Sunday, December 23, 2007


Happy Holidays, everyone.

I'm doing much better with acceptance of everything, especially my body and its limitations. I really just needed to realize (again) that ultimately it isn't about me or what I wish was reality. It's about my daughter. When I put my brain on that setting, things look much more okay. I have to remind myself that "the best I can" is in fact, just fine. And it is.

To all of my blog friends: Wherever you are and whatever you celebrate, may it be happy. Here's to a new year full of hope and happiness.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I know.

I have a new three-day-old niece and have been (willingly) around my sister-in-law as she breastfeeds her sweet little one. I didn't realize that I was rubbing salt in an obviously still open wound. I was just so curious to know how the process works with a normal body. To hear what a "real" nursing baby's swallow sounds like. To watch my SIL put pressure on her breast to stop the milk from flowing out. To hear about the pain of engorgement. It stings a bit. Ok, a lot. And I have such a feeling of guilt and spite for my body. I know that I should be satisfied at this point that I've been able to make anything at all, but I don't feel lucky. And I hate that I just can't let go.

I would have literally starved my daughter if I'd relied on my body alone. I had a rough time with that, but thought that I'd accepted it. I needed help getting her in me and getting her out, so why should feeding her be any different? I had known something wasn't right for a while- my A's stayed A's throughout my pregnancy. I was never milk took five days to come in, and I had a hard time deciding if it had indeed come in at all. The most I've ever made at a time as been one stupid ounce. Total. For five months, I've been offering my daughter breastmilk before a bottle, and for five months she's been the most patient baby on the face of the earth. I'm drying out. I'm now down to making less than a full ounce a day. And all those failure-as-a-woman feelings that infertility introduced me to are all back to the surface. I know that I've been desperately clinging onto breastfeeding. I know.

I know that my daughter won't suffer at all if she is exclusively formula-fed. I know that there won't be any physical pain when I stop. I know that I shouldn't feel guilty. I know that I've done the best that I could. I know that I shouldn't hate my body for failing me. Again. I know, I know, I know.

But it scares me. How can I teach my daughter to love her body when I hate mine so much? How can I teach her that being a woman is so much more than any physical limitation or imperfection? I want to be the kind of person that can just let it go and move onto things that I have more control over, I really do. I know that ultimately this isn't about me, but right now, right in this moment, the tears keep on falling. I just rocked my daughter to sleep and they streamed down my face. I want to shield her from all of this and yet, she's already been affected by it. I wanted so much to give her what most people have the choice to do, and once again, my body won't allow it.

I'll get over it eventually. Someday the sting won't be as fierce. I know that, too. I hope that someday the guilt fades. I know that this isn't as big of a deal for a lot of people. I wish that it was that simple for me. I wish I knew how to just deal with it. I wish that I didn't feel so alone with it.

I know, but I wish...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I knew I should have added more flour.

Or possibly a bucketful.

So far, I'm digging this Stay At Home Mom thing from the 1950's. Obviously, I love being able to stare at my darling* child any moment I choose. It's pretty nice having the time to take care of things around the house so that it doesn't look like a tornado ravaged it with a Mack truck that it picked up from the nearby highway. I can actually make preparations the dinner that I think about at 2pm. I can vacuum cat hair and clean up doggy wizzle more than twice a month. I can wear clean clothes that weren't frantically washed the night before and still partially damp. My plants aren't in a constant state of Wilt. Hell, even the fish are getting fed consistently. It's pretty awesome.

I attempted to make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies! (my favorite, hence the capital letters and mid-sentence punctuation) this afternoon. I added some chocolate chips, let's not get stupid. And they taste pretty good. The problem lies in that "cookie" isn't exactly the appropriate noun for them. No, I made three dozen Oatmeal Raisin [Chocolate Chip] Gooey Mushy Globs! instead. No, it didn't stop me from licking the batter bowl clean. And the beaters.

*My darling child who sleeps through the night all the time. Except last night. She was in and out of sleep all night long. It was...hmm. Unrefreshing. Today, I needed cookies. Or globs. Whatever.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Look, I found five minutes!

For what it's worth, I'm still around. I have officially decided to not go back to work and I think it was the right decision for me. "Stress" doesn't exist like it did before. People keep asking if I've been coping with the adjustment and I feel like I'm cheating somehow because it's been such an easy transition. We may be eating Ramen noodles every night for dinner for the rest of our known existence, but hey, don't they have a million flavors of that crap anyway? I haven't written much lately, mostly because I haven't had much time to sit at the computer for longer that five minutes at a time and also because everything has been pretty good for me. I have nothing bad to say about parenting so far. Nada. Still love it. Rory's smiling and sort of laughing now (it's a funny little inward noise). She's started to become very interested in everything around her. It's pure joy.

Last I heard, my dad's cousin and his wife are doing okay. I keep asking around the family for updates, trying to get a gauge for how things are, and it seems that they are taking things one step (one breath?) at a time.

My husband's cousin and his wife told us last week that they are expecting and I couldn't be more happy for them. I had sensed that they'd been trying for several years, based on bits of conversations and judging by facial expressions when baby stuff has come up now and again. I knew by how honestly sympathetic they were after my miscarriage that they might perhaps know more than we'd realized before. The last time I saw them, I was pregnant and I could see heartbreak in their eyes. It was tough for me and I know it was worse for them. They've always been very private with it, though, so I never wanted to pry. At any rate, they were pregnant with twins and lost one in July. The other wasn't expected to make it, but so far, close to 12 weeks along, the baby's doing fine. She's currently having a ball with progesterone supplements- I'm pretty sure we've officially bonded now! I'm just so glad that things seem to be going their way finally- I know what wonderful parents they'll be.

