Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A Day Without Demands

I don't know what I'm going to do today. 

I know what I am NOT going to do. I am not going to work because it's my day off. I am not going to run errands because I spent a lot of time in the car yesterday. I am not going to unpack because I just plain don't feel like it. 

I've had my new job for two months now. I've learned a lot and I'm definitely better at it than I was when I first started. But still... There's something there that I can't quite put my finger on yet. There is something that I don't like about my new job. But for now... I am gaining experience and getting paid and for that I am grateful.

The move is behind us. The rental property is no longer in our life. Everything I own is either at my new house or my old storage unit (which I will move out of sometime in the next year!). I'm functional here. There's food in the kitchen. The washer works. My clean work clothes are hanging in the closet. The bathroom is unpacked. The tv is set up and we have internet streaming so I can watch Turner Classic Movies, my new favorite channel. Who knew I liked old movies?

My car is repaired. My boyfriend is vaccinated. And I saw my parents for the first time in two years this past weekend. It was a great visit!!! I was honestly a little anxious and a bit stressed about it, but we could not have planned a better visit. They saw my new town, my new home, where I work, and got to try take out food from my favorite restaurants. We visited. We went on walks. We napped in the living room. We watched baseball and the Olympics together. It was perfect!

Which brings me to today. My day without demands. 

I don't know what I'll do today, but I'm not doing much. I'll go back to work tomorrow. I'll cook and clean and unpack and organize later. With each passing week, I'll coordinate home projects as we settle into our 105-year-old home that needs some repairs and updates. But today I'm giving myself a break.

Can a mother ever truly give herself a day without demands? I suppose she can arrange for childcare. She can tell her loved ones she needs a day to herself. Worst case scenario, she can wait out the 18 - 25 years until the youngest kid grows up. So yes and no.

But, like I've written before, that doesn't matter. That has nothing to do with my life. The facts are I am living MY life and I don't have kids. I am not parenting. Nor am I a caregiver at this time. I can take a day off just for myself. I can give myself a day without demands.

Not raising children wasn't my choice, but I will take the advantages that can come with it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Needle Phobia

I've been wondering how many people want to be vaccinated, but their extreme fear of needles is preventing them from getting the shot (or two).

I'll never forget finally mustering up the courage to go see a fertility doctor after two years of trying to get pregnant without medical intervention. We met with the doctor, went over our data and history, and she recommended IVF. But, she said, we could try IUI first if we wanted. She just said our best chances would be with IVF. 

Terrified, absolutely terrified of IVF, I said I wanted to try IUI first.

She said okay and began telling me about the medication I would be injecting.

Cue me losing my shit in her office.

Injecting? A shot?? I have to give myself shots?? I wasn't yelling, but the terror in my voice and the tears streaming down my face were unmistakable. And by the look on my doctor's face, I could tell she was surprised by my strong reaction.

She didn't know she needed to wade gently into the idea of a medicated IUI with injectables with me. She did not know who she was dealing with. (Have I mentioned before that I hate medical stuff and I'm a very nervous patient? Yes, yes I have. Many times. But it's worth repeating... I *hate* medical appointments, hospitals, and even the simple smell of rubbing alcohol.) 

My doctor wasn't forewarned; she had no way of knowing. She quickly backtracked into comforting me before moving forward. She downplayed the whole experience, saying how small the needles were and how it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Bless her. She tried. 

I knew I didn't have a choice. Well, we always have a choice. But I knew how badly I wanted to have a baby and I knew I would be giving myself shots in order to try and get pregnant. In that moment I was so angry. I was so scared. 

I had no idea how I was going to get through it.

Long story short, I faced my fears and gave myself a shot. Over the next six months, I gave myself many, many, many shots. I went through five medicated cycles (3 IUIs, 2 IVFs) and I hated every second of it. But I wanted to have a baby and that's how strong that drive can be. Even my extreme needle phobia couldn't stop my pursuit to get pregnant.

It just makes me wonder about people getting vaccinated during the pandemic. No matter how badly someone wants to be vaccinated, there can still be that irrational, but very real and very huge fear of needles preventing some people from getting injected.

I know going through IVF fundamentally changed me. When the first vaccine clinic came to my county, I signed up as soon as I could. If I hadn't already been through IVF, I don't think I would have had the courage to do that. I'd like to think that I could find the courage to voluntarily get a shot, but I wonder if I could... Had I not been through what I survived.

It has just been on my mind. There are probably people who really want to be vaccinated, but their fear of needles is getting in the way. I empathize. I know what it's like to have needle phobia. I know what it's like to be angry and scared.

I'm also grateful for my hard-earned fortitude.


"I don't run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run towards it 
because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your foot." -Nadia Comaneci



Monday, July 12, 2021

Fifth Time's the Charm

Hello! I've missed you!! How have you been doing??

I... Have been moving. While still learning this new job that's kicking my butt. It's been nonstop work, in one way or another, since I wrote my last post. You haven't missed anything fun. Even my sewing machine is still boxed up. It's just like the saying goes, "When it rains, it pours." Moving is terrible, but I am so grateful for each one of my moves.

I have now moved FIVE times since knowing I won't be raising children in this lifetime, and two of those moves have been during the pandemic (something I highly recommend NOT doing if you can avoid it).

So let's revisit those moves briefly...

Move #1: This one SUUUCKED. I packed the nursery that never saw children, hired various people to make repairs, and put the house that I bought for my children on the market. It sold the first weekend. Thankful it sold so quickly, I still cried throughout the whole process. It was awful. It was devastating and heart-wrenching. It cemented the fact that I would not be a mother. (Although I was relieved to get out of the suburbs...) I moved back into the heart of the city. I moved to the same area where I went to college and had my first two jobs after college. Moving back to a familiar area where I had good memories gave me some comfort. Then I started graduate school, ha! Grad school sucked so bad. But, it was a means to an end. And, like most things, grad school eventually ended and I could move on to where I really wanted to be.

Move #2: This one was HAAARD. After living in an overpriced rental for two years while going to grad school, I was chomping at the bit to move out of state. Ever since realizing I wasn't going to be a mom, I wanted to move to a different state and live a different life. But my practical side wouldn't let me leave the place I had called home for 25 years until after I had gone back to school (gotta take advantage of that in-state tuition!). I used to think, "Why doesn't everyone just move if they're unhappy where they are?" Silly me, nothing "just" happens easily. Moving out of state is difficult and expensive. But we did it! Well, at least I did anyway. My husband never even looked for a job... I left our marriage three months after moving. (There were many other contributing factors, but living alone in a cool apartment in a new, fun city when I was married and lonely was one of the last straws for me.)

Move #3: This one was a CONFIDENCE BOOSTER. I did it!!! I realized my dream. I was living in a new state and I had moved out of the city. I had a job that paid my bills (even if it was teaching, my old career, instead of my new career in healthcare) and I lived in a rented condo surrounded by nature. I quickly realized my new town was not where I wanted to settle down, but I enjoyed the area for the year that I lived there. Plus, I got a weekend job at a hospital that I really enjoyed and it got me started in my new career.

Move #4: This one NEARLY BROKE ME. It really was the nightmare move from hell. Even though we did it, I don't know how my boyfriend and I did this move. After waiting two extra weeks for a rented moving truck, we had one day to move everything 4 hours and 2 mountain passes away. We made two trips to move everything within 24 hours and then we collapsed at the end of our seemingly never-ending day. We were painfully sore for weeks. It was truly awful. It was long, hot, physically demanding, and extremely stressful because it was in the middle of the pandemic so we didn't even feel safe stopping for gas or the bathroom. Plus, our new rental was so, so hot. And grimy from years and years of renters. Again, we knew we had moved somewhere temporary. While thankful for housing, we dreaded moving again in another year.

Move #5: This one was hard, but it also FELT GOOD. My boyfriend and I moved into OUR home, a house that we bought, a place that we won't have to pack up and move again in 364 days. It's been long, but it's been worth it. We definitely don't take it for granted. We did not want to move again, especially during the pandemic, but we love our new place. It's an old house (105 years!) so it has lots of imperfections, but it is perfect for us. I'll write more about our new home later. The fact is, we are here now.

Moving is awful. It's hard work, it costs money, and it makes you live with disorganization for months. But... When you get to where you want to be, it is so worth it!!! Six years ago I decided to move to this state. I had no idea I would end up in the small town where I am now. I just kept moving away from what I didn't want and moving toward what I did want.

And now I am here.

Home.



