Thursday, March 23, 2023

My 8th Survivor Anniversary

I began my day by reading Robin Williams quotes. I remembered one that always resonated with me, looked it up, and ended up reading a long list of his quotes. It was a good use of my time.

The quote that prompted the search:

"I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy.
Because they know what it feels like to feel absolutely worthless
and they don't want anybody else to feel like that."

The quotes that kept me reading:

"There’s a world out there. Open a window, and it’s there."

"The human spirit is more powerful than any drug and that is what needs to be nourished: with work, play, friendshipfamily. These are the things that matter."

"Sometimes you can have a whole lifetime in a day
and never notice that this is as beautiful as it gets."

So, anyway, today is my 8th survivor anniversary. Eight years ago today my last IVF failed and I knew I was done trying to conceive. I couldn't do it anymore. 

Here is last year's survivor anniversary post. 
And here is where you can find the links to previous survivor anniversary posts.

And now it's 8 years later. I don't have kids. I went back to school. I left where I'd lived for 25 years. I got divorced. I learned how to quilt. I started working in a new profession that I love. I moved a bunch of times. I bought a house. I went back to school again. 

It is okay now. (I wrote about that in my last post.) Still, I had a deep cry for about ten minutes yesterday. If I do not give in and feel it, it will persist for days. So, I went with it and felt it all. And it felt awful. And then it passed. Those feelings did not stay with me for the rest of the day. 

Because of my emotional acknowledgment and release, I was able to be creative yesterday evening. I went to a workshop on Saturday and learned about sashiko (Japanese slow stitching). Then last night I made a cute drawstring bag with my sashiko patches. I might have discovered a new obsession... I might want to make lots and lots of bags with sashiko patches now... :)

I made no plans for today. I slept in a little and enjoyed my coffee and blog reading. I need to go grocery shopping. I'm motivating myself by telling myself I can browse the fabric section for bag supplies. Later today I will spend a couple of hours working on the revisions for my Institutional Review Board (IRB) application for my proposed research study. I wouldn't be able to do academic work on behalf of women who are childless not-by-choice if I hadn't gone through everything I've been through. I'm grateful for the opportunity to conduct a pilot study.

So it's a good day. It's a good life. It's been extremely hard, but it's been worth it.

You can buy the pattern online for $6 here. 

It is designed to be handsewn, but I used my sewing machine. I also added a layer of batting to the exterior panel before attaching the lining to give the bag more shape. 

My sisters don't want a quilt, so I think I will sew these for them to use as make-up bags. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

It's Okay Now

I accidentally revealed my status as childless not-by-choice at work the other day. 

Wait. I just went to erase "at work" and change it to "at one of my jobs" and just realized I've disclosed my infertility at BOTH of my jobs. Ha!!! You'd think something like that would be at the forefront of my memory. 

Ok, the first time (the one I'm just now remembering) is actually kind of major. A co-worker and I were talking about how we want to get married when she shared that she wants kids and had her eggs frozen. I said, "Oh! Really?" because nobody ever talks about that stuff casually. So then I told her that if she uses them and goes through that process I can be a support for her. I even told her, "I did IVF a couple of times so I know the whole process. You don't ever have to be positive with me. You are always allowed to complain." 


I can't believe I forgot about having such a personal conversation at work.

Ok, the second time it happened was why I started writing this post. So, back to my first sentence... I accidentally revealed my status as childless not-by-choice at work the other day. I don't even remember what we were saying really, something about kids and parents, when (without even thinking about it) I off-handedly said, "Yeah, well, I can't have kids." It was out of my mouth before I even realized the thought was in my head.

My single, 30-year old co-worker immediately stopped and was speechless for a moment. Then she looked at me and said, "I'm sorry."

I replied, "It's okay." And there was another brief moment of silence.

I added, "Thank you for saying that. I don't say 'it's okay' dismissively. For a long time, it definitely wasn't okay at all. But it's okay now."

It's okay now.

That's the truth.

