Saturday, December 28, 2019

Glad That's Over

My holidays were nice and easy and chill, and I am still glad that they're over.

I'm scheduled to work at the hospital on New Year's Day (hello holiday pay!), so even though I never really celebrate New Year's Eve, I am definitely not staying up until midnight this year.

So the holidays of 2019 have ended for me.



What did I learn this year?


  • that I will keep doing what I want and need each year in terms of traveling/not traveling and making plans/not making plans for the holidays

  • that holiday parties can be fun in small doses

    This year I went to my first holiday party in probably a decade. I used to have an annual party with my friends from college. We did it for about eight years in a row, but those days are long gone. Great memories though! Anyway, a co-worker invited me to her house for a women's ornament exchange holiday party. Even as extroverted as I seem to be in real life, going to this party ended up feeling way out of my comfort zone. But I'm so glad I went. And I'm so glad I didn't go to anything like that in previous years. I quickly remembered why I don't go to a lot of "girls nights" or "women's events" because it becomes pretty clear pretty soon that I am one of the few (only?) women there that doesn't have kids. Whether toddlers or adults, people's children just naturally come up in conversation. Constantly. But that obvious reality aside, the party was great. Everyone was friendly, the food was good, and the games were fun. (Yes! There were games! And I played. And had fun. Wonders never cease.) I'm thankful my co-worker friend invited me, not even knowing the introverted weirdo I had been for the past ten years. (I call myself "weirdo" lovingly. This is a Public Service Announcement to advise you to watch how you talk to yourself. Don't put yourself down; this world is already harsh enough.)

  • that I need to take charge of cooking what I want to eat

    Between finishing up my first year of being back in the public school classroom after a decade and also starting my new career at the hospital on the weekends, I was up for whatever anyone else wanted to host/make happen for me for the holidays... As long as I wasn't driving far or getting on an airplane, I was along for the ride. So the holidays were nice and easy and all. I like who I spent them with. But... The food wasn't that great. And, I miss having leftovers!! Next year I'm going to make the big meal, enough to make sure I have leftovers. Maybe family or friends will come over or maybe it will just be my boyfriend and me, but, dang it, I will make sure we have leftovers. The food is my favorite part of the holidays and this year was disappointing to say the least. Lesson learned! I'm cooking next year.

  • that maybe the holidays aren't easy for a lot of people

    Maybe it's the nature of what I read online (blogs, articles, etc.), but I felt like there was a lot more "self-care" type chatter this holiday season. I do read infertility blogs and stuff on mental health and articles about teaching and caring for patients, so there's a definite caregiving slant to those topics. But I also feel like the world is speeding up digitally but humans can only go so fast and process so much... So maybe everyone is operating on sensory overload and feeling a little depleted? 

Anyway, they're over! Whether they were "good" or "bad," the holidays this year are done.


In preparation for January, I started a new quilt. This one is very colorful. I've decided to do at least 4 "get 'em done" quilts, one for each season. This way I'll just charge through the process (piecing the quilt top, quilting, sewing the binding) without letting myself get picky about all of the mistakes. If I stopped and corrected everything, I'd never finish a quilt! I'm learning so they're full of mistakes haha. 

Anyway, I've done a summer quilt and a fall quilt. Next up is my winter quilt. Winter can be cold and dark so I thought it would be a good idea to work on something that makes me feel cheerful. And, whoa, is this a colorful quilt or what. I also bought myself a really nice, used sewing machine. Since I'm apparently really into my new hobby. And that's what I'm doing in my downtime.

So that's what is going on with me. 
The holidays are done. They were fine, but I'm glad they're over.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

๐Ÿ˜Ž

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Redefining Your Holidays

Hello! I'm here to give you permission to change your traditions, to alter your plans, or to skip the holidays altogether. It's YOUR life and you are the only one living it.

What do you want? What do you need?

Whatever you decide for The Holidays 2019 is not set in stone for the rest of your life.
Every year is different.

I write this because, five years ago when my counselor suggested I skip traveling to see my family for the holidays, nothing else seemed more outrageous or unfathomable. I was in the middle of my first IVF cycle. I was needle-phobic, highly anxious, severely depressed, and taking care of everyone else's feelings except my own. If I just kept up the facade that I Was Okay then Everything Would Be Fine.

