Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Shortest Post

I know my posts can get kind of long. Lately, I've been so busy with schoolwork that I've only had time to write once a week and I notice I tend to write A LOT when I haven't written all week. Like, I really want to tell you EVERYTHING that happened haha.

Yesterday I read a quote I hadn't heard before that I want to share. I looked up the author and, while I definitely do not agree with everything he wrote, I do like this particular sentence. I hope this quote finds you well. Until next time... :)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Irritations After Infertility

I realized a couple of years ago that I have infertility-induced entitlement. We had just moved into our rental house and there was a problem with the kitchen plumbing that affected the sink and dishwasher. I was still living in a state of high anxiety due to the previous years of traumatic infertility and failed fertility treatments, and I was SO MAD about the plumbing problem. The plumbing *was* a problem and the maintenance guy *was* slow to fix it (and eventually it *was* repaired), but I still think my anger was disproportionate to the problem. My best friend gently pointed that fact out to me and that's when I realized I was subconsciously thinking: I've already lost my children. Everything else for the rest of my life should be easy.

But that's not life. That's not reality. There will always be difficulties and challenges.

So since that realization, I have tried to remain conscious of it. I try to be patient with my problems and patient with myself. With each passing year, my anxiety decreases a bit and that helps overall as well.

But I still notice it. I still notice my infertility-induced entitlement.

You already know this if you've been following along, but my current irritation is school. It is taking everything I have to finish up my coursework with my less-than-understanding, unprofessional professors. A couple of weeks ago I was accused of cheating on a test. I have never been accused of cheating on anything. Additionally, I have never cheated on a test. I'd much rather fail something honestly than cheat. Part of that is fear of being caught, but a bigger part of it is plain old integrity. I may be a lot of things, but I am NOT a cheater.

I got so angry. I was also extremely worried. Cheating is a big accusation, and it could've gotten me kicked out of the program. As I waited to talk to the professor that accused me, I texted my husband freaking out. He is usually a very patient person, but even he is down to his last straw with my program. He reassured me that we would get through whatever happened, that we were still moving forward with our plan. He encouraged me to stay calm and professional and handle the situation. But all I could think was: Seriously?? I've already lost my children and now I may be kicked out of a program that I have spent 3 years and a good chunk of change on. With nothing to show for it all? Again?? I noticed the entitlement I was feeling and took a couple of slow, deep breaths to prepare for meeting with the professor. The good news is it was all a big misunderstanding, she knows I didn't cheat, and nothing became of the situation. After an extremely stressful couple of hours, it was over and done. Gahhh this school...

As if I needed more evidence about the terribleness of this program... Remember my pregnant classmate? Well, I knew her due date was coming up and that she would be having her baby pretty soon. I didn't realize how soon. She came to class last week to take a quiz, a quiz that she would not have been able to make up had she missed it, and get this. She was in early labor!!! What. I ran into her in the bathroom and she was talking to another classmate about it. She said her contractions were about 15 to 20 minutes apart. I jokingly said, "Well, wait to have a contraction before you start the quiz (we only had ten minutes to take the timed quiz on the computer), and then hopefully you will get through it without a contraction." But I added, "In all seriousness, if you need anything, you know you have 39 classmates willing to do whatever you need." She came to school to take a stupid quiz while in early labor. Un-freaking-believable. I don't fault her at all. It's the climate this program creates. She felt she couldn't afford to miss it. Then after the quiz she went straight to the hospital. I'm still in shock over the situation.

The good news is she had the baby without complications, and she and her baby are healthy and doing well. The bad news (for me) is this is all I'm going to be hearing about for the rest of the semester. Every professor begins class asking about the baby and I often overhear classmates talking about it. I know it is good practice as I am re-entering the real world, but it doesn't mean it's easy for me.

The worst was last Wednesday. We were sitting in class about to go over a test we had taken. I assumed the professor was going to use the document camera to project the test questions onto the large presentation screen in the classroom. I looked up and, what was on the screen? Not the test. A picture of my classmate's newborn. Newborn pictures are the hardest for me. One of my best friends from high school had a baby two weeks ago and, while I am very happy for her, looking at pictures of her with her newborn is painful for me. And there I was, in class, just staring at this huge picture of another newborn. I quickly looked down and thought, okay, it's fine, this is normal. People want to see the baby. It won't be up there long. I will continue to keep my eyes on the page in front of me and soon we will go over the test. We began going over the test. I only had my answer sheet in front of me, not the questions, so I looked back up to see the test questions. But there were no test questions being projected, just the same newborn picture staring back at me. I quickly looked back down again. Surely the picture won't be up there for the duration of the class I thought to myself. A few minutes passed, nothing changed, and so I got up to leave the room. I told my friend sitting next to me that he could check my test for me if he wanted to but I wasn't staying. Then I left. I went and sat in the hallway, wondering if I was going to be there the whole class time. After about thirty minutes, a classmate came out of the room to go to the bathroom. I asked if they were done going over the test and she said yes. I asked if the baby picture was still up on the big screen. She seemed confused but said no. So I decided to go back in for the last fifteen minutes of class. I walked in and there were two of my friends going over my test for me, seeing which answers I got correct and which ones I got wrong. They knew why I left, but neither one of them said anything. They just smiled and said, "You only missed three!" Then the professor began lecturing and nothing was said to me about the whole thing. Thank God for my friends.

