Thursday, July 19, 2018

Insensitive Sister

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

I cannot even make this stuff up.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 16, 2018

An Annoying Fertile

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

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

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

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Crying At Work

Well, it finally happened. I cried at work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 9, 2018

Kids Aren't Insurance

My current clinical rotation is in a facility where the majority of the population is geriatric. I am learning a lot, and I love to hear about my patients' lives. What I've noticed though is that not many of them talk about their kids. Of course, some of them are proud parents and like to share stories, but, surprisingly, the majority of my patients don't talk about their kids if they have them.

I guess what I'm saying is that, to every (fertile) person who wonders who will take care of me when I am old, kids aren't insurance.

One patient recovering from surgery shared how she had to kick her 30-something-year-old son out of the house right before going into the hospital because she could no longer tolerate his alcoholism and everything that came with that.

One patient (whom I wrote about in "Stupid Question" last month) doesn't have kids but spoke lovingly of her nephews. (I have already given my nephew a heads up that I am counting on him haha. Lucky for me, he is a nurse.)

One patient tearfully told me how her son has power of attorney and that he put her husband in a place for people with Alzheimer's. However, she doesn't know where that place is and she hasn't seen her husband in over a month. She wants to return to their home so they can live together like they used to. "But I guess that will never happen again," she said. She seemed so heartbroken over her husband and confused about where she would live in the future.

Another patient complained about her children, saying they were not nice people and that's not how she raised them to be.

One man told me about his son but he lives several states away.

One woman talked about her daughter who lives in the same city, but her daughter has to work and also raise her children so she is not able to come visit as much as the mother would like.

So many patients and so few visitors. So few pictures, now that I think about it.
So few stories shared.

This sounds a little depressing, which is not my intention. My patients, for the most part, have a good attitude and a desire to get better. I just think that whoever has kids expecting them to live nearby, visit often, and take care of them when they are older may be in for some disappointment in the future. Having kids doesn't guarantee that they will take care of you in your later years.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Update: Still Exhausted hahaha

Creating a new life is exhausting! It's worth it though. It's already worth it, and it's only going to get better. But right now, my clinical rotation is kicking my butt!!! I feel so in over my head, but every day I learn so much. I don't really like it, but I do appreciate it. I appreciate the learning opportunity and I appreciate my clinical instructor. She is really tough, but she is also nice.

I'm starting to feel a little settled after the move. My apartment is unpacked, organized, and decorated. I have started meal prepping on Sundays, which makes the rest of my week go so much smoother. I'm not doing anything gourmet or anything. I just make a quiche so I have a slice for breakfast every day. Then I choose one thing to eat for lunch every day and make 5 servings of that. Then I make sure I have an easy dinner available. Right now I'm doing pasta, which is basically just boiling water and using a pre-made sauce from a jar. Maybe I'll get fancier after I graduate.

Right now though I am pretty proud of myself. For getting up every day and going into the clinic, knowing that I am going to be overwhelmed and uncomfortable for the next 8 hours. (This is the steepest learning curve of my life!) And also for taking care of myself and eating three meals a day. I don't have a choice about breakfast. I have to eat something that will fuel me through the bulk of my work day. And I definitely work up an appetite for lunch. Then dinner is small but that's okay because I'm also going to bed pretty early these days.

Wow, I am such a party animal right now hahaha.

I knew this period in my life would be very challenging. I knew everything leading up to this period would be very challenging. But I just could not sit all day on my couch and cry (or not cry) all day anymore. I couldn't do nothing, so I had to do something. One little step at a time.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Stupid Question

I successfully completed the first week of my first clinical rotation, and it was exhausting. I always forget how much energy it takes to learn new skills and knowledge. Plus, I felt extremely unprepared from my coursework so I had to hit the ground running. I am in a good situation though. There is another student with me, and we both really like our clinical instructor. Our instructor is kind, supportive, knowledgeable, and experienced. She began pushing us out of our comfort zone the first day, which is good for me because I can stand back, observe, and take notes for forever. What I really need to do is get in there and do the hands-on work with patients.

I am working in a facility that has a lot of older adults in its patient population. There are a million different things we work on with the patients. One of the activities is pretty straight forward and simple. There is a beach ball with different questions written on each colored section of the ball. In a small group the patients toss the ball to each other and read and answer aloud the question that faces them when they catch the ball.

Before ever seeing this activity, I had already noticed the ball. More specifically, I had already noticed one of the questions on the ball. And wouldn't you know it, the first time I led this activity... The patients were taking turns tossing the ball and an older woman I had been working with throughout the week caught it and read the question she saw out loud, "How many grandchildren do you have and what are their names?" Grrrrr... You know this question irritated me. Plus, I knew this woman did not have any children, so therefore she did not have any grandchildren.

She answered, "None," somewhat flatly (or maybe I was reading too much into her response). Anticipating her answer and going off of what I knew about her already, I immediately said, "You told me about your nephews that are so important to you. What are their names?" Her face lit up as she shared her nephews' names and told the group a little bit more about them. Then the game continued.

It was such a small moment, but it stood out to me. I hated that question and I hated that my patient got that question on her turn. I have no idea what her life circumstances were. I do not know if she ever married; I do not know if she ever wanted children. I do not know if this is a painful subject for her. Considering her age, contraceptives were not widely available during her time, so I do not know if she just never had a significant romantic relationship with a man or if she wanted children very badly and could not have them.

It was such a small moment, but it was big to me. I thought to myself: I am never going to hear the end of this, am I? Once people stop asking me if I have children, they will start asking me if I have grandchildren. It was very defeating to me when I was already dealing with my emotions this week over learning a new career instead of raising my children.

I thought it was just me and no one noticed, but, amazingly, my clinical instructor did. The next day she said, "Phoenix, I noticed something yesterday." I figured she was going to give me constructive criticism because I have so much to learn, but instead she complimented me. She said, "Yesterday, with the patient XXX, you were so quick to ask about her nephews when she said she didn't have any grandchildren. That was very sensitive and observant of you. Not many people would have done that." I said thank you, that I had already noticed that question on the ball before ever engaging in the activity with patients, and that I hated it. To my surprise, my clinical instructor agreed. She said, "Everyone always assumes women, especially older women, are married and have children and that is simply not true. I would like to poke a hole in that beach ball and get rid of it forever. When you're out and about this weekend if you happen to be at a dollar store and see a beach ball, feel free to pick it up and bring it in. We need to write new questions."

So that's the first thing I did when I got off work. Okay, well first I showered because I have to do that as soon as I get home after working with sick patients all day. But right after that, I went to a dollar store where I found a beach ball. I bought that damn ball and you know I will be bringing it to work on Monday.

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.

Home.

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."

