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!

✨๐Ÿ’œ Thank You! ๐Ÿ’œ✨

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.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Studying Pediatrics Sucks Sometimes

Today was awful. Well, I guess there's still the rest of this afternoon, evening, and tonight. Let me rephrase. This morning was awful. It was tough and terrible and it totally sucked all of the energy out of me.

I knew this semester was going to be challenging and not just in the academic way. This semester we are studying pediatrics. Up until today, everything had been fine and for that I am grateful. I think I had even started to let my mental guard down a little... I shouldn't have. Because I got sideswiped today.

The morning started out with a quiz. Quizzes are never fun, but I was actually prepared and sitting outside the testing room reviewing my notes. That's when I overheard one classmate explaining the process of getting pregnant--the first day of your last menstrual period, ovulation, and implantation two weeks after that... To the pregnant classmate!!!!! She is pregnant and didn't know all that stuff. But of course she didn't. She didn't have to know it. She just had sex with her husband and got pregnant. For free. Gahhhh. I put my fingers in my ears to block out the conversation and kept studying.

(Side note: That quiz was hard. I studied for about four hours yesterday, took 18 pages of handwritten notes (because I am old and I handwrite everything, which is a better learning strategy anyway, but I digress on my digression), and I still only got an 80. I mean, an 80 is fine, but after all that work I honestly wanted a 100.)

Moving forward. The quiz is over and we began the morning lecture. We have an upcoming field trip to the NICU (the intensive care unit for babies) and the professor was going over the logistics. Then she said, "Is anyone else besides 'Pregnant Classmate' pregnant? Or is it just her?" Um what... Like someone is going to be all, oh yeah, I'm pregnant. I just haven't told anyone yet, but right now would be a perfect time to reveal personal information to the entire class. Gah. No one answers, so apparently no one else is pregnant. The professor went on to say that Pregnant Classmate is allowed to skip the field trip if she wants because she knows the NICU can be upsetting to pregnant women. I immediately thought: What about women who have lost babies? Wouldn't the NICU be even more upsetting for them? We don't know what everyone has been through. There might be someone sitting in that class who has had a traumatic experience in the NICU. But no one ever considers the infertile and baby loss population, do they? Now that I am home and thinking about my day, I am really regretting not raising my hand and asking that question.

Moving on. Then the guest lecturer came. She works in a NICU and was there to give a presentation about the environment, equipment, medical conditions seen there, and other related information. The first thing out of her mouth was, "Who here has kids?"

Can I just go home now? I am done with this day.

I haaate that question. It implies that only parents know about children, which is simply untrue.

So all the regular people raised their hands. We all know who has kids by now. And then the guest lecturer went on to talk about the NICU. Without even connecting her presentation to the question she just asked. Whether or not people were parents had nothing to do with the entire lecture! There was no reason to ask that question. And then, of course, the last slide of her presentation was a collage of pictures of her daughter.

It was too much. I was already stressed and sleepy. My emotional resources were low. And then I got caught off guard three times within an hour and a half. I came home and crashed for over two hours. It all just exhausted me. Studying pediatrics with fertile people can really suck sometimes.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Unwanted Shower Invitation

I haven't thought about infertility much in the last two weeks. That in itself is a small miracle, something I would have never thought possible a couple of years ago. I guess that's a plus side to being so busy you don't have time to think.

But I can share with you something that happened Saturday night. There I was--snuggled in my couch in some comfy clothes with a blanket while I watched a movie. I was warm. I was content. I was happy. My husband was out and I was enjoying a moment to myself where I didn't have to do or think about a single thing.

Then my phone starts going crazy. I'm getting message after message after message, and it really starts to interrupt my enjoyment of the movie. So I look at my phone and I'm confused for a minute. And then I immediately think, what in the hell?

My classmates use one of the many apps available to communicate amongst each other. It's helpful when asking each other questions, clarifying assignment directions, etc. A new group had been created. On a Saturday night. Called Surprise Baby Shower. And everyone was added to it (except for the pregnant classmate obviously because it's a surprise).

I immediately had a visceral reaction. My stomach churned and I felt feverish. I couldn't even really read the messages. Everything looked blurry and I felt a little dizzy. The first message said something about how they're planning a surprise baby shower for so and so on such and such date and could we all please give some money to buy her presents (for her THIRD child) and who all could bring what to eat. At least I think that's what it said. My reading comprehension capability was severely decreased due to my emotions.

