Epilogue

Bakery Closed Until Further Notice was a writing project with a timeline.  It ended on April 17th, 2011, exactly as planned.

That doesn’t mean that I’ve stopped writing.  I’ve shifted gears and started a new blog over here.  Please follow me, if you’re so inclined.

Or, if you’re new to Bakery, stay a while and surf the back-entries.  This project helped me immensely; I hope it can continue to be helpful to others as well.

Thanks for reading.

Love, Marie

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Understanding and acceptance

If things had worked out differently, my baby would be two today.

Incidentally, my maternal grandfather would be 98 today.  I never met him, either.

But things didn’t work out differently.  I lost that pregnancy on account of a blighted ovum in my eleventh week, and my grandfather died of a heart attack when my mom was twelve years old.  Things don’t always happen the way we think they should, and then it’s up to us to learn and grow and work with our reality.

Back in August, I asked only one thing from this project: healing.  Now, after learning that healing (in the black-and-white, magic potion, erase-the-past sense of the idea) is impossible, I know I’ve gained something even better: understanding and acceptance.

Understanding:  I started writing because I felt like I was carrying around this huge weight of an experience, and I couldn’t explain it well enough to suit me.  I wanted the right to be a little disappointed at friends’ pregnancy announcements, to refuse invitations to baby showers, to roll my eyes and complain about pregnant women wearing horizontal stripes or otherwise making something that was already in my face, that much more in my face.  And I wanted the right to do these things without having to explain myself every. single. time.  I decided to put my hurt out there into the universe, so that at least the people that knew me well would read and understand and cut me a little slack.

And acceptance: Another of my initial goals was to learn to love the life I was in, instead of mourning the life I had lost – something I’d been trying and failing to do since the day I miscarried.  So here, on days when I was not describing my pain, I tried to focus on the joy of the things going on around me: my relationship with Doug, with my family, with my friends, with Dawn’s babies.  I’ve tried, to the best of my ability, to make this an everyday practice, and I think for the most part I’ve succeeded.  I can honestly say that I spend more time in the moment these days than I did two years ago – even nine months ago.

One last bike-ride-as-a-metaphor-for-life story.  Yesterday, Doug and I went on separate rides.  He and a buddy decided to ride 70 miles in the 100-degree desert – San Diego County’s second-hardest cycling route, most of it climbing.  I went with my dad and brother, half that distance on a far easier course.

I fight with my bike all the time.  For me, the ride is rarely worth the pain.  I often feel too slow, too weak, too unprepared.  Doug, on the other hand, is a great rider.  He has the strength, the endurance, and the thick head one needs to travel great distances on pedal-power alone.  On almost every ride we’ve been on together, I’ve been miserable, and Doug has been known to say such helpful things as, “God, I love big hills!” and, “C’mon babe, you can do this, it’s easy!”

Well, yesterday’s ride broke him.  He was unprepared, he was out of his league, and the heat certainly didn’t help.  He called me from the finish, gasping for breath.  When he got home, he admitted how much he’d been hurting, and admitted that he’d had to sit out for one four-mile loop of the course to gather his wits and refuel.  He told me that, had that been his first cycling experience, he would’ve thrown the bike away and quit right then and there.  Then he said, “I’m sorry for not understanding how you must feel on rides that I think are easy.  After today, I think I finally get it.”  Understanding.

Meanwhile, Dad, Martin, and I were cruising up and down the coast, on familiar roads with familiar hills.  It wasn’t easy – at some points, I ended up 40-50 yards behind the guys, mentally cursing them for not riding at my pace, or at least being aware that they were losing me – but it was manageable.  As my dad told my mom later, I never gave up and walked, not even up the big hill leading to my parents’ house at the very end of the ride.  And I realized: this is where I’m at.  I don’t even want to try the courses that Doug expects to conquer.  For me, 35 miles with my family is a perfectly acceptable ride.  It’s good exercise and good company, with good coffee somewhere in the middle.  It’s challenging without being defeating.  I shouldn’t be mourning the hills I can’t climb or the speeds I can’t attain.  This is where I’m at, and it’s plenty good enough for me.  And acceptance.

