Many of you may know that I had the honor of being included in the anthology Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It: Life Journeys Inspired by the Bestselling Memoir, which was published at the end of March. The book was a compilation of stories from readers/writers/humans who were inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, and were selected by Liz herself along with editors at her publisher, Riverhead Books.
Some of the other contributors, who’ve gotten together via a Facebook group, were a little perturbed we had not gotten to meet Liz, nor had an event specifically for the book. I admit, I thought there was going to be some big launch party where I could wear a fancy dress and drink champagne and get a few minutes to chat with Liz and take a picture.
That didn’t happen.
We now realize that this year has been one of extreme change for Liz. She ended her marriage (you know, with the Brazilian guy she meets in Bali at the end of Eat Pray Love). Months later, she finally revealed the reason why — she is in love with her best friend (a woman), who is also dying of cancer. Needless to say, she’s had a lot going on.
So when I saw that Liz was having a speaking engagement in NYC — the only one in the area — for the paperback release of her creativity manifesto Big Magic, I knew I had to attend, if only to see her in person. I eagerly bought tickets and asked one of my fellow contributors to join me.
Then I decided to figure out how to meet her. It was actually very easy.
Her publicist’s email is listed right there on Liz’s website. I shot off a quick note and within an hour had a response – yes, Liz would love to meet me!
Then, panic set in. OMG, I was going to meet Elizabeth Gilbert. What do I wear, what do I say? Why did I get myself into this? I can’t handle the pressure! Why did I insist on doing this to myself? You know, the normal stuff that happens when I embark on a challenge.
The night of the event, I anxiously took my seat. I knew the talk would be great but the whole time I would be a ball of nerves. I just wanted to get this all over with! Her speech, though, did put me at ease. She spoke about a creative challenge she pursued while on a book tour for the initial release of Big Magic – with every person she met, no matter if it was her cab driver or her German publisher, she would seek to have real communication with them by asking, “What are you most excited about in your life right now?” So much more interesting than where do you live, what do you do, right? And definitely more so than staring down at your phone the whole time. The responses she received were both hilarious and heartfelt.
I thought she’d ask this question of me, so I prepared my response.
When the talk was over, we made our way to the stage to meet up with the publicist, who was also escorting several other people back. Somehow, I expected it to be only myself and my fellow contributor — but instead the room was teeming with people. I waited nervously for our chance. Finally, we were waved over. I had heard before that Liz gives the best hugs, and they were right! She immediately swooped me up into a bear hug (literally — she’s much taller than I am) and suggested we take a picture. Then since she was in picture mode, she moved right along to a picture with someone else. That other person then proceeded to chat her up.
Wait a minute, I thought. Did I just lose my chance to speak with Liz? We waited around anxiously until it was almost time to leave. My fellow contributor asked if she could take a solo shot with Liz (the first pic was the three of us). Then I asked for the same. Liz was about to turn to talk to someone else when I thought, if I don’t speak up now, I won’t get the chance again. So, nearly interrupting whatever conversation she was about to have, I blurted out, “I just wanted to thank you for letting us be a part of Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It. It was such an honor to be included in something so special” (or something like that. It’s all very fuzzy).
She shook her and said, “No, you earned it. Do you know how many people sent in essays? Thousands. Yours got in because it was good. You need to own that!”
We said our goodbyes and I walked out, still in a bit of a daze. She hadn’t asked me what I was most excited about in my life right now, but that was OK. I was so glad I had spoken up, because her words were exactly what I needed to hear. I was in one of my impostor syndrome funks, somehow having to do with the major change in my life as my son went off to preschool. I just wasn’t in a very creative mood and could hardly write. I felt like a failure, like I wasn’t a “real” writer. I wasn’t making a living at this like some other writers I knew. I still haven’t written for lots of major publications (ok well except The New York Times, The Washington Post, Cosmo…but never mind my accomplishments). Why do I doubt myself? Why do I judge myself? Why do I compare myself and measure myself against others?
