Monday, September 29, 2008

To Tattoo or not to Tattoo

Thank you so much for you loving comments about Sampson. It was a tough week actually. DH made a Powerpoint presentation with over 40 pictures of Sampson set to the music of Who Knew by Pink and surprised me with it. I bawled my eyes out as he held me. It was really beautiful. Had we had a child, we would have a gajillion pictures of him or her, but we had Samps, so we took tons of pictures of him.

(Strangely enough, I had taken same pictures and was going to make a movie for DH with the same music.) I was happy to have it but at the same time, I was taken aback at how strongly I cried. I guess it was a reminder that grief is inconstant. It comes and goes. The daily walks, the doggy report I would give DH each day, the constant care and attention I was used to giving. I don't even vacuum as much, silly, but I missed complaining about his hair all over the place. We haven't found another rhythm so to speak to fill the void. DH is getting a tattoo of his paw on his leg next week and I will be getting some of the ashes put in a locket. I'm considering a tattoo myself, if you can believe it. I'm not a huge fan of tattoos on my pristine brown skin - but a little tiny one of Big Boy's name in white script sounds cool. But where would I put it? I would want to see it, but I might have to cover it if I'm on camera and it showed. Not sure. I'm sure we'll get another dog one day, maybe next year. We're just dog people.

It was good to cry. At least the Effexor hasn't numbed me completely. I don't think the meds are working out. I have no sex drive to speak of, I wake up in a funk and then after I take the pills, I can't sit still - though the house is clean and I'm thinking of putting a pool in the office - and then I settle down to a stoic mood in the afternoon. I don't crave alcohol at all, but when I do have a drink, I don't feel my little giddy usual self. As a matter of fact, it doesn't even taste as good. Yeah, I know, I'm not supposed to drink but I went to a film festival party, which was incredibly bad, and I had a couple that night cause it was free. I just felt cruddy by the time I went home. And food does not taste the same. It's a bit off. Which is not entirely bad, cause I could stand to lose another 20 lbs. but I need to salt food just to taste it and I don't put salt on anything but french fries. I'm going back to the doc this week, but I could use some advice - Teendoc is on vacation - I thinking I might be better off without this stuff.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Memorial


Went to the Pacific Spirit Forest (aka the UBC endowment lands) and had a memorial for Sampson. We kept putting it off for one reason or another, but I really pushed for it. I just needed to say goodbye and he deserved a good sendoff. It was a gorgeous day, just perfect. You could smell the earth, the green, feel the cool breeze on your cheeks. The sun shone through the trees. My best friend and her husband came and our friends, Jeff and Leanne and their kids and Sampson's longtime doggy girlfriend, Nikki. That's them chewing on each other. She had a picture of the both of them hanging on the dog's neck. DH found a sun dappled spot beside a trail. I wrote a short speech about what a great dog he was and all that he taught us. And then read the lyrics to the Pink song about losing a dear friend and then we spread some of his ashes. Tears streamed down our faces.
Leanne's little girl, 3 yrs old, kept asking where Sampson was. He had stayed with them last year and and apparently she was quite fond of him. They had told her he had died, but you know, she wasn't quite grasping that. She kept asking me and looking around for him when I told her he was there in the park. At one point, desperate for a way to appease her, I pointed up to the sky. She just looked up. 3 yr olds are literal. Okay, have to remember that. I then told her he was at Rainbow Bridge, which is apparently where beloved pets go. That gave her something to think about but I'll leave it to her parents to explain further. I wasn't about to tell her we burnt up his body and put them in an urn and that he was never coming back.
We shared stories about him and went for a coffee and a snack. DH played hide and seek tirelessly with the little girl, while the baby girl enjoyed a snack at her mother's breast. I always feel a tad awkward around small kids, torn between jumping into their world or having an adult conversation. I guess that split attention is something you have to work on.
For years, I would listen to parents talk about the funny things their kids did or said and I would counter with the funny things my dog did. Yep, sad, but it was my way of saying if I have to listen to your stories, you gotta listen to mine. Now I talk about waiting for the email, the phonecall, or how surprised I am at how expensive all the baby gear is.
One strange thing happened; that night we went to bed and DH closed the bedroom door. We started talking about how Sampson never liked doors being closed. He was always butting the door open to check on you. 2 minutes later, the door opens. We stare at each other. Then I say let's do it again and see what happens, that was probably a coincidence or gravity or something. So DH closes the door and 3 minutes later, the door opens again. We left the door open and said goodnight to Big Boy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Nobody's Father

