Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Things I've Done Differently

Okay, so I feel like I've been a little down lately. When most of your comments start with "I'm so sorry," you sort of realize that you need a little positivity injection. It's been a rough month of just cumulated grief and frustration at our stagnant state, but I do actually have some sunshiny moments.

I decided to do several things differently this school year.

Last year, I said no to a bunch of things and halted some opportunities because...WHAT IF? And then the year went by and absolutely nothing happened. I narrowed my life for no tangible reason. I mean, there was hope that something would change, which fueled this sense of CLEAR MY SCHEDULE!, but nothing did, which just left me feeling irritated and let down.


Over the summer I agreed to be a mentor teacher. I hadn't even applied before, because I've spent my whole full time teaching career getting ready for a mythical maternity leave, and I thought it was kind of unfair to sign up and then be like, "Seeya!" at some arbitrary moment. BUT, I said yes this year. Because the worst case scenario is they have to assign someone else midyear, but that involves the best case scenario of us becoming parents, so there's that. And I usually help out new teachers anyway, so I may as well do it officially and get paid for it.

I changed the book that I shared for my "Important Book" modeling that I do in my Reading class (stolen shamelessly from Cris Tovani's work). Before, I did The Dream of the Little Elephant, which is a 1970s gem of a picture book involving a little elephant in a land where he doesn't belong, and his journey to find his home. I have read it for years, and it has been a hopeful book that I thought would be good to read to our little Mystery Baby. This year, I JUST COULDN'T DO IT AGAIN. I still love the book, but it is emotionally draining. And so I switched it out with a book I loved in elementary school, Diary of a Snake-Lover, about a little boy who is an amateur herpetologist. I love snakes. I loved this book. I found a copy at a used bookstore in Maine through the power of the internet, and so now I have my own copy again. And I can share my weird love of snakes with my students, instead of my desperation to have a child to read to. Better, right?

Here's a big one. I said yes to a commitment that is WAY out of my comfort zone. I got a text from a friend who is the director of the middle school fall drama production. "We need a fiddler...would you do it?" It's for A Christmas Carol, and I said yes to being the fiddler at the party at Fezziwig's. And then I realized what that would entail...rehearsals and originally thinking I'd be way in the background and then finding out I'm totally center stage up by the curtain for the scene with all the kids around me clapping and dancing... Plus I had to pick out some music to memorize and play. Which I did -- I found a book of sheet music for English, Irish, and Scottish jigs, reels, and hornpipes. Because I can't do it and have it be inaccurate, right? So I have three pieces with decent repeats that are all appropriate for the time and location. Nerd. But then  after my first rehearsal, I discovered that I need to be able to PLAY, SMILE, and WALK BACKWARDS at the same time. That is quite the brain exercise... So I am practicing every night while Bryce yells "SMILE!" at random moments. I think I have the walking and playing thing down. Seriously, I have to practice smiling because my normal playing face is set to "Resting Bitch." I look downright ANGRY when I play. And, usually when I screw up, I swear like a sailor, which I obviously cannot do even in rehearsal full of middle schoolers. Oh, the pressure. It's going to be fun, and November is going to be crazy since I should really go to a fair number of rehearsals so I can make sure my smiling/walking backwards/playing memorized jigs holds up on a stage with bright lights and prop obstacles. It's good to do things that scare you, right? It will be a blast and a great story later. It's just a little terrifying right now.

I am trying to convince myself that I can use a personal day. I lost them all last year, because my adoption leave is 5 paid days and then I can add my three personal days onto that for a whopping 8 days of paid leave for caring for a newborn, so I didn't want to use up my personal days for anything else. Well, they didn't get used for any reason. And while I don't typically use more than one anyway, because they roll over to sick, and you need a LOT of sick days when you have a baby, it stung that I lost the opportunity to use one. SO. This January is the start of the New York Paid Family Leave Act, and unlike the current maternity leave setup, I QUALIFY for this one. So, the closer we get to January, the less I feel like I have to hoard my personal days. So at least I have that option, even if I never use it. I don't have to feel like they were allocated to something that may not happen this year.

And then, there's Christmas. We totally booked our Vermont vacation. We will be in our adorable tiny valley town in southern Vermont for the holiday, and it will be glorious. I am going to do my best to not notice the families we've seen in the past who have grown older, and instead revel in all the things we can do because we do not have a baby yet. And we will try not to freak out about the expense, and feel relief in the fact that there is cell phone coverage in Vermont and we could come home if something came through last minute. So it's a cautiously-spontaneous vacation, but I'm okay with that. It will be fun and relaxing and romantic and a little splurge-y, and have minimal risk. Win.

So, there are a few things that have changed in the 8 weeks I've been back to school, tiny ways that I'm trying to live my life despite the on-hold feeling that waiting brings. Positive changes, a few little risks, but all things that help me to feel a little less frustrated in this state of limbo that is straight up driving me crazy.

