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~

Sincerely,
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.


Tuesday, October 31, 2017

This Year

What a difference this year has made.

Not A year, but THIS year.

Last year I wrote about Halloween being the hardest day of the year for me.

This year I feel very differently. I just reread last year's post and it definitely brought all of those feelings back, but that's not what I was feeling today. I just stayed busy with school and did what I had to do.

This year is so different. For a little over a year now I've been plodding along in school, working my way through the coursework. I've pretty much hated it (school, not the profession and information), but I can see the end now.

I can hear everyone trick-or-treating outside right now and I'm glad.
Halloween is so awesome, especially when you're a kid.

Maybe I'll always be sad about not getting to have and raise my children, but I can also simultaneously be excited about the new future my husband and I have planned for ourselves. 🔮

Saturday, October 21, 2017

What Happened to My Friends Without Kids?

Okay, honestly, that is a rhetorical question, one I will answer at the end of this post. But I cannot count the number of times I asked myself this question while I was deep into the hardest years of my infertility. Sure, my friends with babies and kids had all moved on in their lives. While it hurt that they no longer made time for or seemed to remember me, it somewhat made sense.
But what happened to my friends without kids?

I am writing this post in case it helps anyone else that may be facing this issue.

In particular, I had two extremely close friends without kids: two women that I had been friends with for over ten years. One was married but didn't want kids. The other was single and not trying for kids. They both knew, from the time we had met, that having children was my lifelong dream.

During my darkest years, they were nowhere to be found.
I felt so lonely and, honestly, sorry for myself.

So, what happened? Why?

I kept asking myself these questions over and over. In retrospect, it's easy to think, well why didn't I ask THEM? But you all know, when you are deep in the throes of grief and trauma, you are not exactly in the best place to

  1.  think clearly
  2.  advocate for yourself
  3.  confront issues
  4.  have difficult conversations.
So, over time, I have become more compassionate with myself. Instead of questioning myself and thinking "I could have done this, I could have done that," I remind myself that I did the best I could at the time.

But damn it sucked to lose my closest friendships at the same time my lifelong dream of parenting was slipping away...

Now that I have a couple of years between those dark times and now, I have a better idea of what happened. I don't know if they are correct or not, but I came up with a few theories:
  1. As women who had never unsuccessfully tried to get pregnant, they could not relate to my pain at all. Maybe they thought I was whiny? Or depressed without reason? Selfish for wanting kids in the first place? Maybe they honestly could not understand why I just "couldn't get over it?"

  2. It is possible that jealousy played a factor. Maybe my single friend thought I should just appreciate what I did have- a loving marriage, and maybe my married friend thought the same- that I should just appreciate that I had a stable roof over my head.

  3. Maybe it had nothing to do with infertility at all. Maybe both friendships had run their course and our lives were moving in different directions anyway. (Still sucks though, that two of my closest, longtime friends weren't/couldn't be there for me during the worst time of my life.)
But what I really and truly think was at the root of it all was that I had changed. Dramatically. A person cannot go through that level of loss and trauma without changing. I was no longer the woman that they had known. Instead of giving all of my energy to them (which I did, which was not their fault, those were choices that I had made), I had to reserve most of it for myself. Instead of driving to where they lived (thirty minutes for one, over an hour for the other), I stopped. I hoped they would come see me, but neither one of them ever did. Overall, I had completely changed the patterns in our friendship, so of course the relationships didn't work anymore. I thought the friendships were strong enough to survive these changes, but, unfortunately, they were not. 

I wasn't the same person anymore and that, apparently, changed everything.

I have often hinted on this blog that infertility taught me the boundaries I desperately needed in my life. For that, I am grateful. But, at times, it was almost too much loss at once for me to handle.

I continue to deal with loneliness on a regular basis, but blogging and "meeting" all of you has really helped. I try to socialize once a week. That is not always possible, but going back to school has helped. (Although I enjoy my classmates in their early 20s, I also really miss my peer group.) I am eating regularly, sleeping well, and exercising several times a week.  In other words, I am doing the best I can. I have never really been good at letting old friendships go, but I am dealing with it. I miss them and I wish them well.

And that is what happened between me and my friends without kids.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Tired, Take Two (a.k.a. Something Good Coming)

I was so tired yesterday that I forgot to tie in a couple of other points.

I am tired of hatred.
I am tired of racism.
I am tired of misogyny.
I am tired of gun violence.
I am tired of divisiveness.

I am tired of infertility.
I am tired of the lack of empathy.
I am tired of the loneliness it brings.
I am tired of the the Martyr Mommy trope.

I am tired of getting treated like crap in my school program.
I am tired of my husband getting treated like crap at his job.
I am tired of where we live.
I am tired of what we are doing.

We are too old for this.
We have worked too hard.
(Those last two sentences might sound entitled because there are plenty of people dealing with lots of unrelenting crap that they do not deserve. I have written a lot about what I am thankful for, but this is a post about what I am tired of.)

I am so tired.

And then, on top of everything else, Tom Petty died. He was/is my most favorite musician of all time. I have all of his albums and I listen to him on a weekly basis. I was crushed by his sudden, unexpected death on an already tragic day.

But he gave us a lot of awesome music before he left us. And his lyrics always made me feel understood. Tom Petty has given me so much comfort throughout my life. His music got me through adolescence. His music got me through infertility. My husband and I even danced to one of his songs for our first dance at our wedding. (That was also our last dance, as neither one of us are dancers hahaha.) Tom Petty has been the soundtrack to my life.

So even though I am tired, I will push on. There are lots of good people in this world and we can't let the negative news cycle infiltrate our brains any more than it already has.

Please allow me to share with you my most favorite Tom Petty song. I hope you have a very happy and/or relaxing and/or content Sweet Sunday (←that's a reference to the board game Payday if you ever played that as a kid...). I truly believe there is Something Good Coming.


Saturday, October 14, 2017

Tired

Wow. These past two weeks have been so busy. "Tired" is such a boring title for a post, but that is how I am honestly feeling. And this is the longest I've gone between writing posts since I started this blog a year ago. Usually, I try to post at least once a week.

The first week of October I spent almost 50 (unpaid) hours in a hospital doing one of my clinical rotations. That was interesting, informative, and exhausting.

The second week of October was full of exams (with more to come this week). I don't want to discourage anyone from going back to school, but this is all certainly easier when you're younger!

I have missed being an active part of this community, but I have almost caught up on reading everyone's posts. :)

Yes, the need for my blog is still here. I am reminded almost every day. So I will keep writing.

My week at the hospital gave me a taste of the working world again. Last time I was employed was before infertility, so the next time I am employed it will be my first job after infertility. One day, I came home pretty frustrated and told my husband that I wished I could work somewhere with all men. Knowing how important girlfriends and conversation and connection are to me, he was surprised and asked, "Why?" And I said, "Because most men don't talk about their children all the damn time!!"

There was one day when a group of employees were gathered around one woman's desk watching a video and laughing. Turns out it was a video of her little one. I had already noticed this woman's desk included a copy of her Happy Mother's Day card that she sent out to her friends and family full of pictures of her pregnant and with her baby, so my guess was she was the biggest Mommy of them all. And, overhearing her talk all week just proved my point.

