Sunday, June 17, 2018

Beginning Again

Infertility stole so many things from me. Joy, energy, friendships, the desire to engage in activities I once liked. Recovering from infertility involves not only recovering from the trauma of losing your lifelong dream of children, but it also involves recovering from all of the other losses that infertility caused.

I used to like to cook. I was never a gourmet chef or anything. I just cooked simple things that I liked to eat. Infertility killed that. I was so depressed and I had no energy or motivation. I barely even wanted to eat. I skipped breakfast. I skipped lunch. Then for dinner it would a sandwich or a bowl of cereal or going out to eat. Cooking didn't happen for many, many years.

Then we moved to our rental house. Its kitchen was... less than ideal. The pipes were old, the water was gross, and the stove heated up the whole house (and it was already hot outside). Plus, I went back to school, which took every little bit of energy I had. So I continued to not cook. We continued to eat sandwiches, cereal, and take out.

It wasn't very healthy, nourishing, or cheap. But we were doing the best we could.

But... Drum roll please... I cooked something last week!

I bought ingredients, I mixed them up, I put them in the oven, and I made something tasty to eat. It was the first time I'd used an oven in at least four years. That sounds crazy to me, but it's true.

And I'm going to cook again today. :)

I start the next phase of my school tomorrow. I'm done with classes and now I get to actually do the hands-on learning in a real-world setting. I'm excited and nervous and my biggest concern is my lack of endurance. It's been a long time since I have been on my feet and interacted with people all day long. Classes were one thing, but they weren't all day and I could always come home and take a nap. (I'm telling you, infertility seriously knocked me down and out of life for several years.)

But I am committed to living again. I am committed to eating regularly, so I have the energy to learn as much as I can and to take good care of my patients. I know this next phase will be difficult, but I also know I will build endurance and be so much stronger when it is over.

So on Friday I meal planned. On Saturday I grocery shopped. And today I am going to cook. I'm making a breakfast casserole so I can heat up a serving each morning. I'm meal prepping my lunches (and snacks!) that I'm going to bring every day. And I thought of easy, healthy dinners I can make when I get home exhausted from a long day.

Part of me feels pretty lame. Cooking/feeding oneself every day is something that everyone does. If I had kids, I would have to feed them every day. It reminds me of when my sister told me, "You wouldn't be able to handle having kids." But dammit, very few people in this world understand what I have been through and how it killed my spirit. I need to honor myself and, instead of beating myself up, be proud of how far I've come. So that's what I'm trying to do.

I'm beginning again. In the kitchen. Which is pretty metaphorical in itself. Wish me luck! :)

Friday, June 15, 2018

Leaving My Healing House

Hellooo everyone! I have missed reading and writing. I look forward to getting caught up on everyone's blogs. But I am happy to share that I am settled in my new home. I am unpacked, organized, and, thanks to my mother who came to visit this week, all of my pictures are hung up on the walls and my new home is now decorated as well. I can't believe it: it's only been 3 weeks and I am already settled. My new home is the homiest home I've ever had. :)

I am so grateful for my little rental house, where I lived for a little over 2 years. It was old and it was far from perfect, but it brought me a lot of healing. It gave me time between living in my children's house and living here in my new home. I did a lot of grieving and healing in that rental house. Before I started school, I spent a lot of days just sitting in my recliner reading. It was there that I stopped reading TTC posts entirely. I had already started reading infertility blogs, but I officially ended my quest for children six months after moving there. I spent the rest of my time reading books and blogs about women living life without children after infertility and just putting one foot in front of the other. It took absolutely everything I had.

The house had a good energy though. I talked to the homeowner, a woman in her late 80s who had bought the house with her husband some sixty years ago, and learned she was an artist. It was not just a hobby; she was a working artist with pieces commissioned for important places all over the world. She said the house had good energy and had been good to everyone who had lived there. Plus, the house was close to school and had a backyard for my dog so it was perfect for us at the time.

Living in that healing house gave me the space I needed to deal with my infertility experience. It was there that I went through every single piece of paper I had accumulated throughout my TTC journey. It was there that I went through all of my files from the fertility clinics and adoption agencies. It was there that I decided to shred it all except for the pictures of my embryos.

Living in that healing house gave me the gift of time. It gave me an in between stage where I could sort through my things and sort through myself, deciding what to keep and what to let go. It would have been very difficult to go straight from living in the house I bought for my children to living in a place where I knew that I would never have children.

I cried so much and so hard in that rental house. And with each good cry I shed a layer of pain and devastating disappointment. I wrestled with my existential demons, wondering what was the point of anything really. I missed my expectations for my old dreams and I missed my previous relationships with my friends and family that had been forever changed. I grieved and I healed.  And then I moved out.

And now I am here.