Thursday, June 24, 2021

Positively Overwhelmed

I've built a strong foundation for the rest of my life. I have my values, my skills, and my experiences. But I still feel insecure. I'm working on accepting the uncomfortable feelings I'm feeling right now. It's really uncomfortable. Really, really uncomfortable. In one moment I feel strong and in the next moment I feel self-conscious and self-critical.

Gahhh this is my life with anxiety. 

I'm tired of it. I usually manage well, but it turns out a lot of stress can still send me spiraling. I'm so glad I'm in my forties, not my teens or twenties. I have better coping strategies now. 

I notice my feelings. I don't judge them. I sit with them. I get what information I can from them. 

And I keep going. 

It makes sense I feel this way. But even if it didn't make sense, my feelings would still be valid.

Learning this new job continues to kick my butt. I got some feedback today that was delivered constructively but was still hard to hear. My car has been in the shop for weeks. I like my rental car and so far the process is going smoothly. So there's lots to be thankful for, but it's still a pain. Something to keep track of, something to pay for, and something to plan around. It takes up head space. Not to mention I'm moving. I'm sitting around boxes. My boyfriend and I will be physically moving all of them soon, along with the furniture. But first, we decided to repaint the kitchen before moving in, which has turned into repainting the living room as well. There's a lot of good, but it's a bit overwhelming. Plus, my sewing machine and all of my fabric are packed away.

I am out of balance.

But that's how it goes sometimes.

In my experience, life doesn't happen for years and years. Then life happens all at once.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

From Creating to Building

After my second and final attempt at IVF did not result in pregnancy, I sat in my recliner with my dog at my feet and felt the most empty and lost I had ever felt in my life. Now what?? What am I going to do with the rest of my life when I don't even want to be alive?

I thought of my dad. How present he was to give me a happy childhood. How hard he worked to afford after school activities and college for me. How loving he was to raise me with his value system and a sense of fun. 

I HAD to do something. I had so much to give. Well, I used to have so much to give... At the moment I was utterly depleted... But I could cultivate the energy I used to have... I could be useful to someone, somewhere... But WHO. WHAT. WHERE. I had no idea...

I am not a religious person, but I definitely believe in something bigger than me. So I gave all of my sadness and all of my emptiness and all of my questions over to my faith. I couldn't problem solve anymore. I was completely spent.

I gave myself a week to sit in despondency. I mean, I'd already been lost for years...
What was one more week?

After a week, I decided to move. 

I knew I could no longer sit around my children's house waiting for life to happen to me. I was confused why I even bought a house in the suburbs in the first place. Except, deep down, I knew why. It was the perfect house for my children. The perfect floor plan. Plus, the house was equidistant between two recreational places I knew we'd be going to a lot, at least until my children could express their own interests and then we would go explore whatever they wanted. 

But now... The house, the location... None of it was necessary.
None of it fit the life I was going to have. 

I decided to move somewhere beautiful. I don't really like to travel, so I decided to live somewhere I always wanted to be. Somewhere that I didn't need to escape.

And thus began the long,  s   l   o   w  process of creating a life I wanted to live.

I decided which state to move to. I discovered a new profession. I applied to go back to school. I knew it was going to take a long time to create a whole new life for myself. For 35 years I had planned on having children. I had saved everything from my teaching days so I could homeschool. I owned at least 1,000 kids books (and even that is a low estimate!). It was going to take a whole freaking lot to completely change directions.

I told myself to keep moving forward, no matter how slowly. I told myself to get out of bed at least six days out of seven. I had been severely depressed and lost in infertility limbo for over three years. I told myself to hold on for another three years, give creating a new life for myself everything I had, and see where I was three years in the future.

A little over three years into the future, I had moved to another state, was finishing up school, and was getting divorced. Oh. Only two of those three things were planned.

Still, I knew it would take more time to actually build a life for myself...

Now it has been three more years since that point. I've moved a couple more times and had several different jobs. It's been hard and exhausting but like I always say: What was the alternative? Stay stuck where I was? I felt like I'd already wasted enough of my life...

Drumroll please... :) 

As of this past week I feel like I am finally moving from creating a life I want to live to building a life I want to live. As of now, I live where I want to be, I have a job I like, a boyfriend I love, and a hobby that makes me happy. Most importantly, I have the best relationship with myself that I've ever had. I accept the annoying things that I do and I'm proud of who I am, what I've worked through, and what I've learned. And I'm amazed at the life I am building.

I joined a quilt guild last week! I'm much younger than the average age of the members in the guild, but I don't care. I'm going to make new friendships with these women. I will learn about their lives, including their children and grandchildren, and we will talk a whole, whole lot about quilting!! I am so excited.

I also joined my profession's state organization and I'm in the process of starting a new regional district with a woman that I haven't even met yet. I am so enthusiastic about this.

My co-workers at my new job are nice and someone is planning a family-friendly social event (meaning, bring your kids, spouse, partner, etc.) for an upcoming Saturday. My co-workers are friendly people and it will be nice to get together outside of work in the outdoors for a picnic. (My co-workers are also vaccinated which is immensely relieving.) I am looking forward to it.

I did it! I created a life I want to live. I decided on WHO and HOW and WHERE I want to be and I did it. Now I don't have to create it anymore. Now I get to just build on it. And I love it. 

I love my life.

And I thank my children every day. I had picked out a boy's name and girl's name and so I thank them both out loud quite often. We don't get to be together on Earth in this lifetime, but I feel our love and their guidance as they bring me closer to myself, to others, and to my true purpose for being here: to be of service to my community.


(My favorite tv show as a kid was Fraggle Rock and writing about building my new life reminded me of the Doozers, the characters that were always building. Plus, Fraggle Rock had one of the best theme songs ever.)

Dance your cares away,
Worry's for another day.
Let the music play,
Down at Fraggle Rock.

Work your cares away,
Dancing's for another day.
Let the Fraggles play,
We're Gobo, Mokey, Wembley, Boober, Red.

Dance your cares away,
Worry's for another day.
Let the music play,
Down at Fraggle Rock.
Down at Fraggle Rock.
Down at Fraggle Rock.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Relatable Words from Others

Hearing other people's stories is a privilege. Being there for people when they are at their most vulnerable is a big responsibility. I would have never considered a new career, much less one in healthcare (I *hate* anything medical and I'm the most anxious patient ever), if it weren't for my experiences with infertility.

I still don't like it when things don't go according to plan. I definitely don't like waiting. I don't like injections, blood draws, or ultrasounds. I'm sure I never will. But I can handle it. All of it. And I remember all of it too. Because of this, when I work with people I try to really see each person, empathize with their feelings, and validate their experience.

And people will talk when there is someone to listen. They will tell you their pain. They will tell you their worries. They will ask you questions you don't have answers for.

Every day at work I experience so many different feelings and situations. 

Today I heard an elderly person say, "I'm trying to live, but it seems like I can't live or die." It reminded me of when I felt like that, in between living and being dead. This person has different circumstances from me, but these awful feelings transcend many different scenarios. I felt like I could relate. There was nothing I could say, but I could listen.

Also today, I heard another elderly person say, "Yeah, I never married. I never met the right man. Didn't have children either. I just did whatever I wanted. Like I do now. It's great!" And just like that, on the complete other end of the spectrum of my infertility-related feelings, I could relate to this sentiment too. It felt great. 

I don't have children and I do whatever I want. Of course, I have to live within the parameters of real life and my budget and everything. But not raising children is the reason why I changed careers, why I moved out of state, why I got divorced, and why I live where I live now. 

I'm doing what I want. I'm living my life, not anyone else's.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Sleeping To Restore

Is sleep a privilege? I've been requiring and, fortunately, getting a lot of sleep lately. But I don't mention it in casual conversation at work. I feel like I have sleep privilege. I hear my co-workers talk about not sleeping through the night with a baby or getting up with a sick kid. I know they're tired. I mean, dang, *I* am tired and I am getting a full night's sleep every night.

I made a comment about taking a nap once and my Department Lead asked me to think of her when I took my naps. I smiled and replied, "Sure, I'll think of you when I nap and you can think of me when you get little kid snuggles and together we'll have it all" and somehow it wasn't awkward or rude sounding or over sharing or anything that left me with a weird feeling later. It was just the two of us talking and the conversation just flowed and we both laughed and I doubt she's thought about it since.

So that's what's been going on with me.

Sleep. Work. Learning this new job that's kicking my butt and brain. It's a great opportunity because I was hired to cover two different departments, but I'm learning both systems as things come up. It's a not-linear way of learning (aka real life) and it's hard. 

I went from hibernating all winter to being vaccinated, working, and interacting with (masked!) people. It's a lot of physical, social, and cognitive demands. It's a lot to adjust to. 

