Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A few odds and ends

  •  I overheard a conversation at a coffee shop where three middle aged women were talking about grandkids.  Apparently one has "a real bitch" of a daughter in law because she "hasn't given her any grandkids yet" after three years of marriage.  I practically bit my tongue off and maxed out my shut-up filter to not stand up to that vile woman on behalf of her daughter-in-law.  Because 1) her son and daughter-in-law's reproductive plans are none of her business and 2) how does she know that they aren't already trying and having trouble.
  • Being that my shut-up filter was already maxed out, I was in no mood to listen politely to the pro-life coalition (or some crap like that) lady when she approached my table with religious literature and started her speech.  So we had a nice conversation about women's rights and how if she wanted to use her religion as a guide for medical decisions for herself, that's fine, but she shouldn't use it as a justification to judge other people for their choices.  I did most of the talking and by the time I was done with her she didn't know whether she was coming or going.  The look on her face really was priceless and I think that she realized that whatever speech she had prepared or "facts" on her flyer were not likely to convince me to switch over to her position.  
  • My dog had to have a tooth pulled on Monday.  I was a nervous wreck the whole time I knew that he was in surgery.  It's ridiculous how stressed out that I was about the whole thing.  He's doing great now, other than having an upset stomach from his antibiotic, which is making my already terrible sleep even worse.
  • My sister hasn't mentioned the whole gender reveal thing again.  Maybe she realized her poor timing. Unlikely, but one can hope.
  • On a related note, I only have seven weeks (plus or minus a bit) left of having at least one pregnant sister.  To say that it's been a long 20 (and counting) months is an understatement.  
  • Our weather has been unseasonably warm which means that my seasonal allergies, which I usually get a respite from during the winter, have lingered longer than usual.  I'm beginning to wonder what it feels like to not be congested.  Thankfully it's supposed to get colder this weekend.  
  • I finally decided that after nearly four years of living in this city that I needed to find a GP.  After wading through the insurance website's list of doctors that were accepting new patients (which was not user friendly) I found one that met my criteria and scheduled an appointment.  My appointment is next Wednesday.  I have no idea why this appointment is causing me anxiety.  Probably because the last time I tried to find a new GP to start the infertility referral process, I walked in and she was visibly pregnant, which made a conversation about trouble getting pregnant super awkward.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Christmas

I never did truly get in the Christmas spirit, but it turned out to be a nice, quiet Christmas anyway, which was exactly what we wanted and needed.  If nothing else, it was a great excuse to cook an awesome meal and share a bottle of wine.  Plus, any day involving presents, the Die Hard movies (my favorite Christmas movies), and spending a whole day with hubs and few distractions can't be completely bad.

There was a minor kick to the uterus when my sister decided that she would do a gender reveal as her gift to the family (when did gender reveals become such a big deal anyway?).  But thankfully I found out via text and didn't have to fake excitement over the phone.  To be clear, I am really excited for her, I just would have preferred to not be reminded of her pregnancy on Christmas day. 

Christmas 2015 won't go down in the record books as amazing.  Nor will it go down as terrible.  But hey, after the last few Christmases being really tough, I'll take it.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

A melancholy Christmas Eve

I want to write something profound or memorable, but I've got nothing.  Nothing I seem to write says what I want it to say.

It's Christmas Eve (at least for another hour or so).  This year I am embracing my melancholy feelings.  I decided that it's unfair to myself to try to force myself to feel cheerful, fall short, and then beat myself up for it.  Even more important than acknowledging that this is how I feel is acknowledging that it's ok to feel this way.  These simple acknowledgements bring me peace, and that's a good thing.

So my Christmas wish for all of you is for peace in your life.  For contentment.  For satisfaction.  I hope that everyone has a good holiday tomorrow and that it isn't hard.  Tomorrow is just one day....we can all get through it. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

Today

Yesterday concluded a whirlwind four weeks in which we attended four family gatherings (three out of state), drove over 1000 miles, concluded the busiest semester that I've ever had, and managed to stay (mostly) sane.  I'm incredibly thankful that we have the ability and means to travel to our families and that hubs and I both have jobs that we love.  But the truth is, we're exhausted and glad that all of our holiday travels are behind us.

I recently wrote about not feeling very Christmassy, and that's still true, but now that all of the busyness of the holiday season is behind us, I can start to focus on spending meaningful quality time with hubs, and doing Christmas our style, the way that we want, on nobody's schedule but our own.  Maybe the Christmas spirit will make an appearance soon?  There's still a few days.....

Last night when we got home I opened a bottle of wine, a gift from a friend, that I'd been saving for a special occasion (four consecutive weekends of family togetherness without a breakdown seemed pretty special), lit a fire, and enjoyed relaxing and being alone with my thoughts.  I've been going in high gear for so long that I desperately needed this quiet.  It was nice for a few minutes.  But sometimes when all is still, when I have a moment to stop and observe my surroundings,  to listen to the quiet, the thoughts I don't like to think and feelings I don't like to feel bubble up to the surface. 

Christmas is never going to be how I once imagined it, and I'm having a really hard time with that today.  Today my heart hurts for unrealized dreams and unmet expectations.  My heart aches for what will never be and I'm angry at the unfairness of it all.  My brain is stuck in the land of "what if?"  What if we'd done things differently?  Would the outcome have been different?

I know I sound like a broken record.

Is it healthy to go to this place?  Probably not.  Is it normal?  Probably.  Do I like it?  Hell no.  Why do I go here?  I don't know.

Today is hard.  Tomorrow will be better. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

An early Christmas present for Hubs

This post does not contain any spoilers about the new Star Wars movie.  People who spoil it for everyone else are jerks.  I am not a jerk.

Hubs is a huge Star Wars fan.  I am not.  Frankly, I find them boring.  But he was so excited about the new movie that I bought us IMAX 3D tickets for opening night and surprised him with them as an early Christmas present.  The showing was last night.  He was like a little kid.  He obsessed over which Star Wars t-shirt he was going to wear (yes, he owns more than one) and then picked out one for me to wear (Darth Vader in a Santa hat).  Once we got to the theater, two hours before movie time,  he totally geeked out in line talking to all of the people about the old movies, predictions for the new movie, etc.  I smiled and nodded politely as I had nothing to add to the conversation (many thanks to infertility for helping me refine this skill!).  The theater was packed and it was probably a good thing that we got there as early as we did or else we may not have been able to sit together.  There were people dressed up like jedis and storm troopers and other characters that I can't even pretend to know who they were or talk about them intellegently, which actually made me feel a bit better about hubs' Star Wars t-shirt collection, and the movie theater management had contests to win free crap.  Everyone was well behaved and the only kids in the theater were kids who were able to appreciate the movie in it's entirety without annoying everyone else, so that was nice too.  It was was actually a lot of fun to be a part of!

He loved the movie and can't wait to see it again.  I didn't hate the movie, which is about as high of praise as you're going to get from me about anything Star Wars related, and I would probably tolerate seeing it again.

Last night was honestly one of those "silver linings of infertility" sort of nights.  We were able to pre-order tickets without worrying about booking a babysitter.  We didn't have to worry about being home by a certain time.  Once we got home we didn't have to put anyone to bed.  We were responsible for ourselves and no one else.  I can't help but think that if we had kids, seeing Star Wars on opening night probably wouldn't have been an option for us.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

I'm not feeling very Christmassy

I'm not feeling very Christmassy this year.  There.  I said it.  I'm not a grinch by any stretch but I'm just not that into it this year.  Maybe it's because we've had an unseasonably warm December?  Our average daily high for the past week or so has been around 60F (15.5C), which means I haven't even been wearing a jacket.  Maybe it's because life has been really busy.  We've been on the road for various family obligations for three consecutive weekends, and have the fourth (and final!) this coming weekend, but at least it's not an overnight trip.  We didn't even get the chance to decorate our tree together this year because we've both been running around like crazy.  Maybe it's because work has been super busy (since August) and I'm just plain exhausted.  Thankfully after Thursday I will be off until January 5th, which is a very much needed break! 

Really I think it's because I had some romanticized notion of the perfect Christmas, and the perfect Christmas included a couple of kids.  But we're not going to have kids.  Ever.  We'll never surprise our kids with the perfect Christmas gift.  Or worry about where in the house that gifts would need to be hidden so that they won't find them before the big day.  I'll never get to teach my kids how to bake cookies and hubs will never get to play legos with them.

