Monday, January 21, 2019

The Greatest Compliment

I'm back to my blogging roots--blogging as procrastination hahaha. I started this blog when I was deep into the first semester of graduate school and had absolutely no time or energy. Yet I was also drowning in grief and loneliness and desperately needed an outlet. Who cares about assignments and grades when you're grieving the loss of your children?? So while all of my classmates spent their time reading and studying, I started an infertility blog.

A lot has happened in my life over the last several months while I wasn't blogging. One of those major events was graduating. I did it! I completed my coursework and clinical rotations and walked across the stage to receive my degree. I am proud of myself and my current self thanks my past self for not dropping out. I love the profession I've been studying for the past 2.5 years. Now I just have to study (that's what I'm currently procrastinating by blogging right now) and pass my board exam and I will get to start my new career!

As I progress in my recovery from infertility (three steps forward, two steps back is still progress), I'm able to talk about things or overhear things or just be around things a little more easily. I'm relieved. Living in a heightened, traumatized state is no way to live. It is exhausting.

My last clinical rotation was in a pediatric setting. I'll probably write more about that experience, working in pediatrics as an infertile woman whose lifelong dream was to be a mother, but for now I'd just like to say how much I loved and appreciated my clinical instructor. I got really lucky. All of my clinical instructors were awesome--knowledgeable, experienced, good teachers, and also overall all around cool people.

I got along well with my instructor and we worked very closely together every day. I don't remember how it came up, but I told her that I wanted children and couldn't have them and that's what triggered my whole going back to school venture. Over the semester, I even shared that I had failed treatments and spent years dealing with major depression. It was never awkward and whenever I disclosed any personal information it was always organic, in the moment, and non-dramatic. She was an amazing fertile woman who never said anything insensitive (shocker!!). She'd had her own unexpected life and was very wise. I learned so much from her.

It was a challenging rotation. It would've been for anyone but especially for someone dealing with infertility. I spent five to eight hours a day working directly with children, many of whom experienced abuse, neglect, food insecurity, and homelessness. It was both rewarding and heartbreaking, and I could not have done it at any point earlier in my recovery. I wasn't ready yet. But by the fall of 2018, I had worked hard on my grieving process, worked hard in school, and had mentally prepared myself as best I could for a semester working with children. I chose to do a pediatrics rotation. I needed to know if I could do it or not before committing to a job.

There is no dramatic conclusion to this post. I just woke up, showed up, and did what I could while maximizing my learning for twelve weeks. But at the end of the semester, I received one of the greatest compliments of my life. My clinical instructor told me I did an incredible job. It felt good to hear her say that. But she continued. "No, I mean it. This is a difficult experience for anyone. All of my students have had a hard time. But for you to do as well as you did, especially after everything you've been through with infertility... It's amazing. You have a gift in working with people and I am so proud of you for working so hard to create a new life for yourself."

Damn... Who knew a little recognition of my pain, loss, and hard work could feel so good?


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Tough Anniversaries

It happened again.

My mind forgot, but my body remembered. I felt emotional all day yesterday, not really knowing why. I felt foggy, lethargic, and disenchanted. I felt like crying but tears never came. The tears came this morning. In the shower. And all of a sudden. It was relieving but it also kind of sucked.

Four years and several days ago my first IVF did not result in pregnancy. I haven't thought about that day in awhile, and, quite honestly, I don't really feel like thinking about it now. But I know I was devastated. I remember hanging up the phone, collapsing to my knees on the floor, and letting out a gutteral howl as my dog came running to check on me. Even she knew it was extremely bad and nothing could be done as she lay down on the floor, not moving a muscle while keeping her eyes on me.

And now around this time every year, I feel all out of sorts and have a seemingly random emotional breakdown. It seems random until my mind remembers what my body has yet to (will ever?) forget.

I'm scrapping my plans for the day. Everyone and everything can wait. Today I think I'll indulge in doing whatever I freaking feel like doing. I'm going to feel my feelings and think my thoughts, while simultaneously giving myself a break from them both. Today I'm going to enjoy the life that I've worked so hard to create. All the stuff and things can wait until tomorrow.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Home Sweet Home

Where do you feel alive? Where do you feel most connected? Where do you feel at peace? Where is home? Depending on where you are in your recovery, the answers to these questions are probably somewhere between difficult and impossible to come by.

Last week I went skiing for the first time in 5 years. If you know me in real life, you know this is crazy talk. I LOVE to ski. And that's an understatement. How in the world did I miss FIVE ski seasons in a row?? Oh yeah... Infertility... First crippling anxiety, then failed treatments, then debilitating depression. What an awful period of my life. And that's another understatement.

(Side note: If any reader wants to start a blog called Infertile Ski Bum if only for the purpose of commenting on others' blogs, please let me know because we can be friends for sure.)