I've been trying to catch glimpses of everyone's blogs when I can- it seems like there's lots of good stuff out there recently. I'll try to get better about leaving comments when I drop in to read. Here's to a good week!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

And the heartache isn't over.

My mom just called with horrific news. My dad's cousin and his wife were 8 months pregnant (IVF) and yesterday she threw a clot (pulmonary embolism) and lost the baby. She's in very critical condition. She had a miscarriage about a year ago. I can only imagine that they've spent the past eight months terrified that something might go wrong. She's 42. Sure, that can carry some risks as far as fertility goes, but you certainly don't think about this. Then again, I don't guess anybody really expects something like this.

I could ask why it's all so incredibly unfair, but somehow "unfair" doesn't do justice to what they must be feeling right now. I'm at a complete loss.

So please, if you pray, pray. If you think, please think. If you light candles, get your matches out. "S" needs all the strength and good thoughts and hope that the world has to give.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Great Cake Day!

I sort of cheated. I didn't make my cake. It's from a celebration/shower that my church had for Rory this Sunday. We joined this church towards the end of my pregnancy and several sweet ladies have been dying to have cake and punch ever since. Neither Mr. Mandolyn nor I had been to church regularly in well over ten years, so finding somewhere that felt like home seemed like it would be a near-impossible task. Except that it wasn't. We only tried one church in our great quest, but we like this place a lot. It's a good fit for us. It's pretty small, and very close-knit without being pushy or overwhelming. We found out recently that our minister and his wife have Clomid twins, after four miscarriages. It's not like I consider infertility experience a requirement, but it sure makes things more meaningful then to hear our baby introduced to the congregation as an answer to prayers. We've heard over and over again what a blessing she is and how they love to celebrate babies. Amen, folks.

Happy Great Cake Day!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A View From the Infertile Window

A few days ago I had a feeling of "I'm really not entirely sure how I truly feel about that" lurking around. We found out that my husband's cousin is pregnant. Not much out of the ordinary there (that we know about)- they wanted to have a baby and -poof- got pregnant. Good for them. But the weird part is that they have a website set up with several couples from their church. These people all got together and decided that they wanted to have babies this year and set up a joint website to follow everyone's progress. They use it as an open diary for each other and the world in general to view. Now, I can see to the non-infertile how this sounds like a fun, innocent idea. To me, it sounds like pure Internet Hell. Can you imagine? What if one of the couples has trouble conceiving? Or miscarries? Or they get to look at how nicely everyone else in their little circle is coming along with their pregnancies while sitting at home in a pool of tears wondering what is wrong with them and why can't it work for them like it does for everyone else. And then they can go to church and see all the couples in their little baby club, and try to pretend that everything is perfectly fine. It's not unlike what happens every single time infertility strikes, but I can't imagine that kind of gestational innocence. I don't remember it. I wish that I weren't so cynical about their. I wish that I thought is was cute. For their sake, I hope that it all works out for them. I hope all of their group members end up with a baby at the same time. How ridiculously adorable. How perfectly nauseating. I hope they never have to realize how close they are to the edge.

We watched Apocalypto a few nights ago. Well, "watched" is kind of a loose interpretation. I snoozed through most of the middle, which had nothing to do with the entertainment value and everything to do with the fact that it as after midnight. Mr. Mandolyn and I were both radio-tv-film majors and sometimes rent movies because we feel like we're supposed to. I realize the rationale is mostly ridiculous, but we do the rent movies through the mail thing so it doesn't cost extra to pretend that we got more out of those film criticism classes than we actually did.

At any rate, one of the story arcs didn't sit well with me. One of the characters is made fun of in his tribe because of his inability to produce a child. And not merely called names or made to feel like an outsider, but cruel, physical jokes. And everyone joins in- his peers, his mother-in-law, his elders, the children in the tribe. It took my breath away. I guess we've all kind of felt like that on the inside. Infertility makes you feel like you're the butt of a horrific joke. But to see it played out on screen so openly...and in ancient times...made it rumble around in my stomach.

It's not a new realization, but one that seems to be a recurring theme. Things are just different from the perspective of an infertile. Not worse. Just different, and it's a little shocking now and then to discover the view from another window.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Rory Story- Long Overdue

At 7:30am on May 11th we checked in on the labor and delivery floor. I wasn't nearly as nervous as I thought I might be. I was induced shortly after and realized that the cute little adorable tightening sensations that I'd felt prior to that moment were not in fact actual contractions. I decided on an epidural sometime around lunchtime (which for me was a tasty grape popsicle...who knew it could taste so good?), called my dad, who is a nurse anesthetist, and personally thanked him for every woman he's ever numbed. Mr. Mandolyn wanted to watch, which was apparently only allowed if he sat down. My doctor came in to check on my every couple of hours and it seemed like everything was progressing...sort of. He and the nurse had a hell of a time checking me out because of the placement of my cervix. Who me? Anatomical issues? Anyone surprised? I came in at almost 2cm dialated and progressed to 3, then 4, then 5. Then 5. Then still 5. The baby's head seemed to really enjoy the -2 position and didn't seem interested in engaging any further. Still, both my doctor and I preferred to have this baby without a c-section and she was never in distress, so we forged ahead until 7:30pm. My cervix was swelling, I was still at 5cm, Baby's head still hadn't come any farther down, and my doctor could feel a 5cm lump on my baby's head from her 12 hour effort. At 7:30, we decided to prep for a c-section. I was disappointed for a few seconds, but the whole staff was so incredibly great about making me laugh and feel comfortable and at ease with the process that it didn't last long. Mr. Mandolyn got to watch this process, too, but interestingly enough, was allowed to stand. Needles mean that men must sit to watch, but cutting his wife's flesh and retrieving a small human? No chair necessary. We were amused. It went very smoothly and very calmly and at 8:16pm I got a quick glimpse of Rory Leigh, the most beautiful baby girl in the whole world (yes, there is a bias there). We realized that her big ol' head wasn't going to fit through my inadequately sized pelvis. My awesome CRNA took our camera and took picturs for us and pulled back the big sheet that was in front of my face to give me a view of the nurses and Mr. Mandolyn cleaning up my daughter. They brought her over and the three of us just stared at each other and I forgot all about whatever was going on with my body beneath the sheet curtain. I heard "What a Wonderful World" playing on the OR speakers as I was wheeled into a recovery room. At that moment, everything was wonderful. It still is.