Quite honestly, I was pissed. I did not ask to be a part of this party and I sure as hell did not want to be in this messaging group. Plus, they had interrupted my happy, cozy Saturday night.

How presumptuous to think that everyone in our class is emotionally invested in this girl's pregnancy or even interested in throwing her a surprise baby shower!

I left the group. Amidst the barrage of messages that were being hurled my way, I scrolled over to the screen that let me remove myself from the group and I noped out of there as fast as I could.

I know when you leave a group on that app everyone can see it. There would have been a message posted in the group: "Phoenix has left the group." (Well, obviously I'm not "Phoenix" with my classmates so it said my first and last name.) But I didn't care. I didn't want my Saturday night interrupted. I didn't want constant notifications about new messages. I didn't want to get on my phone and see "Surprise Baby Shower" in my list of groups. I. Did. Not. Want. To be. In. That. Group.

So I left.
And I didn't care that everyone could see that I left.
And I didn't care what people may have been thinking.
And I still don't.

I took a couple of deep breaths, texted my husband complaining about the situation, got some reassuring words from him, and went back to my movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

One funny thing came out of the situation. On Monday one of my favorite classmates asked if he could talk to me. "Sure," I said. I could tell he wanted to talk about or ask me something privately so we went down the hallway where there was no one. He asked me, "Did you leave that group that so and so created?" I said, "Yes." I think he was surprised that I left the group knowing it was public to everyone. He repeated, "Really?" And I said, "Yep. I didn't ask to be in that group. Get that shit off my phone." And he busted out laughing. He said he laughed so hard and so long when he saw that on Saturday night. He said that he thought to himself, "Well one thing is for sure. Phoenix isn't fake." And then he told me that he loved it and it was the funniest thing he had seen in a long time.

So, hey, I took care of myself and I made my friend laugh. Not bad for a situation I didn't ask for.

Friday, January 26, 2018

I Don't Have Unlimited Resources

I've been waiting for it to happen. It's been awhile so I knew something was coming soon. You know what I mean: hearing a comment that we are all used to. Well, I don't know if we ever get used to them. But we do get used to the idea that they're coming.

"I don't know why she gave up. If she wants to have a kid, she can. There are lots of kids waiting to be adopted."

That's what one of my friends chose to share with me. Her boyfriend said it. Immediately I said, "It's easy to say that when you haven't been in my situation." I was calm, but, honestly, I was so pissed off. Things are so easy to say when you've never had to deal with them yourself. This kid is 25 years old and doesn't even know what he's talking about. I told my friend not to to tell me things like that because it made me hate her boyfriend.

Like I said, it's been awhile since I've had a comment flung my way.

Damn. You want kids. You can't get pregnant. Well, you can always do IVF, right? Or just adopt!

Nothing I can write can convey the anger these thoughts cause me.

Because what the general population doesn't realize is I don't have unlimited resources. I don't have endless money to pursue treatments and adoption. I don't have endless energy. I don't have endless emotional reserves.

I tried until I almost died.

Quite honestly, I wanted to be dead. But what are you gonna do when your lungs are still breathing and your heart is still pumping?

So I've done the best I can. I didn't die and it was up to me to figure out how to live my life. And then someone comes along and says I shouldn't have given up. Who are they to say that? Who are they to judge me? They have no clue what I've been through. They have no clue what it is like to live my life.

So I educated my friend. I told her I tried everything. Without going into details, I told her I tried medical intervention. I tried adoption. I tried relaxing, being patient, and waiting for a fucking miracle. Guess what. Nothing worked. I never got pregnant. I never had a baby. I am not parenting, not in this lifetime.

And then some guy, some kid with no experience, comes along and inserts his opinion into my life?

My friend said she was so sorry for my situation, that she wished she could do something. I took advantage of the opportunity. I told her the way she could help was to educate people when they said incorrect, uninformed things. She could share what all she has learned from me. IVF doesn't always work. Adoption is no guarantee. Everything costs money, not to mention all of the other unquantifiable costs. She said she could and would do that. I hope she starts with her boyfriend.

It was just another reminder of how I live a life that the majority of people don't understand. I'm okay. I've had years of experience at this. This isn't my first month, my first year. It still hurts, stings, and makes me angry. But I find solace in the life that I am creating for myself. Even though I am playing the long game and this last year feels like it's gonna kill me, I know it won't. Nothing has killed me yet.

