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Posts Tagged ‘conception’

We’re only on month two of this journey, but as the song goes…the waiting is the hardest part.  I’ve been on birth control for ten years. First Depo Provera, then Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo. My cycle regulation since going off has been…interesting.

First cycle off: 41 days
Second cycle off: 29 days
Third cycle: 21 days and counting (will it be early? late? not at all?)

I’ve noticed during this cycle that the hardest wait for me is the second half of the cycle, the part where I know I COULD be preggers. The first two weeks felt carefree, lighthearted, and fun. Now I find myself this week trying to fill my time (dance class last night, dance class tonight, workout class tomorrow, dinner with a friend on Thursday) trying to catapult myself as quickly and happily as possible into next week…into a period….or maybe not.

The weirdest part is not knowing my body and what the way I feel means. I actually feel like I’m about to get my period. Is it coming early? Did we totally miss my ovulation window thinking my cycle would be about the same length as last month when it will really be shorter?

But like I told hubby this morning, maybe what I’m feeling is just the need to go to the bathroom.

TMI, huh?

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Today was the first really hot day of Spring here in Atlanta — the first day when, in the car and despite its (however faltering) air conditioning, sweat ran in thick rivulets down my stomach from beneath my breasts, and my legs became as slick as if I had been dangling them into a pool.

Hubby and I ducked into the glorious, blasting cold of the interior of a Virginia Highland restaurant called Everbody’s Pizza and settled into a booth. A few minutes later, looking out at the hot, sunny day as yet another server swung through the rear door to serve guests who were braving the patio, I said:

“It’s days like this I would kill for a cigarette.”

Hubby, when he smoked, always liked them in winter, bundled up in sweaters and exhaling warm smoke into cold night air. I preferred the smoking of summer, the smoking of margaritas, lounging poolside with a magazine, or driving around  town with the windows down and warm air blowing my hair all crazy like around my face.

I realized the other day that there hasn’t been a year since I was 18 that I haven’t had at least one cigarette. In college I smoked a pack a day at times after picking up the habit within just a couple months of arriving to school. I have since vacillated in my commitment to quitting, sometimes smoking none for weeks or months at a time, but most of the time having at least a couple a week. Since hubby and I met I have smoked less than I have smoked in the last 10 years, but as athletic and otherwise health-conscious as he is, he also has enjoyed that guilty pleasure in his past, and we’ve been guilty of indulging together, however rarely.

Since the New Year I have only had half of one cigarette, when my best friend was in town visiting from where he teaches in South Korea, and hubby hasn’t had any. Since we decided to try to conceive at the end of February, neither of us have had any. I’m absolutely 110% committed to never, ever, ever smoking when I am pregnant or could be pregnant, and I also don’t want to be a mom who smokes after we have children. (No offense meant to any of you moms who do smoke…I love cigarettes, I just wish they were healthy for me! So I totally get the desire…)

But on days like these when the desire crosses my mind more than normal, I think about how much I am willing to change my life to create another. I can’t deny that it feels hard to slough off a lot of my selfishness, and let me tell you — all volunteerism, empathy, and generosity aside, my 20s have been a pretty selfish time. But really, to me it only seems right that we’re more focused inward, or even self centered, during that time in our lives…isn’t it when we are learning about ourselves and what makes us who we are? Of course many of us are more focused on ourselves…we’re finding them.

So it’s a hot sunny day in Georgia and I reach for my water, chew my gum, grab a book. And while I am absolutely looking forward to this new time of living my life and taking care of myself not only for me but also for others (hubby and future baby, primarily) —  I’ll admit it — it feels hard to give up living life for yourself.

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What is it about kids that make us like them so darn much? I see a baby (particularly now that we’re trying to conceive) and my uterus practically aches. The instinct I feel seems almost hardwired into me — definitely not learned. So what is it about children that we are so drawn to? Why do we “ooh” and “aah” over them so?

Some people say it’s an innate drive designed to ensure the continuation of the species. Just like some say sex feels good so that we want to have it and thus ensure that humans stick around for a while, they also say our innate drive to shelter a crying, screaming infant ensures that it lives long enough to learn how to take care of itself . I can see this biological angle, for sure…but I also see a somewhat philosophical one.

When I look at a child I see pure potential. The world is so big to them — the possibilities for the future seemingly endless. What will they be? Whose lives will they touch? Will they invent something that cures a disease? A new prosthesis? Will they grow up to take care of inner city children, or starving children in Africa, or will they raise their own family? Will they be an artist, seeing and creating things with an eye that seems on another dimension altogether? How will they live their life, and see and change the world? Seeing a child and having that “I-so-desperately-want-a-child-so-he-can-have-his-very-own-life-adventure” feeling in the pit of my stomach is, I think, largely part of what inspires people like me to want to make a life — to want to create it, protect it, and help it to grow, learn, and take off on its own journey.

