21 March 2008

Holding Hope

So I survived my crazy week. Thank God.

And now I'm hiding our in my father-in-law's basement, trying to avoid reality.

I love hanging out at Mr. JB's dad's house. Being the dad of two sons (the younger one being a Jesuit priest), finally having a girl around really seems to amuse him. I think of my FIL's house as my country house (all the comforts of home, but in quieter setting) and it's so great to be around family that isn't so crazy.

Unfortunately, when we arrived this afternoon we got the sad and surprising news that our very good friends, J and S, have separated.

Mr. JB is from a very small town. I believe that the population tops up at around 3000 people, something that absolutely fascinates me. The village was primarily a farming community, and has evolved, in the past couple decades, to a bedroom community for Niagara Falls and St. Catharines. It's a great little place to visit, but I don't think that I could live here permanently (no yoga studios or Starbucks anywhere close!).

Our friends, J and S have been intertwined with the lives of Mr. JB's family forever. S's family have been friends with my FIL's family for over sixty years. My FIL was principal at J's elementary school. J's little sister is my brother-in-law's best friend. It was sheer coincidence that they chose the neighbouring lot when they decided to built their dream home.

From what I can surmise (and overhear as I'm hunkered down in the basement), J and S have been having marital problems for quite a while. Two out of their three young children have diabetes. S's business is struggling and J is a stay-at-home mom that feels trapped in her life. They are also having serious money issues. J's supposedly sought out the consolation of one of S's employees (via e-mail, nothing physical). At different times today, both of them ended up on my FIL's doorstep seeking advice and consolation.

There is a big part of me that feels so incredibly selfish that I've been so wrapped up in my own IF world (as well as being extraordinarily busy at school) that I haven't noticed the fact that my good friends were having so much difficulty. Over the March Break J and I corresponded briefly via Facebook, but since she was at Disney with her family and I had a bad internet connection, I never thought that anything was up.

This week I had a group of girls in my class come to me to help them solve an issue they were having with a classmate. In listening to their sides of the story I could hear the frustration that they had with one particular girl. After our first discussion one of the girls said to me, "Madame, I really don't think that she's telling you the whole truth." To which I responded, "Sweetheart, I wish I could make her tell you the truth, but the reality is that she's the only one that can do that." I also went on to give the girls the advice that sometimes we're not meant to be friends with everyone that we meet.

Which perhaps I can stretch to cover, perhaps we're not meant to stay married to the person that we married. Or even further, perhaps we should stop wailing at the universe and stop trying for something that is so difficult.

I don't know what the answer is for J and S (although something tells me that their separation is only going to be temporary). Nor do I know if the girls in my class will be able to put aside their differences and just decide not to be friends anymore. And most of all, I don't know how I'm finally going to have my baby. I just know that I have to hold onto the hope that I will. For dear life, it seems. 

19 March 2008

Sprinklings of Gratitude

I'm finally seeing the light of the end of the tunnel. My class is having their big performance for the school tomorrow morning and the dress rehearsal went swimmingly (aside from having to admonish one student who complained that he didn't want his role in the play -- tough luck buddy, I wanted to be a seven foot tall astronaut when I was eleven years old but I got over it). I'm 60% done my last assignment for this part of my online course, but it's just citing articles that I've read (easy peasy for a veteran student!). I also decided that I wasn't going to a planning meeting at church tonight because I really didn't want to sit in a room full of old people mulling over little details. Someone will send me an e-mail with what I have to do, I'm not worried. 

I'm finally listening to my own advice! Woohoo!

I was a little tense this morning because it was "grade placement day." I tried, for a second year in a row, to get the library position at my school (my current librarian sucks ass, doesn't do her job and is all around a bad teacher). I decided that I was going to stop complaining and get my qualifications so I could be an positive agent of change. I'm such an idealist, I know. Unfortunately, despite my principal trying to juggle teaching assignments and numbers (our school is shrinking fast and we're going to lose at least one teacher for next year), she just couldn't swing it. 

My principal and I have butted heads in the past, but after telling her about our struggles to get pregnant she's become quite an ally. She didn't give me a hard time in the fall for taking mornings and afternoons off to go to the evil fertility clinic and she pretty much lets me do what I want with my class -- which is definitely not the case with the other teachers on staff, so I know that I'm lucky.

