Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Ooh, ooh, it's the night before something fun!!  I started getting really excited about Advocacy Day tonight when I went downtown for the Welcome Reception.  I got to meet a blogger I very much admire, Keiko Zoll, and I ended up talking for a while with a couple of great ladies that I then went for tapas with.  I'm looking forward to the training and meeting with people tomorrow (and to lunch with a good friend and seeing my cousinish who works in the Senate building).  I'll let y'all know how it goes!

Music Monday #17 - Written in the Stars

This song grabbed me from the first time I heard it.  I really love the emotion that comes through in the song.  It struck me in a new light, though, thinking about infertility.  I think all of us have asked the question of why me, why my partner, why us.  I know I sure have.  Whether we believe in God, the Fates, destiny, some combination thereof, it's a question that often comes to my mind.  I've basically (most of the time) gotten past the question of whether we're being punished for something with infertility, but I still wonder about the role of destiny, God's plan, whatever.

Some parts of this song make me wonder if it will fit even better if I have a miscarriage, especially the parts about being given paradise for only a day and about wishing in the darkest days never to have learned what it is to be in love and have that love returned.  I thought about waiting and posting this song only if I had a miscarriage and felt like it fit then.  But then I decided to post it not instead because I didn't want to tempt Fate by having it in the back of my mind.  Silly, I know.  But a lot of us do things to try to sway Fate in one way or another, from fertility socks to saying a specific prayer to creating a fertility ritual.  And I'm trying to not accidentally jinx myself.

Monday, April 23, 2012

National Infertility Awareness Week - Don't Ignore the Pain

One thing that I've noticed throughout this infertility journey has been the tendency of some people to want to brush aside the effect that infertility has on me and that pain that I feel as a result of this disease.  From my perspective (which the therapist in me is obligated to point out is a limited one), it seems like the people that know about the infertility and its effect on me are divided into two camps: those who want my infertility to be out of my way and those who want my infertility to be out of their way.

That doesn't mean that the people in the second camp don't care about me.  I know they do.  They show it in other ways and in other areas of my life.  And sometimes they try to help me deal with the infertility, too.  But there's a very distinct difference in how it comes across.

The difference shows in how people talk to me and how they talk about me.  It shows in how they ask me how I'm doing and how they offer advice.  It shows in how they tell me about their pregnancies and how they relate to me after telling me about their pregnancies. It shows in how often they check in to see how I'm doing and in how they react if I tell them I'm having a hard time.  It's the difference between whether they want to support me or whether instead they want to fix me.

I've been surprised at times by who has fallen into one camp or the other.  People that I generally expect to be more of the "fix it and forget it" type have said things that have really touched me or have told me they're available any time I need or want to talk.  People that have been there for me in other areas have offered platitudes or repeated the same advice without listening to what I'm really saying.  

I wrote this poem last winter about how it feels when the pain is ignored:

Tear tracks stiffen and dry out,
Cracks in my armor,
Cracks in my soul
Leaving oozing open wounds.
My essence drains through
The sieve of my heart
And lies on the floor like sand
To be swept into a corner,

You can't fix the pain of my infertility.  No one can.  But please don't ignore it, either.  Please, ask me how I'm feeling.  Ask me what I need.  Ask how you can support me. 

For more information about infertility, please visit http://www.resolve.org/infertility101
For more information about National Infertility Awareness Week, please visit http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html
For more information about etiquette in talking to your friend or family member about their infertility, please visit http://www.resolve.org/support-and-services/for-family--friends/infertility-etiquette.html

Friday, April 20, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 20 - My Other Life

I am a lioness
Mistress of all I see
The grasslands of Africa are my playgrounds
The pride my playmates.
I am bonded to the earth
By the bones of my ancestors.
Were I to be removed from the savannah,
I would lose
All connection.


