Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A Day Without Demands

I don't know what I'm going to do today. 

I know what I am NOT going to do. I am not going to work because it's my day off. I am not going to run errands because I spent a lot of time in the car yesterday. I am not going to unpack because I just plain don't feel like it. 

I've had my new job for two months now. I've learned a lot and I'm definitely better at it than I was when I first started. But still... There's something there that I can't quite put my finger on yet. There is something that I don't like about my new job. But for now... I am gaining experience and getting paid and for that I am grateful.

The move is behind us. The rental property is no longer in our life. Everything I own is either at my new house or my old storage unit (which I will move out of sometime in the next year!). I'm functional here. There's food in the kitchen. The washer works. My clean work clothes are hanging in the closet. The bathroom is unpacked. The tv is set up and we have internet streaming so I can watch Turner Classic Movies, my new favorite channel. Who knew I liked old movies?

My car is repaired. My boyfriend is vaccinated. And I saw my parents for the first time in two years this past weekend. It was a great visit!!! I was honestly a little anxious and a bit stressed about it, but we could not have planned a better visit. They saw my new town, my new home, where I work, and got to try take out food from my favorite restaurants. We visited. We went on walks. We napped in the living room. We watched baseball and the Olympics together. It was perfect!

Which brings me to today. My day without demands. 

I don't know what I'll do today, but I'm not doing much. I'll go back to work tomorrow. I'll cook and clean and unpack and organize later. With each passing week, I'll coordinate home projects as we settle into our 105-year-old home that needs some repairs and updates. But today I'm giving myself a break.

Can a mother ever truly give herself a day without demands? I suppose she can arrange for childcare. She can tell her loved ones she needs a day to herself. Worst case scenario, she can wait out the 18 - 25 years until the youngest kid grows up. So yes and no.

But, like I've written before, that doesn't matter. That has nothing to do with my life. The facts are I am living MY life and I don't have kids. I am not parenting. Nor am I a caregiver at this time. I can take a day off just for myself. I can give myself a day without demands.

Not raising children wasn't my choice, but I will take the advantages that can come with it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Needle Phobia

I've been wondering how many people want to be vaccinated, but their extreme fear of needles is preventing them from getting the shot (or two).

I'll never forget finally mustering up the courage to go see a fertility doctor after two years of trying to get pregnant without medical intervention. We met with the doctor, went over our data and history, and she recommended IVF. But, she said, we could try IUI first if we wanted. She just said our best chances would be with IVF. 

Terrified, absolutely terrified of IVF, I said I wanted to try IUI first.

She said okay and began telling me about the medication I would be injecting.

Cue me losing my shit in her office.

Injecting? A shot?? I have to give myself shots?? I wasn't yelling, but the terror in my voice and the tears streaming down my face were unmistakable. And by the look on my doctor's face, I could tell she was surprised by my strong reaction.

She didn't know she needed to wade gently into the idea of a medicated IUI with injectables with me. She did not know who she was dealing with. (Have I mentioned before that I hate medical stuff and I'm a very nervous patient? Yes, yes I have. Many times. But it's worth repeating... I *hate* medical appointments, hospitals, and even the simple smell of rubbing alcohol.) 

My doctor wasn't forewarned; she had no way of knowing. She quickly backtracked into comforting me before moving forward. She downplayed the whole experience, saying how small the needles were and how it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Bless her. She tried. 

I knew I didn't have a choice. Well, we always have a choice. But I knew how badly I wanted to have a baby and I knew I would be giving myself shots in order to try and get pregnant. In that moment I was so angry. I was so scared. 

I had no idea how I was going to get through it.

Long story short, I faced my fears and gave myself a shot. Over the next six months, I gave myself many, many, many shots. I went through five medicated cycles (3 IUIs, 2 IVFs) and I hated every second of it. But I wanted to have a baby and that's how strong that drive can be. Even my extreme needle phobia couldn't stop my pursuit to get pregnant.

It just makes me wonder about people getting vaccinated during the pandemic. No matter how badly someone wants to be vaccinated, there can still be that irrational, but very real and very huge fear of needles preventing some people from getting injected.

I know going through IVF fundamentally changed me. When the first vaccine clinic came to my county, I signed up as soon as I could. If I hadn't already been through IVF, I don't think I would have had the courage to do that. I'd like to think that I could find the courage to voluntarily get a shot, but I wonder if I could... Had I not been through what I survived.