Monday, October 24, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: Different Time, Same Old Place

Remember back to November 2014, when I wrote about the house that we saw on a whim, that was absolutely perfect for us (well, except for being a tad over our budget and having a pool and being over 3000 square feet which is a LOT of house)--but we couldn't buy it because we were living in uncertainty, doing our tenth cycle (which would be canceled the week my grandmother passed away), and we just felt the timing wasn't right?

If it came up for sale again, which we were sure it wouldn't anytime soon (because it was GORGEOUS and had a great location), we would be in a different place and maybe then we could buy it, because it truly was The House That Got Away. The house where I could see us doing Christmas in the living room and having people over for dinner in the open kitchen dining area and hosting book club in the family room out back, but that (like SO MUCH ELSE) just wasn't timed right.

We went to get pumpkins on Sunday after lunch, and drove past the very same house, and I just about caused an accident when I saw that it had an OPEN HOUSE TODAY sign out front.

What choice did we have? We walked through it, quite possibly the most depressed potential (and yet not at all potential) homebuyers the real estate agent had seen that day (possibly ever). We noticed where the new owners painted the bedrooms neat colors, where their daughter's room had blackboard paint in the dormer that read, "Olivia is da bomb!" and "I want to live in a world where normal is an insult," and her walk-in closet held a Griffyndor scarf by the hideaway window. Like the only child who lived there was even the one who got away, in a weird moment of irrational thought.

The house is slightly different, and something bad's happened where they have to move -- some kind of downsizing not quite two years after they bought it, some kind of personal tragedy or rift. A lot can happen in two years.

Unless you're us. Unless you are walking through the SAME HOUSE you walked through two years ago, seeing how time has changed and things have shifted FOR EVERYONE EXCEPT YOU.

Because for us, really, nothing has changed -- we still live in uncertainty. We still have to keep the money that we might be able to use as a down payment at the ready in case we get that call. We are still hoping and waiting and trying not to feel so incredibly STATIONARY, so put on pause while everyone else seems to go on living their lives.

It put me in a funk. I had to buy something like 14 pumpkins, grief pumpkins, to help cheer me up and even then I was in a "What is going ON? Why do we always get the cosmic FINGER?" mood.

There are perfectly good reasons why we won't buy this house. If we bought it, we'd have to get ours ready for sale (and it is not ready whatsoever), we'd have to redo our home study for a new house, and we'd be strapping ourselves financially at the worst possible time. We'd be putting the length of my maternity leave at risk. We'd be putting our ability to take any call that comes at risk. And Bryce hates pools.

And I have to say that walking through the house again didn't quite have the same giddy "this is totally OUR HOUSE" feel it did the first time. Maybe because it felt a little used, a little tainted by the quick turnaround. Maybe because we've accepted that we are in a place of stasis and we were just torturing ourselves, going through the house that we knew we ultimately can't make ours.

Living like this just reminds us how far infertility reaches, how long we've lived in this hideous limbo, and how very different absolutely EVERYTHING would be had we been able to have a child without quite so much effort.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: "You'd Make A Spectacular Mother"

Last night, when I was doing lesson planning, I noticed that I got an email from a former student who I had in my consultant teacher English class, but also in a small study hall here I got to know her and the three other students (I may never have a study hall quite so nice again). 

She was like a bizarro me -- her reading habits were very similar to mine, she was a little silly but also highly sarcastic like me, and we even looked a little alike. Once when we were working on a research project in the library, another student said, "You could totally be mother/daughter!" and even my co-teacher said that we were oddly reminiscent of each other. 

In the email, she writes about how her year is going so far, and inquires about adoption. She asks, "Have you got your baby yet? I sure hope so, I think you'd make a spectacular mother. You actually remind me of my own on some occasions, with your clumsiness and pretty strange stories." 

Cue big, fat, ugly cry. 

I don't mind when previous students ask if I've "got my baby yet," which is a fairly frequent check in question (I am very fortunate to have had students in the past few years who keep in touch, sending the random email every once in a while). But for some reason, it was absolutely tragic to me that this sweet, smart, snarky girl believes I will be a spectacular mother and that I remind her of her own...but I am smacked with the reality that I AM NOT YET. 

It was a beautiful moment, and also a desperately sad moment. Bryce really wasn't sure what to do with me, as I sobbed and sobbed but kept repeating, "It's just SO NICE!" at the same time. 

I am so lucky to have students who think I'd be a spectacular mother. I think so, too, and just hope to the heavens that I get the chance. 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Sunday, October 16, 2016


October is many things.

It's my favorite month because of Halloween and our wedding anniversary, and because fall is (supposedly) actually here in October. It's supposed to be all crisp air and falling leaves and crunchy walks in the woods free of bugs. Except for some reason it's still in the 70s and even the 80s and so many trees are still green. Which is off-putting, but the nights still have that cool fall air so that's something.

It's an important month because it's Breast Cancer Awareness month. Two young women I know from various facets of life were recently diagnosed, and I know several survivors, and so it's important to spread awareness and help bring better prevention, treatments and a cure. It's a horrid disease that touches so many people.

