Friday, November 17, 2017

Validation Anniversary

One year ago today, I had surgery to remove endometriosis.  Well, I can't remember the exact date, but I know I had the surgery the Friday before Thanksgiving last year, and it's the Friday before Thanksgiving this year, so.....

Prior to the surgery, I'd spent 20 years insisting that something was wrong and begging and pleading with doctors to help me.  On this day last year, I got proof that there was indeed something wrong and that it wasn't all in my head.  I was validated.  All of those years of pain and misery suddenly had a cause.

Last year I couldn't make the 10-minute walk from the parking garage to my office without significant pain, and the three-hour blocks that I teach in were excruciating.  Exercise was out of the question.  Now I feel great.  I'm not completely pain-free, but I don't have much pain most of the time.  Walking from the parking garage to my office is no big deal.  Teaching in three-hour blocks is still taxing, but nothing like before.  I'm back to going to the gym 3-4 days a week and I'm doing things that I haven't been able to do in years.  I've also lost about 15 pounds which has been good for my self-esteem. 

Emotionally, I'm still very angry that I spent so long with nobody listening.  And I'm angry that this could have been a contributing factor to infertility and that if it had been addressed earlier in my life maybe we would have been able to have kids.  More globally, I'm angry that my experience isn't unique.  I'm angry that women's pain isn't taken seriously or is just plain brushed off.

Anyway, I'm feeling pensive today.  And so grateful that a doctor finally listened to me.  I really do feel like I have my life back.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Me too

Me too.

For a long time, I felt alone.

And then the two simple words, "me too" started showing up on social media.  Sometimes they were accompanied by a story, sometimes they were not.

The sheer number left me stunned.  And sick.  Women in their 70s to women in their early 20s.  And that's just among my friends.

Stories of being taken advantage of by a boss.  Or raped by a man, sometimes known, and sometimes not.  Stories of being assaulted.  Stories of being teased or catcalled.  Stories of sexual abuse.  And stories of the system failing them if they tried to report.

Their stories and their bravery made me feel all of the feels.

I didn't post on social media.  I didn't have it in me.  I lacked the courage to put it in print for the whole world to see.  I didn't want to have to explain or be pressed for details by people I didn't want to share with.  And I didn’t want to be accused of attention seeking. This space is a little safer for me due to the semi-anonymity.

Me too.  Me.  Fucking.  Too. And the thing is, I’m not special. Or the exception. That’s the scary part.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

When selfishness is called out

My sister is pregnant.  If you'll recall, she couldn't bother to tell me herself so I found out from my mom.

The elephant in the room was still present until earlier this month.  The same sister who couldn't bother to tell me herself that she is pregnant managed to publicly announce on social media.

I was pissed and I was hurt.

I sent her a text.  It wasn't accusatory or anything like that, but it was very direct and expressed my hurt that she could announce it publicly but couldn't send me a courtesy text.

Some time passed, though not as long as I expected, and she responded.  She didn't know how to tell me.  She didn't want to hurt me.  Blah blah blah.

Translation: My infertility makes her uncomfortable.  And she is selfish.

And when called out on it, she makes it about how she feels.

I just want to scream that it's not just about her and that I shouldn't have to ignore my feelings because of her.

*****

I'll see her for the first time since (not) telling me about her pregnancy over the weekend.  She's excited.  I'm indifferent.  I'm still miffed about her non-apology.  It'll be interesting, that's for sure.

Monday, October 16, 2017

With different eyes

About two months ago I picked up my new glasses.  There isn't anything special about them, though they do a nice job of correcting my astigmatism that gets worse every couple of years, which was the catalyst for getting this pair.

The last time I got new glasses was in the midst of infertility.  I had my eye appointment to get that prescription literally two hours after our first appointment with the reproductive endocrinologist.  I didn't love the glasses I picked out, but they were good enough (and about $400 cheaper than the pair that I liked).  I went to pick them up after my first round of testing.  We all know how my brief foray into reproductive endocrinology went.  Anyway, for whatever reason, I always associated those stupid glasses with learning we'd never have children.

It's nice to not have a piece of hardware on my face that doesn't hold any hard memories!

Within a few days of getting my new glasses, I also got a new computer, which gave me the occasion to transfer all of my photos.

Naturally, as I was transferring everything over, I took the opportunity to look through the past twelve years or so of my life in photos.  There were happy times, like when hubs' and I started dating when our dog was a puppy, and when we got married.  And then there were the infertility years.

The. Infertility.  Years.

I looked dead.  I swear you could see the brokenness in my eyes.  I was hurting.  I wouldn't have admitted it at the time but I was forcing the appearance of happiness.

There weren't many photos back then.  I largely stayed away from the camera.  I remember most of the events, but more as something to get through rather than something that I enjoyed.  The Christmases and Thanksgivings and random family events. 

It brought back all of the feelings.  For a little while, I was back to the broken woman whose dreams of having children had just evaporated into thin air.  Photographic evidence of how hard it was.

But then I looked at more recent photos.  My faked happiness turned into less faked happiness which turned into genuine happiness.

At some point, I made the decision that I didn't want to feel like shit anymore.  That it wasn't doing me any good to fake being happy.  So I began to work through my grief.  That was the turning point. 

What is it they say? That nothing that comes easy is worth having?  My god, it was (is) so hard.  But so worth it.

I'm a different woman today then I was in 2014.  I'm not the person I used to be.  Not better or worse, just different.  More resilient. 

And I'm glad.  Like Mali said, choosing to survive is empowering

Monday, October 9, 2017

Reevaluating

When I started this blog three years ago, I made the conscious decision not to moderate comments.  I always said that I'd leave it that way until I got my first comment from a troll. 

Well, that happened over the weekend and now comment moderation is enabled. 

I'm honestly surprised that it took so long.

