Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I Dreamed a Dream

"Though dreams can be deceiving, like faces are to hearts, they serve for sweet relieving when fantasy and reality lie too far apart…"

-Fiona Apple

I very rarely have dreams about the things I want. Most often, my dreams are about odd, surreal, fictitious places and strange situations. My dreams are, frankly, pretty weird. My conscious thoughts don't ever make it into my dreams, where you're supposed to be able to escape to an Eden of your own making. So when I awoke this morning clutching my belly and thinking that moments ago I felt the heartbeat of a baby, I knew that babymaking had been pushed so far into my subconscious that I was actually dreaming about it. Maybe it's because I'm completely immersed in school (oh, lesson plans, how I love to hate you), or maybe it's because we're taking some time off, but babymaking hasn't exactly been in the forefront of my mind this month. Yes, we're still trying the natural method (BBT, herbs, etc.), but I haven't had an RE appointment in over a month now. It's been nice.

But it's made me think: There ought to be about three different words for "dream".

  1. There are the dreams that you really have when you sleep. They are strange an often incomprehensible, and very rarely leave you with the impression that you just lived a moment in your perfect world.

  2. There are "dreams" that you have for your life. These should more aptly be called aspirations or goals.

  3. There are the hypothetical dreams that you have about things that you long for but know you can't have. It's like when I say that Bear Grylls is dreamy, or I dream of being dropped of in Tahiti with Bear Grylls. (What? He's been on my Facebook feed a lot lately; I can't help it.) These are not the things you ever really dream about when you sleep…unfortunately.

    Nevertheless, I have to say that it was nice to experience the joy of pregnancy for a fleeting moment...even if it was all in my mind.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Literary Inspiration

Yikes. I fear that I've been on the Negativity Train too long! I'm actually doing pretty well, emotionally. I didn't even cry when I started my cycle on day 33 this week. (Damn you, false hope.) Anyway, on to something different:

For the past month or so, I've been haunted by the ghost of a quotation that I remember writing down long ago. It had something to do with believing in the unbelievable...but I coudln't remember what book it was from or where I had written it down. Usually I write things in my little black Molskine notebook that I love to death and carry everywhere. But it wasn't there. While I was searching for something totally unrelated this weekend, I found another small notebook that I haven't looked at for years. In it was written this quotation from 'Madame Bovary':

"Romances are rarely shaped in such perfect good faith, and (her) excuse was in the radical purity of her imagination. She was profoundly incorruptible, and she cherished this pernicious conceit as if it had been a dogma revealed by a white-winged angel. Even after experience had given her a hundred rude hints, she found it easier to belive in fables, when they had a certain nobleness of meaning, than in the well-attested but sordid facts."

I've always loved the romance of life. The poetry of chance, the beauty of serindipity...I love it all. So in the grand scheme of life, I'm going to consider this journey a struggle that only Henry James could imagine. But in my story, there's going to be a happy ending.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Give, Give, Give.

I was sitting in a meeting today and my union rep reminded all of us that we should give up a sick day for the "sick day bank". This way, we all pool sick days and if anyone needs to be gone for some reason, they can use those days without having to take unpaid days off. The example that my union leader gave, of course, was unplanned pregnancy leave. Since I am a giving kind of girl, I gave up my days so that someone in my district can enjoy leisurely days with their new baby on extended maternity leave. Later that day, I also gave money to a bake sale so that someone else's kids can play softball in new uniforms. Before that, I bought 20 extra notebooks for my class because at least that many will have a hard time affording basic school supplies. Before that I made a donation toward a new baby stroller for an unmarried co-worker who just happened to knock up his girlfriend of eight months. Super.

When is it my turn? I feel like I am making a fair contribution to the children of the world…so when do I get one of my own? Why am I paying out of pocket to help raise other people's kids when I can't even conceive one? Is anyone raising money for my dogs to get new adorable collars? Does my workplace ever pool their money to buy a new dog bed when I decide to get another puppy? No and no.

I am comforted, however, by the fact that all this goodwill is sure to come back to me. 'Cause when the time comes for me to take maternity leave, I'm robbing that sick leave bank blind.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Sometimes We Do Things So That People Don't Know that We Don't Want to Do Them

"I know why you denied my sister. When I was younger... you used to hold my arm when I walked. Then suddenly you stopped. One day, I even tripped in your presence and nearly fell. I was faking, of course, but still you did not hold me. Sometimes we don't do things we want to do so that others won't know we want to do them."
-Ivy Walker, "The Village"

I love this quote from 'The Village'. I think that the opposite is also true - sometimes we do things just to cover up the fact that we don't want to do them. Here's a good example:

