Monday, December 27, 2021

Monday Night

Hello Friends. It's Monday night. It's not a holiday or any other significant night. 

Just another Monday. 

Well, I suppose it's the last Monday of the 2021 calendar year. It's the Monday that falls within the week between Xmas and New Year's. It's a mostly regular Monday where one might go to work, although it's probably a Monday where everyone should just stay home and hibernate. (But, as we all know, society is not very good at accommodating what people actually need.) 

So overall, it's just another Monday night. Which is fine and possibly even worth celebrating. It was a Monday without pretense, a day that held no expectation. Heck, I did 1.5 out of 2 things on my To Do list and felt extremely accomplished. It's not exactly a time for productivity. 

It's a Monday night in winter. I ate some leftover cranberry sauce turnovers, cut some fabric to start a new quilt, and I've now retired to my beloved recliner with a stack of books to peruse.

Wishing you moments to pause, moments of peace, and moments enjoying the little things.  


(I just liked this picture. I searched for images of a winter night quilt and found this. It matches how I'm feeling. Found at http://quiltingdigest.com/a-beautiful-quilt-for-christmas)

Friday, December 24, 2021

Not Sad on Xmas Eve

It's Xmas Eve and I'm not sad. In the past, I didn't feel sad until Xmas morning. But... I don't feel anything lurking beneath the surface. It's fine if I feel sad tomorrow, but I don't think I will. 

I'm excited to open the presents I bought for myself! I already forgot what fabric I ordered.

I'm looking forward to having mashed potatoes. My boyfriend is looking forward to the ham. We are also going to have roasted brussel sprouts, green bean casserole, and homemade beer bread. (His stepdaughter brought us a lot of flavored beer when she came to visit for Thanksgiving and he's been using it to make delicious beer bread.)

I bought two bags of cranberries to make cranberry sauce. I only bought one bag for Thanksgiving and then we ate it all. I didn't have any left to make my annual (as of last year) leftover cranberry sauce turnovers. This time I am prepared! And I have big plans to make the turnovers on Dec. 26th. Lol.

I look forward to drinking my coffee in the morning. To watching my boyfriend unwrap the small silly presents that I bought him. To open all of my fabric boxes. To cook a full meal together. To work on the puzzle that's taken over our dining table. To decide on the next quilt I want to start.
To read, rest, and watch tv.

I'm grateful for my home. I love it here. I'm so comfortable and I'm so happy. 

I have dreams for the future and I am more than content for now. 


I started a Xmas Sampler quilt this year.
I sewed these blocks all month;
then I packed everything up to work on again in December next year!
It will be a festive, multi-year project.
πŸŽ„

Sunday, December 19, 2021

It is done.

I originally posted this on 12/8/21 under a different title, but then I second guessed myself and unpublished it. But... It's all true, my last two weeks are over (Why does so much that sucks involve a two week wait??), and I now feel more comfortable re-posting this without any edits.

It is done.

*****

Repeating "it's not me" in my head really helped me last week. 

Unfortunately, things at work escalated. Accusations were made, lines were (majorly!) crossed, and I submitted my resignation. The whole thing completely sucks. I feel like crap and I'm out of a job. But what was I going to do? Stay there? Why? For what?

I just don't tolerate bullshit like I used to. I've had bad job after bad job after bad job. I've loved my students and I've loved my patients, but I've never been paid or treated well by an employer.

I know life isn't fair. Most likely, anyone who is reading a CNBC blog knows life isn't fair. 

But I reached my limit many years ago. It was exactly in the moment when I learned my last fertility treatment did not result in pregnancy. In that exact moment, although I had no idea doing what or where, I was determined to live a life that I thought was worth living.

And my most recent job wasn't it. Not by a long shot.

So I'm putting it out there in the Universe: I WILL find another job. But even better than that, I will find a good paying job at a place of employment that treats me well.

Infertility took so much away from me. I won't compromise with anything else in my life.



Tuesday, December 14, 2021

When You Don't Have To Watch What You Say

It's so important to be ourselves. I hope you have a place where you don't have to explain yourself or a person with whom you don't have to censor yourself. It's relieving. And necessary.

A couple of weekends ago we went and visited my boyfriend's family for the first time since the pandemic. We had seen his parents once but not his sisters. It was relieving. And necessary.

We drove to the city to see everyone and stayed the night with one of his sisters. We saw her toddler for the first time in two years and met her new(ish) baby. She and her husband had just finished having some major remodeling work done on their house. It was the first time I saw it all: their new guest room, guest bathroom, kitchenette, and bonus living room/play room area. I was immediately in love. Like, I really felt emotional about it. I loved it so much.

I turned to his sister and exclaimed, "I love it! The space is perfect. I love the play area. And all of these bookshelves remind me of my nursery. I can't wait to watch these shelves fill with books."

I said all of that without a second thought. And she didn't miss a beat. She was excited too. She said something along the lines of, Really? You think so? I'm so glad you like it. I'm really happy with how it turned out. 

I didn't feel awkward and she didn't act weird about me referencing my (never-used) nursery.

It's awesome to have places and/or people in our life where it feels safe and comfortable to speak freely. Infertility isn't all of my life. For a time period, it felt like it was. But not anymore, not for awhile. It's just a part of me now. And I'm glad I have friends where I can talk about my real life experiences and feelings without it being totally weird.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Review: Reclaiming the Childless Holidays

It snowed! I'm snuggled in my recliner this morning with a Xmas quilt and a cup of coffee, sitting next to the Xmas tree with its multicolored lights turned on even though it's not nighttime. Most of my ornaments are still in storage, but I ordered some cute woodland animals last year and added this year's ornament to our new growing collection. I sewed a tree skirt from vintage looking fabric last year and a few wrapped presents under the tree are waiting patiently until Xmas morning for my boyfriend and me.

I love it.

