Blooming Yogi

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Home(less) For The Holidays

Once upon a time, I fantasized about what maternity leave would be like. Like so many others, I naively thought it was going be an extended staycation. I now cringe at my foolishness.

My plans for this 3 month ‘vacation’ included watching Netflix all day and binge reading the half dozen books on my Kindle. I would use the baby’s nap time to accomplish tasks that I never had the free time to do before:  I’d finally get around to perfecting winged eyeliner, making gourmet meals in my crock pot, and learning how to use Photoshop! Try to contain your hysterical laughter, fellow parents.

Did I ever think that maternity leave would include living in my college age brother-in-law’s bedroom with my husband, an infant, and a dog? NO. No, I did not. Suffice to say, the reality of life these days has fallen far short of the expectations.

…..

Shit really hit the fan a little over a month ago, when Brendan was doing laundry one night and he noticed that the bag of dog food (which we keep next to the dryer) had a hole in it, spilling food onto the floor. Upon further investigation, the hole appeared to have been chewed. His exact words were, “I don’t want to freak you out, but I think we might have a mouse.” Mind you, he was  leaving for Cabo the following morning for a friend’s wedding and would be out of town for 4 days– leaving me at home with one colicky baby, one hyperactive dog, and now possibly a mouse. I was officially freaked out.

Over the following days, mice were the last thing on my mind. Clare’s colic was horrid and all through the house, not a creature was sleeping, not even a mouse. I now understand why sleep deprivation is a form of torture; if you want to meet your worst self, listening to an inconsolable baby wail into the wee hours of the morning will really bring it out.

My Aunt Lorraine was in town to meet Clare, and that Saturday she and I were getting ready to sit down for dinner when there was a scratching noise in the wall. She heard it as well, so I knew I wasn’t having exhaustion induced hallucinations.

Brendan got home late Sunday night, and I reported that I had definitely heard something in the wall while he was away. He bought mousetraps on Monday and we baited them with dog food and left them out. The next morning, we found that the rodent(s) had eaten the bait off of the traps, but nothing had been caught. We re-baited the traps with peanut butter on Tuesday night. On Wednesday morning, nothing had been caught in the traps, but I noticed that there was a partially eaten apple on the countertop, and fiberglass insulation scattered on the kitchen floor. I realized that this mouse was out of our league, and I called a pest company.

The exterminator came over and took one look at the apple and told me that we did not, in fact have mice. For half a second, I had a small sliver of hope that this was all a big misunderstanding before the crushing realization set in: rats. We had f*cking rats.

He saw my look of utter panic and terror and told me not to worry, that they would set traps and this would all be taken care of shortly. Our beautiful, historic home had not-so-beautiful, historic foundation and the rat had worked its way in through a crack. The exterminator assured me that if the crack was sealed up, they would catch the rodent and all would be well again.

While I am generally not inclined to hysteria, I told Brendan that we needed to move. He talked me off the ledge, and we decided to wait it out. The next day, I found a partially eaten banana in the kitchen. The exterminator came back out, and informed me that he had caught a “good sized rat” in the crawl space. “Oh good,” I thought, “Problem solved!”

A few days later, we found another half-eaten banana. Problem not solved.

I called the pest company (again) and they came out (again), and explained that rats are intelligent animals and that catching them takes time. No shit, I thought. These jerks circumvented no less than 6 traps on their nightly route to snack on my organic fruit!

Once again, we debated whether we should leave the house, and we decided once again to wait it out. Clare was still crying at all hours of the day and night, and I didn’t want to impose on family or friends. We hadn’t seen any evidence of rats upstairs, so I spent a few days hiding out in our bedroom with Clare.

The final straw came one afternoon when I was vacuuming and I moved the Pack N Play in our living room and found rat poop behind it. OH HELL NO. I texted Brendan and updated him, and we agreed to spend a few days at his parents’ house until this got worked out. That was two and a half weeks ago, and we are still here.

Since that time, these asshole rats have chewed a hole through our living room floor into the crawl space. We pointed a motion detecting security camera at the hole, and on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving we checked the recordings to see an overturned trap on top of the hole. I called the pest company and when they went over, they found a still-alive rat dangling through the floor. In their attempts to remove the rat, they opened the trap and the damn thing escaped into our basement. We are dealing with the Tom & Jerry of rodents, and the Elmer Fudd of exterminators.

On Monday of this week, they called to tell me that another one was caught in our upstairs bathroom. “That’s the good news,” he said. “The bad news is that it bled out on your bathroom floor.”

…..

While all of this has been going down, we made the executive decision that there was no way in hell that we’d ever be able to move back home, so we started looking at houses. We found one in my parent’s backyard- literally- and we are in the process of buying it. As of now, we are tentatively closing around New Years.

Did I ever think that I would move back to Upper St. Clair or be backyard neighbors with my parents? Once again, NOPE.

Its been a few days since we’ve had any rat-related activity at the house, so I am hoping that the problem has been eradicated. Unfortunately, homeowner insurance doesn’t cover any of the damage so we are going to be on the hook for replacing the carpet, repairing the floor, and having the entire house professionally cleaned before we can put it on the market. I’m praying that someone will fall in love with the charm and character of the house, and overlook the previous rodent problem.

…..

I’m a mess of emotions right now. Stressed out over the prospect of having to spend my last month of maternity leave packing and unpacking all of our belongings. Nervous about having two mortgages until we can sell our old house. Excited to be moving in to our forever home, albeit a few years earlier than we had planned. Sad that we won’t get to put up our 10 foot Christmas tree one last time, or celebrate Clare’s first Christmas at home.

