Round two

Today is 11dp5dt, or in English, 11 days past my 5 day embryo transfer. That’s when they inserted two tiny embryos into my uterus and wished me good luck. This also the longest 11 days ever. And the most frustrating. Even though this cycle was SO much better than the last (we had 6/10 get to blastocysts and have four in the freezer now), I can’t get over the sadness and frustration of continually seeing negative pregnancy tests. I have the faintest of faint hopes that my tests are just not sensitive enough, but I’m waning fast.

In my head, I know I can try again, and will keep trying until I’m successful. In my heart, I’m broken and sad and frustrated and having a really hard time with it. I have been trying to stay positive but it’s all just feeling a bit futile at this point.

I was feeling super positive this whole time–through the dieting, the meditations, the vision-boarding, the pep-talking, the pills, the IV’s the potions, the shots, the procedures, the tests–all of it was going so well. And now I fear it’s failed AGAIN. It’s so hard to remain positive when all that’s happening seems to be ongoing frustration.

I will be okay. I will make it through this week at work, and my official test results on Thursday. I will make it through the first two days of next week, and then I’ll be on vacation. I only hope the weather is good where we are going, and that I can clear my head sufficiently to remember all the good and amazing things in my life.

I am just feeling broke, broken, frustrated, old, wrinkly and pathetic today.

The good

I realized yesterday that I tend to only write when I’m unhappy, or there is something nagging at me. It’s a tactic I employ to get things “out there” and therefore out of my head, but the cumulative effect, and the lasting impression it leaves is one of sadness and frustration.

In fact, my life is (mostly) anything BUT sad and frustrated.

So this post is about the good. The amazing things in my life I am fortunate enough to enjoy, and the amazing things I am looking forward to enjoying in my future.

I am super fortunate to live in Canada, where we are largely insulated against many of the world’s woes. And as a woman, living in a country like Canada makes me feel super fortunate that my struggles are not those of women in many other countries.

But more small-scale, and I suppose, more selfish, are the other good things:

  • my husband, with whom I have an amazingly honest and supportive relationship, and without whom I would definitely be a different person.
  • my amazing mother-in-law (who can say that?) who is super supportive of everything her son and I are doing as we navigate this next baby-making journey, the troubles with his ex and his children, and countless other obstacles.
  • my job, which challenges me to be a better human, as well as a better communicator and leader, every day
  • my body, which is about to undergo some more amazing changes as it prepares to bring a baby into the world.
  • my personal emotional resilience–something I really didn’t know I had, but becomes apparent each and every time there’s a hurdle I need to jump. I’ve overcome so many things in the last few years that I never knew I could. It’s amazing what happens when you lean on your determination instead of your fear.
  • my “bump squad,” a term coined by Rosanne Austin and one I now use to describe the team behind my baby-making project: the doctors, naturopaths, counsellors, acupuncturists, pharmacists and all the people in my life who have been supportive of my dreams along the way.
  • and of course, my family, with whom I have a much better relationship now than ever, and who have gone their separate ways with all the dignity and respect they can muster. They remain, individually and together, my personal litmus test for my life (basically, if I know they’ll think whatever I’m about to do is crazy, I know I’m on the right track).

The list isn’t comprehensive, but it is indicative of some pretty great things.

Now, off to conquer the rest of this day!

For my husband’s children

Sometimes when I’m alone, or when I’m with your father, and he’s particularly sad and missing you, I talk to you.

I compose messages to you in my head.

Sometimes those messages are ones of love. Of kindness and of hope that one day you will be the people I have heard you were. Or maybe are, but hide.

Sometimes those messages are angry. I rail at you for hurting the father you were told not to love, and for believing the things your mother says about him. I give you stern talkings-to, about how much love you are rejecting, when so many around the world would kill for the privilege to be you. To be loved unconditionally and without reserve by so many.

Sometimes, I imagine you showing up at our door, and I turn you away. It’s not right, but deep inside me is a part of me that wants you to hurt and understand the rejection you have caused.

Often times, I remember that it’s not your fault. That it was your mother who decided to create a binary life. Him or me. No “and” there. That your father didn’t fight when he could have, and that exhaustion and resentment and old wounds created a world in which you can’t see truth.

But then I wonder–for how long are you going to use your childhood as a crutch to excuse bad behaviour? At what point do you look around and see that you have needlessly caused hurt?

Do you not hurt too? Do you not miss the father that gave you all of his love, all of his life?

I know you don’t like me. I know you are unlikely to ever respect me. In your world, I represent the end of your stability and serve as the harlot to your mother’s martyr. That’s fine. I wish it weren’t that way, but I don’t know you anyway.

I’ve been told you are kind and warm and caring, but I haven’t met those versions of you. I have been told you are young and impressionable, but I haven’t encountered anything less malleable than when you have made up your mind.

So I wish you well. I wish your mother well. I wish you all could find your way to a happiness you are all clearly seeking in the demonization of your father. I wish you didn’t feel that his demise is your way to salvation.

I wish you love. And I’ll use all the love I have to help heal the holes you left in my husband.

Being second

I love my husband. I love him a lot. He is a sweet and kind and wonderful man, who has the most generous heart I’ve ever known. He’s not perfect, as is nobody, but he’s got all the good bits I admire in people and find rarely in such measure.

