Category Archives: Infertility

A Dream Within A Dream

Laughter and quiet conversation surrounds us. I straighten your blue-and-white gingham dress and pass you to my closest neighbor, all smiles, with my heart in my throat. Your tiny hands curl into fists, your yellow floral headband slightly askew, as kisses are planted on your adorably bald head.

Sunlight pours into the room from behind us, filling the room with more joy than we can handle. A box of tissues makes its way around the room, but these are happy tears we cry, little one. Tears we shed because you are finally here, and we waited so long, and we are so blessed.

My mother walks into the room, her eyes red, her cheeks pink, but with a big, beautiful smile on her face. My father’s bold chuckle rebounds from the kitchen, where I know he’s taken charge of refreshments for the rest of our guests. A small child, all blonde hair and blue eyes, puppy dog tails and muddy puddles, sits near my feet, running a matchbox car up and down my leg. The sounds of a camera shutter click from across the room, with only you in the frame, my little love. My heart.

My arms already itch to hold you again, though you’ve only been with someone else for less than a minute. I watch you like a hawk, studying your body language, your face, the shape of your delicious little thighs and pointed toes. A familiar thought, one I’ve had before: “She’ll be a dancer someday.”

I see your face turning red, your eyes squinting in preparation for one of your spine-tingling wails, before anyone else even realizes it’s coming. With that first cry, I start to reach for you. But your Daddy is there before I can even stand up. He cuddles you close, giving you his thumb to cling to, and he coos at you in a soft voice, calming your sobbing to only a slight whimper. The love on his face, in his eyes, for you leaves me feeling a little weak. I love him more fiercely in that moment than ever before.

When you begin to nuzzle at his chest, he looks up at me with a knowing smile. “I don’t think I have what she wants, Mama,” he says and proudly hands you over to me. I kiss your cheeks and breathe you in, and we wave bye bye to our loved ones as we make our way back to the privacy of the bedroom.

It’s darker in here, the shades pulled tight, but a lone sunbeam sneaks through, leaving a small pool of light on the patchwork quilt. I close the door behind me–but not so tight that a certain orange cat can’t push his way in. He settles at the foot of the bed, eyes on us, as I settle back against the pillows and lift my shirt. This is still brand new for us, little one, and Mama’s still learning.

You nuzzle and search, then latch on, and the pulling sensation still startles me. You close your eyes, shuttering the bright green from me, your long eyelashes brushing your rounded cheeks. The hand I’d been holding curls up in a fist, and you lay it against my skin, your body relaxing as you feed. I run my hand over your back in lazy circles, and we both drift for a moment. The muffled sounds of laughter come from the other room, and I am washed over with a love so deep, I could drown.

The brash sound of my alarm clock steals me away from you. My arms still ache from the weight of you as I turn it off and climb from my bed. You aren’t here, yet. But you will be. I believe that to the very center of my soul. My cheeks are dry today, little one, though I yearn for you so.

I only wish I’d dreamt your name.

 

pooh

Path To A Happy 2015

Guys, my holidays pretty much sucked. There was no Christmas spirit. There was lots of crying and “woe as me.” There was a WHOLE LOTTA forced merriment. I took my decorations down the day after Christmas, and as each bauble found its way back into storage, I felt a little bit happier, like I was packing away the source of sadness that had plagued me since just after the turkey went cold.

Considering the fact that, in years past, I have been accused of being as jolly as Buddy the Christmas Elf, this is some pretty serious news in and around these parts.

The reason why doesn’t really matter as much as finding my way back to happiness. What’s done is done, the past is in the past, and I’m ready to move forward into a happier, healthier, shinier new year.

Since my day-to-day life has been pretty colorless lately, I pointed my browser over to my favorite blog, Heck Awesome, written by the lovely and talented Carrie Baughcum. She is a daily source of inspiration for me, and though she doesn’t know it, I think of her as the Creativity Queen. And just as she has in the past, with one adorable and heartwarming post, she inspired me to try something new.

Art Journaling.

Finally, a way to combine my “artwork” with my words. (Note the quotations. Perhaps “cartoons” would be a more accurate description?) I’ve found a way to fully express the ideas in my brain. And use my awesome multi-hued felt-tipped pens. It’s brilliant.

And colorful. Did I mention art journaling is colorful? <—-COLOR IS GOOD.

So I decided to start my journal with that nasty holiday depression in mind. What can I do to ensure that my path in 2015 is filled with light, and humor, and happiness? I can accomplish the goals I’ve set forth for myself. I can exercise and let the sunshine in. I can write more and whine less. I can start every day with a positive thought. I can hang onto hope, even when hope seems fruitless. I can smile. I can laugh. I can draw and write and paint and doodle. I can create my own sunshine. I can be ME.

Path to a Happy 2015

It’s not as impressive as other art journal pages I’ve seen as I’ve perused Pinterest, looking for ideas. In fact, it’s downright amateur-ish. But it’s a start. And it made me happy, which was the whole point of the exercise anyway. So I’ll move forward. I’ll draw a doodle every now and then, and add the page to my journal. I’ll draw out my feelings when I can’t find the words to express them. I may or may not share them here, depending on how proud I am of said doodles.