HAHAHAHAHA

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Pizza Day!

Today is a great day to do what you want. In fact, it's the perfect day to do what you want.

For the third year in a row, my husband and I ordered pizza. We've got the music blaring. We are dancing around the living room. We may or may not pack. Because, you know, we're going to do what we want. 😜

Whether he knows it or not (haha), my husband and I are celebrating our family of two. Effffff the problems, the problems with our reproductive systems and the problems with the world at large.

Today. Today we dance. Today we eat pizza.

Do What You Want

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Survived the Semester

Well it's official. A woman who has lost her children to infertility and (although no longer in the acute phase) is still grieving and processing her experiences CAN survive a semester about pediatrics in a terrible program with awful professors who favor students who are parents.

Really, there is no limit to what women like us can accomplish. We emerge from our caves of darkness with a profound strength and sensitivity we never asked for. What doesn't kill you... Well, what doesn't kill you, doesn't kill you. We are still alive, so here we are.
So what do we want to do?

I took my last final exam yesterday and I never have to go back to that horrible campus again.
It's over. It's done. I am finished.

And I am incredibly proud. Proud of myself. Proud of my husband and marriage for making it through everything we've been through. Proud of this community for the crucial support and understanding you all have given me. We did it!!!

I am feeling very empowered right now, and I believe all of us can create a new plan (no matter how big or small) and make it happen. You don't have to change your entire life like I'm doing. Don't feel that kind of pressure. We have all felt enough negativity already to last us a lifetime.

But I survived infertility when I didn't think I could. I survived this disappointing school program when I doubted that I could. And I survived this incredibly-challenging-for-so-many-reasons semester when I really just wanted to quit and run away.

We are survivors. And nothing can ever take that away from us. And with surviving comes an immeasurable strength and perseverance that will serve us for the rest of our lives.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Facing My Stuff, Part III

Facing my stuff, both literally and metaphorically, has been quite a process.

If you can't go on living the way you've been living but you also can't deal with anything yet, I highly recommend getting a storage unit if you are able. Just throw all of your stuff in there, lock it up, and come back to it later. Even if the unit costs $100 a month, that's $1,200 a year that you are investing in your mental health and emotional well-being. In my humble opinion, it is money well spent.

I first wrote about visiting my storage unit here. Then I wrote again about visiting it here.
Like I said, it has been a process.

This past weekend, drum roll please... I moved out of my storage unit! Of course, now that means everything is stacked up in every room in our rental house, but that is fine. We have pathways carved out so we can move from room to room. And I am slowly, but surely (but not too slowly because I only have two weeks) working my way through the remainder of my stuff, deciding what to keep and what to give away.

It's interesting how I absolutely could not deal with any of my stuff three years ago. And now I can. It is no longer an intense emotional experience. I still feel things, but I can deal with it. I've worked hard on my new plan. I am closer than ever to my new career and my new location, and now I can picture my new apartment. It makes it so much easier to go through my stuff when there aren't tears constantly streaming down my face.

Literally and metaphorically, I can see so much clearer now.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

One Step Closer

Two steps forward and one step back is still moving forward and not staying stuck.

I continue to be so thankful that I decided to move forward, no matter how slowly and painfully, while I was still in the depths of depression, devastation, and despondency. When I went back to school to take the prerequisite courses that were required for my graduate school application, I cried every time I sat down to do my homework. Every. Single. Time. My husband was starting to get frustrated with me, but there was nothing I could do but feel my feelings. I was supposed to be raising my children, not going back to school with people that were almost twenty years younger than me. But I kept going. Every day, every week, every month, every year. I kept going.

And then last weekend happened. My husband and I took a trip out of state to where we are moving and looked at apartments. And we found one! It was surreal. It felt like a dream. I am still not fully healed (and I don't know if I ever will be and I'm not that concerned about it), but I am far from being in the deep, dark pit I was in just three years ago. I kept turning to my husband and saying, "Can you imagine if I had waited? If I was only now starting my prereqs? If I still had school to apply to and classes to get through? If we still planned to live where we clearly don't belong for another three years?" We both shuddered at the thought.

Yes, I am very thankful. Which is good because, apparently, I'm still fielding stinging comments from my family. I came back from an exhausting, yet successful trip and got sideswiped yesterday by two different comments.

First, I was talking to one of my sisters on the phone and telling her we found an apartment. What did she choose to tell me? Was it "That's great! I'm so happy for you." Of course not. She chooses to tell me about a friend of hers that moved to where we are going, hated it, and moved back because "that was not where she wanted to raise her children." Are you effing kidding me?? What did that story contribute to the conversation? Why did she feel the need, consciously or subconsciously, to undermine my excitement? Why can she not seem to remember I wanted kids extremely badly but couldn't have them and gathered every shred of energy I could find to crawl out of my depression? What does she not understand? She is obsessed with her own child. What does she not get? She is a hater. She loves me very, very much, but she is an absolute hater even if she doesn't realize it. I was so caught off guard that all I said was, "Well, I don't have to worry about where to raise my kids." And she still didn't get it. My comment went right by her as she kept rattling on.

Then there was my mother. (I honestly just let out a big sigh right now after typing that sentence.) Last year she got upset because I didn't call her on Mother's Day. It wasn't intentional. I was on vacation, having a good time, and didn't even know it was Mother's Day. I don't know why a woman in her late 60s with grown children needs that kind of validation, but this year I decided to give her a heads up. I told her not to count on me for anything on the 13th. There was a pause and I was hoping that was going to be it, that she wouldn't feel the need to comment. No such luck. She asked, "Is that because it's Mother's Day?" I said yes, that I was going to spend the day with just my husband. Pause. Pause. Then she says, "Well I hope one day you can get past that. I have a friend who doesn't have kids and she lost her mother and every year on Mother's Day she hosts a lunch for the important women in her life."

Uh... What. Good for her? That's great? Why the hell are you telling me this?

Wait. You hope I "can get past this"???

Again, I am thankful I am further in my recovery than I was three years ago. I am thankful that I am moving on (literally). I didn't respond. I didn't say anything. Part of me was caught off guard, part of me was annoyed, part of me was sad, and part of me was pissed.

It really is too bad that some of the people that love me the most are so hurtful. Honestly, it sucks. But there's nothing I can do about it. I seem to say that a lot these days...

So I went on about my day, thinking about our new apartment, where to put the furniture and how to decorate. I get mad that I still haven't figured out how to let comments like those go, but I'm glad I had something exciting to think about as well. My husband and I have worked our butts off these last several years and now what we have worked so hard for is just around the corner. With both my recovery from infertility and my new life plan, I am one step closer and for that I am incredibly grateful.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Curious about Your Opinion

I had yet another experience that reminded me of infertility. Sooo many things remind me of infertility. I wonder if it will always be this way. Maybe, maybe not. I am more at peace now. Less raw from devastation, less angry, less bitter. But I wonder if I will ever not compare people's regular experiences to my experience with infertility. I don't really care either way; I just wonder.

