Monday, October 31, 2022

Halloween & My Blogoversary

I can barely believe six years have passed since I started writing this blog. There's some really honest stuff in here, some of it embarrassing even, but damn did I need this space. 

So much has changed.

Halloween used to be the hardest day of the year for me. I wrote about it six years ago. Then, just one year after that, I wrote about how it wasn't as hard. It had changed a lot. In just a year.

And now it's been six years since I started writing. 

So much more has changed.

It's been seven and a half years since I stopped fertility treatments. Seven and a half years of knowing IVF doesn't work for me. Seven and a half years of getting used to the idea that I wouldn't be raising children after thirty-five years of thinking otherwise. Seven and a half years of working hard to create a new life for myself.

And I'm calling it.

I did it. 

I created a life I want to live.

Like I wrote in my last post: I like my home, I like what I do for work, and I like what I do for fun. If I won the lottery (which is unlikely since I don't play, haha), I wouldn't change a thing. 

As I reflect on six years of writing my innermost thoughts and feelings on the internet, I can't believe I did it. Both things. I can't believe I wrote all of it down publicly, and I can't believe I created a new life that I can enjoy.

I've come a long way.

I don't really identify as infertile anymore. 

I just identify as childless not by choice. 

I'm not going to change my blog name, and I'm not going to stop writing. I still have things to write about. I'm still living a childless life and I'm still trying to understand how it affects everything. I still want to connect with other women like me. 

Thank you.

Thank you for reading.

Thank you for being a part of my healing process.

(I found this image online by searching for "purple quilted heart."
Turns out, it's a quilt kit! You can purchase it here.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Liking Your Life is Possible

I love this post about liking her childless life by Sue on her Childless by Marriage blog.

I like my childless life too. And I never, ever thought that would be possible.

Yes, life has been stressful lately. But I still like it. I like the life I created for myself. Where I live, what I do for work, what I do for fun. 

I recently wrote that I was lonely, but that's not true. I am alone a lot... But I am not lonely. I realize there's a big difference. I had a birthday recently and heard from a couple of longtime friends. That felt good. I reflected on how I've grown over the last year and thought about what I'm looking forward to in the future. Big things. Small things. Lots of little things.

I'm pretty happy. Despite the stress, despite the depressive tendencies.
I'm content too. I am at peace.

I know I can get through anything. I always have.

But even more than that... I am actually living. Like, getting up and going to work/school, running errands, and maintaining a home. I've been doing it for awhile now. 

And I ENJOY it. I LIKE my life. 

It's a big deal, it's a hard-earned feat, and I am thankful.

My latest quilt top. 
I bought the fabric over three years ago when I started quilting but didn't use it until this past weekend. I had an idea and this wasn't it at all (hahaha), but I like how it turned out! 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Learning to Live With It

I get that covid is not going away. We had the chance years ago to eradicate it, but, as a society, we did not. And now here we are. Stressed, broke, and muddling through...

It's very similar to, you know, infertility.

There's nothing I can do about being infertile. 

I tried. God knows I tried. Dietary changes, supplements, exercise, no exercise, meditation, medication, trying, not trying, being patient, not being patient, fertility treatments... Nothing worked. I'm infertile. I never got pregnant. 

I've had to learn to live with it.

Infertility. The pandemic. Both so devastating. Both completely life altering. 

Both SUCK.

And I'm learning how to live my life in this post-pandemic, life-without-children-after-infertility world. I'm lonely. I don't have any close friends in my current, face-to-face life. Of course, I chose to move 1500 miles away from everyone I knew. But it's not like I saw my friends often anyway. They were all busy with their kids. Add in work schedules and traffic patterns and hanging out was just no longer logistically possible. It wasn't personal.

I went to a quilt meeting last night. I didn't feel like going, but I made myself. I'm glad I did. I won't make friends if I don't invest any time and energy in others. I've been going monthly for over a year now and it feels good to see familiar faces. It's energizing to see what projects others are working on. It's just nice to smile at people and say Hello. I'm younger than everyone by twenty years, but they are all very welcoming and inclusive. If you love quilting, you belong. I appreciate that so very deeply. 

I'm stressed. Who isn't? I want to be scheduled more at work, but I also know I'm scheduled just the right amount for me right now. I'm in school and also fighting some depression, so, really, I just try to be thankful for so much every day. The bills don't stop coming though, and that stresses me out. Like I said, who isn't stressed right now?

I've been feeling like my relationship has been going through a growth phase for several months. I'm very happy with him. I'm also unhappy. It's complicated. And I'm having a hard time making sense of what I should do or not do during this weird time period. Break up? I don't want to. Move on? Maybe I need to. Leave him in a time of need? I definitely don't want to do that. But I also don't want to drown myself. It's hard to know what to do. It's hard to know what is best for him and best for me.

Learning to live with it. Infertility. Covid. Uncertainty. Stress. 

That's life, isn't it?

Monday, October 17, 2022

Permission To Quit

In today's go-go-go, never-give-up world, I love it when I hear a message that it's ok to quit.

I started a new, ambitious project. I started a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. I want to hand sew the entire quilt top, and then I want to hand quilt it when I am done. This might take me twenty years to finish, lolol. That's okay with me. I've got the time. I'll just work on it off and on, in between all of the other things I want to make.

Last week the fabric shop near me was having a sale, so I went to pick out some fabric for my flowers. I don't really know anyone here, so it was extremely nice to run into two familiar faces from my monthly quilt group at the shop. I had brought a couple of flowers I made to match the colors, so I showed them. They are both experienced quilters and complimented me on what I'd done well and gave me tips as I make progress on this project.

