Monday, September 11, 2017

The things women deal with

I wasn't sure if I was going to write all of this out and publish it on my blog, then I read this article on Huff Post (shared on their Facebook page), and it inspired me to speak out.  Speaking out is even more important now then it has ever been since Title IX provisions are going to be rolled back. While the scope of Title IX is relatively narrow (i.e., only applies to colleges and universities that receive federal funding), it is a huge step towards silencing women.

I am a member at a local gym.  I really do like this particular gym.  The owners care about the business, are frequently around, and reinvest profits back into the facility and equipment.  It really is a great place.  They have a good amount of staffed hours, but members also have 24/7 access using a scan card.  I'd also rate the gym female friendly because I haven't experienced some of the overt sexism that I've experienced in other gyms throughout my life.

On Saturday I went to the gym during unstaffed hours.  This is typical for me on the weekends. When I arrived, there was one woman on a treadmill, and a father/son combo playing catch on one of the turf fields.  Everybody was minding their own business and respecting each other's space. Eventually, all three of those people finished what they were doing and left, leaving me there alone.  It was a little bit eerie, but not a big deal.  There are plenty of security cameras.  I moved where I was working out to a place where I had a direct line of sight to the main entrance, where I could see anyone coming in and where they would also be able to see me.

It wasn't long before I see a car pulling up and a 50-something appearing man can himself in.  Being a woman has taught me to be cautious and aware in any situation where I am alone with an unknown male, so I was a little bit on edge, but not too bad, because after all, he had just as much right to be there as I did.  Anyway, the man walked in, put his things down in the lounge area, and walked over to the stereo system and changed the channel.  He didn't bother to ask me if I was listening or if I minded if he changed it.  This put me a little more on edge because he clearly saw me and clearly didn't care if I was listening.  It put him in a position of power over me and made me feel like I belonged there less than he did.  I tried to shake it off and continued with my workout.

Next thing I know, this man (who I've never seen before in my life) starts working out within 10 feet of me without a single word.  The gym is literally 30,000 square feet and there are two other areas with the exact equipment that I was using that he could have chosen.  But he didn't.  This put me over the edge.  I grabbed my keys and bolted, not even taking the time to re-rack the weights I was using.

Did the man intend to hurt me?  I doubt it.  The gym has a ton of security cameras, is located in a plaza that has security patrols about every 20 minutes, and is across the road from a police station. He would have been incredibly stupid to try something.  Did the man intend to intimidate me?  This question is harder to answer.  I don't think there was necessarily intent, but there was definitely an air of superiority and entitlement present in his actions that led to me being intimidated enough to leave.  The music wasn't as big of a deal.  It's proper gym etiquette (and basic human decency) to ask the only other person in the building if they mind if it's changed, but not the end of the world.  And honestly, I would have told him that I didn't mind if it was changed.  As for working out directly beside me, this one is a little harder to explain away. I really can't think of any reason he would do this, other than to make me uncomfortable.

I got home and was talking about what happened with hubs and I realized that he truly, genuinely didn't get it.  I think that part of this is because as a man (a white man at that) he's very rarely, if ever, been put in a situation where he felt that his personal safety was at risk.  On the other hand, women, including me, have dealt with this crap since we were young girls.  And we're so used to it that we are hyper aware in all situations and usually don't say anything when something happens because it happens so often.

I'm fine now.  I was uncomfortable and intimidated in the moment, but now I'm just pissed.  This has all got to stop because it is not ok.

So I guess the moral of the story for women is to use your voice.  Speak out.  Change can't happen if half of the population doesn't even know there is a problem.  And if any men happen to be reading this, the moral of the story for you is to listen to the experiences of the women you love and work to change your own behavior as a result.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

On my blogoversary!

On this day three years ago, I created this blog and pushed publish for the first time.  To say the time has flown by is an understatement!

I really don't have adequate words to write about how much this space has meant to me during this time.  It's been a space where I've shared the depths of grief, some of the hard things that have happened in life, and celebrated some milestones too.  The friends that I've made and the support I've received have, by far, been the best and most meaningful part of having this blog.  I know that I wouldn't be doing as well as I am today (and I am doing really well!) without all of the amazing women who have lifted me up throughout this process.

I acknowledge that my blogging has tapered way off in the last year, though, ironically, the number of visitors to my blog hasn't.  I could give excuses like lack of time, lack of mental energy, and being crazy busy with work, and those excuses are at least partially true, but I find myself in a weird space of knowing that I designed this space for one specific purpose and most of what is in my heart to write about is well outside of that scope.  Maybe one day I'll get brave enough to publish some of my more social justice oriented posts that I have taking up space in my drafts folder.  In the meantime, I'll continue to write about life without children, at least occasionally.

To those of you who have supported me for any or all of the last three years: Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Y'all mean the world to me.

And to those of you who stumbled across this blog because of a Google search along the lines of "I can't have children, now what?": I'm glad you are here and I hope that in some small way, what I've written is comforting to you.  It's not going to be easy, but I can promise you that if you put the work into grieving, it will get less hard with time.