Through all of this, we’ve managed to find the humor in the situation. There is nothing quite like late night googling “How often do female rats go into heat?” with your spouse, and then laugh-sobbing with when you find out that they can have up to 200 babies a YEAR. It’s like watching a comedy, and then remembering that this movie is your life and it’s actually a horror movie.

The lesson learned here is an obvious one: people and not things make your house a home. If that house burned to the ground right now, there is not one thing that I would miss. Truth be told, if it burned down, it would save us a whole lot of trouble!

 

 

Welcome, Clare Raine!

Disclaimer: This post is being written with baby strapped to my chest and next to no sleep, so apologies in advance for all typos, misspellings, and non-sensical ramblings!

Our beautiful daughter joined our family 6 weeks ago on September 28th. We named her Clare Raine after County Clare, Ireland (where we got married) and my Aunt Lorraine.

Like any new parent will tell you, having a baby truly changes everything. The past month and a half have been some of the sweetest and hardest days that I’ve ever had. Pregnancy already seems like a distant memory, and the details of her birth are starting to get foggy as well, so I figured I better write down the details of her birthday before they vanish like smoke.


The days leading up to the C-section were filled with nerves, nesting, and lots of napping. It’s a strange feeling knowing the exact date and time in which your entire world is going to change. The day before delivery, we dropped Kona off at Camp Bow Wow for an extended stay, and I cried in the car knowing that he would no longer be the center of attention. Brendan and I went to dinner at Papa J’s for one final date night, which is where we went to celebrate the night we found out I was pregnant. It was surreal knowing that come morning, our twosome would forever be a party of three. I ate one last heart-burn filled meal as we took bets on whether it would be girl or boy, and who he/she would look like. Neither of us slept that night, and as we drove the hospital at 5 AM, I was nervous and excited and every other emotion that a person can feel. Once we got settled in triage, I kept looking at the clock thinking, “holy sh*t in approximately 43 minutes he/she will be here!”

I anxiously shuffled through the birth playlist that I had created months before, trying to find something that would calm my nerves before settling on “Here Comes the Sun”, which I listened to it several times in a row. I kept getting emotional as I thought about how long we had waited for this moment; not just the 9 months of pregnancy, but the difficult year(s) of trying to get pregnant. We were finally here, closing one chapter of our lives and starting an even bigger one. I felt so ready, and yet so NOT prepared to be a mother, but ready or not, it was happening.

Holly showed up around 6:30 and talked us through the procedure; having my sister/personal L&D nurse at my side is something that I am eternally grateful for. Around 7 AM it was go time. We walked back to the OR and the anesthesiologist asked us what we thought the baby was. “I’m thinking boy” said Brendan, “Girl, definitely” said me.

Once we were in the OR, everything happened at lightening speed. Brendan wasn’t allowed back at first, but Holly was there to hold my hands when they put in the spinal, and to hold a basin to my face when the nausea hit. Once the spinal was done and I was strapped down,  they invited Brendan back into the room. We looked at each other and said something like “Well, no turning back now. We’re really doing this!” I felt some weird pressure and moments later they told us that the baby was coming out.

Brendan watched as they held her up and at 7:10 AM, and proudly proclaimed, “It’s a girl!”. He kissed my head and I cried tears of joy and said, “We have a daughter!”.  I heard her loud wailing, and they brought her behind the curtain for a quick peak before whisking her off to do vitals.

Everything after that is a bit of a blur. As soon as they pulled her out, my blood pressure went through the roof and I literally felt like my head was going to explode — the pain was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. My eyes started rolling back in my head and my ears were ringing, and I told the anesthesiologist that I thought I was having a stroke. I asked him if I was going to die, and assured me that I was not and that I’d feel better once they brought my blood pressure back down.  It was one of the most terrifying moments of my life, I honestly thought that I was about to die on the table without ever getting to hold her.

A few minutes later (what seemed like a short eternity), Brendan brought her over so that I could see her. Just as a suspected, she looked exactly like him!  As I watched him hold her and fall instantly in love, I cried at the sweetness of it all. He was smitten. Watching him become a dad made me love him even more.

I was expecting to have the same instantaneous head-over-heels reaction, but at that point I still felt like I had an gunshot wound to the head, and it was all I could do to keep my eyes open. I silently worried that I had missed my moment and I wouldn’t connect with her in the same way.

Finally, we got back to the room and they put her on my chest. I got to feel her heart beating against mine, breathe in her new baby smell, and the overwhelming love washed over me. I stared in amazement and marveled over the fact that a mere 20 minutes prior, all of that was inside of me!


Its strange to me how fast and slow time goes these days. The nights seem endless, but the weeks are flying by. We’ve had our days of nonstop, inconsolable crying which have tested my patience and sanity in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Breastfeeding is a challenge, and I’ve gone back and forth a dozen times or more as to whether I want to continue.  Like most new mothers, I question myself constantly and have moments where I feel like I am not cut out for this.

When I start getting overwhelmed, and the crying seems to never stop, I realize that time is going so much faster than I can comprehend. Our formerly petite newborn has grown so fast in a month and a half. She was 7 lbs, 12 oz at birth, and at her one month appointment she was 10 lbs 7oz! I started packing away her newborn clothes last week and sobbed, how can she be so big already?

Everyone keeps asking how Kona is adjusting – he’s doing great! The first couple of days were rough; he was pretty salty about not being the sole recipient of all of my snuggling, but he’s since gotten over it. Whenever he hears her fuss, he stops whatever he’s doing to go over and lick her,  a habit that I find both adorable and gross. At night when I feed her, he will sit outside of her doorway and keep watch. I keep telling him that one day she will be a lot more fun and want to play with him- that day will be here in the blink of an eye.

 

 

 

Happy Birthweek, Baby!

