Feeling Rebirthed

Easter 2014
We had a quiet Easter over here. Just the three of us with a no-frills ham dinner, matching clothes courtesy of Old Navy so I didn’t even have to work at that, the first hour of church and then a visit to Bear’s work to check in on the patients and spend the holiday with his work family, then home for a nap. It was exactly the speed I’m running right now.

Last week I went in to get my second shot of Lupron and they couldn’t give it to me. The medicine got recalled and they didn’t have any new stuff. They seemed to feel that the dose I got didn’t apply to the recall, but I’m wondering if that’s why things have been so different this time. Why my emotions are on overdrive and completely disconnected from my brain, why I’m still feeling pain a month in, why I’m still living with the worst of the endo symptoms and the worst of the Lupron symptoms at the same time.

But all this time being forced off my feet has been so good for me in so many ways. I’m a big believer in what Joyce Carol Oates calls “Therapeutic Boredom.” That it’s only in the still and quiet times that healing can take place and discoveries can come to light. I’ve made a whole bunch of changes behind the scenes that are too inside baseball to bother talking about since they won’t change much about the blog but change everything about my workload. I’ve spent time examining my goals to see if what I’m spending my time on is what I really truly want out of life or if it’s where I’m spending my time because it’s “enough” for me. I’ve asked myself if I’m doing what I really want to be doing or if I’m doing things as a distraction from taking the risks I really want to be taking. And I’ve found some new horizons for myself.

Like I said, all this vague blogging won’t change a ton here, and it’s all too early to discuss even if it would, but I’m writing about it because I feel like I’m not alone.

I worked at a M&A firm back in the early 2000′s, and when the economy dropped our work dribbled away from a crazy torrent to a whole lot of nothing. My boss at the time called me into her office to talk to me about how much time I was spending on the internet and she said something that’s stuck with me, “We have to be careful not to let the work expand to fill our time. We have to let our time expand our work.” It was a great reminder then to use our slow time productively and to work just as hard in the slow times as I did in the fast times. But I also think about it a lot in my motherhood.

I can get so obsessed with getting a recipe right that I go a whole week without making dinner for my family. I can take something like a Halloween costume and make it as time consuming and important as the Oscars. I can have a big idea or a big dream and put it off for months or years while I work on holiday decorations or printables. None of those things are invalid or wrong by themselves, but they are a distraction if they’re not what I truly want for myself.

So with this slow down I’ve been forced to take, I’ve been asking myself some hard questions and reshuffling my priorities. And then a funny thing happened. I rediscovered my love for what I’ve been doing all along. I longed to come back here and talk through all my thoughts, I felt my creativity revving back up, but I also found the drive to tackle the big dreams. I had just let things get out of order and putting everything back where it belonged helped me rediscover my love and enthusiasm for all of it.

So hopefully soon I’ll have the big dreams far enough along to share, but in the meantime I still have some great things coming up. I’ve finally begun tackling the Master Bedroom makeover I’ve had as a crafty goal for more years than I can count and I have some pretty amazing results to share with you. And a whole new attitude while I do it.

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Hormone Crazy

Hello my dear friends. Thanks for being so patient with me during my unexpected hiatus. And thank you ever so much to those of you who emailed to check up on me. You folks are good people and the world is better because of you. Thank you for your kindness to a lady from the internet.

I’ve gotten walloped by a bunch of bad things in a row and I just plain reached the end of my resources. The final straw was starting this new course of medication. It’s not new to me, this is my third round of Lupron and it’s been a miracle drug for me every time, but this time around is totally different. Lupron often comes with some pretty gnarly side effects, and until now I’ve been lucky enough to largely avoid them. But this time? Holy crap. My brain has been snatched and replaced with that of a 12 year old girl. It is marinating in hormones so powerful that I cry because I’m lonely when my family is in the room, I cry because I love them so much, and then I cry again because I miss Atti when he’s asleep. I cry because it’s raining, I rage because I have a food craving I can’t satisfy, I laugh hysterically at how ridiculous I am, and then I cry at how ridiculous I am. I’m weak and lightheaded with hot flashes that keep me up all night and then fatigue that nails me to the couch all day.

