Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A couple of difficult days

Sometimes the weight of my grief feels unbearable.  The past several days have been really difficult.  Tears have been just under the surface and I've been in the much dreaded state of feeling very vulnerable.

I wrote about the hair salon in my last post.  I handled it the best way that I could on that particular day and felt good about it.

But sometimes triggers take me completely by surprise.  On Sunday I made the dreaded trip to the grocery store (hubs and I both HATE going to the grocery store).  I went to one of the big box stores that carries everything you need and a million things you don't because we needed a few things that aren't carried in a traditional grocery store.  I got the groceries that we needed and then made my way to the other side of the store where the "stuff" is so I could grab a few non-grocery things.  And then it happened.  I walked by the Easter baskets.  They hit me like a ton of bricks.  I'm never going to have a child to fill an easter basket for.  I quickly grabbed what I needed and made my way to the checkout which, for once, mercifully, was a really short line.  I almost made it to my car before I could not hold back my tears any longer.  Twenty minutes later, after one really ugly cry, I was in good enough shape to drive home.

And then sometimes people are just assholes.  Yesterday I passed a colleague that I only see occasionally in the hallway.  We chatted for a few minutes about work related things before she drops this gem: "So when are you due?!"  I'm sure that the look on my face adequately expressed some combination of shock/anger/hurt/confusion.  I managed to mutter "I'm not pregnant."  Rather than recognizing her misstep and changing the conversation to anything else, she laughed and said "Oh, that shirt makes you look pregnant."  I didn't even try to conceal the tears that had welled up in my eyes as I turned and walked away from her.  Thankfully I have my own office so I was able to hide and recompose myself (translation: have another ugly cry) as well as convince myself that I didn't have time to walk down to Macy's and buy a new shirt and be back in time for a meeting.  So I guess I will never wear that shirt again.  Which is unfortunate since I really liked that shirt.  I just don't get people sometimes.  Even pre-infertility I would have never made an assumption about someone being pregnant.

A lot of the time I feel ok.  But sometimes life is just plain difficult.  I hate infertility.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hair salon conversations

I got my hair cut yesterday.  I've been growing it out for the better part of a year because hubs begged me to do it (what is it with men and long hair?).  Well on Friday I'd had enough of it and made the executive decision that I was getting it cut off on Saturday.  We've lived in this city for nearly three years and I've yet to find a hairdresser that I like enough to go back to, plus I'm cheap and tend to be impulsive with my hair (translation: I don't usually schedule appointments in advance), so that makes finding a hair dresser hard, so I usually end up in one of the places that takes walk in appointments.  That's where I end up yesterday.

I'm a simple girl and usually keep my hair somewhere between chin length and shoulder length with a few layers and shaped around my face.  It's quick to fix with a brush and blow dryer but still goes into a pony tail for working out.  It's a quick, easy cut and pretty much any hairdresser can do a reasonable job at it.  I got about five inches cut off, to just above the shoulder.

I think that one of the things that they teach in beauty school is to make conversation with your clients.  So she did.  I'll give you one guess what the first question out of her mouth was.  "Do you have kids."  I quickly replied with a polite but short "nope." and hoped that line of questioning wouldn't continue.  Had it ended there I wouldn't have really minded.  I mean, the question was uncomfortable, but she was just trying to make conversation with a person she's never met and I am a woman of child bearing age.  But she followed up with "has your family been pressuring you and your husband to have kids?"  I decided to end the conversation once and for all by saying "our families do not dictate what happens in our bedroom."  And the conversation moved on to a different topic.  I could have told her that we can't have kids.  I could have told her that we tried really hard for a long time to have kids and it didn't work.  I could have given her a short lecture on human reproduction.  I could have said something, anything about infertility.  But I didn't.  Why?  Because I don't want anyone's pity.  Yes, infertility sucks.  No, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.  But I also shouldn't feel the need to explain my entire reproductive history to a complete stranger in a hair salon.

I don't know why I responded the way I did.  Maybe her follow-up question took me a bit by surprise?  I was expecting "why?" and not something about what our families think.  If I'm completely truthful I wasn't feeling particularly strong yesterday and I just didn't want to think of or  talk about infertility.  I just wanted to be a normal woman enjoying an hour in the salon without being reminded of what I don't have.

I really like what she did with my hair, with the exception of that extremely awkward 60 seconds of conversation.  So maybe I'll go back to her again in a few weeks.  I've been wanting to try out highlights.  We'll see.


I've kicked my workouts up a notch recently.  I decided that having babies was completely out of my control but having flat abs is not.  So I'm working hard and already seeing results.  Is this vain?  Maybe.  Probably.  Will I ever have a six pack?  Unlikely.  Lets be honest, I like to drink wine and eat good food too much for that.  But it's fun to have a goal to work towards.  And it's fun to look in the mirror and like what I see.