October is also Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness month. Yesterday was apparently the Day, and my facebook feed was full of links to articles and personal stories and pictures of candles lit or babies held that were born too soon. It is so important to normalize this experience, for lack of a better word. It shouldn't be normal. It should be rare, but it's not. It also touches so many people in so many ways, and the more it's talked about the more hopefully people will know what to say and how to be there for people going through that loss. A loss that doesn't just happen once, but reverberates through all the could-have-beens for years and years into the future.

I didn't post anything yesterday. Not here, not on social media.

I have not exactly been in a real happy shiny place lately, and I just didn't want to go down that rabbit hole again.

Because October. October is supposed to be a happy time, a time of celebrating our marriage -- which hits seven years this year. Unbelievable to me -- it's such a long time, and we've been so fortunate to have that time together and to look forward to so many more years.

But unfortunately, our anniversary is this double edged sword in many respects--because how long we've been married is also how long we've hoped to have a baby, to add to our family, and as the years tick off and go by we are reminded of how lucky we are to have such a great partnership, but also just how dismally unfortunate we've been in the family building arena.

On Halloween, which was a blustery Saturday in 2009, I answered the doorbell in my wedding dress and signed for a FedEx package that contained my first trigger shot, for my first IUI. These things are hopelessly intertwined. So we have to try real hard to have excellent experiences just the two of us to combat this feeling of happy-sad, of celebration of love but also reminders of loss.

I don't think if you had told me on that perfectly gloomy fall day seven years ago that we would STILL not have a child at this point, that I would have quite believed you. And yet, here we are, trying to make the best of our constant-limbo situation.

Since we have been living in the muck and the mire a bit lately, and trying to drag ourselves out of completely focusing on what we do not yet have and the fear that that may take so much longer to come to pass that we may exhaust ourselves, we have decided in the past two weeks that we are going to DO OCTOBER UP.

So last weekend we went hiking and got lost and went to a fun German restaurant for lunch and then got pizza for dinner so that we could watch the debates and have enjoyment SOMEWHERE. I had Columbus Day off and I ended up going for a walk in the woods by myself to try to clear the funk I felt about everything, but then had this weekend to look forward to.

Because we had an AMAZING day yesterday -- from hiking in three different spots (and hearing not one but TWO owls), to an impromptu dinner in the pub of one of our favorite fancy restaurants, to driving way the heck out to the Genesee Country Village & Museum for their Spirits of the Past tour (featuring reenactments of multiple Edgar Allen Poe tales, and walks through the full-moon lit village which couldn't have been any more atmospheric), to deciding to stop off at one of our favorite bars for a couple cocktails, getting home at about 1 am. Which is a freaking miracle, since we're over 40 and I feel like 11:30 is pretty much pumpkin time for me. It was romantic. It was adventurous.

And it would have been ruined if I had stopped to write about my own lost babylings, the losses that happened so long ago in the grand scheme of our quest. Our ectopic loss that was an exercise in trying to believe something true, in holding onto those rising HCG levels that were always too low for the time period to be a sign of anything normal, in hoping that the ultrasound would show something but instead finding myself in a surgical hell exacerbated by an asthma attack that messed with my incisions and a severe thunderstorm in the night where I was admitted. I could have reposted "A Really Bad Movie," which pretty much detailed what it was like to go from cautiously hopeful to devastatingly numb and wondering what the fuck just happened. But that happened so long ago, in August of 2011. Only slightly more recently, in August of 2012 (Augusts were rough for a while), I wrote about what it was like to miscarry our only uterine pregnancy. Again, it was early. But we had such beautiful hope. We had received such a joyful call from our RE that we were positive, and while  retrospectively the HCG numbers weren't quite as robust as I wanted them to be, they were within normal ranges. And then I cramped and bled and went to bedrest and again tried so, so hard to believe my way into one of those bleeds that still ends with a baby. But it didn't. I have so many posts about that, but my favorite is "40 Weeks Ago", because it details every moment of that cycle, all the hope, until the hope was gone. But the more raw post about it was "Hello/Goodbye."  Strangely, both those posts speak to hope. Hope that this could happen again. That we could still achieve what had been so cruelly taken from us two summers in a row.

But really, my absolute favorite post about my losses was the retrospective "What If This Is All I Get?" Even that one is hopeful, hopeful that our adoption wait will be shorter than longer (newsflash, it's not). It brings that raw moment of realizing that pregnancy will never be mine, but that pregnancy isn't the important part for the experience we wish to have.

If I had concentrated on putting these things together yesterday, there probably would have been tears at some point during our beautiful day out and about. I would have yet again have conflated our joyous celebration of a well-loved life together with the sadness of the moments where we realized that pregnancy was a dream never to be realized. That after those moments we'd have no Rainbow baby. That if we wanted to be parents, our best choice (and, in all honesty, our ONLY choice) is adoption -- where our joy comes at the expense of others' pain. Where we gain parenthood as someone else loses it, and we need to make sure that our child always feels free to talk about his or her own grief. That our parenthood, should we be so lucky, will have so many more layers to it than it would have had things worked out in 2011 or 2012.