My sister is pregnant. I am pissed. The grandparents are ecstatic. I am bitter. And so the paradoxical emotions dance around my sister's delightful news. (I knew it was coming.) I wasn't able to make it to my sister's first baby shower (dude, it was the last week of school - you can't miss that, even if you're dying), so I know that I need to start saving money for the second one. When you're the infertile older sister, you know that everyone else knows that you're disappointed. But, to keep up appearances, you have to continue to smile, coo, and complement. Last time my sister had a baby, I designed the announcements. I love doing things like that, and I wanted everyone to know that I was fine with her having a baby and me only having dogs. I can tell you, though, that the last thing in the world I'd like to be doing right now is designing an announcement for someone else. I should be doing it for myself. That should be my name on the paper, my baby's face in the picture. But it's not. This time, I'm going to have to up the ante. It's time to whip out the sewing machine and hand make some adorable baby goodies. Put extra effort into it. Make sure everyone knows that you're well-adjusted. Don't let on that you're dying inside. Suppress the longing in your heart that won't let you go a day without wondering what your future holds. Find the strength to hold on to hope, even while you're holding evidence in your arms that you are different.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

You Know You're Infertile When...

…nobody wants to tell you that they're pregnant. I was reading up on other people's lives on my social networking site the other day, and my step-sister's step-mom (those of you with dysfunctional families will understand that, it's not my mom) wrote the following: "I got a phone call from Germany this morning from my beautiful and smart granddaughter and she told me a secret...she is going to be a big sister in April. Don and I are very happy to be grandparents for the second time"

Now, unless my step-sisters' step-mom has another granddaughter that I don't know about, who happens to live in Germany, too… I just found out that my step-sister is pregnant through Face.book. Son of a… I guess I'm so damaged and delicate at this point that no one wants to tell me personally that other people are able to have two babies in the time it takes me to try to have one. And fail. Miserably.

That's depressing. My sister couldn't call. My step-mom couldn't call. My dad couldn't call. Everyone has to let me find out from a highly impersonal source that can't cringe while it's alerting me that being an Aunt (twice) may be all I get in this world. So begins another round of conflicting emotions. Put on the smile, say the right words, buy the adorable card, make the time-consuming-but-really-cute-and-necessary-so-no-one-knows-you're-bitter-handmade set of burp cloths and bibs. Do it, because you're a good sister and an even better Auntie.

Monday, August 9, 2010

This Body

Over the past 30 years, I've put my body to the test. When I was just 6, I used to climb into trees with my brothers, pulling myself up branches with nothing but sheer will. At 8 years of age, I learned to water ski, and subjected my body to all sorts of contortionist positions as I fell at speeds of 15 miles per hour. At 15, I learned how to ride a motorcycle and crash landed into burms and mud puddles more often than I care to admit. When I was 20 I traveled to New Zealand and completed the holy trinity of bungee jumps, including the Nevis Highwire Bungee, over a canyon deeper than it was wide. And it was wide. At 21 I flew over the handlebards of my mountain bike on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. When I was 24 I trained to be a whitewater raft guide, flipping and dunking, swimming and grunting all the way through seven weeks of training and torture.

I stood at the mirror yesterday and took a look at my body. It is a strong body. It's carried me over states, bodies of water, and even continents. It's done everything I've ever asked of it, even changed shape a time or two. (Damn you, Freshman 15.) So forgive me if I can't understand why, at 30 years old, my body has suddenly refused to do what I ask of it. I'm not asking for feats of strength beyond average. I'm not asking it to look differently than my genetics dictate. (Thought at 16, I really did want it to look a little bustier.) I'm just asking it to do what women everywhere seem to have no problem doing naturally.

Maybe I asked to much of it in my youth. Maybe, but it was sure fun.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Can You Stand on Your Head?"

You know the feeling you get when you read a book or watch a movie and a certain passage just hits you right in the cerebrum? I just finished watching an adorable movie called "Phoebe in Wonderland", which is about a little girl who immerses herself in Alice's Looking Glass World. When her school's drama teacher decides to put on a production of "Alice in Wonderland", Phoebe yearns to play the lead role. Her best friend, Jamie, gives her a bit of advice to help her in her pursuit:

Jamie: When I wanted my baking kit, I prayed to God for a whole month to get it.

Phoebe: Is that what you have to do?

Jamie: Well, if you want something a lot, you have to pray. Or do something you hate, and God will see you deserve it.

Phoebe: I don't believe in God.

Jamie: Me neither. But I did get the baking kit.

Phoebe: So you have to pray?

Jamie: Or do something you hate.

Phoebe: Like what?

Jamie: I dunno, P.E.?

Phoebe eventually gets the part, but not before she commits herself to all kinds of superstitious routines. It made me think about all the superstitious behaviors that we, as infertiles, subject ourselves to. Personally, I never run or exercise for at least two days after an IUI. (My doctor says there's no medical reason why that would matter.) I also don't have intercourse for about a week after my O-day, just in case the jostling would hinder my chances. (Ridiculous, I know.) I eat lots of pineapple, have tried various herbal suplements, and I even have tried headstands. (Now I'm hearing the Cheshire Cat ask, "Can you stand on your head?") Sigh. Maybe next I'll try doing something I hate. I guess it is my turn to clean the bathroom.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

I May Not Be a Good Procreator...

