Sunday, August 18, 2019

Back To Work/School

I've gone back to work, which means I'm around people again, which means I'm surrounded by fertile conversations again. And, full disclosure, I've returned to my first career: teaching. So that means I am working with fertile co-workers, kids, and their parents again.

To put it lightly, there is NO WAY I could have returned to teaching any earlier than August 2019. And I would not return if it was in any way detrimental to my mental health with regard to my recovery from infertility.

But here I am. By choice. Feeling thankful and enthusiastic.

I don't want a baby anymore. I *wanted* kids, but they didn't come. I am not raising children in my home. Not in this lifetime.

But as I have spent years grieving and crying and sitting in depression, thinking about allllllll of the things I was missing by not getting to raise children, I thought about all of the reasons why I wanted to be a mother. And it was the gritty stuff I wanted. The late nights, the sick times, helping with homework, supporting after school activities... And, well, I can do half of those things as a teacher.

Like I said, I spent yearsss grieving. I let my feelings come, I let them stay, I let them go. I sat in nothingness for endless days, weeks, months. I didn't know what to do so I did nothing. And that was fine. That was part of my process.

And now, at least today anyway, I am here. No, I don't have kids. No, I am not a mom. But I love teaching. And I love kids. And it finally doesn't hurt to be around them. In fact, now I can enjoy working with kids and then also enjoy going home to do whatever I want.

Just chalk it up to another thing post-infertility that I didn't see coming... :)

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Stages of My Survival

Some thoughts on...

Pressing Forward
I had another blogger email me a month or two ago. I always greatly appreciate connecting with other women like myself, those who are living life without children after infertility. And it was really cool to hear from her in particular because it's her blog that was the first one I read start to finish. Through her writing, she helped me so, so much when she didn't even know I was reading. So, back to her email, there was a phrase she used that has stuck with me: pressing forward. She commended me for doing such. And, as she usually does, she gave me words for my experience. That's all you can do once you start moving/living/doing something again. Initially, it is one slow, heavy step at a time. It can take years to build momentum, but there is no timeline. There is only pressing forward.

Changes of Scenery
Until things become lighter. It's so gradual that it is imperceptible. But one day, one-one thousandth of an ounce is lifted from your shoulders, your legs, your chest, your heart. And you notice it. For me, what made the biggest difference was a major change of scenery. Selling the house I had bought for my children was necessary for me. After that, I moved into a rental house while I went back to school, but I was still in the same city. Moving out of that city (and out of the state entirely) to a different city helped immensely, as I never would have done that had my children been conceived, born, and raised where I was. Moving out of state to finish school changed my life forever because my husband did not follow and now we are divorced. But it is moving to where I am now, out of that city and into a small town, that has been the most transformative. It's only been a couple of months so I can't quite put it into words yet, but I know major changes are happening within. So, at least in my case, a change of scenery helps!

Back To Work
And this past week I went back to work. I actually returned to my previous career, one that I never thought I'd do again. That said, I always maintained my licensure and certifications because you just never know... I am incredibly thankful for my new job. It just feels right. There will be good days and there will be bad, but I'm glad that those days will be happening in a place where I want to live.

Living My Life
Which brings me to living my life... I am almost overwhelmed with how much I like my life. It's weird because it doesn't look ANYTHING like my lifelong dream or even my Plan B, but I just kept pressing forward and this is where I am. I'm quite proud of myself. None of it was easy. But now I'm here. I have housing, I have employment, and I have a hobby that I enjoy. Speaking of, I am almost finished with my very first quilt.

I suppose my final thoughts are along the lines of life is a winding path and I expect to continue to revisit the same issues and difficult topics throughout it. It's not just infertility. It's divorce. And dating. And falling in love again. It's my unhealthy mother. And my sisters whom I love with all of my heart. And whom also accidentally hurt my feelings a lot. It's fertile people stating rude assumptions. It's experiencing the holiday that is hardest for me every year. It's trying to make friends as a grown-ass woman without kids and also trying to make time to see said friends.

It's life. But it's mine. It's stressful. But there's tons of good stuff too. I created a life I want to live.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

We Can

Our country went to bed last night after a day of horror and we all woke up to learn of more horror. This blog post will fade into the past only to possibly be read again in the future sometime, somewhere, by someone and I will not name here what the two, er three, horrifying events were of this particular week.

It's awful. It's horrible. And I have no words to describe my rage, sadness, and frustration. I start to feel helpless, like I can't do anything to change it, and that I can't live in a society like this.

But if there's one thing I learned from infertility it's that I Can.

When I am faced with the unfathomable, I know I can survive.
When nothing makes sense and everything hurts, I know I can keep going.
When the world overwhelms me and things seem meaningless, I know I can make a positive difference in my little spot.

A joke with a stressed cashier here, holding a door open for someone with their hands full there, I can keep showing up in life. I can find joy in the little things. I can be there for others.

I can. You can. We can.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

For Those Suffering

Recovering from infertility without getting to raise children is a long, hard undertaking. It can be lonely, traumatic, and feel almost impossible to survive. But life CAN get worth living again. It might take a long time and life definitely won't look like what you thought it would, but it is miraculously possible to want to live again.