And I'm grateful. For so long I felt lost from Oct. 31 - Jan. 1, not quite sure how to celebrate.

When I was a kid, I was in a community production of A Christmas Carol. I was in the chorus and showed up in full cast numbers. I remember singing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen," set outside in a snowy scene on the streets against a backdrop of Christmas shops masterfully built by the set crew. All of our movements were choreographed as we walked across the stage and back, acting out various scenes like visiting on the streets and peeking in shop windows. 

During my darkest years, that's how the holidays* felt to me. Like I was back in that play, peeking into windows of shops and homes and watching Everyone Else's holiday celebrations. I felt alone and isolated. In a world of my own.

I don't feel that way anymore. I've reclaimed the parts of the holidays that I enjoy and I stopped putting pressure on myself to celebrate according to anyone else's agenda. Every year since knowing I wasn't going to have children has been different for me, so of course the holidays haven't been the same either as I've moved through the various stages of my grief.

*****

This year I listened to Jody Day's webinar, Reclaiming the Childless Holidays. It was fabulous!! So much so that I took notes. Haha. Four wise and heartfelt women gathered online to share their thoughts and feelings about celebrating the holidays without children and they shared so much good stuff. 

In their introductions Jody Day shared, "I deserve the holidays too... I get to celebrate my life too." Another speaker, Sophia Andeh, said she took back the things she enjoyed and let go of the things she didn't. Catherine-Emmanuelle Delisle, a third speaker, said Christmas used to be a trigger but now it has become precious for her. Now she has developed a sensitivity for women around her who don't celebrate or for whom the holiday time isn't joyous or about gathering. She shared, "I tell [these women] they are in my heart and I feel for them." Then it was the fourth and final presenter, Karin Enfield's comment, that I most related to. She said that she loved Christmas but, in the past, also felt embarrassed and ashamed about celebrating it. (I'm not quite sure why, but embarrassment was always a strong feeling for me during my darkest years.) 

These women made sense to me. I kept listening.

Karin went on to say that she really did want to celebrate the holidays. She wanted to celebrate the light and she wanted to celebrate herself. She began creating new traditions.

A question was submitted anonymously: How do I change the holidays?
Jody answered, "Experiment." Her other strategies included always having an exit plan and alternating time with others with time with just yourself. She acknowledged that it can be difficult, that changing how you do the holidays is a work in progress.

That's when Catherine added, "It's all about accepting your feelings." She said acknowledging your feelings is key, as is asking, "Which way is best for us to take care of ourselves?"

Then Sophia added, "Have compassion for yourself." If you try something new and it turns out to be a disaster? "It's okay," she said, "you tried it."

There were so many good thoughts and one-liners in this thoughtful presentation. I don't want to give away all of their wonderful words, but I even learned about some new-to-me concepts like "internalized pronatalism" (where we believe the pronatalist messages we've been given) and "grief-tending" (a reminder that my grief needs and deserves to be taken care of). Also, an interesting book was mentioned: Set Boundaries by Nedra Tawwab. Most importantly, each speaker had a variety of ideas for how to celebrate the holidays and what kind of traditions you can create if you want.

I took their advice and ordered myself something special. I ordered a sewing-related advent calendar. It was a splurge, but I have really been enjoying opening a new notion each day this month. I also did some fabric shopping over the post-Thanksgiving holiday weekend when there were a lot of sales. Every package that arrives goes straight under the tree. Xmas morning has typically felt melancholy to me, but sleeping in and having some new fabric packages to open will bring me some good cheer that day.

Jody reminds us, "We are a very special group of women." And We ARE.

Please grieve and tend to yourself as needed. I hope you can enjoy parts of the holiday season, but it's fine if you can't or don't. No pressure either way. 

I don't care about the idealized version of the holidays.
I just care about you.


*The word "holidays" is meant to cover all important celebrations during this time of year including, but certainly not limited to, Christmas, Xmas (the secular version that I celebrate), Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, and Yule.

Also, P.S. If you were one of the few people that read my now-unpublished post from earlier this week, don't think you're losing your mind. (It's not you! Lol.) For the first time during my blog writing, I chose to remove a post after publishing it since it was about a situation that's still ongoing. Maybe I will republish it after the situation ends. Or maybe not. Either way, don't worry, you're not missing out on anything interesting. :)



Wednesday, December 1, 2021

It's Not You

I don't know who needs to hear this, but here you go.

You are not the problem. It's not you.

If anyone judges you for your preference to stay home during a pandemic...
If there's someone who has a way of making you feel unsure, uneasy, or uncomfortable...
Even if your own mother tells you that "everyone has bad things happen to them" after you express your sadness about losing your children, your marriage, and life as you knew it...

It's. Not. You.

Even if everyone at once is opening their traps and forcing their bad opinions on you and you can't help but let some of that noise and bad energy seep in, even then, it's still not you.

Ok, it's me. 
It's me who needs to hear this.
I've been needing to hear this all damn day. So I told myself. And shared it with you.

πŸ’œ


Saturday, November 27, 2021

Opposite Traumas

Hello and Happy Holiday Weekend!

I can't believe it's been two weeks since I've written. Not much has happened, although I did get good results from my colposcopy! All three samples taken were negative for malignancy. Yay!!! Getting that good news was very relieving.

Other than that, I'm still experiencing heightened anxiety. The pandemic doesn't help. Neither does my current situation at work. I spent some time today reading several articles about being gaslit in the workplace. Signs, symptoms, what to do about it. It all made sense, so, unfortunately, I think that's the situation I am in right now. To cope, I am practicing redirecting my thoughts (so I'm not always thinking about it) and focusing on the things I do enjoy (sewing and reading blogs).

I'm honestly annoyed. And tired. And I wonder if I'm not still experiencing some trauma-related entitlement. I feel like I've already been through so much, I don't want to deal with a crappy situation at work. I don't want to quit and look for another job. But I also don't want to stay and deal with drama.

