Saturday, April 17, 2021

Growth Spurts

No, I am not getting taller. ;) But I am changing. I guess we always are. 

Unless we're staying stuck.

Growth is painful. It's so hard. But staying the same isn't any easier.

I've shared that I'm going back and reading my old posts to add labels to them. Last night I read posts from January and February 2018. Wow. I remember hating my grad school program, but I forgot just how difficult it really was for me. Especially that last semester of coursework. I was still so raw with grief and I was studying pediatrics with a bunch of recent college graduates (i.e., much younger women), toxic professors, and one very pregnant classmate. 

I have come a long way.

(Thanks to all of you for playing a big part in my growth!)

It was kinda weird to read over my old posts knowing that I would be leaving my husband in six short months but not having any idea about it at the time.

So much growth.

And now, as I've also previously shared, I am trying to make good use of my time while being unemployed during a pandemic. So far, I have read three different self-help books about various topics in an effort to understand myself and my patterns so that I can be empowered to change what isn't working for me.

Growth is hard. It's so painful. But what's the alternative?

I've also previously shared that I thought I'd be more settled by now. In the past I imagined I would have bought a house, made some friends, and be well into my new career by now. Instead, I am renting, quarantining, and on the job market. But part of my growth from infertility is learning to lower my expectations. I am okay with where I am in life. Mostly. I am definitely grateful.

My past behavioral patterns make sense to me. I understand how they came to be, and I know that it is within my power to change them. I'm practicing saying no to things I don't want to do. I always thought of myself as a strong person, and I am, but I also have lifelong habits of just doing what others want to do. 

I am communicating what I need to my boyfriend.
It is up to him if chooses to meet those needs.

I am setting boundaries with my mother.
It is up to her if she chooses to respect those boundaries.

(I love both of these people very much. My relationships with them are worth our efforts.)

I think a big step in my most recent growth was quitting my job. Yes, it got bad enough to where I didn't feel safe, but I'm also proud of myself because it was really, really hard to tell my boss that I would NOT be attending meetings in person as expected.

Another big step was leaving my marriage.
It was fun until it wasn't. It worked until I realized it didn't.
There were definitely major problems there.

The growth just never stops, does it? Innocently, I thought I'd be done once I made it to the recovery side of infertility. Hahahahahaha hahahaha. At least I haven't lost my sense of humor.

Would I have time for all of this introspection and personal growth if I was raising children? Maybe. Maybe not. More importantly, I have to stop thinking like that. I'm going to practice not asking myself that question anymore. There is no way of knowing and it really doesn't matter. That would be another life in another realm and who knows what I would and would not be making time for.

Which... Is another sign of my growth.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Something To Look Forward To

Here's something that both infertility and the pandemic took from me. During my darkest years of infertility, I felt like I had nothing to look forward to. No baby, no toddler, no child raising, no milestones marked by my children growing up. Same thing with this pandemic. No restaurants, no concerts, no gathering with any friends or family, no vacations. Just the same day in the same environment, day after day after day.

Once I stopped pursuing motherhood, I redirected my life and gave myself things to look forward to. Going back to school (which was a major disappointment, unfortunately), joining a new profession (yet staying in my horrible school program was definitely worth it for that end goal), and moving to live somewhere I wanted to be (because I don't really like to travel).

But after a very long and very tough year, I now have things to look forward to again. Now that I've had dose #1 of the vaccine I am looking forward to seeing my parents, resuming employment, and maybe possibly someday (fingers crossed!!) returning to some of the activities I enjoyed before the pandemic brought everything to a halt (still holding my breath on this one... Maybe in 2021? More likely in 2022).

It's been tough recently. My old companion depression is back by my side. I wrote about not feeling well last Thursday, and the truth is I still don't feel that well. My boyfriend thinks I'm sleeping too much, but I started feeling sick yesterday and I don't want to be awake if I'm sick. Headache, sore throat, body aches. Maybe I'm sick or maybe I'm just sick of it all and this is how my body is manifesting it. Regardless, I am doing what I can. I have a planner so I stay on top of my responsibilities. I eat, shower, and get outside. I'm sewing and reading. And currently I'm attending online trainings as well.

The biggest thing I'm looking forward to right now is exactly one month from today. On May 12th I should be fully vaccinated. I don't expect too much to change by then, but who knows. I will at least be relieved to have the injections and whatever side effects I'll experience to be behind me. This time period of waiting for the vaccine will end.

