Friday, December 30, 2016

I am not 20 anymore

I mean obviously.  But 20 doesn't feel like 15 years ago.  At least not in my brain.

What brought on this realization?  Hubs and I joined a gym earlier this week.

At 35 I do not have the body, stamina, muscles, endurance, drive, etc. of my 20 year-old collegiate soccer player self.

I know joining a gym sounds cliché with it being (almost) a new year, but it's something that we'd been tossing around for a while, so we finally bit the bullet and did it.

I've worked out three times now.  I can barely lift my arms and I feel muscles that I forgot I had. Oddly enough, I'm loving it.

I feel 35 though.  Or maybe 85.

The soreness will be worth it once I begin to see progress.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Gray space

For a few years, during the hardest part of infertility and after, I couldn't enjoy kids.  It was just too painful.  Of course I slapped a smile on my face and pretended to enjoy myself, but really it was a lie. But that seems to be changing.

My middle niece, my youngest sister's middle daughter, is special to me.  She's nearly four now.  I was there when she was born.  I held her before either of her parents.  She's a really cool kid.  She's loud, busy, adventurous, uncoordinated, and sharp as a tack.  She's always been drawn to me.

Not surprisingly she was a source of great pain too.  An ever present reminder of everything we didn't (and later found out that we couldn't) have.  She was conceived right around the time I was starting to worry that having a baby wouldn't be as easy as tossing birth control.

When we did Christmas with my family I got to spend a lot of time with this particular niece.  She and I are both early risers.  On our last morning there, I was up before anyone else in the house.  She must have heard me, so she got up too.  We made breakfast together, apple pie and toasted cheese sandwiches, her choice*.   After breakfast we cuddled up in the recliner and read a few books together.  We spent at least an hour together before anyone else woke up.

I absolutely cherished this experience.  It felt so special to me, and I think to her too.  But it also left me longing for a little boy or girl of my own to cuddle.  Definitely a weird gray space of where I held happiness and longing at the same time.

The takeaway is that I'm having an easier time being around kids and enjoying it, and that makes me happy.

*When you're an aunt, you get the discretion to feed nieces and nephews whatever they want, so naturally apple pie was a perfectly acceptable breakfast choice.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Coming up for air

The last few weeks have been crazy.

Professionally, it's been one of the busiest and most challenging (but also invigorating and satisfying) months of my professional career.  I am so fortunate to work with a group of people who make those days where I both leave and return home in the dark and barely see my husband much more bearable.

Personally, we spent the past two weekends Christmassing with family.  First, my family, then hubs' family.  Usually it's my family that presents the most challenges/triggers, but this time it was ok. Fun, even.  Of course there were a few "ouch" moments, but I know that this will probably be the case forever, or at least for a long time, and I was able to take them in stride.  There were even a few special moments, one of which I have a post brewing about.

Although typically boring, time with hubs' family isn't usually hard.  This time, however, was a bit different.  I learned that his cousin (two years younger than hubs) and his wife were having a baby when they walked through the door carrying a new baby.  While a first cousin, I wouldn't exactly consider this side of the family close, and we typically only see them once or twice a year.  I'm sure that hubs didn't know because he knows me well enough to know to inform me in advance of any social gathering where there is a pregnancy or infant.  I took it in stride and learned that "I feel a cold coming on" is an effective cop-out for holding a baby.  It wasn't as hard as it would have been even a year ago, but it still left me gobsmacked for a bit.  It seemed like most of the day there were two themes of conversation: breastfeeding and our president elect.  I did not wish to engage in either of these conversations so I found the bathroom to be a welcome escape.

But traveling for the holiday season is over, and now I can take a deep breath and relax.

Recovery is going great.  The scar below my belly button is still a bit sensitive, but otherwise I feel healed.  I'm even back to wearing jeans!  Dare I say that I even feel better than I have in years.  I'm not nearly as tired, and I'm starting to realize how much pain that I was in every day now that it's gone.  Now that it's been a full month, I'm going to start incorporating some basic, low impact exercise back into my routine.  I'm anxious to get back to it, but am cognizant not to push it too hard.

I hope to write a bit more over the next couple of weeks!  In the unlikely event that I don't write again before Christmas/Hanukkah, I wish everyone who reads this a happy or at least not terrible holiday season.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Follow-up appointment

I had my post-op follow-up with my gynecologist on Tuesday.  Everything was pretty much what hubs told me after the procedure.  She found one small spot of endometriosis and removed it. Despite being small, it was actually quite complex to remove because it went so deep into the tissue.  She also drained two ovarian cysts and removed three fibroids.  The fluid that came out of the cysts was clear so they are not endometriosis related.  The pathology on everything came back as not malignant (which wasn't a worry, but it's nice to know).  Everything that was found and removed was on the right side, which was where the majority of my pain has been for a really long time.  My incisions are mostly healed and are looking great, and everything on the inside, while still a bit tender, is healing as it is supposed to.

And I wore jeans tonight, without discomfort, for the first time since before the procedure.  I only wore them for an hour or so, but I think that my self-esteem needed it.

I already had my first period after the surgery and there weren't any noticeable differences, but both my doctor and I agreed that it started so close to the surgery that it might not have been the best period to judge if the surgery is going to help the pain at all.  What I do know is that for the first time in I don't even know how long, I haven't had any spotting or cramping after sex, and I'm not going to lie, I hope it continues.

The "treatment plan" going forward is to call her if there are any changes or pain that concern me and to have my IUD replaced when it's time (in 2020).  Otherwise she doesn't need to see me again until my annual in September.  So now I just need my lady parts to make it nine months without acting up.

I'm still getting really tired pretty quickly, but I'm not sure if this is that my work life is pretty crazy right now, or that I'm still healing, or both.  I'm doing ok with normal day to day lifting, but I'm taking it easy with the heavier stuff.  Hubs is still carrying all of the dirty laundry downstairs and then back upstairs when I have it done and making sure the garbage gets to the curb and such.  I'm looking forward to getting back to exercising, but I think I'll give that a few more weeks to give the muscles in my abdomen more opportunity to heal.  Right now I'm making sure I stretch every day and do a few yoga type things that I know.  I'm trying really hard to not overdo it, which is hard, but necessary.

Honestly, I feel validated that she found something that could potentially explain the pain, that it's not all in my head.  And pissed that she's the first gynecologist in over 20 years of talking about my terrible periods and pain that listened for long enough to actually investigate.

Oh, and I apparently metabolize anesthesia pretty quickly.

Monday, December 5, 2016


December has me feeling melancholy again this year.

My sister, the one who had the baby on Valentine's Day, is loving creating memories with her son, and she's loving sending me pictures so that I can share the experience.  Which I love.  And I hate.  I really am so happy for her that she got her much wanted baby and that she's creating traditions with him.  But damn.  Every picture leaves me with an intense sense of longing.  I'm not going to lie, it's an unwelcome reminder of what might have been if things had worked out differently.  I don't know if this will ever go away.

This has made me think a lot about traditions.  And how hubs and I don't really have any.  We put up a Christmas tree and decorate it.  We send out holiday cards (which are a big hit again this year, based on early feedback).  We have a few little decorations that we put up around the house.  We have a Christmas countdown calendar.  But it doesn't feel magical like Christmas felt when I was a kid.  It doesn't feel fun or festive.  It doesn't feel anything.

But I also think that traditions can't be forced, that they just kind of happen the first time and then are repeated over time.  So I don't know.  I guess we have the next forty years or so to fall into some traditions for the two of us.

In the meantime, we'll spend this coming weekend doing Christmas with my family and next weekend doing Christmas with his.  Survival will be the name of the game.  Then Christmas will be at home, and hopefully we'll manage to have some fun and make some memories.

I hate how this month makes me feel.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

What I've been up to

Thanksgiving-Hubs and I stayed home and had a nice, quiet Thanksgiving together at home.  While I probably could have done the road trip, it would have been uncomfortable and tiring, and frankly, I just didn't feel like it.  My family had a hard time accepting this and gave me a pretty good guilt trip, but I held firm and did what I needed to do to take care of myself.

Healing-It's going well.  Friday was the first day that I felt pretty good, and today I felt even better. After more than a week of living in sweats or leggings, I tried out jeans today.  In a word, I can describe that experience as "ouch"!  I'm hoping that by tomorrow I'll be ok enough to wear real pants, because I'm not sure what I'll do otherwise.  While our temperatures are unseasonably warm, it's still not skirt weather in western Pennsylvania.  Otherwise, I still get really tired really quickly, something else I didn't anticipate.

What I've learned about myself-I learned that I don't have as high of a pain tolerance as I thought I did.  Or at least that my resilience isn't as strong as I thought it was when it comes to recovering from something like this.  I honestly thought I'd be back to normal in 2-3 days.  At this point, I'm thinking that 2-3 weeks may be more realistic.