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Pictures of Other People's Children

One of the things I still struggle with as a woman who always wanted kids but is not going to have them is pictures of other people's children. Pictures of newborns, Halloween costumes, the first and last days of school, etc. just kill me on the inside. It makes me sad for what I lost and for what I will never experience.

A friend of mine just texted me pictures of his family vacation. He sent a picture of the scenery; a picture of him and his wife; and a picture of him, his wife, and their toddler. I don't know why he did that. He could have just sent me the picture of the scenery. Or the pictures of the scenery and the picture of him and his wife. He knows I wanted kids and that I'm still grieving. I guess he doesn't know how painful it is for me to see pictures of other people's family vacations with their children.

But am I wrong? I hate to tell people to just "get over it." But do I need to get over it? People have kids. Especially at my age. I can't expect people to constantly censor their experiences for my benefit.

How do I interact in the world that's full of fertile people? How do I participate in life with others when a lot of basic things are still so painful for me?

Do I surround myself with only young people who haven't had kids yet and older people whose kids are already grown?

Do I continue to grieve and blog and work on myself in hopes that things like pictures of other people's children won't bother me in the future? If so, how do I do that? Does anybody know?

I can deal with social media. I have all of my friends with kids hidden. On bad days I'm not bombarded with reminders of what I'll never have. On good days I can check in on my friends' posts and see what they've been up to and chosen to share with the online world.

But unsolicited text messages. Holiday cards. People sharing pictures at work and in social settings. All of these things are very normal things to do... But I am still figuring out how to deal with them.

I'm embarrassed about it. I don't want pictures of other people's children to bother me, to make me sad, or to bring me pain. But the fact is, they do. I like my life. I love my life. I'm working hard to create a life that is joyful, interesting to me, and full of service to others. But I am still trying to figure out how to deal with some things that are simply normal everyday interactions with family, friends, and people in general.

Monday, June 4, 2018

"But I Had Kids" -My Mother

(Note: This post has been edited from its original version. This version is more succint, less rambling.)

I was all set to write one post and then my mother called.

She asked how my unpacking is going. I have now lived here for a week and I am probably about halfway unpacked. I am functional. The bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom closet are unpacked. But I still have everything else like my books, office supplies, art supplies, and decorations in boxes. She expressed surprise that I wasn't unpacked yet. I said, "Well, I'm not going to just do nothing but unpack for five hours straight. I unpack a little and then I take a break." And she said, "Whenever we moved I always had everything unpacked within three days. But I had kids."

"But I had kids."

Dammit, that sentence annoyed the crap out of me.

"But I had kids."

What does that even mean? Her life was more important than mine is, that it was more important that she get completely unpacked immediately just because she had kids? That I am not fully adult with full-time responsibilities because I can afford to have some boxes lying around for a week or two? Seriously, wtf? Wtf does that even mean?? "But I had kids."

Well if you know me or if you've been reading this blog, you know I don't hesitate to say what's on my mind (as long as I can think of something in the moment). So I said, "That doesn't matter." And she immediately said, "You're right. I chose to unpack quickly."

I'm glad she followed up her thoughtless comment with a more accurate one, that she chose to do something and not she had to do something because she had kids. I made her think for one second. But I doubt she's thinking about it now, whereas here I am blogging about it.

It's just so annoying! "Because I had kids." "As a mother..." "Ever since I became a parent..." So many things are said that diminish my value and my experiences as a valid person capable of responsibility and empathy while going through life without children.

This won't affect me for the rest of the day, but I did want to write about it. Comments like this have gone from angering me to merely annoying me. But still... It just gets old.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Infertility, Moving, and Bickering with My Husband

Well, that move was terrible!!! Lol. I think it will be like my classes at school: awful going through it but worth it in the end. Actually, I know the move was worth it because it has not even been a week and I am already happier living here. The weather is better and there is so much to do. I am excited. Once we finish paying off all of our moving expenses, I look forward to exploring what all this new place has to offer.

One of the things I hate more than anything, and I mean haaaate, is fighting with my husband. We do it so rarely, but we are both human and so sometimes we miscommunicate and/or get on each other's nerves. We were doing so well for awhile, but we really started bickering toward the end of the moving process. If you ask me, I was a lot more patient than him! I could not understand why this normally go-with-the-flow guy was so cranky and short-tempered.

(Don't worry. The bickering peaked over the weekend, and order has already been restored. Like I said, hey, we're human. Plus, it didn't help that the movers lost our most expensive item, something that was very important to my husband. I think that was, as they say, the straw that broke the camel's back. Now he has let it go and I am the one that's stressed about it. We are going through the claims process and his attitude now is if we get anything for it, that's better than nothing.)

