Thursday, December 29, 2016

Holiday Traditions, Without Kids

Christmas is hard for a lot of people -- people going through infertility, people in the adoption wait, people who wanted kids but are now childfree not by choice, people who haven't found that special someone yet, people who have lost a love or a mom or a dad or a child or someone else important in their lives. It's a holiday that's all about families and togetherness and celebrating a miracle baby, and so when you are missing any of those things it can be hard.

There's the whole "Christmas is best through the eyes of a child" thing that you see in commercials and the internet and, well, everywhere -- the onslaught of children on Santa's lap (I love the crying ones, they have good survival instincts: why on earth do we teach kids about stranger danger and then purposely put them on some hairy man's lap and then tell them not to cry? MAKES NO SENSE), of Elf on the Shelf shenanigans (oh how I hope we get away with never having one of those), of the now ubiquitous videos of children running down the stairs to see what magic Santa's left for them.

On the last day of school before break one of my students asked, "So, when you grow up, isn't Christmas sucky, because you have to buy everything for your kids and it's not fun for you anymore?" And I may have initially said, "I don't know, I WOULDN'T KNOW WHAT THAT'S LIKE, we DON'T HAVE CHILDREN" (because the night before was sobby A Christmas Story Night and I was still a bit raw and oozy). But I recovered as my wonderful Teacher's Assistant said how she's actually sad this is the first Christmas she's all by herself without people to tend to: her kids all grown and out of the house and her husband working as a sheriff in the morning. I agreed with her that when you get older you enjoy giving more than receiving because you start to feel like you don't need more stuff and it's fun to find that amazing gift for someone you care about, and added that socks and PJs suck when you're a kid but man, they are the BEST when you're an adult. The cozier the better. Throw some books in and you've got a great pile o'presents. I think I managed not to take my grief out on my student who was just asking a question about Adult Christmas, but just barely.

I was really thinking on what Christmas is like when you don't have kids after reading Different Shore's post about not feeling the Christmas spirit as an adult without children. Is it just not the same holiday? Should it just get canned since it's so commercially child-centric? I don't think so. Because I love Christmas, but I've never had the joy of having children to experience it with. I'd argue though that we do the SHIT out of Christmas, without children, and we have a blast doing it. We're like kids, but ones that can have wine and Christmas cocktails.

We have our own holiday traditions that bring the joy of the holiday to us, as is. If we are lucky enough to have a child for future Christmases, they will just get thrown in with our already-cemented traditions and a few new ones.

Here is how we do Christmas up, sans children: 
1) Christmas Tunes. The Christmas music comes on MIDNIGHT on Thanksgiving. Not a moment before. And then it has to include the following albums: Elvis's If Every Day Was Like Christmas; Kenny & Dolly's Once Upon A Christmas (With "I'll Be Home With Bells On on heavy repeat); John Denver & The Muppet's A Christmas Together; Annie Lennox's A Christmas Cornucopia; A Windham Hill Holiday Guitar Collection; Leon Redbone's Christmas Island;  Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas, Bing Crosby's White Christmas; The Carpenter's Christmas Portrait; How The Grinch Stole Christmas; Harry Connick Jr.'s When My Heart Finds Christmas; Amy Grant's A Christmas Album; and the deliciously campy Martinis and Mistletoe by the Yuletide Lounge Band, Willie Nelson's Pretty Paper...there are more but these are non-negotiable. And they don't stop until January 6th, the 12th day of Christmas, when Bryce is safe until next Thanksgiving at midnight. (I'm sure the countdown has begun.)

2) A New Countdown. We got an advent calendar of sorts this year, a Woodland Critters Christmas Countdown. It's amazing. December 1st is a lasercut wood tree you put together, and then every window in the flat cardboard boxes is a different lasercut and burned critter -- rabbits, owls, a hedgehog, a funny little raccoon, a fancy squirrel, a bear -- 22 critters until the 24th when a glittery star is the last thing for the tree. It's awesome. I'm sure it's great with kids, but man did I enjoy trading days with Bryce to open each critter and guess what it was based on the size of the door. The cat likes to knock them down, so there's a little earthquake that flattens the critters every once in a while, but they're not really breakable so it's okay.
The complete set, and a snowman that looks like the Staypuft Marshmallow Man come to stomp on everyone.