These three weeks were exactly what I needed – the permission to just deal with what I need to deal with and to disappear for a while. I’m not yet over the worst of it – I get a shot every month and I’m hoping that the second shot will bring me a little equilibrium – so I’m still going to have to take things a little easier than I used to, but at least I’m rested now and not at such a low emotional ebb. And who knows, maybe at the end of all this I’ll not only be healthy, but manage to get a little baby out of it all too.

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Welcome Back Endometriosis. You weren’t missed.

Pills
I’ve had to come to a tough realization over the last couple of weeks: The endo is back.

It never truly goes away. Whenever I finish a course of the drugs that put me through menopause I start right back up with the slow growth process. Eventually I have to admit that midol won’t get me through my period. And then slowly I’ll go from having one bad pain day to having a bad pain week when I’m on my period. And then eventually I’ll have pain around the time of ovulation. And now I have to admit that I’m having pain every day.

This really blows.

Aside from the obvious, pain hurts and that sucks, it’s hard to manage my life when I have to be on serious pain killers. Right now I have to wake up and rush through any work that requires my faculties. Any writing, any thinking, any interviews or public speaking, I have to do it all while gritting my teeth until I have to cry uncle and go take the drugs. And then I have to deal with all the guilt and shame that comes along with chronic illness – feeling like a waste of space, feeling guilty for being a burden, feeling intense intense shame over being stoned in front of Atticus and not present for him. Every day I have to decide, do I want to be in pain? Or do I want to be functional? Which is a higher priority? And because a mom taking prescription drugs is such a ridiculous cliche, I try as hard as I can to never let people see me medicated. I’ll talk about it publicly on my own terms, but I don’t ever want a teacher or bus driver to see me altered. And I obviously never drive on medication – duh – which puts another crimp in my life management plans. No trips to Target for diapers or to the grocery store when the fridge is empty.

But what I’m really struggling with right now is the fear. I’m afraid it will get as bad as it was in my 20′s when I was completely disabled. Back when I first started blogging because I was on pain medication every minute I was awake and I could go weeks without talking to a human besides Bear. I lost a decade already to this disease, it’s terrifying to contemplate going back there.

Of course, this time I actually have health insurance. I have a doctor who doesn’t think I’m crazy or that periods are supposed to hurt. I have a treatment plan in place and I just have to wait until the medicine is available at the right time in my cycle. It shouldn’t be much longer before I’m complaining about hot flashes and food cravings again.

But for today, I’m mourning. I’m mourning my own limitations, I’m mourning the pain I feel and all the emotions that come with that, and I’m mourning that I can’t be the kind of mom I want to be. I guess the good thing is that in just a little while the pain medication will kick in and I’ll find it all hilarious.

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Growing up is breaking my heart

Atti's growing up

Whenever we stay at Grandma’s house, we all sleep in one big bed. It’s a luxury I treasure since we don’t do it at home – early mornings and places to get mean we actually need sleep, which we can never count on when Atti’s in the bed. This most recent trip I went down with Atti by myself while Bear stayed behind to work, so I had a big queen bed to myself and a snuggly little guy. It was heaven.

I snuck into bed after he had been asleep for a few hours and turned on the lamp so I could get in some hard-won reading time. In the lamplight I curled over to cuddle up to my boy, took one look at him slumbering there, and my heart snapped in half.

When he’s sleeping Atti looks so little to me. I can always see the baby still lingering around the edges. But with his mouth open wide enough for me to see the gaps in his teeth – gaps from his jaw and mouth getting too big for his little baby teeth – I felt that baby disappear forever.

Atti will be six this week. Six.

Every birthday has me feeling maudlin and sentimental, but this one is getting to be a bit much. He got his haircut and I cried. He wears jeans and t-shirts and looks like a big kid and I cry. He brings home school work and notes from his teacher and I cry. No mom is ever ‘ready’ for their baby to grow up, but right now? I’m taking it especially hard.