So this morning during my prep time I was in the computer lab trying to make up a test when the lone male teacher on staff asked to speak to me in the hall. He already had his meeting with the principal regarding his placement and he wanted to discuss it with me. C and I have a great relationship. He was my neighbour up until the end of last year and he was a great support for me when I started out. I pestered him for years that I thought that we would be great team teachers. He's a little off the wall, a great disciplinarian (read: he yells really loud and is scary) and he's also a veteran with more than 25 years under his belt. So when our principal told him that he couldn't have the position that he requested he told her that he would consider staying on for another year (he's eligible for retirement in June) if he got to work with me. And she said yes! 

Although I love my current partner (who is off on maternity leave), I cannot wait to work with C. I also cannot believe that he chose being my partner over retirement! After all of my hard work on the school-wide retreat and my presentation tomorrow, the news almost brought tears to my eyes. I know that I'm liked, but to know that someone with so much tenure and experience regards me with so much respect really touches me. 

I've also found a few things to get my mojo back: 

1. Since getting Leonard Cohen tickets on Saturday, I've rediscovered his music. He's great to listen to while writing boring old assignments and he's just so darn cool! 

2. I wore my bright red winter jacket to school today. It was so gloomy, but just putting it on made me feel like a million bucks.

3. Lent is almost over and I can go to Starbucks again. Woohoo!

4. March Madness is starting tomorrow night. My boys from Duke are playing a team that sucks, so it should be a stress-free sports night.  

5. Lastly, when we left for work this morning it smelled like spring. And that in itself brings me enough hope to get through anything. 

I'm feeling a change in the universe. I can't quite put my finger on it, but it definitely feels like something good. 

P.S. When I was in the bathroom checking on my CM this morning it looked like there was a happy face in my underpants. Never in my life have I seen that before! 

18 March 2008

A little kindness

I've been pushing myself really hard as of late. 

This week alone I have way too many things on the go. Here's the laundry list:

1. I organized a school-wide retreat for the entire student body. Almost 4oo kids. Organizing teachers is a total pain. Adults have a really hard time listening, kids are so much easier to manage.

2. I'm reading in a drama performance after the school-wide retreat.

3. My class is doing another drama presentation for the entire school (parents are invited too) on Thursday.

4. I have a major assignment due tomorrow for my online course AND two other smaller assignments also due tomorrow.

5. I have report cards which I haven't even started.

6. I have to figure out how to see my family and my in-laws and fit in all of the schoolwork I have to do this weekend.

7. Try to make a baby (according to my cervical mucus, I'm very fertile right now). 

So instead of going to yoga this evening (a class that I almost never miss) I decided to take a nap. Mr. JB was very proud of me. I was very proud of me. I decided that I was going to be kinder to myself. I know that a stressed out JellyBelly is not going to make a baby, it's just going to make me crazier. 

Now I just have to get to work. Argh.

15 March 2008

Fruitful Posting

Can you tell that I'm procrastinating?

I have a mountain of marking and a HUGE assignment for my online course that's due on Wednesday, and I haven't started any of it!!!! 

Before I run out to get my all-time favourite take-out (Pad Thai and calamari from Tasty Thai, and yes, it is so tasty!), I'm going to list a couple of things that are on my mind:

1. I was supposed to be at a birthday party for Mr. JB's cousin's son, but instead I stayed home and watch my favourite NCAA team, Duke, get creamed. I only felt a little bit guilty. I really wanted to hang out with the little guy, but I didn't want to be around yet another pregnant woman (the cousin's wife) or anyone else's babies. That's selfish, I know, but I'm still on March Break and I'm doing whatever I want. So there.

2. I'm really happy that all of my vacation laundry is almost done. Our bed is made with fresh sheets and my house is looking really nice. I don't know why it makes me so happy to get everything put away and tidied, but it does.

3. I spent most of my afternoon posting photos of our trip on Facebook. I know that I'm going to be stressed out tomorrow since I've been avoiding work, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it.

