Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

Last year at this time I was pregnant. I found out on Christmas night and I was thrilled, of course — and scared, of course. But on New Year's Day I miscarried. And decided, as I lay on the couch with a hot water bottle and my laptop, that I would take my life in a new direction, releasing my grip on the safe and trodden career path - off to grad school - and allowing myself more time to pursue the course that felt more enlivening than grueling. I would still try for a baby, but I wouldn't keep all my creative eggs confined to that one ovarian basket. (Forgive the metaphor, please!)

I've had an incredible year, professionally speaking (more about that soon on my other blog). Health-wise, it's been a more difficult journey: a few myserious illnesses resolved, a few new ones not yet solved, and a new naturopath who believes I have both PCOS and endometriosis. I'll be seeing her January 9th for the lowdown.

As I write tonight, I'm laid up on the couch with a hot water bottle and my laptop again. Not a miscarriage this time, but a collection of minor maladies. Actually, maybe I'm minimizing a bit - I did have a fever of over 103F last night. With a long sweaty difficult night behind me, I do believe I've turned the corner.

Feeling optimistic.

What better way to anticipate 2009?

Wishing you all the best!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

All Five

In the previous post, I talked about five things on my mind more than I'd like. Here's an update:

1. My Health
Saw my doctor Tuesday, told her the story of my "attack". She thinks it was an ovarian cyst rupturing - nothing to worry about. Not a kidney stone. Not an infected appendix. Not... who knows what else. It makes sense, since the pain hit around ovulation time.

So, around the same time next cycle I'm going for an ultrasound, see what's going on in there. Oh, and she also thinks I have endometriosis. And she tells me, looking over my blood results, that I'm borderline anemic. Even closer than the border than I was two years ago, when my previous doc said the same thing and put me on iron supplements.

In the meantime, more dietary adjustments, and a bit more optimism, a bit more trust in my gut intuition about my health. Suddenly I understand why I keep saying I crave foods that are "grounding." What do I mean by that? I had no idea until I realized that the foods that come to mind (red meat, spinach, nuts, raisins) are all iron-rich. Iron is heavy. Grounding. My body, I get it now, needs that iron.

2. Babies or Not?
I'm still hopeful, especially at this point in the cycle. But I still don't want it badly enough to turn my life over to drugs and procedures and a parade of doctors. If it doesn't ever happen, I'll be sad, of course, very sad, but I will also feel like I've dodged a bullet. I am under no illusions. Even in the best of circumstances, children are a major project. There will be a lot more leisure in my life without them. A child would be wonderful, but I can't deny it. Leisure is pretty nice.

3. My work
I think I might be finding my rhythm. Feels good. More on this on my other blog, LifeCraft.

4. My stepson
Out of sight, Out of mind. B~'s home situation has been in agonizing flux for months while his mother sorted out some personal demons. It's been a challenging time. B~ likes living with us, but he loves the school he attends when he's with her. He's back with her now and I am enjoying a break from thinking about it. Personally, I just want the ground to stay put under his feet. Hopefully the earthquakes are over, though I brace myself out of habit.

5. My ex-husband
Yes, the tide churns up thoughts of him on occasion, and yes, there is a melancholy feeling when that happens. He probably still reads this blog. Can't say that doesn't effect me. I feel his voyeuristic attention, and I wonder what he feels toward me, wonder what he tells himself as the story of our breakup. Funny how the mind can twist these things. Did you ever see the movie, High Fidelity? It nicely illustrates the point. Plus, it's funny. Rent it sometime.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

On My Mind More Than I'd Like

1. My health.
A vague abdominal ache became full-on pain midway through class yesterday, debilitating enough to force me to hand over the reins to my TA and run to the nearest urgent care clinic. I felt 80% better a few hours and several bottles of water later, and 90% better today, but abnormal lab results will require follow up. Probably nothing to worry about, but still... worry.

2. Babies or Not?
Closing in on thirty-nine years old, the writing on the wall says: Not.

To be fair, I'm more focused on improving my overall health these days than on procreation, but the underlying fantasy is that I will become vibrantly healthy, have a child, and live happily ever after in mommy-land. Toward that end, I confess, I do occasionally find myself combing the internet for encouraging stories of recurrent miscarriers who eventually have babies, especially those that credit yoga, wheat grass, and positive thinking (as opposed to drugs and doctors.)

3. My work.
I'm a juggler these days, publishing a little writing, preparing for an art exhibition, planning for a commissioned painting, freelancing as a designer, teaching a college design course and pitching classes for future semesters. There are more projects in the wings, and some serious thinking to do about how I truly want to allocate my energy. It is so easy to gravitate toward the work that satisfies the ego, making me feel important and impressive and powerful (the things that look good on paper), rather than make time for the work that really feeds the soul. There is no ball in this juggling act that I don't value. But there are a few favorites that I keep dropping.

4. My stepson.
The situation, and my feelings about it, are so snarled and twisted I don't think I can tease out all the threads. But here are some of the contributing factors: Your typical teenage boyhood exacerbated by perhaps more than your typical social and physical awkwardness. An unstable mother/ex-wife who keeps backing out of commitments and then insisting she should be trusted with even greater commitments. A father/husband who works long hours away from home, and bends over backwards at times to keep the aforementioned parties happy. And me, the sometimes reluctant stepmother, trying increasingly to stay out of it, while working from home. Not that I don't care about the boy, not that I don't want the best for him, but it's hard watching what he gets put through, and there a times when, I'll admit it, immature as it sounds, I'd like to have my husband to myself.

5. My ex-husband.
I'd like to think that I'm over the whole cheated-lied-and-dumped caboodle , but in spite of three years and a happy remarriage, I'm not. Not quite. Not yet. Once again, the impending holidays bring up my nightmare worse-case scenario: that he is dramatically happier, feeling glad to be free of me and without remorse for how he got that way. Perhaps my underlying fear is that the problem is me, that I am destined to drive away everyone who attempts to love me.

Longtime readers may recall A~'s brief reappearance in my life (via email) around this time last year. Everything he told me then should have dispelled my fear, but apparently the wounds were still too fresh.

Just now I reread that old email exchange, which felt much more difficult and convoluted at that time than it appears to me now. Strange. And yet the fear remains.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Okay It's Back

The WRNI (Rhode Island Public Radio) web site has my This I Believe essay recording up for mass consumption again. I promised I would repost the link, and I, for the most part anyway, keep my promises.

Without further ado, here's the link.

Click it. I dare you.

