Monday, August 8, 2011
All Summer in a Day
Infertility stole my summer. Which sucks, because it's my favorite season. I love sunshine. I'm convinced that I have chlorophyll in my blood because I crave sunlight like a plant and without it I shrivel and wilt. I love the heat, and even love the humidity that smacks you wetly in the face the second you step outside this time of year. I love the beach. LoveloveLOVE the beach. I can spend hours walking up and down the shore, looking for shells and thinking about everything and nothing at all. I'm so grateful to live near the coast. I spend long lazy summers with salt on my skin and sand between my toes.
Except this year. Summer is almost over and I missed it. I feel like the girl from my favorite Ray Bradbury story who was trapped in a closet during the only day in seven years when the rain stopped and the sun shone on her planet.
Oh, I had salty skin and sandy toes for a week in June, when my WIL (Wrens-in-law) went out of town and we house-sat their lovely oceanside home. We do this every summer and it's usually my favorite week of the year. But this year I was pregnant.
Walks on the beach were cut short because I was dizzy and queasy. Sunbathing was curtailed because I didn't want to risk raising my core temperature and cooking the baby. Swimming was off-limits because I was afraid of being smacked in the stomach by a powerful wave and worried that I was emitting some sort of pregnancy hormone that made me more appealing to sharks. Cocktails at sunset were obviously out of the question.
All of that would have been tolerable and worthwhile if I could have just relaxed and enjoyed the miracle of finally being pregnant.
But no. Despite all the encouraging ultrasounds showing appropriate development and steady heartbeats, my doctor used the word "miscarriage" at every single appointment, reminding me that I had a higher-than-average risk of having one. In retrospect, he was trying to prepare me for what he saw as inevitable, and I guess he was right to do so. But it made relaxing and enjoying impossible. I spent every free moment glued to the Internet, frantically googling pregnancy symptoms, lack of symptoms, and miscarriage statistics.
A week after we left the beach, I became one of those statistics when we found out the baby had died. Summer, for me, died with it.
For the next month I stayed locked in that metaphorical closet. Stunned by grief, I became virtually vampiric in my habits. I shunned the light of day. I shriveled and wilted. I went to work late and left early and spent the rest of my time in bed, up all night slouched over my laptop spewing vitriolic blog posts and obsessively building a virtual universe in the Facebook game Gardens of Time. (My imaginary garden has a dragon statue, a panda refuge, lots of purple flowers and no talk of babies whatsoEVER.) I thoroughly wallowed in misery. I reveled in it.
But I'm starting to snap out of it. My grief is becoming tiresome, even to me. My depression bores me. The closet door is opening and I'm allowing it. It's time to let in the light.
The WIL are out of town again, and Mr Wren and I are back at the beach, housesitting for one last time this summer.
Yesterday, I set myself free from the closet of my self-imposed exile, and had all my summer in a day. I played in the surf, laughing as the waves slapped me in the stomach, in the back, and upside the head. I napped in the sun at noon and walked on the beach until the sun slipped behind the row of brightly-painted houses. I gathered seashells and sharks' teeth. I rode my bicycle along the water's edge. I drank a margarita on the back porch as the sunset painted the sky shades of indigo and gold and the sultry air caressed my skin. I sat in the hot tub and drank another margarita.
I remembered that there is still a lot of beauty in this world.
Sometimes one day of summer is all you get; sometimes it's enough.