I think it’s the infertility. Each year that goes by without a sibling for him feels like I’m further and further out on that tail of statistical improbability. Each year older makes it harder, and less likely, that I’ll ever get to have another baby. I have to not only accept the fact that my baby is growing up, I have to try and face that this might be my only shot at motherhood.

Before I had Atti I always tried to hold a place in my heart for people suffering through secondary infertility, but it was always an exercise in radical empathy. Deep deep down, I really believed they didn’t have a right to ache like I did. They got to be a mom. They shouldn’t be greedy. But now I know so so so much better. For one thing, I know that pain is not relative, and anyone who tries to rank “appropriate” pain is just a jerk. But I also know what happens to your heart when you open it up enough to be a mom. I feel like this raw pulsing organ, running around with arms outstretched begging for someone to let me love them. I feel like I have no defenses. Like my vulnerability is wandering unsupervised through the world and I can never again pretend to be hard and closed off and impenetrable. My achilles heel is riding around on wheels and pushing his hair out of his eyes.

As hard as it was to not be a mom, and it was so so hard, it’s also, and a different kind of hard, to not get to be the kind of mom you want to be. Either way I had my coping devices. Pre-parenthood it was pursuing careers and education, taking advantage of my freedom, closing myself off to the world of babies and kids and putting all my attention on the adult world. Now it is wrapping myself up in my sweet little guy, getting kisses from him even if it means I have to trick him into playing a game where he gets to smash his face into my lips. I see now that there’s really no comparing the two. Being a mom of one doesn’t erase the pain of infertility, even as you enjoy every moment of it. Just like being independent and having opportunity doesn’t erase the pain of not having children, even as you enjoy every moment of that. It’s hard and it’s great. Full of silver linings and wonderful joys and also full of sorrow. It’s both at the same time.

No matter what the circumstances surrounding it are, it is always heartbreaking to want to love and not have an opportunity to give it.

I’ll be celebrating Atti’s birthday with him later this week, but today I’m grieving. Every bit of independence our kids achieve is us mom’s putting ourselves more and more out of a job. That’s tough for all of us. But it feels especially bitter and only a little sweet to me today. I love being a mom more than anything else. I want another chance.

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Atti makes our dreams come true

Atti says his line

Twice a year at church, the children’s organization performs a program they’ve spent the last six months preparing. They offer readings, they sing songs, and all the proud parents giggle at the children’s antics and cry at the sweet little voices singing about God’s love. Somebody’s kid always does something unintentionally hilarious, it’s a welcome break from the usual speeches, and for most people it is the highlight of the year.

For infertile people, it is a gauntlet from hell. It is having every cherished wish held up just beyond arm’s reach. It is sitting in a crowd of people reveling in their happiness and good fortune while you feel like the force of your emptiness will turn you inside out. It is feeling the mask ripped from your face and knowing that everyone in the room knows you are different, wrong, unworthy. It is feeling like the black hole of need threatening the happiness of everyone around you, the bitter note that ruins a perfect meal, like your sorrow is glowing so brightly it is obscuring the vision of those around you and everyone would be better off if you weren’t there.

In our early infertility years, Bear and I would try to cheer each other up with inappropriate jokes. We’d pick out which kid would be most like ours – the booger eater, the scream singer, the ad libber – and tease each other about which of our less than desirable characteristics our future offspring would be sure to put on display. But as the years went on, those jokes got less and less funny.

Eventually I just added Primary Program Sunday to the list of weeks I took off for my mental health. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and two primary programs a year found me staying in my bed, pretending to have a cold, wishing that a little nyquil was all it took to make me feel better.

Primary Program
Even once we got our little hero, we never knew if this was a rite of passage that he’d participate in. During the primary program in our last ward he was down away from the performance and only told his teacher he wanted to join the other kids at the last minute. He joined them for a song, and then while his teacher held him he said loud enough for the microphone to pick up, “I love kisses!” and gave his teacher a kiss on the cheek. It was heaven. My kid was the ad-libber.