Hey, everyone, I'm Jessie and welcome to my little corner of the blogoverse!  DH and I have been diagnosed with unexplained infertility, but we turned out to both be carriers of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).  Because of that, we're waiting to be able to have IVF with preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD).  What we're waiting on right now is the PGD lab creating the probe, which is what they compare each embryo against to see which ones would have SMA.  We're hoping to be able to start a cycle in June, after a LOT of insurance nightmares.

After a bit of a hiatus for me to get over pneumonia, this is going to be a busy ICLW!  NAIW starts on Sunday, and I'll be doing a blog post for Bloggers Unite at some point in the week.  I'm also participating in Advocacy Day on Wednesday, and I'm sure I'll be writing about that.  On Mondays (usually), I post a song that has touched me during the week.  I've also been posting a poem every day this month (except when I was too sick) for NaBloPoMo.  I've been posting all of my own work at this point, although none of it is new.  I'm also starting to participate in Mel's MFA Sunday School, so hopefully I will start creating new work again.  Maybe I'll even write more of the book I started many years ago.  Come along with me on the adventure and find out!

Music (Thursday) #16 - Chasing Cars

I've been watching a lot of Grey's Anatomy lately, just starting with disc 1 of season 1 and playing through the series while I do paperwork for work every night (before I got too sick and was told to stop).  I haven't gotten up to the part where this song starts being used, but watching Grey's still makes me think of it.  I had actually misheard part of the lyrics as, "Those three words/are said too much/and not enough."  Even though I now know the third line of that is, "They're not enough," I still like to think of it the other way, because it's so true.  Those three words are said too much by people who don't mean them.  But they're also not said often enough by the people that do mean them, whether to the people we love as family, as friends, or romantically.  We never know when the chances to say them will end.

This is my favorite version of the song.  It wasn't until around when this episode was done that I actually knew Sara Ramirez had been on Broadway before her role on Grey's, but her voice certainly shows the training!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I will be back, I promise!  Turns out that what I thought was allergies was mild pneumonia, so I'm resting now.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 14 - More Light

This one was a play on words from a prompt about what matters.


Streaming from the sun
Reflected off the moon
Into our eyes.

Emanating from incandescent bulbs
Illuminating out hobbies
And our homework.

Glistening from faraway stars
Forming shapes
Of dragons and bulls.

But matter...no.

Friday, April 13, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 13 - More "I Am"

Just a quick post today and tomorrow since I'm going to be out of town for a conference.  This poem came from the same prompt as Day 1, but two years later.

I am the Echo, the sound of what you have lost;
I am the haunting melody of the panflute,
Reminding you of what you never had.
I am the rocks at the shoreline,
Worn smooth by the tumbling waves.
The ocean is my mother, the sky my father.
I am wistfulness personified.

NaBloPoMo Day 12 - Meet Hope

Today basically sucked.  It was supposed to be the day of my pre-IVF evaluation, the last bloodwork and ultrasound before starting my shots.  Instead, I got to see my lovely, glowing 8-months-along client.  I've been dreading this appointment for a week.  My one work friend hugged me and then suggested that I go make a Build-a-Bear during my lunch break to cheer up.  So I did.
Enter Hope.  Over a year ago, I had said that it hurt too much to have hope, and one of my friends said that she would hold my hope for me until I was ready for it.  Along the same vein, when I can't have hope, now I can still have Hope.
I wanted something gender-neutral for the bear to wear, so I got an Orioles uniform.  Given how bad the O's tend to be, we'll see if that turns out to be ironic.
Tan cuddly bear
Repository of hope
Helps me to hold on
My computer's not working and the camera is shutting down the Blogger app on my phone, so y'all will need to wait for a pic.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 11 - Free Association

The prompt: For 3 minutes non-stop, list all the words you associate with snow (or rain or wind).  Write a paragraph from the list, but do not repeat any word.  You are not limited to the words on your list.  Line it out as a poem.

Waking up
Snow falling
Glitter on the ground
No school
Sleds flying down
Big Bear Mountain

Going in
Warming up
Cocoa and chicken soup

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 10 - Looking for Light in All the Wrong Places

Today's poem came from the same prompt as Day 3 about sources of light. 