Follow up-My follow up appointment is on 6 December.  I'm looking forward to talking with the doctor about her findings and seeing if there is a new treatment plan going forward (I don't think there will be).

Watching-College Football!  I was born in the Midwest where college football, specifically B1G football, is like a religion.  The week of Thanksgiving is what's known as "rivalry week" where each school plays their biggest rival.  Essentially 100,000 plus people pack themselves in a stadium and cheer for their favorite team.  Loyalty runs deep.  My favorite (and in my opinion, the best in the country) rivalry game is Ohio State v. Michigan.  I'm not an alum of either school (though I am an alum of another B1G school), but I grew up close to Ohio State, and love for the scarlet and grey was instilled in me from a young age.  There was a lot of back and forth and at a few points of the game I thought I might have a heart attack, but my Bucks pulled it out in two overtimes.

Reading-I'm catching up on blogs.  Slowly.  I have been reading on my iPad, but commenting is a pain in the butt on that device.

Doing-Holiday cards!  Another task I'd hoped to have done by now.....  I will have them mailed this week, however, because a few of them are going to different countries, and I want to make sure they aren't late.

Need to do-I need to schedule an eye appointment and get new glasses.  Which probably means I'll get around to it in March after complaining for months about headaches.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

I'm alive

I had my diagnostic laparoscopy on Friday.  Everything went well and I'm at home recovering.  Hubs is taking good care of me.  So is the dog.

The doctor found one spot of endometriosis and removed it.  There was an ovarian cyst on my right ovary that was drained.  She also found a hematoma somewhere in there too and took care of it. (Do yourself a favor and don't google this.)  Unfortunately I didn't get to talk to the doctor after the procedure, so everything I know is what she told hubs (and sometimes he's not so great with details). Overall, it seems like everything went like it was supposed to, but I'll find out more details at my follow-up appointment in two weeks.

Recovery has been a bit slower than expected, though I think this is probably because this was my first surgery of any kind, and I had unreasonable expectations for myself.  I'm trying really hard to not overdo it.  I think I'll wait at least another day or two before attempting driving.  Lifting things is going to take a bit longer.  I'm glad that I have the whole week off of work and that we already decided not to travel for Thanksgiving.

I really appreciate all of the emails, comments and texts with well wishes.  It really meant a lot to know that my tribe was thinking about me.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


I haven't felt much like writing lately.  Or reading.  So I'm just going to give you a few bullet points, because I'm sure I can't come up with a coherent post.

  • I'm concerned by the instances of hatred that seem to be uptick (at least anecdotally).  I'm also concerned that our president-elect hasn't done anything to condemn this abhorrent behavior.
  • Hillary Clinton's concession speech was one of the classiest things I've ever witnessed.  Even at what had to be one of the lowest points of her life, she exemplified grace.  I don't know if I could have been so gracious in defeat.  
  • We've already started Christmas shopping.  We decided that we'd buy all of our nieces and nephews at least one book.  We're had a lot of fun picking out the books to give to them, but I must admit that it's bittersweet too.  One of the things I most looked forward to was sharing books to my children.  
  • Related, even if we keep a modest price limit for each niece/nephew, it starts to add up fast. There was a point when I thought it would all be worth it since they'd be spending money on our kids.  I mean, it is worth it, but I think anybody who reads this blog understands what I mean.
  • I'm doing this thing for work.  It's really cool and really important, but it's also the hardest thing I've done to date in my professional career.  It will be worth it though, and the commitment should be (mostly) finished by the end of December.  
  • My laparoscopy is on Friday.  Luckily I haven't had time to worry about it yet, but I suppose there's still time.  :)  Even though I think I will feel fine by Thanksgiving (six days post-lap), I don't think we'll end up taking the road trip to my parent's house for Thanksgiving.  Mostly because I'm tired and need a break and don't want to push myself.
I hope everyone is doing ok.  I'll try to catch up soon, and I'll definitely update on my lap as soon as I have details.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


I know that many Americans are sick of politics as usual.  I know that many Americans are sick of politicians.  I know that many Americans are sick of the establishment.  I actually find myself mostly in agreement with these statements.  I know that many Americans longed for a different type of candidate.  One that wasn't a traditional politician.  One that bucked convention.  I get it, I really do.

But unfortunately the person who answered the call to be a different type of candidate was a raging dumpster fire of toxic sludge.  A man who I wouldn't even classify as a decent human being, let alone as having the disposition to be President of the United States of America.  Yet many Americans embraced him.  And now he's going to be our president.  

America spoke.  Loudly and convincingly.  We made this bed and now we have to lie in it too. 

I have never felt this much fear and despair for my country.  I hope beyond all hopes that this will bring us together, yet I fear it will divide us even more.  I am terrified of what this means for my country.  

Today I am thankful that I can't have children.  Today I am thankful that I don't have to find the words to explain how this happened to my children.  My heart hurts for those who do.

I am not a proud American today.  We can do better, America.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Healing after infertility is a far from linear process.  There are ups and downs.  There are stretches of mostly down and there are stretches of mostly up.  After a long stretch of mostly up, October was mostly down.

For the first time in a long time, it felt like tears were just below the surface, and I cried more than I have in a long time.  I had to draw on my emotional reserves just to be a normally functioning adult.

We endured family pictures.  On many levels they weren't as hard as expected, but they were still hard and led to a lot of angst and drama beforehand.

All of the presidential election bullshit.

A random trip to a big box store that left me crying in the paint aisle.  I haven't cried like this in a public place for a long time.

Halloween.  Even though I had to work during trick-or-treating festivities in my neighborhood, I still wasn't complete immune to all of the hard, thanks to social media.

An insanely busy work schedule that required making some hard decisions that don't come naturally to me.

October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.  I think it is so awesome that there is an entire month devoted to recognizing these losses and and raising awareness.  But this month also brings up some complicated feelings for me.  For reasons I can't fully explain and will probably butcher an explanation of, this month always leaves me feeling like an impostor.  Because I was never pregnant, because we chose not to do IVF, we never got a physical embodiment of what could have been.  We have nothing to mourn or recognize.  We only lost an idea, and some days that seems like nothing.  But it feels like something to me, a huge something.  Yet I feel like I don't have the right to mourn and remember alongside those who lost an actual something.  It's complicated.  I honestly think my inner struggle about this was the root of my rough month.  

I also think I'm more anxious about my laparoscopy than I thought I was.  Which wasn't made any easier by my mom reminding me that her offer to pay for IVF still stands, and needing to shut her down.  I had my pre-op appointment yesterday, got my required blood work, and paid my surgery prepayment fee.  Everything is set to go for November 18th (which is actually a few days earlier then it was previously scheduled thanks to someone double booking the operating room).

It wasn't all bad (actually some parts of the month were really good), it's just that the hard parts were really hard.  Two years ago having an entire month where I felt down wasn't uncommon.  Having a breakdown in the middle of a store wasn't that uncommon.  It's just been so long since I've had a down phase that lasted more than a day or two that it caught me completely off guard.

But that's the thing.  Grief isn't linear and sometimes feelings don't make sense.  I'm trying really hard to be nice to myself and survive this phase.  The good news is that I am bouncing back faster then I would have a couple of years ago, and that's a good thing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A small price to pay for a little bit of sanity

Hubs and I haven't paid for cable TV since approximately 2009.  We don't miss it most of the time.

Last week we caved and got a basic cable subscription.  Why?  This f****** election.  That's why.

After 16 months of campaigning we only had two more weeks to wait before it's over.  We couldn't. We couldn't take the round-the-clock network coverage* or the nonstop commercials.  We couldn't take the attacks, the half-truths, or the outright lies.  Simply put, even though we've had our minds made up for months, all of the coverage was stressing us out.

It's been so long since we've had cable that we don't even know what's on non-network TV any more. We're looking forward to finding out (recommendations are welcome!).  Mostly we're looking forward to avoiding election coverage (and post election coverage).

The cost of the monthly subscription is a small price to pay for eliminating a big stressor from our lives and restoring a small bit of sanity in our house.

*I'm perfectly OK with biased coverage from mainstream media that portrays the Republican candidate in the most negative light possible.  The prospect of his presidency is so frightening that I can't even begin to wrap my brain around it and anything that can be done to discourage people from actually voting for him should be encouraged!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

A couple of interesting hashtags

I am ashamed to be an American right now.  I am ashamed that a man like the Republican nominee is a legitimate candidate for president of my country.  I am ashamed that a man who has publicly made racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic statements could be our next leader.  I am ashamed that a man who publicly shames those with disabilities and women could be our next leader.  And I'm baffled at how he has managed to gain so much support.  Frankly, I don't think this man should be out on bail, let alone running for the highest office of this land.