As my third trimester rounds out, this final month has seemed like an endless To Do list amongst a flurry of non-stop nesting. On that list has been ‘Write a Damn Blog Post’, waiting to be checked off for weeks now but falling lower and lower among more important tasks such as: dusting all of the baseboards, scrubbing the refrigerator, and steam cleaning the carpets no less than 3 times. You know, all the things that newborns are very concerned about for their homecoming.

But here we are, on the 24th of September and I am finally sitting down to catch up on the last several months before my entire world gets turned upside down and pregnancy is all but a distant memory. Spoiler alert: it’s birth week! As of Thursday, September 28th our twosome will officially become a Party of 3.

We found out a few weeks ago that baby is breech, and all attempts at remedying that situation have failed. No yoga pose, nor inversion, nor chiropractic adjustment proved to be successful. My OB suggested to drink a (small) glass of red wine to get me to relax, followed by chocolate to get baby hyped up, and then getting on all fours and swaying around to try to get baby to turn – yet another fail. Although pregnancy was kind enough to not give me heartburn after the wine/chocolate combo, so really, I’d call that a win.

The internet even suggested things such as “gently express your sincerest desires to baby and ask it to turn head-down”. Unsurprisingly, Baby H did not respond to sound reasoning. I like to think that is because it is stubborn like his/her father and it is in there saying, “I’m not moving. If you want me to get out of here, you’re going to have to come get me!”

My final option was to try an external version, which would have involved going to the hospital, getting an epidural, being wheeled into the operating room, and having an OB try to manually flip the baby. I would have been all for that, except that even if it was successful they send you home and wait until you go into labor on your own. Which could be another 2+ weeks. Thanks but no thanks. If I’m going through all of that trouble, I damn well better be leaving the OR with a baby in my arms!  So here we are at 38.5 weeks with a C-section scheduled for Thursday, which also happens to be my parent’s wedding anniversary. I hereby win at being the best gift-giver of all time.

As an added bonus, having a scheduled date means that we were able to ensure that World’s Greatest Aunt / Labor & Delivery Nurse Extraordinare – my sister Holly –  will be in the OR with us on D-Day! I can’t think of anyone I’d rather having taking care of baby during its first moments of life than my sister. She has also promised me that she will personally count every piece of surgical equipment afterwards to make sure that a scalpel isn’t accidentally left inside of my uterus.

I am definitely a little disappointed that I won’t be getting to deliver vaginally; it kind of feels like I’m on mile 26 of a marathon and I decide to hitch a ride for the final .2 miles. A little anti-climatic. But on the other hand, after 9 months of pregnancy I am so ready to be DONE, and the prize at the finish line is the same regardless of how you get there.  Plus, the Type A personality in me is happy to be able to have a day on the calendar that baby will be here rather than just sitting around and waiting for the show to start.

I’m a liiiiitle nervous for the C-section recovery, I know it’s going to be rough. But to be honest, most of the first and third trimesters were miserable, so what’s a few more weeks of feeling like crap? The second trimester was wonderful– boundless energy, baby kicks, a cute bump, and dare I say, a pregnancy glow?! I thought I would be one of those people who had a rough first trimester, and then just sailed through the rest of pregnancy like the fertile goddess I am. I was wrong.

Like clockwork, month 7 hit and the third trimester came back to haunt me like the monster in a scary movie that comes back from the dead and brings its friends heartburn, exhaustion, insomnia, and false labor to join the party. Everyone warned me that the last month is the absolute worst, and to that I said “Nay, surely it can’t get worse!”. WRONG AGAIN.

I have to actively remind myself that pregnancy is not forever, and that as painful as it is to have a baby’s skull jammed under my ribcage, I probably won’t be internally crushed to death before the delivery.

When women tell me how much they love being pregnant, they might as well be saying, “You know, I really love being hungover! It just clicks with my body!”. At this point, I would give birth in the middle seat of an airplane on a transatlantic flight if it meant I would be done with pregnancy; how anyone could actually enjoy this is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong: I love the idea of being pregnant. I’m just not loving the physical aspects of pregnancy. It’s kind of like being on a 9 month road trip: you can be excited about the destination while absolutely hating the car ride.

I have my moments of guilt whenever I moan and groan, because this time a year ago we were in the middle of various fertility tests, wondering if it was ever going to happen for us. In spite of all the heartache and backaches that got me to this point, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I know it will all be worth it come Thursday when we finally get to meet our son or daughter! I can’t even emotionally prepare myself for that moment because I know it will, bar none, the most joyful experience of my life.

Baby H, we are SO excited to meet you.

 

 

Halfway to Birthday

I’ve had a couple of people ask recently whether I still have my blog, so I figured it was about time that  made good on it and actually, you know, write.

Whenever life is sad or stressful, this is often the first place that I come — putting my feelings in public forum seems like the appropriate response to dealing with the storms inside of my head. When I’m calm and centered, though, it’s so much harder for me to share my joys with the world. I’m not sure whether that is because whenever life is going well, I just don’t have that insatiable urge to write, or whether I’m attuned to others’ struggles and feel guilty sharing my joy. A little of both, perhaps.

At any rate, #1 on my To Do List this 3-day weekend was to dust off the ol’ keyboard and come back to this space on the internet. As I was making my coffee this morning (my ONE daily cup, preggo police) I was thinking about how this time last year I was on the cusp of turning 30, and how momentous that seemed. I turn 31 on Tuesday, and my birthday completely slipped my mind until last week when I looked at the calendar and realized that it is almost June. Life just seems so much bigger now, and I’ve  been more focused on the quickly-arriving birthday of the little one who is contentedly tap dancing on my bladder right now.

