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. 


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.