We didn’t end up planning anything to commemmorate today – nothing ever felt like the “perfect” way to celebrate.  And then, last night, Doug told me what he wanted to do.  He suggested that we turn everything off, and just spend a quiet evening at home together.  When we decided not to try again after my miscarriage, it was under the pretense that we hadn’t gotten enough “us-time.”  So, he explained, why not make a point of having us-time now, while we still can, before the wedding-crazy and the baby-crazy really take over?  And what better night to start than tonight?  To give you (well, him) a taste of what’s coming next, I’m even going to cook.

That all being said, I think it’s only right that I end this story the same way it began: by peeing on something, and getting excited about it…

So there you have it.  My name is Marie.  Today, on the would-be birthday of both a baby and a grandfather I never got to meet, I am 28.75 years old, divorced, and child-free.  But I have a great family, wonderful friends, an amazing boyfriend, and an incredibly bright future.  I can’t wait to see what it brings.

I’m here: nervous, excited, a little sad to say goodbye.  But so, so ready.

Posted in family, friends, future, love, perspective, positive thinking, present | 20 Comments

“Dear Journal… Hi, it’s me Doug…..”

(Ten points to anyone who can name that cartoon!)

This blog project ends in 24 hours.  My girlfriend has spent nine months sitting in front of a computer everyday, expressing thoughts, feelings, and insights about a time that wasn’t wanted, but happened anyway.  Some healing took place, some friends were made, some laughs and tears were shared.  This is not a closing blog (Marie gets to figure out how to do that tomorrow), this instead is a thank you.  An award acceptance speech, so to speak.  In today’s go-fast-to-go-faster mentality, sometimes a little gesture as a formal thank you gets overlooked.  So I’m taking it upon myself to make sure it doesn’t get overlooked this time.  With that being said….

Thank you Isreal, Canada, New Zealend, Northern Cali, Colorado, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York, and Del Mar.

Thanks for reading, thanks for being a part of this.  Thanks for saying the things that I couldn’t bring myself to say, thanks for saying the things I didn’t know how to say.  Thanks for laughing, thanks for crying.  Thanks for the friendships.  Thanks for the comments, the insight, the thought.  Thanks for putting up with my last post, and this one.  Thanks for the chocolate (pop rocks in chocolate, who knew – thanks in advance for sending more of that……I’ll send CLIF bars.)  Thanks to the guys of the these amazing women, who let me know it’s ok to talk.   Thanks for putting up with the short posts, the long posts, the silly posts, and the time-filling posts.  Thanks for the memories. Finally, THANKS FOR THE LOVE.

I can go on, but really it can’t be put into words (or maybe it could, but I’m no Marie when it comes to writing).  From the bottom of my heart, I hope that this blog these past nine months did as much for all of you as it has for us.  I hope that one day we will all be in the place we want to be.

Thank you again,

D.

Quailman & Patty Mayonnaise, Halloween 2009

Posted in friends, love, writing | 10 Comments

Timeline

I set this thing up, from its very conception (note the word choice) to be a gestation.  I gave it an eight-and-a-half-month timeline, with a clear date of when I could expect it to be over.  As I’ve mentioned before, I stole these particular dates from my own failed pregnancy two years ago (August 7th, the day I found out I was pregnant, to April 17th, my projected due date), but as it turned out, the dates themselves bear no meaning on what I’ve experienced here.

What I’ve experienced has been, in so many metaphorical ways, a pregnancy.  I don’t think I knew this going in; I only knew that I was making it span roughly the same amount of time as a pregnancy does, because I needed it to have a beginning and an end, and I felt like being clever.  But a pregnancy is what I got.  Let’s look at the timeline.

Late spring/early summer 2010: planning ahead.  I decide that, after all I’ve been through and all the ways its affected me, I am finally going to commit myself to healing.  I have a vague idea of “starting a blog,” but instead of calling it a blog, I’m calling it a “healing/writing project in blog form.”  I start asking my friends with blogs for advice: blogger or wordpress?  How do I get the layout I want?  Do you think anyone will find this interesting?

Late June 2010: conception.  I set up my wordpress account.  I am excited, but not quite ready to share with the world yet.  I come up with a name: “Bakery Closed Until Further Notice.”  It’s perfect.  I tell myself to wait to announce my plan to the world until August 7th.  Which means that for almost two months, I sat and waited, excited, fearful, anticipatory.