So I traveled. I drove five hours (on a particular five-hour drive that I abhor). I traveled with my medicine. I kept it in my sister's fridge. I spent the holidays with my cousin's adorable toddler while she was pregnant with her second and drinking wine. (At the time, nothing angered me more than a pregnant woman having a drink when I was abstaining and I wasn't even pregnant). I left the room while everyone was unwrapping presents to give myself an injection. My other sister walked in on me and it was incredibly awkward for both of us. I forced smiles, held back tears, and tried to come up with things to say in conversation. I loved my family, but I left feeling totally and completely physically exhausted and emotionally depleted.

I went again the following year, but in 2016 I was coming to terms with the fact that I was not going to be a mother in this lifetime. So I skipped the family holiday celebration that year.

And the year after that.

And guess what? Life went on.

My family didn't stop loving me. (It would've been their loss if they had.) The holidays came and went. And I took care of myself. What a concept.

After two years of skipping the holidays with my family, I returned last year and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I played laser tag with my cousin's two boys. I ate, I drank, I was merry. Nothing was forced and I was genuinely happy.

Sometimes we just need a break. Sometimes we need to reset. Sometimes we need to redefine events for ourselves in order to reclaim them.

Now I have moved far away from my family and, between my two jobs' schedules, I am unable to make the family holiday celebration again. And guess what? Life will go on. I still love my family and they still love me. And I look forward to hopefully celebrating with them again next year.

Please remember that you and your needs are number one. You are not responsible for anyone else's feelings or expectations. You deserve whatever you need to be as healthy as possible. Please take care of yourself this year and every year after that.





( Images from www.blessingmanifesting.com ๐Ÿ’œ)

Friday, December 6, 2019

My Infertile Pharmacist

I have good news! I am really close to getting a job for what I went back to school for and graduated from last year, what I studied for and passed my national board exam for last spring. It is part-time because I am committed to my teaching contract this school year, but the job market in this area is pretty competitive (especially once you leave the city) so I am more than eager to get work experience in the field. If all goes well, I will be employed (on weekends, holidays, and summer vacation) in my new career next week!

As part of the hospital requirements where I'll be working, I am required to get a flu shot. I was kind of dreading it so I went to the pharmacy at the grocery store this week to get it done and over with.

I was sitting in the chair while the pharmacist was getting the antiseptic swab and needle ready. I was really nervous so I told her that and asked her to please not tell me when she was going to give me the shot so that I didn't flinch in anticipation. Then I off-handedly added, "You'd think I could handle a flu shot. I mean, I've been through IVF."

And to my surprise she said, "Me too."

What? This is not your typical casual conversation. But I jumped right in. I said, "Yeah, I had three medicated IUIs and two IVFs." And she shared, "I did IVF three times."

There was a pause.

And then I asked, "Did you have a baby?" She said, "No." And I said, "Me neither."

There was another pause as we just stared at each other, knowing that we had a connection that we didn't share with hardly anyone else.

I asked her why they didn't publicize that it didn't work about 75% of the time, she said she didn't know, and then we totally admitted how depressing and isolating the whole process is. She shared with me how mad she got at her husband during the process and I shared with her that I was now divorced, that since having kids didn't work out for us our visions for the future didn't line up together anymore.

Oh wow. We probably talked for ten minutes and we covered So Much. She said she had a great support group at the clinic where she was going, but she eventually had to stop going because everyone else got pregnant except her. I told her all of my friends who got pregnant were moving on in life and all of my friends who didn't want to get pregnant couldn't understand my sadness. She said she worries about every customer that buys a pregnancy test. I told her I'm concerned about my younger co-workers in their late 20s who are still waiting before trying to conceive. We both said we keep these thoughts to ourselves. We don't share them with unsuspecting customers and co-workers.

We were long lost sisters in that moment, so sorry for what the other had endured but so grateful to be able to talk in person to another woman who understood.

We almost forgot about my flu shot, but we eventually came back to the present moment.

It turns out we were both going through fertility treatments at the same time. She now has a three-year old daughter that she adopted (and she shared that that process was even harder on her than the fertility treatments), and we both shared that we are happy again.

We now like our lives again, but we both acknowledged that we would never ever want to relive those years ever, ever again. They quite literally almost killed us.

*****

Wow. Just a couple of years ago, hell, just last year, I don't think I would've said such a thing to a total stranger. But this week I did. And it led to an incredible conversation with another Survivor.


Monday, December 2, 2019

Can't Afford Counseling

Well, after my most recent lengthy post all about counseling, this post will be short.