That's why I appreciate Life Without Baby's post called Who Are You? so much. You slowly but surely go through phases as you recover from life-altering loss and this post does a nice job of summarizing some of those phases.

There was a time, a very long time period, where I definitely did not think it was possible to ever want to live again. I spent years alternating between feeling like walking death and feeling like all of my emotions and nerve endings were on the outside of my skin and everything was extremely painful.

Who was I? A tortured soul. Grieving the loss of my children. A woman who was involuntarily alive.

Who am I now? A changed person. Healing from the loss of motherhood. A strong fucking woman who is happily surprised to be content, at peace, and even excited to be here.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Infertility in Pop Culture

Did you know Norm on Cheers is infertile?

(Er, was infertile? I'm not sure what verb tense to use with a tv show character...)

I'm currently rewatching the entire show, beginning with the first episode, and, WHAT DID HE JUST SAY, there it is in the middle of season one.

Coach asked Norm why he and Vera didn't ever have any kids. Norm said, "I can't." And then in typical Norm fashion he made a joke out of it by saying, "I look at Vera. I just can't." But I know the kind of humor that can underscore infertility. And I was elated to learn that infertility was mentioned back in 1983 on one of my favorite tv shows.

It got me thinking...
What other cultural references are there to infertility in tv shows, books, movies, etc.?

The first reference I learned about was The Flintstones. Barney and Betty Rubble were unable to conceive children which led to the adoption of their son, Bamm-Bamm.

The next reference I learned about was Dr. Suess. He and his first wife were unable to have children and so they invented a daughter named Chrysanthemum Pearl, about whom they made up wild stories. (Have fun going down an internet rabbit hole with that one!)

What about you? Where have you heard infertility referenced in pop culture? I'd love to expand my knowledge on this topic.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Taking My Time

If you are dealing with infertility or recovering from infertility, please take whatever time you can for yourself. An hour here, a day there. Fifteen minutes, a quick bathroom break, whatever you can take. Take your time.

That's what I've been doing lately and I don't take a second of it for granted.

I am taking some time off before starting my new job. Even just a month ago, I was in no shape to take on the rigor of learning a new professional position. I suppose that's one thing that has served me well in life: my self-awareness. Thank God. Because I come from a family that does nothing but invalidate my thoughts and feelings. Anyway...

I've been taking my time. And I've been explaining myself to no one. I simply do what I feel like.

Reading, sleeping, cooking, quilting, sitting outside, calling old friends, cultivating gratitude.

I hope you do the same for yourself. Do what you can when you can. And go easy on yourself.


Takin' My Time by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

My Last Name

I was never going to change my name if/when I got married. But my (now ex) husband wanted his children to have his last name and I wanted my children to have my last name, so it just made sense for me to change my name. Plus, I liked his last name and so, after a lifetime of saying "I would never," I did.

I changed my last name solely for my children.

And now I am divorced and in the process of restoring my old name.

Every task related to changing my name back irritates me. Frustrates me. But I know what this is about. I've been here before. It's not about changing my name, per se. The irritation and frustration is about infertility. It's about shedding the last physical remnant I have left of my children.


Well, that makes sense why it's so hard.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Cost of My Freedom

I see it in their eyes.

We will be standing there, both of us in our late 30s/early 40s, meeting each other for the first time. It may be at a work event or when making small talk while out and about town. They tell me about their kids and ask me about mine. I say I don't have any and there is a brief pause while I watch so many thoughts flicker across their eyes.

No kids?
Why not?
How old is she?
Is she married?
What does she do??
Oh wow, what does she do with all of her TIME???
Good gawd, what does she do with all of her MONEY???

It doesn't always happen like this, but it happens enough that it's worth writing about.

I know these parents love their kids. They love their kids unconditionally.
They just don't love the constant act of parenting 24/7.

They hear that I don't have kids and their overwhelming thought is: FREEDOM.

But their initial thoughts sell me short. Aside from the fact that I have the same 24 hours in a day that they do and that I make the same low salary as everyone else in my field...

Their assumptions leave no space for my losses, my trauma, my grief, and my hard work.

I'm not looking to turn every interaction into a teachable moment with friends and strangers alike, but I do appreciate having this place where I can vent about what annoys me. ;)

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Instigating a Baby Shower

To instigate means to urge, provoke, or incite to some action or course.
And that's exactly what I did. I instigated a baby shower.

Back up.


The last time I went to a baby shower was over five years ago. It was for one of my best friends from high school and it was a nice shower--lots of people, presents, finger foods, and cute things. Even though I was in the middle of suffering from infertility at the time, I was simultaneously happy for my friend and wanted to celebrate her. I remember it took a lot out of me though. I was very, very tired for many days after. And I thought, man, I'm really not going to another baby shower unless that person is reeeally important to me, if ever again...

Flash forward to now.