The funny thing is that I pride myself on being a person who can have an intelligent conversation with just about anyone on just about any topic, regardless of whether or not that person and I have different views. 

But if the past year has taught me anything, it's that civil discourse is a distant memory from a bygone era. 

So to the anonymous person who encouraged me to "think beyond the surface," know that I have.  For years.  Literally years.  And every time I conclude the same exact thing.  We need to make guns harder to get.  Period.  We can do this while still upholding the Second Amendment.  It goes beyond making me feel nice, warm, and fuzzy.  I value human life.  And I always will.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Enough

It was in the months after Sandy Hook (2012) when I realized that legislators in this country would never do anything to enact meaningful gun control in the United States.  If a gunman can walk into an elementary school and kill babies and it doesn't light a fire under the asses of legislators, nothing ever will.

So here we are almost five years later and nothing has changed.  Over fifty people died at the hands of a deranged gunman on Sunday night in Las Vegas.

In a week or so everyone will move on to the next news story and forget about Vegas.  Just as they did with Pulse.  And Virgina Tech.  And Sandy Hook.  And San Bernadino.  And Fort Hood.  And all of the others.

And these are just the shootings that make the news. 

Legislators (and many Americans) will continue to hide behind the second amendment and will sleep well at night because "it was an illegally obtained weapon" or "they modified the weapon" or "they passed the background check" or "they slipped through the cracks" or whatever garbage they tell themselves.

I've seen so many saying that they're praying for the victims of Las Vegas.  Now is not the time for praying.  Now is the time for action.  Now is the time pass common-sense gun control.  Now is the time to make it harder for criminals, those accused of domestic violence or with a restraining order against them to obtain or possess a gun.  Honor their memory by taking steps to solve the problem.

This is not ok.  Yet nothing will change.  Again.


Monday, September 11, 2017

The things women deal with

I wasn't sure if I was going to write all of this out and publish it on my blog, then I read this article on Huff Post (shared on their Facebook page), and it inspired me to speak out.  Speaking out is even more important now then it has ever been since Title IX provisions are going to be rolled back. While the scope of Title IX is relatively narrow (i.e., only applies to colleges and universities that receive federal funding), it is a huge step towards silencing women.

I am a member at a local gym.  I really do like this particular gym.  The owners care about the business, are frequently around, and reinvest profits back into the facility and equipment.  It really is a great place.  They have a good amount of staffed hours, but members also have 24/7 access using a scan card.  I'd also rate the gym female friendly because I haven't experienced some of the overt sexism that I've experienced in other gyms throughout my life.

On Saturday I went to the gym during unstaffed hours.  This is typical for me on the weekends. When I arrived, there was one woman on a treadmill, and a father/son combo playing catch on one of the turf fields.  Everybody was minding their own business and respecting each other's space. Eventually, all three of those people finished what they were doing and left, leaving me there alone.  It was a little bit eerie, but not a big deal.  There are plenty of security cameras.  I moved where I was working out to a place where I had a direct line of sight to the main entrance, where I could see anyone coming in and where they would also be able to see me.

It wasn't long before I see a car pulling up and a 50-something appearing man can himself in.  Being a woman has taught me to be cautious and aware in any situation where I am alone with an unknown male, so I was a little bit on edge, but not too bad, because after all, he had just as much right to be there as I did.  Anyway, the man walked in, put his things down in the lounge area, and walked over to the stereo system and changed the channel.  He didn't bother to ask me if I was listening or if I minded if he changed it.  This put me a little more on edge because he clearly saw me and clearly didn't care if I was listening.  It put him in a position of power over me and made me feel like I belonged there less than he did.  I tried to shake it off and continued with my workout.

Next thing I know, this man (who I've never seen before in my life) starts working out within 10 feet of me without a single word.  The gym is literally 30,000 square feet and there are two other areas with the exact equipment that I was using that he could have chosen.  But he didn't.  This put me over the edge.  I grabbed my keys and bolted, not even taking the time to re-rack the weights I was using.

Did the man intend to hurt me?  I doubt it.  The gym has a ton of security cameras, is located in a plaza that has security patrols about every 20 minutes, and is across the road from a police station. He would have been incredibly stupid to try something.  Did the man intend to intimidate me?  This question is harder to answer.  I don't think there was necessarily intent, but there was definitely an air of superiority and entitlement present in his actions that led to me being intimidated enough to leave.  The music wasn't as big of a deal.  It's proper gym etiquette (and basic human decency) to ask the only other person in the building if they mind if it's changed, but not the end of the world.  And honestly, I would have told him that I didn't mind if it was changed.  As for working out directly beside me, this one is a little harder to explain away. I really can't think of any reason he would do this, other than to make me uncomfortable.

I got home and was talking about what happened with hubs and I realized that he truly, genuinely didn't get it.  I think that part of this is because as a man (a white man at that) he's very rarely, if ever, been put in a situation where he felt that his personal safety was at risk.  On the other hand, women, including me, have dealt with this crap since we were young girls.  And we're so used to it that we are hyper aware in all situations and usually don't say anything when something happens because it happens so often.

I'm fine now.  I was uncomfortable and intimidated in the moment, but now I'm just pissed.  This has all got to stop because it is not ok.

So I guess the moral of the story for women is to use your voice.  Speak out.  Change can't happen if half of the population doesn't even know there is a problem.  And if any men happen to be reading this, the moral of the story for you is to listen to the experiences of the women you love and work to change your own behavior as a result.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

On my blogoversary!

On this day three years ago, I created this blog and pushed publish for the first time.  To say the time has flown by is an understatement!

I really don't have adequate words to write about how much this space has meant to me during this time.  It's been a space where I've shared the depths of grief, some of the hard things that have happened in life, and celebrated some milestones too.  The friends that I've made and the support I've received have, by far, been the best and most meaningful part of having this blog.  I know that I wouldn't be doing as well as I am today (and I am doing really well!) without all of the amazing women who have lifted me up throughout this process.