(Side note: I've heard of sending holiday cards and Valentine's cards en masse to loved ones. I have never in my life heard of someone sending out Happy Mother's Day cards like that.)

So, anyway, I guess this video showed her kid doing something cute/funny/adorable because everyone was laughing. And then she said (in good nature I think, it seems like most everyone got along, but what she said still annoyed the crap out of me), "All of you people without children don't know what it's like! Just you wait!!" Good thing no one was paying attention to me because I just rolled my eyes.

But I know I will have to sometimes stomach comments like these when I return to the workforce. And I am not looking forward to it. Even though every year I make great strides in my recovery, I still anticipate that I will always miss my children.

So I may always have this blog. It seems there will always be something that stings. And even if I get to a point where stuff doesn't sting anymore, I know there are others out there reading our blogs and what we are all writing is helping them. I want to live a life of service, so if this is how I can help others then I will keep writing.

Missed you all! Hope you are well!! 💜


Sunday, October 1, 2017

My 1st Blogoversary

Wow. A year already?

I can barely believe I started a blog, much less that I started a blog one year ago.

First of all, to anyone reading, THANK YOU. 
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for listening.
Thank you for commenting.
Thank you for being in community with me and others living life without children after infertility.

Like Klara at The Next 15000 Days told me it would be, writing has been very therapeutic.
Plus, it gives both my husband and my best friend a little break from listening to me process infertility. I mean, they're awesome people and they've never complained, but still... 
I'd like to keep the two of them in my life and not drive them away! :)

This is not an easy life to live. I still think of my children every single day. I know what their names would have been and I know how old they would be. I don't socialize with any of my former longtime friends. Our lives have gone in completely different directions. And although we are close and I get along with them, I still have not received much empathy or understanding from my family over what I have lost. Again, it is not an easy life to live.

It can be lonely, sad, and frustrating. But I am working hard to create a life I will enjoy. This time next year I will be finishing up my school program while living and working in another state. 

I did not think it was possible to live a happy life after infertility, but it is. It is, it is, it is! Even if you don't believe me right now, it is entirely possible to enjoy life again. I promise you that miracles do happen.

My husband and I are playing the long game. We could have just up and moved several years ago, but we're trying to be strategic about it. Life is expensive and I wanted to get a new career, one that I enjoyed and one that hopefully pays just a little bit better. However, I am getting really tired of our pragmatic approach. I am anxious to move NOW. But I am proud of us for going the delayed gratification route. We are going to be in a much better place when we move next year compared to what it would have been like if we had moved several years ago.

So in the meantime, I went back to school, got slammed with homework, and decided to start a blog amidst all my millions of deadlines. I am so glad I did.

And this morning I was skimming some of my old posts and found some things I had written that I had forgotten about... Oh, the ups and downs of infertility...

So, I'm not going away. My infertility isn't going away. And there's only more people joining us in this childless/free-not-by-choice circumstance, so I think we should all just keep showing up for each other. And one day we are going to get together and have a massive party!!!

Until then, here are a few of my favorite posts from my first year of blogging. Enjoy! 💜


Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sitting Through a Lecture on IVF

The physiological response to trauma is so interesting to me.

Today's class covered trying to conceive and fertility treatments and I immediately had a physical response. I didn't know those topics were going to be covered in today's lecture. But there I was, sitting in class, listening to information I already knew inside and out. I just wanted it to be over with. But it kept going on forever. My stomach got upset. I felt warm. I think I might have sweat a little. I did all I could do in the moment; I sat there and paid attention to my breathing. And I occasionally answered questions out loud. Apparently no one else knew the answers. (They're all young and/or fertile. They don't have to know these things.) I would have felt weird about answering questions in class (which in no way revealed any of my personal information), but I often ask and answer questions in class so it was nothing out of the ordinary. Thankfully, the professor called a break.

Finally.

But still. The damage was done. I don't want to say my entire day was ruined because I don't want to think like that. But, my stomach was definitely messed up for the rest of the day. And I still had all of my classes to get through...

It was fine.

I got through it. I'm home now.
Had a good cry when I got home. Brief but cathartic.

F you trauma. Damn those physiological responses sometimes...

Monday, September 25, 2017

Change of Scenery

It's been a rough month.

My last four posts have been full of sadness and frustration. My last friend who was trying to get pregnant conceived. And then announced it by saying those three little words that I hate, "never give up." (Gross.) I had mixed emotions about going to a kid's birthday party, decided not to go, and I'm pretty sure that decision negatively affected that friendship. (Oh well.) A cousin's wife had a baby, which I learned about on social media while eating breakfast. (I didn't even know she was pregnant.) Insensitivity towards infertility seems to run rampant among my professors, as evidenced by their caustic comments and endless rambling about their own children. (Annoying.) I found out my estranged, older cousin with major addiction issues had another baby. (That's incredibly tragic.) Another friend, who got pregnant with IVF, had her baby. (That's a loss of friendship for me and my husband, as these people were one of the few friends we had as a couple.) I didn't even write about the last two situations. It was just overload, and I felt alone and unsupported in this world. I was exhausted.

And on top of that, my school program just plain sucks. I love the profession, but I have never been more disappointed in a program. And this is my third graduate school program, so I kind of feel like I know what I'm talking about. The professors are rude. The school is disorganized. The quality of teaching is severely lacking. And, overall, the whole experience can be summed up in one word: demoralizing.

It's been a rough five years.

So I have been very low energy, not very happy, and just putting one foot in front of the other, keeping my daydreams that I'm working so hard for in the front of my mind.

But don't worry folks! This post has a happy ending.

I went out of town this weekend and it was one of the best things I've ever done. My trip was related to my future profession, but it had nothing to do with my school. In fact, I wasn't even in the same state. It was a change of scenery and it was glorious.

Sometimes you just need to get away. I missed my husband and I missed my dog, but I felt good. I felt good about my decision to go back to school. My particular school may suck, but they're just a means to an end. I felt good about my husband's and my decision to move. Of course, I missed home but only because my husband and dog were there. That's about it. I came home and my husband asked, "Well, are we still on track? Are we still moving forward with our plan?" And I gave a hearty, "Oh hell yeah!" reply.

I'm gonna remember this the next time I have several weeks in a row knocking me down. I don't usually have the time and money for an out of town trip, but I am going to try to create a relaxing "staycation" next time I need a break. There will always be fertile irritations and annoying professors/co-workers/bosses but I can always get away, whether that is by taking a trip or enjoying good food with a good book at home.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Never Give Up?

I am having a hard time letting this one go. Honestly, I am pissed. My last friend to get pregnant announced it on social media yesterday. Ok, whatever, she called me to tell me so I knew the announcement was coming...

But.

Ugh. I hated it. I hate how she announced it!!!

She posted a pic of a bunch of her needles in a heart shape (which I think is extremely personal and kind of gross but whatever I guess) surrounding a onesie that said something about things being worth the wait.

(Ok. A little weird, but people are entitled to their own choices.)

She wrote out ALL of their treatments, what all they had done and how many treatments failed.

