Monday, March 30, 2009

beauty!

These are from Saturday, I think - GLORIOUS GARDEN PICTURES!

By the way, may I mention here that I almost - but not quite - FEEL fertile a bit recently? I mean, not in the I'm-going-to-conceive-a-child sense. I no longer think of "feeling" fertile 'cause I can't have the offspring, but I used to, I think, before I knew. I think I feel that way - sort of nurturing life, and whatnot - when I'm cooking for people. But the gardening might earn a place on the list too (especially if the plants live). Humor me, anyone - when do you feel fertile? (To answer this question, ignore the voice in your head that screeches, You're infertile! Barren! Your womb is a wasteland! and all that.)

First of all, it turns out that we have THREE colors of daffodils - white with yellow trumpets, light yellow with yellow trumpets, and bright yellow with bright yellow trumpets. You'd sort of get an idea of the first and last colors here, 'cept the white ones in the foreground are a bit washed out. (Click on the photos for way more impressive detail.)

Another glorious item - when I realized we had bulbs sprouting several weeks ago, I tried to identify the plants by just their shoots. I was mystified by the crocuses (since I'd never seen them before), was spot-on with the daffodils, still believe I will be right about the irises (no buds yet), and guessed hazily that the weird ones were grape hyacinth. And they ARE. See!


Also this weekend - because I was good - I planted the rest of my seeds. Yes, I know, I seeded things in the ground too early, and I started the pots too late. But it's March, people, it's going to be fine. I'll have lots of herbs and vegetables. I've used two silicon muffin tins (because I'm crazy and turning into my mother) to start the eggplant and bell pepper seeds (twelve sprouts of each, I hope!). The terra cotta pots are rosemary (blue pot) and basil (plain pot). I've also held some herb seeds back to put in the ground outside when it gets REALLY warm - I figure a bumper crop in the summer, and then some year-round in pots in the kitchen. This is all the seeds (except the corn and squash that are already in the ground), sitting in the sun during the warm Sunday afternoon.

Finally, the best item today - my book came!!! I don't know why this is so exciting, but it is. I'm hoping to read most or all of it (though it is large) by Friday (my first RE appointment). I intend to be demanding about my treatment plan, and I want to know just what to ask for (first item: bloodwork to determine progesterone levels). Just in case I don't finish it, though, I'm starting with the most important chapters for charting and pregnancy purposes. (Not that I actually believe I will ever be pregnant. More on this later.) I've already made some substantial progress, and am excited to compare with a more extensive set of my own charts.

Next emotion on the IF roller-coaster (gosh, it's been ages since I've been here): IMPATIENCE.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

amusant

I'm not sure whether I get the most out of other people's "good things" posts (unless they are things I also like), but I tend to feel guilty after-the-fact from venting my rage to teh internetz, and so then I try to post something happy. (This isn't deceptive or schizoid. I HAVE MY MOMENTS.)

Anyway, warm fuzzies. Love this lol:


And, maybe even better, I love me some A Bit of Fry and Laurie, brilliant, brilliant comedy sketches by comedians Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. I maybe kind of have a bit of a theoretical crush on Hugh Laurie as House on the TV show House (I don't think he was that attractive when he was young, say in Wooster and Jeeves, only as an older guy. OK, so I'm weird), but frankly Stephen Fry is just in his own league when it comes to comic genius. (Fortunately, he has a blog.) Did I say brilliant already? No? Then may I ask why it is Saturday Night Live can rarely pull off even moderately funny and these guys do it like rolling out of bed? I know, they're English. Whatever. Love this sketch:



P.S. I have totally adopted "I'm as mad as I am, but no madder." This is the story of my life.

Friday, March 27, 2009

better than charting - graphing!

Since I had had a rough day, I decided to stay in tonight, and not deal with too much more emotional stress. Sometimes it's good to be home alone, quiet, and calm. I figured I'd get a few things done. So far I've just caught up on blogs, which is always good. I am planning to do some catchup sweeping, and start the seeds for the peppers, before bed. I've thawed some stuff for the dinner party tomorrow. Light duty.

But I've also made a significant achievement. I decided I could not show up to my RE consult until I converted my scribbled calendar of temperatures and cervical mucous signs into a graphic representation in technicolor (what can you really get out of the temperatures without a line graph?). I wanted the mucous signs on the same graph, and I wanted the data points for days on which I woke up late (one takes one's temperature upon waking, and one's temperature rises as the day grows later) in a contrasting color, since I was meticulous about noting the time if it was after, say, 9AM. Now, this took at least as long as it looks.

And I know, nobody wants to see my CM info, but whatever, this is the IFosphere, nobody is squeamish, and it's not like you have to peer closely at the details.* I suppose if y'all were fertile NFPers, I might hide in shame the brown spotting and the short fertile phases and the weirdly uncorrelated temperature, all that my mad Word skilz have now made so clear, even to me. (When will that book arrive in the mail already!) But, hello, barren. Anyway, I will share the how-to on this if anyone has my level of total inane OCD and wants one of her very own.

Call it infertility as art. Well, bad art, because when I translate from .doc over to .jpg, the text gets all grainy and the degree symbol changes to a question mark (???). I swear it's pristine in the original. Anyway. Behold:

*"i" designations totally omitted - I didn't think it contributed to the visualization of my cycle, but I would spare people, anyway.

update (still a bad day)

Scheduled the colposcopy for 5/1 (ha).