I can't go back to counseling. I've confirmed with co-workers that my current insurance doesn't cover counseling services. That sucks. But whatchya gonna do...

I'll just continue reading articles and talking to my best friend.

And reading blogs has been so helpful in my recovery from infertility, maybe there are some blogs out there that can help me with some strategies for managing my relationship with my mother. If you know of any related blogs or other helpful resources, please leave me a comment.

There's the library too. It has honestly been way too long since I've been to the library.

Plus, while there, I can also check out the section with quilting books... ;)






Friday, November 29, 2019

Back To Counseling

New goal! I need to find someone to talk to. I've made so much progress in my recovery from grief and infertility that I can now give energy to other areas of my life. Namely, my relationship with my mother. I'm out of ideas for how to deal with her. She's not healthy and she's not going to get any help and I need to know what I can do.

I've seen several counselors throughout my life. I started going to counseling in high school. To process all of my feelings about my mother. That counselor was a great listener and ally.

I saw another counselor in my late 20s when I was in a rough spot in my life and did not know what to do. I was severely depressed and I was so confused because I didn't know why. Turns out, you don't need a reason to be depressed. Yay for precarious mental health...

Then when I was going through infertility my best friend gently but firmly encouraged me to start talking to a professional. I figured she wouldn't suggest it if she didn't think I needed it, so I gave it a shot. I saw the counselor at the fertility clinic where I was going.

Ironically, she was AWFUL. I had to cancel an appointment last minute one day because it was flooding and it was dangerous to get out on the roads. She explained to me that she would have to charge me for the appointment anyway. Lame but whatever. Then the very next week (or maybe it was two weeks later, I don't honestly remember) she called me to cancel my appointment last minute because she couldn't find child care for her sick kid. Are you kidding me?? She had zero flexibility regarding my cancellation due to weather and now she was asking me for flexibility regarding her child care problem when I was seeing her for infertility?? I was so pissed but so depressed I couldn't do anything about the injustice. I simply stopped going. I never saw her again.

My best friend gave me good advice. She said that finding a good counselor was like dating and that I might have to try a couple before I found one that was a good fit.

So I gathered all the mental resources that I (didn't) have/had and trudged on. I logged onto my insurance website to see who was covered and started calling around to see who was accepting new patients. This is seriously hard to do when you can barely get out of bed and you have to force yourself to get showered/dressed/fed just so you can sit in your recliner all day to read fertility boards.

But, I found a gem!!! I found the greatest counselor I could have possibly found. She helped me in so many ways. In retrospect, she saw things in my life that I wasn't ready to see at the time. She didn't push me to deal with or even admit to things I wasn't ready for yet (cough, my marriage, my mother, and my crappy friendships, cough). She simply listened to me, validated me, helped build me up, and supported me as I went through fertility treatments and then my eventual coming to terms with the fact that I was not going to parent in this lifetime. I will forever love this woman and I wish her nothing but the best.

With impeccable timing, she retired just as I went back to graduate school to begin a new life for myself. It turns out that I was the last new patient that she had accepted into her practice. I always felt like our meeting was divine intervention.

Then grad school completely sucked. My program was toxic and the professors were incompetent and emotionally abusive. And that's putting it nicely. But the school offered free counseling, so once again, I started seeing someone. She was great too. She gave me an outlet to complain about the program and to also process being infertile in a very fertile world. Going back to school was the first time I had interacted with others in several years, and I was encountering all sorts of comments and kid-related situations that I had successfully avoided up until then. Thank goodness for this woman too.

Then I finished my coursework and moved to a different state, left my husband, completed my clinical rotations, graduated, studied for my national board exam, got my professional license, finalized my divorce, got a new job in my old career, and moved out of the city and into a rural small town. Whoa. The last year and a half has been something else... But I'm still standing.

But I also need help. I realize this and I am not afraid to seek assistance.

I am capable, functional, thankful, productive, and happy. I am also struggling in some areas. Mostly, I don't know what to do about my relationship with my mother who constantly invalidates me, subtly insults me, and undermines anything that brings me joy and/or excitement. I love my dad and my parents are still married, so I am not interested in completely cutting my mother out of my life. But I really don't know what to do anymore. I also think I am in the anger stage of my life post-divorce. I am mad at my ex about several things, and I am mad at myself for staying in a loveless situation for so long.

