Friday, July 1, 2022

When I Feel the Emptiness

There is an emptiness inside me and yesterday it really ached. I don't know why, but the news has been incredibly stressful lately. Scary. Nonstop. Maybe that's what exacerbated the feeling.

I recognized the feeling. It's a longing. It's an urge to nurture, to mother, and there's nowhere for me to put this feeling, this energy. It makes me sad. It makes me cry.

I love my life. I really do.
I love myself, my home, and my partner. I love what I do for work, and I love my hobbies.

But nothing will take the place of my children.
I really wanted to raise them. I really wanted to parent.

I shared my feelings with my boyfriend and he said we could get a dog. This was not an offensive suggestion to me. I had the same thought. It would give me something to love and something to take care of. Even if I couldn't take it to sports practice and teach it how to read.

I know I can volunteer or work with children. Lots of kids (all?) need more happy, healthy adults in their lives. I like doing this, but it doesn't fill the unique emptiness that's inside me. It's not the salve that I need. Not even close.

So yesterday I drank my coffee, acknowledged my feelings, and shed some tears. I decided it was fine if I did nothing all day. Then I decided to do something anyway. What can I say, I was bored. Plus, I had a paper due. So I spent hours and hours (and hours and hours) writing. I'm glad I made myself work even when I didn't feel like it because I woke up this morning and I think my paper is done. On to the next assignment!

The emptiness stayed with me all day. Kind of a gnawing feeling. I thought more about getting a dog. It's been four and a half years since my beloved pup crossed the rainbow bridge. She gave me great joy and comfort. Maybe it is time for another. But I'm not rushing into anything.

I thought about how else I could manage the emptiness. And I thought about pouring into myself. Can I love and nurture myself? Can I teach and take care of myself? My kids might have only partially listened to me, but maybe I could listen to myself. Food for thought... 

It's the approach I'm going with for now.


Picture retrieved from https://poetryofliving.com/2018/11/10/emptiness/

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Infertile and Pro- Legal, Accessible, and Affordable Pregnancy Termination

I am infertile and I strongly believe abortion should be legal, accessible, and affordable.

I cannot claim to be pro-choice because it's not always a choice. A rape that results in pregnancy? That girl or woman didn't get a choice. A very much wanted pregnancy that will risk the mother's life or lead to a baby that cannot live outside the womb? That isn't much of a choice.

I cannot claim to be pro-life because, while I very much am in favor of living, that term is associated with the anti-abortion movement. It's not even accurate. Anti-abortionists who claim to be pro-life do not support the fetus once it's born. Our public education system is grossly underfunded. Our social supports for mothers are pathetic. Pro-life? I don't think so. 

I think pregnancy termination should be safe, legal, affordable, and accessible for all.

I don't want to legislate abortion because it's not my business why someone needs to terminate their pregnancy. There are so many reasons why someone may need this life saving procedure.

This isn't about a person making bad decisions.
This isn't about accepting consequences for your actions.

Contraception can be expensive. Contraception can be unobtainable. Contraception fails. Rape is more common than people think. Marriage without sex sucks. Plus, there are so many things that can go wrong in pregnancy. As an infertile woman with infertile friends, I know this all too well.

Adoption? Don't get me started... Pregnancy and child birth are trauma. Yes, when it's wanted, it can be miraculous, but it's still trauma to the body. When it's not wanted? Don't get me started...

It's not fertile people's responsibility to have babies for infertile people. It's why I didn't adopt. I found ONE adoption agency that did not take funds from anti-abortion organizations and they went bankrupt before I could start the process with them. 

This post may be harsh. It will piss some people off. But I am angry too. It wasn't my choice to be infertile just like it's not other people's choice to be pregnant or to have a non-viable pregnancy.

I feel like writing this post doesn't even matter. It won't change anything. I'm just yelling into the void on the internet. But maybe someone will read it and view things differently. Abortion isn't just about not wanting a baby once you find out you're pregnant. It's much more complex than that.