I'm appreciating it! I'm just tired. And I'm thankful for my restorative sleep.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Feeling Insecure

I don't know if this is my nature/personality or if this is left over from my experiences with infertility, but I am feeling really insecure about my new job. I feel like it is not going to last. I feel like I will get fired and it's my last option in this area for this career path.

To reiterate the obvious, it is a very insecure feeling.

Where is this feeling coming from? I think to myself... It is a new job and I am always nervous about new jobs. I did not get a good feeling from HR at orientation. But, I like the job so far. A lot. I like my boss and my co-workers and my job responsibilities. But I did not like the feeling of the message from the CEO's email this week.  And I still feel weird about quitting my last job in this small town. (I feel uncomfortable but not regretful.) So I suppose it is a mixed bag of emotions. And they all feel pretty strong.

Plus, I'm waiting to move again. It's a positive situation, but it is still stressful.

I guess I'm still just wanting more stability.

Where did I get this idea that at some point in my life I wouldn't feel this way anymore? 
Where did I get the idea that I would ever feel settled?
Maybe I will, maybe I won't. Life is always changing.

Maybe it is just my nature/personality. 

But infertility certainly didn't help. I still have so many frayed nerves left over from those years. 

I've noticed that I can't believe anything is going to happen until it's actually happening. Even while it is happening, like with my job, it can still be hard to believe. I have a palpable feeling of discomfort because I have this feeling that it's not going to last.

It's like how the saying goes. I feel like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. 

So I ask myself, "What information can I get from these feelings?" With regard to my new job, I think I understand that I have felt 50-50 about it. A couple of things have been incredibly awesome and a couple of things have given me a really bad feeling. So, it's a job. I have a job for now. I will enjoy the good parts and appreciate the growth and experience it will give me.

I remind myself that I will be okay. Whatever happens. I've already been through the worst. For me, nothing compares to losing motherhood and my children. Keeping my job or losing my job, I will survive whatever comes my way. I am secure in that knowledge. In that way, I am very free. 

However, right now, I feel uncomfortable and insecure and I don't like it. 

I look forward to this passing.


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Back in the (Fertile) Workforce

I started my new job this past week and I am so thankful. One, it's a job so that's good. Two, it's a position that's in my new profession that I went to grad school for so that's awesome. Three, it is going really well so far! I like my boss, my co-workers, the facilities, and the professional and autonomous nature of the job. Yay!!!

I share an office with a team of approximately ten people. And boy are they fertile, hahaha. Talking about their kids is a popular topic of conversation. But you know what? It hasn't bothered me. I mean, that's their life. That's what they do. They come to work and they go home to their children. What else are they going to talk about? My understanding of their reality and the fact that it doesn't hurt me shows me how far I've come in my healing process. Yay again!!!

At first, I was concerned I was going to be the ONLY one without kids. I would have dealt with that just fine, but I am honestly relieved that that is not the case. The young guy that sits next to me doesn't have kids. Then I learned that another co-worker, who I'm guessing is around my age, also doesn't have kids. When I told her that I didn't have kids either, she quickly said, "Oh there's several of us that don't have kids," and she named three more co-workers. 

I shared with her, "It might sound weird, but I'm glad I'm not the only one without kids." She got it. She immediately said, "Oh yeah, it's definitely something that they talk about all of the time." 

My boss and co-workers that are parents aren't annoying though. It's only been a week, but I haven't heard any of the pro-natalist themes of "if you don't have kids, you don't know real love" or "only people with kids are busy" or any of that crap. So far, they've just talked about their kids' schooling, illnesses, and activities. Pretty normal stuff.

Years ago I worried about rejoining the fertile workforce. Then last year I worked with a bunch of young teachers that didn't have any kids yet, so I wasn't exposed to constant children-related chatter. But I knew that was a unique scenario. I mean, I work with kids. And most adults have kids. I communicate with parents, whether they are clients or co-workers, all of the time.

It doesn't hurt me. It doesn't sting. It doesn't make me wistful. I don't go home feeling like my life is empty and meaningless. Holy crap, I thought this day would never come!

I don't think I'd be this recovered if I was still living in the house I bought for my children. I don't think I would have made this much progress in my healing if I hadn't really evaluated what I wanted out of my involuntarily childfree life. I wouldn't be this whole and healthy if I hadn't grieved long and hard and then changed practically everything in order to create a life I wanted to live.

But I did sell my children's house. I did do all of the work to apply, return to school, and graduate so I could enter a new profession (one that gives me great joy and meaning!). I did move out of the city (and state!) where I had planned on raising my children. I did it all.

And now I am able to work with and around parents without pain. 

At the end of the day, I can go home to my happy life that I've created for myself.





My latest sewing project.
Last weekend I learned how to make quilted zipper pouches
with chip and candy bags using iron-on vinyl.
So easy and so fun!


Thursday, May 13, 2021

Awkward Introduction

Yesterday I went to orientation for my new job. 

Different people from different departments came to tell us about different policies and procedures. The facilities person talked about safety. The payroll person talked about payroll. The benefits person talked about benefits. Etc. It was a little boring, but it was fine. The organization provided lunch. There weren't many of us new hires. All in all, it was pretty uneventful.

Until HR came to talk about HR stuff. 

The guy came in the room, sat down, and introduced himself by saying how many kids he had.

Oh.

That's what had been missing all day. I hadn't heard anyone talk about their children. How funny that it was a guy that was the one to do so. Anyway, so he went on about his kids, their ages, blah blah blah. It was easy to tune him out. 

Maybe I'm sounding callous, but he didn't say anything about himself. He only defined himself through his children. It's just a limited way of thinking. Ok, maybe I sound judgmental. I admittedly have very little patience when someone I just meet talks only about their children.

Then he turned to the rest of us. Asked us to introduce ourselves. But he didn't let us guide our own introductions. He asked us questions individually. He asked us if we had children. 

What in the world...

He got to the woman next to me and asked where she was from and what her job was going to be. He asked if she had any kids. She smiled, said yes, and listed off the ages of her sons.

Then he turned to me. The first thing he asked was, "Do you have any family?" I could have easily said that, yes, I moved here with my boyfriend and that we are very happy here. But I didn't want to give him that. So I just answered his question the best I knew how.

Him: "Do you have any family?"

Me: "Yes... I have parents."

(pause, a little awkward)

Me: "And sisters..."

(slightly longer pause,
a little more awkward)

Him: "Do you have any kids?"

Me: "No."

(much longer pause,
definitely
feeling
awkward)

I didn't say anything else. No explanation. No elaboration.

He didn't say anything either. He seemed uncomfortable. He moved on.

I thought about how far I'd come. I thought about how his questions would have made me sad in the past, how they would have made me mad just a year or two ago, and how I found them absurdly funny in the moment.

Hahahaha.

I am so thankful for my progress in recovery.
I am so dang thankful for my healing.


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

One Month Later

One month ago I wrote that 2021 had me feeling depressed without much to look forward to. The pandemic sucked, unemployment was stressful, and I was still working hard to create a life I wanted to live after surviving infertility without my children. I was worn out. Tired. Disappointed.

One month ago I felt depleted but was trying to remind myself that I wouldn't feel this way forever.
(It's my favorite coping strategy.)

One month ago I felt unsettled... Unmoored... Anchorless...
Almost directionless. Rootless for sure.

One month later... And so much has changed. Most relieving, I am fully vaccinated!!! I won't be changing my behavior any time soon. I'll still be wearing a mask when I run errands. I am going to keep avoiding crowds. But the mental relief that I feel... It's indescribable. But it also comes with a side of guilt. We still have so far to go in getting the rest of the world vaccinated.

One month later... And I've received a job offer! Today I went to orientation to learn about policies and procedures. It wasn't exactly thrilling, but I am thankful that I'm on track to resume meaningful employment again. I'd like to say that maybe I will retire from this job, but I'm going to stop saying that. I don't know what the future holds. But maybe I will make it through the probationary period haha. Maybe I won't quit. Or move. 

One month later... And I'm under contract to buy a house. Um, what?! That's the most unexpected thing of all. I wasn't even looking. Buying a house was not on my radar screen. But I saw a house online that was affordable (yes, affordable!) with two bathrooms (I really want two bathrooms), a carport (yay, covered parking), and a nice backyard. I KNEW it wouldn't last long. So I went and looked at it and put in an offer. The next day my offer was accepted. 

So... We will see... Anything could happen. But things are looking good... And now, instead of constantly daydreaming about fabric and everything I want to sew (quilts! clothes! bags! stuffed animals!), I am now constantly daydreaming about fabric and everything I want to sew AND this new (old) house that might become my home!!! Wow.





