Sunday, December 10, 2017

Awkward Hello

My husband and I ran into an old friend of his today. I recognized him first, pointed him out, and said that we should go say hello. So we did. They became friends in college when they worked at the same place and always stayed in touch. He's a great guy- really fun and friendly, and I love his wife.

But we hadn't seen them in almost a year, not since they shared their pregnancy news with us. We were happy for them and congratulated them. They knew we tried for years and stopped trying. The road to pregnancy was not at all easy for them either.

I don't know if they had any expectations for us, but my husband and I just kind of stepped out of the picture. We live an hour apart. They have a million friends and lots of family, and I knew our lives were going in different directions. I was invited to the baby shower but declined. If I had kids or was going to have kids, I would've loved to have continued cultivating this friendship. But I don't and I'm not so I just did what was best for me.

Anyway, I haven't talked to my husband about it, but I thought it was a little awkward. But it was nice. I'm glad we ran into him. After we saw each other and said our hellos and we were just standing there I said, "So, do you have any pics?" My husband's friend immediately beamed and said, "Do I have any pics? Hahaha." He got out his phone and scrolled through about 20 pictures of their new baby wearing adorable holiday outfits. (I didn't want to admit that I didn't know the kid's name, but you can get away with saying "How cute" and "What a perfect baby" without the new parent catching on.)

The friend was with two of his friends that we'd met before, all three of them fathers to little ones. Like I said, it was a little awkward. But everyone kept the casual conversation going for about ten minutes. As we parted ways, I asked him to tell his wife hello for me which he assured me he would.

I don't know... It was brief. It was unexpected. It was good to see him. But it was a little awkward.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Don't Count on IVF or Adoption

That's what I would tell myself if I could go back in time. I wouldn't change anything. I would still make all the same choices and stay on the same timeline and everything. But at least I'd know. At least I'd have a heads up that IVF and adoption don't always work out. Silly me, I thought everyone who wanted kids could have them, one way or another.

Five failed fertility treatments and one bankrupt adoption agency later...

I know differently.

I always wanted kids. But I always wanted kids later. I watched both my sisters get married young and have kids. They were happy thankfully, but I remember always thinking: I want my own apartment first.

So I don't have any regrets. I don't wish things had gone differently. I am actually extremely thankful. With the support of my family I got to go to college. Once I graduated and got a job, I got my own apartment. It was everything I had hoped and more. It was in a great location and it was back when I feel like things were more affordable and my friends and I had a lot of fun.

I don't regret any parties. I don't regret any late nights. I don't regret drinking beer, living off a diet of french fries and pizza, having boyfriends, going to smoky clubs, and eating greasy food and cake at two in the morning. It was fun. And it was exactly what I wanted to do. I wanted to work hard at my job, volunteer somewhere, and have fun with my friends.

I worked with kids and I wanted kids, just not yet. I hadn't begun dating my husband yet. It just wasn't time. And that was fine with me. I've been known to worry about almost anything, so yes I worried about infertility way before it ever even needed to be on my radar screen. But I always thought, ok, worst case scenario and I face my worst nightmare, there's always adoption and IVF.

I thought they were guaranteed.

I didn't know if I ever wanted to try medical assistance, but I knew I didn't need to birth a child for me to love him or her unconditionally. I know how much I cared about the kids I worked with and they didn't live with me. I didn't read to them or take them to baseball practice. I didn't hold their hand when they were sick. They weren't my kids. But I knew any child that was ever placed in my home would be my child.

Except, of course, that never happened.

These are not the kinds of things I want to talk about when people probe further after they've asked me if I have kids. "Have you thought about IVF?" "Have you thought about adoption?"

No, I haven't. What's that?

(I really want to try that answer out sometime. If you do, please let me know how it goes. I would love to hear.)

No, I wouldn't change anything about my life. Not the bad times or the hard times or the boring times or the making mistakes times or the really really tough lesson times. I'm thankful for how it has unfolded, for the choices I've made and mostly for good luck.

I just wish I knew that IVF fails 70% of the time. That a lot of women have done a lot of treatments and have never gotten pregnant. That it's not easy or affordable. And that it's not this fool proof solution that I thought it was.

And adoption. I didn't realize... So many things... Adoption has changed over the years. Overall, I think there are more people wanting to adopt than there are newborns available for adoption. Also, I've had a lot of different jobs over the years and the time I worked for a foster care agency really informed me of the complexities of foster care and adoption. Plus, the agency provided me with great training about working with trauma-informed children. That was and still is my most favorite job I've ever had, but it wasn't easy. And I got to go home to a quiet, stable home every day to recharge for the next day.

So, in one of those hypothetical "If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?" situations, I would tell myself: don't count on IVF or adoption.

I would encourage myself to live my life just the same. Work hard, be nice, have fun, volunteer. Make all of the same mistakes and choices. All is and will be well.

Just Don't Count On IVF Or Adoption.

