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A Promise for Positive Thinking

Since the turn of the year, I have been in a slump and I can’t climb my way out of it. Especially now that my mom is back home and I spend my days essentially alone, and my sister’s baby shower is looming closer every day, I find myself feeling melancholy and forlorn. Freakishly without hope and only filled with dread. In times like this, it is easy to forget my list of 100 blessings. Pathetic but true.

But I am tired of feeling like this year is just going to be a series of sadnesses, losses of hope, cycles which bring nothing but an empty bank account and a broken heart. I don’t want to perceive life in this way. Am I not more than my infertility and loss and struggle? Question mark because sometimes I don’t feel that I am. This infiltrates every part of my world, every thought, every moment and memory, every relationship. But 2013 does not have to be an endless dark tunnel with no light, no fleeting time in the sun. I still have plenty to be thankful for. There is deep sadness in my life, but there is intense happiness too. And while I do not yet know what this year holds for the future of our family, there are other foreseeable things, events and days and plans, that lay ahead for me to wait for and countdown to. Like:

  • Monthly Bunco nights with my girlfriends, good food, and lots of wine (and sometimes a surprise win, like the $20 I came home with this week).
  • Daily moments of laughter, delight, and wonder as I watch Cupcake grow and become and experience and create.
  • Deliciousness. I worry about my weight, but I do love to eat, and I know there will be many fantastic meals, snacks, and treats that I can live for this year.
  • A church service at the end of this month that is specifically for infertile couples and offers a lot of prayer on their behalf.
  • Fat Tuesday, a day when my husband and I go to a nearby bakery, order a ridiculous amount of their pretty chocolate pastries and desserts, and spend one night indulging ’til our stomach’s content (and beyond).
  • Our wedding anniversary in March. It will be our 5th and my husband and I are spending the night in a nice hotel in the city to celebrate. (This, however, will also be the anniversary of Teddy Graham’s conception, but I’m trying not to think of that…)
  • My mom will possibly be spending another two weeks with us in March, if she is able to get the time off work.
  • The birth of my sister’s baby in the spring. This is on the list because it can be a joyous occasion if I let it. This will be the birth of my first biological niece or nephew, which means a great deal to me. I never thought I would have this, so I’m torn between the pain and joy it brings me.
  • A long weekend visit from my mom at the end of May. (Yes, this lady has the ability to bring me lots of joy with her presence alone.)
  • A July road trip back to Idaho for my cousin’s wedding, where I will get to see some family and enjoy some hot and sunny weather.
  • My 30th birthday in August. I am not looking forward to thirty, nor am I excited about a birthday spent without a baby in my belly or arms, but my mom will probably be here (again!), and we will take Cupcake to the zoo for the first time and I do like presents, if I’m being completely honest. 🙂
  • The holidays. I dread another holiday season spent without a newborn, but Christmas can still be fun and special and memorable in the most beautiful way, if only I allow myself the freedom of focusing on all that I have rather than on the one thing that I do not.

This is my attempt at positive thinking. I struggle with it more often than not, but I do NOT want another year filled with so much self-pity, and bitterness, and darkness. It’s okay if that’s the way I feel in the moment and if I need to wallow. That’s okay. But I do not want it to define this year. I will not let it. This is the promise I am making to myself right this minute.

But I do reserve the right to renege on this promise at any time. Please forgive me if I do.

London in Review

An apologetic warning and a gentle plea for forgiveness: This will probably be long. Sorry.

Now that I’m caught up on my reading and commenting, and the worst of this cold has finally lifted, I have the time and energy to blog about our London adventure. Except, as I’ve been there so many times now, it doesn’t much feel like an adventure anymore. Just like going home, as I’ve mentioned before.

In summary: I ate too much. I ate too much junk. I drank too many caffeinated drinks. I slept too little. I walked, played, and shopped until I dropped. I carried my 26 lb toddler on my hip nearly 50% of every day. I forgot to pray often enough. I brought “cute” shoes instead of “walking” shoes and my feet hurt all day long. I spent too much money. I didn’t nap. I didn’t rest. I didn’t stop going. In other words, I did very few things that were good for my fertility.

In fact, there were multiple times while we were away, that I thought to myself, There is no way I could have done this if I’d been 32 weeks pregnant. Or 6 or 10 or 14 weeks pregnant, if one of these most recent cycles had worked for us. I would have pushed myself too hard. Even if I tried not to, I still would have. I know no other way when on vacation. And I cannot imagine that it would have been very good for any Baby in Progress. Perhaps, somewhere in here, there is a small blessing in disguise. Ha…if only I really believed that.

