Mosaiculture earth goddess and other wonders of Atlanta

I have not been very sign-and-symbol seeking during this donor egg IVF—much less so than when I tried IVF with my own eggs. But I had to laugh when taxi-ing down the runway in NYC, taking off for RBA in Atlanta—when I glanced outside my window, I saw those illuminated moveable letter markers out there on the tarmac, three of them clustered together in such a way as to spell “RBA.” Taxied a little further and came across “FAB.”  A little further: “DAD.” That was a lovely send off, universe. But today, the universe decided to send me a message even heavier-handed than that. I had just gotten off the phone with RBA (transfer is tomorrow at 10 a.m., folks) when I had this sudden distinct urge to go to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. I had not planned on going there today, had not planned on going at all, actually, but the idea seized me and I found myself very eager to get there. I realize that part of my eagerness was antsy excitement upon learning the details of the how and when of my transfer tomorrow. But I do believe there are forces out there that we don’t understand and that we can tap into, like tapping into a vein, when we are raw and ready. I tapped in, and I zoomed to the Botanical Gardens.

The first thing the woman at the front door showed me was a map, and on the map were icons of various mosaiculture plant creations, sprinkled throughout the gardens, as part of the Imaginary Worlds exhibit. I’d had no idea this exhibit was even happening. “Make sure you don’t miss the mother earth goddess,” the woman said to me, handing me the map. “She is spectacular.”

“Mother earth goddess?”

“Yes, she’s right here,” the woman said, pointing to an icon. (I learned later that she is actually called “earth goddess,” but for me, too, the “mother” is apparent, implied.)

I went to see her immediately. Walked through a short tunnel to a garden of eden. My photos will probably not capture how breathtaking she is, how surprising she is to come across in greenery:

the goddess the goddess 2

Good omen! Woooo! Thank you!

It was such a peaceful, meditative space. I just soaked up the gift in bliss. I looked at her face—at once powerful and gentle—and I let that maternal energy enter my bones.

Here are a few of the other fantastical creatures I saw:


And a few other beautiful things:

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If you are going to RBA in the future, check out these gardens! (It’s funny. DH and I were joking about how we’re comparing Staybridges in Denver and Atlanta—Atlanta’s wins—and our magnificent hike through the Rockies and bike ride along the Denver High Line to Atlanta’s sites. Of course, the experiences are too different to compare, each great in their own way, and completely irrelevant to the task at hand. I just find it funny how much the “medical tourists” we have unwittingly become!)

We did finally make it to the Georgia Aquarium on Sunday, and that, too, is unmissable. You’ll see below the big-bellied urchin that made me think of pregnancy, the frogs who seem in love, the dragon urchins who dance in the water, delicate insectlike water aliens. The slow-swimming whale sharks and somersaulting manta rays, the most impressively large sea creatures I’ve seen in person since I saw Shamoo at age 5. I was particularly taken by the bright orange jelly fish, pulsating. A professor who taught a class I took on Freud and psychoanalysis said that Freud describes human desire as a state of puissant–a pulsing opening and closing, like that of a jelly fish, a pulsing that never stops. I thought of that while I stared at those mysterious movers, pulsing, urging, through the deep blue water. I saw myself in them.

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Another place I highly recommend seeing is Athens, GA, about an hour away from Atlanta. It is a college town, and actually reminds me of Athens, Ohio, with all of its exposed brick and raw wood and old-growth trees. It is a warm, friendly, adorable town, a place where we could easily imagine living. Our first stop was at a coffee grinder’s that is my dream facility—a long trailer-like structure filled with hunky-wood chairs and tables, golden sunlight, and giant bags of coffee beans in burlap sacks. The sweet boys who worked there gave us a tour and pointed us in the direction of The Grit, where we had fantastic southern vegetarian food (corn on the cob blew my mind) and gluten-free pecan pie. We got caught in a short heavy rainstorm afterward and dashed to an arty coffee bar just a block away. After the rain passed, we strolled under gorgeous skies through the impossibly lush college campus.

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It is time for me to go, friends. I need to make some art, do some yoga, eat some dinner, and get in bed by a reasonable hour to prepare this body for baby. Thank you all for your encouragement, prayers, vibes, and cheerleading, as always. The next time I type to you I’ll have an embryo inside me.


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  1. lisa

     /  September 4, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your pictures, they really capture the beautiful symbols of life. Sacred space vibe at coffee shop and plants molded and morphing into other living creatures were my favorites. Sleep tight and sweet dreams. Tomorrow your baby finds its way home.