LoriBeth at The Road Less Travelled mentioned that there were some essays entitled Nobody's Father in the Toronto Star. I read them all and it was really interesting to read living child free/less from a man's point of view. With the exceptions of one father whose son died of cancer and the gay middle aged men, I sensed a chilly ambivalence about children. Which is definitely good if they do not want to be parents. There was one story that really got to me, though. This man's wife did eventually become pregnant and miscarried twice. It seemed she did want to be a mother but he definitely didn't want to be a father. He considered her pregnancies a betrayal of their premarital deal. I can only imagine she thought he would eventually change his mind once the baby arrived, except the he didn't change his mind and the baby never arrived.



I couldn't help but think back to the time, years ago, when my hubby and I had had a conversation in bed regarding children. I had told him that I had always envisioned children in my future and here he was telling me that he didn't want them, at least not in the foreseeable future. He rolled away from me, his back closing the conversation. I was stunned, saddened. We had had the children conversation back when we had first become a couple and he was pro kids then. He was going to do his 4 day shifts and then with my schedule, I could take care of the kids and look forward to his 3 days off. Perfect.



I sat there and thought what the hell? This is over. What the hell were we doing if we weren't going to be a family? Of course, I started analyzing everything. Was he worried about money? He made a good living, but had I been bringing in an equal amount of money, we probably wouldn't be living in a cramped one bedroom apartment with our dog. Was this my fault - had I made a mistake in assuming he wanted to have a family with me? Should I change careers? I felt unsupported, insecure, the ground was shifting underneath me. Well, hell, I had to move on.



The next night, he decided to "make me happy" and give me what I said I wanted. I completely freaked out, went to the pharmacy and withstood a humiliating lecture about birth control from some young pharmacist's assistant to obtain the morning after pill. I was angry, I felt he had just not done his usual withdrawal thing just to "punish" me or get some sort of reaction. Well, the reaction was fear. I wanted to believe that he wanted the same thing in the way that I did. I wanted it to be a special earnest moment, full of romance and intent and assurances that he really wanted to make a baby with me. I needed to be feel safe. Now I was going to spend the evening nauseated and I was going to make him realize just how pissed off I was.

Now I look back at that as a moment of irony. What if? What if I had not given in to fear and panic? What would have been the outcome? Probably nothing.

Funny though, speeding years ahead and we're both in the IVF clinic and DH is holding my hand during my 1st egg retrieval and he's actually chanting with me as I struggle through the discomfort. I look at him and feel such love, such desire to make him a father. He's committed, he's sure, he wants to raise a child with me. He thinks I would make a great mother.

My MIL sent me some pictures of the cowboy wedding - and there are 2 of DH holding a delightful little boy who grabbed anyone's hands so that he could enjoy walking around, a little boy that could be his - had he been with someone else that is. They look perfect together with their 2 bald heads. It pains me to see him with other people's children. I have more than a few pictures of him with our friends' sons. Our missing piece. I'm still awkward around young children, after avoiding them for so long.

Getting back to that essay, I was surprised that the man who didn't want children didn't elect to have a vasectomy instead of letting his wife go through pregnancies and miscarriages. It was quite telling when he said that her reaction was to bury herself in her work and moved to the States for a year BY HERSELF. I wonder if she would consider writing an essay to tell her side.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Bugged

We had an enquiry for a child that we submitted our profile for but I haven't heard anything. So. Mmmm, I think I need to do something constructive - like paint the 2nd bedroom or something.

I'm hanging in there on the Effexor, yawning fits and jaw clenching aside. Checked in with the doctor today, feeling a little fuzzy but okay. I'm feeling okay which is better than pinging off the walls or feeling anxious. Mind you, I got a lot done when I was jumping out of my skin. I feel a little like the weather today, overcast but warm. It's only been a couple of weeks so I have to be patient and then check back in. I was on my way to Starbucks to pick up a coffee and across the street I spied a lovely black lab with a graying muzzle tied up to a tree. He was curled up in a ball and had the saddest brown eyes. You just know I had to go over. My heart was in my throat. I put out my hand and he sniffed it and I gave him a little pat. When I went inside I asked if anyone owned him and I talked briefly with his owner. He described his dog as having the same gentle nature as mine did. Of course, I started to cry as I told him that I had recently lost my beloved black lab. He was so sweet. I went back outside and scratched and petted him. He had the same reaction as my dog used to. He accepted the attention but looked around for his owner.