I did really well with my own recovery and we had Rory in our room every second that we could. Surrendering her for an hour or so in the morning (pediatrician) and evening (bath, weight check, etc.) was really difficult. I think most of my nurses wanted me to have her in the nursery overnight, but I just couldn't do it. I had to stare at her little face. Sleep, schmeep. I don't regret losing any sleep because I was marveling at my daughter. Yeah, I'm still a little guilty of that, too. My mom says it fades. I don't know, I have my doubts.

We've only had to overcome one major hurdle thus far, and considering what it took to get to this point, I've decided that we're still in the lucky category. She started out at 7lbs 120z. Breastfeeding was starting out as a nightmare. She latched on great, I wasn't cracked or sore or anything, but milk wasn't coming in. And my daughter was HUNGRY. I completely broke down in the hospital when Rory was so frustrated at my boobs and they're lack of nutritional content that she was screaming and shaking her little head back and forth. All the feeling of womanhood that I'd spent nine months delighting in fell apart in three seconds. It was awful. Helpless. Horrible. An angel of a nurse came to help out as two of the three members of our little family were in hysterics. She gave us some glucose water to try sprinkling on my nipples to get Rory to keep suckling and encourage my milk to come in. It sort of worked in that it ceased tears for a while. The nurse also brought some formula, "just in case we want to use it." "You don't have to," she said, looking at my red puffy eyes, "but I want you to have it here in case you want to try it, sweetie." Barbara. She was such a sweetheart. I knew when she told me not to blame myself that she was right, but I still broke down at the thought of not being able to provide the simplest need for my child on my own. I just wanted my body to do something that might redeem itself as an actual functioning female. Rory was discharged at 6lbs 15oz and we were instructed to see our pediatrician the following day. At home later that afternoon, we decided to resort to the formula. She was starving, poor baby, and I still had no milk. No engorgement. No soreness. No heavy feeling. No confidence in my womanhood. Lots of love for my tiny human, though, so through a fit of frustrated tears, my husband helped me realize that seeing her happy and calm with an actual full feeling was worth anything. She got down to 6lbs 11oz before slowly and steadily climbing back up. My milk finally has come in, although in pathetic supply. (Never any engorgment or other signs of a plentiful milk supply.) For now, I give her whatever she can get from me and supplement with formula. And I've also come to realize that it isn't about me, it's ultimately about my daughter and her wellbeing. I've done a lot of thinking about a Stirrup Queen's post that stuck with me. Mel says that "natural is nice. But any method that helps you reach your goal is best." And she's absolutely right. I know this. I try to consider that since we had to trick my body hormonally into getting pregnant, the fact that my boobs work at all is somewhat of a miracle. My doctor's wife had the same milk production issues with their kids, so I feel like he understands where I'm coming from. And hey, he knows Rory really well now, since we're in the office every few days. But it's all ok. Today at the doctor's office she weighed 8lbs 2oz, one day shy of four weeks. She's doing great and starting to be more and more aware of everything around her. And it's absolutely wonderful.

Half of the time I have no idea what day it is, what time it is, where my wallet is, and if my cell phone is charged, but I love this. I love all of it. I love her smile (even if it is just gas), watching her sleep, little fingers clinging to mine, the way she scrunches up to get comfortable, the sounds she makes and the smell of her breath. I love the way she screams during diaper changes, the funny faces she makes when she farts, cleaning her face after she spits up, waking up after a few hours to take care of her and trying to figure out what her cry means. I will never tell people that they don't want this, that parenting is something to be feared or unwanted. This is exactly what I longed for. I hope with all of my heart that everyone who wants to experience this so badly gets their turn. It should be fair. I feel a little like a cheater for having it so good lately. Surely I don't deserve this. I love it, I love it, I love it. I love her. It's a wonderful, wonderful world.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Details coming soon...

Monday, May 07, 2007

ETA: Friday!

May 4th, 2006 was one of the most heart-wrenching days of my existence. My husband and I went to the sonogram room and came out changed people. At that point, we learned that our baby would not end up in our arms and we were asked to think about scheduling a d&c very soon.

May 4th, 2007 was a remarkably better date. My husband and I went to the same sonogram room and learned that our baby will end up in our arms very soon and were asked to think about scheduling an induction date very soon.

Maybe this is what it means to come full-circle. I think I understand the meaning of "bittersweet" now. (I keep hearing song lyrics in my head, "if you never stop when you wave goodbye, you just might find if you give it time, you will wave hello just might wave hello again.") How can I be so lucky?

I'm excited! And nervous. But mostly excited! The sonogram estimated her head measures 40 wks, while the rest of her is between 37 and 38 weeks (thank you, husband). She's somewhere in the neighborhood of 7lbs 9oz right now. My blood pressure was elevated (I'm medicated, so it really shouldn't be) but there were no traces of protein in my urine, so the doctor wasn't immediately concerned. I go back this afternoon to recheck it, and if everything looks okay, we'll go in Friday morning and have this baby! (If not ok, we'll have her sooner). The reality of the situation hasn't really hit yet. We spent the better part of the weekend marveling to each other, "Wait, but next week we'll actually have a real baby here."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Departure from the Bitter Train

I need something else at the top of my blog page. Something not whiny, not bitter, not unhappy. Because I am incredibly happy. And delighted. And thankful. I have mentioned before how much I hate that so many people tend to want to make pregnancy and caring for a baby a negative thing. It's remarkable. My husband teaches middle school and comes hope exhausted from ignoring all the "You're life is going to be over, dude." comments. "You'll never see your friends after this." I get it, too, especially now that I'm obviously pregnant to strangers and coworkers. "I hope you enjoy your sleep now, because you'll never get it again." "Can't wait to get that baby out, huh? Don't you hate when the kid kicks you in the ribs?" Blah blah blah.

