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.


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!)


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.

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Conversation with a 6 year old

I was working with a kid earlier this week. He was probably thinking about who he used to work with, my co-worker who just had a baby and is out on maternity leave. But for whatever reason, he looked at me and said...

Kid: You're not a mom.

Me: Nope, I'm not a mom.

Kid: But you will be a mom.

Me: No, I won't be a mom.

Kid: Why?

Me: Not all girls are moms.

Kid: Why?

Me: Because not everybody's body works like that.

Kid: Oh.

And that was it. He accepted my answer.

He didn't ask any further questions. He didn't suggest adoption. He didn't offer me his kids. Ok, fair enough, he's only 6 and doesn't have any kids to offer. But seriously...

That kid was a breath of fresh air.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Energy Changes

I've been hard at work, both at my jobs and with school. I have less than a month until graduation, and every minute counts at this point.

And I have done nothing today. I slept in, ate pizza, watched a movie, and ordered some fabric.

Maybe that's what I needed to do. I definitely feel like my brain is slowing down. I know my brain and body are tired. It's the last mile or two of this marathon.

I am amazed I have been able to do this school program. I am giddy that I get to conduct actual research. I am in awe at what is possible after such profound, life-altering loss. 

We don't have to save the world. We do not have that responsibility. But we can all find things that we are interested in and put our time and energy into stuff. 

...When we have the energy.

Because at first you don't.

Not for a long time.

Grieving is EXHAUSTING.

I will never forget that massively heavy feeling.
I will never miss feeling so adrift and pointless.
I will never take energy or inspiration for granted.

So I may be tired today. I may be stressed about the upcoming week and all of the work that my jobs and school will require. But I can do it. I have the energy to do it. 

And if I don't? I'll still be closer than I was before.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

My Childless Week

It was quite a week! Let's see if I can jot it all down.

My week started out with a freak computer glitch that resulted in the loss of all of my data analysis for my research project so far. Of course, I cried. I emailed my reviewers. I reached out to the data analysis software program for tech support. I experienced a lot of help and understanding from everyone. My data analysis was not recoverable. After I had a good cry and an hour nap I woke up and thought, "Well, I lost my data analysis, but it's nothing like losing my children. I will do the work again." And so I did. Everyday after work this week I came home and busted my ass to catch up. And I did! I'm back on track. (And I also know how to back up my data now, which I do after each work session.)

I began my coverage for pediatrics. It didn't fulfill me, but it wasn't horrible. My bosses have already received a couple of emails from parents and caregivers singing my praises. That was a surprise. It's only been one week! I figure this is an opportunity to really solidify the fact that my career preferences have changed. And that's okay. I'll just approach it like it's a reunion tour for my one-woman band, lol. I'll do my best and it will end.

I had my first annual review with my employer, and it was the best review I've ever had. I feel like I am only beginning to realize how abusive the majority of my jobs have been... But it is really nice to be valued where I am now. And the leadership team absolutely knows I am not interested in pediatrics long-term. They are working to find a different place for me in the organization, but they are grateful for my willingness to cover for three months.

Um... So, this was unexpected. But a second co-worker is out for maternity leave, so there's another co-worker in the pediatrics department covering for her like I am doing for the first co-worker. Guess. What. She can't have kids! It came up during the first or second day I was there. She's in her early 40s too, but she learned she couldn't have kids in her early 30s. So you've got two infertile women covering pediatrics for two women out on maternity leave. So... Where's our paid temporary leave of absence from work??

Then I had TWO patients this week in the hospital (yea, pediatrics AND the hospital, PLUS school work--it was a busy week!) that were childless women. TWO! The first one was a 90-year-old woman who is widowed and lives alone. I was trying to figure out who she has around for help and asked if she had kids. (Sorry about that question everyone, but I have to ask it.) She said she didn't have any kids, and I said I didn't either. She immediately whipped her head up and made eye contact with me. I continued, "I don't have any kids and I can't have kids, so I won't be having any." We smiled and held each other's gaze in a knowing, understanding, we-both-felt-seen-and-understood kind of way. 

Then the next day a similar thing happened with a second patient. She was in her early 70s and I shared the same information about me with her once I learned that she did not have kids. She shared with me that she had one tubal pregnancy, and nothing else ever worked out. She was visibly sad about being childless and I validated her pain, saying it is a lifelong loss. It gave me even more motivation to work on my research study. We need to raise awareness about involuntary childlessness, and we need to create support services for people who are enduring this phenomenon.

So that was my wild childless week! I talked about being childless not-by-choice with a co-worker and two patients, all of whom who are also CNBC. I covered pediatrics. I got support from my bosses in the workplace. And I lost about 30-hours of work but it didn't even compare to losing my children, so I just picked myself up from my minor setback and kept on working.


Monday, July 10, 2023

I Don't Want This Default Career

About a month ago, I wrote about how working with kids has changed for me and how it has really confused me because I've always enjoyed it and I'm good at it. But as I was training to cover pediatrics for my co-worker's maternity leave, I quickly realized working with kids felt much different than it ever has. Part of that is infertility, part of it is the pandemic, and part of it is age. 

But I figured out the biggest piece of the puzzle while talking to a friend last week.

I never wanted a career in pediatrics! I only became a teacher to kill time until I became a mom. Since knowing I'm not going to be raising children, I've still worked in several different settings for children. It's what I know, and it was easy for me to get hired each time.

But I don't want to do it anymore. I reeeally don't want to do it.  

It's why I went back to school, to learn something other than pediatrics. It's why I got a job in a nursing home and a hospital, where I work mostly with older adults.

And now here I am, completely dreading my pediatrics coverage that begins tomorrow.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to work, and I definitely need the money. But dang, I haven't experienced dread like this since, well, right before I quit my last pediatrics job...

