I went to see my doctor back in July. I like my doctor; I haven't seen her too many times, but she had a baby about 6 months before Katie was born, and whenever I see her, we exchange compliments on the respective cuteness of our daughters. My doctor also has long curly hair, a sweet kind roundish face, and she's somewhat overweight. For reasons that are probably not mysterious, I feel some kinship with her.
I went to see her for a couple of reasons. One was that my right shoulder, which I'd injured back in May and June of 2005 during multiple marathon painting sessions, was still hurting me on a daily basis. The second was that we'd been trying to get pregnant since January, and the advice I'd gotten said that if you're 35 or older, you should consult a doctor if you've tried for six months without conceiving. In August I turned 36.
They weighed me first, as usual, and then a nurse took my blood pressure, which was higher than usual. When the doctor came in, she shook my hand, smiled, and looked at my chart. "Your weight is up a few pounds," she said. "And your blood pressure is too high. Let's take it again." She did, and this time it was even higher. "That worries me," she said, "we'll need to keep an eye on that." She took some notes. "So, why are you here today?"
I told her, and she said she would give me some samples of Celebrex for my shoulder, which she expected would be more effective than ibuprofen. She also said she would give me a referral to an OB/GYN for the fertility issue, and would take some blood from me that day to have them run "fertility work" on it. She told me to make an appointment to come back in two weeks so that she could check my blood pressure again. She asked me if I had any questions, smiled and shook my hand again, and told me to follow her out.
As I was coming out of the examining room, she spoke to the nurse. "She needs a follow up appointment for high blood pressure, Celebrex for her injured rotator cuff, a referral for infertility, and blood work for infertility."
Nothing she said was a surprise, but that sentence right there, with all of my problems lumped together, crushed something inside me. I felt broken, and old, and unhealthy, and ashamed. When I left, I called Geoff on the cell phone, crying - feeling like I was overreacting, but crying, anyway. I drove around for a few minutes, and then I went home, where my sister in law Stephanie was waiting. I cried to her, too, and she comforted me.
I went back two weeks later, and my blood pressure was lower, within normal range; we made a follow up appointment for December, just to make sure it stays ok. My weight was down 3 pounds from what it had been at the earlier appointment, back to the weight I've been ever since a few months after Katie was born. I got a referral for the doctor who delivered Katie (not the OB/GYN that I had during my pregnancy, who so often made me feel judged); my appointment is not until October 23rd. That is less than two weeks away now; maybe I will leave with some answers. Then again, maybe I won't.
I remember how I felt the last time we tried to do this – desperately yearning, impatient, and with an ever-present undercurrent of "I want this so much I am afraid it will never happen." Before Geoff and I were even married, I brought up the subject of how much I wanted children. We agreed that we would do whatever we could to allow us to have children. Before I even went off birth control, we agreed that if I did not get pregnant, we would consider infertility treatments, and we would consider adoption.
We might not have another baby, I think to myself, and I'm sad, but not heartbroken. I can't be heartbroken at having "only" Katie, because being mother to "only Katie" is about the single best damn thing I've done in my life so far. Still, in January I was ambivalent, and for the first few months my sadness at not being pregnant was tempered with a little dose of relief; now in October, I have reached the point where I feel no relief. If we do not have another child, I will need time to adjust. I will need time to grieve. I don't know how long I will need.
Geoff didn't get the job at the church in New York. We don't know this because anyone from the church called him, because they didn't. Geoff got no response to his letters, emails and phone calls sent and made over the past nearly seven weeks. We only know this because there is now an announcement on the church's website advertising an upcoming concert, and it contains a reference to Dan, the church's new associate minister of music.
Geoff wasn't looking for a job, and we weren't actively trying to relocate. But once the opportunity arose - once the potential boss (who now won't take the time to compose a five second reply to Geoff's inquiry about whether he is still being considered for the position) invited Geoff to apply for the job - it started to seem like a puzzle piece falling into place. This time in our lives started to make sense to us in a way it hadn't before, as if we'd been looking at things upside down, or sideways. Aha, we said, as we spun the picture. So this is how it's supposed to look.