We had a major assignment due last week. Some people had the class on Monday, some on Wednesday, and some on Thursday. There was an important lecture related to the assignment that some people wouldn't have until after the assignment was due. Realizing this, the professor granted an extension for the people in Thursday's class. People in Monday's and Wednesday's class complained that it wasn't fair.

Fair? Who said life was fair? (And besides, if one is arguing "fairness," wouldn't it be unfair to require students to turn in a major assignment without having the related lecture first?)

"That's not fair" is a statement that has been forever changed for me because of infertility.

An extended deadline for a group of students seems like such an extremely small thing to get upset about. I complained to my friend sitting next to me. I said, "Life isn't fair. Why are they complaining? Earlier in the semester, the Thursday class had to take a test that covered material they hadn't yet received. Was that fair? No. And so now the Thursday class is allowed to turn in their assignment after they receive the related lecture. That actually does seem fair. But what does it matter? Who said life was fair? Besides, I'm sure they'll all be able to have children. Talk about unfair..."

This is a friend I've been able to make comments to about infertility in the past, but I think I reached this friend's limit that day. The friend just looked at me and said, "You can tie that into anything, can't you?"

I was a little surprised by the comment and I felt a little judged, like it was okay for me to be upset about the hand I was dealt--as long as I wasn't *too* upset. I paused. And then I said, "Yes. It's a pretty pervasive and primal thing. The world revolves around people who have children and to not have them when you wanted them so badly is a major loss, so, yes, I suppose I can tie infertility into almost anything." And then I made a mental note that my friend had reached their limit and to not overwhelm them with my reality anymore. I will still think my thoughts but I won't share with that person anymore. I'll just journal or blog or tell my husband later when we're both home.

So I'm curious about your opinion. Can I tie infertility into almost anything? Is it appropriate or inappropriate to do so? Am I "not getting over it" or will the fertile world just never understand?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

My Shortest Post

I know my posts can get kind of long. Lately, I've been so busy with schoolwork that I've only had time to write once a week and I notice I tend to write A LOT when I haven't written all week. Like, I really want to tell you EVERYTHING that happened haha.

Yesterday I read a quote I hadn't heard before that I want to share. I looked up the author and, while I definitely do not agree with everything he wrote, I do like this particular sentence. I hope this quote finds you well. Until next time... :)



Sunday, April 15, 2018

Irritations After Infertility

I realized a couple of years ago that I have infertility-induced entitlement. We had just moved into our rental house and there was a problem with the kitchen plumbing that affected the sink and dishwasher. I was still living in a state of high anxiety due to the previous years of traumatic infertility and failed fertility treatments, and I was SO MAD about the plumbing problem. The plumbing *was* a problem and the maintenance guy *was* slow to fix it (and eventually it *was* repaired), but I still think my anger was disproportionate to the problem. My best friend gently pointed that fact out to me and that's when I realized I was subconsciously thinking: I've already lost my children. Everything else for the rest of my life should be easy.

But that's not life. That's not reality. There will always be difficulties and challenges.

So since that realization, I have tried to remain conscious of it. I try to be patient with my problems and patient with myself. With each passing year, my anxiety decreases a bit and that helps overall as well.

But I still notice it. I still notice my infertility-induced entitlement.

You already know this if you've been following along, but my current irritation is school. It is taking everything I have to finish up my coursework with my less-than-understanding, unprofessional professors. A couple of weeks ago I was accused of cheating on a test. I have never been accused of cheating on anything. Additionally, I have never cheated on a test. I'd much rather fail something honestly than cheat. Part of that is fear of being caught, but a bigger part of it is plain old integrity. I may be a lot of things, but I am NOT a cheater.

I got so angry. I was also extremely worried. Cheating is a big accusation, and it could've gotten me kicked out of the program. As I waited to talk to the professor that accused me, I texted my husband freaking out. He is usually a very patient person, but even he is down to his last straw with my program. He reassured me that we would get through whatever happened, that we were still moving forward with our plan. He encouraged me to stay calm and professional and handle the situation. But all I could think was: Seriously?? I've already lost my children and now I may be kicked out of a program that I have spent 3 years and a good chunk of change on. With nothing to show for it all? Again?? I noticed the entitlement I was feeling and took a couple of slow, deep breaths to prepare for meeting with the professor. The good news is it was all a big misunderstanding, she knows I didn't cheat, and nothing became of the situation. After an extremely stressful couple of hours, it was over and done. Gahhh this school...

As if I needed more evidence about the terribleness of this program... Remember my pregnant classmate? Well, I knew her due date was coming up and that she would be having her baby pretty soon. I didn't realize how soon. She came to class last week to take a quiz, a quiz that she would not have been able to make up had she missed it, and get this. She was in early labor!!! What. I ran into her in the bathroom and she was talking to another classmate about it. She said her contractions were about 15 to 20 minutes apart. I jokingly said, "Well, wait to have a contraction before you start the quiz (we only had ten minutes to take the timed quiz on the computer), and then hopefully you will get through it without a contraction." But I added, "In all seriousness, if you need anything, you know you have 39 classmates willing to do whatever you need." She came to school to take a stupid quiz while in early labor. Un-freaking-believable. I don't fault her at all. It's the climate this program creates. She felt she couldn't afford to miss it. Then after the quiz she went straight to the hospital. I'm still in shock over the situation.

The good news is she had the baby without complications, and she and her baby are healthy and doing well. The bad news (for me) is this is all I'm going to be hearing about for the rest of the semester. Every professor begins class asking about the baby and I often overhear classmates talking about it. I know it is good practice as I am re-entering the real world, but it doesn't mean it's easy for me.

The worst was last Wednesday. We were sitting in class about to go over a test we had taken. I assumed the professor was going to use the document camera to project the test questions onto the large presentation screen in the classroom. I looked up and, what was on the screen? Not the test. A picture of my classmate's newborn. Newborn pictures are the hardest for me. One of my best friends from high school had a baby two weeks ago and, while I am very happy for her, looking at pictures of her with her newborn is painful for me. And there I was, in class, just staring at this huge picture of another newborn. I quickly looked down and thought, okay, it's fine, this is normal. People want to see the baby. It won't be up there long. I will continue to keep my eyes on the page in front of me and soon we will go over the test. We began going over the test. I only had my answer sheet in front of me, not the questions, so I looked back up to see the test questions. But there were no test questions being projected, just the same newborn picture staring back at me. I quickly looked back down again. Surely the picture won't be up there for the duration of the class I thought to myself. A few minutes passed, nothing changed, and so I got up to leave the room. I told my friend sitting next to me that he could check my test for me if he wanted to but I wasn't staying. Then I left. I went and sat in the hallway, wondering if I was going to be there the whole class time. After about thirty minutes, a classmate came out of the room to go to the bathroom. I asked if they were done going over the test and she said yes. I asked if the baby picture was still up on the big screen. She seemed confused but said no. So I decided to go back in for the last fifteen minutes of class. I walked in and there were two of my friends going over my test for me, seeing which answers I got correct and which ones I got wrong. They knew why I left, but neither one of them said anything. They just smiled and said, "You only missed three!" Then the professor began lecturing and nothing was said to me about the whole thing. Thank God for my friends.