Either way, my toes are off the starting line, and I’m moving up that path to happiness. I know it’s there, waiting at the top of the hill for me. It may be an uphill climb, but I’ll make it. And I’m taking my art supplies with me, because…

crayons

(Or, in this case, felt-tipped pens.) (But use whatever works.) (Heck, fingerpaint with pudding if you want to. I won’t judge you if you won’t judge me while I’m licking the paper clean.) (Great, now I want chocolate pudding.) (Mmmm. Pudding.)

To Carrie: You are my sister in creativity. Thank you for continuing to inspire me. XO

Saturdays Are For Crafting

I woke up this morning and looked out the window and realized, “Hey, it’s Saturday. I should make something today.”

There were no cartoon birds present to open my blinds, nor a gaggle of geese to make my bed. But in a way, it was kind of a Disney Princess moment.

I actually bought the supplies for this project a little over two weeks ago. Thanks to Pinterest, I found an article called “The History of Infertility’s Common Thread.” I’d been searching for infertility awareness jewelry, and intrigued, I clicked over and read it. If you suffer with infertility, or know someone who does, I strongly suggest that you read the article. It’s…amazing.

But for those who don’t want to read it, the short and sweet version is this: a group of woman in the UK decided that they wanted to start a movement to unify those who suffer from infertility, no matter the cause. They needed a symbol; something inexpensive but poignant, to serve as a beacon to start conversations so they could spread the word about infertility.

Any woman who suffers with infertility, whether it’s because she has PCOS or endometriosis or a partner with low sperm count, shares a common thread with every other infertile woman: the deep-seeded desire to be a mother. So they chose to start their movement with friendship bracelets made from thread. Like “Live Strong” and other such movements before them, they wanted to select a color with meaning, so they went with the deep burgundy of a pomegranate. (They are also longstanding symbols of fertility. I guess it’s because of all the seeds and stuff.)

Source

Source

As I read the article, I found myself feeling a little less alone than I had since our devastating diagnosis. There were others out there like me, other women who dreamed of nothing but holding their child in their arms. So I grabbed my purse and headed to the craft store to buy my #814 embroidery thread (the specific color chosen by the Common Thread movement to most closely resemble the color of a pomegranate.)

Here’s the thing: I’m not crafty by nature. I get these amazing ideas and buy all the stuff I need to follow through, but rarely am I successful on the first try. In fact, it took me a little over four hours to make ONE bracelet just to share with you guys. (The first one was too short. The second one was too long. The third one was lopsided. The fourth one started fraying when I tried to tie it…Are you seeing a trend here?)

I could have done this a thousand different ways…there are so many DIY tutorials on friendship bracelets on Pinterest, it’s a little mind-boggling. After reading the instructions to a few of them, my brain started to hurt, so I just went with my gut and decided to try it my way.

This may be why it took me fourteen tries to create a wearable bracelet.

Anyway, here are the supplies I used:

Embroidery floss, ruler, scissors, tape, and my awesome alien mouse pad.

Embroidery floss, ruler, scissors, tape, and my awesome alien mouse pad.

Per all the instructions I’d managed to read, I used the tape and mouse pad to secure the bracelet while I was braiding it. They also suggested I pin it to my pants, but that’s asking a little too much from someone who doesn’t sew. (Who has safety pins if they don’t sew? Not this girl.) So I went the tape route. It became obvious to me very early on that the tape method wasn’t going to work, so I switched to a clipboard instead. Why? Because I’m a genius, that’s why.

I had this nifty little bracelet that I wasn’t going to use, so I disassembled it so I could use the brass infinity symbol as party of my design. I took 3 long-ish pieces of thread, folded them in half, and tied them to one side of the symbol. I did the same on the other side and wound up with this:

Voila. Bracelet. Almost...

Voila. Bracelet. Almost…

Now, at this point I could have twisted or knotted or swirled or some other fancy thing, but I went old school and just braided it. I had 6 strings, so I used 2 in each of the 3 braid sections. That part was easy.

The hard part? Creating that ding-danged knot on the end of the bracelet so you can tie it on your arm later. It’s hard enough with one string. With six??? Hulk mad. But…I managed it somehow. (I’m still not sure how many tries it took.)

I call it the "Knot of Frustrations," a.k.a., "Don't Do Crafts Until It's Late Enough For Mixed Drinks."

I call it the “Knot of Frustrations,” a.k.a., the “Don’t Do Crafts Until It’s Late Enough For Mixed Drinks” knot.”

Once I got the complicated knot tied, the rest of the bracelet came together pretty quickly. I just braided the other side, tied a knot in the end and left myself a couple of inches worth of thread so I could tie it on.

Now. Let’s rewind for a second. Remember how I said the hardest part in making this bracelet was tying the knot? I SO lied to your face. The hardest part is tying the damned thing on your arm when you’re finished. Let the record show that it is IMPOSSIBLE to tie a knot with one hand. I don’t care if you’re Popeye the Sailor Man, a professional bracelet maker, or a friggin’ Eagle Scout—it just doesn’t work.

