Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Any News?

I am home sick today with a supposed sinus infection that has me dizzy, exhausted, feeling like I have a head full of poison, and no voice. I tried to go into school yesterday and ended up leaving at the end of 5th period (after my English co-teacher basically banned me from his room and said "GO HOME." and my TA had been after me to go home, too). It was a bizarre day, since I'd taken NyQuil the night before and actually got a good night's sleep, but woke up at 7:20 (I'm supposed to be at school by 7:30) and rushed to get out the door and in to my classroom by the start of class at 7:55. I just made it, but sans glasses -- I realized after shutting the door and walking to my car that I didn't have them on my face, but I had my keys in the car to defrost the windshield, and I decided to run with it since I had prescription sunglasses in the car. Sigh. Not a good day.

I went to the doctor at 3:30 after a long nap, and it was the same nurse practitioner who saw me through my horrible flu bout two years ago in April. She is definitely the earth-mother type and has a great sense of humor. She always talked with me about adoption, especially since one day I had the Adoptee Survival Guide with me as reading material and she asked a bunch of questions since her husband was adopted and he did not have a good experience with it. He had passed years earlier, but she thought that her children might want the information about search and reunion for their own knowledge, since it was a closed adoption and they had little information, and clearly health history would be important since he died young (in addition to just the right to know).

I forgot I hadn't seen her since before April.

"So, any news? What's new?" She asked with a twinkle in her eye.

"Um, this year is going well so far, work is going great..." I said in my hoarse voice.

"No, I meant, ANY NEWS?" and she winked.

"Oh. OH. Oh, no. Um, we ended that journey last spring. That didn't go well. I'm so sorry not to have better news for you." She looked a little crushed, so I continued on,

"You see, last year was horrifically bad. We had a 10 month period with absolutely no calls, and then two calls that were very last minute and hopeful but resulted in not being chosen, and it just got to be too much. Maybe if we hadn't done 13 IVF cycles before starting adoption it might have turned out differently..."

"Oh, oh yes. That sounds so hard, a lot to deal with. Only you are an expert on you, and what you can and cannot handle." She said, like a true wise woman.

"Yup, and when you land yourself in the ER with scleritis and the prednisone mimics heart attack symptoms and you have a bit of a mental breakdown at work...well then it's time to re-examine your priorities."

"Oh my. How difficult that must have been."

"Yeah. It was pretty awful. I'm on anxiety medication now, which has helped, but it was all just really unfortunate."

Then, I forgot how we got to it, but she said something along the lines of "Life is not just, there's just life." Which I love. What a great way to put things.

At another point in the conversation, between listening to my lungs and sparing me the indignity of the scale, she said, "Ah, it's like 'Where is the happy uncomplicated life I signed up for?'" while shaking her fist at the ceiling.

"Oh no," I said. "For as much as we've lost so much, I am actually very happy with my life. I have a lot to be thankful for, I am very fortunate in many other ways." And that's truly how I feel, and what I remind myself of when I feel down at the endless stream of family Christmas shoots and tree-cutting and even the weird tradition of putting your baby on some bearded guy's lap at the mall so they can cry adorably.

But then I realized...she is not the last person to not know what happened with our journey. I will have to repeat this conversation with my gynecologist when I go for my annual, and with neighbors who don't know yet that we pulled the plug who might ask out of curiosity. And not everyone is going to react in such a caring, loving way as the nurse practitioner.

Just the other day I ran into the Superintendent, who had been supportive during our quest and "hands are tied" apologetic about the sad state of adoption leave with the district, despite offering "more than any other district at 5 days paid leave." I realized he didn't know we weren't adopting anymore, so I pulled him aside in the hall and told him. His response was a little bit shocked, a little bit sad, and then this, "Well, you never know what the future might bring, there's always hope if you have faith." Um, that's nice and all, but I actually DO know what the future will bring here and it's not bringing any tiny miracle babies. I let him know that we were actually at peace with our decision and we look forward to a happy life as a couple, but it reminded me of how many people still see that as a very sad outcome, and can't justify in their minds that you can be childless and happy at the same time.

I am still figuring out how to do my holiday cards this year in a way that will make it abundantly clear that we are now a family of two plus cats, and I'm struggling. I still intend to have the picture of me with a cocktail in a pretty dress on my chaise lounge, but what other pictures? Pictures of our California trip? I toyed with the idea of having someone come take pictures of us enjoying our life as is, eating a delicious meal that we cooked together, reading in pajamas in our new chair, me typing in my new office, out for a hike...but Bryce thought maybe that might be construed as "sad." Which then made me sad, because I find great joy in those things. But last year we had a little text on the back of our card explaining the second year of the adoption process, and I feel like maybe a little tribute to the end of our journey wouldn't be bad since some people actually thought last year's tongue-in-cheek card was a pregnancy announcement (!).