Just when I didn't think it was possible for my opinion of the Republican nominee for president couldn't get any lower, push alerts started coming through on my phone just as we were leaving for family pictures.  This story broke (just in case you haven't seen or heard about it, if you choose to play the video, be aware that it's not safe for work or children).  I was physically ill  when I heard his words.  And then that anger turned to rage.  Apparently I was not alone.

If you've been anywhere social media or the news recently, you've probably seen or heard about two hashtags, #notokay and #WhyWomenDontReport.  Women started coming out, collectively and loudly, and talking about their first assault, and then later in the week explaining why they didn't report it.  These aren't the first hashtags of this nature, just the most recent.

Loribeth reviewed a book earlier this summer called Sex Object and was brave enough to share some of her own personal experiences with men overstepping their bounds as part of her review.  Her post came back to the front of my mind a few days ago when a notification for a new comment popped up in my inbox. 

So I'm going to share too.  If you find things like this bothersome or triggering, please take care of yourself and don't read any further.

This wasn't the first time something happened, but it was the time where I realized that women really aren't equal.  I was 11.  It was on the school bus.  I was tall and lanky.  I wasn't to the part of puberty where I had hips or breasts yet.  The hairstyle at the time was for women to wear short hair (it was the early 90s, after all).  I was the second to last stop so by the time I got on, the bus was full, save for one seat, directly by a high school boy.   This kid made the 10 minute ride to school seem like forever, and the only seat left by the time I got on was right beside him and where I was the only girl for at least five rows.  There was a lot of verbal assaults in the first weeks of school, mainly telling me that I didn't look like a girl, but he didn't touch me.  Until one day when he did.  I got on the bus just like any other day, except when I got back to the seat, he grabbed me by the backpack and pulled me in, said "I'm gonna pull your pants down and see if you are really a girl."  I struggled.  I got my arm free.  And I punched him in the nose.  I was suspended from the bus for 10 days.  I tried to tell the school administration what happened.  I cried.  I begged them to make him stop taunting me.  In their eyes I was in the wrong.  I had to apologize to the kid who tried to rip my clothes off of me before I was allowed back on the bus.

From this experience I learned that my voice didn't matter, at least not when it came to boys treating me poorly.  I learned that the authorities didn't care about me or my well being.  I learned that I wouldn't be believed.  I learned that I don't matter.  I learned to be afraid.  I learned to feel bad about my body.  I learned to stay silent.  Later I stayed silent too because I was scared, because I didn't want to go through not being listened to again, because I didn't think anyone would believe me.  I couldn't bear the shame again. 

It took me years to realize that it wasn't my fault.  That I didn't do anything to deserve any of it.  That he was the one in the wrong.

The thing is that I know I'm not alone.  I know that most women have experienced some form of unwanted physical attention or advance from a boy or man. 

The ONLY good thing that has come out of this candidate's campaign for president is that people are talking about the prevalence of sexual assault.  Though I fear that if he is elected it will only get worse, because if the man in charge does it, that makes it ok for everyone. 

He can't be elected.  Please tell me that he won't be.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Planning ahead

This is Part 2 (of sorts) to the family picture saga of last weekend, but I felt like this deserved it's own post.

When I scheduled my laparoscopy, I was thinking ahead.  I scheduled it for the Monday before Thanksgiving, a date chosen specifically because it's pretty easy for me to take the rest of the week off from work.  The doctor said to plan for a week of recovery time.  Perfect.

Despite sharing openly in the blogosphere that I'm having this done, in my private life, I wanted to keep this pretty low on the down low.  I'm not ashamed or anything like that, I just prefer to not disclose things like this until after the fact, if at all.  I've found that, similar to infertility, everybody has some horror story (alternatively, a story of hope).  I've only told two friends and my boss, and I only told my boss that I was having a minor outpatient surgical procedure done and that it shouldn't impact my return to work, but that I wanted to let him know in case there were any complications.

I wasn't planning to tell anyone in my family, especially my mother, because she doesn't have a proven track record of honoring requests for confidentiality.

But sometimes the best laid plans have a kink in them.  In this case, the particular kink is Thanksgiving, the epitome of family togetherness.  Oops.  Forgot about that minor detail.  Well, I didn't forget the holiday, I just didn't think my plan all the way through, and how I would explain why we aren't going to be there. 

While we were at my parent's house my mom asked about our Thanksgiving plans.  Shit.  Shit, shit, shit.  Since it's unlikely that I'll feel up to a road trip 2 days after a laparoscopy, I had to tell her.  It feels wrong to tell a white lie to get out of a holiday with family.  So I told her.  I asked her to respect my privacy by not sharing this with anyone but my dad. 

Her immediate response was one of concern.  She asked me why I was having it and who was doing it.  I shared as much as I felt comfortable sharing and stuck to the facts.

Then she asked if I'd like for her to come and be with me as I recover.  I politely declined her generous offer offer as I thought in my head that I'd rather light myself on fire.  Before you think I'm a horrible person, I'm the sort of person that wants to be left in a corner to die when I'm not feeling well.  I don't want anybody to take care of me.  I even told hubs that I only wanted him to take Monday off, which he agreed to, but only on the condition that if needed he would take Tuesday and/or Wednesday off.

But then my mom said something so far out in left field that it completely blindsided me.

She asked if having this done meant that we were going to try to have a baby again.

What the actual fuck?

After I picked my chin up off of the floor I managed to get out that anything I did to my reproductive parts from this point forward was solely about quality of life.

It didn't hurt as much as much as it pissed me off.  Without another word I turned and walked away from her, knowing full well that if I didn't, I'd end up saying something that did permanent damage to our relationship.

I went on a long walk and had an ugly cry.  Not a single word about it was uttered when I came back to their house.

A few days later, the blind rage has passed, but the hurt and frustration remains.

I've never asked my mom (or anyone else for that matter) to agree with every decision we've made during our infertility journey, but I guess I'm still naive enough expect that people will respect us enough to not second guess our decisions or try to change our minds. 

I just want understanding.  And empathy.  And respect.  And if a person can't manage those, silence is the best option.  Words hurt.

Oh, and now my grandma's church has me on the prayer chain.  Because apparently "please don't tell anyone I'm having this done" wasn't clear enough.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Family pictures

This past weekend my entire family gathered for pictures.  My parents, all of my sisters, their husbands, and all of my nieces and nephews, and of course hubs, me, and our dog.  To say that I wasn't looking forward to pictures was a bit of an understatement.

There was some drama in the days leading up to pictures.  One sister doesn't allow pictures of her child on social media and is a royal pain in the ass about it (I'll refrain from stepping on my soap box about this topic).  This wouldn't be problematic, except the photographer utilizes it for advertising purposes and posts "sneak peaks" of all of her sessions to Facebook.  To make a long story short, apparently I hurt my sister's feelings when I told her that she needed to verify with the photographer before the date of pictures that pictures of her kid would not be posted online, and that if this was non-negotiable for the photographer that my sister needed to make arrangements for a different photographer.  If she doesn't want pictures of her kid online, fine, but that doesn't give her the right to make a last minute decision for a group based on her personal policy, especially since every other person in the group had this weekend blocked off for two months and she didn't bother to mention this potential issue until two weeks before.  Thankfully everything was verified and the photographer was understanding about my sister's (stupid) policy.

There was also outfit drama in the days leading up to the pictures.  In August we all agreed to a fall color palette for attire and that that each family/couple (because hubs and I aren't considered a family) would let the rest of the group know what color we chose as we decided on our outfits to hopefully avoid duplicates.  I sorted out attire for hubs and me a month in advance (which involved buying new shirts for both of us) and ordered a custom bow tie for the dog.  Per the arrangement, I let everyone know the color scheme that we chose.  Four days before pictures I was informed that we needed to pick a different color because one of my sisters was short on money needed to use that color so she wouldn't have to go buy new outfits for the kids.  I not so politely informed the group that lack of planning on her part was not an emergency on mine, that we weren't changing our outfits, and that I didn't care if they wore the same color as us.  My sister managed to figure it out.

The actual day of the pictures was stressful.  My nieces woke up in rare form, something that I knew would not bode well for pictures, and then my sister "forgot" to put them down for naps. Also, apparently one of my sisters arranged for my cousin to come out to do hair and makeup.  Two of the topics of conversation were unfair maternity leave policies and being thankful for tubals.  Not surprisingly, I didn't have anything to contribute, so I left.

Pictures were scheduled for 5pm.  Now, I'm obviously not a parent, but as soon as I heard the time, I knew it was a bad idea.  Scheduling a two hour time block starting at 5pm (right during dinner time) when you have five kids that are five and younger, is asking for trouble.  And it was.