(Ok, now we're definitely getting too far into Overshare Territory for my tastes, but, again, people can share what they choose to share.)

But, it's how she ended it that makes me want to scream and break things:
"For those struggling with infertility, I want to encourage you not to give up."

Oh really???

So, I gave up, huh?
What? I didn't want it bad enough?
I didn't try hard enough?
Did I not deserve it?
Or, let me guess, it just wasn't meant to be; things happen for a reason... UGH. GROSS.

Thankfully, I am super secure in my decision to stop treatments. As I've written before, they were killing my soul. I was a shell of a person. I was depressed and hollow and inactive and in a very very bad, very very dark spot. So, my former friend's comments don't make me question my decisions, but they do hurt my feelings.

Of course, she is not going to be thinking of me when she announces her pregnancy. Of course she is not going to be thinking about how her cry of "Never give up!" will affect the infertile women who will never get pregnant.

But why didn't she think of me?

She has been dealing with infertility for years. She came to me for advice about finding a doctor and what to expect with IVF and how to deal with failed treatments. We've been friends since high school. She knows how badly I always wanted to be a mother. Or, at least, I thought she did.

I'm having a hard time letting go of this one, but writing this post is helping. I HATE it when women who struggled to get pregnant suddenly seem to have amnesia about the whole experience once they get pregnant/have a baby.

I suppose, the worst part was that she was doing a gender reveal (I freaking hate those) live on social media at a certain time, so everyone could tune in and watch. Um, no thank you. So she's already gone. My friend who only just began her second trimester is lost to mommy madness already. I wish her well.

And for anyone else, in case you need a healthy reminder:
IT IS MORE THAN OKAY TO GIVE UP.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I Need a Break from Fertile People

I woke up this morning and I already knew I needed a break. I could just feel it. I am just so tired of fertile people going on about their lives, making the comments that they make and doing the annoying things that they do.

I was eating breakfast and checked social media and the first thing I see is my aunt posting about her newest grandchild being born. I didn't even know one of my cousin's wife's was pregnant. I don't even know who had the baby. I quickly unfollowed my aunt so I won't have to scroll through any more newborn pics than I'd already seen.

Then I go to school where one professor talks, I swear to God, for an hour about her kids and her parenting style. No, it wasn't on topic for the day's lecture. Oh my god. Can't I just get a break?? This is the same professor who was supposed to email us something last night but told us it was one of her kid's birthdays that day and so she probably wouldn't have time. Oh really? So if I'm celebrating my anniversary with my husband or my dog's birthday or something else that is important to me, let me guess, I won't have the option of turning something in late, will I?

Because the only thing anyone seems to freaking care about is whether or not you have children!

Right now I am mad and sad and frustrated. There are several contributing factors, most of them school-related because the program I'm in is chaotic and unorganized and they treat the students extremely poorly, but this is, to use the cliche, the straw that broke the camel's back.

I am so completely sick of fertile people. For being so exclusive in conversations. For expecting so much emotional labor from me. For holding me responsible for helping them when there was no one around to help me when I was deeply depressed from infertility. I am really sick of the double standards and I just need to vent!

I really need to meet some people like me in real life.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Still Skipping Parties

This weekend one of my good friend's kids was having a birthday party. I was excited about it and really wanted to go. I said I was coming and planned my schedule accordingly.

I didn't go.

Aaaahhh I drive myself crazy sometimes. I went back and forth in my head so much over going to this party. I was trying to figure out what was the problem, what was all this vacillation about, especially when I really wanted to go. Well, it was going to be a long drive, a lot of time in the car. Also, school started two weeks ago and I'm already overloaded with reading assignments and projects. I was going through this list in my head... But none of those things were really it.

What was really it was the obvious: I didn't want to go to a kid's birthday party.

Yes, I wanted to see my friend. Yes, I wanted to see my friend's kid. Yes, I wanted to hang out and talk and catch up with my friend and visit with her family and friends and eat cake. Yes, I want to be there for the important moments in my friend's life.

But I didn't want to go to the cute toy store near me and buy a present. And I didn't want to go to a party with a bunch of adults and kids and be the only woman there who wasn't a mother.

This sucks. I hate that it's like this. But it is.

In one way, it's only a kid's birthday party, it's not that big of a deal. In another way, I really hate saying I am going to do something and then I don't do it. And, I hate that I'm not there yet. I hate that going to a kid's birthday party still bothers me. Overall, that's what I learned from this and I won't be RSVPing "yes" to any more kid birthday parties for awhile.

When I talked to my husband about it he just said, "Who cares? Kids' birthday parties are boring anyway." Hahaha. So there's that perspective too!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Up and Down

Ohhh infertility. You painful, hurtful condition. Just as I "feel good again," I experience more reminders of my losses. That is why I have this blog: to write about the good and to write about the bad. Living life after infertility, while it does get good again, still has its ups and downs.

Most recently...

*****

UP

So I realized that the vast majority of my friends are either in their 20s or their 50s and 60s. This is because they either don't have kids or their kids are already grown. I have very few friends that are around my age.

I had lunch with a friend last week. She is in her early sixties, and her son and his wife (who are almost ten years younger than me) just had their first baby. It is my friend's first grandchild. I remember feeling shocked when she told me about the pregnancy. I mean, I figured it was coming. I just didn't realize how soon. Anyway, I hadn't seen her since the baby came, and I was looking forward to hearing what they named him. (I've always had an interest in what people name their children.)

And can I just tell you... My friend is just about one of the most sensitive fertile people I have ever known. We meet at the restaurant and sit down for lunch. We have a brief how are you kind of chit chat. And then I just jump right into it. I said, "Okay, what did they name the baby? Is the mother doing okay? Are you loving being a grandmother?" Honestly, I hardly ever engage in conversation about babies these days, but I was eager to hear that everything was going well for the new family. So, my friend shared the baby's name, said the mom was doing well, and that, yes, she was enjoying being a grandmother.

Then she said, "Let me show you a picture." And I said, "Of course!" (Newborn pics are hard for me, but I had mentally prepared for this one and wanted to see a picture.) But then she said, and I thought this was so thoughtful, "But I'm only going to show you one. Then we can talk about other things."

Praises from the Heavens!!! Everyone is healthy, my friend is happy to be a grandmother, and we are not going to spend all of our time together talking about the baby!!! Oh, I was so, so hoping that grandmotherhood wasn't going to totally take over my friend's brain! And I don't think it did. :)

My friend gets on her phone, scrolls through her pictures, and says, "Ok, I'm going to show you two pictures. One of [the baby] and one of [the baby] with [the mom]." I smiled and laughed and said, "I would love to see two pictures." Did she intentionally tell me what pictures she was going to show me? I think she did. She is really that thoughtful. Nothing she said or did was condescending, and it was all just very respectful of me and my feelings and experiences.

And then she showed me two pictures. And they were nice. Cute baby, happy mom.

And that was that. The rest of our long lunch was full of so many other conversation topics. <3


DOWN

So while I'm still thinking about how nice lunch was and how thoughtful my friend is, one of my oldest friends from high school calls me later in the week.

