hope · miscarriage · pregnancy

Maybe Baby.

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It was about a month ago.  J and I had returned from Berlin, our honeymoon destination, a week earlier and I finally mustered the courage to ask him,

What if I told you that my boobs have been hurty for the last day or so?

A larger part of me than my pride cares to admit didn’t want to tell him.  There feels to me a dangerous assumption in our world that women cry wolf.  But considering we’d been trying for a pregnancy for several months, taking tests, checking out my belly in profile, wondering if maybe, maybe now… Questioning to myself, Am I just fatter than usual?  Is it just that I have burrito belly?  And I would say to him, Maybe I am.  And he would say, gently, it’s not likely to show up in evidence there that quickly.  And a week later, my body would concur by making it clear I was not.  Nope, my body would tell me, just cake belly.

This would go on for several months, several months of buying pregnancy tests in bulk, of the check-out counter girl telling me she hoped the results were what I wanted.  And I would go home, hold my breath, pee on a stick, and hope.  Then, results in, I would despondently cap the test, re-wrap it in its plastic sleeve and deposit it in the trash quickly, ashamedly, as if it had exposed some deep vulnerability.  Which, of course, it had.

The last two times I’ve peed this dance, I’ve felt the compounding nature of months of disappointment.  Earlier, it was easy(er) to say, “Well, we haven’t been very ritualized about our timing,” “We haven’t really been trying diligently,” and I would watch the calculations on my mental calendar extend.

Because I’d had it all worked out, you see.

Counting months from the summer attempts, it would be a Spring baby (if all went well) and that would be so great for a teacher’s timing — deliver at the end of the school year, have several months at home over the long summer, and desultorily return back to school in the Fall, delivering my child this time to the care of another.

It was the optimal timing.  And besides, it worked for my friend Jess who’s a teacher.  She got pregnant on her honeymoon in August and followed the gestational plan like a Swiss watch.  Surely, if she could do it, so could I/we.

Yet, as the months ticked away this summer with another negative line, another round of menses, I would have to recount and replan and force this new plan to be acceptable in my mind.  A summer baby is okay; we’ll have a 1/2 birthday for them so they can celebrate with their peers at school; school birthday parties are so important when they’re young.  … Okay, well, Fall birthday, okay, well the school age-start, we’ll have to decide if they’re to be a year ahead or a year behind their classmates; no worries, I have friends who’ve made either decision, just like my brother and I took either route.

New and revised plans laden, too, with disappointment, curiosity, worry, and damnable hope.

If it doesn’t work out to have natural children, I told my close friend before it all began — as J and I are older, I have chemo’d ovaries, we both have mental illness in our families, plus the myriad of reasons why a zygote decides not to become a person — then we’re open to the adoption conversation, or the foster one, or the refugee family hosting conversation.  J and I are very fortunate and we have a lot to give.  I’m open. 

And… I am.  But I would not be without a feeling of loss.  I am honest enough to know this about myself.  I am honest enough to admit that the idea of seeing what our DNA creates thrills me (as much as it worries me).  To admit that carrying on a lineage, a descendancy, feels important to me.  To admit that I know the hill of adoption and fostering is rewarding, as I’ve seen it be beyond measure for friends and family, but I know, too, that it comes with baked-in abandonment issues that can create ripples.

And so, when a month ago I turned to J in bed and asked him how he might feel if I told him I was having a sign of pregnancy — one that wasn’t on my mental list of knowns, one that I couldn’t have made up because I hadn’t known of it, one that could not be cried wolf — it was elating.  Thrilling.  And harrowing for how it could turn out at any which point.

For that week-long period, we examined the different changes, weighing my breasts in our hands, noticing they felt not only sore, but full, like a laden water balloon, wresting from our memory the way they’d felt before that week.  And indeed, they were different.  And every day I felt and cupped and squoze, and imagined.

I told my mom, with the preface to be cautious in her reaction, that my boobs were hurty, and she said that was her first sign, too.

A few days after my initial inquiry, I built up the courage to show him the darkening line on my lower abdomen, the one I’d colloquially heard as the “climbing line,” that pregnant women get — some say as a guide for a birthed person to climb up to the milky breasts upon birth if the mother is unable to guide them.  I checked it, this amber-colored stain we were both sure was new, in the mornings when it was certain it couldn’t be an imprint of my jeans’ zipper or a seam.