Also, one might assume that since we planned to take the pictures on my parent's farm where my parents and two of my sisters and their families live, that everyone would be on time.  This assumption was wrong.  5pm came and hubs and I were the only people ready.  But at least we got our family shots done first.

The biggest surprise of the day is that my mom had my grandparents (her parents) come out for pictures.  I understand this on some level because they are getting older, their health is failing them, and the reality is that there probably won't be too many more opportunities for pictures with them, but after infertility, I don't like surprises.  I have what I would consider to be a cordial relationship with my grandparents, but I don't go out of my way to spend time with them, particularly not during election season.  All my grandma could manage to talk about was how evil Hillary Clinton is, how awesome that Donald Trump is, and how excited that her and my grandpa are to be first time great-great grandparents.  Apparently my cousin's 16 year old daughter had a baby, which, in my mind, isn't something to be excited about.

From the sneak peak that I saw online, it looks like the photographer managed to get some decent shots.  I'm not in love with the shot of me, hubs, and the dog but it's definitely good enough for our holiday card, and she got a really good shot of just the dog.  There's also a pretty good shot of my parents, my sisters, and me.  The group shots of the whole family weren't that great, but by the time we got to that point of the session most of the kids were hungry, tired, and throwing fits. 

Probably the most hurtful part of picture day was when I overheard a conversation between my mom and asshole brother-in-law.  BIL asked my mom if she ever imagined that she'd have as many grandkids as she does.  She replied with "actually, I thought I'd have more by now."  I know she didn't mean for it to be hurtful, and she was probably just being honest about her feelings, but it stung and made me feel incredibly inadequate.

I felt different for the whole day.  An outsider in my own family.  And it was really hard for both hubs and me.  But I think I handled it better than I would have a year or two ago, so that alone is a victory of sorts.  Thankfully, family pictures aren't a regular occurrence so I'll have a reprieve for a couple of years.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Stupid things that people say

Like me, I think that most of the readers of this blog are accustomed to people saying stupid things when they find out that we don't have kids.  These things are often said innocently, but they often hurt.  But I also think that women are on the receiving end of those comments more frequently and that a lot of men don't/can't fully understand their impact unless they have an experience of their own.

Hubs had one of these experiences about a week ago.  He came home from work and asked if anyone had ever said something stupid to me.  I said "of course" but then asked for a bit of context.  He said "you know, about not having kids."  I said "oh yeah, fairly frequently."

Apparently a coworker asked him if he had kids.  When he responded that he didn't the coworker, also a guy, told him that he was lucky and went on to say that he'd lost a child to cancer, then proceeded to proclaim that it's the hardest thing that a couple could ever go through.

I asked him how he responded to the guy.  He indicated that he didn't really say anything beyond that he was sorry.  He said he felt like if he said anything else that he'd come across as an asshole.

Hubs was really taken aback by the whole conversation.  I wasn't taken aback since I'm quite a bit more experienced with this particular assumption, but I did feel bad for him, because this was genuinely the first time he had been made to feel like crap because he doesn't have kids.

He said that he felt bad for the guy because he and his wife had to go through something that nobody should ever have to go through, but he also feels like we went through something that nobody should ever have to go through too, and that we certainly weren't lucky.  I agreed.

I hate that he had to experience this first hand.  But I'm also glad.  Because I think that now he gets it on a deeper level and that empathy will be the result.

Monday, September 26, 2016


Last Tuesday I had an appointment with my gynecologist to go over my test results and determine next steps.

I was equally unimpressed with the receptionist (same one as the first appointment), but I had a new nurse who was much nicer.  I wasn't as impressed with the doctor this time, but my opinion was probably colored by having to wait 90 minutes past my scheduled appointment to see the doctor.  Though I will say that the 90 minute wait probably made me a little less willing to be nice/friendly/agreeable, which helped me to advocate for myself during the appointment.

As it turns out, all of my test results were indeed normal (as indicated on the form letter with checked boxes), including the "best" FSH I've ever had, though as a friend reminded me, your worst set of test results tend to be the most accurate predictor of fertility.  I ended up getting the results in advance of my appointment (thanks for the tip to get them directly from the lab, Obie!), so it sort of helped me frame how to think about the appointment. 

There was nothing to even remotely explain the hot flashes.  She even threw out the idea that maybe they were psychosomatic and suggested that I take Prozac (an SSRI), which would also help with the wicked PMS/PMDD.  I don't have any issues with psychiatric medications and I think they are a wonderful tool for people who need them, and I know that there have been studies done to show the effectiveness of SSRIs in treating hot flashes, I just felt like she was implying that they are all in my head.  I swear to god that they aren't in my head. 

There was no more conversation about my longer than average periods.  Honestly this is my lowest level concern because I've had 8-10 day periods for most of my life, and now is no different.  The part that is surprising to everybody but me is that I have 8-10 day periods in spite of the IUD.  And the fact that they are so much lighter compared to pre-IUD periods, I can definitely live with them!

So next came the conversation about the pain.  The pain is hard to describe.  Sometimes it's like stabby pain right in the middle of my uterus.  Sometimes it's more like period cramps (when not on my period).  Sometimes it feels like my uterus is trying to expel itself from my body.  Sometimes it's more like a million pin pricks all over my abdomen.  Sometimes it's like a lightening bolt struck me in the cervix.  These pains occur randomly throughout my cycle, but always during my period or in the days leading up to it.  Those are the pain symptoms that come and go.  The pain symptom that is constant is in the vicinity of my right ovary.  It's not a cyst or anything else that can be seen on ultrasound or felt during an exam, but the pain is constant and has been for almost three years.  The intensity of the pain varies, but it's always there.  There is always some sort of pain somewhere.  I have long suspected endometriosis is the culprit.  No doctor has ever really listened when I described this pain.  I don't know that this doctor believed me either, but at least she's willing to investigate. 

I have a diagnostic laparoscopy scheduled for November.  If any endometriosis is found, it will be removed to the greatest extent possible.  I don't really have time to recover from something that is technically considered surgery, but my need for answers outweighs any inconvenience at this point.  Once the blood tests and ultrasound came back normal, I think she was keen to let me walk away without further investigation just like so many doctors throughout the course of my life.  I had to push harder for the laparoscopy then I should have needed to, but in the end I got what I wanted, and in November I will hopefully have answers.  I've literally had it with the pain and I've had it with not being taken seriously.  For the first time in my life I'm actually thankful that I had a long wait in the waiting room because I think this put me in a little bit of a bad mood and gave me the courage to stand up for myself.

Oddly enough, I stumbled across this article on doctors not taking women's pain seriously and shared it on my Facebook news feed.  Of the people that commented on the article, three people experienced at least one ectopic pregnancy, one had a miscarriage, one had a large non-cancerous ovarian tumor, and one had a brain tumor removed after 18 months of having debilitating migraines and no one bothering to do a scan (and once they found the tumor, she was having brain surgery in less than 48 hours).  So I guess whether it's acute pain or chronic pain, women's pain isn't taken seriously.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Avalanche: A Love Story

A few weeks ago, Pamela posed the idea of doing a book blog tour for a newly published book, Avalanche: A Love Story by Julia Leigh.  For a link to the other reviews, click here.

I decided that I wasn't going to do a review, not because I didn't want to read the book, but because I knew I had a heck of a month coming up at work and didn't know if I would have the time to devote to reading the book and writing a review.  Then Rachel Cusk's review of the book came out in the New York Times and I decided that I wasn't going to stand idly by while some hoity-toity, non-reproductively challenged bitch woman raked Julia Leigh over the coals with completely uncalled for personal attacks, both on her, and on those who utilized science in their attempts to have children.

First of all, I admire anyone brave enough to put their story out there for the general public, knowing that they're probably going to be ripped to shreds because the topic is an uncomfortable one and wrought with judgement and lack of understanding and empathy.   Many thanks to Julia for adding a much needed book to an important category.

I downloaded the book on iBooks for, I think, $12.99 US.  I probably would have preferred a paper copy of the book, but I also seem to be lacking in advance planning skills as of late and didn't get it ordered in time, so the virtually instantaneous access that an e-book offered was right up my alley.  Plus I apparently had iTunes credit, so that was nice too.  Anyway, the e-book format wasn't as refined as others that I've read, but I don't have any complaints about it, particularly since I was reading within two minutes of buying it.

Based on the cover alone, which depicts a woman holding a newborn, I might not have even picked it up for fear that it was just another "happy ending includes a baby" infertility book.  In this case, I had the advantage of recommendations from Pamela and Mali, so I knew that the happy ending of the book didn't include a baby. 