Indiana's "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (that I mentioned in my last postwas signed by the governor.  A very sad day indeed.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Stitches, sleep, "synthetic babies," religious freedom, and an impromptu girls night out

I got a random text from a friend/former colleague on Saturday asking if I wanted to go to a basketball game (my city was one of the host sites for the NCAA men's college basketball tournament).  Apparently their sitter cancelled so her husband volunteered to stay home with the baby so she could go.  She asked me to go because I love pretty much all sports like she does.  She also told me that she wanted to go with someone who didn't talk about kids/babies all the time.  She confided that since she had the baby she feels like it's hard to have a conversation with another woman that doesn't revolve around babies.  I actually know that feeling quite well.

It seemed like she really wanted to confide in someone about how much her life has changed since baby.  It seemed to me that she is having a difficult time transitioning from only being responsible for herself (and to a lesser extent her husband) to being responsible for a living, breathing tiny human.  She wasn't complaining at all, she was just being real, she definitely didn't make me feel like like I was less than, but it was still hard for me.  Because even though she's struggling to adjust to this new phase of her life she still gets the chance to do it.  I never will.

Thankfully I was feeling strong that day so was able to handle the conversation without a meltdown, but on a different day I may not have fared as well.

But it was sort of nice to be sought out because I don't have kids.


Yesterday morning I got to make a trip to my friendly local urgent care facility  The reason?  I had a gash in my hand that wouldn't stop bleeding (for like seven hours).  How did I get this gash?  Well, I took my dog out for his last potty of the night and stood in the doorway while he did his business.  Well the idiot neighborhood stray cat decided to run out from under a parked car, my dog saw it and decided to give chase, the leash was jerked so hard that it smashed my hand into the wood frame of the door.  The result was a a good chunk of my right middle finger knuckle peeled back and exposed some of the tendon.  Luckily they were able to use durabond (super glue like stuff) to seal the wound since the skin was too fragile to do traditional stitches.  Even more lucky, I didn't need a tetanus shot! And it doesn't hurt at all!


Dolce and Gabana recently made some (disheartening) comments about children conceived via IVF, calling these children "synthetic babies."  This led to swift criticism and boycotts of the D&G brand from people like Elton John, Ellen DeGeneres, Madonna, Ricky Martin, etc.  My take is that the comments were terrible and at their core devalue human life.  Of course people have the right to believe and say whatever they want, but with that freedom comes responsibility for any unintended consequences (I believe that some variation of this can be attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt but I'm too lazy to look it up).  I can't say that I'll boycott D&G because you can't boycott a brand that you have no interest in anyway, but I will stand with anyone who chooses to do so.  These kinds of comments are not ok!


Completely unrelated to infertility:  The Indiana House of Representatives passed the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act" today.  A while back their Senate passed a similar bill.  The governor is expected to sign the bill and it will become law.  If it becomes law it will make it legal for business owners to discriminate against customers solely based on their sexual orientation.   I support any person subscribing to whatever religious beliefs that they want to, but I do not support anyone using their beliefs (religious or otherwise) as an excuse to discriminate against other human beings.  Plus, the last time I checked, a dollar spent by a gay citizen is worth the same amount as a dollar spent by a straight citizen.  This has potential to set a very disastrous precedent, in my opinion.


I have been sleeping really, really well lately.  I rarely get one good night of sleep.  I almost never get two good nights in a row.  But five days?  I don't know if I've ever slept that well for that many consecutive days in my life.  I really hope this doesn't end anytime soon!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I chose me

Life is full of decisions.  Most decisions are so inconsequential that we barely put thought into them.  Like what to wear on a given day.  Or what to have for dinner.  Other decisions take a little bit more thought.  Like which car to buy or where to go on vacation.  Some decisions have a long-term impact on your life.  Like which house to buy or retirement planning.  But most of these things, even the big decisions, aren't particularly emotional.  But there are some decisions that can rock you to your core.  I made one of those decisions recently.

Our infertility journey has taken a much shorter road than most, both in terms of length of time and in terms of medical interventions.  We started trying to have a baby in 2010 a couple of months before our wedding.  The first two years we weren't particularly worried.  We figured it would take time and we were busy with grad school (me) and working full time (both of us).  In year three we stepped it up a notch, in year four we went through infertility testing and diagnosis, and at the dawn of year five we decided to stop the madness.

But stopping the madness wasn't quite so easy for us.  You see, even though we began the process of mentally moving on and reshaping our lives to one without children, there was still a small chance that I could get pregnant.  There were no longer ovulation tests or timed intercourse, but there were also no preventative measures taken.  Admittedly the chance was really, really small (think lightening strike), but there was still a chance.  Having a chance leads to hope, and hope is a vile bitch.  I wanted to move on but there was that little voice in the back of my mind constantly whispering that it might happen.