Monday, October 27, 2008

You Never Know

J~ and I took a whirlwind trip to the Gulf Coast recently, to the island of Port Aransas, Texas, a place we never expected to find ourselves swimming, walking, doing yoga on the beach, or attending the wedding of J~'s old friend to his high school sweetheart, reunited after thirty years apart. A lovely story, made lovelier still by the gathering of good people who came together to celebrate the big day, and by the intention of the newlyweds to move their combined family to Hawaii. How nice, they urged their guests to think, that you now have friends to visit in Hawaii!

For weeks preceding this trip, I kept my nose to the grindstone, promising myself that upon our return, I would finally have, after many months with no such luxury, room to breathe.

Since then, with the exception of kale and collards, which don't mind a little frost, I've gathered in the remaining garden bounty: onions, beets, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, swiss chard, beans, plus several gallons of cold-hardy kiwis: olive-sized fruits with thin, edible skins, and a sweet, intense, kiwi flavor.

For many years I've told myself that when I finally had land of my own, I would grow this special fruit. It would be my first planting, a symbol of my intended bond with the land, a reinforcing statement that I was, after so many years of transient living, finally home. But to my surprise, as soon as I had settled in enough to wander this modest property, I discovered that previous owners had already done the honors: a thriving tangle of kiwi vine already bordered the yard, threatening to engulf a neighboring lilac, sending runners up a nearby pine. Stunned, I touched the unripe fruit tucked beneath the dark leaves. Here were my kiwis.

For the seven years J~ had owned this place, he had no idea this plant was anything more than a useless weed. To him, my discovery was a pleasant surprise. But to me, it was akin to finding a banner unfurled in the trees, declaringl in colorful block letters: "Welcome Home Amy!"

Just goes to show - you never know what life has in store for you.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Snakes and Stuff

I had a dream the other night that I was walking on a dirt road littered with huge wet leaves. As I walked, I noticed snakes slithering in and out from underneath the leaves. Uneasy, I considered turning back. But then two large snakes began moving along either side, as if to escort me. I continued with tentative steps, until a large snake reared up to eye-level in front of me, unhinged its jaw, and fell forward. I woke in a panic just as it sunk its teeth into my chest.

This reminds me of another, similar dream I felt haunted by just before discovering that I was pregnant for the first time with my first husband. I went to the library the day after my positive pregnancy test. Looking at a picture book about pregnancy, I realized that the snakes of this first dream symbolized sperm, and that I, traveling along my nature trail, represented the egg on its journey through the fallopian tube.

Of course I wonder what this new dream means, and why, in both, I was so afraid. Perhaps some day (or maybe two weeks from now) I will understand.

In the meantime, life is very full on every level - work, play, and family. I've been loving my new bicycling habit, and my new bicycling mates. Here's a shot of my club minutes before embarking on a charity ride earlier this summer. I covered fifty miles that day. Some did less (there were 35, 25, and 10-mile options), some did more (100 miles). Fun was had by all.

By the way, that's me down in front.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Oh Lordy, Not Even Spinach!

It's been recommended to me by my new and trusted doc that I need to get off candida-feeding foods. I know the drill, having taken long courses of antibiotics as a teenager (for acne) and having suffered the consequences to my digestive tract, not to mention my moods and energy level. I read The Yeast Connection: A Medical Breakthrough in my early twenties, and it was enough to convince me I had a problem.

I did the candida cleanse at that time: eliminating all chocolate, coffee, alcohol, processed foods, sweeteners, refined flours, yeast, most dairy, and all dried fruits, as well as strictly limiting fresh fruits, and many other random-seeming things. At the time I was vegetarian. I lived on rice, beans, veggies, and not much else.

I have to say, once the cravings passed – and they did pass – I felt great. Never felt better. And I became an excellent cook.

Though it's a drag to always pass when it comes to treats, I'm willing to do it...

But here's the rub:
My doc also ordered a blood test screening me for food sensitivities. I got the results on Tuesday: Out of 105 foods, I showed sensitivities to a whopping 26. Count 'em if you must:

Broccoli (Broccoli for God's sake!!!)
Brussel Sprouts
Chili Pepper
Potato, Sweet
Rape Seed (Canola)
Spinach (yes, you heard me!)
Yeast, Baker's
Yeast, Brewer's

Now add to that my raging intolerance for sunflower seeds, my inability to properly digest dairy foods, and voila: you've got quite a list.

Why, you may ask, am I willing to put myself through all this? Here's my best answer: it's nice to eat cake, but it's even nicer to feel great. And I know I will. Plus, it would be nice not to have rashes, and painful and alarming digestive issues, and maybe, just maybe, even sustain a pregnancy.

At the very least, it's worth a shot.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Big Read

If you missed my This I Believe radio rebroadcast, yes, you can listen to it online. Just keep in mind, this was written several years ago now. My story has evolved since then - still no Hollywood ending, unfortunately.
As I write this, the link isn't posted yet, but I'm sure it'll be up soon. (Look for August 27, 2008)

J~and I watched a good movie yesterday, about a comic book writer and file clerk and the quirky reality of his life. The movie is very creatively put together, funny, touching, and a true story. I recommend it: American Splendor.

While I'm thoroughly off the subject of this blog, I also came across this - The National Endowment for the Arts' Big Read. Apparently we're supposed to go through this list of great books, noting everything we've read (bold), everything we really really loved (bold and underlined), and everything we plan to read in the near future (italics).

Here's my list. I'd love to see yours.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Thursday, August 21, 2008

On The Radio - Again

I am still alive!

You know that old "inner garden" metaphor I always talk about? How a person should strive to be aware of the state of his or her inner garden, tending to it regularly to make it a nice, inviting place? Well, my inner garden is a jungle right now, overflowing with string beans and cucumbers and peppers and kale and basil and tomatoes. There's plenty to snack on but no place to sit and relax.

Wait - that's my outer garden.

But the same is true in my work life: ongoing design clients ramping up work, new clients coming out of the woodwork, art sales, art commissions, a solo show in the works (my first in a real live gallery), a teaching gig (a prestigious one, but short notice). Not to mention delivery trucks every day lately, dropping off much needed books and new computer equipment — oh, glorious, sleek, long-awaited computer equipment — and in the mail (alongside all the bills) checks!

It's a bit overwhelming.

But in a good way.

I think.

As for babies, however, still, no such luck.

Except that J~ and I are turning to the pros for another round of medical advice. My latest doc explains her strategy toward increasing my fertility thusly: "My inclination is to clean up the garden before anything else."

Sounds right to me.