It's important to remember those times, and to share those times so that someone else going through a similar thing can feel less alone, but it's also so important to preserve the time to feed our relationship. To have a beautiful day where I can let all that happened before go and celebrate us, our foundation. Because as we hope and hope that we will be parents, we need to be sure that we are solid just us two. Especially since there's that dark corner of the mind that reminds us that there's no guarantee that we will expand beyond that. We hope otherwise, but you have to be real, too. And if we spend too much time focused on what lay behind and what we hope could lie before us, we can forget where we are RIGHT NOW.

And where we are is in October. Celebrating all there is to celebrate in this beautiful month and trying not to let the sad dark places get us down too much. Looking forward to two more fabulously romantic weekends to fill with surprises and new memories to remind us that what we have, right now, is pretty damn special.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Everything Is Not As It Appears

Not even going to pretend this qualifies as a micropost, but it's what came today. 

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to go to a local college to see a free presentation by Margaret Atwood. She is one of my all-time favorites -- Lady Oracle and Cat's Eye were the first books I reread obsessively, and of course I loved The Handmaid's Tale, which was selected as the Freshman Reads book at this college. Her more recent speculative fiction made me so happy, too -- I love the Maddaddam Trilogy and was sad when it was over, when that particular world became a memory. And I loved the short story collection, Stone Mattress, that brought me back into the world of The Robber Bride, another favorite. There is nothing this woman cannot write.

One of the things I'd forgotten until the speaking engagement was how much I love Margaret Atwood's poetry...one in particular. The president of the college recited it --

               you fit into me
               like a hook into an eye
               a fish hook
               an open eye

Perfect, right? Something seems at first so lovely and domestic, like the closure on a dress fitting everything together just so. On the surface? "you fit into me" sounds like such a romantic notion. Then it turns horribly violent, the most graphic of penetration images...something that was probably lurking all along.

This is how I feel right now.

I feel like my outside appears to be okay, to be calm, to be...STRONG.


I feel like an egg, that once had a smooth surface and now has been thrown against a wall over and over again until it is completely shattered, and then someone has gone about collecting all the tiny pieces (some of which are still clinging to membrane) and superglued them together, so that I am a semblance of the egg I once was but if you look closely, the cracks are there and whatever of my insides that survived the thwacks has been scooped up and shoved back in, but scrambled a bit and forever altered.

Usually I am good at keeping my cracks together. I am good at playing the Human-Like Substance game, where people ask you "How are you?" and you answer something reasonable like "Good, how are you?" or "Fine" or "Okay, okay," and you don't answer honestly or let the shine in your eyes show where the grief leaks out. You don't answer how you REALLY feel, all empty and hurting and wondering how many years will be enough, because that would be off-putting.

There have been multiple things that have come up in the past month or so that have widened my cracks, that have made it so that my messy insides start becoming visible through that smooth exterior. I try to smooth my cracks out, but my glue is deteriorating.

I don't have any new grief to report. I don't have a situation where we've lost something tangible. It's just cumulative. It's years and years of losses with no resolutions. It's seeing all these rainbow baby maternity shoots and cute t-shirts on social media with captions like, "I just wanted everyone to know that there is so much light at the end of that dark tunnel," and knowing that that particular light doesn't actually come for us all. That I don't get to have the experience I lost in its entirety, and that the parenting that Bryce and I will hopefully get the chance to engage in will have so many more layers of complexity than any of our friends who were able to eventually conceive will ever have to even think about. That in the meantime we have to make our own light, and maybe not put that pressure on the Mystery Baby that is coming to us, we hope, to be the baby that makes up for all the pain and loss we've suffered. That's simply not fair or healthy.

I think on these things as I am presented with situations that made me feel the loss of my embryos  all over again (even as I still believe it was a beautiful gain to release them to the other couple), that make me feel the loss of my dad's proximity and my lost ability to hop on a plane and go see him on somewhat of a whim, the grandparents I haven't seen in a long time who are going through tough times (also a travel conundrum), the many questions about adoption that Bryce and I seemingly never stop discussing, the double edged sword of wanting to connect and yet feeling disconnected from the process, the fears about going a long time without a match and the reality that we can't keep going down this road indefinitely, so where do you draw a line for your own sanity? I am holding so much in my little shattered egg. And also attempting at the same time to be functional, to teach my 8th graders without seeping grief and sadness over into lessons on word choice. It's a hard balance. I either make it through without letting my flaking glue show, or I look sad when I think no one's watching and then have a guidance counselor stop me in the hall to tell me she hopes I'm okay, "Because something about you yesterday was just not okay."