Now that Atti’s a little older, the kids his age actually have parts. He had a line he had to memorize, they practiced speaking into the microphone, they learned sign language to perform along with one of the songs. It was official. And with Atti being so verbally limited, and even more pathologically shy, I had no idea what he would go along with. He’s known to break into huge watery sobs when one of his favorite songs is over, or get mad and throw things because he’s embarrassed by being the center of attention. But he didn’t do any of those things. He was a total pro.

We sat in the front row to make it as easy as we could to get him up and down from the stand, and that meant that he had a prime view of his favorite audience. He kept saying, “You got your mama and your daddy.” He blew us kisses, he picked his nose, he had a giggle fit, he scream sang, he danced so much he nearly tossed himself down the stairs. When his class came forward to say their lines, the teacher whispered in each child’s ear and they repeated it into the microphone. Atti put the microphone into his mouth, gave it a couple of chomps, and then said, “I AM MADE IMAGE!” Which was close enough.

Taking pictures in church is considered the height of irreverence, but I couldn’t help myself. Bear tried to wrestle the phone away from me but I just grabbed him by the tie, stared him right in the eye and said, “I have been waiting my whole life for this. You let me take my picture.”

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Time for new tactics

WHAT???
This picture doesn’t have much to do with anything, but it cracks me up.

I have been sick for three weeks. Just a stupid run of the mill cold, but it won’t leave me alone. Atti got it and it flattened him, but only for about two days. This brave little kid of mine, the kid who is up and playing the same day he has surgery, the kid who is in pain every day and never says anything about it, asked to stay home from school and snuggle and then coughed and said, “Atti’s so sick.”

So it was a doozy of a cold, but it was just a cold. Atti was down for two days and Bear had it for about a day and a half and then they both resumed their normal activities with a little bit of a stuffy nose and an occasional cough. Meanwhile I cannot get out of bed and am sleeping about 18 hours a day.

This is nothing new. I have a whole life plagued by chronic illness and mysterious symptoms. I’ve run every test, had sympathetic and non-sympathetic doctors, supplements and therapy, and I’m still here flattened by every virus that crosses my path. My last sympathetic doctor, after exhausting his expertise, suggested that I probably had some kind of an auto-immune disorder that we weren’t aware of yet. He said that the field of rheumatology was in its infancy and that ten years ago nobody knew what fibromyalgia was. I think he’s probably right, but it doesn’t do much for me in the meantime.

As a sufferer of both chronic illness and infertility, I am a prime target for everybody’s miracle cure. If I had a nickle for every suggestion I’ve heard about how to change my diet, things to eliminate, things to add, oils to swallow, blah blah blah I might still be suffering but at least I’d be rich. I tend to treat these suggestions with suspicion. In my lifetime eggs and butter went from being viewed as poison to being viewed as the best thing to eat. And if you’re a history buff you’ll read all kinds of crazy things people used to believe. (Every wonder where graham crackers or corn flakes came from?) (Or that people actually used to think that water was fattening. Seriously. Water.) Nobody really knows what works or else they’d be billionaires. I just never had the faith that any diet change would cure me, and never had the energy to devote to it.

But. I’ve been reading a lot about gluten sensitivities and I have every symptom on the list. I have friends with legitimate celiac disease, like, crackers could kill her kind of thing, and so I’ve been annoyed by people adopting it as the latest diet fad when I know people whose lives are significantly endangered by something that the rest of us are all playing at. To me it’s like somebody saying, “Oh my gosh I totally have a sugar sensitivity” when there are actual diabetics in the world.

But hey, jerks exist in every population, so if that’s my only reason for turning my nose up at something, it’s not a very good one. And while having a sugar sensitivity isn’t really a thing, eating a lot of sugar can have detrimental health effects, so why not the same thing with gluten?