Late July 2010: heartbeat.  I meet up with a friend from my high school journalism/yearbook days, and ask her to take pictures for me – for publicity, for a header, or maybe just for me.  I finally realize that this is really happening.  I am committed.  No turning back.  I am in this for the next nine months – and I don’t even know how to feel.

August 7, 2010: the announcement.  I publish my first post.  I learn that I can get my posts to publish themselves to facebook.  Huge relief, as now I don’t have to figure out how to tell the world about my project – I can just focus on the project itself.  I look at the 254 days ahead of me and take a deep breath.

August 2010-October 2010: the first trimester.  Still not really sure what I’m doing, I take it one post at a time and try to get used to the idea that I am now a blogger.  I am blogging daily, and therefore I start to look at my life in relation to the blog: if I go to this dinner, will I have time to post?  If I have too many drinks, will I be coherent enough to post?  What story should I tell next?  What moments from my daily life will make good blog posts?  I have a few readers – my close friends, Doug, my dad, and some old classmates who stumbled across my facebook links – but for the most part, I am still going solo.  This is about me, and although I’m fascinated by the fact that other people are interested, and welcome the comments I do get, I’m mostly focused on myself and my journey.

November 2010-January 2011: the second trimester.  Things really start to pick up as more and more people begin to know me as a blogger.  I get some random comments from women I’ve never met, saying, “Hey, I know how you feel,” and I suddenly realize that this is not all about me.  I am not the only person out there going through this.  This realization makes me both ecstatic (someone understands!) and devastated (it’s so unfair!).  I continue plugging away at my daily posts: it feels like I’ve been doing this forever, and that I will be doing this forever.  It’s as much a part of my life now as eating, sleeping, or going to work.

February-March 2011: the third trimester.  The end is in sight, and I don’t feel ready.  I start wondering what will become of me once “Bakery Closed” is over – I’ve gotten so used to this part of my life, and am so in love with the friends I’ve made because of it.  I seriously consider trying to keep it up forever, but have an inkling that that’s not what I really want, either.  I start making plans for what will happen to me after my blog ends, and try to ignore the countdown ticking away in the back of my brain.

April 2011: the final few weeks.  I am so ready for this to be over.  (The phrase, “Get this thing out of me, now!” comes to mind.)  I am ready for the next step, even though I still don’t really know what that will look like – another blog, another project, another chapter for which I am only slightly prepared.  But I’ve taken this as far as I can take it; there is nothing left to say, and obviously I can’t exist in this state forever.  I wanted to grow, to heal, to move forward, and I have grown, healed, and moved as far forward as I can within the confines of these pages.

April 17, 2011: due date.  Yeah, I have no idea.  But it’s two days away, and I’m ready to be there.  I’m ready to meet my life after Bakery Closed.  I’m ready to wear a different necklace.

Posted in future, past, positive thinking, present, talismans, writing | 7 Comments

Detox

This week will be the second time in my life I’ve done some kind of a body cleansing/detox program.

The first time was a few weeks after my D&C, because the pregnancy hormones in my body had thrown my whole chemical balance off, and I was getting stomach aches daily.  My mom’s chiropractor recommended a seven-day program that he was familiar with, and I signed up.  Besides my body needing a restart, I think I wanted some sort of emotional closure, some sort of way to regain control.  So I followed the program explicitly.

For seven days, I drank this disgusting cleanse formula that tasted like apple-walnut-licorice juice, and peach-flavored protein shakes that tasted like chalky soy milk.  With the exception of a small meal on days three, four, and five, the only food I was allowed to have was a salad made up of celery, cucumber, and green bell pepper (dressed in lemon juice and chili powder, if I wanted more flavor) – I could eat as much of this as I liked throughout the course of the week – and a small handful of raw almonds each day.

Now let me tell you.  I do not like raw nuts, but when you’re denying yourself almost everything else…  That handful of almonds was the best thing ever.

As much as I hated the two drinks, and as much as my stomach aches got worse before they got better, the detox worked.  By the end of the week, I was no longer in any physical pain, and was therefore allowed to focus on my emotional pain instead.  Actually, I could focus on my healing journey, which I believe was beginning even then – it was just such a long and drawn-out process that I couldn’t see it taking shape.