I acknowledge that my blogging has tapered way off in the last year, though, ironically, the number of visitors to my blog hasn't.  I could give excuses like lack of time, lack of mental energy, and being crazy busy with work, and those excuses are at least partially true, but I find myself in a weird space of knowing that I designed this space for one specific purpose and most of what is in my heart to write about is well outside of that scope.  Maybe one day I'll get brave enough to publish some of my more social justice oriented posts that I have taking up space in my drafts folder.  In the meantime, I'll continue to write about life without children, at least occasionally.

To those of you who have supported me for any or all of the last three years: Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Y'all mean the world to me.

And to those of you who stumbled across this blog because of a Google search along the lines of "I can't have children, now what?": I'm glad you are here and I hope that in some small way, what I've written is comforting to you.  It's not going to be easy, but I can promise you that if you put the work into grieving, it will get less hard with time.

Monday, August 14, 2017

This is not ok

A woman was killed by a Nazi.  In Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday.  August 13, 2017,

A bunch of racist thugs (white nationalists, neo-nazis, alt-right, whatever your preferred term for these maggots is) hell bent on "white (Christian, male) superority" and their guns descended on the city to protest the proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a noteworthy (for all of the wrong reasons) figure in the US Civil War, and just generally protecting the rights of white people.

This wasn't a march.  It wasn't a protest.  It was essentially what amounted to one big KKK rally. They came looking for a fight.  The governor of Virginia said they were more and better armed than the state police.  The governor declared a state of emergency for the entire state.

Once our spineless, illegitimate president bothered to make remarks on the events in Charlottesville, he seemed to, at least in part, blame those who have been disenfranchised by years.

If you aren't horrified by all of this, you either haven't been paying attention, or you need to do some serious soul searching.

I'm not sure if I want to cry or puke.  This is not ok.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Object of pity

A few years ago we were just coming to grips with the fact that we'd never have children.  Within months of ending our quest to have children we found out that one of my sisters was pregnant in a very public announcement with much fanfare.  As you might predict I didn't react well.

To decrease the likelihood of reacting poorly (and publicly) again, I asked my mom to give me the heads up if she found out that any of my sisters were pregnant and she promised to let me know. Now, I haven't written much about my relationship with my mom, but suffice to say, it's complicated, and she has an established track record of not coming through for me.  But with this she did.  It gave me the time and space to process the news and the ability to pretend that I was happy for them when I "found out."  

A few weeks ago my mom called me, randomly, on a Sunday night.  I knew from the tone of her voice that one of my sisters was pregnant, just not which one.  I soon found out.  

I figured that my sister would call within the next few days, or at least text.  But she didn't.  About a week later my mom called me again.  Apparently my sister feels so sorry for me that she can't tell me herself.  My mom was tasked with giving the official news.

So basically I'm an object of pity (and/or the bitter infertile).

I can deal with the pregnancy news.  I mean, I'm the oldest, and I'm 36, which is not ancient by normal reproductive standards, so realistically it's far more likely that there would be pregnancies than not.

But to be pitied?  That hurts.

I don't want pity.  A little bit of sensitivity and empathy would be nice.  But please don't pity me.

I'm not sure how to deal with this.  Or whether or not I should bother.  I don't want my family to fear telling me their happy news.

I haven't talked to my sister since my mom told me the official pregnancy news, though this is for reasons completely unrelated to her pregnancy (and completely related to her being a selfish jerk). Honestly, I'm not in any hurry to talk to her.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

And another

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that I have three sisters.  And starting three months after we found out we'd never have children of our own, each of them got pregnant.  When it was all said and done, I endured right around 20 consecutive months of at least one sister being pregnant and welcomed two nieces and a nephew in just over a year.  If you think that sounds like some special variety of hell, trust me when I say that it was.  If you're not familiar with the narrative, click here, here, here, here, here, here, and quite a few posts in between.

Which brings me to why I'm bringing this up.

One of my sisters is pregnant.  Again.

Am I surprised?  Not completely.  I just didn't anticipate it would happen this soon.  They had trouble conceiving their first  so I (incorrectly and naively) assumed that the second would take a long time too.  I thought I'd have more time before dealing with this again.

How am I taking the news?  That's more complicated.  Compared to how I took the news a couple of years ago, better.  Though "better" is relative.

I am being reacquainted with feelings I don't wish to be reacquainted with.  I am feeling sorry for myself.  And I'm angry with god or the universe or whatever.  Because none of this is fair.

Just when I thought I was in a place where I was doing really well, this happens.  Fan-fucking-tastic.

If there's a silver lining in the situation, it's that there is no chance of having more than one sister pregnant this time.  The other two have their tubes tied.  Yay for small victories.


Thursday, July 6, 2017

The posts I want to write

I have a lot on my mind yet I seem to have lost my writing mojo.  Not to mention that free time seems to be lacking.

I want to tell you about how we're updating the look of our house by painting the exterior.  About how it's taking longer (and costing more money) than anticipated.  And about how, despite my complaints, many trips to the home improvement store, and arguments with hubs', I'm loving every single minute of it.

I want you to know that my poison ivy is almost gone.  It took a seven day course of steroids to jump start the healing, but slowly but surely it's disappearing.  And at least it doesn't itch (that much) anymore, though I suspect I may have some scarring around my ankles and on my right wrist.

I want to tell you about our absolutely fantastic trip to London that was everything I'd hoped it would be and more!  While we saw so many amazing things while we were there, easily my favorite was using the public transportation network.  You see, I've always had a fascination with mass transit (to the extent that if I had a career do-over, I'd probably be an engineer), so it's no surprise that I'd have a fascination with one of the first mass transit networks in the world.  Maybe someday we'll get to live abroad! 