Monday, August 14, 2017

This is not ok

A woman was killed by a Nazi.  In Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.  August 13, 2017,

A bunch of racist thugs (white nationalists, neo-nazis, alt-right, whatever your preferred term for these maggots is) hell bent on "white (Christian, male) superority" and their guns descended on the city to protest the proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a noteworthy (for all of the wrong reasons) figure in the US Civil War, and just generally protecting the rights of white people.

This wasn't a march.  It wasn't a protest.  It was essentially what amounted to one big KKK rally. They came looking for a fight.  The governor of Virginia said they were more and better armed than the state police.  The governor declared a state of emergency for the entire state.

Once our spineless, illegitimate president bothered to make remarks on the events in Charlottesville, he seemed to, at least in part, blame those who have been disenfranchised by years.

If you aren't horrified by all of this, you either haven't been paying attention, or you need to do some serious soul searching.

I'm not sure if I want to cry or puke.  This is not ok.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Object of pity

A few years ago we were just coming to grips with the fact that we'd never have children.  Within months of ending our quest to have children we found out that one of my sisters was pregnant in a very public announcement with much fanfare.  As you might predict I didn't react well.

To decrease the likelihood of reacting poorly (and publicly) again, I asked my mom to give me the heads up if she found out that any of my sisters were pregnant and she promised to let me know. Now, I haven't written much about my relationship with my mom, but suffice to say, it's complicated, and she has an established track record of not coming through for me.  But with this she did.  It gave me the time and space to process the news and the ability to pretend that I was happy for them when I "found out."  

A few weeks ago my mom called me, randomly, on a Sunday night.  I knew from the tone of her voice that one of my sisters was pregnant, just not which one.  I soon found out.  

I figured that my sister would call within the next few days, or at least text.  But she didn't.  About a week later my mom called me again.  Apparently my sister feels so sorry for me that she can't tell me herself.  My mom was tasked with giving the official news.

So basically I'm an object of pity (and/or the bitter infertile).

I can deal with the pregnancy news.  I mean, I'm the oldest, and I'm 36, which is not ancient by normal reproductive standards, so realistically it's far more likely that there would be pregnancies than not.

But to be pitied?  That hurts.

I don't want pity.  A little bit of sensitivity and empathy would be nice.  But please don't pity me.

I'm not sure how to deal with this.  Or whether or not I should bother.  I don't want my family to fear telling me their happy news.

I haven't talked to my sister since my mom told me the official pregnancy news, though this is for reasons completely unrelated to her pregnancy (and completely related to her being a selfish jerk). Honestly, I'm not in any hurry to talk to her.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

And another

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that I have three sisters.  And starting three months after we found out we'd never have children of our own, each of them got pregnant.  When it was all said and done, I endured right around 20 consecutive months of at least one sister being pregnant and welcomed two nieces and a nephew in just over a year.  If you think that sounds like some special variety of hell, trust me when I say that it was.  If you're not familiar with the narrative, click here, here, here, here, here, here, and quite a few posts in between.

Which brings me to why I'm bringing this up.

One of my sisters is pregnant.  Again.

Am I surprised?  Not completely.  I just didn't anticipate it would happen this soon.  They had trouble conceiving their first  so I (incorrectly and naively) assumed that the second would take a long time too.  I thought I'd have more time before dealing with this again.

How am I taking the news?  That's more complicated.  Compared to how I took the news a couple of years ago, better.  Though "better" is relative.

I am being reacquainted with feelings I don't wish to be reacquainted with.  I am feeling sorry for myself.  And I'm angry with god or the universe or whatever.  Because none of this is fair.

Just when I thought I was in a place where I was doing really well, this happens.  Fan-fucking-tastic.

If there's a silver lining in the situation, it's that there is no chance of having more than one sister pregnant this time.  The other two have their tubes tied.  Yay for small victories.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The posts I want to write

I have a lot on my mind yet I seem to have lost my writing mojo.  Not to mention that free time seems to be lacking.

I want to tell you about how we're updating the look of our house by painting the exterior.  About how it's taking longer (and costing more money) than anticipated.  And about how, despite my complaints, many trips to the home improvement store, and arguments with hubs', I'm loving every single minute of it.

I want you to know that my poison ivy is almost gone.  It took a seven day course of steroids to jump start the healing, but slowly but surely it's disappearing.  And at least it doesn't itch (that much) anymore, though I suspect I may have some scarring around my ankles and on my right wrist.

I want to tell you about our absolutely fantastic trip to London that was everything I'd hoped it would be and more!  While we saw so many amazing things while we were there, easily my favorite was using the public transportation network.  You see, I've always had a fascination with mass transit (to the extent that if I had a career do-over, I'd probably be an engineer), so it's no surprise that I'd have a fascination with one of the first mass transit networks in the world.  Maybe someday we'll get to live abroad! 