You know what I really want? And I'm sure everyone feels this way. A break. I want a freaking break. I've been going nonstop since 2015 and I think my nerves are shot. All of my trauma started in 2011 and I'd really like to just put the last decade to rest. I want to rest. I need to rest. We all do.

I am also incredibly thankful for so much. I'm probably more thankful right now than ever before.  First, the tangible, I have a HOME. Then the intangible, I have clarity. Well, somewhat. Well, maybe not clarity exactly... But I have a strong sense of self. I have my experiences and values. I have boundaries. I have a new life. And I have my grieving process to thank for all of it.

Infertility sucks. It completely sucks all of the energy out of you and all of the meaning out of life. I feel like not having kids--not through trying to conceive, fertility treatments, or adoption--is the worst thing that could have happened to me. I'm so damn maternal. It runs deep. I was born to be a mother. Or so I thought. 

I dreamt of raising kids throughout my whole life. I wanted it to happen in my early thirties, but it didn't. It was completely traumatizing and life altering.

Which brings me to the point/title of this post...

My boyfriend and I have opposite traumas.
I'm an infertile woman. He was a teen dad. 

It's a pretty significant detail. I've had his permission to share here, but it just never seemed to be the right time. I never found the right words. Even now, this post isn't flowing like I normally like. 

But Thanksgiving came and his young adult children drove up to see us. We hadn't seen his son since January and we hadn't seen his stepdaughter since the pandemic. It was so good to see them both. They stayed two nights and the four of us ate an early Thanksgiving feast on Monday.

My boyfriend raised them both, his son from birth and his stepdaughter from toddlerhood, with their mother. I can only imagine how hard it was. While teen parents may get a lot in terms of judgment, they don't often get a lot in terms of actual support. At least my boyfriend and his partner at the time didn't. They just got jobs and juggled childcare and made it happen.

It's weird for me. My boyfriend raised children. There's lots I could say here. There's lots that I have said to my boyfriend. Take Thanksgiving for example. I loved seeing his kids and having them stay with us. But it also felt weird. Like I was hanging out with some other woman's family. And it made me sad that I didn't get to raise them. But hell, I was nowhere near around over twenty years ago. 

So that's our opposite trauma. I'm infertile and my boyfriend was a teen dad. 

We have more in common than I would have ever guessed. For one, we are both missing our peer group. Most people our age are raising kids, but I'm not (obviously) and he's done doing that. So... We find ourselves hanging out with much younger or much older people. 

Well, before the pandemic anyway... Nowadays we are at home.
(But at least we have a home. We do not take that for granted.)

So now you know. 

I am not a mom or stepmom; I did not raise children. But my boyfriend is a dad. He raised children and now has two young adults in their early twenties. I love them both very much. I tell them whenever I see them and they know me as stable, practical, dependable, and effusive with my feelings for them haha.

Maybe they will come up in future posts. Maybe I will write about incidents that happened in the past couple of years. Maybe I will share the unexpected things my boyfriend and I have in common through our opposite traumas. Maybe I will just write as an infertile woman who is in love with a man who raised children. 

Who knows what the future holds. But for now, I am thankful.


Part of our feast! Cranberry sauce, two kinds of dressing, green bean casserole, and that big silver pot is holding our homemade macaroni and cheese. Not pictured: the turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, and two pies (pumpkin and cherry).


Here's something I'm thankful for! I finally unpacked my fabric. I can lie on the guest bed and be surrounded by shelves of books and fabric. It's so relaxing! I love it!!


Did anyone listen to Jody Day's Reclaiming the Childless Holidays? It was really, really good. I took notes. I should write a review post. She and the other panelists encouraged us to enjoy the parts of the holidays that we've always liked. One of things I've always enjoyed about the holidays is ornaments. Even during my darkest years, I never stopped buying myself an annual ornament. And pictured above is this year's ornament! It's designed to look like a Welcome mat. :)


And, in keeping with my own traditions, I put up the Xmas tree on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. You can count on me enjoying the Xmas tree lights every night for the rest of this year. I'm thankful for the little things that make me happy. What little things do you enjoy?






Saturday, November 13, 2021

Sick of Feeling Anxious

I had a bad week.
Every day there was something Very Not Fun.

I chipped my tooth last week and went to the dentist on Monday to get it filled.

On Tuesday I had my annual mammogram. It's not painful, just everything makes me emotional.
(Upsides: Yay for following through with preventative care. Plus, it was negative!)

I went to work on Wednesday and had an extremely awkward day. I don't foresee things getting any better any time soon. I'm so frustrated. But I've been through worse and I'll get through this.

I had a colposcopy on Thursday. (You know your job is bad when you look forward to a gynecological procedure. I took two days off from work. I needed the medical respite, but it was also a much needed break from the work drama!)

On Friday I felt like crap. So sore, so cranky, so over it. What has my (non)reproductive system ever done for me?? (Answer: nothing good.) Fortunately, I was able to spend the entire day on the couch. I rested, watched tv, and finished sewing the binding on my nephew's quilt.

Now it is Saturday. My favorite day of the week. A day to do what I feel like. I did a little bit of sewing, a little bit of picking up, and my boyfriend and I went for a walk around the neighborhood. Then he cooked some food while I just tried to RELAX.

I am very stressed. I feel it physiologically; I feel it emotionally. I am so sick and tired of living in a heightened state. I lived like that for many years while trying to conceive and then while going through fertility treatments. Then grad school, divorce, and moving a bunch sucked a whole lot. Then the pandemic hit. 

It doesn't take much to make me feel anxious. Who can blame me? It was a shitty decade for me. And now life is harder for everyone. It's so easy for my anxiety to shoot up. Then it's so hard for me to come down.