So I finally went skiing. My heart and soul were bursting with happiness and gratitude. I couldn't help but be reflective on the mountain. I definitely felt like I was home for the first time in a very long time. I thought about everything I've been through over the last 8 years in particular. I thought about how I'd hurt, what I'd learned, and how I'd grown and changed. I thought about how I've been looking forward to ski season 2019 for freaking YEARS. All of the grief and hard work SUUUCKED, but it was worth it. It was all part of the plan and I had arrived.

Last week I went home to the mountains.
I felt at peace. I felt connected to what really matters in this world. I felt alive.

Friday, January 4, 2019

A Year To Come Alive

I have never anticipated a year like I anticipated 2019.

I worked my ass off to get where I am today. My life was blood, sweat, tears, and years of trauma and debilitating depression, followed by years of hard work doing dumb shit that I didn't want to do (aka going back to school). And now here I am: 2019, living where I always dreamed of living, and getting ready to start a new career that I am very passionate about. Thank God.

You could not pay me a billion dollars to relive the last 8 years of my life. But I also wouldn't change any of it. Yeah I know, it doesn't make much sense. So much pain--physical, emotional, and existential. So much trauma. Every relationship changed. My lifelong dream of being a mother never realized.

And yet here I am. Happy.
Probably happier than I've ever been.

I can't totally unpack it all just yet...
But I'll take it.

Today I am content about the present and excited about the future, two things I thought would never be possible again.

Today I feel alive, something I will never ever take for granted.

It's a new year. It's 2019. Here we are. It's time to live again.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Beautiful Life

This blog has been an incredible space where I could process my feelings after loss and trauma while connecting with other women who understood. Healing is not linear, but I have made large strides in my recovery from infertility. This is a space where I could admit my ugly and embarrassing thoughts, my hurt feelings, my struggles, my new dreams, and everything in between. Without the support of other infertility writers (books, blogs, videos, etc.), I would not be where I am today: content, grateful, and excited about the rest of my life. Thank you.

I am going to take a break from writing for a bit. I'm still going to read and comment, but I've got several things that are marinating in my brain right now and I want to let them simmer for awhile.

I want to leave you with a very unexpected interaction I had a couple of weeks ago.

A co-worker and I got on the elevator together. It's the end of the day for me, but she still has a couple of more hours of work to do. She asked, "Are you going home?" And I said, "Yes. Going home. Well, not a house-home, but an apartment." She said, "Oh I remember those days, having my own apartment. They were so fun." Realizing that she probably thought I was around 25 years old I explained a little, "Oh I love the new apartment. We used to have a house, but we sold it." She asked, "We?" And I said, "I'm married." Then she got very excited. "You're married?? I had no idea!" And then... Wait for it... She immediately followed it with, "Do you have kids?" I simply answered, "No," and thought that would be the end of that. But she continued, completely without prompting, "Oh I don't have kids either. Not after six years of infertility. But my life has turned out beautifully. Beautifully!" And then the elevator door opened and she walked out saying, "Have a great rest of your day!"

Pause. Pause.

What. Just. Happened.
I thought to myself.


She has no idea about my life... She just shared her joy about hers. Incredible.

I loved it. That moment meant a lot to me and I was looking forward to sharing it with you. 💜

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Win Some, Lose Some

I've gathered more blog material from my current workplace, but first I'd like to offer a quick explanation for my absence so far this month.

This clinical rotation is kicking my butt!!!

Since it's part of my degree program, I am not getting paid.
(Instead, I am still paying tuition. Sigh...)

Since I am not getting paid, we cannot yet afford for my husband to quit his job and move here to look for another one. Of course, he can look for another job while employed by his current one, but... There are only so many hours in the day and so much energy that a person can have. And that move, still 2.5 months later, took everything we had. So I am currently living here without him. We are seeing each other every other weekend, which is turning out to be a lot harder than either one of us anticipated. But we believe it will be worth it and it will all work out in the end.

But combine my lack of pay and my lack of support system in the area with being constantly out of my comfort zone at my clinical every day, and I am experiencing a type of physical, emotional, and cognitive fatigue that I've never had before. I am definitely not complaining; I just wish I had more time and energy to read and write.

So that's what's been going on with me. You are not missing much. I wake up, go to work, come home, take a nap, wake up to eat dinner, and go to bed early. On the weekends I do laundry, grocery shopping, and something fun, either by myself or with my husband (if he is in town). Some of the fun things I have done include:

  • going to a local music festival by myself, where I met another woman who doesn't have kids! We exchanged phone numbers and promised to text each other when we are going to do something fun. So far we've stayed in touch, even though we haven't met up again yet.

  • I've also been going to a monthly happy hour for women who do not have kids. I get the impression that many of them do not have kids by choice but you never know... It's been a fun time getting to know women knowing I will not be asked when I am going to have children. Plus, I know there will never be a surprise pregnancy announcement from anyone in the group. The group is designed for women who don't have kids and never will. By choice or by circumstance, we all have a certain thing in common: we live a different life compared to the friends we've known for a long time who now do have children.