I used to feel this excitement around only babies and very young children, and thought kids were cutest when their age was still in the single digits. But I met a coworker’s ten-year-old today who just made my heart melt. I think this could be because I’m getting older, and ten just doesn’t seem that awkward and gangly anymore. Today ten seemed wide-eyed, full of magic and life and innocence.

Ten seemed like the future.

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One of the books I bought when hubby and I decided back at the end of February to begin this journey of conception is called Mother’s Nature, Timeless Wisdom for the Journey into Motherhood. Each page in the 200-and-something-page book highlights a different theme, with quotes, short readings, and suggestions for contemplations and activities to pursue during pregnancy. Some of the succinct and gently thought-provoking pages’ titles include, “I expect,” “I am the web,” “I am serene,” and “I hear.” These are only a few of many. Over the last several weeks I have enjoyed reading the first dozen or so pages.

One selection that caught my eye is from the page entitled, “I create.” The page includes an excerpt from a letter written during World War II on May 4, 1941 by Jessie Barnard to her unborn child. Jessie writes:

My dearest,

Eleven weeks from today you will be ready for this outside world. And what a world it is this year! It has been the most beautiful spring I have ever seen. Miss Morris (a faculty colleague) says it is because I have you to look forward to. She says she has noticed a creative look on my face in my appreciation of this spring. And she is right.

But also the world itself has been so particularly sweet, aglow with color. The forsythia were yellower and fuller than any I have ever seen. The lilacs were fragrant and feathery…Nature is outdoing herself to prepare this earth for you. But also I want to let all this beauty get into my body.

I cannot help but think of that other world. The world of Europe where babies are born to hunger, stunted growth, breasts dried up with anxiety and fatigue. That is part of the picture too. And I sometimes think that while my body in this idyllic spring creates a miracle, forces are at work which within twenty or twenty-five years may be preparing to destroy the creation of my body. My own sweet, the war takes on a terrible new significance when I think of that…

Your father  thinks parents ought to get down on their knees and beg forgiveness of children for bringing them into such a world. And there is much truth in that. But I hope you will never feel like that. I hope you will never regret the life we have created for you out of our seed.

To me the only answer a woman can make to the destructive forces of the world is creation. And the most ecstatic form of creation is the creation of new life.

I have found myself, even though I haven’t yet conceived, already noticing the world more acutely in these last several months. Grass seems greener, flowers sweeter, and the air more ripe with magical potential. The world feels alive with kinetic energy and movement, and I feel a renewed sense of childlike wonder and joy. Yet at the same time I have reflected more on the pain inherent in the world, and like Jessie I have wondered whether the world will be a dangerous or even deadly place for our future child in, say, twenty or thirty years — or even sooner.

But who knows, really? And while Jessie’s letter echoes some of the sentiments I feel are still relevant about the world today, I do not agree with all of her statements. I disagree, for example, that parents should beg forgiveness of children for bringing them into the world as it is. Begging forgiveness implies that life in this world may not be worth living, and for all the hate, pain, and suffering there is in the world, I believe there is infinitely more goodness and kindness.

I also would prefer the word “person” or phrase “man and woman” used in place of woman in this sentence: “To me the only answer a woman can make to the destructive forces of the world is creation.” Semantics aside, I like this idea, one that states that while we live in a world that can be volatile and cruel, we can focus on changing the things within our own sphere of influence — and the most miraculous thing we can create within our sphere of influence is another life, one that is taught to love, nurture, and care for others. We can fight destructive forces gently by creating a force for good. And then comes the most joyous phrase in this passage, in my opinion — that “the most ecstatic form of creation is the creation of new life.”

Ahh, yes, that’s why we’re doing this.

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Hubby and I went to visit his side of the family for a long Mother’s Day weekend, which was great except I am now sick. I’m wondering if perhaps it’s from being in the airport and around all those people and germs. Usually we drive the six hours, and it was worth it to have the shorter trip, but I do have a tendency to get sick after plane trips. I’m starting to feel better, but the last couple days haven’t been too fun.

Other than that, the weekend was great. Hubby’s sister and her hubby have two kids, our nieces. One is eight and the other will be two in August. We hadn’t seen them since the winter holidays so that, of course, was wonderful. They’re the sweetest girls, and it’s so interesting in particular to see how much a baby/toddler changes in six months.

Now on to the important stuff, as in…why did I title this post “the cat’s out of the bag”?

