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.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Pregnancy & Parenting Chatter

I'm back in the workforce as I complete my clinical rotations. It seems like everyone assumes everyone is fertile and that assumption is getting on my nerves. This week alone:

  • A patient said to me, "You'll understand when you have children," talking about how I will inevitably put everyone else's needs first when I inevitably get pregnant and have kids.

  • Another patient, upon learning about my pediatrics rotation in the fall said, "Oh, well that will cure you from wanting children." Okay... Says the lady whose daughter comes to the hospital to see her every day...

  • A co-worker's daughter got her license. She said, "I can't believe I have a driver." And another co-worker said, "It all happens so fast. Soon she'll be graduating high school and then she'll be moving out of your house..." And they commiserated on how sad it is. All while I'm thinking about my children that I'll never get to see drive, graduate, or move out.

  • Another co-worker is pregnant. I worked with her today. She is obviously pregnant and mentioned her pregnancy about three times in the half hour I worked with her. I get that pregnancy is what's going on in her life, but geez...

  • I sat through lunch today while a co-worker talked to the pregnant co-worker all about her own pregnancies and what to expect in the ninth month. Thankfully another co-worker sat next to me, not knowing my pain/annoyance, and just started talking to me which drowned out the other conversation.

I know, I know. People talk about pregnancy and their kids. People everywhere get pregnant/have kids. People at work get pregnant/have kids.  Everyone at work assumes I will get pregnant/have kids. Everyone at work assumes I *can* get pregnant/have kids. 

Ugh. I get it. But it's still an annoying and irrelevant topic for me.

Pregnancy, child raising, and other noise... Blah blah blah.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Insensitive Sister

I have a new nomination for most insensitive social media post. It used to be one of my best friends from high school announcing her pregnancy with "Never Give Up". But now it is my sister. She posted a picture of her daughter (my niece) saying, "This is my daughter... Wish you were all SO lucky!"

I cannot even make this stuff up.

She wishes we all were so lucky??
Well, we wish so too. At least there's one thing we can agree on.

This sister is not known for her sensitivity. Nope. Not at all. But she was the one I was closest to while growing up. We had a really special relationship. And I believe we will always love each other. But it is not my fault, nor is it my responsibility to deal with, the fact that she is insensitive and, quite frankly, MEAN.

The years that I was trying to conceive were the hardest of my life. I don't want to tempt fate, but it is difficult for me to imagine anything harder than not becoming a mother when it was my lifelong dream to be one. Conception, adoption, I really didn't care about the method or process. I just wanted to raise children. But nothing worked out for me and my husband.

And whether or not it was a healthy practice, I wrote down all of the terribly insensitive things people said to me throughout the years. In one way, it was a way to show myself that I wasn't crazy. That not only was I going through something traumatic but I also had absolutely no support.

Now, for the first time in over three years, I am going to revisit those comments. I saved them in an electronic document and threw that document into a folder that I haven't opened since June 2015. I do not want to overwhelm you or me so I will not copy everything that was said to me. But in light of my sister's most recent "Wish you were all so lucky" post, here is is what she told me during the darkest years of my life:

  • "You waited too long."
  • "Your eggs are too old."
  • "If you weren't so uptight, you'd be pregnant by now."
  • "Just stop trying. Everyone I know who is trying doesn't get pregnant."
  • "Are you sure you want kids?"
  • "You won't understand until you have kids."
  • "I don't think you could handle having children."
  • (And when I confided in her that I was trying IVF) "First world problems." (What does that even mean?? Wait. Don't answer that. Don't even spend your energy thinking about that.)

Look, I'm not going to begin to understand her psychology or what her problems are. I can read all of those comments now and know that they don't come from a healthy person. But when I was in the thick of it, when I was in the middle of trauma and devastation and facing my worst nightmare, every single thing anyone said to me stung. Every single thing a loved one said to me cut me even worse.

Pay no attention to what my sister said to me. She obviously has her own problems. I love my niece very much. And I am also very sad that I didn't get to raise my own children. 

But I share with you what my insensitive sister said to me so that, no matter what hurtful things a loved one has said to you, you know that are not alone.

I stand with you. I stand beside you as your friend. I stand behind you as a support. And I stand in front of you to guide the way, showing you that life is worth living again.

Monday, July 16, 2018

An Annoying Fertile

I knew going back into the work setting would provide a lot of new material for my blog.

Remember the woman who brought her kids to work? Well, most recently she was lamenting how she used to go to breweries all the time on the weekends but now she can't. She actually told us, "When you have kids, you can't just pick up and go wherever you want whenever you want." I looked at who she was talking to: me, my young co-worker who isn't married and doesn't have kids, and another employee who is an older woman who isn't married and doesn't have kids.

Ha! Does she think ANY of us cared about her "problem?" It was so ridiculous that I didn't even feel hurt or mad. Some fertile women really don't know how to read their audience...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Crying At Work

Well, it finally happened. I cried at work.

I figured this would happen sometime... Turns out, yesterday was the day. And it really took me by surprise. I'm thankful no one saw me except for my classmate that is at the site with me. I mean, there's no shame if anyone else had seen me, but I'm glad they didn't.

A staff member's mother brought the staff member's two kids to work for a visit. And the staff member was going around and introducing her kids to everyone. Her daughters were 2 and 5, the same ages my kids would be right now if they had gotten to exist. And of course they were cute. Because all 2 and 5 year olds are cute. (In my opinion. I'm a kid person.)

Like I said, it took me by surprise. I had no idea they were coming and then all of a sudden BAM they were right there. Along with everyone's excitement to see them and meet them and talk about how cute they are and how they look like their mom and isn't motherhood the greatest?? Blah blah blah.

I was blindsided. I quickly looked down. I tried to focus on my work. It was futile. After two hours of this (okay, it was two minutes, but it felt like hours), they left and, by chance, so did everyone else. I was alone in the room with my thoughts and my tears. I was trying to hold them in. I just didn't want to cry at work. I didn't want to cry and I sure as hell wasn't going to explain why I was crying. So I did some deep breathing but there was no fighting it. The tears escaped. So I went to the bathroom and splashed cold water on my face. That didn't help. I told myself it was okay to feel whatever I was feeling but if my body could just hold off on the crying until I got home that would be great.

Somehow, by some unknown reason the room where I work, which is always busy with people, was empty for a good ten minutes during my episode. By the time people came back, my eyes were white (not red) and dry again.

But the next day I brought eye drops to keep at work.
In case/for the next time my eyes get red from crying.