First of all, she calls me. I mean, we will talk on the phone every once in a blue moon. But. But. We usually text. And she's still going through fertility treatments. And she knows what I've been through and I've been giving her space and wishing for the best for her. And she calls me.

My phone rings and I look down and I see it's her and I immediately think, is she calling because...

I was in the middle of reading a suspenseful part of a really good book so I decided to let it go to voicemail. She didn't leave a message. She didn't text me either. I finish the chapter I'm reading and call her back.

Hi, I missed your call, how are you.
Hi, I'm so glad you called back, yeah I just wanted to catch up.
Well, honestly, I was reading a really good part in a book so I couldn't answer right then hahaha.
Hahaha, oh that's funny. So how's school going? Your husband? Your dog?

Okay, so now I really know what's going on. This has happened so many times. A friend who I haven't talked to in a while calls, asks me a million questions about my life, and then, you know...

Her: "Well, I'm pregnant."
Me: "Really? Ohmigaw that's great!! That's great news!!!"

How far along, when are you due, how are you feeling, I will be thinking of you, congratulations, thanks for calling, yeah we should get together, I'm so happy for you, talk to you later, I love you, bye.

Click.

I'm still sitting on the couch. Staring at the cover of this really good book I'm reading. And suddenly I don't I want to read it. I don't want to watch tv. I don't want to get on the internet. I don't want to eat. I don't want to sleep. I don't want to exercise. I don't want to do anything. But what I really don't want is this longing in the pit of my stomach, this unrelenting existential ache that won't leave me the fuck alone.

"EVERYBODY GETS PREGNANT EXCEPT ME!!!!" I yell at my husband, who has no idea what's going on, because last time he saw me I was contentedly reading a book on the couch in the living room under a blanket with the dog.

What? He yells from the bedroom.

So I get up and go in there and say, "[My friend's name] is pregnant." And start crying.

I'm happy for my friend. Of course I'm happy for my friend. I'm relieved for her. I don't even know how many rounds of IVF she did. She is completely immersed in mommy culture, with her sister and all of their friends, and she was the only one who didn't have a baby or toddler. I am so glad she is pregnant, and I am so hopeful for her pregnancy.

But she was the last one. She was literally the last one of my friends to get pregnant. Everyone got pregnant except me. And so while I am happy for her, I am allowed to grieve for myself.

*****

And so that is why I am blogging. Because this shit is hard. And it HURTS.

I can't even believe I'm blogging. I am an extremely private person. The internet even freaks me out a little bit. But I have to write. I have to connect with others. I am not doing this shit alone if I don't have to.

So I will continue riding the ups and downs of this life.
I will keep working toward my daydreams.



Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday Daydreams

Hello! I just got back from a little vacation visiting my parents (which was incredibly relaxing and went extremely well--another post for another time). And today I am being intentionally lazy. I'm starting to get a little bored, but it's my last day of nothingness. :) Starting tomorrow, I have errands to run and things to do all week before school takes over my life again.

So I am sitting here daydreaming.

It was weird to come home earlier this week.
I missed my dog and my husband (not necessarily in that order hahaha), but... Not much else. ;)

I love where I live so I don't ever plan on complaining about it, but I've been here almost 25 years and I. Am. Done. Completely ready to move on. Well, almost... Gotta finish up school first.

I came home and felt so... Renewed. :)
I felt like a new version of me.

This time last year I was stressed from moving (still, even though it had already been 6 months) and extremely anxious about going back to school. This year I know what to expect. And I am chomping at the bit for what's going to come after. I. Am. Ready.

:)))

So I spent this morning looking up different things to do in the city to where I am moving. There is so much more for me there. There are actually meet up groups for women without children. There are craft groups. There's stuff to do in nature. There's a specific niche sport that I love that I will be able to go watch there.

I'm gonna repeat myself: there is so much more for me there than there is here. Where I am now has great schools, lots of churches, plenty of after school activities, lots of football and baseball fields for kids... You catch my drift? It's not my place. It's not where I need to be, not for this lifetime. Where I am going has fun stuff to do for adults! Stuff I can do, not just watch from the sidelines as seemingly every other adult enjoys activities with their children.

I am getting so excited and, after so many years of infertility, I had almost forgotten what excitement felt like. I know moving will be hard. It will take me a long time to learn my way around and to meet people and make friends. But I don't care! I am excited!!

So I will keep on daydreaming... 🔮 😎

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Personal Milestone

School sucks but at least it ends. Every semester ends, and, eventually, whatever program you're in ends. And then you move on to more school or your career or whatever.

Right now I am enjoying a moment where I can just pause and take a slow, deep breath.
I have officially finished the first year of my graduate-level healthcare program.

The even better part is... Let the countdown begin!!!
Let's wrap up another year of coursework, pack up what's left of my stuff, and move out of state! There are so many more opportunities for me where I'm going. Where I am now would be perfect if I was raising children. But I'm not. So I'm moving somewhere else to live a different life.

The last five years were awful. I didn't know what to do, but I knew no one was gonna do anything for me. I had to dig really fucking deep to come up with any ideas for what to do with the rest of my life. Every day was a struggle. Every step was nearly impossible. Every single thing was just so fucking HARD. But I kept getting up (most days, not all) and putting one foot in front of the other. And now I can see a future I will enjoy, a future where I can be of service to others.
It is still distant, but I can see it. And I will keep going.



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My Best Friend Got A Puppy

My best friend got a puppy!

She's a little white labrador, and she's so cute. My friend has been texting me pictures throughout the day and I loved seeing this little pup's car ride home and first nap on the bed. Is this how other people feel when their best friend has a baby?? Haha. (Disclaimer: I don't equate kids and animals. They're both great, but they are two very different things.) But I am SO excited! Hahaha.

Part of my excitement is that the puppy is so darn cute!

But another part of it is it satisfies my desire to get a puppy. I can live vicariously through her pictures and stories. I will eventually meet the pup, but we live very far apart so she will be much bigger by the time I meet her.

She's so little and cute and sleepy. Haha I'm already looking forward to more pictures and/or videos this week.

*****

I love this friend. We met at a job almost ten years ago, both moved on to new jobs almost as soon as we'd met. Now we live in different states but always kept in touch regularly. She's just... So cool!! :) She reads good books and makes awesome art and does good work at her job and she's smart and funny and asks interesting questions.

She was there for me while I was trying to get pregnant and she was there for me when I stopped trying to get pregnant. She always let me know it would be okay either way. She recognizes the pronatalism of our society, and she knows what it's like to be childless not by choice.

She is invaluable. Priceless. An inspiring woman.

*****

And she got a puppy!

I'm so happy for my friend. This is going to be fun!!! :)





Sunday, July 30, 2017

Long Days, Short Years

Seriously? On Tuesday it's gonna be August 1st already? Of 2017??

How.

When I first heard the saying, "The days are long but the years are short," I didn't understand it.
I do now.

In less than two weeks I will finish this summer semester. That means I will have finished one whole year of school. I can barely believe it.

I can barely believe any of it.

I never got pregnant.
None of the dietary changes, vitamins, supplements, or acupuncture worked.
None of the fertility treatments succeeded.