The book itself was short.  I'm not sure how many pages the paper book has, but my e-book had 79 pages with my font size settings.  I read it in about two hours in one sitting while sipping on a big glass of wine.  I read it again a few days later and it took a bit longer because I was making careful notes of things I wanted to touch on in this review.  The fact that it is such a short read is definitely an asset, I think.

I appreciated the author's ability to say so much with so few words.  Essentially the book chronicled Julia falling in love with the man she would later marry and try to have a child with, that marriage falling apart, trying to conceive with sperm from a known donor, and then falling in love with her life and accepting that she'd never have children. The chronology of the story line was easy to follow.

There were so many times where I found myself nodding my head in agreement or understanding.  For example, early in the book she describes her "deeply ambivalent view of motherhood."  I get this.  Like Julia, I wasn't sure if I wanted kids at all, until I wanted them, and then I wanted them really bad, including the "irrational leap" she made when she concluded that her chances would be better than other women her age.  It took me right back to the crazy part of trying to have a baby, because I did the exact same thing!  I also appreciated her honesty about the toll that trying to have a baby took on their sex life.  I think that anybody who tried to have a baby for any length of time can relate to this.

At one point she talked about "our child," a concept that I fully related to.  While hubs and I never ventured down the IVF path, our hypothetical child was very real to us too (including the discussing names), but I've never quite been able to figure out how to talk about it.  Julia did this for me.  Since I can't say it any better than she did, the quote from the book is:
“I’m an expert at make-believe. Our child was not unreal to me. It was not a real child but also it was not unreal. Maybe a better way to say it is that the unknown unconceived had been an inner presence. A desired and nurtured inner presence. Not real but a singular presence in which I had radical faith. A presence that could not be substituted or replaced.”
I could also relate to Julia and Paul's (the partner/husband/ex-husband) first trip to the fertility clinic, right down to dressing smartly.  She described the fertility clinic as a "temple of discretion" and honestly she could have been describing our fertility clinic too.

Regarding Paul, I must admit that there were a few points where the big sister in me wanted to grab Julia by the shoulders, look her dead in the eye, and tell her to run the hell away from that man and never look back because he wasn't good for her.  But love is a weird thing, especially when the good parts are so good.

I loved her detailed descriptions of egg collection, IUI, IVF, donor sperm, and a variety of other important facets of the reproductive process.  I felt these descriptions would be really important for someone just dipping their toe into the world of infertility or assisted reproduction or if the reader was someone who was supporting a person going through treatment.  I also really appreciated how she gave the actual cost for each and every procedure.  I think that so often these costs are hidden or spoken of in generalities, so I appreciated how upfront she was about it.  I liked how she was quick to point out that because of past financial windfall she was able to pay for treatment without incurring significant debt or hardship, and acknowledged that not everyone was in the same financial position as she was.

One of the most poignant parts of the book for me was when she touched on the societal perceptions of IVF patients.  She said:
“In the public imagination – as I perceive it - there’s a qualified sympathy for IVF patients, not unlike that for smokers who get lung cancer. Unspoken: “You signed up for it, so what did you expect …?”
I don't know how many times people have said thing that completely minimize the life-altering experience that infertility is, and the quote above captures that explicitly.  There's always the assumption that we did something wrong or that we did something to deserve it. 

My biggest takeaway from the book came on the last page, where Julia described her relationship with her nieces.  This is something I've been making a more conscious effort to do.  One of my nieces was born during the hardest parts of infertility and then two nieces and a nephew were born in the aftermath of accepting that we'd never have children in back to back to back pregnancies.  For a long time I had to keep them at arm's length because it was too painful.  For the longest time I looked at them and saw what we missed out on, but I'm starting to turn that attitude around and I'm starting to really enjoy spending time with them (and spoiling them).

In conclusion, ignore the NYT review (unless, of course, you want to write to the editor and tell them all of the reasons that the paper should be embarrassed that they published such a terrible review, in which case, go for it), acquire a copy of the book, and read it.  I think that this book is important and adds to the conversation about the toll that infertility takes on a person and a couple as well as building a life after treatments don't work out.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Odds & Ends

  • I finished reading Avalanche by Julia Leigh and I'll post about it on September 21st, as part of the book blog tour that Pamela is hosting.  The author has signed on to answer any questions that we may have about the book.  As you'll see on Pamela's post, quite a few bloggers have signed on to do it.
  • My entire family (parents, siblings, their spouses offspring) is having family photos done on October 8th.  I'm approaching these pictures with the same excitement that one typically reserves for dental work or trips to the DMV.  In some respects these pictures have been two years in the making, but people kept getting pregnant so they were delayed so everybody could be in them.  While I sort of feel like these pictures will be an exercise in "pick which couple is different," I am actually looking forward to having some nice pictures of hubs and me.  I'm also taking our dog to be in the pictures because I figure that if I have to drive 150 miles for stupid pictures that I don't particularly want to be in, that I'm taking my dog to be in them too.  And he's wearing a bow tie.
  • I got a form letter from my gynecologist's office telling me that all of my blood work came back "normal."  I understand that this is common practice and that most people don't care about the actual numbers, but, as someone with an honorary degree in reproductive endocrinology courtesy of infertility, I want the actual numbers.  I also wonder how much care was taken in interpreting the results (likely by some member of the office staff as opposed to the actual doctor) since they reported that my thyroid test was normal.  Which is good news until you consider that I didn't have my thyroid tested.  
  • I had my pelvic ultrasound on Monday.  My IUD is in the correct place, so that's really good news.  Also there were no cysts visualized except for follicular cysts, so that's good too.  The ultrasound didn't reveal any cause of my near constant right ovary area pain (at least per my educated guess-the tech, of course, couldn't provide too much by way of explanation).  The surprising part is that I actually had two pretty good sized follicular cysts.  I didn't go far down the treatment path, but I can tell you that I never had two at the same time, and I never had one as big as the 25mm that I had on Monday.  So I think that my body is trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat or something, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.
  • I go back to the doctor on Tuesday.  I'm not nervous like I was for the initial visit, but I am wondering what the next course of action is going to be.
  • I am so unbelievably sick of politics.  I'm not one to wish away time, but I literally can't wait until the second Wednesday of November, because that will mean that all of the campaigning is over (at least for 18 months or so, in theory).  I am uneasy about how this is all going to end.  
  • Today I feel very fortunate to have the flexibility to work at home sometimes.  I'm currently working from the comfort of my deck and enjoying this beautiful weather.  I also love that I can take a break and write on my somewhat neglected blog. 

Sunday, September 11, 2016


Today is the 15th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th 2001.  I think there are days in all of our lives that are so deeply etched in our memories that we can't possibly forget.  9/11 is one of those days for me.

I was 20.  A junior in college.  I got back to my apartment after class, flipped on the tv out of habit, and went to the kitchen and got a bowl of cereal.  Cheerios.  I walked back into the living just in time to see the second tower fall.  Then the Pentagon.  Then Shanksville, PA.  I got my roommate out of bed.  We sat on the couch and cried.  A few months later that same friend saved up some money and we hopped on a bus and headed to New York City.  We needed to see it for ourselves. 

Classes were cancelled for the rest of the day.  There was confusion.  A friend was in panic mode because her dad worked at the Pentagon (thankfully, he was fine).  I remember the line (and the price gouging) at the gas station.  I was an adult.  But I was a kid.  And I wanted to hear my mom's voice and know for sure that my family was ok.  I wouldn't get through on a cell or land line until the next day.  In the days that followed friends who were in the National Guard or the Reserves were called up and deployed.  It was surreal.

I grew up a lot that day and in the days that followed.  In many ways, that day shaped who I am as an adult. 

Fifteen years later so much time has passed, but yet it seems to stand still.  On Friday I stood in front of my students, college Juniors.  The same age that I was when it happened.  It quickly became apparent that, while they were alive when 9/11 happened, they didn't live it.  It took me a bit to wrap my brain around this.

In the days that followed 9/11 the United States was more united than it had ever been (in my lifetime at least).  Political party didn't matter.  Or religion.  Or gender.  Or income.  Or where you lived.  Or your education level.  Or anything else.  We were Americans.  Terrorists attacked us on our soil.  And we were going to go and kick their asses, even if it wasn't yet clear who "they" were. 

I miss that unity. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016


This is an update to my last post.

I went to the gynecologist on Thursday.  I had low expectations.  I mean really low.  I took a page out of Sarah's book and wore a sexy bra and underwear set, wore full makeup and my favorite lipstick, and wore as cute of an outfit that I could get away with considering that I was headed to work afterwards (I can't find the exact post, but I'm 99% positive it was her).  I figured that if I was going to an appointment with the potential to be really shitty, that I may as well look good. 