The true catalyst though is my gynecologist. Due to my history and repeated abnormal pap results, she said she will give me a hysterectomy but she wants me to talk to a counselor about it first. Fine with me. I'll go for the hysterectomy discussion but stay to process the other stuff.

I am hoping to find someone who can listen to me, help me process, and give me effective strategies for the next phase of my life. Wish me luck in my search!

It's okay if you need help. It's okay if you're too tired to seek it. Do it anyway. You deserve it.




Monday, November 18, 2019

Who I Am Now

I've been seeing a lot of "end of the decade" type posts around social media. Now that there's only a month and a half left, I've seen things like what have you accomplished in the last ten years or what has changed about you over the decade. I find them interesting and it's made me a bit reflective. I mean, the last ten years of my life did not go as anticipated at all.

But I love Mali's post: "Who I am: 2019 Version." 
I loved reading it and I enjoyed learning more about her.

Being a lover of lists myself, I wanted to join in on the fun.

So, off the top of my head, here are my thoughts...
But I have to give credit where credit is due. I just had to reuse Mali's last point. It's too perfect.


Who I Am in 2019:

1. Teacher
2. Artist
3. Sister
4. Friend
5. Daughter
6. Co-Worker
7. Quilter
8. Divorcee
9. Survivor
10. Gymnastics Fan
11. Writer/Blogger
12. Empath
13. Mentor
14. Therapist
15. Dreamer
16. Planner
17. Skier
18. Reader
19. Organizer
20. Listener
21. Food Lover
22. Solid Sleeper
23. Aunt
24. Cousin
25. Niece
26. Anxiety and Depression Manager
27. Sensitive Soul
28. Loud Laugher
29. Warrior
30. Infertile Phoenix
31. Enough

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Trust Yourself

I used to be extremely private. Definitely while going through infertility and even more so when going through fertility treatments. I was also very private about my marriage. There were incompatibilities from the beginning, but I never told anyone or talked about it. It's one of the reasons why I stayed in a marriage that wasn't good for me for so long. I wasn't talking to anyone (not even the awesome therapist I was seeing during infertility) and so, therefore, I wasn't hearing myself. That's something I don't ever want to repeat.

I'm still a private person (except when I'm blogging anonymously on the internet, haha), but lately I've been sharing more. Just venting a little to trusted co-workers and processing with my best friend. I appreciate everyone's support. It's good for me to talk because then I can hear myself and be honest with myself about what I'm thinking and feeling. Then I can take this new knowledge and apply it to changing my life in ways that I need to change. For one, I'm getting better at communicating my needs with others. For another, I'm getting better at not communicating my needs with people who are unable to respect my feelings and boundaries.

However, as great as it is that I'm being more honest and open, I've noticed something over the last several weeks: it's easy for others to play armchair quarterback on your life.

I am so, so glad that I am the age I am with the lessons that I've learned along the way. Younger me had no boundaries, oozed all over the place, looked to others for validation, and always questioned my own decisions. Infertility taught me boundaries. (I mean, nothing taught me that no one else is living my life better than the fact that I'm almost the only adult I know living without children. My life really is different from the majority of my friends and family.) And leaving my husband and getting divorced taught me to trust myself. (Again, no one else is living my life... Even I wasn't living my own life for awhile...)

These lessons are serving me well now.

I was going through some thoughts and feelings and stuff last month. I shared with others. And, just like it was with infertility, everyone had an opinion on what I should do. (Side note: my sister that I've reconnected with told me again recently that she only likes talking to me about her current hard times because I'm the only one that just listens and doesn't ask intrusive questions or offer unsolicited advice.)

I get that that's how people connect, by relating and offering their opinions. And I appreciate that the people I chose to talk to listened to me. But I am also reeeally glad I didn't take anyone's advice. None of it was very good. Ha!

Now that a couple of weeks have passed, the same people that I trusted have trusted me. (Another side note: How nice it is to finally have reciprocal relationships in my life!) And now I know what stressors exist in their lives. And now I understand their advice to me. It's just easier to make the tough calls on OTHER people's lives, especially when you're going through your own crap that you're not ready to change yet.

All this to say... Whatever you are going through right now, trust yourself. Listen to others, but you are your only authority. You know yourself better than anyone else. You don't have to know any answers right now because, even if you don't feel like you do, you've got this. Trust yourself.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Cultivating Gratitude

I started a list on one of my white boards in my classroom. It says "30 Days of Gratitude" and I add something to it each day. (Well, I add three things to it on Monday to account for the weekend.) I'm trying to teach my students about cultivating gratitude, about how, no matter how bad things are, there is always something to be thankful for.

