Friday, December 29, 2023

Sadness Comes and Goes

I cried on Xmas. Well, first I went to work. I prefer to work on the morning of Dec. 25th. It distracts me from thinking about Xmas mornings "that coulda been."

As an aside, I feel fairly confident I will never spend Xmas morning with anyone's children ever. Maybe if my niece or nephew (who have both repeatedly said they won't have kids) have kids. Maybe.

So, I'm really grateful that I work in a hospital and have the opportunity to work on the holiday. This year co-workers were wearing silly sweaters and hats, and someone brought in a bunch of cookies and snacks. Everyone was in a good mood. It was fun. It was festive.

And then I felt sad when I got home. So I gave myself that moment too.

I love that women who are childless not by choice can share what all they have overcome and what all they enjoy now. I also love that we are still honest when we have our sad moments.

And in the afternoon of Xmas 2023, I was sad. I felt my pain. I always wanted a family of my own. I don't have that, and I never will. We don't know the future but, because of age and logistics and everything, I have most likely missed being a close part of a small child's life. I will not have holidays with them. I will not watch them grow up. I will not get to help them and play with them. 

However, I did get to watch my niece and nephew grow up. That was pretty cool. I was a teenager when they were each born. The three of us are pretty close, and I feel like we are only getting closer as we grow older and continue to choose to have each other in our lives. Speaking of, I am overdue for a visit to them both in their respective cities...

Anyway, I digress. Which is how my childless-related sadness seems to go these days too. When I feel it, I feel it... And then I eventually get distracted by other thoughts or feelings. The sadness no longer stays all day (or week or month or year).

So I didn't have a great Xmas. I've got some stressful stuff going on that I am getting through. I loved seeing my family beforehand, and I'm glad I got to work on the actual holiday. But for the first time ever, I didn't even have a Xmas dinner. And now I've already packed up my tree and decorations. The Xmas holiday is over at my house and that is fine. I also look forward to it again next year.

Now, when I'm not working, I am resting and being still. You've heard me say it a million times, but I am tired. I am climbing one more mountain before I can truly rest for a minute, but I am pacing myself for the next couple of weeks. And even with my stress and sadness, I am looking forward to the future. I love seeing family, friends, and enjoying the little things.

๐Ÿ”ฎ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Childless Conversations When Home for the Holidays

I visited family for the holidays. It was a lot of fun, and I am really thankful everyone took the time and made the trip. There were 17 of us, and we came from 5 states. It's the weekend I most look forward to out of the year, and it always goes by so fast.

Last year I had an important conversation with my niece that I forgot to share here. This year I had another important conversation with my cousin. I'll share the first story and then the other. :)

*****

Last year's conversation was really unexpected. I hadn't seen my young adult niece in four years (that's crazy!!) because I was working in 2019, the pandemic hit in 2020, and she was working in 2021. So I *finally* got to see her at Family Xmas in 2022. We stayed up late talking about a little bit of everything.

Normally, I don't say anything about anyone else's fertility. But with her I said, "Normally, I don't say anything to anyone about getting pregnant. And, I know you've said you don't want kids. It's fine if you don't. And it's fine if you do. You're allowed to change your mind. But since you're my niece, you are the only person that I am going to tell that women's fertility decreases much sooner than we think. So if you want kids, please know that you are more fertile in your 20s than your 30s. And I hope I'm not overstepping my bounds by saying all of that."

She said it was fine that I said everything but that she still didn't want kids. But what she said next completely surprised me. She said, "[My fiance] has a lot of nieces and nephews, and I just want to be the cool aunt. I mean, I got to have you. And I want to be like that. I just want to be the cool aunt and not have kids."

What?? I'm cool?? (I assure you I am not, hahaha.) But how cool is that? Someone wants to be like me. Someone watched my life without kids and thought, "That's what I want." Wow...

*****

Then this year I was able to say something to my cousin. We've never talked about infertility. She is very private. But I know that she has had at least one heartbreaking experience with trying to conceive. And I've wanted to say something to her for years...

That goes to show how stigmatized and confusing this whole topic is. Here I am, like, totally out of the closet with infertility and being childless not by choice, and I still hadn't found the words to express empathy to my cousin.

But this year there was a moment where it was just me and her outside. I seized the moment. I simply asked her, "How are you doing?" without any context or pretext. And she knew exactly what I meant. She took a deep breath and said, "... I'm okay." She followed with, "I'm good. I'm good. I'm sad. But I'm okay." And then I was able to tell her that I always wanted to say something but didn't know what. Since she's very private, I assumed she didn't want to linger on the topic so I wrapped it up by saying, "I know I'm not going to have kids. You don't know yet. You might. You might not. But I just want you to know that I am happy again. It's a miracle and it is possible. I just want you to know that it's possible to be happy. And I'm always just a text away."

I'm pretty sure my words were well received and not intrusive. I just had to say something.

*****

So... 

How about that. 

From hearing my niece last year say she wants to be like me to sharing with my cousin this year that happiness is possible... It's so important that we see, hear, and support each other.

Monday, December 11, 2023

My Baby's Blanket

I've heard of a lot of people decluttering right now. The feeling must be in the air. 

I found something important while I was decluttering recently. I found my baby's blanket.

There are so many difficult things about enduring infertility, and one of those things is the absence of acknowledgment. The invisibility. The suffering in silence. The severe lack of support.

I really don't understand why people don't see involuntary childlessness as a profound loss.

And that's why my baby's blanket is so sacred to me.

One of my friend's moms knew I was trying to get pregnant, so she started knitting a baby blanket for me. She asked my friend what my favorite colors were and went and bought the yarn. She got started on it early, worked on it for a while, and finished it well before I ever... 

Well, as we all know, I never got pregnant. 

So then she didn't know what to do. (Join the club. Neither did I.) She gave it to me as a prayer blanket with full disclosure that it began as a baby blanket.

It was the most significant, heartfelt gift I received.
It was the only gift I received.

It is the only present I have that honors my hoped-for child, and it is extremely important to me.

๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’œ




Tuesday, December 5, 2023

My Stuff: A Saga Update

I spent last Friday night and all of Saturday moving stuff out of the closet in my bedroom. It wasn't a functional closet. It was a storage space. But I ordered a closet organizer that should be here by the end of the month, so I moved everything out. I'm excited about eventually hanging up and organizing my clothes. I haven't had a functional closet in five years. 

It's the little things that make life easier overall. It's the little things that are the big things.

Dealing with my stuff has been quite a process for me. I've written about it a lot.




Skip ahead four years...





And then most recently...


Yeah... It's really been a thing for me.

But this past weekend, as I stood in the small side room attached to my bedroom, I stopped and appreciated the moment. I had gone from a medium-sized two-story, four-bedroom house that I bought for my children and was fully decorating and filling with stuff to a small single-story, two-bedroom house that only has one little side/sunroom serving as storage (temporarily). 

Progress!

Ok, yes, I recently rented a storage space. But it's only a closet, not a huge unit. It's holding my tubs of keepsakes, holiday decorations, and seasonal gear. I don't plan on having it forever. But it freed up some space so I could play Tetris with the rest of the stuff in my house.

