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.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Our neighbors

One of the things that helped us fall in love with our house was the neighborhood.  It's full of modest, but well maintained homes, and many of the owners have lived in the neighborhood for 30+ years.  Over the past month we've had the pleasure of meeting our neighbors on both sides and the neighbor that lives directly in front of us.

On one side is a man who I would guess to be in his late 70s and his wife.  We haven't met the wife yet because apparently she has some health issues and doesn't spend much time outside, but the man is just the nicest guy you could ask for.  He's fun to talk to, he's helped us identify some of the flowers around the house, and he's given me many tips for keeping my little garden alive.  Keeping plants alive isn't a strong suit of mine, but so far so good.  He's never mentioned having kids, but his college age grandson comes to cut his lawn every week, so I know he and his wife have at least one child.  Yet he's never once said anything about us having kids or asked us when we were going to have kids.

On the other side is a lovely couple in their 90s (the man just turned 94 this week) who have lived in their house for 57 years.  They invited us over for lemonade last weekend and we sat on their porch and talked to them for over an hour.  The conversation spanned many topics (work, the neighborhood, mortgage rates, local sports teams), including the fact that they have nine children, 41 grandchildren, and 14 (and counting) great grandchildren, statistics that were stated as fact, not as bragging.  Once they started talking about their large family I fully expected the conversation to turn to our procreation plans, but it never did.

The neighbors in front are a nice couple, roughly our age.  They have a daughter who is maybe nine and a son who is maybe four.  They are very talkative and have been very welcoming to the neighborhood.  Yet within the first five minutes of meeting them the first time the wife asked if we had kids and then quickly followed up by stating that she is sure I'll be pregnant by the end of summer now that the stress of buying and fixing up the house is over.  I really wanted to go batshit crazy on her, but I also don't want to piss off the neighbors, so I held my tongue and opted for a simple "actually we can't have kids," at which point the conversation pretty much died.  Thankfully it hasn't come up again, but if it does, I'll probably add a bit more snark to my response.

The elderly neighbors said nothing about children or reproductive plans, but the neighbors our age did.  So I'm left to wonder if this is a generational thing.  Were things such as family planning seen as a private matter not to be discussed back when they were of childbearing age (in the 1950s and 60s)?  Or since they came of age in a time when there was no assisted reproduction if they just more naturally and easily accepted that sometimes people can't have kids?  Maybe some combination of both?  I don't know, but it was really refreshing to have conversations with people who were able to see us for us.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Birthday shenanigans

My birthday has come and gone.  My dreaded 35th birthday and accompanying midlife crisis.  My birthday actually turned out pretty fun.  My entire family (parents, sisters, their families) came to my house for a "surprise" party.  This alone was enough to make it a memorable day.  Coordinating the schedules of eight adults to be in the same place at the same time (150 miles give or take a few from their home) and going on a road trip with six kids is akin to herding cats, so the fact that everybody (even asshole brother in law) came was pretty remarkable.  It wasn't a total surprise, because let's face it, infertility kind of ruined surprises for me (particularly those involving kids, even family kids).  Hubs told me about a week ahead of time and made me promise to act surprised.  I'm glad he told me because it really helped me mentally prepare myself for the visit.  (Though I think that we can all agree that a man who goes to the grocery store and comes home with food for a large cookout then cleans the house from top to bottom, un-nagged, is enough to raise suspicion.)

This was also their first time that my family got to see our new house in person.  They loved it, and even though our house is quite small, it didn't feel as crowded as I expected it would. 

My actual birthday was handled the way I've found to be most effective when facing hard things.  Sarcasm, mildly inappropriate humor, and alcohol.  I don't know if you have seen those stupid monthly birthday baby things on social media.  Essentially the parent snaps a picture of the baby with a sicker on their shirt that says "x months" and then lists things like likes, how many teeth they have, height, weight, etc.  I think they are stupid, so naturally I wanted to make fun of them.  My sister created a birthday board for my 420 month birthday and we did a little photo shoot with it (complete with me in a sparkly tutu).  I think that most everybody thought the photos were funny, but I think only few got what I was making fun of.  This was actually the highlight of the day. 

Regarding my midlife crisis, I finally figured out the root cause for it.  Back when we first started trying to have a baby we mutually agreed that we would be done building our family on my 35th birthday, no matter how many kids we had at that point.  We figured that was a comfortable timetable to have two or maybe three kids.  We were naive back then, actually believing that I could get pregnant when we wanted.  As it became evident that we were having trouble and the years started to accumulate, we still stuck to the arbitrary deadline that we set in the beginning.  Even though I've known for a couple of years that kids weren't going to happen for us, somehow approaching (and now passing) this self-imposed deadline adds an extra layer of finality to this.  I feel better now that I've realized this and have calmed down quite a bit.  It's also a valuable lesson in attaching deadlines to things over which we have no control.

