The Journey.

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My parents have been here for the holidays. It’s been… hectic. So here’s this, since I don’t have time to write much. A friend posted this to facebook, and I absolutely died for it. Feels incredibly powerful, especially so close to the eve of a new year. Especially with the year I have just experienced. It’s almost as though this poem was written for me, at this time.

More later, obviously.

But in the meantime, I hope you are having the happiest of holidays.

The Journey

the journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.

– Mary Oliver


Splurging on skincare, saving face.

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Early into our courtship, Paul took me to the fabulous Hotel del Coronado for a long weekend, and treated me to an afternoon in their spa, which included a luxurious professional facial. Up to that point, my skincare routine consisted of using my body wash as face wash, and slathering on some coconut oil as moisturizer. It wasn’t very, shall we say, refined. *cut to me lackadaisically washing my face with (gasp) body wash in the shower*

And being in my mid-thirties, it isn’t such a bad idea to get with the program and start treating my face with a little more respect than that. I’ve been pretty lucky, in that (so far) I’ve managed to stay fairly wrinkle-and-acne free. My biggest problems tend to be an oily T-zone, and sporadic deep zits along my jaw line. So, the nice lady who gave me the facial of a lifetime recommended some products, and I bit the bullet to splurge a bit on keeping my face more clean, balanced, and healthy.

Skincare splurges

Eminence Organics is a phenomenal brand. They are, as implied by their name, organic as all get out. No creepy additives, no testing on animals, all handmade and natural goodness that makes me feel safe and responsible. Their probiotic line offers the same thing to my skin that yogurt does for my belly. It keeps the healthy bacteria in good balance, so they can fight off the nasty bacteria more efficiently. The lactic acid helps provide gentle exfoliation, and a host of vitamins, active ingredients and nutrients generally calm and nourish my skin. It’s not too drying, which is nice since I do have combination skin and sometimes my cheeks are on the drier side. And it smells nice, too.

I follow the cleanser with the moisturizer in the mornings, which I mix with my tinted moisturizer that serves as my foundation. In the evenings, I follow the cleanser with a 10% glycolic lotion from Epicuren, which uses Alpha Hydroxy Acids to exfoliate and bolster support of collagen and elastin, while clearing pores and battling wrinkles, spots and scars. This one is a bit more aggressive in the anti-aging part of my routine, and I love the tingle that I feel when I lay it on. Epicuren is another lovely, natural and healthy line of skincare products that I feel safe using.

Once a week or so, I slather on the Eminence probiotic masque between my evening wash and glycolic lotion. It boosts my routine with extra exfoliation, moisturization and nourishment. Paul has periodically noticed on days that I use it, claiming my skin looks brighter and healthier. Then he kisses me all over. BONUS.

I definitely feel as though my skin is better off for having this routine, and it makes me feel like I’ve made more informed choices about what’s healthy for my skin. I’ve noticed that my oily/dry spots seem more balanced, and there’s more overall vitality to my skin. Buying so many specialized products felt like a huge splurge, but honestly, I’ve been rocking the same pump of cleanser, glycolic lotion, and tub of masque since April, and I’ve only had to reorder the moisturizer once since then. This stuff packs a lot of bang for it’s buck, and lasts a long-ass time. Worth every damn penny.

What are your favorite skin care products?


Here we aren’t, so quickly.

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A couple of years ago, I was in the backseat of a convertible headed to Santa Ynez wine country. My sister and brother-in-law were in the front, and my then-husband beside me in the back. As we sped up Highway One, along the oceanfront, I read this short story in The New Yorker, penned by one of my very favorite authors. A year into my marriage, and already questioning it, this was a moving, strikingly voyeuristic reflection on long-term relationships that left me somehow full of grief. Today, I read it with completely different eyes. I loved it then, and I love it now.

here we aren't so quickly

I was not good at drawing faces. I was just joking most of the time. I was not decisive in changing rooms or anywhere. I was so late because I was looking for flowers. I was just going through a tunnel whenever my mother called. I was not able to make toast without the radio. I was not able to tell if compliments were back-handed. I was not as tired as I said.

You were not able to ignore furniture imperfections. You were too light to arm the airbag. You were not able to open most jars. You were not sure how you should wear your hair, and so, ten minutes late and halfway down the stairs, you would examine your reflection in a framed picture of a dead family. You were not angry, just protecting your dignity.

