Trying to Get to Spring with a Clear Heart

Not being pregnant is something I can’t complain about to the people around me. Not only would it be a surprise:

I’m so sad I couldn’t get pregnant…
Oh! You were trying?

But I’m not sure what I’d expect to happen. There’s nothing to be sorry about and I don’t want to talk about how amazing it would have felt to carry a child. I don’t want to have to list all the reasons why RR being the only is the best thing ever, just to make myself feel better. I don’t want to feel selfish, which I absolutely do, ever time I’m jealous of someone else who, on the surface, appears to have come up pregnant just by thinking about it.

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I wish I wasn’t though. Jealous. I also wish I didn’t have so many (or any) pregnant coworkers. I wish the next season wasn’t summer, when there are no more coats and sweaters to keep coming attractions under wraps. That’s a lot of wishing about things I can’t change.

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I’d like to know when I’ll stop feeling that pang – parts frustration, loss, disappointment, even a little bit of wondering why we didn’t do more or try harder. I’d like to know when I’ll stop noting where my cycle is and having the second of mourning on the 15th of the month. So perfect. But not. Obviously not. I’d like to know when the balance will tip permanently in favor of not being pregnant.

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This sounds sad. but I’m mostly just noticing it. I wish I wasn’t, but there it is. Lots of other things are going on and I’m excited to talk about those instead, but I just had to get those words out first.

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Not Dark but Dim

I don’t know what your particular set of coping mechanisms is. I mean the ones you pull out for the not-quite-major-but-almost letdowns. How you stay out of the dark times and cope with the dim. The ones that file down rough edges or blur out the hard seams. I’d like to know though, so please share with me.

Depending on the magnitude, I have a small set of bailouts. On the small side, I can lose myself in a new book or magazine. A walk is a good mix-in. I’d rather it wasn’t but the bakery is nearly always the next stop. After that, there isn’t much beyond the really big guns – the movie theater. In 1995, I took solace in an empty theater showing To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. It was my first year in San Francisco and I had a new and shaky social group (which, in the end, neither To Wong Foo nor a reshowing of The Wizard of Oz at the majestic Orpheum theater could save). I saw all of the 1999 Oscar-nominated pictures in Portuguese (some twice) as the time ticked down for me to move from Brazil to Mozambique. A Beautiful Mind in 2001 rescued me after a soul-crushing year. It also served as a tip-off that the reason I kept ending up in movie theaters was that my own mind was not as well-off as I thought.

This is the second time this month I’ve searched the theater listings. It’s no coincidence that the last movie rescue was on the 15th, the day I’d have been at the clinic hoping that this was the time. Do you know how frustrating, how abjectly disappointing, it is to stand in the shower each morning feeling all the same things I felt when I hoped I was pregnant and realizing that they never meant a thing? It’s not surprising that my period is due to be along in a couple of days. The influx of hormones isn’t making it easier. So I started at the beginning. A new magazine. A long walk. We’re taking a trip to Arizona, perhaps they’ll show a movie on the flight.

I’m not much of a drinker, though on days like this I wish I’d developed a taste for it. So tell me, how do you speed through the dim times?






It’s Done and I’m Okay with That

So I’m not pregnant and I’m not going to be pregnant. I have had so many feelings since we started trying and even more since we decided to stop trying but they generally boil down to this: I’m disappointed I won’t get the chance to be pregnant but I’m happy that I won’t have to live through late night feedings or any of the other really really hard parts of living with an infant.

After we made the decision that the last IUI was it, I started making a mental list of the positive things about not having another child. That’s harder than it seems. For every upside, there are tiny white onesies and sweet smelling sleepy babies. But as the month wore on, it turned out there were a lot of positive things about not being pregnant. Or, in the spirit of the list, positive things about having an only child.

As Becky mentioned, sleepovers. With one child, we can look forward to her going on overnights and not having another hanger-on at home to entertain. A sleepover means a whole night alone.

We’ll be able to afford to nourish special skills, extra tutoring, lessons, activities, whatever school she wants to attend. We’ll be able to ferry her around to soccer games and piano practice without having to weigh schedules for two children.

Once RR is out of diapers, we’ll be done with diapers. Done. Those things are expensive (and so is formula) and that extra money each month would be a godsend.

We won’t have to endure the uncertainty or the risks associated with having a child at an “advanced maternal age”. I was deeply worried about nuchal tests and unforeseen circumstances, gestational diabetes and postpartum depression. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I was queasy thinking about possible challenges and catastrophes. It’s a relief to know that I don’t have to worry about my health or the health of an unborn child.