Back in April I wrote about a potential promotion at work.  I didn't get it.  There were politics involved.  The process was circumvented.  I don't know how to play that game (and even if I did I wouldn't).  I'm less upset that I didn't get the promotion then I am about HOW I didn't get it.  I'm sure there will be other opportunities at some point, here or elsewhere.  At the end of the day I have a job that I love and that I get a lot of fulfillment from, and that alone is more than a lot of people have and something to be thankful for.

I want to write a post about Father's Day and how that day is actually harder for me than Mother's Day.  Because, medically speaking, it is my fault that my husband will never be a father.  While he's always said that he'd rather be with me and not have kids then be with someone else and have a litter of kids, it's still guilt that I live with and that I can't shake.

I want to tell you about my favorite niece and how her birthday is always a bittersweet day for me.  When I took her from the doctor's hands and handed her to my sister so she and my brother-in-law could marvel at the chubby, blue eyed, dark hair beauty that she was/is, I didn't know that it would be as close as I would ever come to experiencing childbirth.  This year it hit me a bit hard.

I want to complain about how sometimes the universe sucks.  Like how hubs and I had planned a trip to Long Island so he could see a band he's always wanted to see in concert, we could spend some time lounging at a beach cottage, and spend some time with Sarah and her wonderful husband Julio.  But that was all snatched away when hubs ended up in the ER with kidney stones less than 36 hours before we were supposed to leave.  With the help of some pretty powerful pain meds, he was able to pass them, but it really was shitty timing.  Though honestly, I'm glad it happened when it did as opposed to while we were away, because I have no desire to navigate the bullshit that is finding an "in network" hospital in a different state.

And finally, I want to write about how Independence Day was hard to celebrate this year.  America is no longer the great nation that I was born in and lived the first 35.5 years of my life in.  We are as divided and as hateful as ever and it's frightening.  It is my sincerest hope that we can weather this illegitimate president and impeach him before the Constitution and this country are irreparably damaged. 

So that's a bit about what's been on my mind.  Maybe eventually I'll sit down and write it all out.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Desperate measures

For the first time in my life I have Poison Ivy.

How I managed to make it for 36 years without getting it, I have no clue.  Especially since I grew up on a farm and spent a significant portion of my childhood outside.

I must have contracted it last week when we were doing some outdoor work in our yard.  I know what the plant looks like and I knew there was some in a particular area in the back of the yard, so I was careful to avoid it.  I should have been wearing pants and sleeves, but since it was slightly cooler than the surface of the sun outside, I opted for shorts and a tanktop.  This was a mistake.

Anyway, it started on my ankles/lower legs on Thursday.  Annoying but not a big deal since legs are easy to slap some calamine lotion on, cover, and go on with your day.  Then a few spots started to appear on my upper legs.  Then my abdomen and back.  Then my neck.  Then my face.  A blistery, puss filled rash ON MY FACE.  Each day it seemed to double in size.  It wasn't too bad until it started to creep to areas that I can't cover.

From everything I've read, the rash itself isn't dangerous as much as it is annoying. The danger comes from the risk of secondary infection (from scratching the blisters open) and if it gets to your eyes or in your mouth/throat it can cause some pretty serious issues.

I tried everything I can think of to manage the annoyance of it and try to get it to stop spreading.  I tried several different types of cream, plus oral Benadryl, plus my regular allergy medication. Minimal relief and very short-lived.  So I turned to Dr. Google (I know, I know, desperate times call for desperate measures.....) for some less mainstream cures.  Pouring vinegar (two different types) yielded no effect.  Same with rubbing alcohol.  Same with a cold coffee compress.  A cool shower provided temporary relief, as did making a paste of baking soda, rubbing it on my skin, and letting it dry (though I'm not sure the mess it caused was worth the minor temporary relief).  I stopped short of putting bleach on my skin, though I did briefly consider it before my youngest sister (who has a well established history of acquiring and treating severe cases of poison ivy) reminded me that it was fucking crazy to put a caustic agent on my face.

When I woke up Sunday morning it had spread again and was less than a 1/2 inch from my mouth.  I decided it was time for medical intervention.  I'm fortunate to have e-visits included as part of my health insurance plan, so I didn't even have to leave my house to go to the doctor.  I logged on to my account, entered a few bits of information, snapped a few pictures, paid my $5 copay (which, I know for some of you paying to see a doctor is reprehensible, but by American standards, $5 is a steal), and waited less than five minutes to see a nurse practitioner.  She had seen my pictures so had a pretty good idea what we were dealing with.  She asked a few questions to verify what I'd already done to manage it and how it had spread, verified my medication allergies, and told me she was going to prescribe a seven day course of steroids to treat it (because apparently my reaction was pretty severe for a first reaction).  Hopefully they work because I'm done dealing with this crap!

Oh, and apparently reactions get more severe with each exposure.  So the next time I get it, it will be worse.  Joy.

This morning, I realized that seeking alternative treatments for poison ivy was much like seeking alternative treatments for infertility.  I got to the point of desperation where I was willing to consider anything, even things that seemed "out there" or were potentially unsafe.  It was a weird trip back to that place of desperation, one I hope I don't have to revisit for a long time to come.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

That day

There are things in life that you should do.  Because they are the right thing to do.  And because they are the socially acceptable thing to do.

Like sucking it up enough to wish your own mother a Happy Mother's Day.

Yet this year, for the first time ever (including the really hard years during infertility), I didn't have it in me.  I. Could. Not. Do. It.

It wasn't a terrible day.  I avoided the usual social media triggers.  I went out and about shopping for a few things for our upcoming trip (though I'm not going to lie, I purposefully selected checkout lanes with early 20s appearing males figuring they were the least likely to wish me a Happy Mother's Day). I had a long chat with Sarah.  Despite the fact that she has a fuckton of stuff on her plate right now, Cristy made it a point to check in on me throughout the day.  And I got several other texts or emails from friends made through blogging but don't have blogs themselves.