Another friend cautioned me that I'm probably still feeling the damaging effects from my last experience in pediatrics with an unstable, untrustworthy co-worker. I'm hoping I'll get in the groove of things once I get started. I have equipment at this job. I have resources. And the parents care enough to bring their kids in for services. I'm digging deep to try and find a decent attitude about the whole thing because it's what I committed to. It's what I'm going to do.

But yeah, working with kids was never going to be my lifelong career. I was going to be a mom.

Thursday, July 6, 2023

Annoying People Will Be Annoying

I may be happy, but I still get angry.
Like at last night's meeting.
I wanted to throw things.

It was a meeting for my profession's organization. It was virtual because all of us live across the state. We were meeting about possibly drafting a bill for the next legislative session. We were discussing logistics like statistics and stakeholders when someone brought up a good point about having a consumer on our task force to help guide our thinking.

But it was what was said next that pissed. me. off.

One woman said, "Do we have anyone on board that this legislation will help? Do we have any healthcare consumers that can't currently access these services? Ooh, do we have a mother that we can invite to join our group? A mother always looks good."

😑 😑 😑


A mother?

Dammit, I was so pissed. That woman's idea just landed so hard and with a thud. I hated it.

Of course, she would suggest a mother. Someone with kids. Someone Important.
Someone who is Worth Helping, whose life has Meaning and Purpose.


I immediately wanted to leave the meeting. Just sign off without saying anything. But I didn't. I reminded myself that this woman has rubbed me the wrong way a couple of times over the years. I told myself that the meeting wasn't about this woman or even pronatalism and tried to stick to the topic at hand. 

I'm glad I stayed. It was a productive meeting. Issues were discussed. People picked tasks to do. And we will reconvene in two weeks.

But yeah. I was pissed. It's not just that one little comment but a lifetime of them. They all convey the message that my life is less important, and I am tired of this inaccurate sentiment.

The world should feel more inclusive for us.

Image found at 
It looks like this is a poster for sale by this consulting group that creates inclusive, collaborative workplaces. (Interestingly, exclusion in the workplace may be an emerging theme in my study on involuntary childlessness after infertility.)

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Midpoint of 2023

I may be happier than I've ever been. I mean, I'm still anxious, nervous, sad, and confused, haha. I'm also happy, excited, content, and at peace. It's a lot. I don't mind. I'm thankful.

Right now I'm really busy balancing work and school. I'm very tired. It's a lot of demand on my energy. But soon, I'll just have work. And work doesn't have homework. ;)

But yeah, I'm happy. The biggest reason why I think I am happy is that I did not stay living my old life. My old life was completely structured around having children. Not raising children destroyed me, and all I had left was a life that didn't fit me. So I worked my ass off to figure out something different. And now I'm where I am. Literally. Today is the two-year anniversary of my permanent address. For the second year in a row, I am not moving!!! 

I love having a home. I love having a job. And I love, love, love having hobbies that I enjoy.

I wish the same for you. 💙

And now, here's a throwback to one of my favorite posts. I wrote it four years ago today.

The Cost of My Freedom

Sunday, July 2, 2023

Enthusiasm on Fire

There was no singular event where I realized I was not going to have kids. 

It was a series of devastating moments. When it didn't happen immediately (like, within the first three months), I felt catastrophic. Then when my AMH was tested at the seven month mark (I think it was then, I can honestly say a lot of details are fuzzy now) and found to be *barely* detectable, I felt destined for the worst. But I went on anyway. Kept trying, went to the doctor, sent my husband to the doctor, underwent three medicated IUIs (with injectibles!!! Aaaahhhh!!!), and then IVF (Oh gawd!!!!). Twice. Then I took some time to process. Then the adoption agency I picked out, after conducting extensive research, filed for bankruptcy overnight. (Really. It's horrifying. Trauma on top of trauma for everyone involved.)

And then I couldn't do it anymore. I knew I tried all I could. I felt lucky to be able to try in the first place. To have a partner. To have a home for children. To be able to try medical intervention. I felt guilty for feeling so sad and empty when I logically knew that I had so much.

And I wanted to die.

That's the honest truth that people don't talk about very much. You also have to be careful where you express such things because involuntary holds are a real thing. (Sometimes that is what people need but definitely not always.)

I racked my brain to find a reason to stay alive. Well, first, I guess I chose to stay alive. Just out of practicality. I feel like I was lucky to get to go to college, so I should help others where I can with the skills that I have. Not doing that would be a waste of resources.

But I didn't think I'd ever feel happy again. 

I definitely didn't think I'd EVER feel excited.

That's a looong intro just to say that I *am* excited again. I realized last night that I was so excited I couldn't fall asleep. I just kept thinking about everything. In the best, most non-ruminatory way. I'm excited about my research and the rest of my coursework. It's hard and demanding, but I like it. I'm excited about my job. It challenges me and it's exhausting, but it's awesome. And most recently? I just found this new quilt community online. You get a mystery block once a month that you sew at home with helpful videos and online community support. Then at the end of the year you have a quilt top. I signed up. It starts in September. After graduation. I'm so excited!

I was very depressed as a child and teenager, but I held on. Then my thirties were pretty damn devastating, but I just kept moving away from things that sucked and toward things that didn't.

But after infertility and losing my children and dreams of motherhood, I thought I'd never feel happiness again. I was resigned to staying alive and doing what I could, but I didn't think I'd ever feel enthusiasm. 

But I was wrong. And I do. 

I will never take enthusiasm for granted.

The block-of-the-month quilt kit has an Alice in Wonderland theme. I feel like it's above my skill level, but I'm going to figure it out anyway.