Monday, April 28, 2008
On the weekend, we went for a dog walk and visit with another couple who recently celebrated the arrival of their 2nd baby girl. My friend gave me a cookies'n cream white chocolate bar that read HERSHEIS with the baby's name and on the back it listed her little girl's newborn stats. I have to admit, that's so cute and a way better idea than handing out cigars or whatever.
Mmm. I wonder if I could get me some of those when I get my child. The cookies n' cream would certainly be appropriate or perhaps a Coffee Crisp. I'm going to get me some of those. We've had numerous offers of strollers and baby gear which I am more than willing to take if for no other reason to avoid having to decide which monster SUV stroller I should get. Have you seen some of those space aged creations lately? What the hell - I had no idea there was so much STUFF one little baby required - and the prices!? I could buy a chi-chi pram (and apparently you need more than one; one jogger or a rugged one for forest paths, one collapsible and one for the bike) or I could start an education fund. Oh, yeah and baby slings (in front or in back), or backpacks. My head hurts. It took me weeks to find a cute leather collar for my dog.
As we walked around the lake, I pushed the stroller for a little while. Just trying it on for size. It felt a little weird, but okay. Wondered how I was going to train the dog to walk beside it. Wondered in fact how I was going to carry a newborn, walk the dog and drink my latte all at the same time. Hahaha. Which brings me to the parenting course we're doing in a few days. Yep, a parenting course. It's supposed to be about creative parenting so I hope I don't blurt out the my dog is more than capable of minding a baby while I work out for an hour.
I'm just trying to get my head wrapped around the idea that I too can be a yummy mummy. It's all very, very weird.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Monday, April 21, 2008
He's safely back home from a successful business trip and brought me a beautiful Hermes scarf from France. It's bright and beautiful and he was so proud to present his token of love to me. I felt like not quite good enough to wear it. Not ready yet. What had I accomplished? What victory did I have to celebrate? Is it nervousness about the new play I'm about to direct, is it anxiety seeing people I know on TV and wondering why I'm not, is it the fact that I let my hair stay in braids for 3 months longer than I should before deciding to do anything about it? You see when your hair remains in braids for too long, it starts to dread and then it becomes quite difficult to remove. I've never let it go this long, it's just not like me. If someone had told me that I would do that, I would have said you're crazy, no way! That would mean I would have to CUT (with scissors!) what little hair I had to get out the knots. I'm obsessed with my hair, it always has to look good. I've been known not to have money for food but I always got my hair did. I tried to make an appointment in January but my hairdresser was unavailable and then I just let it slide. It just didn't seem that important. I was focusing on my body. What does this have to do with fear?
When I was in my late 20s, I was living in my junior 1 bedroom apartment in High Park. I loved it. It was right next door to a subway, it had deep pink walls in the living room, Caribbean blue in the bedroom. I had a peacock rattan chair and Vision Corningware for crying out loud. I was working, getting by, having moments of pride that I was single and living the life. I had moved away from home when I was 27 causing my mother great consternation. West Indian parents don't kick out their girls until they get married and since I was a long way from that, I figured I better get moving before I got grey hairs. I had a full time job which paid my rent but I wanted to be an actress and get married and have kids and be on a TV series by the time I was 30. When I looked at the blueprint I had in my head for my life and then at the reality, well, I suppose a lot of young women felt that same sinking feeling that maybe their best wasn't good enough.
It's no wonder I started having anxiety attacks. I didn't know what it was, of course. I just knew that one minute I was making a cup of tea and then the next I was hyperventilating and feeling like I was going to die or pass out or something horrible was going to happen. I just had the vague feeling that whatever I was doing, whoever I was being, it wasn't good enough, otherwise why was I so terrified that I had blown it somehow and ruined my own life? I constantly compared myself to those white girls who magically seemed to get engaged to successful men, get all the great paying jobs and have it all without breaking a sweat. Outwardly, I appeared confident, funny, strong and attractive. Inside, I felt rudderless. I had no idea which way to turn. I went to church, talked to God, had lots of friends, I was happy in a way. Except for those stupid anxiety attacks. After a bad breakup with a bad boyfriend, I took to quietly crying in my workplace bathroom, which lead me to finding this amazing psychologist. When I met her I thought, she's got kooky earrings, she must be cool, and she was. She listened to me, she validated me, talked me through the panic. She helped to me realize a lot of things. It was okay to be angry, it was okay to be sensitive, I didn't have to accept crappy behaviour from crappy boyfriends. It had never occurred to me not everything was my fault.