As I walked back to my car, I could not stop crying. Yep, I'm fine. Just missing the big furball.
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By the way, I've got these frigging bugs in my kitchen cupboards that I can't seem to get rid off. I think they're those bugs that you find in flour and I've thrown out a ton of stuff and wiped down all the cupboards, but they're still there!!! Do I spray with whole kitchen with Raid or what????

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Longing

Last night I was having a conversation with the male half of a couple I know about their difficulty in conceiving. Being somewhat of an expert of that myself, I commiserated about how much pressure there is in society to have a child - people are constantly asking about your babymaking timeline and such. Then inevitably, when a certain amount of time goes by and conception is not achieved, how the romance and the privacy gets sucked out of the whole process by lab tests and doctors and large withdrawals of cash from your bank account. Time marches on and you begin to think about just how much your life will change - YOU KNOW (at least intellectually) just how much your life will change by observing your friends' life with their children and you start to wonder, am I crazy or what? I can sleep in and stay out late and travel at a moment's notice and go to the gym whenever I want, skip grocery shopping and order in, have long phone conversations, etc. How badly do I want a child?

I know what he doesn't know yet. When you start down that IVF path - the needles, the meds, the blood draws, the visits to the dirty old man room - you want very badly to succeed. It's a little like training for the Olympics, you get there and the whole world is watching you run. They show you the bliss and the triumph on the winning athlete's face, but what about the one who didn't even place? Maybe an awkward interview where the athlete smiles and tries to put on a brave face as they say, not this time but it was an honour to even be there. Maybe next time.

For his sake, for his wife's sake, I hope they don't have to go down that road and if they do, I hope they get the desired result.

On another note, I was reading the August issue of O magazine and came across an excerpt of a book by Elizabeth McCracken, "This Does Not Have to Be a Secret". It's about the stillbirth of her first son. It was so poignant and so moving. What stood out for me was that out of her grief came this amazing compassion to let others know that they weren't alone.

She talked about how she loved being pregnant and how happy her and her husband were expecting their first child. I admit I felt a bit nostalgic for something I had never experienced. Nostalgic - is that the right word for it? Wistful? I don't know. It seemed like such a intimate experience, devoid of outside intervention. No lab tests, no clinics, no lawyers, no paperwork. She talked about how she received so many notes of condolences and how it made her son's life real and valid, even in his passing before he was born.

She did eventually go on to become pregnant a second time and delivered another boy, yet she never forgot about his older brother. She didn't forget what it was like to lose a child even when she had another child in her lap.

I'm glad she wrote that story - on behalf of the women who know that kind of grief. It's nice to know that you're not alone. We are all connected, whether we realize it or not.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Trying to get a life.....

My master plan? I like to keep it simple and vague. Somewhat like myself. Step 1 of my master plan - get new meds - now I'm trying Effexor or its generic equivalent. My doctor gave me the option of increasing the dosage again of the Wellbutrin or trying something else. Yeah, well, not knowing much about pharmacology, I decided to go for Door No. 2 because I didn't enjoy my ride in Crazy Town and saw no reason to see the sites again. I'm hoping I get side effects of nausea and appetite loss, I need to lose 10 lbs. But hey, I'm an IVF vet, crazy can't beat me.



Step 2 -get a job - I'm applying to a director's workshop for next year. Okay, not really a job, as it requires a huge tuition, but it's career related. It's a long shot as I have never directed an actual film, but I also applied to be an actor in said workshop. I really hope I get in one way or the other.



Step 3 - okay, later for that. That's a work in progress.

Step 4 - get more steps.



