Dearest Fertility God & Goddess,

The other day, we drove 238.66 miles to rub your wooden genitalia in the lobby of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. I want to believe, I really do, but, G, I’m tired. Tired of the pills and injections. Tired of reeling in the hope, the want, the love for my future children in my heart because the perpetual loss and uncertainty hurts too much. Tired of watching easy ways pop out children like bowel movements. Tired of hearing people say, “It’ll all be worth it.” How do they know?!?! Tired of being too tired to respond to people’s thoughtless comments. My heart is saturated by infertility’s hard lessons. I’m spent. An emotional zombie, that’s me.

I don’t know if I believe rubbing your wooden egg… penis… belly button… knee… breast… baby… shoulder… will do anything. I don’t know that it won’t. However, in these few moments of frantic lobby rubbing a tiny piece of me electrifies (probably from the friction of my hand and your wood… wink wink). I feel a faint flicker of fight in me to try again, however, this time I need help. I’m much less Buddhist this time around. So… God of Sperm and Goddess of Egg, God of Hope and Goddess of Love, Help. Me. Believe.

Love,

Infertile #3,238,999

We arrive at the hang gliding ranch around eleven o’clock in the morning. We’re greeted by a kind ranch hand who tells us that we may not be able to go up today because of the winds. Our hearts sink a little.

“You will have to talk to the owner, Malcolm” he says. “He’s somewhere around here, let me find him. In the meantime, make yourselves at home… there is a bar over there and we just made some more coffee, help yourselves!” Our eyes follow the direction he is pointing but quickly veer because slightly to the left of said bar with coffee, there is… a trampoline.

Needless to say:

 

The trampoline is exhilarating. Our hearts immediately lift. Even if we don’t have a chance to hang glide this is not a day wasted. No day with a trampoline is wasted (that saying should be on a tshirt somewhere). I forgot how thrilling it is to rebound off of other people’s jumps. Jumping off of Stephanie’s velocity gave me more height and threw in an element of fear because, at times, I felt like I was going to fly off the edge…

We jump for a while before finding out that the glider is indeed going up. We flew over cow pastures and grazed fragrant orange groves. It is always humbling to see the world from above while you are completely exposed to it. On the car ride home we tried to wrap our heads around how just a matter of minutes ago we were mere dots in the sky. We also drove past a Friendly’s.

Needless to say:

For those up north, this Reeces Peanut Butter Cup sundae is no big deal, there are Friendly’s everywhere. But for two northern transplants in the south this is like finding liquid gold.

If anyone is even slightly gloomy about their reproductive status these days we highly recommend the trampoline-hang gliding-reeces peanut butter cup sundae trifecta of fun. We guarantee it will chase the infertility blues away.

Did Cinderella pusha stroller in glass slippers?

Times are a changin, for us anyway. Leaving for an adventure now includes the additional challenge of coordinating with naptimes and remembering to bring cheerios and a sippy cup.

We set off for a morning of shopping in Alisa’s mini-van. I’m using to tooling around in a little red Mazda so I marveled at all the space. (Two strollers fit in the back—with ROOM to spare! Weeeee!)

Our first stop was Designer Shoe Warehouse. It was my first experience shopping with a freshly walking toddler, he had no interest in riding in the stroller and no interest in following me down the wedge heel aisle. He just wanted to giggle and poke his nose in every shoebox. So I played games and made silly noises to coax him my way. It felt like herding a leprechan.

Back in the clearance area Alisa says, “I think my style is changing. I just tried on a pair of shoes that were. . .practical flats.”

“I know what you mean.” I said. “I don’t really do flat shoes, then again, all my shoes now have to be run-ready to chase after the little imp.”

“Yeah, I mean these are so cute.” She holds up a pair of funky espadrilles with beautiful beadwork on the front. “But can I carry him around in these? Would I push a stroller to the park in these?”

After we finished shopping we went to lunch. The hostess made a slight grimace when we said we needed two high chairs. We fielded comments from the public that ranged from, “Your boys are so cute!” to “Are you sure he should be eating that package of crackers?” We inhaled our entrees in between picking things up off the floor and feeding our little ones. It’s a dance and we are both continually learning it, because the boys are always changing. 

On the way home we kept sneaking looks at the both of them as they slept peacefully in their carseats. I always get choked up in moments like that. I think about all the waiting and wishing and hoping and thinking about him two continents and a ocean away; then here he is, two feet away, sleeping in a carseat. We talked politics while they slept and marveled at how good they were for all the driving and shopping and sitting at a table. I felt content. I looked at my shoes, sturdy with a good tread on the bottom (although I must admit they are pink with a slight wedge heel).  I thought this is just the spot on the trail I’m at right now, the spot that requires practical shoes. Things will always be changing. Andre wil always be changing. I will always be changing. Lucky thing I learned to roll with it.

This kind of shot won’t help you get pregnant but…

We were on an official business trip to Orlando when we decided to take a sidetrip to a place called “Funtown”.  It’s the sort of place where teenagers hang out at night because there’s nothing else to do. At noon on a Monday, we were the first and only ones in line.

When the high school kid opened the gate we nonchalantly walked through, even though there’s nothing nonchalant about two thirty-somethings waiting in line for a thrill ride on a Monday afternoon. We walked straight back to the slingshot and found a tiny woman running it. “Ready to ride?” she asked.