I really wish I’d gotten some photos of myself trying to put the finished bracelet on. It involved a lot of swearing, deep concentration, fumbling fat fingers, and my teeth. But, eventually, I won.

Ha! I win, sucker!

Ha! I win, sucker!

Don’t ask me how I’m going to take it off later. Maybe I’ll just wear it all the time, like a single maroon dreadlock on my wrist. Or maybe I’ll actually read some of those tutorials and figure out another way to secure this type of bracelet onto one’s arm. Because I certainly don’t remember using my teeth and a pair of pliers when I was 8.

At any rate, I finished. I’m proud of my little bracelet. Now I can go out into the world and wait until someone says, “Hey, nice bracelet.”

Then I can cry on them and leave little rings of mascara on their clean white shirts.

bracelet 6

But at least I’ll be a member of the movement. And that’s all I really wanted, anyway.

If you are interested in making a bracelet of your own, and my tutorial leaves you scratching your head and wondering why in the hell I wrote a tutorial post about something I suck at, may I suggest one of the following ones instead? There’s a cute knotted one over at The Red Kitchen which I’m still going to try, and for one that looks like it has hearts woven in, check out this one at Honestly WTF. (Side bar. Honestly? I wish I’d thought of that blog name first.)

Recalculating…

About three months ago, I was as close to rock bottom as I’ve ever been. It took every ounce of energy to drag myself out of bed in the mornings. My idea of the perfect day was to stay in stretchy pants, veg out in front of the television, and just exist until it was time to crawl back into bed. (I wrote about it in an emotional post titled “Here’s The Truth.”) I was crying in the shower, in the car, in the office. I was crying while cooking supper, while folding laundry, while writing in my journal. I cried into my pillow, into the warm belly fur of reluctant kitties, into my pillow.

I was depressed.

One night, sometime in August, I verbalized my pain to Brian. Of course, he already knew. He’d been witnessing it all first hand. I’d been avoiding my friends and family for a couple of weeks, and he was right beside me during stretchy pants time. But I needed to find my soft place to land in him, confess my darkest fears and private feelings, talk it out with my best friend and confidant. Curled up on the bed beside him in the dark, my head in my hands, I poured out my heart.

He listened, comforting me through the hardest confessions, wiping away my tears, shedding a few of his own. And when I was finished, he looked at me in that way he has–like he can see into the depths of my soul. “When was the last time you did something that truly made you happy?” I pondered, going over the last few weeks in my brain. After several moments of silence, Brian smiled sadly and said, “It shouldn’t be that hard.”

“You’re right,” I whispered. “But what do I do?”

“You need to rejoin your life. We’ll always be sad about not being able to have a baby. Now we have to learn to live with that grief and still have a fulfilling life.”

I tucked his words into my heart like a precious jewel, and over the next few days, I cleaned myself up, dusted myself off, and tried to re-inject myself into life. Lunch with a friend, an afternoon shopping trip with another, a long telephone conversation with yet another. I opened the blinds and let the sunshine spill back in. Even though it hurt, I allowed myself to smile. And eventually, after some time, the laughter followed.

I wasn’t ‘happy’ again, but I was trying to be happy. And that was a mega-huge step in the right direction.

Infertility 1

♥     ♥     ♥     ♥     ♥

It’s November 12, nearly halfway through Nanowrimo, and I’ve never felt less inspired. My desk is littered with post-it notes filled with To-Do lists. My phone dings relentlessly with emails that need to be answered, reminders for upcoming events or meetings, private messages that require my attention. I feel like there are a hundred bees buzzing in my brain, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t turn off the noise.

My frustration reached a boiling point, and once again, I found myself turning to my husband for advice. I fussed about problems that aren’t mine to fix, whined about my lackluster word count, bemoaned my missing creativity. “I just don’t feel like a writer anymore,” I said. “I just don’t have the time or the inclination to do it.”

“If you didn’t have the inclination to write, you wouldn’t worry so when you aren’t writing,” he said. “It’s the time you don’t have.”

I sighed. “I know I’ve been really busy lately. I’m sorry.”

He looked at me in that way he has–like he can see into the depths of my soul. “When was the last time you did something that truly made you happy?”

This time I didn’t hesitate. I rattled off five or six things with relative ease.

“Let me rephrase,” he said. “When was the last time you did something JUST FOR YOU? Something that made you giddy inside? Just for Abby. No one else.”

I shut my mouth and, yet again, could offer no answer.

“You’re stretched too thin. Too many irons in the fire,” he said. “What are some things that brought you joy before?”

“My blog. Writing my book. Chasing my dream of being published.” The answers rolled off my tongue without much thought.

“So you need to get back to that, then. Start writing every day again. Pull out that list of agents and dust it off. Get back on the horse. I know you can do it. You just have to make time for it. Make it a priority again, like you did earlier this year.”

I heard his words and knew he was right. But in that moment, I realized what I’d been doing. In an attempt to learn to live with the grief of infertility, I’d been filling my life with things to keep my mind as busy as possible so I wouldn’t think about the things that had led me to my two-week long stretchy pants sabbatical.

I tucked his words into my heart where all his other bits of wisdom live. I let myself cry a little, to feel the sadness that is always lingering but that I hadn’t allowed myself to access in weeks.