I am grateful when people see the cracks I try so hard to hide. I am grateful when people realize that I have compounded loss just reverberating in my empty arms, in my empty nursery that's officially one year old, in the way that Bryce and I have to relearn how to communicate with each other without using words like "embryos" or "adoption" so that we don't lose sight of our special connection that has got us through everything so far, of who we are just the two of us because THAT'S WHAT WE HAVE RIGHT NOW. We've been given the advice to live our lives but still remain connected to the process, and I don't really know how to do that. How do you prepare for a baby that's not here and may not materialize for yet another year, while living footloose and fancy free, hopping on planes and not worrying about whittling your adoption nest egg that you're so fortunate to have? How EXACTLY do you do that?

And how do I go through my work day like a reasonably Human-Like Substance? How do I continue to paste a wide smile on my face when people ask me if anything is going on with adoption, now that our summer blind profile near-miss is too far in the past to be a comfort to anyone?

I want the questions. The worst thing is when the questions stop, when we are feeling like things are hard and we're not as hopeful as we once were when we picked out crib sheets...and neither is anyone else. I keep saying, "Adoption is an interesting process. We have to be patient. It could be tomorrow, it could be next year. We just don't know. But thank you for asking!" But the asking dwindles. The weight of those placed embryos that are formerly ours, whose fate is so amorphous -- when will they be transferred? Will they work? How will I deal with the news that they did, or that they didn't? They lie out there, in the ether, in this other clinic two thirds of the way across the country, and they represent a hope we've transferred elsewhere, but also a promise, lost to us. In addition to this, I don't even get to escape my infertility and my body's betrayal, years after it's been in play, due to the gynecological issues I'm suffering. The possibilities of more procedures to figure out what my body's doing now, the trauma associated with going in for tests that never brought me resolution in baby form. It's hard, so hard.

It's been a challenging few weeks. I am struggling. I'm struggling and it's not always apparent that I AM struggling, so people don't always ask "how are you doing with all this?" and that can hurt. Bryce said, "That's the problem with being 'strong' -- it's good to be able to handle these things, but then people think you don't need to talk about it, or you've got it all handled." He's right. And it sucks.

I am a smooth and shiny egg, under close inspection riddled with cracks and wounds.
I have a fish hook firmly lodged in my open eye.

I'm not even pretending to call this a #Microblog, but if you'd like to read more, actual #Microblog Mondays entries, please go here and enjoy! 

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Choosing Our Own October Adventure

Today was a beautiful, perfect October day.

It was brisk, clear fall air. It was cloudy -- the kind of clouds that come to Rochester and tell you fall is definitely here -- they hang low and ominous and billowing, quilted charcoal in the sky.

We decided to go on an adventure today, even though today is also the adoption agency's fall fun day for adoptive and waiting families. We went last year at a different location, and it was nice to see people and meet people, but it really was a child-centric outing. This year there was a ticket fee, which covered pizza and cider and a donut and ride tickets, and for someone with celiac who isn't going to go on a fall choo-choo ride without kids, that just did not have a pull. We didn't want to be the sad couple without kids pretending that it's all okay because it's just so HOPEFUL to see other families who made it through the wait. Sometimes that is helpful, and it certainly was last year, but this year it didn't feel the same. If I had kids already, as so many other prospective adoptive families do, maybe I'd feel different, less on the outs and trying to appear to be something I'm not (yet).

We've had a rough time this past few weeks. Seven years of wanting to be parents and never quite being able to make it happen have taken a bit of a toll. (So has my TMI issue, probably more than I'd like to admit.) We never made windowboxes or hanging baskets this year. We have yet to get pumpkins and mums. I didn't buy lots of annuals like I usually do. These are the physical symptoms for our emotional state. We're sort of feeling off to the side, spectators in this area of life and a bit disconnected. We've been so busy with school (teaching for me and PhD-studenting for Bryce), work, and having CONSTANT difficult conversations about adoption and placing our embryos for adoption that we are simply EXHAUSTED, and we've sort of lost a sense of adventure we used to have. We have a good time, we go out to fun dinners a lot, but something's been amiss. It's hard to go out and NOT end up going down a rabbit hole of adoption talk, which can be good but too much makes us forget who we are outside of this process.

So no adoption agency event today. We needed something different.

We went to a nature park area near where I teach called Indian Hill -- I've heard of it over and over again but had never located the parking area or felt an urge to check it out. But our choices for October Adventure Day were 1) drive to Canandaigua and hike there, then have lunch, 2) go to a harvest wine festival near Ithaca for the day, 3) go to Cornell Plantations for the day (also in Ithaca). The second two sounded great, but Bryce had a lot of work to do and didn't get as much done yesterday as he'd hoped and those would take 3 hours of drive time alone, so 1) it was. We made reservations for 2:00 lunch to go to Rheinblick, a German restaurant in Canandaigua, and decided we'd find somewhere to hike.

I am so glad we picked Indian Hill.

We got a late start, but it was beautiful -- and a whole lot bigger than I thought it was going to be! We ended up hiking for an hour and a half through fields, deciduous woods that weren't quite changing yet, beech woods speckled with maples and tulip trees that were, giant pine woods with needle-carpeted trails, around a pond with skeletal trees partially submerged, through fields with scrub brush and wild grapes and winterberry... it was gorgeous. And we only ran into three people and a dog the whole time we were actually on the trails.

