POEM: Everything is Waiting for You

When I was a teenager, I wrote copious amounts of bad poetry.

When I was a young adult, I read fair quantities of wonderful poetry.

As parent, I hardly have time to wash my face.

Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised listening to a podcast on my commute this morning where poet David Whyte read “Everything is Waiting for You.”

Years of infertility and the loss of my mom made me feel so intensely alone. This poem is a beautiful reminder of how not alone we all are, if we chose to live with intent.

Everything is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into
the conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.

— David Whyte
from Everything is Waiting for You
©2003 Many Rivers Press

Advertisements

Happy T Day

As you may have guessed Saturday night was a full-on shit show for me. After freaking out that I only had 3 embryos remaining, I lay on my couch watching truly weird documentaries and convincing myself that I would never have children.

This may sound defeatist, but it had a calming effect. You see, I may not be able to control the outcome of this or any IVF cycle, but I do have some say in whatever happens next. If I can’t have kids, I’m pulling an Elizabeth Gilbert. (More on that at a later date.)

I got “the call” Sunday morning that we were going in for the transfer. My appointment was 12:00, with the transfer scheduled at 1:00. They make this whole deal about not wearing perfume and emptying your bladder before you go. So showered, peed, and commenced freaking out.

Ah, what would my first IVF cycle be without several waves of panic? The clinic I go to offers you Valium for the transfer. So I become preoccupied with taking it. Or not. or maybe yes. On one hand, I was clearly so worked up about my transfer that I was having trouble staying calm. On the other hand, I was so tired of all the chemicals coursing through my veins that I didn’t want to introduce more.

As corny as this sounds, I meditated on it. I went through one of my mindfulness exercises and realized I was more anxious about making the decision that the actual decision itself. So I got off the Valium train. I set a plan with Mr. O about how he could help keep me centered and parts throughout the visit when we would check in.

We were now off to the races.

The next several hours were tedious. There was a lot of water and a lot of waiting. Water, because a full bladder helps the ultrasound during transfer. Waiting because they were clearly behind schedule.

Oh, how I love the illusion created by moving you from one waiting room to the next. As I was moved from one, two, three waiting rooms, I was not fooled that we were 45 minutes behind. More to the point, my bladder was not fooled. Once I told the nurse that my eyes were literally watering in pain, she let me pee for 10 seconds. NOT ENOUGH, I TELL YOU.

Once we were ushered into Transfer Room B, I was waddling with my massive bladder. I told the ultrasound tech that I was pretty full, and she told me that was perfect. Until she scanned me and saw how full I was. Nothing like someone looking into your bladder and expressing shock. There is, apparently, too much pee for your own good.

Of course at this point, I have exactly no pants on. But I’ve been cleared for 20 seconds of peeing before the Doc comes in for the transfer and modesty can screw itself. I wrap a sheet around me and waddle out to the bathroom. I’m not usually one to wander around offices without my underware on, so this felt really weird. Not to mention that I ended up getting ultrasound jelly everywhere in the process. But yay for sweet relief!

Back in Transfer Room B, things are heating up. Lots of people come in and ask me my name and date of birth repeatedly. The Doc comes in, and the transfer process gets started in earnest.

The way this office is configured, it looks like the transfer rooms surround the lab. Each transfer room as two doors- one for the patients and staff to access, another for the lab and embryologists. Once I was deemed ready, one of the nurses opened the lab-side door and yells “Ready for transfer in room B.” The embryologist confirms “Ready for transfer in room B.” My little bundle of cells is escorted in, the actual transfer begins.

It felt a little bit like putting an order in a diner. Yes, Chef! Order up!

Throughout this process, I was focusing on staying relaxed. Or at least as relaxed as possible when your legs are in stirrups and your vagina is exposed to three relative strangers. The ultrasound tech pointed me to the screen (which I had been intentionally avoiding for fear it would send me into hyperventilation) and explained to me that I could watch the transfer. In seconds, what looked like one tiny air bubble appeared on the screen.