Got a call back from the nurse to answer my detail questions about my current results. It's currently reading as a CIN2-CIN3 (last year was a 1, so they're keeping their promises about testing). For everyone out there who is not an OB/GYN: apparently only the colposcopy (along with a cervical biopsy of live cells) can narrow that down. I tried to nail down what the difference is between 2 and 3 and basically am still confused. Time was, I was a chemistry major. I got a B+ in organic chemistry and a B in multivariable calculus...not stellar, but I'm not stupid.

What I did get out if her is that they are expecting the result to be that I have a carcinoma in situ. That's precancerous cells, and they would surgically remove them or freeze them off. It's also possible that it will not be that serious (in which case what...?). And it's possible, though unlikely, that I already have cancer (the defective reproductive system megamillions jackpot).

Now I am regretting not scheduling this appointment sooner. I want to know what's up, get them to freeze my cervix for posterity or whatever, and start buttering them up for the hysterectomy I'd like. I have lots of sick leave, I just don't like to use it ('cause I might get sick or something. Hah!). Maybe I should, though...they closed already, but maybe I'll call Monday and move the appointment up a week or two.

I understand - really do - about how everyone gets excited by a diagnosis. I can tell that some of the people whose stories I follow are fixers by temperament. I am a fixer too. I want a project, a deadline, parameters of right and wrong, boundaries, a to-do list, and a clear definition of success so I can blow it out of the water. If it's possible to win, I'll do it, no matter what it takes.

But I don't feel good about this diagnosis, because I simply don't believe that fixing even what may be a very serious problem will do the IF any good at all. If I don't have cervical cancer, it will be uterine; if the endo isn't causing my symptoms, I'll have Crohn's disease, and if not that, a tapeworm; if the scarring hasn't affected the left ovary yet, it will be diseased; if the ovaries are healthy, I'll have POF; if the eggs are healthy, it will be something else. If every system is either fine or gets repaired, I will have unexplained infertility and it will persist until menopause. There's nothing special about me having a carcinoma diagnosed that can't be taken away by some other age-inappropriate malady that also, coincidentally, means I cannot conceive children.

Though I'm very upset today, this is not my "today" attitude, despondent because I have a surprising diagnosis. This is my evolving attitude lately. I'm not going to be fertile, I'm not going to have a baby, and I don't want to do this any more. I'm not even sure I want kids. I just want to live in peace.

A Very Bad Day

And gee, it's just starting. In fact, all this happened before 9AM. First, I got on the bus to get to work and almost immediately got a phone call. The number looked like my husband's (same exchange), and when I had left home moments before, he was asleep, so I picked it up. It was the clinic. They had the results of my pap smear, which are "abnormal" or atypical or something. Of course there's a five-step scale to just how atypical, and they weren't supposed to schedule me for more testing unless I was at least a two. But the nurse didn't volunteer at which step I was (or are all patients supposed to have all diagnostic jargon memorized? I'm a lawyer, and I make sincere efforts not to talk to all my clients as if they were attorneys), and I was going to ask her for details on my cervical swab while sitting three inches from the next passenger...right. Sure.

So then she wanted to schedule a colposcopy, for further analysis. I pointed out I have an appointment (RE) next Friday, and asked whether I could do them back to back. First she said my insurance wouldn't cover that (that doesn't even sound plausible), then I think she said that there's only one opening that day with the RE (right, so schedule the colposcopy afterward...maybe arithmetic is not her strong suit?). Oh, that was after she asked what kind of appointment the other one was. Ma'am, you called me at 8:30 in the morning - three weeks after the pap smear, by the way - and I live in metro DC, where everyone commutes by public transportation. I'm going to talk about my infertility in front of fifty strangers? Are you completely serious?

Her next brilliant suggestion was that I should bump the RE appointment, which I scheduled two months in advance, and do the colposcopy next week - since it's a huge emergency, you know, that they took three weeks to call me about. At this point it was no longer possible to get her to explain their schedule intelligibly over the phone without involving the other passengers in far more of my medical information than they had any interest in on a perfectly innocent Friday morning, so I asked her to call back and do the scheduling later. I'm especially glad I did this, because after about 120 seconds' reflection, I realized that I don't care if I do the colposcopy next year. I am not moving my RE appointment.

Instead, I am going to the RE first. If she can figure out what's wrong with me rapidly, then good; I'll get it treated and get pregnant or not. If she can't, I'm going on depo. I've had enough, and I'm not going to spend what's left of my twenties sick-and-getting-sicker. "Contraceptive mentality" is just black humor in my situation.

Now, this took a while for any patient soul to read, but this entire thought process really did take me about 120 seconds, which I know because at the end of that time period, my black reverie was interrupted by a sturdily-built young woman with terrible skin who said, in an unusually belligerent tone, "I'm pregnant. Somebody get out of the priority seating, please." The please was a nice touch, but the tone and the venomous facial expression made clear that there were six other letters she was really meaning instead. She was very rude. Without even thinking (if I had thought, I would have said, "Pardon me?" forcing her to either rephrase or reiterate her belligerent statement in the same tone), I said, "Oh, certainly," and went to stand at the back of the bus. The other three passengers in priority seating literally did not blink. It was as if she were a mirage only I saw.

That was almost four hours ago, and I am still really angry. This is the IF rage, I know - I'm not actually angry that she's pregnant (I know, you think I am subconsciously. Maybe that adds a fraction. But it's not the real problem). I had been getting better about the blind rage toward anyone who is rude to me, but maybe the call from the clinic shattered my little bit of progress. It would be an exaggeration to say I'd have wanted to see this woman hit by the bus, baby and all, but I would have had to work to cry over it. My seething lasted long enough for me to do research on whether she is legally entitled to have the seat. It turns out that she's not, under either metro's policy or federal law. In other words - and this is metro's express policy - it would be nice for other people to give pregnant women the seat as a courtesy.