The whispering was always there but for the most part I could ignore it.  I'm pretty decent with statistics, and the logical part of my brain understood that the chances of me getting pregnant were slightly better than non existent.  But what I couldn't ignore was my periods.  I've always had terrible periods, but in the last 18 months or so they've kicked it up a notch to what I would describe has horrific and less predictable to top it off.  Throw in some hot flashes, insomnia, and other things I won't put into print and life has been pretty great (sarcasm intended).

I couldn't deal with it anymore.  I couldn't deal with cramps that prescription pain pills couldn't take the edge off of.  I couldn't deal with the heavy bleeding.  I decided that I shouldn't have to pack a spare set of clothes in my work bag for "just in case."  I went to my annual gyn appointment in early February, on the heels of a particularly horrific period to discuss options.  I was desperate.  She recommended getting an IUD that would release a small amount of hormone directly into my uterus and would control the pain and bleeding.

But it wasn't that easy.  Of course I knew that in all likelihood getting the IUD would make my periods (and life) so much better but the flip side of that coin was the prospect of eliminating the really small chance of getting pregnant that I did have.  I took time to think about it and hubs and I talked about it a lot.  And then my next period hit.  Realistically it probably warranted a trip to the emergency room, but there was no way I could walk down the stairs and out of the house to the car so I just dealt with it.  The decision was made.  I called my insurance company to verify coverage and then scheduled the appointment.  The appointment was yesterday.

I felt like I had two crappy choices.  I could continue to deal with the periods and have a really small chance of getting pregnant.  Or I could get the IUD and have much better periods but also have no chance of getting pregnant.  This decision really did rock me to my core.  It felt like giving up.  It felt like admitting defeat.  In the end I had to choose me.  I chose my quality of life.  But I also chose to formally let go of a dream, and that was no small thing.

I (we) began the process of moving past infertility to happiness with a life without children for the better part of eight months now, but now that there is absolutely no chance that I can get pregnant I feel like the true healing can begin.  So today is the first day of the rest of my life.  I am excited about that.

Since I can't write a post without a small bit of humor, I offer you this:  Yesterday, before they inserted the IUD, they made me take a pregnancy test (spoiler alert: it was negative).  I expected that I would have to do this, but what I thought was funny was that the nurse, who lacked in personality and general bedside manner, instructed me on how to pee in the cup.  I was like "ummm I've taken enough pregnancy (and ovulation) tests that I mastered the art of peeing into a small cup years ago."  As she let the test develop she made the comment "you never know, this might be a surprise."  Since I was already a bit on edge emotionally and had already decided that I didn't like her my snarkiness came out a little bit and I said "ovarian asshattery aside, there is no chance that I am pregnant."  To which she responded "how can you be so sure?"  To which I responded "math."  I thought this was funny because even a nurse at a large gyn practice didn't know it was physically impossible to be pregnant on the 12th day of your cycle (or at least not pregnant enough for it to show on a test).  Which further proves my assumption that I know more about getting pregnant then most people who are parents.

Monday, March 16, 2015

How penguins made me momentarily glad to not have children

A couple of weeks ago hubs and I went to our local zoo to see a penguin walk.  On the weekends over the winter, weather permitting, the zoo lets the penguins outside to walk around.  On Saturday the sun was shining and it was beautiful (and above zero degrees for the first time in over a week) so I convinced hubs to go and see the penguins.  We ended up getting there a little bit early and got to talking to this other couple who had been to the penguin walk before so they knew the best place to stand.  And the woman warned us that we'd have to hold our ground because people with strollers would try to push us out of the way.

Anyway, the penguins came out and ran around and it was hilarious and fascinating and we enjoyed it a lot.  Then a two penguins decided to have a "romantic moment" on full display for everyone to see.  As I watched so many parents scrambling to either explain what was going on to their kids or to shield their eyes from it, I was momentarily thankful to not have children and not have to worry about how I would address this situation.  Though having grown up on a farm I received a pretty early education on how babies are made and probably would have done a much better job explaining it then the parents did.

The Happy Couple
Klara and Loribeth recently shared the stories of why they chose not not to adopt.  You can read their stories here and here.  I love that there are so many women bravely sharing their stories.

Monday, March 9, 2015

I survived

I met my new niece last weekend.  She's one month old. Hubs and I both had a hard time with my sister's pregnancy and our new niece's birth.  Thankfully the weather cooperated (for once) and gave us a snow storm every weekend from the time she was born until this past weekend giving us a convenient and true excuse to not make the three hour trip before we were ready.  With no crappy weather in sight and me on spring break we were out of excuses and scheduled the obligatory visit for this past weekend.

Meeting the baby was wonderful.  She's cute and healthy and tiny and perfect.  And for as much of an (unintentional) jerk as my sister was during her pregnancy she seems to be a very relaxed mom and actually didn't say or do anything that hurt my feelings, so that was nice.