When I walked into the office, my already low expectations were lowered.  I checked in with the receptionist who generally lacked in personality and got my new patient packet and made my way to the waiting room.  In the waiting room there was a rack full of Jesus books.  I fought the urge to leave.  I worked my way through the mountain of new patient paperwork and got to the last page, a consent to charge my credit card whenever I had a balance with the practice.  I obviously declined and added a statement to the effect that they do not have permission to charge my card in any circumstances.  I paid in cash for good measure.  Two strikes against them.

They called me back fairly quickly, which was good, because I was really teetering on the edge of walking out.

I got back to the exam room, where I did some more intake stuff with a nurse, who also lacked in general personality.  She asked how many pregnancies I'd had.  I told her zero.  She didn't win any points with me when she reminded me that "I'm young" and that "there's a lot of time left."  I started to shut down at this point.  I think that my demeanor encouraged her to make quick work of the remainder of her intake questions with minimal commentary.  Three strikes.

You're probably starting to feel sorry for me right about now.  Don't.  It got much better.

The doctor walked in.  There was something about her that started to put me at ease.  She asked about me.  Like she was interested in me as a person.  I started to feel comfortable.  She got more of my history and asked a bunch of questions.  Not the questions that made me feel like she was reading off of a list, but questions that actually followed up on the answers that I gave her.

We got to the part about infertility.  I told her everything, about all of the test results, about not pursuing treatment.  She reached over, touched my hand, and said "I'm really sorry that you had to go through that.  It must have been hard."  I was honestly taken aback.  I'm not used to this sort of empathy and compassion from normal people, let alone a medical professional.

She didn't discount any of the perimenopause symptoms and assured me that there are options for treatment.  She agreed that my symptoms were likely due to low estrogen.  She'll likely start me on a birth control with estrogen in it to see if that helps as opposed to jumping straight to HRT.  She did briefly mention taking a low dose of Prozac to help with the mood swings and, oddly enough, the hot flashes.  I absolutely hate the idea of taking an anti-depressant, but we'll see.

She ordered a bunch of blood tests (all hormone related) and a pelvic ultrasound to check things out.  I go back on September 20th.  On that day I think she'll do an endometrial biopsy and prescribe the birth control.  She's willing to do the laparoscopy to formally diagnose endometriosis and clean it up, so I'm sure we'll talk more about that at my next appointment too.

So long story short, I can deal with the Jesus books, the receptionist without personality,  and the nurse that was a jerk, because I really, really liked the doctor.  I still can't believe that I was so lucky to find her.  I was prepared to go in there and fight for myself, but I didn't need to at all.  I'm exhausted from it all, still.  But mainly I'm thankful that I was finally heard.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


I am an outlier.  The average age for onset of perimenopausal symptoms is 45 (citation).  I'm a full decade ahead of schedule.

I could make a joke that this is the first time I've ever been early for anything in my life.  I've been known to handle difficult things with sarcasm and mildly inappropriate humor, but right now I don't feel like joking. 

For the most part I've accepted that my cycles are probably going to lack predictability for whatever remaining time that I have one.  I've learned what my triggers for hot flashes are and strategies that are mostly effective for dealing with them.  I understand that I'm probably not going to be able to wear heavy sweaters anytime in the near future and that I probably won't need to wear a winter coat again this coming winter.  With as much as I hate it and miss it, I know that cuddling with my husband isn't going to be as frequent, because the added body heat always triggers a hot flash, and cuddling with a hot, sweaty mess isn't any fun for anybody.

I'm convinced that the progesterone in the IUD has helped with some of the symptoms.  While I'm not one of the lucky majority who stops having a period after they get an IUD, my periods are much more manageable and I haven't had a scary one in the almost 18 months that I've had it.  I think that it's also helped with itchiness and skin dryness.  For these reasons, it's worth keeping, even though there's not a whole lot else that I like about it.

I've always had PMS related mood swings, and these have intensified with perimenopause.  For the most part I can keep these in check.  But sometimes not so much. 

I'm struggling with the fact that many in my peer group are still popping out babies, seemingly with ease, and I'm over here just hoping that I start my period soon.  It feels like some kind of cruel joke.

I'm also having a hard time with what this all means for bedroom activities.  The truth is that I don't really feel like having sex most of the time, and even when I do, my body is uncooperative.  It makes me feel incredibly broken and unlovable.  (I feel like I should mention here that hubs has been a saint and even though he's just as frustrated as I am, he's also been incredibly understanding.)

Based on the reading I've been doing, it seems that none of this is atypical for perimenopause.

I can't help but feel like I am too young for this though.  And I can't help but feeling like no one (meaning medical professionals) takes me seriously when I talk about this stuff.

Right now I'm in the midst of a particularly brutal (and long) cycle.  My mood swings are out of control.  I don't want to be around me right now, and others shouldn't have to endure me either.  Really, until I start my period, the most suitable place for me is probably an isolated cabin in the woods where I am not required to interact with my fellow humans.  I literally feel like I'm teetering on the edge of going crazy.  I don't even know how I'm managing to function in daily life.  I don't like feeling like this.  Everything is magnified and I don't really like myself right now.

And this isn't even mentioning all of the other stuff that I feel is likely related to endometriosis.  Of course, this is a self-diagnosis, because even after 20+ years of trying to get doctors to listen to me, including a full infertility workup, I've been fobbed of and it's never been investigated beyond a pelvic ultrasound, which we all know is not the proper diagnostic tool for this condition.  Eventually I gave up trying to talk to doctors about it.

I'm going to the gynecologist on Thursday for my (overdue) annual checkup.  This doctor and practice are new to me.  It's a gynecology only practice, so hopefully some of the triggers from the old practice (e.g., waiting rooms full of pregnant people) won't be present.  I'm anxious.  I'm wishing that the appointment fell during a more normal cycle where I felt more like myself (a logical, rational human being, for the most part) and not like the Wicked Witch of the West (who may commit homicide or start crying for no apparent reason).  I hope that I like the doctor.  I hope that she's compassionate and empathetic (or at least pretends well).  And most of all I hope she listens and takes me seriously.  While I'll consider the appointment a success if I manage to not loose my shit while I'm there, I'm really hoping to hold it together for long enough to talk about getting a laparoscopy to formally diagnose and remove endometriosis and weigh the pros and cons of hormone replacement therapy. 

I needed to get this off of my chest.  I'm having a hard time dealing with it right now. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

On my second blogaversary

Two years.  Two.  That's how long I've been blogging.

41,137 page views
177 posts

The stats don't provide the full picture though.


Those things and their impact can't be measured.

I do not have adequate words to express my gratitude for everyone who has been here for all or even part of this journey.  I owe a lot of the credit for where I am today to you.  The readers of this blog have been simply amazing.  I wouldn't be where I am if not for you. 

I am not the person that I was two years ago when I clicked "publish" and took my first blog post live.  I'm stronger.  I'm more confident.  I am resilient.  I've learned the importance of embracing grief, sitting with it, and working through it.  I've learned that my feelings are just as valid as anyone else's and that I don't have to apologize for how I feel.  In the last couple of weeks I've had more than one person tell me "you seem different" or "you seem more alive."  And the answer to both of those statements is that I am.  I'm emerging from the black cloud of infertility.  Dare I say it, I'm even happy most of the time.

There have been a lot of hard things in my second year of blogging.  I skipped my sister's baby shower and caused a bit of family drama.  My sister gave birth to my nephew and promptly forgot the struggle of infertility.  Two of my nieces celebrated their first birthdays.  I saw the conclusion of 22 consecutive months of at least one sister being pregnant.  Plus all of the unexpected stuff that jumps out and smacks me in the face when I least expect it. 

But there have also been a ton of great things about the past year.  Hubs and I bought a house and spent time fixing it up (only one urgent care visit required-so far) before we moved at the end of May.  Buying a house, I think, was a huge step in healing.  It is a happy house.  A house of hope and healing.  I got to meet fellow bloggers Justine and Sarah and for the first time in a really long time I could just be.  Conversation hasn't come that easy in everyday life!  I celebrated my 35th birthday and finally understood the cause of my midlife crisis.  I also took a huge step and outed hubs and I on Facebook for National Infertility Awareness Week, and the response was better than I ever could have imagined and I regained a lot of faith in my fellow humans. 

I'm looking forward to year three of blogging and reading blogs.  I hope I have enough to write about!  In the coming weeks you get to hear about my (overdue) annual visit to the gynecologist, always a treat for us infertility survivors.  My sister is also planning family pictures  for October, so I'm sure this will provide plenty of good topics for writing too, since, to put it nicely, I am not looking forward to this.