But despite all of the love and support from friends there was an intense feeling of being different, especially when it came to my family.  I was caught in the middle of a group chat with my mom and my sisters. Messages were flying back and forth.  Plans for the day.  Pictures.  Descriptions of gifts. Not one big hurt, but 100 little hurts.  And not one inquiry about me or how I was doing.

As the day wore on, I knew I couldn't call.  Or even text.  I didn't have it in me.  I cried a little.  Hubs reassured me that I didn't have to do it.

I've heard that my mom's feelings are hurt, so there will probably be fences to mend when we talk next.

The day is not about me, nor will it ever be.  And I'm not trying to make it about me.  But I don't think it's asking a lot for my family to realize that the day might be difficult for me and to cut me a little bit of slack.


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Healing Place

There were many reasons that we chose to buy a house.  Interest rates were at historic lows.  Rent kept rising (and finding a new rental with a large dog was next to impossible).  We scrimped and saved enough to have a decent down payment.  For the first time in a long time we knew that the city we were living in wasn't just a temporary stop, that we'd be here for a while.  Buying was the next logical step.

And honestly, after infertility, after officially closing the door on parenthood, I needed something big, something positive, something special.  A fresh start of sorts.

So we looked (and looked and looked and looked) and eventually we found the house that would become ours.  It felt like home the minute we walked in to the open house.  The vintage 1950s glass door knobs sealed the deal.

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of buying our house.

One of my hopes was that our house would be a place of healing, and it has been.  I feel comfortable here.  Happy.  At ease.  Safe.  Stable.  For the first time in a long time.

There will be no negative pregnancy tests here.  Or ovulation tracking. Or sex when we don't feel like it.  Or month after month of disappointment. Or conversations about how far we want to go down the fertility treatment path.  And no envisioning any of the rooms as a future baby's room.

I'm also proud.  We've done all of the work so far ourselves.  With our own blood, sweat, and tears (literally and figuratively).

We still love our bold, funky paint colors.  The hardwood floors that we refinished ourselves have held up remarkably well.  I planted a garden and managed not to kill the plants.  We're chipping away at the landscaping which was minimally maintained for probably close to 10 years, but suffice to say that it looks a heck of a lot better compared to when we bought the place.

Our projects for this summer are more landscaping, to paint the exterior of the house and garage as well as gut the bathroom.  I hope we're not getting in over our heads....

I feel like I'm failing miserably at saying what I want to say.  Our house is the healing place I'd hoped for, and so much more.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Weirdness

It's been a weird week.  Yes, I know it's only Tuesday. I would have said the same thing yesterday (by noon).

When it comes to work, I am what a colleague once described as a "worker bee." Basically I get done what needs to be done, no matter how long it takes, how hard the task, and with no expectation whatsoever of recognition. I'm a behind the scenes sort of girl.

Before noon on Monday a professional opportunity presented itself. A promotion of sorts, though not really because it will involve all of my current responsibilities (with a small bit of redistribution) plus new responsibilities. This is something that I estimated was in the 5-7 years out range in my career trajectory. There are still a few conversations that I need to have and some negotiations will need to take place, so nothing is final yet, but despite people who are my senior being eligible for this, my name was the first to come up when the position opened up, so I must be doing something right.  To be honest, I don't feel like I have quite enough experience for this, but I've been assured that others have faith in me and my ability to do this (maybe more than I have in myself).

Later in the day on Monday I was called into a meeting and asked to do something, again that I didn't feel like I had the experience or seniority (though, in this case, I knew that I had the skills) to do.  Something far from fun but absolutely necessary. And it sucked. But it needed to be done.

I thought the day couldn't get weirder. It did.

The phone rang.  It was a person calling to inquire about my interest in a job.  I don't know this person and I didn't apply for the job.  The call was completely out of the blue. It sounds like a cool opportunity, but not a good fit for me, if for no other reason but it would require us to move to a different state. Still, I'm not going to lie, it feels good to have people contacting me about jobs instead of the other way around.

The day was just plain weird. Not bad weird, just weird. With potential to be really cool.

So how does this all relate to infertility? It doesn't, at least not directly.  The most significant thing for me is that I really feel like I'm finding myself again.  I lost me to infertility and then grief for a couple of years. I'm not fully back, but I'm getting there. And apparently others are noticing.

I'm not going to lie, I hope the rest of the week is normal!


Thursday, April 20, 2017

I miss

I love spring.  Everything wakes up.  Things start anew.  The sun comes out of hiding.  I start spending a lot of time outside.  My soul is recharged in so many ways.

But there are things about spring that amplify what I'm missing out on thanks to infertility.  Soccer, for example.

One of the things I most looked forward to about parenting was sharing our love of sports with our kids.  There are few things, in my opinion, cuter than a swarm of four and five year olds chasing after a soccer ball, everyone cheering when a goal is scored, no matter which team scores or whether or not it was in the correct goal.  The pure joy of sport.

Had things worked out differently, this is probably the first year that our kids would have been old enough to participate.

But we don't have kids.  So there will be no soccer games.

And I miss it.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sometimes I'm firing on all cyllinders

I have a warranty on my engagement and wedding rings that requires them to be inspected twice per year.  Yesterday I knew I'd be near the store, so I decided to pop in for the inspection and get it out of the way.  Not a big deal, usually in and out in under 10 minutes.

Upon entering the store, the following conversation ensued:

Me: Hi, I'm here for a warranty inspection on my rings.

I hand my rings to the saleswoman and she looks up the warranty information on the computer.

Salesperson 1: I'll get these inspected and back to you in a few minutes.