I got a lot of chanting in yesterday. I woke up all out of sorts, bright sunshiney day and no dog to walk. I regretted my decision to sleep in and miss spin class. So later on, I rode my bike 6km to a fellow district member's house for 1 hr. of chanting. She had moved her butsudan downstairs to her separated husband's meditation room. (She had kicked out his lying, cheating Zen Buddhist ass a while ago.) I lead the chanting and the hour just flew by. The sound of daimoku just enveloped me and I could feel my heart's fighting spirit. Later that night, I did a presentation for the intro meetings at the culture centre with a fellow member on the Buddhist perspective of Life and Death. It's a long explanation, involving the 9 levels of consciousness, I'll spare you the details and that's not what I want to talk about anyway. Coles notes version: Life is eternal, death is just like turning another page in the book of life, live life to the fullest and store up as many good causes as you can. Live like a Buddha, die like a Buddha.


What I want to talk about is the woman I met there. She and her husband were in town for one day on their way to a cruise. She talked briefly about her failed attempts with IVF. She was trying to understand their attempts at creating life. You know I had to talk to her after the meeting. I totally understand what she meant. You have this "life" created in a dish and it exists and then it's inside you and it "dies". Explanations like "it just wasn't mean to be" doesn't really cut it whether you're a Buddhist or not, does it? She, too, had heard the "just relax", "go on vacation", "stop trying and it will happen" assvice. I gave her my blog and told her to look it up if she felt like it. I hope she doesn't mind I write about her. I wanted her to know she wasn't alone.

There isn't a woman alive who has gone through negative results, miscarriages or infant death, that doesn't ask the question, "WHY?". What does it all mean? Is it a sign from the universe? Should I keep trying? When will I be rewarded for my efforts? Some people have found success after multiple tries - just look at Schatzi - triplets after 7 attempts! Some stop after one try. And some never try. I tried to encourage her, my story doesn't have a happy ending though. All I could say was that sometimes the one way you think it should happen isn't always the way. Not comforting, but true. We are trained to not give up, to pursue victory, to overcome challenges. Looking back on it, I probably would have cycled more if I had more money, not to mention the time. Or even gone the surrogate route. I had to stop for so many reasons, not to mention my sanity. Each woman has to do what she has to do. I had to be dragged from that particular path kicking and screaming. I will chant for her and her husband to have their baby. I know how powerful that dream is and I will keep her in my prayers.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A cowboy wedding!





I've been officially red-necked! We flew to Edmonton this past weekend to attend DH's cousin's wedding. It was great fun! Now this was a DIY affair, no fancy schmancy for these young folk. They enjoy collecting vinyl records and pirate/cowboy/retro stuff. I adore DH's cousin. She declared that we were both "fucking hot!" When I first met her, she was 18 yrs old and sported a stuffed animal purse and an attitude. She is an only child and has got to be one of the most family oriented young person I have ever met. She's so loving and fun and spirited. Her chosen mate is no less as loving and genuine.
We went straight from the airport to the community hall near a lake to help decorate for the reception. We put together field flowers for the table settings, sheaths of honest to goodness prairie wheat and cowboy hats were placed on the walls, bales of hay were placed appropriately, etc and the drab hall was transformed with white and yellow gingham table runners and western themed signs. They worked so hard have the wedding of their dreams.
The ceremony was held in a grassy area by a lake and it was short and sweet. The bridesmaids wore yellow dresses and cowboy boots and the groomsmen wore western shirts. Later, at the reception, the meal was burgers (beware vegetarians, this is Alberta), corn, baked potatoes, baked beans and various salads. And booze. Lots of booze. I can't say I've ever been to a wedding where they have J├Ągermeister. The cupcakes were outstanding. Okay, I had a few. I have to eat salad and water for the rest of the year, I know. They had a band, can't remember their name, that was best described as cowboy rock. I didn't have a clue as to how to dance to it. However, since I did dust off my Italian patent leather cowboy boots for the occasion, I did my best to represent my race as I was the only black girl in the crowd. At least the gay guy knew who to talk to. You can dance to anything with enough wine in ya.
There were a few babies in attendance. People here actually have kids before the age of 30. Strange. One was about 3 weeks old and another was a delightful 11 month old who was happy to walk with anyone who would hold his hand. Of course, my MIL was all over them. And DH and the toddling tike got along quite well. They both had the same amount of hair so they had a lot to talk about. I've never seen my MIL happier than when she has a baby in her arms. Yeah, of course, it made me sad. But they say patience is a virtue. Ommmmm. Whatever.
The next day, I begged my husband to take me shopping. I was jonesing to just have bit of relative quiet but I only had an hour or so. I needed something. Nope, no babies were on sale, so I settled for a couple of workout tops. We came home with DH's nephew who leaves here to go back home in a couple of days. He also spent time with relatives from his Native half. Ah, the draw of your roots. How do you know who you are unless you know where you came from?
Now I've got to go shopping for some food - well food for them and WW frozen entrees for me. Yeehaw!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tourist