I've been buried with work lately.  I look forward to catching up on all of your blogs soon!  But in the meantime, thanks for reading, and thanks for being there for me.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

An unwelcome invitation

A little over a year ago I lost a friend as part of the fallout of stepping off of the infertility crazy train and moving forward with figuring out my new life without children.  The sad truth is that she was incapable of supporting me in moving forward and I got to the point where I knew that if I was going to get through this that I needed to surround myself with people who didn't judge or question me at every step along the way.  We've both moved forward with our lives and she seems to be doing quite well.  I found out through a mutual acquaintance that she was pregnant a few months ago.  While I had no desire to reach out to her or congratulate her, I'm genuinely happy for her and wish her the best. 

She finally announced her pregnancy on Facebook with photos from a maternity shoot (two things she said she'd never do, but whatever) over the weekend.  Even though I knew it was coming, it still stung a bit.

Yesterday I received a Facebook invitation to her baby shower.  As soon as I saw the invite, I had one of those moments where the air was immediately sucked from my lungs.  I sat there trying to catch my breath.  I asked, out loud, why she would invite me.  She knows I don't go to baby showers.

The logical, rational part of me knows that since it was a Facebook invite, she likely sent it to everyone on her friends list with one click of the mouse.  Even though we aren't speaking anymore I don't think that she would have purposely sent me the invitation because she knows something like that would hurt me.  All of the justification in the world doesn't help.  In fact, in a way, justifying her behavior only sets the stage to undermine my feelings about it. 

The truth is that receiving the invitation hurt me deeply.  It made me angry.  It made me jealous.  These things aren't easy to admit.  I know it probably sounds pretty horrible (at least to anyone outside of this community) that a baby shower invitation made me angry.  But it's a brutally honest admission, and while I'm not necessarily proud of this admission, I'm not ashamed of it either.  And I'm not a bad person for feeling this way.

Feelings are messy.  They aren't always logical.  You don't get to pick how something is going to make you feel, and sometimes you can't even anticipate it.  If there's one thing I've learned over the past couple of years, it's that boxing the emotions up (even the ugly ones) and not dealing with them as they come is not a good strategy.  On the other hand, working through the ugly stuff leads to healing.  Maybe there will be a day when a baby shower doesn't lead to such an intense reaction.  Maybe this day will never come.  But either way, it's okay.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Exactly what my soul needed

A little over a week ago, I met Sarah.  I've struggled to find the right words to write about meeting her.  Why?  Because I realized how important it is to be in the presence of others who get me and who understand what I've been through, and because I realized how many friendships have been lost or fundamentally changed because of infertility (or, probably more accurately, because of how infertility changed me).

I wasn't really nervous to meet Sarah.  We know each other through our blogs and we seemed to get along in the emails and texts planning their visit.  We decided to meet at a local lake to go kayaking.  I figured that in the unlikely event that we didn't have anything to talk about, at least we could talk about nature.  We didn't need to talk about nature.

I arrived at the lake a few minutes early, changed into my sandals, and applied sunscreen.  As I was finishing up Sarah texted to let me know that they were there and she was standing outside the boathouse and wearing a pink shirt.  I took a deep breath and headed over.

We recognized each other immediately and hugged like we've known each other for years.  With that hug all of the walls that I've spent years building came crumbling down.  I knew that I was with one of my people and that I could be myself with no fear of judgement.

I can only describe the next few hours as completely soul refreshing.  I can't even remember the last time I was this unguarded in a face to face conversation with another human being.  Empathy and understanding flowed from her veins, and I hope from mine too.  Laughter, sarcasm, and cursing came out of both of our mouths.  But so did deep and meaningful conversation. 

Just going kayaking with Sarah (and Julio) would have been enough to make my summer.  But the icing on the cake came the next day when hubs and I went out to dinner with them, got to show them our house, and seeing hubs open up in ways that he never has before.   

As they prepared to leave our house, Sarah and I hugged again.  But this time it was different.  I knew that in a few short minutes they would be gone and that I would need to rebuild some of the walls that I didn't need with her.  I managed to hold in the tears until they pulled away.  '

I suspect that it will not be the last time that we spend time with Sarah and Julio.  And I hope to get the opportunity to spend time with the rest of you too, because spending time with Sarah and Julio left me craving more time with my people.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


When we were going through infertility my husband was very stoic.  I knew it bothered him.  I knew he was hurting.  I knew it was angry.  But he almost never showed emotion.  I think he felt like he needed to be strong for me.  And I'm so glad that he was.  But at the same time I wanted, no needed, him to show some emotion.  I didn't care if it was anger or tears or something in between.  He rarely did.  It made me resent him.  Time passed.  We both started to heal, both individually and as a couple. I let go of any resentment that I still held on to and accepted that we handled our emotions differently, and that it was okay, and that there was no "right" way to handle it.

I found a support system through blogging and through pen pals who don't blog but that I met through blogging.  I found people I trusted and who I could share the good, the bad, and the ugly with.  Hubs never found that, and based on Eric's recent post, it doesn't seem like it is uncommon for men to not have a support system.  I'm becoming more open and starting to talk more publicly about infertility and how our journey didn't end with a baby.  Hubs supports me in this, but he still really isn't able to talk about it beyond a simple acknowledgement.

That changed over the weekend.

Sarah and her husband Julio came to Pittsburgh over the weekend, and naturally we spent some time with them.  I could go on and on about how amazing she is and they are, and I will eventually, but I'm still trying to process it all, and figure out the right words to capture it all and how much it meant to me (and hubs).

But I want to write about one small part of our time with them.  Something so small that they probably didn't even pick up on.  

Hubs talked.  At dinner.  At our house afterwards.  Openly.  Honestly.  Comfortably.  I've never seen him share like this before.  He's a man of few words.  To a casual onlooker it probably seemed like normal conversation.  But to me it it was like a breech in a dam.

I don't know if it was that we were with another couple just like us.  Or if it was because there was another guy who had been through many of the same things.  Or because it was the first time he's been around another woman who, like me, is trying to claw her way out of the hellhole that is infertility.  Or because he knew he could trust Sarah and Julio.  Or because of something else.  I don't know and he doesn't either (I asked).  He just said that talking with them felt "normal."

I also think hubs really started to see that I'm doing pretty well.  That I'm not as fragile as I used to be.  Maybe this was what he needed to finally get it all out there.  After Sarah and Julio left we laid in bed and he talked for what seemed like hours about all that we lost.  I want to be there for him like he has always been there for me, and maybe the weekend was a start.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


There has been a whole lot of nasty going on in United States politics (and in the country as a whole), but something historical happened last night, and I want to take a minute to acknowledge it.

Last night at the Democratic National Convention, the Democratic Party nominated Hillary Clinton as their candidate for president.  She was the first woman ever nominated on a major party ticket.  Women gained the right to vote in this country in 1920, and it took a freaking constitutional amendment to get that right.  Perhaps one of the most powerful moments of the roll call (the part where each individual delegate states who they wish to nominate) was when an elderly woman who was born into a world where women couldn't vote proudly cast her her vote for Mrs. Clinton.

Like Hillary Clinton or not, one cannot help but recognize the significance of this nomination.  This is a big step forward for women in the United States.  Whether she wins the election or not (and frankly let's hope she does, because the alternative is, at best, frightening), it's a huge nomination.

When I was a kid, being president was a man's job.  Specifically a white man's job.  The 2008 election removed white from the unofficial job criteria.  Now in 2016 we have removed man from the unofficial job criteria for president.  Kids today can look at our country's leaders and visualize themselves in that role someday.  How cool is that?  I couldn't visualize myself as president when I  was a kid. 

Last night made me proud to be an American. 

In November I will report to my polling place and proudly cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton.  I'm not voting for her because she's a woman (I don't particularly care what gender our leaders identify with, as long as they are good leaders), or because she's a Democrat (I'm proud to be a registered democrat and mostly vote that way, but I vote with my conscience on the issues, so sometimes it means I vote for another party's candidate), or because I agree with all of her platform (I don't!).  I think that she is a competent leader with a proven track record and feel that she's the best candidate to lead the United States for the next four (or more) years.

Related, if you are an American citizen who is over the age of 18 and you aren't registered to vote, you still have plenty of time to get registered in time to vote in the November election.  If you don't know how/where to register, I'm happy to help you figure it out.  This will easily be the most important election of our lifetime.  You owe it to yourself to do your research and have a say in it!

Thursday, July 21, 2016


There are times in life when you just have to smile, shake your head, and ask "what the fuck?".  Tuesday was one of those days for me.

Tuesday was the day of my dad's heart surgery.  It started out well enough.  I left my house at 6am drove the three hours from my house to my parent's house and made really great time, even getting there early enough to spend a little time with my nieces (Sister, BIL, and their three daughters live in my parent's basement).  We (my mom, dad, and me) left for the hospital around 11 and got there with time to spare for his 11:45am check in time.

