(Also, that’s a tiny orchid in the picture which may just be my new favorite flower. So tiny! So cute! Let’s hope I don’t kill it. I may be life itself but my inability to keep orchids alive might cast doubt on that assertion…)
When I started writing this blog I had no idea the blog’s name — mourning dove motherhood–would take on so many varied meanings. I originally named the blog in honor of all the mourning doves that visited me shortly after my mom died. I had no idea that I’d go on to grieve more motherhood related losses, namely the loss of a pregnancy, and now the infertility too. (Jeesh maybe I should have picked a different blog name!)
To quote my doctor:
“The patient presents with the following problems. Period. New paragraph. One period. Advanced maternal age period. Two period. Reduced egg supply period. Three period. Wilson’s Disease recessive carrier period.”
Why thank you, infertility doctor awkwardly dictating your case notes while we are still sitting in the room. I’m glad to have a recap. And that does pretty much recap the situation. Hmm but does it?
Actually, I think I maybe I should dictate this. . .
“The patient presents as a woman emerging from a difficult and transform-ative five year period that took a toll on her body period Patient experienced significant loss comma which combined with the stress of young motherhood comma left her feeling tapped out and dried up period. Patient believes her body is physically manifesting this inner state period. Patient would love to tell the fertility doctor that she believes her yin has been significantly reduced comma resulting in infertility comma and consequently her recovery requires nurturing and cultivating her yin forward slash feminine energy and bringing balance to her doshas opening parenthesis especially because her vata was incredibly aggravated which can lead to infertility closing parenthesis period. Patient would also like to describe the current look on the fertility doctor’s face as quote boggled comma confused comma horrified comma and unable to compute with clinician’s brain end quote period. LOL period.”
Just to be clear, my version was not uttered aloud because I’m pretty sure his brain would have exploded all over his desk and it would have made quite a mess on his 27″ monitor that he treasures for showing patients charts, statistical analyses and the occasional (and accidental) view of his Facebook feed.
I suppose both dictations represent the two polarized views of my situation. The very, very left brain masculine energy (which we all have) analyzing with logic and data, juxtaposed with the highly intuitive and creative right brain feminine energy (which we also all have–with the exception of this doctor. Just kidding. He has it in him somewhere I’m sure). Both are true and both are not the entire truth. The truth is both. Deep man.
(Maybe it is time to change my blog name and thereby my future. How about “Forty-Year-Old’s Return To Vitality and Health and AMAZING Advanced Maternal Age Pregnancy and Birth blog!” Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it does it. Might need to work on that. Any suggestions?)
That seems to be my lesson this week. FINISH THE DARN PROJECTS YOU STARTED THREE MONTHS AGO. I read a blog post recently (I will link to it if I can find it) that said something to the effect of, how can you be present if you haven’t finished things you have started? Finish them and then you will be able to be present.
Huh. I realized I had a LOT of things I’d started but not finished. I credit my perfectionism hiding in the shadows, (without me being aware of course) that was stalling me from finishing stuff because what if it doesn’t turn out exactly like I planned? What if I don’t like it? WELL THEN. First, nothing turns out as we plan, am I right?! Second, done is better than none. And if you don’t like it you redo it, simple as that. Perfectionism, I shall slay you.
With that in mind, I finished painting the bathroom that I’d starting painting three months ago (YUP), I ordered hardware for a curtain rod that is broken, did the laundry that was piling up, put away the Christmas decorations, and I’m promising myself I will finish organizing my office this week. WOW IT FEELS GOOD.
Is there anything you need to finish that you started? Is perfectionism keeping you from doing it? Oh perfectionism, we see you and we give you imaginary hugs but also send you on your way.
That’s the mantra that came to me recently during a walking meditation. (Walking meditation=me walking, trying not to have incessant mind-chatter and instead trying to breathe deep and stay present. Occasionally it works!) Well, the mantra keeps ringing in my ears lately, probably because I haven’t been following the mantra. I’m not sure if it is the holidays and their capacity to bring out grief, or the fact that we are nearing the end of one HECK of a sober year (though I still contend that 2016 was worse), but it seems every new day brings reckoning of truths I’d rather not deal with.
I’m old enough to know that what resists, persists, so reckon with them I shall. That doesn’t mean I always do so immediately and quickly.
Take for example the story of the misplaced lost driver’s license. I recently misplaced my driver’s license. I resisted the idea that I lost it. So certain that I would find it, I didn’t deal with it for mumble-mumble-seven-days-mumble.
I literally had to bribe myself with a fancy starbucks coffee to get myself to go to the DMV and replace the license yesterday. And. . .while they took a downright horrible photo of me with what can only be described as CRAZY EYES--overall the whole thing was pretty painless. It turns out my identification is “verified” in the system (whatever that means) and I didn’t even have to schlep fifteen forms of ID with me to get it taken care of. So much mental energy thinking about it and really, what for? I got a coffee out of the deal. I got a crazy-eyed photo out of the deal. I’m good with the law. What was the problem here.