The journey of mourning isn’t an easy one. We are learning in the process which avenues work and which ones don’t. We are making detours and getting stuck in emotional traffic and occasionally, taking a totally wrong turn and winding up in the wrong part of town. But the one thing I know for sure about all of this?

Brian is the most reliable GPS on the market.

Infertility 2

The Infertility List Blog

Let’s set the record straight. I’m not a psychologist with years worth of research in my portfolio. I’m not a doctor who knows big words about specific sections of the brain and the hormones that they squirt into the body. I’m not a fertility specialist who can explain to you the complexities of coping with the emotional baggage that comes with having broken lady parts.

But I am an infertile woman living in the 21st century. And I’m also a blogger. So that gives me all the necessary tools to present you with a list of 10 things everyone (especially my friends and family) should know about infertility.

10 Things This Infertile Wants You (The Fertile Ones) To Know

1. Birth announcements don’t come in bouts of 3.
Nay. In fact, they come in groups of a hundred. Sometimes more. In fact, in less than a 2 week time span, practically everyone I knew–from best friends, to that child actor from the 80s, to the kid I used to babysit in the 8th grade–announced that they were expecting. Even the Prince of Friggin’ England was all like, “Heeey yoooou guuuuys….I’m gonna be a baby daddy!”

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You should be forewarned that when this happens you will find me in holey pajama pants, lying on my bathroom floor, sobbing into the bathmat. Don’t worry–I’ll find my happy for you eventually. It’s just going to take some time to pick up the shrapnel from the baby bomb that just hit my house. (It’s not as cute as it sounds.)

2. Let’s just put it out there–Friends with Kids, We Are Jealous Of You.
It’s nothing personal. But when we come to your house to visit and accidentally step on a Lego, we’re jealous. When we meet you for dinner and you’re a few minutes late because you had a diaper blowout, we’re jealous. When we call you up and can’t really hear what you’re saying over the sound of baby giggles in the background, we’re jealous. When you post a picture of your darling child in over-sized sunglasses and a beer box on his head, we’re jealous. It doesn’t mean we love you or your pint-size mini me any less. It just means that we see what awesomeness you have in your life, and we want it for us, too.

3. We really don’t need to hear about the conventional methods anymore.
I know you mean well when you gently remind us that the best way to get pregnant is to stop thinking about it/take your temperature/get drunk/elevate your hips after sex. Believe me–I’m more flexible than I look.

See?

contortionist

The problem with us is mechanical, not creativity. (wink wink) So there’s really no need to reenact the Kama Sutra to show me just how you got knocked up. (Although, if you really want to, go ahead. Just be forewarned that I will take pictures. I’m always looking for good blog fodder.)

In this same vein, please don’t make weird suggestions about other, less traditional ways to procreate. I want to have Brian’s baby. Not his brother’s, not his uncle’s, and not his third-cousin-twice-removed’s. Sorry. That’s just weird and creepy.

4. At some point in our relationship, I will cry.
I’m a big ol’ fat cry baby about most things, anyway. But this particular thing? I have no control over my emotions. The truth is–I’m grieving. That’s really what infertility is–grieving the life of the child you always imagined but will never have. It sucks. It’s really hard. And I cope by crying.

A lot.

So inevitably, we will be cheerfully chatting about that catty thing someone said at the party, and something will trigger that “OMG I DON’T HAVE OFFSPRING” button in my brain, and I’ll be sobbing all over you before you can grab the stray tissue at the bottom of your purse. I apologize in advance.

5. I use humor as a defense mechanism.
If this blog isn’t proof of that, then let me explain.

Your adorable toddler will run up to me and give me a big kiss. I will make an inappropriate joke about my ovary exploding. Everyone will laugh.

You’ll ask me if I’m available to take photographs at your child’s birthday party. I’ll laugh too loudly and make a joke about always being free since I don’t have a child of my own to throw parties for. No one will laugh.

I’ll be writing a semi-serious blog post about the trauma of infertility, and I’ll throw up a stupid picture of myself Photoshopped to look like a clown.

Clown

With me now?

6. Please don’t say, “You should adopt!”
You’re totally right. A family IS about love, not blood. There ARE lots of kids in the world who need loving homes. We totally agree with you. That doesn’t mean we’re ready, yet. It also probably means we’ve still haven’t worked up the courage to rob a bank, yet. Cuz that’s shit’s expensive, yo.

7. We totally still want to be friends with you, even though you are fertile.
It’s ok. We don’t begrudge you your fully functional baby-making parts. Mostly. So don’t worry that bringing your kids over is an inconvenience. Don’t stop inviting us to birthday parties and baby showers (although sometimes I might not come.) Don’t apologize when your kid squeals loudly or chases my cat or accidentally scribbles on my kitchen table. We love you, and your screaming toddler. I’ve even been known to miss a football game or two just to hang out with you guys. Now THAT’S love.