Ah, in which case - perhaps she should ask courteously! I printed out my research and put it in my handbag. I hope I see her again. I am waiting. I know this is not good for me, but I'm still really angry.

I want to go home. Instead, I need to call the clinic...

Monday, March 23, 2009

funny thing

Today I had to use the rest of my AmEx rewards points (I switched my blue card to cash from rewards after I heard how the program works. It sounds like a much more rewarding reward). But the points expire tomorrow. First I bought a digital camera, whose shiny spiffiness I have already raved about (it's the proud author of the inane pictures with which I have recently been annoying the broad internets).

Today I was going to transfer the rest to a Delta frequent flyer miles account (although I only ever fly discount airlines, so I'm not sure why I wanted to do this), when the card company told me I couldn't. I feel certain they're wrong, but I had little time to research. So I bought Taking Charge of Your Fertility, which, believe it or not, is available at shopamex.com, and which a fellow infertile had kindly recommended in response to one of my earlier rants. Me and my incompetent reproductive organs are going to get us edumacated.

I was able to blow through most of the points that remained on a Home Depot gift card. Yeah, there was Brooks Brothers (love their dress shirts), Cole Haan (teh shooz!), Bloomingdale's, Banana Republic...but those would languish in my handbag. The Home Depot card will be spent (on strawberries! Ha-HA!), and cherished.

And tonight for my chores, I started the spring cleaning - we pitched out three boxes of stuff we have taken, still packed, on three moves, that we didn't need, and I moved some things to the shed. For my aunt's visit Thursday and the dinner party this weekend, there will be a semblance of cleanliness and order.

And one bit of paper I found as I was going through boxes was a novena to Ss. Anne and Joachim. I knew as soon as I saw it that it was the novena I'd prayed for a child, around Christmas the second year I was married, when my husband refused to pray a St. Jude novena with me. I don't remember whether I posted about that before. It broke my heart. It was sort of eerie, in an odd way, to look at the web printout and see 12/16/06, just what I knew it would say. I threw it away; I think the DH burned it in the fire with some of his things. I don't know how I feel about that. Sad. Despondent. Resigned. Maybe nothing at all.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

victories and defeats, part 2

As promised.

Defeats

So, today I was supposed to do lots of things. Actually, I was supposed to do a lot of them yesterday, and that is not precisely a recipe for victory, is it? I'm going to start with the defeats. The DH and I were supposed to go on a rigorous 8-mile hike in the Shenandoah Valley with a group of friends today. The catch is, the fellow who leads the hikes is a madman, and so the day was to start off with breakfast at a local greasy spoon at 7AM - after the 90-minute drive from the DC metro area. (I.e., wakeup time: 4:30AM.) We weren't out that late the night before, but the triple-decker birthday party was 90 minutes away in the other direction, and we came there from another engagement, so...no hike. I've never been to the Shenandoah, and I really wanted to go. The DH and I have promised ourselves that we'll go again soon - if not with this gang, then at least on our own.

Then there's a certain amount of defeat inherent in the fact that I did a lot of things that are rather like chores, or just are chores, on a Sunday. I do try to take Sundays off (and I used to be so much more conscientious about it!). But I never seem to be able to get much of anything done on Saturday, and we always have things we have to go to, and then there are still things that need to be done...

Beyond that, there's also the things that I won't have done even by tonight. I was going to buy a roast on sale (for dinner party next Saturday) and didn't; I was going to do my spring cleaning (boxes off the floors; extra boxes into the shed; things we don't need in the trash!) and I didn't. And it has to be done by Thursday. So I will have to summon up energy after work this week.

ALSO I didn't run today. I did get some exercise gardening but...I know, I'm not strictly overweight; but I've gained weight when I was supposed to be losing it; I can wear only maybe 25% of my clothes, and more than half of those are snug. I always feel unattractive, because not only can I rarely wear the things I want to, but the ones I can put on, I have to combine in some particular way to conceal the fact that they don't fit well, or are no longer flattering...it's demoralizing. I need to just get myself about a really strenuous exercise regimen and stick to it. Ever since I got out of school and started working behind a desk, I have been in plain lousy shape and it really gets under my skin.

Victories

On the bright side, I did get some things done. I'll polish off some of the remaining chores (dishes, laundry) by bedtime, but I undertook - and to some degree conquered - an impressive project today. Are you ready? You're not, but I'll tell you anyway. I decided that I need a vegetable and herb garden. We have so darn much yard we're not using, and all produce in this area is both expensive and lousy, and I finally have some time to cook when I get my act together, so I want fresh basil and rosemary, my own summer squash, eggplant, and peppers, and sweet corn. I decided against carrots, onions, and garlic because they're root vegetables and there will be no conquering the numerous rabbits on that score.

Anyway. I borrowed the neighbor's spade and turned over - all by myself - a patch of ground about 4'x5'x8" deep. In case you haven't done this before, it's some strenuous labor. It took me maybe half an hour. Here is my patch of dirt (cultivator gives an idea of the size):