I wouldn't wish unwanted infertility on anyone.
And I wouldn't wish unwanted pregnancy on anyone either.

Abortion is healthcare. And access to healthcare should be a right.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Why I Didn't Adopt

Because I found only one adoption agency that did not accept any money from any anti-abortion organizations and it went bankrupt.

That's it. That's why I didn't adopt.

I worked for an excellent, kind, caring, and reputable foster care and adoption agency for several years. I've had extensive training. I am familiar with the process and with the trauma involved for the adoptee, their birth families, and their adoptive families.

I wouldn't wish unwanted infertility on anyone.

I wouldn't wish unwanted pregnancy on anyone.

Monday, June 20, 2022

My Life After Early Grief

I have a ton of schoolwork to do this week. Two papers are due on Sunday and one paper is due on Monday, and I have yet to start writing any of them. So I want to write a blog post real quick before the week escapes me.

What to write about, what to write about...

Well, I've got some feelings and unformed thoughts regarding grieving early in life.

My mom called me yesterday. She told me not to tell anyone that she called or what she called about, but she said that my dad has been feeling down in the dumps. I really did not appreciate that she told me something with the caveat that I wasn't to tell him she called me and I wasn't to tell anyone what she told me. I don't like feeling secretive. In fact, I hung up the phone and told my boyfriend, "I'm glad we don't keep secrets from each other. I don't like them."

Anyway, my mom asked me to call my dad for Father's Day. I said I already did, but he didn't answer so I left a message. She said he was really missing his dad (not hard to do--my Grandad was AWESOME), some recent life changes have been harder than anticipated, and that my dad was having a time period where he was really feeling his age.

She said, "When you get to be 70, you just start to think about how fast life went. You wonder what's left and what to do next."

(Um, I recognize that she told me not to tell anyone anything and here I am telling all of you...)

It made me think about people who are forced to grieve early in life. People like us, who wanted to raise children but didn't get to. People who lose a child. Young people who lose a parent. Young widows and young widowers. People living in countries with overt war. 

We don't get to go along, live our lives as planned, be busy with those plans, and then have a moment after all of it is said and done to think, "Wow, that went fast. What now?"

Instead, at least for me anyway, the initial years dragged on in agonizing pain as I grappled with "What now?" many, many decades before my peers will face this question.

I told my mom, "In some ways, I'm already prepared for that existential question at 70."

To her credit she said, "Yes, I guess so. You and [her younger sister whose 7-year-old daughter died] have already been through more than most of us have."

I see it a little bit in my boyfriend. His stepdaughter and his son are grown. His son only recently left the house last year at age 20. When you've been raising and providing for a child for over 20 years and they've only been out of the house for a year, it's still recent. My boyfriend is not quite sure what to do next. I think he's a little lost for the moment. I mean, he lost his entire structure basically overnight. "Now what," for sure.

In that way, I am fortunate. It came at an immeasurable cost. But, I am not going to have to manage empty nest syndrome. I am not going to retire (well, one, because I doubt I'll ever be able to afford to retire), but I am not going to retire and think, "What am I going to do now?" 

I've already wrestled with these thoughts. I've already died a spiritual and existential death and brought myself back to life.

Life IS short. (Not while you're grieving. While you're grieving, the days are torturously long.)

But now? Probably for the first time in my life, I want to live for a long, long time. There's so much I want to do. There are so many quilts I want to make. So many books I want to read. So many runs I want to ski. And, as I've recently learned, there is so much research I want to do. 

Life is short. There's so much I want to enjoy.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

A Happy Update

Healing can happen in all sorts of ways.

I had a really good friend for many years. Our parents know each other. We went to school together. We have history. I've written about her before. She's the one whose daughter was very special to me. I went to every birthday party until I didn't. She also really hurt my feelings. I don't usually write about things until long after they've happened. Those posts are over five years old. When they happened is even longer ago than that.