Last time I wrote, I was about 10 weeks pregnant and solidly in the throws of the first trimester.  Amid the unrelenting nausea, I still found it hard to comprehend that I did not, in fact, have an intestinal parasite, but rather a tiny person inside of me. Even after seeing our first ultrasound, I still couldn’t get past the disbelief of it all. We had our 19 week ultrasound a few weeks ago and that really solidified things for me: we are going to have our very own, human baby. You’d think after 4 months of knowing this, it would have sunk in. But it took seeing those tiny feet with its daddy’s long toes on the ultrasound screen for things to finally seem real.

We opted not to find out the gender, which has been less difficult than I anticipated. I’m the type of person who spends the entire month of December pestering Brendan to give me hints about what he got me for Christmas, so I thought for sure I would change my mind and want to know. We are both content in our decision to find out at the delivery. As an adult, there are so few good surprises in life and I think there is something beautiful in not knowing. Besides, from what I understand there is a ‘no exchange’ policy with babies. We do have names picked out, but we aren’t telling anyone. Sorry friends and family, we love you, we just don’t want your unfiltered opinions!

Despite the growing discomfort, the second trimester has felt like a vacation compared to the first. Albeit, a vacation where you eat Tums around the clock and pee every hour on the hour.  The baby has been kicking away for a few weeks now, which is just the coolest thing ever. Feeling him/her move around in there always brings a goofy, sappy smile to my face even when it’s keeping me awake in the middle of the night.

I’m constantly in amazement at the weird things that happen to you throughout pregnancy. For example: yesterday while standing  at the Apple Genius Bar I experienced my first episode of “lightning crotch” which made me audibly gasp and garnered a look of concern from the college-aged tech guy. If you are unfamiliar with this sensation, it feels exactly as the name implies.

Another case in point: the urge to nest. I got up at 2 AM the other night because I absolutely, positively HAD to write down my To Do list which contained important, life-altering tasks such as “buy new light fixtures for the bedrooms”.  The overwhelming desire to dust every surface in my home has never been stronger, and I’m a bit of a neat freak to begin with. A strange phenomenon, this pregnancy.

My nurturing instinct must be kicking in as well, because I’m a fully-fledged Plant Lady these days. For 30 years, I could not for the life of me understand my mother’s love of gardening — why someone would choose to touch dirt was beyond comprehension. I now have potted plants in every room of the house, including the laundry room. I went to Lowe’s last week to buy wood glue, and like a moth to a flame I found myself mindlessly roaming the plant aisles and wondering why the hell I had come here in the first place. I left with wood glue, and no less than a dozen succulents.

I’m a high-anxiety person to begin with so I assumed my neuroticism would be exacerbated during pregnancy, but it’s actually been quite the opposite. If anything, I’ve probably been a little too laid back about it all. I think I used up several years’ worth of anxiety while trying to get pregnant, and now I’m just content to  kick back and let things happen as they will.

I’ve done exactly zero parenting research on carseats, breastfeeding, birth plans, registry items, etc. I know I should care more, but honestly, I just don’t. Life is stressful enough without getting sucked into the online battles of mommy warfare. Plus there is definitely some comfort in knowing that regardless of whether I exclusively breastfeed and cloth diaper and use only organic products, one day we will have a moody teenager that swears we are the absolute worst parents on the face of the earth. So here’s to doing the best we can, and finding a way to screw it up anyways!

 

A Happy Ending

Well, its been 3 months (who’s counting?) since my last post about the struggles of infertility, and suffice to say, life has done a 180. Last week, we finally let everyone in on a little secret we’ve been keeping: I’m pregnant!

Allow me to play catch up here…


We made it through the holidays, bittersweet though they were. In January, I suffered another disappointment when I learned that my second round of Clomid hadn’t worked; blood work showed that I hadn’t ovulated that month. I was really starting to feel defeated, like maybe pregnancy wasn’t in the cards for us. We were in the very preliminary stages of researching adoption, but I felt like I needed close the chapter on conception, first.

Brendan and I really disliked the OBGyn that we had been seeing for our infertility consults. At best, he had the personality of a wet blanket. At worst, I found him to be insensitive, aloof, and a little condescending. (I realize that bedside manner does not a good doctor make, but a little empathy goes a long way in my book!) I wanted a new doctor and a second opinion, so I made an appointment with a new practice for the end of January.

Brendan was out of town the day of my appointment, so I met with the new doctor by myself, and I liked her immediately. She was incredibly sweet, sensitive, and she actually took the time to address to my concerns. Based on my records, she was in agreement with all of the steps that had been taken so far. She said that I could safely try one more round of  Clomid and if I still didn’t ovulate, she could refer me to a specialist to discuss IUI/IVF.

Both Brendan and myself were pretty adamant that we didn’t want to go down the road of more invasive fertility treatments. Aside from the cost, I honestly wasn’t sure that I had the emotional resilience to go through it. For us, we decided that we’d rather put money towards adoption than take a gamble on IVF. We had always planned to adopt when we were older and had one or two of our own.  If the last round of Clomid didn’t work, we figured it was a sign that we were supposed to adopt sooner than we planned.

That night, I remember pouring a glass of wine, taking a bath and having a good cry like I had done so many times over the past year. Only this time, it wasn’t tears of sadness and frustration. It was a cleansing cry that you let escape when you’ve grieved enough and it’s time to let something go. I accepted that I might not ever get pregnant, and I might not ever know why, and that would be ok. It was time to stop hating and blaming myself, and start moving forward.

That Friday, I was supposed to get my period. I was waiting for it anxiously because I needed to start my Clomid 5 days after the beginning of my cycle. I was ready to take this last round, close this chapter, and proceed with adoption if it didn’t work.  On Sunday, we watched the Super Bowl and I complained about having PMS; I said something like, “I really wish my period would just start already! My boobs are killing me!”.