And after this past weekend, I am one step closer to being decluttered and organized.

I've leveled up, hahaha.

(I'm still giving myself until January 2025 to get completely decluttered. Realistic goals are more important to me so I don't feel bad when I fail to meet the unrealistic goals.)

But, daaang, what an emotional process dealing with my stuff has been!

I've read a lot of what I call "junk food articles" about decluttering and organizing. You know, those short articles that often have lists... They're easy to skim and get new ideas. And today I came across this gem: Decluttering and Self-Acceptance and How They Benefit Each Other.

Enjoy! And go easy on yourself. It's all a process.



Tetris! Several weeks ago I cleaned out my mud room. It's no longer a maze of boxes and random things where you're forced to stay on a narrow path. It's now an open space with a bench where I can sit and put on my shoes. Again, it's the little things... that are the big things! ๐Ÿ’œ




Thursday, November 30, 2023

Not a Mom, Not a Career Woman

It feels so late. It's that time of year. The sun set several hours ago, but it's not time for bed yet.

I'm feeling reflective. Again, it's that time of year. I have my Xmas tree up with lights and ornaments, and the calendar year is coming to a close. Some things in life are going really well and some things are not. And, well, that's because that's how life goes.

I am in a much, much better place with infertility and living CNBC. No longer trying to conceive or adopt helps. Stopping trying and having that ending point--I really needed that. Then I could start to grieve. And that was a very long process. In a way, the grief is lifelong, but there's nothing like those first years. Of course, I didn't know I was grieving at the time. Learning that fact, as well as learning about the concept of disenfranchised grief, helped immensely.

All of my life, I thought I was going to be a mother. And then I gradually realized over a four-year period that I wasn't going to be. And it was really hard to process that. I had no idea what my life was going to be without raising the children I always dreamed of and assumed I'd have.

Now that I'm not trying to conceive or adopt AND I know I am not going to be a mother AND I've had years to process this reality, things are better.

It changed everything though.

And this week I've been thinking about how I was never interested in being a career woman. I always hoped I'd be a stay at home mom. And now... I'm... A woman with a job? I don't know. It just seems weird. I like working, but I'm not trying to have a career necessarily. I like my job, and I like getting better at it. But... I don't have kids to put through college or trade school, so I don't have to work myself to death. I'm not trying to build a resume or anything. I'm not climbing a corporate or clinical or any other kind of ladder. Plus, I don't plan on relocating for any job. 

I am where I want to be. 

I'm a divorced, childless middle-aged woman who's just trying to pay my bills and enjoy my life. And I've been thinking about how not having kids changed absolutely everything for me.



I had Day to Night Barbie (above) when I was a kid. I loved how her work outfit turned into a night outfit. But I never daydreamed about going to an office every day...



I *just* realized...  



I am a working artist.
I work to be of service to others, and I work to buy fabric. Hahaha. But true.

(And this is why I write... To figure things out.)



Sunday, November 26, 2023

Some Days Are Hard

Things are slowing down. I mean that in several different ways. 

I feel like I am slowing down. This season always feels a little slower for me. Not that life ever really slows down, but this is the time of year (in the Northern hemisphere) where the days are shorter and the weather is colder and I feel like I move a little slower. 

The blogosphere is slowing down. It has been for awhile. I didn't join until after its peak, but there is a lot less traffic now compared to seven years ago. I think about not writing and then I think, who cares if not many people are reading my blog. Someone might find a post they relate to through an online search someday, and I remember how rare and valuable it was to find something relatable in my earliest days of loss and grief. Plus, I still have thoughts and feelings about my experiences with infertility and living my life without children. So I still write.

My grief is slowing down. The onslaught of it. The major extremes. Thank God. That shit was NOT sustainable. Over the last decade I found a way I could stand to exist and then, miraculously, I even found some new things to be excited about.

But some days are still hard. Like today. Today was one of those days where I felt like an outsider in the world. And I didn't even leave my house or go online much. It was just a quiet Sunday where I did laundry and not much else. And even though that sounds nice, it honestly wasn't that great. I didn't have a very good day. 

It feels like my life is so different from most people's, and even I struggle to understand it. I want to understand it. Then I could understand all of the insidious judgments that I process regularly. If I could understand the cascade of effects that involuntary childlessness has had for me, then maybe there is a chance that others could understand. Maybe even other people could understand how my life is structured differently and stop their subconscious judgments.

Because it's just hard living a life that most people don't understand. I get that a lot of people probably feel that way about a lot of different things. But this is my life, and my experience is living childless not-by-choice.

It hasn't been easy. And that part is oddly overlooked in the long-term. Some days are hard.


Thursday, November 23, 2023

Make It Meaningful for You

I cooked canned biscuits and boxed cornbread last week, cubed it all, and left it in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel to dry out all week. That's when I knew Thanksgiving was coming.

Yesterday I baked a cherry pie and two pumpkin pies. I also made the dressing (with the dried biscuits and cornbread) and sweet potato casserole ahead of time.

Today I made mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, and cranberry sauce. I warmed up the ham and some rolls in the oven. 

My boyfriend made the gravy. He was going to smoke the turkey but started feeling sick last night and woke up feeling worse this morning. So we'll have the turkey later in the week. He usually makes the mashed potatoes too, but I did pretty well especially since I've been out of practice the last several years.

Other than sleeping, I was in the kitchen for almost 24 hours and I loved it. I love cooking and then eating the Thanksgiving meal. I love being thankful. I love drawing hand turkeys, which admittedly, I forgot to do this year. I love eating leftovers. I love being home.

Thanksgiving doesn't have anything to do with anything I'm missing. 

Thanksgiving is about celebrating what I have.

The holidays used to hurt so bad. From Halloween to, hell, Valentine's Day, everything reminded me of what I was missing: my children, raising them, being a mother, having my own little family. 

But it's not like that anymore. Not everything all of the time. Some things still hurt, but a lot of things don't. And Thanksgiving is a day where I cook and eat and think about all of the little things and all of the big things that I'm thankful for. 

I don't travel for Thanksgiving. I don't remember the last time I traveled for Thanksgiving. I'm always at home. So, it's never a big celebration with a lot of people for me. But I still enjoy it. 

I guess it's a holiday I've reclaimed just for myself.


The graphic above was created by one of my favorite artists and can be found here.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Give Yourself Time and Grace

Thanksgiving has always been a time where I can gauge my anxiety level. 

Many, many years ago I remember calling my best friend from the grocery store parking lot and telling her I was too anxious to go grocery shopping. She could not relate, but she assured me that it was fine and I was capable. She encouraged me to go inside, get what was on my list, and be done. And I did. And it was fine. But I felt really silly and slightly embarrassed that I was so anxious. And that happened way before my years of infertility.

Infertility shot my anxiety straight up. Higher than ever. Like, I was overachieving with how much anxiety one person could feel. I'm sure a lot of you understand.

And then I couldn't come down. Even after I quit trying to conceive. Even after I came up with the idea to go back to school and eventually move. I could not calm my nerves. And the smallest, slightest thing could make me feel so terrible.