Like I said, we have history together. So even though I felt like the friendship had ended, it hadn't totally. She still texted me once or twice a year and I always replied. She always remembered my birthday. I always remembered hers. She texted me a really cute picture when her daughter went to her first school dance. It meant a lot to me.

Well, last week I remembered something funny her daughter said when she was a toddler, and so I texted it to my old friend. She replied and we had a nice exchange. 

I'm not hurt anymore. I understand the birthday party that I wasn't invited to... It wasn't anything personal. I know the comments she made that hurt my feelings were coming from her own struggles at the time. I empathize with both of our past selves; we were hurting in our own ways. I was going through infertility and her (now ex-) husband was making life difficult. 

But, that is all in the past. Current me doesn't care about all of that anymore. Here is a woman who texts me on my birthday every year. We are adults. Our birthdays aren't the big deal that they were when we were kids. And still, she remembers it. I like that.

So like I said, I texted her the other day and we had a nice exchange. I told her about my going back to school, and she told me about her recent promotion. It just felt good. 

I invited her out to where I live. (It's a great destination for a vacation. Out of the city. Beautiful country.) I said she, her daughter, and her new husband could stay with me. Or they could stay in the resort town an hour away. Either way, it would be a good trip. She said she's going to plan for it next year or for the year after that. 

It felt really good.

Not only was I not hurt and angry, I was just enjoying texting with my friend.

My good, longtime friend. 

Maybe we haven't been in touch as much. Maybe we've missed some major moments. But that's okay. That's life and that's adult friendship, especially when you live 1200 miles apart. 

I'm happy she's still in my life. I'm extremely grateful for healing.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Response to my Research Problem

I was a little apprehensive about posting my research problem online for my classmates to see. But... I'm also in a totally different place than I used to be. So, while part of me was a little nervous, the rest of me just didn't care at all. This is my life. I am not ashamed or embarrassed about it anymore.

So there it was for all to see, my research problem: Living Permanently Involuntarily Childless After IVF Failure. I introduced my classmates to the idea of pronatalism. And gave them the statistics on how often IVF doesn't work. Well, at the very least, I'm educating my classmates.

I figured nobody would comment. I figured nobody would touch my post with a ten foot pole. I also figured people were thinking, "So that's why she's so on top of all of the assignments; she doesn't have kids!" I was wrong about the first two. I don't know about people's private thoughts.

Interestingly, the post directly after mine is a research project proposal about postpartum depression and the lack of support services for women. It was written by a woman who experienced it after having her son. The very first comment on that post was from a classmate who said, "Congratulations on motherhood!" My boyfriend assured me that the blatant example of pronatalism did not go unnoticed by others. I hope he's right.

But, I was surprised by the support I received. The professor had never considered this research problem before and he thinks it will work perfectly with the research approach I've selected. Then two different classmates commented and a third texted me privately. One classmate shared that she has several friends struggling with IVF failure, saying she doesn't know how to support them and that this is a very important and under-researched topic. The second classmate shared that she has had two miscarriages and is grateful for my topic because it assures her that she is not alone. !!! And then, the third classmate that texted me, shared that one of her closest friends was admitted to the hospital for trying to end her life after IVF failure. !!!!! 

Yes, this is an important population to study. We need support services NOW.

Y'all. My cohort is small. Very small. Three people, not including myself, have already been open about being affected or having someone close to them being affected by infertility and involuntary childlessness. I was glad to receive the support for my project, but I was sad to see what we already know to be true: this shit is common.

I feel a responsibility to women suffering worldwide to keep going. It takes a lot out of me. I usually nap after reading and analyzing research. Writing my first draft wore me out. And this is just a class project, not anything official that can be published. But maybe in the future... 

I am interested in getting published in academic journals. I feel like that would legitimize the need for support services. We will see. One step at a time.

I'm still looking for one more volunteer. If you are a woman who is permanently involuntarily childless after IVF failure and would like to participate in an interview with me (where all identifying information will be kept confidential), please send me an email at infertilephoenix at g mail dot com.