AND–and here’s another “and” in my life: he has an ex wife.

Now, I also have an ex-husband, who I haven’t seen nor heard from since we got the final divorce papers about 10 years ago. We married young, regretted soon, and divorced quickly. There was no fight, there was no joint property to speak of, so the process was as simple as it gets: $250 and some online forms later, we were as if we’d never been.

The emotional fall out was another thing, but that’s something for another day.

Back to my husband. He had a long relationship with his wife. They had two children and adopted a third. They made a life together, they had a house and family and connections.

Their divorce could not have been more different than mine. Beginning a year before my now-husband and I met, it took four years and was fraught with almost every bad story you could drum up. His wife turned against him, which made the children turn against him, and his life completely fell apart.

Again, not what this post is about.

This post is about how it feels to be second. I understand that the first wife may be bitter. I had nothing to do with their relationship or it’s demise, but I understand that there may be animosity toward the “new” one.

For me, I get no joy in being the “right” one, or the “best” one. I get no joy in being younger than her (I’m actually not sure how old she is–I never bothered to look at that line of the divorce agreement). I get no joy in anything related to her, actually. I wish she didn’t exist. I wish she had never existed–or at least not in my husband’s life.

And these aren’t feelings I’m proud of. I think they speak to a deep-seeded disdain I have for myself, that I’m not sure how to get over. I should be glad they were together, because if they hadn’t, my husband would never have moved to the city in which we met, and our lives would have never crossed.

Instead, I feel shame when I think that my husband had two children easily and naturally with another woman, while we are struggling to conceive on our own. I feel terrible jealousy and somehow less of a woman than her. I feel shame when I think about them living their best years together while I struggled to find my way through toxic relationships, most notably with myself in my 20s and much of my 30s. I experience deep regret when I think back on the ways I shortchanged myself (should I have just had children when I had the chance? Why didn’t I go out with that really nice guy who asked me? How come I gave up on law school, even though I passed the test? What was I thinking?–I didn’t even get that career in world-hunger-solving that I thought I was going to get).

Being second makes me feel like the first loser in life. Being second means that I couldn’t figure out how to do it properly the first time. Being second means nothing (marriage, children, house ownership) is special and new and precious. It’s all “been there, done that.”

These are not comfortable feelings, and not ones that I would admit to in polite company. They are the antithesis of my belief systems and I feel shame in even feeling them.

I know that neither my husband nor I would have found and stayed with each other if we hadn’t been shaped by those experiences. I know that all the situations I found myself in make me the person I am today, and I know that I’m not too old to go back to law school, to change my career, to kick myself in the pants and actually start writing (hello, this blog), and maybe, MAYBE, have children.

So maybe it’s okay that we are second.

As we embark on our next, and second, IVF round, I vacillate wildly between hopeful anticipation, excitement, paralyzing fear, and grim determination. And fears that the “second” try will be worse than the first.

Though maybe this time the second try will be like it was with our marriages: the one that works. Maybe we will have learned enough and changed enough to make it stick this time. Maybe second is where it’s at.

I have to believe that.

My AND list

I have just started listening to the RISE Podcast hosted by the inimitable Rachel Hollis. On one of the episodes, Rachel was interviewing the creator and co-CEO of Noonday, Jessica Honneger, and something she said really resonated with me (the episode aired a few years ago so you may have to search for it if you can’t find it).

Jessica said that she really had to embrace the tension of the “and” in life. While she struggled to find funding for her international adoption, she created a company, making her a founder AND mother. She had to struggle through the hardships that entailed but also faced the judgement of others who said things like “you have to choose which one you want to be,” a sentiment I hear often, and mostly about women as it comes to their family and professional pursuits (no matter how far we’ve come we still never hear men asked how they’re going to choose between work and their family…).

As women, we are barraged with images and unsolicited advice that tells us how we should look, be, feel, act….etc. But it’s very binary. We are taught that success is necessary after sacrifice, that we can’t have it all (I’m not sure if this is true…you just have to pick the bits you want most), or that we can’t be more than one thing at a time.

And really, that’s why I started this blog, and that’s the whole premise behind the admittedly awkward title. A doyenne is defined as a woman who is the most respected or prominent person in a particular field. But I would argue that as women, we are forced to step up and become immediate experts in a number of subjects and skills. Life does not often allow us to find the best positioned expert to tell us what to do. We must figure it out and learn and teach–all at the same time.

In short, we become impromptu doyennes.

My bio intimates at a few of my “ands,” but I thought I’d take the time to write them out here, also. They don’t always contradict, but they do overlap and sometimes, I need to prioritize some over others.

I am

  • a woman and a feminist
  • a wife and a stepmother
  • fiercely independent and needing of intimacy
  • a fighter and a lover, with equal passion
  • an introvert and someone who can talk to anyone, for hours, about ideas
  • a book lover and an outdoor fanatic
  • a driven career-person and resistant to fixed schedules
  • achievement-oriented and goal-driven
  • a voracious learner and voracious eater. Also in equal measure
  • a lover of wine and committed to my health
  • a second-wife and wannabe mother
  • going through IVF and trying to grow in my career
  • learning everyday how much I can do and how much I need to celebrate
  • a lover of small things and big gestures
  • determined and self-conscious
  • perfectionistic and self-critical
  • enthusiastic and exhausted

That’s a few to start with.