But…I digress. A few more details about our holiday:

  • We visited many of the major sights, not because I wanted to but because my Honey (who has never been to London) needed to see them: Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, London Eye, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and more.
  • I had High Tea by myself at the Berkley, where they style their cakes and pastries after the latest fashion trends. Delicious and fun!
  • We went on two Harry Potter-themed guided walking tours, which was perhaps one of my favorite parts of the trip.
  • I discovered Ben’s Cookies, which has the best cookies I have ever tasted in my life. Seriously. Enormous, soft, thick, chewy…I wish I could have brought a lifetime supply home with me.
  • During one of our two (three?) visits to Harrods, we happened to stumble upon a book signing party for Roger Moore, who once played the role of James Bond.
  • We hired a nanny for a day so that my daughter could have a day of rest while the three of us adults took a day trip to Windsor and Eton.
  • I enjoyed pineapple frozen yogurt and a giant muffin at Muffinski’s in Covent Garden, just like I did on my first visit to London and every visit thereafter.
  • We only had serious rain during part of one day. The rest of the time, skies were clear and we were…cold. So glad I had the foresight to pack a thick jacket, hat, and gloves!
  • We went to a pub for fish and chips and I ordered a hard cider, the first sip of alcohol I’ve had in months.
  • I slipped away for a couple hours to do a little shopping on my own and to enjoy a coffee while sitting in Green Park. I love getting to explore the city alone, just like in the good ol’ days!
  • I fell in love with Kensington Gardens all over again. My favorite park. Truly.
  • While visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral, I paid 30 pence to light a candle for our beloved Teddy Graham. I wish I would have thought to light one for each of your lost babies as well. I’m sorry. But they were all in my heart.
  • During our last evening in London, my husband stayed with our daughter, while my mom and I went for High Tea at Fortnum & Mason (a very nice department store, the Queen’s official grocer, and what I would say is a scaled-down version of Harrods…but I think I like it even better). Afterwards, we walked the Mall (cold but beautiful with the Palace all lit up) and then went to Novello Theatre to see Mamma Mia! on stage. So. Much. Fun. And perhaps my favorite night out.

There is also one other thing I did while in London that I have never done before: go shopping at baby stores. Lots of them. I’m trying to be a good sister (yes, I’m failing — I already know), and wanted to get something special for her baby. So I bought this:

The onesie on the left and the jar of hand cream (for my sis, not her baby), I will send to her just as a little “thinking of you” gift this week. The elephant jammies and rabbit rattle I will save for her baby shower this winter.

And for the day the baby arrives, I bought this:

My sis does not know what she is having and does not plan to find out until Baby is here. So I bought a boy outfit and a girl outfit and a gender-neutral musical star/rabbit. The outfit that goes unused will either be given as a gift to someone else or will be saved, in hopes that we may one day have a baby to fill it.

Shopping for these items were hard, all the harder because I’m still working through the feelings of resentment, hurt, anger, and jealousy that I feel when it comes to my sister, but it strengthened me too. In the end, I think perhaps I will one day look back at it and realize that’s when accepting my sister’s pregnancy began to get easier. If that makes any sense.

And while shopping, I could not help but buy these. For us. Or rather, for our baby. Our next baby.

And no, this isn’t some “I’m pregnant!” announcement in disguise. No. I had no business buying these things. Certainly, I had no business spending the sort of money that I did on a baby that hasn’t yet even been conceived. But I fell in love with them. And even more, I wanted some tangible proof of my hope. Of my faith. Because I do believe, I do know it’s possible at least, that I will have another child. I don’t know when. But I think it can, and probably will, happen. And now whenever I need to, I can look at and hold these few precious baby items, reminding myself that not all hope is lost.

So our trip to London was a success. A beautiful success. With the exception of one minor snafu the day after our arrival and missing our connection coming home because of mechanical problems with the plane, it went off without a hitch. Nearly perfect. Perhaps the closest thing to perfect I have experienced when going on holiday. Which I needed. I so needed that.

The hardest part in coming back is…coming back. Returning to the reality of our situation. While across the Pond, I felt thoroughly removed from our problems. I pondered them infrequently. I was happy. I felt light and free and unburdened. The pain of infertility and the grief of a miscarriage didn’t weigh me down for once. Instead, they were more like a small souvenir in my back pocket. Until our final day, that is. Then I broke down and cried because I suddenly realized it was all coming to an end and I didn’t want it to. I didn’t want to be faced with all of this again. I still don’t. I wish I could pretend that we’re still on holiday and go on feeling at ease with my lot in life for the rest of my life.