Do you deal with anxiety? It's a very uncomfortable feeling. It's mental thing, a physical thing, and an emotional thing. Anxiety sucks. I wish I knew that's what I was dealing with back in high school. I had no idea. I just felt crazy sometimes.

One of the reasons why I moved to the town where I ultimately settled is because the first time I drove through it I felt at peace. The feeling reminded me of how I felt when I was a little kid living in a small town. Content, not crazy. 

I'm a city kid (because I lived in a large city for 25 years), but I think I'm really a country mouse.

I've been here 3 years now. Each year my entire body calms down a notch.

I went to the store last week to buy a turkey and a ham. I wasn't stressed at all. I admit that I took a couple of deep breaths before going into the store, but that was really only to recognize how far I've come. 

Infertility sucked and my recovery has taken a decade.


Sunday, November 12, 2023

Not Building, Just Living

I can rest now. I'm not trying to get anywhere or become anything. 

I am no longer building, no longer creating a life I want to live.

I'm just living it.

I've said it a million times, but it's still true. I am very, very tired. And very, very thankful. I am grateful I got out of where I was and got to where I am (both geographically and emotionally).

I just felt such a sense of urgency many years ago. I knew I had to grieve, but I also knew I had to start working on changing my life. I knew I couldn't go on "living" the way I was.

And that brings us to today.

I don't have kids, and now I don't want kids. I wanted kids. Very badly. But that didn't happen for me. I gave my all to trying to conceive. I didn't know it would leave me with nothing, preventing me from pursuing adoption at the time. I was always completely open to the idea of open adoption. I worked for an adoption and foster care agency for several years. I got great training and felt like I knew what was up. 

But I didn't know the debilitating pain of infertility.

It paralyzes you and destroys you but leaves you alive.

So, yeah...

It was quite the devastation to my life. And I couldn't do anything about it.

But I couldn't do nothing either.

Which brings us back to today again.

So much is over. The last month, the last ten years. So much is done. You'd think I would've rested today. But instead I moved some storage tubs into my storage closet. It's a part of my healing. The decluttering of my home.

But overall, I'm gonna rest by doing less. I'll still go to work. And I'm getting back into my research. Plus, I've got several quilts in progress. But those are all things I chose to do. In this life I created.


Image (pennant banner for sale) found here. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

(Re)Connections/Seeing Old Friends

I was extremely lonely during my years of trying to conceive and undergoing fertility treatments.

Well, first, let me back up real quick. I missed my blogoversary last month. I started this blog in October 2016, a year and a half after my last failed IVF. I was deep in grief and back in school for the first time in a decade. And now it is November 2023, seven years later... 

The whole passing-of-time thing never ceases to amaze me.

Speaking of time, I went and visited longtime friends last week. I have written about all of them here over the years. I have known each person for ten to twenty-five years, but I hadn't seen anyone in at least five and a half. I am so grateful that I got to see these women from different periods of my life. I am thankful for every lunch, dinner, and late night I got to have. (I think the key to seeing everyone was having the idea months ago, texting people, and getting on their calendar at least three months in advance.) 

Three of the friends I saw have kids. Three other friends don't. One older friend has grown children and grandchildren. One friend couldn't go when a small group of us were getting together because of her kid's sports games. But, she made lunch reservations for us downtown during her lunch hour during the week, and I had the greatest one-on-one time with her.

It was interesting being on this side of things, eight years after I stopped fertility treatments. It was very different. Because I wasn't living in a place of longing for things to be different, I wasn't sad or even anxious. I was able to just be happy and present with the people I love. 

It was a trip I had been looking forward to, and I had a lot of fun. I hadn't been back to where I used to live for five years. Then it was great to come home. To where and with whom I live now.

It's the fall, and a lot is behind me. Graduation, pediatric coverage, my two trips. And also, I realize, I no longer feel the acute grief of involuntary childlessness. The lifelong loss is still there, but it doesn't constantly hurt now.

I think we've all learned a lot in 2023, whether we realize it or not. 

I can't put it into words... I can't put words to much of what we've all experienced in the last several years. But I know I'm proud of everyone. Kids or no kids. I think there are a lot of moving parts to life, and it is challenging to stay on top of it all. 

So, if you want, (re)connect with friends when and where you can. 

I sent one of my best friends from college a text a couple of years ago. We had been out of touch for many years, and it turns out she didn't have my new number or my correct email address. I stayed with her at the end of the week.

Three of my other friends that I saw have been my friends since we were teenagers, but it was really hard for me when they got pregnant and grew their families while I was wanting to do that too. Our lives took different paths. We understandably didn't see each other as much, but we still cared and always had each other's numbers.

Another couple of friends are women that just didn't have kids. One is married. I stayed with her at the beginning of the week. One is divorced. Both of their not having kids were for all different reasons and factors and whatnot.

We are not in contact all of the time, but we are in contact overall. I love my friends so much. Incredibly, everyone is happy and healthy right now. So we all got to celebrate that.

I'm grateful infertility didn't ultimately take all of these important connections from me. 



You know I love quilts. And I love gratitude too.
And it's November. So I thought the picture above was cute.
(It's a quilt pattern that you can find here.)

Monday, October 30, 2023

The Holidays Start Tomorrow

Halloween used to be the hardest day of the year for me. I wrote about it here in 2016.

And then last year I passed out candy and enjoyed it.

Things change. For better or worse, nothing stays the same.

The fall season brings back-to-school, then Halloween, and then Thanksgiving. The season changes to winter and we have Christmas/Xmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the New Year. 

It's a rhythm that people who are childless not-by-choice imagined sharing with their children. 

And it's freaking hard to deal with not getting to do all of that with your kids year after year.

So wherever you are in your experience with infertility and involuntary childlessness, go easy on yourself. This shit is NOT easy. Nothing can take the place of this profound loss. 

Remind yourself that you won't feel this way forever. Who knows how you will feel in the future. But it won't be this.

And if you are getting to a place where you can enjoy some aspects or traditions, let yourself.

You deserve to enjoy your life.

Picture found at https://stock.adobe.com/images/
halloween-thanksgiving-and-christmas-gnomes-with-elements-cartoon/460636312

Saturday, October 28, 2023

IVF Failure Mentioned in a News Story

This news story isn't about IVF failure, but failed treatments are mentioned in the first sentence.

This CNN article is about a couple that moves from the United States to Spain. Yes, their move happened after IVF failed and they reevaluated their lives. But really, the article is about the couple's cost of living being more affordable and their work-life balance being easier to maintain. 

It's another example of how moving can change the quality of one's life. 

But then the end of the article touches on involuntary childlessness:

"While the couple still sometimes struggle with the prospect of not having children, Luban, now 53, says they feel 'too old now,' adding that while they previously looked into adoption, 'the process seemed to be a nightmare, financially and otherwise.' 

'And it was such an emotionally (and financially) painful experience to try and fail, we couldn't go through it again,' he adds, stressing that they have 'no regrets.'"

*****

And now I want to take a trip to Spain...