I know a lot of people don’t like Elizabeth Gilbert. But one thing I will say for her — she makes no excuses for who she is. She owns it.
I will try to do the same.
Do you feel like you “own” your accomplishments? Have you ever met an idol who’s inspired you to have more confidence in your abilities?
So as I wrote in my last post, LM has started full-time preschool. And I’m not doing well. I feel lost, like I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with myself all day. I can’t seem to bring myself to write. In fact, this is the first time I’ve written. It’s some kind of block, I suppose. I wander around the house, looking for stuff to do—although there is actually plenty to do.
I know I shouldn’t complain — I have the luxury of not working. But even if I wanted to enjoy it, I don’t feel like I can reasonably sit around watching Food Network all day while my husband is at the office. My plan was to ramp up my freelance writing, and although I have scored a couple new gigs, they have not provided me with as much steady work as I’d hoped. Ironically, the week before LM started preschool, I got six, yes six, assignments, which prevented me from truly enjoying our last few days together. Now, nothing.
So I’ve got more to do to gain new writing opportunities. But instead of doing it, I just, well, don’t. I’m going through some kind of weird period of adjustment—or rather, trying to adjust and not doing a very good job of it. I’ve been trying to figure out why.
For a long time, my job was my identity. Then I got laid off, and “mom” became my identity. Now, I’m in some kind of in-between place in which I can’t figure out exactly who I am or what I’m doing. I have all these plans in my head, but I can’t seem to translate them into action.
I don’t want to go back to full-time work outside the home. I still want to be here at 3 pm when LM gets home from school. But in those six hours he’s gone, I want to have the motivation to write, go grocery shopping, do projects around the house, maybe even (gasp) cook (even though I’m terrible at it, now’s my chance to get better, right?). I feel pressure to do everything, and guilt that I have not been able to get my ass in gear.
I’m projecting all this onto Foggy Daddy, who I assume is mad that I’m not doing as much as I should. (There’s that word again, “should.”) He seems to understand, though, that I’m going through something and has given me time to figure it out.
Change is tough for me, I’ve discovered. I’ve never been so sad to see summer end, to see the leaves start falling. I love autumn, so it bothers me that I’m greeting it with such disdain. It doesn’t help that it’s still 85 degrees out. It’s still warm enough to swim FFS. The weather is in this in-between state, just like I am. It’s like it can’t commit, and neither can I.
To make things worse, I’ve had very little communication with LM’s preschool teacher. I don’t know if he naps, if he poops, what’s he’s been doing all day. He comes home with cute art projects and always has a smile on his face, so I think he’s enjoying it. But he doesn’t have the words to tell me what he’s actually been up to. With early intervention, in which I knew all his therapists and either participated and/or received a session note, I always knew what was going on. This is quite different.
Maybe I need to cut myself a break and allow myself the time to get used to this. After so long of wanting more time to myself, I finally have it, and now I just want my baby back. I see other three-year-olds going to preschool for three mornings a week, and I’m jealous their moms have the rest of the week to do other things with them. I’m just not ready to send him off for so long. I feel like a kindergarten mom, two years early. I’m counting the days to the Jewish holidays LM will have off in October.
I think if I was pregnant or had a new baby this situation would not be as fraught with emotion. I would still have the role of “mom” to focus on. I could justify lying around if I was pregnant or up every two hours with a newborn. I would have another child to take to mommy-and-me classes.
I know I’m just feeling sorry for myself. I still haven’t been able to pass my fertility testing — my damn lining just won’t grow. After the surgery I had in May, I had to have another procedure to get rid of what turned out to be scar tissue. After waiting six weeks to have that done, I went back into my prep cycle and my body just didn’t respond. So now I have to try it again. I honestly don’t know if it’s going to happen for us. All of these things are coming together to make life difficult at this point, when it really shouldn’t be.
Sorry for the downer post. But I can’t be the only one having a hard time transitioning to full-time school, can I? Please tell me I’m not alone!