The moral of this story is that the reckoning is sometimes easier than the thinking about the reckoning. The heartaches, the fears, the unknowns, the unspeakables, the not-pretties, the lost objects, all the junk you just don’t want to think about or deal with. . .just like my lost license, I have a hunch they won’t magically resolve on their own.
Of course, I’m holding onto the fact that mantra has another part to it: keep the faith. I mean, there is only so much compost to be made from all this sh*t, and I am told it helps to grow beautiful gardens. This too shall pass. 2018 is around the corner and I have a hunch maybe, just maybe, good things are in store. We survived 2016, and 2017, so hey things have got to chill out eventually right? (If not, we can always look at my cross-eyed DMV photo and have a good laugh.)
What do you have to reckon with that you are resisting? You can do it, really you can.
(*I started reading Be Here Now, the classic Harvard-prof-drops-acid-expands-mind-seeks-enlightenment-goes-to-India-discovers-guru-but-guess-what-the-guru-is-in-us-all book. It’s awesome. I can’t put it down.)
Let me back up and first say that I used to believe be here now was a way of escaping reality. What do you mean, be here now? I need to think about next week’s fall festival at my daughter’s pre-school which means making a “princess-witch” costume (which is not a thing but my daughter has envisioned it so we will make it a thing). And I need to think about the mortgage payment next week, and blah blah blah blah blah.
I’m starting to really get that being in the here and now is not escaping all of that, no, but in many ways is RECKONING with all of it. Let me give you an example.
In the here and now I realized that my life was out of balance. In the here and now I realized I was experiencing stress–because all those worries about all the stuff I had to do came bubbling up in the here and now–and by sitting and staring at it in the face I reckoned with it. And in the next here and now (which is not this here and now) I made some hard choices about volunteer gigs I had promised and realized I’d overextended myself (something I do) and in the here and now I said, I cannot do this, something’s gotta give. And in the here and now I cancelled commitments I very much feared cancelling for fear of letting others down, and I faced some shame, gave some love to the shame, and reckoned with it all. Stuff that if I’d pushed away and pushed away would have likely bubbled up in more dramatic ways down the road.
In the here and now I reckon with the fact that I drank too many margaritas with my husband on date night (ok and ate too many chips and salsa too) and saw my weight loss successes diminish. (OUCH.) In the here and now I see that it was easier to blame my husband for the morning’s snafu trying to get our daughter out the door rather than facing the hard reality that she simply struggles with separation anxiety and it is what it whether I like it or not! In the here and now I look at all the laundry, so much laundry, a lot of clean (YAY) but not put away, some if it dirty (sigh) and I think, yikes why can’t I get it together. In the here and now I respond to that critical voice with, hey Sarah I love you doing the best you can juggling the mess of life.
There is no escape in the here and now. There is no hiding in the here and now. Here and now is HARD. It is hard with marriage and a kid. It is hard with the stuff we don’t want to see. But when we see it and face and and release it…wow it transforms.
How can you sit in the here and now? What might you reckon with if you do so? I’m cheering you on. You got this.
Sure am glad I didn’t dawdle getting to the airport and while running late accidentally park my rental car in the wrong return lane and be told I have to go inside to fix it, only to find out that no I need to go backoutside to get a slip from the very chatty car dude who I can’t help but be kind to and explain that yes, it’s definitely still hot in Florida right now! I know crazy! To then return to said counter to wait for my receipt that they apparently decided to travel back to 1994 to print on a dot matrix printer. zeet. zeet. Zeet. zeeeeeep. (Repeat approx. 1,367 times.) To then sit on the SLOWEST SHUTTLE BUS EVER and arrive at the terminal and discover my flight leaves in, oh, half and hour, and run to check my bag (because somehow having tiny shampoo bottles in my luggage is still a threat to national security) to then get stuck in a long line of millennials staring at phones in what is perhaps the Longest. Security. Line. Ever. Especially for a second rate rust belt city (I can say this I’m from this region) to then *almost* make it through security except for my laptop that is arousing suspicion and must be checked by the guy with a mysterious magical wand-stick. To then shoe-up and run and I mean RUN to the farthest end of the terminal while overhearing the Southwest gate agent say “final call for passenger Sarah Dee-MA-Teee-no” as I’m still wildly running, dodging couples and children while The Weekend sings in the background I’m tryna put you in the worst mood, ah/P1 cleaner than your church shoes, ah which makes me feel like a badass in a movie scene (until I realize my laptop bag is hitting my butt every two seconds which is not sexy. Not at all.) To then arrive at the gate as the guy is about to shut the door, and cough out my name, wheezing and sweating and and laughing with the cool luggage attendant dude (unlike the check-in dude who is ALL business ok whatever lol) only to be the very last person on the plane (THE ONE TIME I have an A35 southwest spot in line!!!) to then sit in a middle seat but whatever that’s cool cuz I’m making it home!, and cough up half a lung for like twenty minutes and have no water and question the sufficiency of my current exercise regimen and fly to Atlanta and discover my next flight is delayed.