Call it being naive, I don't care, but we're thrilled. We're thrilled at the chance to lose sleep, thrilled to anticipate disgusting diapers, thrilled to have the opportunity to change the focus of our lives to someone else. When my rib cage gets a jolt, I try to remember exactly how it felt. I'm so afraid I'll forget and I want to relish every chance I have to feel this baby in me. (What if I never get to feel it again?) I know it's mildly irrational, but I have a real hard time allowing myself to complain about anything. Getting up twice in the middle of the night to pee? Having to go every two seconds? Ligament/groin pain? Anterior placenta? My impressive display of stretch marks? Honestly, it's fine. All of it. Bring it on. It means that there is a baby thriving in me. How could that be bad? Sure, my life will change, but in the perfect way. I expect to be tired. I expect to be frustrated at times, I expect to be so completely overwhelmed every now and then that I don't know what to do with myself. I wouldn't have it any other way.

For a while, I felt bad because I was causing my husband to toss and turn at night. I started snoring (glamorous, huh?) and changing positions seems to conjure up images of elephants (I'm so graceful it's scary). My favorite comment so far has been, "You tell that husband of yours that he can just sleep somewhere else if your pregnant sleeping habits are keeping him awake at night. Please, it's not like you asked for this!"

Um...yes I did. A lot. I begged for this. Not just the cute, sweet, adorable parts either. Nope, all of it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Guilty Confessions

Last Tuesday we celebrated my sister-in-law's birthday. She's seventeen. (Insert appropriate comments here). She opened a card from my husband's brother, sister-in-law, and our nephew. It was signed from all of them along with "Baby #2."

(Insert forced happy reactions, giggling and expected smiles here.)

That was hard. And everything that whizzed around in my head was also swirling around in my husband's as well, although we both did a fairly good job of masking it. We are happy for them. Babies are good things.

I hate that there's a "but." I suspect it's almost entirely a jealously thing on my part. But...I know that they got pregnant the first time they tried. They have the ability to stop taking the pill and instantly get pregnant. She's told me as much. They have no problems announcing their news at 6 weeks, before they've even seen a doctor. (My husband said later, "Wait, so they don't have levels checked or anything?" He can't fathom it. Frankly, neither can I.)

But we did our best to react like we think "normal" people would. When they left, my mother in law asked me what I though about the news. Instead of launching into a three-hour long discussion of my true feelings, I squeaked out a "um, I was pretty surprised, actually."

When we got to the car that evening, my husband turned to me as we both exhaled and said, "So, what was your first thought?"

"That I hope our daughter enjoys her 5 month spotlight. Isn't that terrible?"
"Probably, but I was thinking the same thing. And your second?"
"So, first try, huh? Again. Damn, I bet they had sex once. Bitches."

We realized that our daughter's firsts will largely be shared by her younger cousin. I realize that my thoughts aren't entirely rational and that the inner bitch in me is quickly surfacing, but still...I feel like we watched the family ooh and aah over my nephew so much during our ttc periods and it was hard at times, especially knowing how easy it was for him to come into the world. I want my daughter to have the same VIP treatment. And that's not to say that she won't, but her first Christmas, etc, will also be "Baby #2's" first. Our baby had to fight to get where she is now- it surely hasn't been an easy road for her. Even typing this I feel pangs of guilt and ridiculousness, but still. We feel like we are forced to compete with them unwillingly so often, that this tends to feel that way, too.

It's not that I cringe at all pregnancy/baby news, because I don't at all. I can't only be happy for infertiles who get pregnant, that's just dumb. I can't pinpoint it exactly, but it's just...different. It's them.

(Insert shower of guilt and childishness here.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

(A Tiny Bit Of) Superficial Whining (By Me)

Yesterday afternoon we learned two things about my sweet little womb occupant:

1. She's definitely a girl.
2. She's definitely stubborn.

We were supposed to have the new 4-D scan done but she wouldn't move her arms and hands from directly in front of her face. She did wave her fingers a little and gave us a good clear gender pose with the regular sonogram, but wouldn't let us see her face for anything. I was honestly a little disappointed at first and then felt guilty about it while Mr. Mandolyn and I walked out. He laughed and said that he'd wanted to see the cool scan, but that he is very happy that things are still going well. She's not facing the right way, but that isn't cause for concern right now. Everything else was fine. Fine. I realized that I should take that fact and all that it means and be overjoyed. And I truly am.

But it would have been cool to see her chubby cheeks.

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Shallow Examination of the Not-Infertile Brain

Ivy at Our Forever Family posted an update yesterday about her wonderful family. She also mentioned the uterus transplantation surgery that is being researched right now and how the infertile woman in the scenario is labeled as "defective." I think Ivy's "rant" about the word choice is right on target- especially when she mentions that it's another example of how people outside of the Infertility Ring of Fire don't get it, and often choose to ignore the human aspect of it.

I have a guilty little secret. I go to babycenter at least once a day and read the message boards for "my birth club." I have to confess that I feel kind of like a cheater when I go there, or maybe like I have a big dorky nametag that identifies me as not a true member. I think I go to catch a glimpse of what the Fertile Brain is like; to see what blissful pregnancy is like. And that's not to say that I am not happy at the moment. Hell, I'm more overjoyed than I know what to do with, but it doesn't make me part of the club. And I'm ok with that.