It has just been on my mind. There are probably people who really want to be vaccinated, but their fear of needles is getting in the way. I empathize. I know what it's like to have needle phobia. I know what it's like to be angry and scared.

I'm also grateful for my hard-earned fortitude.

"I don't run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run towards it 
because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your foot." -Nadia Comaneci

Monday, July 12, 2021

Fifth Time's the Charm

Hello! I've missed you!! How have you been doing??

I... Have been moving. While still learning this new job that's kicking my butt. It's been nonstop work, in one way or another, since I wrote my last post. You haven't missed anything fun. Even my sewing machine is still boxed up. It's just like the saying goes, "When it rains, it pours." Moving is terrible, but I am so grateful for each one of my moves.

I have now moved FIVE times since knowing I won't be raising children in this lifetime, and two of those moves have been during the pandemic (something I highly recommend NOT doing if you can avoid it).

So let's revisit those moves briefly...

Move #1: This one SUUUCKED. I packed the nursery that never saw children, hired various people to make repairs, and put the house that I bought for my children on the market. It sold the first weekend. Thankful it sold so quickly, I still cried throughout the whole process. It was awful. It was devastating and heart-wrenching. It cemented the fact that I would not be a mother. (Although I was relieved to get out of the suburbs...) I moved back into the heart of the city. I moved to the same area where I went to college and had my first two jobs after college. Moving back to a familiar area where I had good memories gave me some comfort. Then I started graduate school, ha! Grad school sucked so bad. But, it was a means to an end. And, like most things, grad school eventually ended and I could move on to where I really wanted to be.

Move #2: This one was HAAARD. After living in an overpriced rental for two years while going to grad school, I was chomping at the bit to move out of state. Ever since realizing I wasn't going to be a mom, I wanted to move to a different state and live a different life. But my practical side wouldn't let me leave the place I had called home for 25 years until after I had gone back to school (gotta take advantage of that in-state tuition!). I used to think, "Why doesn't everyone just move if they're unhappy where they are?" Silly me, nothing "just" happens easily. Moving out of state is difficult and expensive. But we did it! Well, at least I did anyway. My husband never even looked for a job... I left our marriage three months after moving. (There were many other contributing factors, but living alone in a cool apartment in a new, fun city when I was married and lonely was one of the last straws for me.)

Move #3: This one was a CONFIDENCE BOOSTER. I did it!!! I realized my dream. I was living in a new state and I had moved out of the city. I had a job that paid my bills (even if it was teaching, my old career, instead of my new career in healthcare) and I lived in a rented condo surrounded by nature. I quickly realized my new town was not where I wanted to settle down, but I enjoyed the area for the year that I lived there. Plus, I got a weekend job at a hospital that I really enjoyed and it got me started in my new career.

Move #4: This one NEARLY BROKE ME. It really was the nightmare move from hell. Even though we did it, I don't know how my boyfriend and I did this move. After waiting two extra weeks for a rented moving truck, we had one day to move everything 4 hours and 2 mountain passes away. We made two trips to move everything within 24 hours and then we collapsed at the end of our seemingly never-ending day. We were painfully sore for weeks. It was truly awful. It was long, hot, physically demanding, and extremely stressful because it was in the middle of the pandemic so we didn't even feel safe stopping for gas or the bathroom. Plus, our new rental was so, so hot. And grimy from years and years of renters. Again, we knew we had moved somewhere temporary. While thankful for housing, we dreaded moving again in another year.

Move #5: This one was hard, but it also FELT GOOD. My boyfriend and I moved into OUR home, a house that we bought, a place that we won't have to pack up and move again in 364 days. It's been long, but it's been worth it. We definitely don't take it for granted. We did not want to move again, especially during the pandemic, but we love our new place. It's an old house (105 years!) so it has lots of imperfections, but it is perfect for us. I'll write more about our new home later. The fact is, we are here now.

Moving is awful. It's hard work, it costs money, and it makes you live with disorganization for months. But... When you get to where you want to be, it is so worth it!!! Six years ago I decided to move to this state. I had no idea I would end up in the small town where I am now. I just kept moving away from what I didn't want and moving toward what I did want.

And now I am here.