I was not able to run long distances. You were so kind to my sister when I didn’t know how to be kind. I was just trying to remove a stain; I made a bigger stain. You were just asking a simple question. I was almost always at home, but I was not always at home at home. You were not able to cope with a stack of more than three books on my bedside table, or mixed currencies in the change dish, or plastic. I was not afraid of being alone; I just hated it. You were just admiring the progress of someone else’s garden. I was so tired of food.

We went to the Atacamama. We went to Sarajevo. We went to Tobey Pond every year until we didn’t. We braved thirteen inches of snow to attend a lecture in a planetarium. We tried having dinner parties. We tried owning nothing. We left handprints in a moss garden in Kyoto, and got each other off under a towel in Jaffa. We braved my parents’ for Thanksgiving and yours for the rest, and how did it happen that we were suddenly at my father’s side while he drowned in his own body? I lay beside him on the bed, observed my hand reaching for his brow, said, “Despite everything -” “What everything?” he asked, so I said, “Nothing,” or nothing.

I was always destroying my passport in the wash. You were always awful at estimating. You were never willing to think of my habits as charming. I was just insisting that it was already too late to master an instrument or anything. You were never one to mention physical pain. I couldn’t explain the cycles of the moon without pen and paper, or with. You didn’t know where e-mails were. I wouldn’t congratulate a woman until she explicitly said she was pregnant. You spent a few minutes every day secretly regretting your laziness that didn’t exist. I should have forgiven you for all that wasn’t your fault.

You were terrible in emergencies. You were wonderful in “The Cherry Orchard.” I was always never complaining, because confrontation was death to me, and because everything was pretty much always pretty much O.K. with me. You were not able to approach the ocean at night. I didn’t know where my voice was between my phone and yours. You were never standing by the window at parties, but you were always by the window. I was so paranoid about kind words. I was just not watching the news in the basement. You were just making a heroic effort to make things look easy. I was terrible about acknowledging anyone else’s efforts. You were not green-thumbed, but you were not content to be not content. I was always in need of just one good dress shirt, or just one something that I never had. You were too injured by things that happened in the distant past for anything to be effortless in the present. I was always struggling to be natural with my hands. You were never immune to unexpected gifts. I was mostly just joking.

I was not neurotic, just apocalyptic. You were always copying keys and looking up words. I was not afraid of quiet; I just hated it. So my hand was always in my pocket, around a phone I never answered. You were not cheap or handy with tools, just hurt by my distance. I was never indifferent to the children of strangers, just frustrated by my own unrelenting optimism. You were not unsurprised when, that last night in Norfolk, I drove you to Tobey Pond, led you by the hand down the slope of the brambles and across the rotting planks to the constellations in the water. Sharing our happiness diminished your happiness. I was not going to dance at our wedding, and you were not going to speak. No part of me was nervous that morning.

When you screamed at no one, I sang to you. When you finally fell asleep, the nurse took him to bathe him, and, still sleeping, you reached out your arms.

He was not a terrible sleeper. I acknowledged to no one my inability to be still with him or anyone. You were not overwhelmed but overtired. I was never afraid of rolling over onto him in my sleep, but I awoke many nights sure that he was underwater on the floor. I loved collapsing things. You loved tiny socks. You were not depressed, but you were unhappy. Your unhappiness didn’t make me defensive; I just hated it. He was never happy unless held. I love hammering things into walls. You hated having no inner life. I secretly wondered if he was deaf. I hated the gnawing longing that accompanied having everything. We were learning to see each other’s blindnesses. I Googled questions that I couldn’t ask our doctors or you.

They encouraged us to buy insurance. We had sex to have orgasms. You loved reupholstering. I went to the gym to go somewhere, and looked in the mirror when there was something I was hoping not to see. You hated our bed. He could stand himself up, but not get himself down. They fined us for our neighbor’s garbage. We couldn’t wait for the beginnings and ends of vacations. I was not able to look at a blueprint and see a renovated kitchen, so I stayed out of it. They came to our door during meals, but I talked to them and gave. I counted the seconds backward until he fell asleep, and then started counting the seconds backward until he woke up. We took the same walks again and again, and again and again ate at the same easy restaurants. They said he looked like them. I was always watching movie trailers on my computer. You were always wiping surfaces. I was always hearing my father’s laugh and never remembering his face. You broke everyone’s heart until you suddenly couldn’t. He suddenly drew, suddenly spoke, suddenly wrote, suddenly reasoned. One night I couldn’t help him with his math. He got married.