Speaking of sound: if you missed hearing me on the radio last year, you have another chance. My "This I Believe" essay is airing again three times. Apparently it got a "lovely response" and WRNI wants to give it an encore broadcast. You can listen in from anywhere in the world. Just go to the WRNI website and click on "Listen Live." It is scheduled to air on Wednesday, August 27th at 6:35 a.m., 8:35 a.m., and 5:44 p.m EDT.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


J~ and I took a stroll down our dead-end road the other day, and saw both of our infamous bunnies, Francis and Henrietta, side by side on a neighbor's lawn. A good sign? Who knows. But interesting, since J~ and I are turning to the old Babies or Not question once again, with renewed focus. We're simply not ready to let it go.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


I didn't intend for this blog to turn into a nature show, but I went out to mow yesterday and there she was, little Birdie all twisted up in the lawn, alive but not well. I think she must've crashed into the picture window upstairs. I tried to help, but when it became clear that she was beyond help, I did my best to make her comfortable.

As for the rabbits, no sitings since my last entry.

And no, if you're wondering, no other news, except that you'll find me more often these days over at my other blog, Life Craft, where I'm posting my art, links, and thoughts on creative living. Drop by for a visit!

One more thing: An amazing story, if you have twenty-five minutes and you're up for a tear-jerker, check this out.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mystery Bunny RV2T

Loyal readers, you know how I feel about rabbits. I saw this one in the yard two days ago, and again this morning.

Francis (I think I'll call it Francis) didn't seem to mind me approaching.

When I sat down in the grass, not four feet away, s/he wasn't bothered in the least.

In fact, Francis hopped over to sniff at my camera, only retreating when startled by the lens cap, swinging on a short tether from the camera body.

Now I see it, in this last picture, a clue as to Francis' people-friendly nature. Look inside the left ear.

Monday, June 02, 2008


On average, this site receives a hundred hits each day. A good many of these are repeat visitors, though new ones arrive all the time. And when something exciting is going on, these numbers more than double.

Why am I telling you this?

Because when I first started this blog, I was thrilled that anyone read it at all. Because, let's face it, I love the attention, and in hard times, have really benefited from the support. I'm aware that these numbers represent people who have invested their hearts into my story, and I appreciate that a lot. When I don't feel like posting, they are my motivation.

My great inspiration for beginning this blog was Julie Powell, whose blog, The Julie/Julia Project became her first book, Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously. I was reading her book during my second miscarriage. It was a good and humorous distraction.

I started my blog because I had a lot to say about reproductive choice and challenge, a lot to sort out about my own choices and challenges, and because I, too, wanted my writing to become a book.

I still do.

This blog was supposed to be a compilation of notes that I would later draw upon for a book manuscript. It was supposed to be the place where I answered the question, Babies or Not? It became so much more than that: A journal, a scrapbook, an information clearinghouse, a forum, a support group, a think-tank, a stage...

When I started, I thought I was near the end of my story. Little did I know, I was at the beginning. Nor did I suspect Babies or Not would stop burning in my mind as a question, and begin burning in my heart as a mantra: I will live well, forge deep ties in my community, make positive change, be creative, nurture growth in myself and in others—Babies or Not.

Lately, something in me has shifted. As I said to a friend yesterday, the door is still open to the possibility of children, but I'm no longer standing in it, peering into the fog hoping to glimpse my future, or craning my neck at the past for hints as to what I could or should have done differently. My life is full. There are other excitements, goals, and satisfactions claiming my attention. In as much as it is possible for me at this point, I've let go.

This blog is by no means over, but a drift away from blogging and into a new phase of writing has begun. It's time for me to acknowledge that, and give my loyal readers a much-deserves round of appreciation. I wouldn't have done this writing (or anywhere near as much of it, or anywhere near as carefully) without you. You've made me a better, more confident writer. And you've seen me through some very rough times.

Thank you to everyone who has followed my story. To those just happening upon it today - it's not too late. Start from the beginning, new readers, it's worth it. The plot twist comes just two months in.

And fear not, everyone! I will continue to post. Maybe even tomorrow, who knows. (It's that time of the month, after all). I'll continue to receive your comments. I'll still be available via email. I am not disappearing. And if (WHEN) the book comes out, or the answer to my original, title question changes, believe me, you'll be the first to know.

Friday, May 23, 2008


This is new: this month, for the first time, it was J~ keeping track of my cycle, checking up on our baby-making schedule day after day, ensuring that we put in our allotted time between the sheets. Meanwhile, my mind was surprisingly removed and detached from the subject (not that I wasn't pleased, not that I didn't enjoy it).

I wonder if my biological clock is winding down. I wonder if I'm simply letting go, accepting the very real possibility that babies are not in the cards for me. Or maybe I'm just getting excited about my garden, my artwork, the Saturday morning bicycling club I've joined, how good my body feels since I took to eating nothing but fruit before noon, nothing but salad (a well-embellished salad, however) for lunch, and lots more vegetables for dinner. Perhaps my yearning for parenthood is crowded out by other fulfillments. Then again, maybe this is exactly the letting go I need before that dream, like so many other dreams in life, can simply happen on it's own...

As always, I'll keep you posted.

ps. sometimes I sprinkle cinnamon on my fruit. Delicious.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Soup not Cake

I haven't gotten around to buying more pregnancy tests. I felt so depressed Friday morning, I sat in front of daytime television – the Food Network, my weakness – for two hours. There have been times in my life when this wouldn't be so unusual, but these days, it's a bad bad sign. But I got through it, thanks to back-to-back episodes of Ace of Cakes, a show following the crazy custom cake makers of Baltimore's Charm City Cakes. Good medicine, and I'll tell you why.

First of all, I am yet to be made hungry by images of cakes shaped like trucks, or buildings, or helmets, or a great big meat ball, or by icing applied in green leafy patterns with a paint brush, or in metallic gloss with an airbrush... I could go on, but the point is, depression and artificially-induced hunger are not a good idea for me, and novelty cakes don't induce anything but amusement. Thank goodness.

Reason number two: The people of Charm City are quirky and imperfect and cute and clearly care about each other. Again, I could go on, but the point is: the show is heartwarming. It reminds me that you don't have to be perfect to be loved. And that I am, indeed, loved. So I turned off the TV and got back to life.

And by life, I mean weeding the garden. Emailing clients. Scanning artwork and planning for a commissioned piece. Cooking for my weekend guests (soup, not cake). Making plans for a Saturday morning bike ride. Getting my period...