Saturday, May 8, 2021

I Mailed a Mother's Day Card

Well. Tomorrow is Mother's Day. It used to be a day that really, really bothered me. In fact, I refused to leave the house. Now we are in a pandemic and I don't leave the house much anyway so that part won't be different. 

What is different is how I feel about the day. Honestly? I just don't care. I really don't. I think I'm just tired of society's obsession with putting mothers on a pedestal but not really doing much to actually support them. It's all a bunch of lies, a bunch of fake admiration. 

Being a mother is hard. And awesome. I assume. But I wouldn't need a day to celebrate a role I had, a day that I would end up coordinating anyway. I wouldn't need false praise from companies that don't actually provide childcare, flexible work options, or even a decent living wage. It's all pretty infuriating to be honest. I am truly sorry for mothers' hardships, but... They are also not my problems. I had/have other problems.

But I digress...

For years, the day DID bother me. A lot. I wouldn't call my mom. I wouldn't get on social media. I would just order pizza and stay on the couch. And, let's be honest, cry. It's called self-care. 

But this year is different. I got a preprinted postcard from the regional food bank in the mail. That's how I realized that Mother's Day was coming up. It was something I could mail to my mom after making a donation in her honor. And my honest-to-goodness first thought was, cool idea!

I did it. I went online, made a donation, filled out the postcard for my mom, and dropped it in the mail. I haven't mailed her a Mother's Day card in yearsss. 

But this year I did. I mailed her a card. And I'm kind of excited about it. She and I are getting along lately and I think she'll really like the postcard and the donation made in her name.

Of course, we're still in a pandemic so I'll continue to stay home tomorrow. I also won't spend much time, if any, on social media. If I do, I will scroll past all of the inevitable tribute posts.

If this day bothers you, that's okay. It's a pretty emotionally loaded day. For a lot of reasons. 

But it might not always be a debilitating day for you. 

I can honestly say I don't pay attention to when it occurs. I don't have to be aware of it like I used to in order to successfully avoid it. It's just not on my radar screen. It doesn't bother me anymore.

I will still probably order a pizza though. Sundays are good for pizza.

Plus, I just really like pizza. :)

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Non-Empathetic Text

Speaking of people who steal our joy... One of my sisters really hurt my feelings last week. I hate that I'm still thinking about it, but, well, I am.

She's not known for being sensitive. In fact, she's been quite mean over the last decade. Ok, if I'm being honest, she hasn't really been nice for the past couple of decades. It breaks my heart because she was so important to me for the first fifteen years of my life.

She's pretty demanding. If she calls, she expects me to answer. She still sounds bitter that I would put my phone on "Do Not Disturb" while I was studying in grad school FOUR years ago. 

(At the time, I told her that grad school was hard and I needed to concentrate. She actually said that grad school wasn't hard for me, that grad school was hard for her because she was also raising a kid at the same time. !!! I honestly ripped into her and said that I wouldn't even be in grad school if I had gotten to have my children. We didn't talk for several months after that.)

Last week, I was napping. After my second vaccine dose. So, obviously, I didn't answer her call. She sent me a text: "I just got your voicemail... So I don't know if it's a connection problem with your phone or you just didn't want to answer."

I promise I try not to read too much into text messages. But still. That tone.

I texted her back when I woke up. No response.
I texted her the next day. No response. 

She wrote back on the third day saying she couldn't send me photos to my phone. She also said she knew "it was infertility day the other day... And I thought of you." (I think she was thinking of National Infertility Awareness Week.) I texted back and said that it was a bummer I wasn't receiving the pictures she sent. I also wrote, "And thank you for thinking of me. Never thought I'd have to live through my worst nightmare but I did." She wrote back, "We all do."

It just hit me wrong.
I didn't like reading that.

I think if you're going to try to extend empathy to someone, especially regarding such an emotionally-charged subject, you should refrain from making it about yourself.

I probably should have just let it go but I wrote back, "Well I didn't want to live through it but I did." And she wrote back, "Me neither."

Okay...

So, in an effort to quit dragging out what was starting to feel like a competition I wrote, "Yeah... We are so strong. Even if we don't want to be. We just can't help it."

So, that's her effort when she's thinking of me I guess. From now on, I will just say "thank you" and not engage in conversation about infertility with her. I hate to say I'm being too sensitive because our feelings are our feelings but... If you felt similarly when you read her comments, any validation is appreciated. If you have a different perspective, sharing that is appreciated too!

Again, I know it's important not to read too much into anything sent over text. I'm a big believer that important conversation topics should not be addressed in this format anyway. But dang, it just really hurt my feelings.

She'll never get it.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Beware of Vampires

I'm not sure what made me think to write this post just now, but it's a good warning nonetheless.

Guard your energy. Be aware of vampires. Your grief is yours, your journey is yours, and your recovery is yours. No one is entitled to the wisdom or rewards of your hard work.

When I started my new job last fall (the one that I quit this past winter), I was so excited to meet my new co-worker. Unfortunately, my excitement did not last long.

It's okay to be unresolved. It's part of the process when you're coming to terms with not having kids. But it's not okay for other people to thrust their unprocessed feelings onto us while simultaneously expecting answers. We are not their therapists. They are not paying us a co-pay. Their healing is not our responsibility.

Be mindful of when people latch on to a new friendship too quickly. This was a very common experience for me in my teens and twenties, and I suppose it's more developmentally appropriate at those ages. But in our forties? No thank you! Close, stable, and healthy friendships take time to develop and grow.

This new co-worker of mine asked me very personal questions right off the bat. At first, I thought I was helping her. I would answer them. Then she would argue against my answers. And I wouldn't feel good. That's when I knew the situation wasn't healthy. 

I felt judged by her for not adopting. She actually questioned me why I didn't foster children. I was going home and venting to my boyfriend almost every day after work. I realized I needed to save my energy and protect myself. I stopped sharing any personal information with her. 

Perhaps the reason I am writing about this today is that I realize I haven't heard from her since I quit my job. I haven't felt judged or questioned about my life without children for four months now. 

With some time and space away from her, I realize now that she was judging and questioning herself, not me. But it still didn't make me feel good. I didn't do all of my own work and come this far just to be treated like that, by someone I had just met no less!

Sometimes we can be helpful to others who are living through their worst nightmare, but it shouldn't come at the cost of our energy or our hard-earned contentment. We are not responsible for other people's happiness.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

A Functional LIVING Room

The small things in life really are the big things. The more I practice cultivating gratitude for the little things throughout my day, the happier and more content I find myself to be. Like Mali wrote recently, "appreciating the little things [has] enabled me to see that life was going to be okay."

Currently, I am beyond thankful. I am ecstatic! 

I have a functional living room for the first time in many years.

While I was waiting for my children to come, that's all I was doing: waiting. I didn't decorate the living room much or have people over. I didn't create any art or read any books. I just sat in my recliner and read fertility boards and then infertility blogs.

After I sold my children's house and moved into a rental near my grad school, all I did was eat, sleep, and study. And drink. I'll be honest. I drank a lot during that time period. There wasn't a whole lot of living going on in my living room. At least I had my dog to keep me company. (My husband at the time was always at work or the bar.)

Then I moved out of state and into an apartment. It was a nice apartment and had a living room, but the living room was also the kitchen and where my desk was while I was finishing up school. So it was pretty packed. Plus, the apartment was in a city where I knew I wasn't staying so I knew it was all temporary.

Last year I lived in a condo where the living room was tiny. There was room for my couch and recliner but not much else. I couldn't stretch out or enjoy the space. It was too cramped.

Then this past summer, when my boyfriend and I moved into our current rental house, we experienced the most physically demanding move of our lives. I don't wish to relive it, but it involved making two trips to our new town four hours away to load and unload the rental truck just the two of us. During the heat of the summer. During the pandemic when numbers were high. It was awful. Not only was it anxiety-provoking, our backs were sore for a couple of months. Then winter came. I had zero desire to move my heavy couch while my back still hurt, nor did I want to move it while there was ice on the ground. So my couch sat in the garage for ten months...

Until... Last weekend! We finally moved the couch inside. I also ordered a tv stand and a lamp for reading and sewing on the couch. I hung up a painting of my grandmother's, two embroidered pieces from my other grandmother, and we purchased two paintings we love from the thrift store. 

Folks, I have a functional living room!!!

We have a couch and a recliner with a tv tray and a lamp in between in them. We have a tv set up on a new tv stand. We have artwork hung on the walls and a basket overflowing with quilts. And there's still room to stretch out on the floor.

We are so happy.

Last night we watched a movie on tv and my boyfriend surprised me with a pizza party. He ordered pizza without me knowing, so when there was a knock on the door I was a little confused. He answered the door and brought in pizza, breadsticks, and soda. It. Was. Awesome. And so much fun!

