October 30, 2008

Showing my cards....

I generally have been steering away from commenting on all things political lately, at least online - which is strange because I am pretty out spoken in my "real life". I think I have seen so many political online "conversations" become complete shit storms that I have just not wanted to invite that upon myself.

But....I can no longer hold out. I am so excited and had to share that in one hour I will begin my volunteer work for the campaign of this man:

Probably the first person my husband and I have had a major crush on simultaneously. ( I sound like I am 12 now, don't I?)

And, yes, I have plenty of reasons for supporting him besides the fact I get all googly-eyed whenever I hear him speak. I do, really. In fact, I was a bit of a skeptic for awhile. I originally leaned more towards Hillary in the primaries. Not Mr. Spicy though, he's been an Obama man all the way.

And just a side note, if you like reading memoirs, his book, Dreams From My Father, is really a great read. Really. And it ends before he even goes to Harvard, so if you aren't a supporter of him politically, you won't have to read anything about his political career there at all. It's just a phenomenal book. (apparently there is a big controversy over whether he had a ghost writer to help him with this book and who that might have been - eh, whatever, like I said - still a really great read)

So, I hope my little volunteering stint in this last few days before the election will somehow make some small difference. I am excited to be a part in what is truly an historic election. I am finding myself as excited and passionate as I was back in 1992, the first election I could vote in. I was 18 and completely ga-ga over Bill Clinton. I even got to shake his hand. And even though Clinton didn't exactly turn out to be the messiah or anything, I am still proud of how involved I was back then. And truly, this is the first election since that I have felt this hopeful and involved. And I see so many others feeling the same way - and that for me is really inspiring. So, while I hope my efforts will contribute to getting my candidate elected - I hope even more that by being involved I will somehow be a part of getting even more people involved in the political process. People who might not otherwise have come out to vote. Because at the end of the day that is part of what has been most hopeful for me about all of this: being reminded that this is my country, and that I have a right and a responsibility to make my voice heard and to be involved in it.

Now, remembering to hold onto that energy even when the BIG election is over, and the smaller processes are taking place on a city, county, and state level - that is where the real battle will be for me long term. But, one day at a time, right?

How are you feeling about the election? Are you excited? hopeful? Pissed off? Over it? bored? cynical?


And completely unrelated....I am in complete denial that I am now over 29 weeks pregnant!!!!! I cannot believe it. But I will be posting updates and belly pics soon - promise!

October 16, 2008

The perspective of the rain...

Three years ago we took a trip to Costa Rica, our first there together. We backpacked through the country, catching buses, staying in cheap hotels....it was magical.

Midway through the journey we arrived in a mountain town, high in the cloud forest, called Monteverde. We arrived by way of a rickety old bus driven precariously through the mountain roads. We got into town around noon or so and quickly found rustic and affordable lodging. We unpacked a bit and prepared to explore the area in the afternoon.

I don't remember exactly where we were when it began raining that day. Had we already left the room? Had we made it into "town"? I honestly can't say. But I do remember that it began to rain with such force and fury at 2pm in the afternoon that it felt as if the whole sky might indeed fall in upon us. The air was replaced by sheets and sheets of torrential rain released out of some invisible faucet above. It seemed that there could not possibly be that much water in the entire world.

People retreated from the streets, the bright afternoon darkened. It felt oppressive. And we wondered how long it would continue. But then, about 4pm, like clockwork, the faucet was turned off, the sun came out again, although muted by the clouds that area is known for, and it was all over.

We found out quickly through locals that in May this was pretty much standard for Monteverde, every day there would be these short intense rains beginning around 2pm. We just needed to plan accordingly. So, the next day we planned around the rain, had a fabulous morning, and by the time the rain hit we were happily enjoying Costa Rican coffee in a coffee shop and marveling at the beauty and power of nature.

It's all in the perspective isn't it?

A week and a half ago we were holed up in a luxurious hotel room, enjoying a blissful, romantic babymoon. (ironically, payed for almost entirely with rewards from our credit card, the one we used for many of our IVF expenses) We were well fed, well rested, thoroughly romanced and our internal emotional buckets were full for the first time in a long time. We laughed at our usual worries and talked about the things to come with a sense of peace. We were happy and content.

Then we returned home and within days the first rumblings of thunder began.

Mr. Spicy had decided to accept an offer at another company and after returning from our babymoon, gave notice to the team of people he had helped build and lead for six years. And a whole host of complications surrounding that decision came up like the first drops of impending rain - that we were not expecting.

The tension continued to build around his job stuff, our finances, future concerns we had been able to laugh at only days before.