I have made a really good friend here. I moved a little over a year ago and I met her about three months after I moved. We met through someone we both know and she and I just really clicked. And then she got pregnant fairly quickly after we became friends. Doh! I mean, good for her of course. I want anyone who wants to get pregnant and raise children to be able to do so. I was just selfishly thinking, dang, I just met this cool new friend and now she's pregnant. Oh well...

But then the cool part is that she wasn't annoying. She wasn't smug. She wasn't inadvertently rude or dismissive. I don't even think she knows about my infertility stuff. She was just never over the top about her pregnancy. It was pretty easy (for me, after years of grief work) to continue being friends with her.

I stressed ahead of time about her baby shower though.
Would I go? Would I not go? Would I tell her why?

But then...

It never came. I never heard anything about a shower. And her due date was fast approaching. I thought to myself. I know the formal etiquette is to not have family members host a shower and I wasn't a family member; therefore, I could offer to throw one...

I texted her mom: "Does ***** want a baby shower? I haven't heard anything about one, but we could get together and decorate onesies if she wants to."

It turns out she didn't really want a shower because she didn't know who would come or what we would do but then the idea of decorating onesies got her excited and that is how I came to instigate a baby shower.

Hahahaha. Life is freaking weird.

So I instigated a baby shower. We had it at her house. I made food, her mom made food, her sister made food, she made food, and we decorated onesies with iron-ons and fabric pens. I brought pink plates and purple napkins and mentally prepared myself for a strong emotional response post-party (shocker: I didn't. Although it would've been fine if I'd had).

Right when I got there, my friend hugged me and said, "Thanks for doing all of this for me."

I didn't want a bachelorette party when I was getting married, but my best friend from college kinda made me have one and I'm sooo glad she did. She did something small, but it was perfect for me and I have the greatest memories from it.

That's why I did it; that's why I instigated a baby shower for my friend. So she would be celebrated and have good memories about an important time in her life.

I may never go to another baby shower again, but, hahaha, I hosted a damn good one. ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Good For Me

Moving has been so good for me. For years, I sat and did nothing. Then for years I sat and studied. Even when I moved here last year, it was from one state to another, so I hired movers to load up all of my stuff and deliver it. It was a lot and it was stressful, but the actual moving of my stuff didn't require much physical exertion on my part.

This move has been different. This move has been long and drawn out, full of one rental truck and many, many car trips between the old place and the new place. I packed every box, I lifted every box, and I moved every box into my new place or storage. (Ohhh my storage unit... Maybe one day I'll have a place with floor to ceiling bookshelves for all of my beloved friends books.)

It was hard, physical work. I woke up sore every morning. I was covered in bruises. And I felt great. I hadn't used my body like this in years. I'd been wanting to, I just hadn't been able to yet.

So, of course, moving sucks. And this one seems particularly long and challenging. But this move is also awesome. I love living somewhere quiet and beautiful, and I am grateful for my body's ability to move all of my crap here.

It feels good to move and it feels good to be home.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


I'm feeling vulnerable from my last post. I thought about deleting it, but instead I'll just add another point to it haha. One aspect of loneliness that I forgot to touch on yesterday was how lonely it can sometimes feel to live in the fertile world, constantly hearing about everyone's kids and their normal daily living. It's not uncommon for me to be the only adult in a room without children (young or grown).


I may feel a little lonely at times, but I feel a hell of a lot of other things too:
happy, content, grateful, and looking forward to the rest of my life.

A year ago I wrote about beginning again and I think it's pretty relevant to where I am today too. I'm in a new home in a new town, setting up and settling in. Although I've been cooking again for a year now (what I wrote about in the aforementioned post), I previously shared that I just recently decided to learn how to quilt. And I like it a lot. I like the ideas, the process, and the finished product. It's nice to enjoy something leisurely again, a feat that many people take for granted.

Recovering from major loss takes years and requires a seemingly unsurmountable amount of energy. Whenever I feel frustrated with myself in the moment, I try to remind myself of how far I have come. I hope you do the same for yourself.

"Everyday we're breathing is a day we've won." -John Fullbright's Moving

Old man broke down on the side of the road
Stop and see if maybe I can lighten his load
He opened the door and he thanked me in kind
Told me the words that would open my mind

(he said)
Don’t worry about gasoline
We’re moving
Don’t worry about the tv screen
We’re moving
Don’t worry about the bombs that fall
We’re moving
Don’t worry about nothing at all

There’s a man in the alley just a’singing the blues
Telling everybody that they’re born to lose
Well one day he’ll wake up and see the sun
See that everyday we’re breathing is a day we’ve won

There’s times the lines get hard to see
And there’s days the haze takes over me
But in the end you’re gonna grit your teeth
And keep moving

Well the world will keep turning when I’m dead and gone
I’ll see you again and it won’t be too long
Maybe we’ll meet in a place where there ain’t no pain
Until that day my song remains

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


I am here! I got a job (not what I just went to school for hahaha but I am still excited about it) and I moved out of the city. Jobs for what I went to school for don't exist much outside of the city (not full-time anyway, maybe I'll start my own practice, but that's a daydream for another day), and I just really had to follow through with my lifelong dream of raising children not living in the city.

And I did it!!!

