February 27, 2011

Random moments and careful dialogue

There are many days where I feel pretty good. By "good" I mean functional, able to laugh and converse, working effectively, getting exercise. Actually, I'd say all my days are like that. It is the occasional moment that takes me by surprise. Like yesterday, as I stood in line at Costco, I watched a little girl crying as she sat in the basket, her mother calmly looking for ways to comfort her. I should have looked away within a nanosecond, as I have trained myself to do, but I didn't. I listened to her crying and saw her face squinched up and upset, and I nearly lost it. It was all I could do to maintain my composure, pay for our stuff, and get the hell out of there. Once out of the store, the moment passed like a cloud and the sun was in its place just as before.

What the...

Yeah. An unguarded moment where I realize that I am not above the influence of life happening all around me. I have also noticed in the past couple of weeks that even though I feel much better, I don't cook (normally a hobby that I take great pleasure in). I don't clean. It's been a couple months since I dusted anything. It took me a week to get through cleaning the bathroom (one surface at a time). I am easily overwhelmed by any kind of obligation. I guess I still am depressed, and I do not like this condition. Tonight I will start taking that bottle of 5-HTP I bought about a month ago, since it occurs to me that the neurons in my brain that transmit serotonin might not be working properly anymore and need a bit of a nudge (this can happen with many months of sadness - a condition which certainly applies to me). Counseling alone is perhaps not enough.

And yet, I can genuinely be happy for my coworker who is now about 16 weeks pregnant, after suffering three unexplained miscarriages. I can genuinely smile at the friend who's only announcement of her second pregnancy was a random photo of herself on Facebook, and I realized upon seeing it why she didn't say anything at the dinner where we sat with seven other women. Ah, it was probably because I was there. I could be imagining this, but I rather doubt it. It makes sense, and it would have been a graceful thing for her to do except that it wasn't necessary. She really is a sweetheart.

Another very dear friend recently confessed some guilt about talking about parenting and abortion in my presence (at different times) and hoped I wasn't offended because she loves me so much she doesn't want to hurt me even if the conversation has nothing to do with me.

Hm. How do I feel about this? Should I be offended when people talk about the things in their lives that I may or may not ever experience myself? Should I want people to censor themselves around me in an effort to guard me from the pain of being left out?

Truthfully, those conversations weren't even a blip on my radar. I never even registered a "you have no clue how I feel so you better not talk about that stuff" reaction. Seriously. I love my friends dearly and, regardless of what I'm walking through, I don't expect or even want people to tiptoe around me. I don't want to be the one that people have to be careful what they say around. I'm not that fragile that my soul will be ripped open by the mention of another pregnancy. Come on, life goes on around us regardless. If I don't want to attend a baby shower, I'm sure I can be excused and if that offends someone it's their reaction to own, not mine. If I don't offer up an opinion on abortion it's because I doubt someone wants to hear it, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion anyway.

What an odd place to be.

February 19, 2011

To herb or not to herb?

Since there is no western medicine treatment for my condition (egg quality), I embarked on a mission a few months ago to see if there were any natural treatments I could do. If you've read past posts, you know I've tried acupuncture - it was nice and all, but didn't seem to be a good fit for me and my wallet. I have looked through several volumes of supplement books to see what they recommend, and have been dismayed to find that they are almost all completely different.

What does this mean? That all of them are true? Or none? Or... it depends?

Hell if I know. I read and look for patterns or similarities. I think and pray and do research. Is this enough? I'm not sure what to do, how long to do it, how to take it or for how long...

I found one supplement, Female Reproductive Factors from Michael's Naturopathics, that contains many of the herbs that support the female system. So I started taking those a week ago. I know, it takes months for herbs to be effective. So far my body has responded by making me super bloated and giving me hormonal facial acne - you know, the stubborn things that leave scars - so I'm not sure I should be taking these.

It's so frustrating. I want to be proactive and do good things for my body in the hopes that maybe we can try again, but I'm never sure that I'm doing the right thing. I feel so lost sometimes.

Solitude and the unbearable weight of being

Right now I'm sitting on the passenger side of my car, in the parking lot of a park, with jazz on the radio (only because the classical station is playing opera which is too distracting). I forced myself to leave the house so I could get some solitude. I have a really serious craving for it on a regular basis, but I almost never make the time for it. I'm not sure why this is. Do I feel like I need to spend every free moment with my husband? Do I feel like I'm indulging in some extravagance or guilty pleasure for taking time away from people?

This week I've been doing a written exercise that requires me to allot every hour of every day to some sort of activity for the next two months. You know: 1 hour to get ready for work, 1 hour to commute (total), 8 hours work, 1 hour mealtime, 1 hour exercise, 1 hour reading... Somehow I need to fill up the 16 hours a day that I'm not sleeping.

I've done this exercise before. The last time it was only for one or two weeks, but the objective was the same: to figure out how I'm spending my time so I can make sure I'm making time for the things I need to do with my life, or something like that.

But two months?? I have so far resisted filling in more than one week. I looked at an example and thought, wow - that's a lot of stuff to pack into one day - then I started thinking that there was more time in my day than I thought there was, and was tempted to fill in all sorts of things.

Then I hit a wall. A wall of resistance, of the weight of my being.

I felt hemmed in by this exercise. I didn't want to structure myself so much, didn't want to feel guilty for having unplanned time, wanted to make sure I had plenty of downtime. I wanted to rebel against this exercise and skip it altogether. What am I supposed to learn here, anyway? That I'm lazy? That I should be doing more? That I'm not being all I can be?

