Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Living My Life

(This post was inspired by Mali writing about why she'll never say that she'll never get over it and Elaine and Klara who both wrote about how they are not living their "plan B," they are just living their life.)

I'm learning how to quilt. I don't sew. But I've saved a lot of t-shirts that I wanted to get made into a t-shirt quilt. But as I looked around online at different people who offered this service, the more I realized that I wanted to make my own t-shirt quilt with my old t-shirts. So I decided to learn how to quilt.

Fortunately for me, there's a place nearby that has classes so I've been learning some basics. All of the classes kind of build on each other. Right now I'm learning how to piece so I can make a quilt top.

I'm tired, I'm broke, and I've decided to take quilting classes. And it's one of the best things I could've done. It takes my mind off of everything that is stressing me out. I can get in the flow of ironing, cutting, and sewing fabric. When I'm in my weekly class, I'm around people and learning something new. I enjoy working on my current project and I look forward to seeing and feeling the final product.

The major thing is what I've realized. It's the first time I've done something where I didn't think, "Well, I'm only doing this because I couldn't have children."  That is how I have felt about pretty much everything the last several years. But not this. Not my new hobby. This is something new and fun and exciting and it has nothing to do with anything I've lost. It has nothing to do with anything that didn't work out. It's just something I thought of, looked into, and signed up for.

Like how I used to do before infertility.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Still Feeling Foggy

My divorce was finalized this week and I promptly chucked my cell phone into the washing machine with the sheets. It didn't fully survive. I can make and receive calls and texts, but the camera doesn't work.

And I really enjoy taking pictures. It's actually a great mental health practice for me. I got back into keeping photo albums during my depressive episode of 2009 and I've been at it ever since. Vacations, good meals, crafts I've made, friends I've seen... My photo albums remind me of all of my good times and memories. So, needless to say, I will be buying a new phone. For my mental health of course. Hahaha :)

But seriously. I initiated the divorce; I wanted the divorce. Well, that sounds weird but you know what I mean... Since there were no compromises happening and our incompatibilities weren't going to change, I just needed the whole thing to be over. And now it is. And I feel better. It's a huge weight off my shoulders.

But I am still feeling foggy. As evidenced by my now-washed cell phone.

It's the ending of a marriage, the ending of a friendship, the ending of an era, and the definite ending to my dreams of having and raising our children together.

Those are no small endings.

So I'm doing what I prescribe to myself best: I'm taking it easy. I'm not driving if I don't have to. I'm not making commitments if I don't need to. I'm not talking to people who stress me out. I'm asking myself throughout the day, "What do I need right now?" I'm paying attention to when I'm hungry and when I'm sleepy. I'm extending myself grace and patience when I get easily upset or frustrated. Overall, I am just trying to slow down. I don't want to accidentally hurt myself (or anyone else!) while I am navigating this fog.

To try something different, I signed up for a weekly sewing class a couple of weeks ago. Maybe needles aren't the best thing for me to handle right now haha, but I am excited to put all of my tired thoughts aside and learn something new. And now, my friends, I am off to class! :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Thankful for Support

I need this space. I think the biggest thing I lost in my divorce was the infertility support. My ex was awesome at supporting me. I often thought about that. How can a somewhat emotionally unreachable person be SO GOOD at supporting me through my worst nightmare?

I think it goes back to what he told me once, that raising kids was my lifelong dream but it wasn't his. I think he could be there for me because he wasn't traumatized. But because he wasn't traumatized, he didn't undergo a massive transformation like I did while recovering from infertility. In fact, other than his wife falling apart, he didn't really have anything to recover from. We made a new life plan together and he always supported me through it, but I guess he didn't want to move and change as much as we both thought he wanted to. So, even though I said I wasn't going to blog about it, that's what I've come up with in a nutshell with regard to trying to understand the abrupt ending to my marriage.

Like I said, the biggest loss for me in my divorce was losing my main support. I lost the one person who stood by me and saw and understood everything I went through while trying to conceive.

Thankfully, I have you all.

Our community understands my pain, my loss, and my joy despite my pain and loss. Thank you.

When I feel alone, I can log on and reach out to connect, read to feel understood, and write to cry, vent, and/or celebrate. Thank you.

And, it was perfectly timed for right when I needed it, Mali published a book (which I promptly purchased, read, and reread).

The support I receive from you and from our community... It's priceless. Invaluable.

Thank you.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

My 4th Survivor Anniversary

I observed my 4th Survivor Anniversary a couple of weeks ago. I was not blogging on my first survivor anniversary, but I wrote about my second anniversary here and my third anniversary here.

My 4th anniversary brings... Many conflicted feelings. I was not very okay for the first three months of this calendar year. I cried often and blogged about it a bit. I am also simultaneously beyond okay; in fact, I am totally kicking ass. Of course, I don't often receive this message from society so I make sure to remind myself pretty frequently. ;)

I tried to get pregnant for four years. (2.5 years of charting, 6 months of agonizing treatments, and 1 year of hoping for a miracle.) Now it has been four years since my last round of IVF did not result in pregnancy. It has been four years since I, within the course of one month, decided to stop medical intervention, apply to go back to school for a new career, and then move after graduation to a different state to live a completely different life.

And here I am. Graduated, moved, and living life without my children after infertility. And pretty happily so. And I'm also getting divorced... Oh did I forget to mention that?

