Sunday, October 2, 2022

Old Trophies

Another day, another adventure in life after infertility. (Ok, the use of the word "adventure" is a stretch. I didn't go anywhere, nor did anything exciting happen.) 

I continue to unpack. One box at a time. If I think about it all at once, I get overwhelmed. I'm gonna need some more furniture or shelves or organizers or something, but it will all get figured out and purchased over time. For now, I am unpacking every box and sorting everything into keep, sell, give away, or throw away. My goal is "Box Free in 2023".

Today I encountered my trophies. Now why in the world did I keep all of these, I wondered to myself. Oh yeah... I went to throw them away once and decided to keep them to show my kids. Then, when I packed up the house 6.5 years ago that I bought for my children, I couldn't deal with old trophies. So into storage they went.

Until now...

Now what.

Old trophies.

It felt weird to keep them. It felt weird to throw them away.

I almost decided to give up and deal with it another day. Then I made myself just deal with it in the moment. This is how I will get unpacked. One box at a time.

So... I unpacked my old trophies, lined them up, and looked at them. They brought back a lot of happy memories. Baseball, gymnastics, speech and drama competitions. I'm so thankful my parents and sisters gave me a good childhood, always driving me around and cheering me on.

Then I made my decision. There was no reason to keep a bunch of old trophies. I admit, I kept a couple that were particularly special. But then... Well, uh, I threw most of them away.

Like I said, it felt weird to keep them. It felt weird to throw them away.

I didn't plan on keeping my old trophies forever. I was going to show my kids one day and then throw them away after that I guess. I didn't expect my children to care a whole lot either, but I like to think they'd entertain me for half an hour while I reminisced and shared some memories.

But... Yeah... That didn't happen.

And now I'm going through everything I've kept in my life.

I'm still keeping some keepsakes. I kept A LOT growing up lol, but I'm culling what I've kept and only keeping a small fraction of it all. I'm keeping some stuff because I enjoy the memories.

But old trophies? They're awkward-shaped and somewhat fragile, and they take up a lot of room. They're not sentimental in the same way to me as birthday cards from my grandmothers.

So things like old trophies get a last look from me and get thrown in the trash.

I hate that infertility took so much from me. I don't have a next generation to share anything with.

I'm not sad about throwing away some old trophies. I'm sad that they remind me of what I never had: children to share my memories and interests with, children to create memories and explore their interests with.

💜

*****

In other news, the world lost a bright light five years ago today. 

Rest in Rock, Tom Petty


American Dream Plan B by Tom Petty

I'm gonna make my way through this world someday
I don't care what nobody say
American dream, political scheme
I'm gonna find out for myself someday
But I'm half-lit, I can't dance for shit
But I see what I want, I go after it
And my girl's alright, treats me nice
Sayin' nothin' but a woman puts out that light

I got a dream I'm gonna fight 'til I get it
I got a dream I'm gonna fight 'til I get it right
'Til I get it right

Oh well, my baby no doubt dreams further out
Makin' moves to get us someway someday
Well my honey don't trip, shoots from the hip
Tell me everything gonna be OK

I got a dream I'm gonna fight 'til I get it
I got a dream I'm gonna fight 'til I get it right
'Til I get it right

Well, my mama so sad
Daddy's just mad
'Cause I ain't gonna have the chance he had
My success is anybody's guess
But like a fool, I'm bettin' on happiness

I got a dream I'm gonna fight 'til I get it
I got a dream I'm gonna fight 'til I get it right

I got a dream I'm gonna fight 'til I get it
I got a dream I'm gonna fight 'til I get it right
'Til I get it right

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Does trauma change our personality?

I've been wondering about this for awhile. Growing up I always enjoyed the personality quizzes in teen magazines. Even now, I still like to read the pop culture articles online and take personality inventories. They're just for fun. I know they're not scientifically based. But still...

When I was 23 and in my first year of teaching, we all did the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) as part of a professional development session. I was young, new, and enthusiastic. I dove head first into the questions and looked forward to learning my personality type. I was not surprised to learn I was an ESTP.

Fast forward fifteen years and we did the MBTI in graduate school...
Where I scored the exact opposite personality, INFJ. I found this so interesting!! 

I'd always identified as an extrovert (the "E" of ESTP), but the more I thought about it, the more I thought I was just a really, really extroverted introvert (the "I" of INFJ). I am not afraid of speaking in crowds. There have been so many times in my life when I presented in front of hundreds, or sometimes thousands, of people. Plus, I really like hanging out with people, something I've missed greatly over the last decade. (Thanks, infertility! Thanks, pandemic!)

But I need my downtime. People exhaust me. After a long day at work, I like to come home and sew (not go out with friends, assuming I didn't have a friend apocalypse due to infertility or assuming I would have been invited out with co-workers if there hadn't been a pandemic).

Everything I've read says your personality doesn't change. And again, it's not a scientifically-based assessment, but everything I've read about the MBTI says your type doesn't change. 

And yet mine did. Completely.

What do you think?

Does trauma change our personality?

Thursday, September 22, 2022

It's Okay to Quit

Well, here's a shocker: "quitting" being promoted in the news. 

news article published yesterday starts out describing a guy training for a marathon. He feels a pain in his foot but keeps training. Ultimately, he has to give up training due to a fracture in his foot. He does not run the marathon. He had to "quit." 

The article states, "From the moment most of us are born, we're told to never give up--and to try again (and again) if we fail."

Sound familiar?
We've all heard that before...

But wait, there's more!

The article actually uses infertility as an example. As the article goes into more detail about potential consequences of not quitting, it describes a couple enduring infertility and going through treatments. The article describes the couple's mental health as suffering and their life savings as affected. The article actually PROMOTES QUITTING and says, "It's brave to say, 'I am willing to abandon my goal to create space in my heart and mind for something else meaningful.'"

Wow.
I am shocked. 

Three cheers for mainstream news telling us it's okay to quit!


This image is from one of my favorite websites.
Although not as serious as quitting fertility treatments or a job,
here is another article telling you it's okay to quit. 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

My Week through My Infertile Lens

First of all, did you check out World Childless Week?
I found the letters to my younger self to be particularly powerful. 

*****

Ok, now for my first thought from this past week...

Back in July, I signed up to do something in September. At the time, I did not know what my work or school schedule was going to look like, but I made a commitment to do this activity anyway.

As the date approached, I was still looking forward to it. (No commitment remorse, haha!)  And then the day came. I gathered my nerves and went. I tried something new, and I had fun.

It was a quilt workshop. I went to one last year, so the experience wasn't entirely new. But I didn't know who was going or what it was going to be like. I read the flyer about the teacher, the techniques, and the custom pattern she was going to teach us and wanted to go. So I signed up and went. Even better, the other women in the class were not only nice, but warm and friendly. I had a great time.

I was curious if anyone else didn't have kids like me. 

Well, I knew the teacher had kids. She mentioned them once during her presentation at the quilt group meeting earlier in the week. And I knew another woman had a son because I had visited with her before. I did not know about the others.

I just waited. I figured I'd figure it out.

Pretty quickly, two other women mentioned grandchildren. I mean, we were at a quilt workshop. It's a group of women talking about quilts they've made and for whom. Kids and grandkids are inevitable topics. It's completely appropriate. I'm not complaining. 

I was just curious. So, I continued to listen and notice...

A fifth woman mentioned grandchildren in passing. She was talking about using cowboy fabric to make a quilt for her grandson.