And I am lonely.

Oh well... Nothing is perfect. Despite my loneliness, I am still very happy, excited, and grateful. Not to mention, I'm a little bit impressed with myself for making it all happen on my own...

But now I realize that it is safe to fall apart. I am not trying to get pregnant or get through grad school or move out of state or get through a divorce. All of that is done. I am safe in my new home, where I plan to take it pretty damn easy for a month before I start my new job.

I was lonely in my marriage. He was a great provider, but our friendship was disintegrating. We worked so hard on a new life plan that I thought we both wanted, but then he never looked for a job or expressed any interest in moving. In fact, he seemed to have lost interest in me. I am sorry to say that our marriage did not survive infertility.

I knew what I was compromising on when I got married, but no relationship is perfect. My former husband was an honest, hardworking man. He would have been a great father. But that didn't happen. And neither was anything else. I was grieving and growing and changing and, well, he...  Wasn't. I had to keep moving forward. I couldn't stay stuck. I had spent too many years of my life feeling like the living dead and I had to figure out something different for myself.

I thought I'd be less lonely once the divorce was final. But I'm not. The biggest loss for me in the divorce was losing the one person who was there for me through all of the trauma of infertility. The one person who understood what all I had been through.

On Sunday I got my period. They are really bad these days. They completely wipe me out with emotions and fatigue. And it was Father's Day. I am lucky to still have my dad and we have a great relationship, but every time I went to call him I just started crying. Hard. I couldn't do it. I sent him a text. He understood.

So here I am, 4 years and 3 months after my 2nd and final round of IVF didn't result in pregnancy, living in a cute little rental home outside of the city surrounded by nature. I have a job waiting for me, and my most basic needs are met. I still need to do some post-divorce name change stuff, but other than that I am almost done with boring administrative tasks for a little bit and can take a much needed break.

I'm lonely because it's such a big moment, but I have no one to celebrate it with.
Well, no one but you all. Hence, this blog post... <3

I'm back, I've got a lot on my mind, and I absolutely need to start writing again.

I'm looking forward to getting caught up on my reading. Wishing everyone a wonderful week! 

Love, Phoenix

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Running On Fumes

I am dropping by to write "Hello!" and catch up on some blog reading. Like the title of this post says, I am running on fumes. I am currently experiencing full body exhaustion. Will this fatigue ever end? Yes. Slowly, but surely, and by taking one step at a time.

I texted my best friend yesterday: "How do you get through a move? One box at a time."

Infertility is traumatizing, life altering, and absolutely and completely draining. Going to graduate school is also exhausting. So is moving to a new state. So is getting divorced. So is substitute teaching preschool. And now my lease is up this week and I don't have a new place lined up. Don't worry, I have plans to stay with a friend. I'd rather wait for the right lease to open up as opposed to signing a lease to live where it isn't right for me at this time. But it's still stressful...
And liberating. ;)

I went to my storage unit yesterday. I've written about my storage stuff before, how I couldn't initially deal with anything and just threw it all in storage and then how, over time, I've been able to go through the more difficult items to toss them or give them away. Looking at my stuff yesterday I just kind of marveled. I went from a big 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom house that I bought with my husband at the time for our children. Now I just have my things in a small little unit. It's honestly a lot of books and art supplies and I love it. I am very satisfied with where I am in life.

Anyway, I'm rambling. I do that when I'm tired.

I may be running on fumes, but I am very excited because I feel like I am at the very end of a very, very long quest. I am so close to living my dream of moving out of the city and living the rest of my life. I had a job interview last week that I am eagerly awaiting to hear back from. I spend all day hoping that I receive the news I want to hear. It brings back familiar, yet unwelcome, feelings of waiting and hoping, but I also have the knowledge and experience to know deep down to my bones that I will be fine whatever happens.

Overall, this blog isn't going anywhere. I just may be a little quieter than usual as I make yet another major life transition. But trust me, I have plenty of material "on the back burner" so to say. Infertility and divorce, infertility and dating, infertility and making new friends, infertility and employment... There is unlimited material to pull from. And now that I have a somewhat consistent sense of peace, I would love to continue sharing with you how I navigate my life after infertility without my children.

But first, self care! Which I will do by spending the next hour or two reading others' blogs and drinking my coffee... :) Wishing everyone a wonderful week!! Love, Phoenix

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Subbing Preschool

If you would've told me five years ago that, five years from now, I'd be living in another state, living life without children after infertility, divorced, and substitute teaching preschool I don't think there's any way I would have been able to believe it. Well, we probably shouldn't go back in time and tell my past self that because, honestly, my past self may not have been able to handle it. That might've been the end of me. I would've melted into a puddle right there.

But, I am not the me of five years ago. I am the me of five years ago plus the past five years.
And what a five years they've been...

Oh. I just did the math. Five years ago I was still charting. Hadn't even been to the clinic yet.


I'm substitute teaching preschool. Hahahaha. That sounds so bizarre and it's my life.

But I am so thankful. In a still-new city where I don't know that many people, it was nice to be able to walk into a job. I knew some people there and so I was able to call and start working that week.