I recognize it. I feel it. I give myself grace. I mean, damn, I didn't create any of the chaos that is currently around me (at work and also in the world). I cry a lot. I sleep. I sew. I read. I write.

And I bought myself this card. Then I bought a frame for it at the thrift store and got a little crafty.

Keep on enjoying the little things.





Monday, November 8, 2021

Still Stings

Well, this is far from the first time something like this has happened, but it still stings.

I got ghosted by a friend. He just stopped replying to my texts. Then yesterday I learned through a mutual friend that his wife just had their third kid.

Oh.

I lost another friend to parenthood.

It sucks. It stings.

When we became friends he already had his first kid. I was happy for him and his wife when they had their second kid. But I didn't make the cut for their third kid. 

I get it. He's busy. His life is going a hundred miles an hour in another direction.

I also don't get it. A parent is still a person. They still get to have 5 - 10 minutes of free time every now and then to text a friend. Personally, I think I'm a good friend. I also think I'm a good person to keep around because I will always be an outlet completely separate from the parenting world, which I'm sure is a much needed mental break every now and then. Not to mention, I'm busy too. Life is made up of what you make space for.

But the dynamics and rhythms in people's lives change and friendships often don't last, especially when one person has kids and the other doesn't.

I'm done pursuing friendships with people with kids. I can be friendly, but I doubt I'll ever be in an active friendship again with a person who is currently raising children.

I've had enough loss in my life.


Sunday, October 31, 2021

Halloween Weekend Wonders

It's Halloween night. Trick or treating is over by now. My thoughts go out to every teacher and paraprofessional tomorrow. The day after Halloween is never the easiest when you work in a school. Sugar can be quite the drug.

Halloween was fun as a kid and it was fun as a young adult. During my dark years of infertility, Halloween was excruciating. I wrote about it here, calling it the hardest day of the year

And now... It's... Fine. Plain old fine. Not a big deal either way. I enjoy seeing costumes and I love eating candy. And... That's about it.

But that in itself is a miracle.

πŸŽƒ

And it doesn't end there.

Here's another Halloween miracle: I talked to my mom yesterday morning for over an hour. I talked to her for an hour last week too. And the week before that. In fact, we've gotten in the routine of talking on Saturday mornings for a couple of months now. 

We are both very thankful for this change in our historically challenging relationship.

πŸ’œ

It's moments like these (Halloween doesn't hurt anymore? And my mother and I are talking frequently?) that remind me that I don't know the future and that's okay. 

Hmmm... Maybe everything that I am feeling doomsday-ish about won't actually happen... 

But even if the worst does happen, I will survive. 

And do my best to thrive.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Too Much & Not Enough

That's how I'm feeling these days, like everything is either too much or not enough.

Work? Too much. Definitely too much. Very demanding, low pay, long hours.
Weekends? Not enough. Please. I need more. I need every moment I can take to try and relax.

Pandemic? Too much. It's month 19 and we're all breaking in our own ways. Short-fused. Foggy.
Pandemic precautions? Not enough. Not where I live anyway. :( When does this end? And how?

My feelings? Too much. I'm sad one day. I'm anxious the next. Ok, I'm anxious every day... But I also take time to be thankful every day. It's exhausting. But it could be worse. It could be much, much worse. I don't ever want to take my health, home, or groceries for granted.

My energy? Not enough. Except it is. I'm not expecting myself to go full pace, nonstop. Not now. It's impossible. I do expect myself to follow through with my commitments, but I'm also making less commitments. Working part-time. Volunteering a little. Sleeping a lot. My job and the pandemic require it.

It's hard right now. It's really hard. I'm tired. We're all tired. Nobody is having a good time.

But I do believe in enjoying the little things. I believe in cultivating gratitude. I just ate some cinnamon cookies. They were delicious. There's still a pandemic, inflation, a shipping crisis, and climate change, but I also enjoyed my cookies. 

I don't know how I endured infertility. I couldn't enjoy the little things back then. I don't know how I got through those years. I can barely believe I survived. 

Even now it's hard to believe I created a completely new life for myself. And I'm the one living it.

One thing at a time. 

I couldn't think about all of the changes I needed to make all at once. Too much.
I just couldn't stay stuck in the life that I had. Not enough.

I guess that's how we're all getting through these challenging times. One moment at a time.
Anything more is too heavy and way too much, but anything less is superficial and not enough.

Go easy, my friends.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Five Years Here

It's my 5th Blogoversary! Thank you for being here!!

I did a pretty good job describing why I blog in last year's blogoversary post.

*****

Today I had some time (and the emotional bandwidth) to continue rereading my old posts and labeling them. I began where I left off. In June 2018. The summer I moved out of state and the summer my marriage ended. Oh.

It began innocently enough. I moved to an apartment in a new state to finish up my clinical rotations to complete my degree. My husband stayed at his job in our old city where I used to live. I unpacked and decorated and started cooking again for the first time in years. I believe I was really starting to come alive again...

It happened quickly. All of the big and little things that I'd chalked up to the stress of moving never got better after we moved. Everything got worse. I told my husband I didn't want to be married anymore and he didn't try to convince me otherwise. We were getting divorced. I knew I would be taking a break from blogging so I wrote this post on 8/20/18 about life turning out beautifully.

I returned to blogging on 1/4/19 with a renewed enthusiasm for life. I didn't mention my divorce.

I kept blogging like usual for several more months. Then I wrote my annual post for what I call my Survivor Anniversary and that seemed to be the best time to share my change in marital status. Interestingly, it's also the same post where I mention taking my first sewing class.

I shared a little bit more about my marriage and divorce here.
And I shared when the divorce was final here.

Most importantly, I wrote a post when I started taking quilting classes. This was right after the time that my divorce was finalized. After decades of searching, I had finally found my medium as an artist. I find the timing of this discovery to be very interesting!

*****

And that's where I am with my reflective thoughts... 