And then there was one. There was one other woman who had not mentioned children or grandchildren throughout our day-long workshop. But then, toward the end of class, she got a phone call from a grandkid inviting her over later that day.

Ah, well. Maybe next time! ;)

*****

My second thought is personal. It's relieving news. My plumbing is fixed!
It took all week. The whole thing is almost done. Fingers crossed they finish tomorrow.

I found the whole ordeal to be extremely stressful. I was anxious all day every day last week. I'm still trying to settle my nerves. My anxiety just shoots so high, so quick. And I truly think it has to do with years of infertility followed by failed treatments. It's like something was triggered in me back then, and now it doesn't take much to make me anxious. 

It's honestly difficult. I don't understand it, so I don't expect others to understand it. My boyfriend was a great support, as was his family. I texted his mom and one of his sisters and they validated my stress. My family was glad for me that the problem was getting fixed but didn't seem to get how stressful the whole thing was for me.

It's got me thinking about the long-term effects of infertility and failed treatments. For me, the experiences were traumatic. I think it made my anxiety much worse.

*****

Then, for my third reflection, my boyfriend and I went to a family-friendly outdoor event today. There were adults, kids, babies, teens, old people, and basically everyone. 

I remember attending last year. It was one of the first things we did during the pandemic. We felt safe because it was outside and we were both vaccinated. But still, it was the first time we had been out and about in a very long time. 

I remember being fascinated with all of the families with their various numbers and ages of kids. I just liked casually observing all the kids and people watching. It was just so nice to be out of the house and doing something fun.

So I was excited to go again this year. And it was cool! I loved it. We're gonna get there earlier next year so we can see more stuff.

But I noticed a shift in what caught my attention this time. I paid more attention to the different styles of walkers and wheelchairs than I did any of the families. I noticed the kids but nobody was particularly interesting. I was more into the outdoor show and enjoying time with my boyfriend than anything else.

I did not feel deep in childless grief last year. But I can tell a huge difference anyway from then to now. It's incredible how this CNBC experience continues to evolve. 

I had no idea what all was possible.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Applying a Lesson Learned from Infertility

It's no secret that I've been stressed out and struggling for the past several weeks (a month? two months?). That's life. Stress happens. I don't say that dismissively to myself. My stress is real. It's also not unique. Everyone has stress. I'll go out on a limb and say most everyone currently has stress in their lives. Times aren't easy.

But I was getting sick and tired of feeling how I was feeling. I couldn't change any of it, so what could I do? Some options I thought of were to practice acceptance (suggesting this almost always annoys me but I still believe it's a beneficial coping strategy) and to change my perspective. I've been trying both strategies. 

I decided to rely on what I did toward the end of my experience with infertility. Instead of constantly thinking about what I didn't have, I decided to think about what I did have. I even wrote a list. It was long. I was pleasantly surprised. That was helpful.

Our poor primitive brains have not evolved from hanging on tightly to negative information. Yes, this was helpful when we needed to avoid getting eaten by a wooly mammoth. (Just kidding. Wooly mammoths were herbivores, but you get my point.) But, hanging on to negative information is not such a great thing when we live in a 24/7 news cycle of bad news. 

The brain can only handle so much.
The heart can only handle so much.

We have to be kind to ourselves, especially when society isn't.

No matter what we're missing and no matter how sad/lonely/bored/broke/frustrated we are, we have so much. That's not to take away from our very real negative feelings. It's to remind us of what we do have.

We have ourselves. We have each other. We have today.
And when today sucks, we have tomorrow. Every day is different.

Just a reminder. Because it's easy to forget.

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Unpacking is Emotional

I am still very excited about finally moving out of my storage unit, but I definitely underestimated the emotional toll it would take to unpack. Imagine having everything from your life suddenly sitting in your living room. It's overwhelming.

Feeling overwhelmed is why I got a storage unit in the first place. I was sitting in the beautiful house that I bought for my children wondering what I was going to do with my childless life. Well, I figured, I wasn't staying here. So I started to pack. 

I started with the nursery. We hadn't bought a crib or anything, but I did have a wall lined with bookshelves where I had unpacked a lot of my kids books and stuffed animals. I didn't need any of it, but I also couldn't let it go. It all went into boxes.

The boxes piled up around the house for the rest of 2015. Everything was being packed. 

In 2016 it all went into storage. What was I going to do with a bunch of onesies? I didn't know, but I couldn't deal with it at the time. So everything went into a box.

In 2018 I moved everything from storage in one state to storage in another state. I still wanted my stuff, but everything from a four-bedroom house was not going to fit in a one-bedroom apartment. Then I kept moving each year, trying to find my landing spot for the rest of my life.

Last year I bought my house. Then it still took a whole additional year to deal with/coordinate my move out of storage. It hasn't even been a month, but I still feel like I haven't really felt the accomplishment that moving out of storage is after failed IVF and throwing everything in boxes.

I'm glad my stuff is here. I'm glad I get to go through it and decide what I want to keep.

It's also overwhelming.

What do I do with all of the onesies I bought from my undergraduate university?
What do I do with my textbooks about teaching kids how to read? 
What in the world do I do with my 20 boxes of kids books?

It's a lot to be confronted with the entirety of one's life.

Oh, you had plans to have kids? Too bad.
Oh, you were a teacher (and a good one at that) but can no longer afford to be one? I'm sorry.
Oh, you were going to decorate a big house but now need to downsize? First world problems.

And it's true. Having too much stuff is a first world problem. I acknowledge my privilege and am thankful for my life. But I still get to grieve my failed plans. And I still have to figure out what to do with all this stuff.

Why wasn't I expecting an emotional reaction? I mean, this is *me* we are talking about... I have an emotional response to most everything. But, I admit, I was not prepared. This adventure in unpacking has taken me by surprise.

So I'm doing it in small chunks. I'm reminding myself that I'm on my own timeline. Yes, I want to get rid of all these boxes. And I will. In my own time.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Full Heart, Empty Arms

A couple of weeks ago, I held a baby. It was on accident. But it still happened.

It began with me playing with a baby. After our last trip moving out of the storage unit, my boyfriend and I stopped by his parents' house to visit while they were babysitting his sister's youngest. I thought, oh hell, why not... Then I jumped in and started playing. 

I love to play. I never forgot how. I can play with all ages, levels, and abilities. Well, until they start playing video games... That's my exit point. I hate video games.

But back to playing with this 15 month old... He was fun. He was cute. He was easy. We played with Hot Wheels and some Legos and a jack-in-the-box toy with Curious George. 

My boyfriend's dad walked by and, not knowing that I do NOT hold babies, picked the kid up and placed him in my lap.

And that's how I ended up holding a baby for the first time in over 8 years.

It was okay. I don't necessarily recommend it. I probably won't do it again. Not voluntarily anyway.

It's not that I don't like to hold babies. It's just that my arms feel so empty afterward.

I know my own kids would be grown by now and I wouldn't be holding them. But I would have all those memories and lots of pictures to comfort me. Plus, I'd be their mom. They would still come crying to me with their problems and I could hold them then, no matter their age. (Well, they probably would... We all know that nothing is guaranteed.)

I held a baby. I didn't hate it. I didn't cry afterward. It would have been fine if I had, but I didn't.

Just another small miracle in this CNBC life that I'm living...

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Stress, Celebrations, & Choice

I'm in a tough spot. I've got a lot of thoughts in my head, but I haven't quite sorted them out yet. I don't know what to do and I can't write about what I don't understand. Needless to say, I am stressed and the weight of the stress and the unknown is weighing on me. 

This too shall pass.