I spent four months applying to graduate school.
I gave away half my stuff.
I sold my house.
I went back to school.

And now I have finished a year.


All I know is when that last IVF did not result in pregnancy, I was spent. I had nothing left. I had spent three years of my life trying to have children (it felt like a decade) and I felt like I had nothing to show for it. I promised myself that I wouldn't be sitting in the same chair in the same house doing the same thing three years from that point. That was two years and four months ago.

Let's keep this party going...


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Acceptance and Avoidance

With all of the progress I'm making in my recovery from infertility, I'm still avoiding babies. And toddlers. And my friends and family that are parents to babies and toddlers. And pregnancies. And newborns. It's just too awkward for me. And sad still. Maybe it won't hurt as much with the passing of time.

I'm curious how I'll feel in my 40s. As I grow into the idea that I will not be parenting in this lifetime. As I grow older and know that the children I would've had would also be growing older. As people ask me less and less when I'm having children.  As it becomes less expected by society that I will even have children.

In ten years, will being around 14 year olds bother me? Maybe, maybe not. Will babies and toddlers still tug at my yearning? I don't know.

If I had to guess, I think a part of me will always be a little sad for what's been lost, all the memories and moments and opportunities. I really do like all ages of the human lifespan. And I was looking forward to all of the parts of parenting: the good, the bad, and the expensive.

But as I've met and talked to a couple of women older than me without children, I know that feelings can change with each passing decade. What used to seem impossible to me (living life without children), now holds some exciting possibilities. That doesn't mean I don't miss my children; it just means that I'm making the best of my situation.

But I don't have to explain that to you... :)

So where I am right now, toward the end of July 2017, is simultaneously a place of acceptance and a place of avoidance. I don't know if that makes sense but it doesn't have to make sense, because it's infertility and nothing makes sense. I am currently a little worker bee, doing my best to get through this school program. I don't have much time to be social (although I take at least a night or two off a week to go out to dinner or hang out with my husband), and I'm just not making plans with anyone who has little ones right now...

I accept my reality, but I still avoid any reminders of what I'm missing.
And I accept that that is where I am right now.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Phases of Resilience

I had to read an article about resilience and adversity the other day. Of course, there was no mention of infertility at all even though nearly everything in the article could relate to it. The author talked about trauma and coping strategies and implications for practice in the medical field. I was dreading doing the assignment, and then the article actually ended up being interesting haha. It's so nice when that happens.

The article covered so many themes:

  • extreme life events are threatening
  • loss of one's identity
  • psychological stress due to culture's definitions of what is valuable
  • being in limbo (those with chronic illness)
  • the power of social support.

But one of the most relevant parts was when the author discussed the phases of resilience. I'm paraphrasing but here's the idea real quick. First, there is an acute phase, when all of one's energy is going to the situation. Then there is the reorganization phase, when one begins to accept the new reality. And then there is the rest of one's life. That's it. That's how trauma and crisis goes in a nutshell.

I suppose my experience wasn't totally acute. Acute means short-term and I dealt with infertility over a more long-term period of time. But still. It was a million little acute responses to a chronic condition until I reached my personal point of exhaustion.

It's so interesting to me how much recovery and rehabilitation from all sorts of physical and mental health conditions have so many similarities. It is shocking-not-shocking at the lack of infertility being any part of the conversation in the articles and textbooks I read as a future medical professional.

But I really like it when I read something that describes what I just went through. I think that's why the phases of resilience resonated with me so much.

  1. acute response
  2. reorganization
  3. live the rest of my life 

😎

Friday, July 7, 2017

Gratitude

In contrast to my constant frustration with waiting for my new planned-for future to arrive (and, yes, the idea of planning anything ever will always be incredibly eye rolling for me) is my ever-present gratitude for what so many refer to as The Present Moment.

I mean, it IS all we ever have.

When did Oprah start telling us to keep gratitude journals? Hold on, I'm gonna search that...
Oh, 1996. Even earlier than I thought. Well, I didn't try the idea until late 2008. At the time I was very unsure of what was going on in my life- where I was, what I was doing. Hmmm, sounds familiar. I wanted to refocus my mind on the positive things I had so I started a gratitude journal. I wrote often at first, always thankful for my health and loved ones. Then I just wrote every couple of weeks or so. Then every couple of months. But I always wrote. Even if I forgot for awhile. I would remember and come back and jot down a few things I was thankful for. And, well, basically, what I want to share is I just now finished that journal. 2008-2017. Nine years of gratitude.

It's pretty cool. The practice helped me shift my thinking over time. I'm not a fan of "positive thinking all the time." Like, I don't think we manifest everything we envision and sometimes life just sucks and it's important to be real and feel that too. But, I do value gratitude. There's usually always something to be thankful for. I have no intentions of finding a silver lining in every situation, but I do like to pause and be thankful for different things.

My health. Well, the parts of my health that are healthy.
My resilience.
My husband.
My dog.
My lack of food insecurity.
My house that I rent.
My school that I attend.
My dreams for the future.
My means to work toward those dreams.

Gratitude helps lighten the load.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Waiting, Waiting, Waiting

I know that ultimately everything in life is temporary. We are all born and we all die. The days are long but the years are short. I know all this. But I still have to/get to experience the daily realities of my life. And my life, for over the last five years, has been full of waiting.

The waiting throughout infertility is almost unbearable. Well, because at first, I didn't know I was infertile. So I temped and charted and tried to get pregnant for two years. By then, I figured there was a problem. Actually, I knew there was a problem only 7 months in when I got my AMH results back. But I figured I was subfertile, not sterile, that I would get pregnant and have a baby if I just stayed patient. Then I spent almost a year working with my doctor, whom I loved. But I still didn't get pregnant. Then I spent another year hoping I would be one of those stories who, after all the years and all the treatments didn't work, miraculously got pregnant. Oh gawd, that was a lot of waiting. Like I've said before, it almost killed me.

So my lifelong dream of having children didn't happen. I had to figure something else out.
I hated where I lived and I hated what I was doing. I wanted to change almost my entire life.

And that's awesome! Well... Sorta.  I mean, it's an awesome response to trauma and devastation. I felt like I was dying, and I chose to live. I just had to figure out where and how. 'Cause it sure as hell wasn't happening out in the 'burbs as an infertile housewife.

And you already know: I moved, sold my house, and went back to school blah blah blah.

The thing is though, it's just more WAITING. 😩

And hard work.

ZzzZzzZzz

hahaha


I don't want to wish my life away, but...
I am so ready to be living the next phase of my life already.
I am eager to graduate, move, start my new career, put down some roots, and explore new hobbies and volunteering activities. I am ready to live my life. I am so tired of waiting.


Oh well. I'll do it anyway. 😂 😂 😂

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Damn Good Weekend

Heck yeah, I just had a damn good weekend!

I saw one of my best friends on Friday and we got to hang out for a long time. A yoga class turned into lunch turned into good conversation for hours on the deck in her backyard.

Then I came home and somehow talked my husband into going to get dessert with me! He doesn't have a sweet tooth like I do so I was surprised he was up for my little adventure.