(Picture from a hotel's blog post about the best tapas bars and restaurants in Ronda)




Thursday, October 26, 2023

The Things We Say

Mali's latest post on Language and Assumptions was perfect timing for me. She writes, "I'm a fan of words. I love the nuances of language, and languages. Language tells us so much about cultures and individuals and history and colonialism and oppression and dominance and, thankfully, change." She briefly references "as a mother" and "childLESS" in particular. Both of these sentiments came up when I was with my family last week.

*****

First, my mom was telling a story about waiting outside the restrooms at a sports stadium. She overheard a little boy saying he refused to go into the women's restroom and the woman he was with (presumably his mother) saying that she had to use the bathroom. My mom stepped in and told the woman, "I am a mother and a grandmother. I can wait with your boy right here while you go to the bathroom." And so she did. And that was the story. 

When the story ended I said, "So I couldn't have waited with the little boy?" And my mom looked confused and asked what I meant. I said, "Well, I'm not a mother or a grandmother, so I guess I couldn't have waited with the boy." She stammered and said something like that's-not-what-I-meant. She told me I could have said, "I was a teacher. I can wait with your boy."

My mom seemed defensive and I let her know that was not my intention, that I was just pointing out the pronatalist world that I live in 24/7. I'm not mad at her for her defensiveness. I am just really seeing in a new light how threatened majority populations feel when marginalized populations find their voice. 

*****

Then at another time we were all at dinner. I don't even remember what we were talking about... Oh, I think it was about how it seems like more younger people are choosing to not have kids. My niece doesn't want kids. My nephew doesn't want kids. One of my sister's stepdaughters doesn't want kids. Someone mentioned the word "childfree," and one of my sisters smiled at me and said, "You're childfree!" And I said, "No, I am childless..." I was going to say "not by choice" but got cut off as she countered, "No, you are childfree." And all I said was, "We all get to choose how we self-identify."

*****

Language and assumptions... We could talk about this for days, weeks, and the rest of our lives!

Monday, October 23, 2023

Moving Can Change Everything

I took a vacation with my family last week. I have written candidly on this blog about my difficulties with my mom and sisters over the years. It is the biggest reason why I hope my blog remains anonymous. I don't want them to read what I needed to process here.

But last week's trip was awesome, and I am so, so thankful. I got along with everyone, and everyone got along with me. We ate delicious food and spent most of the time hanging out just the five of us. We haven't done that in... Decades? It was very special for me.

The point of the trip was to visit one of my sisters. After living in the same small town for 30 years, she and her husband moved across the country last spring to start a new business in the tourism industry. So, lucky for us, they now live in a beach resort area! And I hope to visit every year.

I've heard people say that moving doesn't solve anything. I've heard, "Wherever you go, there you are." It's implied that you take your problems with you. Which can be true... but isn't always.

Moving changed my sister's life. 

Yes, there were problems. Yes, there probably still are. I mean, everyone has problems. But things are SO MUCH BETTER. She still has health issues to manage and there's stuff in the past and you can't change the past. But... You might as well live where you want to live! At the very least, don't live where you don't want to live. 

These are our lives we are talking about. And we only get one.

My sister wanted to move for a very long time. Moving is hard. Moving is expensive. Plus, moving is not always possible. The logistics of life require money, housing, jobs, etc. You can't "just move" just like you can't "just adopt." 

But you can work toward moving. You can make plans and then see what ends up working out. You can take steps toward living the life you want to live.

My sister is happier. She is living somewhere she wants to live. She is working at a job she wants to work. She is spending her days and time in a place where she wants to be. Naturally, the positive consequences of all of this are radiating out into the rest of her life. She moved, and everything is getting better.

Moving changed my life.

It got me out of the house I bought for my children. It got me living near a school where I could study for a new career. Ultimately, moving got me out of the city, which I loved but it's not where I wanted to live anymore. It got me to my new spot in life. It's a simple life; it's not for everyone. But I love it. I have my home, my jobs, my hobbies, and my new friends. It's where I want to be.

So I don't subscribe to the thinking that moving is merely a temporary fix or that moving is a change of settings for the same problems. Moving can completely change your life. 

It doesn't happen overnight. 

It took me a year to figure out where to go next and to put my house on the market, sell it, and actually move. Then it took me two more years to move away from the city where I'd lived for the past two and a half decades. Then it took me two more years to find a landing spot that felt right.

It took my sister 30 years.

But you know what? Those five years for me were gonna go by whether or not I worked toward moving. Those 30 years went by for my sister, and another 30 would've gone by just the same if she'd stayed where she was. 

But we didn't stay stuck. We came up with ideas and chipped away at plans and went with what happened. We moved. And we created lives we want to live.


(My view for three days. I hadn't taken a vacation in 4.5 years. I was giddy the entire time.)



Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Your Friendly Reminder To Do What You Want

I finally had some days off last week. I spent them running errands and going to medical appointments. I have some days off this week too. I am spending them doing what I feel like. Sewing, sleeping, watching tv. My house needs cleaning and decluttering, but I am very tired.

I will admit that I rented a storage unit. I accept that I'm keeping too many keepsakes, tea cups, and framed things, but I'm not ready to purge any of them yet. So yesterday I got a small storage closet to get them out of my house. But today it's raining so I'm not going to move anything.

I am resting instead.

We have all been through so much in the last couple of years, and that was on top of what we'd already been through before that. It's a hell of a lot. It's demanding. It's exhausting. It's hard on our bodies, our minds, our hearts, and our souls.  

How can you give yourself a break? What demands can you decrease or set down altogether? Where in your day or week can you give yourself some time to do nothing? 

The bills don't stop coming and neither does the bad news.
How can we shift our thinking so that we see and recognize the good stuff too? 

Like, I get aggravated with how much utilities cost, but I also love having indoor plumbing in my home. Going to the grocery store stresses me out, but I'm glad I have access to food. I don't say these things in a flippant way, and cultivating gratitude for all of the little/big things in life doesn't solely sustain me. But it does help me. So I'm sharing in case it helps you. 

Our brains are hardwired to hold on to the bad information. It's a protective action. I've had to put in a lot of work over the decades to learn how to see and recognize the good. It doesn't dismiss or absolve the bad, but it does help balance it out.

The loss of motherhood was more than the loss of my lifelong dream and my primal yearning to raise and nurture little humans in my home as they grew to be adults. It was also the loss of societal roles, normative routines, and expected milestones. It was the loss of a life that was completed structured around having children. It was the loss of relationships with family and friends as every single one of them changed. It was the loss of connection with others. It was the loss of connection with myself. It was the loss of who I was and who I thought I'd be. 

And then we all endure a pandemic? One that never really ended, it just wore us down as we adapted to this neurological virus becoming endemic.

Moving sucks. Finding a job and place to live. Packing, moving, closing down accounts, opening new accounts, changing your address on everything, learning your new town and neighborhood, meeting people, finding a place for yourself... It all takes years. And so many of us move so often. It sucks. It really sucks.

Divorce sucks. Changing your name back sucks. Even when it's "easy," it still completely sucks. It's the end of a relationship that you thought would be there forever. It shook my foundation, my sense of security. It was also freeing because I was so painfully lonely. But it still sucked. I don't ever, ever want to get divorced again.