I am still here.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Proof of Progress

I am so excited! I am back in school for the semester, but that is definitely not the exciting part haha. What I am excited about is today was a nice, what do I call it... A signpost? A marker? The word or phrase eludes me, but what I'm trying to say is today I felt progress!

First, I had a conversation with my pregnant classmate. She is now visibly pregnant. And it was fine! I didn't feel weird, sad, uncomfortable, hurt, angry, depressed, or anything negative. In fact, I felt proud of myself. That may sound strange to someone who hasn't dealt with infertility so I wouldn't share that information with hardly anyone, but it's true. I am proud of myself.

We were in the computer lab and she said hello and I said hello back. She asked me a school-related question and I answered. I could have left it at that. I could have easily (and without looking rude or awkward) walked away after that exchange, but I didn't. I chose to continue to engage her in conversation. Well, I didn't ask her a single thing about her pregnancy, but, who knows, maybe she appreciated being talked to like the human being that she is and not just as an incubator for her future child. We visited for a few minutes about our winter break and being back at school. It was so... Normal. Yay!!! And there were no residual effects for me. My day wasn't ruined. There was no dark cloud following me around. Everything was... Fine. Super yay!!!

Next, I sat through a three-hour lecture on pregnancy, fetal movement, and fetal health in utero. (I'm taking a pediatrics course this semester and we are starting at the beginning. The very beginning haha.) And again... I. Was. Fine. What??

I even thought about it during the lecture. I thought, wow, if this was last year, I would not have been able to handle this lecture. But today I just found it fascinating. I noticed my friend sitting next to me glance at me a couple of times during the lecture. He knows there have been a couple of lecture topics in the past that upset me. But I didn't need that touchpoint today; I didn't need to make eye contact with him and roll my eyes in a self-preserving reaction. He's pretty sensitive so he probably noticed, but I'm glad we didn't talk about it.

And that was it. The only reason I'm still thinking about it all is the fact that it shows me how far I've come. I am so, so glad. I don't feel bad at all that I used to not be able to handle these things, but I am grateful that it's getting better. I mean, I need to be able to function in this (fertile) world!

So, it's no big deal really. Except it totally is. Haha.

I will continue working on my recovery from infertility. ๐Ÿ† ๐Ÿ”ฎ


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Waiting Is Hard

I am in a familiar (though not exactly welcoming) space where time is moving slowly. For years I tried to get pregnant, each day dragging as slowly and painfully as the last. Then for years after that I worked hard at creating a new life for myself. Now I am near the end of the first major phase of my plan for creating my new life and it feels like time is at a standstill.

It's so annoying to hear parents talk about how time moves too fast and how they don't want their babies to grow up. I know life is short and maybe I would feel the same if I was parenting, but I'm not and I don't. It's getting to be a little painful. The waiting, not the infertility (for once).

Please allow me to complain a little bit. I am tired of school and homework. I am tired of spending my days with people ten to fifteen years younger than me. (As much as I like my classmates, there is a huge difference between being 38 and being 23.) I am tired of living in this city. I am tired of being lonely. (All of our friends without kids have all moved away, and all of our friends who live here are now raising children. Part of the reason we decided to move was we realized we could be just as lonely somewhere else as we are here.)

But I don't think we will be lonely after we move. It will take a long time to establish close-knit friendships, but there are a lot of ways to meet people where we are going that we don't have here. I've realized some cities are better for families with children and some cities are better for families that consist of only adults.

It's been a tough couple of weeks. I've been dealing with my childish mother, making lifestyle changes (even when it's desired, change is hardly ever easy), losing my dog, going back to school, and dealing with functional problems in our rental house... It brings to mind a common saying: when it rains, it pours.

I know everything is temporary and this too shall pass, but I am also acknowledging that it is not easy right now. After working so hard for the past three years, these last several months may be the hardest of all.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Grieving My Dog & Questioning Fertility Clinics

I haven't logged on lately because I have been grieving the loss of my dog. I know it can be hard for some people to hear about pet loss so I put this post's subject in the title. I talk about my dog in the first part and infertility in the last two parts, if you want to skip the beginning.

*****

Like everyone's dog is, my dog was the best. I loved her and we had the greatest time together. So when it came to the end of her life, I couldn't have asked for a better experience. It was peaceful. It was dignified. It was the right time. I have a lot of comfort knowing she is no longer sick and in pain. Yet, despite all these things, it still sucks and I am sad. I really miss her.