It's humbling because it's all I can handle right now. It's part-time; I only work a couple of days a week. And I'm still foggy from the divorce. I haven't even replaced my cell phone from when I tossed it in the washer a couple of weeks ago. I mean, I'm in the process of replacing it. Everything is just... Such a process...

But here I am, an infertile and recently divorced woman, happily substitute teaching preschool.

Life is weird. :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Living My Life

(This post was inspired by Mali writing about why she'll never say that she'll never get over it and Elaine and Klara who both wrote about how they are not living their "plan B," they are just living their life.)

I'm learning how to quilt. I don't sew. But I've saved a lot of t-shirts that I wanted to get made into a t-shirt quilt. But as I looked around online at different people who offered this service, the more I realized that I wanted to make my own t-shirt quilt with my old t-shirts. So I decided to learn how to quilt.

Fortunately for me, there's a place nearby that has classes so I've been learning some basics. All of the classes kind of build on each other. Right now I'm learning how to piece so I can make a quilt top.

I'm tired, I'm broke, and I've decided to take quilting classes. And it's one of the best things I could've done. It takes my mind off of everything that is stressing me out. I can get in the flow of ironing, cutting, and sewing fabric. When I'm in my weekly class, I'm around people and learning something new. I enjoy working on my current project and I look forward to seeing and feeling the final product.

The major thing is what I've realized. It's the first time I've done something where I didn't think, "Well, I'm only doing this because I couldn't have children."  That is how I have felt about pretty much everything the last several years. But not this. Not my new hobby. This is something new and fun and exciting and it has nothing to do with anything I've lost. It has nothing to do with anything that didn't work out. It's just something I thought of, looked into, and signed up for.

Like how I used to do before infertility.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Still Feeling Foggy

My divorce was finalized this week and I promptly chucked my cell phone into the washing machine with the sheets. It didn't fully survive. I can make and receive calls and texts, but the camera doesn't work.

And I really enjoy taking pictures. It's actually a great mental health practice for me. I got back into keeping photo albums during my depressive episode of 2009 and I've been at it ever since. Vacations, good meals, crafts I've made, friends I've seen... My photo albums remind me of all of my good times and memories. So, needless to say, I will be buying a new phone. For my mental health of course. Hahaha :)

But seriously. I initiated the divorce; I wanted the divorce. Well, that sounds weird but you know what I mean... Since there were no compromises happening and our incompatibilities weren't going to change, I just needed the whole thing to be over. And now it is. And I feel better. It's a huge weight off my shoulders.

But I am still feeling foggy. As evidenced by my now-washed cell phone.

It's the ending of a marriage, the ending of a friendship, the ending of an era, and the definite ending to my dreams of having and raising our children together.

Those are no small endings.

So I'm doing what I prescribe to myself best: I'm taking it easy. I'm not driving if I don't have to. I'm not making commitments if I don't need to. I'm not talking to people who stress me out. I'm asking myself throughout the day, "What do I need right now?" I'm paying attention to when I'm hungry and when I'm sleepy. I'm extending myself grace and patience when I get easily upset or frustrated. Overall, I am just trying to slow down. I don't want to accidentally hurt myself (or anyone else!) while I am navigating this fog.

To try something different, I signed up for a weekly sewing class a couple of weeks ago. Maybe needles aren't the best thing for me to handle right now haha, but I am excited to put all of my tired thoughts aside and learn something new. And now, my friends, I am off to class! :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Thankful for Support

I need this space. I think the biggest thing I lost in my divorce was the infertility support. My ex was awesome at supporting me. I often thought about that. How can a somewhat emotionally unreachable person be SO GOOD at supporting me through my worst nightmare?

I think it goes back to what he told me once, that raising kids was my lifelong dream but it wasn't his. I think he could be there for me because he wasn't traumatized. But because he wasn't traumatized, he didn't undergo a massive transformation like I did while recovering from infertility. In fact, other than his wife falling apart, he didn't really have anything to recover from. We made a new life plan together and he always supported me through it, but I guess he didn't want to move and change as much as we both thought he wanted to. So, even though I said I wasn't going to blog about it, that's what I've come up with in a nutshell with regard to trying to understand the abrupt ending to my marriage.

Like I said, the biggest loss for me in my divorce was losing my main support. I lost the one person who stood by me and saw and understood everything I went through while trying to conceive.

Thankfully, I have you all.

Our community understands my pain, my loss, and my joy despite my pain and loss. Thank you.

When I feel alone, I can log on and reach out to connect, read to feel understood, and write to cry, vent, and/or celebrate. Thank you.

And, it was perfectly timed for right when I needed it, Mali published a book (which I promptly purchased, read, and reread).

The support I receive from you and from our community... It's priceless. Invaluable.

Thank you.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

My 4th Survivor Anniversary

I observed my 4th Survivor Anniversary a couple of weeks ago. I was not blogging on my first survivor anniversary, but I wrote about my second anniversary here and my third anniversary here.