4.  I decided that until further notice I am avoiding all baby showers, even for people that I like. My brain can't handle any more pretending to be excited for other people. 

5. Lent is almost over so I can have Starbucks again. I never thought that it would be so hard to give up Chai Lattes.

6. I've lost five pounds since getting the flu and I'm thinking that I'm looking pretty good. I'm so vain. 

7. I got Leonard Cohen tickets this morning. I'm so psyched. 

So there, now that my brain is empty I'm going to be able to hunker down to work. Hopefully I won't find any new distractions!

March Break Redux

Although we had some pretty nice digs down in Arizona, I did not have a reliable internet connection for the entire week. I was able to post my first vacation entry, but I was unable to post the other two. So here goes....

March 11, 2008
Flowers in the desert

I'm sitting in a room with the window open and I'm not freezing cold. I can smell the chlorine from Mr. JB's bathing suit that's drying in the closet. I'm happily wearing a tank top and I'm sporting the beginnings of a pretty good tan.

So why then did I start to cry this morning?

[spoiler: If you haven't read The Time Traveler's Wife and would like to, you should probably stop reading.]

One of my favourite things to do is read in bed. I think that it is absolutely decadent to languish in bed until the late morning (and sometimes the early afternoon) avoiding reality and reading. I've tried to figure out a job that would make me as much money as teaching, but would only involve reading good books, but I haven't come up with one. Yet.

So this morning I woke up quite early and I decided that I was going to finish my book. I read The Time Traveler's Wife for the first time in January 2006. We had just started our TTC journey and I was already getting bummed that I wasn't pregnant yet. How naive, I know. The book is an amazing love story between a woman and a time traveler. It was hard to wrap my head around the concept of time traveling, but as I got into the story I forgot about the sheer implausibility of the story.

Henry and Clare have an amazing story. From a very young age Clare know that this strange man that keeps on appearing throughout her childhood and adolescence, is going to be her husband. Henry knows, because of his abilities, what the future holds for them. After the two get married, Clare decides that she wants to have a baby. Now Henry has quite a few reservations about getting Clare pregnant. He doesn't know if it would be possible for her to have a baby that will not time travel. He also knows that Clare will suffer through six miscarriages before she finally carries a baby to term.

The first time I read that part of the book it was a cold and gray January morning and I couldn't stop crying. Every time Clare had a miscarriage I felt like my heart was breaking for her. At one point in the books she holds the body of her baby that she had just miscarried. Really, it was almost too much to take.

So why take this book with me on my vacation?

Clare had her baby in the end. She had a beautiful daughter named Alba and she is absolutely perfect. Although Clare carried the pain of losing all of those babies, she finally felt life growing inside of her. Clare gave birth. Clare got to watch her baby grow into a beautiful little girl.
So despite being an incredibly sad book, as so many love stories are, this book gives me hope. Although I have not experienced a miscarriage, I feel a smaller, but similar pain every month when my period comes. But just like all of the beautiful wildflowers that I saw today among the dead cacti, there is hope in the desert. It's just a matter of finding it.
March 12, 2008
Vacation Blues

I'm at the point in our vacation where I'm getting homesick (for snow? I'm so crazy), but I'm also sad that we have to go home. Don't get me wrong, I love hanging out with Mr. JB's family. They're fun, entertaining and we genuinely like one another. The cousins that we're staying with are incredibly generous with their time and are incredible hosts. The guest room that we're staying is very pretty (recently redone for our visit!), has DirectTV (which I am totally addicted to, but am so glad that we don't don't it in Canada because I wouldn't get anything done for all the good channels) and we have our own bathroom (something very important for someone with colitis). So all in all, we have it pretty good.

We have a running joke that I married into the family so I could be the designated driver to all the happy partiers, which is very much appreciated. I stopped drinking at the height of my colitis issues and haven't looked back. Coupled with the yoga and organic food eating lifestyle that I've adopted, the drinking just doesn't mix. I was never a big drinker to begin with. I blame it on being such a control freak. I would watch my university roommates getting blotto and I never quite understood how they could completely let go of all their faculties. I had a lot of practice driving drunkards around at school -- not only did I have a car, but alcohol just didn't interest me. I may miss having a nice glass of red wine with dinner, but I now associate alcohol consumption with intense intestinal pain, so it was pretty easy to give it up for good.

