Sunday, November 29, 2009


I was browsing around the internet, looking for an appropriate image to decorate this barren(!)-looking blog and came across this beautiful image. I couldn't stop looking at it. It is SO beautiful. I followed its trail, in this strange and navigable cyberspace and came to the source. An artist named Cathy Nichols made it. See her stunning work at or find her on Etsy at

The experience I have when I look at this picture reminds me of the intensive yoga workshops I used to do with Hart Lazer. We'd spend 20 solid hours squeezed into a little weekend intensively back bending or twisting. The experience of contorting the body to such states of susceptibility sometimes caused significant emotional releases to occur. All for the purpose of letting go of what was trapped in our bodies, held there by habitual pattern holds. The workshops were often called 'yoga as a tool for self-transformation', which given my professional calling (clinical psychologist) was intriguing enough to keep me interested (not to mention how in yoga class I was finally breathing fully and countering the effects of my lifelong anxious chest breathing). And so those mysterious transformative effects started to happen. And then something occurred to me.

In Psychology in general and in therapy in particular, words are everything. This is also true for the modality in which I experience life most easily. I knew I wanted to be a shrink when I was 11 years old. I started writing a journal a year before that. The words have always been the tool. The expression of sorrow, joy, confusion most often came in words for me. Therapy is a word-based world. And I've spent lots of time on or next to the proverbial couch.

When I came to yoga, I found out that there was somewhere to go after the words stopped. I think I knew about it before I began yoga but it might have been more nebulous in my mind. I had felt transcendence in the wilderness, in the silence of the muted winter forest. But with this practice, I was presented with the opportunity of going somewhere where words lost their ascendancy. This is also what happens when art moves me, which is the case here.

And this brings me to the owls and my encounter with them. The words escape me. I think the owls reflect my hope in a way I cannot write about. My reckless, courageous hope for a little owl.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


I still can't say it without crying. Here, let me try: "The fertility treatments have failed". Yep, misty in the old eye region. I had to say it to an old friend on the phone last night, and I choked on the words. I'm finding myself unable to share this terrible news without experiencing the grief afresh. It feels like the words coming out of my mouth make this more real, I suspect much like when people have to tell others that their loved one has died. Not that I'm comparing types of grief here.

I suspect this will become easier, or perhaps, less relevant over time. That I will be able to tell people (or even write it on my blog) without the tragic reification of the facts. People are ready to hear our plans for adoption and I think that's very appropriate for them to be asking. I think I'm just in a stupor about it, a bit hopeless and not back from the underworld yet. Maybe again it's akin to being asked when you're going to start dating after your spouse has died. Our loved ones want us to move forward and I want this as well.

Except that rushing through grief is not all that useful. I treat people who've tried that. Grief is even more painful it seems when you have to unpack it from behind all that you've put over it to block it's presence. So it seems I will be required to continue with my tears, so long as I think going through this is a better idea than going around it.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

the saturday preggers

I suspects it's truly delightful for expectant mothers to announce to their friends and acquaintances that they are pregnant. I've imagined this myself many times; how great it would feel to let those precious words out, how excited everyone would be, how much I would feel the baby wanted by us and by our community. I've watched many pregnant mamas make their announcement and it really does seem like a great moment. Because it is great. The whole thing. It really is great.

Yet, diametrically opposed to this warm and wonderful sharing of great news is the pain felt by infertile women during the pregnancy announcement at a dinner party. Both women attend dinner parties. Both sit there side by side in the same room: the soon-to-be mother and the 'unsuccessful' woman. Both delight and despair are on the menu. The absolute perfect joy of life growing inside one woman and the loud echo of the absence of such life in the other. Everyone has come to dinner. God knows what else is in the room: heartaches, jealousy, boredom, worries, grocery lists and unfinished work projects. But most of it is under the surface, kept under the lock of people's private thoughts or saved for people's blog postings.

Last Saturday, we were out with friends who at the very end of dinner decided to announce their pregnancy (yes, because that's how modern couples say it. They say "we're pregnant"). Tonight it was at a potluck that a couple announced their pregnancy, although that one was far along enough not to require an announcement. The week that our fertility treatments came to a crash, there were four baby announcements and two pregnancy announcements in my circle. The cosmic giggle, I thought.

And yet, as I walked home tonight on my own, I thought about one of my teachers who says that our suffering isn't personal. It feels like that when in the crushing grips of sorrow, but it really isn't. Everyone suffers in one way or another. It's not personal or isn't coming at you because you did something wrong. One is not being punished. I haven't done anything to cause this to happen. My body just can't produce eggs and I can't make a baby. And others can.

Friday, November 20, 2009

my little girl

I stepped out of the house the other day and when I looked at my new (used) car, my heart filled with pride. Yep, for a car. And I'm a chick, so it's not too much in my genes. I just felt happy that she was there waiting for me, all shiny and red. Full of diesel fuel. My little Neko, all ready to drive.

On October 1, 2009, when I was driving a much less desirable vehicle, our fertility treatments came to a screeching halt. A full stop really. Not a pit stop, but the stop at the end of the road. Ended right there. Mid-cycle, needle marks still fresh in my belly. My body wasn't responding, despite many different strategies to wake up the ovaries. They won't produce eggs. And that was that. 6 days later, a woman with her child in the backseat crashed into the rear of my less desirable vehicle (woman was fine, child was fine, I was fine. Something to be thankful for). The insurance deemed the less desirable vehicle irreparable (they wrote it off) and that's how I came to acquire Neko. No babies, but a car. Is that my consolation prize, I wonder?

There was a single song I wanted to hear all the time when the fertility treatments crashed, like wanting something so badly because it takes away pain in a minuscule increment. 'This tornado loves you' by Neko Case. I listened to it all the time in the rental car the insurance provided for me while deciding what to do with my banged up, now much less desirable vehicle. It made me think about how even when your heart has been ripped to shreds in grief, there is still love in the Universe for you. For me.

When I went to pick up Neko Scarlett (that's her full name) in late October, we finalized the deal and the salesman gave me the keys. I asked as an afterthought what kind of red she was. He said Tornado Red. This tornado really does love me, I thought.