His surgery went well, they found a 95+% blockage which was cleared and a stent was put in.  Unrelated, his cardiologist was freaking gorgeous.  He's already home and is doing great, despite being pissed that he has to take some time off of work.  But that's not what I want to write about.

We got my dad all checked in and were directed to a waiting area for the cath lab.  This is where we waited for him to go back to pre-op and while the procedure was going on.  As it turns out, in this particular hospital, the cardiac cath lab shares a waiting room with Labor and Delivery.  I'm not sure if I've wrote about it yet or not, but I seem to be swinging back into an anger phase of the grieving process, so an L&D waiting room was near the top of the list of places where I did not want to spend time.  I tried to have a sense of humor and sent a friend a curse word laden text.  She suggested that it would be nice if the waiting room space was also shared by a liquor store.

At this point I gave myself a pep talk along the lines of "you've got this" and "you only have to be here for a short time." 

Then my grandparents (mom's parents) arrived at the hospital despite being explicitly told that their presence wasn't required and that we would call with an update when there was something to report. At minimum, they shouldn't be driving on the busy road where the hospital is located (or at all for that matter).  I've never had a close relationship with my grandparents and because of some things that exceed the scope of this blog, but suffice to say that I don't care to have anything more than a cordial relationship with them.  Not to mention that they are very conservative, very religious, and plan to vote for Donald Trump.  Anyway, my grandma wanted to pray.  Ok, fine.  Prayer isn't my thing, but whatever, she thinks it'll do some good.  So I bite my tongue and bow my head thinking it would be a short, silent (or at least quiet) prayer.  She started praying.  Out loud, and not in a quiet voice.  For like five minutes.  In a busy waiting room.  I opened my eyes and we were getting funny looks.  Eventually it was over, my blood pressure was through the roof, and I was wishing to be anyplace else.  Then they tried to engage me in a discussion about politics.  I not so politely declined and reminded them that anything they read on Facebook should be fact checked.  This suggestion obviously wasn't taken to heart since my grandma shared this article last night with the comment "not surprising!"  Thankfully they got tired and left before I had a heart attack, but not before praying a couple more times.

My dad got out of surgery and was taken to his room.  I thought the most stressful part of the day was over.  Then my sisters started to stop by.  The first one brought her (very active, very loud) toddler to the cardiac ward.  Now, I'm no cardiologist, but I can't imagine that a shrieking child (even shrieks of happiness) is a good thing on a cardiac ward.  Then another sister stopped by.  With her baby.  This wasn't so bad (since he can more easily be contained), but then she started breastfeeding.  At this point I walked out of the room without explanation and found a waiting room with free drinks (unfortunately none were of the alcoholic variety) and hid there for the better part of an hour.

Around 7:30, we decided to go and get dinner.  My sister (with the baby) and brother-in-law decided to join my mom and I.  At dinner I was treated to a discussion about why there should be baby changing stations in men's restrooms.  When asked my opinion on the matter, I offered that public places aren't required by law to provide baby changing stations, and that most do so out of courtesy.  I then suggested that since this particular hardship had absolutely nothing to do with my life that I didn't care one way or the other.

My mom and I didn't get back to my parent's house until a little bit after nine.  At this point, I found out that during the getting ready for bed routine, my youngest niece (turned 1 last month) and my dog discovered the toilet.  My sister walked in on my dog drinking out of it and my niece with her hands in it splashing away.  This was actually a pretty good way to end the day, because I thought it was hilarious.  Also, thankfully, this particular sister is very laid back and didn't freak out. 

It was just one of those days where the things kept coming, and each seemed more ridiculous.  But the important thing is that my dad is fine and hopefully won't have any issues in the future, so any stress I endured was worth it.  A couple of days removed from it, I can laugh.  I mean seriously, who has to deal with that many triggering situations in one 12 hour period?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Blondes have more fun?

I felt the urge to do something different and impulsive today.  So I dyed my hair.


Not Platinum blonde or bleach blonde or anything crazy like that.  But definitely quite a bit lighter than my hair has been in probably 15 years.

It's fun.  I like it.  I feel good about myself.

Maybe a new hair color is just what I need to lift any remaining fog from my funk.  I hope so.

Monday, July 11, 2016

In a funk

I'm in a funk.

I think I jinxed myself when I wrote about feeling really good and making a lot of progress.

I hesitated to even write about it.  I've been doing so well that it feels like failure to go through a hard phase.  I know it isn't failure at all and that it's completely normal.  I hate it.

I don't know why I'm in a funk.  We've had so much good happen recently.

Little things are bothering me.  Nothing big.

Watching the little neighbor boy learn how to ride his bike.

A friend from high school who is in no financial position for another child is unexpectedly pregnant again (though really how much of a "surprise" can pregnancy be when you aren't taking any preventative measures?).

A (formerly) close friend is solidly in her third trimester.  We're not on speaking terms anymore, but we both always thought we'd be pregnant together.  Yet there she is and here I am. I'm not really jealous, but I am angry at the universe that it didn't work out for me too.

My sister posted a picture on Facebook of our dad sitting on the couch with all of the grandkids.  He is smitten with the grandkids, especially with youngest nephew who shares his name, as he should be.  It's times like this that the differences between me and my sisters are painfully evident.  I feel like an outsider to my own family.

Then there is life stuff.

There is a lot of transition at work.  Two close colleagues left for different positions and another retired.  The colleague that retired was responsible for hiring me and has served as a professional mentor for the last four years.  Not having her steady guidance a few doors down the hallway is going to be quite the adjustment.  I'm going to miss her a lot, but she says she's just a phone call away if I need anything.

My dad is having heart surgery next week.  The way I understand it there is another blockage that requires another stent.  It's not nearly as urgent as last summer when he had a heart attack, but it's still a major surgery, he's a terrible patient, and my mom is worried sick (as I'm sure any of us would be if our partner was having heart surgery).  Also, just like last summer, I'm the only one of their children who managed to rearrange my schedule so that I can be at the hospital with our mom, despite the fact that I live in a different state.  Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I have the sort of job where I can rearrange my schedule on short notice to be there with my mom, it just bothers me that my sisters all have their heads so far up their asses that they can't manage to figure it out too.

Hubs and I also went through a bit of a rough patch.  Nothing major, just a little misunderstanding that caused some argument.  We worked our way through it and we're coming out on the other side stronger than we were before,  but the fact remains that relationships are hard sometimes and they require work to stay healthy.  While I won't say that I particularly enjoy soul searching or having long, serious conversations of this nature, I'm thankful that hubs and I work through these rough patches together rather than letting a bunch of little things pile up.  Our relationship isn't all rainbows and unicorns (is anybody's?), but the fact remains that we love each other and we are committed to doing the work required to keep our relationship healthy.

When I started this blog, one of my goals was to keep things real and to share both the good and the bad.  Now that I've written most of what's on my mind out, I feel a little bit better.  Hopefully soon I'll have kicked this funk to the curb and am back to a happier BnB. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

My life is different

One day last week my across the street neighbor's son learned how to ride his bike without training wheels.  I played witness to this momentous occasion, albeit from the safety of my own living room.

The little guy was so excited.  I was impressed by his fearlessness and commitment to figuring it out.  Even when he fell, he'd pop right back up, dust himself off, and get right back on the bike.  It started with his dad running along side him, pushing, and helping him balance, and eventually the little guy doing it on his own.  At first he was slow and wobbly, threatening to fall over at any second, and then faster and more confidently peddling up and down the sidewalk.

His dad beamed with pride.  That was HIS son who was rocking riding the bike without training wheels.  He was enjoying every single minute of teaching his son how to ride his bike and being there to run alongside him and cheer him on.

His mom was wrought with anxiety.  You could tell it was taking everything in her power to not run and scoop him up off of the ground to kiss his boo boos every time he wrecked.  Instead she stood there with a smile on her face, shouting encouraging words and giving high fives when he finally did it. 

It was a happy/sad thing to witness.  It was so cool to watch the little guy figure out how to ride his bike.  But I can't help but think that this little guy is the right age to be one of our children, and that makes me a little sad.  The scene that played out in front of me is a snippet of how I imagined that my life would play out.  The reality is that my life is much different.

I sat down on my living room floor with tears silently rolling down my cheeks.  The silent tears morphed into the kind of sobs that make your whole body shake.  By the time it was over I was exhausted and my emotions were raw in a way they haven't been for quite some time. 

I don't know what name to give whatever this was.  I wasn't jealous.  It wasn't longing.  I didn't want to trade places with them.  I wasn't hurt by what I watched.  I wasn't angry.  But it definitely triggered something deep within me.  I'll add it to what Sarah so eloquently referred to as "the bottomless bucket of 'what the fuck was THAT?'" and move on.

I'm convinced that time does heal and that it does get easier.  But sometimes things still hit out of nowhere and make me realize that I still have a long way to go.