So yeah, I wish I wasn't still dealing with difficult moments. I've already been through so much. I don't want to go through anything else ever again. But I know that's not how life works. Just because I've endured one traumatic period in my life, that doesn't mean I won't have to deal with other traumatic episodes or even minor irritations.

At least, although I kind of hate saying "at least" but still, at least my surviving infertility gave me coping skills and perspective. When irritations arise I remind myself, "I will get through this." When bad things happen, I tell myself, "This isn't the worst thing in the world." Life goes on.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Feeling Understood

After a week away from the blogosphere, I finally just got caught up with all the posts I missed. I'm up past my bedtime, but it is so interesting to me how many things are common for us women living life without children after infertility.

I remember being in a very dark place for a very long time, and I greatly appreciated Loribeth's post called A Life Worth Living, because Life IS worth living. I hope anyone reading this who feels the opposite keeps on reading. Read all of Loribeth's posts. Read all of Sarah's posts. Read all of Klara's posts. That's what I did to keep on going, to keep on getting up every morning (or at least by the afternoon). I didn't believe them yet that life could get good again, but at least I felt understood. And reading their blogs gave me something to do while I was in a deep depression and unable to do anything else.

And then, while still catching up from the week, I read Mali's post about the real success stories. Yes!! When I read or hear about a story in the news about someone going through infertility, it always ends with a baby. Just this week I was wondering if I was ever going to hear about a story like mine, a story like the rest of these incredible bloggers I've already mentioned. The true success stories indeed.

It is so interesting to me that while I was buried in schoolwork all week, the infertility-related thoughts that I had here and there were so similar to the blog posts I just read. It reminds me again of how much we all have in common. That I am not alone.

Even Jess wrote about her very rough day today and a similar memory of my own came flooding back.

Oh! And just three weeks ago Elaine wrote a post where I learned how similar our lives have been. Our similarities are almost unbelievable. (Except I don't know German. So I just copy and paste her posts into an online translator to read.)

I am so grateful for this space and I am so grateful for everyone who writes and comments.
We all have so much in common.

Life CAN get good again. And then some days knock you down. And then it gets good again.
I am bored and frustrated with my current city/school situation, but I am so excited for the future.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Different Kind of Waiting

I feel like my brain is shutting down. I guess this is common when you start to near the end of something. I definitely felt this way at the end of infertility, and now I am feeling it again as there is less of the semester left than what I've already been through.

Thank you, by the way, for all of your support this semester. It has not been easy and I have complained a lot, but I always felt heard and understood by everyone's comments. A crappy program along with insensitive professors while studying pediatrics has been quite the combo.

Now I am waiting. Well, I am working too. But mostly waiting. Ok, and working. While waiting.

It is not the existential kind of waiting though. It's more of a "Thank God, this is almost over, I am so proud of myself, and I am so tired" kind of waiting. There was nothing thankful about waiting during infertility. There was no end in sight and I wasn't proud of myself. However, I was tired. So I guess that's a similarity haha.

So I will continue working and waiting for just a couple of more months and then it will all change. Again. But this change will be positive. All of the changes I have experienced over the last several years keep getting better and better.

I know change is coming and that knowledge is also different from infertility. While trying to get pregnant, I hoped for change, but I never knew if it was coming. And it didn't. Change never came. Not with regard to trying to get pregnant.

I apologize if this post is a little rambly and/or directionless. Like I said, I feel like my brain is shutting down. I don't feel like I am operating at 100% capacity, but that's okay. Unlike being in the throes of infertility, my brain may be slowing down, but my spirit is strong.

Friday, March 30, 2018

My 3rd Survivor Anniversary

Last Friday I celebrated my 3rd Survivor Anniversary. On my 1st Survivor Anniversary I'm pretty sure I spent the day in bed crying. I honestly don't remember, but I'm pretty sure it was spent doing something like that. Then I wrote about my 2nd anniversary last year. And now I've lived through my 3rd anniversary. But let's take it back to three years ago...

On March 23, 2015 the nurse called to tell me that my latest round of IVF did not result in pregnancy. I was so exhausted and so depleted that I didn't even have any tears left to cry. I sat there numb and knew it was over. I could not go on "living" like I was. I put "living" in quotation marks because I wasn't really living. I was alive. My heart was pumping and I was breathing, but... That's about it. Like I've written before, I was walking death. A shell of my former self. I looked back at the last three years of my life and all of the time, money, and emotions I had put into everything, and I felt like I had nothing to show for it. All I could think was I wanted my life to be entirely different three years later from that point. And I knew it was going to be by far the hardest thing that I had ever done.

I always wondered what my life would look like on March 23, 2018. And then the day came.

I was 1500 miles away from home, on a school-related adventure by myself, studying for a whole week under my mentor. It was an awesome opportunity and an incredible experience.

But more than that, it was a miracle.

Not only was I alive, I was LIVING. And not only was I living, but I was HAPPY. Three years ago, I didn't think that would ever be possible again. I figured I would figure something out and go on about my life, but I was not expecting to ever feel truly happy again. I just wanted to do something different with my life so I didn't feel like such a waste of space.

But I worked my ass off (and am still doing so), and here I am!

Like I wrote last year:
I am a survivor.
I am free.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sick of Nightmares

I am so chatty (bloggy?) this week. I guess I'm just encountering a lot of material...

Last night I had a vivid dream. Nightmare. Is there a word for something in between a dream and a nightmare? Oh, that might be a good title for a novel or an album: In Between a Dream and a Nightmare. That's actually kind of how I feel right now. I am in between my new life that I am creating (a dream) and the living hell that was infertility while trying to conceive (my nightmare). Anyway, I digress...

So last night I had a very vivid dream/nightmare. I was a mother. Apparently I had adopted a baby named Olivia. I'm not sure where that name came from because it was never on my baby name list, but it's a very nice name nonetheless. She was cute and tiny and babbled a lot. She had bright eyes and a big smile. She loved me and I loved her. I held her in my arms and she fell asleep on my chest. She even had a dirty diaper that I was not quite sure how to change but I managed. It was all very, very real.

