their own "itsy bitsy spider."

I want to crawl out of my skin.

For all spider-lovers out there who are intent on educating me, trust me when I say that though I intellectually understand how fascinating and important spiders are, the hatred remains. 6 years ago, I attended a talk about spider silks (there are 6 different types) and learned about how the department of defense want to use this knowledge to improve soldier's body armor. Many in my cohort were focusing their dissertations on ecological problems, so I was well versed in food webs and the importance spiders play. I get it, spiders are unique and fascinating creatures. Then there's also the symbolism that spiders embody. Creation, rebirth, femininity and protection. During the Beat's NICU stay, there was a spider who resided outside their window and the nurses reminded me daily what a good sign her presence was. In addition to all of this, there's also a simple fact that while spiders (and scorpions) give me the willies, I'm strangely okay with crabs and lobsters. Grey likes to remind me what a hypocritical wuss I am.

Which brings us back to my current dilemma. I've made a deal with the spider. I won't attempt to cut her life shorter than it needs to be due to the Beats. But come winter, it is her job to find a space out of sight and move on from this world. Problem is, despite temperatures dropping down to freezing over the past week, she willfully refuses to give up the ghost. Instead she greets the Beats in the afternoon, displaying a new version of her web for them to marvel at. All the while growing and getting fatter off what little prey she finds.

I'm a bit at the end of my rope with this situation. As stupid and trivial as all of this seems, I'm secretly worried that this spider is going to find her way inside my home and become an addition to our family. Grey reminds me that we have larger, more pressing issues to worry about (and he's absolutely right), yet still I find myself hoping for temperatures to plummet sooner than later.

Itsy bitsy spider, pretty please go away.

Monday, October 26, 2015

#Microblog Mondays - Still

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

It's hard to believe how fast time is flying. So much to do daily and yet not enough time to tackle everything. Grey and I are still settling and adjusting. Though our collection of moving boxes is slowly disappearing, the end is still not in sight. The fact that we finally acquired dishes, allowing us to finally do away with paper plates, should give you an idea of the slowness of all of this. Frustrating and yet necessary all at once.

On top of settle, there's the ongoing negotiations with my family. Following lighting the powder keg that was the news of the Beats, my parents (particularly my mother) are making efforts to navigate reconnection. All of it needs to be slow and the information we give them is deliberately vague, but it's happening. Grey is worried, though. He's worried I'll fall back into old habits and allow my mother to take over, abusing the Beats in the process. So a lot of this we still need to negotiate. All of which is draining.

At any rate, all I can offer is that though busy and navigating so much, we are more than alive. Though this transition is far from over, we are learning to find moments of joy and relish new firsts. All the while, trying not to worry that we are still not where we want to be.

Monday, October 5, 2015

#MicroblogMondays - Powder keg

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Friday morning, my dad's youngest brother bombarded my phone with urgent texts. Each one was urgent and wanting to know when I was going to contact my parents to deliver the news. Being a pleaser, I found myself fighting the gut reaction to immediately address his urgency with a matter that only peripherally affected him. Still, I knew the time had come to rip off the band-aid and tell my parents. So plans were made to contact them Friday night.

For the past 2 years, I've played this phone call out in my head. Every scenario ending bitterly, with me justifying too much and attempting to get them to understand my side. For the actual call, Grey sat beside me. Reminding me that I should keep things to the facts and to keep it short.

The reaction was very different from my parents upon learning about the Beats. It was easily apparent that my dad wanted to meet these two, being willing to work on healing and moving forward in order to have a relationship. My mom was a different story. It took less than 5 minutes for her to throw poison on the conversation, announcing that she didn't mention me at all to anyone anymore. The veil of indifference an effort to both hurt me and mask her own anger and pain about the situation. 

Though the conversation was short, the news light the fuse to the powder keg. I knew the drama was coming, as any tsunami comes following an earthquake. Sunday night it began to manifest with a text from my uncle in Seattle about a message from my mom. A phone call to my mom's youngest brother confirmed my fear that she's planning to lash out at him over keeping the news of the Beats from her. I spent the better part of the evening beat on this uncle about the fact that my Seattle uncle was blameless in this situation and convinced him to contact my mom to get this message across. This was followed up with speaking to my Seattle uncle and aunt to give them a heads up of what was potentially coming, allowing them time to prepare. On top of this, I received a LONG email from my sister Marie this morning. One that I need to pick apart and process, as it's filled with things that leave one simply shaking their head.

All of this makes me want to drink; to numb my mind with a little bit of Scotch. And for anyone who knows me, this is a rarity as I'm quite the light-weight. Still, I'm working on moving forward. The tsunami is due to hit today, with many aftershock waves to come. Hopefully Grey and I have got to higher ground. 

Friday, October 2, 2015


After 3 weeks of being here, there's still much to do. Slowly boxes are being unpacked and items put away. Repairs and logistics are being worked out. And we're settling into a routine.

Still, there are moments where I find myself in disbelief. Things that others take for granted around me leave me in awe. Such as looking for a book I've been meaning to read for many years in a library dedicated to the author. Or seeing this museum display and learning it's mere footsteps away.

I'm struggling with both feeling displaced and not. Part of me is freaking out because I'm not freaking out enough regarding my new environment and those surrounding me. I know the path that brought me here is drastically different from many around me and yet I'm finding I'm also unapologetic for the difference.

A lesson learned from infertility. Of all the struggles from the last few years. Maybe even acceptable of those from a lifetime.

Slowly, I'm settling. Even during the moments it feels unreal.
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