Hmm, well, it’s probably pretty obvious. On Saturday afternoon (before all the adults were planning on going to dinner together — this included hubby’s sis, her hubby, and my in-laws) I asked hubby if it would be okay if we told them we are trying to conceive. We talked about it and decided to go for it.

Hubby made the announcement over chips and salsa — the big margarita in front of me quickly gave away the fact that we are still TRYING — and the family seemed very excited, although thrown for a bit of a loop. We had an awkward but laugh-filled toast to sex (in which I nervously blurted out that we weren’t trying to conceive — aka have sex — in their house, and his mom said she didn’t care; ahh, the things I say sometimes), and his mom quickly starting running through her immediate thoughts aloud. Things like, will we ever move from Atlanta (closer to them)? And…”well, I’ll keep the crib after the baby grows out of it for you guys to use next.”

I am happy to have finally shared the secret, although I do feel kind of feel silly, like we told them a non announcement, or an announcement about an announcement that may come should we be able to conceive. [scratches head] Might as well have said, “Hey, Mom and Dad — just wanted to let you know, your son is having unprotected sex with me!” Giggle.

I think we’ll tell my family now too, just because I don’t want anyone’s feelings hurt whenever/if ever we do become pregnant. If they find out the other side of the family knew we were trying while they were in the dark I think it could be kind of awkward. We’re going over to my parents’ house this weekend for my mom’s birthday, so I suppose it will be time for another non announcement then.

Gulp.

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My spiritual path is based on unconditional love and acceptance for myself and others. This path is just that — a path, not a destination I’ve reached, when it comes to myself or others, although I’m working on it — and I’ve realized lately that when I say I believe in unconditional love I should apply it to myself, hubby, and our journey of conception.

I’ve been hard on myself lately. I can be a perfectionist to a fault, and when it comes to baby making my mind had it made up that perfection means conceiving during the first cycle of trying. Well, the first real cycle of trying has officially come and gone, my friends. Today, on day 29, I’ve started my period.

A very wise man I know and respect once told me (and other students of his) that “unconditional love and acceptance pulls the loose ends of discord back into harmony by relaxing our self-centeredness.” I love the image this gives me of almost palpably relaxing my self centeredness, easing it out of myself — as if self centeredness were a tightly wound ball of yarn I hold tightly against my belly — a ball of yarn that winds up and holds tightly onto feelings of discontent, anger, frustration, guilt, sadness, and judgment. When I unconditionally love and accept others and myself, I feel my hand around the ball begin to loosen, and I let it drop ever so softly to the floor. I begin to walk, and the ball trails behind me, the end of the thread still in my hand, but the ball becoming smaller and smaller, looser and looser, with each step.

The bad feelings begin to go away. Because I love myself and you despite anything that may happen in a given day and regardless of outcome, I release my feelings of anger, judgment, and guilt. I accept my body and my husband’s body’s path to conception, no matter the length or route it chooses, and thus I feel the anxiety lessen. My feelings of condemnation and hurt are replaced by contentment, peace, and joy.

I say:

“Body, I love you. Husband, I love you. Future baby, I love you, no matter if you grow in my womb one day or join our family through another means. I unconditionally love and accept myself, you, and the path we take to find you.”

And the ball continues to unravel as I

step,

step,

step

toward love that knows no condition.

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Well, I took a pregnancy test this morning, even though it’s only day 27 and I know it’s too early and otherwise was unlikely this first cycle anyway, and yeah, got a negative.

It’s okay, it’s not like I:

  • dreamed three separate dreams last night about taking a pregnancy test
  • kept waking up when it was still dark out and convincing myself over and over to go back to sleep
  • woke up at first light (earlier than usual) stretched “sleepily” for a few minutes, and then got up to take the test only after hubby (truly sleepily) woke up too and suggested I go for it like we had talked about the night before
  • was having phantom pregnancy symptoms yesterday
  • have no idea what’s going on with my body, like — are the mild cramping feelings I’m having a) impending ovulation b) impending period or c) none of the above?

Maybe I haven’t ovulated yet. Maybe it’s still on its way and my cycle is running long, like last month. I can’t say I am not disappointed, because that would be an obvious lie. I will say:

Chin up, chin up
Put a little laughter in your eyes
Brave it, save it
Even though you’re feeling otherwise
Rise up, wise up
Make a little smile begin
You’ll be happy hearted
Once you get it started
Up with your chinny chin chin!

I just can’t help loving this animated classic and it does make me smile and feel like putting my chin up. If you’re feeling really ambitious (or need to put your chinny chin chin up for one reason or another too,) watch the song from the 1973 movie here.

Charlotte's Web

Charlotte's Web

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