I took a sabbatical this past winter to heal. My nerves were frayed, my confidence was shot, and I knew I needed to take some time for some serious mental rest. I used savings to pay my bills.

So wouldn't you know it... Now I'm having a home repair emergency. I need some major plumbing work done and I'm waiting on the estimate to see if what's left of my savings will cover the cost.

Logically, I can tell myself that everything will be okay. The repair is not a choice. It has to happen. So that leaves me spending my savings or shopping for loans. Both are doable. The other upsides to the situation are the problem was found, the problem is fixable, and the repair people have availability in their schedule to get it done next month. Lots to be thankful for. I just have to live with this constant level of stress until it's over.

It got me thinking... Is life ever NOT stressful? It's just felt so nonstop for the last decade.

And money and plumbing issues aren't even the whole picture. My relationship is a big part of the unknown as well. Changes need to be made, but those changes aren't in my control. 

And just like with infertility, I don't like my options. Stay with how things are? Nope. Break up? Not interested. A third option I've thought of is to change my perspective, but I haven't figured out how to do that yet. Probably because the changes that need to happen just really need to happen. Even if I change my perspective, I am still in an unsustainable situation. I guess we will see what this week brings. Or not.

Oh, hello again limbo! 

Because that's what it is. Limbo.
Waiting. Wondering what to do. Feeling uncomfortable and hating my options.

*****

So with all that vaguely said... Let's celebrate the positive.

I moved out of my storage unit!!! I repeat, I moved out of my storage unit!!! In other words, for the first time in over six years, I do NOT have a storage unit. Mission freaking accomplished.

(The rainbow picture above was taken after we loaded up our last load and drove out of the city.)

Instead, I am surrounded by boxes. Again. 
Life can be so repetitive, lol.

So I'm out! It took three days, a rental truck, and two additional car loads, with each roundtrip costing at least eight hours in gas and time. But, I'm out!! That will save money every month, and now I can finally go through my stuff I've saved. I saved it all because I didn't know where I'd end up. Well, it's here apparently. I will get the plumbing fixed and then live the rest of my life here. So what doesn't fit in my home can be passed along to others. Or thrown away.

But I'm really thankful I get the choice about which stuff I keep, donate, and throw away.

Choice. What a powerful thing...


That's it! That's my empty unit.
Yes, it was so momentous of an occasion that I had to take a picture.

*****

So, my break from school has been just that: a break from school. But it hasn't been a break. I've been moving, hosting family, and dealing with major plumbing issues. But hey, at least I had a break from assignments.

School starts again tomorrow. 

So despite my current stressors, sadness, and confusion, I'm relieved to be out of my storage unit. Also, I've been determined to relax this weekend. Can one be determined to relax? That seems contradictory... But, it's where I am at this point. Stressed but determined to relax.

My insides have been racing with anxiety, so I'm doing what helps me feel better. I'm sewing. I don't remember what I did before I started sewing in April 2019. I think I just lived with anxiety.

I picked out fabric on Friday and started a new quilt top. This quilt is for me. It will be all flannel for the top and the backing, and the batting in the middle will be wool. I made a similar quilt for my boyfriend last year, and it's the warmest quilt we have. So I'm making one for myself before winter comes. It's a simple pattern just made up of squares, but I'm already halfway done with the top.


It's not the greatest picture, but you can see the fabric that I'm using: scribble stars, polar bears, skiers, and textured solid blenders (brown, purple, green, and blue). 

Thankfully, when I choose to sew, it does make me feel better. It must be the repetitive motions, the purr of the sewing machine, and the soft feeling of fabric. It is all very comforting for me. I turn on the tv, watch 20th century movies and tv shows, and feel at ease. 

So, it's only appropriate that my mom brought me this sign when she came to visit:


How do people with kids afford life? It's just me and I am pretty stressed to the max right now. 

But I know how they do it. They just do it. They have to. Their kids depend on them. Just like I'll get my plumbing fixed. I have to. Functioning in my life depends on indoor plumbing at my home. 

We just do it. Stress, celebrations, and all. 


Monday, August 22, 2022

Renewed Appreciation

The biggest reason why I have kept this blog anonymous (hopefully!) is because I have written very honestly about my family. What they have said to me and how I have felt about different things throughout the years... This blog has been a safe place for me to vent, and I'd hate for them to find it, read it, and get their feelings hurt.

I love my family.

I love my mom, my dad, and my sisters. They gave me the greatest childhood, and I know I can count on them if I need anything. 

No, they don't understand infertility. Kind of, like, not at all... But they do know how sad I was and how much I suffered. They know I left my marriage (obviously), moved to a new state (also obviously), and created a whole new life for myself. They haven't always understood it, but they are so happy for me that I am happy.

My parents and oldest sister just visited for the weekend. I cried when they left. (By now, you know that I am a crier lol.) They were tears of happiness because I love them so much and tears of sadness because I miss them already.

Families are weird. We are just born into our family and that's who our family is. They remember all the embarrassing stuff we did growing up and they kinda get fixed ideas about us. 

For example, I'm the stressed out, anxious planner in my family. Yes, I need to chill out a little, but I also accept myself. Our strengths are our weaknesses and our weaknesses are our strengths. Channeling my anxiety productively has led to my new home, my new profession, and my newfound happiness. (Also, when my family needs to know something they call me! Lol. They know I have everything written down.)

Oh man, I needed to see my family. It reconnected me to them and to myself in ways I can't describe and didn't anticipate.

I didn't get to have my kids and raise them. But I do get to have my parents and sisters in my life.

I'm done taking that for granted.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

A Newborn Picture that Didn't Hurt

I'm so glad it gets better. I really had no idea how I was going to live the rest of my life with the amount of pain and the weight of devastation that I was carrying. 

In my last post I wrote about my best friends from high school (and their kids). I had to take some space from these friendships for several years. It really, really hurt. All of it. Infertility, feeling stuck in limbo, watching my friends' lives go on, missing my friends. All of it hurt. Badly. Deeply.

I couldn't even handle pictures.
And I don't fault myself for that. 

But a couple of weeks ago, I texted a very friendly woman from the quilt guild because I didn't see her at the last meeting and wanted to check in with her. 

She immediately texted me back a picture.
Of a newborn.
And it didn't even annoy me. 

The newborn was wrapped in the cutest quilt, and I know that's why my friend sent me the picture. She had made the quilt for her new family member, a nephew's kid or a cousin or something. I don't know. I don't know these people. But I loved the quilt. Haha. 

The moment really stood out to me.

I have CRIED over pictures of newborns. Many, many tears shed over many different pictures.

But now... It's just different. 

It's okay that it was painful before.
It's okay that it is not painful now.

Time makes a difference. As does gaining experience. And perspective.

Learning others' stories helps too. Like, my quilting friend. We are still new friends and don't know each other well, but I do know she lost a high school-aged daughter in a tragic car wreck.

We have all been through so much.

And now I can find joy in a picture of a lovingly made quilt wrapped around a newborn.

Miraculous.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

High School Best Friends (& their kids)

I am thankful for texting. Because of texting, it is easy to stay in touch with important people even if it's only a couple of times a year or so. If you would have told me 25 years ago, that I'd still be in touch with my best friends, well... One, I'd be happy to hear it. Two, I wouldn't be surprised because that's what I expected before I realized what a whirlwind life can be and how things can completely change over the years. So, I'm surprised to still be in touch with my best friends from high school, even if it's what my younger self expected. Lol.