3) Festive Mantel. We don't always have a tree, because sometimes we spirit ourselves away for a romantic vacation in Vermont for Christmas, but we always do up the mantel with evergreens (fake) and mercury glass candles and our stockings and a sad plastic stocking for the cats that has the same catnip mice in it it's had for five years. The cards go on the built-ins Bryce made a few years ago, but this year we had a glut of wonderful holiday greetings and so had to stick them in the (fake) evergreens, too. If you can see up close, there's a little red cardinal to the right in the (fake) evergreen branches, which is a nod to my best friend's grandma. I got her one, too -- it's a nice memory of the (insanely huge number) of little red cardinals that were sprinkled all over her grandma's house at Christmastime.

4) Profane Decorations. If you didn't see it the first time, we always put the same card from YEARS ago in the center of our mantel, under the gold glass candelholder ball, from friends who share our sense of humor. Here's a closeup for your viewing pleasure, because it's just too good not to share. Also, we have two of them (two years in a row deserved that card) so if one goes up in smoke or something we have a backup.
Can you read it? "Happy F*cking Holidays." So perfect: festive AND deliciously inappropriate. 

5) Christmas Cat. 
This one gets image first, because it's...terrifying. Festive and old-fashioned and really, really creepy. I can imagine it taking life after midnight and crawling all stop-motion up the stairs. Even though it scares me, it goes out every year (obviously this is from a pre-me Bryce era). Actually, when we were in Vermont one of the front desk guys who is from Iceland told me all about the Christmas Cat -- sounds cute, but is actually an Icelandic legend that ensures you get clothes for Christmas. Because if you don't, he eats you. Maybe this could be our Elf on the Shelf -- Christmas Cat on the Mat. Maybe.

6) Travel Tree. When we escape to Vermont for a romantic holiday, we bring this little fake bottle-brush tree with us, along with tiny mercury glass ornaments we bought both locally and at the Northshire Book Store in Manchester, Vermont a few years ago. It makes it feel like we've decorated the room for ourselves, even though there are full-sized Christmas trees everywhere in the Vermont inn where we stay.

7) Christmas Eve Peek. In my family growing up, we got to open one present Christmas Eve, when we got back from Midnight Mass. I have instituted this for us, even though Bryce thinks it's clearly cheating. One present, preferably a small one, on Christmas Eve.

8) Stockings, then Breakfast. If we're NOT traveling for the holiday, there's an order of things that I'm pretty rigid about (go figure). I make a crazy citrus salad (segmented, supremed pink grapefruit, clementines, Cara Cara navel oranges, etc.) and we can have that while we open our stockings. Then, we have a big Christmas breakfast and open presents after. It stretches things out.

9) One at a Time. Speaking of stretching it out, we each pick a present for the other to open, and then we each open it at the same time. We can't open the next present until the first one has been thoroughly admired. It goes on like this for HOURS, not because we have a zillion presents as much as because we like to give each one its due and really appreciate how fortunate we are. It drives people crazy though, because out of town family will call and we aren't even remotely done with presents and likely haven't opened theirs yet. I'm sure should we be so lucky to have a kid one day, that they are going to LOVE this tradition. (It will build patience and appreciation in a time of immediacy and expendability, right? RIGHT? They'll love us for it later?)

10) Bryce's Book Selections. For several years now, Bryce has made it a challenge to pick out a handful of books for me for Christmas. He doesn't use my wishlist or the Keep list I have of titles I want to read...he just looks at what I have read and looks at lists of acclaimed books in genres I like and then runs with it. Sometimes there's a theme -- last Christmas all the books had red in the cover somewhere, totally by accident, but then for my birthday they all had birds or ravens in them. This year there were some interesting picks, one I'd read before (but loved and would read again) and some I'd never have found myself but love already.
This year's picks. I had just finished the second Raven Boys title when I opened the third (Blue Lily, Lily Blue), and I'd already read The Virgin Suicides and he was horrified it came as a movie cover (I HATE movie covers) but it was funny and I didn't mind...The Principles of Uncertainty is amazing and I've read it already and will probably reread it a zillion times, I'm looking forward to Mosquitoland, and Thrillplex Theater looks....interesting but I'll bite. 