I then sat down for a breather and to read the seed packets (I read only one at the store). By this point it had occurred to me that my herculean dirt patch was on the small side. I initially resolved to pretend this was not the case, but when I read how far apart the seeds were to be planted, I did start to worry. Then it turned out some were to be started in pots 6-8 weeks before the last frost. I briefly considered a tantrum, but resolved on the following plan.
  1. Since it didn't need to be started in pots, I planted the corn. Supposedly, it goes 6-10" apart in rows 2-3' apart, but what does Burpee know? I put about 5-6 seeds in a cluster, in 1'x1' rows. As long as it grows some corn, I'm happy. These are supposed to yield ears "early and often," so we should be good to go.
  2. I planted the squash too, since that didn't need potting either. I planted those a little further apart - since there were fewer seeds, and as I'm already aware, squash breed like rabbits. If I get a 10% yield, I'll have too much. On another interpretation, I'll soon be more popular among my friends who cook well...this is not a bad thing.
  3. Because I am a genius, I also planted catnip seeds, on the left (as you look at the picture) and front of the square. We don't have a cat, but there is a neighborhood outdoor cat. It keeps the bunnies from my neighbor's flowers because it likes the goldfish in his pond. I figured I needed an attractive nuisance of my own to secure its services. Voila - catnip.
Meanwhile, some of the seeds are held in abeyance. Fortunately, there is a lot more arable land out there for my projects. Here is just the back half of my yard (the side and front yards together are about this same size. That's my garden patch in the foreground there):


My plans for the remaining seeds:
  1. The green peppers need to be potted, so I am going to the thrift store tomorrow, where I will find tiny terra cotta pots for a pittance, and start one plant in each. Sure, the last frost already happened, but it's March and Virginia is warm. If I lived in Minnesota, the last frost might still be weeks away. It's not too late to start them! Also, this gives me time to go to another store to look for a packet of artisan (white, red, purple - all sorts of great colors!) pepper seeds to add to my plantings. The store I was at had run out of this precious item, understandably.
  2. The eggplant likewise need to be potted before transplant - so, even more tiny pots. Also, oddly, there was no "normal eggplant" seed packet - just an artisan mix. I actually don't want artisan eggplant - I only ever make it cut into smallish pieces and broiled, so it doesn't matter what color it is. Unlike the peppers...ah, well.
  3. Also, this means I don't have to dig another patch, because if I start them in pots, I'll just make small holes the size of the pots and put them in. Less work for me. And I saved 1/2 of the catnip seeds to put around what will then be the rest of the garden perimeter - further evidence of my genius.
  4. The basil and rosemary could probably have been started outside (well, one of them wanted starting in pots), but there wasn't room in the patch I dug. And, frankly, I should have started them in pots in the kitchen six months ago - they can live indoors, and would be very handy to have fresh year-round. (I'm fine with dried thyme and oregano, but I'd like my basil and rosemary fresh.) So, the thrift store will have to yield some large terra cotta pots as well. They can live on the back patio during the summer (on a table up away from the bunnies), but they can come into the kitchen in the winter.
Originally, I also wanted strawberries and blackberries, but the store didn't sell any fruit seeds. Maybe a different store will. (Has anybody seen these for sale?)

Also, I made accomplishments on other garden-related fronts. I found several clumps of not-yet-blooming daffodil shoots in the yard, where they will ultimately fall under the spell of the mower. I decided to transplant them into the under-the-tree mulched area, in front of a statue of Our Lady of Grace that the DH found at a garden store last fall. It turns out my "few clumps" were over 50 individual daffodil bulbs (and that was just the ones I didn't accidentally kill with the shovel) - and one clump of crocuses (which haven't bloomed yet either - the ones in the garden already did, and I hope that these still will) was about 80 tiny bulbs. I separated all of these and planted them, and I would show you a picture, but they're still in transplant shock and they all look like a lot of overgrown, wilted grass. I swear in the next 1-2 weeks the survivors will be glorious, and the internets will be awash in pictures.

Also, I spread mulch today. And those bags are heavy. So, I was pretty good. As my deserved reward, guess what I'll be doing?

I know, that was too easy. Since I got all that dirt and mulch under my nails, I'll be giving myself a French pedicure before I go to bed.

Good evening, infertile internet...I hope you've had a good weekend.

Also, I should warn you, my post about lostness and purposelessness and infertility has been germinating in my mind for some time...and it's going to materialize here soon.

oddity

The second round of victories and defeats is coming, never you worry (complete with G-rated pictures).

For the moment, though, I had to share an odd snippet of the morning. Three of my sunny living room windows have been aggressively assailed this morning by a decent-sized robin. He's gone at them repeatedly, beak-first. They're closed, so he's just ramming into the glass. I managed to get an action shot of him - you can just make out the red belly:


And here's a still shot of the culprit - between bouts of attack, he decided to rest perched on the patio furniture outside the window nearest the computer:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

victories and defeats part 1

This is me being presumptuous, that I'll have a Part 2 to post by the end of the weekend so that this title makes some sense.

Victory

Yesterday I had a number of errands to run and I even got most of them done (PLUS I did my grocery shopping that's regularly scheduled for Saturday, so that gives me bonus points, right?). Most signally, I needed to buy new bras. And I hate bra-shopping like death. I mean, I enjoy shopping, and bras are cute, so I always start out with high hopes that it will be enjoyable and I'll get something I like. This never happens. I always end up exhausted and demoralized, convinced that my body is totally defective, my husband can't really be attracted to me, and the bra-producing industry is composed entirely of Satanic Martians. I used to think this was just me, being as I'm a charter member of the IBTC (since I'm rather prim and, on good days, naturally ladylike, that term has always seemed rather crude to me - but, the idea of this particular demographic being organized against outside oppressors has a certain attraction), but as I grew older, and was less convinced that my body was some sort of grotesque oddity (ah, adolescence), I learned that most women hate bra-shopping.

Anyway.

I went to Target, and came home with two of a quite moderately-priced item that I wouldn't have picked out of a catalogue, but turned out to fit quite well (I was going to post a picture - from the website, not of me! - but I realized that was not G-rated, and I'm all about the G-rated. Er, well, if this post qualifies. Whatever).