Of course, I know that it doesn't always feel that way. There were years where I was thankful for nothing. If pressed for an answer, I could've said I was thankful for my dog (may she rest in peace and playfulness), a roof over my head, and food in my pantry. I have never taken those things for granted. Same thing for electricity and indoor plumbing. But still... I recognize that, while deep in the black hole of grief, gratitude is not something that is easily found. Which is why I want to introduce my students to the concept of cultivating gratitude. They do not have easy lives. At all.

I am back in a state where I can function. I could mostly function for the past couple of years, but that was due to the massive economic and errand-related support from my husband at the time. Although my marriage didn't work out, I will always be grateful for his support during infertility and the acute phase of my recovery from it.

But now I am functioning really well. I work, I pay bills, I run errands, I do laundry, I enjoy my free time, and I even socialize a bit. I am so grateful.

I had to create this new life of mine. I had to devise and execute a completely new existence. But, in order to do all of that, I had to cultivate gratitude first. I had to realize what I did have and where I could go from there.

And I want to keep moving forward. I want to live a full life filled with love, laughter, and service.

I am so grateful.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

TWO Announcements Today

Today was unexpected. As the title of this post suggests... I'll just jump right into it.

I went to work today. It's been tough lately. It is hard to be a teacher. I'm thankful that I like my students and I like my co-workers and I like the building where I work. But it's still hard. Everyone on my team is struggling with this batch of middle schoolers. They don't take initiative and they have no work ethic. It is obvious to all of us that their elementary education was... less than stellar.

Anyway, so we are all trying our best to teach these kids and it is taking everything we have to combat the academic apathy that is rampant in this community.

Today I went into one of the classes because EVERY SINGLE ONE of my students is failing this core class. I will be in that class period for the rest of the semester, helping to re-teach and support my students so hopefully everyone can pull off a passing grade. I'm talking with the classroom teacher of that course. He and I moved here from the same previous state and we can really relate to how different it is here compared to where we came from. And... He just can't contain his excitement. (He's not even what I would describe as an excitable guy.) He tells me, "We found out yesterday that my wife is pregnant! Please don't say anything; we haven't even told our families yet. But you are one of two people that I trust here."

First of all, Wow. He trusts me that much with such an important piece of news. <3

Second of all, Wow. Hearing his news didn't make me flinch. It didn't even sting. At all. I immediately congratulated him and it felt so good to be so genuine in my happiness for him.

Wow.

Then... (Yes, I've already given it away with the title of this post.) I'm texting with my best friend from college. She and I used to talk every day but marriage and careers kinda got in the way of that. Then she had two children while I was going through infertility and unsuccessful fertility treatments. There weren't ever any hurt words said, but we just naturally gave each other space. But we never completely lost touch. So, I'm texting with her today and she tells me that she's pregnant. I read the text and my jaw literally dropped. Again, all I felt was genuine happiness for her. (And, to be quite honest, I was glad it wasn't me... I have no desire to start all of that at this stage of my life.)

WOW.

If you would've told me five years ago that, five years from now, I would hear TWO different pregnancy announcements in one day and not feel a drop of sadness there is NO WAY I would've believed you. Yes, I believe in miracles (just not miracle babies).

WOW.

But wait! There's more!

Tomorrow is Halloween. I already wrote about my feelings on Halloween three years ago. But a co-worker invited me to her house to pass out candy tomorrow evening. Three years ago that would've been a strong Hell No but... Now it is three years later. Like I've written, I now live in a small town and my co-worker says Halloween is really special here, that it's like a movie or something from the past like our childhoods. And you know what? I am totally up for it. I love this co-worker and I'm needing some cheer in my life. (I'm going through yet another rough patch which I will write about later). I am gonna do it! I am gonna celebrate Halloween tomorrow. I am gonna see adorable kids in costumes, pass out candy with my co-worker, and enjoy the festiveness that I could not bear for so many years. It was fine that I avoided this holiday for so long and it is a miracle that I have an interest in it now.

WOW.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

No Special Children in my Life

There are no special children in my life. I hear and read about other people saying how they enjoy being an aunt or having a special relationship with a friend's child. In my experience, that only leads to me getting hurt.