I had one best friend in high school that went to the same school as me. She introduced me to two friends of hers that went to a different school than us. We all became really good friends, I love these girls (lol, women!) more than anything. We've stayed in touch throughout the years, through the four different colleges we attended, four marriages, seven kids, and two divorces. 

These are the kind of friends where you could show up on their doorstep in the middle of the night without warning and they'd take you in and make you dinner, or at least pour you a glass of wine. Except I don't drink wine. And one of us quit drinking altogether. But you get what I mean. They are the real MVPs. The kind of chicks that will always have your back.

I'm so glad it doesn't hurt anymore to be friends with these women I love so much.

I'm the only one without kids.

Last night one of them texted the rest of us just asking how everyone was doing. We all gave updates, and I got to share about my new jobs! They all know I went through failed IVF. They all came to my going away party when I moved out of state. They are very supportive of me.

But of course last night's update texts led to pictures of everyone's kids...

Oh my gosh, they are all getting so big!!! And all of the kids look just like their mothers!! <3

The oldest set of kids are two boys, about 16 and 14 now. I remember when they were born. I remember thinking how crazy it was that one of my best friends was already married and having kids on purpose. Haha. I was nowhere near ready to be a mother. I wanted to be a mother badly... Just not yet. 

The next set of kids are about 9 and 7. This is how old my kids would be if kids had worked out for me. This friend and I were actively trying to get pregnant at the same time. Obviously, it worked out for her. I have to say though, even though the timing of her children's pregnancies and births were painful for me, this friend was the most compassionate toward me out of everyone in my life. She was the first (and one of only a few) that flat out said to me. "This sucks," when we were talking about my problems with getting pregnant.

The final set of kids are about 4 and 1.5. There's an older kid and a younger set of twins. All three babies are the result of successful IVF. 

All seven kids were... Gorgeous. Is that weird to say? I hate to focus on kids' appearances. I am much more interested in their academics, sports, creative arts, and, most importantly, their manners and how they treat themselves and others. But my friends' kids are gorgeous. It's inside and out. I can tell from the pictures that they are all happy kids. And they all look like my friends! It's crazy!! 

Yeah, I was a little sad. What would my kids look like?

But overall, I wasn't. I don't have kids. I've had some time to get used to this idea. 

And I wouldn't live here if I did have kids. I doubt I'd be divorced, although you never know... But I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be living here. And I love it here. My home, the geographical area.

I like my life, and I'm happy that my friends and their kids are happy. I'm grateful and amazed that pictures don't bother me like they used to. And I'm hopeful they will all plan a vacation out here sometime over the next couple of years! :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Stamina Galore

I survived my rigorous two weeks of training for two new jobs while finishing up the first semester of my doctoral program. A typical day had me up early in the morning to work on assignments before driving an hour away to the hospital for an 8-hour shift, followed by seeing several more patients at the nearby nursing home, driving an hour back home, and working on assignments for another hour or two before going to bed. It was exhausting! 

And my family says I don't have any stamina... (insert eye roll)

But of course I survived. It's what we do. A grueling two-week period? Ha!!! I can do that over and over and over and over for, well, years. That's what I did for... Years!!! 

Although, I prefer school work, commuting, and job training to injections, ultrasounds, blood draws, and, oh, soul-crushing devastation.

Now I am spending my break between semesters shifting boxes around and unpacking a bit. I am making room for the stuff in my storage unit that I am determined to move out of this month... If I can rent a moving truck!! (That's another hassle.)

We finally have flooring in our bedroom, and we got new siding on our house too. I got a loan to make it all happen, but I found a great guy to do the work and I am so thankful it is done! July was a long (and expensive) month full of job interviews during the weekdays and construction workers at the house during the weekends, but it was worth it. All of it was worth it.

My family thinks I'm weak. They think I cannot handle much. I do not know where this false narrative began. Maybe it started when I was in high school and was always tired. Of course, school started at 7:25 am and I often did not get home until 8:30 or 9pm so, I don't know, maybe I was just... Tired? 

During my first three years of teaching full-time, I went to graduate school part-time.

Several years ago, I was teaching Monday through Friday and then working full shifts at the hospital on the weekends.

Then there were the whole endure-infertility, survive-failed-IVFs, and divorce-my-husband years.

Yeah, I don't buy it when they say I have no stamina. I used to correct them, but it never changed what they said. Now I just say, "That's a false narrative," and I think they've run out of energy to argue with me. So who's the one with no stamina?? Ha.

So, I recreated my life after losing my lifelong dream of motherhood. We all know that. I'm still tweaking it and making corrections here and there, so I set myself up with employment and housing that I can enjoy for the second half of my life. 

It's hard work, but it is worth it. My life keeps getting better and better.

It's not all roses. Of course not. It never is. 

My boyfriend and I are going through what I call a "growth period." I don't know how to make sense of it, and I feel limited on what I can do about it. All I know is I will survive this too, whatever the outcome ends up being. 

But that's what we do. We survive. We endure. We persist. 

We quit things (treatments, houses, partners, jobs) that no longer serve us.

We feel our feelings and keep moving forward.

We appreciate what we have, and we enjoy the little things.

I am so thankful for you all. We may not have met in person yet, but... Even when I am busy with life, I feel your presence and understanding. Thank you!

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Busy Again: A Joyous Update

It seems the busier I am, the more I blog...

But I have great news to share. I got new jobs!! (Yes, plural. Lol. But neither said they could guarantee a lot of hours. I've got my monthly mortgage to pay, so I accepted both offers.)

It was time to go back to work. 

I am deeply grateful that I was able to take time to rest and reset after my last two job experiences, both of which were extremely negative. There were no covid precautions at one (and this was before vaccines) and I was lied to and called a liar at the other. So after that, as well as after enduring infertility, failed fertility treatments, an entry-level graduate program with unsupportive and toxic professors, my divorce, and five moves in the last six years... 

I needed a break.
So I took it.

But after my break, I am broke. Ha! 

Not poor. I would never say that. I have a home, food, and love in my life. I am not poor.
But I am broke. And just a little bit bored. So I am really happy I get to go back to work.

I started my first job yesterday. It's at a nursing home. So far, I love it!!

I start my second job next week. It's at a hospital. I'm looking forward to that too. Which is funny... Because I *hate* hospitals. But providing patient care gives my life meaning and I really enjoy it. I like helping people feel better and get home. Home is where I always want to be, and I'm sure my patients feel the same way.

So my new direction for my new career is off to a start! I am working with adults, and I have a ton to learn. That will keep me busy. In addition to my post-professional doctoral program.

I'm also feeling good because, after not quilting for three months, I felt inspired this past weekend. I went to a quilt meeting last week (masked, of course, I'm still being cautious even though my family literally calls me crazy but that's a post for another day... or not) and made myself sign up for a workshop in a couple of months. I picked up a handout about the pattern and went home to pick out fabric for it. I am so excited to make this pattern and learn new techniques.

So, I am excited. And I'm also tired. Hahaha. I always seem to be tired... Such is life. But the end of this semester is very challenging. I am having to dig deep for discipline to get my last assignments completed. I still have a major project that I need to somehow get done over the next two weeks. While I learn my new jobs... With a long commute. But that's okay. We all know life doesn't work itself out in a nice, neat, and orderly fashion. I guess I'm just in a busy period. 

I'm glad it's full of good stuff at least. Work, school, and renewed inspiration.


I showed up to my first day of work yesterday and look what's hanging outside the office! This is a close-up picture of a hand sewn quilt made in 1905 that was donated to the facility. Wow!!