My 4th anniversary brings... Many conflicted feelings. I was not very okay for the first three months of this calendar year. I cried often and blogged about it a bit. I am also simultaneously beyond okay; in fact, I am totally kicking ass. Of course, I don't often receive this message from society so I make sure to remind myself pretty frequently. ;)

I tried to get pregnant for four years. (2.5 years of charting, 6 months of agonizing treatments, and 1 year of hoping for a miracle.) Now it has been four years since my last round of IVF did not result in pregnancy. It has been four years since I, within the course of one month, decided to stop medical intervention, apply to go back to school for a new career, and then move after graduation to a different state to live a completely different life.

And here I am. Graduated, moved, and living life without my children after infertility. And pretty happily so. And I'm also getting divorced... Oh did I forget to mention that?

Of course I know I haven't mentioned that. I have had no idea how to mention it. I've been going through it (hence, the real reason for my blogging hiatus last fall), and you know how it is when you are actually going through something--it can be hard to articulate. So, for now, I will continue to blog about infertility, but I probably won't blog about my marriage or subsequent divorce. But, just so you know, I am no longer married.

So my 4th Survivor Anniversary finds me in a definitely unexpected place. I am happy and I am content. A part of me will always be sad about not getting to raise my children. I continue to grieve and process infertility. I am also processing my divorce. Plus, I'm feeling a bit stressed and overwhelmed with being on the job market and having my lease end soon. So, honestly, I am exhausted. But that's life. Stress comes and goes. Infertility showed me how strong and resilient I really am. I will be fine. I will find a job and a new apartment. Life goes on and I continue to choose to enjoy the little things. I will continue to cook and craft and try new stuff. In fact, tonight I went to a basic sewing class to learn how to sew.

Life is meant to be lived. I am so grateful to have my peace of mind, the opportunity to start a new career, and the rest of my life to explore everything my new home has to offer. From one survivor to another, Happy Anniversary (for whenever yours is)! Whatever you are doing (no matter how much or how little it may seem right now), you are doing awesome!!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Grief Affects Cognition

I was trying to find an important document this summer. I looked where it was supposed to be and then I looked everywhere else. I couldn't find it, made a mental note, and went on with life.

Several months later I looked again. I checked my files and my important papers and my unsorted junk mail and the piles of miscellaneous stuff I'd kept. I still couldn't find it.

Last week came the time when I actually needed that document. I sighed and told myself I'd look again. I started with the file folder where it was supposed to be, the file folder where I had already looked multiple times before.

And there it was. Clear as day. Right in front of my face.

And my first thought was "Dammmn, grief really affects cognition."

(I know I had looked in that folder before. I know for sure. At least I thought I had... Ha! What I do know for sure is that I looked for this document multiple times and didn't find it when it was actually filed away where it was supposed to be the entire time.)

My brain is finally starting to calm down. The grieving process demands a lot. After years of heightened vigilance that comes with trauma and then years of hard work as I changed nearly everything to create a life for myself that I think I'll enjoy, be successful at, and be of service to others, I finally have some breathing space. And not only am I taking this breathing space, I am fiercely defending it. I am mindful of the commitments I am making and how I am spending my time, money, and energy. It's easy to think I'm fine now, that I am at The End. That I made it. I mean, I moved and graduated and changed careers and surely I'm over the whole infertility thing by now. But I'm not. It's a part of me and it always will be.

I am thankful that my current stage of recovery includes my brain calming down and I'm thankful that my current period of life allows me some breathing space. Going through infertility and grieving the loss of motherhood exhausted me. Experiencing it and then recovering from it took everything I had, every single bit of energy I could muster.

Eight months ago I couldn't find an important document. Last week it was right where it was supposed to be. With the passing of time and the conscious permission to myself to think my thoughts and feel my feelings, healing has come. And with healing comes clarity and peace of mind. And then simple tasks, like locating a document, become simple again.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

My Other Sister

I swear my family likes me. I promise you they're good people and they love me and I love them. But damn do they suck at understanding anything related to infertility.

As I make progress in my recovery, I take more risks in talking honestly about my reality. I was talking on the phone to my oldest sister last night and she asked how I was doing. I said pretty well but admitted that I had been feeling sad lately. She asked why and I said infertility and she said, "Why are you still sad about that?" And I said, "Because this is the time period when I was going through IVF. Because infertility is a lifelong loss. Because I didn't get to raise my children." She said, "Oh."

If it only could have ended there... But it didn't.

My sister started telling me about her grown son who lives nearby whom she hasn't seen in a month. She said, "You're lucky you don't have kids. Children are a blessing and a curse. Just remember that."

So of course I told her, "You are lucky you got to have a kid. Children are a blessing and a curse. Just remember that."

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Forgiving Myself

I've been crying more than usual lately. I haven't been feeling my best, and I've just been overall a little sad. January, February, and March have always seemed hard since I quit fertility treatments. This is the time period that I was going through IVF. This three-month period has felt pretty melancholy for the past five years now.

But I was getting mad at myself. Why was I crying so often?
Was I ever going to stop crying about this topic??