You've all done an awesome job supporting me through this midlife crisis and big birthday, so I wanted to tell you about it.  I also want to pass along my thanks because I don't think I would have made it through with my sanity if not for you guys! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


Every so often I reflect on how far I've come.  And I really have come a long way since I started this blog almost two years ago.  As Mali recently wrote, it gets easier, and this has been the case for me.  I've learned many lessons over the past few years, but one of the biggest has been that sometimes we need to protect ourselves, that it's ok to not suck it up, put a smile on our face, and pretend that everything is ok for a couple of hours.

In the past two weeks I've declined two social invitations in the name of self-protection.

The first was an invitation to a dinner party where there would be three other couples in addition to hubs and me.  All three couples have kids under three and all of the kids would be there (though with a baby sitter apparently).  I know two of the three women and one husband and they are all really nice people that I enjoy spending time with.  But three couples embroiled in toddelerhood?  No.  Just no.  Thankfully we've already RSVP'd for a wedding (hub's cousin) on that day so we had an easy (and true!) excuse.

The second was an invitation to a cookout with several work friends and their husbands/families (six couples total).  The host is one of my closest work friends.  She knows about our infertility issues and exhibits sensitivity and empathy uncommon in a mother of two who admittedly had no issues getting and staying pregnant.  We've done things with them (and their kids, both teenagers) and really enjoy spending time with their family.  The problem is with the others, also colleagues.  I like them all in the work setting, but they all have kids under five.  I imagined it to be much like bamberlamb described, because when at social gatherings with multiple parents of young children, it almost always is exactly as she described.  So I declined, saying that we already had plans and suggested a cookout sometime later this summer.  I left out the part where our plans included takeout and Netflix.  I think she understood though.

After I declined both of these invitations I realized something.  I didn't feel bad, not even a little bit.  Usually when I say no to something I feel a twinge of guilt.  But not this time. I did the right thing.

I call that progress.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Odds and ends

I'm finally out from under a work-related deadline and can finally breathe again.  I have a bunch of posts bouncing around in my head right now, but I'll save those for another day.  Instead I will write a hodgepodge post about a few little tonight.

We're loving our new house.  It feels so happy and welcoming here.  There are a few things we're still working on.  For example we took all of the (old, solid wood) interior doors down so we could paint them as well as the molding and door frames around them.  We'd planned to have them painted and rehung before we moved in, but there were some red paint related delays (trust me....if you ever want to paint a room red, hire a professional painter) and we didn't get them done.  So they are currently stashed in our basement until we get them painted.  The main problem is that they are too heavy for me to carry up the stairs by myself, whenever hubs has been home to help me carry them outside, it's been raining, and I don't want to paint indoors for obvious reasons.  But I'm going to get them done soon, darn it!  The next projects are to gut and redo the upstairs bathroom and put up a fence (for the dog).  The bathroom we will do ourselves but the fence we will probably hire out for. 

The Sunday after we moved I went to the rental to give it a good cleaning before the final walkthrough with the landlord.  Seeing the house empty was sobering.  The walls of that house witnessed so many sad times.  It was the house where we were supposed to start our family, which I suppose did actually happen, but it wasn't the family that we envisioned.  I sat down on the stairs and had a good cry and said goodbye to that sad house.  When the landlord arrived for the walkthrough his wife and (drumroll......) two week old infant daughter came along too.  So 30 minutes or so after I had my last cry about never having a baby of my own in that house, in walks a brand new baby.  Talk about a kick to the ovaries!  I maintained my composure, got through it, and we never have to step foot in that house again.  Side note: The landlord and his wife got married in late June of 2015 and had a baby in early May of 2016.  So in fertility math, that means she was pregnant about a minute after they got married.  Because that's how it works for normal people.

A friend that I made when I was going through infertility recently had a baby.  This woman had numerous miscarriages and one stillbirth.  Really hard stuff that nobody should have to go through.  I am genuinely thrilled for her and her husband that they finally got their much wanted baby.  But Facebook.  Damn Facebook.  More than one congratulatory comment said "you deserved this!"  I hate that.  Using that logic I didn't deserve to get pregnant. Which is so false, because pregnancy isn't a question of deserving or not deserving (pregnant crack whores prove this), but is an issue of appropriately functioning reproductive organs.

My 35th birthday is rapidly approaching.  I'm still in the midst of my midlife crisis.  Ugh.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

We're moved!

My last few weeks have been filled with sanding and refinishing hardwood floors, painting, packing, moving, and exhaustion.  I'm happy to say that we're finally moved, and we love our new house. 

This house feels like a fresh start for our family of two.  I know that it sounds cheezy, but that's really how it feels. 

We intentionally chose to paint the walls bright, warm colors.  After years of renting we wanted, we needed, warm and welcoming.  We needed bold.  After years of playing it safe we needed to challenge the status quo.  So we went bright and bold. 

This house suits us.  It's not perfect, but it's perfect for us.

This house will be a house for healing.  This house will be a house for us to grow, not in number, but in love.

This will be the house where we put infertility behind us.

This house feels like home.  Our home.