I'm not saying that Christmas with just me and hubs (and the dog) can't be awesome.  Or perfect.  It's just not the Christmas that I imagined for so many years. We're starting our own traditions, and they are fun, it's just different than I ever could have imagined.  Eventually we'd like to travel someplace warm (and adults only!) over the holidays but we've decided that this is off the table for as long as our dog is alive (which we hope is at least five more years!) because he's our family and he doesn't deserve to spend Christmas away from us.

Sometimes I wonder if infertility permanently zapped my holiday spirit.  I guess I'm just feeling a bit down today.

So I guess that my question is: Does anybody else get the holiday blues?  What do you do to help yourself snap out of it? 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A little bit of catching up

Last year hubs and I started our own tradition of staying at home for Christmas.  Possibly the most challenging part of this is that we feel obligated to spend some time around Christmas with each of our extended families.  Essentially it means that we will be traveling four consecutive weekends between Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings.  It's not big travel because all of the trips are less than three hours one way, but it still wears on us, and falls at a really busy time of year for me job wise.

Anyway we had Christmas with hubs' parents, brother, sister-in-law, and the kids last weekend.  It was fun, for the most part.  It was nice to see everybody and spend quality time with them, give gifts, and get some gifts too.  Probably the highlight was playing a game of pick up basketball with our 12 year old niece where she beat me badly (and I was actually trying).  I used to be a pretty decent basketball player.... 

Hands down, the worst part was a get together guest that I wasn't expecting.  Remember the friend's baby shower that hubs RSVP'd to without consulting me first?  That couple and their baby were there.  I could tell by the look on hubs' face that he was completely surprised too.  The look can roughly be translated as "oh shit, how's she going to react?"  Hubs brother has a pretty big house so I was able to duck out of conversations revolving around growing, feeding, puking, pooping, sleeping, and the like.  Especially with what happened on Friday and my resulting semi-fragile emotional state, I thought that I handled this little surprise as well as I could.

This coming weekend we'll go and have Christmas with my family, weekend three of four on the road.  I'm looking forward to it.  This will also probably be the last time that I see my pregnant sister while she is still pregnant.  It's been a long 20 (consecutive) months with at least one sister pregnant.  Only two more to go! 

*****

I'm woefully behind on doing my monthly reading posts.  I think that at this point I'll just wait and do a big year end reading post to summarize everything that I read in October, November, and December.

*****

I experienced my first night sweat other night.  Now, I thought I'd been having night sweats for a while.  I've been waking up sweaty at night for a while now and I honestly thought that was night sweats.  I've never been one to sweat profusely so I thought that was it.  Yeah.  Not so much.  I woke up drenched.  My night shirt and the sheets were soaked.  Disgusting.  I literally don't know if I've ever sweat so much in my life.  So far I haven't had a second episode and I won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen again for a while.   I need to write a post about peri-menopause but I can't seem to find the words to say what I want to say.  Or, more specifically, the emotional part of peri-menopause.  The physical part is annoying, but mostly I can deal.  But the emotional part is far harder, and I'm just not sure how to write about that.  It's like infertility is unfair enough, but to go through this crap a decade plus earlier than average is just hard.  It just feels like one more way to make me different from my peer group.  Ugh.

*****

I'm so excited that it's almost Christmas and that I get a few weeks off to catch up on things.  This fall has been crazy.

Friday, December 4, 2015

It's the unexpected things that get me

I know a lot about child safety seats.  Why?  Well because I started buying car seats when my sister was pregnant with my oldest nephew (now 8.5) and have purchased at least one for every niece or nephew since.  My logic back then (and continues to be) that it's a nice gift that will get a lot of use (unlike something stupid, say a wipe warmer) and that all of my sisters are terrible drivers so it serves to reason that I would want my nieces or nephews in a really safe car seat.  Pre-infertility I always enjoyed this task, both researching various safety features, and scoring a good deal.  During and post infertility, not so much.

Back in February and June, when my most recent nieces were born I undertook this task more out of a sense of obligation than out of desire to actually do it.  I did my research and bought them good seats, but there wasn't a sense of joy in giving the gifts.  My newest niece or nephew (gender is unknown, as far as I know, though given that my family does not particularly excel at communication, it may just be unknown to me) is due in February so I figured I'd better get started on car seat research.  But something unexpected happened.  I found that I was actually excited about it and looking forward to buying and giving the car seat.  I even told my sister that I was in charge of doing all of the research and picking it out and if she had an issue with that, I'd just give her a $50 gift card to someplace.  I don't know if you've bought a car seat recently, but they cost substantially more than $50.  Given this prospect she agreed to let me handle it.

So I did my research and narrowed it down to a couple of different choices.  Given the time of year and all of the sales, I decided not to buy one immediately, and just wait to watch the sales.  Enter Cyber Monday.  I found a steal of a deal on a really great car seat, actually one step better than I had picked out, and bought it immediately.  It was delivered to my house on Thursday and I can't wait to give it to my sister (and her husband) the next time I see her. 

I was all prepared to write a blog post about feeling pretty good, how far I've come, and how proud of myself I was.  And I am all of those things.  But then I went to work today.  The first part of the day sailed by and was going great.  Then around lunchtime I started to hear people arriving to the conference room across the hallway from my office.  I didn't think it was a big deal since this happens on a regular basis.  Then I hear someone in the hallway announce that it's for so-in-so's baby shower.  Shit.  I got up and closed my door, despite that my office was already sweltering.  People kept arriving.  Advice in the hallway.  Pregnancy stories overheard.  Gifts.  It was loud and unavoidable.  I tried to convince myself that I could do it and that I had to stay because I had a meeting.  I told myself that I could do it because I didn't know the person who the shower was for or most of the people attending.  I lasted 10 minutes before the damage was done.  I emailed the person I was meeting with and told her I wasn't feeling well (not a complete lie) and had to go home and would she be available on Monday.  I also emailed the secretary to let her know that I was leaving.  The tears held off until I got to the parking garage and by the time I got to my car my emotional state had evolved to sobs.  It was an ugly cry of epic proportions.  In the parking garage.  At my work.  I'm just thankful that nobody walked by and called the police for a safety check or whatever.

It's mostly out of my system now and I'm sitting at home with a big mug of tea and a bowl of soup.  I suspect I'll feel vulnerable for a few days, but I'll be ok.  I'm fortunate to have a job with the flexibility to rearrange my schedule at a moment's notice because I really don't know what I would have done otherwise.

I guess this is a perfect example of being able to handle the things that I expect and can prepare, but having a really difficult time with those unexpected things that swoop in out of nowhere and kick me in the heart (and uterus).

Oh, and I get to spend the weekend with my in-laws. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Just when I think that she doesn't get it at all....

....my mom posts this article on Facebook.  While we have a mostly good relationship, it isn't exactly one that is close, and really she hasn't given many indications that she's trying to understand what I'm going through.  But this shows that maybe she's trying to get it.

It was subtle, just shared without any explanation, but she shared it, and that means something to me.  I'm also thankful that she didn't mention or tag me and hubs in it, not because I mind people knowing, but because it's not her role to share (though she's violated this trust before).

