Monkeying with Nature
So, I’m not pregnant. I’m okay with that. It’s the first cycle in over a year in which we tried but did not got pregnant and then lose it (had a miscarriage or chemical pregnancy).
Yet I’m taking Prometrium (a yucky suppository version of chemically-engineered progesterone supplementation) for a few days. It is not pleasant, in a whole variety of ways. Yet it’s the only thing I could come up with to delay the start of my next cycle so as to be able to do an IUI in it. I dug out a calendar, did the math and figured out that I wouldn’t be able to do the IUI this month or next month due to the intensive training program I’m taking at the end of February and end of March (it’s 3 days this month, 2 days next month) because I couldn’t get to monitoring ultrasounds either here at home or at the clinic, which is a flight or a very long drive away.
We decided to proceed with the IUI because:
1. I’m not getting any younger;
2. We feel ready to do it;
3. We hope to beat the odds;
4. We can afford it (it costs 1/10 of what another round of IVF would cost);
5. I want to see how I respond to the Puregon without Lupron or BCP, both of which made me feel terrible or caused my body to rebel and ask WTF? repeatedly, in case we end up considering IVF with my own eggs again;
6. We long desperately for our little spirit baby/ies to come home; and
7. I believe in magic and just happen to have an abundance of hope and faith at the moment.
There is also the realist in me that knows I can’t keep enduring my heart being ripped out of my chest, devoured by something with very sharp teeth and terrible gastritis, regurgitated and stuffed back into my chest with the expectation that I carry on in my busy and often time-sensitive job and life as though I don’t wish I could just fall asleep and not wake up. My goals are as follows, listed in the priority in which I hope they are met (and I say hope because only so much of this is in our hands) such that all subsequent goals are eliminated after the earliest one is met:
1. Get pregnant and carry a baby to a healthy, safe birth through IUI or naturally in the next couple of months;
2. Talk (again, as agreed) about using donor eggs with the LP if we do not succeed by June 1st (or thereabouts); and
3. Use donor eggs, transfer 2 (God and Universe willing), get pregnant and carry baby/ies to a healthy, safe birth; or
4. Grieve, give up, reclaim my life and move on.
The LP and I had agreed that if I wasn’t pregnant by my birthday in the early Fall this year, it would be game over for us. It is not in me to let nature take its course during those remaining 6+ months. Hence the progesterone supplements. Hence the lists. Hence the obsessive thinking that borders on compulsion. I want a plan so I can take a deep breath (or 987 of them) and let things unfold as they may. This seems to be the only way I can relax and just roll with it. This is so not Buddhist of me, I know.
But we have to work within our limitations and mine is that the anxiety becomes unmanageable if I just stick my head in the sand like the LP and hope that miraculously life will just all work out along the lines of my wildest dreams. Life has taught me that is not how things work. And no amount of meditation, chanting, EFT, acupuncture, yoga, melatonin or wine is going to change that. It is what it is. I am who I am. I’m trying to work with me, doing the best I can.
Experimenting with Art
Since last Fall, I have very occasionally done some art to connect with the spirits with whom I’ve been trying to communicate. Recently, I was cleaning up our bookshelves and came across The Compassion Box by Pema Chodron – a CD, book (Start Where You Are) and Tonglen card set I bought 6 or 7 years ago. I’m not a practicing Buddhist but I love the teachings and the humility and compassion they inspire me to embrace. I took out the cards the other day and decided to do one piece of art each day inspired by the card I read that day.
Yesterday’s card was “Don’t be swayed by external influences”. Today when I went to pick another card, I got that same one. The Universe is trying to teach me something. By hitting me over the head with a 2’x4′ because apparently I am very thick! I am very prone to the energy vampires of the world and to my own inclination to compare my experience with that of others.
Comparison is evil and steals our joy. I was raised to do it, I was always compared to my brother and left feeling inferior (until my early 30s when tables turned but that was no less disconcerting and heartbreaking – a story for another day). I know this, I struggle to overcome it but in the world of infertility it sometimes feels impossible not to ask “why her and not me?” or “when will it be my turn?” when the real question is “am I okay with carrying on down this path?” Where others are does not matter. I must remind myself of this daily.
Today’s card (the second one, after I scolded the “Don’t be swayed by external influences” card for suggesting I didn’t pay attention the first time) was “Perform all acts with one intention” (or words to that effect). The idea is that you should not be selfish, you ought to envision your actions being for the good, directly or indirectly, of others and not only for self-gain.
To me, the second lesson is an extension of the first . Not being swayed by external influences, according to the commentary on the back of the card, can mean breathing in for oneself what is undesirable and breathing out for others’ benefit what is desirable. I meditated on that before doing my art yesterday – I imagined others struggling with infertility becoming pregnant with healthy babies who will be in their arms soon and I imagined myself living with the pain of loss and continued infertility. Then I painted a fiery sun with reds, oranges, yellows.
Today’s art is an egg-like shape with all of the colours of the spectrum in rings around one another. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. I was thinking of the chakras and of rainbows and of the universe of possibilities the world holds and how scads of benefits might come from my actions that have a single intention, even if none of them come to me.
I cannot say that no benefit has come from our struggles to conceive our Miracle Baby or our struggles to conceive a sibling for that Miracle. I have learned a great deal. I am grateful. I hope I have helped others along the way before I started this blog and since then. I have more compassion now than I ever had or could have imagined having – for myself, for others, for complete strangers. And I have a love I’ve never known and a heart that, despite its countless scars and bruises, is strong and true. There is so much for which to be grateful, I feel tiny and awestruck in the shadow of it all.
There is beauty in all of our pain. I hope that my art/Tonglen experiment will help me stay grounded, compassionate and open-hearted in the coming months. And I hope that my attempt to monkey with nature allows us to achieve goal #1 in the second of my two lists, above. Above all, I hope that sharing all of this is for the greater good, for others’ benefit and not merely my own.
Thank you for reading.