Some rabbi on Oprah once said that arguing in front of your kids changes who they are. Well, in my case, it wasn't really the arguing, it was the verbal and emotional abuse I had witnessed in my parents' marriage. It was the fact that I witnessed my father putting his hands around my mother's neck and choking her. And for my sister, too. I wonder if my father realized that on that day, he changed who were were. In that instant, I lost my sense of security, I learned that to be disrespected was an inevitable part of being in a relationship, and that I was not good enough to be treasured and respected for who I was. My mum was part of me and if that's how he treated her, then what was I worth? He thought he was punishing my mum for daring to leave him and take his kids. He actually choked a great deal of confidence and self respect of his daughters. My mother tried her darnedest to guide us, but all she knew what so limited, so full of disappointment and distrust. My father just gave up and turned into an angry ghost in our lives, shaking his shackles and muttering to himself. I worked very hard for a long time to restore my faith in myself. I'm still working on it. Putting my faith in external things always left me uneasy, the hoops I'd have to jump through were endless; waiting for proverbial other shoe to drop. The women in our family seem to carry a legacy of being used to disappointment. Being let down. We didn't thrive, we endured.
When I become an actress, I knew that I had a lot going against me, but it was my dream. I sacrificed tons of secure, incredible jobs along the way. I had my hopes dashed more than a few times. I doubted myself constantly, I gave up not knowing when my next paycheque would come along. I lived for the moment. I didn't know how to plan for anything. But no one paid my rent but me. Somehow I always paid the bills, had my own place, had enough to eat and friends to hang out with.
When I focused on trying to conceive a child, everything else fell to the side. I mean, it's not like it was going to happen on accident, if it had, it would have happened already. I had my eyes on the prize, I had tried to focus every fibre of my being into this quest. You get rewarded for hard work, right? I felt as if I had somehow, in some way, not done the right thing. Banished to the land of disappointment.
This whole weight plateau thing has thrown me off my equilibrium. I know I have to stick to the plan, hold on, feel the burn, but as I had feared, my sense of accomplishment is now tied somehow to the numbers on the scale. And if they're not going down, down, down ( is .6 lbs good enough?), then where am I going? To the land of disappointment?
Somewhere in all of this rambling, I have a point. Despite my fears, I have jumped from an airplane, gone river rafting, had an acting career with tons of credits to my name, travelled to places on my own, talked to strangers, failed to conceive my own child, partied and danced many nights away, had love thrown back in my face, been fired, born disappointment and shame and emotional and mental meltdowns, fucked up royally and been fucked royally and yet still I breathe air. I have hope of finding a happiness within me that is unshakeable. Frankly, other people have borne much, much worse. I can still enjoy the cherry blossoms (despite my allergies) and the view of the snow capped mountains on my daily walks.
I'll be 45 in a couple of months, and I guess I'm taking stock. Comparing the blueprint I had in my mind to what my reality is now. Mmmm. I think it's time to redraft things a bit.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Alas, they didn't bring me any luck, but they were so inexpensive I just gave them to my friend and I hope they give her the pink line of her desires.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Also, my directing project is underway, so all of my free time will be spent doing that for the next month. I've been shortlisted for a TV movie, a new acquaintance from a play reading I did last week suggested a cool idea for a new play and ... wait for it... I finally re-vamped our adoption profile and birth mother letter. Now all I have to do is finish my taxes and lose a pound and I'll be canonized.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
I didn't want her to see my emotion play over my face, so we carried on another attempt. Not any better, but it was better than nothing. I tried to get her to print, but she wasn't taking that information in. Seeing the letters will make my sister sad. For years, I'd keep certain things about my mum to myself. Can't do that anymore. I used to, but then the sadness would fill me up. When I took her home, she wanted me to stay until she had changed into her pyjamas. Sometimes I can't wait to get out of there. You have to get a staff member to key the elevator so you can leave and if there's no one about, you have to go looking for them which means you have to go down the long hallway and have your mum trailing behind you. And then I have to leave her again, the elevator doors closing on her face. Again. I had to fight my irritation and help her put her pyjamas on. I resent her growing frailty. I resent it when she can't put on her shoes and zip up her coat. It scares me. Any decline in her status quo reminds me that I am that one step closer to losing her. Pretty soon she'll have a walker and going for a walk will be that much more difficult. I haven't made funeral arrangements. Which one do I use? Which one would be nicer?