Granted, her next post was something about spoiling her grandkids, but whatever.  Baby steps.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving weekend recap

Bullet points seem appropriate for this post, so here goes:
  • My mom came to my house for a visit from Wednesday-Friday and then went back to her house with hubs and me on Friday evening.  It was a nice visit, but I'm glad to have my house to myself again.
  • At no point did my mom bring up IVF and only briefly brought up adoption before I shut her down on that topic.  Maybe she'll finally get the message that those two topics are off limits?
  • My mom and I went Black Friday shopping.  For the most part it was fun.  We scored some pretty good deals!
  • I used to think that the exclusive club of parenthood was the most annoying thing ever.  Now I wonder if the exclusive club of grandparenthood is worse.  Or at least equal.  More than once, while shopping, I had to endure my mom striking up a conversation with a fellow grandma (can I coin the term "granzilla" here?).  It was so absurd that it didn't even bother me.  Or, more accurately, it did bother me, but I didn't let it hurt me.
  • I am happy to report that Thanksgiving dinner wasn't a debacle.  Around 40-45 people ended up coming.  There was plenty of food for everyone and it was excellent.  Everyone seemed to have a good time.
  • I cooked probably 75% of the food.  From scratch. With little help.  
  • I was overly optimistic in thinking that I could get through this family event without consuming alcohol (my family aren't big drinkers and you aren't supposed to bring alcohol to the facility that my mom rented).
  • Thankfully, unlike the state that I live in, you can purchase alcohol pretty much anywhere in the state that I grew up in.  Like gas stations.  Conveniently, there was a gas station next door.  This particular gas station also sold corkscrews.  Which was a good thing since I was smuggling alcohol into an alcohol free facility and took the liberty of assuming that there would be no corkscrew in the facility's kitchen.
  • The selection of wine at gas stations is as bad as you might imagine.  Still preferable to no wine at all.
  • Being seen drinking a glass of wine is an effective deterrent that seems to head off family planning questions.
  • It wasn't terrible.  I'm glad it's over.  I'm thankful we don't have to do it again until next year! 
In all seriousness I have so much to be thankful for.   I wrote a list of things that I was thankful for  last year and those things still hold true in 2015.  But for this year, I'd also like to add that I'm thankful for all of the friends that I've made through blogging.  Honestly I never thought anyone would read my blog or that I would stick with it for this long.  But I'm glad that people read my ramblings.  Blogging is kind of like therapy for me.  I'm also thankful for hubs' job situation and that he was brave enough to leave the field he's always worked in to pursue another opportunity.  If we had kids there is no way that he could have done a complete career switch without commuting financial suicide, and I am so proud of him for taking the plunge.  My life isn't perfect, but I do have a lot to be thankful for, and it's good for me to sit down every once in a while to take stock of all of the good in my life.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Baby shower drama

A few weeks ago I was in between work meetings I decided to hit the Taco Bell drive thru for a quick lunch.  A win win, I thought because it's cheap, sounded good, and hubs doesn't really like Taco Bell so if I want it I pretty much have to go on my own.  Anyway, as I was sitting in the drive thru waiting for my turn to order and my phone rings.  It was my pregnant sister.  I'd been avoiding her calls since she called to wine about her baby shower planning party, but I decided to pick up because the drive thru was taking forever and I knew that it would be a good excuse to get off of the phone with her.

Within the first 30 seconds I regretted picking up the phone.  She started out by asking me what my weekends in January look like.  I immediately knew that she was trying to firm up a date for her baby shower.  Playing dumb, I made a comment about how January is always tricky (weather wise) to plan trips, and asked why she was asking.  She replied that she was trying to schedule her baby shower and wanted to schedule it around my schedule since I'd be coming from out of state.  I thanked her for taking my schedule into consideration but that she didn't need to because I wasn't going to be able to come.

Cue the tears.  She thought I'd change my mind.  She really wants me there.  I'm her big sister.  It won't be the same without me.  It's important to her that I come.  It's just one afternoon.  She thought I'd change my mind.

This is the sister that dealt with infertility and required fertility treatments to get pregnant.  Providing more evidence, at least in my mind, that sometimes people forget the struggle to get pregnant as soon as they are pregnant. 

I started crying too.  Sticking to my guns I apologized, and assured her that it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.  That I couldn't come because it would be far too hard for me and that it was just something that I needed to do to take care of myself.

Mercifully the line moved and I was next to get my food so I was able to get off of the phone, though I'm sure the drive thru employee thought I looked like a hot mess.  As did the people who stared at me as I sat in the parking lot and sobbed as I ate my burrito.

I get that it's important to her that I come to her baby shower.  I really do.  I mean, nobody envisions a baby shower without their big sister present.  Heck, a few years ago, I never planned to be the big sister that missed out on the important life events of my sisters.  But infertility changes a person, and in this case, not for the better. 

A few days later I was on the phone with my mom.  She mentioned that she'd talked to my sister and that my sister said that I wasn't coming to the baby shower.  I had also previously told my mom that I wouldn't be coming.  She mentioned how hurt my sister my sister was that I wouldn't be coming and implied that I needed to suck it up and come because it was important to my sister.  I replied that my mental health and well being was more important to me and as such I couldn't put myself in a situation that I knew would leave me a wreck and undo much of the recovery that I've worked so hard for.  I know she thought I was being dramatic.

I really do wish I could be there for her.  Or more accurately, I wish that I could take care of myself but at the same time not disappoint my sister.  Unfortunately those two things are not compatible.  So I chose my own wellbeing over doing what is socially acceptable.  It makes me really sad that by doing what I need to do hurt another person, but it's not going to change my mind.

The thing that makes me maddest about this situation is that I'm the bad guy.  I can think of so many other examples of a person who survived a trauma, not being expected to participate in a trigger of that trauma, and it being accepted without question.  Like no one would expect a recovering alcoholic to attend a party at a bar or a plane crash survivor to get on a plane again.  Their excuses would be accepted without question and they would be supported.  But infertility survivors are different.  They are expected to put on a happy face and deal with it.  It's not fair.  It's like my feelings don't matter.

I'm not going.  I'm not changing my mind.  I regret that by not going other people will be hurt.  It makes me sad that other people think I'm being selfish or dramatic.  But that's unfortunate collateral damage of taking care of myself, and right now I need to be number one.  Sadly I think that some people will never get it.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A debacle in the making?

I come from a family where chronic punctuality issues run rampant and advanced planning is an art that they've never mastered.  No joking.  As literally the only person in my family who is ever on time and has the foresight to plan anything ahead of time, I have hosted Thanksgiving at my house for the last couple of years.  Frankly hosting approximately 20 people at my house was far less stressful than dealing with the disarray that accompanies my family trying to "plan" anything.

In mid October I started to plan for Thanksgiving this year, assuming I was hosting again since it had worked out so well for the past several years.  Almost immediately I was met with a whole bunch of excuses.  It's too far to travel (I don't define 150 miles as far, plus for a long time I lived even farther away and still managed to not miss a holiday).  It's a pain to travel with kids.  Tight on cash.  Whatever.  It was painfully apparent that people didn't really want to come to my house this year.  So in a fit of rage I said we could just have it at my mom and dad's house, knowing full well that I would be the one who ended up cooking and cleaning up, just like I have for years (at my house or my mom's), with minimal help.

Once my pregnant sister found out that Thanksgiving* was going to be at our parent's house she started "planning."  When I say planning, what I really mean is that she started inviting people, mostly extended family and friends.  The guest list ballooned to 30.  Then 40.  Then 50.  Then 60**.  I was apparently the only one who had the foresight to point that there was no way that our parent's house could accommodate this many bodies, even accounting for those who won't be able to come (likely because it's being planned at the last minute).  At my suggestion, they were able to find a hall (with a commercial kitchen where we can cook the food) that could accommodate everyone.  So at least we won't be climbing over one another and there will be sufficient restroom facilities.  Unfortunately the facility does not allow alcohol, but there are ways to get around that little inconvenience. 

My pregnant sister called me today to talk about Thanksgiving.  I figured she wanted to talk about food.  Since, you know, if you invite 60 freaking people to Thanksgiving dinner, you have to feed them.  Nope.  She wanted to talk about decorating the building they rented.  I hung up on her, which was probably preferable to the alternate scenario where I told her exactly what was on my mind.***  Spoiler alert: I do not care about centerpieces for the tables.  Not even a little bit. 

Long story short, I sent out a spreadsheet detailing the things that needed to be purchased, tasks that needed to be done, and a timeline, with assignments for everyone.  I honestly don't think they realize how much prep goes into it.  Like the turkey needs to be out of the freezer to thaw in the fridge 4-5 days before dinner.  Now I just need for them to follow directions (another thing that my family is genetically predisposed to not do well).

So I don't know if it will be a debacle or not.  I hope not.  It's a toss up at this point.  The only thing that is certain is that there will be a lot of stress for me.  I love my family, I really do, but if I didn't look so much like my dad and paternal grandma, I would swear that the hospital sent my parent's home with the wrong baby.  I'm not a whole lot like my family.  I hope this is one of those times where I'm getting myself all worked up for something that wont' be that bad.