Now I'm sure that pregnancy outside of infertility is not always a picnic, but to me and my brain, it is. I envision it as going through nine months of life through a soft focus lens, just a tiny bit in slow motion. Like the obligatory "happy memory" scene in every chick flick. The things that concern these women blow my mind- some are "going to be very pissed off" if their baby is born in June as opposed to May because June's birthstone is far uglier." They talk about having too many appointments, how they've seen their doctor so many times it's just ridiculous. They start threads asking how many people got pregnant while on birth control, or on the first try, and how many are having unplanned pregnancies? One in particular caught my attention the other day. Someone was asking for advice on how to deal with the strained relationship she has with her best friend, who has had a considerably hard time conceiving. She felt that they were drifting apart and was afraid to share any pregnancy/baby news with her for fear of making her angry/jealous/hurt. The responses were mostly pretty good advice, I thought (they were mostly prefaced with, "I've been in your friend's situation..."). Good little infertiles jumped in to share personal experiences. But what caught me off guard was to hear how many people responded with something like, "I'm in the same situation, I don't know how to talk to my best friend/SIL/girl at the office who can't conceive/just had a miscarriage, etc..." One response recalled that while she was pregnant with her first child, she had several infertile friends. She said that she lost a lot of friends during that time, but that you really find out who your true friends are- the ones that stick around.

That last comment really got me thinking. I think I've settled on "upsetting." It sounds like she's angry with her infertile friends for not "sticking around" during her perfect pregnancy. She can't think about what it must be like on the other side of the fence...or won't think about it, I'm not really sure. Is that the SuperFertile! brain? Do they think of us only as bitter, selfish bitches who can't be bothered to recognize the joy in anyone else's life? Are we just defective to them?

I think we represent something far bigger than they choose to process. Infertility isn't something that anyone wants to think about having to deal with, so it's easier to ignore it. That philosophy has never worked out well for me. Pretending that all the problems in the world don't exist isn't a valid way to eradicate them. Bad things and heartache don't dissolve into thin air because you can put heavy blinders on. I'm not hinting that we should all live in fear of the worst, constantly looking for the opposite of joy and happiness. But when it's presented to you, you can't just turn around and decide that you've escaped it. So, SuperFertile! Lady, I'm sorry that your infertile friends had a hard time with your pregnancy. I'm sorry dealing with them might have made both of you uncomfortable. I'm sorry that you chose to let friendships fall apart because it was the easier path to take.

I'm mostly sorry that infertility has to be such a hard thing to actively talk about. I'm sorry that people would rather see it as purely clinical. I'm sorry that it can be easily ignored by people who don't consider themselves to be directly affected by it. I'm sorry that it has to be so damn hard. Communication and better understanding has to be a priortity, although I'm not exactly sure how to get that ball rolling...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Why I have a new pomegranate string on my wrist.

Or, Why my husband recently said, "Babe, with you it's never a dull moment."

On Saturday, I painted little kid trains on the wall of a "big boy" room for one of my sister-in-law's friends. On Friday night, I figured I'd go grab some paint on the way home from our weekly CiCi's pizza trip and be good to go. We headed to Wal-Mart (of course) and managed to add several non-painting items to our basket (also, of course). After discovering that the line of pre-mixed paint that I like to use was discontinued about a year ago, Mr. Mandolyn and I decided that we'd have a few pints of paint mixed in the paint department. There was no one at the paint counter (of course) so we took turned looking pathetic and asking other departments to please page someone for us. After almost half an hour, a nice lady from Lawn & Garden came to give it her best shot- she'd only mixed paint once before and it had been six months ago.

It was a bit of a joint effort, but she figured it out and matched the colors perfectly (the machine wasn't one of the new computerized ones). We were all making pleasant conversation as I grabbed the last pint of paint and set it down in the basket. Except that it didn't quite make it. It slipped from my hand with about an inch to go before hitting the bottom of the basket.

And then it happened.

It must have hit with just the right amount of force in just the right spot, because bright green paint EXPLODED. It didn't spill, it exploded. Six feet in the air. Mr. Mandolyn felt drops on the top of his head first. I, on the other hand, felt oozing latex paint dripping down the side of my face and before opening my eyes to observe the scene, thought, "Oh yeah, it's everywhere." And oh, it was. It was splattered all over my face, my hair, my shirt, my jeans, my shoes, my string bracelet, Mr. Mandolyn, the shopping cart, everything in the shopping cart, my purse, my windbreaker that had been crammed in the cart, and the floor at the Wal-Mart paint counter. You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone within sight stood with mouths hanging open. If it was caught on the store camera, I have no doubts it's on YouTube somewhere.

I didn't know where to start. I knew my clothes were ruined. There was just too much to try to race to get it off. Mr. Mandolyn happened to be wearing a shirt that was the exact color of the paint. (We thought he'd escaped relatively well, until we took a look at his undershirt that night. It looked like he'd been in a horrible accident and bled green.) Everyone rushed to help. It came off of my purse pretty well (thank you, $10.45 Sam Moon purse...I knew that purchase would eventually be justified) but everything else was not so lucky.

I could feel the hot tears welling up just from the sheer lack of control over the situation. A very unhelpful employee told the Lawn & Garden lady that she must have not put the lid back on right, although I saw her pound it with the mallet. The same employee also looked at me in disgust as she said, "Um, I need to get past you..." Right lady, and I need to NOT BE COVERED IN PAINT. Deal. I headed to the bathroom to try to save face- from embarrassment as well has from the goo that covered it and tears started to fall. A couple of people looked at me in shock and I answered their wonderment with, "Uh, disaster in the paint department." I pulled myself together, washed myself as best I could, and headed back. Maintenance teams and managers were helping my husband transfer what could be saved into a new cart and grabbing new products as necessary. One manager took me over to the clothing department and told me that they would give me a new outfit. He was so sweet, and was really trying to do the right thing, so I tried on some clothes. I just wasn't in the mood. Shopping for clothes for me is always a stressful adventure and at that point, I didn't want new clothes. I wanted my own to not be ruined. My sweet husband took one look at me and realized all of this and asked if we could have store credit instead. We'd use it to pay for the things we would by that night and he would take me to get new clothes later. No problem, they gladly gave us a gift card.