So I’ve decided that I’m going to experiment with this whole gluten free thing. But the main way I’m going to do this is by making as much of my food from scratch as I can. I can’t imagine a life without bread if I don’t have to, but if I’m going to have to pay a health price for eating it it better be worth it. No more boxes of cheese-its in lieu of lunch. I’m going to try and eat something fresh and then cash in my gluten points on one of Bear’s cakes instead.

Whether it’s gluten or high fructose corn syrup or some other mystery substance that the bastards at Monsanto are slipping into our food, it doesn’t really matter. Eating from scratch can only be good for me. This is one diet change that I feel can be worth the effort.

You're kidding me!
Apparently I could not believe what my friend was saying.

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Hope in Healing

Brittany's Hope
Brittany wants to dance again. Read the note at the bottom to find out how you can help.

I spent yesterday and today at doctor’s offices, not for Atticus for once, but for me. I tend to get neglected when there are already so many other appointments to make and places to be and there are so few hours available without Atti at my side. I’ll be helping him bathe and toilet for a lot longer than most kids, we’re close enough without him coming with me to the gynecologist.

Moving means finding a new doctor, and switching insurances means learning a whole new set of ropes. I’ve had Kaiser for my whole adult life which is great in that you don’t have to search for people who can help you, but it’s also bad because you can’t search for people who can help you. Kaiser was top notch for Atti’s care and I’d go back without a qualm if it ended up that way, but I had a lot of bad bad years trying to get my own medical needs addressed. Doctor’s who told me that I was crazy, that wouldn’t prescribe me pain medication until I saw a psychiatrist, that performed surgeries incorrectly, that told me to read The Secret. (I also had doctors who saved my life, saved Atti’s life, and gave me the keys to understanding how my mind works, so this is more a bash on bad doctors than Kaiser doctors, but with Kaiser the options are far far fewer.)

Honestly, I’ve pretty much given up hope about ever feeling healthy. On top of the endometriosis there are a couple of other issues that I haven’t written about because they involve my gynecological health and even I have my limits. I will write about the inner workings of my diseased mind, but apparently not the inner workings of my diseased vagina. Except for that sentence right there.

Doctor’s rarely take female pain seriously, they almost never take gynecological pain seriously, and they very very very rarely consider something that lab tests don’t show. I have every single symptom and risk factor for a major auto-immune disease like Rheumatoid Arthritis or Lupus, but the one test most doctors put all their faith in says I’m good, so the doctors keep treating all the different symptoms and tell me that there’s nothing wrong. After losing my twenties to being bed-ridden and in pain, I figure that I’m just not going to get everything I want and I should be grateful that I at least have the ability to function and a beautiful son. A healthy body and feeling great are just not going to be in the cards for me, and I had resigned myself to that.

Yesterday I went to the doctor for a nagging hip pain. Every time I try to stand up the hip goes out on me in such a sharp pain it takes my breath away. I hunch over and groan my way up from the couch every time I have to move. After a little manipulation, the doctor discovered that it’s not my hip that’s the problem, it’s my ligament. A ligament that is usually only pulled in dancers or gymnasts, and since I am neither of those things and can’t point to a specific injury, say, some time I was playing soccer and took a hit, then it means I injured it during sex. At which point I laughed and laughed and laughed, because, of course.

Since it’s not torn and doesn’t require surgery, there’s nothing to do but baby this hip until it heals. That’s where most doctors would tell me to have a nice day. But this doctor actually kept asking questions. Since I’m not into anything in the bedroom that regularly results in injury, he suspected there were other health issues going on, and kept researching until he came up with a plan. I was honestly shocked. He asked me if I had ever tried medications that every other doctor I’ve ever had flat out refused to prescribe as a matter of course, not because the medications wouldn’t help me but because the doctors didn’t want to deal with the red tape of prescribing tightly regulated drugs. They treated me as if I was an addict looking to score instead of a patient wanting to responsibly use the medication as it was intended to be used. My new doctor automatically extended me the benefit of the doubt.