* We always have our family Thanksgiving on the Saturday after the holiday because it just seems to work best. 
**No fertility problems in my family! Except me, of course.  Speaking of that, the last time I saw most of these people was at my youngest sister's wedding two years ago.  Many seemed to have my reproductive plans on their mind then, so I'm sure that there will be more questions, especially in light of the fact that in a few weeks over one calendar year all three of my siblings will have birthed one child.
***I partially blame PMS.  Because apparently I'm going to be one of the "lucky" women who continues to have a regular(ish) cycle with an IUD.  And I get all ragey when I'm PMSing.  Yeah.  I don't really want to be around me either.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Memories

Have you all seen the "memories" feature on Facebook?  If not, it pulls memories from your timeline, usually pictures, and presents it to you as "on this day x years ago" and gives you the option to share the picture.  For the most part I've found this feature to be pretty fun (and also made me realize how many pictures of my dog that I post on Facebook....).  But yesterday it wasn't so fun.  My pregnant sister shared a memory from her timeline that I was tagged in.  The picture was taken in the summer of 2010 but for some reason she didn't add it to Facebook in November, and was of me, all three of my sisters, and our mom and dad.  At first I thought it was a pretty neat picture and marveled at how young (and skinny!) I was.  But my fascination was quickly quelled when my youngest sister, then 19, commented and said something along the lines of "Wow!  I don't even remember taking this picture!" and my currently pregnant sister said "this was the day that you told us that you were pregnant with oldest niece."

And there it was.   

Anger.  Five years ago we were right at the beginning of our TTC journey and I was naive enough to think that I'd get pregnant easily.

Jealousy. Getting pregnant was easy for two of my three sisters.  And the third seems to have forgotten the struggle now that she's pregnant. 

Left behind.  Only one sister had a child when the picture was taken, and he was an unplanned surprise.  Now one sister has three, another sister has two, and the third sister is pregnant with her first. 

Wistful.  Their lives certainly aren't perfect, but I sometimes I can't help but long for what they have and I don't.

It's times like this when I realize that I have a lot of healing left to do.

Friday, November 13, 2015

My heart hurts for Paris

I spent most of my commute home today composing a post in my head, something I've been wanting to write about for a while.  But then the attacks in Paris happened.  And what I wanted to write about seemed insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

I will never understand hate.  I will never understand killing.  I don't know the reason for the attacks and frankly I don't care.  There is no good reason for this.  There is no logical explanation for this.

So many people will go to bed tonight knowing that a family member or friend perished.  For those people my heart hurts.  This isn't fair and it isn't ok.

I hope that in the coming days we see the best in people, not the worst.  That we see love and tolerance, not hate and divisiveness.



Sunday, November 8, 2015

That time I forgot for a minute

We started Christmas shopping over the weekend.  Between Hubs' family and mine we have a lot of people to buy for, and we like to get shopping done and over with before the mad rush.  I wanted to go to a specific store to get something for my sister (the pregnant one) that I knew was on sale and while I was there I decided to look at some clothes for my youngest niece.  I wouldn't say that browsing the baby section is something I enjoy, but when I have a specific objective, it's not so bad.  Except yesterday it was bad.

I am a crazy dog lady.  I love my dog to pieces and I spoil him rotten.  So when I was in the store yesterday and found an adorable little onesie shirt thing with my dog all over it (well, my dog's breed), I got excited.  My first thought was to buy it and stock it away for my someday baby.  Almost as fast I remembered that there would be no someday baby.  As I stood there in the middle of the store, tears rolling down my cheeks and looking like a fool, I put it back on the shelf.  There was never going to be a someday baby to buy it for.  And I couldn't bear the though of buying it for someone else, because seeing their baby in it would just be too much.  I sucked it up enough to purchase what I went there for and made it out of the store to my car where I had an ugly cry.  Then I let it go and moved on.

So now I guess I can add dog onesies to my list of triggers.  Ugh.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Something I can give advice about!

Confession time.  When we were trying to conceive I was one of those women who tested early.  Like really early.  Like 6 days past ovulation early.  A friend told me that I was addicted to peeing on things.  I guess I thought it would change something if I found out earlier.  I guess I was just a glutton for punishment.  Spoiler alert: I never saw a second line on any test, ever, no matter how many days past ovulation I took it.  As the months turned in to a year and then years early testing led to anxiety heartbreak, with each month worse than the last.  Sometime late into the second year I stopped because it just wasn't worth it.  Anyway, as a result of my (embarrassing) early testing, I'm somewhat of an expert on pregnancy tests.  I can tell you which are the most sensitive, which are the best deal, debate the merits of pink dye versus blue dye, etc.

Sunday I was in my local big box store doing some shopping.  I was standing in the razor aisle trying to remember which kind of blades that hubs uses (I am strongly encouraging him not to participate in No Shave Novembeard....).  As I'm standing there, I'm cursing under my breath, at myself because I didn't write down what kind before I left the house, and also because those darn things are expensive. In my peripheral vision I see a early 20s woman standing directly across the aisle staring at the pregnancy tests looking confused.  I wanted to be anywhere else.  So I sent hubs a quick text asking him to reply with the type of blades he needed and then tried to get out of that aisle quick to continue with my shopping.

But before I could get out of there I hear "I'm really sorry to bother you, but....".  Full stop.  I wasn't fast enough.  Fuck.  I turn around to face her and she shyly asks me which pregnancy test is best.  I asked her how early she was testing.  She looked at me like I had three heads.  I asked her if she had missed her period.  Looking at me like I was completely crazy, she give me an exasperated "yes, I was supposed to get it last weekend!" So I told her that any of them would work.  At this point I thought the conversation would be over.  But no, she asked me which one I would pick.  So I told her that if I were picking out a pregnancy test and I had already missed my period that I would just grab the cheapest one and be done with it.  So she grabbed the cheapest test and thanked me for my help. I told her that I hoped it turned out like she wanted (based on her anxiety level, I predict that she was hoping to see one line, but I have a feeling there were two).

On the drive home a couple of things occurred to me.  First, that it is the norm to assume that every 30something woman would have knowledge of pregnancy tests, likely because they are a parent.  And second, how different the infertility experience is from the normal experience and that most people don't even begin to think that they're pregnant until they've missed a period and would never dream of testing before a missed period.

It was a difficult weekend with reminders all over the place of the life that will never be mine.  Trick-or-treat, my pregnant sister's baby shower planning party (which I did not go to!), because apparently that's a thing now, and a family friend and his wife had their baby (cue throw-up-in-my-mouth worthy Facebook posts about parenting being the most perfect thing ever).  I'm ok.  I handled it.  These days I'm having an easier time dealing with these things as they come up, even if a bunch comes up at once.  I seem to be able to separate the randomness of fertility, meaning that I can accept that their children/babies/pregnancies have nothing to do with me not being able to have kids.  This isn't to say that I didn't shed a tear or feel sorry for myself, because I did have a moment, but these things didn't ruin my day, weekend, or the next week, and that's something.  I don't think I'll ever get over not having kids, but it does get a little easier to deal with as time passes.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Because I can laugh at myself

Earlier today I needed to go out to get supplies for trick-or-treat.  To be clear, by "supplies" I mean wine.  I would prefer to just keep the light off, draw the blinds, and be antisocial, but hubs insists we have to pass out candy, so if I have to do it, I prefer to not be completely sober.

Anyway I made it to the liquor store and got a couple of bottles of wine (note: I do not plan to consume all of the wine tonight) and headed for home.  Except the road home was closed.  I should pause to mention here that I have no sense of direction.  None.  Like I couldn't find my way out of a box with a flashlight.  I should also mention that where I live is a notoriously difficult place to navigate because of challenging geography (rivers and mountains) and is not on a grid pattern as a result.  For a normal person this would be an inconvenience.  For me this is always a cause for concern.  My default strategy is to follow the car in front of me.  Which I realize is completely illogical and highly unlikely to work.  At least it was daylight.

So I'm driving along without a clue in the worlds where I was.  No place to pull off and get directions on my phone.  I may have also been somewhat distracted by the beauty of the western Pennsylvania fall foliage.  I tried to call my husband to have him figure out where I was and how to get home, but he didn't answer (he's the sort of guy who can find his way out of a jungle with a compass and a knife).  After driving for about 25 minutes (lost for probably 20 of that) I came upon a church, where I was able to pull off and get directions on my phone and take of my sweatshirt.  Because hot flashes are apparently aggravated by stress.

Having directions was a good thing, except the GPS on my phone told me to go east on whatever road.  At which point I was like "goddamnit Siri, left, right, or straight.  I don't know east."  Naturally I turned the wrong way and had to make an illegal U turn to right myself.  Thankfully there were no cops nearby.  Long story short what should have been a 10 minute drive took an hour, but I made it home.  With wine.  Finally.