We went to London to see a play. We tried putting aside time to do nothing but read, but we did nothing but sleep. We were always never mentioning it, because we didn’t know what it was. I did nothing but look for you for twenty-seven years. I didn’t even know how electricity worked. We tried spending more time not together. I was not defensive about your boredom, but my happiness had nothing to do with happiness. I loved it when people who worked for me genuinely liked me. We were always moving furniture and never making eye contact. I hated my inability to visit a foreign city without fantasizing about real estate. And then your father was dead. I often wasn’t reading the book that I was holding. You were never not in someone’s garden. Our mothers were dying to talk about nothing.

At a certain point you became convinced that you were always reading yesterday’s newspaper. At a certain point I stopped agonizing over being understood, and became over-reliant on my car’s G.P.S. You couldn’t tolerate trace amounts of jelly in the peanut-butter jar. I couldn’t tolerate gratuitously boisterous laughter. At a certain point I could stare without pretext or apology. Isn’t it funny that if God were to reveal and explain Himself, the majority of the world would necessarily be disappointed? At a certain point you stopped wearing sunscreen.

How can I explain the way I shrugged off nuclear annihilation but mortally feared a small fall? You couldn’t tolerate people who couldn’t tolerate babies on planes. I couldn’t tolerate people who insisted that having a coffee after lunch would keep them up all night. At a certain point I could hear my knees and felt no need to correct other people’s grammar. How can I explain why foreign cities came to mean so much to me? At a certain point you stopped trying. I couldn’t tolerate magicians who did things that someone who actually had magical powers would never do.

We were all doing well. I was still in love with the Olympics. The smaller the matter, the more I allowed your approval to mean to me. They kept producing new things that we didn’t need that we needed. I needed your approval more than I needed anything. My sister died at a restaurant. My mother promised anyone who would listen that she was fine. They changed our filters. I wanted to learn a dead language. You were in the garden, not planting, but standing there. You dropped two handfuls of soil.

And here we aren’t, so quickly: I’m not twenty-six and you’re not sixty. I’m not forty-five or eighty-three, not being hoisted onto the shoulders of anybody wading into any sea. I’m not learning chess, and you’re not losing your virginity. You’re not stacking pebbles on gravestones; I’m not being stolen from my resting mother’s arms. Why didn’t you lose your virginity to me? Why didn’t we enter the intersection one thousandth of a second sooner, and die instead of die laughing? Everything else happened – why not the things that could have?

I am not unrealistic anymore. You are not unemotional. I am not interested in the news anymore, but I was never interested in the news. What’s more, I am probably ambidextrous. I was probably meant to be effortless. You look like yourself right now. I was so slow to change, but I changed. I was probably a natural tennis player, just like my father used to say over and over and over.

I changed and changed, and with more time I will change more. I’m not disappointed, just quiet. Not unthinking, just reckless. Not willfully unclear, just trying to say it as it wasn’t. The more I remember, the more distant I feel. We reached the middle so quickly. After everything it’s like nothing. I have always never been here. What a shame it wasn’t easy. What a waste of what? What a joke. But come. No explaining or mending. Be beside me somewhere: on the split stools of this bar, by the edge of this cliff, in the seats of this borrowed car, at the prow of this ship, on the all-forgiving cushions of this thread-bare sofa in the one-story copper-crying fixer-upper whose windows we once squinted through for hours before coming to our sense: “What would we even do with such a house?”

~ Jonathan Safran Foer, published in The New Yorker, June 14, 2010, p.72.


Writing this post made me need a nap. No, but really.

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The “Babysicles” Saga – Update #2:

Where did we leave off? Oh, yes. THE NEEDLES.

I have been giving myself 2-3 shots, nightly for the past 10 days now. Kids, it’s none of the fun.

I mean, at first you kind of think you’re a bad-ass. And by “you”, I mean “I.” I suppose because I have had plenty of needles in all body parts before, (like oh, you know, my eyes, and my arms, and my cervix, and did I mention my eyes?)… I thought I was all hard and would be completely unphased by the idea of nightly abdominal injectable punishments. But, oh… I failed to take into consideration the sting. And the bruising. And, worst of all, the side effects. Oh, how quickly my self-aggrandizing concept of bad-assery flew out the window.

ivf bruising

The day after my first round of shots, I felt… okay. I was tired. I felt as though the volume on life had been turned down a bit. Not depressed, per se, but definitely reminiscent of that sort of… distance from life that I associate with depression. But not exactly sad. Just distant. and super tired.