Working a job you hate sucks. But how else are we going to buy our milk, coffee, fabric, car insurance, and rent/mortgage? I'm extremely thankful that I like what I do at my job. I worked hard to find something I liked and was good at. But not everyone gets that chance. 

It's a lot. It's a lot of stress. For anyone. And for so many of us, we are navigating it all under a thick blanket of disenfranchised grief. It can make everything heavier and harder. 

What can you quit? 

I'm a big fan of quitting. I'm countercultural like that. If it sucks, I quit. My parents used to worry that I'd had so many jobs, but now all of my experiences are such a benefit to my career. I've worked in multiple industries with all ages in all settings, and the skills are transferrable. I quit law school. I quit my marriage. I quit infertility treatments. If it's not good for us, we should quit. 


Life is too short.



Can you do less? Can you rest? Can you go to bed earlier and/or get up later?




What do you do to get in the flow? 




You deserve to enjoy your life.




(Artwork above found here for sale.)



(And listen to the song Enjoy Yourself, It's Later Than You Think here.)



Monday, October 9, 2023

A Thought-Provoking Purse

I like to window shop online. I can build a big shopping cart and then order nothing. Or whittle it down and order an affordable amount. Usually, I'm looking at fabric. Lately, I've been looking at winter clothes because I want warmer pants for this winter. Then I came across this bag. I love it. It's so cute. I've decided not to buy it because everything comes down to, "Do I want to buy this or save my money for shopping while I'm on my trip?" Plus, it's a little expensive, haha.

(Purse found at https://loungefly.com/exclusive---disney-stitch-shoppe-classic-disney-books-crossbody-bag/WDSSTB0025.html)


But let's think about this purse from the CNBC perspective. Well, quite honestly, that's pretty much how I look at everything because that's the perspective I have in life. I have other perspectives too, but the CNBC lens is always at the forefront. It turns out that not raising the children you thought you'd raise your whole life has a tremendous impact on, well, everything.

So, the purse.

Does anything about it stand out to you?

My first thought was "I love books!" Then "What a cute purse!" Then "Can I justify buying that by using it as a project bag?" And then "Wow, that's a lot of messed up story lines!"

Dumbo touches on infertility. I haven't seen it in a long time, but at the beginning of the movie, a lot of storks come and deliver babies to the circus animals. Except Dumbo's mom is left out.
(At first. Later, a stork delivers Dumbo to her.)

Pinocchio doesn't have a mom.

Bambi's mother dies.

Peter Pan ran away from his family, then expects Wendy to take care of him and the Lost Boys.

And then, is there any mention of parents in Alice in Wonderland? Isn't she on her own journey?

Do other people think like this? Do they see a purse while window shopping online and immediately think of all the associated family-related narratives? Just me? Just us? Oh...

I'm not getting the purse. I like it, but I don't need it.

But I'm still thinking about it.


Saturday, September 30, 2023

End of an Era

It's over. My pediatrics coverage for my co-worker on maternity leave has ended. I am re-retiring from working with kids, and I gave away every single workbook, manipulative, curriculum set, and intervention tool I had. Even better, it ended on a great note with an awesome last appointment with a child and her grandmother. And now I am done. 

I was going to call this post "It is done." But... Ha! Apparently, I already did that in this post here when I quit my last pediatrics position and retired the first time (after working with kids for 25 years). This last stint really drove home the fact that I have moved on. I have moved on in terms of what I want to learn, how I want to grow, and whom I want to serve.

Quite honestly, the last three months felt like major regression. It was a big hit to my mental health, and I processed a lot here on this blog. Working with kids felt so different for a lot of different reasons, the details of which I won't go on about here anymore. It's over. But the changes really confused me. And bothered me. But now I accept them. And I'm glad to be done.

It's the end of an era.



Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Unexpected Conversation Turn with a Neurodivergent Kid

I've worked with a lot of kids with autism spectrum disorder, and this pediatrics coverage is no different. Some kids are verbal, some kids are nonverbal, and some kids speak in a scripted language, meaning that they repeat what they've heard on tv or in movies. 

There are a lot of different schools of thought about scripting, including why people do it and how others should handle it. I see scripting as a unique way that individuals function. They may do it as a coping strategy when feeling overwhelmed or socially anxious. Others may engage in scripting as a way to communicate and connect. Every person is different, and I try to learn about each individual and help them along their way as they improve their ability to function in life.

One kid I've been working with repeats a lot of dialogue from the movie Home Alone, the movie with Macaulay Culkin where his whole family goes on vacation and he gets left behind. When I first met this kid he asked me, "What would you do if your family went on vacation and you were home alone?" Seizing the teachable moment I said, "I'd call a grown up and ask for help." 

For the first month, he continued to ask me this question every week and I would give variations of the same reply, always emphasizing safety and asking for help. However, he continued to ask me this question throughout the duration of our sessions. I didn't feel like I was helping. 

Over the last two months, the question evolved into, "What would you do if you went on vacation and your kid was left home alone?" Again, I always gave an answer that emphasized being safe and asking for help. But I was starting to question the effectiveness of my answers.

So this week I took a different approach. 

It wasn't planned. I just tried something different in the moment. The kid arrived for his appointment. He took off his shoes like he usually did. And he quickly jumped into his usual scripted language. He asked me, "What would you do if you went on vacation and your kid was left home alone?" And I answered, "I don't have any kids. I don't have to worry about that."

And then...

It just ended. The scripted conversation stopped.

We went on and talked about other things like school and what he had for lunch that day.

This unexpected turn of conversation may not have had anything to do with me being childless. Maybe I just interrupted his script. If so, I hope it wasn't harmful. He didn't seem agitated or upset. Or... Maybe something registered for him. Maybe he briefly understood the irrelevance of that question for me. Maybe he got it.

Whatever it was, it was the first time he engaged with me and we didn't talk about Home Alone.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Toast & Gratitude

I've got two different thoughts on my mind this afternoon.

*****

The first one is burnout. I am burnt like toast. I can barely manage my life right now. Last weekend I felt genuine pride for doing the dishes and laundry. This pediatrics coverage is killing me. It is very demanding and the pay is not good. Oh well. Only one more week to go!

Burnout is different from depression, although burnout can lead to depression. Burnout is also different from grief, although grief can also lead to depression. Combine all three (burnout, grief, and depression) and, whoa, it's a lot to manage. It's too much to manage. It's not sustainable.

I know I'm not the only one feeling this way. Infertility sucked. Involuntary childlessness sucks. The pandemic sucked. Inflation sucks. Climate change sucks. Suck, suck, suck. It all literally sucks your energy.

But the sun sets and the sun rises again. I employ my strategies. I decrease the demands I put on myself, and I cultivate appreciation for all the things. Big things like food and housing. Little things like hobbies and laughter. Well, really, the little things are big things too.

So yeah, I am burned out. And I do blame this pediatrics coverage. It's like I told another blogger over email earlier this week: kids are different these days. Parents are different. Most importantly, *I* am different. And I just can't do it anymore.