Speaking of risks, I won’t pass on any genetic hiccups. I’ve had my share of mental and physical illness and I’m not proud that we were taking the risk passing that on to a new person. Not to mention, I won’t have to address the uncertainty of staying on particular medications while pregnant.

I can go back to speculums once a year and seeing my doctor when I’m sick. I don’t dig doctors. I’m always stressed out that my blood pressure will be too high or I’ll have gained too much weight. I’ve made a miraculous turnaround from the crying jags I used to go on every time I went to the gynecologist and I wasn’t looking forward to 9 months of probing.

I’ll admit, I was terrified of labor.

Vacations will still be doable with a family of three. Sure, we’d have still been able to do it, but we’ll be able to save for vacations instead of going into and paying off debt. We’ll still be able to afford plane tickets. Four people would have put us over the edge.

My mom played favorites. Still does actually. I might be the actual favorite in that I’m everything my parents hoped I could be, but it’s my sisters who get the extra time and attention. For years my parents have poured money into my sister’s family, paying her mortgage, serving as daycare, sending them on vacations. They baby my other sister and try to give her the moon. Seriously. Look outside. That moon you’re seeing is just borrowed from my sister. And yet, when my parents visit us, they try to spend as little as possible. They take advantage of our hospitality and ignore our requests (see: dog attacks cat, parents feign ignorance). I was scared I’d play favorites with my own children, trying to prop them both up to the same level and, in the process, freezing out the more confident, capable, successful one.

I am acutely aware of how different this decision is in light of it being a second child instead of a first. Without RR, we’d have an entirely different landscape to navigate. I feel both lucky and very, very sad. For me, it was my first. I wanted to have that special, totally unique experience. I’m a little relieved, too, but that’s a story for another day.

So this is a special call to the only children, to the parents of only children, and to the children who wish they were only children sometimes even though they’d never admit it: What is wonderful about only children? 

GTFO Cyst?

Probably just a little cyst, the fertility clinic says. That’s why you’re late but the tests are negative. Just wait until Monday. I’m sure, as soon as you hang up with me your period will come.

And so we wait.

I got up this morning to take a test, narrowly missing the sizable brown spider perched at the entrance to the bathroom. We have a small bathroom, you all, and that spider looked like it filled the whole door frame. He observed while I tried to work the stick, which is hard if you’re not the sort of person who prefers to open her eyes until she at least gets into the shower (that’s right, I brush my teeth blind, fun facts!) and harder still if you’re trying to keep one eye on the hulking spider in the door just in case he hasn’t got his eyes open either and blunders toward you. It’s hard not to think that I might have done it wrong but seriously, it’s not that hard to pee on a stick.

Last night we spent some time talking about all the good things to come if I’m pregnant which, last night, seemed a very real possibility. Except, of course, for the complete absence of symptoms. I’m not late. Not like this. And it seemed plausible that a negative test two weeks after the IUI wasn’t the final word. So I was surprised this morning to see only the test line and nothing else. It does not seem plausible that a test 16 days after the IUI would be wrong. So what’s going on in there?

If it’s a cyst, I’m glad it’s the first we’re seeing of it. Knowing that it could derail upcoming attempts would be so frustrating and, since we’re done, it’s less frustrating and more worrying. I hope I haven’t damaged something to the extent further intervention is needed.

In Which My Coping Mechanism Might Get the Better of Me

You guys, I prefer pragmatic to pessimist. I don’t always assume the worst will happen but I do prepare for the worst so that I can make the most of it if it does happen. When the worst case scenario is suddenly reality, I’m often past it before it can get the better of me. I’m pretty sure my former therapist (not former because she wasn’t awesome, which she is, former because I am mostly sane and mostly broke. Voila. Former.) would call this negative fortune-telling or some such. It’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy though, as I said, the worst rarely happens.

Aha, you say, but you’re dwelling on the negative! And I’ll concede that you could look at it that way. But, in almost all situations, I’ve come up with solutions long before you could call it dwelling. Flight being cancelled? Out of my control. Not self-fulfilling negativity. But, because I considered the possibility, I’m usually able to bounce back (at least when not stranded with my family) and make the best of it. It’s a coping mechanism, not something I spend all day doing.

Coping with not having a baby has been well within the “dwelling” zone. Again, I reject the idea that this is a self-fulfilling prophecy, though my mother would certainly insist that by even considering it, I’m making it come true. While I agree that our thoughts have power, I’m not caving on this one, if I’m thinking myself unpregnant, then I’ll eat my hat.



That has left me in a difficult position. I’m coping with this. Debra and I have been keeping a running list of all the reasons why just having one child is a really good idea. But now I’m late and I have to admit, having just one sounds great. I’m afraid I’ve dug a very uncomfortable hole.