Sometimes I envy my friends and family and their capacities to drink, but another part of me enjoys being the outsider watching the silliness. I guess I'm lucky to keep the company of fun drunks, rather than the angry, depressing kind.

I've wondered in the midst of my lack of babymaking funk, if it would be a good thing to find something to numb my sadness. The yoga definitely helps with the thought pausing, but eventually I have to return to reality and think again. I'm also an incredibly sensitive person. I've always felt my emotions (and the emotions of the people around me) very strongly, which is something that I believe contributed to my clinical depression in my 20's. I've become very good at thinking about nothing, but it only works for so long. So what do I focus on?Do I think happy thoughts? Do I focus on the future? Do I do things to fill up my time so I don't have to think?

So while I'm looking for that answer I'm going to continue writing. When I was a melancholy teenager listening to the Cure and wearing dark red lipstick, desperately aching to get out of my parents' house, I remember thinking that writing was my salvation. It fills up time and it gives me something positive to focus on. And maybe someone in the bloggosphere will read what I've written and feel comfort. I don't know. I do know that writing here takes a little bit of the pain in my heart away, even for a little while.

10 March 2008

So we left on a jet plane...

Although I'd like to think of myself as a seasoned traveller, I've never done anywhere exotic (read: anywhere with no snow) for the March Break. Over the Christmas holidays we decided that we were going to join the legions of Canucks that went south for some time in the sun -- and after four crazy storms we were so happy that we made that decision.

I've always loved traveling. I went on my first big trip when I was five (when my family visited the motherland) and I've been the itch to see what else is out there ever since. I've always thought that a big part of my travel bug came from the fact that my parents are pretty sedentary creatures. Aside from their family-obligated visits to their former homelands, they really don't go anywhere. I guess their move halfway around the world where there was snow and cold when they were in their early 20's was enough for them!

When I was living in France my mother came to visit me for two weeks and she had to be coaxed out of my tiny apartment. She was perfectly happy to tell her friends that she had gone to Paris, but she didn't want to see anything! She did the same thing when we visited Barcelona and London. I had to force her out of the hotel room in order to see the sights. I'll never understand her travel habits as long as I live.

So needless to say, I'm pretty excited to be somewhere where I don't have to wear fifteen layers to go outside. And to top it off we're hanging out with Mr. JB's non-crazy family who have a beautiful house and a pool!

I'm going to try not to think about all the baby-making stuff while we're hanging out with the cacti, even though Aunt Flo has decided to come for a free ride. We're on cycle two of the new fertility plan so we're allowed to make whoopy again (thank God!). Hopefully this trip will be enough to recharge my IF batteries enough for the next phase. If not, at least I'll come back with a nice tan and some good shopping! 

5 March 2008

Calgon Take Me Away!

I've been feeling quite overwhelmed. It's crunch time in teacher-land. I've been trying to finish up my units, keep my tired and over-worked students motivated, get marks for my report cards AND not lose my mind when it's too cold/snowy/windy/icy to go outside. It doesn't help that with the crazy southern Ontario winter that we've been having buses have been cancelled or the schools have been closed outright. Needless to say, I'm scrambling since our report cards are due at the end of the month and I feel like I'm going to be making up marks! 

In preparation for our first March Break trip to somewhere where it isn't cold, I got a pedicure today. Since I look at my feel a lot during yoga I knew that my tootsies needed some loving before I could even dream of putting on a pair of flip flops. My spa of choice is absolutely wonderful. I sat in the hot tub, used the yummy smelling lotions and sat in the most comfortable chair while waiting for my treatment. All of my school-related stress melted away.

As I sat in the whirlpool chair (would it be indulgent to get one for my living room???) and I had the massage settings doing wonders for my sore back, and my aesthetician chatted happily to me (a little loud for the spa-atmosphere, but friendly nonetheless). We made mindless small-talk about our jobs, husbands and vacations. And then we moved onto doctors. 