And then I woke up.
Empty arms, quiet house, and a bit depressed.

Why do these nightmares keep happening?? I haven't had one in a long time. Last night seemed to be out of the blue. I know I am not going to be a parent. I have resolved my infertility without children. I am moving forward and working hard to create a life that I want to live. In this moment it feels like I have made no emotional progress.

I try not to think about having children, as that is not a healthy line of thinking for myself. I tried. It didn't happen. I had to stop letting this single-minded effort consume me. I HAD to move on if I didn't want to lose everything else along with my children: my marriage, my sanity, and myself.

So it would be really nice if I never had another one of these dreams/nightmares again.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"But you lost your children."

I was having lunch with a friend yesterday. We worked together, oh wow, fifteen years ago (time freakin' flies) and always stayed in touch. She knows my story. She also has two boys of her own that I have watched grow from young elementary school kids to young men in their early twenties.

We were talking about my upcoming move, which has been a plan almost three years in the making. She is sad I'm moving but understands why. I had a different life planned for here. Now I'm going to live a different life somewhere else, somewhere that offers me more of what I'm looking for. My current place is a great place to raise children, but now I'm looking for a place that offers more things that appeal to me.

There are various groups throughout the world, though not nearly enough, designated for women without children. I haven't found one where I currently live, but I did find one where I plan to move. I was excitedly telling my friend about it, saying I can meet these women, invest my time in getting to know them, and know that they won't be having children which would then take our lives in different directions.

As she was listening, my friend said, "But you lost your children."

Wow. I stopped mid-conversation. I had never had something like that said to me.

What she meant was that I wanted children and the women in this group might be childless by choice. She was concerned that I still wouldn't find the connection I was looking for. That never crossed my mind, but I thought it was incredibly thoughtful of her. I explained that these women get together regularly for happy hours, fun excursions, and volunteer activities. I said a lot of them are probably childless by choice, but I bet there's at least one or two that were in a situation like mine, worked through it, and resolved to live a life without parenting. Then she got it, understanding that it was a social group and not a support group, and she was very excited for me.

But back to her comment. My previous post was about how fertile people never seem to get it and here was my friend who has two sons that she loves with all of her heart saying the most true thing that has ever been said to me: I did indeed lose my children. It was so validating to hear it from her and my heart swelled with joy that someone outside of me understood my experience in these terms.

I could barely believe my ears. I haven't even heard as much as an "I'm sorry" from a fertile friend or family member and here was my friend expressing my loss for what it really was. I was in awe and I was so grateful. And it was a nice contrast from what we are all so used to hearing that I just had to share it with you.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Talking to a Fertile Woman

I don't talk about infertility very often with other people, especially not with people that have kids. Yesterday I made an exception. I was hanging out with a friend and one of her friends. I had met her a couple of times before and really enjoyed her company. I felt fine saying things around her, so I spoke freely without guarding what I said. What I mean is infertility completely changed my life and I wouldn't be back in school nor would I be moving if life had gone as I had hoped. But I'm so used to censoring myself around others that I do it without conscious thought. However, when I feel like I'm around "safe" people, I feel like I can speak honestly and openly without editing my experiences.

This woman is in an interesting spot. Her relationship of 20 years is rocky. Her son is almost finished with his 10th grade year of high school. She shared with us that she spent most of the last two decades being a wife and a mom. Now she wasn't sure her marriage was going to make it and she knew her son was growing up and would be out of the house in two years. She was wondering what she wanted out of life, what she was going to do next.

It seemed to make sense to share that, although our situations were different, I was in a similar position several years ago. I told her I wanted kids my whole life but when it became apparent that it wasn't going to happen for me, I got extremely depressed and thought "Now what." Like her, I didn't know what to do with my life.

I felt safe in speaking honestly. I didn't feel self-conscious. My only concern was that I hoped my comparison didn't bother her at all. I mean, I have a secure relationship and her lack of one is one of her current struggles. But I thought that maybe the fact that she did have a child and I didn't, that it balanced out our circumstances. Thankfully, she didn't seem offended or bothered or anything.

But she did almost immediately say, "What about adoption?" To which I replied, "Tried that."

(I've posted about this before, but when I say I "tried" adoption I did not get very far in the process at all. After extensively researching agencies I found one that I wanted to work with. Then they went bankrupt. It shook my confidence to the core. I didn't know how I could trust another agency after the one I had spent so much time looking into had just left so many families hanging--no child and now no money. Plus, that was the last little bit of energy I had. I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't live in limbo and, after all of the heartbreaking years, I couldn't keep trying to parent anymore.)

I shared with her that adoption wasn't as easy as everyone thought. That a lot of things had changed in society, which was good, and it was no longer shameful for women to be single mothers. That adoption was very expensive, that it was a very long wait, that it wasn't guaranteed, that there were more people wanting to adopt than there were babies available for adoption, and that I knew more people who had tried to adopt unsuccessfully than had been successful.

Without pause she asked, "What about surrogacy?"

At this point I looked at my friend and she and I exchanged looks. This friend knows everything. She was my rock during the years I was going through it all. We've had many discussions about the weird things people say to me and the questions that I'm asked. Also, this friend doesn't have children and understands the pro-natalist bias of society as well.

But my friend's friend wasn't being rude. I didn't feel an ounce of judgment from her. I felt like she knew I wanted to be a parent and it was almost as if she wanted to fix my problem for me. But I also didn't want to explain myself or educate her any further.

I said, "No. We're not going to do that. The whole situation is closed now and I've moved on with my life." The woman accepted this and didn't ask any more questions.

I think she was just genuinely curious and I was the one who brought the whole topic up by being forthcomingly honest. I could tell I was in such a different place compared to years past because her questions didn't anger or hurt me. But they did reinforce the idea that fertile people just really have no idea. They do not understand the toll infertility takes at all.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Failure

Failure is never fun. It never feels good. Especially when you've put your blood, sweat, and tears into your endeavors and have given it your all.

I almost failed high school chemistry. I just didn't understand the subject. And my teacher didn't know more than one way to explain the concepts. I kept doing my homework and studying for the tests, not understanding anything. To this day, I have no idea how I passed.

