Thursday, August 19, 2004

What we did on our summer vacation

Irony n.

Discrepancy between the expected and the actual state of affairs, a contradictory or ill-timed outcome of events, as if in mockery of the fitness of things.

- The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

The month we started "formally" trying, the cycle where we made a conscious choice that it was time to start the process of conception, of our journey towards parenthood....we were on vacation.

We had talked about it before then, of course. But there were reasons why we needed to wait- all of them in retrospect the kind of silly but utterly pragmatic things that keep people from leaping headlong into starting a family. There was my professional life, which until last year was very unstable. There was the whole two cities, two flats, two jobs issue to contend with- not that we have resolved that one.

But mostly, we weren't "at a place" in our relationship where we were ready. I was in one place, E. was in another. I tried to talk him into starting sooner. I begged, I cajoled, I threw hissy fits, I hid the condoms, I muttered darkly under my breath about my waning youth. But in my heart of hearts, I knew if he didn't really want to, we weren't ready.

E. placed more stock in the pragmatic things- mainly wanting to see me safely into a job which I could then give up to go on maternity leave- (yeah, didn't make much sense to me either). And that job had certain timescales attached to it.

But at last, we arrived together with a mutually agreeable plan- namely, have lots of sex and make a baby. Happily, we were going on holiday at the same time. I remember looking out of the plane window, giddy with joy. Two weeks of sun, relaxation and the beginning of motherhood. Yay! Double Yay!

We went to Spain, and rented this for a week. It's now a guesthouse, but at the time you could rent the whole place for a family, or if you wanted privacy, for two. It was expensive, and it was a special treat.

The house was at the end of a winding dirt road, the navigation of which was a little hairy, but once you reached it, you didn't want to leave anyway. It was beautiful. From the balcony in the front of the house, the vista before us was of a long valley, bathed in light. Completely peaceful and serene, the only sound was the distant jangling of bells from the goats as they were herded along the river in the evening.

In the morning, we would sleep late, then wander down to the old kitchen with the long scrubbed wooden table. E. would make big cups of cafe au lait while I fed the house cats. We would sit on the terrace under the grape covered arches, reading our books, until it was time to go for a swim in the mountain fed pool. Afterwards, I would perch on the edge of the water, dangle my feet over the side, eating ripe figs from the overhanging tree.

In the evenings, if we could be bothered leaving the house, we would drive up into the High Alpujarras to a really good restaurant run by a vegetarian Frenchman, which we discovered on another trip several years ago. But mostly we would linger right where we were, with the late afternoon sun shimmering across the hot flagstones. Drinking cool bottles of beer as the sun went down. When it got dark, we would turn on the tiny lights found in a solar-powered house like this one. We played cards, Scrabble, chess, read some more, listened to Dave Brubeck.

I have never been so relaxed in the last ten years as I was on that trip. It was perfect, it was bliss, it was a golden moment out of time, where we were able to give in to the simple pleasures of the sun, the valley, the sound of the river and the bells. By the end of the week the owners had to pour us into the car, we were so floppy.

And in terms of my cycle, it was perfect timing for conceiving a baby. We weren't hung up on the whole "will I get pregnant?" thing yet. It was the first try, and we were both at ease with the notion it could take "a little while". I wasn't yet charting, I wasn't yet monitoring every bodily secretion for signs of fertility. I was relaxed.

So I find it ironic when people say "Go on vacation! Just relax and go on holiday- you'll get pregnant right away!".

Ironic that relaxing on a trip in the sun is supposed to help. Because we did just that. If I couldn't get pregnant in that glorious house in Spain, I fail to see how a subsequent vacation is somehow going to be the magic cure. I didn't expect to get pregnant on the first try, but if I was going to conceive easily, I have always thought every month since- it should have been then. It wasn't.

We're not going back to Spain this year, since the house went up for sale over the winter, and even though it still seems to be open for guests, we weren't sure it was a good idea to try to repeat the experience. And while I will always cherish the memories of that week, I don't could will ever quite as relaxed and carefree as I was then.

Remembering, I am glad we didn't even really consider going back to that beautiful and special place. Because now it seems like innocence lost.


At 10:36 PM, Blogger JJ said...

I for one am shocked you did not conceive triplets on your relaxing vacation. We all know you're supposed to go to Italy when you want to get pregnant!

At 10:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God that house looks amazing.

We had some great vacations in Mexico and the Carribbean, and even though we were "trying" then, we were also secretly a little glad that I wasn't pregnant so I could drink margaritas and rum drinks to my heart's content. The last vacation we took like that was in March of 2003--which feels like a lifetime ago. Innocence lost indeed.

~Brooklyn Girl

At 12:08 AM, Blogger Jen P said...

That house is the epitome of everything I want for the rest of my life! Maybe I can get my spy husband transferred to Spain! ;)

I too have been tempted to re-try the fabulous holiday but I just can't do it. I don't want to do anything to ruin the memories. Not that we have the dough either while trying to save for ivf!!

Maybe there's a new spot, maybe not so innocent but a little sexy and edgy that'll work to just bring back the good ol raw passion?

At 1:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We took a trip like Paris...where I've always dreamed of going. I still love Paris, but it too has that lost innocence feeling to me as well. We had been trying a while and I was starting to get concerned, but not panicked. I knew that after that trip when we weren't pregnant it was time to admit that we had a problem and needed an RE.


At 2:58 AM, Blogger Soper said...

Yet another reason why I love you:
You not only know who Dave Brubeck is, you listen to him.
I also am shocked you didn't concieve triplets. Or quads. Or at least one. What a perfect trip. In the midst of all our poverty, we had a trip like that once, where I lay on the porch and listened to the crickets and cicadas and drank coffee and let a random dog sleep in my lap. It was my first year of practice, and the first time I actually let myself relax. Since I was on the pill at the time, I'm actually shocked I didn't get pregnant then.
Anyway, just wanted to let you know I love Dave Brubeck, too. And you, of course.

At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glorious descriptions! I felt like I was there. . .

Indeed, innocence lost.
Can someone please put a bell on that frickin’ thing? It’s always getting lost!


At 4:16 PM, Blogger lobster girl said...

Oh Mare. What a beautiful, melancholic post. I think it's wonderful that you and E. had an experience like that. It sounds heavenly. And, of course, relaxed. So, yes, to all the bumpkins who say "just relax" this is a good comeback. Small comfort, huh? The price of being able to tell those people they are full of horseshit is that, well, it didn't work. Innocence lost, indeed.


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