I didn't realize how mad I was until I realized that I forgave myself.
I forgave myself for being emotional and, after being reminded to do so by a friend, I extended grace to myself, allowing myself to feel everything I was feeling without judgment.

Life can be HARD.

Yes, I worked my mind, spirit, and butt off to come up with a life that I wanted to live and then I did everything I had to do in order to make it happen and now it's here.

But I still continue to be freaking exhausted.
But I'm also really happy.

I'm finishing up my final step so I can start my new career and I'll be able to start looking for a job soon. I'm meeting new people and going to new places and doing new things. But the world is very, very fertile. So fully participating in life again comes at the cost of having to deal with reminders of what all I've lost. Simple conversations with great new friends can unexpectedly catch me off guard and hurt me deeply. I tuck my pain away in a safe place to process later when I am alone. Hence, the recent uptick in crying...

I forgive myself for still being sad. I allow myself to continue to grieve.

I'm proud of myself for putting myself out there, for getting involved and interacting with the rest of the world again.

I'm also giving myself permission to cry. It's a lot to deal with; it's a lot to process. There are so many layers to living without children after infertility.

I was mad at myself, but I'm not anymore. What initially looked like regression to me is actually progress. It's a new chapter in my life and I am forging ahead.

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Power of Acknowledgement

I think what was so meaningful for me about my sister's apology was that it contained a hint of acknowledgement, which reminded me of this brilliant video about grief and loss.

I just rewatched it and was reminded of its powerful messages.

  • You cannot talk someone out of their pain.
  • Acknowledgement is the best medicine.
  • Acknowledgement makes things better when they can't be made right.

The video describes how trying to cheer a person up can make them feel like they have to defend their feelings. It states how giving unsolicited advice can make a person feel misunderstood. 

Plus, the animation in it is just perfect. 

Happy viewing. ๐Ÿ’œ

Monday, February 4, 2019

My Sister Apologized

One of my most popular posts is about my sister being really inconsiderate and mean to me. She made many hurtful comments during my darkest years, not knowing how deeply she was cutting me with her words. We grew up very close, but I had to keep her at arm's length for several years. Unfortunately, I think maintaining safe distances is something that a lot of women dealing with infertility have to do.

What all she said hurt. It hurt so bad. It made me question who she was anymore, to say such mean and nasty things to me. Here was my sister who was completely obsessed with her own child, almost her whole being seemed to be wrapped up in being my niece's mother, and she could not empathize with my pain of not having children. It didn't make sense to me. Really, not much did make sense to me at the time.

I told myself that she did not intend to hurt me. Although she was being mean, my sister is not evil. I think there is definitely a difference. I knew that she loved me and that I loved her, but I didn't know if we would ever be close again. I sensed that she was sad and confused, but I had no energy at the time to explain anything to her. I had to protect my raw, grieving self.

I suppose it should've come as no surprise to me that my sister was going through some stressful stuff over the years. It's her business so I'm not sharing here (typical life stuff, nothing dramatic or movie-worthy), but a metaphorical dam broke when she called me crying on Thanksgiving and shared what she had been dealing with.

But what else she said was very interesting. She said that she had already talked to our mother, our other sister, and her best friend. She said she had learned a lot just by telling people what she was going through. She told me that everyone asked her so many questions about what she was going to do and gave her so much unsolicited advice. She said I just listened. She said I didn't stress her out further when she shared with me. She said, I am not even kidding, "Whenever you were going through your stuff, I never meant to hurt you but now I know I did. I don't know what all I said, but I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry."

Wow. Even now, months later, I still get feelings when I think about it.

I told her thank you. I told her thank you very much, that she did hurt me many times, but that I always tried to reassure myself by reminding myself that she loved me and did not mean to hurt me. She and I don't really want to go back and rehash together all that was said, but I did tell her that I really appreciated her apology.

My sister apologized.
Maybe my "miracle baby" never came, but miracles are still happening all around me.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The Greatest Compliment

I'm back to my blogging roots--blogging as procrastination hahaha. I started this blog when I was deep into the first semester of graduate school and had absolutely no time or energy. Yet I was also drowning in grief and loneliness and desperately needed an outlet. Who cares about assignments and grades when you're grieving the loss of your children?? So while all of my classmates spent their time reading and studying, I started an infertility blog.

A lot has happened in my life over the last several months while I wasn't blogging. One of those major events was graduating. I did it! I completed my coursework and clinical rotations and walked across the stage to receive my degree. I am proud of myself and my current self thanks my past self for not dropping out. I love the profession I've been studying for the past 2.5 years. Now I just have to study (that's what I'm currently procrastinating by blogging right now) and pass my board exam and I will get to start my new career!

As I progress in my recovery from infertility (three steps forward, two steps back is still progress), I'm able to talk about things or overhear things or just be around things a little more easily. I'm relieved. Living in a heightened, traumatized state is no way to live. It is exhausting.

My last clinical rotation was in a pediatric setting. I'll probably write more about that experience, working in pediatrics as an infertile woman whose lifelong dream was to be a mother, but for now I'd just like to say how much I loved and appreciated my clinical instructor. I got really lucky. All of my clinical instructors were awesome--knowledgeable, experienced, good teachers, and also overall all around cool people.