This is the fabric I've chosen for the main print for my next big quilt project.
Ok, in all honesty, my boyfriend chose it. I narrowed down my fabric choices and was leaning toward another one. But when I asked him for his opinion, he chose this one. He has a good eye for design, so I went with it. The pattern is for a queen size quilt, my biggest project yet.




Saturday, July 23, 2022

When Cleaning is Hard

I cleaned out more stuff today. 

I loaded up my six boxes of teaching stuff that I wanted to donate and headed to the homeschool curriculum swap. They let me set up a table and leave, only to return at the end to pick up what wasn't taken. I wasn't charging money for anything, so I didn't really need to be there. 

Of course, while I was setting up some moms stopped by my table and asked me questions. It surprised me how quickly I could jump back into "teacher mode" and start spouting off foundational skills for reading and writing. One mom said, "I feel like I should be writing all of this down." At one point, as I was describing phonological awareness, decoding, and sight words, I felt the room go silent. I could almost feel everyone turning an ear my way. But hey, I taught for a long time. I know what I'm talking about.

But... I also had to get out of there. It was a room full of homeschool moms and their children. It was a room full of people living out my dream. I really, really wanted to homeschool. My friends all told me that my kids wouldn't want to be taught by me. And if they didn't, that would have been okay. I would have found a different teacher or enrolled them in a public or private school.

But I didn't even get to try it. 

Dream big. But also, dream multiple dreams. Not every dream works out.

I came home, felt melancholy, ate my delicious Mexican food leftovers, and waited... After several hours passed, I got back into my car and drove back to the church where the event was being held. I packed up the materials that nobody wanted and brought them home. And threw them away. Maybe I should have donated it... Maybe I should have worked on finding homes for it all...

But, no, I did what I should have done.
Which was protect my mental health.
Which was getting rid of that stuff immediately.

We've been having some home repairs done on our 100+ year old house this past month, so we happen to have a dumpster sitting in our front yard. So everything went straight from my car into the trash. No regrets. I wasn't going to save the planet single-handedly by hanging onto that stuff until I found someone who wanted it. But I did save myself.

Next!

As if that wasn't enough for one day... There was one more box of stuff just sitting in our laundry room, stuff unrelated to teaching and that I wanted to keep. So I decided to find room for it. I took the box into my sewing/guest room and realized my bookshelves were full. But I also realized there was still a shelf full of pediatrics. It's like my stuff had babies! Apologies for that metaphor. 

So, I found myself pulling everything off the shelf and going through it. I set the good stuff aside for a friend and threw the rest away. I texted my friend and asked, "Can you stand one more box of school stuff? I found some more." Thankfully, she wants it and I'll mail it as soon as I can. 

The rest of it went in the trash. I love that ugly dumpster sitting on my front lawn.

And then, predictably, I cried.

I cried because I didn't get to raise my children. I cried because I'm so good at teaching, but it literally doesn't cover my bills. I cried because it's the end of the semester, it's hot, I'm sad, and I'm just plain worn out. The cry session only lasted a couple of minutes because, like I said, I'm worn out. I'm too tired even to cry.

So it's gone. Ok, ok, I admit I kept a couple of boxes of stuff that I couldn't part with. I don't know why. Maybe I'll use the stuff with my boyfriend's sister's kids when they get older. Maybe I'll donate it all a decade from now. But, for the present, it's in the shed in the backyard. 

There's no teaching or pediatric stuff in my house.

A purge indeed.

I'm glad.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

PTSD Persists

I'm feeling groggy and a bit melancholy this morning. I had nightmares all night. They were about IVF, my ex-husband, and two former friends I used to be very close with. It all sucked. 

I have not slept through the night in over three months. 

I haven't been officially diagnosed with PTSD, but I've had two different doctors tell me that they think I have it. The brain and heart can only handle so much... 

I have found what helps and that is THC. That should not be a controversial thing to share on a public forum, but, unfortunately, it is. It is still illegal according to federal law. And because of that status, I cannot consume it while I am on the job market. All of the jobs I'm applying for conduct pre-employment drug screens. Which includes screening for THC. Which angers me to no end. Gahhh I don't do drugs!!!

It is not my employer's business if I choose to eat a gummy before I go to bed. It is not my employer's business if I choose to smoke and quilt on a Saturday afternoon. Just like I would not drink a beer before going into work, I would not consume THC before going into work.

And speaking of, I am free to drink as much alcohol as I want. You know, the substance that causes anger, depression, intoxication, decreased motor skills, impaired driving, and leads to a lot, A LOT of fights? Yeah, I can drink as much as I want. No employers regulate that.

But I don't want to drink a lot. Unlike THC, even a couple of beers cause sleeping difficulties.
But, heaven forbid, I get a good night's sleep. 

My pain is real.
My losses are real.
My trauma is real.
And I am reminded every single night.

It sucks.

Sigh...

I will get through this. I always do.
I know how to tolerate extreme discomfort and incredible unfairness.

But I can barely wait to sleep again.


Picture found at 
https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/October-2020/7-Tools-for-Managing-Traumatic-Stress



Friday, July 15, 2022

Inspired in a Scholarly Way

I had the privilege of interviewing two CNBC women this week for my class project where I am exploring the experiences of women without children after failed IVF. The interviews were incredible. I received so much rich narrative data, and I could barely believe the trust these women put in me. They shared some of their most hard-earned knowledge, some of their most brutal years with me... All so I could get valuable practice with conducting qualitative research. To say I am grateful is an understatement.

I think I'm on to something. We've all been in agreement for years that women need and deserve so much more support after going through fertility treatments. Fertility clinics usually leave women like us hanging. We are forced to fend for ourselves. I think if the scientific community had published evidence to reference, then therapeutic programs could be developed. I believe it is a much needed area of support for a very marginalized, unserved population.

I am seriously considering taking this on as my capstone, the culminating research project required for my doctoral degree. If so, I will need you. I will need all of you. Not just those with experience with IVF failure, I want to include all CNBC women who have experienced infertility. I want to represent our international population. Even if you are not available or interested in being interviewed, you may know a woman who is. My other idea is to reach out to fertility clinics and see if I can recruit research participants there. I will need enough participants to conduct a pilot study. There is a lot to be planned out for an undertaking like this. I have a professor that I trust to help guide me in the process. Starting next semester, I will have a year to complete it. I think, like everything else, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other and see what happens.



Picture retrieved from 
https://www.acspri.org.au/online-summer-program-2022/introduction-qualitative-research-online


Monday, July 11, 2022

A Tsunami

Whoa. Saturday hit hard. Out of seemingly nowhere.

The wave metaphor for grief has always made sense to me. When you're first faced with loss, you are lost at sea holding on to whatever you can to survive. The waves are tall and relentless as they constantly crash down on you, throwing you underwater and making you lose all sense of direction. As time goes on, the waves get a little less tall and a little further apart. After awhile, you might even experience some brief respite of calm seas. The storm is still there, but it's not as bad.

Well, on Saturday there must have been an earthquake because I got hit by a tsunami.

(For the purpose of this post, I searched tidal wave v. tsunami to learn which was worse.)

Oh man, I don't remember the last time I felt like that...

I remember having a rough time in March, but this was worse than that. This was deep, guttural, primal, crushing, and devastating. And there was no way to stop it. No way out.

I think I know what caused the earthquake. There was a summer festival downtown. Vendors, food trucks, live music. It was fun. We went for a bit, got hot, came home, and returned in the evening where we sat outside at a brewery and had a couple of beers. 