Light from Darkness

Out of darkness
Comes pure light,
Bursts of brightness
Shooting across synapses,
Containing thoughts, ideas, dreams
Like bright candles
Or explosions in chemistry
With fertilizer and saltpeter,
Or August 6, 1945
Over Hiroshima,
And the enlightenment that came
And the new ideas,
Some of which will become reality.
Most will remain, however,
Simply stars in synapses.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Music Monday # 15 and NaBloPoMo Day 9 - Signs of the Times

Fall 2001 was quite an eventful semester at the University of Maryland, and not just because of 9/11.  Just before Labor Day weekend, DH had to take me to the hospital (despite NOT knowing the area, so I had to navigate) from early week practices of marching band because of an asthma attack.  There was a rash of robberies on campus and in town.  On about September 6, a guy died on the steps of a frat house of GHB.  On September 10, a guy died on the railroad tracks.  Then there was the obvious, made especially frightening there both because of the high New York/New Jersey population concerned about family members and because it turned out that two of the hijackers had stayed at a nearby motel and worked out at the gym at the mall we all went to.  And then, on September 24, a tornado went across the campus and killed two students.

There was definitely good that semester as well.  The most important to me was that my sister Catie was born that year, on October 23.  My cousin got married on September 15.  DH and I were in the first months of being together, in that stage where everything feels perfect despite, in our case, living 8 hours apart.  We even had random snow flurries in September! The football team was under a new coach and was ranked for the first time in a long time.  But even that had a significant downside.  When part of the marching band went down to an away game at Georgia Tech and won by 3 in OT, we had bottles thrown at us and were attacked by students after the game.  Two years before, when we had lost by 3 in OT, there were some guys who tried to grope the flags, and one of our staff members got hit after he told the guy he couldn't cut through the band.  So I had been holding my flag ready to use it on anyone who tried to grope me and trying to make sure the freshmen girls were in the middle of the formation.  But we sure didn't expect what we got!  I'll never forget watching a drum major and a staff member take down a guy that was running through the band throwing punches.

Since that was the semester when I was taking a poetry class (it was on the way to that class when I saw the flurries, actually!), I wrote a sestina about how crazy the semester had been.  I'm pairing it with some REM here because that song really was what that semester felt like.

Fall 2001

What have we come to,
Living in College Park?
Weeks of tornadoes, robberies and death?
Going through our days in fear of what will be next?
And football made the Top 25 polls--
Hell really has frozen over!

At least we're not in Central Park,
In the city of collapsed buildings and death,
Wondering who will get anthrax next.
Bush's approval is rising in the polls,
But where will he be when this is all over?
What will his presidency reduce to?

And now the Afghans are the ones to taste death,
But which military unit will they send next?
Many support a draft, so they say in the polls,
But how will they feel when their sons go over?
How long will this go on?  Will it come down to
The little kids that now play in a park?

Will the band get attacked when next
We go help our team rise in the polls?
Or does the Georgia Tech brawl mean that our trips are over?
The worst that we thought would happen to
Is is that we would get grabbed, then come back to our Park.
At least this incident didn't end in death.

In years, our kids will come back and take polls
Of who knew and who died and who thought it was over
The day our security shattered into
A million ashes spread out on Central Park--
The ashes of buildings and fires and death.
Who knew on that day so much more would come next?

The frightening thing is, it will never be over.
There will always be people who want to
Impose their views onto others, down to where to park,
And don't care if the price is their own children's death.
The only unknown is where will be next,
What country has topped the terrorists' polls.

Whew.  That's the first and only time I've done a full six-stanza sestina.  There was a contest going on BlogHer for writing sestinas.  Actually, it's for a different fixed-form poem every week; this week is a villanelle.  But that is more work and time than I have to devote to poetry right now.  Maybe later in the month, but I doubt it.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Fertility Prayer

My feelings about God and faith have been complicated through this infertility journey.  I have never doubted that God exists and that He has a plan for me.  What I have doubted and wondered about is whether God ever wants me to be a parent, whether this pain will ever end.  Whether I'm following God's plan for me or insisting on what I want despite how much I've been trying to figure out and do what He wants me to.