My divorce has been final for over two years. My last IVF was over six years ago. So many lives, so many lifetimes ago... I would have predicted NONE of it. Instead, I wrote about all of it. 

It was just too much to carry by myself.

Thank you for reading.

Love, Phoenix


Saturday, October 2, 2021

Parenting, the verb

God I wanted to parent so bad. It's an ache in my heart, a vibration and a yearning throughout my whole body. I don't romanticize the idea of parenting. I know it's a 24/7 gig that lasts for 25 years to life. I know it's hard work. I know it's expensive. I once joked to my dad that I was "the worst economic investment he ever made." He laughed and said, "Trust me, the investment wasn't economic." And then we both laughed together. 

I don't think parenting is all cute moments and baby showers. 

Parenting is hard work.

DUH.

I've always felt like I was born to parent. The verb, not the noun. And now I get to kinda do that with my pediatric patients. With appropriate boundaries of course. I am most definitely not the parent. But I do get to play, teach, set boundaries, maintain high expectations, and positively reinforce every kid's progress, effort, attitude, and just the individual self that each kid is. 

I get to parent the parents too. Respectfully and professionally of course. I get to hear about their problems, concerns, and excitement, pride, and happiness about their child. I get to positively reinforce all the good that they are doing and what all they are providing for their children. I get to validate their stress and exhaustion and I get to encourage and celebrate with them too. 

A mother arrived late with her child to an appointment the other day. She was apologizing, saying how it had been a hectic morning. And I got to smile and say, "It's okay. You're here. And you got here safely. All of us did. I'm so proud of all of us for this moment right here." 

Later she was sharing some of her current stresses with parenting and I simply said, "You're doing a great job." And do you know what she said? She said, "Thank you. I don't remember the last time someone said that to me." Ohmygosh, YES, I am here to support the parents. 

That reminds me of another fun moment for me at work. I evaluated a child and walked him out to the car. His parents looked at me and asked, "How did he do?" And I immediately and genuinely belted out, "You all are lucky! Your kid is amazing!!" And they both smiled so big and said, "We think so too!" And everyone felt good in the moment. 

How many times do parents only hear about the bad stuff? I thought about this often when I was teaching. Once I called a mom to tell her how much I enjoyed working with her son and she told me it was the first positive phone call she had ever received from the school.

So I just realized... Even before infertility, I enjoyed supporting parents.

Parents. The noun. The people with a very specific role and a multitude of responsibilities.

Parenting. The verb. The hard work that parents actually do.

I think a lot of people think they want to be a parent, but they don't think about the actual 24/7 parenting. I think people underestimate or just don't realize HOW MUCH and what all different kinds of work parenting demands. Not everyone of course. But a lot of people.

I really wanted TO parent. Yes, I wanted to BE a parent, but I also wanted to do the parenting.  

Like I already wrote above, I kinda get to parent at my job. And then I get to come home to a quiet house that's only messy from me and my boyfriend. I get to do what I like/need to restore for the next day without taking care of someone else. The fact that I do have this daily respite in my life did not use to bring me any comfort at all. But now it does. I'm glad that changed! Lol. I really do appreciate my life and love my home a lot now.

But I will still share the fact that I shed some tears this morning. Not a full on cry, but several tears escaped. I told my boyfriend, "I just really wanted to parent." Verb form.


Monday, September 20, 2021

"You're the expert."

Well you never know what people are going to say...

In my last post, I shared the very hurtful example of experience v. expertise that an online presenter used. She compared studying pediatrics and working with children (her experience) to being a parent (when she said she actually became an expert). Insert eye roll. I already ranted in my last post. There were hundreds of online attendees. You know that woman hurt, annoyed, and/or offended many people, not just me. She also hurt herself because she is trying to grow her online business and she just turned off approximately 1 in 8 people in her audience.

Anyway! 

That was one of the most egregious examples of pronatalism that I've heard in quite awhile.

So imagine my surprise when I was at work last Friday...

First, some background info. I have really been struggling. This pandemic is hard. I am beyond grateful for my new home, but 18 months of not going to restaurants or parties or community events is starting to get to even this homebody. 

My family lives in other states and gives me no credit or validation for what I am going through. (Typical. Standard operating procedures there.) They all go out to concerts and restaurants in their various parts of the country. They think I am overreacting. 

Also, there's a TON of stress at work at the hospital. There's regular work stress; then there's the covid stress, the anti-mask/anti-vax stress, and the stress of my pediatric patients cancelling their appointments because they tested positive.

It's really a lot. Too much stress. It all adds up.

So I woke up Friday morning and I was totally not feeling it. (Actually, I went to bed Thursday night pretty upset and slept for 12 hours. Also not normal.) But I woke up Friday and knew I needed to take a mental health day. But I also knew that there was a kid on my schedule that was coming in for his first appointment after his initial evaluation over a month ago. I really wanted to see this kid.

So I got up, got showered, got dressed, and got myself there. I kept myself busy with paperwork until it was time for his appointment. He showed up and we hung out. It was great. I liked getting to know him better and I was thankful for the opportunity to be able to work with him.

His mom was in the room so I was explaining what I was doing and why in case she was curious. But... And here's the point of this whole post... She just smiled and said, "You're the expert!" 

"You're the expert!"

Here was this woman trusting me with the most important thing in her life, her son, and she didn't question a single thing. She considered me to be knowledgeable and capable and she viewed me as an expert. She never asked me if I have kids. She doesn't know. She might think I'm 40. She might think I'm 30. Hell, with a mask covering half my face, she might think I'm 25. She might NOT think about it at all. Because it doesn't matter!!! Not my age, not my childbearing status. 

I have the education, the licensure, and, most importantly, her son's trust. He came to Friday's appointment willingly and without argument and that was good enough for his mom. She trusts me. She's counting on me to help. She sees me as an expert.