Monday, still no visit from Aunt Flo and yet I never once thought that I could be pregnant. I just chocked it up to my irregular cycles and made a mental note to call my doctor that week so ask whether I should take progesterone to get things moving. On Tuesday morning, I went to grab something from under the bathroom sink and I saw a box of pregnancy tests. Only then did it dawn on me that I probably should take one before I called my doctor to ask about progesterone. I took one, and braced myself for disappointment.

The plus sign showed up almost immediately.

Brendan was in the bathroom getting ready at the time, and the scene went a little something like this:

Me: HOLY SHIT!  <hands him test>
Him: Wait, what does that mean?
Me: It’s positive!
Him: Take another one!
Me: I can’t! I don’t have any pee left in me!
Him: Drink my water!

He left for work, and I took another test. Same result, same disbelief on my end. I went out and bought a digital test, just to be sure. No confusing blue lines, just one word, clear as day: Pregnant.

A week to the day after my infertility consult, I called my new OB’s office to schedule a pregnancy checkup.


I’m not sure how it happened, but it is a miracle. Obviously, I know how it happened, but I mean against all odds, why did this happen to us? I’m burdened with guilt as well. I’ve lamented with so many other people who can’t get pregnant, why is it that we are the lucky ones? What did we do to deserve this gift when so many others are still heartbroken? For so long I would see  pregnancy announcements and my gut reaction would be jealously and grief;  my heart aches for anyone reading about my joy and feeling their emptiness more profoundly.

I still haven’t cried about it, though I’m sure that day will come soon enough. We wanted this for so long, and now that it happened, I’m still in a state of disbelief. I think I haven’t let myself fully believe it because I’m still afraid that I’ll wake up one day and the dream will vanish like smoke. The nausea and exhaustion have felt real, but my brain still can’t comprehend that there is a life growing inside of me.

We had our first ultrasound last week, and thought surely things would sink in once I saw it on the screen and heard the heartbeat. In a way, it did, but yet I’m still in shock. I get the feeling that sometime in October, a nurse is going to put a newborn on my chest and I’m going to say, “Whose baby is this?”.

I’m so happy and so afraid all at once. But I guess this is what it means to be a mother: to be completely overjoyed, and yet feel completely terrified all at once.

 

When You Aren’t Getting What You Hoped For This Christmas

2016 was supposed to be the year of the baby.

I had always felt impartial about the topic of children, taking a “sure, maybe one day” mentality. I was never the type of who stopped in the street to ogle a newborn, and I never looked at a woman’s swollen belly and felt incomplete. I’d heard countless women say that you just know when you are ready, and I assumed that those women were full of crap – they were the type of women who were born to be mothers, I was not. My 20’s drifted by and the mothering urge never kicked in, it never felt like the right time. But then one day I woke up one day at age 29 and it was like a switch had flipped: it was time. I needed a baby, like, yesterday.

So it was decided that 2016 would be the year of the baby. Like most people, I was under the assumption that getting pregnant was going to be easy – isn’t that what we are taught in Sex Ed? So I naively thought around Christmastime last year that by this Christmas I’d either have a baby or expecting. Except, as the year draws to a close, there is something noticeably absent from my belly and our lives.  2016 was supposed to be the year of the baby, and it is not.

While most of our family and friends know what we are going through, I haven’t posted anything publicly about this struggle, if for no other reason than writing about it makes it so… real. It felt like if I didn’t type out those words, then it wasn’t really happening to us- that the tests and the pills and the appointments and the disappointments weren’t real.

I came to the slow realization that there is already such a stigma surrounding infertility, and my NOT talking about it only exacerbates the problem. Bottling it up inside only makes me feel more terrible, and it does nothing to help anyone who is suffering in the same childless silence.  So many women feel like they are walking around with scarlet letter “I” on their chests, and if nothing else this post is for them: you are not alone.

Last weekend I had a conversation with someone who has been trying IVF for several years now; we each lamented how in spite of having supportive spouses, families, and friends it still feels like such a personal struggle. Like we are somehow defective as women because we can’t do the one thing that we are biologically designed to do. It’s so easy to look at the situation objectively when it is someone else’s problem, and so hard to be rational when it’s your own. I would never tell a friend, “If only you hadn’t made all those comments as a teenager about how you are NEVER having children, you’d have one by now!” and yet, I catch myself thinking this all the time.

Last Friday afternoon, I saw no less than four birth announcements on Facebook and in spite of my best efforts, I couldn’t help but feel a tightening in my throat as I looked at those sonogram pictures and baby bumps. Why hasn’t it happened yet? Again while wandering aimlessly around Barnes & Noble looking for book for Brendan, I found myself unexpectedly standing in front of the pregnancy section, hardcover edition of The Expectant Father staring me down and daring me not to burst into a very ugly cry in a very public place.  Why hasn’t it happened yet? While shopping for baby clothes for my nephew and feeling the familiar pull at my heartstrings. Why hasn’t it happened yet? 

I think this time of year is especially hard. Endless pictures of cherubic looking kids on Santa’s lap. Tiny Christmas outfits on display at Target. Every mail delivery bringing the possibility of another “Baby’s First Christmas!” card. Well-intentioned friends and relatives unfailingly asking questions or offering unsolicited advice:

“So, have you guys thought about having kids any time soon?”
Only every single day.
“If you just stopped thinking about it so much, it would happen!”
Isn’t that just a thinly-veiled way of saying that this is somehow my fault?
“Have you tried _____?”
Yes.
“You don’t need a child to be complete.”
Then why does it feel like a piece of me is missing?