Pretty hill, heavy clouds. That's a horse farm in the background.

Gorgeous reflective pond, no color changing in this section yet.

Looking awkwardly sassy in the pine forest section of the trail.

Toadflax! Berries! A little summer and a little fall all at once!

There we are! Having an adventure just us two, celebrating October goodness like we always should.

We didn't see a trail map but figured the color coding signs were pretty self-explanatory. Um, they weren't. We discovered just how big Indian Hill was when we took a trip down the Orange path, which does take you in what seems the right direction back down the hill and out to the road...just a little less than a mile away from the parking area where we started. So we had a hair-raising walk along the shoulder of 31, dodging beer cans and broken glass and hoping we were closer than it felt because if someone was texting and driving we could easily have been taken out on our happy adventure day. (We survived it just fine, although I'm curious how many people I work with or teach saw Bryce and me hoofing it up the hill by the side of the road.)

We took the scenic route to Canandaigua and just made it to our 2:00 reservations at Rheinblick. It seems like a German restaurant wouldn't be the best place to eat for a celiac person, but they had great reviews for gluten free/celiac friendly online and they had a pretty good selection on the gluten free menu. It was AMAZING. I didn't get sick, just really, really full.

Such a cute side entrance! There was a guy to the left taking his break, and the back of his t-shirt said, "So good, Germany's jealous." Ha! 

We had their house salad and then I had the gluten free Schweinemedaillon -- pork tenderloin filets in a creamy white wine mushroom sauce and pan fried potatoes with a veggie side of cheesy zucchini... I wish I had fasted beforehand because even the hour and a half hike didn't quite prepare me for the sheer amount of food. Bryce got a Schweinebraten platter, which had absolutely nothing gluten free on it but different pork with different sauce, and spaetzle, and braised red cabbage. SO GOOD, but really heavy. I also enjoyed the giant beer steins that a normal bottle (of cider, then GF beer) only filled half of. Which made it feel like you weren't really having two beers/ciders at all...right?

Cheers! Or I guess I should say "Prost" or "Zum Wohl!" 

We decided to take an even more scenic road home, so we could see the farm fields that aren't too far from us and the yellows and rusty reds that are finally starting to take hold. We slipped into adoption talk for about 5 minutes, but then quickly corrected course...so it was a successful October Adventure. It was much-needed time to get out and about and remember what it felt like when we were first married (seven years ago this October) and didn't have quite so much weighing on us, quite so much effort for so little return for such a long, long time. I am so glad we took the time out of our busy schedules to feed this part of us, to nurture the marriage that gets lost sometimes in the all-consuming quest for parenthood. I don't need reminding that I love Bryce, but it's nice to make an effort that we are more than prospective adoptive parents, that we are more than our (to-date) failed quest, that we are continually capable of romantic adventures and spontaneity beyond going to a fancy restaurant on a weekday because we can.

Next weekend we get pumpkins and mums and go on a Halloween walk at a historical reenactment where they do vignettes from Edgar Allen Poe...so that should be a different kind of amazing. And another date where we can be October anniversary month lovebirds, and because our tickets are at 9:00 we can probably pretend to forget that we don't have those small people to share these moments with. We can envelop ourselves in the knowledge that we have each other, and that's good to have in our corner when everything else starts weighing us down.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Depo/Doctor Update

Thursday was my doctor's appointment.

I don't have more answers, just more questions.

I did end up doing another Depo shot, in the hopes that maybe this one kicks the bleeding to the curb and it was an anomaly. We'll see what happens with that.

The concern about the polyps was taken seriously, and the long low bleed was definitely a point of concern. I had a pap smear to rule out my cervix as the cause (I've never had any cervical abnormalities, minus in my 20s suffering from a "friable" cervix that bled with any kind of trauma and had to be cauterized more than once, which I would classify as a trauma in itself). My doctor doesn't think that's it, but said he'd be remiss not to check anyway.

I had to take a pregnancy test just in case, as the spotting isn't just tinges of blood but has what I demurely call "material" in mixed company and "vaginal confetti" at home (ew, I know, gross). I wonder if part of it is the Asherman's trying to shed, or if it's something else, but it's distressing. However, in calling it "material" I earned a urine HCG check to make sure I'm not somehow miscarrying some sort of miracle baby (I'm not). That was loads of fun. They didn't tell me the results and I didn't ask, because...well, you know why. Obviously that's not it.

So, to rule out polyps or other uterine abnormalities, I am to see if the bleeding stops and if it doesn't (it hasn't so far) schedule a saline sonohistogram. OH YAY. I fucking hate SSGs. I have a very twisty cervix that hasn't had the opportunity to be more accommodating through childbirth (thank you SO much for bringing that up), and I get very, very crampy from all the tests that push saline up in your nethers. Not to mention the wonderful traumatic feeling I get from thinking about doing a test I did during a wildly unsuccessful infertility treatment period.