After having all of our boxes and furniture moved into our apartment (minus the aforementioned expensive item that was lost), we ran to the store to buy some household things like a trash can and toilet paper. We passed by all of the Father's Day cards and I asked him, "Does that make you sad?" He said no and I said, "Really? Seeing Mother's Day cards makes me sad." And then we went on about our shopping.

Later, in the car, I asked him why he thought seeing those kinds of cards doesn't bother him when they still make me sad. He said, "I think you had a lifelong dream of how you're life was going to go, and I was just going to see what happened."

Oh! That's it.

I really could not figure out how we got through years of infertility with only two arguments that I can remember, but this move was so much more stressful. I think during infertility my husband was focused on supporting me. Having children was important to him, but it wasn't The Most Important Thing to him like it was for me. For this move, we kind of switched roles. Yes, I started the whole process by informing him we were moving haha, but I think he put more time and energy into arranging all of the logistics whereas I was more go-with-the-flow (partly because he was taking care of so much stuff). Suddenly, the stress of moving, our bickering, and everything made a lot more sense.

Thank goodness things are already back to normal. Well, I'm still surrounded by boxes, but I mean things between him and me are back to normal.

As for me, I think I have thought more about my children in the last week than I have in the last several months. Maybe because school took so much of my energy and now I have a little time to myself to think? I am glad I didn't move in order to escape my problems, because wherever you go there you are. I miss my kids so much, and I think I am thinking about them more right now because I know I would not be living here had they been conceived and born.

I told my husband, "I actually think life is going to be a whole lot better here, but that doesn't mean I don't miss my kids every day." He knows how I feel.

And then yesterday I woke up, first, thinking of my children, and then second, thinking of this sentence that just came to me, which I made into the following image.

Friday, May 18, 2018

My Last Friday Here

Well, after spending the last 24 years in what I have adopted as my hometown, it is my last Friday here. I feel excited and nervous and proud and stressed, and I am somewhat in disbelief. After years and years of devastation, what my husband and I have been working toward for the last three years is right around the corner.

When I first decided we were moving, I thought, okay, well let's just pack everything up and get out of here. But then as I thought about the logistics more (where are we moving to? how will we get there? where will we live? where will we get jobs?), I realized I wanted a new career. Then, by chance, I saw a video that inspired me to apply to school. You all know my story: I worked hard to meet the application requirements, I somehow made the application deadline, I waited, I got in, we moved into a rental, we fixed up and sold our house, and I went back to school. And I thought all THAT was hard. This past week alone has been extremely difficult--lots to do, think about, and coordinate.

Once I decided we were moving, I didn't understand why everyone didn't do it. "Why doesn't everyone just move?" I thought. Yeah... "Just" move. I am totally rolling my eyes at myself over that one. There is no "just" about anything related to major life changes.

Moving is HARD. I thought it would be, but there is nothing like experiencing something to know your thoughts were right. It's hard, but it will be worth it. I think... Haha.

Last Saturday I had a going away get together. I had to call it a "get together" because calling it a "party" would have made me too anxious. The get together was great. I saw people I hadn't seen in years. Since I told everyone a month ahead of time, a lot of people were able to make arrangements to come or to at least stop by. I even saw one of my best friends from high school who just had her baby a month ago. It was her first outing since the baby, and I am so happy she made the time and had the energy for it.

At one point, I sat back and looked at everyone and thought, "Where was everyone?? Where was everyone when I was feeling so lonely and depressed?" But that's not exactly fair to them. They were busy. We all are busy. There's work schedules and traffic patterns and family commitments and a gross lack of free time that when you finally get a moment to yourself you just want to watch tv for an hour and fall asleep. They were always all there. They were all a phone call or a text away. They were all within an hour's drive. There was just no reaching me at that time. I was so traumatized and profoundly sad that no amount of support could have alleviated my pain.

I am so thankful, so incredibly thankful. For the opportunity to change careers. For my friends from different parts of my life coming together to eat, drink, and be merry last Saturday. For the chance to move to a new place that will be a better fit for my husband and me and our new lives.

But I understand now why everyone doesn't "just" move. There is a lot to it. There is a lot to coordinate and, plus, it costs more than I realize. Everything about the process is stressful. But we are getting through it; we are doing it. One step at a time, one box at a time.

I miss my children. Always and every day. I carry them in my heart in all that I do.

Thank you all for your love, laughter, and support. I cannot accurately express how much you all have helped me. Now I'm off to pack some more... Apparently, my stuff isn't going to pack itself!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Surprising Bumper Sticker

In a world full of Baby On Board signs and Stick Figure Sticker Families, this bumper sticker took me by surprise and cracked me up. I made my husband follow this car until we were stopped at a red light so I could take a picture to share with you all. I tried to black out any identifying features of the car. So here you go... Enjoy!

"Thank you for not breeding."