My first semester in college I had to take chemistry as part of the requirements for my biology major. I was really, really dreading it. But on the first day of class the professor explained his "No Fail" contract. If you went to every class and every review session, turned in every homework assignment on time, and kept a daily journal about what you did and didn't understand from lecture and turned it in at the end of the semester, you were guaranteed at least a D. I was relieved! It was actually going to be impossible for me to fail the course!! So, despite failing every homework assignment and every exam, I kept showing up. I went to all of the review sessions, again not understanding anything. I wrote in my journal every day after class about what the topics were and what I did not understand--which was, you guessed it, everything, but I tried to write in detail about what and how I did not understand. Then at the end of the semester he never asked for our signed contracts or our journals. So I looked up where his office was and trekked over to a part of campus I had never seen and to a building I had never been in. I nervously knocked on his door and he said to come in. I walked in to see a stereotypical scene, a professor writing furiously at his desk surrounded by piles and piles of papers everywhere. He said, "Yes?" obviously not recognizing me. (Chemistry was a very large class.) I said, "You never asked for our No Fail contracts or our journals in class, so I brought you mine to turn in." He stared at me for a second and said, "You did that?" And right then I knew I was the first student he'd had that had ever fulfilled the requirements of the contract. I said, "Well, yes. I don't want to fail the class." He said okay and asked my name and asked me for my journal, trying to find a spot in his office where he could set it down. I shared that chemistry was a difficult subject for me and thanked him for offering the No Fail contract. He smiled, said "you're welcome," and almost seemed entertained by me (but not in a condescending way). And you know what? After failing everything all semester, I got a C! I think by just doing all the requirements of the contract, he bumped my grade up from an F to a C. That is, by far, the grade I am most proud of in my life.

Which brings me to my biology course... It was the first class required for my biology major and the reason why I had to take chemistry in the first place. After going to every class and doing all of the readings, I still, yep, failed every exam. I was very concerned. I had wanted to be a marine biologist since I was a little kid, but how could I if I was failing the basic entry-level biology course? I went and talked to the professor. Who was also the head of the department. To say I was intimidated is an understatement. But he was very friendly and approachable and spent a good amount of time talking with me. Our meeting concluded with him basically saying to do whatever I wanted but he didn't think my calling was to be a biologist. Without putting me down at all, he encouraged me to explore other avenues. I took his advice and enrolled in the most random collection of classes the next semester in an effort to find something I felt passionate about learning. Not understanding the course numbering system, I inadvertently signed up for a senior level sociology course. And I loved it. After turning in our first assignment, the professor asked me what other sociology courses I had taken because she didn't recognize my name. I admitted I was a freshman but requested to stay in the class, assuring her that I knew it was my hardest class that semester and I was committed to putting in the time and the work it required. She let me stay and it was one of my most favorite classes of my life. I had found my new major.

So I've experienced failure. I've experienced disappointment. I've experienced having to change the course of my life when what I was doing wasn't working out.

But nothing prepared me for my "failure" to parent. Nothing.

Losing your children does not compare to failing a class. Not getting to parent and changing your entire life because of it does not compare to changing your major, even if you thought your career was going to be in one field your whole life and then it ended up being in a completely different field. There is no comparison between infertility and anything else.

But here I am. I survived. I survived two and a half years of taking my temperature every morning. I survived over four years of getting my period every month. I survived countless blood draws, injections, and ultrasounds. I survived five failed fertility treatments. I became an expert at failure.

And now I am failing my pediatrics course. Yes, after over 20 years of experience working with children, I am failing pediatrics. Yes, after digging deeper than I ever thought possible to find the will to engage in the world again and recreate my life, I am failing one of my last classes in my last semester of coursework.

I am stressed. I am angry. I am concerned.

I have attempted to set up a conference with the professor, but nothing has been scheduled yet. My classmates keep trying to tell me that it is fine, that it will all work out and that I will pass. But I cannot sit idly by, doing nothing, after everything I've been through.

There is no reason I should be failing. I blame the poorly designed assignments and the extremely poorly written exams. But here I am. I am failing the class.

Just like in the past, I will keep showing up. I will study my butt off for the rest of the semester. I will try to meet with the professor to express my concerns, and I am absolutely documenting my efforts to do so. I am keeping all of my study notes I have written as proof of my efforts and hard work. I will not go down without a fight.

I think I will pass.
I will be okay if I don't.
I am still going to move to a different state, and I am still moving on with my life.

Just like I've done with everything else so far, I will survive.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Another Day, Another Insult

I woke up Tuesday morning and as I got ready to go to school I thought, "I wonder how I will be insulted today?" Sad, isn't it? That I've just come to expect it now...

My question was answered within the first hour of class.

We were discussing a research article and a classmate made the observation that the condition being studied was more prevalent in mothers 30 years old and older. The classmate shared, "This makes me nervous because I am getting close to 30." So regardless of what comments, if any, followed my classmate's comment, the fact is she just shared a very personal (and some would even say very private) worry with our class. And what does the professor do? She blasts all of us, effectively shutting everyone down. I saw it happen before my very eyes. Not only that one classmate, but at least a quarter of the class immediately stopped participating in discussion. And then the professor had the gall to tell us that we were "awfully quiet this morning, even more quiet than usual." Wow. Talk about not being able to read a room... Additionally, talk about being a thoughtless and insensitive person... So what was it that the professor said?

The professor (weirdly looking directly at me, more on that later) said:
"It's a major problem when women wait until they're 35 to have their first child."

Seriously.
She said that.
I can't even make this stuff up.

So... Let's unpack this...

  • As I said above, my classmate just shared with the class a very personal concern of hers regarding a very sensitive issue and the professor provided no support and instead fueled her fears.
  • My professor, who is not a medical doctor, stated her opinion extremely strongly and aggressively even though it was not necessary or even directly related to what we were discussing that day.
  • My professor played into the fears that a lot of my classmates have, who are delaying getting pregnant because they are in this graduate program where we have been explicitly instructed not to get pregnant. (That in itself is messed up. I've said it before, but you cannot dictate other people's reproductive timelines.)
  • The professor went on to talk about how women are the most fertile in their teens and early 20s and that it wasn't right that so many women "waited." First of all, I would bet a million dollars that this same woman would judge any teen pregnancy HARD. Don't have them too early (irresponsible), but don't have them too late (idiot), am I right? UGH!!!
  • Furthermore, does she really think all people CHOOSE to WAIT? Maybe people don't want to have children until they can, oh I don't know, afford food, clothing, and shelter. Not to mention day care, health insurance, a car, car insurance, and everything else that costs money and adds up quick. Maybe some people don't meet their partner that they want to have a family with until they are 30 or 40. Maybe they spent their 20s overcoming an addiction or an eating disorder or cancer. Maybe a million other things that are out of people's control...

SO. MUCH. JUDGMENT.

I was disgusted. Of course, I had a visceral reaction. My body immediately got warm, and, even though her comments and attitude were so outrageous they didn't even warrant a reaction from me, I still got angry. I looked down, took some deep breaths, sent out love to all of my classmates whose fears were just preyed upon, and pictured my husband who has told me repeatedly, "Just don't cuss anyone out. You are almost done with these classes. Those professors are not worth your time or energy."

