Monday, September 17, 2012

Weekend Blues

Holy cow, I seem to always forget how the first weeks of school take every ounce of everything a body has. This year was exciting, because I actually got to start the year at the start. Novel idea. But it has been stressful, because I'm teaching two new classes (new to me) and the structure of how the classes are taught are different than how they've been in the past (no pressure), and teaching self-contained English and Reading is a LOT of lesson plans and coordination and isn't easy when you're a traveling teacher between two schools. But I feel like I have a plan and I'm feeling a little more into a groove, and I am feeling more sane at the start of this second full week of school. Always a plus.

I always feel like I have to fix everything all at once, like I have to plan everything all at once, like things have to be mapped out. This is good in a sense, but it leaves no room for flexibility, and then I get stressed out when plans change. But, good teaching is planning but also reflecting and having the flexibility to adapt your plan to the changing needs of your students. It's kind of like life that way...if you create a life plan and you feel you have to stick to it, you will be incredibly disappointed when needs change and things don't go the way you envision. You have to roll with the punches. Or roll with the happiness? I guess I just always think of punches because that's what it feels like so much of the time. One rolling wave of suckerpunches to the gut after another.

But now, it's school, and I'm officially "on my break" from fertility. Which is a laugh a minute, because the break is physical only. I cannot for the life of me ever stop thinking about it and coming to grips with it and planning our next steps and dealing with our next steps. I just am doing it on my own time, away from the constant injections and doctor's appointments and the trusty dildocam. Honestly, school has been so busy and so stressful that I haven't had much time to think about things. I compartmentalize really well at work--school is school and I try really hard to keep all this fertility crap out of it. I can't be an effective teacher if I'm crying all the time. So at school I'm Teacher Jess, not Sad Sap Infertile Jess. They are very, very separate and I'm trying to make it even more separate this year so that when we do start up again in 2013 I can try to have a little more space between school and treatment. It's impossible to be completely divorced from all this when in the midst of things, but I think I do pretty well keeping infertility from totally infiltrating my professional self. And right now, it's so very busy I couldn't think about infertility whatsoever. With one caveat.


Even though I am still pretty busy and doing school work in evenings and weekends, there's a little more space on Saturday and Sunday. Things slow down a bit and I have space to breathe. Which means I have space to think. Which apparently means I have space to grieve. Both Sundays since school has started have been messy. The first one was a combination of anger and stress over feeling so overwhelmed at school and feeling like I couldn't get myself in order, and then spilled over to sadness which then manifested itself as a massive bitchfest. I was hideous. My awesome counselor is always reminding me "It's easier to be angry than sad, but you have to sit in the sad, really sit in the sad, to get over that hump." And boy, was I avoiding the sad and sitting in the mad. And taking it out on anything, animate or not, around me. The stress just brought out the worst in me and then I went from pissy and yelling and even throwing my 36-year-old self on the bed like a classic toddler tantrum to outright sobbing on the floor and feeling completely desolate in my loss. But then I had to get right back to work, so it couldn't last long.

This past Sunday was a beautiful autumn day. I was far less stressed and felt much more in control of the school situation. I was determined to enjoy my freaking weekend, dammit. It was all working out pretty well--Saturday came and went with no tears, and Sunday was off to a great start. We slept in (or Bryce slept in and I got up and ate some fruit and went for a walk and then Bryce got up...), went to our favorite diner for our favorite breakfast, and then went to Lowe's to get the first wave of fall mums and maybe a pumpkin for my garden chair. I think the funk started at breakfast, because we were talking a little about how long we've been at this and how many people have expanded their families around us since we've started our journey. I feel like a broken record with this image, but we really do feel like the stationary object in a print with time lapse photography...the two lone pine trees in a field of rotating stars. (Earth science friends, I know that the stars actually aren't moving and it's us who are rotating while the stars stay relatively stationary, but it sure doesn't feel that way. Gaaaah! 9th grade curriculum is messing up my metaphor!!!) Earth science aside, our incredibly depressing stationary status started the funk.