As grateful as I am to have her still with me, I am increasingly aware that I am weary of being in charge of her. What a great mum I'll be, eh? Hey, sweetie, can you pour mummy's little helper into a plastic tumbler?
I know I will have to take care of both her and a little one. At least she's given me some practice. I'm going to have a kid one day and I just want to be able to ask for her help. I can't. The only problem with being a strong, black woman is that there are days you don't want to be strong. And yes, I know, that when that day comes, I will just dig deeper and find the strength that is there. I know it's there because my mother put it in me.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Now that I've made my long, rambling point about obsession or FOCUS, I'd like to say that I think women rule. Women are so incredibly strong and resilient, it's no wonder we can survive the rigors of ART, or pregnancy and childbirth for that matter. Which brings me to my next point. I suppose you've heard of Thomas Beatie, the pregnant man, who was on Oprah yesterday. When I heard about it, my first reaction was what the hell? Even a guy has a better uterus than I do. Ack! Being born a female (and staying a female) was not a trump card. Well, I only had time to watch the first half hour and once the mechanics was explained, I was struck by the couple's obvious love and devotion. I could feel their vulnerability, see how they stood in the truth of who they were. I was struck by the humanity of it all. Thomas said wanting children was a human desire and that he had a right to have his own biological child. Then I began to worry for their safety. Because you know somebody out there will not respect who they are, will probably be outraged and .... I don't want to think of negative repercussions. After all, once upon a time, my husband and I might have been run out of town for being married to each other. So I wish for them and their unborn child a lifetime of protection and peace.
Ah, I never fail to be surprised by life.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Is it the subject matter that counts? Infertility causes misery. And misery loves company. So are we just a support group with no time limit on our meetings? We all get to talk as long as want about ourselves without a facilitator. And women love to talk. And not just about the weather, but all the gory details. We don't have to get in a car and find parking and pay for coffee. We can blog in our pyjamas while the spouse is asleep or even at the office while we eat lunch at our desks. Heck we can even blog with each other while watching award shows. We talk about our husbands, our friends, the nosy neighbour, the grocery clerk who wants to know why you're buying a pregnancy test kit.
Would it be different if I blogged about politics? If I fretted more about Obama or Hilary? What was on the news that night? Those matters can certainly make you miserable and stay up all night wondering if this world is going to hell in handbasket. What if I decided to read political biographies, watch CNN all day long (which would make you paranoid) and then maybe decide to run for office? Would that make me obsessed?
What about those who blog about cancer? The chemo treatments, the radiation, the hair loss. Would that be okay to do even if one had survived it? Could one blog for years with other cancer survivors and egads, even meet them in person? Would one invite them home for tea? I know a woman who survived breast cancer, and she turned it into a one woman movement. She performs, she sells T-shirts, she's made it her mission and a career. I've seen her perform and she was wonderful, incredible, honest and funny and touching. I wonder if anyone has accused her of being obsessed. I know infertility is hardly the same thing. It's more like psoriasis. Annoying, painful, embarrassing but .... most people don't have it. Infertility is not a life threatening disease, is it? Well, not unless you undergo treatment and have some sort of violent reaction, right? Anybody?
I mean it's not like I mortgaged my home, sold my car, crafts or cookies, organized marathons, benefits, wrote a play/musical/book, organized a massive collection of blogs from all areas of the IF/adoption/miscarriage/stillbirth/pregnancy/donor IUI/donor egg/surrogacy world. That would be obsessed, right? Who would hire a fertility coach, change specialists, fertility clinics, pay thousands of dollars to be in the less than 10% club? I mean, honestly, who would then shell out thousands more for adoption, pay someone to come into your lives and pry into your business, get fingerprinted and fill out tons of forms, fly halfway around the world, risk heartbreak and disappointment just for the privilege of raising a child or two? That's just crazy, if you ask me. I mean it's not as if one gets paid for all this. Well, some people get paid and paid and paid. If I made money at this, would it still be an obsession? Would it be socially acceptable? Oh, I get it now. It's only an obsession UNTIL IT WORKS.