And then we laughed...because, well, damn. It was funny. We're the biggest thing to happen to that Wal-Mart in a long time. At least we gave countless people a good story to go home and share. We've been telling everyone about it, and so far, everyone has said, "Mandolyn, you do realize that this could really only happen to you, right?"

Oh yeah. I do.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Call for Assvice!

I graduated from college at a not-so-good-if-you-actually-wanted-a-job time. I kind of knew it would be like that, so it wasn't a huge step to move in with my parents for a while. They had just moved 600 miles from where I was raised and were now about an hour away from where I'd been living. In an attempt to make a little money, I decided to try to start making greeting and notecards out of these little angel characters that I doodled. I had a teacher in high school suggest it and laughed him off (while continuing to draw in the margins of my college notebooks as well). This was also not a huge stretch for me. I'm (obsessively) crafty and was always the kid on the corner with a lemonade/Kleenex flower/yarn doll/pet rock stand. I'm pretty sure that I never made $5 total in the years that I tried to sell crap to the neighborhood, but somehow that never discouraged me.

So back to the cards. My parents were ultra-supportive and helped me dive a little deeper into it. I actually trademarked a logo and booked myself at a few craft fairs. It has been kind of hit and miss from there. (Sometime I'll have to go into my craft fair soapbox...) I did eventually get a job, moved out, got married, etc, but have kept it going. I honestly do enjoy it. My husband is the best supporter ever. I have a website, but it isn't always up-to-date or cool (but I do have a friend who is doing it for free, so the complaints kind of have to end there.)

And now. I'm looking at trying my hand at not working in an office after this baby is born. I have a lot of reasons, but one is definitely that I don't feel like anything I do at work really matters. And it doesn't, that's just a fact. But I can make people happy with the cards, so I figure maybe I'll try concentrating on that some more.

Here's where you come in. I need some suggestions, opinions, and assvice. Mel has brought it up before and I've been a part of discussions about it. So let's revisit, shall we? How do we feel about cards specifically designed for the infertile? Pregnancy loss, Hopeful Wishes, Congratulations on _______, etc, etc... My husband and I talked about it last night. We had a difficult time handling people in the aftermath of our miscarriage. He said that he would have liked to receive one that said, "You don't want to talk about it. We won't make you. We love you." That's what he wanted to hear.

What would you like to hear? What about pictures? I do a lot of custom stuff, and that would certainly work well in this case, but should I look into a Special Collection? And how can I make it mean something? Should I put a blurb about the pomegranate string? Include one? Is this something you would be interested in?

Please deposit any thoughts- comment here or email me ( Tell me what other people think, too. If I'm going to try this, I want to do it justice.

If you want to get an idea of what I'm talking about, my website is Most of the designs there are based on requests that I've gotten along the way. For the record, though, I did give you fair warning as to it's up-to-dateness...yes, I realize that aside from what the snowman on the front page says, Christmas really isn't just around the corner.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Inside Mandolyn's Head, Episode 1: Religion and Infertility

Sometimes, long blog posts need an introduction. Without further ado:

Melissa at Stirrup Queens had a great post on Wednesday- Sermony that really struck a chord with me. She has several questions from a woman planning on writing a sermon designed to reach out to the infertile congregation. I thought I’d leave a comment on her blog, but it turned out to be a little lengthy (ahem). So…in response to her post and a few of the questions Melissa has posted on her blog:

My husband and I have been talking about finding a church lately. I’ve always said that I want to raise my kids with church to give them a basis to form their own beliefs from, just as my parents did. It’s a hard thing for me, organized religion. I haven’t had any specific bad experiences per se, I just don’t feel like I fit in. Yes, I realize how much of a lame excuse that sounds like. I haven’t been to church (other than a few special occasions) in almost ten years. I fell “out of practice” in college. I went to a private college that was once affiliated with a certain denomination (that I grew up a member of, and actually do like, based on beliefs) but found that church services were something that everyone did because they were supposed to. It was beyond cliché, it was sickeningly hypocritical. I realize that happens on a much larger scale than just a college campus, but I suppose the exaggerated environment really struck me.

I don’t believe that religion and spirituality exist in the confines of walls and stained glass windows. I haven’t attending a church service in years, and yet I think I have felt closer to God and more in touch with what I believe since…not that the two are directly related. For me, stepping back and diving into myself and my beliefs and wrestling with it made me truly comfortable with my own spirituality. I felt in touch with religion when I took the time to notice things around me- the crisp morning air, my husband’s sweet touch, the togetherness I feel every year at a family reunion, the sun on my skin, a big sloppy dog kiss. It worked for me. Until infertilty...then I had to reexamine it all over again. I'm a work in progress.

How has dealing with IF changed your view of God (if you had one?)

I don’t know that my IF changed my view of God and religion, but it made me very aware of how differently infertility is perceived through the (religious) eyes of others. I have never been completely comfortable with the thought of God’s Plan for me. Do I have a say in it? Don’t my actions make a difference in what happens? I like to think of it more as God’s Big Flow-chart. Free will has to play into the game somehow. (This is the part where my brother turns red in the face and starts reciting verses, sure that he can make me understand that I’m dangerously mistaken.) So many people gave me religion-based advice and thoughts about my inability to conceive and my miscarriage. I wanted to scream.