Should this turn into research where I get approval from my school's institutional review board, I will cast the net wider and study our bigger CNBC community (not limited to IVF failure). 

Stay tuned!

And THANK YOU for your support. I wouldn't be where I am today with our community.

💜💜💜

Friday, June 3, 2022

Capable of Doing

I'm going through something. I kind of know what it is and I kind of don't. I'm in the "feeling my feelings" part of it. I know I'm not happy about some parts of my life, and I know I'm thrilled about others. I don't really know where I'm going with this... I just wanted to acknowledge it.

So, the news lately. Pretty devastating. Traumatizing. Paralyzing. Frustrating. Angering. Scary.

Have you read anything positive lately? I read about a woman who took her adult brother with intellectual disabilities to his first movie. She wasn't sure if he would like the movie theatre or need to walk around or what, so she scheduled a private screening. How thoughtful is that? Good news: he loved it! I loved reading that short story.

What else... I'm getting along with my mom. I'm getting along with both of my sisters. I'll never take that for granted. I love my family so much, and I know they love me. 

I've decided I don't like spring. Ha! Hahahaha. I mean, it's spring. Who doesn't like spring?? Me, apparently. I love winter. I love snow and quilting on a cold day and sitting around Xmas tree lights and skiing. And spring is the furthest away I am from winter. But really, it's the allergies... Everything is blooming. Everything is just so dang fertile! I can't stop sneezing, my throat is scratchy, and I live with a headache. And in today's times, I'm paranoid that it's covid. Fun stuff.

I've been going out to eat. I couldn't stand it anymore. I went 25 months living like a hermit and it was really affecting my mental health. Even a homebody can only take so much. So I go when it's not busy. I also live in the middle of nowhere. It's not densely populated and that makes me feel better too. I notice I've been tipping more. I'm just so thankful I don't have to cook or do dishes, and everything is so freaking expensive nowadays. So it's part of how I'm giving back to others. As long as the service doesn't completely suck, I'm tipping 25%. Not bragging or trying to be a hero, just trying to help others where I can. 

This post isn't really saying much. But that's okay. I made it. I am where I am. I climbed out of the pit that was despair and depression and chose to put one foot in front of the other. Most days. Some days I just stayed in bed. It's all a part of the process. But for several years there, I quite honestly didn't want to be alive. I wanted to get hit by a truck. Except I didn't. Because that would be really awful for the truck driver. So I came up with a life I could live with. And now I am living it. It's a good one and I am thankful.

Still, I'm going through some major changes. My career, my relationship... These are no small things. I don't know what the other side will look like, but we never do. 

I have big news. I'm back in school! It's such an opportunity and I am extremely grateful. Still, it's hard. But like my mom said, getting your doctorate is supposed to be hard. Ha! She's right. 

I'm throwing myself into this program. I'm studying like I've never studied before. I'm actually doing all of the readings. And taking notes on them. It's like, for the first time in my life, I want to know alllllll the things. I'm doing my assignments with the intention of learning the content, not to just meet my due dates. It's pretty awesome. And hard. But I already mentioned that.

It's only my first semester, but I'm already dipping my toes into research. I'm researching the scientific literature and writing about infertility and living CNBC for my first project. I can't call it research officially because I'm not going through the institutional review board approval process, but, if it all goes well and feels right, I may turn this project into Real Research. 

I will need a couple of you this month or next to interview. Your name and identifying information will remain confidential. Send me an email if you're interested (infertilephoenix at g mail). My project is about the experience of permanent involuntary childlessness after IVF failure.

That's all for all now, friends. My thoughts are scattered and my emotions are at the surface. I feel like big changes are on the horizon. But that's life; nothing stays the same. While enduring this latest period of transition, I will be reading my textbooks. And sewing a little bit. While watching tv at night, I'm working on an applique project for my next quilt top.

I love you all. Take good care of yourselves.