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Space In Between

I used to hate the space in between things. Like the commute to work. I just wanted to be at home or at work, not traveling between the two. I didn't really like being engaged. I kind of just wanted to go from boyfriend-girlfriend to married. I just hated the space in between. I hated infertility because it was devastatingly disappointing and traumatic but also because it was a weird limbo space in between. Definitely hated that. I think I would've hated pregnancy too, honestly. Partly because it's a life-changing space in between.

What makes me think of all that is the fact that we're in the space in between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. A time I loved as a kid, hated during infertility, and am starting to enjoy again on my own terms in the last year or two.

It's hard to do things differently. Like celebrating holidays. Especially when you've done them a certain way your whole life and you anticipate continuing to do those things year after year with the next generation. And then that doesn't happen.

There is no answer. There is no solution. There is only getting through.

And then it gets better. Sometimes eventually, sometimes overnight.

Either you learn to adapt to what you've always done or you change what you do in the future.

For me, the idea of celebrating the holidays differently was horrible. I wanted to keep doing what I'd always done, but it got too hard for me. Every cousin started expanding their families and pretty soon I was the only woman without a child and I'm not to the point yet where I am fully comfortable with that position.

So I'm taking a couple of years off. I'll be back. When things are a little different. When I get further down the road in my recovery. When their kids are a little grown. I can see that happening. Just not this year.

That may sound weird to an outsider. It would've sounded weird to me several years ago. But it doesn't sound weird to me right now. It sounds like that's what I need to do.

In a lot of ways I'm in the space in between, but I don't mind so much anymore.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Facing My Stuff, Part II

I did it. I went to my storage unit. Not just once, but three times!

I opened bins and boxes and sorted through things. I kept some stuff and gave some stuff away. I think I reduced the space I was taking up by a third. And I still need to put some books in boxes so it will all stack and store nicely. That will reduce the space I'm taking up as well.

What once was hard is now so much easier. Getting rid of stuff makes me giddy.

I'm to the point where I'm giving away things I love. Beautiful things. Things I really enjoy. So sometimes it makes me feel better to find good homes for certain things. If I think someone in particular will enjoy something, before I put it in my ever-present give away pile in the living room, I ask him/her if they want it. It makes me happy.

  • My mother-in-law took the large decorative glass jars and patterned plates. 
  • My friend from school who just bought a house with her husband is going to take a large framed print, three small framed prints, and a pair of oversized glass vases. 
  • I'm taking all of the books I bought on infertility that I'm not keeping to the library because I know for a fact that they don't have anything on the topic yet.
  • I'm donating my kids books to a local elementary school in need.

The fact is I just don't need a lot of my stuff anymore. I don't ever want to live in a big house again. Our old place wasn't a mansion by any means, but it was a two-story house with lots of storage. My stuff won't all fit in whatever small place we move to next. And as much as I love it all, I definitely don't want a storage unit for the rest of my life.

So, I'm just keeping my most favorite things. My books. My photo albums. My art supplies. A framed concert poster. An autographed picture. Some prints by my favorite artist.

And giving the rest away.

I continue to be so thankful for this time. I'm thankful I'm not in limbo anymore, and I'm thankful I took a couple of years to grieve and process my experience. I know the exact date that I got completely sick of infertility and decided to redirect my life without my children, but it still took over two and a half years to get to where I am today. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

It Keeps Getting Better

Lately I've been using all of my writing mojo to try and finish up this semester's assignments. I miss posting here. I like to try to write something at least once a week. Overall, I'm feeling and coping so much better compared to the last 5 years. I still have a long list of topics I want to write about though, so I do appreciate this space.

I've been keeping up with my reading at least. Blogs, not school. Haha there's no way I could keep up with the reading for school. It's physically impossible. But I've read what everyone has written. I just haven't commented. I really, really appreciate everyone's blogs.

It's easy for me to feel reflective around the holidays, to subconsciously assess my life: where I've been, where I'm going, what I'm learning, how I'm serving. And this point in time is pretty interesting. To me at least. ;)

Right now I am in my fourth semester of graduate school for a new career in a healthcare profession. If you've read any of my posts, you know how disappointed I am with my program. But I am learning a lot! And that's important. I also think anything I would've done post-infertility would be disappointing though. However, my program is disappointing for a couple of different reasons. Oh well. That's life.

The good thing is, no matter what (if I quit school, failed out of school, finished school), this time period has been incredible for me. I've had time to move, sell my children's house, get back in the routine of doing something with my life other than fertility treatments and related appointments, and get used to being around people again. I'm thankful for this period of my recovery process.

Last year I was finishing up the first semester of my program. I was extremely anxious and exhausted and stressed and crawling to the finish line.

The year before I had just submitted my application and was waiting to see what would happen after doing nothing for the last five months but prerequisite courses and all of the other things I had to do to apply.