Anyway, back in January, when I realized and/or decided that my IUD was giving me similar stomach aches to the ones I had during and after my pregnancy, my plan of action was two-fold: first, I would have the IUD removed.  Then, I would do another detox to reset my body’s chemical balance.

This time, I got a different seven-day program, from the doctor’s office where Amanda works.  It only has one required drink – a shake powder that, when mixed with water or non-dairy-beverage, assumes the consistency of cake batter – and eating is totally allowed.  The idea is to eat “clean” (like my gym-crazy brother does when he’s “shredding”): fruits, veggies, nuts, lean proteins.  No gluten or dairy.  No caffeine, alcohol, sugar, or processed foods.  Lots and lots of water.

Compared to the last detox, this one sounded like a cakewalk.  So Doug decided to do it with me.  The problem was that we had a lot of football to watch in January – and you can’t watch football without beer.  And then it was Valentine’s Day.  And then we had bikes to ride or something.  I dunno.  There was always an excuse.  And my stomach aches had stopped pretty much immediately after I got rid of Mirena.

So we finally decided to do it this week.  Because this week seemed less inconvenient than next week, or the week after that.  We started today, and let me tell you…  When you can’t eat the chocolate maltballs being sampled at your work, black beans and brown rice start to taste like the best thing ever.

Actually, I think it’s appropriate that I’ll be in the middle of cleansing and resetting my body on Sunday, the last day of this blog.  It’s time for a fresh start, time for something new.  The same things are, and probably always will be, going on in my world and in my mind – people are getting pregnant, I’m jealous – and I wonder if I can’t apply the same comparison to this situation as I can to eating while detoxing.

When you spend your days knowing you can’t (yet) have the baby you want, but somehow resisting the urge to whine about it, maybe you can make the things you do have – the relationship, the friends, the moments of joy and peaceful solitude – seem like the best things ever.

Posted in birth control, friends, miscarriage, past, perspective, present | 5 Comments

To answer your question…

In honor of April being National Infertility Awareness Month, I thought I might attempt to answer the one question I’m being asked a lot lately…

Q: You know you’re not infertile, right?!

A: Yes, I do know that.  However…

I do tend to forget that I don’t actually fall into the “infertility” bracket of the blogging community I’ve landed in over the past few months (ALI: adoption, loss, and infertility – I qualify on loss alone).  There’s a lot of outside influence from the amazing women I’ve met here, many of whom have been classed as infertile, and together we feed into this mob mentality of doom.  The general mood/message coming from any one of us (myself included), on any given day, goes like this: “I will never get pregnant, and if by some miracle I do get pregnant, I will automatically miscarry.”  Of course, there’s a lot of positive things to be said for this community and the amazing people in it, as well.  I’m just saying that if I forget for a moment that I’m still fertile-until-proven-otherwise, it’s because there’s a lot of empathetic fear-sharing going on here.*

And yes, “fertile-until-proven-otherwise” is the term I’m going with.  I have that pesky PCOS diagnosis to contend with, and one of the drawbacks of PCOS is that the irregular ovulation it brings can make conceiving difficult.  So far, given my one experience with pregnancy, I have proven myself to be, in fact, fertile.  The magic number to net you the infertility label is 12 months of unsuccessful trying, and Doug and I were only having unprotected sex for eight or nine before I got pregnant.  As for what happened with that pregnancy, PCOS has no effect on one’s ability to grow/keep a baby.  Some huge percentage of first pregnancies end in miscarriage, and as far as anyone knows, I was simply part of that statistic.  There is no reason for me to believe I’m going to be a repeat miscarrier, even though there is that tiny little reason for me to believe I could one day end up with the word “sterile” rudely scribbled in my medical chart.

I am pretty hopeful, though, that I will one day be able to coerce my ovaries into producing at least one good egg in a timely manner, and will then be able to sweet-talk my uterus into carrying at least one baby to term.  I do carry around a lot of fear, and I do only have that one disappointing experience to base my fertility-self-esteem off of, but all in all…

I believe this will work out for me.  I believe that my place in the ALI community will forever be carved out by that one traumatic loss, and nothing more.  Maybe it’s naive to sit here, still a long ways from even trying, and announce that everything is going to be fine, but at this point in my life, I truly believe that it will be.