11) Weird Gift Tags. I don't know exactly when this started, but originally we would give each other presents and one or two would be from one or both cats. Then we got creative. This year, I received presents from: Lucky (my cat), The Practical One, The Relaxed One, Neil DeGrasse Tyson; The Weird Risky One (Thrillplex Theater was in that bag); FinFet; EigenValue; Captain Obvious (that was Fannie May chocolates that came in a box that said FANNIE MAY CHOCOLATES all over it, real subtle packaging for gifts); Hot Stuff (my new oven gloves); and Mr. Creepy, who gave me no joke the creepiest picture book EVER:
The story itself isn't creepy, zero children are murdered by this train...but apparently the train and MidWorld come from Stephen King's Dark Tower, so it has dubious origins as a children's story. I see this train in my nightmares...
Bryce got presents from me, but also some from Polaris, The Woodland Critters, Photons, and Your Brain Cells. Mine weren't nearly as good as his were this year.

There, a zillion (okay, eleven) Christmas traditions that have nothing to do with kids whatsoever. Yes, even the picture books -- I've been collecting those since my early 20s when I worked for a publisher. They are beautiful, and while I hope I'll share them with our future child (although maybe not that horrifying train one), I get enjoyment out of them, myself, now.

I hope the holidays were kind to you, no matter why it might be a tough time. I hope you have your own interesting traditions to make the holiday yours, today, the way things are in this present moment. It sure makes it fun for us to have these little things to look forward to in a time that can be a bit melancholy.

Cheers from us to you!

Another tradition, although not so much a Christmas one -- a champagne toast when we settle into our room at the inn. I love this picture for our faces -- adoring and silly all at once, and ready for our own holiday celebrations, as a family of two.

PS -- Here's "I'll Be Home With Bells On," in case you don't know it... Good luck getting it out of your head! My gift from me to you!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sort of A Funny Moment

So, after last night's feeling of utter tragedy, I woke up all frog-eyed and puffy. The holiday hoedown at school did not help my headache. I felt a bit fragile all day, but got tougher-skinned as time wore on.

A woman I work with had brought her baby (who is now toddling all over the place) in to school, and she put the most adorable sweater and sweater hat on him during homeroom. He was reaching for hugs, so I picked him up. Oh, how delicious, that potato sack weight that clutches your arm and lightly kicks your sides.

I was still holding him when my students came in for the final period of the day.

The looks on their faces were priceless -- there was a surprise and an "OH MY GOD!" expression as a few of my sweet kids entered the room, and I knew immediately what was going through their innocent little heads.

"Oh no no no no," I laughed, "This is Ms. __'s baby! Oh no, that's not really how it works!"

I could see the humor in it, which is good because at the wrong time yesterday this would have had me in tears. The students were a bit sheepish in realizing that the chances of suddenly acquiring an older baby of my own between 5th period and 9th were pretty unrealistic.

I found their flash of belief in this magical baby delivery endearing though, and their amazement and brief moment of OH MY GOD IT FINALLY HAPPENED! to be just incredibly heartwarming. It would be nice if one moment I was empty-armed and the next there was a sweet little guy or gal on my hip, but alas -- insta-baby doesn't exist and is outside Santa's scope.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Holiday Grief Sneak Attack

It started at the bank.

I left school with rolls of quarters, dimes, and nickels in my cupholder to go exchange for $5 bills and a couple ones for our vacation tip money. I keep missing the bank's open hours, so these rolls of coins have been weighing down the side opposite where my morning coffee goes. But today, I made it with twenty minutes to spare.