There's nothing in it for me. I don't have to work around a school schedule so I don't want to. Other people don't care if their kids can't read or write, so I can't afford to care either. I am not motivated to learn more or grow in this area, so I'm not interested in being a placeholder. I feel ineffective and disinterested, and that's not good for my mental health. (Although if I was interested in learning more, I'd delve into the research about screen time and neurocognition. There are some major things going on among iPads, You Tube, and smart watches and creativity, attention span, and executive functioning. Major.)

So yeah, burnout. I know I'm not the only one. And it's not exclusive to being in the wrong job. There are a lot of factors affecting us in 2023... But keep holding on! Life is still worth living. I truly believe that. Even when we're tired.

*****

The second thought is this: I am sooo glad I moved.

Are you thinking about moving? Do you need a change? Do it. Do it, do it, do it. 

Go where you want to go. Go where you want to be. 

I would be so depressed if I still lived where I lived for 25 years.

However, I am extremely excited about my trip to go visit in a couple of months. I already have it all planned out, and it's because of this pediatrics coverage that I can afford to go. So there's that to be thankful for.

But I reached out to a lot of friends last month to get on their calendar. I haven't seen anyone in 5.5 years, and I was hoping, with over 3 months notice, to be able to see as many as possible. So far, so good! I've got several dinners scheduled and a couple of events planned.

However, I might not get to see one of my best friends from high school. She works during the week (completely understandable), and then her kids have sports games on the weekends (also completely understandable). I wish she could skip one afternoon of games to meet up with me, but I don't know if I'd skip a game if I was in her shoes. So, I don't fault her for her schedule. That's what her life is right now. But... 

I am sooo glad I moved!!! If I hadn't moved, I would still be living my life according to everyone else's routines and schedules. Talk about a recipe for depression.

Now I am living MY life. It is structured around my needs, desires, routines, and schedule, which are inevitably different from all of my friends who are parenting. That's just the way it is.

So. There ya have it.

I am so grateful to be living a life I want to live. Even if I am temporarily burned out.



Friday, September 15, 2023

Peer Support

Most of the time these days I am at peace with being childless not by choice. Except lately I haven't been. I don't know why. Logically, I can appreciate the life I've created for myself. I can remind myself that my kids would grow up. I can tell myself that everything has its challenges. Just like being childless not by choice is hard, parenting isn't easy either.

But there is logic, and then there are feelings. The two don't always align.

I guess it's all a part of my process, a part of my grief. Sometimes I just feel sad for what I've lost.

And that's okay.

That's why I'm glad I have this blog. I have found a community that understands me even when I don't understand myself. I've formed online friendships with other women that support me when I'm feeling up and when I'm feeling down.

The power of peer support is immeasurable.

I've been reading what people have written for World Childless Week this year. It has been really helpful. It happened to occur at a time when I inexplicably needed it. I appreciate everyone's honesty in their writing and bravery for contributing.

Thank you to our community. ๐Ÿ’™




Sunday, September 10, 2023

Excluded at Work

I got mad last week. Really, really annoyed.

I am somewhat used to birth announcement emails at work. I do not think they are appropriate, and I definitely do not appreciate them. But, I realize that they are a thing. I don't know why, but they are an accepted practice in the workplace. 

(And, no, I'm not against celebrating people's good news. I just know that for every birth announcement email accompanied with a picture of the newborn, there is at least one person who has just had a miscarriage or is struggling with infertility. And that person definitely did not need to see that email as they are managing everything on top of their work responsibilities.)

So, sure, whatever. So-and-so had a baby. And now the baby is born. Fine. I'm glad everything went well. Truly. That is not sarcasm. I am not a monster.

However.

Last week I received a department-wide email that really pissed me off. It was about the woman I am covering for while she is out on maternity leave. The subject was "[Baby's name] Update." And I was like, what the... I clicked on it, and there were FIVE pictures of this baby.

What. 

I didn't need that in my life.

The email said they are so happy for mom and baby and cannot wait until she is back at work. There was no mention of me who is covering while she is out. I felt like I was unappreciated, like they just want me gone so my co-worker can return. But I realize I may be reading too much into it. My feelings about everything may be coloring my perspective.

But here's what made me mad. There was never a department-wide email sent out about my graduation. That actually has something to do with the workplace. My doctoral degree is directly related to my profession and career. I don't want the accolade for my ego. But if we're celebrating people's babies, I just wanted equal recognition of my hard work for the past 16 months. You know, since it is actually an appropriate announcement for the workplace... 

I felt so excluded.

I guess only babies are celebrated as an accomplishment where I work.



Monday, September 4, 2023

Labor Day

Labor Day doesn't make me think of work. Or a break from work. Labor Day just makes me think of pregnancy and, well, labor. Something I never had or did. I was always scared of it though. I kind of wished the stork thing was true. I would've loved it if a bird had dropped off a baby for me at my front door. Biological or not, I didn't care.

But I do appreciate this day off. I've appreciated this whole weekend. I haven't done a damn thing. I still feel so maxed out from my pediatrics coverage, school and graduation, and just the last 12 years in general. I'm limiting the rest of my year to what I already have planned and nothing else: working part-time, continuing my research project, and participating in the quilt sew along that started this month. I also have two trips planned, one to see my sisters and another to see my friends where I used to live (for the first time in over five years!).

I am very excited about my trip to see my old friends. I'm going for a long time--a whole week and I still won't have enough time to see everyone and do everything. Then I started thinking about it... The first two nights I'm staying with one of my best friends. She doesn't have kids. She never actively tried, but she never actively prevented either. Even though she's married, I suppose she is childfree by circumstance.

Then I'm going to spend two night in a hotel. I'll spend those days visiting old places and meeting up with friends at my favorite restaurants. I actually signed up for an all-day workshop and texted one of my best friend's sisters to see if she would like to join me. She's going to! We've never actually hung out without her sister. I just knew she'd be interested in the workshop. Also, she doesn't have kids. I'm pretty sure she and her husband tried. I think she is childless not-by-choice. Maybe it will come up; maybe it won't.

Then the last two nights I will spend with my oldest best friend (the one whose sister is joining me for the workshop). I haven't seen my friend in EIGHT years. We didn't have a falling out, but we were going through our own things for awhile and didn't keep in touch. I texted her on her birthday a year and a half ago, and we've been back in touch ever since. We are both very grateful for that. And guess what. She doesn't have kids either. She never wanted them. Well, it wasn't that easy. She wasn't sure if she wanted them or not and spent years in counseling before realizing she didn't. So she is childfree by choice. 

Also, we have plans to have dinner with a third friend who ALSO does not have kids. I think she might have wanted them, but... Her husband didn't. Nevermind that she is divorced now. So maybe she considers herself childless by circumstance? I'm not sure.

On the final day I will meet up with my best friends from high school. Among the three of them, they have seven kids. Now that I have grieved my losses and created a new life for myself, I can enjoy the occasional picture and updates about their kids. I love my friends, so therefore I love their kids. Even if I've only met two of the seven.