I began to notice that my jeans were fitting differently around my thighs, the cloth feeling tighter, and I looked it up online.  It is an early sign, the thickening of the thighs as they begin to store fat to become milk upon arrival of the baby.  I added it to my growing list of evidence — and I took the pregnancy tests.

But.  They told me: No.  They told me what I was experiencing in my body was not a pregnancy.  And I told them they were wrong, that it was too early, maybe, just hardly two weeks.  I told the blood test at the doctor’s the same thing.  No, you’re wrong.  Touch my breasts, look at this line.

But my body had the final word, too: the flow came, and I sat on the toilet in our tiled-white bathroom and I wept.

 

I know that our bodies are limitlessly wise, and I do not fault the Universe for sorting this one out because I know its reasons are always(?) legitimate.  DNA melding and dividing is a probability crap shoot, and sometimes the house rakes all our chips back in and tells us better luck next time.

So.  Here we are: “Next time.”  With hurty boobs.  A week to go before the jury releases its decision.

And I am yet to know how much heartache I will endure.

 

growing up · joy · marriage

Without a Net.

5.23.19.jpgIn the midst of wedding preparation, training to be a part-time fitness instructor, and finishing up school-year projects and grading, I’m also in a phase of planning that feels to overlay, underlay, highlight, heighten, and dwarf everything else in its wake:

Pregnancy.

The certain madness that a person so in-and-out of a relationship with her partner would commit on such a grand and irrevocable scale is both ludicrous and … natural.

J and I have had “the kid talk” many times in our being together, and while his worries (time and money) haven’t lessened, his anticipation and (could it be?) hope have increased.

For my part, I’ve gone through a bipolar vortex of “Don’t add more consumption to the world; What world is it you’re bringing new life into anyway,” followed immediately on its heels by “I cannot picture living out my life without experiencing this; I cannot picture not sharing this extraordinary existence with new life.”

It’s been a roller coaster, for me and for him!  He’ll ask every week or so: “‘Anthrax and Permafrost’, or ‘Rainbows and Lollipops’?”  It’s hard to know which answer will pop forth!

In truth, it’s both.  But, then, isn’t life?

I texted a girlfriend yesterday about a wedding DJ (because, yes, 6 weeks out, we have no music set!), and she gave a “squee, so exciting!” reply.  Which developed into an exchange that included: “Yes, it’s not a fairy tale” and “Relationships are f*cking work, dude!”

Because there’s also the nuts and bolts, the scales that fall from whatever vision of pure bliss we’ve all been conditioned to hold.

When J and I met, he said that he was looking for a “no-maintenance relationship.” Bah HAHAHA.  Oh, did my girlfriends and I have a good laugh over that;)  He even looked it up online when I protested its existence and when a result came up from a male blogger, he said, “See?!”

Then … he read the article,

wherein the author related, “There’s no such thing as a ‘no-maintenance relationship.'” J was deeply thrown:)

As I say about my work, my relationship is “good, and it’s hard, and it’s good, and it’s hard.”

I’m reading Michelle Obama’s memoir and have been so heartened to read how she and her husband have had to work repeatedly at maintaining, strengthening, and fostering their relationship.  The Golden Couple works at it!  I’m delighted to know this because it means: I’M NOT DOING ANYTHING WRONG.  It means that we all, up and down the ranks of humanity, are showing up daily to make a go of this great experiment.

The joy and fervor of laughter that is shared between us, the deep trust and faith in one another, the steadying foundation of love is coexisting with our frustrations, disappointments, and repeated calls to the table.

In what feels like a telescoping smack of my utopian vision, I am growing up.  Scales are falling, but what’s revealed isn’t bad or wrong.  It’s reality; it’s truth.

And the only way to build a shared (or individual) life is from the foundation of that truth.

 

journey · relationships · vacation

What Happened at Sea Ranch

Ring with Coffee 1He holds out his arm to me, hand outstretched, palm up, a playful invitation.  I clasp my own into his and spin an arc toward him, thinking, He wants to dance with me!  So rare!  So great!  Pressed against him now, his eyes peer up—just a few centimeters—into my own.  He says, “Come sit with me,” and begins to lead me the few feet toward the nook of the window.