  • I have also spent time exploring my new city and the restaurants and attractions it has to offer. I know so few people here, but I am so much less lonely than I was while living in my hometown. I am so glad I moved.

So. Now the two short stories I have to share...

  1. Today at lunch I was told to enjoy my free time while I had it because once I had kids everything would change. Seriously? Does it ever end?? It was said by a new co-worker who had been so nice up to that point and probably has no idea that we are near the same age. Because she has been so nice and because I was so unprepared, I said nothing and just walked away. But I'm prepared for next time! Next time (because it seems like there will always be a next time), I will say something along the lines of, "I think, kids or no kids, not having enough free time just comes with being an adult." I think that statement is non-confrontational and appropriate for the work setting, especially with someone who has been so pleasant. It lets me not allow the comment go without being contested and it offers a new perspective for the harried parent--a perspective that says hey, you're not the only one who's busy.

    (The first story was my loss. I missed a moment to reply to a rather condescending comment from a parent. The second story is a win. Because I swore next time this was said to me I would be prepared.)

  2. I stayed a little late by choice to work on something at work a couple of weeks ago. A co-worker said to go home and I said that I didn't mind spend an extra thirty minutes working because I had nothing to go home to. (Ok, that sounds a little pathetic, but it was a day where I was especially missing my husband and also my dog that passed away this past winter.) She said, "Oh, do you want my burdens?" And I asked, "What?" And she said, "Do you want my children?" And I said, "Yes." There was a pause and she just looked at me. Then she said, "Oh..." Hahaha. I swore to myself that if I was ever asked that question again I was going to answer with a simple "yes." I may sound weird, but following through with what I told myself I was going to say combined with seeing the surprised look on her face left me feeling very satisfied.

I honestly have a third story, and it is very surprising and uplifting, but I will save it for next time...

We win some, we lose some. 
Hang in there my friends and keep on rocking your own badass life. 💜

Monday, July 30, 2018

Tired (literally) of Sharing My Story

I may never share my story in detail again. I might, but I might not. I'm just so tired of how it always ends.  It wears me out and often makes me mad.

Last week I decided to share the fact that it's not by choice that I don't have children to a very sensitive, empathetic, and smart woman I have come to know. She also happens to not have children as well. I thought she would get it. Or even if she didn't get it, I thought she wouldn't say anything stupid.

I was wrong.

I shared with her that I had always wanted children, I had planned my whole life around having children, I had bought a beautiful house for my children, and then I didn't get to have my children. I said I tried everything and nothing worked. I described it as traumatizing and shared that I was still recovering from it all. That, in a way, I would always be recovering from it. Grief is not linear and it doesn't necessarily end.

She asked, "Did you lose a baby?"

I hate this question. I hate hate hate it. It makes me feel like others think my loss isn't as big, isn't as meaningful, isn't as important, isn't as devastating and life changing.

I told her, "It's not that I just didn't get to birth my babies. I also never got to conceive them." And then to clarify I added, "I didn't have a miscarriage; I just couldn't ever get pregnant."

And it didn't end there. If it had ended there, that would be one thing. But she went on.

She asked, "What about adoption?"

I haaaaaaate being asked this.

I usually say I tried that too and it didn't work out and leave it at that. But I was having an open, in-depth conversation with this woman and I trusted her, so I decided to educate her a little bit. I shared how long I researched adoption agencies, how I finally found one I wanted to work with, and then (thankfully before we had invested any time, money, or hope) they went bankrupt. I told her how I couldn't do it anymore. I informed her how adoption has changed a lot over the years: how society has changed (for the better) and that single mothers are not as stigmatized and often receive more support from their families now and so there are not as many newborns available for adoption as there are families wanting to adopt. I told her how international adoption laws have changed, making international adoption much harder, if not impossible for some countries. I shared some of the ethical issues that arise with adoption. I shared with her how both of my sisters tried to adopt. One had a failed placement, while the other never received a placement after years of home studies, interviews, money, and waiting. I told her the average wait for adoption was at least 4 years and that I had aged out of the process according to my own preferences. (I added that other people may choose to be older parents, which is fine, but it's not my choice for myself.) I told her that I knew people who tried to adopt for many years and never became parents. I ended by telling her, "Not everyone who wants to be a mother gets to be a mother." And, by then, I was totally, completely, and absolutely exhausted.

She did reply with, "It's not fair that there are people with so much love to give and they don't get to have children." So she got it. She really did listen to me and everything I said, understood it all, and took it to heart.

I don't regret sharing my story with her. She is a kind, wise woman. But if one of the kindest, wisest women I know still asks me about pregnancy loss and adoption, I really don't have much hope for others. And I'm just tired of answering and/or deflecting those questions.

I'm just so tired of it all... So, it is quite possible that I may never share my story in detail again.