Weird, huh. That's a lot of women without kids. I used to feel surrounded by mothers and fertility, and now my world feels so much bigger. Thank God.

My feelings about having kids have changed too. That's been weird for me. I don't want a baby anymore. And that is completely crazy to me. My whole lifelong dream was to be a mother. What do you mean I don't want a baby anymore??

But I had to change. My life depended on it. 

I could not continue to exist with that deep, unquenchable yearning. I don't know how I did it. And if you would've told me ten years ago that there would be a day where I wouldn't want a baby, I would have known that you DEFINITELY didn't get it.

But I had to change. And, step by step and year by year, it happened. I think that's another reason that working in pediatrics just doesn't resonate with me anymore. I don't live a child-centric life, and I don't like entering and exiting that world every time I go to work.

It's just been a lot. A lot, a lot of hard work. What I've been through, how I've changed.

And those are my rambling Labor Day thoughts.



Saturday, September 2, 2023

Blue Moon

We had a blue moon on August 30th. This phrase is used when we get an additional full moon, and it doesn't happen very often. You've probably heard the phrase "once in a blue moon." Well, I really wanted to do something significant for the blue moon, but I didn't know what.

It figured itself out.

I've been writing about my pediatrics coverage a lot. How it feels different this time even though I've worked with kids for the majority of my career and even since knowing I wouldn't be having kids. How it has felt confusing for me. (And yes, I know those last two sentence were incomplete. I'm using my stylistic license, haha.)

Last Wednesday I got home from work and knew what I needed to do. Last summer I cleaned out boxes and boxes of teaching materials and kids' books. I mailed some to a friend, gave some to my boyfriend's sister, and donated the rest to the thrift store. But I still kept two tubs of things I couldn't bear to part with.

Last Wednesday I admitted to myself that I was never going to use those things. They would be better in someone else's hands where they would be used (as opposed to sitting in a storage tub in my still overcrowded house).

I gave it all away.

I took the best things up to work where they can be used with the kids there. The other stuff is sitting in bags that I will take to the thrift store. And then tonight I was talking to a friend and learned she is homeschooling this year. Her middle daughter is taking algebra and I got really excited. I had several helpful books and resources that I knew would be perfect for her. I ran home real quick to get them, and her daughter gladly took what I had to offer. I love it when I find a perfect new home for things I no longer need.

I could not let go of those things until this week. Now I don't have any materials left from my teaching and pediatric days. I am free and open to continue developing the second half of my career to work with older adults.

I honored my process and celebrated the recent blue moon in a way that was perfect for me.



Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Infertility Changes Things

I am halfway through my pediatrics coverage for my co-worker who is out on maternity leave and... I just don't like it. Quite honestly, it has been messing with my mind. I have always loved kids, always loved working with kids. But apparently, I am freaking over it.

I've said before that I never intended to have a career working with kids. I became a teacher to kill time until I became a stay-at-home mom. Spoiler alert: that never happened. Then I kept working with kids because that is what I knew and what I was good at.

I was really resisting the idea that infertility changed that for me. But I'm starting to be honest with myself. Infertility and being childless not-by-choice DID change it for me. I accept that now.

Infertility changes everything.

It's not entirely infertility's fault. There are some other factors that I just don't like now. When I started working with children, there were no iPads. Kids were not constantly plugged in. Kids did not expect to be entertained all of the time. Kids eventually got bored and felt motivated to read or to engage in creative play. Not anymore.

But infertility IS a major part of why I don't like teaching or working in pediatrics anymore. I don't want to deal with the consequences of other people's parenting. (Or the lack thereof.) I didn't get to parent, so I don't know kids' pop culture anymore. And I don't care. I still haven't seen Frozen, which is old by now, and I know I never will.

It's a world I'm not a part of. I've created a whole new world for myself, one that honors who and where I am now. Going back into pediatrics feels like major regression. It also makes me irritable. Just ask my boyfriend. (Thanks for the support, babe! It's almost over.)

I also traveled and saw my family this weekend. That is different too.

I talked to one of my aunts about my research project, involuntary childlessness after infertility. She was very receptive and even read my powerpoint presentation. I used to not be able to talk about the topic at all, especially with fertile people. That has changed.

I got along with my mom too. That's new. Of course, I am giving myself full credit for that one because she is still difficult. But I just don't care anymore. Not like I used to. Her personality is not my fault, and I am not going to make it my problem. I stood up for myself when needed, but mostly I just redirected the conversation to better topics when ugliness started rearing its head. 

At one point she was trying to tell me what my boyfriend and his young adult son should be doing. I told her that her comments were full of judgment, and she argued with that. But I did not acquiesce. She has not made an effort to get to know my boyfriend and his life, nor does she know much about his son. In addition to telling her how judgmental she was being I said, "I don't have to worry about any of that. I don't have kids."

She started arguing with me!!!

She said, "Well, that's not true." (It's not true that I don't have kids??) She continued, "You take care of a lot of people. His son is living in your house right now so that gives you a say. You take care of your patients. You take care of..." I cut her off. I simply said, "I. Don't. Have. Kids. All I have to take care of is myself."

Geez, she is such a control freak. And a self-professed expert on everyone else's lives.

Anyway, sorry about that. I just needed to vent about my mother who will never get it.

But I HAVE changed. I DO care less. I don't expect her to understand, and I've stopped explaining myself. It's progress. And I have infertility to thank for that.

Infertility changes everything.



Thursday, August 24, 2023

More IVF Failure in the News

It was only visibly posted for one day, so I'm glad I caught this article. I was sad to read it but grateful it made the news for at least a day. I was expecting a pregnancy announcement at the end, but there wasn't one. 

Tara Lipinksi, ice skating phenom and 1998 Olympic Champion, is currently CNBC. In the article, she talked about her struggles with infertility and multiple miscarriages. She used the one word that came up in every interview I did for my research about involuntary childlessness after infertility: isolating. She bravely shared what she's been going through for the last five years, and she didn't wait until she had a baby to do so. 

She said she wasn't emotionally or mentally able to talk about it publicly until now. 

She described infertility as a full-time job that your entire life revolves around.

She said infertility is much more difficult than the Olympics.

In addition to this article, she has a podcast coming out at the end of this month about her experiences with infertility. It's called Tara Lipinski: Unexpecting.

Thank you, Tara. I know you are helping a lot of women out there feel less alone. 



Sunday, August 20, 2023

Tired & Grateful

Pure exhaustion. That's what I'm feeling. As many times as I have written here about how tired I am, I have reached a new level of fatigue.

Enduring infertility completely wipes you out. It robs you of everything.

And then if you want to change your life after infertility, you have to do it while you are initially in an energy deficit. The good news is that the changes you make can lead to renewed energy. But that takes time. It doesn't happen overnight.

So. Please allow me to repeat my list. Infertility, failed treatments, going back to school, moving out of state, getting divorced, finishing school, moving to a new town, starting a new job, starting another new job, pandemic hits, moving to another new town, starting another new job, quitting that job due to lack of pandemic precautions, navigating unemployment, starting another new job, buying a house and moving again (last move!), quitting that hostile job, giving myself a sabbatical, going back to school again, moving out of my storage unit, getting two new jobs, conducting CNBC research, and graduating again.