Then I had to remind my doctor that NONE of my HSGs or SSGs ever revealed my polyps. That those were clear (minus my last HSG which revealed the jagged edges of the Asherman's at the top of my traumatized womb) only during hysteroscopies. At least previously...because they were always way down at the bottom, near my cervix but not on my cervix. Good times.

And that is when he said regardless of the outcome of the SSG, we'd probably end up doing a hysteroscopy. Which is where my eyes started slowly leaking.

This will be my SIXTH hysteroscopy.

In general, my doctor is incredibly sensitive. He feels genuinely awful that I've been through such a wringer. He said that he would refer me to a specialist who does the most hysteroscopies out of anyone in our area, who does them in his office with twilight meds so that I wouldn't have to go to a hospital, who would be sure to take care with my battered uterus.

It is worth it to figure out what the hell is going on. I am just so sick of all this shit. I feel like my reproductive system has been a lie this whole time -- my periods supposedly a promise of fertility that was violently broken, my ovaries recalcitrant and stingy with releasing the eggs that fill my zillions of antral follicles thanks to PCOS. I wish I could just shut it all down without major surgery, without horrible consequences. I feel so betrayed, and I feel like my body is just shoving my reproductive inadequacies in my face with this constant need to protect my panties.

They did not do any bloodwork, something I would like them to remedy when I call because I'm still bleeding. I have no faith that it will miraculously stop, and even if it did...shouldn't we find out why that happened in the first place? I am scheduled for my saline sonohistogram already because there were Saturday dates that disappear quickly and I'd rather not miss school. I mean, it's tempting, as people miss a whole day for one appointment all the time and this is traumatic, but if I'm going to have a freaking hysteroscopy I'll need to take a day so we'll just save it for that. Why not spend my Saturday imaging my broken uterus.

That's the update, if I can even call it that. One more go-round of Depo, more exploratory measures, a pregnancy test that was a joke, and a whole lot of feeling the funk of a body that just won't quit making me feel like shit. I can only hope that these things bring the answers to the surface. I can't take much more of this nonsense.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Infertility/Adoption Subplots Strike Again

Well, I was anyway. 
In the past couple of months I have had not one, not two, but THREE books have subplots that I just wasn't expecting.

The first was Run by Ann Patchett. I love her writing, and picked this one up because it sounded twisty -- a father and his sons out for an evening encounter an accident and a chance meeting that threatens to change their family as they know it. I was thinking it was some kind of drunk driving thing, some kind of how-do-I-protect-my-son-from-himself kind of thing. Nope. It was an ADOPTION BOOK. (Possible spoilers but nothing that truly ruins things) -- the father is the former mayor of Boston, and he and his wife adopted two African-American sons after their biological son was older (12 I think) because she had recurrent losses and wasn't able to carry anymore. That all comes up in the first 20 pages or so. The accident involves another woman and her daughter who seem to have a connection to the sons...I bet you can guess what that might be (sort of ). So not what I was expecting. I did think that adoption was handled very sensitively in the book, and that all parts of the triad/constellation were represented well and empathetically. So I didn't mind once I got over that it wasn't what I thought it was going to be.

The next book was another Ann Patchett -- State of Wonder, which is sort of a reimagined Heart of Darkness with a woman who is sent into the Amazon after a doctor who has lost her connections with the company funding her research and she needs to get updates and bring her back. Here is the sentence that let me know it wasn't necessarily cancer research happening in the Amazon (as I'd assumed): "Their eggs aren't aging, do you get that? The rest of the body goes along its path to destruction while the reproductive system stays daisy fresh. This is the end of IVF. No more expense, no more shots that don't end up working, no more donor eggs and surrogates. This is ovum in perpetuity, menstruation everlasting." Aha. It threw me off that the tribe the older doctor was immersed in could have babies into their seventies, and that PERFECT EGGS were deemed the end of IVF. What about male factor? What about uterine issues? I could have perfect eggs and nothing would implant in my uterus (for long). The book was very, very good but that whole subplot made me throw the book across my backyard when I discovered it, at about page 26.

I started a new book this week, one I was excited about because it's sort of an apocalyptic type thing -- a couple goes to live a "more authentic" life in rural Vermont, leaving their hipster life behind, when a giant superstorm (or series of superstorms) comes and starts breaking apart their small community and bringing a whole lot of crazy out and they have to figure out if it's the storm that's more destructive or humanity. Sounds great, right? It's We Are Unprepared by Meg Little Reilly. Guess what's in the FIRST EFFING PARAGRAPH? In the SECOND SENTENCE? "Pia and I had just met with a fertility specialist in Burlington and we were both staring straight ahead at the road as we digested the information we'd received there." Oh, OH GOOD. It mentioned marital strain, so adding in infertility and one party's ambivalence towards parenthood should accomplish that pretty handily. I was so, so very mad. KEEP INFERTILITY OUT OF THE END OF THE WORLD, GODDAMMIT! (I finished the book today and it had some other annoying things involving family building, but thankfully the infertility piece was short-lived.)