That night, within an hour of the injections, I was a complete mess. I had a fever. Every muscle in my body ached, especially my hips, which made it hard to walk. I felt like I’d been hit with the flu and a truck, at the same time. My throat was sore. I went to bed at 9pm and basically slept until 3pm the next day, with brief breaks for trips to the bathroom on very unstable legs, and to take my vitamins or drink some water. I was all: “This is my old yeller moment, Paul. Time to put me down.” Apparently, these are not uncommon side effects from the 300iu of Follistim and 150iu of Menopur I am injecting into my lower belly to ripen my follicles all together. Oh, what a joy. (Side note: Paul did not, in fact, euthanize me, contrary to my wishes. Instead he made me a protein shake and tucked me back in with a kiss. WHERE IS THE COMPASSION?)

I took it super easy for the first few days, and by Tuesday, I was thankfully feeling much more myself. The exhaustion definitely stuck around, but in a much less punishing sense – and the fever, aches, and sore throat were waning. Soon, Paul and I were settling into our nightly routine of measuring, diluting, filling, stabbing, stinging, bleeding, and swabbing. Ah, true romance.

A week later, and I’m still staying the course. My follicles have been very slowly growing, and there are less of them than I had hoped. Whereas a couple weeks ago, the doctor counted 14 follicles, only 8-10 are ripening together. There are another few, smaller follicles in there, which could catch up… but yesterday my doctor gave me the look. The one that says “don’t cry but…” and then he proceeded to prep me for the possibility that I’ll probably only make 8-10 eggs. Once they’re fertilized, only 4-6 might develop into embryos. Of those, maybe only 2-3 will be of freezable quality. He was right. I wanted to cry.

All of this. For only 2-3 embryos? *Sigh* Yes. I suppose so. If that gets me 1-2 babies, then yes. It’s worth it. And I’m grateful.

But.

Most “normal” women my age go through this and turn out 15-30 eggs like bad-ass chickens. That annoying little voice inside my brain wailed “why can’t my body do anything normally?” for most of the day yesterday, in between naps. Then today, I told that voice to kindly shut the fuck up. I have time. I have strength. And I spent an hour on the acupuncture table today breathing white light into my ovaries, visualizing the follicles inside them swelling bigger with every breath. “Grow, my babies… grow!” I thought to myself as I breathed, fueled by a desperate determination to manifest as positive a result as I can. (If you listen real closely, you can hear Oprah shouting “The Secret!!!” in the distance.)

This morning, I added injections of Ganirelix to my daily cocktail, to prevent premature ovulation, until we use another drug to trigger it a few days before retrieval. Yesterday my follicles measured an average of 10mm each, with a few 6-7s hiding in the back, and my doctor is estimating retrieval on Saturday or Sunday of this week.

How do I feel? Well, I’ll tell ya: I get night sweats, day sweats, insane dreams, I’m easily tired, my memory is for shit, I’m spotting, and on the weepy side of moody. Which is a vast improvement from the uber-bitchy wrath that teenage pms hormones used to yield upon me. My boobs have stopped growing. (damnit.) On the plus side, I get to nap whenever I want without guilt, (seriously. the writing of this post was interrupted by a nap, in fact.) and this whole process has turned me into a drooly, juicy, humpy teenager and all our co-ed naked sports activities are benefiting greatly from this. Bow-chicka-wow-wow!

hormonal ecard

Thanks to the laziness of my follicles taking their sweet-ass time to ripen, I’ve had to refill the Follistim and Menopur, saying a tearful goodbye to yet another $2,500 that we didn’t expect to spend. If we get enough embryos to warrant genetic testing (PGD), we’re looking at another ~$10k in fees, but we’ll see how things go before deciding on that.

To date, it’s cost ~$20,000 for the whole shebang. Half of me wants to be incredulous about the expense. Or angry at the world, that yet another thing in my life is some expensive medical challenge. But the other half of me, the smarter half, knows that this is probably our only chance at biological children, and even if it cost $1,000,000 – it would be worth it. And I’m so very, deeply grateful to be in a position, for the first time in my life, to have a) I found the perfect fiance, who will soon be a perfect husband, and later, a perfect father, for these frozen babies, and b) that we can afford it. And that happiness, that comfort, that calm, that love… that’s worth all the money in the world.

I’m almost there. Almost.

Ha. And I can tell I’m not quite m’self, because this post is hellllllllllllllla boring. Sorry, folks! It’ll be over soon.

(PS: miss part one? click here. Not sure what this is all about? click here.)