Grief and learning I'm not the boss of it all


It has been so long since I have felt truly well, wholly myself. Nothing life-threatening but I'm just weary to the point that it's definitely affecting my mental well being. But let me back up a bit and tell this right. We had the most exciting experience of watching the stick turn pink in mid-March. Nathan and I had been trying for several months so the news of a pregnancy was huge. In fact, due to a lengthy battle with fibroid cycsts which I've briefly mentioned here, I had had some fertility testing done and the prognosis was not great. We were just about to start fertility treatments when I found out I was pregnant. I am the first to recognize that my health issues are of the annoying variety rather than the scary variety. I feel petty complaining about them but after three surgeries, albeit easy ones, and umpteen doctors visits I was also just relieved to not have to start the expensive and time intensive process of fertility treatments.

We were cautious and I in particular was anxious, but generally things were fine. I began the typical pregnancy symptoms right on course, nothing really out of line, but the exhaustion and constant nausea were much harder to deal with than in my prior pregnancies. I'm sure being significantly older contributed as did my demanding job. We had two ultrasounds where the heartbeat was visible and strong. We had just started telling friends and co-workers. And then I went in for my 12 week appointment and things weren't right. The baby had died. The shock was overwhelming and our grieving intense. Although let me make the context clear - even from the beginning when my emotions were raw and uncontrollable  and completely disabling, I knew the pain was not a permanent one. Nathan and I processed individually as well as together and I felt more connected to him as a result. Here at four weeks out where I sit now I still have moments of unexpected and intense sadness and more often frustration, but we are in a good place.

Yesterday my doctor called with the results of the genetic testing from the resulting D&C. The pregnancy was a partial molar pregnancy, an extremely rare situation where two sperm fertilize one egg. The chromosomal abnormalities makes the fetus nonviable. The fact that the pregnancy had lasted as long as it did, and that a fetus had formed at all is astonishingly rare. All of which actually made me personally feel better about the miscarriage and help my grief process, but the future effects are more daunting. There are some somewhat rare but real health concerns that can result (including a small but real chance of cancer) that means we need to put off pregnancy and do some intensive hormone monitoring for another half to full year. In a situation where it already feels like time is not on our side, this is disheartening news to say the least.

So again, I realize that my health concerns are not grave. But I have felt out of control of my body for close to 2 years now with no end in sight. I know I am not old but the hyper-focus on fertility certainly makes me feel my 39 years like a ticking bomb in my hands. I know I am not fat but the pregnancy weight and the stress weight and the fact that none of my clothes fit make me feel even more out of control. I want to remember what it feels like to be excited to take the dogs on a 5 mile run. I want to put on a cute outfit and hang out with friends late into the night and feel young and attractive. I want to feel like I have choices about the way my next year plays out. But I don't get to. I can choose how I interact with each day but more than that I have to let go of. Which is probably the only reality each of us has ever had, but I'm normally pretty good and deluding myself that I can control more. Life lessons, boo.



With four years now under my belt, I guess I need to update my self image as a "new" teacher. I have no idea how long it takes to really feel like a master at this craft (I suspect many more than four), but it is no longer daily jarring and unexpected. Still exhausting and that will never change. This was my fourth year teaching Algebra 2 and my first year with a new course that I brought to the school and championed called Financial Algebra. It was a pretty smooth year as far as teaching goes (with lots of personal bumps along the way, but that is a separate post). I had a few pretty low emotional spots but that comes with the territory. My mix of students had more seniors than ever before and that is a *huge* challenge that will take me a long time to master. I could go on and on about the meaning of education and what-does-it-all mean type hand wringing. The pressure I feel to get kids to graduate is immense and that particular problem at a Title I school is deep and complex. But. I have crossed the finish line yet again and it is delicious sitting here on a random weekday afternoon not quite knowing or caring what time of day or even day of the week it is. It feels so good to be human again.

Strawberry Picking

The spring in Austin this year has two distinct characteristics: rainy and not deathly hot. Both are welcome changes. There is a nagging feeling in my gut that we will somehow have to pay for the moderate temperatures and therefore cannot relax and enjoy them fully, but we've done our best. Play now, pay later!

We drove west of town to Sweetberry Farms to go strawberry picking last month. Delicious!

Jazz Fest

In late April I headed to New Orleans with Xandy and Kathryn to enjoy the richness of Jazz Fest. The timing is terrible for Nathan because it is always right before the AP Calculus test, but we decided to ditch him and head out anyway. It was perfect weather, a stark contrast to the rained out conditions of the second weekend, and a relaxed pace that was exactly what I needed at the end of a stressful school year. We of course stayed with Margaret and had a great time hanging out with Sarah and Patrick. I seem to live a charmed life. I am always acutely aware that such diversions and activities are not to be taken for granted.

It's hard to say what music I loved best. I really enjoy just wandering around and finding new music. The few ours we spent in front of the Zydeco tent may have been my favorite, although it's hard to top Elle King and Van Morrison.

The food at Jazz Fest is amazing, but there's no harm in a little late night trip to Cafe du Monde. There is always room for beignets!