Oh but then this week, I saw a pattern emerge. I have been resisting a lot of things - requests to spend time with people instantly makes me feel anxious instead of positive. If I have more than one social commitment during the week (even if it's yoga and therapy or guitar lessons), I feel crowded and exhausted. It seems I have been structuring my time to have long chasms of downtime. And what do I do in these unstructured hours? Oh, it varies. I try to do what I feel like doing that day: exercise, read, cook a real dinner, watch movies...

Oh, maybe this is another symptom of depression. I do feel more comfortable if I can plan things a couple weeks in advance rather than spur-of-the-moment (a characteristic that has never been part of my personality), so maybe I can start there. Fill in some big rocks in that two-month schedule. Just being aware of my state brings a sense of peace.

February 8, 2011

Investigating the Mind-Body Connection

I'm doing a lot of searching lately. Online, in my heart, through prayer... Anyone in a major life transition tends to do this, or so I've heard. (Don't worry - I won't be buying a motorcycle anytime soon)

One of the things I'm currently researching is mind-body therapy. I understand that our thought life affects our physical life, and it is no small thing. Phrases like "I think, therefore I am" come to mind. One thing I came across today is a video segment from 20/20 where John Stossel investigates a physician-led mind-body therapy for sufferers of chronic back (or similar) pain. His findings were fascinating, and he even submitted himself as a patient.

So. Can I think myself to having healthy eggs? Did all those years of running away from pregnancy affect my hormones to the degree that the health of my eggs actually suffered? Where's does mind-body therapy end and my relationship with God begin? I have heard people draw parallels between prayer and meditation and understand the temptation to think that, somehow these could be the same thing if they produce the same result. But this is where discernment becomes really critical. I know that the mind is capable of far more things that we currently understand, and we are learning more all the time. I know that much of life is still a mystery, and one body of knowledge (whether it be the Western medical community, alternative therapy, or a particular philosophy) does not hold all the cards. Even the combination of all human knowledge in the world right now cannot give me all the answers. They also cannot give me comfort or peace or hope.

I have a vision of myself, of my reproductive system, and it is something I think about for just a minute or two many times throughout the week. I meditate on this vision prayerfully. I am finally able to accept what is, and accept myself as I am, and I am willing to do the work of psychological and emotional healing that I need. That doesn't mean I don't want my situation to change. 

It does mean that I
Seek first. Keep looking. Don't stop. Keep knocking. Don't give up.

Sometimes I think about Hannah who, after years of infertility, prayed desperately for a child and promised to give one to God if he blessed her. And Sarah, who must have given up asking at some point, or else why would she have laughed out loud when she heard the man of God prophecy that she'd bear a child in her old age?

Daniel 2:28
"...but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries."

February 3, 2011


Like my Blogger ID says, I truly am a dreamer. I don't mean the kind that has spent every nickel of a winning lottery ticket a thousand times in my head - I mean I have dreams. Yes, yes we all have dreams. But sometimes mine seem to go way beyond the normal empty-out-the-trash-of-my-subconscious.

Trouble is, I never really figure out what they mean, and I would rather not turn to some metaphysical book with neatly defined dream definitions. Why? Two reasons: first, as a follower of Christ I take seriously the Bible's admonition to avoid this source of information; second, I believe dreams are too personal and individual to be subject to one author's definition. Finally (okay, that makes three) there are countless examples of God speaking to people through dreams and visions in the Bible. So when I am considering a dream, I often measure it through the lens of God's will. That doesn't mean that I think every dream is a message straight from the top, though.

Anyway, so in the last few weeks I've had some really interesting dreams but they've been snippets of larger ones. In the first, I was walking around some villa outside on a spring day with a group of friends while carrying a branch covered in flowers. Suddenly a group of bees started swarming around the branch, diving back and forth presumably to pollinate them. I was scared, because I really hate being stung, but I noticed they weren't paying any attention to me - just the flowers.

In the second, a week later, I was at a party with some friends. I looked down at the coffee table in front of me and there was this baby boy, wrapped up in a big brown hooded jacket, looking all perfect and healthy and adorable and stuff. I just stared at him, wondering whose baby this was, and he was staring back at me. I think I smiled at him, but don't quite remember.

In the third, just the other night. I suddenly had a mouthful of big, soft, round balls - like giant tapioca beads. They were in my cheeks, like I'd been growing them in there. I was confused, so I took them out and looked at them in the palm of my hand: each one was milky white and somewhat transparent, and held what looked like a tiny seed in the center. I carried them with me to a lab (which was conveniently down a hallway) and was about to have someone analyze them and tell me what they were. Stupid alarm went off before I could find out.

Last week, my therapist told me that dreams tend to mean whatever we, as the dreamer, think they mean. As you can imagine, my mind drifts to images of fertility, with pollinating bees, babies, and eggs. Does it mean anything, or is it a manifestation of stress and the fact that, no matter what's going on in my life, my current state of unresolved infertility is never far from my mind like a ball tied to the end of a long rubber band?

I actually look forward to dreaming. Sometimes my dreams are more enjoyable than my daytime life - others just make me curious and confused. In fact, that's the one thread of commonality between these three: confusion. I'll keep dreaming though...

February 1, 2011

"Do you support Planned Parenthood?"

Two women asked us this, poll or petition or whatever in hand, as we approached a coffee house last weekend. My response? "Uh... I don't even know how to answer that question.."

Not because I can't say whether I lean toward pro-choice or pro-life, or whether I'd prefer to see an organization like theirs actively linked with adoption agencies (hello???!!!), but simply because. It's too deep and ironic a question for me to answer. At least, not to a couple of people with a specific objective behind the question.