curiosity · fertility · infertility

Schrødinger’s Baby

'The Annunciation'. 1501 - 1535. Oil on panel. ARCHANGEL GABRIEL. VIRGIN  MARY. Painting by Leon Picardo

Although perhaps not exactly as in the Bible, today I’m feeling a little like The Virgin Mary: Today my own Angel Gabriel will be a UCSF physician. As of about 3pm this afternoon, J. and I will leave the clinic, immaculate, and I will or will not be pregnant.

It’s the scariest, most life-altering thing to ever hope for, I think. To know that you are intentionally, and by appointment, asking to change your life and identity in an irrevocable way. And while, of course, it’s something you (I) say you want… I truly believe that you have no idea what you’re in for when you set these dominoes in motion. I don’t have any clue how I will change as I molecularly evolve from a woman to a parent. I don’t have any clue how I will approach the mess or the cries or the eye rolls or the unbounded love, despite the number of books I read to guide me.

I doubt there are many experiences like this seismic shift, though I recently equated it to an actor desiring to be famous and then having to deal with that fame when it comes! I guess I feel that parenthood is a “Be careful what you wish for” endeavor, but one that you… want(?) to not know how it’ll go! Talk about looking into the Abyss!

Another aspect that has been rolling around in my thoughts is the question of what, or when, is life? As an avowed Right to Choose-r, I have long thought, donated, and voted to support the right of women to make choices that support their needs. I have seen billboards with tiny babies and block letters claiming that a heartbeat starts 9 days from conception and bristled at their rigid, often erroneous, Right to Life dogma.

So it has been a jarring, unmooring experience to be regularly and consistently monitoring the health of my now-frozen fertilized eggs as though they are alive, as though they are beings. To receive a sheet that states how many eggs were retrieved, how many were inseminated, how many survived a few days’ gestation, and how many were reported to be genetically normal so they will be considered for implantation… well, you can see how my consideration of the health and development of these dozen-celled pods might call my long-held understanding of human life into question.

And that, I here report, is dysregulating. While I continue to hold mightily to my stance on a woman’s right to choose, I have to acknowledge that my conception (forgive the term) of What Is Life/A Life has become much more grey and nuanced these last few months. And, for that, I must here admit that I am also grateful. I do think that wherever I may have my own dogmatic clinging, any experience that can help me to open my mind to alternative viewpoints, even if I ultimately disagree with them, is a positive and widening human experience.

But… it’s “weird,” you guys! To know that I’ve thought and crossed fingers over eggs that have become embryos that have become tested frozen embryos … that now have become gendered? Yeah, I know the gender (or sex, rather) of our embryos. I know what they would and could and might and might never become. And that’s startling. It’s startling to celebrate the potential arrival of something that, under “natural” circumstances, I wouldn’t know for at least 5 months. And this specified knowledge begins to create a reality of a human, a picture of a human.

(For anyone curious about statistics, using genetically tested embryos, accounting for my age/health/etc., there is nearly a 2/3 chance that there will be a baby at the end of this. Which, conversely, means that there is a 1/3 chance that there will not be a baby, a possibility for which, while I am not precisely prepared, I am at least aware and not new to.)

And so, here we are, about to be maybe pregnant and maybe not.

To the ever surprising, edifying, and evolving nature of existence — and, for what it’s worth, considering it’s frankly a damn miracle that any of us were even born at all, maybe today do something cool, just because you’re alive to do it.

Love, M.

aging · curiosity · self-care

A Silver Fox with Twinkle Toes.

8.18.18I moisturized my toes last night.

Perhaps like you, I don’t give much thought to the care of my feet or toes, but as I was preparing for bed last night, Creme de Corps in hand, I figured why not.  They’re looking a little … well, wrinkly.

Last week a friend came by, and due to some sudden weight loss and new “in our 50s” naked time happening, she’s concerned about the crepey-ness of her belly skin.  (Hmm, I don’t usually moisturize my belly either!)

Reading Druckerman’s There Are No Grown-Ups, I reflect on the French ideology summed up as, “Être bien dans sa peau” — To be good in one’s skin.  To feel comfortable, confident, at any age. 

I’ve picked up copies of More magazine, geared toward women over 40, for a decade.

My first memoir was Anne Kreamer’s Going Gray: What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters.

To say I’ve had my eye on how to age in a way that feels humble, appreciative, and graceful would be accurate.  To say I still fall into thought-traps about body image would also be accurate!