After dinner, I sat on the couch and finished hand sewing the binding onto the quilt that I will donate. It's my 11th quilt that I've completed from start to finish. 

I am so happy. 

It feels so good to be more than alive; it feels so good to be truly living.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Growth Spurts

No, I am not getting taller. ;) But I am changing. I guess we always are. 

Unless we're staying stuck.

Growth is painful. It's so hard. But staying the same isn't any easier.

I've shared that I'm going back and reading my old posts to add labels to them. Last night I read posts from January and February 2018. Wow. I remember hating my grad school program, but I forgot just how difficult it really was for me. Especially that last semester of coursework. I was still so raw with grief and I was studying pediatrics with a bunch of recent college graduates (i.e., much younger women), toxic professors, and one very pregnant classmate. 

I have come a long way.

(Thanks to all of you for playing a big part in my growth!)

It was kinda weird to read over my old posts knowing that I would be leaving my husband in six short months but not having any idea about it at the time.

So much growth.

And now, as I've also previously shared, I am trying to make good use of my time while being unemployed during a pandemic. So far, I have read three different self-help books about various topics in an effort to understand myself and my patterns so that I can be empowered to change what isn't working for me.

Growth is hard. It's so painful. But what's the alternative?

I've also previously shared that I thought I'd be more settled by now. In the past I imagined I would have bought a house, made some friends, and be well into my new career by now. Instead, I am renting, quarantining, and on the job market. But part of my growth from infertility is learning to lower my expectations. I am okay with where I am in life. Mostly. I am definitely grateful.

My past behavioral patterns make sense to me. I understand how they came to be, and I know that it is within my power to change them. I'm practicing saying no to things I don't want to do. I always thought of myself as a strong person, and I am, but I also have lifelong habits of just doing what others want to do. 

I am communicating what I need to my boyfriend.
It is up to him if chooses to meet those needs.

I am setting boundaries with my mother.
It is up to her if she chooses to respect those boundaries.

(I love both of these people very much. My relationships with them are worth our efforts.)

I think a big step in my most recent growth was quitting my job. Yes, it got bad enough to where I didn't feel safe, but I'm also proud of myself because it was really, really hard to tell my boss that I would NOT be attending meetings in person as expected.

Another big step was leaving my marriage.
It was fun until it wasn't. It worked until I realized it didn't.
There were definitely major problems there.

The growth just never stops, does it? Innocently, I thought I'd be done once I made it to the recovery side of infertility. Hahahahahaha hahahaha. At least I haven't lost my sense of humor.

Would I have time for all of this introspection and personal growth if I was raising children? Maybe. Maybe not. More importantly, I have to stop thinking like that. I'm going to practice not asking myself that question anymore. There is no way of knowing and it really doesn't matter. That would be another life in another realm and who knows what I would and would not be making time for.

Which... Is another sign of my growth.





Monday, April 12, 2021

Something To Look Forward To

Here's something that both infertility and the pandemic took from me. During my darkest years of infertility, I felt like I had nothing to look forward to. No baby, no toddler, no child raising, no milestones marked by my children growing up. Same thing with this pandemic. No restaurants, no concerts, no gathering with any friends or family, no vacations. Just the same day in the same environment, day after day after day.

Once I stopped pursuing motherhood, I redirected my life and gave myself things to look forward to. Going back to school (which was a major disappointment, unfortunately), joining a new profession (yet staying in my horrible school program was definitely worth it for that end goal), and moving to live somewhere I wanted to be (because I don't really like to travel).

But after a very long and very tough year, I now have things to look forward to again. Now that I've had dose #1 of the vaccine I am looking forward to seeing my parents, resuming employment, and maybe possibly someday (fingers crossed!!) returning to some of the activities I enjoyed before the pandemic brought everything to a halt (still holding my breath on this one... Maybe in 2021? More likely in 2022).

It's been tough recently. My old companion depression is back by my side. I wrote about not feeling well last Thursday, and the truth is I still don't feel that well. My boyfriend thinks I'm sleeping too much, but I started feeling sick yesterday and I don't want to be awake if I'm sick. Headache, sore throat, body aches. Maybe I'm sick or maybe I'm just sick of it all and this is how my body is manifesting it. Regardless, I am doing what I can. I have a planner so I stay on top of my responsibilities. I eat, shower, and get outside. I'm sewing and reading. And currently I'm attending online trainings as well.

The biggest thing I'm looking forward to right now is exactly one month from today. On May 12th I should be fully vaccinated. I don't expect too much to change by then, but who knows. I will at least be relieved to have the injections and whatever side effects I'll experience to be behind me. This time period of waiting for the vaccine will end.

That's probably my biggest coping mechanism when I am feeling really down: reminding myself that this is temporary. I won't feel this way forever. So I write this post today, sharing and documenting how I am feeling, and I look forward to a month from now when I am fully vaccinated. Maybe (probably?) I will be feeling better by then. I wonder what will change. 

๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ’œ

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Not Today

Most days I am okay with my situation. Most days I can cope with losing my dreams of motherhood. Most days I can enjoy the life I DO have. But today is not one of those days.

Like the rest of us, I am hitting a new level of pandemic fatigue. I am tired and angry and completely emotionally depleted. So it was especially upsetting to be included on a group text yesterday with my mom and sisters about their travel plans. Yes, travel plans. One of my sisters is having out of town guests because they are all going to a wedding this weekend. On the following weekend, she will travel across the country to visit her son. This is the same sister that regularly eats in restaurants. But both of my sisters and my mom have traveled over the last year.

???

Then I woke up this morning to my mother replying to the group text that she forgot she had made plans to go visit one of her sisters in another state for one of her sister's grandkids' baby shower. WHAT.

I'm sorry everyone. I truly apologize.
If my family has anything to do with it, this pandemic will never end.

But let's revisit that baby shower thing very briefly.

Again, WHAT.

Traveling out of state? In a pandemic? To attend a baby shower? For my cousin's kid's baby? He's old enough to have a baby on the way?? Well, damn, I guess he is...

I burst into tears. No surprise there.

But the tears weren't about him having a child on the way per se. Although, considering his situation, that is slightly tragic all on its own...

The tears were about the never-ending thoughtlessness of my family. The fact that this information was so casually mentioned in a group text message without regard for my feelings at all really hurt me. 

They will never get it. My family will never understand what surviving infertility is like for me. Not only that, they will never even make an effort to understand. And that hurts.

So that's where I am today. I cried twice before it was even 7:00 am. I'm so sick of this. I'm so sick of everything. It's days like this where I wish I could be babied. It's embarrassing to say, but I wish I could just crawl into some comforting person's lap and have them rub my back while I cried. 

Instead, I logged on here to read what others have written. You all are my people. You all understand. You all make me feel seen, heard, valued, and less alone. Thank you.

I know this day will pass. I know these feelings will pass as well. But, for today, I think I will do only what I feel like. I will read, nap, watch tv, and quilt. Today I will be especially mindful to take it easy and to take care of myself. No one else can do it for me.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Vaccine Emotions

Well... I may have had to quit my job because this community does not "believe" in the risks of covid. But, because of the community's faulty thinking, I got my vaccine early. Silver lining to an awful situation?

I had been reading stories in the news about places around the country having leftover vaccines that they didn't want to go to waste. That made me think. So I drove to the closest health clinic near me to ask about the vaccine. They didn't have them there, but they gave me a list of places in the county that did. I got home and called the first place. I explained that I was looking for leftover vaccines. I was upfront about the fact that I was not yet in an eligible group. I explicitly stated that I did not want to cut in line; I only wanted the vaccine if it was going to be wasted.

Well guess what. It turns out my county had a vaccine clinic coming up and there were over FIVE HUNDRED appointments available. What in the hell?? The woman I talked to on the phone told me to sign up, that they were not restricting who got the vaccine to only those in the eligible groups because they didn't want to have to throw anything away.

I thanked her profusely, hung up, and immediately went to the website. I filled out the questionnaire to reserve an appointment time, and, bam, got an appointment. I didn't lie. I didn't misrepresent myself. I didn't cut in line or do anything unethical. And just days later, while holding my small stuffed animal that I brought to every appointment at the fertility clinic, I got dose #1 while sitting in my car in a drive through line of a vaccine clinic. 

And then I promptly burst into tears. Big, fat hard-crying tears. It was very emotional for me.