I said nothing. I am not here to argue with her. I am not here to educate her on the intricacies involved in the wrong assumptions about childlessness. I am here to learn as much as I can for my future profession (which apparently includes experiencing how I do NOT want to treat my future patients). I am here to keep my head down, mouth shut, and graduate. I cannot fix the culture of that terrible place. Not when the professors hold all the power and have no accountability to anyone.

But later I was thinking about how she looked directly at me when she said it. Now I know I can be hypersensitive, maybe even a little paranoid, but I have come a very long way in my recovery. I don't personalize everything anymore. I have lowered my expectations. I know this world doesn't understand my reality and when people say their ignorant comments it is about them and not about me. But I still thought about how she looked right at me. And then later that day while I was exercising, it clicked.

She knows.
She knows I wanted children and she knows I don't have them.
And she is blaming me.

What a terrible, unhappy person.

I put a couple of pieces of information together in my head. I wasn't doing this consciously. I really want to spend as little energy as possible on those professors and that educational institution. I just want to learn the academic material and graduate with my degree. But my subconscious put it all together and the realization just rose to the top.

There was a short essay I wrote first semester. There was an email I sent second semester. There were the innocuous comments I made when participating in class discussions. I have never explicitly stated anything, but, regardless of her negative traits, she is a very smart woman. She connected the dots and you cannot convince me that she doesn't know, at least in vague terms, that my not having children wasn't my choice.

Wow.

And this makes her cruel and evil.

I have nothing to say to her. I have no points to make. I will not change her mind. But what I can do is reach out to my classmates and agree with them that this woman is not a nice person. We are all sticking together to get through what has been an extremely disappointing experience.

I am fine. Don't worry about me. The situation has reached a point of ridiculousness that it's not even hurting my feelings anymore. I've told all of my classmates that if they ever find themselves in a similar situation in a future job that they should just quit. This is not normal; this is not okay.

Have I mentioned that I'm looking forward to finishing my coursework?

Monday, February 26, 2018

Thank You!

✨💜 Thank You! 💜✨

I have felt really supported by this community, especially over the last two weeks...

Things haven't been easy so far in 2018, both on a micro- and a macro-level, but I am grateful that I can count on receiving support here.

For everyone who reads, thank you! I'm glad I am not shouting into an empty void. It is always nice to be heard. I hope I've shared something from my life that has helped you in your life. In the beginning, that was the hardest part of infertility for me: feeling alone and not knowing what/when/how to navigate this new unknown.

For everyone who comments, thank you! I love getting comments and feeling connected to you. I greatly appreciate and enjoy hearing your thoughts.

For anyone who may be "lurking," thank you! You are more than welcome to lurk. I did that for years. I read a lot of blogs from start to finish without ever commenting. When I was getting near the end of finishing everyone's blogs, I would limit myself to reading just one or two posts a night. I savored everyone's writing because they felt like friends I hadn't met yet, women who understood. And I didn't have anyone in my life that understood. Heck, even I didn't understand what I was going through. But these women helped me through. I've written about it before, but they gave me a new language, words to put to my experiences so that I could begin to grieve and process and heal.

It has been a while since I've expressed my gratitude here. But my dog died and studying pediatrics is triggering and school literally sucks (my physical and emotional energy), and I have really been relying on this blog and the extended community for support. So I definitely want to say to all of you: THANKS!




via GIPHY

Friday, February 23, 2018

An Infertile Visits the NICU

I wanted a baby my whole life.

(Well technically, after watching my sisters get married young and have their children young I knew I wanted some time being an adult without a husband and kids for a little bit, so I always wanted a baby in my early 30s my whole life.)

I wanted a baby to fall asleep on my chest. I wanted a baby to reach their arms out to me. I wanted to feed my baby and change my baby and soothe my baby and take care of my baby when they were sick.

But I didn't just want a baby. I wanted a toddler and a little kid and a big kid and even a pre-teen (my least favorite age). I wanted a teenager and a young adult and an independent adult. I wanted to watch my baby grow up and create their own life that brought them happiness, complete with a job and healthy relationships and hobbies and volunteer activities.

I didn't get that baby. I didn't get that baby the old fashioned way, with assisted reproductive technology, or through adoption. And now, after planning my whole life around my baby (making life choices about my career, where to live, etc.), I am creating a new life for myself. I am creating a new life that will bring me happiness, complete with a job and healthy relationships and hobbies and volunteer activities.

But yesterday I visited the NICU on a school field trip and it reminded me of what I will never have.

I knew the trip was coming and I was actually looking forward to it but the night before I started dreading it. Then I woke up in the worst mood. My husband said, "Good morning!" and all I said was, "No." He laughed at my grumpiness, not realizing what was on my agenda for the day.

Like I usually do on days/events that I anticipate will be tough, I texted my best friend. I told her I had to go visit the NICU. She wrote back with the most encouraging and inspiring words. She said this visit was about me as a professional learning more so I could help kids in need. (She knows that I love working with kids.) She said, "This is why you've worked so hard and put up with so much shit... This isn't about your heartache. This is about your gift of healing. You got this." It was just what I needed to hear; it really helped me shift my perspective and I told her so. She said, "Much love coming your way. You got this. And I got you."

Seriously, can we please just clone her??
Every infertile woman deserves a friend like her. She always knows what to say!

I got dressed in my scrubs and a trustworthy classmate met me at my house and I drove us to the hospital together. I was thankful I had someone with me that knew at least a little bit of what I've been through. I really didn't feel like being around anyone else. Especially the asshole professor who refuses to answer my questions in class but answers other people's. (Yeah, that's a whole other story... Not even worth telling. There's no reason for her to have ill feelings toward me. I've never said or done anything rude or unprofessional in her classes. She just has favorites and seems to hate the rest of us. Add it to the millions of reasons I can't wait to get out of there.)

We parked, we walked in, we found the NICU, and we waited for our visit to begin. I looked at my classmates. Other than one woman in her early 30s, I was ten to fifteen years older than everyone else. I knew this was going to be a much different experience for me than it would be for them and I took a deep breath.

The visit to the NICU began.

We first met in a room to hear about how our morning was going to go. It was the same woman from our lecture the previous week, the woman who was very mommy-centric. She began by asking if anyone was pregnant and everyone shook their head. She repeated that visiting the NICU can be very upsetting for pregnant women so she always gave them the choice of opting out. For a second or two I debated saying something. Here was my chance that I missed in class. I wanted to say something about how the NICU could be upsetting to women who have lost babies too, but before I said anything she said, "But really, that option is open to everyone. You can opt out at any time, no questions asked." Okay, I'll give her a point for recognition there...

