Spring Updates

The pollen is trying to kill me. I love spring, and have been spending time outside and working in the garden, and I get so distracted by the chartreuse and lime and copper of the budding trees and the pinks and whites and yellows of the dogwoods and the magnolias and cherries that I fear I'll have a car accident on my way in to work. It's just so beautiful. But it's also coating my faulty lungs and making me lethargic. 

My magnolia in a sea of greens

Daffodils in bloom

Backlit daffodils in one of my hill gardens that's coming alive with all my future flowers

My hard work vine slaying, trying to free the shrubberies from strangulation. Also that white bottle is groundhog repellent, hungry jerk decapitated a bunch of my bleeding hearts.

Emmy is working out! She is freaking adorable, and she and Lucky are buddies. Not snuggling together (yet), but playing and chasing and sitting within a foot of each other. We are definitely adopting her for good and we are so excited that she and Lucky are having fun together and it's working out as we'd hoped! 

Pretty girl with the chameleon tail

Pensive, favorite spot (different day)

They both had to be in the window while I brushed my teeth! 

Awwwww, as close as they've ever been on the bed

I am the best cat bed apparently (must be the fuzzy blanket)

Last, we redid the deck in late March and it is my favorite space. We set up a reading/stargazing spot, and we'll have a dining set by May (forgot we needed furniture, whoops), and we are so looking forward to when we can have people over safely. It's a gorgeous spot and I have grand plans for planters that are also benches and trailing flowers. Summer, I will be ready for you! 


Lucky is a fan and he's old enough that I can catch him if he tries to flee into the wilderness (but he just wants to soak up the sun)

These pictures are helping me so much, because I had a hard day of feeling depleted and anxious and now I see such wonderful, hopeful things to look forward to and enjoy, which is lovely. 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Reframing Rainbows

I have a complicated relationship with the concept of "rainbow babies," and I've written about it more than once, but I can't find the posts...which makes me think I wrote about it and then didn't post them because people love the term "rainbow babies" and I didn't want to disparage the concept. Hmmm. This past week, Loribeth at The Road Less Traveled wrote a post this week reviewing the book I Had a Miscarriage: A Memoir, A Movement by Jessica Zucker. 


In her review, she quotes Zucker's words about rainbow babies. Two things stood out to me: 

"Blindingly relying on the comforting notion that every traumatic storm is followed by beautiful, awe-inspiring happiness is common within the pregnancy- and infant-loss community. But we all know this isn't always the case. Some people don't go on to get pregnant again. Some get pregnant and have yet another loss. Some stop trying to conceive altogether. So while this hopeful message is encouraging for some, it might feel alienating to others, and in ways that are not always obvious..."

Yes. I find that the idea of the rainbow after the storm represented by a baby or a late-term pregnancy as super alienating, because that is an image put out ALL THE TIME in the media and it gives the mistaken notion that this is the norm, that if you just try hard enough you, too, can have your rainbow. It feels terrible when there is no rainbow baby, when the miscarriage or baby loss is the experience you get and there's no more. It feels incomprehensible, that you won't have the chance to have the same colorful maternity shoot or baby wrapped in rainbows or birthday posts on social media brimming with gratitude that the rainbow miracle was granted. I don't think it's as uncommon as it seems in the media that you can leave the storm and NOT have a rainbow baby, it just doesn't have quite the same optics. 


But then, the author goes on to say:

"Alternative outcomes -- outcomes that do not consist of full-term pregnancies and babies wrapped in rainbow-colored blankets -- deserve to be acknowledged too...Sometimes a rainbow follows, and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes a rainbow is a child, and sometimes it's the renewal of vows, a career milestone, a new sense of self, the ability to self-love.


I LOVE this idea. I love that she extends the metaphor of the rainbow beyond the baby. That the storm is traumatic, and the loss is real, and sometimes, the rainbow that comes after isn't a baby at all but is the remaking of your own life, after surviving the turbulence. 

I also love that it doesn't fall into the trap of "if you don't get a baby in the end, you must do something GREAT with your life," because the list also includes such things as "a new sense of self" and "the ability to self-love." 

I don't know why I never thought to consider these things rainbows in their own terms. That rebuilding your life can be that beautiful light of hope and celebration.

For me, I think about the move to a new house that fits our life now, but also the smaller pieces that came before: converting my nursery into my office in the old house, and purchasing oatmeal-colored couches because we wouldn't have children to worry about. I also think of how I throw my mothering energy into my students (but not in a creepy way), and my gardens. How empowering it is to nurture life and create beauty in the garden. How fulfilling it is to work with 8th graders with learning differences and be a "warm nagger" and to embrace the students who feel on the fringe of things. I think of how I have made friends with my body again through Pilates and discovering all the ways that I am strong. I am still working on loving my body even when it fails me, or insists on being fluffier than I'd like, but I can concentrate on the strength and flexibility that I've gained through Pilates lessons. I think of how I have met wonderful people who have also gone through their own storms, and how these friendships have strengthened and expanded in the past year or so. I think of my marriage, and while I don't love vow renewals (um, they are still good, right? They don't expire? Also anytime a celebrity does a vow renewal they inevitably get divorced within the year...), I am proud of how we have survived the storms and really awful experiences with loss and grief and inexplicable barriers to parenthood, and survived that. We are thriving. We aren't perfect, and it was definitely difficult in places, but I am so grateful to have the relationship I have with Bryce and our life together. 