The year before that I was doing my 2nd IUI. Or maybe I had just found out that it didn't work. Maybe I was starting my 3rd IUI. It was definitely before my 2 IVFs... The dates are really all a blur. I just remember giving it everything I had until I reached my breaking point. (Spoiler alert: I never got pregnant.)

The year before that I was trying to get pregnant without medical assistance. The year before that I was doing the same. The year before THAT I was pissed at my husband because I wanted to start trying but he didn't yet, so I was waiting on him.

Whoa. All those years kinda sucked to be honest. There were happy moments and things to be thankful for, but damn, no wonder my spirit died.

Anyway, back to this year. :)  No, wait. Next year.

Next year if all goes as planned (hahahahahaha yeah yeah I said plans, insert eye roll here, because who can ever actually trust plans again), I will be finishing up my program in another state. Wow!

But first... We are going to our storage unit today. That's another thing I'm thankful for. That I've had almost two years to deal with my stuff. Infertility was hard enough. Packing up everything, moving, and selling the home I bought for my children was just as hard. To be able to just dump everything in a storage unit to be dealt with later... It's one of the nicest parts of my whole recovery process. The more time that passes, the easier it is to give or throw away my stuff.

So that's probably what my next post will be about: Facing My Stuff, Part II. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Advice Column Gets It Wrong

Here's an advice column question and answer, if you're into that sort of thing.

Childless Couple Vows to End Friendship over Kids

There's so much to unpack here.

First of all, NO. There is no comparison between losing parents that lived full lives (and with whom you have memories) and losing children with whom you didn't get to share life. I've already explained that here.

I can agree that "a mature adult learns to process sadness and tolerate discomfort, and not punish others for it." BUT... Processing not only sadness, but devastation and traumatic loss, is a pretty big deal. It takes time. I don't think it's wrong to give some people a couple of years to do this. I mean, that's a pretty tall order, am I right? Plus, people that are in the situation like this/mine (living life without children after surviving infertility) are not punishing others; we are simply taking care of ourselves in a world that, not only does not take care of us, but that also absolutely does not understand, nor have any iota of compassion, understanding, or space for us.

We are just living our lives like anyone else, thank you very much.

So I drafted a response letter in my mind.

Dear "Friends Until Kids,"

I'm sorry your friends are draining you. What you may not understand is that they've been through this before. Things change after you have kids. And that's okay. Understandable even. You're right that choosing not to adopt or not go through IVF is their choice. It's one that spares them any further trauma.

I'm here to say: your friendship with them may indeed be limited. They have probably been down this road before. They know how it goes and they are just giving you a heads up, even if the warning is early in its time. You'll learn soon enough--that your time will be made up of (insert your child's name here). Your friends? They already know.

It's complicated. Your friends can volunteer; they can be mentors or teachers; they can be an awesome aunt and uncle. But there are appropriate and necessary boundaries for those roles. There is no substitute for that parent-child bond.

It's okay. That's just how it is. But for people who wanted what you're getting, well, they're just probably giving you space at this time. Space to enjoy what you have. For you to enjoy your life. While they enjoy theirs. So, it's nothing negative. Not from you, not from them. They just know how it goes. With Love~

One Who Knows

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Pregnant Classmate

I reeeally don't like being around pregnant women. I avoid it at all costs. I don't see friends and I don't see family members when they are pregnant, and I don't feel bad about it at all. I know my lack of enthusiasm for their pregnancy in no way diminishes their happiness and excitement.

I never got to be pregnant. I never got to have children. I never got to be a mom. I have nothing to contribute to anyone's pregnancy. And I prefer not hearing a single detail about their experience.

One of my classmates is pregnant. Good for her, that's great news for her. But now I have to be around a pregnant woman throughout the duration of her pregnancy. I am not happy about it.

Apparently all of my school friends knew, but no one wanted to tell me. That kind of makes me feel stupid. And embarrassed. Oh well, I am almost out of here and then I can move on to the second half of my life.

I know it's unrealistic to expect to avoid every pregnancy. Almost every time I go out into the world I see a woman who is pregnant. It doesn't make me sad anymore. I am moving on with my life. It helps that it's a stranger and I am not expected to engage in conversation with her.

But with my classmate it is unavoidable. This sucks.

I've already heard about her morning sickness, her sleepless nights, and her food cravings. Oh and her husband felt the baby kick last night.

Plus, I am surrounded by girls in their early 20s so of course they all think it's the greatest and cutest thing ever. I've heard talk of throwing her a baby shower. It's this woman's third child. If my classmates do throw her a shower, I will not be attending.

I think my best bet to get through the next 5 months is to just avoid her as much as possible. This is almost impossible, but I can do my best. Already this morning she and I were partnered to work together. She's a nice person and I am happy for her and I know I need to be able to deal with this, but I was hoping I could have another year before being forced to be around someone's pregnancy.

I know once I re-enter the workforce, other people's pregnancies will not be avoidable. Both co-workers and clients will be pregnant. So I guess this is good practice. Still sucks though.