We moms deserve a little time to get the hubby to watch the kids (pizza for dinner, natch) and meet up with the girls for drinks, convo…and maybe a movie, if the movie is Bad Moms. I wonder if the film’s creators had this in mind when they came up with the idea: a movie about moms coming together, inspiring real-life moms to come together. That’s one way to rack up box-office sales.
This summer, women across the country had their own Bad Moms Night Out. Not since Fifty Shades of Grey has a movie gotten so many mothers out of the house. And this time, it’s not an S&M (and possibly anti-feminist) fantasy. Nope, this is a movie about what, for many moms, is reality: an impossible balancing act of kids’ soccer practices, jobs with clueless bosses, man-child husbands, all while trying to feed your children organic lunches, make it to work without anything spilled on you, and come up with a nut-free, gluten-free, sugar-free treat for the PTA bake sale.
I wanted to jump on the bandwagon to see what all the fuss was all about, and soon enough I had my chance. One of my Facebook mommy groups was organizing a Bad Moms Night Out, complete with dinner at the Olive Garden. (Don’t laugh. It’s the suburbs.)
After salad, breadsticks and scintillating conversation about our kids (it’s ironic that we arrange these “adult evenings” and then spend the whole time talking about our children, amirite?), we headed to the movie theater. The room was packed, mostly with groups of women. A few uncomfortable-looking husbands took their seats next to their wives. “They have wine!” one of my fellow moms whispered about the women behind us. I turned around to see a full bottle of vino, the entire thing hidden inside an extra-large soda cup, being poured out between them. “Why didn’t we think of that?” my companion asked.
The movie started, and almost immediately we were laughing in recognition. Mila Kunis is a 32-year-old mom of two tweens (how is she old enough?) who constantly feels as if she is failing as a mother, and spends periods of time crying in her car. Her husband has been having an online affair. Her entitled hipster boss doesn’t realize how hard she works, and the bitchy PTA lady (Christina Applegate) constantly badgers her.
Finally, she snaps. Will she go to this evening’s PTA meeting? No.
That’s it, I realize. That’s the word that’s missing from our mom vocabularly (well, except when it comes to yelling at our kids). We overextend ourselves, taking on everything we possibly can, and then some more. We feel like we should be able to do everything, because hasn’t everyone been telling us forever that we can have it all? And if we don’t, doesn’t that make us horrible, selfish, bad moms secretly riddled with guilt?
Faced with this realization, Kunis is joined by goody-two-shoes mom of four (yes, four) Kristen Bell and bad-ass single mom Kathryn Hahn. Together, they get drunk and slow-mo walk into their neighborhood grocery store, making a mess of Fruit Loops, milk and vodka, in one of the movie’s funniest scenes. Later in the film, they slow-mo walk into a cool bar in the city; and after that they host a rager (over by 11 on the dot—they are still moms, duh).
All this drinking was exactly what was missing from 2014’s similarly-themed Moms Night Out, a funny but oddly religious movie that included no drinking (what??), although it also featured the requisite slow-motion walk, which ended with one mom hilariously tripping on her high heels (not a problem for Kunis, who spends this movie tottering around in five-inch stilettos).
But this brings up another point: Why do the moms in this movie, and in real life, need alcohol? Are our kids driving us to drink? (Don’t answer that.) Between all the “mommy needs wine” memes, onscreen mom imbibing and actual wine being passed around the movie theater, it made me wonder: Why do we seem to take pride in needing a drink to get through being a mom?
Maybe it’s that we miss our carefree, kid-free days of hardcore partying. Or maybe there is something deeper going on. We do need to escape—not necessarily from our kids, but rather from the expectations society has placed upon modern motherhood. Drinking is good, old-fashioned rebellion. Because newsflash: We can’t do it all. No one can. Even if you have lots of help, you are still going to have to make impossible choices as a mom, like whether to stay late at the office to make your boss happy, or miss your kid’s soccer game. You’re going to have to deal with critics who say you aren’t doing enough for your kids; or that you get to “leave early” (aka on time) to tend to you children.