So I’m late, but only by a day and the pregnancy test I took still screams negative. As has been the case this entire cycle, I have no symptoms of anything. No PMS, no anything. I’m not down with this, as you can imagine. This coping strategy suddenly is making things very…awkward.


The Vans. A Drama.

It started with a faded, beat-up panel van parked across the street. At first, we wondered if our elderly neighbor (Sydney) was having work done. And then we noticed a man driving a white Explorer parking behind the van, and then driving the van away. In the morning, picking up the van. In the evening, parking the van. Every morning, our dog barking. Every evening our dog barking (and waking RR up). Never once did he go inside Sydney’s house or even wave at the window in a halllo! nice of you to let me park here! sort of way.

We thought he might be part of the construction crew working a nearby endless road construction project. A month passed, the roadway finished, the van stayed on. Bothered by both the eyesore and the stranger danger aspect, we thought about leaving cookies and a note, “It doesn’t seem like you live around here. Would you please move your van?” And then it stopped moving. For a week it sat, tree branches and leaves gathering around it. We consulted the city regulations for rules about abandoned vehicles and called to complain.

Maybe you’re wondering, what’s wrong with a van? Or you might be saying, it’s a public street, he can park there if he wants. There really isn’t anything wrong with it, except that it’s a stranger inexplicably in the neighborhood. It’s not as though we’re on a busy city street. The houses have a bit of space between them and, while there is room for a couple of cars to park in front of each house, all of them have driveways and street-parked cars are usually just visiting.

Then a new van showed up. Shiny and respectable, it bore the logo of a well-known local repair company. And shortly after came the white Explorer for the swap. And then the man started parking his Explorer in front of our house. The dog lost his mind. Time for action and further investigation. Debra called the company to inquire whether work was being done in the area and I popped over to Sydney’s bearing a check for her daughter’s diabetes fundraising. I admit it, I was willing to pay for information. The course of the conversation eventually turned to the van (see paying for information).

Wouldn’t you know, Sydney was also bothered by the van(s). The man, she said, lived at the end of our street (a few blocks away) and is the grandson of her neighbor. He complained there wasn’t room in front of his house for the van and used to park it in the driveway of the neighbor on the other side of grandma until that neighbor got tired of negotiating around the van. Then he moved the van in front of grandma’s house where it caused visibility problems when both grandma and Sydney were backing out of their drives. So he moved in front of Sydney’s house. She was plenty tired of him parking there, she said, especially since he hadn’t asked. She wondered why the Explorer was now residing in front of our house and suggested we amiably ask him to move on.

Overnight, all of the vehicles disappeared. I felt a little guilty but relieved that our dog had stopped barking (he doesn’t, for the record, bark at any of the usual residents) and that the stranger had stopped parking his car in front of our house. I drove down to the end of the street to see his house (easily identified by the vans) and there is plenty of room to park, though, with his minivan, explorer, and vans, it does look a little shabby. Still, I’d rather he keep his vehicles in front of his house.

This morning, Sydney popped over while we were weeding to ask if we’d talked to the man. We hadn’t, we allowed, though we were happy it had moved on. She said grandma was blaming Ann, whoever that is, clearly there’s a bit of bad blood there. Sydney was just as happy as we were to see it gone and we agreed to let the mystery of the van fade quietly away. Between you and me, the local repair company surely didn’t appreciate the bad business.

This is what it takes to distract me that I am 13 days past ovulation and probably not pregnant forever. We’ll see. At least I’ve had the vans to distract me.


Tiny Clothes

We are sitting on mountains of baby clothes. We’ve given away heaps but we kept twice as many, waiting to pass tiny onesies and gorgeous little dresses on to a new baby. Until now, there have been no little girls born to friends or family and we’ve long since passed on the stores of gender-neutral clothing. But those itty bitty ruffled tights? Waiting.

Now that we have a new niece, we have someplace to send those boxes. You can see the soft sticky center here, though, can’t you? I want to use those baby clothes. I want to dress my own daughter in those bow-bedecked dresses. I want, I want, I want.

Debra sorted through a few boxes to find a stack of things to send to my sister and, bless her heart, she warned me when she handed me the little clothes. You might cry, she mentioned. I didn’t, though. At least, not too much. And I only pulled out a few things to keep just in case.

It’s kind of nice to know that we’ll be done sitting on piles of clothing soon. At least, if we are, it’ll be for happy reasons. And, if not, I’ll being seeing pictures with my adorable niece in RR’s adorable clothes. Adorable I tell you.