Meanwhile I'm just sort of wandering around the store (because what else is there to do in a small jewelry store?).  I see a second salesperson approaching me.

Salesperson 2: There's still time to order a custom mother's ring and have it here in time for Mother's Day!  You could pick out exactly what you want and take the paperwork home to your husband so he can order it.  Then the kids could surprise you with it on Mother's Day.

At this point, I'm thinking that it's April freaking first, like six weeks from Mother's Day.  What gives?  I decided to educate (with a little bit of snark thrown in for good measure).

Me: Actually, Mother's Day doesn't apply to me so I won't need a mother's ring.  Do you have any special promotions going on for National Infertility Awareness Week?  It's coming up soon and applies to me.

Salesperson 2 looks at me like I have three heads and was completely speechless.  I continue.

Me: Considering one in every seven couples struggles with infertility, it would be genius from a marketing standpoint.  Nothing says "it sucks that we're having trouble making a small human" quite like a diamond necklace.

Salesperson 2 is still speechless when Salesperson 1 returns with my rings.  I thank them both and leave the store.  I quite enjoyed the awkward silence.

Sales is difficult, I get that.  Their whole job is to sell things to people.  If they don't sell things they don't get their commission, they have bills to pay, and that's pretty darn motivating to sell things.  But it's not ok to assume that every thirty-something woman that wanders into a jewelry store is a mother. Maybe she is a mother.  Or maybe she is trying like hell to be one.  Or maybe she wants to be a mother so bad they can taste it, but hasn't found a suitable partner.  Or maybe she has already closed the door on motherhood and is moving on. Or maybe she lost a child. Or maybe she have no desire to be a mother.  I really hope that my response made her think twice before deploying the "mother's ring" sales strategy to the next thirty-something female who walked in.

Luckily I was in a good headspace on Saturday afternoon and my reaction was one of "are you kidding me" as opposed to her words being painful.  A few years ago I don't think I would have handled it so well (or with so much sarcasm).

Friday, March 31, 2017

There is no need to be condescending

Earlier this week I attended a retirement reception for a colleague.  I don't know the woman well, but the reception was right across the hall from my office, there was food, and I forgot to pack my lunch. It was a good time chatting with people that I don't see that often.

It was all fine and good until she started giving her speech.  She's retiring because her daughter is expecting her first grandchild and she wants to spend time with the baby.  Groan.  Ok.  Whatever. Good for her.  I wish her the best, I honestly do.  I thought I was a few years out from dealing with granzillas, so the irony is not lost on me.  But hey, at least she's retiring, so I won't have to be around the baby talk.

But the retirement reception just provided the setting for the part I want to write about.  I want to write about is what happened as people were mingling.  I found out that a colleague is leaving in May.  I knew that, while she loved her job, she also longed to be closer to family, and apparently she's found a position that will allow her to do something she's excited about and be closer to family.  She and her husband also have two kids under three, and I know that was part of the reason for the move too.  While I will miss her, I understand wanting to move closer to your support system.

But that brings me to a conversation with a different colleague who felt the need to tell me (twice) that raising young children is a really difficult phase of life.  I know it wasn't meant to be condescending, but it was.  I don't have kids, that's no secret, but I am a reasonably intelligent person who can look at a situation and understand the difficulty in it.  Not on a personal experience level, but still.  I've never climbed Mt. Everest either, and I'm quite confident that it's pretty darn difficult too.  I'm not going to lie, it hurt a little bit.  It sort of felt like I was in that all to familiar position of "less than."

The person who said it gets a bit of a pass.  She's normally quite sensitive and someone who I can count on to be an ally.  But it still hurt, and it's ok for me to acknowledge that.  Next time I hope I'm not caught off guard and can come up with a witty response.

It gets less hard as time passes, but there will always be curveballs.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Struggle bus

With as much as I don't want to admit it, I've been struggling a bit.  As it turns out, my grandpa's death combined with the birthdays of three nieces and a nephew in a 3.5 week period is a lot to handle.  Or at least it was for me this year.  The anniversary of finding out we'd never have children (March 7th) stung a lot too.  Oh, and I had a random crying episode in a store today for the first time in a long time.

I try really hard to keep my shit together.  Or at least to appear like I have my shit together.  But right now I'm struggling.  I had been doing so well.  Right now I feel like I'm right back to where I was a year ago.

This is grief.  It's not pretty.  It's not always logical.  It always sucks.  But I always get through it.


Monday, February 20, 2017

Sigh

Sigh.

My nephew's first birthday was on Valentine's Day.  His birthday party was over the weekend.

I didn't go to the party.  But I did see pictures.  He was adorable.  The party looked like fun.

I didn't think it was going to bother me.  But it did.  And it still is.

In many ways it gets easier as time passes.  But in many ways the kids around me that I love are a reminder of what might have been.  Tonight it's the latter.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Ouch!

A person at work bounded into my office this morning and exclaimed "I have the best video to show you."  It's not that uncommon for this person to do something like this and we share a mutual love for dogs, so I assumed it was something dog related.

Nope.

The video was of her daughter's ultrasound.

Her daughter is an only child.  This will be her first grandchild.  She's excited.  It's special to see the baby and hear the heartbeat for the first time.  I get it.  She should be excited.

But damn.

I know she didn't mean to hurt me.  I know that she wouldn't have shown me if she thought it would.

I held it together until she left.  Then I had a little cry.  Then I went about the rest of my day.

I'm doing really well most of the time.  My good days outnumber the bad, probably 10 to 1, or maybe even a bit better.  But I can't do ultrasounds.  Especially not when ambushed with one.  Maybe it will always be this way and maybe it won't.  And that's ok.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Hodgepodge

I have so many things I want to write about, but right now I'm lacking in both cognitive capacity to put words on paper in a cohesive and coherent manner as well as the time to do so.