And if you don’t work outside the home, you are going to have to answer to those who say you aren’t giving your daughters good role models, or that you’re too dependent financially, or that you don’t “have a real job.”
We still feel the need to criticize women’s choices, no matter what they are, because we don’t allow for the varied aspects of a woman’s existence: She can be committed to her kids and be a hard worker. She can stay at home and still have a fulfilled life. Instead, we pigeonhole a woman into what we feel she is supposed to be, labelling her and creating benchmarks to judge her by (does she make homemade treats for the bake sale, or are they store bought?).
At the end of the movie, Kunis stands up to say we are all “bad moms” (you know, not the kind who beat their kids, but the kind we refer to when we say, “I’m a bad mom”). “I have no idea what I’m doing,” she says. This is the secret you don’t realize until you have kids: You are going to be clueless AF. Yet because no one talks about it, you think everyone else has it all together. They don’t.
Being a mom, at least the kind of mom you expect yourself to be, is “impossible,” Kunis says. And she’s right. This revelation is the reason why mom culture has latched on to this movie — well, that and its hilarious script and its hot stars. But this flick does what others (including Bravo’s series Odd Mom Out and Sarah Jessica Parker’s 2011 starring vehicle I Don’t Know How She Does It) have failed to do: Tell the whole truth about what it’s like to be a mom in the modern world.
So what to we do? Take a line from this movie and start saying no. No to bosses who don’t respect your work/life balance. No to husbands who aren’t pulling their weight. No to mean-girl moms who make your kids’ school like, well, high school. Even no to your kids (they can make their own breakfast and do their own homework, dammit). Once women start demanding more for themselves, society will start demanding less. Eventually—hopefully—women will have the societal support they need in order to be better moms.
As the movie ended (with tearjerking interviews of the stars with their real-life moms), the theater erupted in applause. We all left smiling to ourselves, feeling the solidarity in the room, doing our own slow-mo walk.
Did you see Bad Moms? What did you think?
I just spent twenty minutes searching Facebook to a link for a mom blogger opportunity I had seen that I forgot to mark as “saved.” I went back and forth, back and forth, and just couldn’t find it. I Googled it. Nothing. Awesome, another wasted opportunity, I thought. What if that was my big chance? All because I forgot to click “save”?
This is what I do. I push and push and push myself and then can’t forgive myself when something falls through the cracks. When I can’t be everything to everyone at every minute. When I feel like I’m not good enough at feeding LM the right foods, or teaching him enough skills, or getting him on a better sleeping schedule. When I feel like I need to pitch more stories, promote my work more, submit more, write more. When I think about how someone else is a better writer than me, a better mom than me, a better friend than me, a better wife than me.
I find the smallest thing — so what that I didn’t save a FB link? Is it the end of the world? — and turn it into something major, as if I’ve missed out on the greatest thing to come my way ever.
This weekend is Mother’s Day. I’m not doing anything special, as far as I know. Maybe my husband has something planned. Maybe not. But it shouldn’t really matter, because that’s just looking for more outside validation, for someone else to tell me I’m doing a good enough job.
What I really need is to tell that to myself.
I need to forgive myself my little faux pas and flaws. I need to accept that I’m not going to be able to keep every ball in the air. Some are bound to drop.
This is OK.
I know we’ve all heard about “mom guilt” and how we have to accept that we can’t be the perfect mother. I know that rationally. But emotionally, I’m still struggling. I don’t think I quite believe that I am good enough. I focus on every mistake I make and blow off my successes. I’m doing it now, for God’s sake — I’m critiquing myself for my habit of critiquing myself!
Where does it end?
Maybe some moms have figured out how to get off the merry-go-round of guilt. Maybe they’ve managed to side-step the downward vortex of perfection seeking. But I feel like I’m being sucked in, and I’m drowning with the pressure of it all.