It’s strange how you can want people to stop asking about it because it’s so nosy, and yet you also want them to keep asking because talking about it feels like removing the heavy anchor of grief from around your neck and giving it to someone else to hold on to for a while.

I think the best thing to say to someone who is struggling infertility -with any shitty situation, really – is: “I’m sorry that you are going through that.” And if you are going through a shitty situation, I think the best thing you can do is realize that even though it may seem like it, the universe isn’t conspiring against you. When you can’t have what you desire, life has a way of reminding you about it at least 1,000 times a day.

I don’t want to be the person who hears someone else’s exciting news and immediately sees my own shortcomings, as if there is a limited supply of good fortune and happiness to go around and someone is dipping in to my stash. I don’t want to be the person who is too afraid to say, “you know, this really sucks and I wish I didn’t feel alone”, as if the better option was to instead become an emotional recluse. That isn’t the type of person I would want to be want to be around, and it isn’t a good way to live. So I’m setting it free, putting it out there instead of internalizing it.

Christmas this year will not be spent with a newborn, nor will it be spent with morning sickness and cankles. Christmas will be spent cherishing the many gifts that we DO have, rather than wishing for the one thing that we don’t have. Focusing on the present is all that we can do, and if nothing else, infertility teaches that lesson well.

2016 was not the year of the baby and 2017 will not take the title either. Declaring it to be is only planting the seed for more disappointment. Instead, 2017 will be the year of humbly accepting that life doesn’t give a shit about your guidelines or timeline.

 

Thanksgiving and Gratitude

 

Gratitude is a tricky endeavor. I’ve always understood why gratitude is important, but I’ve never really gotten it, you know? Its sort of like the concept of Wifi: Generally, I understand how it works. Something about signals and receivers and magic. In actuality, I don’t have any freaking clue what goes on inside of my Wifi box, and I don’t give it much thought unless the signal is down and I immediately turn into a ball of rage.

As a middle-class American, I understand that I have it better than a significant amount of people living on this planet. I could have been born at any other time or place in history, but by some good fortune, I was born into the life that I have now. This alone should be enough to make me take pause and count my blessings.

However, like most imperfect humans, I have an ego that rears its ugly head from time to time. Mostly in the form of a 3-lettered conjunction: BUT.

This small but complicated word constantly weasels its way into my subconscious thinking. For example, “I love my house, but I can’t wait to redo the bathroom”, “My dog is great, but he’s super clingy”,  “I’m really happy with my yoga practice, but I just want to be able to nail handstand”, “I’m happy that Brendan loaded the dishwasher, but is it really so hard to do it right?”

But. But. But.

I didn’t realize how much the word ‘but’ had hijacked my thoughts, until one day I did.

I’d like to say I had some giant epiphany and my life changed immediately, but it was nothing like that. No flashing lights, or booming voiceover of God stopping me in my tracks. It was more like a small whisper in the back of my head that said, “Hi there, its me. Just thought you should know, you say the word ‘but’ a lot. Like, pretty much every other thought.”

Hmm…. I ruminated on it for a while and came up with 1,001 reasons to justify this pattern of thinking. Surely I wasn’t ungrateful. Not me! I was just slighted in some way, and I need to make that known! I’m just pointing out ways in which life could be better. You know, constructive criticism!

Then I thought, if I were having a conversation with someone and they said, “You know, I’m really happy that I found $10 in my coat pocket, but why couldn’t it have been $20?!” — would I roll my eyes at that person? Yes, absolutely. Once I removed the “I” from the situation, I fully realized how ungrateful I was actually being.  I was so easily attuned to everyone else’s whining and complaining, but I was completely deaf to my own.

The first step is admitting that you have a problem. My ‘but’ was a problem. A huuuge  problem. Very big problem. I’m sure many, many people would agree with me.

Once my mind became attuned to this pattern, it became like nails on a chalkboard. Every positive thought that I had was tainted with some way in which my situation could be better, some small improvement to my good fortune that would obviously make me so much happier. There was always some trivial injustice that was preventing me from being completely thankful.

I haven’t completely stopped this pattern, and as an imperfect human, I doubt I ever will. For now, I’ve at least taken note of the situation and tried to reframe my thoughts. Oftentimes, this involves a lot of internal dialogue with my ego:

Ego: “I have a lot to be thankful for this year, but-”

Me: “Hold up, let me stop you right there. Are you about to think of a way this could be better?”

Ego: “No! Ok… yeah I guess I was. But-”

Me: “Stop it right now”

Ego: “But –”

Me: “Seriously. STFU already. You are obnoxious”

You know the old men Muppets that are constantly complaining? They could narrate my thoughts on most days.

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It’s a work in progress, this mindfulness.  Removing the ‘buts’ from my thoughts was sort of like cleaning off a dusty window and letting the light pour in. I have SO much to be grateful for this year, if only I could get out of my own head.

I’m thankful that after a lot of turmoil with my physical and mental health, I am doing well again. I’m thankful for our new house, and the husband and dog that make it a home. I’m grateful that a relative with recurrent cancer received some good news this week. I’m grateful for my precious nephew, who showed me what love at first sight looks like. The list goes on and on. No buts. Just gratitude.

Have a Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving, all!

 

 

 

 

Can’t we all just get along?

It’s me again, your favorite (non)blogger in the 412 area code. I would start this post with an apology as its been almost a month since my last entry, except that it wouldn’t be a sincere apology. And the number one rule of apologies is that they must be sincere. Sorry, not sorry.

Taking a quick break from endless amounts of yoga anatomy and asana homework to write a quick post. One of these days I’ll get back on the blogging train, promise!