Life goes on.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hope Springs Eternal

I couldn't get to sleep last night, and I needed to go to the bathroom, so I did a test. It was negative. Ten days past ovulation, so that doesn't necessarily mean anything. But in the morning, there was the thinnest thread of a second line. I know, I know, you're not supposed to even look at the test after ten minutes, but I got excited just the same. J~ got excited too. I did another test this morning, a different brand, and this one was flat out negative. And then I searched the web and read about evap lines and realized I'm probably not pregnant after all.

Here's an excerpt from

"Question: The line appeared after the 10-minute time limit. Is it still positive?
Answer: No. You can't rely on any test results that appear after the time limit... HPT's are rapid assay diagnostics, which means any results appearing after the "rapid" time limit of 10 minutes are invalid-- after this time, natural changes in the chemicals may cause lines to appear. (Please don't e-mail me to say this happened to you and you really were pregnant. The odds of having this occur and still end up pregnant are the same as the odds of having any false negative and later detecting pregnancy. In other words, the test is still considered negative... )"

Here's the ridiculous thing: I keep looking at this morning's test, hoping a second late, meaningless line will appear.

Of course J~ and I will probably buy more tests in the coming days. Of course more negative results will not completely deter me from the fantasy. I know the pattern by now: I will wait at the edge of my seat until the day after tomorrow, when I will likely begin to bleed.

Or maybe I won't bleed! See, there it is already, hope springing eternal. Any seeds of doubt are muffled by more rosy scenarios rolling though my mind. In case I do bleed, I'm already turning over the motor on next month's fantasy-engine. This must be what compulsive gambling feels like. Yes, it's good to be hopeful. But it's also exhausting.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

I Admit It

Sometimes I feel extremely foolish having any hope at all, after so many failures. But here it is, I admit it: I have my hopes up this month.

I could potentially test tomorrow...

Why am I hopeful? No good reason, actually. I haven't had any telltale symptoms. My breasts are sore, but that's typical of this time of the month. We did put in a good effort this time around, however. And it is spring. Birds and bees and flowers and all. Plus, Megan/Henrietta was in the yard yesterday afternoon, neatly nibbling wild violets, leaves and flowers both. She also ate a big yellow dandelion. Now that has to count for something.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Song of Double Poison

Last week began with debilitating menstrual cramps and heavy bleeding which kept me tethered to a hot water bottle for two days, making frequent trips to the bathroom. When the cramps and flow finally subsided, I sunk a shovel into a long-abandoned garden bed in the backyard. It was warm and I was restless, wearing shorts for the first time this season. Before long I was sweating and up to my forearms in dirt, excavating subterranean boulders, ripping out snarl after snarl of tenacious mystery roots.

Tuesday night, cramps were easing away, nausea was easing in, and my eyelids were beginning to itch. By Wednesday it was obvious that I was suffering from a stomach bug or a bout of food poisoning. It was also becoming undeniable that the mystery roots I'd battled so heartily were not so mysterious after all: they were poison ivy. My face, my arms, my entire torso, my inner thighs, all erupted into angry itchy rash. My eyes were swollen almost shut, the very follicles of my eyelashes itched furiously. My wrists and my fingers, and in between my fingers, were a mass of red oozing blisters.

When J~ came home from work, I vomited into a soup pot. I slathered my erupting skin with cold oatmeal, calamine lotion, the clear gooey flesh of my aloe plant. He looked at me with a pained expression, brought me tea and bath solutions, shook his head, wondered if there was anything more he could do for me. Mostly, there was not.

And now, another week is beginning. Menstrual cramps are ancient history. Thankfully, the nausea is behind me too. And the rash is gradually subsiding—I can tolerate clothing again, even underwear, for hours at a stretch.

I will continue to heal. I'll work in the garden again (but not THAT bed). In a few days I will ovulate yet again. Who knows what else might happen.

Life's rhythms are so predictable, but the melody is always changing.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Naked Truth

"Oh, so are you in graduate school now?"

The question came from J~, a new friend, prompted by a passing remark about my application process. I had met her for the first time that afternoon at K~'s house, where she and I and M~, another mutual girlfriend, had gathered. After traveling to Northampton together to see a band (the Wailin' Jennys at the Iron Horse) we were making the long drive back. J~ had her neck craned around in the front passenger seat, and in the slanty headlight beams of the car behind us, her expression seemed bright and eager.

Instead of a straightforward response, I blabbed on and on about my tortured decision to apply, and to which and how many schools, about the pregnancy and miscarriage in the midst of it all, and how I felt okay, actually, about being waitlisted, even though my chances are extremely slim. I've been holding my life open for a child for four years, I said, and hearing this from my own mouth, it felt suddenly weighty and true. Memories flicked through my mind, all the branches of my life's path I did not explore for fear of losing my chance at motherhood. Suddenly the underlying emptiness felt undeniable, unconcealable.

I'm considering being an abortion counselor again, I went on, but I'm not sure that would be good for me, psychologically speaking — or a doula, or a miscarriage doula, if such a thing is possible, but I have internal arguments against those, too...

When I finally stopped talking, there was silence. Nothing but dark highway and a collective, carefully controlled deep breath. J~ unscrewed her neck and said to K~, our driver, "Speaking of babies, [Jane Smith] had her baby."

"Oh she did? What was it?" K~ asked.

"A human," J~ quipped, and the two laughed and bantered about this friend I don't know and her humanoid boy-or-girl offspring. M~ joined in as the topic shifted to more people I don't know. I sunk into my seat, feeling awful.

It was a simple yes or no question. I don't know why I answered the way I did. Maybe it was the novelty of having such animated, genuine attention from someone who didn't yet know my story. Maybe it was shame about the anticlimactic truth. Or maybe it was all the gorgeous mournful music we'd been listening to, loosening the drawstrings around my heart.

I keep insisting that I'm happy. I keep siting all the blessings in my life. But in a moment of weakness, the floodgates had opened and I was as surprised as my captive and unwitting audience at the stinking slurry of sadness and confusion that issued forth. I felt like I owed them all an apology, not for the truth of my feelings, but for subjecting them to it without ascertaining consent, or at least giving fair warning. But it didn't feel right to claim more group attention, so I did my best to let it go.

Here it is, people, the naked truth: as much as I'd like to think that I can root my engagement firmly in the myriad blessings of this present moment, cordoning off the wounded areas of my heart like a crime scene, sometimes I trip over the police tape and fall flat on my face.

But eventually I always get up and stumble around again, and inevitably I remember my belief that the key to emotional resilience is robust, honest emotional process. In other words: grieve to make room for joy.

It occurs to me now that perhaps the opposite is also true: If you take in enough joy, you crowd out the sadness and grieving becomes inevitable.