So, this Mother’s Day I need to stop. Just stop. At least for one day allow myself not to be perfect. And what’s more, to not even attempt to be perfect. Just have total acceptance of myself. As a mother, as a wife, as a writer, as a person.
I can’t be the only one who feels this way, right? Who feels like it’s just all too much and I can’t keep my head above water? OK, so I know I have additional challenges: LM’s hearing loss and everything that goes along with it (don’t even get me started on fighting with the school district about preschool). Trying to have another child (still in limbo on that one). These are not things that all other moms have to deal with.
Other moms also have housecleaners and gardeners and money to redecorate and nannies to watch their kids so they can go to the gym more than once a week and lose that extra 15 pounds they’ve been carrying since they had a baby and just can’t seem to get rid of. Maybe they have huge houses and swimming pools and finished basements with movie rooms. Maybe if they do have deaf children they can afford to move to the rich town where the school for the deaf is so they can be in the right school district and not have to fight to make sure their kid gets the best education.
Wait, I’m doing it again, aren’t I?
Stop comparing yourself. Just stop. Some other moms will always have more than you — but some will also have less. Much less.
Ugh, so you’re saying I’m an awful person for wanting a bigger house because other moms are living in poverty? I’m so selfish.
Yes, you are selfish. But it’s OK to be selfish. Everyone is selfish.
No they’re not.
Well maybe not everybody, but it’s a natural reaction in life to want more, isn’t it? Some people just have this drive in them, which is good because it propels them to achieve things. But it’s also bad because it never ends. When you achieve a goal, you just set a new one. You think you can reach the top of the mountain, but it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.
So what do I do?
I don’t know, I guess it’s about finding balance. A balance between accepting your life and striving for more. Between being happy with what you have and recognizing that it’s human nature to feel bad about what you don’t. To realize that everyone has their hardships in life, and so you just can’t compare. You are not perfect. They are not perfect.
This is what I’m trying to give myself this Mother’s Day. Permission to not be perfect, to want to be perfect, to feel bad about wanting to be perfect, to feel good about striving for perfection, to recognize it’s not necessary to strive for perfection.
I’m going to try to see myself though LM’s eyes. Through my husband’s eyes and my family’s eyes and my friend’s eyes.
I’m not a perfect mom. But I’m a good enough mom.
What gifts are you giving yourself for Mother’s Day?
Dear ones (that’s how Elizabeth Gilbert addresses her Facebook posts, and I have a bit of a writer’s crush on her right now),
My book signing for Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It went really well. As my last post indicated, I was super nervous. I used up so much emotional energy that the next day I crashed, unable to do much of anything or even get out of my pajamas.
What’s the big deal, you ask? It was only a fifteen minute speech and a few questions afterward. It wasn’t like I was giving a day-long presentation at a medical conference or presenting at the Oscars.
You’re right, dear ones. Maybe it wasn’t really that big a deal. But why it was so difficult for me is that I am an introvert. Some people might be surprised to hear this. I am, generally, pretty friendly. And as the book event shows, I am not bad at public speaking.
But it’s all a lie.
In middle school, I was painfully shy. It was incredibly hard for me to make friends. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in at everyone else having a good time, flirting with boys and feeling part of a group. Although I wasn’t friendless and I generally wasn’t picked on, I was something possibly even worse: I was invisible.
Gradually I worked through my insecurities. Even as an adult, though, making friends remains a challenge. I am not one of those people who talks to people sitting next to them on airplanes. I do not make friends easily wherever I go. I often still feel awkward, uncomfortable, unsure of what to say. But I’ve gotten really good at faking it, at putting on the friendly mask of an extrovert. This has helped me make a lot of very good mom friends.
I don’t mean to say that I’m fake. I am genuine in my emotions, the stories I tell and the interest I show in others. It’s just that it doesn’t come naturally to express those things. I have to force myself to come out of my shell and relate to others directly instead of through words on the page, at which I am infinitely better.