The funk just kept going when we were in Lowe's and finding some (really really awesome) Halloween stuff for the house, and looking at all the autumn displays, and picking out pumpkins and mums. Just the first splash of the season, as I like to get our actual pumpkins and mums at a farm stand and not a national chain store, but still festive all the same. I started to feel panicky in the mum section, as Bryce was looking for some post and beam materials to rebuild our fence. I started to feel tight in the chest and claustrophobic. We finished our business in the store and checked out, and I honestly didn't think I was going to make it out of the store before dissolving. I made it just to the car, and then burst into hysterical sobs. Wrenching sobs. It was like all my sadness and loss had been fermenting and finally was bubbling up to the surface and erupting out, like a shaken bottle of champagne. Sad champagne, not celebratory bubbles. I was just overwhelmed by the pure UNFAIRNESS of everything that has happened to us. How, HOW can it be almost October and we're not pregnant? How is it that we have been at this for THREE YEARS and have nothing but loss, disappointment, extra pounds, and a lot of receipts to show for it? WHAT THE HELL???? It just washed over me in wave after wave of OH MY GOD WE ARE STILL JUST THE TWO OF US, EVEN AFTER EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING we have done. And then realizing that our next steps are our last shot at carrying, a dream that I am not ready to lay down yet. A dream I've had for seemingly ever, a thing that you're warned left right and sideways as a teen and young adult could happen at ANY TIME and yet is incredibly elusive to me. It was a horrible moment of just abject loss. Loss of our pregnancy, loss of how we imagined we'd have children, loss of all our efforts to date to just do what so many people can do without even really thinking about it. WHY IS IT ALL SO FREAKING HARD? Poor Bryce, he didn't know what to do. I was completely inconsolable. It lasted a full hour. My face was puffy the whole rest of the day. But it needed to happen. It just sucks that it only happens on the weekend.

I'm hoping that I can uncork most of this sadness so that I have a slow trickle, instead of these great geysers of loss that take me by surprise on my time off from work, when I have time to think about everything that's happened. I'm hoping that I can actually enjoy my break from infertility from an emotional standpoint, too, instead of just playing things over and over and constantly trying to plan and fit things into a schedule for our 2013 adventures. My brain just can't stop churning. It's why we can't take a longer break...I think I would truly lose my marbles. I feel like we'll hit a balance here soon. I have to remember, this last loss happened only about 7 weeks ago. Maybe that's another reason why it's bubbling over now. Around now I'd be hitting my second trimester, and feeling like I could start sharing our exciting news. That seems like such a foreign concept, sharing unadulterated good news. I have to believe it's in our future. I have to believe that it's possible and this next leg of the journey will bring us the incredible experience of bringing life into the world that we yearn for. I also have to believe it's possible that I can go and buy pumpkins and mums without hysterics in the car. This is our favorite season, dammit! I need tear-free autumn activities. Maybe next weekend.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Back to School

Here we go again...tomorrow is the first day of school. A new school year, some new assignments, and no maternity leave in sight. I was so hoping this year would be my year to be able to stand up in a faculty meeting when they say, "Does anyone have any announcements they'd like to make?" and say, "Yes! I'm expecting my first child!" I feel like a jerk, but I am dreading the announcements that will inevitably crop up this year. Life goes on, just not for me. It's hard not to feel a little bitter about that.

Going back to school is a good thing for me. I could use the routine and regular schedule that school provides. I compartmentalize better when I am in school, and can (for the most part) be a normal human in that role. I am the teacher, I have students who depend on me, there is no time to cry into my plan book and woe-is-me myself at school. That's what my car is for. Ha, ha. Seriously, I have bigger fish to fry traveling between two schools with two new classes in the morning. I have tried to be prepared and have spent a lot of time either in school or on my laptop over the past few weeks. I just can't wait for the year to start and the momentum to get going. I'm excited for this year. I am good at being a teacher. It distracts me from being really awful at reproducing.