She actually lived over four times longer than the prognosis she was given. We had time to prepare mentally and emotionally, and we had time to spoil her and make the most of every day together. Still... She is now gone and her absence is glaringly obvious. I'm still in my old habits of going to pick up her water bowl at night or checking the couch to see if she's there.

I would like to write a tribute to her, but I think it will take some time for me to write something worthy of her. For now, I'll just tell you a little bit about her.

I had wanted a dog for years but couldn't afford to care for one, so I waited. Then my husband and I started dating. Almost immediately, I informed him of my dog dream/plan. He was doubtful; unlike my dog-loving family, it's not what he was raised with. Well, we got married and just a year and a half later, we got a dog! Hahahaha. I knew I would "win." ;) And my husband was very quickly wrapped around her little finger/paw. He loved that dog and cared for her in ways I could have never predicted.

We got her before we tried to have kids, so she was with me every day of the traumatic ordeal that was my experience with infertility. And she was really with me. Her fur absorbed so many of my tears. She would always do something goofy and make me laugh. And on the days where I had zero energy and motivation, she would just sit with me for hours. God, I loved that dog.

She filled my empty arms.

Yet, although I am sad, I am also truly comforted and at peace. Her health had been declining quickly over the last several weeks, and she was extremely uncomfortable in her last couple of days. It was time. Her spirit was strong, but her body was worn out. We used an at-home service so she could be where she was most comfortable. A doctor and two assistants came to our house. They were wonderful, total strangers that were a part of a very intimate moment of our lives. My husband took the day off work, and we were both with her the entire time.

I've never had my own dog before, so this was my first time with everything. I wasn't sure how/if I was going to be able to handle it, but I was determined. She was with me through everything; I wasn't going to leave her when she needed me most. And like I said earlier, it was very peaceful and dignified. From the beginning of her life to the end, we were blessed with so many caring and talented professionals: vets, vet techs, trainers, the place where we boarded her when we went out of town. Everyone who met her loved her, and she loved everyone she met.

So I am very, very thankful.

*****

Here is the part where infertility comes in.
(Because infertility has a weird way of making itself a part of so many life experiences...)

The at-home service that I used gave me a folder as they left. I looked inside and it was full of information about grief and resources for support. My first thought, which I yelled out loud, was WHERE WAS MY FOLDER ABOUT GRIEF FROM MY FERTILITY CLINIC??

Seriously. Wtf. A lot of IUIs do not result in pregnancy. Most rounds of IVF do not result in pregnancy. Basically, a whole lot of fucking people do not leave the fertility clinic with the hoped for result. And we are just left out in the world--hurting, confused, and unsupported. We are left to fend for ourselves, to process on our own what we just experienced, and to figure out how to live again since, even though infertility can definitely kill your spirit, it is not actually fatal.

I want to start campaigning for After Care programs at fertility clinics. I think it's completely messed up that this isn't standard procedure. I am keeping this idea in the back of my head for after I move. There are fertility clinics where I am going, and I am seriously considering visiting them and pitching my idea. (If anyone else reading likes this idea too and does anything like it in their area of the world, I would love to hear about your process and the responses you get.)

I had the rare positive experience with my fertility clinic, but even they didn't have an After Care program. There was just the final appointment where the doctor and I talked about why the last round hadn't resulted in pregnancy. She was honest that my odds were slim and asked if I was interested in exploring other options (egg donor, embryo adoption, and adoption). I told her no, that I was exhausted, and that I couldn't do it anymore but I'd come back to her if I ever felt differently because I really did trust her. She said she was sorry that I didn't get pregnant, and I told her I always appreciated her honesty and her bedside manner. She complimented me on my clarity and strength. And that was it. Nothing else. No more appointments. No follow-up phone call. No folder full of resources and information about grief.

Really, fertility industry, an After Care folder is hardly difficult or expensive to put together.

Just a few of the things included in the folder given to me after my dog passed away:

  • a handout that describes what normal grief looks and feels like (physically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and spiritually)
  • a handout with five suggestions for your daily routine that help you "bring yourself back" after grief (their words, not mine)
  • a handout describing different professionals that can help with grief after losing a pet (psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, social workers, clergy members, hotlines, and website forums)
  • a list of local and online pet loss support groups
    AND
  • a whole dang booklet called Your Guide to Pet Loss that includes topics like Common Feelings After Pet Loss, Factors That Can Complicate Grief, and Taking Care of You.

I am in shock. This seems like a no-brainer. Why is there no After Care offered at fertility clinics??