Ah, now that it's back to regular programming - blah! I tried denying it for a while, I tried keeping busy, but looks like grief is patient. You know, even on our trip, we still shed tears for our adored beast. I was listening to Pink's song, Who Knew, on the train travelling back from Northampton and it brought tears to my eyes. Then I shared it with hubby and we were both weeping. The place is so quiet - no Sampson waiting for his morning walk in the park. Nothing for hubby to do when he comes home in the afternoon. For years, we had our own family routine and now it's different. No thumping of his great tail, no sloppy kisses, no piles of hair everywhere. Even my mother said she really missed him at her feet at dinner time, waiting to scoop up the inevitable fallen pieces of food. I wanted to spread his ashes last weekend, but DH said no. He's not ready to say goodbye. I see him everywhere. Crazy dog lady, that's me.

I haven't heard anything from the adoption agency - all quiet on that front at the moment. Friends of ours, after 1 1/2 years, got placed with their child in Ethiopia. They have pictures of a beautiful 3 month old boy and are preparing for his arrival (after all the paperwork and such of course). It got me thinking of the excitement and anticipation, the preparations being made and the baby items being acquired. All the gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair and counting the days has brought them to a great big pair of eyes waiting for them. It all seems so exciting and yet I find that I am feeling that familiar on-the-outside-looking-in feeling. I want to be excited like that too.


I realize our initial excitement was dashed all to hell and I've spent several months losing weight, going to counselling, directing theatre, travelling, trying not to be depressed and panic stricken about not being good enough, grieving my dog, when oh when can I just stop being such a middle class princess with delusions that the real superwoman who can make her own bacon, fry it in a pan and satisfy her man with a baby (nay, twins, cause that's cool now) on her hip is just hiding in the next room?!!!!!


Oooh, I think I just hit on something there. Something about not looking at the true nature of my life - which really has been my spiritual quest - and to be unconscious of this is to be "deluded".


I went on vacation and was going full speed, stuffing my guts with wine and old buildings and croissants and foreign languages and being disoriented, planning fuck all and living in the moment. True to my Gemini nature, this kind of living doesn't throw me a bit. I enjoy being a tourist. And that's pretty much how I've lived my life. As a tourist. Getting lost, eventually finding my way, but arriving hungry, pissed off and exhausted.


When I was temporarily lost in Amsterdam, I stopped wandering down the side streets; I was acutely aware of the time I could lose if I wasn't careful. We had plans later that evening and I didn't want to be late. I had to ask for directions and once on the tram, I strained to look for familiar sights. I had a hard time with that, because I hadn't paid any attention as to where the hotel was much less the address!! I had given up that job to somebody else. I had been too distracted looking at this and that like a frigging magpie. Finally, I got off and found a cab and got back to the hotel. I really wasn't that far off the mark. My hubby had gone out but I enjoyed some alone time. Okay, not to be too hard on myself, it's a common mistake, I know. I know enough to ask for directions but I still waste a lot of time due to lack of preparation. The sound of the clock ticking is a very familiar sound in the ears of an infertile woman, right? My nature is spontaneous and I can wing it with the best of them. I think, however, that at my age, this way of doing things is no longer serving me.


So what I need is 1) better meds cause these ones aren't working too well 2) a job that is more consistent than the one I have and 3) the desire to manifest a happy well-balanced home where a child would be safe and secure. I can't shop, eat or drink my way out of this. Right now, we're a little sad and we're grieving a much loved member of the family. Samps is happy where he is now, but he had us so well trained, we find it difficult to accept that he's not here anymore. We need a new routine. I need to chant when I want to eat or whine or fuss. All the peace of mind I ever had was achieved through nam myo ho renge kyo, it kept those negative voices quiet. All things are possible, I just have to hang in there - for five more minutes.