There were kids. Cute kids playing in the grass, playing with dogs, playing with toys that they brought in a bag while their families enjoyed leisure time together outside in the setting sun. 

I hadn't been around kids since I left pediatrics in December. 

Nobody was watching them. Their parents were distracted by conversation. My eyes were glued to them. I was trying not to stare but one little girl looked a little too young to be climbing the short brick wall she had found. Once a teacher, always a teacher... I just couldn't help it.

The tears started before we even got home. We were walking and I warned my boyfriend, "I'm gonna cry." To his credit, he did a great job of trying to distract me, trying to get me thinking or laughing about something else. It just didn't work this time.

I wasn't very fun for the rest of the night. :(

I cried. And cried. And cried and cried. My eyeballs hurt.

If I'd had kids, I wouldn't be watching them 24/7, I know that. I don't judge those parents for enjoying their time with friends. Their kids weren't unsafe. No one was near a street and all the kids were playing nicely. 

I just wanted to have kids. Even though they'd be past the little kid stage by now.

It was a tsunami of grief. 

After the crying had run through my system, I went outside and lied down on the grass to look at the stars. Yes, I'm thankful and, yes, I like my life. But this was a moment of deep grief and there wasn't anything to do but to feel it.

I remembered that I used to live like this. This used to be how I felt every damn day.

I slept like a rock on Saturday night. I was still tired on Sunday. I felt hungover from grief. It wasn't from the beers. It takes more than a couple of light beers to do that. This was definitely from grief.

Today is better. Time marches on. I think it'll be a long time before I feel like that again.

Holidays I can count on. IVF anniversaries, no doubt. I can see those dates coming.
But days out of the blue? When the grief hits like a brick wall at top speed?

We do what we can. Sometimes we ride the wave. Sometimes we just do our best not to sink.



Friday, July 8, 2022

You Don't Have To Know

I saw the image below and immediately saved it to post here. I love it. I love the artist's everything. I signed up for her emails and look forward to receiving them. Here is her website. She has so many helpful images and worksheets.

It's true though. You don't have to have everything figured out. That's too much pressure!

Maybe you think I have everything figured out. I don't!! I post here AFTER I (sorta) figure (some) things out. Like I've written before, I just keep moving away from what I don't want and inevitably move toward things that I do want.

Klara and her blog has been one of my biggest inspirations. Eight years ago I was sitting for days on end drinking in my recliner, coffee all morning before I switched to beer. (I don't think I've honestly shared here before, but I was drinking too much back then.) I hadn't started fertility treatments yet. (I did cut back on my drinking during treatments.) But I figured I would try them. I also figured they wouldn't work. I never had confidence in treatments working for me; I was right. 

But back to Klara! I would read her blog, see her pictures of her beautiful walks in the woods with her dog, and think: That's what I want. 

Then I would look around at the empty house I bought for my children in the suburbs which I honestly hated in a city that was too big, too noisy, and too ugly for me and think: 

What the hell am I doing??

It took me two more years to change my environment. It took me almost three years after that to move to where I wanted to be (sorta, I was still in a city but in a different state at least). It took me that whole time to realize how lonely I was in my marriage and how my spirit was disappearing before my eyes. (This reduction in spirit was in addition to the trauma of infertility. I was lost in so many ways. Layers upon layers of being lost.)

So, yes, now I write about my happy home. My beautiful spot in this world. My new career that I love. My self-confidence. My joy that I feel. 

But I had no idea what I was doing on my way to get to this spot. I didn't have anything figured out as I put one foot in front of the other. I cried basically the whole way here. I still cry often. 

I don't have everything figured out. 

It's important to me to share that. You may be sitting there, reading my blog, and think, "Well, it's easy for Phoenix to say. She has it all figured out." Nope. No, I don't. Not one bit. 

And that's okay.

I find a lot of comfort in the fact that I am not in charge. That would be too much responsibility.

But if you like what I write, if you desire to like your own life, take what resonates with you and use it as fuel. Move away from what you don't like. Wander around. Try different things. 

You don't have to know what you're doing or where you'll end up. 

One thing is for sure: you won't end up where you are. And if where you are sucks (mentally, emotionally, geographically, whatever), why stay? You don't have to. 

Explore what you enjoy. Even if that sounds impossible, it's not. 

You and your life are worth it.



The view from my recliner now. 💜




Tuesday, July 5, 2022

The Great Purge has Begun

I have big personal news. It may not seem like a big deal to some, but it is to me. I have flooring in my bedroom!!! After living in my new home for a year, I can finally start to move into my bedroom. Well, once the spare parts that we ordered to put together our bed frame arrive... We lost the necessary nuts and bolts sometime over the last year. Whatever! After waiting a year, I can wait another week or two.

It's a two-bedroom house so we've had our mattress on the floor in the extra room. It hasn't been too bad. But, I am so excited to finally unpack and put the house together. Eventually... Nothing happens overnight.

So the floor was installed this past Saturday. On Sunday, I felt inspired. Now that we have a floor, we have more room, and we can start shifting stuff around. This means I am one step closer to moving out of my storage unit. (You know, all the stuff I packed up in 2015 and then moved across state lines in 2018.)

But back to my inspiration on Sunday... 

While I have a bunch of stuff in boxes in a storage unit four hours away, I also have a bunch of stuff in boxes here. And on Sunday I went through all of my teaching materials. Twenty years of books and curriculum flashed before my eyes in four hours.

If you are a teacher, you know what I am talking about. You just don't get rid of your teaching materials. You hang on to it all. Tightly. It takes decades to build your inventory of resources. Plus, they don't make stuff like they used to. And all that time and money you've invested into your collection? Well, there are many reasons why every teacher's garage is overflowing with boxes.

But I'm not going to teach anymore. I am not going to work in pediatric healthcare either. And we all know I am not having kids. As of this past Sunday, I could start to get rid of all of my kid stuff. 

So I did.

And it felt great!

Some of it was trash, but most of it was in good condition. I set aside a box of stuff for my boyfriend's sister who has two little kids. I packed three boxes for my friend who just started her career in education. And I packed five boxes full of donations. And wouldn't you know it?? I went to the shipping store today to mail the four boxes I packed for friends and there, on the front door, was a sign advertising a homeschool curriculum swap in a couple of weeks. Perfect!! Now I know where my donation boxes are going.

Beautiful timing. All of it.

I kept some stuff, of course. I couldn't get rid of ALL of it. I have a box of resources and a couple of boxes of kids books. ;) Maybe in another year I will pass that stuff along too. Maybe I won't.

And there's more in storage. Ohhh there's more. So. Many. Kids Books. But at the very least, I can take those to the library for donation. Or the local elementary schools. New teachers always need books. I will find homes for all of the good stuff. 

The great purge has begun!


Here's somewhat of a throwback that my fellow Gen Xers will appreciate! 
Um, yes, I kept this for myself. ;)


And here's a picture of my new floor! A clean slate for my new life in my new home!! (When you've moved as much as I have throughout life, a year in a new place is still considered new.)


Friday, July 1, 2022

When I Feel the Emptiness

There is an emptiness inside me and yesterday it really ached. I don't know why, but the news has been incredibly stressful lately. Scary. Nonstop. Maybe that's what exacerbated the feeling.

I recognized the feeling. It's a longing. It's an urge to nurture, to mother, and there's nowhere for me to put this feeling, this energy. It makes me sad. It makes me cry.

I love my life. I really do.
I love myself, my home, and my partner. I love what I do for work, and I love my hobbies.