I know that she couldn't possibly know that I had been struggling with infertility for over two and a half years. She couldn't possibly know that I was having serious doubts about my worthiness to be a mother. And she couldn't possibly know that her next comment was going to send my happy pampering-ness plummeting to the ground.

"Yeah, my doctor prescribed me Percocet for my endometriosis... I was never supposed to get pregnant, but I just did!"

Imagine that!

I know that she is probably a very nice person and probably a very good mother, but I couldn't help but scream in my head:

"Doctors cannot find a reason for why I haven't gotten pregnant! I have had a battery of tests and everything is clear -- uterus, ovaries, tubes!!!! What is going on here???? She wasn't even trying to get pregnant!!!! ARGH!!!!!"

Well, at least I have really pretty feet that are sandal-ready. I can't wait to get on that plane, hopefully there isn't any IF in Arizona...

2 March 2008

Thank You Mr. Frost

Since posting earlier this evening, Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken has been going through my head. I think that it summarizes how I've been feeling lately.

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down on as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing now was leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling with this a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- 
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. 

We are so blessed to have poets that can write down what we feel in our hearts. 

Finding Patience

I'm having a pretty good Sunday. I woke up to a beautiful shining sun with plenty of time to read the paper and have some tea before heading out to mass (very often I'm like a whirling dirvish trying to get out the door in time for 10am!). My yoga class this afternoon wasn't too busy and my favourite teacher was leading the practice. I also found the perfect hostess gift for the cousin that we're visiting on March Break. 

But I've been unable to shake a lingering feeling of dread, despite all of the goodness and positivity of the day (and the half bar of chocolate that I ate!). 

Thanks to Aurelia we have found a fertility clinic that shares our beliefs about ART (I've written about it here).  But despite feeling completely comfortable with their methods I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around everything. 

Finding the Marguerite Bourgeoys Family Centre has been both a blessing and a bitter pill to swallow. According to their particular method where charting cervical mucus helps pinpoint problems in a woman's cycle, people diagnosed with unexplained infertility (like us) have found success in conceiving.  We are supposed to chart (Mr. JB dutifully does so every night before bed) for two months, meet with a practioner that we have been paired up with every two weeks and see a doctor that practices NaproTechnology (our first appointment is on April 1st) after two months. 

I was pretty excited after our Introductory session at the beginning of April. After watching the 
presentation and seeing examples of different women's charts I could almost guess that my problem has been my progesterone levels (something that I did suggest to my evil fertility doctor and my OB/gyn, but was brushed off). I was also pretty surprised that Mr. JB thought the same thing -- I honestly didn't think he was paying attention whenever I would bleed mid-cycle! He never ceases to amaze me. The biggest hardship of the charting experience is the no-sex for the first month policy (in order to learn how to chart and to see the CM without the influence of semen), which is probably why I'm feeling a little loopy and finding it really hard to concentrate!

So my bitter pill is knowing that this is our last chance to have our own baby.  I know that I can't go back to a conventional fertility clinic and although I love going to the acupuncturist twice a week I'm getting closer to our April deadline (although on Friday he said that we were getting close and I was put on new herbs).  

I know that we came to our decision not to try IUI or IVF with clear heads. We've had so many discussions about how we wanted to build our family if we couldn't have biological children. But our clear-headedness doesn't necessarily make me feel happy inside. I sometimes wish that I could ignore the nagging feeling inside my head and go full throttle and try every method and drug possible. I wish that I didn't want to search out alternative ways to become a mother. 

But most of all I wish I didn't feel so damn guilty for wanting to be a mom. 

Maybe God is telling me that there's other plans for me. Maybe I'm supposed to learn something profound from our struggle. 

But I keep on going back to my belief that I'm supposed to be a mom. I'm built to nurture. I can sing kid songs and make crafts and I am infinitely patient with little people. I bake from scratch and I read stories really well out loud.  And most of all, I have a heart so full of love that even the faintest possibility of motherhood makes my eyes fill with tears. 

So here I am, trying to find patience in a sea of uncertainty. I'm trying to implore the universe to send me answers that can possibly comfort the dread that I've been carrying around. I wish I could see the possibility in our new venture, but instead I can see the end of my quest to have a life growing inside of me.