I'm not gonna lie. It felt damn good. Just one week after hearing the opposite (which was quite hurtful), I loved being told, "You're the expert." 

I'm still committed to lifelong learning. There is still SO MUCH more to know. I want to know how to help all of my patients and their families with whatever they need. It will take years to build the practice that I want to offer. 

But I'm doing all right in the meantime. This mom trusts me with her son's care. She explicitly said so. And that means more to me than she'll ever know.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Progression and Aggravation

There have been so many moments lately where I've stopped and marveled at how far I've come.

  1. A couple of Fridays ago as my co-worker was leaving work for the weekend, I said, "Enjoy your family!" Like, it just rolled off my tongue and that's what came out of my mouth. His family. The thing that I always wanted. He's married with 3 young kids and I genuinely wished him a great weekend with his family without a second thought. 

  2. Recently at work, I've done several of pediatric patient evaluations with nearly the whole dang family present in the treatment room. But what's a stay-at-home parent supposed to do? One kid has an appointment, so all of the kids go. It made me laugh inside my head each time. There I am, in the treatment room with a parent, patient, and 2 - 3 siblings (so at least 3 young children at once). The parent is looking to me for help. The patient is looking at me wondering who I am. The siblings are intrigued by me and each one of them wants to tell/show me something. I'm fielding it all, giving everyone attention while conducting the evaluation, and thinking to myself, "Now who is the childless one here?" Hahaha. But it's all good. It makes me happy to help families. A clinical instructor told me one time that any time you help the family, you are also helping the patient.

  3. The biggest marker of my healing happened just a week or two ago. One of my close friends from graduate school had her second baby. She texted me a pic of her and her newborn and... IT DIDN'T MAKE ME SAD. This is a Big Deal. I *hate* newborn-and-mom-in-the-hospital pics. I still do. Maybe I always will. But my friend texted me one of her and her baby (which was pretty uncharacteristic of her because she usually asks first before sending any pics but I didn't mind) and all I felt was happiness for her. The picture didn't bother me. It's a freaking miracle, reserved for only the most special people in my life.

So, I'm feeling pretty good, right? I'm working with kids, I'm helping families, and I'm genuinely supportive of my friends and co-workers, none of which causes me pain or drains my energy.

Well.

Then I attended a two-day virtual conference this past weekend. It was awesome and it was awful. The content was the awesome part. I learned so much. But, O. M. G., were the awful parts awful... I'll spare you every detail but the very mommy-centric vibe reared its ugly head early on and only grew over time. I actually left a couple of sessions early because the content wasn't worth sitting through the delivery.

Did you know that moms are the only busy people on the planet??

It was a lot of those kinds of judgments combined with the assumption that everyone has or will have children. I wondered how many people were viscerally turned off like I was. There were over 200 attendees. Mostly women. I couldn't be the only childless woman in attendance. 

Even my boyfriend noticed. As he came through the kitchen to occasionally snack, he could hear my conference in the living room and he commented on the amount of "mom comments" he heard. He said that doesn't happen in his experience with conferences. He thought it was weird. And annoying.

It was annoying, but it was also hurtful. Hearing one or two comments is one thing. To be expected. But hearing pronatalist comments all day and managing my energy with regard to them completely exhausted me. I got off my computer after the first day and just cried.

It helps that I like the life I've created for myself. That's how I get through the tough moments now. Living my life after infertility without my children is still hard sometimes, but I also wouldn't trade my life for anyone else's. I worked my ass off and I truly love where I am now (metaphorically but also geographically).

It's good I'm so secure with myself. (Hey, old self from my teens and twenties, it really does get better!!) It's good I'm so secure with who I am and the decisions I've made.

Because that's not all. There was one zinger of a moment during the 2nd day of the virtual conference that left me stunned. And angry. What I heard online at this conference was one of the most hurtful things I've ever heard regarding childlessness. (Prepare yourself.) The speaker referenced when she was younger in her career, childless, worked in pediatrics, and felt like she knew what she was doing. She said she was often asked if she had kids and she said she never understood the relevance of the question. (Do you see where this is going? Brace yourself...) But, now that she has kids, TA-DAA, she knows she didn't know what she was talking about before. 

!!!!!!!!!

The presenter implied (almost explicitly stated) that you can't know children until you have them!

I DISAGREE. 

And my short retort (that I shared only with my boyfriend, lol) went as follows: 

"Yeah lady, sure, whatever. Let me tell you, being childless at 25 is not the same thing as being childless in your 40s. Sure, I'm not a parent. But while you were "busy" with your own three kids the last several years, I have spent the last TWENTY-FIVE YEARS working with literally THOUSANDS of youth. You may be experienced with your children, but I am experienced with the wide range of the preK to young adult population as a whole."


Gahhh!!!

I logged off for that session, returned for the next one, and then I was done. I immediately fell asleep for two hours. I learned a ton due to a lot of other women's generosity with their knowledge, time, and sharing their experiences, but the mom-ness of the virtual conference Wore. Me. Out.

So that's where I am. Noticing how I've changed, noticing what still hurts. Proud of my progress in recovery from infertility. Still managing related emotions as they occur. The journey forward is full of progression and aggravation. 

And that's how healing goes. πŸ’œ





Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Sadness, Joy, and Holding on for Better Times

Hellooo. It's been awhile. How are you?

I don't know what I've been doing. 

Well, I do. On the days that I work, I clock 10 hours so there goes that day. I come home, shower, eat, read or watch a show, and fall asleep early. On the days that I don't work, I either do nothing or work on the house. I also make time to sew. I've noticed I feel better when I'm sewing regularly.

It's all conducive to my current lifestyle. Here I am, 18 months in, still maintaining stringent pandemic precautions. I go to work and go home. I run errands at strategic times, always wearing a mask. We don't eat at restaurants or socialize or travel. It feels like my boyfriend and I are the only ones, but I know there are others out there that are still staying home. Thank you.