And I would also like to say that despite what Target's website says, IT IS NOT PADDED. While I insist upon buying brassieres that are lined (otherwise why bother with a bra?), I don't buy the padded ones (well, with specific exceptions), and resent the implication that the only thing a modestly-proportioned young woman could possibly be looking for is some misrepresentation of her figure. What about a well-fitted undergarment? Why not just that? Anyway, as you see, my ire has not quite quieted from yesterday. I was also going to buy one of these, as being extremely fun, but I pointed out to myself that I just plain don't need one, however cute I think it is. (If they had sold matching panties in my size, the analysis might have concluded differently.)

It occurs to me that there are some parallels between the self-loathing/suppressed rage that characterizes bra-shopping, and that which accompanies infertility. But I survived bra shopping, so...

Defeat

Anyway, now for the defeat part. First of all, my DH has been out of a job for two months now. We knew this was coming because he'd taken a really cool temporary position, and we both thought it was worth the temporary uncertainty to help him do what he'd like to do in his career. But he takes the long period of directionlessness really hard. We get by fine on my income (not that I would mind having some more to put in savings!), but he just doesn't know what to do with himself.

I have a hard time being much help. He wants me to look over all of his resumes and cover letters and every last comma, and I know he is more than competent to do all these things himself, so unless he puts the computer in front of me and insists I look at something in particular, I say I will help but I make no affirmative effort to do so. Superficially, I'm being perfectly fair - I will help if he asks me. But, I think he wants help prying himself out of his inertia, and I'm little help with that. I spend almost twelve hours a day away from home between work, commuting, and Mass, and when I get home, I have no energy to help another adult send out resumes, when he has been able to sleep in and enjoy the sunlight (it's always dark when I get home) and run while it's light and cook if he wants to (nope, that's what I would do if I were home) and anything with all those hours. Of course, this is hardly selfless love or charity I'm showing. I need to shape up. But his depression is really getting me down, and I have so little time to do what I want. (What I want has become a rather too-prominent theme in my thoughts of late, I'm afraid...)

Then there's the dog. Y'all have to help me here. He has suddenly - within the last 72 hours - decided that we need a dog right now. We emphatically do not need a dog. We live in a safe neighborhood. As aforementioned, I have no extra time or energy as it is. He's not working now, but soon enough he will be, and he doesn't do anything he doesn't overdo. Once he gets a job, he'll be at work 14-16 hours a day (and this is ignoring his current notion that he should take a job that regularly requires extended international travel, an idea I vigorously oppose). Then a dog he wants and I don't will become my dog. I'll be honest - if that happens and I can't give the dog away, I'll put it down. I don't want to take on responsibility for a living creature to which I'm not committed.

And most fundamentally, a dog does not fit in with my current notion of my life. If I had kids, I would stay home. Then I could paper-train a puppy, and it would be safer for the kids to have a dog around. It would be an excuse to get out and run, and it would be fun. Fine. As it is, I don't get to have a creature to care for that I want (and, naturally, ought to have); so I don't want to become responsible for a creature I don't want. How is that a fair trade? At least the "no kids" trade means that, for the first time in my entire life, I have some free time (weekends) and some money. If I'd had kids when I expected to, this would never have happened, because I grew up so poor and I married so young. Every other gal I know has had at least some years where she flew to all the weddings and invested in relationships with all her girlfriends. And I never have, and though I'm a homebody, now I can do that a little bit, and it's just a little bit of a consolation for not having kids.

Also, we rent, and though we have a big yard, we will end up paying an extra security deposit and increased rent, in addition to the cost of the creature and its food. Oh, plus kennel fees, so that if we ever go anywhere, in addition to the cost of travel, we can have the privilege of a further needless expense. I want to save my money for a house - and get a dog after I have my own home.

Why does this matter to me so much? It probably shouldn't. I mean, in any case, I wouldn't mind if he wanted to get his own dog. If he wanted to deal with it 100% (including paying for its expenses out of his nonexistent salary), I wouldn't poison it, barring the exception mentioned above. But what's becoming increasingly clear is that he wants to get me a dog. Moreover, he wants to get me a dog that would fit his notions of what I should have: docile, housetrained, will be effective guard dog when he wanders off to parts unknown and leaves me here. I don't want an older dog - if and when I want a dog, I want to raise it myself from a puppy. (See what I mean about the "what I want" theme?)

We almost had a huge fight at the pound yesterday, in front of a good-natured volunteer, because, after I sportingly agreed to go and look at the puppies, with the express understanding that I was not agreeing to buy one, he apparently decided that he could convince me to bring home a ten-year-old yellow lab that day. I would also like to point out, for any horrified readers, that I was unflaggingly pleasant and calm about my disinterest in bringing home a dog yesterday. I didn't yell. I just didn't change my mind. So I'm not a monster.

Maybe I should get him a cat...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

today

Hold fast to your duty, busy yourself with it, grow old while doing your task. Admire not how sinners live, but trust in the Lord and wait for his light; God's blessing is the lot of the just man, and in due time his hopes bear fruit.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

this is a fairy tale

I was in the car coming back from the grocery store, listening to the country station on the radio. (Someday when I look back on my life, I will notice that some experiences, though small, were the refrain of the entire story. Listening to country radio will be one of those.) Taylor Swift's song "White Horse" came on - a good song; country music isn't Beethoven, but her songwriting is pretty consistently good - and I was singing along in my head, and feeling for the narrator in the song.

I realized that I do that a lot - I'll hear some story of someone who's been mistreated or suffered, and I'll be angry, not just for them, but for my life. I read stories of other infertile women, who have suffered things of which I really have no understanding, and the obvious conclusion would be, you know, I don't have it that bad. I'm blessed. I should be grateful. But I don't think that - I think, infertility is that bad! This is a heavy cross to bear and I'm not crazy to take it so hard. Look: people suffer terribly. (Even though I don't...)