I walked in the door and hubs remarked "took you long enough!" to which I replied "had you answered your damn phone you'd know why."  For curiosity's sake he tried to figure out where my unplanned detour took me.  Apparently landmarks such as "trees" and a "twisty curvy road" are not sufficient descriptors for him to figure out where I was.  He also tried to show me a map and have me trace my route.  This attempt was laughable.  Oh, and he informed me that the car has a compass in the rear view mirror which may have helped with the whole "go east" directive....

This isn't the first time I've been lost.  This isn't the most lost that I've ever been.  And I'm sure this won't be the last time I get lost.  This is just who I am as a person.  I have accepted my lack of direction as a piece of me and know that it's never going to change.  But I don't take myself too seriously and am having a good laugh about my scenic trip home.  I hope you can too!

Oh, and trick-or-treat went well.  I had a few moments of longing for a life that will never be mine, but for the most part it was ok.  Merlot helped.  Most importantly it's over for another year


Monday, October 26, 2015

A higher standard?

When you go through infertility it seems like there is something at every turn that causes pain.  You seek out support of those in similar situations.  These are the people who know the pain of an unexpected pregnancy announcement.  These friends know how a scan pic can ruin a day.  Newborn pictures.  Complaints about pregnancy.  These things and so much more can take you from ok to a an ugly cry in a millisecond.

Yet it seems, at least in my experience, that these very people, friends who know the pain of infertility, seem to forget it all the moment they get a positive pregnancy test.

Announcing a pregnancy on April Fool's Day.

Using a scan picture as a profile picture.

Posting weekly "bump" pictures on Facebook.

Complaining about the gifts that people buy them because the gift isn't exactly what they want.

I could go on and on and on.

All by people who know the heartache of infertility.  All people who just months or a year ago openly complained about these very things.  Yet now that they are pregnant they do the very same things that once caused them so much pain and heartache.

I guess that I hold friends who went through infertility and later ended up pregnant or wound up with their take home baby to a higher standard.  Normal people don't bother me (as much).  They don't know what it's like to see the months turn into a year and then into years.  They don't know what it's like to try every old wives tale to try to get pregnant.  They don't know what it's like to see a fertility specialist and all of the impossible choices that this brings.  They have sex, they get pregnant.  I can excuse them.  But not my friends who battled infertility and eventually got what we all wanted so badly.  They should know better.

Is it right that I hold them to a higher standard?  I don't know.  Probably not.  But I do, and I don't think that it's going to change anytime soon.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Rolling with the punches

Today I talked to my sister (the pregnant one) on the phone.  She asked for advice regarding a potential career move and I gave it to her.  I asked how she was and if everything was ok with the baby (everything is fine with both).  Then she mentioned that she'd asked our mom to come to her next appointment with her.  It hit me that I'll never get the chance to ask my mom to come to a doctor's appointment with me.  I wouldn't have asked her, not in a million years, but that's not the point.  The point is that infertility stole that choice from me.

Luckily I had a really busy day today and couldn't dwell on it and didn't even have time to cry (though I really wanted to in the moment) and by the time the day calmed down the feelings weren't quite as intense and the urge to cry had passed.  I'm obviously still thinking about it though.

Later I ended up going out to dinner with some extended family who came into town tonight to catch an early flight in the morning.  Hubs was supposed to go to but he was feeling a bit under the weather and decided to stay home.  I honestly wasn't looking forward to it because I knew that my sister and her husband told them about the baby a couple of weeks ago and they are super excited (as they should be) and I expected a good deal of the conversation to revolve around my sister and then turn to my uterus (as it does almost every time I see them).  As it turned out, once they saw I wasn't wearing my wedding/engagement ring combined with the fact that my husband wasn't with me, they were much more concerned about my marriage than my uterus.  I quickly explained that I had my rings inspected over the weekend and left them to be rhodium plated and they won't be back until the end of the month.  So it turned out that not wearing my rings was a good thing.  Or at least it diverted attention from my (useless) reproductive parts.

The doctor's appointment thing caught me completely off guard but I rebounded relatively well and the dinner wasn't as challenging as I expected it to be and I had myself all worked up for nothing.  Today was hard but I tried not to dwell on the hard stuff.

I don't think that time will ever heal all of the scars that infertility has left on my heart, but it does get a little bit easier to roll with the punches with each day that passes.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Reflections on a rough week



I've had a rough week.  Actually probably closer to two weeks.  Grief and resentment have been right below the surface.  I wrote about what I called ugly feelings in my last post.  It was a post that I was honestly unsure if I even wanted to publish, but this community assured me (once again) that what I'm feeling is normal and ok.  Thankfully I'm starting to pull out of it because these phases suck.

Right now I'm reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  Normally this is the type of book that I'd steer away from (memoirs, particularly about spiritual journeys, aren't one of my preferred genres), but I picked it up because I stumbled across the author's podcast that she did to correspond with the release of her latest book and liked it a lot.  Plus it was on the clearance rack at the thrift store so I figured that even if I didn't like it, I was only out $1.  If you're not familiar with the book (or movie by the same title), after a nasty divorce and breakdown, the author goes on a quest to discover pleasure, devotion, and balance by traveling to Italy, India, and Bali for a year. Anyway, this book appealed to me because I'm currently feeling restless with life and feel like I want to do something new and big.  But I don't know what.  I'm only about half way through the book but I already have so many take aways.  Mainly to be nice to myself.  And that whatever I feel is ok.  And to be true to myself.  These are reminders that I need (continuously, it seems).

I know that I'm not the only one who feels the itch to do something big because Another Forty recently wrote a post on the same topic.  Mali also wrote a poignant post about what she called "The Next Big Thing" pointing out that it doesn't need to be something that is earth shattering.

The quote above is my life.  Well, the glorious mess part, not necessarily the embrace part.  But I'm working on it.  I actually swiped this picture from one of Liz Gilbert's Facebook posts (if you don't "like" her page, you should!).  She started the post by sharing that she had been "cheerfully fucking things up for the last 24 hours," something I could definitely relate to.  She then went on to point out that "....I am loved and I am worthy, and you are loved and you are worthy" which is a reminder that I desperately needed.

Moving to Italy (or India, or Bali) isn't an option for me like it was for Liz Gilbert (unless someone wants to volunteer to foot the bill, in which case I'd gladly accept), at least not right now, but I can take care of myself.  I can honor myself, my feelings, and my grief.  Right now I think this needs to be my next big thing.

*****

My pregnant sister announced her pregnancy on Facebook the other day with a cute little "our little pumpkin is due....blah blah blah" picture.  It took me by surprise because she previously said she wasn't going to announce it on Facebook.  No big deal, I can hide it so I don't have to see it.  But what I couldn't hide was people tagging me and asking what my reproductive plans were.  Since it was a completely inappropriate venue to go on a batshit crazy rant I just ignored the comments.  But they hurt.  By the time this baby is born I will have had at least one sister pregnant for 22 consecutive, and three babies born in slightly over one calendar year.  Frankly, I can't wait for it to be over.  Now I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that my sister that gave birth in June manages to not get pregnant before her tubal scheduled for early December (not getting pregnant has proven to be quite difficult for her).

Monday, October 12, 2015

Some of the ugly feelings resurface

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  I think it's absolutely wonderful that this topic is being discussed.  For so long things like miscarriage and pregnancy loss have been hush hush and taboo to talk about for far too long.  Everybody has either lost a pregnancy or infant or knows someone who has, yet no one talks about it.

The truth is that I'm having a hard time with Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  A really hard time.  Because it makes me feel like we didn't lose anything.  I was never pregnant.  We chose not to do IVF so we didn't lose any embryos.  We lost nothing.  At least by the conventional definition we didn't.

Yet it feels like we did.

And I know that we did.

Don't get me wrong, the thought of losing a pregnancy or an infant is more than I can bear, and knowing that people actually go through this breaks my heart.  Which is why writing about this, making Pregnancy and Infant Awareness Loss month about me feels so wrong.  I didn't want to write this post, but I couldn't not write it.  Denying my feelings (no matter how ugly they are) isn't helpful or productive.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

September reading and a few odds and ends

One of my 2015 goals was to read two (non work related) books per month and write about them on my blog.  Publicly stating my goal has made me push harder to achieve it.  I'm reading more than I have in years!  You can read about January-August here.

