Monday, August 22, 2005

Quieting the Inner Track Coach

A Real Long Letter for My 25th Post:

First off, many many thanks for all the kind and encouraging comments. I do so appreciate knowing there are people out there who “get it.”

Mostly, I have been OK. I had an appointment with a new endocrinologist this month—I’ll call her Dr. Down to Earth. She basically said to me, “Look this is going to happen for you. It’s just a matter of when.” I did my usual sort of sensitive-yet-tough act: sniffle quickly, square the shoulders, and then bravely--yet obviously--pretend to be fine. I said, “Oh I’m sure I’ll conceive again if I’m patient enough. It’s the making it to term part I can’t quite seem to master.”

She fixed me with a vintage no-nonsense, stop-feeling-sorry-for-yourself, cut-the-crap, and lose-the-attitude look and said, “Noo, I mean having a *child* is going to happen for you.” To which I just cocked an eyebrow. Like, what lady, you selling bridges here? We all know my body is crap and my luck is worse. And she said, “I won’t do anything awful like tell you to relax--though it obviously can’t hurt. But you just have to trust that this is going to happen. Your body is still trying to figure things out.” I must have perked up a bit then, because she repeated that line. “Your body’s figuring it out. Once your body does, it will happen. I promise.” Then she almost ruined it by telling me she had a “feeling” about me and she was good about knowing these things. I mean sheesh. If I had a baby for every damn person who “just had a good feeling”…

But I like the idea of my body earnestly, honestly, trying to figure things out. Poor dopey body, I know it means well. And truth to tell, I have been a slow starter when it comes to most things in my life. Why should my body be different from my psyche? I like the idea of telling my Inner Track Coach to take a chill pill, put DOWN the effing stop watch, stop yelling for me to “Use those arms!” (Use those ovaries!? Use that ute!?), and let the body do some untimed trail runs.

Mostly, that’s what I’ve been doing. No racing, no timing, no treadmills, no tracks, just enjoying the outdoors. Except I haven’t truly been running at all. In response to my claim that I just didn’t know whether to exercise or not, cause I keep gaining weight, yet I don’t want to interfere with implantation and I love to run, but how can I run and keep down my heartbeat and… Dr. Down to Earth said, “You know *walking* has been shown to be a totally gentle, highly effective form of exercise.” So, I’ve been walking gently with my body and with myself these days and mostly it has been good.

Gotta admit I had a slight relapse this past weekend, though, when I unexpectedly ran into an old "friend," her husband, and their *brand new* baby. I’m not in touch with the woman, had no idea they’d even been expecting, much less that they’d be at this party. She was one of those people who sort of overlapped with my social circle years ago, but to whom I was never close. She was always, always so self-satisfied and sure, the kind of person who tells stories about how she *always* gets what she wants. It's not that I actually care what she thinks. But, because, she always seems out to prove how great she is, it just really rubbed raw to see her have something that I really want.

I did my very best to smile pretty and coo at the right times. Still, why not me? Why? Why her and not me? And does she know about my problem? Was she rubbing in it? Were we conversing in code when she bragged about her new book--and how she just, you know, feels like the mother of all creation?

In dire need of something, I went to church on Sunday morning (a pretty rare thing for me). The minister’s sermon was about the character-building purpose of suffering. Going all folksy and contemporary on us, the minister brought up the example of the many failures of Abraham Lincoln. (I guess Lincoln seems accesible and contemporary when your other main example is about 2,000 years old and has the advantage of being the son of God.) Most people telling the story of Lincoln’s heartbreaks, setbacks, personal and professional losses (a string of failures that, according to Professor Google, may be largely urban legend anyway) take the moral of the story to be that you should never give up cause something great may be just around the corner. The minister’s point, by contrast, was that Lincoln’s failures were not something that he had to overcome, but rather something that he had to understand, to endure, and to integrate into his character. Only someone who had already lived through suffering could ever have had the strength to lead the country through the Civil War.

In fact, the minister pointed out, Americans are rather peculiar in their assumption that life is there to be enjoyed and that each person’s goal should be to get through her days as comfortably numb as practically possible. On the contrary, growth comes from struggle, from hard-won grace.

It was just the reinforcement of Dr. Down to Earth’s message that I needed. So, I am going to try to remember to be kind to my body, to myself, and to others and to remember that before the invention of comfort there was suffering and salvation. I am going to try to believe not only that I will eventually become a mother, but also that all these miscarriages, and these seemingly senseless hurts and delays, will prove to be the very things needed make me into the mother I am meant to be. If ever there was an endurance trial, infertility is it. There's no use trying to sprint. The only thing to do is to take it slow and try to remember to breath deeply.