That's probably my biggest coping mechanism when I am feeling really down: reminding myself that this is temporary. I won't feel this way forever. So I write this post today, sharing and documenting how I am feeling, and I look forward to a month from now when I am fully vaccinated. Maybe (probably?) I will be feeling better by then. I wonder what will change. 


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Not Today

Most days I am okay with my situation. Most days I can cope with losing my dreams of motherhood. Most days I can enjoy the life I DO have. But today is not one of those days.

Like the rest of us, I am hitting a new level of pandemic fatigue. I am tired and angry and completely emotionally depleted. So it was especially upsetting to be included on a group text yesterday with my mom and sisters about their travel plans. Yes, travel plans. One of my sisters is having out of town guests because they are all going to a wedding this weekend. On the following weekend, she will travel across the country to visit her son. This is the same sister that regularly eats in restaurants. But both of my sisters and my mom have traveled over the last year.


Then I woke up this morning to my mother replying to the group text that she forgot she had made plans to go visit one of her sisters in another state for one of her sister's grandkids' baby shower. WHAT.

I'm sorry everyone. I truly apologize.
If my family has anything to do with it, this pandemic will never end.

But let's revisit that baby shower thing very briefly.

Again, WHAT.

Traveling out of state? In a pandemic? To attend a baby shower? For my cousin's kid's baby? He's old enough to have a baby on the way?? Well, damn, I guess he is...

I burst into tears. No surprise there.

But the tears weren't about him having a child on the way per se. Although, considering his situation, that is slightly tragic all on its own...

The tears were about the never-ending thoughtlessness of my family. The fact that this information was so casually mentioned in a group text message without regard for my feelings at all really hurt me. 

They will never get it. My family will never understand what surviving infertility is like for me. Not only that, they will never even make an effort to understand. And that hurts.

So that's where I am today. I cried twice before it was even 7:00 am. I'm so sick of this. I'm so sick of everything. It's days like this where I wish I could be babied. It's embarrassing to say, but I wish I could just crawl into some comforting person's lap and have them rub my back while I cried. 

Instead, I logged on here to read what others have written. You all are my people. You all understand. You all make me feel seen, heard, valued, and less alone. Thank you.

I know this day will pass. I know these feelings will pass as well. But, for today, I think I will do only what I feel like. I will read, nap, watch tv, and quilt. Today I will be especially mindful to take it easy and to take care of myself. No one else can do it for me.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Vaccine Emotions

Well... I may have had to quit my job because this community does not "believe" in the risks of covid. But, because of the community's faulty thinking, I got my vaccine early. Silver lining to an awful situation?

I had been reading stories in the news about places around the country having leftover vaccines that they didn't want to go to waste. That made me think. So I drove to the closest health clinic near me to ask about the vaccine. They didn't have them there, but they gave me a list of places in the county that did. I got home and called the first place. I explained that I was looking for leftover vaccines. I was upfront about the fact that I was not yet in an eligible group. I explicitly stated that I did not want to cut in line; I only wanted the vaccine if it was going to be wasted.

Well guess what. It turns out my county had a vaccine clinic coming up and there were over FIVE HUNDRED appointments available. What in the hell?? The woman I talked to on the phone told me to sign up, that they were not restricting who got the vaccine to only those in the eligible groups because they didn't want to have to throw anything away.

I thanked her profusely, hung up, and immediately went to the website. I filled out the questionnaire to reserve an appointment time, and, bam, got an appointment. I didn't lie. I didn't misrepresent myself. I didn't cut in line or do anything unethical. And just days later, while holding my small stuffed animal that I brought to every appointment at the fertility clinic, I got dose #1 while sitting in my car in a drive through line of a vaccine clinic. 

And then I promptly burst into tears. Big, fat hard-crying tears. It was very emotional for me.

I pulled into a parking spot to wait the required 15 minutes to make sure I didn't have a bad reaction and called my mom. I could barely speak. She answered the phone with a "Hello" and I said, "I'm crying." She said, "What?" because she couldn't understand me and I repeated, "I'm crying!" My mom, who is not sensitive like I am (at all), stayed objective and asked, "Good tears or bad tears?" and I was able to shout, "Good tears!" Then she let me cry for a few seconds before I could say that I had just received my first vaccine shot. She was thrilled. She has taken this pandemic and my stringent precautions quite personally since, unlike the rest of my family, I haven't traveled anywhere or seen her in the last year. She immediately asked when I would be fully vaccinated and I assured her that my first trip was going to be to visit her and my dad. 