But nothing will take the place of my children.
I really wanted to raise them. I really wanted to parent.

I shared my feelings with my boyfriend and he said we could get a dog. This was not an offensive suggestion to me. I had the same thought. It would give me something to love and something to take care of. Even if I couldn't take it to sports practice and teach it how to read.

I know I can volunteer or work with children. Lots of kids (all?) need more happy, healthy adults in their lives. I like doing this, but it doesn't fill the unique emptiness that's inside me. It's not the salve that I need. Not even close.

So yesterday I drank my coffee, acknowledged my feelings, and shed some tears. I decided it was fine if I did nothing all day. Then I decided to do something anyway. What can I say, I was bored. Plus, I had a paper due. So I spent hours and hours (and hours and hours) writing. I'm glad I made myself work even when I didn't feel like it because I woke up this morning and I think my paper is done. On to the next assignment!

The emptiness stayed with me all day. Kind of a gnawing feeling. I thought more about getting a dog. It's been four and a half years since my beloved pup crossed the rainbow bridge. She gave me great joy and comfort. Maybe it is time for another. But I'm not rushing into anything.

I thought about how else I could manage the emptiness. And I thought about pouring into myself. Can I love and nurture myself? Can I teach and take care of myself? My kids might have only partially listened to me, but maybe I could listen to myself. Food for thought... 

It's the approach I'm going with for now.


Picture retrieved from https://poetryofliving.com/2018/11/10/emptiness/

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Infertile and Pro- Legal, Accessible, and Affordable Pregnancy Termination

I am infertile and I strongly believe abortion should be legal, accessible, and affordable.

I cannot claim to be pro-choice because it's not always a choice. A rape that results in pregnancy? That girl or woman didn't get a choice. A very much wanted pregnancy that will risk the mother's life or lead to a baby that cannot live outside the womb? That isn't much of a choice.

I cannot claim to be pro-life because, while I very much am in favor of living, that term is associated with the anti-abortion movement. It's not even accurate. Anti-abortionists who claim to be pro-life do not support the fetus once it's born. Our public education system is grossly underfunded. Our social supports for mothers are pathetic. Pro-life? I don't think so. 

I think pregnancy termination should be safe, legal, affordable, and accessible for all.

I don't want to legislate abortion because it's not my business why someone needs to terminate their pregnancy. There are so many reasons why someone may need this life saving procedure.

This isn't about a person making bad decisions.
This isn't about accepting consequences for your actions.

Contraception can be expensive. Contraception can be unobtainable. Contraception fails. Rape is more common than people think. Marriage without sex sucks. Plus, there are so many things that can go wrong in pregnancy. As an infertile woman with infertile friends, I know this all too well.

Adoption? Don't get me started... Pregnancy and child birth are trauma. Yes, when it's wanted, it can be miraculous, but it's still trauma to the body. When it's not wanted? Don't get me started...

It's not fertile people's responsibility to have babies for infertile people. It's why I didn't adopt. I found ONE adoption agency that did not take funds from anti-abortion organizations and they went bankrupt before I could start the process with them. 

This post may be harsh. It will piss some people off. But I am angry too. It wasn't my choice to be infertile just like it's not other people's choice to be pregnant or to have a non-viable pregnancy.

I feel like writing this post doesn't even matter. It won't change anything. I'm just yelling into the void on the internet. But maybe someone will read it and view things differently. Abortion isn't just about not wanting a baby once you find out you're pregnant. It's much more complex than that.

I wouldn't wish unwanted infertility on anyone.
And I wouldn't wish unwanted pregnancy on anyone either.

Abortion is healthcare. And access to healthcare should be a right.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Why I Didn't Adopt

Because I found only one adoption agency that did not accept any money from any anti-abortion organizations and it went bankrupt.

That's it. That's why I didn't adopt.

I worked for an excellent, kind, caring, and reputable foster care and adoption agency for several years. I've had extensive training. I am familiar with the process and with the trauma involved for the adoptee, their birth families, and their adoptive families.

I wouldn't wish unwanted infertility on anyone.

I wouldn't wish unwanted pregnancy on anyone.

Monday, June 20, 2022

My Life After Early Grief

I have a ton of schoolwork to do this week. Two papers are due on Sunday and one paper is due on Monday, and I have yet to start writing any of them. So I want to write a blog post real quick before the week escapes me.

What to write about, what to write about...

Well, I've got some feelings and unformed thoughts regarding grieving early in life.

My mom called me yesterday. She told me not to tell anyone that she called or what she called about, but she said that my dad has been feeling down in the dumps. I really did not appreciate that she told me something with the caveat that I wasn't to tell him she called me and I wasn't to tell anyone what she told me. I don't like feeling secretive. In fact, I hung up the phone and told my boyfriend, "I'm glad we don't keep secrets from each other. I don't like them."

Anyway, my mom asked me to call my dad for Father's Day. I said I already did, but he didn't answer so I left a message. She said he was really missing his dad (not hard to do--my Grandad was AWESOME), some recent life changes have been harder than anticipated, and that my dad was having a time period where he was really feeling his age.

She said, "When you get to be 70, you just start to think about how fast life went. You wonder what's left and what to do next."

(Um, I recognize that she told me not to tell anyone anything and here I am telling all of you...)

It made me think about people who are forced to grieve early in life. People like us, who wanted to raise children but didn't get to. People who lose a child. Young people who lose a parent. Young widows and young widowers. People living in countries with overt war. 

We don't get to go along, live our lives as planned, be busy with those plans, and then have a moment after all of it is said and done to think, "Wow, that went fast. What now?"

Instead, at least for me anyway, the initial years dragged on in agonizing pain as I grappled with "What now?" many, many decades before my peers will face this question.

I told my mom, "In some ways, I'm already prepared for that existential question at 70."

To her credit she said, "Yes, I guess so. You and [her younger sister whose 7-year-old daughter died] have already been through more than most of us have."

I see it a little bit in my boyfriend. His stepdaughter and his son are grown. His son only recently left the house last year at age 20. When you've been raising and providing for a child for over 20 years and they've only been out of the house for a year, it's still recent. My boyfriend is not quite sure what to do next. I think he's a little lost for the moment. I mean, he lost his entire structure basically overnight. "Now what," for sure.

In that way, I am fortunate. It came at an immeasurable cost. But, I am not going to have to manage empty nest syndrome. I am not going to retire (well, one, because I doubt I'll ever be able to afford to retire), but I am not going to retire and think, "What am I going to do now?" 

I've already wrestled with these thoughts. I've already died a spiritual and existential death and brought myself back to life.

Life IS short. (Not while you're grieving. While you're grieving, the days are torturously long.)

But now? Probably for the first time in my life, I want to live for a long, long time. There's so much I want to do. There are so many quilts I want to make. So many books I want to read. So many runs I want to ski. And, as I've recently learned, there is so much research I want to do. 

Life is short. There's so much I want to enjoy.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

A Happy Update

Healing can happen in all sorts of ways.

I had a really good friend for many years. Our parents know each other. We went to school together. We have history. I've written about her before. She's the one whose daughter was very special to me. I went to every birthday party until I didn't. She also really hurt my feelings. I don't usually write about things until long after they've happened. Those posts are over five years old. When they happened is even longer ago than that.

Like I said, we have history together. So even though I felt like the friendship had ended, it hadn't totally. She still texted me once or twice a year and I always replied. She always remembered my birthday. I always remembered hers. She texted me a really cute picture when her daughter went to her first school dance. It meant a lot to me.