Giving a medical history is always a scary thing to me. On paper, I am a mess. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bipolar II Disease, Endometriosis. For doctors that spells: Trouble. That says “pain in the neck hypochondriac attention seeker time and energy vampire.” Most doctors want something they know how to fix, not a big mystery of mental health issues and chronic pain. So they look at my medical history and put me in a box in their head labeled “Can’t Be Trusted.” I told my new doctor about my mental health and cringed as he typed it in, waiting for his voice to change to the “speaking slowly and calmly” voice people use around the crazy and the elderly. But he didn’t even slow down. He told me about another patient he treated with OCD and how he recognized it as a truly debilitating disease. He expressed concern with my current medications and how they would affect my BPII and we talked about my love of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. He studied Ayurvedic medicine and is a believer in a mind/body connection, but not in the fanciful “Just read The Secret” way, in the “Mental Health is a significant and real part of Physical Health” way, and so he took all my history in stride, unthreatened.

I left with some bummer news I hadn’t wanted to address, but also, with a strange feeling of hope. I realized how thoroughly I had given up on finding help, but I think I may have actually found some.

**My friend Brittany is another chronic pain sufferer and needs help rediscovering her own sense of hope. After years of battling lyme disease and having it ravage her body, rob her of her health, and defer her dancing dreams, she is finally beginning to experience treatment that works. But she needs your help. BrittanysHope.net**

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Clomid. Gulp.

Clomid. Gulp.

I am on day 4 of my first ever treatment of Clomid, a fertility drug that is loved and feared in probably equal measure. It’s effective for hundreds and thousands of women, but the side effects are legendary.

I feel like such garbage today. My head has been aching, I’m so bloated I can’t button my pants, I’m so exhausted lifting a fork to my mouth feels like work, and I’ve been up late every night this week with insomnia and….indelicate stomach issues.

But, so far, knock on wood, my moods have been OK. All of my friends who have made it through Clomid told me that the mood swings were the worst thing about the whole experience. I’ve heard stories of weeping over television shows, rages over missing shoes, and lightening fast switches from Mary Poppins to Mr. Hyde.

After six months of Lupron, which puts you through a chemical menopause, I’m now swinging wildly to the other side of the pendulum as I’m trying to crank up the ovulation power. With all the hard work I’ve been doing to get fit I haven’t lost an ounce of weight and I think it’s safe to assume that this crazy mix of hormones is the cause. Honestly, I’m just grateful I’m still in one piece.

Ideally, all this will result in a baby, but when you’ve been at this as long as I have, you tend to lose sight of the ultimate goal. It’s enough work just to make it to the next step. If a baby comes out of this I’ll be more joyful than I know how to contain, but for today I’m just trying to concentrate on making it to tomorrow.

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Getting back on the horse

Atti sleeping
The last few weeks have been tough around here. I know, I know, when are they not, right? Such is my lot in life.

Some of it is just the stuff of every day life – the chaos of a new puppy, the entire family having the flu for two straight weeks, the filth that develops when the whole family has the flu for two straight weeks – some of it is quite a big bit of health news that deserves a whole post of its own another day, and some of it is stuff that we actually planned and signed up for. The fact that it all comes at us at once, that is just classic ‘how we roll.’

Atti’s fourth birthday, coupled with some ramping up of some of the symptoms of my endometriosis, made us reevaluate where we’ve been with the whole fertility thing. We’ve been trying for baby #2 since Atti was still baking in his little plastic box in the hospital, knowing that the odds were everlastingly against us and the best possible chance we had was immediately after a pregnancy. But that hasn’t worked out for us. I have a whole bunch of friends who went through endometriosis and once that first child came they became pros at it. I have two different friends who tried for YEARS, had their first child and then had three more in three years. Not so much for us. Not even a pregnancy, let alone one that stuck around.

As each month went by, the pain came fiercer and fiercer. When I had maxed out on advil and I had used up the last of the painkillers from Bear’s wisdom tooth surgery, I knew it was time to face going back in for help. Kaiser has many virtues, especially when you’re the parent of a child with special needs, but doctors who have the time to listen to your concerns and consider your entire history are really not available. My OBGYN is perfectly nice, but is also under pressure to crank out the visits so I can’t exactly sit down and tell him every single thing we’ve been through. He wanted to put me straight onto drugs that would increase my fertility until I insisted on treating the endometriosis first.