I wanted to write a post about the election aftermath, but I feel that I have very little to add to the conversation that hasn’t been said 10,000 times over by people far more (and far less) eloquent than me. So, I’ll keep it short and sweet.

I 100% understand the frustration over the election. Hillary represents everything that is wrong American politics, and Trump represents everything that is wrong with American culture.  November 8th felt like playing a game of high-stakes “Would you rather?” Except,  you know, real life. I don’t think a single person left the voting booth last Tuesday and felt good about their decision; in most cases, it was a matter of voting for a lesser evil.

Did I ever think that the Republican party would look at Donald Trump and say, “Yep. That’s our guy”. HECK NO. Did I ever think the leader of the free world would so brazenly make fun of people whom he perceives as less than or brag about sexual assault? HECK NO. (Let me briefly detour here to say that if you think p*ssy was the trigger word, you are missing the point) Like most people, I am horrified at many of the comments made by our president-elect.

But more than that, I am concerned with the ripple effect of the election. What really breaks my heart is when I see “peaceful” friends suggesting that violence and destruction should be the response to a Trump Presidency. Or when I hear ignorant jerks making lewd jokes about women/minorities/disabled people simply because they now feel entitled to do so.

When did we become so insensitive and violent as a culture? American culture is supposed to be a melting pot, instead it looks like a middle-school cafeteria tray where the green beans kept in a separate compartment from the chicken tenders. We are so terrified of people who look, think, and pray differently than us that we forget to treat each other with a basic level of dignity and kindness.

We are never going to agree with each other all of the time, but that doesn’t mean we have to respond with hate and violence. How you react to a situation defines who you are as a person – don’t be the guy that tries to burn down Trump Tower, and also don’t be the guy wearing a “Make America White Again”  T-shirt.

My overarching message here is that whether you are elated or pissed at the outcome of the election: DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE. BE KIND.

As Martin Luther King so eloquently stated,

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Jesus, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King had one common denominator and it wasn’t a habit of sitting around and bitching. They saw injustice, and they got involved. If you feel that Donald Trump does not  represent your views as an American, find a charity or organization that does and get involved. Volunteer. Make a donation. Peacefully protest.

If you agree with Trump and think that we should be focusing our resources on helping veterans instead of immigrants, the same logic applies to you. Get involved. Writing a Tweet thanking our vets for their sacrifices is not the same as actually helping them.

So many of us are quick to point out what is wrong with our country, but very few people are willing to  roll their sleeves up  get their hands dirty. We can repost internet memes until we are blue in the face, but that doesn’t positively encourage change. Anger is ineffective unless it prompts action. To quote Gandhi,

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”

….

As we approach this Holiday season, nearly all of us are going to sit across the dinner table from friends and relatives who disagree with us politically. No amount of gloating, whining, boasting, or bitching will change the outcome of the election.

Are either Trump or Clinton worth getting into a heated argument with a loved one over? Probably not. Are you going to change the political opinions of a friend by giving them 15 reasons as to why they voted the wrong way? Again, probably not. There is a reason that they say to never discuss politics or religion at the dinner table; remember that and avoid the urge to beat Uncle George with a turkey leg.

At the very least,  can we all agree on being outraged over premature Christmas commercials now that the political ads are over?

 

Happy Birthday, Kona

We’ve lived in our house for just over a year now, and shortly after moving in, Brendan told me that he had surprise for me that I would get for Christmas. If you know me, you know that I HATE surprises. Well, I don’t hate surprises when they are an actual surprise. I hate when someone tells me that they have a surprise, and then leave me hanging to guess what it is. Naturally, I had to know what this Christmas surprise entailed. “Something for the house” was all he would tell me. Was it a hot tub?! A gas stove?! A tempur-pedic mattress!? No, no, and no. This banter went on for several hours, until he finally cracked and told me: we were getting a puppy. Specifically, a labradoodle. It met my condition of being non-shedding (I’m allergic) and his condition of being  ‘manly-looking’ (it wouldn’t fit into a purse). A few days before Christmas, we picked Kona up and we’ve been a trio every since.

The first few months with Kona were rough. If you’ve never owned a puppy before, I will say this: They are adorable. They can also be real jerks. Kona bonded to Brendan right away, and I became the third wheel that was intruding on their bromance. Obedience classes helped, but the biggest shift was when I started working from home and spending more time with him during the day. Once we got into the swing of our new routine, he warmed up to me and we’ve been inseparable ever since. Nowadays, going into another room and closing the door is basically an act of warfare to him. And on more than one occasion I have been shaving my legs only to have him peering around the shower curtain, making sure I’m not plotting an escape.

I swore that when we got a dog I wouldn’t become a crazy dog lady. And now? I am totally a crazy dog lady. It is a label that I will wear with pride, because I like 99% of all dogs and 1% of all people (Just joking. But also not joking). Dogs have so much to teach us about life, including:

Patience is a virtue. Sometimes in life plans work according to your timeline. Other times you will be standing outside in the rain, waiting for your dog to just take a dump already.

Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. Kona and I go on a walk every day. I use the word ‘walk’ loosely here, because more often than not, it ends up being me dragging him away from whatever it is that he is smelling. Flowers, dried leaves, empty pizza boxes, squirrel carcasses – everything in life is beautiful, and you must allow time for a thorough sniffing.

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Sometimes you have to just go after what you want, despite the risks. Kona knows that he isn’t allowed to have human food. He also knows he isn’t allowed on the counter tops. He knows that if he gets caught with his paws on the counter and/or trying to eat human food, he will get yelled at. But when bacon is involved, all bets are off. There are instances when you just have to say ‘screw it’ and go for what you want, consequences be damned.