Of course I know I haven't mentioned that. I have had no idea how to mention it. I've been going through it (hence, the real reason for my blogging hiatus last fall), and you know how it is when you are actually going through something--it can be hard to articulate. So, for now, I will continue to blog about infertility, but I probably won't blog about my marriage or subsequent divorce. But, just so you know, I am no longer married.

So my 4th Survivor Anniversary finds me in a definitely unexpected place. I am happy and I am content. A part of me will always be sad about not getting to raise my children. I continue to grieve and process infertility. I am also processing my divorce. Plus, I'm feeling a bit stressed and overwhelmed with being on the job market and having my lease end soon. So, honestly, I am exhausted. But that's life. Stress comes and goes. Infertility showed me how strong and resilient I really am. I will be fine. I will find a job and a new apartment. Life goes on and I continue to choose to enjoy the little things. I will continue to cook and craft and try new stuff. In fact, tonight I went to a basic sewing class to learn how to sew.

Life is meant to be lived. I am so grateful to have my peace of mind, the opportunity to start a new career, and the rest of my life to explore everything my new home has to offer. From one survivor to another, Happy Anniversary (for whenever yours is)! Whatever you are doing (no matter how much or how little it may seem right now), you are doing awesome!!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Grief Affects Cognition

I was trying to find an important document this summer. I looked where it was supposed to be and then I looked everywhere else. I couldn't find it, made a mental note, and went on with life.

Several months later I looked again. I checked my files and my important papers and my unsorted junk mail and the piles of miscellaneous stuff I'd kept. I still couldn't find it.

Last week came the time when I actually needed that document. I sighed and told myself I'd look again. I started with the file folder where it was supposed to be, the file folder where I had already looked multiple times before.

And there it was. Clear as day. Right in front of my face.

And my first thought was "Dammmn, grief really affects cognition."

(I know I had looked in that folder before. I know for sure. At least I thought I had... Ha! What I do know for sure is that I looked for this document multiple times and didn't find it when it was actually filed away where it was supposed to be the entire time.)

My brain is finally starting to calm down. The grieving process demands a lot. After years of heightened vigilance that comes with trauma and then years of hard work as I changed nearly everything to create a life for myself that I think I'll enjoy, be successful at, and be of service to others, I finally have some breathing space. And not only am I taking this breathing space, I am fiercely defending it. I am mindful of the commitments I am making and how I am spending my time, money, and energy. It's easy to think I'm fine now, that I am at The End. That I made it. I mean, I moved and graduated and changed careers and surely I'm over the whole infertility thing by now. But I'm not. It's a part of me and it always will be.

I am thankful that my current stage of recovery includes my brain calming down and I'm thankful that my current period of life allows me some breathing space. Going through infertility and grieving the loss of motherhood exhausted me. Experiencing it and then recovering from it took everything I had, every single bit of energy I could muster.

Eight months ago I couldn't find an important document. Last week it was right where it was supposed to be. With the passing of time and the conscious permission to myself to think my thoughts and feel my feelings, healing has come. And with healing comes clarity and peace of mind. And then simple tasks, like locating a document, become simple again.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

My Other Sister

I swear my family likes me. I promise you they're good people and they love me and I love them. But damn do they suck at understanding anything related to infertility.

As I make progress in my recovery, I take more risks in talking honestly about my reality. I was talking on the phone to my oldest sister last night and she asked how I was doing. I said pretty well but admitted that I had been feeling sad lately. She asked why and I said infertility and she said, "Why are you still sad about that?" And I said, "Because this is the time period when I was going through IVF. Because infertility is a lifelong loss. Because I didn't get to raise my children." She said, "Oh."

If it only could have ended there... But it didn't.

My sister started telling me about her grown son who lives nearby whom she hasn't seen in a month. She said, "You're lucky you don't have kids. Children are a blessing and a curse. Just remember that."

So of course I told her, "You are lucky you got to have a kid. Children are a blessing and a curse. Just remember that."

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Forgiving Myself

I've been crying more than usual lately. I haven't been feeling my best, and I've just been overall a little sad. January, February, and March have always seemed hard since I quit fertility treatments. This is the time period that I was going through IVF. This three-month period has felt pretty melancholy for the past five years now.

But I was getting mad at myself. Why was I crying so often?
Was I ever going to stop crying about this topic??

I didn't realize how mad I was until I realized that I forgave myself.
I forgave myself for being emotional and, after being reminded to do so by a friend, I extended grace to myself, allowing myself to feel everything I was feeling without judgment.

Life can be HARD.

Yes, I worked my mind, spirit, and butt off to come up with a life that I wanted to live and then I did everything I had to do in order to make it happen and now it's here.

But I still continue to be freaking exhausted.
But I'm also really happy.

I'm finishing up my final step so I can start my new career and I'll be able to start looking for a job soon. I'm meeting new people and going to new places and doing new things. But the world is very, very fertile. So fully participating in life again comes at the cost of having to deal with reminders of what all I've lost. Simple conversations with great new friends can unexpectedly catch me off guard and hurt me deeply. I tuck my pain away in a safe place to process later when I am alone. Hence, the recent uptick in crying...

I forgive myself for still being sad. I allow myself to continue to grieve.

I'm proud of myself for putting myself out there, for getting involved and interacting with the rest of the world again.

I'm also giving myself permission to cry. It's a lot to deal with; it's a lot to process. There are so many layers to living without children after infertility.

I was mad at myself, but I'm not anymore. What initially looked like regression to me is actually progress. It's a new chapter in my life and I am forging ahead.