When we first started TTC, I was praying for God to work His will with regards to us building a family and to give me patience while I waited for Him to work His will.  Even while I was getting frustrated, I continued to pray that same prayer, putting special emphasis on begging for patience.  After a year or so, I was talking about it with my pastor, and she told me that I should also start asking God specifically for a healthy baby.  So I've been doing that, but still wondering if that's what He wants. 

Especially as we've been running into all of these obstacles, I've wondered if I'm doing the right thing.  I've been asking God to let me know if He wants me to be doing something else, but I don't know if what He's trying to tell me is to wait for July (or beyond) or that I'm doing the wrong thing.  I'm dumb, I need skywriting.  I'm going with the IVF plus PGD plan because I am going to try for what I want in the absence of anything that makes it clear that I should be doing something else, but I'm still asking and looking for a message to either say I'm doing the right thing or that I'm not.

One thing I wonder, though, is what the point is of other people praying for me.  I know why I pray, to ask God to meet my needs and to give me guidance about what He wants me to be doing.  But what does other people praying for me accomplish?  How much of God's plan is fixed?  Does He change what He's going to do just because people ask Him to?  Or was it His plan all along as to when situations change?

Obviously I don't expect anyone reading this to have answers to these questions, I'm just sharing them because they came back to the forefront of my mind after reading this prayer posted by Witty Infertility:

Almighty Creator, hear this fertility prayer and the wishes of my heart. You know my deep desire for a child -- a little one to love and to hold, to care for, to cherish. Grant that my body may conceive and give birth to a beautiful, healthy baby in Your holy image. Guide me in all my choices so that this conception, my pregnancy and my baby's birth are in line with Your will. Heavenly Father and Holy Mother, hear this prayer of my heart, mind and spirit. Amen!

NaBloPoMo Day 8 - Easter

Squishy purple bird
Brightening Easter baskets
Harbinger of Spring.

NaBloPoMo Day 7 - Hands

This one I wrote during a poetry class I took my senior year of college.  The prompt was a somewhat complicated one in five pieces:

1. Describe the person's hands
2. Describe something he/she is doing with the hands
3. Use a metaphor to say something about some exotic place
4. Mention what you would want to ask this person in the context of 2 and 3 above
5. The person looks up, notices you there, and gives and answer that suggests that he/she only gets part of what you asked


With terra cotta dried in cracks
And under the nails.
Shaping the clay
Into art
And usefulness,
Or maybe shaping lives,
People long ago,
Taking dust and shaping a man,
Making a companion called woman.
So what wonders are you creating there?
"This? It's just a pot."

Saturday, April 07, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 6 - Shields

I knew I was going to end up posting this one at some point, and it jumped out at me again today.  The prompt was a meditation on a natural object.

The chestnut burr
Holds its spikes close
Like a shield
Designed to protect
The delicate nut inside
Just as I
Joke around
So no one can see
How vulnerable I am

Friday, April 06, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 5 - More Fun with Sound

This format is called a two-voice poem, "a poem meant to be read aloud by two people. One person reads the left hand column, and the other reads the right. When words appear on the same line, they are read simultaneously."  The prompt also notes that some have written effective poems for three voices.  Maybe I'll try that at some point.  (Edit: the font size is weird, so the formatting doesn't work quite right, but hopefully you get the gist.  The right column is supposed to be straight!)

What                                       What
Are you saying?
                                               Do you mean?
I need                                      I need
To see                                     Some room
You more.                                To breathe.
You're always out
With your buddies                    You need me
24/7.                                        24/7.
                                                 I can't
Take it
Any more.                                Any more.
You don't understand                You don't understand
That I have
                                                 That I have
                                                 A life
                                                 Besides you.
I think                                        I think
We need more time                   We need some time
Together.                                   Apart.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 4 - Sound and Rhyme

My mom was saying at the beginning of the week, that she's really not a fan of poetry, especially poetry that rhymes.  Well, we'll see what she thinks of this one.  The form is called "internal rhyme"...basically, the word at the end of each line has a word in the next line rhyme with it, but that word isn't supposed to be the last word of that next line, it's supposed to be somewhere in the middle.