I am an aunt, and I am happy to be an aunt. But my niece and nephew are already grown. When they were children, my older sisters did not include me in their activities together. It was always the four of them: my sisters, my niece, and my nephew. It was never the five of us. In my experience, mothers are very exclusive.

Now my niece and nephew are grown and I do have a good relationship with them, but I am never going to be the person they call to share their good news with. I recently had a milestone birthday and didn't hear from my niece. I heard secondhand that my nephew just moved across the country. It sucks to always feel forgotten. So I keep moving on with my own life, creating joy, meaning, and connections in my own little spot.

When I was married, I was excited to have a chance to be an aunt again. But it was just the same story all over again. My two sisters-in-law would get together with their daughters all of the time for fun outings. I was never invited. At family functions, it almost seemed like they tried to keep their children away from me. After one misunderstanding (my brother-in-law thought I called the police on him for a loud party... uh WHAT, I would never ever do that, not for a party), two of my nieces were no longer allowed to even talk to me. I didn't want to get the girls in trouble with their parents so I kept my distance. To say the least, my ex-in-laws were not nice people and now I never have to see them again.

I thought I would get that special relationship with a friend's daughter. When she called to tell me she was pregnant, I literally screamed with happiness. I was at her baby shower and every single birthday party. Until I wasn't. I think I've written about it before, but nothing hurt me like that instance of being forgotten.

My friend's daughter's sixth birthday was coming up. I had gone to my favorite toy store, one of those kinds that barely exists anymore. Full of stuffed animals, dress up clothes, books, wooden toys, creative games... No commercial characters in sight and hardly any plastic. It was a painful place for me to go except when it made me happy to go there and shop for my friend's daughter. I always had to give myself a budget or else I would've really gone overboard. So I spent some time and carefully selected several different presents to buy. I was excited and went shopping a month before her actual birthday. And then... I saw pictures of the girl's birthday party on social media. I hadn't even been invited. When I looked at the pictures and saw who was in attendance, I quickly realized that everyone at the party was a parent. My friend didn't even think to invite me. I gave one of the presents to a girl I was volunteering with at the time and I threw away the others. I never went to another kid's birthday party again, and I haven't even seen that particular friend in years.

It is not safe for me to get my hopes up and think I am going to have a special relationship with anyone's children. For me, it only leads to pain.

Thank you, infertility, for giving me life's hardest lessons, especially the tough but necessary lessons on maintaining healthy boundaries for myself. I am so unbreakably strong now. Setbacks barely phase me. I have an invincibility that I never asked for. If you ask anyone in my life now, they would probably tell you that I am the happiest, most positive person they know. And it's true. I've earned it.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Haven't Been Asked In A While

Okay, so I'm probably tempting fate with this post, but...

I haven't been asked anything kid-related in a while. I haven't heard "Do you have kids?" in... I don't remember how long. Even with going back to teaching, I haven't had any co-workers or even a single student ask, "Why don't you have any kids?" I was mentally prepared for it because kids will say anything. But it hasn't happened yet.

I remember going on vacation in Las Vegas many years ago and being asked multiple times a day by store employees, waitresses, and bartenders: "Do you have kids?" It was weird. And it bothered me. A lot. I mean, I was in Vegas of all places. Why was I receiving so many questions about whether or not I had children??

And now I live in a new place, a small town at that, and I have a new job and... crickets...
No one has asked anything.

Not that I'm complaining.

It just makes me think. Do I give off a different vibe now? Do I seem more comfortable in my own skin? Do I no longer project that something major is missing in my life?

I don't know the answer; I just think it's weird that when I finally reach the point where I can handle those types of questions I simply don't get them anymore. Has this happened to anyone else?

Of course, now that I'm posting this, I'm sure I'll get a question this week haha. If so, I'll report it in the comments. ;)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Not Knowing/Feeling Lost

I've always known what I wanted to do. Graduate high school. Move out of my parents' house.
Go to college. Get my own apartment without a boyfriend or roommates. Get married. Have kids.

But now I don't know what I want.

If I'd had kids, I'd be busy taking care of them. Making meals, helping with homework, driving them to sports practice or whatever it'd be that they'd be into. But we all know that I didn't have kids. And now, post-divorce, my life is all my own.

And I don't know what I want to do next.

I know I don't want to settle where I currently am, but I don't know where I want to go. I know I don't want to retire from my current position, but I don't know where I want to work next. I'm feeling frustrated with my perceived lack of earning power...