Yep.
I'm tired.
Changing your entire life is exhausting.

And absolutely worth it.

And today is Sunday, my only day off in a 10-day work period with a 2-hour roundtrip commute. I am spending the day reading in bed. And blogging. And more reading. And eating snacks. The awesome thing is this is the first day I'm off work AND out of school, which means I do not have any homework to do!!!

There's so much to be thankful for. My home, my jobs, my education, my health. Ski season is less than 100 days away, and that is what I live for. (You'd think with the way that I talk that I am some expert skier. I am not, hahaha. I just love to ski. I'm a solid intermediate skier.) 

Also, that quilting sew along starts next month, and I am pretty excited about that too. The two guys that organized it have created a whole online community so we can post our thoughts, questions, and pictures; watch tutorials; be a part of product giveaways; and just all around connect with people around the world who are sewing this Alice in Wonderland quilt top for the next nine months. Although the quilt kits are sold out, you can still buy your own fabric and register for the online quilt community if this sounds like something you want to do. 

I'm thinking about what jobs I want to apply for now that I am graduated. I love my current jobs but they are only PRN, which means they call me when they need me. It's covering the bills for now (both places have needed me more than they anticipated), but I kind of want more steady employment. Or maybe I will wait until 2024. My boyfriend is telling me to just take some time to rest before jumping into the next thing. I think I should take his advice.

So that's where I am. Pausing in the middle of the road of my life after a very, very long and arduous 12-year period. I feel so dang 1) proud of myself and 2) grateful for you. I know I would not be where I am today without this blog and my readers. Thank you.

๐Ÿ’œ

I'll leave you (for now, but not for long!) with a story from work this week.

I walked into a patient's room a couple of days ago. She was there while recovering from surgery. She was an older woman with a diagnosis of dementia. Once I met her, I realized how progressed her dementia was. She was very sweet but not able to communicate much verbally. For example, I tried to keep my language simple, but she answered every question with "yes." 

I noticed her patient chart did not mention anything about children. I was thinking about her need for care as her dementia continued to progress and asked if she had any kids. That was the first time she said "no." I told her, "I don't either." And just like with previous patients I have told you about, she immediately made eye contact with me with a knowing look in her eyes. 

I continued, "And I can't have them, so I won't be having any." And she looked at me and said her first complete sentence. She said, "And that's how that will be." I agreed and said, "Yes. That's how that will be." And we just looked at each other and smiled. It was a really powerful moment. I felt like, amidst her dementia-related confusion, she got to experience a moment of clarity right then. I felt like we really connected. 

It was an incredible moment that only women like us can understand.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Dr. Phoenix

Well, I did it. I graduated! 

But I didn't get here alone. I thank my parents for helping me with tuition. (Just being honest because school is expensive.) I thank my boyfriend for making me coffee, cooking delicious meals (or ordering pizza when his work schedule got too crazy to cook), and providing endless emotional support. I thank my classmates for supporting my research topic. I thank my study participants for trusting me with their data. And I thank all of you for reading and commenting on my blog throughout the years. 

I definitely did not get here alone. 

And I continue to move forward. I still envision providing therapeutic support to women involuntarily childless after infertility. I cannot believe there are no established services yet. I will continue to work on my research about involuntarily childless women after infertility. I encourage future researchers to investigate the broader population of involuntarily childless women (and men!): childless by marriage, childless by circumstance, childless and stepparenting, etc.

It's been a lot lately. A lot of big feelings. I was sitting next to my friend at graduation. At one point I was starting to tear up. I leaned over and said to her, "I can't believe I'm here. I mean, I barely left my house for years. And now I'm graduating with a doctoral degree??" Honestly, it was pretty overwhelming.

It's not often that this happens, but I am at a loss for words.

Just simply, THANK YOU. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I did not get here alone. You are a part of this too.

Thank you.



Sunday, August 6, 2023

Wrapping Up School

My 16-month marathon is coming to a close. I am so tired, so grateful, so excited, and so humbled. I still have so much to learn. But, the last 16 months have been one of the greatest investments of my time, energy, and money. 

Not only did I expand my skill set so now I know how to treat older and elderly adults in addition to children, but I got to conduct my own qualitative pilot study to explore the lived experience of involuntary childlessness after infertility! I am so grateful. Conducting actual research is a dream come true. Conducting research to represent our population in the academic literature is an honor that I took very seriously.

I am extremely grateful to the study participants that volunteered to be interviewed. I appreciate their willingness to talk about the worst experience of their life with me. I appreciate the trust they put in me, and I was very thoughtful throughout every step of the process: designing the study and collecting, managing, and analyzing the data.

I present my initial findings to my classmates and professors on Tuesday!

I conducted 15 interviews with women from 8 different countries. I analyzed the first 6 interview transcripts for my final project and will analyze the other 9 interviews throughout the rest of 2023. Then I will draft an article for publication in the winter of 2024. Afterward, I plan to present my findings at several conferences throughout the country. 

I am excited, and I could not have done this without you and your support. We are a growing population, we will be represented, and our collective voices will be heard!

Thank you.

๐Ÿ’œ

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Conversations with Adults

They're not as easy as conversations with kids.
Kids don't want to solve my problems with a baby like adults seem to want to do.

I engaged in a long conversation at work last week. It was my choice. I chose to do it. But I was still wiped out afterward. It started when I said I'd be out for graduation in a couple of weeks. My co-worker asked about my research and I told her the title of my project. 

It set off a lot of questions from her. Which was good I guess. Because she didn't know much about infertility, fertility treatments, and living childless not-by-choice. And like I said, I chose to have the conversation.

But.

I need to remember how depleted and frustrated I felt.
Maybe I don't want to have those conversations anymore.

Did you try IVF?
Was it really like that?
All those shots?
How many?
How long?
How much?
Like, it's really expensive right?
Should I freeze my eggs?
Well, there's always adoption. Have you thought about adoption?
What about China? 
Can't you get a baby from China?
There's lots of 12 year olds. Why don't you adopt a 12 year old?
What if I got pregnant? I'll just give my baby to you.

I've gotta give my co-worker credit. She filled the BINGO card faster than most. And I promise you that she's a lovely person. Like I said, I chose to have this conversation. (But I honestly wasn't expecting every stereotypical question and comment in the book!)

Anyway.

Now she knows.
Two IVFs. Adoption didn't work either. Was married. Now divorced. ("Well, isn't it good that you didn't have children, then?" Whyyy does everyone think it's okay to say this to me??) No kids. 43. Here I am.

Gah. It was exhausting.

But she learned a lot. And I guess I did too.
Like, I don't want to do that again for a long, long time!

And then adult conversation #2?

Well, it was satisfying because at least I thought of what to say in the moment, instead of after. The context of the conversation doesn't even matter. You'll see. Here goes.

Her: Well, as a parent, I was so worried!

Me: I know! I'm NOT a parent, and I was also worried!!

Again, another lovely person. Just everyone is so entrenched in the pronatalist culture. 

I roll my eyes so much.