This month I only read one book.  Life got in the way of reading, I guess.  This month I read:

Two Graves by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
This book was in the thriller genre.  Apparently it's part of a series, but I didn't realize that until I pulled it up on Amazon to share the link here.  So needless to say you could read this book independent of the rest and not feel like you're missing part of the plot.  Speaking of the plot, it was a bit outlandish, but I liked it, even if it did drag at points (100 pages and one whole character could have been cut out of this book without losing anything).  I liked the writing style and if I didn't know there were two authors I wouldn't have guessed.  This book was just ok.  I'm glad I decided not to return it to the library before I finished it, because that did cross my mind.

So if my math is correct, this puts me at 19.75 books for the year.  I'm hopeful that I can hit 24 and my two per month average.  :)

*****

We went to a joint birthday party for my husband's niece and nephew yesterday.  At one point all of the women at the party were congregated in the kitchen area.  Every single woman there was a mother or grandmother except me.  And they were talking about all of the things that mothers and grandmothers talk about.  So in a house full of people I felt lonely and invisible because I didn't have anything to contribute (and I didn't really care to listen).

*****

I recently bought this pillow after about a week of waking up with a really sore neck that eventually spread to my back, shoulders, etc.  It's amazing!  First, it really supports my head and neck without feeling like my head is sinking into the pillow and my neck pain is gone.  Second, it is so cool, unlike previous memory foam pillows that I've had, which made me so hot (and this was before hot flashes/night sweats).  I spent more money on this pillow then I normally would spend on a pillow, but I can already say that it was worth every penny!  Dare I say, I'm even sleeping a bit better.

*****

I went shopping at a big box store today because we needed some things that aren't in the regular grocery and they had Christmas displays out.  It's not even Halloween yet, damn it.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A subtle sign of progress

I had one of those "I've come a long way" moments today.....

Every year my work has several flu shot clinics and I always get one because a) I've had the flu and it's miserable, b) the shots are free, c) I don't have time to be sick, and d) I work with college kids who are pretty much germ cesspools.

Anyway, I was filling out the paperwork and got to the "could you be pregnant" line where I could, for the first time in years, confidently check the "no" box knowing that there was no chance that I am pregnant, not even a little one.  And you know what?  I was ok.  In fact I was a bit relieved that I didn't need to have the awkward conversation with a nursing student that I might be pregnant but I probably wasn't.  A year ago it took everything I had to not burst into tears over this stupid question.

I've felt like I haven't been making much progress on my grief lately, like my wheels have been spinning.  I've been feeling restless with life.  But this was a sign of progress, subtle as it was, and I feel good about it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Fertility shaming?

Over the weekend a woman named Emily Bingham wrote a post on Facebook that has now been shared approximately a gazillion times.  In the post she shared a random ultrasound picture that she found on the internet to get people's attention and then followed it by a call for people to please stop asking women/couples family planning questions.

The post:
Hey everyone!!! Now that I got your attention with this RANDOM ULTRASOUND PHOTO I grabbed from a Google image search, this is just a friendly P.S.A. that people's reproductive and procreative plans and decisions are none of your business. NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Before you ask the young married couple that has been together for seemingly forever when they are finally gonna start a family ... before you ask the parents of an only-child toddler when a Little Brother or Little Sister will be in the works ... before you ask a single 30-something if/when s/he plans on having children because, you know, clock's ticking ... just stop. Please stop. You don't know who is struggling with infertility or grieving a miscarriage or dealing with health issues. You don't know who is having relationship problems or is under a lot of stress or the timing just isn't right. You don't know who is on the fence about having kids or having more kids. You don't know who has decided it's not for them right now, or not for them ever. You don't know how your seemingly innocent question might cause someone grief, pain, stress or frustration. Sure, for some people those questions may not cause any fraught feelings -- but I can tell you, from my own experiences and hearing about many friends' experiences -- it more than likely does.
Bottom line: Whether you are a wanna-be grandparent or a well-intentioned friend or family member or a nosy neighbor, it's absolutely none of your business. Ask someone what they're excited about right now. Ask them what the best part of their day was. If a person wants to let you in on something as personal as their plans to have or not have children, they will tell you. If you're curious, just sit back and wait and let them do so by their own choosing, if and when they are ready. (source)

I didn't hear anything about this until I was watching the morning news on Monday morning.  Since I was not fully caffeinated yet, I was only partially paying attention and comprehending what was being said.  But the when the lead in to the story teased it as a story about fertility shaming, that got my attention.

It wasn't until I read the entire post that I realized that the news tried to hook people in with a sensational title and that the post wasn't about fertility shaming at all.  Or at least not the way I define shaming.  I believe that in order for it to be shaming there needs to be intent to make someone feel bad.  For example, if someone says to me "that dress makes you look fat" there is an obvious intent to make me feel bad about myself.  I don't think that someone casually inquiring about one's family building plans is done with the intent to cause hurt or shame.  Can it cause hurt?  Absolutely!  Is it completely inappropriate?  You bet!

I've got the question more times than I choose to remember.  It all started as soon as we started to plan our wedding.  The question made me uncomfortable back then but it didn't hurt my feelings. As things progressed and we realized that there was a problem it started to hurt more and more and more until I could barely exit the conversation without melting into a puddle of tears.  But at no point did I ever feel like someone intended to make me feel like crap by asking that question?  Not once.

So I'm curious...what do other people think?  Do you think that asking someone about their family building plans is fertility shaming?  Or do you think it's highly inappropriate?




Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Brain dump

I have a few partially written posts in my drafts folder but right now my head feels like it's in the clouds right now and at this rate I'm never going to get them finished and published.  So I'll resort to bullet points.

Here's a bit about what's going on in my life:

  • I'm slowly adjusting to the idea that my sister is pregnant.  I'm happy for her, I really am, but a little bit of the sadness for me lingers.
  • My sister that had a baby in February called me this morning and asked me if I wanted to split the cost of a baby gift for pregnant sister.  This caught me off guard because SHE'S NOT DUE UNTIL FEBRUARY.  I refuse to even start to think about a gift until after Christmas.
  • All of my sisters are terrible drivers.  As such I always purchase a car seat for each of my nieces and nephews.  I spend hours researching safety features, product reviews, etc. and buy them the best.  My two sisters that already have kids just accepted this for what it is, have let me do my thing, and graciously accepted their car seats.  According to the sister I talked to this morning (sorry if all of my sisters are confusing) she wants a specific car seat in a specific fabric.  I feel a little bit like she's taken my job from me.  Of course I recognize that it's her right to pick out whatever she wants for her baby so I suppose this will have to be one of those times where I shove my feelings aside, put my big girl pants on, and just deal with it.
  • Hot flashes are kicking my ass.  They (thankfully) gave me a bit of a reprieve in August and early September, but they are back with a vengeance.  I don't even know how some women deal with these for years....I spent 10 minutes sobbing in the grocery store parking lot because I was so hot I couldn't deal.
  • I'm tired.  I'm not sleeping again.  And just when I finally get to sleep the night sweats start.  And that was before hubs decided to put the flannel sheets on the bed.
  • I feel like I'm walking around with my head in the clouds.  I feel like I'm so forgetful and I can't focus on anything.  Probably the sleep.  But I don't like feeling like this.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Rogue wave

Last week I shared a metaphor about grief involving waves, and how with time and healing the waves become less frequent and less intense.  What I didn't write about (because I didn't think of it at the time) was about rogue waves.  The NOAA defines rogue waves as "waves that are greater than twice the size of surrounding waves, are very unpredictable, and often come unexpectedly from directions other than the prevailing wind and waves."  If you're more of a visual person, see this example.

So why do I write about rogue waves now?  Because I got hit by one on Sunday.  My sister, the pregnant one, got a new haircut/dye job and sent me a picture.  Except the picture showed her stomach and the beginnings of being visibly pregnant (though, in her defense, this was not the intent of the picture).  Honestly if you didn't know her and didn't know she was pregnant, you probably wouldn't guess.  But I know.  I saw.  I noticed.  And it hurt.

Not my proudest moment, but I'll admit that I threw the phone across the room and proceeded to have an ugly cry.  The picture took me by surprise but so did the intensity of the feelings.  Now, three days later, the anger has faded, but the left out-ness hasn't faded at all.  Silly as it sounds I'm already dreading the holidays.  I thought last year would be the hardest.  Maybe not.