It is okay now.

But I never thought it would be.

Friday, March 10, 2023

March Again

March is transformative. The season goes from winter to spring. And for me, back in 2015, I went from trying to conceive to contemplating what a life without my children might look like. 

I haven't written until now this month because I've been working hard to meet a deadline for my proposed research project. It's interesting reading about involuntary childlessness in academic journals. It's really interesting that the majority of the research I've found has been published in the last couple of years. 

I think about how, this time last year, I didn't have my jobs and I wasn't back in school. I was wrapping up my three-month, self-imposed sabbatical after quitting what ended up being the worst job ever. (And the job before that had its own concerns! So that's saying something.)

I also think about how my Survivor Anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks. Has it really been eight years since my last failed IVF? That sounds so long ago...

Something is going on with me. I'm just not thinking straight. I saw an unfamiliar charge on my checking account this afternoon and called my bank attempting to file a claim on the fraudulent charge. Except it wasn't a charge. It was a credit. From my employer. It was my paycheck. 

[insert facepalm]

But hey, instead of losing money, I earned some money. And it was't fraudulent at all! So I'm glad it worked out like that instead of the other way around.

But on a more serious note? I need to notice that my brain is overloaded and give myself grace. Do a little less. Get more sleep. Breathe slowly and deeply. Eat. You know, all the basics.

It's good! I love my jobs. I love school. I'm very grateful. 

I also think changes are on the horizon. 

I suppose they always are... :)

Artist: Travis Parr, art work available here.

Monday, February 27, 2023

Season of Grief

I can tell we are on the other side of winter. Don't get me wrong, it's still winter. It's still cold and there is still snow on the ground. But there is less of it. It is melting. In another month or two, it will feel like spring.

I think that's my favorite part of where I live now: getting to experience all four seasons. 

I love winter so much and thought I'd be sad when I could tell spring was on its way... But I'm not. Winter can end. Haha. Winter is tough! On people and houses and cars and animals and roads and, well, everything. I still love it and I look forward to it returning next year, but it is fine that we are on this side of winter.

I feel like this is my season of grief. Is that a thing? January, February, and March have never been the same since my failed IVF cycles. I feel lower energy and easier to cry. Of course the stress in life never stops, but it feels bigger than that. It feels like... Well, my season of grief.

When I got married, I never thought I'd get divorced. I knew my husband for a long time and we were on the same page about everything (or so I thought). I had been in love with him for much longer than we had dated. For me, it was love/crush at first sight. Later, I learned it was for him too. But it took us awhile to actually start dating for real (8 years!) and then it was happily ever after (or so I thought).

I thought I'd have kids too. I daydreamed about being a mother my whole life. I never daydreamed about my wedding like some of my friends did, but I always wanted to parent.

But I don't have kids. And now I don't have any false illusion that I will be having kids. And I'm not married anymore. I am divorced. All of that--marriage and hoping for children--was a different season of my life. And that season ended too.

And once again, things are changing. Winter is leaving. I am grieving, although it looks different in 2023 than it has in the past. I laugh a lot more now. But I still cry a lot too. What can I say, I have a lot of feelings.

And today I am feeling loss. I am also feeling at a loss. I am also feeling okay. 

It's confusing, but I'm not trying to figure anything out. 

I am navigating my season of grief while feeling proud of what I've created amidst the rubble.

Image found at

Saturday, February 18, 2023

Uncomfortable Confessions from Others

I have been experiencing an odd phenomenon lately. It's weird, and it makes me feel uncomfortable. I will be working with an older adult, they will ask me if I have children, I say no, and then they pause before telling me the strangest things.

I have been deemed a safe person to whom they confess their most personal thoughts.


Person 1, a woman in her early 90s: "Oh, well, that's not so bad, not having children. I mean, this isn't a world you want to be bringing children into these days."

Ok, the first time caught me off guard. I just smiled and said something about life working out.


