Becoming Buddhist

Attempting to Live a More Mindful Life

Leave a comment

And Then There Was One…

I have been feeling a little guilty for the negativity of my last post. Shortly after I wrote it, I hauled out my Osho Zen tarot deck and gave myself a reading. And the predominant card that came up was the Courage card, in the position of “repression,” as in, what was missing in my life was my courage. And that rang very true.

photo-12I love the Courage card–this scrappy daisy pushing up through a crack in a rock; it has come to me before and always reminds me that negativity and pessimism are just another expression of fear. It also reminds me that anything is possible. I had all these brilliant thoughts about this last week, all these very Zen, very mindful thoughts–but today as I’m trying to write them down, they’re all gone, save the imperative I have given myself to keep moving forward, through the fear, and to carry courage with me as I go.

Because IVF is not for the faint of heart, people. (Aside: the root of the word “courage,” of course, being coeur, French for “heart.”) It somehow hadn’t registered with me how many opportunities there would be for disappointment along the way. That’s not quite true; of course I knew; but I hadn’t focused on how there would be this day-to-day roller coaster of emotions. To wit: when I last wrote, I was injecting my belly with stim drugs every day, and there were nine follicles. Then there was that appointment with the nurse who told me somewhat coldly that if there weren’t at least five mature follicles, we wouldn’t move forward. Then there were all of a sudden fifteen follicles, but we weren’t sure how many were mature. Then there was the egg retrieval, and the doctor got a whopping ten eggs and sent them off to the lab. That was on Friday, and it was a good day.

But on Saturday morning, we got the bad news that of those ten eggs, only two had fertilized normally. We spent the weekend in tears and triage mode, poor L confused about why there was so much weeping, so little laughter, so much heavy energy in the air.

Then Monday, the doctor called to say that the two embryos looked terrific–grade A embryos, all normal cells, good news. The roller coaster was back up.

Then today: one of the embryos still looks good. The other has not changed. It has likely, he said, “arrested.”

So there is one.

Wow. It feels a little like being on the edge of a knife, and this–baby–could topple in either direction; into existence, or gone forever. I know that in this moment there is every reason for me to find as much courage as I can, and what else can I do? We will get another phone call in the morning, telling us whether #1 embryo has also arrested or whether it has progressed from an “early blastocyst” to a regular-old blastocyst. And if it has, it will be instantly frozen and be suspended in time until my body is ready to receive it. And then there will be more terrible waiting, not knowing, and uncertainty.

But there’s no way to get there but to keep moving forward.

Thanks for listening, readers, and for me keeping me in your thoughts.





I wasn’t going to blog this week, because nothing really stuck, but then as is often the case, life intervened and gave me something to think about.

I did something last night that I kind of regret.

I got a rejection from a writing event and instead of graciously filing it in the Rejections folder, I responded. I didn’t say they’d made a mistake, I didn’t tell them they sucked, not exactly; but what I did say was that I was disappointed and that it would have been a good event with me in it. So in a way, I guess, I implied that they’d made a mistake. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t terribly gracious, either.

This morning, my wise writer friend K. suggested I not send it. “I know it’s disappointing,” she said. “But you don’t want to burn any bridges.” And this morning, it turned out she was right. (She often is.)

But last night, when I sent it, I wanted to burn bridges. I wanted to rage. Even though it’s not a huge event or even a huge deal, it felt like one because of my sense lately that there’s that cocktail party going on that I’m not invited to. I hate the way this sounds—self-deprecating, whiny, weak. But there are times when I want to scream out to the world that life is unfair, that I have been personally wronged, that everyone is making a mistake about me.

Yes, that tiny little rejection sent me into a very dark and ugly place last night. I admitted to Marc through many tears that I honestly can’t envision happening for me the two things that I want desperately right now: to get published and to have another baby. Friends will say optimistic things like, “when you’re pregnant” and “when you get published” and I will immediately think, if. IF. And I don’t even really believe the if. I believe that lots of good things could happen for me, but I don’t believe those two things will.

I grew up believing that our mistakes would kill us. I grew up with a dad who would order the wrong thing in a restaurant and still be talking about it six hours later. “I should have had the oysters,” he’d say. This seemed like normal behavior to me, and I am still very prone to regret. I shouldn’t have sent that stupid email, I told myself over and over again this morning. I’m such a train wreck.

I called a friend. She agreed that if I’d reflected longer I wouldn’t have sent the email, but that it wasn’t, really, such a big deal. And then she reminded me that the real issue is not this small rejection, and my regret about it, but this dark place that I’m in.

“What if you really acknowledged it?” she asked. “What if you really let yourself feel that darkness? What might be on the other side?”