I think about survival anniversaries -- Infertile Phoenix wrote about her 6th here, and it's so important to mark that you made it through the storm. And then to celebrate what there is now, and what there is to look forward to.


Rainbows don't have to be babies. I don't have to feel quite so alienated, because I can reframe the rainbow for my successes after infertility, loss, and leaving adoption. That feels powerful. It makes me think of doing another photo shoot to celebrate these rainbows, maybe this summer if numbers go down. Even if it's a very small audience, I like to put out those pictures that celebrate a life often not seen as celebratory. Now I have ideas roiling around in my head! 

At first when I saw the book review post, I wasn't interested in the book, because I thought it might be too much to immerse myself in the world of pregnancy loss in a book right now... but after Loribeth's review and reading what the author had to say about rainbows...I am reconsidering. 

What are your rainbows?

Photo Memories

Maybe because I'm trying to limit my time on Facebook, I don't get those "Facebook Memories" reminders in my feed anymore. But I do get memories of 1 year ago, 2 years ago, 3 years ago, and so on from my Google Photos. 

March and April have been...interesting. 

When I was having a difficult time in March with my anxiety, a coworker asked, "do you have any weird anniversaries around this time?" and I thought...well, yes. 

My photo memories had insane montages of my eye from March 2017, all red and scary looking from the scleritis that I had to travel in a blizzard to get diagnosed after spending Bryce's birthday in the emergency room. There's a scary eye progression, and then I start getting into the Prednisone Days. 

April is worse, though -- April has pictures of my coloring that I did while trying to get out of a 5-day fight-or-flight response as a result of the high levels of prednisone I had to take to keep from permanently damaging my eye, more gross eye pictures, one-dilated-eye pictures, and memories of having a mental health crisis combined with needing to go to the emergency room because my blood pressure was through the roof and my symptoms were mimicking a heart attack. 

What brought all this on? Stress. The root cause of the autoimmune attack on my eye and then the difficult medication and resulting side effects was a culmination of the stress of the 8 years we spent trying to have a family (and failing every which way), a culmination of trying to appear normal on the outside while I was howling on the inside with every loss and reminder of what was just not materializing, of what had already been lost. The cost became way too much, and I needed to land myself in an ER and in a car being driven home from school because I wasn't fit for public consumption before I recognized that. I needed to see Bryce crying in a chair at the emergency room while my blood pressure was something like 189/125 and they were drawing blood to test for heart attack enzymes. 

That was the ENOUGH moment. And I don't have photographic evidence of all of it, but I have enough that it startles me and brings me back to that time, four years ago. 

WOW. Four. Years. Ago. 

While that was insanely hard, and I let go of our dream of parenthood kicking and screaming, I am now so glad that we ended what was clearly no longer healthy. I am so grateful for my life, as it is now. I am even grateful for my hysterectomy two years ago, because it felt like an exorcism, a final closing of the broken door, and it finally gave me some answers to why I couldn't get and stay pregnant. 

It's good to be reminded of what I've been through, and to honor all the work it's taken to get where I am today. It does make me sad, and I had a real weird dream last night where we were possibly adopting a baby and then chose to adopt a 12 year old instead because we already had a twin bed and dresser (which is a) bizarre and b) unrealistic and c) WHY IS MY MIND BRINGING ME BACK TO THAT PLACE AND THEN MAKING IT ABOUT CONVENIENCE???), which I'm sure is related to my subconscious knowing that these anniversaries exist. 

I am not looking forward to the photo memories of May, that include the dismantling of a nursery, the packed-up-pile of baby things by the door for donation, the realization that it's been four years since we made that final decision, irrevocably disassembled our dream. But then there's the redesigning of my office-once-nursery, and the oatmeal couches we bought because we don't have kids, and the California Honeymoon trip we took that August. Those are happy memories. 

It's amazing how a photo can bring you right to a moment of time, and how that memory can become visceral. But it's also wonderful how the sting is so much less now that I am farther away from those raw times. Thank goodness for the hard work of healing. 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

Self Care

Today was my first day back to school after Spring Break, and I ended up falling asleep on the couch for two hours. 

But Break itself was AMAZING. My goal was to unplug, to unwind, to restore myself and recharge my batteries as we go into the last quarter of the year as cases rise and we possibly return all students every day. 

And so, I had a wild week of puzzles, books, naps, walks, Pilates three times, gardening, and very little talking. It was glorious. 

Puzzle #1

Puzzle #2

Puzzle #3

Also, Emmy is settling in quite nicely:
Awww, they're buddies!

I'm making a secret pathway in between my hill gardens:

Books of Break: 
Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger
The Need by Helen Phillips
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemison
I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day
Pretend She's Here by Luanne Rice

It was super uneventful. It was super relaxing. It was exactly what I needed. 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!