The window seat is wide enough for us to sit cross-legged facing one another, and long enough for all three portrait windows to frame the vista of the Pacific beyond.  The sky is a mottled storm grey, clouds low and pale against a wash of deeper steel. The field between this window and that horizon is stuttered with beach and reed-grass, stunted cypress listing back from years’ of ocean gusts.  

We only sit, two humans on a bench, but my adrenaline is coursing a heady pulse.  I place my hands on his criss-crossed knees as he presses his own to my cheeks. I lean into his hold, breath coming shallow.  He’s quiet, intense in his gaze, and the air around has come to an electrified halt.

“You challenge me—”

I exhale a laugh through my nose and smile a tight, try-not-to-bust-out grin.

“—in a good way,” he continues. “You challenge me in a good way.  You’ve taught me that life is a journey, and I want to experience that journey with you.”

He speaks several more sentences—leaning in, cupping my face, a gentle and holy gesture—but they are already lost in the swell of the whole.  They’re earnest, and loving, and grand.  My eyes pool hot don’t-lose-it tears, a tight grin holding it all back.  The sound of his voice is sonorous and material between us—heavy, as if their meaning has the weight that authors strive to invoke.

Releasing my cheeks, his own eyes bright of withheld tears, he twists and reaches behind, searching under the nestle of pillows there.  From which he retrieves a box.  A small, ecru cube with silver lettering scripted across its top. He unfurls his legs and scooches off the bench-seat to kneel on one knee.  I unfurl my own and dangle them over the edge, vibrant and pulsing with anticipation, amazement, and delighted little-girl giggles.

“Molly,” he begins, flipping open the lid of the box.  Beads of perspiration have sprouted on his temples, a flop-sweat, sudden and scorching and radiant.  

“Will you be my wife?”

I push the syllable out of my mouth, and it rides on the crest of all we together have weathered.  It sails on the heights of our laughter and camaraderie, that goofy spirit pulled forth by one another.  It careens in the nadir of our sorrow and frustration caused to one another. One puff of air suspended between his query and my reply, pregnant with thirty months of torrent and swell and grace and awe.  Sourced from heart and faith and resilience and curiosity, I breathe into the stillness between us:

“Yes!”  

 

fiction · poetry · work

Jim, the Reeky Alchemist.

There was nothing glorious about the work Jim was doing.  Face shadowed by a red bandana stained with years of exhalation, he chipped at the pipe above him, scraping off the sediment of years of town sewage. Jim hadn’t intended to become a shit scraper—or “sewer technician” as Lacey preferred him to say—but when she’d gotten pregnant at 19, Jim knew this work would get him what he needed.

One unforeseen advantage of this solitary, odiferous work was that Jim could spend his hours in the company of his headlamp’s focused beam, illuminating and unearthing his words until they were as crisp and tangible as the steel around him.  Emerging from the mole’s life, Jim would slug his gear into the bed of his truck and dive for his pocket-spiral in the glove compartment. In terse, methodic hand-letters, Jim would lay down the flora of his mind, a pastoral epic elevating his small-town’s quotidian to the sublime.

 

fiction · inspiration · speculative fiction

Storytime: Feb 20

2.20.19.jpgIt was easy enough to imagine how it had all begun, looking over the vast crumbling waste. Gertie hoisted her pack higher on her shoulder and squoze her little brother’s sweating hand. Addie turned bleary, out-of-focus eyes up toward her, a mess of dark hair matted against his feverish forehead.

I have to get him somewhere cool, she thought, not for the first time.  From where they stood, she could make out the glint of a snaking stream off to the north, what she knew was north because of the dense, curling moss on that side of the trees they’d just come through.  Between their woods and that stream was a groundswell of tumult, and silence.

It was one of the eeriest pieces of this disaster: the one lonely caw of a raven, maybe returned in hopeful camaraderie, maybe echoing out like fingers grasping in the dark for a friend no longer there.

Adam sniveled a little, bringing Gertie back from her reverie.  It was difficult to stay focused when the dim, umber air clung so close.

“You feelin’ a swim, l’il bro?” she asked more cheerfully than she felt.

“Water,” he nodded, solemnly.

Gertie swung her eyes over the dirt-to-gravel-to-pavement path before them, into the hulk of what was once “the city.”  She inhaled deeply, steeling herself, and that nasty, sour air twisted in her lungs, but she held in her cough and breathed it out slowly, slowly to keep from making the same racking sounds Addie’d been making for the last hour.

One foot out, she began to lead him down.