It feels good when you know you are not alone.

I still think about infertility a lot. Most of the time I'm fine. Sometimes I'm sad. This morning I had a moment of deep sadness. I'm glad I changed my entire life. I'm relieved. It's easier to deal with my loss of motherhood now that I've created a life I actually want to live. 

I feel sad that I didn't get to be a mom. I really wanted to raise children. I also know I am touching so many more children's lives by working in pediatrics. But it will never be a substitute for motherhood. Miraculously, I am healed enough to where I can enjoy working with kids again. So now, instead of helping my own children, I am helping... A whole lot more.

I've worked at my new job for three months now. I've lived in my new home for two. I'm settling into my new rhythms and routines. I really thrive on routines. Routines help me eliminate some stress. For example, I do laundry on Sundays. I used to write it down in my planner, but I don't need to anymore. It's nearly automatic. And now I always have clean work clothes for the week.

However, this past Labor Day weekend I let go of my routines and I ignored all of my self-imposed Things To Do. I had a quilt idea in my head and I was determined to get it out. I think it's what I needed. I sewed for three days straight.

And I finished the quilt top! I posted a picture of it and two close-ups below. The color palette cracks me up. I don't even like pink. Or yellow. But I loved this fabric collection (GRL PWR made for Riley Blake Designs) and found a pack of precut 10" squares on sale. Score! 

I don't even know who this quilt is for. I'm just making quilts and improving my skills, not always knowing whom the recipient will be. I call myself a Sloppy Quilter. For once in my life, I cannot get bogged down in the details. When sewing, I just have to keep going no matter what happens. Imperfection abounds.

So, that's a glimpse into my brain. I go to work in order to be of service and to pay my bills. I go home and I rest. Sometimes I work on the house. Often I will sew. Someday this house will be repaired and remodeled. In the meantime, it is still a home. 

Trying to get pregnant feels like at least one lifetime ago, maybe even two or three. I thought the darkness that infertility left me with was here to stay. I suppose it is... But it's so much smaller now. There's so much joy and sincere enthusiasm growing around it. I didn't think healing was possible. I didn't think my future was going to get better. I remind myself of this. I frequently remind myself that I don't know what the future holds. It helps me cope during this difficult period. 

I'm holding on for better times. 





Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Annoyed At Work

Parents are on my damn nerves. All of them. Everywhere.

Nah, not really. Hahaha. Exaggerations like that are rarely helpful. 

Let me get specific: I am very annoyed with one co-worker's constant parent-related comments.

There. I said it.

(May this blog forever remain anonymous so that my mom, sisters, and random co-workers throughout the years never find it.)

But I get annoyed at all of the little comments that she says every day. Things like "I'm a mom and my kids will always come first" [when talking about work, which, of course they will but why tell *me* that?] and "Well I can't buy extra stuff because I have my own kids to buy for" [uh, okay, no one asked her to buy anything, I was just showing her some things I'd picked up at the store]. 

I know the comments have nothing to do with me and are all about her and where she is in her life right now but STILL...

In isolation, the individual comments are not that bad. But over time...
Apparently, they add up. Because I am Annoyed. 

I just want to complain. I am so over it. 

She was supposed to train me, but she wasn't very good at doing that. She is skilled though so I do have a lot to learn from her. She's quick to correct me on little (i.e., inconsequential, unnecessary) things but doesn't help me on big (e.g., organizational processes) things. Plus, after working there for less than a month, she told me to stop asking so many questions or I was going to burn her out. I thought that was weird.

So there are some work style differences there. That's to be expected. 

It's the Mommyness I don't like. The latest comment was "Well, I have to. Because of my kids." 

True statement. Could be said about a million different things. Could also come off sounding really judgmental if you are talking to a woman who does not have kids.

I've just had my fill lately. 

I replied in all seriousness, "Yeah, me too," out loud in the office and no one even noticed.

But it entertained me.

πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Coast For Awhile

What a decade!

I've been trying to put into words what my new house means to me.
How it feels. How far I've come. 

I bought my children's house in September 2011. It was beautiful and it was perfect. It was big, affordable, and equidistant from the two sports centers I anticipated commuting between. It was also near my husband's job. Closer to home = less time in traffic = more time with family. 

It was a two-story brick home with bushes in the front yard. The central living room had a two-story ceiling. There was a small fenced in backyard and a park, pool, and splash pad down the street. There were four bedrooms that all opened into the central living room. I figured this would give everyone their space while still keeping my family physically together.

Yes, I really thought like that. 

There was a second living room at the top of the stairs that would have been the play room. I had been teaching for years. I had so many books and puzzles. I had games and stuffed animals.

I had everything except a baby.

Damn, that house was nice. It was perfect for raising a family.

And that's exactly who we sold it to. A family. With multiple children. If I remember correctly, it was a large family. And they had a sister/aunt on the next street over. I loved that I helped bring a family closer together. They needed to live in the house that I bought for my children. Not me.

And since then... 

I've been untethered but grateful. I held my breath each time I looked for something to rent, and I let out a sigh of relief each time I found the next place. Grateful but not at home. Grateful but still living in other people's places, not wanting to invest in anything, and knowing I'd be moving everything again soon.

There was the rental house near my grad school. It was in a familiar neighborhood (where I went to college and where I had my first couple of professional jobs), but it was expensive. And hot. 

There was the apartment I got out of state. To be honest, it was really nice. But that whole thing was just weird. My husband was supposed to move with me. We had been planning it for years. But he never looked for another job in the new city. He never tried to transfer with the job he had. On the weekends when he was in town, we didn't explore the new city. He didn't listen to me as I tried to tell him about my clinical rotations. I was growing and he was... Not? Staying silent? Moving away from me? Moving away from us? There were other things as well. The marriage became untenable. I told my husband I didn't want to be married anymore. And then I found myself, unexpectedly at the age of 38, living on my own in an apartment in a new city. It was full of emotional processing and fun. I have great memories but it wasn't home.