References to New York are everywhere, in case you haven't noticed. In the weeks after Geoff came back from his interview, we pointed them out and smiled to each other. One day we sat in a booth at a restaurant. "Look at the picture behind you," I said. He looked, and saw the New York Yankees poster. "It's everywhere!" he said, laughing a little.
After over a month had gone by, with still no word from the church, we were pretty sure it was not going to happen. We talked about it a lot - about how although nothing in our lives had changed (the same jobs, the same home, the same city), we felt like we had lost something. "At first," Geoff said, "everything seemed like a sign, you know?"
I nodded. I knew.
He smiled a little sadly. "But now it just feels like it was the universe mocking me." We laughed.
Katie started full-time daycare last week. For the most part, she loves "school," and looks forward to going. Her first day was reported to have gone "amazingly well," with no tears or sadness. She ate well, napped well, played well, and wasn't even excited to see Geoff when he came to pick her up. As the week went on, though, it seemed to get a little harder. She was thrilled to see Geoff on Tuesday, and both of us on Wednesday. On Thursday and Friday, when Geoff dropped her off, she cried and said she wanted to stay with Daddy, but was fine the rest of the day. Her daycare was closed on Columbus Day, and when we drove past it on the way home from lunch, she yelled, "My school! That's my school! Look, mommy daddy, my school!" Today, again, she cried when Geoff left her there. I'm sure she has been fine the rest of the day.
I am sure, in so many ways, that she is doing just fine.
It is no mystery to me why my sadness over not getting pregnant has gotten more intense in the past week or so. My little girl is growing up. (I could be biased, but I think she would be an absolutely fantastic older sister.)
I have asked Katie whether she would like for us to have a baby, a sister or brother for her. She always says yes. My brother and his girlfriend Frankie are expecting a baby girl in mid-February, and we met them at the beach this past Sunday. I've told Katie that their baby will be her first first cousin. At the beach, Frankie lay on her back for a little while with her tshirt pulled up to expose her belly. She feels the baby move around a lot now, and Josh has felt her move, too. We stood there for a few minutes, watching Frankie's belly. "Forgive us for staring at your belly," I said, smiling at her. She laughed; she didn't seem to mind.
Our latest baby-making failure made itself known on Sunday. I wasn't really surprised, since the pregnancy test I'd taken early had been negative, but I cried anyway.
Last night Katie was fighting bedtime, the way she does more and more often lately. I got frustrated, and I told her so. Katie looked at me and moved toward me. "You have a baby, Mommy," Katie said. "You have a baby in your belly."
"No, sweetie, I don't," I said.
"Yes, you do, Mommy. You have a baby in there. Getting bigger and bigger." She stood there looking at me, her hand on my belly, patting it.
"No, Katie, there is no baby in my belly." I picked her up and looked into her face and tried to smile like I meant it. "But you grew in there," I told her. "You were in there, and you got bigger and bigger and bigger. You used to be my little baby."
She nodded, and she relaxed her body against mine. We rocked. We turned out the light. We sang. We hugged her. We kissed her. We put her to bed.
I don't know how to wrap this up. I am doing all right. There are lots and lots of things in my life that are wonderful; there are so many things to be grateful for, as I told Geoff the other day when I was especially sad. It's just that right now, lately, there have been some big things that I'm sad about, too. I'm just trying to go with the flow, letting myself feel how I feel, figuring it out as I go.
I don't pray only for others. The other day, I was driving in the car, feeling sad, and I prayed for myself. I don't really believe in praying for the specific outcomes that I want; it is clear that the world isn't fair, and that bad things happen to the best people. It doesn't make any sense to me that I would get something just because I wanted it, or that I could make a bargain with my life that would earn me something I'm yearning for. So the other day, I drove and I cried and I prayed something more like this:
Let me be open, to whatever happens. Let me love. Let me feel. Let me see. Let me appreciate what I have. Let me understand as much as I can. Let me live with grace and humor. Let me do my best. Let me find my own peace.
It's a good prayer, I think, because it stands alone, valuable whether or not any God hears it or answers it. I'm also praying to myself.