Thursday, June 24, 2021

Positively Overwhelmed

I've built a strong foundation for the rest of my life. I have my values, my skills, and my experiences. But I still feel insecure. I'm working on accepting the uncomfortable feelings I'm feeling right now. It's really uncomfortable. Really, really uncomfortable. In one moment I feel strong and in the next moment I feel self-conscious and self-critical.

Gahhh this is my life with anxiety. 

I'm tired of it. I usually manage well, but it turns out a lot of stress can still send me spiraling. I'm so glad I'm in my forties, not my teens or twenties. I have better coping strategies now. 

I notice my feelings. I don't judge them. I sit with them. I get what information I can from them. 

And I keep going. 

It makes sense I feel this way. But even if it didn't make sense, my feelings would still be valid.

Learning this new job continues to kick my butt. I got some feedback today that was delivered constructively but was still hard to hear. My car has been in the shop for weeks. I like my rental car and so far the process is going smoothly. So there's lots to be thankful for, but it's still a pain. Something to keep track of, something to pay for, and something to plan around. It takes up head space. Not to mention I'm moving. I'm sitting around boxes. My boyfriend and I will be physically moving all of them soon, along with the furniture. But first, we decided to repaint the kitchen before moving in, which has turned into repainting the living room as well. There's a lot of good, but it's a bit overwhelming. Plus, my sewing machine and all of my fabric are packed away.

I am out of balance.

But that's how it goes sometimes.

In my experience, life doesn't happen for years and years. Then life happens all at once.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

From Creating to Building

After my second and final attempt at IVF did not result in pregnancy, I sat in my recliner with my dog at my feet and felt the most empty and lost I had ever felt in my life. Now what?? What am I going to do with the rest of my life when I don't even want to be alive?

I thought of my dad. How present he was to give me a happy childhood. How hard he worked to afford after school activities and college for me. How loving he was to raise me with his value system and a sense of fun. 

I HAD to do something. I had so much to give. Well, I used to have so much to give... At the moment I was utterly depleted... But I could cultivate the energy I used to have... I could be useful to someone, somewhere... But WHO. WHAT. WHERE. I had no idea...

I am not a religious person, but I definitely believe in something bigger than me. So I gave all of my sadness and all of my emptiness and all of my questions over to my faith. I couldn't problem solve anymore. I was completely spent.

I gave myself a week to sit in despondency. I mean, I'd already been lost for years...
What was one more week?

After a week, I decided to move. 

I knew I could no longer sit around my children's house waiting for life to happen to me. I was confused why I even bought a house in the suburbs in the first place. Except, deep down, I knew why. It was the perfect house for my children. The perfect floor plan. Plus, the house was equidistant between two recreational places I knew we'd be going to a lot, at least until my children could express their own interests and then we would go explore whatever they wanted. 

But now... The house, the location... None of it was necessary.
None of it fit the life I was going to have. 

I decided to move somewhere beautiful. I don't really like to travel, so I decided to live somewhere I always wanted to be. Somewhere that I didn't need to escape.

And thus began the long,  s   l   o   w  process of creating a life I wanted to live.

I decided which state to move to. I discovered a new profession. I applied to go back to school. I knew it was going to take a long time to create a whole new life for myself. For 35 years I had planned on having children. I had saved everything from my teaching days so I could homeschool. I owned at least 1,000 kids books (and even that is a low estimate!). It was going to take a whole freaking lot to completely change directions.

I told myself to keep moving forward, no matter how slowly. I told myself to get out of bed at least six days out of seven. I had been severely depressed and lost in infertility limbo for over three years. I told myself to hold on for another three years, give creating a new life for myself everything I had, and see where I was three years in the future.

A little over three years into the future, I had moved to another state, was finishing up school, and was getting divorced. Oh. Only two of those three things were planned.

Still, I knew it would take more time to actually build a life for myself...

Now it has been three more years since that point. I've moved a couple more times and had several different jobs. It's been hard and exhausting but like I always say: What was the alternative? Stay stuck where I was? I felt like I'd already wasted enough of my life...

Drumroll please... :) 

As of this past week I feel like I am finally moving from creating a life I want to live to building a life I want to live. As of now, I live where I want to be, I have a job I like, a boyfriend I love, and a hobby that makes me happy. Most importantly, I have the best relationship with myself that I've ever had. I accept the annoying things that I do and I'm proud of who I am, what I've worked through, and what I've learned. And I'm amazed at the life I am building.

