Frogs in my bowl

Some things:

—I keep thinking of the first donor egg pregnancy. We saw the heartbeat, and then we didn’t. I called the embryo “Little Star.” Found out it was a normal karyotype boy. So…that was S’s brother. Now that S is in the world, I can better imagine what his brother might have looked like, been like. I can imagine that the loss was of S, instead, and the floor drops out of my stomach. I can imagine that the loss didn’t happen at all—because of meds I later introduced (zol.oft, blood thinner), or some other reason—and that we are now raising another boy, the brother who was lost, and planning when we will transfer the embyro that will become S. Sometimes these imaginings are surreal. Sometimes very sad. Sometimes I don’t feel anything at all—a numbing intercedes and doesn’t let me go there fully. But when I do go there I feel the difference of that first loss, now that S is here. That embryo was a boy, a brother we will never know, and I mourn him and that other life where we would have been a family of four, where S would have a brother in his life even after we have passed away.

I’m so sorry, little star. You are loved. We miss you.

—I remember what it was like to be deeply and disturbingly sad and lost and cut off from the world. I remember what it was like to feel out of step with the normal progression of life. To not know how to maintain friendships, when the friend and I no longer had much in common, because he or she had children. I remember struggling so hard to make new friends, ones not in the thick of family life, but feeling out of step there, too, because they would usually either be much younger or older than I was. I remember my new friends struggling with infertility and loss and how they felt like life-rafts in a seriously stormy sea.

Sometimes all of that seems very far away. Sometimes it surfaces, is still with me, in shadow-form.

—When I think of the fact that my family has not seen S since April and that they will not see him again until the end of September and that they have missed the enormous changes of a five-month span of his first year, I cry. These early months and years will never come again. I see the babies around here with their extended families. Yesterday, I saw a baby being doted on by both of her grandmas, who were out to lunch with the baby and mama. People here like S, of course, and he gets attention, but they don’t love him, not the way a grandma or close relative would. “They’re not ga-ga over him,” I said to DH the other day. “It’s just different from family.” DH grew up with immigrant parents and no extended family around, so he understands what I’m saying, but he doesn’t really get it. My extended family was hugely important to me when I was a child. I had an amazing relationship with my maternal grandmother that helped shape who I am. I want that so much for S.

—So when we received an email from DH’s mom, I wrote back probably the nicest email I’ve ever sent to her. I told her that I want him to know them and form a relationship with them and that it makes me sad that they are missing out on so many of his changes. I called her “eomeonim.” I offered to visit them Florida, just S and I, if DH can’t take off work. When DH read the email, he was stunned. “Babe, babe, are you sure?” Eyes wide. “What if they are crappy to you? What if—”

“Don’t worry about it. I don’t matter any more. No–I matter—it’s just that my needs are secondary now. They will be perfectly decent with me and I can handle any offenses. I want him to know his grandparents. They’re crazy about him!”

Times change. S teaches me. I am infinitely more selfless now than I have ever been. Old hurts don’t matter. What matters is his happiness and ensuring that he gets to enjoy all the love that is down there in Ohio and Florida waiting for him.

—I am still not getting enough sleep. I have spells of insomnia, and S is getting up earlier. I’m pretty seriously sleep deprived right now, actually. I can’t seem to get it right, the sleep-exercise-yoga thing. I think of Pema Chodron and her talk in which she says, “We just want to, once and for all, get it together! But we can’t. It’s like trying to keep all of the frogs in the bowl. Somehow, we seem to catch on with the frogs, but with life…”

—A couple of weeks ago marked the end of any purees and mashes (we still did a few) and now he is 100% table food. We set up a giant play area with gates in the living room. He is pulling himself up to stand. His sense of humor is becoming more nuanced, less simply slapstick. He is becoming more and more a mama’s boy and wants to be in my arms, in my lap, near me. He kisses me on the lips through the crib bars. He does things to make me laugh.

—He has discovered his pee-pee and the pure innocence and lightness with which he exclaims in delight when he touches it makes me realize how much baggage about our sexuality we acquire throughout life. He touches it, he feels great, so he touches it again. Yay! He looks at me. “Yep, that’s your pee-pee,” I say matter-of-factly.

Okay, these are just some things, some “frogs in the bowl” I wanted to capture in writing. Thanks as ever for listening.

Leave a comment


  1. I can see how being away from family must really smart during this time in life. Can you fly or Amtrak your way back home? Are you guys still considering a move to the Midwest?

  2. I love your “frogs in a bowl” and appreciate you sharing them! I can connect with so much of what you’re saying – the feeling of being outside looking in, the insomnia, the struggle to find balance, the relationship with your grandma, the sadness that so much of my family is missing out (though we’ve been skyping lately and that’s been great) – so thank you for putting it out there.

  3. Julia

     /  August 22, 2015

    I really admire you for reaching out to DH’s parents like that. Sending warm wishes as always.


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