Ok, so I do know one thing: I would like to buy a house and settle somewhere. I just don't know if it's possible. Everything feels so unaffordable.

I'm in a weird mood and a weird place in my life, but I am not complaining. I have a job. I have a place to live. I may not hang out with friends nearly as much as I'd like, but I keep in touch with a handful of people that make me happy. I have a hobby I enjoy. Overall, I have meaning in my life.

I just currently feel at a loss not knowing what I want.

I think I'm feeling a bit hopeless. Current events are awful. Everything is affecting all of us.

But I also know I will get through this. I already survived losing my children and dreams of motherhood. For someone whose lifelong dream was to be a mom, it can't get worse than that.

I'm just ready for this current mood to pass.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Making Plans

To restate the obvious, I planned on having children. It was something I wanted and something I looked forward to. It was my lifelong dream. And then it didn't happen. But it wasn't like not getting a puppy or a promotion. It wasn't even like not making the Olympics after a lifetime of training. It was much more primal and devastating than that.

I understandably fell into a deep depression during my unsuccessful pursuit of motherhood. It came to a point where I knew I could not keep going on unless something changed. But what and how and with what energy, care, and cognitive capacity, I didn't know.

Suddenly, everything was in question. Where did I want to live? What did I want to do for a job? What did I want to DO? And I sat in my recliner and drank my coffee and cried and cried and thought and thought and thought. Over time, I slowly realized some different things and specifics that appealed to me. I considered what all was possible and how to make it happen.

I made an entirely different plan for my life. It involved selling my house, moving, and going back to school to change careers. The mere thought of doing all that overwhelmed and exhausted me so I didn't think about it. I decided to take one step at a time and see what happened.

And then I learned that my new plan sucked. Again, I was at a loss. So I started this blog.

That was three years ago. Since then I've moved to another state, graduated, and gotten divorced. Only two of those three things were planned.

After everything I've been through, you'd think I'd be done with making plans. But I'm not. I still make plans. I just don't expect them to work out how I plan. Not anymore. But I also can't just sit by and let life happen to me. So I make plans, do what I can, and see what happens.

It's time again for me to make new plans. It feels like I am where I am supposed to be right now but not forever. I'm not sure yet what's next and that's fine too. It took a while and it took a lot, but I finally created a life I want to live. Now I want to keep making it better and better...

In the meantime, I'll be quilting. ๐Ÿ’š

(Pictured: My 1st Quilt)

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Validation from a Doctor

I am so over my nonreproductive system. So so so over it.

I had to go in for an in-office procedure yesterday, just like I had to do only a year ago.

I hate it. Not my body necessarily. I am continually working on learning to appreciate everything I have. My body gets me from place to place and lets me go to work and do my job and enjoy my hobbies and eat and sleep and live my life.

But I hate my nonreproductive system. What has it ever done for me?

Emotional periods in my teens, a large ovarian cyst in my 20s, infertility in my 30s, and now I'm getting abnormal results from my annual exam two years in a row (with my family's medical history putting me higher at risk for something untreatable)? So. Freaking. Over. It.

*****


So I go in for my procedure, get prepped by the nurse, the doctor walked in to greet me, and the first thing I said was, "Hi. When can I get a hysterectomy?"

And to my complete surprise the first thing she said was, "Hi. Let's take care of this today and then we can schedule a consultation to discuss it."

Immediately, I said, "Are you serious?? I really wasn't expecting that. I know it can be hard to get that procedure approved by doctors and insurance."

She said, "Normally I wouldn't. But I read your chart. You've been through enough."


"You've been through enough."


***

Thank you. Thank you, Dr. B, for the empathy, for the surgery approval, and mostly for the validation. It's nice to hear it from someone who is a medical professional. It's nice to hear it from someone in real life. It's nice to hear it from someone other than myself.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Parent Teacher Conferences

This week I had my first round of parent teacher conferences for the school year. The first significant fact: this was my first round of conferences with parents after knowing I will never have children. The second significant fact: I don't really have much to say about it all. Ha!

I met with parents. I listened to their concerns and celebrations. I did my best to make them feel supported and to make them feel confident in the education their child was receiving from me. And...

That's about it. There wasn't much else to it.

No sadness, no comments, no longing, no stinging, no feelings of loss or shame or embarrassment because I don't have children. (I have felt all of these things, and many more, throughout the years.)