So yeah, I wish I wasn't still dealing with difficult moments. I've already been through so much. I don't want to go through anything else ever again. But I know that's not how life works. Just because I've endured one traumatic period in my life, that doesn't mean I won't have to deal with other traumatic episodes or even minor irritations.

At least, although I kind of hate saying "at least" but still, at least my surviving infertility gave me coping skills and perspective. When irritations arise I remind myself, "I will get through this." When bad things happen, I tell myself, "This isn't the worst thing in the world." Life goes on.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Feeling Understood

After a week away from the blogosphere, I finally just got caught up with all the posts I missed. I'm up past my bedtime, but it is so interesting to me how many things are common for us women living life without children after infertility.

I remember being in a very dark place for a very long time, and I greatly appreciated Loribeth's post called A Life Worth Living, because Life IS worth living. I hope anyone reading this who feels the opposite keeps on reading. Read all of Loribeth's posts. Read all of Sarah's posts. Read all of Klara's posts. That's what I did to keep on going, to keep on getting up every morning (or at least by the afternoon). I didn't believe them yet that life could get good again, but at least I felt understood. And reading their blogs gave me something to do while I was in a deep depression and unable to do anything else.

And then, while still catching up from the week, I read Mali's post about the real success stories. Yes!! When I read or hear about a story in the news about someone going through infertility, it always ends with a baby. Just this week I was wondering if I was ever going to hear about a story like mine, a story like the rest of these incredible bloggers I've already mentioned. The true success stories indeed.

It is so interesting to me that while I was buried in schoolwork all week, the infertility-related thoughts that I had here and there were so similar to the blog posts I just read. It reminds me again of how much we all have in common. That I am not alone.

Even Jess wrote about her very rough day today and a similar memory of my own came flooding back.

Oh! And just three weeks ago Elaine wrote a post where I learned how similar our lives have been. Our similarities are almost unbelievable. (Except I don't know German. So I just copy and paste her posts into an online translator to read.)

I am so grateful for this space and I am so grateful for everyone who writes and comments.
We all have so much in common.

Life CAN get good again. And then some days knock you down. And then it gets good again.
I am bored and frustrated with my current city/school situation, but I am so excited for the future.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Different Kind of Waiting

I feel like my brain is shutting down. I guess this is common when you start to near the end of something. I definitely felt this way at the end of infertility, and now I am feeling it again as there is less of the semester left than what I've already been through.

Thank you, by the way, for all of your support this semester. It has not been easy and I have complained a lot, but I always felt heard and understood by everyone's comments. A crappy program along with insensitive professors while studying pediatrics has been quite the combo.

Now I am waiting. Well, I am working too. But mostly waiting. Ok, and working. While waiting.

It is not the existential kind of waiting though. It's more of a "Thank God, this is almost over, I am so proud of myself, and I am so tired" kind of waiting. There was nothing thankful about waiting during infertility. There was no end in sight and I wasn't proud of myself. However, I was tired. So I guess that's a similarity haha.

So I will continue working and waiting for just a couple of more months and then it will all change. Again. But this change will be positive. All of the changes I have experienced over the last several years keep getting better and better.

I know change is coming and that knowledge is also different from infertility. While trying to get pregnant, I hoped for change, but I never knew if it was coming. And it didn't. Change never came. Not with regard to trying to get pregnant.

I apologize if this post is a little rambly and/or directionless. Like I said, I feel like my brain is shutting down. I don't feel like I am operating at 100% capacity, but that's okay. Unlike being in the throes of infertility, my brain may be slowing down, but my spirit is strong.

Friday, March 30, 2018

My 3rd Survivor Anniversary

Last Friday I celebrated my 3rd Survivor Anniversary. On my 1st Survivor Anniversary I'm pretty sure I spent the day in bed crying. I honestly don't remember, but I'm pretty sure it was spent doing something like that. Then I wrote about my 2nd anniversary last year. And now I've lived through my 3rd anniversary. But let's take it back to three years ago...