8. Sometimes, we need to hang out with our “non-kid” friends, though.
It has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with our desire to drink copious amounts of alcohol, talk about grown-up type things, and say curse words often and loudly.

margarita ole
*Drool.*

I know you can carry on conversations about stuff other than your kids. (There’s a reason we’re friends. You are a super-cool cat with tons of interesting things to talk about. Am I right??) I also know that you want that giant margarita right there just as much as I do. But I also know it’s harder for you to leave the kids out of conversation, because they are your life, as they should be. No guilt trips here, lady.

It’s just this: sometimes it’s easier for us to be around people who don’t have that problem, and who aren’t so hyper-aware that something they say about their child could potentially send me into the ugly cry. It lets me get my drink on with the knowledge that I can be a happy drunk instead of the weird drunk who’s walking around the party blurting out random child-rearing facts that I probably shouldn’t know.

9. Imma spoil yo’ babies.
When they fall down at my house, I’m going to kiss their boo boo and give them a cookie. When it’s their birthday, I’m going to video myself singing to them and email it to you. When I come over to visit, don’t be surprised if I come bearing little gifts of my adoration for your progeny.

There are two parts to this: 1) I do it because I love your kid. He/She is adorable, and I just want to squish them regularly. Kudos, Mom and Dad, ya did good. And 2) I do it because it helps me fill a void. I don’t have my own child to sing to or bake for, so I’m gonna do it for your child.

Don’t worry, they’ll pay you back by pitching a fit at bedtime because they just want to go to Auntie Abby’s house and play.

cooler than you

You’re welcome.

10. We will be fine.
I know you’re concerned, especially because I’ve been in a constant state of funk since we got the official word in June that we won’t be able to join you in the land of Parenthood. (At least not without a crap load of cheddar and a miracle to rival the parting of the Red Sea.) If I’m honest with you, and with myself, I don’t know how long this part of the process takes. We’re sad, and we will probably always be sad. But even though I don’t have working ovaries, and even though Brian doesn’t have the Michael Phelps of sperm, we still have each other. And that, friends, is the really great news.

*It took me a really long time to publish this blog. Do you have any idea how hard it is to make something like infertility even remotely funny?? It’s really, really hard. So don’t feel like you need to send me an email or comment apologizing if you think you’ve possibly done or said one of the things above. Because you probably have. Because everyone has. And it’s totally OK. The important thing is that I know that you care. There’s not really anything anyone can say to make it better, but knowing I have friends in my corner who are cheering for me and who only want me to be happy makes bearing this cross a little easier. I love you–each and every one. And I love your stinkin’ babies, too.

Here’s The Truth:

I haven’t been blogging much lately.

depression 1

The truth is, I haven’t been doing much of anything lately. I get up, I put on my cookie pants, and I flop down in front of the television. I don’t so much as glimpse at my computer–in fact, I go to lengths to avoid it, because sitting down at my desk, even to answer emails, makes me feel guilty that I’m not blogging or writing or sending out query letters.

My Creativity has packed her bags and left. She didn’t even leave a Dear John letter. That bitch.

It’s not just my writing that I’m avoiding. I spend my days coming up with excuses to cancel engagements with my friends and family. It’s not that I don’t want to see them, it’s that I don’t want them to see me. Because I know that those people who love me will see only one thing, despite my fake smile and fancy hair and copious amounts of concealer I use to cover up the dark circles under my eyes.

They’ll see the truth.

depression 3

You’re thinking, “But you’ve had so much AWESOME this summer! How can you be sad?”

It’s easy to toss off the reality cloak when you’re on vacation or going to concerts, but those are the spaces between the pain that glow like stolen embers. I wrap my fingers around them and hold on tight. I close my eyes and recall those fleeting seconds of happiness, letting them warm me through, if only for awhile.

Because it’s been a tough year for me, for my family, for my husband.

While these awful things keep happening to people I love, I can’t help but sink back into my own cocoon. I wrap an afghan over my head and peer at the sunshine through the dappled yarn. I feel like it takes every bit of my strength to smile. Tears hover, unshed, just beneath the surface. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that there is potential for tomorrow to be better.

This is what it feels like to mourn.

It is a journey I have to take. And while I’m not the only one on this journey, there are parts of the path I have to navigate alone. Some days, as I turn the corner, I can see patches of funny and happy in the distance. Some days I find myself in a mire so thick and viscous that I don’t think I’ll ever fight my way out.

I’m staring at the blue Publish button and wondering to myself if I should just save this one for the archives. It is my truth, but is it too….truthy? I don’t want my mom to worry about me, or my friends to start arriving en masse with casseroles. It’s not as dire as all that. The button beckons me, and I know I’ll click on it, if only to explain my absence from this place that comforts me and offers me shelter. I want to find my way back to the silly that propels this place forward. And I will. I just haven’t reached that part of the journey yet.

Celebrating Mom

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day.

I love getting together with my family and celebrating the woman who gave me life. I spend weeks thinking about and planning a gift that I hope will make her smile. I look forward to preparing her favorite meal (chicken piccata) and her favorite dessert (pineapple upside-down cake). My dad, brother, and I will sit around the dinner table, sharing our favorite stories about Mom–from the time she barricaded my teenage brother into his room so he’d stop sneaking out, to her reaction when I accidentally yanked the ceiling fan down with my Get in Shape girl ribbon. We’ll remember how she used to put little notes in our lunch boxes, or draw hearts in the peanut butter of our open faced sandwiches, just to remind us of how much she loved us.