So that's where I'm at.  Two steps forward, one step back.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

I wish it wasn't this hard

On Facebook, someone recently shared the link to an article titled "Old Man's Advice To Grieving Woman Goes Viral."  I read it because it was about grief and that particular topic is relevant to me at this point of my life.  Apparently a young woman made a post on Reddit following the death of her friend and seeking advice on grief.  Another Reddit member who calls himself an "old man" wrote a beautiful response to the young woman, and even though it was over four years ago, it is just now going viral.

In part, the "old man" wrote:
As for grief, you'll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you're drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it's some physical thing. Maybe it's a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it's a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don't even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you'll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what's going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything...and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life. 
Somewhere down the line, and it's different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O'Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you'll come out. 
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don't really want them to. But you learn that you'll survive them. And other waves will come. And you'll survive them too.
I thought about his response in the context of infertility and grieving the loss of my children (even though for me they were just a dream) and it is so true.  I can say that the metaphor of waves is so appropriate.  In the beginning the waves were so high and so close together that I really didn't know if I'd make it out on the other side.  With time the waves decreased in both intensity and I've learned to identify when they are likely to come and how to survive them.

Right now I'm in a phase where I'm getting battered by a few waves.  Since I found out that my third sister is pregnant I've been having a pretty tough time.  I can't really explain it.  It's not the breakdown/ugly cry variety of a tough time, more the variety where I feel like a black cloud is following me around.  I thought the first would be the hardest.  Then came the second.  And now the third.  I think that maybe it's because I'm the last one.  Because before she was pregnant at least I wasn't the only one who didn't have kids.  But now I'm alone.  I'm not angry.  I knew this was going to happen at some point.  But even though it was expected, it's still hitting hard.  The weight of the unfairness is heavy.  I feel vulnerable.  With as much as I'm trying hard not to, I'm slipping into a pity party and I don't like it one bit.  I know this is normal.  I've been through it before.  I'll survive.

Grief is a fickle thing.  I need to acknowledge my feelings and give myself permission to feel them to get through this.  I wish it wasn't this hard.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A few alternatives

I passed about 30 of these signs the other day....
The other day I was on my way home from work when I passed a sign just like this one.  Then I passed about 30 more.  These signs lined a road that led to an elementary school that many students walk to on a daily basis.  I'm not opposed to the occasional reminder that encourages safer driving, but these signs seemed a bit over the top to me.  Particularly a whole street lined with them.

So I thought up a few alternatives that could be printed on signs and placed on roads.  All are statements that I feel are more inclusive.  Here are a few:

  • Drive safe!
  • Watch out for pedestrians! 
  • Slow down! 
  • Pay attention!
  • Yield to pedestrians!
  • Safety first!
  • Don't drive like an asshole!
Feel free to add a more suggestions in the comments!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

July/August reading

One of my 2015 goals was to read at least two books per month and to write about it on my blog.  I decided that all of the books that I read would be just for fun, not job related reading.  I've done a pretty decent job keeping up with my goal.  From January-June I read 14.75 books (links here).  Unfortunately  I forgot to write my monthly post about my July reading until August was nearly over so I decided to save it and combine my July and August reading.  So without further ado, here are the books I read in July and August.

Quinn by Iris Johansen
This was a mystery novel that is part of a trilogy, I think, and not the first book in the trilogy.  The writing wasn't superb, I felt like most of the story was just fluff and was stringing me along.  It also ended in a cliffhanger, which I didn't like, but my disgust wasn't strong enough to read the other books.  Maybe I would have liked this book more had I read the first book in the trilogy first?  I don't think so.  This book was just meh.  I didn't hate it but I didn't love it.

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes
Yep, another JoJo Moyes book.  I really love her writing.  Just enough to suck me in, but an easy enough read that I can polish it off in a night or two.  One of my favorite parts about her writing is that she tells the story from the perspective of several different characters which not a lot of authors manage do do as seamlessly.  If you want a quick, easy, feel good read, pick this book up.  Or any JoJo Moyes book, for that matter.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
I read this book at Klara's recommendation.  Well, she read the second book in the series, but I wanted to start with the first (see above for the pitfalls of not starting with the first).  Robert Galbraith is one of JK Rowling's pen names so I had high expectations.  It couldn't be more different than Harry Potter, but I wasn't disappointed at all.  I loved this book.  Intelligent writing.  Excellent plot.  I highly recommend this book and I can't wait to read the next in the series!

Marcelo In The Real World by Francisco X. Stork
This book is in the adolescent literature genre and is written from the perspective of a young man with Aspergers Syndrome.  I read it because a friend had high praise for the book and loaned it to me.  Plus I have an interest in the Autism Spectrum, so it was interesting to read a book from the first person perspective.  I thought it was a pretty good book.  It's probably not for everybody, unless you have an interest in adolescent lit or Autism, but it was good nonetheless.

So I believe this brings me to 18.75 books for the year.  I might have come up a bit short a few months so far, but I think I'll definitely hit 24 books for the year and have my two book per month average!  

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hard is hard

The response to my last blog post has been overwhelming.  Both the comments as well as personal emails seem to indicate that I struck a nerve.  A piece like that has been bouncing around my head for a long time and not being chosen for the article (while expected) was the catalyst that I needed.

The funny thing is that I almost didn't start this blog, for exactly some of the reasons I talked about in my last post.  I was worried that I wouldn't be taken seriously because we didn't try every single possible thing to get pregnant.  I didn't know if I would be accepted.  I wasn't sure that people would take me seriously.  I worried that people would read that my husband and I decided against fertility treatments and write me off.

My fears weren't exactly unfounded either.  You see, right around the time when it was becoming pretty obvious that getting pregnant was going to take longer than we thought it would, I joined a large online TTC forum.  It took a few months but I found my niche and fell into a small(ish) group of really supportive women.  They kept me sane during the hard parts of TTC.  They supported me through testing and diagnosis.  But when they found out that we weren't going to do IVF, many turned their backs on me.  Then when we stopped TTC they just didn't understand how we could do that. When I got the IUD (mind you, for medical reasons, my body did a just fine job preventing pregnancy without assistance) the comments ranged from "you'll change your mind" to "I can't believe you're giving up."  My personal favorite was "you're the worst nightmare of someone who is still TTC."  I haven't been on that forum in probably six months.

But as it turns out, I had nothing to worry about.  This community accepted me for who I was without condition or hesitation.  It's always seemed like a natural fit.  This community understood that I wanted kids, that it didn't work out for me, and that I was having a hard time with it.  My "rap sheet" wasn't a prerequisite for acceptance.  Despite this unequivocal acceptance I still sort of felt out of place.  I was never pregnant.  I never experienced the loss of a child.  I never went through fertility treatments.  I felt like my story wasn't important because I hadn't lost as much as others.  This was 100% me.  Nobody made me feel this way, I completely brought it on myself.  Maybe this is a me thing or maybe other women do this too, constantly comparing themselves to others, with the end result usually being feeling bad about myself.

Admittedly I am stubborn and sometimes rather than just accepting what is, I need a swift kick in the ass to really understand something.  That swift kick in the ass came during one of my insomnia episodes when I read one of Justine's posts at Ever Upward (that I'm too lazy to go and find right now and properly link it) where she pointed out that hard is hard.  That one person's hard isn't any more or less hard than another person's hard.  It's just hard.  All of a sudden it made sense.  Comparing my hard to another's hard would never lead to anything good.  It was a lightbulb moment.

In Justine's post she gave the link a TEDx talk given by Ash Beckham where she touches on the topic of "hard is hard."  If you have 10 free minutes and you haven't already seen it, click on the link, you'll thank me later.  There are so many take aways from it.

Ash said:
There is no harder, there is just hard.  We need to stop ranking our hard against everyone else's hard to make us feel better or worse about our closest and just commiserate on the fact that we all have hard.
I think that pretty much says it all.