Lately, most of my writing time and energy has been devoted to writing or calling my elected officials to voice my concerns about, well, pretty much everything the president has done, is trying to do, or has plans to do.  I doubt it matters much, but it makes me feel like I'm doing something.

The reaction to my last post has been overwhelming.  While definitely not my most commented on post, in 2.5 years of blogging, it is the most viewed post that I've published.  I interpret that to mean that it struck a chord or at least made people think.  And I really hope that I didn't piss anybody off. Privilege is a hard thing to think about, acknowledge, and write about, and I'm thankful to have this space to do it (even if it isn't remotely related to my usual topics).

I'm also still in the midst of the wonky cycle that I mentioned earlier in January.  So, just in general, I'm still feeling pretty crappy, and am really close to surpassing my longest cycle record.  I'm still hitting it pretty hard at the gym, I'm down a few pounds, and I'm starting to see the physical changes in my appearance, which is both positive and motivating.

My nephew's first birthday and birthday party are rapidly approaching.  Much like her baby shower, my sister wants me to put my feelings aside and attend.  I've already thanked her for the invitation and declined, but she's having a hard time accepting my decision as final.  I got a bit blunt with her yesterday after she tried the guilt trip route, so hopefully that will put an end to it.  Even putting all of the difficult feelings about babies and birthday parties aside, it's not practical to go, because I have two nieces and two nephews who all have birthdays that fall in a span of 4 weeks.  It's not fair to just go to one or two parties and it's not possible to go to all four.

Finally, my grandpa passed away in his sleep on Wednesday morning.  I'm thankful that I got to make two trips to see him in January, and mostly I'm thankful that he's no longer suffering.  It's hard to watch someone slowly die, but at least he is at peace now.  It's a weird feeling to know that he's no longer here.  Thankfully the family seems to be mostly well behaved and is rallying around my grandma, so that's good.

I guess there's not much else that I can really say.  Despite everything I mentioned above, I'm actually doing pretty well.  Thanks for still reading along even though I haven't been doing a very good job at writing or commenting on your blogs lately.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Privilege

I have privilege.

I am white.  I am married to a white man.  He supports me in everything that I do.  I am a member of the American middle class.  I am well educated.  I have a stable job that I am fairly compensated for performing.  For the most part I do not experience workplace discrimination.  I own my own home.  I have good credit.  I walked into a bank, applied for a mortgage, and walked out with a pre-approval letter.  It was easy.  I own two well-maintained and reliable cars with insurance for both. And if I wanted to replace one of the cars, I could do that today.  I have money in my checking account.  And my savings account.  And my retirement account.  I am able to budget my money to go on vacations and for home maintenance.  If my car or my furnace breaks unexpectedly, I can get them fixed without enduring financial hardship. I have excellent medical insurance, the money to pay my co-pays and deductibles, and the knowledge to advocate for myself. I have the means to purchase and cook healthy and nutritious foods.  I can take time off if I get sick and not worry about job security.  Aside from a few grants that I was eligible for in college, I have never received government help of any kind.  I have a copy of my birth certificate (two, actually). And my social security card.  I have a passport.  I have a driver's license. Heck, I even have a gender neutral name, so if you see my name on paper you can't immediately tell if I'm a man or a woman.

I have it pretty good.

I am not rich and I never will be.  I do not say any of this to brag or draw attention to myself.  I worked my ass off to get to the point that I'm at today.  Aside from my own hard work, perseverance, and resilience, I acknowledge that I wouldn't be where I am today if not for luck and a few people who entered my life at just the right time to mentor me and guide me and give me a swift kick to the ass when necessary.  People who saw more in me then I saw in myself.  And I acknowledge that it could all disappear in an instant.

This is privilege.

But it hasn't always been this way for me.

Beyond being white and straight, I spent a good portion of my life not being able to tell you any ways that I had privilege.

I had a childhood where I grew up fast.  I shouldered responsibility that wasn't age appropriate.  I endured things that no child should endure ever.

If you asked my high school teachers, they probably would have told you that I had equal odds of making something of myself and of being an unwed mother of three on welfare and cooking meth to sell in my free time.  I was smart, I just didn't have a whole lot of direction back then.  My high school guidance counselor told me that she didn't know why I was bothering to go to college because I'd never finish.

I worked my entire way through college and paid my tuition myself with wages and loans.  Many (most) of my peers didn't have to work.  There were a few semesters where I wasn't sure if I'd be able to return to school because of money.

I was without health insurance from ages 22-25, despite working full time at a low wage job.  I had the misfortune of getting sick and requiring hospitalization at one point.  It took me five years to pay off this bill, and that was after they gave me a "discount" because I was considered low income.

There was a point in my life where I had to make the choice between keeping the lights on and buying groceries.  I got very creative with Ramen Noodles.

If not for Planned Parenthood, I wouldn't have been able to afford birth control or checkups.  Like the time I found a lump on my breast.  It turned out to be nothing and went away on it's own, but I knew that it was nothing to worry about because of PP.  They gave me low cost birth control too.  It's no secret that an unplanned pregnancy at that point of my life would have drastically altered my life trajectory.  I don't think I'll ever be able to repay them, though through my regular donations, I'll do my best to pay it forward.

There was a time when a car repair or unexpected bill would have put me in crisis mode.

I overcame a lot.  So much more then I'm willing to write about publicly.

I know what it is like to struggle every single day.  I vow never to forget this.  I also know privilege. I vow to not use my position of privilege to judge others, and instead to use my voice to advocate for them.

Knowing all of this combined with my previous posts about politics in my country, you'd have every reason to assume that I marched in the Women's March.  I didn't.  I believed in every single thing that the march stood for.  I wanted to be there.  Up until the day before I planned to go to the sister march in my city.  I wanted to use my voice for those who are trying like hell to claw their way out of the cycle.