The slingshot is a simple enough contraption. Two towers shoot high into the sky like giant antennae with a capsule swinging between them on long cables. There were two people already on the ride. We watched them get flung impossibly high into the air. “So,” the tiny woman asked again. “Ready to go?” I gulped and told AlisaI had to go to the bathroom first, just in case.

Ten minutes later we climbed onto the platform and strapped in. Every time I climb into some contraption to get an adrenaline fix, I have a moment of doubt. What the hell amI doing? Did I really just climb onto a plastic platform molded to look like hot lava? Even though I know in a few moments I will feel pure joy and exhiliration, my stomach goes gooey with fear. What if the cable breaks? What if I slide out of the harness? What if something goes wrong? (It IS a theme park run by and for teenagers afterall.)

They are familiar feelings. I’ve felt them many times over the past four years trying to have a baby. What if it never happens? What if something falls through? Am I really in MOSCOW!?

The only thing I could ever do, is take those “what ifs” put them in my pocket, and keep going. So there we were, harnessed into a little capsule side by side, about to be flung 360 feet into the sky. The absolute only thing to say when the tiny lady, with her finger on a button, asked again, “Ready?”

Yes. No. Yes. Ahhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!…………………………………………………….

Happy National Infertility Awareness Week!

Yes, I said happy.

Happy because this year, in honor of this holiday, we enjoyed a not-pregnant picnic of sushi, cookie dough, lunch meat, soft cheese, wine, tuna salad and caffeinated beverages. You would think we would feel sick after eating such a buffet but we felt… great.

Last year, in celebration of National Infertility Awareness Week, we jumped 13,000 feet form the air with a Bud Light (oh, and a parachute). That was the beginning of a year of many leaps and bounds. Today we decided to try something new – to stay as close to the ground as possible.

It is easy to say that infertility sucks. Our family finding stories are what everyone with fertility challenges fears the most – IVF not working (this happened to me. Twice) or an adoption falling through (cue Stephanie). But this week is not about what we don’t have but rather what we do have. From where we’re sitting, we see now that all of the pain – the ugly, desperate sorrow – prepares our hearts to feel an even deeper joy. This raw joy is a lot like raw chocolate chip cookie dough. It is seen as being risky to eat and bad for you but it tastes like home.

“He who has not looked on Sorrow will never see Joy.”
Kahlil Gibran

I’m waiting to go back to Russia. You think I’d be very used to waiting by now. But it still takes practice to live in this moment, the only possible moment that holds happiness.

So I decided to plant some herbs and flowers, breathe some life back into my yard. After our colder than usual Florida winter it was looking a little desperate back there.

I planted phlox and lemon balm and moss rose and gerbera daisies and lavender and sweet basil; all plants that can supposedly survive anything. Danny and I even planted a Magnolia tree. I thought I was quenching a thirst to watch something grow. But when I thought about it, I’ve been watching something grow all this time. Me.

I no longer think of my situation as having pent up love to give. I give that love to myself, and my husband and my friends. I’m even giving it to my garden now.

This way, when I become a mom, I’ll be very practiced at giving love, not holding it back.

Peggy the fertility goddess in Moscow

Peggy, the fertility goddess who lives in my purse, was with me when I fell in love with a little boy in Moscow. He is completely amazing. It’s all amazing. I feel as though puzzle pieces are fitting together. Things are carefully planned, but also seem to fall out of the clear blue sky with no warning. I guess that’s how all this goes. How life goes. The first time I went to Moscow I had my heart ripped in two, when we were unable to adopt the little boy we’d come for. I was heartened to learn, on this trip, that joy runs just as deep as heartache.

Happy Year of the Tiger!

The Chinese New Year is a time where families purge their homes of ill-fortune in hopes to make way for good incoming luck.

To celebrate the Year of the Tiger, Stephane and I went out for lunch (Chinese). As we sipped our Jasmine and Lavender tea we reflected on how much luck has evolved for us. A year ago luck meant a positive pregnancy test. This year it isn’t something to attain, it is something infertility presented to us. In all of our unlucky (and between the two of us there is aplenty) we actually feel lucky for the unlucky. It showed us a new way of being, a revived perspective to the world that makes us feel a deeper sense of joy and appreciation for what we do have. Luck isn’t something we look for ahead, rather within.

So, what does the Year of the Tiger mean for infertiles?

Tigers are a sign of bravery. They are also gracious, independent and powerful.

Need I say more?

Wishing you a Year of the Tiger like no other. May your luck be discovered rather than attained. May your bravery carry you through the next cycle. May your innate power help you through the adoption process. May you remember that you are not alone and there there are millions of Tigers just like you out there.

I love Mary J. Blige. I just do. When I heard this song I couldn’t help but think of all of my infertile brothers and sisters out there. I think it should be our theme song.

Here are some of the lyrics that resonate in my heart long after the song is over. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do (over and over again…)

In each tear
there’s a lesson
Makes you wiser than before
Makes you stronger than you know
In each tear
Brings you closer to your dreams
No mistake, no heartbreak
Can take away what you’re meant to be

You’re much more than a struggle that you go through
You’re not defined by your pain, so let it go…
You’re not a victim, you’re more like a winner
And you’re not in defeat, you’re more like a queen

No no we can’t be held down
No no oh noo I I I can’t held down
You you you can’t be held down
We we we can’t be held down

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