After saying thank yous and goodbyes in K~'s driveway, I climbed into my car and cried all the way home.

For the time being, anyway, I felt much better.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Stepping It Up

Long time readers of this blog may recall my affection for Thich Nhat Hahn's advice to tend one's inner garden. (See this post, for a refresher). Well, people, I am stepping it up, at least figuratively speaking, by tending my real-life backyard garden.

Thus far, my garden has been little more than a snack-stop for deer and a grand litter box for my neighbor's cat. I've become discouraged. No more! It's time to make my boundaries clear.

I've resisted the idea of putting up fences - so ugly, so expensive, so much work! But I want more greens, more tomatoes, more beans and squash and basil. (Well, maybe not more squash). And I realized that the also-ugly decrepit old swing set we've been meaning to take down could be repurposed, at least in part, as fence posts.

In the last couple weeks, I've gone happily crazy, cutting gargantuan brambles and pernicious maple saplings out of the previous owner's raspberry beds, grapevines, lilacs, and hardy kiwi. (Oh, hardy kiwi, how I love thee!) I've plotted out a fencing plan, squared up my previously vaguely heart-shaped plot into tidy raised beds, and begun a massive garden expansion. I've enlisted J~'s help knocking down the old swing set, and begun repainting the posts. Oh, yeah, and I also pruned the apple tree.

Here's a glimpse from a day's work, two beds so far:

And from another day, six beds in various stages, five more to go:

All this craziness has even spilled indoors, where I've been cooking and prepping vegetables for yet more cooking, cleaning like a mad housemaid/laundress, and decluttering like there's no tomorrow.

What does all of this have to do with Babies or Not? Only this: I've often felt like a creature caught up in an instinctive nesting compulsion, preparing for babies that never come. I prepare and prepare and despair and despair. It's pitiful and depressing. But then it dawned on me: to enjoy this moment, I have to live this moment. So I might as well embrace this seemingly ceaseless nesting energy, enjoy it, see what might come of it. If you build it, he will come, right? (If you don't know that reference, then you missed a really good movie. Go out and see Field of Dreams immediately. I insist) And then get busy embracing life. This is your moment.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


We saw her for the first time on a rainy day two weekends back. Having just completed a conversation in which we mourned our reproductive failures and recommitted ourselves to the cause, J~ and I looked out the window and there she was, white as snow, big as a cat, and snacking happily on our sodden lawn. J~ smiled at me. "A fertility sign," he said, but I was already smiling and thinking the same thing.

And then we went to bed.

When we got up after an hour or so, the rabbit was still in the yard. We declared it female, and dubbed her Henrietta.

She came back a few days later. Thrilled, I ran for my camera.

Later, a neighbor stopped by. Our fertility symbol, she informed me, is her escaped pet. Female, yes, not Henrietta but Megan, and—get this—pregnant. For rabbits, gestation takes only twenty-eight days. There will be babies very soon.

It made me very optimistic to hear all this.

So much so that I did two pregnancy tests this month, holding my breath for the good news. Where a second blue line should have appeared, no matter how intently I stared, no matter how good the light, there was nothing but the snowiest Henrietta/Megan-white.

And then I got my period.

By the way, the experimental (ivy league, no less) graduate program I applied to admits one student, just one, each year. I got my letter on Monday: I am not the one. But I am one of four on an unranked list of alternates, in case that one lucky candidate declines. I'll know in a month.

I'm happy to be waitlisted, especially since I've been on the fence about school. (Lately, all I want to do is work, clean my house, plant my garden, brew herbal teas, write in my journal, and take long walks with friends. Hell, I'm actually looking forward to doing my taxes!) Besides, I can handle waiting. I know all about limbo. I can appreciate a "maybe next month." I know that drill.

It is so much preferable to an unequivocal No. Not ever. Never gonna happen.

The waiting list is a blessing. Menstruation is a blessing. Neither will last for ever.

Today I embrace the gift of possibility.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Time Capsule #6: Moving On, Once Again

This is the final post in a series of six I held back out of concern that the content might impact a graduate school admissions decision. (The verdict is in, by the way. Tune in again soon for the latest.)

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Sometimes I go about in
pity for myself, and all
the while, a great wind
carries me across the sky.
-- Ojibwe Saying

J~ came home from work early Thursday, brought me food, tea, glasses of water, refills for my hot water bottle. He stayed home Friday, too, and did more of the same. Meanwhile, I lay on the couch. Surfed the web. Outfitted my new blog with a host of links. Solidified my decision not to apply to any more graduate schools, at least not this year, and contended with cramping and bleeding much more like a heavy period than last time's full-blown labor.

On Friday afternoon, J~ picked up B~ for the weekend, and Saturday, still tired, but glad to be recovering, I accompanied the two of them, along with two of B~'s friends, on an outing for lunch and ice skating in Providence. Physically, I wasn't sure I was going to be up for the trip. Emotionally, however, I was prepared to enjoy the company of three thirteen-year-old boys, and to appreciate the fact that I have such an easy opportunity to have them in my life.

And I did appreciate them, their earnest desire to be cool, their sweet pubescent awkwardness, the way they flop so smoothly back and forth over the line between budding adult sarcasm and sincerity, and childish play.

But home again, exhausted, and quickly settled in bed, I confessed to J~ that it had taken some effort for me to open to the gift of these boys. It meant also being open to the reality of what I don't have, what I very well might never have. I cried for a few minutes in my beloved's arms, and felt grateful again, as I do so very often, for all the blessings in my life.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Time Capsule #5: The End

This post is fifth in a series of six posts that I held back temporarily, so as to prevent them from impacting a graduate school admissions decision. I've been told the decision would arrive this week. Perhaps today...

January 1, 2008 1 pm

It's over. How could it not be over? I discovered this morning that I am bleeding. Red red blood. A steady drip.

My period is just ten days late. I don't expect to go through anything close to labor this time, thank goodness, though I'm keeping a hot water bottle close at hand.

I'm thankful that this didn't drag out for a month, two months, four. I'm grateful that J~ will be coming home early from work today, to be with me. I have mixed feelings about telling my family – I'd been hoping for the opportunity to share unequivocal good news, but now it seems like stale, old, rotten bad news. Sharing it now seems like casually dropping a bomb. Nothing can be done or said to fix the situation. When I imagine speaking to them, I feel awkwardly mute, as if I have a plastic egg in my mouth. I could lay the information at their feet some other way, but what do I expect them to do with it? Do I really want to hear, yet again, "Oh, Amy, I'm so sorry"? Wouldn't that break my heart all the more?