Person 2, a man in his mid 70s: "You don't have kids? Well, I don't know why everyone is having so many. I don't know what is going to be left by the end of these kids' lifetimes. You know my [insert daughter/granddaughter/I forget who he said] is pregnant? I am so mad at this pregnancy."

Wow... That one really took me off guard. I assured him the community was full of good people and the kid would have a good life full of love. I didn't want to automatically put a positive spin on things, but geez, that's no way to live. Blood pressure levels alone.


(Which brings me to a side point--why are there all these tv channels available in hospitals and physical rehabilitation facilities? They're so stressful. All that bad news. Why not just have, like, a puppy channel and some G-rated sit coms, cooking shows, and old game shows. I think those channels would be more healing.)


The third confessional had a different tone. Upon learning I did not have children, this woman in her late 90s told me that her son died when he was 31. This happened many decades ago and I could feel the pain as she told me about losing him. Losing a child is a lifelong loss. She knew she could confide in me.


Well! I've always heard that you never know what kids are going to say. But now I've learned it's just people in general. Young or old, who knows what is going to come out of someone's mouth.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Encouraging Research Participation

I had the pleasure and the honor to participate in research on involuntary childlessness yesterday. I say pleasure because it is nice to be asked questions about my experience and have someone listen to my answers with their full attention. I say honor because I believe it is important to research our experiences as involuntarily childless adults. Research drives legislation which drives policy. Until we have evidence about our experiences, we will continue to be overlooked in the various sectors of society. 

And we matter! Our experiences matter! 

Before participating in this interview, I emailed my research advisors to make sure it was okay. They did not see any conflict of interest and encouraged me to participate. (This researcher and I are both examining involuntary childlessness but through the lens of different professions and for different implications.) Then I told the researcher about my upcoming research project, but she did not see any conflicts of interest either. In fact, she is excited to have met a colleague researching involuntary childlessness. We were able to talk briefly about methodology and other aspects of our research.

This researcher is looking at people who used services from fertility clinics and who did and did not go on to have children. She shared that she is having a hard time finding people who did fertility treatments but never had children and now live a life without parenting. She still needs 5 - 6 more participants from the U.S. or Canada. I offered to write a blog post to get the word out, so, please, if you are over the age of 38, have failed fertility treatments, are living your life childless-not-by-choice, and can participate in a one-on-one anonymous and confidential interview, let me know! You can email me at infertilephoenix at gmail dot com. I will forward you the researcher's email address. This project has Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval, and it is all legit.

As for my research project, I am applying for IRB approval this semester. Then I will conduct my research in the summer. I am very, very excited. I will be interviewing women across the world who are involuntarily childless after infertility (fertility treatments not required), but I'm still working out the details of methodology so this is not an official announcement or call for participants or anything. It's more of a "heads up."

I believe in the power of research. As I learn how to advocate for my profession and my patients, I am learning that evidence-based rationales are the most persuasive. I am happy to contribute to the body of knowledge myself, as a research participant and later this year as a researcher.

Thank you for your consideration!

Tuesday, February 7, 2023

WOTY 2023 Addendum

Aaand I just realized that I would have hated my WOTY for 2023 back when I was trying to get pregnant. Telling a woman to relax when she's trying to get pregnant is insulting. It adds to her guilt, shame, and sense that she is doing something wrong. It's a mean thing to say. It SUCKS. And yes, I heard it a lot.

So I'm pretty surprised that I've been thinking about a word for over a month now without even associating it with that. It wasn't until after I posted my last post that I had my facepalm moment.

But I guess that goes to show that whatever may be taking up all of our brain space in the moment, changes. It changes. 

Now when I think about the word "relax" I just think about pausing, taking a deep breath, lowering my shoulders, and relaxing my forehead. That might all sound weird. But apparently I am just hunching up my shoulders and furrowing my brow unknowingly because it seems I can always do something physical to help myself relax a little. 

So, anyway, not the greatest post. But I just had to comment on my word choice. 

But I won't worry about it. I'll just practice relaxing. ;)