Then one of the women said the best thing. She said, "And you know, if one day you are just done with sewing these flowers and you don't want to make even one more, they are great for applique. You don't have to finish the quilt."

I loved that woman in that moment. She recognized my enthusiasm, encouraged it, and also spoke from experience when she shared that I'm allowed to change my mind about the project.

It's a message we all rarely hear, and it was music to my ears. Of course, I still want to make all of these flowers and sew them together and make a Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt. 

But, I don't have to.

She gave me permission to quit. :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Mental Health Flare-Up

I smiled today. I got out of bed, took a shower, and ate a bowl of grits. Lately, getting out of bed hasn't been so easy. I've been putting off showers until the afternoon. And, my stomach is in knots so eating has been difficult. 

But today I got up. I went to the post office, the pharmacy, and the gas station. As I put air in my tires, I smiled. There was a time twenty years ago when I was very depressed after a bicycle accident caused traumatic injury. It was a long recovery period and, like I said, I got depressed. I remember when leaving my apartment just to put gas in my car was a real accomplishment. I would come home and nap because the errand took everything I had.

But back to now. My doctor suggested weaning off of my antidepressant this summer. I was fine with that. Things were stable and it was worth a shot. Well, eight weeks without medication combined with finishing my first semester of school, getting and learning two jobs, moving out of storage, hosting my family, and dealing with a major home repair was a little too much for me.

My anxiety shot up and never came down. My appetite disappeared and I was crying every day.

I. Could. Not. Deal.

So I started taking my medication again and called my doctor for a refill, which she called in. Hence, my errand to the pharmacy today.

It doesn't bother me to take a pill every day. It didn't bother me to try not taking a pill every day. (Well, until it did. Ha! I really wasn't managing well...)

I've been taking my medicine for a week now and, although I don't feel great, I no longer feel AWFUL. I am no longer on my own nerves. I am no longer crying over the slightest little things.

I accept my brain. I know this is how it works. I've had a lifetime of experience being me.

I just write this to be transparent and share. 

It's okay if you're falling apart. It's okay if you feel awful. It's okay if you are freaking losing it.

Remind yourself it's temporary.
Ask yourself what you need.
Do what you can and forget the rest.
You didn't cause the problems of this world, and it's not your responsibility to fix them.

But you do deserve to feel okay. You deserve to enjoy the little things.

When you're having a rough day/week/month/period of years, hold on for better times. 

I will abide with you.


Thursday, October 6, 2022

Feeling Criticized and I'm Just Living My Life

Where I am today with living CNBC after infertility:

I am struggling with the fact that my life is structured so fundamentally differently than everyone else I know, that I feel judged for my choices, and that I have no words to describe how impacted my life is by infertility. Not only that, but I am SICK of feeling like I have to explain myself.

Thank you, Loribeth, for sharing this article by Yael Wolfe called Single & Childless Women Are Tired of Justifying Their Existence. Yes!!!

I admit it. I let my mom get in my head again recently. Or, maybe she never left. 

My mom loves me. I really believe she does. But I also believe what she told me on my 18th birthday which was, "I will always love you but I do not like you." That hurt. Almost 25 years later, it still hurts. Because it still feels true.

If I'm not doing what she wants or thinking what she thinks, then I am wrong. It is embarrassing and annoying that I still feel affected by her words. But yet, our last conversation from a couple of weeks ago is still lingering in my mind. She was questioning my relationship and making judgments, and it really pissed me off because she does not try to understand my life, my losses, or what I need. 

I was also trying to picture my grandmother--my mom's mother--criticizing my mom's life choices when she was 42 and married with a 12 year old, a 20 year old, and a 24 year old. I doubt that ever happened.

One thing that bothers me is that I'm always thinking about how I would mother myself. I wouldn't criticize a 42-year-old daughter for moving or getting divorced or quitting extremely bad jobs. I wouldn't say things similar to "that's always at the top of your list" if she talked about how infertility continues to affect her life. I would encourage her, comfort her, and praise her. So I try to give myself what my mother doesn't. But I will be honest, I long to hear those sentiments from my mom. But she can't say any of them, not even if I give her a script.

It sucks. I've done so much, overcome so much, and I am still criticized. What I do is never the right thing. However I live, it is not good enough for her. I know it's not me. I know it's her.
But it still hurts.

And it's not just my mom. My sisters don't get it either. I always feel criticized. My niece and nephew, both of whom are in their late 20s, are treated with more respect and allowed for more autonomy than me. It's always been this way. It is freaking WEIRD.

But back to Yael's article... I deeply appreciate when I read something and I feel understood. It's even better when it helps me understand my own experience more. Like these quotes:

  • "I’d really prefer to focus my energy on dealing with my own stuff. It’s a lot. I really don’t need to be dealing with societal expectations, invasive questions, insults, criticisms, and irrelevant opinions."

  • "I never asked for this--to be the poster child for women's "alternative lifestyles." To have to push back against pronatalism and sexism even within my own family."

  • "It takes a lot out of you to have to constantly justify your life circumstances to others."

I think, as a woman who wanted children and planned her entire life around raising them, infertility and being childless not by choice continues to affect my life in ways that even I don't yet understand. So when I am criticized for even the smallest thing, I feel attacked for something that was entirely out of my control.

I'm just playing the hand I was dealt.

And getting criticized for it.


My parting question is this: How did you stop explaining yourself? 

I think that's what I need to do. I kept thinking that if I just explained my reasoning, then others would understand (and support) my choices. But, this is not proving to be true. I just need to stop.

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