Blog 1

I remember being in grade school leading up to Mother’s Day. We would spend a week’s worth of craft time coming up with clever gifts for Mom. Hand prints in clay, crooked flowers painted with care, handmade coupon booklets filled with all the chores we’d do, cards with long declarations of love written with backwards “E’s” and adorable stick people. I was always so excited to give my mother these treasures. And to her credit–she still has most of them. I bought her a wooden painted tulip one year with my “Good Citizen” tokens at school, and though it’s been broken and super-glued back together a hundred times, it still takes a place of honor in her curio cabinet, right next to the ceramic dog my brother bought her at the Dollar Tree when he was four.

She’s awesome like that.

I also remember skipping through the meadow next to our house, feet bare, bees buzzing in the spring sunshine, carefully plucking wildflowers for Mom. I would keep picking until I had an entire fistful of flowers–yellow and white and green and purple–and then I sneak into the house, bouquet clutched behind my back. She always lit up when I handed her those flowers. She would fuss over them and take them to the kitchen, putting them in a tiny glass vase she kept on the windowsill for just such occasions. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized I’d been giving her handfuls of weeds. But she kept them. Every single time.

Click for Source

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My childhood was as close to perfect as you can get. I have my parents to thank for that. And as an adult I realize, now more than ever, that I have so much to be grateful for, and so much to celebrate. I adore my Mom, and she knows it.

And yet, when the greeting cards begin to appear, and the signs in Hallmark start reminding you to “Show Mom How Much You Care,” I can’t help but feel a little tug in my gut that reminds me that those hand prints in clay, those little gifts of gratitude, aren’t anywhere in my foreseeable future. That despite the fact that I feel the name “Mama” carved into my heart, that there’s no one here, yet, to use that name for me. I will miss the flowers, the sticky kisses, the breakfasts in bed, the hastily thrown-together construction paper cards that so many mothers will experience tomorrow.

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I don’t resent them their celebrations. They deserve to be celebrated. And I will be celebrating my own mother with them. I will shower her with gifts and food and love and attention. I will thank her for the many sacrifices she has made so that my life could be what is has been. I will hug her close and tell her that I love her. And I will do everything in my power to make her smile tomorrow, on Mother’s Day.

After the day of celebrating is done, I will come home and climb into bed with my husband. I will whisper into the night a prayer that one day, I’ll get to experience a day like today. And I will dream of round cheeks and tiny toes and wilting dandelions clutched in chubby fingers, just for me.

Side Effects

You’ve taken prescription drugs before, right? For the most part, they do what they’re supposed to do. But every once in awhile, you get the privilege of taking a medication that has the kind of side effects that leave you feeling like you just came off a roller coaster in hell where angry people threw heavy objects at your head for fun.

No? Just me? Well then clearly, you’ve never taken fertility drugs.

About two weeks ago, I started taking a drug called “Provera,” which, in layman’s terms, sends signals to the woman’s uterus that it’s time to start a cycle. This drug doesn’t send those signals quietly. Oh no. It launches your hormones into overdrive, sending you into the ugly cry over the fact that you think you *may* have just hit a ladybug with your car, even though your husband assures you that you probably didn’t since the car is still in park. Worst yet, for the first several hours after I took the pill, I would have this foggy, unfocused feeling.

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Donnie Wahlberg could have been standing in my living room wearing fig leaves and playing the ukulele, and I seriously wouldn’t have noticed. I spent most of those 10 days staring off into space, wondering where my mind had wandered off to (usually to daydreaming about Donnie Wahlberg wearing fig leaves and playing the ukulele.)

***For those DW fans, I am apologizing here for not drawing him in said fashion. I’d like to think that someday, he’ll want to be my friend, and I don’t want to offend him off gate.***

Once the Provera, and cycle, come to an end, it’s time to take pill #2. Enter–Clomid. This happy little pill tells a woman’s ovaries to release eggs, which increases a couple’s chance of getting pregnant. If you thought the Hazy Abby with Awesome Daydreams was fun, wait till you meet Mega-Hormonal Abby on Clomid.

Brian and I would argue about Clomid’s worst side effect. I say, without a shadow of a doubt, that the hot flashes associated with this drug are AWFUL. First, my ears start to burn. Then my entire face gets red and feels like it’s going to pop off like an over-filled thermometer. By the time the heat creeps to my neck, I’m ready to move to Antarctica, where I plan to bathe in the frigid waters with glee. All I can do is sit back, let the wave take its natural course, and pray that the AC stays on long enough to get me through the 15 minutes of sweat-inducing, swear-inducing flash.

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Unfortunately, the rest of my little family has to live in the igloo that is our house throughout the course of treatment. Brian has taken to wearing hoodies and socks, as well as staying bundled up beneath our thickest afghan, to battle the sub zero temps in our living room. However, he does so without a single complaint, even with icicles hanging off his nose.