I'm glad I haven't made any rash moves with my graduate school applications, though the two conflicted inner-selves I sent off to work it out over a plate of imaginary waffles are still sitting at that imaginary table. The waffles are long gone, the sticky plates pushed aside. They seem to be making progress – their identical heads bent together as they scribble out lists of pros and cons, make charts of my long- and short-term goals, mindmap my dreams. They offer this report:

Latest thinking — I may not apply to any more schools. The application to my favorite program is done. If I don't get accepted there, I may be brave and give myself another year of focused work on my freelance career, on being a writer and artist in my own right, before I consider investing time and energy into any graduate program that feels like a back-up plan.

One thing's for certain: I get the day off from major decisions of any kind today.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Time Capsule #4: Waffling

This post is fourth in a series of six that I held back temporarily, so as to prevent them from impacting a graduate school admissions decision. The decision has been made, the letter and its yes or no verdict is on its way. In fact, it may be in my mailbox right now.

January 1, 2008

On Sunday mornings, my husband makes waffles. It used to be pancakes, then buckwheat pancakes, then gluten-free buckwheat pancakes. In the summer, he started adding blueberries, in the fall, bananas. These days, he's graduated to cinnamon-apple-walnut Belgian waffles (still gluten-free, for my sake), served with maple syrup, almond butter, blackstrap molasses, bananas, and yogurt. B~ and I are loving it.

But this is not a post about waffles. It's a post about waffling.

I'm waffling.

Ever since this pregnancy came along, it's been hard to think about graduate school. Something shifted in me, and even through moments of certainty that the pregnancy would be short-lived, I haven't been able to shift back. It's unfortunate, since only one of my intended five applications is done. The rest are due by the end of the month, and there's tons of work ahead of me. I keep giving myself pep-talks about how much better I'll feel with options lined up for the fall, just in case. But the more I push myself, the more I suddenly need a snack.

In fact, all I really want to do is gather my journal, my laptop, a telephone, and a big pile of books and magazines, and crawl into bed for a month. I imagine I'd get up for an occasional walk, bath, bowl of cereal or soup or cup of tea, but other than that, I'd allow myself to lounge, read, dream...

I'm of two minds. One says, Let go, pamper yourself. Trust what feels right. Life is unpredictable. Stop trying to control it. The other is nervous, shrill, but also big-hearted, trying to take care of the future-me in the best way she knows how, reminding, in her best coaxing tone, that just a week or two ago I was excited about graduate school, about building my professional identity.

The me that contains them both has no solution, no conclusion, and no momentum in either direction. The truth is, I'm scared. There's only one thing to do in circumstances like this: I'm going to have to sleep on it. In my dreams tonight, I'll sit the two sides of myself down in front of a stack of J~'s best waffles with all the fixings and let them work it out on their own.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Time Capsule #3: Embracing Uncertainty

This post is third in a series of six that I held back temporarily, so as to prevent them from impacting a graduate school admissions decision. The decision has been made, the letter is on its way. I don't know the verdict.

December 31, 2007

I cried yesterday admitting to J~, admitting to myself, that as much as I would like to be certain of the fate of this pregnancy, I simply do not know. I keep telling him, telling myself, telling YOU, that I know it's all over. It feels like this is true – my pregnancy symptoms seems to be fading – but really, I can't say for sure. Which means I have hope.

Shouldn't this feel like good news? But I hate hope right now, I hate it's teasing little dance in the back of my mind. I hate fantasizing that all will turn out amazingly, miraculously, fine. I picture myself completing graduate school applications without any true bleeding, but without a whiff of nausea or breast tenderness either – in other words, without distraction. I imagine that as soon as I pop the last manila envelope in the mail, the pregnancy signs will simply, suddenly, kick in. I'll be amazed and surprised and happy.

But I always come down out of that fantasy into remembering how sure I felt that it was over, how I've never, in all my pregnancies, had that feeling and been proven wrong. And then I feel sad all over again.

Last night, after dropping B~ with his mom for the last few days of his winter break, J~ and I went discount-shopping, luxuriating in the time alone together. We bought socks for each of us, some much-needed drinking glasses, and a new colander to replace our old, falling-apart one, then took ourselves out for samosas and curry. We had a surprisingly nice time, under the circumstances, then came home to Christmas cookie leftovers for dessert, a fire in the wood stove, and the pleasure of each other's company.

Contemplating the possibility of another miscarriage, I said to J~, "Maybe the gods want to give us the gift of more time for just the two of us, before we rush into parenthood."

"I never expected we'd get so much time to ourselves," he mused. "I thought B~ would be here until he graduates high school. And I thought we'd have a child together very quickly." He was smiling as he said this, both sad and appreciative. We watched an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm on my laptop, which made us laugh, and then we kissed. And then we did things we wouldn't have done if there were children in the house, and it was lovely.

And then it hit me: in spite of everything, or maybe because of everything, I really do like my life.

Monday, March 10, 2008


(There are two posts today - see previous entry for Time Capsule post #2)

When I conceived pregnancy #4, my friend and neighbor, S~, conceived at the same time. She didn't tell me she was pregnant until after I'd miscarried, and I cried receiving the news. I love S~ a lot, and was sad we wouldn't get to be pregnant together, sad to be so close and yet at such a distance from an experience I wanted so badly, sad that I might never see a new life come into the world.

I've been struck, occasionally, as S~'s pregnancy has progressed, by repeat waves of sadness. In the last few days, as S~ has gradually moved into labor, this has been especially true. Imagining the intense and joyous scene about to unfold at her house (she was planning a home-birth), it was easy to picture the same scene in my own home. I felt supremely sad.

S~ called yesterday afternoon. "Would you like to come over for tea?" She was having intermittent contractions, needing some female support. I gathered myself, trying not to get too excited – I doubted I'd get to be present for the birth, but I knew it was a possibility.

At first I just sat with S~, drank hot maple sap (her husband was boiling it outside, making maple syrup). I timed contractions, held her hand, encouraged her to talk through her fears, and as things progressed, I coached her through each intensifying wave. "You're on top of it," I chanted, "you're doing this." and then, between contractions, soothing, "good, good, breathe, relax your shoulders." I called her husband inside to fill the birthing tub and look after their two children. He showered and called the midwife. Another woman friend arrived, and later, the midwife and her assistant. "Don't leave my side, Amy," S~ told me repeatedly, "no matter what. I need you."

And so, that's where I was when a new baby boy came into the world, umbilical cord wrapped tightly under one arm and around his neck. He was blue, and entirely limp.