I got along well with my instructor and we worked very closely together every day. I don't remember how it came up, but I told her that I wanted children and couldn't have them and that's what triggered my whole going back to school venture. Over the semester, I even shared that I had failed treatments and spent years dealing with major depression. It was never awkward and whenever I disclosed any personal information it was always organic, in the moment, and non-dramatic. She was an amazing fertile woman who never said anything insensitive (shocker!!). She'd had her own unexpected life and was very wise. I learned so much from her.

It was a challenging rotation. It would've been for anyone but especially for someone dealing with infertility. I spent five to eight hours a day working directly with children, many of whom experienced abuse, neglect, food insecurity, and homelessness. It was both rewarding and heartbreaking, and I could not have done it at any point earlier in my recovery. I wasn't ready yet. But by the fall of 2018, I had worked hard on my grieving process, worked hard in school, and had mentally prepared myself as best I could for a semester working with children. I chose to do a pediatrics rotation. I needed to know if I could do it or not before committing to a job.

There is no dramatic conclusion to this post. I just woke up, showed up, and did what I could while maximizing my learning for twelve weeks. But at the end of the semester, I received one of the greatest compliments of my life. My clinical instructor told me I did an incredible job. It felt good to hear her say that. But she continued. "No, I mean it. This is a difficult experience for anyone. All of my students have had a hard time. But for you to do as well as you did, especially after everything you've been through with infertility... It's amazing. You have a gift in working with people and I am so proud of you for working so hard to create a new life for yourself."

Damn... Who knew a little recognition of my pain, loss, and hard work could feel so good?


Thursday, January 17, 2019

Tough Anniversaries

It happened again.

My mind forgot, but my body remembered. I felt emotional all day yesterday, not really knowing why. I felt foggy, lethargic, and disenchanted. I felt like crying but tears never came. The tears came this morning. In the shower. And all of a sudden. It was relieving but it also kind of sucked.

Four years and several days ago my first IVF did not result in pregnancy. I haven't thought about that day in awhile, and, quite honestly, I don't really feel like thinking about it now. But I know I was devastated. I remember hanging up the phone, collapsing to my knees on the floor, and letting out a gutteral howl as my dog came running to check on me. Even she knew it was extremely bad and nothing could be done as she lay down on the floor, not moving a muscle while keeping her eyes on me.

And now around this time every year, I feel all out of sorts and have a seemingly random emotional breakdown. It seems random until my mind remembers what my body has yet to (will ever?) forget.

I'm scrapping my plans for the day. Everyone and everything can wait. Today I think I'll indulge in doing whatever I freaking feel like doing. I'm going to feel my feelings and think my thoughts, while simultaneously giving myself a break from them both. Today I'm going to enjoy the life that I've worked so hard to create. All the stuff and things can wait until tomorrow.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Home Sweet Home

Where do you feel alive? Where do you feel most connected? Where do you feel at peace? Where is home? Depending on where you are in your recovery, the answers to these questions are probably somewhere between difficult and impossible to come by.

Last week I went skiing for the first time in 5 years. If you know me in real life, you know this is crazy talk. I LOVE to ski. And that's an understatement. How in the world did I miss FIVE ski seasons in a row?? Oh yeah... Infertility... First crippling anxiety, then failed treatments, then debilitating depression. What an awful period of my life. And that's another understatement.

(Side note: If any reader wants to start a blog called Infertile Ski Bum if only for the purpose of commenting on others' blogs, please let me know because we can be friends for sure.)

So I finally went skiing. My heart and soul were bursting with happiness and gratitude. I couldn't help but be reflective on the mountain. I definitely felt like I was home for the first time in a very long time. I thought about everything I've been through over the last 8 years in particular. I thought about how I'd hurt, what I'd learned, and how I'd grown and changed. I thought about how I've been looking forward to ski season 2019 for freaking YEARS. All of the grief and hard work SUUUCKED, but it was worth it. It was all part of the plan and I had arrived.

Last week I went home to the mountains.
I felt at peace. I felt connected to what really matters in this world. I felt alive.

Friday, January 4, 2019

A Year To Come Alive

I have never anticipated a year like I anticipated 2019.

I worked my ass off to get where I am today. My life was blood, sweat, tears, and years of trauma and debilitating depression, followed by years of hard work doing dumb shit that I didn't want to do (aka going back to school). And now here I am: 2019, living where I always dreamed of living, and getting ready to start a new career that I am very passionate about. Thank God.

You could not pay me a billion dollars to relive the last 8 years of my life. But I also wouldn't change any of it. Yeah I know, it doesn't make much sense. So much pain--physical, emotional, and existential. So much trauma. Every relationship changed. My lifelong dream of being a mother never realized.

And yet here I am. Happy.
Probably happier than I've ever been.

I can't totally unpack it all just yet...
But I'll take it.

Today I am content about the present and excited about the future, two things I thought would never be possible again.

Today I feel alive, something I will never ever take for granted.

It's a new year. It's 2019. Here we are. It's time to live again.