On Saturday one of his friends came over for awhile. Nice weather, great conversation.

And today. Nothing significant. But very peaceful and satisfying. Slept in but not too late. Went for a long 4-mile walk outside. Completed an assignment at a leisurely pace. Ate awesome leftovers.

I hate that there's not as much social time in adult life compared to when we were kids.
But weekends like this one sustain me.

I love spending quality time with the people I love. And I love enjoying the little things. 🍰

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lack of Understanding is a Worldwide Problem

We all gave presentations in one of our classes this week on different cultures' perceptions of disabilities. Each group presented on a different country, which included Japan, Cambodia, India, Turkey, Greece, Tunisia, Nigeria, Romania, Luxembourg, Spain, The Netherlands, the U.K., and Canada. And guess what every single country had in common? According to the study, people consistently ranked infertility as the "least disabling" condition.

The lack of understanding is a worldwide problem.

But we already knew that, didn't we?

Among my small group of readers alone we cover the United States, Canada, Slovenia, Ireland, New Zealand, and Germany at least. And we all share common experiences of being constantly misunderstood.

About two-thirds of the way through the presentations, I leaned over to my school friend and said, "It's crazy to me that every country has ranked infertility as the least disabling condition when infertility completely destroyed my life as I knew it." He agreed and said, "That's exactly what I was just thinking."

The study is old, about twenty years old, but I will make the not-so-bold statement that not much has changed in terms of people's perceptions of infertility.

People in all countries & across all cultures just don't get it.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Double Standards

I promise not to make every post about school, but, real quick, here's another one. ;)

I've shared that school is intense, that it's a lot of work, that I'm exhausted, and that I have very little time to myself. Thank you for listening. I feel supported by you all and I greatly appreciate it.

Why can't I get this support in real life?

I have a friend I've been playing phone tag with. She calls and I'm busy, I call and she's busy. It's aggravating because a couple of things have happened in her life and we really want to catch up. But the current pace of modern life is just too damn busy. I'm pretty sure she's not impressed with me not being available like I used to be. Everyone is.

My complaint is that I get no understanding from anyone. Not from that friend. Not from other friends. Not from family.

The other day my mom got upset with me because I didn't come over when I said I was going to because I was tired and working on assignments. I was venting to my husband and he said, "I don't mean to add fuel to the fire but this probably wouldn't be happening if we had kids. If we had kids, we'd be doing all the kid things and no one would question our use of time."

He is so right!!!

So why do parents get all the benefits of doubt but other adults don't?

I know. Because people remember what it was like when they didn't have kids. When they were, I don't know, 22 and going to work and partying on the weekends and doing whatever they wanted. I want to scream from the mountaintops, "Not having children when you're 37 is ENTIRELY different than when you're 22!" People remember when they went to college. Sure, it was hard, but it was also fun. Again, I want to scream, "This program I'm in is not like college!!"

Last winter my family expected me to drive five hours for a day trip to celebrate the holidays. Yes, that's ten hours in the car for about 3 hours of family time. I said I was too tired. My mom said I could sleep in the car. I told her I wasn't 12 anymore and that sleeping in the car wasn't going to cut it. My dad said I can't expect my cousins to travel because it's too hard traveling with little kids. I said I wasn't coming. Instead, I basically slept for three days.

Maybe if my life looked like everyone else's I would get more credit.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Benefits of Going Back to School When You're Deeply Grieving and Traumatized

Wow, it's been over two weeks since I've posted. That's way too long! I miss the community.

Can you tell my summer semester started? It's even more insane than the regular fall and spring semesters. During the summer we cram 16 weeks worth of material into 10 weeks. And did I mention I'm taking 5 classes? Yeah... I was going to spend the weekend catching up on work but ended up spending the weekend catching up on sleep.

Anyway, that's all pretty boring to talk about...

Wait. No. I apologize, I think I'll make school the topic of this post hahaha.

*****

The Benefits of Going Back to School When You're Deeply Grieving and Traumatized:


1. It's a good distraction.

I thought nothing could take my mind off of infertility. I thought about it all day, every day. And how could I not, especially at the end when my days were spent going to the doctor's office for blood draws and ultrasounds? My life felt like it was on hold while everyone around me was moving on. Then when we decided to end treatments my mind was still 100% hoping for a miracle pregnancy. I could never give myself a break. And considering how primal the desire for offspring is, I don't blame myself one bit. I'm glad I gave it all I had. And now I'm very glad to be distracted by school. Now I have assignments and projects and deadlines. Every class is so different in terms of its content and requirements, so just keeping everything straight in my head takes a lot of energy. I went from sitting in my recliner all day, drinking multiple cups of coffee, reading TTC boards, and then surfing the internet when I ran out of new posts to read. It didn't make me feel good, but I was stuck in a rut. Now I wake up, shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, drink one cup of coffee, and then I'm out the door to campus. It's so good for me. I'm so thankful.


2. I'm learning stuff!

School is exhausting and learning medical information doesn't come easily for me. The lectures are pretty bad and the reading load is insurmountable. There's not a lot of direct instruction which I miss from the good old days. I'm so old school in my teaching/learning styles. I was complaining to my mom sometime during the middle of last semester and she said to me, "But you seem to be learning a lot." Good point, mom! I am learning a lot, more than I realized. More than I thought I could. And everything I'm learning will help my future patients.

(I feel like I should add a P.S. here. P.S. Going back to school while grieving is one of the hardest things I've ever done. It's really hard to learn and to take in new information when you're grieving. But people who have been through infertility have basically just earned an honorary Ph.D. in Human Reproduction, so people like us have already learned how to learn under extreme stress. So going back to school is hard, but it's something to consider anyway.)


3. It's good practice for the real world.

If you haven't already been able to tell, I was able to isolate myself pretty successfully during my years of trying to get pregnant. Going back to school put me around people again. It put me back in the real world and the real world is real fertile. Most people my age or older have kids. Some of them go to school with me. A lot of people younger than me have kids. Some of them also go to school with me. My professors have kids. My clinical instructors have kids. Patients have kids. I'm able to test out whether or not I want to disclose to different people- colleagues, teachers, bosses- and if so, how. I've tried different ways of having conversations with people with my new self. My new self is a woman who doesn't have any children (everyone knows that) but it wasn't my choice and it was incredibly hard, traumatic, and painful for me (not many people know that). Going back to school, I have experienced meeting new people, making new friends, networking, and working in professional settings. And it has been good practice. I was a little rusty. Haha.

*****

So I'm sure there's more I could elaborate on with this topic. Just wanted to jot a few ideas down.

If anyone is thinking about going back to school but you're thinking it'll take too long or it's too much work, remember you just do it all one step at a time. I remember getting the idea to go back to school a year before trying IVF, but I didn't want to take the prerequisites. I thought taking Anatomy & Physiology I and II would be too hard and maybe even too boring. So I didn't do it. And you know what, another year passed. The next year came around, none of my fertility treatments resulted in pregnancy, and I could've already had the A & P courses out of the way if I'd taken them when I first had the idea. My point being- time is gonna pass anyway. School sucks, but, if there's a job or a career that you think you will enjoy and be good at, it's worth it. School is temporary. It ends. The job/career can be forever.