For him, though, I think the worst side effect is watching me go through the mood swings. I can be telling him a joke one minute, complaining about politics the next, and in ten minutes time, I’ll be sobbing my eyes out about my lack of Word Press skills. The most fun ones, though, are the ones where I get angry. One little thing—something left in the middle of the floor that causes me to trip, an item that I need not being in the place it’s meant to be when I go to find it, an asinine comment on Facebook (by someone who’s comments are always asinine, therefore usually expected.) And suddenly, my Clomid-driven rage monster emerges.

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I have to fight down the urge to break things, roar at the top of my She-Hulk voice, and eliminate all threats to my safety. However, I usually allow myself to slam around, say mean things loudly, and rant until the feeling passes—and all the while, thinking to myself that it’s the Clomid reacting to the situation, not myself.

Fun stuff.

The honest truth, though, is that if these pills work, I’ll be over-the-moon happy about it. Obviously. We’ll all throw a party and dance the Happy Fertility Drugs dance. It’s all about the destination, not the journey–even if the journey is filled with pretty colors and hot flashes and rage.

AbbyGabs in April

Here we are, a brand new shiny month. This year is flying by already, and I’ve got so much stuff to look forward to in the coming months. April is a big one, and I thought you might like to know what’s coming down the pike for me, my family, and my blog. So here’s a peek at the first few weeks of my calendar for this month.

April 1, 2013:
Day one of Camp NaNoWriMo–the online support system for budding writers is at it again, and I’m jumping in with both feet.  And as usual, the 50,000 word count goal in 30 days is plenty enough to get my competitive juices flowing. I’ve managed to do it twice…and I happened to bang out a my very first novel by participating in NaNo 2011 and 2012.

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The real beauty behind Camp Nano is that, while you can start a brand new project, you’re also encouraged to take that thirty days and do pretty much whatever you want to do (involving writing, of course.) Edit a past project, write poetry/blogs/short stories, work on a timeline for your next big idea—the point of Camp NaNo isn’t just to write a new work. It’s to write. Period. The End. That’s All Folks.

I’m really jazzed about Camp, especially since I’ve not been writing nearly as much lately as I’m used to, and I’m missing it fiercely. So, I’m going to stoke my inner campfire, blow the dust off of my very first novel and edit the crap out of it every single day in April, in hopes that by the time I’m finished, it will be 100% publishable material.

You guys know the drill–I’ll still be posting here as regularly as I can manage. I plan to set aside one day a week to write several blogs, and they’ll all be scheduled to post while I’m doping up on coffee and popping aspirin to battle my keyboard-hunch back pain. And with you cheering me on, anything is possible! Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to Camp we go!

April 3, 2013:
Appointment with my OB and fertility specialist.

I’m scared and excited and worried and nauseous and thrilled, all at the same time. We’ve waited years for this opportunity, and I’m *trying* to be hopeful that we will receive some helpful answers to solve our fertility problems. And since I cried all over you guys a couple of weeks ago in a blog about that very subject, it seemed only natural that I tell you about this latest development in our journey to become parents.

Don’t worry, I’ll keep you in the loop. Especially if there are hormone replacement drugs involved. Because they make me a little crazy, and more prone to film video blogs involving tears, snot, and smeared mascara. So stay tuned, friends. Stay tuned.


April 7, 2013:
The Inaugural Tournament of the Incredibly Excellent Wii Bowling League.

Yes, you read that correctly.

My ingenious husband finally figured out a way to cram our tiny apartment to the brim with practically every person we know within a thirty-mile radius—and all in the name of bowling. He created a Wii Bowling League, and we are having the first tournament at our house this weekend.

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There will be brackets, bowling-themed food, fierce competition, and trophies. (Yes, he bought trophies. Just like the one pictured above.) It’s going to be epic, and we are hoping to turn it into a regular thing. Once we weed out the serious competitors from those more interested in the bowling ball cupcakes (yes, that would be me you’re picturing with chocolate crumbs on her chin) we may just invent team names and create bowling shirts (which I will have to beg for, because I’ll be the one losing on purpose so I can sit in the kitchen and chat with my friends between turns.) Don’t worry, readers…there will be a full blog with pictures after the event. It’s going to rock.

Sometime Mid-April:
I’m moving.

Not me, personally, but my blog. 

That’s right, I’m making the leap from Blogger to Word Press. 

source–and also not the website I’m using to navigate my move. That’s HERE.


It’s been a long time coming, and I’ve been thinking about it, and planning for it, since the beginning of the year. I’ve finally convinced myself that I can do it without the help of a paid professional (although I’m considering asking my doctor for a prescription in Xanax). With the support of blogger friends who have done it before, a father-in-law who I’m convinced could fix the internet if it was completely broken, and pep talks with some of my favorite Word Press bloggers, I’m ready to make the leap.


If you’d like to send assistance in the form of tequila, email me and I’ll send my mailing address.

April 10, 2013:
Abby hosts Dinner Club for the first time.

Back in January, two of our favorite couples contacted us and asked if we’d be interested in joining a dinner club. For those fuzzy on the details, it works like this: the host couple comes up with the theme and provides the entree. Couples two and three are in charge of the appetizer course and the dessert course, respectively. 

