So I had the TV on last night while I was flipping through a magazine and (get ready my fellow infertiles to roll your eyes…) overheard the entertainment news show host saying, “When we come back, Kelly Clarkson talks about her struggles of having two children within two years!”
Yeah. So, umm, yeah.
Fuck right off, Clarkson.
Today, 4dp5dt, was pretty damn good I gotta say. There have been the occasional small “rumblings down under”, as is typical for my progesterone- and estrogen-packed (not to mention 2 embryos tucked in there the other day) uterus during the 8DW, but I just try to smile and quietly hope that this will lead to something good. Otherwise, thanks to the thyroid medication, I’m up and at’ em way more than I ever was in the past. I can practically feel my endorphins these days, it’s such a dramatic shift.
With the near constant rain we are having making things feel more like December or January, my brain is on overdrive. Amen for blogging.
“As I have heard many wise babylost women say, wouldn’t it be wonderful if wearing all black for a year meant something instead of a fanatical devotion to the Cure? Wouldn’t it be something if we walked around veiled, not expected to attend weddings, and baby showers, and picnics, and theater? What happened to the mourning period?”
~ Angie Yingst, from her blog still life with circles
Yesterday, I was out in the garden with my husband and noticed my little Jizo statue that my husband had bought me back when we first started down this road. Jizo is from Buddhism, the protector of children and in particular, those lost through miscarriage and stillbirth. Jizo is who many look to for fertility support, and has always had a special place in our garden, amongst the hostas and fuschias and blueberry bushes, on his own little flattened rock that my husband brought home from the coast. I thought about how outside of Portland, near the town of Clatskanie, there is a Jizo Garden at the Great Zen Monastery, and beyond my day at the zen temple in my neighborhood and the meaning of our statue in the garden, I never knew much more about Jizo until recently.
Just after seeing our little Jizo in the rain, I coincidentally read a post entitled How do I grieve? by a fellow blogger Still Ainsley, talking about the complexity of her grief after the stillbirth of her baby girl, finding her way in this new reality and continuing to wake up to it every morning and take it to sleep with her every night, wondering how her experience compares to that of others, both emotionally and chronologically. She questions traditional grief stages, and calls bullshit on them while still seeking out an understanding and empathy from the world around her. It’s a beautiful, touching piece, as is her blog as a whole.
I have talked on my blog before about how there are no established rituals here in America, and many other Westernized countries, to deal with the loss of a pregnancy, be it through miscarriage or stillbirth, and started to look at Jizo in more detail, from the roots to the rituals that are encouraged in Japanese culture when it comes to walking through the pain of this type of loss.
Adopting A Buddhist Ritual to Mourn Miscarriage talks about the mizuko kuyo ceremonies held at the local monastery, and how it has helped so many women. One part of the ceremony is to put a slip of paper during the ceremony with the name you had chosen for the baby, along with something like a necklace to honor Jizo, and when I read about this, I felt the tears streaming down my face.
You see, I am the kind of person who wants to get shit processed and move on, and can get entirely too frustrated when things come up in my heart that do not mesh with the logical side of my mind. Just when I announce “I’m fine! I’m moving forward! I’m done with grieving!” a trigger will seem to come along not long after, telling me to fuck off because that’s just not how grief works.
This past week, just going about my day, I had this sudden realization. Parts of me had seemed to feel so disconnected from that of others who had experienced loss – those who had been much further along in their pregnancies, or who had heard the actual heartbeat (we’d seen the blink of the heartbeat but hadn’t heard it yet), or knew through PGS/PGD the sex of their baby. For some reason I’d told myself that maybe this meant I was getting “over” this faster, or that maybe I didn’t deserve him because I had felt the wall around my miscarriage getting taller.
And it hit me. When we found out we were pregnant, I knew deep down it was a boy. My husband and I were always of course happy for whatever gender our baby was going to be, but had a long, long list of girls names and just one for a boy. And inside me, I knew that our child was going to be a boy. A boy who my husband would show what it meant to be a good man, a good father, a good partner. A boy who would be strong and tender and smart and funny and wickedly intelligent like his father. A boy who would not be swayed by cultural stereotypes that diminish both genders. A boy. We were going to have a boy. I don’t know how I know this, and have no evidence beyond my senses.
It felt strangely liberating to admit this to my husband, and to think about this again as I look out the window onto the rainy streets, it helped re-connect me to my loss, and to the losses of others. This son who was inside my body, if just for two short months, changed me forever.