What if a few of us banded together, kind of like a super hero team? We could be like - The Fantastic inFertile Four or the Super Bitter Barren Bitches or Team Rotten Eggs. One of our team has gone through the fires of IVF and after her 25th effort, she became pregnant with ten babies(I'm sorry I don't know the name for that) and at times the other team members gripe at her when she complains how tired she is. ("We'd love to be as tired as you. We'd love to have 10 kids at once, so kwitcherbitchin'!) Make up your own team name! Hell, why not T-shirts, bumper stickers, antenna flags! Does that sound obsessed? Do you remember how weird it felt to wear the pomegranate bracelet that Marie of Bella Vida made? What if someone asked you what it meant? It's not like it was the yellow or pink or blue or white or red bracelet.
There are support meetings with Resolve or the IAAC. Why didn't I go to one of those? Too lazy (or crazy) to leave my house? I had a chance to join a support group while I was in treatment. It was held once a week early in the morning of a week already full of early am blood draws and ultrasounds. Oh, I know. I didn't want to wallow in someone else's complaining and misery because I was so certain I was going to get pregnant and I had plenty of support. I didn't want a hair of negativity to touch me. Later, I didn't want to share the shame of a BFN when my smug optimism failed me. I didn't want to encourage other people and ignore the fact that I was miserable myself. I feared watching a "stitch and bitch" buddy leave me behind when they finally became pregnant. Yeah, I probably should have gone. But I didn't. I kept it all inside and held it together. Well, not exactly. Now, it's time to join the world of waiting adoptive parents. I registered for parenting classes. I can solve the childlessness part of my life, just not the infertility. I'm moving on, or have I?
This blog will eventually turn into an adoptive mum blog and will I have the time to do it? Will I be less obsessed? Of course, being a mother is a good type of obsession, right? It will be okay then to talk about my blessed child non stop to anybody who will listen, 24 hours a day and google the colour of her poo to see if she's okay or not. That will solve everything. Quick, get her a child so she'll shut up and be happy. She'll be quiet, she'll be - WHOLE. Or maybe it's just time to live childfree and unfettered. I thought about it. Life would be way simpler. I could have more shoes. I mean, who likes to wake up really early, change diapers and be worried about sharp cornered furniture? Who wants to deal with lawyers, birth/first parents, social workers, nosy questions, mounting debt, tainted apple juice and car seats that are a mystery to buckle up? You'd have to be crazy, huh?
I know a woman that is still waiting for a miracle, she is one year older than me. She's still has the TTC bug after continued negative results. Is she obsessed? And it's happened, you know. Google it, there is still a 49 year old who conceived naturally. Oh, I forgot, you already googled it, haven't you, admit it. Forget the stats for Down's Syndrome, a child is a child is a child and one couple I know are so proud and happy to have their adored son.
So you can figure out now that it touched a nerve and perhaps there's a good reason for that. But I don't give a shit. That's another post. I know I'm okay. I just like to process til the cows come home.
The women in my Buddhist district got together to chant for an hour. One woman had her 1 year old baby with her. A year ago, I couldn't bring myself to attend her baby shower. Her little boy pulled himself up to me, he looked at me and smiled and it made me feel good. Not bitter. Not where is my baby? Or why not me? He was just a little baby looking around, checking out the faces in his world. His mum hovered nearby moving all inappropriate objects out of his way, cooing and tickling him, right by his side, her eyes only for him. Totally in love. There was a time when I could have barely tolerated this scene. I would have been angry or upset in some strange way that I would feel shame. Now I watch and learn, my chanting (daimoku) warming my heart. I guarantee you that with a child in my life, I will probably gripe because I haven't had a schedule since 1980 something. I moan when I have to walk the dog in the pouring rain. I'm old and spoiled now.
Life goes on, but I am forever changed. Forever fucking infertile until the day that I am not. Maybe I'll never "get over it". Maybe I will. And maybe it doesn't really matter. I am happy with my life, I've accepted the holes, I still struggle every now and then, and I know there will be many struggles ahead, but I am not defeated. I have my mission. And I am not ashamed.