I love their kids. And I work with a lot of reluctant learners and they have a lot of undesirable behaviors. And I genuinely like every one of my students. It's awesome. I spend all day with them. And then I go home. I honestly love it.

I write this post to celebrate my progress, and I write this post to share my joy. But ultimately, I write this post to give hope to women who are where I was just three years ago. (There's no way I would've believed that MY life could get better just five years ago, but I would've found comfort in reading that some other woman's life got better at least.)


Sunday, September 8, 2019

He Said It

I knew going back to work, especially in a school, would provide plenty of blog material...

Take one of my lunch periods this past week, for example.

I enjoy eating lunch with four other teachers in the teacher's lounge. Unlike other schools where I have worked, this campus has yet to have any of the clique-y behavior that I've experienced in the past. It is really refreshing. So I look forward to lunch, where I can see four friendly faces, touch base about students, and enjoy some conversation with fellow adults.

Last week one of the teachers was apologizing that she had to leave early or arrive late (I forget which) because she was taking one of her kids to take his driving test to get his driver's license. She was saying how she hates to miss work, that she wished it wasn't so hard trying to fit in necessary errands around the work schedule.

No one was complaining. Not her and not any of the other teachers. It was just a simple conversation about trying to fit everything one needs to get done into the day.

But... And this is what cracked me up... And there was no negativity in the room or in anyone's tone or anything...

But one of the other teachers is a first year teacher, a young guy who recently graduated from college and is single with no kids. And he said something I've never heard said out loud before.

He said, "Well, at least you have an excuse to take a little break out of your regular day. What am I supposed to do? Call in and say I have to stay home to water my plants today??"

And everyone laughed. Hahaha. Like I said, it's a good lunch group. But the infertile part of me especially enjoyed that comment. It was said so honestly and freely and it was received so well.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Sometimes Sad Happens

Sometimes I get sad. Like today. When an innocent comment was made to me by a co-worker.

I didn't realize it in the moment. I mean, I heard the comment and brushed it off. I've grown used to people taking their fertility for granted. But then the rest of my day very slowly spiraled down.

I've cried twice. I've been so sad. It's not just what I lost; it's what I never had. It's the lack of memories and the lack of experiences. Simple things that other people take for granted. Like buying new shoes for their kids.

I've spent the latter half of the day in a funk. I've been touchy and snappy. I tried analyzing the funk. I tried just observing it. Then I went back to analyzing it. Then I took a break.

And then it rose to the surface--when the day changed for me. I stayed late to get some help from a co-worker who didn't end up being able to help me. So it was a bit of wasted time after an already long day and, on top of it, I now realize that she is a Mommy, a woman who prattles on about her kids and all of the privileged problems that come with having children.

Okay.
Realized and noted.
This kind, wants-to-be-helpful woman is not who I need to spend any extra time with.

Good to know. I'm low on emotional resources, and it's okay that I got so sad today.
Sometimes it happens.

Monday, August 26, 2019

My New Approach

Infertility taught me the importance of self care. I have to take care of myself. No one else can.

Last week I returned to my previous career of teaching. I have been out of the classroom for... awhile. I am definitely out of teacher shape and I need to build up my stamina. I spent the past weekend resting and taking care of myself. I went to the grocery store, did the dishes, did my laundry, cooked food for this week's meals, and went to bed early. It wasn't very exciting, but it was necessary.

When I was teaching before infertility, I used my weekends to grade papers and write lesson plans. Not this year. Not anymore. My weekends are mine. As long as I am maximizing instructional time, facilitating learning, building relationships, and hopefully ensuring that each student feels successful at something, then I can go home every evening knowing I have done my best.

Then I go home and rest. And eat. And read and relax. I want to get in the habit of going to a weekly yoga class. On Sunday I sewed for the first time in a couple of weeks when I sewed together the binding for my first quilt. (I'll post pics when I finish!)

So I'm doing all right. I'm very tired and still processing a lot while starting a new job, but I am taking care of myself. I am showing up at my job and in life overall. I am doing the best I can every damn day.

But, thanks to what I learned from infertility, I am most definitely doing it all on my own terms.

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.

๐Ÿ’œ

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.


Oh.


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.

Wait.
What.
Back up.

What?

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

Moving

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).

However.

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


Lyrics:
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

Loneliness

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.

ANYWAY.

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."