Back to the song - I was listening to "...I ain't a princess, this ain't a fairy tale..." - the song of too many young (and not-so-young) women these days, who have never had in their lives permanently, reliably, a man who loved them selflessly, permanently, unconditionally; who was faithful and kind and good; who believed the noblest thing he could do was to protect her and make her happy. Some women, with heavy burdens to carry - small children, sick families, difficult jobs - have to do all that and guard their hearts while they try to find a good man to love them, too.

And tears came to my eyes as I realized something: I AM a princess; and this, my life, this is a fairy tale.

I grew up unused to what unconditional love is. My mother is mentally ill. It's not that she'd have stopped loving me, but that in many ways she didn't know me and still doesn't. She can't remember things and she doesn't understand things and she rewrites history all the time. And she didn't have the emotional stability to raise little kids who were impossible as the result of a nasty, long, drawn-out divorce between acrimonious parents, and our relationship with her growing up was very bad.

And my father - well, my father's love was absolutely conditional. In his defense, sort of, he's not entirely stable either; he's now been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and he's definitely depressive, always has been. But he's so brilliant. Every little girl thinks her daddy is brilliant; but I'm a grown woman now, I know he has a lot of shortcomings, frankly by leaving my mother (and certainly by the way he did it) he cemented his status as a failure as a father. And I'm pretty darn sharp in my own right. And I still know he's one of the most brilliant people I know. Just being that gifted made it possible for him to cut through a lot of his other shortcomings. But in some ways the scripts in his head were even more rigid that my mother's, even though he's not really crazy. Family loyalty, some sort of Polish ethnic pride, all sorts of things, they were inviolable to him, and he couldn't deal with the idea that his kids would grow up and move on, and when I made decisions for my adult life (which law school, which husband; heavens, I'm a lawyer, got my JD at 24, and I was a virgin on my wedding day. What most fathers wouldn't have given!) he disagreed with vehemently, he acted as if I were dead for three years.

So my first experience of undeserved, gratuitous love was - my freshman roommate; who was loving and good to me for no darn good reason, and who will always be one of the most special people in my life, even though I rarely see her!

And then I met my husband. He's flawed. Sometimes, even, he's not very nice. But - a friend said once, that the husband should always be more in love with his wife than she is with him (because woman are naturally more stable and loyal). I understand her point, as a social matter, but for life, for my life, I'm not sure that's an ideal. But I know that's true of my husband. He'd jump in front of a bus to protect me without hesitating. He'd do anything to make me happy. He's so in love with me. There's nothing I could do, ever, that would make him stop loving me. And I know I love him, with all my heart, but I look into his eyes, and I wonder if it's even possible that I love him that much, as he loves me.

And because of my husband, my child's broken heart, which I received from my years that I'd learned, without ever realizing it, that if a man could leave my mother, could stop loving her because she was annoying, or difficult, or crazy, then there wouldn't be anyone who might not, someday, stop loving me - has healed. Because somebody loves me so much I never have to doubt it - and not because I've earned his love, but because he is so good.

I've read the stories of some other infertile women in this blogosphere, who, like me, have been tortured by this journey, at times into very twisted versions of themselves, and, as I do, lash out at the last person in the world who deserves our anger from this disease - our husbands who love us, even though they don't understand how badly we've wanted children. And sometimes I read other people's stories, and think what I think of my own: he forgave you for that? Why?

Because he loves you that much.

The fairy tale doesn't include a castle full of children, not as I remember it. It may, someday, or maybe not; but the fairy tale is unconditional love, right? The fairy tale is that the most wonderful man in the world picks you up out of an unsurvivable life and makes you the queen of his heart forever - so that you will always be a queen in fact.

Anyone can have a baby...I have a fairy tale.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

my actual flowers

Every time I open my blog (to see what's new in other people's posts - I use my blogroll as a reading list), I am delighted to see that dark purple crocus at the tippy-top. Full disclosure: it isn't my purple crocus, and its predecessors were not mine either. I thought the photography was too good for anyone to think I had taken the pictures, although the flowers did look identical and even the surroundings were the same (dead leaves and mulch).

So I resolved that as long as there were subjects available (that related to my posting), I would add lovely flower pictures to my posts, to make other people smile, in case anybody else's brain works the same way.

And all this is better, because today I got my first digital camera. It came in the mail. The DH has been pesting about how we need one for a while, but I just can't justify spending so much money on anything that's not a necessity. But then I had to spend my credit card rewards points, and I found this thing that reviewed well and had aaaall the features I had decided I needed, and then it came in just two days, and yes, this is materialistic, and even if I didn't believe in a next world, I am way too old for this, but can I tell you how having an adorable shiny toy to play with has lightened my mood? I can't. It's that much.

So anyway, I made myself be good and go to Mass before I tried it out, so it was dark when I got home, but I decided to photograph my garden anyway. And I think it even worked (yay camera!). Check this out:


There will be more garden pictures as there are more blooms (this is already one of several, but it was the widest open when I besieged them photographically). Oh, also, in defense of the powers of my camera - this picture posted on the "small" setting. The "large" version wouldn't load.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

another glorious day

On my subject of sources of joy...

We now have a third color of crocus (it bloomed yesterday), royal purple.

The eggplant came off the bottom of the oven effortlessly (and I've already got about 60% of my chores done - just need to wash the floors and the counters now). Almost a clean house!