Yes, I know that I am not infertile.

And I am so, so grateful for that.

*This is the main reason that I have to get out for a while, stop writing on this topic and find something else to write about.  So much exposure to other people’s fears and losses, while constantly focusing on my own loss, is not going to be good for my sanity long-term.  I need to take some time to be who I am right now: young, unmarried, uncertain.  Then, once I am ready to try to conceive, I can jump back in with both feet, knowing that I already have this great support network waiting for me.

Posted in friends, future, miscarriage, past, perspective, positive thinking | 9 Comments

Sampler

Today in therapy, we were supposed to talk about the impending end of this project, how I feel about it, what it means, what happens next.  Instead, I came in with a migraine (which I still have, five hours later) and didn’t feel like being assertive and guiding the conversation towards anything meaningful.  So we didn’t address the end of this project at all.  We talked about random things instead, just sort of filling the hour with whatever, while I wished my hand would stop tingling and my vision would return to normal and my head would stop being fuzzy and painful.

I’m going to just do the same thing for the duration of this post, if that’s alright.

  • One of the things my therapist and I talked about was my place in the world as a quiet exhibitionist.  Quiet, in that I’m shy in large groups and with strangers, and in my spare time, I prefer to do things like read and write over things that actually require movement and action.  Exhibitionist in that I have no secrets (see blog), and often take, or have others take, scantily-clad pictures of myself (see blog header).  When I told my therapist I was involved with a local Rocky Horror Picture Show cast for a few years, she was blown away.  I can’t even bring myself to have a dance party in my living room or yell during therapy – how is it that I felt comfortable dancing on a stage and yelling at a screen?  We concluded it must stem from the same place as my choirgirl roots: if the people around me are doing it, I can feed off their energy to motivate my own.  Not quite a mob mentality, more like teamwork.  Still, I wish I was able to motivate myself to have that solo dance party, instead of always choosing the hot bath and the good book.
  • My friend Yumi confessed to me today that she’s actually a little jealous of me and the life I have.  I had no idea what she was talking about.  “Your future is pretty sure/certain,” she explained.  “You have a way to execute your career goal in writing, you found ‘the one,’ you know you want kids and will have them.  You want/have that stable life.  I want to know for sure whether or not I want kids or if I will succeed in my career or if I will get married.  Uncertainty sucks, especially for the control freak in me.”  How funny that she sees my life this way and I see my life as being rife with uncertainty – career, financial, children, otherwise.  All I did for the sake of my inner control freak, I told her, was come up with a plan and then declare it to be certain.  Whether or not it actually works out that way remains to be seen, but I hold onto that plan because I have to hold onto something.  There are no guarantees in life.
  • This morning, I got a taste of my future housewife project.  Doug went to work before dawn, and I woke up at a decent hour to do laundry.  I even folded and put away all my clothes after they came out of the dryer (this has previously taken me weeks to do).  In between loads, I emptied the fridge, took out the trash, and loaded and started the dishwasher.  At the end of the morning, I felt accomplished.  I also had a headache, which has yet to go away.  So let’s hope it’s not housewifery causing my headaches, because if it is, the next few months are going to be miserable.
  • Doug has been hypothesizing as to why my head hurts, too, and housewifery is not on his list of potential reasons.  “Maybe you’re just so smart that your brain is too big for your head,” he offered.  “Maybe you need to sleep more and eat better,” insinuating that the combination of yogurt, peanut butter toast, and M&Ms does not a healthy diet make.  “What’s stressing you out?”  (Nothing, other than the fact that I have a headache.)  He had some more dental work done this afternoon and is in a fair amount of pain himself, now bemoaning the miserable waste of this evening that we’d planned to spend quietly together.

My apologies if this has been a miserable waste of a blog post as well.  I feel like I should have picked one of the above bullet-points and expanded on it, rather than giving a little dim sum platter of everything going on in my head today.

Oh well.  I’m going to go eat watermelon (which will surely balance out the toast and the M&Ms) and maybe watch a movie.

Posted in love, negative thinking, present, therapy | 7 Comments