And then, we decided (well, Mr. Spicy decided) to take in a cat. Seems harmless enough right? She had been crying and crying at our back door for a couple of days, she wanted in, she wanted petting, she wanted food. She was obviously not just another neighborhood alleycat. She had been with people before. Mr. Spicy began bringing her tuna on the deck, and before too long she had moved in - complete with a litterbox and premium cat food. I checked everywhere for someone who might be looking for her, but had no luck. We decided to keep her "for now" and talk about maybe trying to find her a good home after we had vaccinated and spayed her. The best laid plans....as they say.

Well, a few nights ago she began having diarrhea, and it got all over her back end. Mr. Spicy, trying to be helpful, grabbed a spray bottle of dog/cat cleaner and another spray bottle of what he assumed to be water to clean her up. He got her all clean, things seemed well, we went to bed. When we awoke the next morning we found the kitty curled up in a ball on our couch, growling in pain, we couldn't touch her without her yowling. I then noticed the cleaning supplies from the night before and realized that Mr. Spicy had sprayed the kitty, not with water, but with a solution I had mixed up for cleaning our kitchen. It was water, vinegar, and multiple essential oils. The essential oils I used were precisely the kind that are toxic to cats if ingested in large amounts. We feared we had accidentally poisoned our kitty.

We rushed her to the vet hospital for two days of IV fluids, multiple medications, much hand wringing on our part, and literally hundreds of dollars spent. In the hospital she spiked extremely high fevers and it became clear that we may not have had a role in her sudden illness at all. She may have simply had a severe infection. Regardless, we have now bought and paid for a cat - full on. We felt sick at the thought that we may have accidentally harmed her, we felt worried and sad for the little kitty who had so sweetly chosen our home to invade, and we felt anxious and ambivalent about all the money we were spending - money we really didn't have to spare - for a kitty we had only known for a week. We never regretted taking her in, doing the right thing for her - but those two days really took their toll on us.

During that same 48 hours, the truck that Mr. Spicy drives to work, the 19 year old monster of a truck with a broken door lock, the truck we knew we would need to replace in the next year - well, it sort of died. In reality, a major component of the truck died, and it is simply not worth it to put the money into it to replace it. But, if you can imagine - we were dealing with uber-expensive sick kitty in the hospital and the thought of needing to replace a vehicle, basically all at once.

And the rain came pouring down.

It felt very much like that oppressive rain storm our first day in Monteverde, I couldn't catch my breath, there were too many things happening at once - and too much we simply didn't have a buffer for, financially or otherwise. I sunk quickly into feeling sorry for myself, for us. Why was all this happening at once? How could we possibly take on more debt just as everything was changing? Soon, Mr. Spicy would start his new job, soon we will have a new baby - now we have to buy a car, pay vet bills, and we still have to pay for baby stuff and a doula, and Christmas....and and.....anxiety ensues. And the torrential downpour just gets louder.

But then? Then we remembered some "emergency" money we had stashed away. Not enough to fully cover the vet bills, but enough to make a big dent. And, probably more importantly, we remembered we were not alone. I called my dad who has an extra car he doesn't use regularly and asked if we could borrow it for a little while to give us time to buy a car. Not only did he gladly and generously offer it to us, but he made it clear we could borrow it for as long as we need to save up for a good car, a car that will be safe and dependable and actually fit our needs. Which was such a huge relief that I began to cry.

It is such a typically "American" and an extremely indulgent problem to have: the need to buy a car. I mean really. I wish I was someone who was able to simply figure out how to do without one. But for now, with Mr. Spicy working so far away and needing to be able to travel to different offices throughout the day, and with my nanny work - we aren't able to creatively work out another option just yet . And yes, how ridiculous to cry over a car, over maybe having to purchase an old, high mileage vehicle because that is all we could could afford right now - "Oh noes!" I know, I know - it could be so so much worse. And I feel sufficiently ridiculous about it. But knowing we can wait, wait till Mr. Spicy is comfortably settled into his new job, wait till our little Poblano makes his appearance, wait till we have a bit more saved from bonuses and tax returns to make this large purchase more reasonable and less rushed - well, it was like the rain just suddenly stopped pouring. And the sun came out. And I could take a full breath again.