I pulled into a parking spot to wait the required 15 minutes to make sure I didn't have a bad reaction and called my mom. I could barely speak. She answered the phone with a "Hello" and I said, "I'm crying." She said, "What?" because she couldn't understand me and I repeated, "I'm crying!" My mom, who is not sensitive like I am (at all), stayed objective and asked, "Good tears or bad tears?" and I was able to shout, "Good tears!" Then she let me cry for a few seconds before I could say that I had just received my first vaccine shot. She was thrilled. She has taken this pandemic and my stringent precautions quite personally since, unlike the rest of my family, I haven't traveled anywhere or seen her in the last year. She immediately asked when I would be fully vaccinated and I assured her that my first trip was going to be to visit her and my dad. 

(When that will be is to be determined, although I didn't tell her that in the moment. I'm tired of arguing with her and I'm still waiting to see what the research says about post-vaccinated living. So far I have read conflicting information and my parents, although fully vaccinated, socialize and are now eating indoors at restaurants.)

Ohmygod I was so emotional. This pandemic has sucked and, as you know, that is a massive understatement. It was a majorly stressful interruption to our lives and changed everything about how we live. But for the first time in over a year, I felt hopeful that things would get better.

But I was also emotional because of the injection itself. Medical stuff always makes me emotional. Six years may have passed since I underwent three medicated IUIs and two full cycles of IVF, but I can recall all of my fear, anger, anxiety, and depression in a heartbeat. Getting my vaccine brought all of that back up for me. Almost immediately. Although I didn't realize that that's what it was until later in the day.

I drove home, cheered with my boyfriend, and went back to bed. I had a slight headache, my arm hurt, and I was extremely fatigued. The fatigue was probably a combination of everything: the actual vaccine, my nervous anticipation leading up to it, and the safely stored-away emotions it unlocked.

In true Phoenix fashion (I swear, I am SO freaking sensitive), I continued to feel a bit weepy for several days. My headache, fatigue, and arm tenderness didn't help. But overall, I really think my emotional reaction was a little bit PTSD-ish relating back to fertility treatments. I am using this information to brace myself and be prepared for dose #2. I can do this. I can do anything. (Well... Almost anything. I obviously can't get pregnant.)

I am so thankful to have received the vaccine. I am patient with myself with my emotional reaction to it. I am ready, even eager, to get dose #2 when it's time. I can barely believe it, but I am actually hopeful about the future.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

My 6th Survivor Anniversary

Before March ends, I want to recognize a date that's important to me: my survivor anniversary.

I have written about my previous survivor anniversaries here.

As March 2021 began, I felt disappointed knowing that my 6th anniversary of surviving infertility without my children was coming up. I had so many expectations. I thought I would be settled by now. I thought I would be well into my new career. I thought I would have a girlfriend or two in real life to meet up with for lunch or yoga. I thought a lot of things. But, we all know how plans go.

As the month progressed, I realized that I may be disappointed, but I am also damn proud of myself. I kind of can't believe I am still standing. Except I'm not, ha! I have spent the last three months resting, recovering, reflecting, and reinvesting in my own development. I've done a lot of that work lying down in bed, propped up by pillows and comforted by a pile of quilts on top of me.

It's been a hard 3 years (TTC and failed treatments) followed by a hard 3 years (selling my children's home and grad school) followed by a hard 3 years (divorce and moving three more times). But I find great satisfaction in knowing that I am nowhere near where I was. 

In fact, I've been living in a new state for almost 3 years now.

Is that literal AND metaphorical? Yes, yes it is. 

This time last year the pandemic was just beginning and I knew we'd be living differently for at least a year. I felt very defeated, angry, and depressed. Now I have an optimism that things will get better. 

We are not there yet, but, again, we are not where we were.

On my actual anniversary day, I woke up, remembered the date, and got out of bed. I. Got. Out. Of. Bed. I'm pretty sure I didn't do that on my first anniversary of survival. And that's okay. So I got out of bed, took a shower, drank some coffee, and went on about my day. I lived my life. Because that's what I do now. I live.

I read, I study, and I look for a job. I run errands and I work on my quilts. I text my friends, some of whom I didn't communicate with much during my darkest years. I call my parents. I maintain my boundaries. I walk to the coffee shop to get a fruit smoothie to go. I check online for daily specials on fabric and allow myself to indulge if I see something I want. I hang out with my boyfriend. We laugh, play games, and watch tv. I stop for moments at a time to watch the snow fall, the rain come down, the sun set, and the moon shine.

I am alive. I am living. And I love it.

Happy Anniversary to all of us Survivors, whenever yours is! 

Fellow bloggers and readers, thank you from the bottom of my healing heart for all of the support you have generously given me over the years. I'm so glad to call all of you my friends.

๐Ÿ’œ


(P.S. I now have energy for others, which is another thing I can celebrate.
This is the latest quilt top I just finished. I am excited to pin the batting and backing fabric to it, quilt it, and sew on the binding. I am excited because it will be my first donation quilt.
Through the Hopes & Dreams Quilt Challenge, this quilt will go to a person with ALS.
I am putting a lot of love and effort into this quilt,
and I am hopeful that whoever receives it will enjoy it.)






Sunday, March 21, 2021

A Healing Art Process

March sucks for me. Too many awful anniversaries. 

1. It's the month when my last fertility treatment didn't work.

2. Now it's the month that marks a full year of the pandemic.

3. It is also the month of a domestic assault that happened to me 19 years ago.

Oof. Heavy stuff.

But here I am, unemployed and living the pandemic lifestyle (the kind where I don't go eat in restaurants and haven't seen my family or friends), and it is giving me time to process so much. I've been so busy with infertility, grad school, moving states, getting divorced, starting three new jobs, and moving two more times that I haven't had any time in the last decade to think.

So I'm thankful for the processing time.

Quite honestly, I'm reading self-help books and journaling a lot. I finished The Empath's Survival Guide earlier this year. That gave me some strategies for managing all of my many, many feelings. Right now I am reading Women Who Love Too Much and it is rocking my world. I am learning so much about myself and about my patterns. After that, I plan on reading Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents to help me with my relationship with my mother. 

I'm just sick of having the same old patterns of thoughts, feelings, and reactions so I'm taking advantage of this time I have to give myself a psychologically beneficial staycation at home. I figure it's cheaper than going to some fancy retreat center for a couple of months, which I can't afford and wouldn't do in a pandemic anyway. 

It's hard work. But it's worth it.

*****

Last month I finished reading a memoir written by a woman who started quilting and got divorced after two of her daughters died. I thought it would really resonate with me (and it did!), but then I really hated the ending. Oh well. It was still a good use of my time. As I read, I highlighted text that I could relate to and/or learn from.

Well, then... Fellow bibliophiles, please don't hate me for doing this but... Since I really didn't like the ending of the book, I went ahead and tore out all of the pages where I had highlighted text. Then I started cutting out the various highlighted text. I decided to make a collage. I used to make collages a lot in my teens and 20s, but I don't think I've done it since.

So there I was today, surrounded by words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs... I categorized them. I sorted the text into the following topics: alcoholism, losing my children, marriage, divorce, quilting, spirituality, and miscellaneous words and phrases. 

That's as far as I got today. But it's been a pretty powerful exercise for me. I can relate to and learn so much from this other woman's words and journey. As I continue this process, I will arrange the various text and glue them into pages of my sketchbook, combining them with printed images and/or swatches of fabric. 

Why? Just because.
Because I want to. Because I'm learning from it. Because it feels good to create.

I don't think the final product will look "good." But that's not the point. (I'm already regretting using yellow highlighter. I much prefer the cool color palette and wish I would've used a light blue or lavender highlighter.) Then I remembered that I made a collage of my ripped up journal entries after I broke up with the boyfriend that did what I mentioned in #3 above. I totally forgot about that painful collage until tonight. 

Writing and creating is how I process. 

I went many, many years without making anything. And now I am on a roll! Quilting, a newly started collage, and I'm even cooking a bit. (I made two quiches to celebrate Pi Day last Sunday, 3/14.) I know sooner or later I will get out my beads and leather cord that are all still boxed up and start making beaded wrap bracelets again. 

It feels so good to create again. It feels so good to be able to create again.

*****

Healing is possible. 

It cannot be rushed. 

But healing is possible.



Sunday, March 14, 2021

When LIFE is Funny

Here is a silly little story.

My boyfriend and I were playing the board game LIFE the other day. I hadn't played it in decades. Do you know this game? I thought it was really fun when I was kid. Now it's not as fascinating lol. Basically, you spin a wheel and move around the board collecting your salary, paying your taxes, and running into both rewards and accidents that either give you money or require you to pay. Like I said, I found it more interesting when I was a kid. Now it's just too much like, well, life. Ha!



Everyone in the game must have a job for their salary and every player must get married. 

