Summer is my season, if only because it supplies the rare opportunity to relax into a natural schedule not governed by outside demands – eat when the body is hungry, sleep when the body is tired, feed the mind with books, toss out the vitamin D supplements and take a walk without a jacket, play with the dog – but in the days after we returned from our trip, I found myself floundering anxiously somewhere in the vestibule between Dakota and the four frosties. Up until that point, I had been steeped happily in the euphoria of closing out the school year and anticipating our pastoral West Coast adventure, followed by all the indulgences of wine, food finery, redwoods, and the rugged sea. We landed back in New York on a Sunday afternoon, and by 5am on Monday morning I was battling the traffic to go for monitoring at the Big House in Basking Ridge and launching my FET cycle. It was all a pretty abrupt change of pace, the loud hammering and general ugliness of Staten Island road construction in the blinding sun of a cloudless sky mirroring the inner climate of awakened anxieties and stark realities. Without work as a distraction, it’s easy for me to slip into those familiar patterns of obsessive worry, whiling away these precious weeks in misery over feared outcomes I can no further influence, squandering this gift of time. I felt myself spinning, and in seeking solid ground, I returned to meditation. Specifically, I bought Jon Kabat-Zinn’s series on iTunes after watching some of his lectures on YouTube. Here’s the one:
Somewhere around the 16-minute mark he starts to say,
…whatever thought or emotion, for that matter, arises within you in any moment – you can be aware of it, and in being aware of it, you modulate and shift and change the energy of that thought or that emotion; and a lot of our thoughts and emotions are actually destructive, toxic, dangerous, harmful to ourselves as well as leading to harmful actions to others, and if we have no relationship to those thoughts – if we are, sort of, basically out of relationship to them as thoughts – then what would we do? One: we’ll experience them as the truth, and we will act on them in ways that are completely deluded…So this awareness that is cultivated by paying attention, intentionally, on purpose, in the present moment. Why in the present moment? Because that’s the only moment we’re ever alive in, so you can’t pay attention in the past, and you can’t pay attention in the future, and to the degree that you can pay attention to the past or pay attention to whatever we call the future, that is happening in the present, so the future and the past are actually completely embedded in now…Now if we’re interested in living our lives, say, as if they really mattered, and, of course, if you’re missing most of your moments, that’s not a good prescription for living your life as if it really matters because of lot of what happens when you’re out to lunch matters.
In previous cycles, I have fallen victim to that soul-sucking hobgoblin, IVF’s terrible sidekick: the fear, the feelings of hopelessness and self-loathing, the labyrinthine mental circles of fretting and postulating, the hawkish analysis of my body. Perhaps it’s just wisdom accumulated from experience, having subjected myself to this process enough times that I can put treatment in its proper place as one part of my life instead of a central and dominating conquest. I can’t help but think of this clever taxonomy from Tertia’s book:
* Your eternal optimistic/newly diagnosed/completely uninvolved infertile doesn’t need too much in the way of special friendship; she believes the problem is temporary and will get resolved soon. She doesn’t feel different, broken, or an outcast.
* Your longer term/highly involved/high-tech infertile is a tricky beast–one to be handled with great caution and kid gloves. She feels alienated from society and carries great pain and angst in her soul. She may not show it all the time, but she has a very sensitive, raw spot that is easily bruised.
* Then you get the hardcore veteran (aka the good-humored veteran) who’s been at it for so long, it’s become part of who she is. The hardcore vet has gone through the great angst and intense pain of the dark years and has come out realising that while infertility is unbelievably hard, it doesn’t have to be all-consuming. Instead of crying, she laughs. Because infertility can actually be a comedy of errors (58).
I think I must have finally earned my V (for veteran) card. So early each morning, once my husband leaves for work, I pull on my bikini and cover up, slide into a worn pair of leather flip-flops, and drive with the moon roof open over the causeway that traverses the bay; I walk nearly a mile along the boardwalk over the dunes through a small forest of beach shrubbery until I get to the lighthouse, where I cut down to the ocean; I unroll my blanket on an isolated patch of sand and settle into my headphones amid the sea spray to honor my life as it is right now for half an hour. This thoughtful defense of the present moment strengthens my resolve to fend off the beast, to protect and cherish the treasures of now rather than wishing away time in pursuit of resolution. After all, what could be so terrible and so pressing as to cause such strife when Monday morning looks like this?