It begins
With spins and whirls and twirls
And curls in someone's hair.
There.  Do you see the spark
In the dark, when flint and steel collide,
Slide, and become something new?
Me and you become US
As the lust crashes
Like a wave and smashes reservations.
Nations could fall,
But all I'd care about is the crash of cymbals
When we kiss, symbols of
Our love.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

NaBloPoMo Day 3 - Looking for Light

NaBloPoMo has a prompt every weekday to help with coming up with new poems to write about.  Today's is, "What is the best poem to read when you're feeling sad?"  There are a lot of poems that I've written when I was sad, since my strongest emotions are what trigger much of my writing, but those really aren't the best poems to read when I'm sad, because plenty of them would just make me more sad.  This one I like for this purpose, though, since it goes to that sad place but ends on a more positive note.  More from the poet-in-residence program, this one came from a prompt about sources of light.

Looking for Light

Hitting stones,
Rubbing sticks,
Playing with matches,
Searching for something to fill my life,
Something to end the abysmal darkness
In my soul.

I see candles
From church windows,
I go in,
Wondering how they got light
Into words of night,
And I see the truth.

The light is in me
If I only let it shine
And let eternal day
Into eternal night.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Music Monday #14 and NaBloPoMo Day 2 - Walls

This Jimmy Buffett song had struck me a couple of weeks ago with its description of walls: "And the walls that won't come down/We can decorate or climb."  I think, I hope that's what I'm doing with the IVF.  I can't change the wall that is me and DH both being carriers for spinal muscular atrophy.  But I can decorate it through infertility advocacy, and I can try to climb it with the IVF and preimplantation genetic diagnosis. 

The poem is another one I wrote from the poet-in-residence program in high school.  The prompt was to write about dreams and walls, as Langston Hughes did in "As I Grew Older".  I am leaving off the last line because it's clearly about someone else and because it'd not crucial to the poem.

Dreaming of Joy

I dream
Of happiness.

I reach out
Into blackness,
Endlessly searching
For what may never be mine.

In the darkness,
My hands find a wall.
I look for a way around--
There is none.

I punch at the wall,
Trying to break through,
Trying to get out of the eternal night.

It takes years of endless work,
But I finally make it through
And step into sunlight.

I hope that I am able to climb the wall that I've decorated and make it through into sunlight.

Monday, April 02, 2012

I'm a Poet and You Didn't Know It

Or maybe you did, especially if you knew me in high school or read this post from last February.  Well, either way, you're about to see a lot more from me.  Despite me not being able to keep up with the March Photo Challenge, I decided to do NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, for April because of the theme being Poetry.  It doesn't just cover writing and sharing your own poems, it's also sharing other poems that have touched you, but I'm going to at least start out with my own work.  I may write some new ones, or I may just post older ones.  We'll just have to see where the month takes us!

When I was in high school, we had a poet-in-residence come for several weeks each year to do a weekly poetry workshop.  She would give us prompts to work from, and each week after the first would start with reading the poems that had been written the previous week (she would collect them at the end to type up and share).  This first poem I wrote my sophomore year, in response to a prompt of different ways to describe yourself, including as an animal, a color, a force of nature, an emotion, a sound, etc.


I am blue, calm and peaceful,
  yet also red, fiery and hot.
I am sweet when you have me,
  but bitter when you lose me.
I am the sounds of birds, singing in the trees--
  the sweet song of the robin,
  the harsh caw of the raven.
I am the doe, running wild though others seek me.
I am the rain, saving some, killing others.
I am the daughter of the ocean--
  beautiful on the surface,
  turbulent beneath.
I am the dream of love.