“It’ll happen on God’s time, baby, not yours.”
“Let go and let God.”
“It just meant that the baby wasn’t perfect in God’s eyes.”
“We can’t question God’s Will. It was just meant to be.”

If all that is true, then God consciously chooses which babies make it and which don’t. Which wombs and which cycles get to carry a baby to term. And then how is that based? Obviously not on merit, the world has far too much evidence of that. I hardly think it's a lottery. But we’re taught to think (however simplistically) that God rewards good people, and that children are rewards, precious gifts. And then guilt sets in. If all that is true, then I must be doing something wrong, this must be a consequence of my actions, of the way I’m living my life. Maybe I don't deserve a baby. It goes on and on….and I can’t understand that. Maybe I just refuse to. I don’t think that God decided to finally let a baby implant itself in my uterus and then decided he needed to die in a matter of weeks, any more than I think God causes the terrible, horrific things that happen to people all the time. The truth is, my infertility has led me to think that God doesn’t necessarily cause or authorize all the pain and suffering on this Earth, but rather that He’s there to help us through it.

Would it cause more pain to hear it talked about in church or be a comfort to open a dialogue?

I would love to have discussions on infertility at church. I think that it’s one of those messy, uncomfortable issues that people shy away from. It can test your understanding of religion and life in general and it’s easier to ignore it. I’d rather take hard subjects like infertility, roll my sleeves up and talk about them, expose them make them real, and I think church is a wonderful setting to do that in.

Which brings back the question: can someone outside the experience ever speak as honestly and as eloquently as someone inside the experience? Is it the speaker or the personal experience that truly has the power?

While I think that the perspectives from both sides of fertility are important to hear, I don’t think that one side could speak about the other and do it justice. We can speculate and try to empathize with what we don’t know personally, but it isn’t the same. I think the power lies in the personal experience. I've been trying to expand on that thought for the better part of an hour now and haven't come up with anything profound to add. It's just that. If anyone can talk with heartbreaking honesty and absolute eloquence about infertility, it's an infertile, whatever her/his experience and perspective may be. I guess that's all I have to say about that.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Good Idea # 8672 (give or take)

If you haven't already seen this on Melissa's blog, go check it out. The Help Registry is a great idea. I wish this had been around last time I needed it. We had people offer their help and we couldn't muster up enough brain power to think of anything that someone could help us with. We got phone calls that ended up in hurt feelings when we didn't call them right back.

I'm working on mine right now. It's so much easier to do this when you aren't in the midst of complete chaos.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

6 Weird Things About Me (In no particular order)

Michelle tagged me for this little doozy. I'm at work and love nothing more than to avoid actually doing anything that might be construed as "productive" so here we go...

1. I'm an obsessively crafty person. As in artsy craftsy. At any given time, I've got at least 3 projects going on...knitting, sewing, drawing, you name it. I have to physically restrain myself from watching tv without yarn in my hands. My fridge is currently crammed full of these super fun magnets!

2. I believe in Slurpees. Seriously, these things are magical. I ALWAYS prefer a (Coke or cherry flavored) slurpee above any dessert. And I love dessert. Chocolate cupcakes? Cherry cheesecake? Pumpkin pie? Cookies? Nope. None hold a candle to my frozen domed-lid heaven. My husband has learned that pulling into a 7-11 and getting a Slurpee is the same to me as saying "I'm sorry" or "I love you." I can be red-faced angry, and it gets me every time.

3. When I was little, I used to think that my stuffed animals and dolls had true feelings, and that they came to life when I was away. I'm pretty sure there was a Jim Henson movie about that, but I can't remember the name of it. I still can't go down a store aisle and not pick up a fallen doll or toy. Sometimes, if no one is looking, I'll tell it that I'm sorry it was mistreated.

4. I pick my cat's nose. Wow, that looks worse typed that just in my head. I don't root around or anything, but one of my little beasts just needs a little, clearing things. I also clean the eye-crusties from the rest of my pets. Does that make me the crazy pet lady? Hmm...that might be rhetorical.

5. Like Michelle, I hate tags. (I really thought I was the only one, Michelle, I'm glad the club has two members.) I've gotten better with clothes, but I still have to remove them from towels, pillows, blankets...ok, pretty much everything.

6. My husband and I have decided that I am a "beverage purist." I don't like all the fancy-pants flavors that are added to drinks. I drink my iced tea without sugar, black coffee and plain Coke (no lime, vanilla, or berry flavors. The ONLY exception is the amazing Cherry Coke). I like the original Kool-Aid flavors like cherry, orange and grape. (My husband loves all the crazy flavor and color changing Razzle Dazzle Mountain Berry stuff....ew). As much as I adore the Slurpee (see #2) I only super-love the Coke and cherry flavors. Maybe I'm just a flavor-purist. Who decided that the green SweetTart should suddenly be apple? What was wrong with lime?

And there you have it. Welcome to my nutty little corner of the world. According to the very official rules posted below, I'm supposed to tag six others. I'm sure that some of you have already done this, but here goes nothing:

A at A Somewhat Ordinary Life
Mel at Stirrup Queens
Heather at BigP and Me
Mrs. C at It Could Take 3 Months
Ivy at Our Forever Family
Murray at Remaining Products

“According to the rules, each player of this game starts with the '6 Weird Things about You.' People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says, ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog!”

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More Than I Deserve

Mr. Mandolyn and I went for our "big" sonogram appointment yesterday afternoon. Other than once, I haven't really felt any movement, which has been a concern that I've been trying to push further and further back inside my head. I'm at the end of 20 weeks, based on baby measurements (22 wks if you go by LMP). Fears were quieted about two seconds after the doctor put the goo on my belly (which was warm, by the way- a detail much appreciated). Anterior placenta. Of course. But Baby was squirming all around. Right as the doctor was pointing out the eyes, nose and mouth, we got to see a big (Drama Queen) yawn and then a hand appeared on the screen waving at us. My heart exploded with love and happiness. I swear, a rainbow popped out of my chest and illuminated the room. Birds started chirping, butterflies appeared out of thin air and a wreath of daisies suddenly adorned my head. All signs currently point toward a girl. Mr. Mandolyn's response was, "YES!"