Well, last week I remembered something funny her daughter said when she was a toddler, and so I texted it to my old friend. She replied and we had a nice exchange. 

I'm not hurt anymore. I understand the birthday party that I wasn't invited to... It wasn't anything personal. I know the comments she made that hurt my feelings were coming from her own struggles at the time. I empathize with both of our past selves; we were hurting in our own ways. I was going through infertility and her (now ex-) husband was making life difficult. 

But, that is all in the past. Current me doesn't care about all of that anymore. Here is a woman who texts me on my birthday every year. We are adults. Our birthdays aren't the big deal that they were when we were kids. And still, she remembers it. I like that.

So like I said, I texted her the other day and we had a nice exchange. I told her about my going back to school, and she told me about her recent promotion. It just felt good. 

I invited her out to where I live. (It's a great destination for a vacation. Out of the city. Beautiful country.) I said she, her daughter, and her new husband could stay with me. Or they could stay in the resort town an hour away. Either way, it would be a good trip. She said she's going to plan for it next year or for the year after that. 

It felt really good.

Not only was I not hurt and angry, I was just enjoying texting with my friend.

My good, longtime friend. 

Maybe we haven't been in touch as much. Maybe we've missed some major moments. But that's okay. That's life and that's adult friendship, especially when you live 1200 miles apart. 

I'm happy she's still in my life. I'm extremely grateful for healing.

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Response to my Research Problem

I was a little apprehensive about posting my research problem online for my classmates to see. But... I'm also in a totally different place than I used to be. So, while part of me was a little nervous, the rest of me just didn't care at all. This is my life. I am not ashamed or embarrassed about it anymore.

So there it was for all to see, my research problem: Living Permanently Involuntarily Childless After IVF Failure. I introduced my classmates to the idea of pronatalism. And gave them the statistics on how often IVF doesn't work. Well, at the very least, I'm educating my classmates.

I figured nobody would comment. I figured nobody would touch my post with a ten foot pole. I also figured people were thinking, "So that's why she's so on top of all of the assignments; she doesn't have kids!" I was wrong about the first two. I don't know about people's private thoughts.

Interestingly, the post directly after mine is a research project proposal about postpartum depression and the lack of support services for women. It was written by a woman who experienced it after having her son. The very first comment on that post was from a classmate who said, "Congratulations on motherhood!" My boyfriend assured me that the blatant example of pronatalism did not go unnoticed by others. I hope he's right.

But, I was surprised by the support I received. The professor had never considered this research problem before and he thinks it will work perfectly with the research approach I've selected. Then two different classmates commented and a third texted me privately. One classmate shared that she has several friends struggling with IVF failure, saying she doesn't know how to support them and that this is a very important and under-researched topic. The second classmate shared that she has had two miscarriages and is grateful for my topic because it assures her that she is not alone. !!! And then, the third classmate that texted me, shared that one of her closest friends was admitted to the hospital for trying to end her life after IVF failure. !!!!! 

Yes, this is an important population to study. We need support services NOW.

Y'all. My cohort is small. Very small. Three people, not including myself, have already been open about being affected or having someone close to them being affected by infertility and involuntary childlessness. I was glad to receive the support for my project, but I was sad to see what we already know to be true: this shit is common.

I feel a responsibility to women suffering worldwide to keep going. It takes a lot out of me. I usually nap after reading and analyzing research. Writing my first draft wore me out. And this is just a class project, not anything official that can be published. But maybe in the future... 

I am interested in getting published in academic journals. I feel like that would legitimize the need for support services. We will see. One step at a time.

I'm still looking for one more volunteer. If you are a woman who is permanently involuntarily childless after IVF failure and would like to participate in an interview with me (where all identifying information will be kept confidential), please send me an email at infertilephoenix at g mail dot com.

Should this turn into research where I get approval from my school's institutional review board, I will cast the net wider and study our bigger CNBC community (not limited to IVF failure). 

Stay tuned!

And THANK YOU for your support. I wouldn't be where I am today with our community.

💜💜💜

Friday, June 3, 2022

Capable of Doing

I'm going through something. I kind of know what it is and I kind of don't. I'm in the "feeling my feelings" part of it. I know I'm not happy about some parts of my life, and I know I'm thrilled about others. I don't really know where I'm going with this... I just wanted to acknowledge it.

So, the news lately. Pretty devastating. Traumatizing. Paralyzing. Frustrating. Angering. Scary.

Have you read anything positive lately? I read about a woman who took her adult brother with intellectual disabilities to his first movie. She wasn't sure if he would like the movie theatre or need to walk around or what, so she scheduled a private screening. How thoughtful is that? Good news: he loved it! I loved reading that short story.

What else... I'm getting along with my mom. I'm getting along with both of my sisters. I'll never take that for granted. I love my family so much, and I know they love me. 

I've decided I don't like spring. Ha! Hahahaha. I mean, it's spring. Who doesn't like spring?? Me, apparently. I love winter. I love snow and quilting on a cold day and sitting around Xmas tree lights and skiing. And spring is the furthest away I am from winter. But really, it's the allergies... Everything is blooming. Everything is just so dang fertile! I can't stop sneezing, my throat is scratchy, and I live with a headache. And in today's times, I'm paranoid that it's covid. Fun stuff.

I've been going out to eat. I couldn't stand it anymore. I went 25 months living like a hermit and it was really affecting my mental health. Even a homebody can only take so much. So I go when it's not busy. I also live in the middle of nowhere. It's not densely populated and that makes me feel better too. I notice I've been tipping more. I'm just so thankful I don't have to cook or do dishes, and everything is so freaking expensive nowadays. So it's part of how I'm giving back to others. As long as the service doesn't completely suck, I'm tipping 25%. Not bragging or trying to be a hero, just trying to help others where I can. 

This post isn't really saying much. But that's okay. I made it. I am where I am. I climbed out of the pit that was despair and depression and chose to put one foot in front of the other. Most days. Some days I just stayed in bed. It's all a part of the process. But for several years there, I quite honestly didn't want to be alive. I wanted to get hit by a truck. Except I didn't. Because that would be really awful for the truck driver. So I came up with a life I could live with. And now I am living it. It's a good one and I am thankful.

Still, I'm going through some major changes. My career, my relationship... These are no small things. I don't know what the other side will look like, but we never do. 

I have big news. I'm back in school! It's such an opportunity and I am extremely grateful. Still, it's hard. But like my mom said, getting your doctorate is supposed to be hard. Ha! She's right. 

I'm throwing myself into this program. I'm studying like I've never studied before. I'm actually doing all of the readings. And taking notes on them. It's like, for the first time in my life, I want to know alllllll the things. I'm doing my assignments with the intention of learning the content, not to just meet my due dates. It's pretty awesome. And hard. But I already mentioned that.

It's only my first semester, but I'm already dipping my toes into research. I'm researching the scientific literature and writing about infertility and living CNBC for my first project. I can't call it research officially because I'm not going through the institutional review board approval process, but, if it all goes well and feels right, I may turn this project into Real Research. 

I will need a couple of you this month or next to interview. Your name and identifying information will remain confidential. Send me an email if you're interested (infertilephoenix at g mail). My project is about the experience of permanent involuntary childlessness after IVF failure.

That's all for all now, friends. My thoughts are scattered and my emotions are at the surface. I feel like big changes are on the horizon. But that's life; nothing stays the same. While enduring this latest period of transition, I will be reading my textbooks. And sewing a little bit. While watching tv at night, I'm working on an applique project for my next quilt top.

I love you all. Take good care of yourselves.