The midwife's assistant moved swiftly to gather instruments, turn on her oxygen tank, while the midwife spun the baby's slack body upside-down on her arm to administer the Heimlich maneuver, tapping on his tiny back to clear his breathing passages.

I stood by, holding S~. I was worried, but S~ was calm. "You're okay," she cooed to her baby, "Mama's here," as the midwife clamped her mouth over his dark face. The midwife breathed into him, then rubbed his chest. Gradually, color rippled into his small body, a red flush emanating from his chest. He opened his tiny mouth and cried.

And later, so did I.

Time Capsule #2: Spotting

This post was written on December 29th, 2007, four days after my most recent positive pregnancy test. (See previous entry for Time Capsule #1)

I haven't told many people in my life about this pregnancy. "It's too precarious," I said to J~. "I'm not telling anyone with whom I wouldn't want to discuss another miscarriage. I don't want to have to manage everybody's feelings about it."

But then again, I also had the urge to blurt the news all over the place. I wanted to do happy dances with everyone who would be excited for me. I wanted to buy herbal "Pregnancy Tea" at the food co-op and exchange knowing smiles with the cashier. I wanted to whisper the news into my mother's ear the day after Christmas, when she stood beside me in the kitchen, in full view of the rest of our family. Most of all, I wanted to have that trust that so many women get to have, that a positive pregnancy test means (all smiles) "We're going to have a baby!"

But I don't get to have that kind of blind optimism. And so, of course, I restrained myself.

I did tell four people. Now it feels like four too many.

Three days ago there was a twinge of nausea. Two days ago, a smidge of a twinge. And yesterday, just the barest hint of a smidge of a twinge.

This morning I am spotting.

I know, I know, many of you would rush to encourage me not to read too much into any of these early signs. But I've been through this before, and I trust my gut, which tells me: no dice.

Yes, sure, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I'll be spared the distracting maternal fantasies while I slave away at my remaining graduate school applications. Maybe I'll emerge from the very busy month ahead bleary-eyed, blinking against the bright light of day, and still full-tilt pregnant.

Then again, maybe not. (Probably not?)

In conclusion, for now: if I'm going to lose this pregnancy, hopefully it will all be over soon.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Cats out of Bags

Nobody knows for sure, but that expression – don't let the cat out of the bag – is said to derive from the old market fraud of substituting a cat for a pig. I suppose it's a swindler's proverb, and a very valuable one at that, since it applies to anyone with a secret to keep.

Why do I mention it? Because I, dear reader, in an attempt to keep my very public private life from influencing a graduate school admissions decision, owe a few cats their freedom. I don't yet know if I've been accepted at the school of my choice (more on that later) but I do know the decision has been made, and the letter will be in the mail to me today or Monday.

In the meantime, There are five blog posts, dating back to December 27th, 2007 (ten weeks ago) that I've kept under wraps.

So, without further ado, I'll begin at the beginning:

Time Capsule #1: Here We Go Again
December 27, 2007

This is how it went down: My period was due on Christmas day or the day after. I did a pregnancy test on December twenty-third. It was negative. J~ and I went to sleep, breathing easy. After all, I am applying to graduate schools now, and he is gearing up to enroll in a yoga teacher training program. Our lives are expanding and moving on.

But an hour later, I was up again to pee, and I took another look at the test. There was an unmistakable but very faint second pink line. When I returned to bed, I told J~, who smiled without opening his eyes. "I don't know what it means," I cautioned. "You're not supposed to read the test after so much time has passed." In the morning, I felt crampy again. J~ looked at the test. The second line was gone.

The only other test in the house was one of those stupid electronic ones which I don't trust, with the blinking digital read-out, but I did it anyway: "Not Pregnant" it insisted. I tried to let go of what, at this point, seemed like silly, false hope. But by midday, my cramps had subsided, and I found myself calling J~ at work to ask that he make a stop at the drug store and pick up another two-pack of pregnancy tests. "Just in case." And, "Nothing fancy please."

When I woke up Christmas morning, I felt crampy again. I resisted the urge to do a test.

By bedtime, I still wasn't bleeding, but was convinced I would be by morning. J~ climbed into bed. "Just to clear the air," I told him, as I broke into the new pack of pregnancy tests and made one last trip to the bathroom. I brought the undeveloped test back to bed. We watched two lines, blue this time, rather than pink, develop. We stared in disbelief. We stared at each other and shook our heads. We laughed. We looked at the test again, just to be sure.

Yup. I'm pregnant. Again.

This is my fifth pregnancy. This is my fifth chance. It feels like a bonus round. It feels extra-lucky. Especially because I am so ready now to let go of it entirely. We both are.

I can't broadcast the news yet because I know how slim the chances are. I can't jeopardize my graduate school applications. If I don't get accepted somewhere, I don't want to be wondering: Is it because they know I'm pregnant? And if the pregnancy doesn't stick, I need that alternative plan in the works. Life must go on, one way or the other.

For now, this post will go into the "Drafts" folder, where I'm sure it will soon be accompanied by more updates on pregnancy number five. In a couple months, when all the applications are done and I've heard back from the schools, when I'm either still pregnant, or no longer pregnant, or somewhere in between, I'll share this little time capsule with all of you. In the meantime, all I can say is this: Wow. And this: Here we go again.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

I've been having recurring dreams of my ex-husband. None are exactly the same, but the theme repeats: A~ is either living in my home or otherwise occupying a space in my life. Meanwhile, he is either completely oblivious to my hospitality, lying to me, avoiding contact with me, beginning a secret relationship, otherwise disrepecting me, or all of the above. In last night's dream we were still a couple, living in adjacent dorm rooms, although we had not spoken to each other in almost two months.

In every dream, I go through a painful awakening as I begin to understand the nature of the situation. In one dream, I confront him in his lies and broken promises, which he attempts to deny or spin as misunderstanding. Feeling sick, I don't care to argue. I just yearn to be done with him. In other dreams, I evict him from my house, but he seems not to hear me, or claims not to understand.

In last night's installment, he has left his dorm room door open. I catch a glimpse of him lying on his bed, staring into space. Does he want me to come confront him? Is he hoping I'll make some move? Is he pretending he doesn't see me passing in the hall? Am I equally at fault for not seeking him out? In the dream, I realize the answers to these questions don't matter. This is not a relationship. It's over. I don't even have to dump him. I can just move on.

It seems like such a freeing thought. So why then, as I write these words, do I feel so sad?