Maybe all my years of being an outside observer served to make me a better writer. But they didn’t help me feel like I was participating in life instead of watching it. So now, I’m trying to forget my fears and insecurities and to take that wall down between my internal self and my outward expression.
To quote Forgetting Sarah Marshall: “Dude, get out of your head, it’s really nice out here!”
How am I doing?
Are you an introvert? How do you deal with making mom friends? How do you deal with professional presentations or other work-related speaking?
Some photos from my book signing for Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It:
The day has come, and my first publication in an anthology is out. Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It is probably my biggest professional accomplishment so far.
But although I’m proud, I’m also super nervous. I know I shouldn’t turn something good into something worrisome, but, hey, that’s what I do. I have a book signing event this weekend and I’m kind of a mess over it. What have I gotten myself into? No one forced me to do this — in fact I wanted to. But that doesn’t mean it’s not nerve-wracking. I read an article today by a writer who said she’d rather get a mammogram than do a radio interview. That’s kind of where I’m at right now.
Here’s more from my conversation with myself:
What if no one shows up? What if tons of people show up and I have to speak to this giant crowd? What if my speech ends up sounding forced? What if it’s too long? What if it’s too short? What if my dress is too short and you can see up it when I sit? Wait a minute, what am I wearing anyway?
I’m not sure that I self-promoted the book enough. I’m just not that up to speed with social media. Why didn’t I get an article in my local paper? Who am I kidding, I’m not that interesting anyway. Yes but other authors were interviewed by their local paper. Maybe there is nothing else going on in their town.
What if no one likes the book? What if I revealed too much about myself? What if I didn’t reveal enough?
What if absolutely nothing comes of this? Silly, even if nothing comes of it, no one can take away from you that you were published in a book. Yes but I want my own book. Sigh. Just enjoy this, will you!
So yeah, that’s what’s been going through my head. This is on top of having some other assignments and having to do my taxes. Procrastination! I still have to get some pens to use.
If you want to come to see this potential disaster, here are the details:
Book event and signing with Tina Donvito, one of the authors of
Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It
Barnes & Noble in the Livingston Mall
Saturday, April 2 at 3 pm
Hope to see you there!
People have said to me, “I don’t know how you do it,” referring to the balance of writing and parenting. To be honest, I don’t know how I do it either — that sounds like a humble brag, but actually, I don’t even really believe that I “do it” at all.
Yet no matter what is thrown at me, I seem to also possess that maddening inability to say no. Today I have a really bad cold, but did I turn down the Fit Pregnancy assignment I got, due tomorrow? Nope. Did I say no to the offer to cover the new season of Orange Is the New Black from a publication I’ve never worked with before, even though I’ve actually never seen an episode of the show? Nope! Guess the next two weeks will be spent binge-watching Netflix.
What about LM’s therapy appointments, and his audiological testing? What about my gyno appointment tomorrow and trying to figure out about scheduling surgery for my fibroid? What about having play dates and trying to keep up with my friends? What about not being able to update this blog as much as I feel I should? Oh yeah, what about that book signing event for Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It, which means I have to finish reading the whole book, probably re-read Eat Pray Love just to make sure I remember it, craft a 10-15 minute speech and be prepared for any questions that might arise by April 2? (BTW, if you are in the northern New Jersey area, visit the Barnes and Noble in the Livingston Mall April 2 at 3 pm to support me and the launch of the book!)
I get how this sounds. Apart from the medical stuff, it’s all good. I should not complain to be getting more work. And I’m not. I’m grateful for it. It just makes it hard to figure out how to balance things so I’m not up until 1 a.m. every night (which I usually am anyway).
Sometimes I think I shouldn’t be bothering with any work at all because it distracts me too much from LM. I should be focused on taking care of him, especially with the additional challenges his hearing loss presents. He’s only going to be young for a few short years. Don’t I already feel like his baby years went by in a blur? Do I want that for his toddler years as well?