Not every player will have kids. That depends on whether or not you land on a space that says you have a son, daughter, or twins. If you do land on one of those spaces, every opponent must pay you a $1,000 (double that if it's twins). It's like a required baby gift or a mandatory baby shower attendance. Or, maybe it is simulating paying taxes for public education (something I'll never complain about in real life, I want my community educated). 

My boyfriend landed on three of those spaces and had a son, a daughter, and then twins. 

I did not land on any of those spaces. Even when playing a board game I don't have kids.

The funny part to me? I won! At the end of the game, he had all those kids and no money and I had no kids and all the money. Hahahaha.

Now if only that were true in real life!! Where's all my money, Universe?? ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚

Thursday, March 11, 2021

My Name is Mine

I did it. 

Almost two years after my divorce was finalized, I finished changing my name on everything.

I cried a lot.
I hated every step of the process.
It gave me a stomachache every time.

But I did it!

Now my name is mine and mine only. 

I no longer have the same last name that my children would have had. It may not seem like a big deal for some, but to me it was huge. I was NEVER going to change my last name. But I did it for my kids. I wanted the same last name as them and, understandably, so did my husband at the time. So I changed my mind, changed my name, and looked forward to raising my children.

But my children never came.

It's a relief to have my name back.
I'm glad I don't have that nominal reminder anymore. 

I have a mother's love. My children will always be in my heart.
But now my last name is no longer a painful reminder of my children who never came to be.



Sunday, March 7, 2021

Thoughtless v. Thoughtful

The differences between people will never cease to amaze me.

*****

Thoughtless

My oldest sister included me on a group text today. Her stepdaughter gave birth. So there I was, without warning, staring at a beaming mother holding her newborn followed by another picture of just the newborn. I haaate newborn pics, especially when the baby is in the arms of the mother while still in the hospital. It's such an intimate moment, one that I never got to have and one that I don't care to witness in others.

I was so upset. I was really hurt. I texted just my sister (not the group text, which I immediately deleted) and said, "Please don't send me any baby pictures. Thank you. And congratulations!" 

You know it couldn't end there.

She wrote back saying she wouldn't send me any more. I told her thank you, that baby pictures were still very difficult for me. I told her that I was crying pretty hard and it sucked. (Why should I protect her from my feelings? I WAS crying hard and I felt she needed to know that.)

She wrote back saying she had debated including me or not, but she didn't want to leave me out.

I texted, "I'm already left out. I'm infertile."

Of course it couldn't end there either.

She literally wrote, "You are not! You have tons to contribute. You are the best aunt and sister."

I texted, "It's not the same!!!!!"

I had to end this.

I wrote, "Please don't argue with me. Let's just let this go."

She didn't write back. 

It ended.

*****

Thoughtful

I can't help but compare today's experience with another experience I had a couple of days ago.

I was in bed, scrolling through twitter to get sports news, fabric updates, and read funny tweets. My newsfeed is pretty well curated so I mostly see only stuff that pertains to my interests. 

One thing that I've noticed on twitter (maybe they do it on fb and ig too, I'm not on those platforms) is that people will write TW to stand for "trigger warning" before posting something that might be upsetting. I've seen trigger warnings for mention of suicide, abuse, and sexual assault.

Well, imagine my surprise when I read a tweet that said "TW: Pregnancy Announcement."

Whaaa?? I had never seen such a thing.

I read on.

The poster didn't stop there. Before sharing her pregnancy news she wrote something along the lines of, "As we share our good news we understand that many are walking the path of infertility and/or loss. Our hearts are with you and so are our prayers." 

Only then did she say that she was happy to share the news that she was pregnant.

So a total stranger posted 1) a trigger warning for a pregnancy announcement and 2) a message of love and understanding for those going through infertility and pregnancy loss before she even wrote that she was pregnant.

How. Freaking. Thoughtful.

See people?? It's not that hard to be considerate.

I was touched. I was seriously touched. 

I sent her a private message. 

I told her that her pregnancy announcement was the most thoughtful announcement I'd ever seen. I told her I was a survivor of infertility and that the way she shared her best news ever made me smile. I told her she was already an awesome mom. Then she wrote back with the kindest message and I replied wishing her and her family nothing but the best.

A warning before a pregnancy announcement? So anyone who is having a bad moment/day/year can keep on scrolling and skip past it? Freaking beautiful. So considerate and full of thought.

*****

And that is my weekend tale of my two very different experiences.


Tuesday, March 2, 2021

In Limbo Again

We can get so much calm and satisfaction from certainty, even when that certainty is an illusion. So it makes sense that being in a state of limbo can drive us crazy. Well, that's where I am again: in the in between space of what happened before and what will happen next.

     limbo (noun) —

          an intermediate, transitional, or midway state or place.

          a place or state of imprisonment or confinement.


I don't like it.

Ohhh well.

Enduring the pandemic and unemployment is a very stressful and anxiety-producing time period. Here I am, just waiting waiting waiting. Waiting for my vaccine. Waiting to hang out with people again. Waiting to go eat at a restaurant. Waiting to take a trip somewhere. Waiting to get a job. Waiting to make money (so I can go eat at a restaurant and go take a trip somewhere).

All this waiting... It's just like... Well, you know.

Having experience with something IS helpful. I'm thankful for that. I am doing my best to practice acceptance that this is my life right now. I wake up in the same house and do the same things every day (eat, shower, dishes, sew, read)... It's a little boring, but I remind myself it would be much, much worse if I didn't have a place to live, food to eat, or hobbies to do. I can handle being bored. I can handle being lonely. Unfortunately, once I was honest with myself, being bored and lonely was a big part of my marriage. Being bored and lonely was definitely a big part of infertility. So, like I said, I have experience on my side.

What is next? I don't know...

I really don't like this time period. I remind myself that it is temporary. My goal is to have a job by July, but it could happen even sooner. I'm applying for remote jobs right now, holding off on applying for in-person jobs for a couple more months. I'm thankful I can hibernate during the pandemic, even though it is boring and lonely. At least I am safe. 

Thinking of everyone! I know this is dragging on and we are all really tired of it. I am always here. I check my blog almost every day. So I will be here, riding out this time in limbo... 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Feeling (a little) Better

I feel terrible and I still feel better than I have in a whole year. 

While going through infertility, I lived in a heightened state. I could NOT calm down.
So when I was feeling that way again last fall, I thought, "OH HELL NO."

*****

A year ago I was living where I didn't want to live and working a job that I didn't want to retire from (or even do anymore). I was facing a move and a job search and then the pandemic hit. I went from zero to 100 overnight in terms of my anxiety. My boyfriend and I immediately went to the worst case scenario and began ordering bulk foods and a deep freezer. (Thankfully, we got the deep freezer delivered before inventory was depleted last spring.)

We had a hard move. The company didn't have a rental truck available for us on our reserved day so we had to wait around another two weeks for a small truck, which required us to make two roundtrips. And where we moved to was over four hours away! It was the heat of the summer. Plus, it was a pandemic, so even stopping for the bathroom was majorly anxiety-provoking.

*****

Then, just two weeks later, I started my new job and nobody wore masks regularly. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

I did the best I could. Despite the facts of the situation. Despite the paperwork and people-related challenges of the job on a normal day. Despite the stresses and constant changes that came with working in schools during a pandemic. Despite not being allowed to ask my younger students to wear a mask while working with me. Despite one administrator being rude to me (while I was working with a student!) about an online link not being available because I was required to attend the weekly meeting in person. Despite being the ONLY person (I saw) to wear a mask all day.

I tried.

But after three months of sitting in three to five meetings a week in rooms full of people where I was the only one wearing a mask, I couldn't do it anymore. I hit my breaking point and resigned.

I knew I was in bad shape. I knew my mental health had taken a hit. I was just so worn out. 

I have since utilized all of the self-care tools I can think of and have allowed myself lots and lots of rest. I really like cognitive-behavioral techniques and also mindful breathing, journaling, sewing, watching old tv shows, and eating haha. I am feeling better.

*****

The connection to infertility?

My anxiety was high. I knew I didn't have to live like that. I knew I had already been through enough in the last ten years. I knew that I had just met these people and they had no authority over my life at all. They certainly had no right to make decisions that I felt put my health at risk.

Infertility gave me the boundaries I definitely needed. I know that no one understands my life. They don't have to. They don't have to live it.

I do. 

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Unstructured Time

Another similarity between my experiences with both infertility and the pandemic is having a lot of unstructured time. 

I didn't know I was infertile so when my husband at the time was (finally!) okay with not using contraception anymore, I quit my job in preparation to be a stay-at-home mom. So I also spent my years trying to get pregnant with very long and lonely days.