Taped to my front door is this quote, from my Osho Zen tarot deck:

Zen, or meditation, is the method that will help you to go through the chaos, through the dark night of the soul, balanced, disciplined, alert. The dawn is not far away…but the dark night has to be passed through.

This morning, meditating, I thought how lately all I do is sit on the zafu and worry. I’m not meditating, I’m sitting there thinking. And then I realized that part of the path is showing up even if you’re just sitting there thinking the whole time, even if Enlightenment feels as far away as Pluto.

Who knows what’s on the other side. Do I want to find out?

Leave a comment

Fear of Flying

As I wrote the title for this blog post I remembered how there is a tarot card in my Zen Osho deck called “Fear of Flying,” and I think, though I don’t have the card handy, that it has to do with fear of jumping into the unknown and the idea that all of us need to get over that fear in order to live.

But I meant it quite literally: I’m terrified of flying.

Beautiful, calming tulips...

Beautiful, calming tulips…

This is relevant because I’ve come to Boston to visit my folks for a long weekend and this afternoon, I have to get on an airplane. I am dreading it so much that I actually called to find an earlier flight, and paid $50 to change my ticket, just so I can get it over with sooner. I don’t know what about the experience I like the least: those hours upon hours crammed into a seat, the claustrophobia, the emotional piece of it—in order to see my family, whom I love and miss, I have to endure this experience—or, simply, my terror that the plane will crash. Suffice it to say I’m trying to be calm today…and it’s not working.

I wish this didn’t happen every time I have to get on an airplane, but it does. I meditated and did my yoga this morning, I’m doing my best to show up, and I’m feeling like a bit of a wreck nonetheless.

I’m wondering whether I need to stop thinking of “fear of flying” so literally. Maybe my fear of airplanes is related to my fear of jumping off into the unknown.

Oof, it’s a journey, isn’t it?

On a lighter and more fun note: I downloaded Insight Timer for my phone, and have used it to meditate the last two mornings. It’s so nice because I don’t have a singing bowl, and if I did, I’d want someone else to ring it for me. Insight Timer gives you these lovely bells to start and finish that sound a lot like the real thing.


The Infertility Dukkha

I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a bit of a tough weekend. Pulling one of my Osho Zen Tarot cards for myself on Sunday morning, I got the “Turning Inward” card, which felt appropriate since Saturday I definitely shirked most offers to hang out, be social, or do much of anything besides be home, quiet, and mourn a little.

I have been pulling the Zen Tarot cards for myself all along in this fertility/infertility journey, and while I guess if you held a gun to my head and asked me whether I really believe in tarot I’d have to say no, I nonetheless adore those little cards because they always seem to remind me of something concrete, grounded, and real about whatever illusory situation I turn to them for. And occasionally, there is some magic, as when I asked last spring, “when will I become pregnant?” and pulled this card:

DSCI0196Can you see? It says “Patience” underneath a photo of a pregnant woman. I nearly fainted when it came up in my hand.

But that was months ago, and since then I tend to pull cards like “Turning In,” cards that are reminders, sure, but not exactly…magic.

And I could do with some magic. Friday we went to the infertility clinic. The news? Not great. Not many eggs; eggs getting old; eggs not being released with enough oomph. The technical name for all of this is diminished ovarian reserve. Or as I think of it: old lady syndrome. The doctor wants us to begin infertility treatments after Christmas.

Oh, dukkha. Blessed be for Marc, who on the way home initiated a tough but concrete/grounded conversation about our good fortune. “I want this to happen,” he said. “But if it doesn’t, we have so many blessings already.” I nodded and agreed through a few tears. He is right, of course.

My challenge, as usual, is attachment. I wanted so badly to be able to just make a baby, the old-fashioned way. Without all this soul-searching and medical intervention and acupuncture and mindfulness and whatever else it will take. It once felt so simple, the possibility, like something that could just happen naturally.

“It could,” said the doctor. “I would not be shocked.” But she didn’t sound too optimistic, either.

I will say something positive: mindfulness helped me in that appointment, and afterwards. It helped me to remember to take every step as it comes. And mindfulness has helped me move more gracefully from Saturday’s grief to Monday’s more expansive thinking about infertility treatments, about blessings, and about pausing to think and make decisions instead of rushing headlong in.

Lex is being extremely cute this afternoon, in that way that mischievous, spirited three-year-olds are cute (he is sitting on the toilet singing “this little light of mine” at the moment). A bit ago he came up to me on the couch and threw his arms around my neck.

“You’re super cute right now, Mom,” he told me.

Talk about a blessing.