So I am currently on Lupron. This is my third time with this drug, but I manage to forget what it’s like every time. The massive mood swings, the emotions, the hot flashes. I went to the doctors office my normal self, got a quick shot, and I came home transformed into Mrs. Hyde. Our plan, that we came up with in literally four minutes worth of doctors visit, is to do a quick three month course of the Lupron, and then go onto Clomid to increase my fertility and give Bear’s few little swimmers as many targets as possible. This plan sounds great to me, but I confess I’m a little worried. No doctor has ever suggested such a thing. And I’ve seen a lot of doctors. Does that mean this guy is a creative problem solver? Or didn’t give me the time and attention I needed to make an appropriate treatment plan? I have no idea. I just know I got the Lupron I went in there for, and I’m willing to try just about anything to have another baby.

But I’ve heard that the emotional upheaval of Lupron is nothing compared to Clomid. If Lupron makes me feel like I have PMS, Clomid will apparently make me feel like I have bipolar disorder. If Bear and I stay married through all this work of trying to have another kid, we’ll all know it’s true love.

The hardest part of all this is not the medications or the treatment plans or even the mood swings. It’s that in getting proactive about my fertility, we have to open this door again and face all the loss and disappointment we feel every month it doesn’t work. During these last four years there were loads of months that it didn’t work out when it didn’t bother me. It’s easy to get caught up in the stuff of life and not pay super close attention to the big empty spot in your heart. But getting serious and really doing the work means paying attention. To my body, to my fertility, and that means to heartache. It’s so much easier to just close that door and skip merrily along, but what I really want is on the other side. So I have to be brave and face the loss in hopes that someday I’ll get to face the bounty.

 

 

 

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The Muppet Movie and Fulfilled Wishes

Atti and me at the movies
When I was knee deep in the mess of infertility, I was not allowed to watch the movie Matilda. Specifically for one last scene when Miss Honey and Matilda play and rejoice in their happiness together and the narrator says, “As bad as things were before, that’s how good they became.”

I would be reduced to heaving sobs, every. single. time. I saw that (which was more often than you’d think since it’s a cable staple) and mourn that that day hadn’t come for me. And doubting that anything ever could make up for the bad childhood, lost relationships, and sorrow of infertility, but so desperately wishing that something would.

Atti and Bear at the movies
Thursday I was invited to a free press screening of the new Muppet Movie, so Bear and Atti and I drove up to Sacramento, giddy with anticipation. Like most people of my generation, the Muppets were incredibly important to me growing up. Sesame Street taught me to read, the Muppet Show taught me about humor, and I watched the Muppets Take Manhattan so many times I could quote every line. They were a blissful, dreamy, happy spot in an otherwise sad childhood.

I tried to keep my expectations low and just focus on how fun it would be to take Atticus to his first movie. He’s so particular about what he’ll pay attention to that he doesn’t really watch movies, but I have yet to max out his attention span on Sesame Street, so we thought that he’d be down for the Muppets. And he was. He laughed at Fozzie, he danced to the music, and I was in heaven getting to introduce him to something that meant everything to me at his age.

Then came a part in the movie when Kermit and Miss Piggy sang Rainbow Connection, and I totally lost it. I was overwhelmed in that moment of watching my baby love something that I loved, awash in the nostalgia of my own childhood, reconnecting with what felt like long lost friends, and that scene in Matilda came back to me. As bad as things were before, that’s how good they became.

I don’t think anything can ever “make up” for hardship. That darkness will always be a part of me that I have to embrace, but now, so is the joy. Times have been hard, but they have also been great. And having my little guy on my lap, with my big guy next to me as we watched the Muppets return to us in exactly the way they should? Well, I’ll be coasting on that joy for a long time.

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