But alas, here I am. I am home. I am infertile. I am waiting. And I have no idea what the future holds. Oh, and I hate it.

And on that note, I’ll leave you with a few too many photos for your enjoyment. These are the best shots that don’t include my family (because, you know, I’m trying to pretend this blog is anonymous):

You all know what this is…and that blue sky is real, folks!

The London Eye, in all it’s Glory

Buckingham Palace

My High Tea at the Berkley…all inspired by the fashions of Spring/Summer 2012.

All things great existed inside this muffin from Muffinski’s. The only way it could have been better is if it had the amazing power to knock me up!

These are the beautiful boys who attend Eton College (where Prince William and Harry were educated). My husband found it “creepy” that I took photos of these young men, but really I’m just fascinated by the lifestyle. I once had naive hopes of marrying a Brit and sending our son(s) here. Now I look at my daughter and wonder if I would ever be able to send my child away for months at a time.

I love visiting Windsor Castle!

For all you Harry Potter fans out there…

My two companions while enjoying my “me” time at Green Park

I’m dealing.

As ever, thanks to all of you for your love and support the last couple days. The arrival of my period was a bigger blow than I care to admit. I spent most of Monday crying, praying, and considering if, perhaps, I should just quit now. Have an only child and be done with it. But of course, that is so far from what I want that I won’t give up yet. So instead, I fed my feelings. It seems Disappointment much enjoys Cheese-its and Grief craves candy corn. And Frustration is always so darn thirsty that she just has to drink Cherry Coke Zero all freaking day long.

Why, I wonder, is this so hard every month, even when I tell myself it’s not going to work out?

In the beginning, I did believe this latest cycle would fail miserably, but as the days wore on and my temperature stayed high (it usually drops a day or two before my period), I grew more hopeful. It was exacerbated by the fact that I had obscene amounts of cervical mucus starting at 5dpo (which I have never seen except in pregnancy) and frequent ovarian/uterine twinges that sometimes left me gasping in pain. Though I didn’t want to say it aloud or write it on this blog or even acknowledge it within my own heart, by Sunday, I think I was pretty much convinced that I would be seeing a BFP this week.

Clearly, I was wrong. Which only goes to prove you absolutely cannot predict if you have conceived until you take a pregnancy test or start to bleed. And I am once again reminded that my intuition sucks. Royally.

I think I am most frustrated because I have never before struggled to conceive once achieving ovulation. Ovulation has been the problem more than conception. With both Cupcake and Teddy Graham, I conceived the first time I ovulated with Clomid. Now, on this third time around the block, I have ovulated twice with only BFNs as my souvenir. I know twice is nothing. I know it does not mean that this will continue to be the trend forever and ever. But it still pisses me off. And scares me. And breaks my heart.

And this period hasn’t been kind to me, either. For starters, I think I’m feeling slight pressure and tenderness from a cyst. It’s incredibly mild, but still present. And I haven’t had a flow this heavy since…my early college days? Maybe? And I haven’t seen this much blood since…well, since my April miscarriage. Yesterday, I was cramping pretty fiercely too (off and on) and passing so many clots. It’s been very weird.  Whatever it means. I just know it hasn’t been pretty.

The only silver lining I can see in all of this is that, mercifully, my period did not come so early like the time before that I have to worry about a luteal phase defect. And thank God for my RE appointment scheduled for the beginning of November. By then, I will be more than ready to take a more aggressive, proactive approach to making this thing happen.

For now, I’m just trying to stay busy, stay hopeful, and have faith that there is a reason for all of this. And it helps when I hear a favorite song playing out of the blue, too.  The day after I learned that Teddy Graham had no heartbeat, I climbed into my car to hear this song on the radio:

And on Monday, while grocery shopping just as my period began, I heard the same song playing. Let’s just say this song is my letter to Infertility, except I might add “Screw you, Bitch” or something even more vulgar.  But the refrain says it all, doesn’t it? What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

I am getting stronger, aren’t I?

A Silver Lining

Tonight, with Cupcake’s grammy in town, my Honey and I got a rare night out. Alone!  For dinner, we had fondue and I even allowed myself to order a martini. Oh, bajeezus! It tasted so good. It’s been forever since I last had a proper cocktail. I mean, FOREVER. For the last three and a half years, I have either been trying to conceive, pregnant, or breast-feeding. So….no alcohol. But tonight, at this in-between place between losing our baby and trying to create the next one, I was able to indulge. I think I just found my silver lining!