On March 23, 2015 the nurse called to tell me that my latest round of IVF did not result in pregnancy. I was so exhausted and so depleted that I didn't even have any tears left to cry. I sat there numb and knew it was over. I could not go on "living" like I was. I put "living" in quotation marks because I wasn't really living. I was alive. My heart was pumping and I was breathing, but... That's about it. Like I've written before, I was walking death. A shell of my former self. I looked back at the last three years of my life and all of the time, money, and emotions I had put into everything, and I felt like I had nothing to show for it. All I could think was I wanted my life to be entirely different three years later from that point. And I knew it was going to be by far the hardest thing that I had ever done.

I always wondered what my life would look like on March 23, 2018. And then the day came.

I was 1500 miles away from home, on a school-related adventure by myself, studying for a whole week under my mentor. It was an awesome opportunity and an incredible experience.

But more than that, it was a miracle.

Not only was I alive, I was LIVING. And not only was I living, but I was HAPPY. Three years ago, I didn't think that would ever be possible again. I figured I would figure something out and go on about my life, but I was not expecting to ever feel truly happy again. I just wanted to do something different with my life so I didn't feel like such a waste of space.

But I worked my ass off (and am still doing so), and here I am!

Like I wrote last year:
I am a survivor.
I am free.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sick of Nightmares

I am so chatty (bloggy?) this week. I guess I'm just encountering a lot of material...

Last night I had a vivid dream. Nightmare. Is there a word for something in between a dream and a nightmare? Oh, that might be a good title for a novel or an album: In Between a Dream and a Nightmare. That's actually kind of how I feel right now. I am in between my new life that I am creating (a dream) and the living hell that was infertility while trying to conceive (my nightmare). Anyway, I digress...

So last night I had a very vivid dream/nightmare. I was a mother. Apparently I had adopted a baby named Olivia. I'm not sure where that name came from because it was never on my baby name list, but it's a very nice name nonetheless. She was cute and tiny and babbled a lot. She had bright eyes and a big smile. She loved me and I loved her. I held her in my arms and she fell asleep on my chest. She even had a dirty diaper that I was not quite sure how to change but I managed. It was all very, very real.

And then I woke up.
Empty arms, quiet house, and a bit depressed.

Why do these nightmares keep happening?? I haven't had one in a long time. Last night seemed to be out of the blue. I know I am not going to be a parent. I have resolved my infertility without children. I am moving forward and working hard to create a life that I want to live. In this moment it feels like I have made no emotional progress.

I try not to think about having children, as that is not a healthy line of thinking for myself. I tried. It didn't happen. I had to stop letting this single-minded effort consume me. I HAD to move on if I didn't want to lose everything else along with my children: my marriage, my sanity, and myself.

So it would be really nice if I never had another one of these dreams/nightmares again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"But you lost your children."

I was having lunch with a friend yesterday. We worked together, oh wow, fifteen years ago (time freakin' flies) and always stayed in touch. She knows my story. She also has two boys of her own that I have watched grow from young elementary school kids to young men in their early twenties.

We were talking about my upcoming move, which has been a plan almost three years in the making. She is sad I'm moving but understands why. I had a different life planned for here. Now I'm going to live a different life somewhere else, somewhere that offers me more of what I'm looking for. My current place is a great place to raise children, but now I'm looking for a place that offers more things that appeal to me.

There are various groups throughout the world, though not nearly enough, designated for women without children. I haven't found one where I currently live, but I did find one where I plan to move. I was excitedly telling my friend about it, saying I can meet these women, invest my time in getting to know them, and know that they won't be having children which would then take our lives in different directions.

As she was listening, my friend said, "But you lost your children."

Wow. I stopped mid-conversation. I had never had something like that said to me.

What she meant was that I wanted children and the women in this group might be childless by choice. She was concerned that I still wouldn't find the connection I was looking for. That never crossed my mind, but I thought it was incredibly thoughtful of her. I explained that these women get together regularly for happy hours, fun excursions, and volunteer activities. I said a lot of them are probably childless by choice, but I bet there's at least one or two that were in a situation like mine, worked through it, and resolved to live a life without parenting. Then she got it, understanding that it was a social group and not a support group, and she was very excited for me.

But back to her comment. My previous post was about how fertile people never seem to get it and here was my friend who has two sons that she loves with all of her heart saying the most true thing that has ever been said to me: I did indeed lose my children. It was so validating to hear it from her and my heart swelled with joy that someone outside of me understood my experience in these terms.

I could barely believe my ears. I haven't even heard as much as an "I'm sorry" from a fertile friend or family member and here was my friend expressing my loss for what it really was. I was in awe and I was so grateful. And it was a nice contrast from what we are all so used to hearing that I just had to share it with you.