The next place was a condo. It was too small. It was hot in the summer and cold in the winter. 

The next place was a house. I was so thankful to be back in a house. But it was dark. And hot.

And now.

Now I live here in my home. I've been searching and searching. Home is a place AND a feeling. 

The home I bought for my children would have been perfect for them.
But this home is perfect for me.

There's a yard. I might get a trampoline. I like to jump (for very short bursts at a time lol), but I also like to read outside on the trampoline on a beautiful day. We have trees. There's a car port. It rained the other day. It sounded awesome on the car port. I wanna put in a patio and a fire pit and a hot tub. Over time. Eventually. I have the rest of my life. It just feels good to be excited again.

It's an old house. It's not big but it's big enough. It's a single story. The living room is full of light and stays cool in the summer. We'll see how winter goes. But I have a good feeling about it. The kitchen is good so far. Not too big, not too small... The bathtub is big. Not huge or anything but it's bigger than the ones I had in my rentals.

I'm rambling. But I love it. It's a place where I wake up and drink coffee. I get ready for work. I check things online. I make phone calls. I write lists. I unpack. I organize. I eat. I sew. I watch tv. 

I live my life. I am home.

It has been ten solid years of infertility and grad school and my dog dying and moving and getting divorced and changing jobs and enduring a pandemic. But I got to where I want to be. I like who I am. I like where I am. And I like what I do. I am home.

I can't put into words what my new house means to me, but this was my effort in trying. 

Now, I know life always has its ups and downs, but I'm just gonna try to coast for awhile... 

😎

Friday, August 6, 2021

Inflammation of My Feelings

This morning was hard on my heart. 

For part of my job, I work in pediatric healthcare. There was a community health fair for children today. I didn't think much of it. Okay, cool, community health fair, do some free screenings, sounds good...

But it wasn't. 

Well, it was. It was really great actually. It was a wonderful opportunity for parents and their kids.

But it ended up being hard for me. It really made me feel things. And it was confusing in the moment. I didn't know what I was feeling. But I knew I didn't feel good. So I half paid attention to my feelings and half just went on auto pilot and got through the morning.

But now I've had some time to reflect.

I'm home. I'm happy. I'm on my couch with a quilt. I ate dinner. (Pizza!) I'm tired from the work week. (The good kind of tired, the kind where you worked hard and you feel it.) And I'm happy to be home. Did I mention that already? ;) By the way, things here are going well. Repairs are slowly but surely being done... We will finish unpacking eventually... It's just nice to BE somewhere. No, it's more than nice. It's much more than that. It's a big huge relief. I've been searching for years for a home after I sold the house I bought for my children. I appreciated every place I've lived since then, but none of them felt like home. This house does.

But I digress.

So. This morning. I felt awful. There were several contributing factors. The current pandemic and people's varying level of precautions stresses me out. Also, the health fair was held in a building where I wasn't comfortable. I don't even know how to explain it. The environment was just very off-putting. But it was also (mostly) infertility.

Infertility sucks.

There I was in a room with mothers and their babies and toddlers. Yes, there were other healthcare professionals in the room too. But guess what everyone had in common except me?... Ding, ding, ding. You win a prize if you guessed that I was the only one in the room without kids.

Big sad, annoyed, and hurt sigh.

It's not the kids. It's never the kids. I love kids. I like them; they like me. We are equally fascinated with each other and we get along fine. 

It's the moms. It's my sadness that I never got to be a mom and never got to have mom friends. It's the camaraderie that I will never share. The experiences I will never have. And being reminded by held baby after snuggled toddler after knowing smile from one mom to another...

It was a long three hours. And then it ended. I kind of had a stomach ache, but I also compartmentalized the event and told myself to think about it later. And I did when I got home.

There were so many triggers at this morning's event. I didn't realize how many there were at the time. But it was quite the combo. And that's okay. That's how it goes sometimes. What I can do is isolate what factors bothered me and do my best to avoid them in the future.

I think community health fairs are important, but I don't think I should do anything else that day. I don't think I should have any other responsibilities on my work schedule on days when there are health fairs. I will need to go home and just nap. It takes a lot out of me.

I love kids and working in pediatrics, but I'm not interested in learning about babies or working with new moms. I think there are other people better suited for that. I enjoy and excel at working with kids ages 3 and above. In small groups. Preferably one-on-one. For finite periods of time. ;)

I took care of my infertility-inflamed heart today. I knew I felt crappy. I honored that by giving myself some space and time to reflect without judging myself. Then I figured out some things I can try to avoid in the future.

And, most importantly, I still appreciate and enjoy the life that I *do* have. The feelings from this morning didn't fester or linger. They were just there in the moment while I was immersed in that particular environment. I went back to work in the afternoon and now I'm home. 

This really shows me progress in my recovery from infertility.

I'm thankful for insight and healing.
And for my life and my home.
Even on the hard days.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Another Lesson Learned from Infertility

Well, hello August. August 2021. If you count March 2020 as month 1, we are now month 18 into this pandemic. Everyone/Everything everywhere is exhausted. 

I try to remember what it was like when I was 18 months into trying to get pregnant. I remember it was awful from the very first month. Just like this pandemic has been. I felt lonely, sad, confused, frustrated, devastated, and angry. I was isolated from my peer group. I avoided people as much as I could. I ran errands, volunteered once a week, and ate Mexican food with my husband on Friday nights, but, other than that, I didn't do a whole lot. I try to remember more details, but that time period (months 8 - 24 TTC) is one big blur of sadness. 

It felt like it would never end.
Just like this pandemic is feeling.

I remind myself that everything is temporary. Change is inevitable. The days are long but the years are short. Over time even the Grand Canyon was carved by water...

It won't be like this forever.




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!