I’ve never been so freaking amazed by science in my life. Holy shit. Even if this doesn’t turn into a pregnancy, I was in awe. At that exact moment, there was the tiniest combination of mine and Mr. O’s cells hanging out in my uterus. This is a first.

And just like that, we were done. For the record, transferring is fine. Because my HSG and sonohysterogram were distinctly uncomfortable, I thought transfer would be the same or worse. Not the case. It may seem incredibly obvious, but with those other procedures you’re forcing quantities of fluid into your uterus. The transfer is just a wee bundle of cells. By comparison, it is practically delightful.

As we drove home, I looked at the small picture they gave us of the embryo currently nesting in my uterus. It’s so small. I can count the number of cells. For a split second, I found myself thinking “I wish you were bigger. I wish there were more of you. I wish…” And I stopped myself.

I haven’t thought about parenting in a while. After over 2 years of trying, it seemed so far outside my purview. But if I am going to be a parent, I refuse to start by putting my own outlandish expectations first, by wishing my child to be anything other than he or she is. My job now is to harbor that little mass of cells, to offer it shelter and safety. But that’s it.

So now we wait. My official pregnancy test is scheduled for Friday December 5th, and a whole new debate begins.

To preemptively pee on a stick or not to preemptively pee on a stick. That is the question.

Bookclub: Stumbling on Happiness

This whole IF thing really messes with you, amiright? When you isolate the problem, it seems fairly straightforward: you’re not able to physically have a child.

But really it isn’t that simple. It isn’t simple because it makes you question your entire life. That sounds so dramatic when I see it written out, but it really does. For me, it’s made me question the very path I wanted and believed I was headed down. I live so much of my life in the future tense, and now that’s a big, stinking pile of Question Mark. Let the crisis ensue.

So I did what any nerd does at a time like this. I read. First I read some Dalai Lama. That man is the shit. Seriously, get on that. In this same vein, I’ve also started reading Thich Nhat Hahn. Also good, especially if you’re working on mindfulness. (Which is something I’d strongly recommend, if you’re piling on fear and anxiety to your IF-related grief. That’s no way to live. You gotta shake it out, folks.)

All this reading of Buddhist monks made me wonder if I was becoming a cliche. I mean, come on… I wouldn’t exactly be the first white western lady to hop on that bandwagon. I worried I might start burning incense and wearing Free Tibet t-shirts. Bring on the patchouli!

Before I dove off the eastern philosophy deep end, I decided to pick up Stumbling on Happiness. Contrary to what the title may imply, this isn’t about how to find happiness. It is about how human beings are wired to pursue happiness, how we predict our futures, and how delighted we think we’ll be once we get there.  And I LOVE IT.

There is a whole lot that speaks to me in this book. Here are a few quotes that slapped me in the face. It’s like the author, Daniel Gilbert, is living in my brain.

On my new-found peace with living childless:

“It is only when we cannot change the experience that we look for ways to change our view of the experience, which is why we love the clunker in the driveway, the shabby cabin that’s been in the family for years, and Uncle Sheldon despite his predilection for nasal spelunking. We find silver linings only when we must.”

On my feelings of having “unexplained” IF:

“People expect to feel equally bad when a tragic accident is the result of human negligence as when it is the result of dumb luck, but they actually feel worse when luck is dumb and no one is blameworthy.”

On why I cannot feel good about anything. Like at all:

“We cannot feel good about an imaginary future when we are busy feeling bad about an actual present… When we try to overlook, ignore, or set aside our current gloomy state and make a forecast about how we will feel tomorrow, we find that it’s a lot like trying to imagine the taste of a marshmallow while chewing liver.”

And of course, I’ve saved the best for last…

On why blogging about all this just hurts so gooood:

“When experiences are unpleasant, we quickly move to explain them in ways to make us feel better… Indeed, studies show that the mere act of explaining an unpleasant event can help defang it. For example, simply writing about a trauma– such as the death of a loved one or a physical assault– can lead to surprising improvements in both subjective well-being and physical health.”

 

In summary, I’m chewing on an entire plate of metaphorical liver. But if I blog about it, it’s all a little less bad?

Yes, if only by degrees. A little less bad.