Christmas at the Dwelling Place


Well, Christmas Day was strange. We were so tired it was like we’d been drugged, maybe it was some self-induced numbing. The melancholy never quite lifted. We tried to be our normal selves, but selves weren’t having it. We thought it would be fun and kitschy to go out for sushi at a fusion restaurant, but the sushi was not good, and the restaurant was filled with Asian children, some of whom looked like mini-DH. But I did love my fortune cookie:

Be patient!  The Great Wall didn’t got build in one day.

My new mantra. Obviously.

I texted and emailed people my love. Ugh. I am the voiceless communicator! The only human voice I heard other than DH’s was my mom’s, on the phone. She was overjoyed that the Zoloft was working and that we were going to the Poconos Mountains—if I’m happy, she’s happy—but then reception cut out and that was the end of our conversation.

We put Christmas Day away in exhaustion and semi-defeat. I woke up to an email from my brother telling me how much he loves me, which made me cry for the first time since the Zoloft started working. Then he wrote to me about the magic tricks I missed out on Christmas Day, the magic tricks he and his amazing four-year-old daughter performed for the family. Oh. God.

Sometimes I think maybe I should have gone home. But maybe it would have been too painful, would have thrown me down into that sad, sad place for a week or more. At least here, I am more or less steady. I just had to take a guess at what I thought would be best.

But I miss them.

And I miss that other path, that other life, the life that never was. The life in which I am there, home, with my family. With my children or with a pregnant belly. Watching magic tricks.

Day after Christmas

This day was definitely better.

We are in this retreat home in the Poconos, and my gratitude to my generous friend and her beautiful-hearted family is boundless. This place is so peaceful, so restful. A wall of sliding glass doors overlooking a snowy pond. Fireplace, wooden walls, snuggly couches. The board game we discovered in the living room is called Abundance and is a “game” for appreciating your life. Even the CD music selection is all about inviting peace in—nature sounds, classical, eastern. My friend’s family calls this house “The Dwelling Place,” and in the little guestbook, her mother writes: “We are honored and blessed to have you share in our home. May your visit here bring you the peace you need to help you through life’s experiences. May the Dwelling Place stay with you as a place to be safe and feel loved and comforted…Each step of our life’s journey is a stepping out, a stepping forward to a new awareness, a new experience that God calls you to. May the Dwelling Place bring you to the place God is calling you…May you know that those who visit the Dwelling Place will always be prayed for.” They usually ask people to contribute a little money toward the electric and heat when they stay, but they are not accepting our money, and have offered this place to us as a gift—and my friend’s parents barely even know us! We don’t know how to thank them. Other than appreciating the gift and making the most of it…

So yesterday we went to lunch at a Haitian-Asian fusion restaurant that smelled of incense and was decorated awesomely and served delicious curries and soups and rich, black coffee.

After that, we hiked the Appalachian Trail!

Part of it. It was a little stretch of the A.T. by a river in the mountains, gorgeously snowy and sunny, icicles in the tree roots overhanging the water.

At one point, we found ourselves crossing the water on snowy, slippery fallen trees. I found myself slipping and sliding on a mossy, icy rockface pointed toward the river, and we were laughing and screaming. I dropped my water bottle in the water, and we chased it down, hopped rocks, and rescued it.

We opened up into a happier, more childlike, state, and it felt real good.

Then we came home and thawed, put on our pajamas, and began making art. DH is making a giant collage from National Geographic clippings. I am making mixed-media pieces—collage, drawing, and painting—in a blank spiral-bound mixed-media notebook I’ve been wanting to make into an art-book for months.

I didn’t set out to make the art-book about fertility, motherhood, children. But the first three images are of course related to that. Because that is always on my mind. Always.


And when I turned to look at what DH was making, I drew in my breath. In the center of his collage was a figure seen from the back, holding up his hands. And springing forth from his hands was another collage-item—a child seen from the back, walking into hazy golden sunlight. It seems to say: We will manifest a child.

Sometimes I wish we could think about other things more easily. Sometimes I wish we could forget about this quest to have a child for a just a day, an hour, a handful of minutes.  Other times I see that we have no choice but to be preoccupied with it. I see  that it is providing us with focus and unity, and we can choose to be grateful to be in the intense middle of a journey so profound.

I wake up each day saying to myself: I want a baby. I want a baby. The words just happen. The obstacles aren’t making them go away or twisting them up or burying them. The words just arise when I open my eyes. I don’t want to feel tortured by them, even though I often do. I want to feel that they are leading me somewhere, in slow time.

After all, the Great Wall didn’t got build in one day.

Leave a comment


  1. Your trip does sound very peaceful. Keep hoping. Keep believing. Never give up!

  2. What a beautiful piece of art you have crafted on this blog page. Brought tears to my eyes. Twice. Thank you dearly for sharing.

    About the gratitude – do you feel brave enough to write something heartfelt about your experience of the Dwelling Place and the kindness your friend’s parents have shown you in their guest book? If I had written what your friend’s mother did, a written entry there or on a card sent or delivered to me personally would mean so much more than money or any gift could ever convey.

    • Oh, you are welcome. It means a lot to me when I’m able to reach people across the wide yawn of cyberspace. You’ve reached me, too—I’m reading Spirit Babies now and it is reminding me to be mindful of the spiritual sphere of all this. Thank you! And yes, we have plans for our own way of thanking them for sure, and will definitely add to the guestbook our own entry.

  3. Wow, that’s a beautiful post! The Dwelling Place and hiking the trail and going to the wonderful fusion restaurant sounds amazing! Hugs, XO

  4. I love when there’s a rightness to Chinese fortunes! What a perfect counterpart to the longing that is always, always, always yawning big and open and empty on this road. I’m also glad you found some solace in nature and in each other. That’s my way too :)

  5. Oh hun, I’m sorry your Christmas Day was hard too but I like that you were able to see the beautiful things in your time spent at the lovely Dwelling Place. It sounds like just what you needed. So much healing. So much hope. You WILL manifest a child. I know it. Love you always xxx

  6. I carry two different fortune cookie slips in my wallet–waiting for them to come true. One is from 2 years ago and the other from the night after Thanksgiving. Patience is hard. The Dwelling Place sounds amazing.

    • Love that. I used to have other fortune cookie slips in my wallet, too, but I think I threw them away when feeling cynical. Patience–sometimes I think that’s what this is all about, one gigantic lesson in patience.


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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,
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    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
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    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
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    Folgard 2.2

    Born: One perfect baby boy 12.4.14

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