My friend is not scared of her aging, but aware that it’s different.  I’m aware I can’t eat dessert every day without seeing it on my body the next.  I’m aware there are more lines, more crepes, more gray on the lady carpet.

I’m aware of an excitement, too.  What will it be like next?  What new feature will I notice?  I like to age.  It’s a constant, every-day science experiment!  (And as a cancer survivor, it feels like a blessing to “get to” age and discover at all.)

Aging is ultimately something I can’t choose to do.  But it is something I can choose how I relate to.

Which is why I’ve gravitated toward learning from others what it’s like for them, their experience and their coming to grips.  Like most things in life, it’s all a matter of perspective.

enjoyed massaging cream into my toes last night.  I liked paying minute attention to who and how my body is, this lifelong partner, passenger, and driver.  This body houses my entire ability to be here, and I want to witness it with awe.

(And, sure, I wish my butt held any “cushion” at all but, “If wishes were horses…”!)

I don’t mean to sound Pollyanna (though I know I do, and that’s okay), but embracing my body and its aging—nay, development—is like embracing Time: it will happen.  Full Stop.

What kind of a person do I want to be when it does?


curiosity · growth · relationships

Curiouser and Curiouser

2.12.18 curiouser

Several years ago, I had this exchange with an old boyfriend:

“I know what you’re going to say–” I started.

“In that case we never have to talk,” he wisely interrupted.

Uh hmm… well, I do suppose he’s right.  If I believe that I already know how people will act, talk, behave, and respond, then why bother talking to or engaging with them, anyway?  If I think that all people are is a prescribed set of responses and actions, what on earth is exciting or surprising about them — and, more to the heart, what on earth am I learning?

Yesterday, I listened to the SuperSoul podcast interview between Oprah and Brian Grazer (a Hollywood writer and producer, whose name I’d not known, but whose movies I’ve cherished: Splash, Apollo 13, Parenthood).  He’d just released his book, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life, and I loved what he had to say in the interview and promptly downloaded the book.  (My most pleasurable way to clean my house is while listening to books — and this one is read by Norbert Leo Butz, one of my favorite Broadway musical actors [yes, with a name like that, I’m sure he had no choice but to become so incredible he couldn’t be laughed at!])

Brian Grazer’s message is apparent in the title, but what struck me was the idea of remaining curious within my own relationship.

At the start of our dating, and for many months after, my current boyfriend repeated the following, partly as a habitual mantra and partly as a badge of honor: “My first answer’s always, ‘No.'”

As a woman who enjoys lots of new experiences, I was frequently given the chance to hear him say his cherished mantra:  No.  I don’t like movies.  I don’t like vacations.  I don’t like parties.  I don’t…

Yet, as soon as we’d complete one of those new activities, he’d almost invariably (if begrudgingly) admit, “I love…!” or, sometimes the pride-preserving, “I guess ___ isn’t so bad.”  Or, maddeningly, “Why didn’t we do this before?!”  *insert eye-roll emoji*

Over our year-plus together, we’ve both noticed an interesting shift in his knee-jerk response from “No” to “Maybe.”  As his girlfriend, this has been exceedingly wonderful to hear.

However, at times, even “maybe” is too foot-dragging, too oppositional, too much effort for me to convince, and I become disheartened, occasionally pessimistic, and sometimes dour about the prospect of trying new things together, moving into new places in our lives together.  And I stop hoping.

Now, while this might be a reasonable reaction to a wall of “no,” the pure truth is that the answer is increasingly, “Sure!”  While I may quietly lament a lack of verve or passion for life, the truth is that he’s increasingly taking action, showing verve, and expressing passion.

What I’ve begun to realize is that my own pessimistic reactions have become static, sedate — and outdated.  J. is not the man I began dating — he is becoming a new version of himself.  Yet I can still react to him as though he is the negative nancy I knew.

I have lost my curiosity.

I have begun to assume what his actions and reactions will be.  I have lost sight of what is happening today by pasting it over with a staid version of yesterday.  I have limited him to a vision of who he was, rather than who he is and is becoming.

How very sad.

So, my action for myself is to now notice who and what is truly in front of me.  Yes, sometimes that is still a nay-sayer, and that can be true, but how about noticing the Yeses, the That was Funs, the We should do that more oftens–

And mostly, the increased Joy.