But then I feel that drive in me, that part of me that wants something of my own, that wants to work. The part that just can’t say no, that can’t resist putting another helping onto my already full plate. I overload it until there’s no way it won’t spill over.
There are great things about being a freelancer. I work when I want and where I want. I don’t really have to answer to anyone else except myself. But therein lies the hard part, because I am a difficult boss of myself. Without set working hours, I always have this feeling that I should be doing more. And because I can work anywhere, work follows me wherever I go. No matter how many good things come my way, I want more. And the pull for that is hard to get away from.
And then other times I feel like this is just how life is. This is the pace of life of being a sort-of working mom, the parent of a child with hearing loss, a writer and a wife and a homemaker. But I feel like I do all of these jobs at a level that’s just enough to get by, when I should be either able to handle them all with ease or just reduce them to the ones I can devote myself fully to.
It’s hard, this balancing act.
Do you feel like it’s hard to balance work and parenting?
Well, metaphorically, anyway.
Before I was a mom I took lots of trips. I love travel, and not being able to pick up and go has been one downside of having a baby. My wanderlust has been acting up recently, and I’ve toyed with the idea of starting a travel blog, or at least venturing into the world of travel writing. So I decided to take the plunge with one of my favorite places on earth: Ireland. My story, “Trekking Through Irish Culture in Doolin, Ireland,” was selected today as the top featured blog post on The Huffington Post! Check it out, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day! I’ll hopefully have more travel experiences to share soon.
Do you love to travel? Where has been your favorite place to visit?
**Warning: possible TMI ahead**
I am using “bloody” here as both the literal meaning and the English curse word.
As part of my testing to see if I can get pregnant again, I had a saline sonogram, which is like a regular ultrasound except they squirt fluid up into your uterus, which somehow gives them a better picture of what’s going on in there. It’s kind of uncomfortable because they have to stick a catheter up through your cervix, and then you have some cramping afterwards because your uterus is thinking, “Get this stuff out of me now, please.”
I didn’t really expect for my doctor to find anything. That seems oddly naive and optimistic of me, especially in hindsight. But I had passed my second shot at a prep cycle (I failed the first), so I felt like things were looking up. Maybe I could even cycle in the next few weeks.
But the doctor did find something. A four-centimeter fibroid that is pushing into the cavity. She said she would consult with the surgeon and let me know, but it would probably require a hysteroscopy. This is a procedure in which they go in through the vagina and clean you out. It involves anesthesia, but you go home right afterwards and recovery time is minimal. There is no actual cutting involved.
The next day I got a call from the doctor. She tells me that the surgeon thinks I need to actually have real surgery to remove this thing. “Like a laparoscopy?” I asked her. I had a lap six years ago to remove endometriosis. It was an outpatient procedure that involved four small incisions, through which a camera was inserted and the surgery was performed. “No, a laparotomy,” the doctor replied. “Like a C-section.”
So, as I understand it, this would mean actually cutting me open and going at the fibroid from the outside of the uterus. It would involve a couple of nights in the hospital, two weeks until I can drive and at least two or three months until I can try to get pregnant. It’s that last bit that is killing me. I don’t want to wait anymore. Now our timeline just got pushed back almost half a year, by the time we will actually be able to get this thing scheduled (apparently the surgeon is very busy).
Foggy Daddy said that maybe this is a sign we should go with adoption. Except that I don’t believe in signs (and, I thought, neither did he). Maybe he just meant that this is evidence that pregnancy is not the best route for us to have more children.
OK, so say we sign up with the adoption agency whenever it is that they start letting in new families (they told me “spring,” whenever that means). Then we have to get all our paperwork in order, have our home study, etc. Then we wait. Who knows how long it could be? What if we are waiting for a year or more? Then I’ll be thinking, Damn, I should have just had the surgery.