    • I’m so glad you liked the photos. Yes, very symbolic, aren’t they? Bebe is home now and I am sitting here trying not to have psychosomatic implantation feelings.

  2. Beautiful photos! Hey, is that a pregnant starfish???

    Will be thinking of you at 10 tomorrow.

  3. Wow – I want to see these gardens.
    Can’t wait to hear about tomorrow. I am happy and excited for you! Xo from back northeast.

  4. Yay! It sounds like you got a true taste of Athens in a very brief stay… the Grit is legendary and certainly healthy enough to enjoy days before your transfer!

    I’m guessing you are post transfer at this moment, so I’m hoping that all went well! Wishing you the very best!

    • I like Athens so much I drove here again today (2nd day past transfer). I love it here. Funny how far I’ll drive for the perfect atmosphere. (My hotel was driving me crazy and I’m not leaving until tomorrow.)


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  •© the unexpected trip,, 2012-2017.
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  • About Me

    Me: 41
    DH: 38

    Fertility issue:
    Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
    6 pregnancy losses
    All early
    5 with my own eggs
    1 with donor egg

    Abnormal embryos

    Factor V Leiden heterozygous
    MTHFR heterozygous

    AFC: 2 - 12
    AMH: 0.2
    FSH: 6.8
    E2: 40
    LH: 2.8


    April 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac only). D&C to remove products of conception at 9 weeks.

    Oct 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac & yolk sac). Took Cytotec to induce miscarriage at 9 weeks. PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, night terrors followed.

    Winter 2012 -
    Two rounds of Femara/Clomid + IUIs at Columbia and RS of NY. The idea: to produce more eggs and increase chances of catching a good one. BFNs.

    April 2012 -
    Natural conception, first try. Ultrasound showed activity in the uterus, but no complete sac. Diagnosed with "missed abortion." Natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    June 2012 -
    Conception after 7 mg Femara for 5 days + IUI. Diagnosed with chemical pregnancy. Natural miscarriage at 4.5 weeks.

    August 2012 -
    Natural conception, without trying. Chemical pregnancy and natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    October 2012 -
    ODWU at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM).

    January 2013 -
    IVF with Dr. Schoolcraft.
    Straight Antagonist protocol

    What he predicted:
    I will produce 11 eggs
    Good chance 1 will be normal
    30% chance 2 will be normal
    Transfer 1, then a 45% chance of success
    Transfer 2, then a 65% chance of success

    What happened:
    7 follicles stimulated
    6 mature eggs retrieved
    2 died during ICSI
    4 fertilized
    3 out of 4 embryos CCS-tested
    All abnormal

    Aug/Sept 2013-
    Frozen Donor Egg IVF at Reproductive Biology Associates (RBA)
    What Dr. Shapiro predicted:
    6 or 7 will fertilize
    1 we will transfer
    1 - 3 we will freeze

    Protocol: Lupron, Vivelle patches, Crinone

    8 frozen eggs from donor thawed
    6 fertilized
    1 Day-5 Grade A XBbb blastocyst transferred
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst frozen
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst frozen

    September 13, 2013: Pregnant

    Prenatal vitamins & baby aspirin,
    Vivelle patches & Crinone

    Beta #1: 171
    Beta #2: 706
    Beta #3: 7,437

    6 w 3 d: measured 6 w 1 d
    FHR: 80 bpm
    Fetus did not grow
    7 w: FHR 121 bpm
    8 w: heart stopped
    9 w: D and C

    Test results: We lost a normal karyotype male for unexplained reasons

    Quit stressful job
    Anti-inflammation diet
    Gluten-free diet
    Vit D, DHA/EPA
    Therapy/energy work
    Creative Visualization
    Art Therapy

    March 14, 2014:
    Double FET at RBA
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst

    March 24, 2014:

    Prenatals, baby aspirin, Folgard, Vivelle, Crinone, Lovenox

    Beta #1: 295
    Beta #2: 942
    Beta #3: 12,153

    1 fetus implanted

    Measured on track

    Fetal heart rate:
    7 wk: 127 bpm, 8wk:159 bpm, 9wk: 172 bpm

    Due date: Dec, 4 2014!

    NatureMade (USP Seal) Prenatals and 4000 Vit D3
    Baby aspirin
    40 mg Lovenox
    DHA and EPA
    Folgard 2.2

    Born: One perfect baby boy 12.4.14

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