Quandary of the Magnolia Tree

For those craving an update, I have been on a forced break from chasing any kind of resolution to our prolonged childlessness, our failure to launch. Shortly after receiving the dueling PGS reports from Opposite Land, I had a hysteroscopy (what I believed to be a formality, an updated test required by my clinic preceding an April FET) which revealed that the scarring from my D&E has regrown with a vengeance, from the single filmy adhesion cleared in July to multiple bands that have co-opted the left fundal bowl around the opening to my only remaining fallopian tube, officially adding Asherman’s Syndrome to my rap sheet of diagnoses. This was incredibly jarring news that yanked from beneath us the security blanket of a clinically uninteresting uterus. The three reports together – success of a cycle I initiated in hopes of getting some very expensive closure on my own genetics, the scarring, and the shocking failure of the young Czech egg donor to produce any normal embryos after months (some might argue years) of mustering the courage to rip off the proverbial band-aid (face all the fear and grief that then oozed out) and try something drastically different that might actually bring home a child – this trifecta of surprises turned the whole trajectory of plan A, plan B, and plan C on its head. I have to have surgery if I want to proceed with my blasts, and I’m still waiting to talk to Superstar Doctor after a few maddening and insensitive conversations with the child-doctor (fellow) who follows him around and tries to handle his business for him and a nurse who seems to have turned going on vacation into an Olympic sport. Honestly, the worry-meter shot so far into the frenzied red zone that the the whole machine started smoking and sputtering and ultimately just shut down completely, so I have spent the month of March focused on my job that I love and getting my health and wellness (and BMI) back in working order. These things are manageable, where effort yields reward with dazzling regularity, and manageable is what we desperately need to bring life back into homeostasis.

But my silence has been rife with lurking, and this theme of ‘relics‘ and ‘symbols‘ resonates powerfully with the bloom of spring. The ubiquitous splashes of vibrant forsythia from the increasingly verdant highway of my daily commute to the vista from my dining room window herald the season of anniversaries that range from joyous to tragic, with all that interim ambiguity that fills me with unease.


Our budding magnolia on this raw, rainy morning

For example, Friday is my brother’s birthday, an opportunity to get together with my family, whom I have really come to appreciate in the past year, The Loss having changed the dynamic so fundamentally that we have shifted into a balance of give and take and mutual consideration that I always longed for. I am grateful for my brother, for this chance to celebrate another year in this fragile life that promises nothing, a brother who survived cancer and, most recently, a deadly spider bite with no health insurance.

Friday also marks a year to the day of our visit to CHOP, when I first learned that my baby’s liver and other abdominal organs were in his chest cavity, that his distended stomach and dilated kidneys put me risk for excessive amniotic fluid and pre-term labor, that he had very little lung tissue and was likely to die if he lived to be born. And there the shades of light and dark muddle together in a murky mess.

This is just one installment of the dialectic of the warmer and sunnier half of the year. May brings my birthday, another moment that warrants gratitude but serves as an achy reminder of the passing of time in this still unresolved conflict. My wedding anniversary is in July, and I am thankful every day for my husband, his love and support and devotion, my most trusted confidant and partner in this adventure of our lives together. But the honeymoon marks seven years of ‘trying.’ He will also celebrate his birthday in July, which is joyous for all of the reasons I’ve mentioned, but it pains me to watch his gray hairs mount while he is still denied this privilege of fatherhood. (He would be an incredible dad.) August marks Dakota’s due date, the second round, which looms faintly over the season I love the most, the season of beach meditation and bicycle rides, of backyard grilling and outdoor concerts, of beers by the firepit, of work-free leisure and time to tackle clutter piles in the house and books devoured on rainy days. And, probably, some kind of resumed effort to bring this to a close. There are embryos to contend with, and I will have to face them eventually, even though the idea of managing the anxiety of my seventh big two-weeks wait makes me want to disappear painlessly into the ether.

Last year we planted a magnolia tree in the yard in remembrance of our boy. It blooms this time of year, and its now-blushing buds will likely become a radiant spectacle of white flowers by the time April 17th rolls around.  It’s not that I want to forget him or blot out his memory; it’s that I had imagined myself being in a different place by now, with the luxury of revisiting a blunted sadness amid a brighter future, maybe full of new baby, without the distraction of still fighting for a chance at motherhood.

18 thoughts on “Quandary of the Magnolia Tree

    • I’ve been mostly keeping my head down (in relative calm) since I’m still plotting these General Schwartzkopf moves to navigate this bullshit, but those budding flowers in the yard are a gnawing sight and gave me cause to write-vent.


      • I don’t think the occasional venting can be quite healthy.
        Unrelated – Schwarzkopf is a hair care product brand over here, which made your comment funnier than probably intended. In my mental image, you’re plotting with long and beautiful hair. Hoping you’ll get to washing a small person’s hair through your master plan.


  1. Your writing is beautiful, and I can feel myself in it.

    Four years ago, I planted a pink lemon tree on some family land, when it happened to me. I had never seen a pink lemon tree before, and there it was at the garden shop, and I knew she was a girl. This spring, the tree finally is blooming.

    You will fight because you have to. And one way or another, you will get through this because you have no choice. You have to keep fighting.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That sounds so lovely. Trees live a long time, so it is my hope that the perennial blooming garners a different (and desired) reaction down the road.


  2. Holy hell. Life’s sense of irony can be bitterly cruel. And the light ever tainted with a bittersweet darkness. I wish you were in that Other Place with blunted sadness and something more mortally tangible than a new deck to anticipate. I keep hoping.


  3. A truly beautiful post. The symbolism you conjour is poetry. Sad and aching but strong. How you honor yourself to stand in this place , a strand of true strength to add to your collection of nuances . To be where you never thought you would be ( again and again) is a understanding that many who flollow your blog can relate I think. Something that dawns on me as I read your words is how alive and vibrant you sound.. Being taken to our knees can sometimes deliver the most surprising of gifts. Hope these months building up to transfer will provide you with the fortitude you will need and that the spring/summer days can fill you with joy . As ever in awe of you and selfishly delighted you are still writing. K x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. As always, beautiful. I wish there was something that would actually be comforting to say in so much difficulty with the new obstacles as well as dealing with your loss. Your resilience and strength come through so clearly here. Hoping that the summer brings you some respite and beauty and wishing you peace and strength as you prepare for dealing with the embryos.


  5. I wish there was more sweet than bitter for you to look forward to in the coming weeks and months. All those reminders of another year passing without resolution can be a punch to the gut, and to have so many over the course of a few months…you’ve already proven your strength and resilience; it almost seems too much to ask you to do it again and again. If anything, I hope this season gets you a step closer to the family you desire. Wrapping you in love…


  6. How funny, I thought I was the only one who disliked my wedding anniversary. But there must be a decent subset of us infertiles for whom it’s an anniversary of trying. It’s gotten to the point that I only acknowledge the day my husband and I started going out, 8.5 years before our wedding day. This drives him crazy!


    • Funny, my wedding anniversary and the anniversary of our first date are the same +4 years. It was corny and romantic at the time. Hopefully some resolution some day will shift the perspective.


  7. Pingback: The Apology | The Empress and the Fool

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