And now? I look back over the past week and feel a bit silly and embarrassed. Somehow, I let this strange and admittedly stressful sequence of circumstances send me into a dark and fearful place. I am not surprised I ended up there, not surprised I possibly became WAY more stressed out than was necessary, not surprised that I allowed these events to invade my psyche and convince me once again that I could not rest, I am not safe, the world is dangerous and unpredictable, and we are all alone in it. I am not surprised. I am dismayed. I don't deny that we had a stressful cocktail of events all at once - I don't blame us for letting those effect us. But now that it has stopped raining, or at least for the most part - Now that our new kitty (her name is Tallulah by the way) is home safe and sound and just as sweet and loving as ever - Now that my dad and stepmom have reached out to us in this generous and loving way........

Well, now I can see that it wasn't the rainstorm meant to drown us, or ruin us - it was simply a short and powerful storm that has cleared up relatively quickly. We weren't drowned, we didn't lose much more than money and an old truck that was on its way out anyhow - we are ok. Sure, as Mr. Spicy makes this next big transition, it will be hard - we will both grieve the people he is leaving, the people he has known for 6 years, we will both feel anxious about the new expectations and new environment for him. He will be under some stress as he navigates his way into this new world. But we are ok. He is ok. Our kitty is ok. We are all ok.

I know part of my heightened reaction is due to pregnancy. And even if it isn't - that's my excuse and I am sticking to it! But I also know that some of it is just me, just us - and how we respond when things go off track for us. We have friends who face enormously stressful situations with so much more grace and so much more ability to simply shrug and move forward, doing what needs to be done. We get there eventually - but not without much gnashing of teeth, inner-soul-searching, and moaning and rolling on the floor. Ok, maybe not rolling on the floor...but you get my drift.

I just wish sometimes we could remember the perspective of that second day in Monteverde, the knowing that the rain would not last forever, was not going to harm us - that we would be ok. I wish we could find ourselves in a cafe, sipping coffee, waiting out the rain, and not losing sight of the beauty and power all around us in the midst of it. I wish we more regularly were the ones helping others out of the rain rather than needing that help so much for ourselves.

I am grateful that the rain was as short as it was. I am grateful for the lessons we have learned even in that short time. I am grateful for the perspective I have this morning, and that it didn't take me longer to get here. I am grateful we are fortunate enough that these were our worries.

Maybe next time I will not be so frightened when it begins to rain. Maybe next time I will remember.....

October 04, 2008


When we first became pregnant we dreamed of a vacation on a beach somewhere as our last getaway before the third trimester hit and before we became new parents. We were going to spend long days lounging on the beach, drinking cold fruity drinks, frolicking in the surf and reading good books. Ha!

That was obviously before we realized all the costs involved with baby-having. Not that we're broke, but my working temp jobs here and there, our house projects, prepping for parenthood, etc...well they have left us a bit more realistic.

So, we are headed to a hotel downtown for the weekend. A hotel with a heated pool, a large bathtub in our room, room service, movies, and a really comfy bed. I. cannot. wait. To me, these amenities just about make up for the lack of an ocean view.

I am bringing books, supplies for facials (don't tell anyone I told you this, but Mr. Spicy likes the facials as much as I do!), sexy pj's, a swimsuit, a dress (for if we manage to actually leave the room), and not a whole lot else.

There are a lot of moments I hope will unfold this weekend for us, I hope it is romantic and reinvigorating and restful. But also?

I hope I get to eat a big giant ice cream sundae, that I didn't have to make, while sitting in a hot bathtub. And then? I want to read trashy gossip mags in a bed I won't have to make either.

I am aiming high here people!

So....are any of you pregnant ladies planning a "babymoon" of your own? (and don't you think the title of "babymoon" is a bit silly when you actually say it out loud?) What are you planning?
Or any moms out there have good babymoon stories to share?

October 03, 2008


When we were in the throws of trying desperately to get pregnant and facing our infertility, the lack of control, the heartache, the desperation I felt seemed to remind me constantly on a deep emotional level of a time when I was younger, more helpless and felt similarly out of control and stuck and desperate for something to change. It was as if the pain created a bridge in time between the two and I was constantly traveling back and forth between them. I ended up feeling lost and traumatized in the present by memories and emotions I had long ago left behind. I felt haunted. It was difficult to distinguish where my feelings were coming from - was I suicidally depressed just because our final IUI didn't work, or was it also tapping into pain I felt when I was so much smaller?

Anyone who has dealt with or is dealing with trauma can probably identify with this. It is not that uncommon.

So now, I am pregnant. When we first found out we were pregnant I wondered if this trauma response in me would rear its ugly head again, I wondered if I would truly be able to cherish and enjoy this pregnancy the way I longed to. Thankfully, for the most part, I have been able to. I had some depression early on, and more recently have dealt with anxiety - but thank G.od it has been nothing like what I feared. In fact, I am already grieving how fast it is passing me by because I want more time to really soak in the miracle and wonder that having this little one inside of me truly is.