Let your loved ones know that you care. Kona is 70-ish pounds, which places him solidly in the ‘large dog’ category. Most people would think that large dogs are not lap dogs, but Kona doesn’t let a little thing like size inhibit his plans of snuggling. If I am sitting on the couch or recliner, he will find a way to try squeeze next to me. If I’m sitting at my desk, he is curled up at my feet. Occasionally it can be obnoxious, but it is one of my favorite things about him.

There’s no place like home. I think the best part about having a dog is that whether I’ve been gone for 5 minutes or 5 days, homecoming is a momentous occasion filled with fanfare and tail wagging. I can take the garbage out, and when I come back inside I am greeted like a returning war hero. It is the best.

Make time to play. As I write this post, a tennis ball keeps reappearing on my lap and a pair of pleading eyes are currently begging me to please, pleeeeeease throw the ball. And so I conclude this post by saying that work and obligations are important, but it is also important (more important, even) to have fun.

Happy birthday, Kona! Thank you for making me smile every day!

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Love at First Sight

Birth & Beginnings

The past 2 weeks have really gotten away from me, so forgive me while I catch up.

First things first: I am an Aunt!

On Thursday, my sister Holly gave birth to my first nephew, and I’ve been a bit of an emotional sap (in the best possible way) all week. You know how when someone you love is going through something difficult, you feel it acutely? That was me on Wednesday and Thursday – pacing around in nervous anticipation while she labored, wishing that there was something I could do, and yet being utterly useless at the same time. After 30-some hours, Elliott made his debut into the world and I’ve been beaming with pride since then.

I know people always describe childbirth as a miracle, and I always thought that was a bit of a stretch. I mean, people give birth every single day since the beginning of time – what’s the big fuss about? I totally get it now. Nothing could have prepared me for how proud I would feel over something that I had absolutely no part in. Proud of my little sister, for bringing a new life in to the world (through tiny hips, no less). Proud of my brother-in-law for helping her through an intense labor. Proud of this sweet boy, who in a moment became the center of so many people’s lives.

In the weeks leading up to his birth, a part of me secretly feared that I would meet him feel jealous of my sister – but instead I just felt blessed and humbled. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything in life quite like holding him for the first time, looking at his little face and feeling my heart grow twice its size (not unlike the Grinch’s heart after his thwarted attempt to steal Christmas.) It feels like I got the smallest taste of what it must be like to become a parent – the instantaneous, crushing kind of love that knocks your feet from under you. I hope I get to experience that myself, someday.


In other news, last weekend was the first weekend of my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training, and I think it is a case of fate pointing me in the right direction. Rewind back to the beginning of this year: I was ready to sign up for a teacher training in Mexico, but right before I paid the deposit, Zika became a health crisis in South America. If I had been in my early twenties, I would have gone despite the risk. On the cusp of thirty, I knew that it wasn’t the right decision for me.

So I signed up for a Level One training through a different program. It was a weekend-long intensive, and after the first day, I came home and cried – not the good kind of cry. Something about the program really didn’t resonate with me about it. Even now I can’t really identify why, it just didn’t feel like a good fit. Somewhat dejected, I finished out the weekend so that I could get my certificate and begin teaching at my home studio.  I vowed that I would get my 200-hour certification eventually, and I put it on a shelf with other things to be done “One Day”.

Fast forward 6 months to September, when I realized that life plans that I made for myself hadn’t panned out exactly the way I thought they would (do they ever?). I still wanted to get my 200 hours, but I came up with 50 different reasons as to why now wasn’t a good time. I realized that I was making excuses for myself, and that there really was no better time to get it done than now.

I started exploring my options. I found a training in Pittsburgh that started a few weeks from that date. It was a 4-month intensive, every other weekend. I’d be done in January – what better way to start 2017 than by finally checking off this goal of mine?  I looked for more excuses to say no. I figured there was no way the training weekends wouldn’t interfere with weddings, holidays, and other scheduled plans. I checked my calendar – not a single conflict. I waffled anyways. Finally, after 3 weeks of going back and forth my dear husband (who knows I need a push every now and then) finally said something to extent of, “You’ve been talking about this for years, just do it already!”

I bit the bullet and signed up. I tried not to think about it too much, because one of the things that yoga teaches is to go into new experiences without expectations. In other words, do for the sake of doing, not for the desired outcome. Subconsciously, I was still afraid that I would come home after the first night of training and kick myself for wasting my time and money. Fortunately, this wasn’t the case at all. The weekend was long and tiring for sure, but I came home with an overwhelming sense of being where I belong.

At lunch the first day, I was talking to one of the other girls and she told me that she had done the training in Mexico (that I had to back out of) and she didn’t have a great experience. Back in February, I was so disappointed in not being able to go. Now, it seems like I might have dodged a bullet.


I guess the theme of this post is that I am learning to trust the process. I’m learning to have patience with the journey, and realize that I am not in the driver’s seat. After years of not really having any sort of faith, I’ve been praying more often.  Not prayers for anything specific, just praying to have peace with what I cannot control.

A few weeks ago I found a non-denominational Christian Church in the area, and although I was reluctant to go, I wanted to give it a fair shake. I really enjoyed the service and found it uplifting, although I wasn’t necessarily thawed the the idea of making it a regular “thing”. Last Sunday, I was surprised to realize that I was sort of disappointed that I had to miss it because of training.

We went back this morning, and I again left with a sense of peace and hope, even among my dwindling skepticism. I feel like I found a sense of belonging on the Island of Misfit Toys; even if I don’t fit the religious mold, I can still acknowledge that I need to believe in something bigger than myself. I guess you could say my relationship status with God changed from “divorced” to “it’s complicated”. For once, I’m not trying to overthink it.