*****

On that note, I have to go write a paper... 😬



Monday, June 5, 2017

Work In Progress

I never thought I'd get to a point where I'd be okay. I didn't think it was possible. I would envision a future where I wasn't the mother I always thought, planned, and dreamed I'd be and I could not picture myself ever being happy without children.

I'm glad I was wrong.

I've actually had lots of moments of happiness over the last year or two. :)

*****

It's crazy how fast things can change.

A year ago I was still trying and hoping for a miracle baby. I was playing Murphy's Law; I figured going back to school would guarantee I'd get pregnant.

Well, I didn't. And I needed to stop falling apart every month when it didn't happen. It was killing me. So we began using contraception again. Weird. And relieving.

And I'm okay.

I don't go to baby showers. I can't be a part of other people's pregnancies. And I'm not going to start a friendship with someone my age with toddlers.

But I moved out of the house I bought for my children. I sold that house. I shredded, recycled, trashed, and gave away everything (except a few onesies and the pictures of my embryos) that had anything to do with trying to conceive, infertility, fertility treatments, and having and raising children. And I had a houseful. So many things. So much stuff. So much paperwork.

Something I haven't written about, but when our last IVF didn't result in pregnancy, I thought long and hard about what to do next. I was deciding between pursuing adoption and going back to school. I felt like I was running short on time with regard to everything. I obviously chose to go back to school before pursuing adoption. I did not know if it was the right decision overall, but I knew it was the right decision then and for the moment. I needed to grieve. There was a hole in my heart that no child could fill, and I needed to heal from that first. It was an incredibly difficult decision because adoption is a long process and I'm not getting any younger, but I knew I did not have the energy for it at that time.

So I moved and went back to school. Which I keep writing about over and over. But it was so major. And it's been three steps forward, two steps back.

That metaphor comparing grief to an ocean or whatever is correct though. At first, the waves are nonstop and you don't know if you're ever going to breathe again. Then slowly, so slowly you don't even perceive it in real time, but very slowly, the waves slow down. They keep coming. But there's a little bit of space in between them. And the space in between the waves continues to grow.

And then I learned the adoption agency I had chosen years ago filed for bankruptcy.

Wait.

What.

Excuse me?

After lots and lots of research over the years, I had chosen an agency. And it no longer exists. First and foremost, my heart aches for the families that were in the middle of the process with this agency when they filed for bankruptcy out of the blue. Secondly, there went my plan for adoption. I felt really thrown and my counselor validated these really strong emotions that I didn't even realize I was feeling. I knew I was done with fertility treatments and now I was done with adoption before it even started. With that agency anyway. But, really, overall... I'm not going to research any more agencies. I know how hard it was to find that one I liked. And look how they turned out.

I am not going to parent. I've known for all of 2017. And I've been processing a lot.

And I'm okay. I'm sad. I'm happy. I'm thankful. I'm irritated. And I am okay. Most days.

I still talk about it a lot, at least a comment every day probably. I'm really thankful that my husband continues to listen. Healing from infertility is really hard for me. But I'm doing it. It's not a passive activity. Or maybe if it is, it takes longer. I don't know. I just needed to do what I could about a situation where I could do absolutely nothing.

Lifelong dream of being a mother denied?
Ok, what's next?

*****

It's been so hard. And I'm afraid I'm just rambling.

I think I wanted this post to be about one thing and it ended up being about another. :)

*****

I'm a work in progress.
I'm doing okay.
And I'm so glad I was wrong and that life can get good again.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Sick of the Script

I've had a bit of writer's block for the last month or so. I think it's from exhaustion. I can barely believe how tired I got from that spring semester.

But writer's block is similar to how I'm feeling conversationally with people. I don't know what to say these days. I'm at a loss for words. I don't know how to talk about my life without giving people the impression that I'm interested in their opinions.

Basically I'm sick of the script.

You know what I'm talking about, where the conversation predictably goes from kids to treatments to adoption to foster care. If people actually knew what they were talking about, that'd be one thing. But... It always seems to be the fertile people wanting to engage me in these topics.


Them: Do you have kids?
Me: No.
Them: Oh, why not?
Me: ...

or

Them: Which one is yours?
Me: Oh, I don't have any kids.
Them: Well, you better get on it. You're not getting any younger.
Me: ...

or

Them: So you don't have children?
Me: No.
Them: Wow, what do you do with all of your free time?
Me: ...

or

Them: No kids, huh? Are you gonna try IVF?
Me: ...

Them: Have you thought about adoption?
Me: ...

Them: Well, there are a TON of kids in foster care...


Or any other variation of conversation that inevitably ensues when I'm talking to a parent and they learn I don't have any kids.

My mother is always telling me I need to "educate her" because she doesn't know what it's like and she doesn't know how and when she's being insensitive. To that I told her, "It's exhausting being in the marginalized population and always having the expectation that I will be educating others." Not only that, but I don't actually want to talk about my trauma all the time. Go figure. What may be a simple conversation for others may be an extreme act of labor on my part, one that will stay with me for several days.

So I get stuck. I don't want to talk about my infertility conversationally, but, at the same time, I don't want my reality to be completely ignored. I just wish there was a place for my reality in this world.

No, I don't have kids. No, I can't have kids. No, it's none of your business.
Yes, I know about fertility treatments. No, I'm not going to discuss what I've done or not done.
Yes, I know about adoption. Yes, I know about foster care.
No, I am not going to go into the detailed, time-consuming conversations my husband and I have had where we've discussed everything and came to our conclusions.
I mean, seriously, wtf people??

Do people really think this is an appropriate/comfortable/light conversation topic?

I'm pretty good at coming up with snarky comebacks, but I want to figure out what to say to redirect the conversation politely. For those situations where it's best if I'm not rude (like, in a future work setting). I'm trying to think of things to say ahead of time so I don't get caught off guard in the moment. The approach I'm currently in favor of is to answer a question with a question. Just do anything to make them talk, instead of me.

Some of my ideas:
Why do you ask?
What was your experience (with treatments/adoption/fostering) like?
Are you familiar with the process?

Or maybe I can stick with noncommittal murmurings:
Oh...
Hmmm...
You don't say.
Isn't that interesting.

Anyway, just thinking out loud. Writer's block. Feeling stuck in conversations. Words just haven't come easily for me over the last month or so... Just trying to be prepared for the future.
Please feel free to share any ideas you may have! :)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Helping/Hindering Our Healing

Happy Monday! 💜


Here's a writing prompt from Mali:

Make a list of your personality traits 
that can both help and hinder you 
in the process of healing after infertility. 


She shared her preliminary list here. 
(Note: That's the first time I inserted a link on my blog! 🏆  )

I love making lists so I'd like to try. :) Here are my initial ideas.