Maybe if I send out something abundantly clear but joyful, I won't have to explain to the few people left who don't know our situation. And then next year's card can just be a card, without any sort of message about our family status. A non-press-release card, ha.

I guess people won't ever stop asking the question, but I'm hoping that at some point everyone I know will know how this particular chapter of our story ended, and I won't have to tell it again and again to people who saw some sliver of what our life was like while we were desperately trying to introduce a child into our family.


  1. I always find it exhausting when I run into people and realize there are big pieces of my life they didn’t know about. Usually they have to ask or make mention, and it’s like *big sigh* well...
    It sucks to get to a place of peace with things only to have to dredge up old, bad shit.

    As far as the card...I’m of the less-is-more philosophy. Why can’t this year be “just a card”? I mean, if people can’t figure out it’s just the two of you...
    I guess for me personally I would feel like those who truly matter already know. But I am also the anti-person. I hate social media for the over sharing, have a very small circle of people who know anything about my current life, and refuse to do things like participate in photo-card exchanges. I just refuse to feel obligated and follow the mainstream. So maybe don’t go by me hahaha
    Sorry you are so sick. I hope you feel more like yourself very soon. Rest up!!

    1. I agree with Charlotte- it's obviously up to you guys but maybe just do a card with your fabulous travels to CA? You don't owe anyone that hasn't been told yet of your decision anything. If you were closer to them, then they would have been informed already.

      I hate when there are big, not so happy, holes in your life that you have to tell someone about later down the road. It's maybe a bit easier because you have had time to grieve, but definitely not fun. I'm glad the nurse was so amazing though.

  2. Charlotte said it better than I could have. Definitely want to hug your NP because she was awesome. Truly.

    As far as the card, I think you should do what feels right to you. Screw what others think.

  3. Your nurse practicioner is amazing! I hope you can hold her words in your heart when you hear other, less-helpful responses.

  4. The contrast between your NP and the others you've talked to is huge. And yes, you'll have to have the conversation again, but you can be as brief or as open as you want, depending on the day, your mood, who the person is, whether you can see they're genuinely open enough to learn, etc. And if they make silly responses, you are allowed to tell them their words are not helpful, or simply that "it's not going to happen." Remember always that you control the conversation!

    Oh, and I think you might be inspiring me to write something!

  5. Another fan of your NP.

    I know it will be a relief to eventually not have to tell the story any more, but I wonder if you're like me in this way: when I have a really big thing to process, I find that telling the story over and over is part of my healing process. The way I tell the story changes incrementally as I grieve and heal.

  6. Oh gosh, I cringed at her "any news?" question. But then I read how nice and understanding her reaction was which was good. It must be frustrating when people don't seem to accept that you can be happy with your life of two and say things like "you never know" and "keep the faith"! I think your ideas for a Christmas card sound lovely btw and not at all sad! It is probably a good idea to say something on the card to avoid future awkwardness.

  7. I was sure I had responded to this! I was going to say that yes, you'll have to have the conversation again, but it won't last forever. Also, remember always that you are in control of the conversation, and get to say as much or as little as you want. So when people tell you to keep the faith etc, you are perfectly within your rights to say "no, that's not going to happen" or ask how they know?! I know they say things like that to be kind, but they also say it to dismiss our concerns or our lives, and that frustrates me!

    I don't think your card ideas are "sad" at all. If they show you guys being happy, and enjoying your life together, then who cares what other people think? Also, I will guarantee that there will be recipients who will open your card, see those happy photos, and smile! (And others will sigh, and wish it had been them!)

  8. Ugh, even before we were ttc, I HATED it when people would ask "Any NEWS??" and raise their eyebrows significantly. :p Even worse after loss & infertility. And yes, I'm afraid you will probably have to deal with these questions again (& again... & again...) before people finally get the message. As Mali said above, you don't always have to give all the details, depending on how you feel... I ran into an acquaintance, years after my loss, who asked me how my kids were. I realized she had probably seen me when I was pregnant, or heard about it, but I just didn't feel like getting into the whole story at that point, so I just said, "Oh, I don't have any kids." She looked perplexed and said, "I thought you did?" I just said, "Nope!" & left it at that.

    I haven't read on too far (catching up...!), but I am hoping we get to see/hear about what sort of card you settled on. ;)