healing

Birthday Gift for Myself

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself”

Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

A few months ago, I decided what I wanted to give myself for my birthday. It was…a bit radical for me. Despite my liberal beliefs, I am a bit conservative in some areas.

But once the idea took hold in my head, I couldn’t get rid of it. I wanted…no, I needed to do this. I made a goal to have it by my birthday, but it wasn’t possible. However, one week later, I did it. I fulfilled my birthday gift to myself.

Behold:

I honestly never thought I would get a tattoo. I admired them, but I never thought I would get one. However, like I said, over the summer, the idea took hold in my head, and I wanted to do it.

I know a phoenix is a little cliche and possibly trite, but it spoke to me. What better symbol of rebirth could there be after one’s spouse dies and you are forced to figure out a new reality and existence? Plus Harry Potter.

And I love it. I do. I could not stop grinning for hours after I received it. It’s such a small thing, but it felt so transformative. So symbolic.

My tattooist was great – I think he is in his 80s based on what he said, but he has had a very colorful life (and I think he is libertarian based on his comments. That or slightly conservative?!). He had on classic rock in the background, and we had some good chats about the music. It also made me think of my father.

I’m not going to lie. It did hurt. About 75% of it was bearable and mainly resembled a lot of acupuncture needles being placed at the same time. The other 25% caused me to clench my jaw and grip the pillow. But it took only an hour.

I don’t know if it makes sense to be proud of myself for getting a tattoo. But I am. It felt like a radical act…for me.

I know we all likely know this line from Mary Oliver (and I’ve used it in this space before):

“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I want to live. To find me. To be me. And this tattoo felt like the first step in that direction.

Happy Birthday to Me.

Healing Salon: Let’s Talk

French salon

Bienvenue!  If this were a genuine salon, I would be reclining on a daybed while you all sat around me (rather kinky!), making a salon a very intimate exchange of ideas and debate.  In that spirit, I welcome you to my virtual room, the “room” in which I share my thoughts and musings, ridiculous and profane and even mundane.    I’m excited to be your hostess and salonniere as part of the Healing Salon suggested by Mel as a way to heal the issues from last week (see this post for a summary).  Please let me introduce myself.  I am KeAnne.  I’m 34 and since we started TTC in 2005, I have experienced many of the stops along the ALI road.  In 2007, I was diagnosed with stage 4 endo and a uterine anomaly and told that our options were IVF, surrogacy or adoption.  In addition to our pointless prior Clomid and injectible/IUI cycles, we tried one IVF and one FET, both negative.  As we were weighing our options in late 2007, Jimmy suggested surrogacy while I was ready to move to adoption.  We agreed to give surrogacy a try first, and I met our gestational carrier practically days after our agreement.  We cycled in September of 2008 and had our first positive beta ever.   At our first u/s at 9 weeks, we saw two sacs and two fetuses but only one had a heartbeat. The other fetus had stopped developing about a week before.   The rest of the pregnancy progressed uneventfully (wow!), and our son was born on June 2, 2009.

Yes, I am parenting after infertility, but it might be more accurate to say that I am parenting despite infertility because I am still infertile.  I still have endometriosis and the uterine anomaly.  I’ve always found those couples who “forget” their infertility after having a baby to be disingenuous at best and traitors at worst.

I write all of this to say that I get it.  Obviously I identify with other infertiles who now have children, but I still understand and can easily access the pain and fear and anger and sadness at finding yourself unable to do what so many seem to do without little or any thought.   I volunteered to host one of the salons because I believe that we can find a way to repair last week’s hurts (cue up “Love Can Build a Bridge”).

My role is to facilitate our conversation.  I ask only that you be respectful but honest in your responses.  It will do no good if we can’t have a genuine conversation.  So let’s begin.

Here are my questions:

  1. Is the ALI community that has been collected and organized by Mel able to encompass the entire ALI journey or can it only represent those still in the trenches?  Why or why not?
  2. While we all have the collective goal of moving to the other side, be that side parenting or living child free, why do so many bloggers who have moved on feel excluded from support and even despised? How can the community help them feel supported and included?
  3. Why do you blog about ALI? What is your primary motivation for doing so?
  4. Within the ALI community as curated by Mel, who should be responsible for community building  and innovation, creating new blogrolls, etc?  Should it be top-down or is there room for grass-root movements?
  5. What was the most frustrating aspect about last week’s brouhaha to you?
  6. If you have children now, what one thing would you want those in the trenches to know?  Conversely, if you are still in the trenches, what one thing would you want those parenting to know?
  7. You are Empress of the Internet for one day.  How would you fix the division and hurt feelings from last week? Or, is it fixable?
  8. Anything else?  Feel free to ask your own questions, say what you are thinking.

I look forward to having this conversation with you!