But it has not been easy.

Being pregnant touches on my control issues in a whole different way than infertility did. With infertility I felt stuck. I felt as if all the effort in the world might not move me from the spot I had found myself in. I remember one day, meditating on a large boulder in the middle of a fast moving stream, thinking how I felt like that boulder, stuck in the middle of life with everything around me moving past me, leaving me behind - and I wept. In that meditation though, I also received a sense of peacefulness, if just for a moment, about being still like that - about letting the events in my life shape me, about being powerless but strong. I learned a lot during those weeks, months, years - the experience was not wasted on me.

Powerlessness in pregnancy has a whole different feel to it. I no longer feel stuck. If anything I feel as though I am being swept up in a fast moving current. I am moving, life is moving. But it is happening so fast, and it feels still so far beyond my power to control very much about it. I can swim, I can float, I can laugh or scream or cry - but in it all I will still be moving swiftly through these currents. At times this has been a peaceful thought for me. Something I could surrender to. The thought that maybe it wasn't all up to me, the idea that there is something or Someone bigger at work here, a force of life much stronger than me. I have been comforted by the thought that the growth of this baby, the course of this pregnancy, the life that has formed and is developing - none of it depends upon me fully. There is no way to "do it perfectly" or "get it right". I simply have to let go, surrender, trust.

Ah....but there's the rub! Surrender, trust.....let go.... Sounds an awful lot like the advice given to me when we were struggling so hard to become parents. And that's where this comes full circle.

Lately, I find myself thinking a lot. a lot. about our journey with infertility. I find myself grieving for the parts of myself I left behind in that battle, for the ways I was stripped bare and wounded. I find myself reminded of that pain, that longing, all the choices we had to make that we never thought we'd make. The great cost of the journey and those choices on our lives, our hearts, our relationships. I am reminded of how alone I felt - how completely alone. I was not alone, but it was such a lonely and deeply personal process, one that not even my partner, who was in it with me and experiencing his own loss and frustration, could ever truly enter into fully with me, as much as he tried (and vice versa).

The good side of being reminded of all of this is that it does make every little kick, every stirring in my womb feel that much more of a miracle. I cannot stop saying "Thank you" for this new little boy growing inside of me.

The down side is - well, it's hard. I am not one of those women who continually identifies herself as someone who became "pregnant after infertility". And as selfish as it sounds, as soon as I became pregnant I felt a strong urge to leave the world of infertility behind me once and for all. I was sick of living there. I know the p.c. thing, the other-centered thing, the human thing, would have been to want to stay in it for the sake of others, to be there for them - to share my story, my hope, my resources, my support. And for a few women, I have. But for the most part, I just wanted to come up for air. I wanted to be free, I wanted to feel "normal" again. But of course there is no feeling totally "normal" when you finally become pregnant after years of trying, after failed treatments, after IVF. At least for me there wasn't. I still worry constantly that my body won't know what to do, that I am "broken" or "deficient" in some way. I worry this little boy will be taken from me. I am overly aware of the fragility of life, of our bodies, of what is at stake here. And I probably always will be, in some way.

It is, in many ways, very much like the bridge in time that was formed during my journey with infertility. Instead, now the lack of control, the fear, the being swept away by it all - it draws me back to my experiences just a year ago, or two years ago. In a way I feel a bit haunted again.

And yet, just as with infertility, and the memories it brought up for me - I feel some sense of purpose in this haunting, this remembering. I know I cannot run from it. I cannot pretend I got here any other way. So when I need to grieve it, I grieve. When I need to just stop and remember, I try to stop and let myself remember. Remember, that a year ago I was bordering on suicidal. Remember, that a year ago I was losing hope that I would ever ever be where I am at today. Remember, that while I am so incredibly blessed and fortunate to be here - it took a lot out of me to make it this far, and I am still healing - still picking up the pieces, still finding myself in the rubble of it all.

Sometimes this is more difficult because the current I am being swept up in is moving so very fast, and constantly, constantly, it feels there are more things thrown into that current with me - more changes, more of life just being washed away, or transported to something completely new. It is like whitewater rafting without a raft.

I was determined when I was that rock in the middle of the gushing waters - I was determined to learn from it, to heal, to find my strength, to practice being still and letting go. And now as I face a very different place of powerlessness I know I will need that same determination to learn to let go, to swim when I need to, and to let the waters carry me when I don't.