Back in April I wrote about a potential promotion at work.  I didn't get it.  There were politics involved.  The process was circumvented.  I don't know how to play that game (and even if I did I wouldn't).  I'm less upset that I didn't get the promotion then I am about HOW I didn't get it.  I'm sure there will be other opportunities at some point, here or elsewhere.  At the end of the day I have a job that I love and that I get a lot of fulfillment from, and that alone is more than a lot of people have and something to be thankful for.

I want to write a post about Father's Day and how that day is actually harder for me than Mother's Day.  Because, medically speaking, it is my fault that my husband will never be a father.  While he's always said that he'd rather be with me and not have kids then be with someone else and have a litter of kids, it's still guilt that I live with and that I can't shake.

I want to tell you about my favorite niece and how her birthday is always a bittersweet day for me.  When I took her from the doctor's hands and handed her to my sister so she and my brother-in-law could marvel at the chubby, blue eyed, dark hair beauty that she was/is, I didn't know that it would be as close as I would ever come to experiencing childbirth.  This year it hit me a bit hard.

I want to complain about how sometimes the universe sucks.  Like how hubs and I had planned a trip to Long Island so he could see a band he's always wanted to see in concert, we could spend some time lounging at a beach cottage, and spend some time with Sarah and her wonderful husband Julio.  But that was all snatched away when hubs ended up in the ER with kidney stones less than 36 hours before we were supposed to leave.  With the help of some pretty powerful pain meds, he was able to pass them, but it really was shitty timing.  Though honestly, I'm glad it happened when it did as opposed to while we were away, because I have no desire to navigate the bullshit that is finding an "in network" hospital in a different state.

And finally, I want to write about how Independence Day was hard to celebrate this year.  America is no longer the great nation that I was born in and lived the first 35.5 years of my life in.  We are as divided and as hateful as ever and it's frightening.  It is my sincerest hope that we can weather this illegitimate president and impeach him before the Constitution and this country are irreparably damaged. 

So that's a bit about what's been on my mind.  Maybe eventually I'll sit down and write it all out.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Desperate measures

For the first time in my life I have Poison Ivy.

How I managed to make it for 36 years without getting it, I have no clue.  Especially since I grew up on a farm and spent a significant portion of my childhood outside.

I must have contracted it last week when we were doing some outdoor work in our yard.  I know what the plant looks like and I knew there was some in a particular area in the back of the yard, so I was careful to avoid it.  I should have been wearing pants and sleeves, but since it was slightly cooler than the surface of the sun outside, I opted for shorts and a tanktop.  This was a mistake.

Anyway, it started on my ankles/lower legs on Thursday.  Annoying but not a big deal since legs are easy to slap some calamine lotion on, cover, and go on with your day.  Then a few spots started to appear on my upper legs.  Then my abdomen and back.  Then my neck.  Then my face.  A blistery, puss filled rash ON MY FACE.  Each day it seemed to double in size.  It wasn't too bad until it started to creep to areas that I can't cover.

From everything I've read, the rash itself isn't dangerous as much as it is annoying. The danger comes from the risk of secondary infection (from scratching the blisters open) and if it gets to your eyes or in your mouth/throat it can cause some pretty serious issues.

I tried everything I can think of to manage the annoyance of it and try to get it to stop spreading.  I tried several different types of cream, plus oral Benadryl, plus my regular allergy medication. Minimal relief and very short-lived.  So I turned to Dr. Google (I know, I know, desperate times call for desperate measures.....) for some less mainstream cures.  Pouring vinegar (two different types) yielded no effect.  Same with rubbing alcohol.  Same with a cold coffee compress.  A cool shower provided temporary relief, as did making a paste of baking soda, rubbing it on my skin, and letting it dry (though I'm not sure the mess it caused was worth the minor temporary relief).  I stopped short of putting bleach on my skin, though I did briefly consider it before my youngest sister (who has a well established history of acquiring and treating severe cases of poison ivy) reminded me that it was fucking crazy to put a caustic agent on my face.

When I woke up Sunday morning it had spread again and was less than a 1/2 inch from my mouth.  I decided it was time for medical intervention.  I'm fortunate to have e-visits included as part of my health insurance plan, so I didn't even have to leave my house to go to the doctor.  I logged on to my account, entered a few bits of information, snapped a few pictures, paid my $5 copay (which, I know for some of you paying to see a doctor is reprehensible, but by American standards, $5 is a steal), and waited less than five minutes to see a nurse practitioner.  She had seen my pictures so had a pretty good idea what we were dealing with.  She asked a few questions to verify what I'd already done to manage it and how it had spread, verified my medication allergies, and told me she was going to prescribe a seven day course of steroids to treat it (because apparently my reaction was pretty severe for a first reaction).  Hopefully they work because I'm done dealing with this crap!

Oh, and apparently reactions get more severe with each exposure.  So the next time I get it, it will be worse.  Joy.

This morning, I realized that seeking alternative treatments for poison ivy was much like seeking alternative treatments for infertility.  I got to the point of desperation where I was willing to consider anything, even things that seemed "out there" or were potentially unsafe.  It was a weird trip back to that place of desperation, one I hope I don't have to revisit for a long time to come.