First, using some of Mali's ideas:

  • Like her, I don't like the feeling that I'm missing out.  HINDERS
  • But also, I never thought "things happen for a reason."  HELPS
  • Also like her, I am pragmatic. (I am extremely sensitive and I have a lot of feelings, but I am also very, very practical.)  HELPS

And a few ideas of my own:

  • I'm good at quitting things hahaha (in the past- things like jobs, school programs, and boyfriends that weren't working out).  HELPS
  • I really like each stage of life and was looking forward to raising children through all of them. I always wanted to be a mother and had planned for it my whole life.  HINDERS
  • I like to be social but feel left out of my peer group because I'm not a mom.  HINDERS
  • Like I previously said, I am extremely sensitive so I got my feelings hurt a lot for the first couple of years.  HINDERS
  • I'm okay with asking for help and I've been lucky to work with two different counselors over the last several years.  HELPS
  • I like having something to work toward and look forward to so my husband and I came up with a new plan together for our future.  HELPS


What are some things that has helped or hindered your healing after infertility?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below, in the comments on Mali's post, or link to your own post on the topic. :)

Friday, May 19, 2017

Facing My Stuff

I went to my storage unit yesterday. I envisioned spending several hours there, going through things, and loading up a lot of stuff to give away. I lasted about an hour. 😄

But I made lists! And I have an action plan for next time.

When we moved from our house to this rental property fifteen months ago, we cut our square footage in half. I gave away a lot of things but still had a lot of stuff I wanted to keep so we got a small storage unit. I could barely deal with everything on my plate back then (deep in grief, very sad about losing my children, very sad about losing life as I knew it). I just packed up all my baby stuff. I knew I would deal with it later.

Last summer I cleaned out all of my paperwork and stuff from the fertility doctor. There was a lot of documentation! And you know what I ended up keeping? The pictures of my embryos. Everything else was shredded/recycled. I realized I didn't need any of it. But I only concluded this after going through every single piece of paper. It was an emotional day.

Last fall I went to the storage unit and was able to get rid of more stuff. The more time I spent away from it, the easier it became to deal with and get rid of. Most notably, I gave my rocking horse that my grandpa made me to my cousin for her baby.

Sigh...

Honestly, I was saving so much stuff for my kids. Old stuff of mine that I wanted to show them. Old toys and books. (They just don't make stuff like they used to, hahaha, but seriously...)

A couple of months ago I texted an old friend from high school. I know he and his wife wanted kids but haven't had any yet. I asked him, "Are you saving a bunch of stuff for your kids? What do I do with all this stuff I saved for my kids??" He wrote back saying, yes, he had a bunch of Star Wars stuff that he was saving and he had recently started to wonder what he was going to do with it all. It seems this is a common thing among people who thought they were going to parent.

And of course our kids probably wouldn't have been interested in our old stuff. I know that. But still. I miss that I won't get to share it with them.

Plus, we had bought them a house. We bought a four-bedroom house for our kids. And we were filling it up. Not cluttered, we are kind of minimalists. But I still like to decorate a little. Some framed art and large vases. So now I have half a house in storage: tons of kids' stuff, lots of books (I miss them! my dream home has floor to ceiling bookshelves), and decorative items.

And each time I go, it gets easier.

So I went yesterday. I went through some stuff and created a give away box full of books and clothes in good condition but that don't fit. (There's another topic for another day. I don't like discussing weight. It's such a boring topic. And our weight fluctuates so much anyway. But, dang, I just don't know if I'm ever going to be able to wear all my clothes from before my fertility treatments. My body is just a different size/shape now...)

There's so much to unpack here. I'll try to stay focused on my original point.

I brought home my "Baby Stuff" box and I cleaned it out last night.

It wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be. The good part was that unpacking the box didn't make me sad. It would've been fine if I had felt sad, but I'm glad that I didn't. I'm glad that some things that used to hurt or sting don't hurt or sting as much anymore.

I went through the box and decided what to do with everything. I'm keeping all of my specialty onesies. Why? I don't know. But they don't take up much space and I still want them. But I'm giving away a nightlight my sister gave me, a cute burp rag my mom gave me, and a book that I bought to read while I was pregnant. And that was that.

Eventually I'll clean out all the other stuff in storage too. I'll either give stuff away or move it with me after I graduate. It doesn't matter. 🔮  I don't have to decide everything right now. 💜

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Out Of It

I finished my semester, I'm on vacation, and I am Out. Of. It.

So tired, so exhausted, so thankful, so content, but so completely done. Happy to be on vacation.

When I first mentioned this trip idea several months ago to my husband, all I thought was I'll be done with school, it's my only break in the program, and we need to take a trip together if possible! Since MD (my abbreviation for today's "holiday") isn't ever on my mind, I didn't even realize I'd be out of town for this day.

Last year for MD, I remember that I didn't even leave the house. It was a conscious decision. I didn't feel terrible but I didn't feel comfortable, so I just enjoyed a day at home, reading on the couch and eating pizza. It was fine.

This year is awesome.

Vacation is great and I really am cultivating a life that will work for me.

It's not a complete solution. I still miss my kids. I thought coming on this vacation might make me glad I didn't have kids. They are expensive and tiring and a lot of work, haven't you heard? I am "so lucky" that I "get to travel," right? Well, it's both. It's an amazing trip, but it's not the salve that fertile people think it is.

I am having fun though. And I completely forgot today was MD. And honestly, that was nice.

I'm pretty out of it and it's a nice break. 💫



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My Life is So Different

I finished final exams. I can't believe I just did another semester.

My life is so different.

1.) from what I thought I'd be doing
2.) from what others my age are doing

Going back to school wasn't even on my radar screen. I've already had a couple of different jobs/careers. I never thought I'd be back in graduate school learning about another one.

I did finally say to my husband last night though that I think it's harder to go back to school when you're older. I've really been fighting that thought because I don't want it to be true. And there are a lot of aspects that are so much easier. When you're older you (hopefully) have less dumb drama in your life. You can manage time and demands and deadlines better. When you've been through any trauma like infertility, that can help keep the school stress in perspective. And often, you appreciate the opportunity to go back to school.

But it's exhausting.

I don't want to discourage anyone from going back to school. If you really want to learn the material and/or you really want to change careers, it is very, VERY much worth it. I have fallen in love with my new profession and I can't wait to start working. I can see myself doing this for the rest of my life, happily and contentedly.

But I am so tired.

I don't remember being this tired in any of my other programs. Maybe it is this program. Maybe it is my age. Maybe, probably, it is a combination of those two things plus the fact that I started school while still processing the trauma of infertility.

But I'm glad I didn't wait. If I waited to move or sell my house or start school when I actually felt ready, I might still be in that place. It took doing all of those things to help me move forward.

So I don't want to discourage anyone from going back to school. Or moving and selling your house. Or doing anything else that seems the tiniest bit desirable but absolutely insurmountable. It is A LOT of work. But, for me, it's better than sitting in the house I bought for my children wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life.

But it's different. It's not what I thought I would be doing. It's not what any of my family or friends are doing. It's not what the majority of my peers are doing.

That's why I don't expect anyone to understand my life. My life is so different in so many ways. I can't be expected to explain myself to everyone who is wondering why I'm doing this but not doing that or why I'm going to this but not traveling for that or whatever it is people happen to be curious about in the moment. I know I make my decisions practically, compassionately, and with integrity. It's okay if others don't understand.