(When that will be is to be determined, although I didn't tell her that in the moment. I'm tired of arguing with her and I'm still waiting to see what the research says about post-vaccinated living. So far I have read conflicting information and my parents, although fully vaccinated, socialize and are now eating indoors at restaurants.)

Ohmygod I was so emotional. This pandemic has sucked and, as you know, that is a massive understatement. It was a majorly stressful interruption to our lives and changed everything about how we live. But for the first time in over a year, I felt hopeful that things would get better.

But I was also emotional because of the injection itself. Medical stuff always makes me emotional. Six years may have passed since I underwent three medicated IUIs and two full cycles of IVF, but I can recall all of my fear, anger, anxiety, and depression in a heartbeat. Getting my vaccine brought all of that back up for me. Almost immediately. Although I didn't realize that that's what it was until later in the day.

I drove home, cheered with my boyfriend, and went back to bed. I had a slight headache, my arm hurt, and I was extremely fatigued. The fatigue was probably a combination of everything: the actual vaccine, my nervous anticipation leading up to it, and the safely stored-away emotions it unlocked.

In true Phoenix fashion (I swear, I am SO freaking sensitive), I continued to feel a bit weepy for several days. My headache, fatigue, and arm tenderness didn't help. But overall, I really think my emotional reaction was a little bit PTSD-ish relating back to fertility treatments. I am using this information to brace myself and be prepared for dose #2. I can do this. I can do anything. (Well... Almost anything. I obviously can't get pregnant.)

I am so thankful to have received the vaccine. I am patient with myself with my emotional reaction to it. I am ready, even eager, to get dose #2 when it's time. I can barely believe it, but I am actually hopeful about the future.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

My 6th Survivor Anniversary

Before March ends, I want to recognize a date that's important to me: my survivor anniversary.

I have written about my previous survivor anniversaries here.

As March 2021 began, I felt disappointed knowing that my 6th anniversary of surviving infertility without my children was coming up. I had so many expectations. I thought I would be settled by now. I thought I would be well into my new career. I thought I would have a girlfriend or two in real life to meet up with for lunch or yoga. I thought a lot of things. But, we all know how plans go.

As the month progressed, I realized that I may be disappointed, but I am also damn proud of myself. I kind of can't believe I am still standing. Except I'm not, ha! I have spent the last three months resting, recovering, reflecting, and reinvesting in my own development. I've done a lot of that work lying down in bed, propped up by pillows and comforted by a pile of quilts on top of me.

It's been a hard 3 years (TTC and failed treatments) followed by a hard 3 years (selling my children's home and grad school) followed by a hard 3 years (divorce and moving three more times). But I find great satisfaction in knowing that I am nowhere near where I was. 

In fact, I've been living in a new state for almost 3 years now.

Is that literal AND metaphorical? Yes, yes it is. 

This time last year the pandemic was just beginning and I knew we'd be living differently for at least a year. I felt very defeated, angry, and depressed. Now I have an optimism that things will get better. 

We are not there yet, but, again, we are not where we were.

On my actual anniversary day, I woke up, remembered the date, and got out of bed. I. Got. Out. Of. Bed. I'm pretty sure I didn't do that on my first anniversary of survival. And that's okay. So I got out of bed, took a shower, drank some coffee, and went on about my day. I lived my life. Because that's what I do now. I live.

I read, I study, and I look for a job. I run errands and I work on my quilts. I text my friends, some of whom I didn't communicate with much during my darkest years. I call my parents. I maintain my boundaries. I walk to the coffee shop to get a fruit smoothie to go. I check online for daily specials on fabric and allow myself to indulge if I see something I want. I hang out with my boyfriend. We laugh, play games, and watch tv. I stop for moments at a time to watch the snow fall, the rain come down, the sun set, and the moon shine.

I am alive. I am living. And I love it.

Happy Anniversary to all of us Survivors, whenever yours is! 

Fellow bloggers and readers, thank you from the bottom of my healing heart for all of the support you have generously given me over the years. I'm so glad to call all of you my friends.


(P.S. I now have energy for others, which is another thing I can celebrate.
This is the latest quilt top I just finished. I am excited to pin the batting and backing fabric to it, quilt it, and sew on the binding. I am excited because it will be my first donation quilt.
Through the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge, this quilt will go to a person with ALS.
I am putting a lot of love and effort into this quilt,
and I am hopeful that whoever receives it will enjoy it.)

Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Healing Art Process

March sucks for me. Too many awful anniversaries. 

1. It's the month when my last fertility treatment didn't work.

2. Now it's the month that marks a full year of the pandemic.

3. It is also the month of a domestic assault that happened to me 19 years ago.

Oof. Heavy stuff.

But here I am, unemployed and living the pandemic lifestyle (the kind where I don't go eat in restaurants and haven't seen my family or friends), and it is giving me time to process so much. I've been so busy with infertility, grad school, moving states, getting divorced, starting three new jobs, and moving two more times that I haven't had any time in the last decade to think.

So I'm thankful for the processing time.

Quite honestly, I'm reading self-help books and journaling a lot. I finished The Empath's Survival Guide earlier this year. That gave me some strategies for managing all of my many, many feelings. Right now I am reading Women Who Love Too Much and it is rocking my world. I am learning so much about myself and about my patterns. After that, I plan on reading Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents to help me with my relationship with my mother. 

I'm just sick of having the same old patterns of thoughts, feelings, and reactions so I'm taking advantage of this time I have to give myself a psychologically beneficial staycation at home. I figure it's cheaper than going to some fancy retreat center for a couple of months, which I can't afford and wouldn't do in a pandemic anyway. 

It's hard work. But it's worth it.


Last month I finished reading a memoir written by a woman who started quilting and got divorced after two of her daughters died. I thought it would really resonate with me (and it did!), but then I really hated the ending. Oh well. It was still a good use of my time. As I read, I highlighted text that I could relate to and/or learn from.

Well, then... Fellow bibliophiles, please don't hate me for doing this but... Since I really didn't like the ending of the book, I went ahead and tore out all of the pages where I had highlighted text. Then I started cutting out the various highlighted text. I decided to make a collage. I used to make collages a lot in my teens and 20s, but I don't think I've done it since.

So there I was today, surrounded by words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs... I categorized them. I sorted the text into the following topics: alcoholism, losing my children, marriage, divorce, quilting, spirituality, and miscellaneous words and phrases. 

That's as far as I got today. But it's been a pretty powerful exercise for me. I can relate to and learn so much from this other woman's words and journey. As I continue this process, I will arrange the various text and glue them into pages of my sketchbook, combining them with printed images and/or swatches of fabric. 

Why? Just because.
Because I want to. Because I'm learning from it. Because it feels good to create.

I don't think the final product will look "good." But that's not the point. (I'm already regretting using yellow highlighter. I much prefer the cool color palette and wish I would've used a light blue or lavender highlighter.) Then I remembered that I made a collage of my ripped up journal entries after I broke up with the boyfriend that did what I mentioned in #3 above. I totally forgot about that painful collage until tonight. 

Writing and creating is how I process. 

I went many, many years without making anything. And now I am on a roll! Quilting, a newly started collage, and I'm even cooking a bit. (I made two quiches to celebrate Pi Day last Sunday, 3/14.) I know sooner or later I will get out my beads and leather cord that are all still boxed up and start making beaded wrap bracelets again. 

It feels so good to create again. It feels so good to be able to create again.


Healing is possible. 

It cannot be rushed. 

But healing is possible.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

When LIFE is Funny

Here is a silly little story.

My boyfriend and I were playing the board game LIFE the other day. I hadn't played it in decades. Do you know this game? I thought it was really fun when I was kid. Now it's not as fascinating lol. Basically, you spin a wheel and move around the board collecting your salary, paying your taxes, and running into both rewards and accidents that either give you money or require you to pay. Like I said, I found it more interesting when I was a kid. Now it's just too much like, well, life. Ha!

Everyone in the game must have a job for their salary and every player must get married. 

Not every player will have kids. That depends on whether or not you land on a space that says you have a son, daughter, or twins. If you do land on one of those spaces, every opponent must pay you a $1,000 (double that if it's twins). It's like a required baby gift or a mandatory baby shower attendance. Or, maybe it is simulating paying taxes for public education (something I'll never complain about in real life, I want my community educated). 

My boyfriend landed on three of those spaces and had a son, a daughter, and then twins. 

I did not land on any of those spaces. Even when playing a board game I don't have kids.

The funny part to me? I won! At the end of the game, he had all those kids and no money and I had no kids and all the money. Hahahaha.

Now if only that were true in real life!! Where's all my money, Universe?? 😂😂