Truth: it’s a great excuse to get together with our friends not once, but twice, to eat great food, drink great wine, and enjoy each other’s company.

Most people, while in the planning stages of this event, would be focused more on coming up with a menu that will be pleasing to the palate, but will allow them to act as hostess and spend more time with their guests.

You read the part above about my “competitive juices” though, right?

I’m feeling very….”Barefoot Contessa” about our first club where I’m in charge of the culinary experience. As in…I have to rock this, and rock it hard.

Abby rockin’ the kitchen, circa 2010.


I’m not looking to intimidate our friends and make them worry about the contents of their spice racks before the next dinner…much. I’m just looking for everything to be so awesome that we’re still talking about “that first dinner club at Abby’s house” five years from now.

And maybe, just maybe, I’m holding out hope for a gold ribbon of cooking genius. 

So that’s what’s going on with me, friends and neighbors. No huge announcements, just lots of little stuff to look forward to. What’s going on in your neck of the woods? (Be forewarned: if it sounds like a good time I might just crash your party.)

Coping

Today’s post is going to be raw, emotional, and probably painful for some of you to read. In truth, I started not to publish it. But this has been sitting with me for awhile now, and so I wrote it out in hopes that it would bring me some comfort and closure. I didn’t write it to seek out sympathy, or to evoke any particular emotion for my readers. I simply wrote it for me. Any of you who have ever suffered with infertility will understand that sometimes, crying it out and exhausting all emotion is the only way to pick yourself and move on, to give yourself enough courage to take the next pill, the next shot, or the next test. That is what this post is for me.



I’m sitting in the bathroom floor, legs tangled beneath me. The towel I’m crying into smells of Brian’s body wash. A nervous cat who managed to get closed into the bathroom with me sits by the door, tail twitching, waiting for a chance to escape. The digital pregnancy test still sits on the counter where I left it, the words “NOT PREGNANT” in stark analog print, breaking my heart again.

It’s 4:30 in the morning.

Last night, we sat at the kitchen table, holding hands, the truth of the situation like ashes in my mouth. “I’m 15 days late,” I say.

“I know,” he replies.

Like a sorrow-filled waltz, we dance around the topic of conversation. He asks me if there are any signs of impending doom. I show him my ovulation calendar. We talk about the “peak fertile days” we managed to hit in the last month. Hope blossoms like spring flowers where one would think the roots were dead.

“Should I take a test?” I ask him.

“Maybe. But let’s wait until morning,” he replies.

And so we walk through the rest of the day, preparing meals and cleaning dishes, hugging cats and laughing at sitcoms, until the time for bed arrives.

As I brush my teeth, I rummage through the cabinets until I find what I’m looking for: a box of pregnancy tests, one left, waiting for the chance to make our dreams come true. I set it out, unwrap it, and stare at the blank screen, wondering what judgement it will have for me. I spit in the sink, and a spot of toothpaste lands on the digital screen. I wipe it away with my finger.

An hour later, my husband sleeps deeply beside me. I slide the bookmark between the pages of my current novel and turn out the light. My cat snuggles up on my chest, and I pet him while I think about what the morning might bring. So many possibilities. 

I try to keep myself from thinking it, but as usual, the laundry list of those possibilities begin to rattle off in my brain. If it’s positive, I could have the baby by Christmas. If it’s positive, I’ll want to schedule an appointment with my doctor as soon as possible. If it’s positive, I want to tell my parents first. If it’s positive, I’ll have the chance to tell Jenna in person this weekend. If it’s positive, we’ll have to do something about that middle bedroom. (I’ve always loved the idea of a Dr. Seuss-themed nursery.)

If it’s positive, will it be a boy or a girl?

If it’s positive, I will cry and laugh and dance and celebrate.

If it’s positive.

I fall asleep with visions of round cheeks and tiny feet dancing in my head.

When I wake up with a full bladder at 4 a.m., my whole body comes to attention. I slide out from beneath the covers, leaving husband and cats undisturbed. I take a deep breath and do my duty, waiting the unbearable 2 minutes before allowing myself to read the screen of the pregnancy test.

And the new, more familiar laundry list of possibilities take over. If it’s negative, I will not beat myself up for days on end. If it’s negative, I will not let it ruin my week. If it’s negative, I won’t tell anyone about it, because I don’t want people to feel sorry for me. If it’s negative, and of course it will be negative, I will mark it on my calendar and move on.

If it’s negative, I will mention it to Brian over breakfast and we won’t talk about it anymore.

If it’s negative, I will let myself cry, but only for a few minutes.

If it’s negative.

I give myself ten minutes to mourn the baby that never was, and then I wrap the test, that thing, in toilet paper and throw it away. I toss the box and instructions away, too. I wipe down the counters, the sink, and the mirror just for good measure. I splash my face with cold water, blow my nose, and brush my hair. I never look at my reflection because I know I’ll only see misery and regret. I turn out the light and open the door, freeing the trapped cat from the confines of his prison cell. I tiptoe back into the bedroom and ever-so-gently lower myself back into bed.

His voice pierces the night.

“Negative?” he asks.

“Negative.” I reply.

And we wrap ourselves in each other and cope.