But on the other hand, what if it takes a while to get pregnant? Or what if it doesn’t happen at all? Then I’m going to be thinking that we should have gone with adoption, which at least has a definite end point. There will be, at some point in the future, a baby for us through adoption.
Once again, I have to make a decision without all the information.
So then I descend back into anger. I hate my stupid body. I hate my uterus more than any other part, because that stupid organ killed a bunch of my babies and now it’s preventing me from having more.
I suppose I should be grateful for it, because it gave me Sam. But it grew him sideways in such a way that he had to come out with a planned C-section. He was wedged in there so well they had to call in another doctor. They called him a “difficult extraction.”
I saw a blog post once about a woman who was having a hysterectomy. The title was “Die, bloody bitch” (I googled but I couldn’t find it again). For some reason that line has always stuck with me. I have had endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids, you name it. I don’t know how I ended up with such a messed up reproductive system, but I have a feeling somewhere in my future, after I am done with all this trying to get pregnant business, a hysterectomy awaits.
And I will be glad to see it go.
Have you ever felt you “hated” a part of your body?
Sometimes I think I’m a glutton for punishment. Like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, I sometimes feel like I am living the same day over and over again, just trying to get it right. I often fail. And I often bring it on myself.
Case in point: After five years or so of relentless testing, poking, prodding and disappointment, I finally freed myself from the dreaded RE (reproductive endocrinologist, or fertility doctor)—but tomorrow, by choice, I’m going back.
I have a sense of deja vu about the whole thing: the making of appointments, the gathering of medical records, the filling out of senseless forms when they have all the information anyway. I’m sure I will feel that way when I walk through those doors tomorrow, hold out my arm to give blood, open my legs for my date with the vag cam (sorry if that’s TMI, but you fertility patients know what I’m talking about).
I don’t know if it’s a good idea to try to get pregnant again. Part of me wants the doctor to say, “You know what? Your messed-up body just can’t handle it. So don’t.” But will she say this? True, clinics want to hedge their bets to increase their success rates, but they also want to make money. Would they turn away a willing and eager participant? I do know my doctor, and I should give her more credit that that, I suppose.
I know that’s passive aggressive anyway. I should make my own decision. And I can’t afford to wait any longer. I want to know what the deal is, what our plan is. I’m not going to spend another five years on this. It’s now or never.
Adoption is on the table. I actually contacted our preferred adoption agency, but they are not accepting new families until the spring. Well, spring is fast approaching (didn’t Punxsutawney Phil predict an early one?) and I want to make a plan.
That is really what’s behind my whole drive to figure this thing out. Why on top of everything I’ve got going on with LM’s hearing loss do I want to open myself up for more responsibility? Not just the responsibility of going through treatments, but of having another baby? Because I need a plan. I can’t stand to have this hanging over my shoulders, the will-we-or-won’t-we have another baby. There is never a good time to have a second child, just like there is never a good time to have a first child.
So we’re going to just do it.
Well, hopefully. After all, that’s not totally up to us. I wish I could just get pregnant on my own terms, like so many of my mom friends are doing. I wish I didn’t have to think about it. I wish I didn’t have to go all through everything. Again. Like Groundhog Day.
But that is my choice, isn’t it?
I posed the question to my FB group of infertility survivors: How did you make the decision when and how to have a second child? Many of the moms responded that simply, they didn’t. They decided to be one and done. They couldn’t go through that again. And they couldn’t start a new process (adoption) that could very well involve years of waiting as well. They just didn’t have it in them.
Do I have it in me? I don’t consider myself stronger than anyone else. I don’t know if this is an utterly stupid thing to do, to decide to go back down the rabbit hole of my own personal Groundhog Day (how’s that for mixing rodent metaphors?).
But I really want another child. I know I could be happy with just LM, but it’s there, nagging at me, this thing that I really want that I feel I at least have to take a shot at.
So here we go.
Let Groundhog Day begin again.
Fellow fertility patients, how did you decide what to do about having more children? One-and-done moms, how did you make that decision as well?