“The only way out is through” and other mantras

I hope, for everyone who celebrates, you had a wonderful Christmas spent with family and friends.  This time of year is especially tough when you’re still slogging through the trenches of infertility, and bittersweet no matter where you are in your journey.

Time spent with my family for Christmas was lovely, but getting there was hugely stressful.  The weather did not cooperate with our plans, and certain states and/or counties seem to have an aversion to salt when it comes to treating snow-covered roads.  We were gone for six days, and about half that time was spent on the road, whether actually driving or stranded in a motel room because of impossible driving conditions.  Hubby handled it like a champ, and we kept reminding ourselves it was good practice for our upcoming move.  Still, conditions were dangerous, and we had to be hyper-vigilant in our travels, which is exhausting.  I’m grateful to be back at home, safe and sound.

The Only Way Out is Through

Driving through the panhandle of Texas, first through an active snow storm, and later on hard, snow-packed roads, made me a nervous wreck–perhaps more so because I was not the one driving.  Instead, I sat helpless in the passenger seat, white-knuckling the armrest and doing my best to breathe.  I wanted to trust in my husband, that he would keep us safe, but I didn’t trust the weather or our car, so believing he could overcome all that was really difficult.

The night of the storm, we were sandwiched in a caravan of semi trucks.  Hubby joked that the truck drivers were probably thinking, “What’s this mashugana in the tiny Ford doing out in this weather?”  There seemed to have been feeble attempts at plowing the road, but there was nothing but snow coming into contact with our tires.  I kept looking to the side of the road, but there was nothing but white pasture.  No exits.  Nowhere for us to stop or pull over.  We had no choice but to keep moving forward, following the tracks in the snow and the taillights of the truck in front of us.

And of course, because my mind is still so saturated with it, I thought of our infertility.  And of all of you.  As we were finally beginning treatments, more than two years ago, I sought out those who had traveled this path before.  Without those bloggers, I could have easily been blinded by a white-out of information, emotions, and overwhelming financial burdens.  But because so many of you had gone before me, there were clear tracks I could follow.  I knew what was just ahead, and I knew many of you had made it safely to your destination.  And now, I hope, there are others just behind me, being guided along by the glow of my taillights.  We’re not there yet, but the worst of the storm has passed, and I can almost make out the silhouette of a safe haven, just beyond the falling snow.

Loving-Kindness

We found a motel room just before dark, along with hundreds of other stranded travelers.  I was grateful to be off the road, but my mind kept jumping to the following morning, when I knew the highway would still be treacherous.  Visions of our car skidding and rolling off the road flashed across the insides of my eyelids, no matter how many times I tried to push them away.

Many a blogger has written about never being alone during pregnancy.  Thumper is with me always, as she constantly reminds me.  She wakes up with me in the morning, tap dances on my bladder throughout the day, and practices kung fu in the evening, my belly contorting and protruding at odd angles with every kick and punch.  And every moment of it brings me joy.  What this pregnancy has taught me more than anything, though, is how much I now have to lose.

When my fantasies went so far as to picture myself with a broken neck, Hubby frantically trying to get help, to at least save our little bunny, I knew I was in bad shape.

The next morning, the roads were still covered with snow, but to make things worse, the temperature had dropped dramatically, so it was frozen solid.  Hubby was now driving 30 mph where the posted speed limit was 75.  Cars were passing us left and right, but it didn’t feel safe to either of us to go any faster.  And with the previous night’s nightmare scenarios popping up in  my brain every few minutes, I had to do something to take control of the situation.

I thought of the book I’ve been reading, Mindful Birthing, and remembered loving kindness meditation.  So as Hubby drove, I repeated the only part of it I could recall, which seemed apt: May you be safe and protected.  May you be healthy in body and mind.  I directed it toward the occupants of every vehicle that passed us, and especially toward the occupants of our own car, Hubby, Thumper, and me: May we be safe and protected.  May we be healthy in body and mind.  And you know what?  It helped.  It eased my anxiety and got me through until we reached the salted, slushy, and–later–clear, plowed roads.

The Should-have-beens

It was hard, while we were driving through the worst of the weather, not to think that, if our plans had worked out, we wouldn’t even be dealing with this mess.  We wouldn’t have left the house until Monday, after all our possessions had been loaded on a moving truck, when the roads would have been cleared and safe to drive on.  There were a lot of those reminders during our trip, like when my dad surprised us with the car seat we had registered for, which wouldn’t have fit in our car had we packed it for our move to Montreal with everything we’d need for the first couple of weeks there, including the cats.

We were still dealing with the aftermath of Hubby’s conversation with the professor, trying to figure out how much he would really be expected to work without pay.  Hubby felt the need to stand up for himself (as he should), but he didn’t want to say or do anything that would jeopardize his job or his relationship with his future boss.  He explained our financial situation, using that as the reason he wouldn’t be able to devote as much time to his postdoc duties until we actually get to Canada.  He is willing to do some work on it, but he needs a paycheck, too, which means finding a temporary job here.  He can’t work full-time on both, so something has to give.  The professor seemed to understand, but, of course, they’re both disappointed things haven’t worked out as we thought they should.

Then there was the drive home.  Heading back the way we’d come, when we should have been continuing on our northeasterly trajectory, was bittersweet.  The trip itself was a breeze compared to going the opposite direction.  The only hiccup was a nail-punctured tire in a town large enough to have a tire repair shop and someone available to patch it within about 15 minutes.

Driving between the mountains, seeing our city–our home for over a decade–come back into view, there was a moment of realization that this would likely be the last time we’d see it this way.  This is the city where we met, where we got married, and where, with a whole lot of help, this pregnancy was achieved.  It will always be our city, and in a way, I’m glad we get to spend a little more time here.

We were supposed to ring in the new year in a new city.  But we’ll get there eventually.  Instead, we’ll celebrate a new year and the new life flourishing inside me in the place where it all began.

And to all of you, may 2014 bring you peace, no matter how close to–or far from–resolving your infertility you are.

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