The kiddo was up very early today which meant one thing: I had to blog, just like old times! All those early mornings where I wrote as the sun rose. The days where writing daily was a necessary part of my routine.
I got to thinking about it all. How writing was a daily ritual of healing. Only now can I see what a courageous and life-sustaining act it truly was. Day by day, scrubbing away pain and loss. Transmuting the pain. And now, today on August 2, 2017, the fact is that there is so much less pain to transmute – the main reason I don’t feel the need to write as frequently. A good problem to have, no?
In hindsight I have so many questions for my former self. Why did you, former Sarah, take so long to start writing? Why didn’t you start using anti-aging face cream sooner? And why oh why did you sit in that suffering place for so damn long? (Ever notice that “why didn’t I let myself suffer longer?” has been asked by nobody ever.)
There are a lot of reasons. But mostly it is because I hadn’t learned lesson 3.
This is from the incredible Nigerian poet Ijeoma Umebinyuo. I remember the day I discovered this – I wanted to shout from the rooftops: “THIS! THIS!!!! LESSON NUMBER THREE! THIS IS WHERE IT’S AT PEOPLE! Don’t let it overstay!”
(Thankfully I did not proclaim it from the rooftops. Probably good since my neighborhood is full of highly suspicious retirees who would likely bring such an incident to the attention of the HOA.)
Touch and release. Touch and release.So freaking hard. Feel the feels but don’t succumb to them. Swimming without wearing a huge heavy backpack. (It just weighs you down and plus everything inside gets wet. Who wants that?!)
It takes a helluva lot of courage to set down the backpack full of feels. Once you do, you realize what a heavy weight it had been. Really, it doesn’t need to overstay its welcome. Bye Felicia.
Anyway where am I going with this post? OH yes, sunrises, sunsets! Sunrises full of writing and healing and transmuting pain. Sunsets of saying goodbye to the pain. Lesson number three. Touch and release. Healing. Dropping the heavy backpack at the shore so you can swim.
As my four-year-old stated last night (at 4am): “I am a little bit tired and a little bit awake!” She was very excited because grandma and pop-pop arrive today and are staying at our house for several nights while the husband and I go to KEY WEST to celebrate ten years of marriage! So exciting! I look forward to the sleep that I get there.
p.s. I seem to be accumulating posts dedicated to middle-of-the-night conversatons with my daughter–I think it warrants its own category. Today, the category “4am kid convos” is born!
Child climbs into bed with me. Husband is blissfully asleep in guest bed “getting over a the stomach flu.” Please, you know he is psychic and predicted this event transpiring.
4 y.o.: “It is dark!”
Me: “Yes Z, it is the middle of the night.”
4yo: “I AM THE CHEESE MONSTER!”
Me: perplexed. Laughs.
4 y.o.: “I bet Jupiter is GLOWING!” (She is referring to a model kit of the planets that my husband bought her and is not-yet-assembled.)
me: “It doesn’t glow honey. You have to paint it to make it glow.” ( The kit comes with glow-in-the-dark paint you can put on the planets.)
4y.o.: “BUT DADDY SAID THEY ARE ALREADY PAINTED!”
Me: “Yes, they are painted, but not with glowing paint. You need to paint them with the glow paint.” Thinks to self, why am I having this conversation??!
4yo: “Will grandma and pop-pop be here soon?”
Me: “Not until you sleep!!”
4yo: “I found Jupiter!!! It isn’t glowing.” Holding a model of Jupiter. Definitely not glowing.
me: “You have to paint it.”
4yo: “But daddy said it is already painted!”
I give up.
4yo.Starts to slowly breathe in that “about-to-fall-asleep-nobody-make-a-damn-noise” way.
Smart dog: “Ouuurrr. Ourrrrrrrrrrrr. Ouuurrrrrrrrrrrrrr!” Standing by the lanai door. Wants out.
Me: mutters under breath. Takes dog outside. Beautiful night! Should be sleeping though! Dog pees. Return inside the house.
4yo: AWAKE AGAIN. Yes, predicted that.
4yo.:Twitching in that “about-to-go-to-sleepyland-nobody-move” phase.
Smart dog: “uuuurrrrrrr. Urrrrttt! Urrrrrrrrrrrt!” Standing by his empty water bowl.
Me:DAMNIT DOG! I fill the water bowl.
4yo: You guessed it: awake.
The-less-smart-dog: “Rrrrr! Rrrrrrrrr! RrRRRRRRRR!!!!!” Standing by the bed. Too fat or old or duffus-ey to figure out how to jump onto bed. Need to purchase dog ramp. Not yet ready to remove his last shreds of dignity.
Me:Mentally muttering swear words. Lifts dog onto bed.
4yo: Laughs and laughs and laughs. Is this funny to you kid?!
7:00 a.m. (sharp!)
Alarm clock: “EEEP! EEP! EEP! EEP!”
Me: (Shaking fist into air) “Darn you husband!” (He forgot to take alarm clock with him to other room.)
Time to make the coffeeeee!!!
Did your cheese monster let you sleep last night? Feel free to share your own stories–but not until you make the coffee.