And as I write this, more thoughts come together. I think about the necklace I received from a blogger which I wore beginning with the first transfer quite regularly, and how after the miscarriage it always felt a little different. It said I wished for you and I felt odd wearing it to our fifth transfer. And I realized, I had wished for that child I was starting to grow in my womb this summer, that is who the necklace was for. The child we are hoping for through the transfer this past week is a new chapter, a new necklace.
It’s been a journey over the past year of embryo transfers, and neartly two years of infertility struggles that kicked off with AMH/FSH testing, two IUIs, and the realization that the ovaries I was born with were not interested in making eggs of any value, taking us into the land of donor egg IVF. It continues to test us, this road, as we hope my body and at least one of these embryos are compatible. And I have seen the history of it as I look at myself in the mirror.
“It was time for them to go, man… they held a lot of vibes and have been through all my experiences with me… I needed to shed them.”
~ Lenny Kravitz, on why he cut off his dreads back in ’98
The last time I set foot in a salon was last spring right around the time of our first IUI. No, not this past spring, but spring of 2015. I said I would not cut my hair until I was pregnant. And boy did it grow, longer than in the picture on the left, going halfway down my back and fading into a brownish reddish gray-wisped heavy flat overly-ponytailed mop. You know you need a haircut when the first thing you do in the morning, before even getting dressed, is grab the little fabric band and tie your hair up into a quick knot off your neck so you don’t have to deal with it. And not that I don’t like having long hair at times, but I had never even had as much as a trim and every time I looked at it these past 17 months, all I could think of was “ugh, look how damn long it’s getting and look at how not pregnant I am”. The energy tied up in my hair, the past pains and stuff, well it had to go.
Along with the fears during infertility, I had a paranoia about going into the salon to see my normal gal, who the last time we’d talked we went on and on about our partners and had a happy fun time. For anyone who gets it when it comes to hairdressers, y’all know that this is not like going to the dentist. Your hairdresser ends up knowing all your dirt, and every time I’d thought about going to see her, I thought, “gawd, I do not want to go in there and talk about my infertility, and get the look of pity,” and kept postponing it. I just didn’t want to risk getting those clueless “don’t give up!”/ “just relax” comments that we all are well versed in.
But something drove me to pick up the phone and see if I could get in and chop this mop off of me during transfer time, and the ultimate answer came from the receptionist:
“Oh so sorry, she’s not available, she just had her baby and is on maternity leave.”
Well la dee fucking da. Thank god I didn’t go in there then over all this time, right? Imagine walking in and seeing her big ass pregnant belly and then attempting to smother all my feelings in order to not talk about my own stuff (or risking her asking about our own attempts). Over this time she’s managed to not only get pregnant, but give birth, that’s how damn long we’ve been trying. As my husband would say, Fuckin Oath.
Needless to say I got a new hairdresser. Same salon? Nope. Completely new. Completely fucking new location, person, everything. Can’t go back there, no ma’am, no sirree.
Fortunately I found a kickass gal much closer to my home who uses all green products and does her own thing in a tiny salon that fits me much better in so many ways. When she asked me about my hair history of sorts, I just started out saying something to the effect of, “okay if you’re going to be my new person I might as well share my stuff right now” and launched into the infertility and hair cutting break I’d taken. Heh. Light banter, right? But she was totally cool, and said the only thing that anyone truly wants or needs to hear after telling someone this kind of story.
I could tell she was struggling to think of something more and I told her that was a perfect response and all she needed to say. Turns out she and her husband have been unsuccessful in trying and, as an older prospective mum, she can identify with what it’s like to feel the passion towards trying to get pregnant a bit later in years compared to those who spend their 20s getting knocked up (the thought of being pregnant in my 20s actually horrifies me, I have no regrets whatsoever about enjoying my freedom throughout that decade, both as a single and married woman (first marriage)!). And she had NO idea about basic tests for women like FSH and AMH – and we talked about how no one mentions this in Sex Ed. We’re all just told (if we’re lucky), “Have unprotected sex and you’ll get pregnant and/or get a disease. Now here’s a banana to practice putting that condom on.”
Anyhow, so my hair was cut off and it looked like several small dogs sleeping quietly, there was so much taken off. She gave me a bit of a textured cut with a flip and shorter pieces in the front (hard to tell in a selfie as I tend to look perplexed or ginormous when I take them hahaha) and I walked out of there like I was starring in a damn shampoo commercial. Ahhh…
We all gotta take care of ourselves during this. While I prided myself in massages and acupuncture in the like, for some reason a haircut was over the top to give to myself. But I am glad I did it and guess what? In two weeks after results and our beach getaway, I’m going to have her color the fuck out of it.
Take that, infertility.