And so I think I might just read all YA literature moving forward, because it's rare that infertility pops up there. I wish adoption popped up with more regularity, that would actually be nice to have more adoptee perspectives that aren't hackneyed in YA literature (let me know if you've got recommendations), but at least I know no one will be doing shots of Gonal or PIO in the middle of a post-apocalyptic teen novel.

Monday, October 3, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: Trying Not To Be A Weirdo at Open House

Well, I made it through Open House last week. It was Thursday night (after Pajama Day all day -- so cruel to be cozy and relaxed all day and then get all gussied up for a night of talking to parents) -- THREE HOURS of talking about classes. I managed not to sound like I was high on speed (as has happened in previous open houses) and I had already called all my parents (well, most of them) to let them know about adoption possibility, so that was good.

Two things stood out in the night:

- I got to my classroom at 6 (doesn't start until 6:45 but parking is a beast and the quiet time settles my nerves beforehand) and noticed a hot electrical smell right in front of my desk. I went to find the science teacher down the hall, and he smelled it but it didn't seem too strong. Fast forward a half hour after I run some errands around and stop in with my partner teacher, and the smell is STRONGER THAN EVER and wafting out into the hall, sulphur-heavy and parent-repelling. I had to find the principal and make sure I wasn't about to shut down Open House with an electrical fire in my room. Turns out it was the fan in the SmartBoard projector which had fritzed and overheated, but the room was so stinky and people in the hall were complaining. Good times.

- I had a father come to my 9th period Resource Room, and I had spoken to the mother but wasn't sure if the message was relayed about the adoption, so I brought it up. I said "it isn't a real baby yet" which seemed to throw off the moms in my room (I clarified "by that I mean it's a purely hypothetical baby, ha ha," which I'm not sure helped my case). Then the father offered me A KITTEN -- they have 8 at home apparently. The looks on the moms' faces were hilarious, and I managed not to let any snark come out when I said, "Oh, that's nice -- I have two cats already and I'm pretty sure I want a human baby, but thanks." Okay, maybe a tiny bit of snark. But COME ON.

 I didn't run into anyone like in years past who wanted an update on my ENTIRE STORY because I worked with him at another building and sure, talking about my complete inability to as of yet achieve parenthood right before presenting to parents is a GREAT idea, right? It was a responsive group of parents, it was a pretty full group of parents, and it was a pretty decent night. I was thrilled that most of the parents were still older than me (at least by a couple of years). All things considered, it was as good a parent night as I've ever had.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

File Under TMI

Oh, Depo. Not too long ago I was singing your praises -- how you'd settled into my body rhythms, offering me once-every-12-weeks shots and then birth control I didn't have to think about any other time.

And then this last 3-month period hit.

HOLY JEEZUM. I started spotting towards the end of the previous "cycle," which isn't unusual. What WAS unusual was that when I got the new shot, IT DIDN'T STOP.

Nope, I just kept spotting, ranging from barely-need-a-pantiliner to light-period to an occasional day of oh-holy-jesus-I-think-I'm-hemorrhaging. But never enough to be an actual period. And never "clear" enough to give me a day without some kind of panty protection.

This is wreaking havoc on the love life. Occasionally, it's a "coast is clear" moment or day, and then there's some fun, and then EVERYTHING IS A HORROR SHOW. So that just sort of put the kibe on those activities, fully. Which makes a body cranky at best and feel disconnected at worst.

I am pretty sure my hormones are all kinds of out of whack. My face has been breaking out (SO unfair at forty), mostly along my jawline and chin. I am incredibly irritable.

And I just want to stop bleeding, for the love of all that's holy.

This is basically just one big rant. I can't help but wonder, because my body is REALLY good at sabotaging me, if my polyps have come back, or my hormones are so out of balance thanks to PCOS that the Depo just doesn't know what to do anymore.

I DON'T KNOW, and it is so, so annoying. I have an appointment later this week to both get my next shot and hope it was just a bum couple of months, and to have a talk with my doctor.

I don't know what to do since the Depo was my last shot (ha HA ha ha ha) at a non-invasive, non-destructive birth control option. I could try going off birth control completely again, but I don't think that's going to work for me. Not physically, and not emotionally. Otherwise I'm down to ablation (um, scary) or an IUD (dislike the foreign object in my lady parts and know several people for whom that was horrific). Or, as my doctor so offhandedly mentioned the first time I had this conversation with him...hysterectomy. Which seems a bit extreme to me given that all that's wrong is a case of Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, and nothing terribly insidious. Seems downright crazy (and unnecessarily risky) to rid myself of the whole kit and caboodle without more physically wrong there.

As I creep towards my appointment, all I can hope is that there is an answer out there. It's not natural to bleed (even at a slow clip) for SO LONG. I am tired of buying feminine supplies for nothing cathartic, for lack of a better word. I am tired of hoping I'm open for business and then finding that sexytimes are rather one-sided (I am not comfortable with messy sex).

I feel so sad and betrayed, but don't know who to blame yet...Depo, or my often-cantankerous reproductive system.