It's warm and lovely again today, and the DH and I are going to drive into the city and walk around the monuments. And it was all his idea. Isn't he a dear? We keep talking (well, he always brings it up) about how we need to make a list of things we want to do in the area. There are so many lovely places to spend time - the monuments, the basilica, the Shenandoah Valley, Emmitsburg, maybe Annapolis, all sorts of wonderful destinations. I haven't actually been good and sat down with paper and pen to help in the making of the list, but I think it's a delightful idea, and I will do it soon - really.

It also puts me in mind of a conversation the DH and I have now and again - about whether we have as much in common as we assume. He and I generally want to talk about different things, and we rarely want to see the same movies. We work at different jobs and we have different, well, favorites maybe, among our friends. We do have things we like to do together - we've been watching all the episodes of Frasier from beginning to end - but we often find ourselves on different computers on the internet for an entire evening, evening after evening.

But there are actually things in which we're both interested - they're just things we often fail to summon up the energy to get out and do. We both are interested in volunteering in a soup kitchen, getting more involved in some activities in our church, spending time outside when it's lovely, taking in the special things in DC, going hiking. We would "have" more in common if we got out and did the things we want to do! And we wouldn't just be united by sitting in a quiet house, with our separate pursuits, not having children. (Heaven knows children would give us some interests in common, but they're not essential for that.)

So anyway, to anyone who is experiencing lovely weather today, and doesn't have to work, and has been feeling just a bit down, go pack a picnic lunch and head outside with your husband!

And, shinejil, I think you win with the crocuses (croci???) - you clearly have more. But it's nice, in any case, to see spring coming!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

more good things

Today the day is GLORIOUS. It's going to be over SEVENTY within hours, and I am going to get myself outside to run around.

Although I didn't know this when I planted my lavender bushes in front of the porch late last summer when we moved in, apparently our garden area, and around one of the trees, has spring bulbs - because it's studded with daffodil and iris shoots! Even more exciting - yesterday I was examining this area closely and discovered that we have THE FIRST FLOWERS OF SPRING! I had never seen this particular flower before, but some odd impulse suggested to me that they were crocuses (maybe because I've heard those are spring flowers), and sure enough, they are! There are purple ones in front of the house and yellow ones around one of the trees.

My DH just discovered that a popular trail starts right near our house. I had gotten bored with my running (and I feel old and slow), but there is a nice trail, and there's pretty water, and I went running there yesterday and plan to do so again today and Sunday.

I am planning to clean my house - for real, this time. For the sake of my own accountability, I will note here that that requires the following: (1) wash remaining dishes. (2) clean counters. (3) sweep bedroom and laundry room. (4) wash kitchen floor. Maybe living room too. (5) do load of laundry. (6) meditate on eggplant on the bottom of the oven.

A coworker (not in my exact office) is 8 1/2 months along and there was an office shower for her the other day. I first heard of it three minutes before it started, and duly marched upstairs to a break room where they had done a lovely job with the decorations and the snacks. The gal in the office next to mine, who is a few years older than I am but married January 08, mentioned that she'd like to have kids but is waiting till she gets in a little better shape (I wanted to tell her not to wait, but I kept quiet). Then she asked me whether we were interested in having kids soon. Maybe she did it in a specially non-invasive manner, but I just responded that we had been happy to have kids since law school, but it just hadn't happened yet, and I figured I would see a doctor in case there was some medicine I needed to take. And she nodded as if that made sense. It wasn't so bad at all. Maybe this isn't so terrible...

Although my Monday annual exam was postponed due to the snowstorm, they were kind enough to reschedule it for Friday (yesterday), my day off. All went well - have you ever had a totally painless PAP smear? Seriously. My specialist appointment is in three weeks or so. We'll see how that goes. I'm accumulating more and more endo symptoms (BAD), but I'm behaving and getting myself to the doctor. What I really want is to see an end to all this - not a baby (that would be fine also), but a resolution. No more waiting and uncertainty. A simple, straightforward, rest of my life. And maybe that will happen.

More amusing lolz - again apropos (and because I have to show off, these look like pure-bred Abyssinians to me):

Thursday, March 5, 2009

signs

So I've been trying especially hard to be open to spiritual healing, because I am realizing more and more that I have enormous trouble trusting God all over this - not intentionally or mentally, but emotionally; He hurt me and I really can't let go enough to give Him a firm hold on my life because I am afraid He will hurt me again. And I've been praying, especially, for guidance. Paying attention to the little things God is trying to tell me to which I am not open. Because I'm so lost.

I got home from a spiritual reflection evening (really a wonderful opportunity) at 9ish and, after gathering my courage huddled under a blanket on the couch for a few minutes, set about making dinner. The DH ate all the tomato sauce, so I had to make cream sauce, and I wanted a vegetable, and discovered my eggplant that I had been saving for Friday (no meat, remember). I figured I'd cut up the eggplant, salt it, and roast it with balsamic vinegar while I was cutting up the cooked chicken, boiling the pasta, and making the cream sauce - and then I'd be ahead for tomorrow. An excellent plan.

After the pasta was entirely finished, I hauled the eggplant out of the oven, because I realized it was darkening on top too fast. I put on some Italian dressing (guilty shortcuts!) and grabbed the two hot handles of the glass dish with my towel and slid it back in the oven, this time going for the bottom rack for a slower approach.

I don't know how, but the dish flew out of my hand and landed on the bottom of the oven. Miraculously, the glass did not break, even though it landed straight on the metal in a 475 degree oven (maybe because the dish was already hot too). So I fetched it out. But three quarters of a large eggplant - in small, half-cooked pieces; along with some quantity of balsamic vinegar - is all over the bottom of my oven. The bottom, not the bottom rack. A 475 degree oven. So I left the door open and turned off the oven. I'm good that far. But tomorrow, I am going to be scraping dozens of pieces of partially cooked, seared eggplant off the inside of the bottom of my oven for half the day. Plus I have far too little eggplant left for tomorrow night's dinner - and what I have is half cooked. (I want to interject at this point that I am really angry about all this, but I did not use any bad words.)