…but I'm a pretty dang good aunt, sister, and daughter. Recently, I had the opportunity (re: year of scrimping and saving) to visit my sister, brother-in-law, and their 18-month old daughter in Germany. It was a wonderful trip and, of course, I took the opportunity to shoot some adorable pictures of my niece. We did family pictures, individual pictures, and vast amounts of pictures of the baby. I even took a video of her singing (or trying to sing) the ABC's. It's pretty darn cute.

So now, I have a bunch of pictures of the little darling, and I think to myself: "You know who would really love these? The grandparents!" So I create a CD cover, select the very best of the photos, burn them to a disk, and pop them in the mail. I send one to my sister, one to our parents, and one to the other set of grandparents. Gratis. Because I know it will bring them joy. At one point, I realize that I would rather be sending them all pictures of my own daughter. I should be packaging up a CD of a baby who looks like me, loves her Grandpa, and is learning to play in the garden next to her Daddy. But, alas, that is not to be. So, even if I can't give them the good news they've been waiting for from me…I can at least herald the coming of my niece's two front teeth. It's better than nothing.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Somethin' For the Ladies

It's time for a happy post. Sometimes I tend to focus on the negative, which gives people the impression that all is not well. Despite the one ongoing problem (duh), everything else in my life is going pretty well. I still have a job, I have a loving husband, my dogs remain adorable, our garden is bursting with delicious vegetables, and my family are all healthy and happy. So, I'm not going to complain about anything today.

Instead, I'm going to post a video that I took in Germany. While filming the 'surfers' on an artificial river in central Munich, my camera took a little detour. I like to call this short film: "Oops, I Got Distracted."

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nature is the Meanest Boss EVER!

Think about this: If living is your job, then Nature is your boss. And if Nature is my boss, it is the meanest boss that I have ever had. Here are the reasons why:

  1. Nature can terminate your employment at any time, regardless of experience.

  2. Nature can change your schedule at a moment's notice, without first consulting or apprising your of the reason.

  3. Nature is erratic and completely unpredictable. It's bright and cheery one day, and stormy and moody the next.

  4. Nature displays favoritism. It gives bonuses to some people, and not to others. (And they're not even performance-based!)

  5. Nature micro-manages. It has to control every little thing in the universe, but doesn't seem to attend to the big-picture problems. (Can we stop with the pandemics already?)

  6. Nature completely shoots down your ideas and plans without so much as a logical reason why.

  7. Nature can withhold your pay indefinitely, and you have to go right on working.

Sometimes, I just want to quit and start my own business.

(This photo is one that my husband took of a recent fire that decimated hundreds of acres in our area this year. At least Nature is universally mean.)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cover Me, I'm Going In...

Wedding season is winding down, and I'm pretty proud of myself. Not only have I managed to get through about a dozen weddings without grabbing the bride, shaking her, and yelling, "start trying now, you poor, naive soul!", but I also took some pretty good pictures. I held it together through most of the father-daughter dances while thinking of how proud my own father would be if I produced a bouncing baby girl (Dad loves babies). I even managed to smile winningly while one grandmother after another barraged me with questions about my own body clock. Yes, I am married. No, I don't have kids. Cool it, Grandma!

But today is going to be different. Today, the bride is a good friend. This means that there will be, you guessed it, other acquaintances at the wedding. Acquaintances who know that we've been married for two years now. Acquaintances who remember me joking that I'd go away to grad school and come home with a Masters in Mommyhood. Acquaintances who will, no doubt, ask what the problem is.

These are the days I wish there was a rent-a-baby service. I could go to the wedding with my fake baby in tow, show her off, and look like any other normal couple. "She has your eyes," they'd say. "Suckers…" I'd whisper. Or maybe I could rent a set of emotional armor, so that when people asked hurtful questions, my Infertility Shield would deflect them from my ears. If only. I guess I'll just go armed with a smile and a joke about how teaching 120 rugrats is enough "kid" for me right now. Keep your attention on the bride, people.

(Oh, by the way I'm Not a Mom, But I'm Awesome - that photo is mine. It's pretty.)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Try It, It's Fun

You know those annoying i.Phone commercials that have been cluttering up your favorite TV time slot? You know the ones...all with baby-oriented selling points? First, there's the one where the woman asks her husband, "Do you have a minute? I'm pregnant!" Then there's the one where the dad gets to see his baby via phone for the first time. (Yes, I know he's in the military and I should not be so spiteful, but my bitterness knows no bounds.) Well, there IS a way to get through these commercials without throwing the remote control into the TV screen. Make up your own dialogue! My favorite is to hit 'mute' and start like this: "Hi Honey. Sorry to bother you at the office, but do you have a minute? Well, your brother and I hooked up when you passed out at the Superbowl party last January, and…well…I’m pregnant. Yeah, I know, right? It's crazy!" And so on. It's even better if you get the "seeing the baby" one later, because then you can dub in a conversation about how psyched the mom is that it's his brother's baby, because at least it kinda looks like him.

Oh man, I kill me. The things I will do to keep corporate advertising from ruining my mood.