The first baby we saw weighed about five pounds and was, of course, adorable. We were learning about the equipment she needed while in the hospital and what all services she received. We also watched her feed from a bottle, which took f  o   r    e     v      e       r. I knew then that working in the NICU was not my calling. I did not want to spend so much time holding and feeding babies. When it wasn't causing me heartache, I think doing that every day would be incredibly boring for me.

Since it took so long, we were also hearing our "tour guide" tell us so much more information while the baby was feeding. I looked around the room at my classmates and I think that was the hardest part of the whole trip. Imagine being in a very small room with 12 other women, most in their early 20s, with a very small adorable infant. They were ga-ga over that baby. Their eyes were glistening, their smiles were huge, and they kept uttering things like "awww" and "so cute!!" I immediately looked away and kept my eyes focused on the baby for the rest of our time in the room. I had no idea that the easiest part of the trip was going to be staring down a baby.

We also saw a baby in an isolette. This baby was born at 23 weeks and was now 25 weeks old. I was worried that this would upset me, but I wanted to get the full experience of the NICU visit and learn all I could so I gave her observation a try. And I am so glad I did. She was fascinating! This tiny little baby with so many lines and tubes attached, bundled up in her little incubator was waving her arms so strongly. You could totally tell she was a fighter! I never thought that I could find inspiration in a preemie, but I was in awe.

Throughout the visit, I avoided my professor as much as possible. She is just not a nice person. I also hung to the back as we were walking through the halls. I didn't want to hear my classmates talking about when they were going to have kids or hear stories about their little siblings or nieces and nephews. I tried to learn as much medical information as possible while tuning out all of the chatter.

Then when it was over I was supposed to go back to campus for a meeting, but I went straight home and fell asleep for three hours. Anticipating that trip, being in the NICU, managing my emotions, and protecting myself wore me out completely. When I woke up, I felt pretty numb for the rest of the day.

It was only late last night, at the very end of the day, that I cried. I asked my husband, "Why didn't I get to have a baby?" He didn't have an answer. But he did share how happy he currently was and how excited he was about our plans together. Honestly, his words didn't really help me in the moment but at least they didn't make me feel worse.

Overall, it was good experience, very interesting, but it wasn't easy at all. I'm glad it's over.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Getting By/Getting Through

What a tough week!! Some weeks are like that. It doesn't mean that they don't suck though.

Sometimes I feel like the best I can do is just get by. And that's more than enough. Getting by is good enough. And I've always been a "good enough" kind of woman. Good enough has gotten me where I am today and here I am so...

I saw the counselor today. I feel lucky that I am able to see a counselor. The school offers a set number of visits for free every year. At least they're doing *something* right. And whoa, talk about validation... Very much appreciated!! I get it from my husband, from my best friend, and from your comments. But there's something about hearing it from an outside source. I started out telling her the 3 - 4 things that upset me this week with the intention of asking her for ideas for coping strategies for me so I could get through the rest of this semester with my health intact. But one story led to another, which led to another, which led to another... And I have not even shared all of them here. Well, damn, you step back and look at it all at once, it's a lot!! Just the look on her face told me I wasn't crazy.

And then she put words to it. Toxic. Abusive. Condescending. Demeaning. Defeating. And many, many more. She stayed professional the whole time but was still able to validate me without talking trash about my program or the professors. However, I am pretty sure she has a pretty good idea about the faults in that institution...

So I am happy/glad/thankful to have this valuable resource. I made another appointment for next week.

But even more than the validation, I appreciated her helping me come up with strategies for how I was going to cope. For one, the professors are not very nice. Two, we are studying pediatrics the entire semester. And three, as you all know, I am infertile and still grieving the loss of my children.

I love pediatrics. I love kids and working with children. And if I am going to go into this area of the field (which is still to be determined), there are many things that I am going to have to put up with/deal with/stomach. With kids, come parents. (And quite honestly, parents can be annoying.) And with kids comes the constant reminder that I didn't get to have mine. But I have worked hard at my recovery from infertility; I have faced my reality head on, and I have developed a healthy sense of separateness between what is my life and what is other people's lives (although that is a work in progress). The future is to be determined...

For now, I WILL get through this semester. I have a happy home. I have some friends and friendly faces at school. And now I have some new coping strategies.

So not only am I getting by, I am getting through. I strongly feel like the only way through your problems is straight through them. You can't avoid them. You can't go around them. (Well, you can... But I feel like that just prolongs the inevitable of dealing with them.) You have to go through them. And it is far from easy. And there is no time limit. It is not a race. You have to extend the utmost compassion and patience to yourself. You know, while you face one of your greatest nightmares while you are awake...

So I blogged very honestly this week. Well, I blog honestly every time I write. But this week, I was willing to show the ugly side. I was struggling. I am struggling. And that's okay. I mean, it sucks, but that's all a part of the process.

I know I will get through.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Really Struggling

I am really struggling and I don't know what to do about it.

Yesterday I blogged about my experience at school as an infertile woman studying pediatrics with fertile professors and mostly very young classmates.

Today wasn't any better. It was worse.

I was in a small class that is discussion-based. We were discussing a research article about the NICU. And the professor asked, "Who here has children?" (Is every class going to start with this question from now on?) And the two people that do raised their hand. The professor proceeded to ask their opinions on babies and things related to babies. I just looked down. The entire time. Waiting for it to end.

Before class started, I complimented the professor on her skirt. She looked at me blankly.

During discussion, she commented on other people's comments but never on mine.

At one point she said, "Most of you are too young to remember this, but..." and went on to describe a typical classroom activity that was very much a part of my childhood. I said "Uhhh" out loud and raised my hand, indicating that I knew what she was talking about. But she kept on talking with no acknowledgment.

Okay, I get it. I hate to sound childish, but she doesn't like me. So do I just not say anything? Not contribute to discussion? Won't this affect my grade? I do not know what to do.

So then the discussion turned to who has kids. Because, you know, parents are the only people that know anything about babies and children. She asked a specific question and my friend, who is a young father, started answering. I looked up and the professor was smiling. No, she was beaming. And nodding her head.

I looked back down and wondered how long this part of the discussion was going to last. Either the parental talk or the poor treatment from the professor lasted the entire time.

How am I going to get through this semester? What do I do?

I am used to the world being unfriendly to infertile women. I am used to feeling invisible. I am not used to sitting in a classroom and listening to lectures like this from people that have power over me. School feels downright hostile. The cold, crappy professors combined with the fertile-friendly perspective on everything feels like more than I can handle right now.

I emailed a counselor hoping to make an appointment. But if anyone has any other suggestions for ways for me to cope for the next three months, I am all ears.