I confess I am a klutz, which is why I know that this mishap is spectacular and unjust. Because I am the mistress of my kitchen; I man the knives, the flames, the frying pans, the oven. And I have never done anything remotely like this before. I'd also like to point out here that I was doing extra work to observe the Lenten abstinence from meat.

Are you trying to tell me something here?

Monday, March 2, 2009

good things

I know I've been depressing recently. But though many of my thoughts have been serious, I want to insure all the internets out there that I'm not depressed. I'm still planning to do a yoga video* and make a big pot of soup tonight, AND do the sweeping and clean the bathroom, and those are all good things (er, having a clean house, not cleaning it).

So I wanted to share some things I am enjoying. First of all, I love lolcats. I love cats, actually; my dear husband, the smoker, will predecease me by a decade if not far longer, and as I am totally unallergic to cats, dogs, or any other mammal (in fact, fleas do not bite me - although mosquitoes snack on me gluttonously. This is true), I am definitely going to be a Crazy Cat Lady. I'll write a heady intellectual column for some esoteric publication, giving the impression that I am a cosmopolitan creature, meanwhile living off finger sandwiches and hot chocolate in a decrepit Victorian mansion with many many cats, in a small village a few blocks from the library.

And - remember there was a snowstorm on the East Coast today; I got to telecommute! - this is fun:

Then there's this charming, hilarious, irreverent, and totally apropos quote from Plumcake at the big girl blog:
Breasts are like children. You can grow them yourself or buy a cuter pair in Costa Rica, but either way, they really do need healthy boundaries.
And then there's this line from evening prayer:

"Look at me, answer me, Lord my God!" (Psalm 13:3.)

Or he will die, the psalmist says. Something about this is right, palpably so; familiar, and demanding, and expressing a plainness of feeling with which I can sympathize - although I can't pretend right now to David's soul-baring trust that his desperate prayer will be answered.

*I can handle putting this information on the internet only with the disclaimer that I am the Last Person in the World who would ever do yoga. I'm not saying that it's morally wrong, but if you make yourself a list of every quality you associate with yoga-doing people, I am the opposite of all of those things. I almost can't handle that I'm doing the yoga, but my healthy diet and exercise plan has stagnated, and there is beautiful lovely snow (REAL snow!) outside in which I am unlikely to go jogging, and I have yoga videos I inherited from a friend, and, so, well, that's how it has to be. But just so you know. Not a yoga person.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

a heart of stone

One of the things I've been doing for Lent (prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, you know) is trying to read morning and evening prayer every day. I'm sure I've said this before, but reading psalms and canticles picked out for each day, I have the feeling that there's a message in them specially for me, words to help me grow further throughout (or just survive) the day.

From yesterday's:

Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

That's most, or maybe all, of what I need right there. I never did, before this whole infertility thing; I've read the verse many times, and it didn't ring true with any characteristic flaw I have (and I have many, so I can usually latch onto something). Now it means a lot. I have a heart of stone - maybe a heart of ice; because I dare not hope, I can't stand the pain any more. I can't want desperately - and unattainably - what others have and I lack. I'm not strong enough to be heartbroken every day.

The thought has whispered across my mind recently, on occasion: do I still really want children? My life would change dramatically if I had them. No job (and I've never very much wanted a job!). All day home with small people, people who need to be cleaned, and have nothing intelligent to say. I always thought my heart would be broadened, so, by innocent and helpless beings to love. My heart is narrower now even than when I thought that; and I am not sure any more that that broadening would happen, should happen. Once I could not imagine my life growing into oldness without children; I still can't; but now I can't easily imagine my adult life with children in it, as more than a carbon copy of the lives of others. And then sometimes, again, I think that I can't have a future as a non-mother, that there isn't even another future to have. I haven't changed my mind; I'm not settled; but I wonder.

I recognize that the not-wanting has a large element of sour grapes about it: rather than an expression of the desire of my heart, it's at least in part an expression of my desire not to have the desires of my heart taken away.

But the hardness of my heart has even a darker side. It's not just a matter of whether I'm resentfully turning away from what I should fight for, rather than peacefully letting go of what I can't have. It's that when I didn't have children (including, say, now), I became untethered. I had ordered my life to selflessness and service and virtue and generosity and growth as a person by giving to children (my plan) and letting go my vainer pursuits, for them. I don't have a plan B. If that doesn't work, I can try to live a good life where I am, but where I am is nowhere in particular and is just a matter of where I happened to find a job and is not, really, the thing which is worth the pouring out of an entire human life, let alone my life in particular. Surely, there are jobs that have more of goodness than mine. I could look for one of them. But which one? I've most always had a why - if not an overall why (and the lack always frustrated me), then a why for the next thing. The only next thing I have now is that I should show up to work tomorrow, since, after all, they're paying me. That's not worth a whole human life.

But I can tell - I can feel, almost, as if there were a real stone in my chest, that there's something unyielding in me, that will not allow itself to be molded for the next thing, carved into something meaningful. All the little strength I have is marshaled to fend off the heartbreak that would love to take me back - to form a heart of stone.

And my annual exam is tomorrow. Because of the snowstorm, the clinic may be closed; I do hope not. But part of me is sure they'll have a look at me and tell me that I'm so very sick, as no twenty-seven-year-old should be...