Thursday, April 23, 2015

10 ways singing and infertility are alike

Bach is kind of like getting a massage for your soul.  Listening to his music gives you the kind of satisfaction that comes after you've cleaned the messiest house and everything is now beautifully organized.  It's like in some movies when the genius can make sense of all the mathematical codes that are flashing across the screen and his eyes are moving rapidly and you can tell he is organizing all those numbers into things that make sense in his head.  Except instead of numbers you have notes.  And they've already been sorted out into an incredible order, a perfect sound puzzle.  Singing Bach is a different story:  It requires every ounce of your focus, anticipation, and physical presence to do it well.  It's some of the hardest music you'll ever sing or play!  After you've learned it well, and after you've performed it, you still feel an immense sense of satisfaction, but mostly you're just exhausted.  

I was privileged to sing in a Bach concert last weekend, and while enjoying an orchestral piece on the program, my mind wandered to the usual thoughts that consume every moment of every day.  Only this time my thoughts were having a more light-hearted exchange with each other.  Casually noting the similarities between the pursuit of success in singing and the pursuit of fertility, without disdain.  Just acknowledging them.

In no special order....

1) You think about [singing/infertility] ALL the time.
2) You feel primed to be a raging success as a [singer/mother] but forces beyond your control prevent you from getting there.
3)You live in a constant state of disappointment in [not getting the part/not being pregnant AGAIN]
4) [Singing/infertility] are EXPENSIVE.  I can't believe I pay [$70 for a voice lesson/$600 for an ultrasound.] 
5) Failure causes you to question who you are as a human and how you fit into the universe.  
6) It seems like everyone around you is [getting the parts/getting pregnant.]
7) You have to pretend to be happy for people who [get the part/get pregnant] when really you hate them out of jealousy.
8) You have to unfollow 83% of your friends on Facebook because they are all [bragging about their gigs/posting pictures of ultrasounds and babies.]
9) The difficulty you experience threatens to suck all of the joy out of [singing/having children]
10) You downright hate yourself every time you [don't get the part/aren't pregnant again.]

At the end of my thought process, I realized singing is really about giving.  So is bringing life into the world.  It's not about getting [the part or the fame/the kid].  And the strange thing is, despite that, I do get so much out of giving that part of myself.  To be a living part of music is one of my greatest joys in life.  I'm grateful for that joy and outlet.  I don't know where I'd be in all this mess if I didn't have it- despite the failures and shortcomings.  So with gratitude in my heart, I made my next entrance with an even bigger smile on my face.  (Though I can't promise to do the same during my next pelvic exam!)  

Saturday, April 18, 2015

in case you forgot....

Lately I've been in a state of numbness.  A certifiable walking, running, talking, singing, laughing, playing robot.  The stages of my journey so far:

1) Shock
2) Denial
3) Anger
4) Despair
5) Numbness (punctuated by momentary lapses into hysteria)

I'm not really sure what comes next, but numbness is actually a very useful coping mechanism- usurped only by when you happen upon this on Facebook and sob uncontrollably for 30 minutes.  Being in this stage of numbness, I kinda forget how much this all sucks.  I forget I'm in pain.  I forget I'm not a mom, I forget how badly I want to cradle my very own little one in my arms, hold her to my cheek, stroke her hair.  I actually forget that I'm broken and may never be fixed.  That girl?  Oh, she's someone that I read about somewhere once.  Poor thing.

And, you know, that's not a bad way to exist.  

So I'd like to thank the brilliant waitress who asked me if I was pregnant at dinner tonight.  When I begrudgingly declined a glass of wine (anticipating a weekend of concert singing and wanting to treat my voice right) and opted for decaf coffee after our meal, you blurted out, "Wait, are you pregnant?!" with unrestrained enthusiasm.  (You were sure you'd guessed a secret I was keeping.)

Well, Brittany, you know, I'd actually forgotten that I'm not pregnant.  And when you followed up with "'Cause like, all my friends are pregnant so it's on my mind because I swear there's something in the water," it was THEN I realized that for the evening I'd forgotten how much it stings to hear someone else's joyous news.  Over. and over.  I'd actually forgotten the shame I feel for all the years I took fertility for granted.  (You really just don't expect these problems when you come from a giant family in which children are abundantly abundant.)

How could you have known what a poignant question that was to me?   You were sweet.  So "I'll have some of THAT water, hahaha!"  I said instead of what I wanted to say.  "No. I'm infertile."  With a deep, bitter stare.  This really feels like being the best one at the audition and not getting picked because you don't know the director.  Then everyone else you know keeps asking you if you're in the show.  Just in case you forgot that it's not your turn.  The whole world surrounds you with a resounding reminder.  "Not you. Not you. Not you." Well, Brittanys of the world, I won't take your blissful ignorance from you.  I long to have that same ignorance returned to me.  To not be the poor girl whom the world would pity if they only knew the torment I feel.  So for your sake, I'll get back to my robot-ing now.  

Friday, April 10, 2015

la vie en rose

Today I listened to “La vie en rose” on repeat for about 35 minutes.  Yep.  That’s where I am these days.  Something about the music, the way it sounds both melancholy and happy at the same time, appeals to me on the deepest level. That’s what I feel all the time.  Melancholy.  AND happy.  How is that possible?  Can hope and despair coexist?  For me I think they do.  Of course they can.  If we can feel both terrified and excited at the same time, then hope and despair can occupy the same realm, right?  

Though I live in what feels like a constant state of disappointment and frustration, the compulsion to hope persists.  I have no control over it.  Even when my brain says, "hope is futile.  and it's exhausting.  and makes you die a little each month," it's there, lingering in the back of my consciousness.  Kind of like when you are in a SUPER awful mood, I mean the WORST mood and you have some dopey, happy song with a killer beat stuck in your head and that makes you even more mad because it kinda makes you feel a teensy bit happier when you REALLY don't want to.  I’m hard-wired to GO GO GO, keep trying, and I NEVER, EVER quit.  EVER.  I literally don’t know how.  So what that I got word from the doctor that I have a “large” cyst on my left ovary.  And not even a year after a most invasive and traumatizing surgery my body is just as broken as ever.  And the pain is back, the bloating, nausea, and all the other fun things that come along with cysts are back.  And that I expected the surgery to fix me.  I mean, it wasn’t even hope back then, it was certainty.  I was going to be a success story, a testament to the wonders of NaPro Technology- I knew it must be the reason we were called to suffer this.  

Slowly my brazen assuredness dissolved into hope- I hope… 
Now, after the years of tests, invasions of my personal space, medications, shots, waiting, hoping, frustration, tears, and disappointment I don’t feel hope anymore...  I don’t really feel anything...  

But the hope is still there somehow, I can sense it despite not feeling it- an undercurrent to the rocky waves propelling me somewhat aimlessly through this reality.  

Like the song it gives clarity to the melancholic gray in which I currently exist.