As I'm nearing the conclusion of this post I realize that it probably should have come before the last post.  And both of these posts probably would have been a great lead up to my one year blogaversary post.  But oh well.  I've swam against the current for my whole life so why would this be any different?  It's just who I am as a person. :)

Anyway, thank you all for welcoming me and accepting me without hesitation, even when I couldn't quite accept my own hard.  I think that I finally understand why you did.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

My story is important too

Recently I was introduced to a reporter for a nationally published women's magazine who is planning to write a story on women who battled infertility but end their journey without children. She wanted to profile a few women in her story and was reaching out to a few people.  I'll be honest, I was scared shitless when I sent her the small blurb about our story and a couple of pictures of myself because, let's face it, if chosen I would go from being relatively anonymous in an obscure corner of the blogosphere to having my name and possibly picture published in a national women's magazine.  But I thought to myself "announcing" my infertility in a national publication would be pretty badass.

The reporter was very upfront that she was gathering blurbs from multiple women and then she planned to take everything to her editor and decide how to proceed from there and that sending her a short blurb was by no means a guarantee that my story would be published.  I knew from the beginning that my story was a long shot to be published. I wasn't chosen to be profiled.  To be clear, I'm not upset or hurt, not even a little bit.  And I'm not surprised.   Lets face it, the goal of a women's magazine is to sell issues, and sensational headlines sell magazines.  Mine headline isn't sensational at all.  In fact, "Infertile Woman Doesn't Pursue Treatment But Still Grieves That She Will Never Have Children" is probably a headline better suited for The Onion than a women's magazine.

Catchy headline or not, I think my story is important to share.  I think that there are a whole lot of women (couples) that fall into the same category as me (and my husband), couples who are infertile but don't or can't seek treatment.  For us there wasn't any one particular reason that we didn't do IVF.  It just felt like the right decision for us.  We went as far as we were willing to go and were willing to accept any consequences as a result of our decision.  We were on the same page from the start.  There wasn't even much discussion.  We just knew it wasn't for us.  This isn't to say it wasn't hard because it was gut wrenching.

Other couples have religious objections to IVF.  Catholicism comes immediately to mind.  Others have ethical issues with IVF.  What to do with any frozen embryos is a question that many are faced with.  Gender screening.  Genetic testing. It's a whole can of worms.  There are no easy answers and there are no universally correct answers.  The right answer is what is right for the couple.

For many couples, the cost of IVF is insurmountable.  Not everybody of reproductive age has a spare $15-20 grand laying around to pay for a medical treatment that, best case, has a 70% failure rate.  In fact I would guess that many people don't have that much laying around without tapping into home equity or retirement.  I'll never forget after we received our infertility diagnosis we were ushered into a room to talk to the IVF nurse and then to another room to talk with the financial manager (notice how I said ushered, at no point were we asked if we wanted to talk to these people, but we were reeling from the news we'd just received and couldn't say no).  The finance manager was talking about paying for IVF and gave us a brochure about financing IVF through a specific company.  Since my sarcasm often comes out at times such as these I remember saying something to the effect of "yeah, that's probably at a 25% interest rate too" to which the finance manager replied "actually I think it's only around 22%."  Now I'm no economist or accountant but that sure seems like predatory lending to me.

But the point is that there are a lot of people who don't or can't pursue advanced fertility treatments.  It doesn't mean that the couple didn't try hard enough.  It doesn't mean that they didn't want it bad enough.  It doesn't mean that it was God's will.  Or that they wouldn't have made great parents.  They are good enough.  They did want it enough.  They would have been awesome parents.  And God (if such a being actually exists) doesn't have a damn thing to do with fertility (or infertility).

At the end of the day I'm grateful to have been given the opportunity to correspond with the reporter.  Doing so took me far out of my comfort zone.  But you know what?  The sky didn't fall.  The training wheels came off of the bike and I didn't wreck.  I grew.  I don't know what this means going forward. On one hand I feel like maybe I have found my voice (or at least my confidence) but on the other hand I don't think I'm ready for an infertility coming out party.  But what I know for certain is that my story is important too.

Monday, August 24, 2015

One year blogaversary

Cheesy, but seems to fit.
Photo Credit: my Facebook newsfeed
I started this blog one year ago today, mainly because I had a lot of "stuff" that I needed to get off of my chest.  Blogging appealed to me for two main reasons: first, there seemed to be a small but extremely supportive community; and second because of accountability-I knew that I couldn't hide behind my grief, fear, anxiety, whatever, if I had a blog.

A year later I can confirm that, while still small, this community is so very supportive and has welcomed me with open arms.  A year later I can also confirm that knowing that people read my words has been a source of accountability, because it forces me to deal with the tough stuff.

When I started this blog, I did it for me.  I figured that a few people might stumble across it eventually, but never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I would get 12,836 page views from all over the world.  I never dreamt that I would get 100, or 1000, or 10,000.  This blows my mind.

My writing isn't the greatest and most of my posts have multiple typos, but this is partially by design. For the most part I sit and write and punch "publish" without much editing because sometimes I second guess myself.  I worry if people will judge me or think I'm crazy or whatever.  So before I lose the courage, I post.  It's what I need to do right now.  Maybe at some point I'll get past this, and if not, that's ok.

I'm really terrible with this sentimental stuff.  Writing it out has been so difficult but so cathartic.  I've grown so much in those 92 posts.  All 624 comments have been read and most responded to.  It means so much to know that people cared about me enough to read my posts and make a comment.  I do not have words to adequately express my gratitude.

Since starting this blog, my husband and I survived our first holiday season knowing that we'd never have our own kids and it turned out to be wonderful, I survived the pregnancies of two sisters and the births of two nieces, I suffered a painful casualty of infertility when I lost a really good friend, I made the impossible decision to get an IUD, I survived Mothers' Day and Father's Day, I turned another year older and celebrated my first birthday where I new for sure there wouldn't be a pregnancy or baby by my next birthday, and so many things in between.

I sense that there's going to be a few rough months ahead with my sister's recent pregnancy announcement so I will really need this space.  I'm so much stronger and in a better place than I was this time last year, and this is in no small part to every person who reads this blog.




Friday, August 21, 2015

And then there was me

I found out one sister was pregnant last summer.  My niece was born in early February.

I found out another sister was pregnant last fall.  My niece was born in early June.

I found out today that my third sister is pregnant.  Due in February.  It wasn't unexpected.  I'm happy for her (them).  It wasn't easy for them to conceive.  It took two years and several IUIs.

Thankfully I do not have any more sisters (or brothers).

I'm taking it hard.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Brain dump

There are so many things I want to write about right now but spare time evades me so I will just do a brain dump, complete with bullet points.

  • Over the weekend I read New York Times article titled A Grief So Deep It Won't Die (article link).  The title alone attracted me to the article because, lets face it, I (and presumably most of the readers of this blog) have a bit of experience with grief.  As it turns out, the article was about Complicated Grief.  I've heard the descriptor used in this community and I assumed that someone in our community came up with this term and really it did seem to fit because our grief is so complicated and so unlike anything that most people will ever experience.  I didn't feel the need to do anymore research before the weekend when I read the article but as it turns out this syndrome first began to be described in the 1990s and is actually a pretty well researched.  I actually had a longer post planned on this topic, and maybe I'll still write it, but I wanted to post the article because I can't see any extra time coming my way for a couple of weeks.
  • My dog had to get six stitches in his ear last week.  Even though he had to be put under anesthesia to get the stitches, he was completely unbothered by the whole thing.  I wish I had his attitude.
  • We had to drop a substantial sum of money at the mechanic to fix my car.  I very much would have preferred to spend that money on something more fun (e.g., a vacation).
  • Each year the university that I work at has a ceremony to welcome the incoming freshman before the start of the new semester, and that ceremony was yesterday.  Part of me was struck by the fact that I'll have a chance to have direct contact with and potentially impact the lives of about 10% of the matriculating class, but the rest of me was hit by the realization that I'll never get to drop my child of at college.  Ouch.
  • I realized that I forgot to do my July reading post so I'm going to wait until the end of August and do a combined July/August reading post.  :)
  • My one year blogoversary is rapidly approaching.  Hard to believe it's been (almost) a year!  
  • Fight Song by Rachel Platten has been a really meaningful song to me lately.  The video is quite cheesy, but I love the song!  Have a listen: 


I hope you are having a fabulous week!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Reserved parking?

Are you freaking kidding me?  I've heard of these spots but have never seen one before today.  I laughed so hard at the absurdity of this sign.  I mean really.  Who thinks these things up?

I swear to god that if this spot is ever open at a time when I happen to be at the mall I will park in it as a small act of civil disobedience.  I dare someone to question me.


As seen at my local shopping mall.