Saturday was also my mom's birthday so my youngest sister (the pregnant sister) organized a small party for her at my parent's house.  I thought that it was going to be a small gathering for family but it turned out to be quite a few of her friends too.  I learned that my mom has told pretty much everybody she knows about our infertility issues, despite me asking her to keep it between the two of us.*  So not only did I get the pleasure of being around a whole bunch of women, all mothers, who talked about all the fun things that this particular demographic talks about when they get together, but I also got to feel like all eyes were on me.  Fun times.

The non-highlight of the weekend came when my grandma said to me "you really should give her to someone who knows what they are doing" when I was holding the baby and she woke up and started to squeak.  That was perhaps the most hurtful thing that anyone has ever said to me.  I mean, she cried for like three seconds.  Last time I checked that's pretty much what babies do.  I suspect that she just wanted to hold the baby but there are much better ways to go about asking to do so.  It took everything I had in me to not cry, go batshit crazy on her, or some combination of the two.  I took my dog on a hike and my grandparents were gone when I returned.  I honestly don't know if I'll ever speak to her again.

I was able to pull on my big girl pants, slap a smile on my face, and survive the weekend.  A few good memories were made but the majority of the weekend was just plain hard.  It's times like this when I realize that I may not be as far along in the healing process as I thought that I was.  Right now I feel pretty vulnerable and am still processing the weekend.  I thought I was doing so well.  I guess not.  And to think that I get to do this all over again in June.  Yay.

*To clarify, I do not necessarily mind that people know, I just feel like it wasn't my mom's place to tell anyone since I explicitly asked her not to.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

February reading

One of my goals for 2015 was to read at least two books (for pleasure) every month.  I plan to create a monthly post to talk about the books that I read to help keep myself accountable.  If you are interested you can see my January reading here.

In the Light of What We Know by Zia Hadir Rahman 
I had high expectations for this book.  It received several high profile positive reviews (which I have not read) and it was recommended by the librarian when I checked out the book.  It's quite an undertaking at nearly 500 pages, and I considered abandoning reading it at more than a few points (but once I start a book I have to finish it).  It's definitely not a page turner.  Usually I'm a pretty fast reader but this book took me nearly three weeks to finish.  The writing is impeccable but the plot wasn't really discernible.  Classism?  Relationships?  Betrayal?  Religion?  Economics?  All of the above?  I didn't love the book but I won't say that I hated it either.  And I'm glad that I powered through and finished it.  So my recommendation for this book-check it out from the library so you can decide whether or not you like it without spending money.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
This book.....where do I even start.  I picked this book up at the library because I thought it looked interesting.  Yes, I am one of those people who picks out a book based on interesting cover art.  I'll be upfront and say that I did not finish this book and will not finish it.  This is only the second book in my life that I have not finished (The Hobbit is the other).  The book does have a lot of good.  The author is a masterful story teller.  You really do feel like you're post World War I London.  I was sucked in to the book and it was really a page turner (until it wasn't).  Save for one not so little thing, I think that this could have been one of my favorite recent reads.  But I couldn't finish it.  Given the audience of my blog, I feel like I should give the following warnings (spoiler alert).  First, the book does have one part that deals with a full term pregnancy loss.  I think the author does a good job addressing this in a respectful and accurate way.  I didn't take issue with this part but I feel like it's important for people to know it's there.  Second, and this is the part where I stopped reading, one of the main characters, Lilian, finds out she's pregnant and decides to take some pills to induce an abortion.  I read on for a few pages hoping that she would change her mind, but she does not, and I can only assume that the author goes on to describe it with the same detail as the rest of the book.  I stopped reading at this point.  I just couldn't continue.  (I feel the need to point out that I am firmly pro-choice-I don't like abortion and would never chose to do it myself, but I think it is a necessary healthcare option that should be available to women-I just don't want to read about it.)  So if not for that one little part this could have been a great book.  So read it if you want but know that there may be triggers.

And finally, allow me to geek out on you a bit.....

Bitch Planet (Issues 1-3) by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro
Yes this is a comic book series, and an excellent one at that!  The story is set in a dystopian reality where women who are deemed to be non-compliant are sent to a prison on a different planet (Bitch Planet).  Non-compliance can be anything from being overweight to disobeying your husband to committing murder.  It's an excellent look at how women in society are exploited and devalued.  Honestly it makes my inner feminist and social justice advocate go "Hell yes!" De Landro's art isn't my favorite but DeConnick's story has me roped in and I can't wait for the next 24 issues to come out!  Even if you're not the comic book type I can't recommend Bitch Planet highly enough!  I think everyone should run to their local comic book store and pick up a copy of the first issue.  Or buy it on iBooks or Amazon if you prefer.  :)

So I did fall a little bit short of my two book goal this month, but I'm going to try really hard to make up for it in March!