In one of my schools, teachers create and display collages to show a glimpse into their life and interests. It's a great way for students to get to know you. Last year I did not do a collage, because I started the school year at a disadvantage (a week late, thanks to the ectopic experience). I could have done one retroactively, but I just did not feel like it. I had other more pressing things to take care of. This year, although my summer was tainted with loss again, it was not the kind that hospitalizes a body, and so I had time to do a collage. I may have gone a little overboard. I may have done one for both buildings, since I had already bought the materials and had plenty of photos. I may have made this a kickass, scrapbook-y collage. See, most collages have the wedding photos, the vacation photos, and then A SLEW OF BABIES AND/OR SMALL CHILDREN. The halls are lined with family portraits. My collage is missing those, unless I add some embryo pictures (I do realize this would be incredibly ill-advised, no need to worry). So, I decided that my collage was going to be pretty and highlight all the ways that we have a very full life without all those adorable photos of babies or siblings holding hands at Christmastime. Kind of like our Christmas card last year, which, since it was still missing a baby, was full of pseudo glamour shots of the two of us to show just how awesome it is to be just the two of us. (It is pretty awesome, minus the CRUSHING sense of failure in the family-building department, financial stress, and feeling that we are stationary objects while the rest of the world moves on to the next stages of their lives...but still we are awesome just the two of us.)

Here it is, my creation that took up the larger part of our dining room table for several days:

I have shots of Maine, wedding shots, both kitties (which were not labeled as "furbabies..." because...ew.), glittery fall leaves, owls, snakes, my gardens, reading stuff, and some tasty vittles that I cooked up. Not bad... For those family members out there, I decided it was easier to just keep it to me and Bryce. To include even just nuclear family would require a much bigger piece of paper (two sets of divorced parents means four sets of paired parentals plus siblings and their families=a collage in itself). I had fun picking out stickers (Dimensional pumpkins! Snakes! Music notes! Glitter leaves!) and putting the whole thing together. The other one is a little different because I didn't have doubles of all my photos, but it basically shows the same thing. We have fun and I am an interesting person, even though I do not have children. The only thing that was a little sad was looking through all the pictures of Maine. We really, really missed our annual vacation there this year. The week we normally go was not available, and we couldn't book another week because we had no clue how things were going to go with the FET. Next year we will go no matter what--it was way too sad to miss all of our favorite places and the ultimate relaxation that is camp. Going through the pictures I could almost feel the sea breezes on my face and feel the gentle rocking of the kayak on the lake. We have lots of great memories, but it was sad to realize that we hadn't made any new ones this year.

So, I started thinking--what should I say when people say "How was your summer?" I know that this is not meant to be a soul-searching question, just a conversation opener at most and nicety at least. I decided to think of all the GOOD things that happened this summer, completely separated from fertility. I'm taking fertility out of the mix because other than realizing what a completely kick ass team we have for our medical needs, it all pretty much sucked. Here is the good stuff:

- I was nominated for a national blog award.
- I read 17 books (and half of two more books that I had to abandon for upsetting subplots)
- I designed and planted a butterfly garden.
- I spent a lot of time with my Grandma and realized I am still a Scrabble whiz.
- I cooked a lot of really good food with Bryce at the grill helm.
- I spent time with new friends and old friends.
- I picked 5.5 pounds of blueberries.
- I grew a ton of tasty cherry tomatoes. (Trying to focus on that and not that my big tomato varieties all rotted from the bottom up this year...)
- I was a 4-H Evaluator at the NY State Fair for record books, scrapbooks, and creative writing.
- I am still smiling, despite having the second horrible August in a row (couldn't resist, but it's a major accomplishment).

I did pretty well, given all the bad things that happened this summer. I think I can pull something pleasant out of my hat when people ask what I did this summer. And now I have a collage that makes me smile and reminds me of all the good that I have. I am ready to focus on that for the time being, and not all that we lost and are having a devil of a time trying to gain. Despite our loss, it was a good summer. I am somewhat recharged and refreshed. I am ready to go back to school.