 

addiction · deprivation · effort

“Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.”

2.15.19.jpgIt’s been quite the run this past week, and I bring myself to my computer by the strictest of force.  I’d really like to start on grading the 55 papers I have waiting for me.  Or, I’d really like to take a long luxurious shower, instead of my quickies on the blogging mornings.  I’d really like to avoid the page right now.

When I get out of my habit of sitting at this page, I rebel.  I am much the same with other healthy habits, and as I’ve heard, “[We’re] the kind of people who find something that works and stop doing it”!  And I very much fit that assessment.

My week has legitimately been packed with actions related a significant upcoming work assignment for which I’m the point-person.  I spent the majority of Sunday working on the presentation I’d lead about it Monday morning, and thus spent little of Sunday night sleeping.  In fact, since Sunday night’s fitful rest, I haven’t slept one night through.

And the only action I’ve yet found to counter my brand of insomnia is regular (read: near-daily) exercise.

But. With the “exhaustion” on Monday after school, I didn’t go to the gym.  On Tuesday, I was “too tired,” too.  Wednesday, they don’t have my workout class at a “good” time for me, and yesterday, I told J (to no convincing at all) that the road back from class might be flooded and since we were going out in the evening, I didn’t want to risk not being back in time.  (eye roll)

On Sunday night, I shared some of my story of recovering from my cycle of financial distress, and found myself admitting that “deprivation” is still a way I undermine (and torture) myself.  No matter my level of earning, I can find ways to feel deprived (e.g. putting it all into savings so that my spending cash feels like pennies I have to hoard).

I reflect on my habit of “avoiding” my writing and my physical health (because you can be SURE that between the not sleeping, no gym, and malaise around creativity, I have mindlessly gorged on the trays of pastries set out at work).  There is surely no “gain” from denying myself the activities that (only afterward!!!) give me self-esteem, pleasure, groundedness and sanity.

But perhaps it is the “only afterward” piece that is the hurdle.

Waking up at 5am and “using”/”spending” 30 minutes typing a blog that, well, may or may not be significant to the world…  Rushing to the gym after a long day of teaching to spend/use another hour of “on” time…

None of these activities really benefits anybody except me.  And none of them “take” anything from anybody except me.  It’s this self-contained little circle of output and intake.  I am the engine that expels, and I am the gas tank that is refilled.

The only piece that makes any of this at all worthwhile is my deciding that it is.  For my own benefit, for my own life, for my own soul.

And for a person with a quasi addiction to deprivation of the soul, you can imagine that I fight multiple demons on my way to this page.

Though, on this morning, they can go fuck themselves.

 

authenticity · goals · theater

How to talk so the Universe will listen & listen so the Universe will talk.

2.6.19In a bout of manifesty goodness (or plain coincidence, if you’re feeling cranky), performance has been floating to the top of my experience again.  Last Thursday morning, my blog was about how I was feeling itchy for performance, feeling isolated in my creative endeavors, and that I wanted more engagement in the theater or music realms.

On my drive in that morning, after having told you all about that, I was on the phone with a friend and told her the same.  So: I spoke my intention in writing, then I spoke it aloud.

That afternoon, I received an email from a theater company I’d auditioned for several years ago inviting me to participate in their audition workshop.  Eeek.  Um. Well, I don’t have anything prepared right now!  I haven’t auditioned in years, and I certainly don’t have a piece ready to go.  “So,” I replied, “could I come to audit the workshop?”  It would be great for me to be around theater again, the language again, to glean what I could–and I’m happy to pay the cost;)

And he replied, Yes.

Later on Thursday, in preparation for an upcoming trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival with my 7th graders, my boss reminded me that we have an in-house Shakespeare expert in our drama teacher!  And while she’ll be instrumental in helping me form ideas for my curriculum and our trip… “Well,” I asked the drama teacher, “do you ever do audition coaching?”

And she said, Yes.

I am humbled and reminded that when I am specific and intentional about my goals, they repeatedly rise to the top of my experience.  I forget that sometimes it’s as simple as letting people know that I have such dreams and goals.  There’s a host of helpers, seen and unseen, just waiting for me to take ownership of them.

Even if it feels silly or embarrassing or I’m not ready or I’m good enough, that’s none of my business, frankly!  My only role is to tell the truth.  Show up.  And play this ongoing game of Fluxx.