Now it's a pandemic so none of us (at least in the blogosphere anyway) are living our lives normally. As you already know, the lack of precautions were so bad at my job I resigned.  So here I am again, unemployed with lots of unstructured time.

You know, that makes me think of another time period in my life. I had a terrible accident in my early 20s that left me unable to work for a year. That was another chunk of my life with unstructured time.

So, what I'm saying is I have experience with unstructured time on my side.

I... Do not deal well with lack of structure. I thrive on routine. Without it, I can easily overwork myself (in an ineffective way) or, just the opposite, be completely unproductive... For a very long time. I can very quickly and very easily slide into another depressive episode. It takes energy to fight and live this life.

So at the beginning of January, I knew I was going to have to give myself a little bit of structure. Therefore, I wrote a short list of things I wanted to accomplish for Jan./Feb. I didn't write down too many things. I knew I'd be processing my most recent job experience, the last several years of my life, and the pandemic. But I also wanted to make good use of the gift of time I'd been given by getting crap off of my To Do list after they'd been on my mind for a couple of years.

Friends, I would like to celebrate. 

We have one more week of February left and I have finally changed my legal name on every important account I have except one! I'll figure out what I need to do for the last account this week and then I will be DONE! My original name will be fully restored and my children's last name will only appear on junk mail in the future, nothing serious or important. 

Not as significant, but I also finished unpacking the kitchen boxes from our move last summer, renewed my state professional license, and figured out solutions for several different sewing problems I had. (Turns out, my young friends in grad school were right. Just watch videos online to learn what you need to know!) I got out of bed every morning, showered most days, and stayed on top of the laundry and dishes. 

Why yes, I am congratulating myself for maintaining my own adult life for the last 2 months haha. 

My two-month list strategy was helpful, so I've already done the same for Mar./Apr. There are just a few more tasks that have been on my mind for a couple of years now. I want to take advantage of this unstructured time to take care of what I've been putting off. 

At a leisurely pace of course. ;)

I was quilting these past Friday and Saturday nights. I finally sat down for several hours each night and really enjoyed myself and the process. I thought, "Would I have the time to do this if I had had kids?" The answer is of course. The quilting world is very fertile; there are a ton of quilters with a ton of kids. The few teachers I've had all had kids and talked about teaching them how to sew. I would still sew if I was raising children. Women have literally done it for centuries.

But much more importantly, the answer doesn't matter. Because the fact of my life is I'm not raising kids. And right now I DO have unstructured time. That's just how it is. I don't have to apologize for my life, explain it, or make excuses for it. 

But with you all, who understand, I am happy to share that I am living my life. I am using my time well, getting stuff done and enjoying life along the way.



 ✨ I finished my 10th quilt last night! ✨
"Sewing mends the soul."


Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Rereading Old Posts

NOW:

We are six weeks into the new year and I have been processing A LOT, including, but not limited to, quitting my job, my marriage and divorce, relationships with family members, my relationship with myself, and how I continue to live my life after infertility without my children. It hasn't been easy. I thought I cried a lot before 2021? Well, this year has been especially... Cleansing.

I do feel a strong internal pressure to get moving (i.e., get a new job), but I know that if I do right now I will not be effective in whatever I do next. How do I explain that in a professional way in my next job interview? "Yeah, I took some time off to finally process, uninterrupted, the last traumatic decade of my life?" No... I'll have to come up with a different answer. In the meantime, I will continue to replenish my resources.

I have a lot to be thankful for, but that's not what I'm processing. I am processing the onslaught of meanness that I allowed in my life for so long. I am realizing what I need to feel loved and known and I am learning how to communicate my boundaries, whether they are respected or not.

I don't want to constantly analyze my feelings and interactions, but I am TIRED of reliving the same dynamics over and over. I must think and read and reflect about all of this stuff so that I can empower myself to change my ingrained patterns. 

I've worked hard and I deserve to enjoy the happiness I've found and created for myself. I don't have to explain or justify it, no matter who is demanding answers from me (e.g., my mom). I don't have to answer the phone if I know I am only going to be insulted (e.g., my middle sister).


THEN:

While going through infertility, I lost the majority of my friendships. It HURT SO BAD. But it changed me forever. I am no longer eager to have people in my life just because I've known them a long time or because we are related. I need people that support me and that I can support. I don't need a big group of people. I have definitely learned that lesson.

I'm going through and rereading my old posts so I can add labels to them. When I was first reading IF blogs, this was one of my favorite ways to read people's old posts. I would click on a label that resonated with me that day and read all of the related posts. So that is what I am going back and doing for my posts now.

Wow. It has been an interesting experience going back and reading what I wrote. I'm so glad I started blogging when I did or I would have forgotten so many thoughts and feelings from my recovery process. I have grown. A LOT. I can see it in my own writing. I am stronger, more self-confident, and more self-assured. I have my experiences with infertility and my hard-earned recovery from it to thank for my newfound clarity.

But you know what? Growth is lonely. Growth is change. And people don't do well when you start changing. You can't be their subconscious punching bag anymore. You can't be the person they know that is worse off than them. (Yes, this gives certain personality types a vast amount of comfort.) You aren't the same person anymore and they don't know how to handle the new you. Some people will celebrate with you. Some people are up for the excitement of getting to know the new you and your growth. Others simply fade away.


NOW:

I'm thankful for my growth. I'm glad I was willing to face my loneliness. I am still frustrated and processing a lot, but I am not where I used to be. I like myself and, pandemic aside, I like my life.

I no longer deal with the haters.



The statement above is a goodie I saw on twitter.



And I had to share another fabric pic... Meow! ;) 

๐Ÿ’œ

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Love & Anger

I've been in a tough spot lately.
My sister is going through a major medical event and I've been struggling with how to support her.

On the one hand, it's easy. Send a text! Give her a call! Mail a card! On the other hand, it's not easy. I don't think she really wants to talk about it and she has plenty of people closer to her other than me to offer support. I've tried texting and calling, but she is hot and cold on whether or not she returns my texts or calls. I don't judge her for that. She's totally allowed to respond or not respond, especially when she's dealing with something difficult.

My problem is my own feelings. They are ugly.
And I will be honest about them out loud with my boyfriend and here on this blog only. 

When I think about my sister and how I can support her, I immediately feel resentful. I feel angry, and I feel hurt. This sister was not supportive to me during infertility. Not only was she unsupportive, quite honestly, she was cruel. I wrote a very popular blog post about some of the things she said to me over the years. They were unhelpful, unnecessary, and just plain mean. She vaguely apologized many years later but that's about it. I was excited at the time and wrote a post about it, thinking it might be the start of a new phase for our relationship. But it wasn't.

I love my sister, in case that isn't obvious. Our relationship has an incredible foundation because she was the greatest big sister to me while I was growing up. She played with me and took me places and did fun stuff with me all of the time. I missed her badly when she went off to college. But, relationships change and evolve over the decades, and we haven't been extremely close in a really long time. But the love between us is definitely there.

So I recognize and accept my conflicted feelings. I respect the fact that I'm still hurt and angry, and I can still be supportive to my sister anyway. Because of the pandemic and the precautions I am taking, I don't feel like it's safe to be around my family. Therefore, I can't visit her or provide any direct care. (My boyfriend says she doesn't want this from me anyway and I think he's probably right. She has other people in her life that can help her directly right now.)

I decided to mail a care package. It's better than nothing. I can't be there physically. (This pandemic sucks!!!) And she doesn't really want to talk to me about it. Also, if I'm being honest with myself, I don't want to be the person in her life who listens in detail. It's too hard for me. Too lopsided, too off balance. But I can let her know I'm thinking about her and that I love her.

To problem solve, I focused on what was most important to me in the moment: showing my sister my love. As I felt my resentment and anger from past hurts, I acknowledged them. And then I returned to my focus, put on a mask, and went on a quick shopping trip at the nearby drugstore for care package goodies. It was fun.

So I mailed her a bunch of random things with a card (that did NOT say "Everything happens for a reason" or "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger" or any other bullshit platitudes that anyone in pain doesn't need to hear). I sent a fancy chocolate bar, some magazines, some fun Valentine stuff I saw on the shelves, soft fuzzy socks, and a small stuffed animal. I figure everyone likes mail that's not a bill. :)

That's where I'm at. It's hard. I don't like how mean my sister was when I was going through the darkest time of my life, and I also haven't forgotten it. I don't like how my feelings about that resurface when I think about how I can support her while she's going through something awful. But I'm only human.

I love my sister. Feelings, relationships, navigating trauma, and life overall... It's all complicated.