I joined a quilt guild last week! I'm much younger than the average age of the members in the guild, but I don't care. I'm going to make new friendships with these women. I will learn about their lives, including their children and grandchildren, and we will talk a whole, whole lot about quilting!! I am so excited.

I also joined my profession's state organization and I'm in the process of starting a new regional district with a woman that I haven't even met yet. I am so enthusiastic about this.

My co-workers at my new job are nice and someone is planning a family-friendly social event (meaning, bring your kids, spouse, partner, etc.) for an upcoming Saturday. My co-workers are friendly people and it will be nice to get together outside of work in the outdoors for a picnic. (My co-workers are also vaccinated which is immensely relieving.) I am looking forward to it.

I did it! I created a life I want to live. I decided on WHO and HOW and WHERE I want to be and I did it. Now I don't have to create it anymore. Now I get to just build on it. And I love it. 

I love my life.

And I thank my children every day. I had picked out a boy's name and girl's name and so I thank them both out loud quite often. We don't get to be together on Earth in this lifetime, but I feel our love and their guidance as they bring me closer to myself, to others, and to my true purpose for being here: to be of service to my community.

(My favorite tv show as a kid was Fraggle Rock and writing about building my new life reminded me of the Doozers, the characters that were always building. Plus, Fraggle Rock had one of the best theme songs ever.)

Dance your cares away,
Worry's for another day.
Let the music play,
Down at Fraggle Rock.

Work your cares away,
Dancing's for another day.
Let the Fraggles play,
We're Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, Red.

Dance your cares away,
Worry's for another day.
Let the music play,
Down at Fraggle Rock.
Down at Fraggle Rock.
Down at Fraggle Rock.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Relatable Words from Others

Hearing other people's stories is a privilege. Being there for people when they are at their most vulnerable is a big responsibility. I would have never considered a new career, much less one in healthcare (I *hate* anything medical and I'm the most anxious patient ever), if it weren't for my experiences with infertility.

I still don't like it when things don't go according to plan. I definitely don't like waiting. I don't like injections, blood draws, or ultrasounds. I'm sure I never will. But I can handle it. All of it. And I remember all of it too. Because of this, when I work with people I try to really see each person, empathize with their feelings, and validate their experience.

And people will talk when there is someone to listen. They will tell you their pain. They will tell you their worries. They will ask you questions you don't have answers for.

Every day at work I experience so many different feelings and situations. 

Today I heard an elderly person say, "I'm trying to live, but it seems like I can't live or die." It reminded me of when I felt like that, in between living and being dead. This person has different circumstances from me, but these awful feelings transcend many different scenarios. I felt like I could relate. There was nothing I could say, but I could listen.

Also today, I heard another elderly person say, "Yeah, I never married. I never met the right man. Didn't have children either. I just did whatever I wanted. Like I do now. It's great!" And just like that, on the complete other end of the spectrum of my infertility-related feelings, I could relate to this sentiment too. It felt great. 

I don't have children and I do whatever I want. Of course, I have to live within the parameters of real life and my budget and everything. But not raising children is the reason why I changed careers, why I moved out of state, why I got divorced, and why I live where I live now. 

I'm doing what I want. I'm living my life, not anyone else's.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Sleeping To Restore

Is sleep a privilege? I've been requiring and, fortunately, getting a lot of sleep lately. But I don't mention it in casual conversation at work. I feel like I have sleep privilege. I hear my co-workers talk about not sleeping through the night with a baby or getting up with a sick kid. I know they're tired. I mean, dang, *I* am tired and I am getting a full night's sleep every night.

I made a comment about taking a nap once and my Department Lead asked me to think of her when I took my naps. I smiled and replied, "Sure, I'll think of you when I nap and you can think of me when you get little kid snuggles and together we'll have it all" and somehow it wasn't awkward or rude sounding or over sharing or anything that left me with a weird feeling later. It was just the two of us talking and the conversation just flowed and we both laughed and I doubt she's thought about it since.

So that's what's been going on with me.

Sleep. Work. Learning this new job that's kicking my butt and brain. It's a great opportunity because I was hired to cover two different departments, but I'm learning both systems as things come up. It's a not-linear way of learning (aka real life) and it's hard. 

I went from hibernating all winter to being vaccinated, working, and interacting with (masked!) people. It's a lot of physical, social, and cognitive demands. It's a lot to adjust to. 

I'm appreciating it! I'm just tired. And I'm thankful for my restorative sleep.