My anxiety won on that day and I didn't go.  I think I'll regret not going for the rest of my life.

I did, however, stand with all of my sisters who did march.  I am so proud of them.  I was with all of them in spirit.

The march was important to me because I believe that the most qualified person should be the one who gets the job.  I've been passed over for a job despite being more qualified than the person chosen simply because I lacked a penis.

The march was important to me because I believe in equal marriage.  I believe the government should have no authority to prevent two consenting adults from entering into the legal contract of marriage.

The march was important to me because I believe in equal pay for equal work.

The march was important to me because I believe in affordable, high quality childcare options and reasonable paid maternity leave.

The march was important because I believe that the government has no business legislating my medical care.  That should be between me and my doctor.

The march was important to me because, on the intake paperwork for my recent surgery, I was asked if my husband consented to the procedure.  No.  My uterus.  My body.  My choice.  Period.  He doesn't get a say.  Of course he supported my choice, but that's not the point.  I shouldn't need his signature to get medical care for my body.

The march was important to me because I believe that there has been systematic discrimination against non-white populations in this country (since it's inception) and that we haven't done enough to right those wrongs.

The march was important to me because I believe that all Americans (and citizens of the earth) should have insurance and access to medical care.

The march was important to me because I believe that a person should be able to practice the religion of their choice or no religion at all.

The march was important to me because discriminating against a person because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, zip code, or any other reason is wrong.

The march was important because washing your hands on the way out of a public restroom is far more important to me then the parts that the person in the next stall who is minding their own business while taking care of their biological functions was born with and whether or not they correspond to the sign on the door.

The march was important to me because violence against women is not ok.  Women shouldn't have to worry about being catcalled just for walking down the street.  Women shouldn't be called a whore for their clothing choice.  Women shouldn't have to be wary of accepting a drink because it might be spiked with something that will incapacitate them.  Women shouldn't be grabbed by the pussy or raped behind a dumpster.  And they definitely shouldn't be victimized over and over and over and over again when they have the courage to report it.

And finally, the march was important to me because we cannot normalize abhorrent behavior and hatred.  Our president needs this message more than just about anybody else.  Because if our president normalizes these behaviors, I shudder to think of what it means for my country.  By not speaking out against poor behavior and by not apologizing for his own deplorable behavior, he normalizes it.

I suspect that there will be many more opportunities to march in the future.  I will not miss those. And I think it's important that all of those who are lucky enough to have privilege make the commitment to advocate for those who don't.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A belated welcome to 2017

It's hard to believe that this is the first time I'm sitting down to write a post since last year.  Well actually it's not, I have a couple of posts that I'm chipping away on, but they're not done and I don't know that the timing has been right for them anyway.  I'm also woefully behind on blog reading too, and I promise to catch up.  Eventually.  But as for tonight, I thought I'd give a brief update.

So what's been going on with me?

Anxiety.  Surrounding the impending inauguration of the president-elect and what it means for my country.  Even if I could get past the fact that he is a deplorable excuse for a human being (and I personally can't), his behavior since winning the election has only frightened me more.  So many people have so much to lose.  On the bright side (if you can even call it that), Las Vegas has the odds of him being impeached within six months at 4-1.  I have a feeling that I'd better get used to my constantly burning stomach, because even if he is impeached, the vice president-elect isn't a whole lot better.

After several glorious months of my hormones having their shit together and behaving like would normally be expected in a woman my age, they're giving me a run for my money this cycle.  The near constant spotting is back.  So are the hot flashes.  Insomnia is back with a vengeance.  Whether because of the sleep problems or the hormones or the increased anxiety (or some combination of the three) my concentration and focus ability are extremely limited.  It's not that I don't want to write, it's just that I literally have no brain power to do so by the time the end of the day comes and I have time to write.  Like I told my doctor a few months ago, when everything is normal, I'm great, but when things are out of whack, I feel like I'm teetering on the edge of completely losing it.

Working out is going really good.  I'm down about three pounds since we started, so a little under a pound a week average.  While weight loss wasn't my primary objective (getting into shape and feeling better both mentally and physically were), I'm not going to complain about it.  I'm getting in four or five workouts weekly, and focusing on a mix of cardio and weight lifting.  I'm going to schedule a couple of visits with a trainer within the next couple of weeks, because I want to incorporate a few more exercises into my repertoire, and I want to make sure my form is good so that I don't hurt myself.

I'm actually amazed at how good working out is going and how good I feel.  I'm doing things and feeling better doing them then I have in at least 10 years.  I know that the lap to remove endometriosis/cysts/fibroids wasn't a magic bullet, but virtually all of my pelvic area pain since the surgery has been gone.  I did overdo it in the gym one day and mildly aggravated the pain, but with a day of rest it went away, and now I know an exercise that I can't do (scissor kicks, if you were curious).  I was worried that I went and screwed everything up and I'd be back to where I was before for about a day though and I was beating myself up pretty hard.  But it went away and I'm trying harder to be nice to me.

And finally, my grandpa isn't doing well.  He's 85 and basically his body is worn out and is slowly shutting down.  A week ago he had a stroke while in the hospital and the medical staff wasn't confident that he'd wake up from it.  He did wake up, is doing better, and he even went home yesterday (though at this point "doing better" is relative).  Apparently resiliency and stubbornness run in the family. There's also been quite a bit of family drama, but I'll spare you that.  Facing his imminent death has brought out a whole bunch of unexpected "what's going to happen to me when I get old" feelings.  I have a post brewing about that.  A huge shout-out to Cristy for talking me down from my minor freak out and helping me put things back into perspective.

So that's a brief update.  Mainly I wanted you all to know that I'm not dead.  I want to catch up on blogs soon, because I miss reading, and I feel out of the loop.