Check In

Back to the clinic for a progesterone test. I wasn’t required to go this time and I have a spotless ovulation record but, as I’m feeling fewer symptoms than ever before, I just wanted some $56 insurance. You know, $56 is a drop in the bucket in this whole baby making business.

It’s also not really any sort of insurance at all as my progesterone was top of the class last month and my mythical baby was a uterine dropout. But compared to previous months, nothing is happening. I don’t have any symptoms to record in all my recording places. So I’d like to know, are there any eggs in there at all?

Apparently there is one in there somewhere as the number was 55 this time (hey! a dollar a point!) and, as the nurse reported, this is excellent for a medicated cycle. I question her use of the word excellent as last time the number was 75 but hey, maybe 55 is my baby-netting sweet spot. Another seven days and we’ll have our answer. In the meantime, I’m compiling a list of all the good things about just having one.




I’ve always been the sort of person things work out for. Even when those things are long shots. It’s little things like needing to leave my bike and having forgotten my lock just as a friend ambles by and has time to stand watch for five minutes. It’s big things like deciding I’d like to join the Foreign Service and then vaulting right through the (lengthy, competitive) process and into employment. At the time, the odds were 200 hires for every 30,000 applicants. Long shot indeed. Especially for someone who knew no languages (officially) and had read zero foreign policy/international affairs news (ever).

I don’t win contests (usually) but I do win in general (prepare, plan, cover all the bases) and I can’t believe I’m just not going to have a baby (probably). To be clear, I don’t think I deserve or am entitled to the good things that happen. But I do accept that they happen and I’m happy for it. Lots of supremely terrible stuff (brain surgery, that was fun) happens to me, too, and I don’t deserve that either. I’ll tell you though, even when things do derail me, something always happen to save the situation. Evidence:

In college, I routinely broke down in the desert miles from any help. Every single time someone happened by to assist. Once, two threatening men in a tinted window sedan (saved by an elderly couple pulling up right behind them). Another time on my way to a flight to a job interview (saved by I kid you not a menacing looking circus clown in a panel van). On Halloween, a man in a pick-up with guns piled on the seats (given a cookie by his wife in a perfectly normal looking subdivision 10 heart-swallowing miles away).

Also in college, at 2am on the way back from that really disastrous interview (made the flight but blew two tires in a rental car in the snow), I stopped the car from exhaustion. There was too much fog, I hadn’t eaten or slept in more than 12 hours. I didn’t even bother to pull on to the shoulder. But, when the fog cleared for a moment, I saw that I was already on the shoulder, pointed off the road, and had stopped not twenty feet from the edge of a steep canyon.

Things work out for me.

I’m surprised that having a baby is not working out (I was equally surprised that my tubes were clear and that my equipment was well prepared to have a baby). I think I was coasting along assuming there would be a hail mary delivering us a child. Admittedly, my timeline was (is) short and we could keep trying but we talked about it and tried to make the decision in a sane place. Finding a week to do that without hormones was not easy.

I don’t think I can rule out another try completely and I am sitting on an egg at the moment. If you’re at all superstitious, we were in a different room for this IUI. The doctor was wearing a bow tie instead of scrubs. I ovulated earlier than expected. In fact, we nearly missed it since I started checking for ovulation later than usual expecting a kit change on the 19th. We now know which of the staff have kids and how they are doing. We’ve started recognizing and making friends with other patients in the waiting room. It’s time to be done. It’s okay to be done. It’s hard to be done. But I’m done.

A New Niece!

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel when my sister had her baby. I’ll admit, I was a little bit jealous (such a terrible concept isn’t it? Not something you like to admit.) seeing how beautifully she carried the baby. I want so much to have that experience. But the experience of having a newborn, I have had that. I’m so fortunate to have had that. It has made seeing pictures of her cuddling my niece – I know! I LOVE baby girls! – purely happy and not at all tinged with “why not me?” I think that’s a perfectly valid emotion and I’m grateful not to be experiencing it. And you guys, she is beautiful. I can’t wait to meet her when we visit in November. Moments like these make me wish my family, or at least my sister, lived closer. I’d love to be able to pop over to the hospital. To cook for her at the beginning. To snuggle my tiny, sleeping (or crying, whatever) niece and kiss her soft head.

Yesterday, I enjoyed our juxtaposition. I was at the clinic for an IUI – the last, probably and more on that to come – feeling more confident than usual and hoping that the 20 minutes on my back in a dim room would get me to the same spot as my sister is. So of course, I can’t wait to meet her baby but, even more, I can’t wait to meet mine (hopefully, maybe, please).

Hurrah for babies!