*****

In closing, I will share the "ten inalienable rights after the death of a special companion animal" written by Dr. Alan Wolfelt in his book When Your Pet Dies: A guide to mourning, remembering, and healing that were printed in the guide booklet given to me. I think you will find these ten rights quite applicable to recovering from infertility. 


  1. You have the right to grieve.
  2. You have the right to talk about your grief.
  3. You have the right to feel a variety of emotions.
  4. You have the right to be tolerant of your physical and emotional limits.
  5. You have the right to experience "griefbursts."
  6. You have the right to make use of ritual.
  7. You have the right to embrace your spirituality.
  8. You have the right to search for meaning.
  9. You have the right to treasure your memories.
  10. You have the right to move toward your grief and heal.

๐Ÿ’œ ๐Ÿ’œ ๐Ÿ’œ  

Friday, January 5, 2018

Initial New Year Thoughts

Hello and Happy and Healthy New Year! Let's jump back into the blog. I don't want to reflect on last year too much; it was pretty much just school anyway. Some concerts, a couple of trips when on break, a lot of good meals and quality time spent with my husband. Well damn, even though 2017 was pretty rough on a global scale, 2017 was an improvement in my life. 

And now we're five days into 2018 and here are my current thoughts:

  • I do not regret skipping the family holiday celebration for the 2nd year in a row.

    I am thankful that my sisters and my aunt and uncle traveled to where I live so I got to see them. So, I didn't see everyone all together and I didn't see any of my cousins, but I did get to celebrate with family this year. I really appreciate it. Part of the reason I skipped was due to infertility. I felt like I needed another year, one more year to be more into my new life before I'm around my cousins' adorable kids again. Mostly, I skipped because I was exhausted from school and had no energy to travel. I hope to make the family celebration next year, but I have no regrets missing the last two years because it is what I needed while I was in my initial years of healing and accepting that I wouldn't be having children in this lifetime. (Just throwing that out there for anyone who might want to do the holidays differently next year)


  • I don't usually make New Year's Resolutions, but this year I am going to take care of my physical health!

    I have worked so hard on my mental and emotional health for the last two years, and I'm proud of my work. Now it is time to focus on a different aspect of my health: my physical body. While TTC, I was in pretty good shape. I ate healthy, walked regularly, and took a million vitamins and supplements. But after I quit TTC, I just needed a break. From everything. I definitely stopped taking all those vitamins and supplements. I also stopped eating healthy. In fact, I made the conscious decision to just eat whatever I wanted, so that's what I've done for the last 2 years. And, let me tell you, it has been delicious. I also have no regrets there. However, the fact of the matter is, that between all those fertility drugs and then my extended period of conscious unhealthy eating led to weight gain and muscle loss. (Again, no regrets- it's all part of the process for me.) So now I want to eat better and exercise regularly. I'm motivated by vanity a little bit, but mostly I'm motivated by function. I am going to be transferring patients soon, and I need to get stronger. So, in addition to finishing up school, I'm also going to make taking care of my physical health a priority this year.


  • I love breaks!!!

    I will miss them after I graduate from school and re-enter the world of employment. I love the opportunity to rest up, run errands when it's not crowded, and meet up with friends I haven't seen all semester. I saw two friends last week and will see two friends this week. I met them all at different parts in my life and I really value these women, who range in age from 36 to 64. I am very grateful for good conversations and laughter.


  • Speaking of laughter, one of my friends said the funniest thing.

    She is a former co-worker and we've been friends for, wow, 15 years now. (Time freakin' flies.) She's in her early 50s and her boys are in their early 20s. They are both good kids but having a difficult time adjusting to the next stage of their lives, so my friend is still heavily supporting them and parenting them as much as you can parent young men in their early 20s. Overall, she and I have very interesting conversations about having children. She loves her kids and she was (and still is) an awesome mom while they were growing up- lots of activities and sports and friends and pool parties. But she is So Thankful to be, as she calls it, "on the backside of parenting."

    One of our mutual friends had a baby a year and a half ago and I asked my friend if she had seen her. My friend said she hadn't, not since she went to her house to meet the baby. My friend continued, "I don't expect to see her. Her life just completely changed. Whenever I find out one of my friends is having a baby I'm like, 'See you in ten years!' "

    Ha!!! I thought that was so funny. My friend isn't infertile and saying she's not going to see her friend with a baby. My friend is a mom and saying she's not going to see her friend with a baby... for ten years! I mean, it's pretty much true. I've just never heard a fertile person say it. I laughed pretty hard.