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Spent yesterday evening with three women friends:

S~ is thirty-three and eight months pregnant with her third child (I conceived the pregnancy that became my third miscarriage at the same time).

M~is fifty and letting go of a longtime expectation that one day she'd adopt a Chinese daughter, moving on to finding excitement in her life's work.

D~, after a decade of infertility, two failed IUIs, and Clomid treatments for both herself and her low sperm motility husband, went on to have three healthy boys without any medical intervention at all.

Just goes to show me, every uterus has a story.

And this morning I spoke to a woman I am just getting to know who has two children, age 13 and 15. She mentioned that she is 52-years-old. Which means she had her first child at thirty-nine. I don't know her story (yet), but I am reminded that I'm not quite thirty-eight, that a full year from now I will still be not quite thirty-nine. Which reminds me that you never know what the future may hold. My own story may not be over yet.

I don't let myself think that very often.

Mostly, I think about work (there's been a lot of work lately), the possibility of graduate school (still waiting for the verdict on that), the fiction stories I want to write (there are several), and what I'm going to have for lunch (leftovers, of course).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Feel Like McDonald's

No, that doesn't mean I feel like eating greasy hamburgers and fries. It means I just noticed my hits counter at the bottom left of this page: at this writing, it reads "100161." In other words: Over one hundred thousand served. Now that's a lot of burgers!

This calls for a celebration.

Free fries for everybody!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Oh what a terrible word I just made up for the title of this post, considering it conflates "hysteria" - a word that already mushes together female and craziness (Think "hysterectomy." Same root.) – with "feminism", a topic much on my mind as I follow the race for the United States presidency. No, no, no, I won't go into political analysis here, nor will I make any arguments for my personal candidate of choice, but I will say this: Not a white male in sight, at least as far as Democrats are concerned, and I'm loving it. Nothing against white males, I love and admire quite a few of them, but: Take that, racism and sexism! It's about time.

I've been reading a fascinating book called They Used to Call Me Snow White...but I Drifted: Women's Strategic Use of Humor. Case in point: Nellie McKay's must-hear song, Mother of Pearl. The best version for free online, in my opinion, is on the NPR program Fresh Air Give it a listen, she sings it live at the very top of the interview.

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Different Kind of 2WW

The Two Week Wait (2WW) for anyone who has never struggled with the am I am I not rollercoaster, refers to the seemingly innocuous time between ovulation and menstruation in every woman's cycle. When pregnancy is what you desperately want (or desperately fear), it can be excruciating. You may strive to put your mind elsewhere – and you should strive to put your mind elsewhere, or else find someone supportive to talk with, and then strive to put your mind elsewhere – but every twinge, every ache, every turn of the stomach will bring you right back to where you started: nervously wondering if your whole life is about to change.

The same is not true for graduate school applications - the headache I had last week, for instance, was not a clue one way or the other. In fact, it didn't bring my mind back to will I or won't I be accepted, not in the least. (It did, however, prompt me to drink more water. And eat less chocolate.)

I have to admit, my stomach flips every day when I approach the mailbox. Crisp white envelopes have never made me so nervous.

This morning I went on that One Special School's website, and discovered that I should hear from them, get this: within the next two weeks.

Oy Vey.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Red Flags

My friend who was in the hospital for two weeks, and in intensive care for several days, is headed home today. She is okay – for now. But end-of-life planning is in the works. She is not quite fifty years old. Too young.

Another young woman I know is raising one child rather than the five she always dreamed of. She had her tubes tied because her much-older husband wants no more children, and she believes, religiously, that he - as the man, the head of the household - knows best. When I met her she was clearly depressed, but trying to convince herself otherwise. Because of recent health issues, she has had a hysterectomy. She is twenty-seven.

"But what if something happens to him and she remarries?" J~ wondered, when I told him this story. "Why couldn't he have had a vasectomy?"

What does it say about me that I didn't think of that, such a basic and better alternative?

Which reminds me, conversely, of the abortion client I had who was surprised to learn that she didn't need her husband's permission to get her tubes tied.

It is interesting to realize that reproductive choice, as a feminist issue, isn't just about choosing NOT to have kids.

Today on NPR, thanks to the break-out success of the movie Juno, Talk of the Nation is doing a show (right now, as I write this post) on abortion. An old woman is speaking about her abortions and subsequent miscarriages. I am glad to hear her. "There is no public grief..." she says, "and I think that's where the problem is." Another speaker talked about how striking it was that people in her life had very strong opinions on her very personal choice...

Speaking of strong opinions: since I am waiting on the verdict about whether or not I will be accepted to graduate school, I've been censoring myself on this blog - temporarily - for fear that any one's strong opinions about my present-day very personal choices might color an admissions decision. It's not that I have anything to hide. There is nothing to suggest I wouldn't make an excellent and committed student. But I wouldn't want to raise any red flags.

Wouldn't it be nice to live in a culture, in a world, that honored women for grappling with reproductive choice and challenge, without ever supposing to know what's best for anyone other than oneself?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Grief and Loss, in General

I wrote a post yesterday which seems to have gotten lost into that infamous computer-freeze abyss. In it, I opened with a quote I heard in an interview with Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, from her book, Kitchen Table Wisdom:

"The way we deal with loss shapes our capacity to be present to life more than anything else. The way we protect ourselves from loss may be the way in which we distance ourselves from life. We burn out, not because we don't care, but because we don't grieve. We burn out because we've allowed our hearts to become so filled with loss that we have no room left to care"

Remen specializes in teaching medical students and other doctors about the emotional and psychological aspect of their chosen profession, about the difference between curing an illness and healing a person. Her lessons, and her writings, don't just apply to doctors. They apply to teachers and counselors and others in helping professions, to parents, to chronic miscarriers and infertiles and anyone who ever lost a loved one. Everyone, in fact, who has ever experienced a loss. And who hasn't?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Promises, Promises

I promised I'd do this, and I keep my promises. So here goes:

I am officially opening the doors to my brand new blog, right here and now, today. Check it out: It's called LifeCraft. It's about "Living Art, Arting Life: Making the Most of the Mystery." (Whatever THAT means!)

No, really, it's just that I needed a space to prattle on about art and writing and design and creating a creative life, with or without babies. I wanted to make a big fat list of links to all the amazing creativity just teeming all over the web. And I wanted to share more of my art, and my works in progress, and my creative process. And think out loud about what inspires me and challenges me and just plain stops me in my tracks.

This is not to say I'm closing the doors on Babies or Not. Not by a long shot. In fact, I have a little something up my sleeve for this blog which I'll get into later — I promise.

And you know me. I keep my promises.