The doctor told me how he and The Best Nurse Ever had a rough morning. A couple that reminded them of us had been in. Conceiving had been especially difficult, they'd come in for the first sonogram and been devestated when a heartbeat was not detected and measurements were behind. He said the Best Nurse Ever commented to him as they left, "Maybe it'll be a Mandolyn case." Ah. My heart breaks into a million pieces for this couple and their baby. I wish I didn't know what they are currently going through, the waiting, the hanging on by a frayed thread of hope...possibly some of the hardest several weeks to emotionally endure. And still. While as not to downgrade their pain in any imaginable way, I found a small part of me smiling. I know that the doctor can now say, "it's a longshot, but I've seen this turn out well before" with confidence. I don't know if that would have had any effect on my emotions when I was in their position, but I smiled at the slight chance that it might.

Right at this moment, I'm not overly worried about anything in particular. I realize that probably won't last for long, but for now at least, I am almost calm. Almost relaxed, and every now and then, 13 weeks ago and all the panic it held seems like another lifetime. I can't help but think that surely I don't deserve this. Surely I'm cheating the universe somehow, right? I must have slipped through the cracks of the Entirely-Too-Much-Goodness Police files. Not that I plan on turning myself in or anything. Nope. I'm taking my daisy tiara and my bursting rainbow and I'm going skipping through green pastures or something. Happy rocks.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A One-Way Ticket to 2007, Please.

I wrote this in February and I think it works in terms of this last year:


Wearing away. It's different than wasting away. Wasting away is giving up, throwing in the towel, being completely numb and indifferent. Wearing away is stronger, more beautiful. The underlying structure remains firm, even defiant in the face of the inevitable erosion. Although constant weathering may alter the initial layers with each pass, it does little to disrupt the core. Nothing rolls off without consequence. However large or small, distinct or subtle, it leaves its mark.

It's 2007. Seriously. Someday I'll catch up.

I think it's time, though. I was pretty ready to be done with 2006. At a quick glance, it was a pretty lame rollercoaster that had a pretty cool last dip and curve. But then I scanned over all the stuff that I've written on my blogs this past year and realized that maybe the ride wasn't all that lame after all. I don't know that I'll be running to get back in line for the same one just yet, but I might pause and take a look at the picture that was snapped as I exit.

In 2006 I realized that driving seems to calm my soul. Not commute, big city driving, but the kind where I take a little detour, get a teensy bit "lost" on some backroads, and wander around. It's not too hard to do on my way home where I can pass through tiny little towns and wooded areas. I discovered how freeing it can be for my head to think beyond the obvious, right-in-front-of-me things and just breathe. That's where "me" and "the real me" can stop and have a conversation. I need to do that more often. I realized that lost animals will somehow find me and that I really don't mind helping them out, that pregnancy is really the only cure for my migraines, that the bathroom at work will always stink (no matter how you combine them, "flowers", "old lady", "spices" and "ass" will never be pleasant). I learned that I really can keep a fish alive for over a year, that I super-heart big ridiculous sunglasses, that I can't ever actually give up Coke and all other sugary and delicious carbonated beverages, that shrinky dinks still exist at Hobby Lobby, that sometimes the only thing that will make everything better is a 32 oz. Slurpee, and that no matter how dorky it is, Mr. Mandolyn and I will always consider dinner at CiCi's Pizza and a trip to Wal-Mart on Fridays an acceptable night out. I exercised the art of the Open Letter on my blogs: to The Uninvited Zit That Is Currently Residing In The Corner of My Mouth, My REM Sleep Cycle, Certain People Whose Emails Are Currently Residing in My Inbox at Work, The New Girl Working at Taco Bueno, Jell-O Pudding Pops, My New Blogger Account, and My Blog. I've discovered how invaluable blogs are to me- mine and all the others that I love to visit.

Although I knew about my own infertility before 2006, I could have never been prepared for what it had in store for me. I played with cocktails of IF drugs, had countless vials of blood taken, bought my weight in pee sticks, and I'm still not sure how my husband and my pets survived with my emotions. When I saw my first BFP in April, I was so sure that it had all been worth it. And then we had the devastating sonogram. I learned that crying an ocean of tears and dipping into depression scares me. I also learned that strength comes, even when I thought it wasn't possible. I tied a pomegranate string on my wrist and truly believe that I'm a better person because of it. I learned that the gummy bear inside of me now defies all logic. We got several BFN's after another dreaded two week wait. We were ready to look at the next cycle, then after having horrible cramps while out of town, bought a test and a box of tampons. (The tampons are still in my bathroom cabinet.) My heart was nearly broken again at our first sonogram, where no heartbeat was detected, and then again two weeks later as the baby measured 2 week too small. I celebrated my first baby's would-be birthday right as I heard this baby's heartbeat again. The dates make no sense, this baby couldn't have happened as the dates at the doctor's office suggest, but I'm finished trying to make sense of it. I'm learning to accept that no milestone of pregnancy will come with the ease and lighthearted glee that those outside of the Infertility Fire get to experience. I'm still learning.

So I'll go ahead and take that ticket to 2007. I hope that it will bring more good things than my hands can hold, than my head can comprehend and that my heart can handle. I hope that the goodness spills out into the hands, heads and hearts of everyone that needs it in the IF community. I want there to be enough to go around, with options of second helpings and dessert.

2006 definitely left it's mark. I'm a different person because of it, and the more I consider that, the more I realize that I might actually be ok with it.