My bank is a chain, but I love going to my branch because they are very friendly and remember who you are; so it's sort of like an old-fashioned bank from yesteryear. Also, they have notarized EVERY SINGLE FREAKING THING from IVF to donor material to adoption paperwork to embryo adoption releases. So they know us fairly well.

After exchanging my coins in their neat paper packages for crisp bills, the woman behind the desk asked, "Sooooo, how are things?"

I knew exactly what she meant.

"Still waiting," I said with a plastered smile.

"Really? Wow. That seems...long."

"Seventeen months -- some close calls but nothing has really meshed. Yet. That's why we're going to Vermont for Christmas, to avoid feeling sad around the Christmas tree just us two...again."

And then she said, "2017 is YOUR YEAR. It just HAS to be. I've been notarizing paperwork for you for years, this MUST be the year."

Oh, I hope so. But it echoed and ricocheted in my many times have I heard "This is YOUR YEAR?" in the past seven?

And it just never is. Or rather, it just hasn't been, not yet. But there's just SO MANY not yets piled up.

The second hit came when I opened a card from a friend of mine and the age of her children hit me in the heart, hard. How on earth could they be so old-looking? I mean, they are now just school-age, but I remember when she was pregnant. I remember right before she got pregnant, that she said, "I've been trying longer than you, so it would only be fair if I got pregnant first." And then she did. And I had the ectopic and then the miscarriage and then...nothing. And now her children have grown up suddenly into these not-babies, and I remember talking with her about how surprising it was to feel the expansion of twins, how painful her first trimester was for all the stretching to accommodate those two precious babies. I remember her visiting me in bed as I recuperated from my laparoscopy to remove my tube and my wayward baby and the botched incision thanks to a late-night asthma attack post-surgery, and how I asked about her anatomy scan of the babies and if she knew the sex and she stood there by my bed, with tears rolling down her cheeks, and told me that it was a girl and a boy -- and I told her that I didn't want her to not tell me her news just because mine was so shitty.

And now those babies are bona fide children. I love the card, and the family they make, but it hurt my heart so much to realize how long it's been, how hopeful I was that we could be moms together, at the same time, and our kids could grow up together. Obviously that didn't happen. They're growing up without my Mystery Baby's companionship.

Then the kicker came, and it surprised the fuck out of me.

We decided to watch a Christmas movie after a crazy day. I picked A Christmas Story, because I haven't seen it in forever.

I had no idea that it would result in a sobbing jag and a trip down into the pit.

When Ralphie beats up the kid with the yellow eyes and his mom peels him off (and leaves the bully bleeding in the snow), there's a tenderness in the dinner scene after where the mom manages to simultaneously tell the truth ("Ralphie had a fight") and protect her son from any paternal wrath by bringing up sports stuff and not pursuing it further. It's a sweet mother-son moment where he realizes he has an ally in his mom, even if just a bit ago she was washing out his mouth with LifeBoy soap for uttering the F-word. The tears started then and then flowed freely as the family went to see Santa on parade and then the boys wake up to the magical frosted Christmas morning and race down the stairs to mess with their presents.

Oh my god, what if I never have that? I thought. I've been missing this for years and years. What if I miss it forever? 

It slammed me in the gut and stomped all over my heart to see this family tableau play out in a movie where Bryce noted we've always identified with the kid, and now we identify with the parents...EXCEPT WE'RE NOT.

It sucked.

I just cried and cried in the bathroom as I washed my face and took off my eye makeup, and then I cried some more--wild animal sobs--as I sat on Bryce's lap and he rubbed my back. I cried for all we've lost. I cried for all the lost time. I cried for the possibility that this just may not be for us. I just cried and cried and felt all my losses, all the years of hope and disappointment, as if it had just happened.

I wish we had watched Love, Actually, which was my second choice. Although for all I know there would be tears for that, too, today. I don't remember all the parts--it's possible there would be a trigger there since I am apparently set up for tiny filament triplines. I thought I was okay, I thought that looking forward to the balm for the soul Vermont trip that is such a refuge for us had put me in a holiday spirit, a place of healing and happiness in what we DO have. And I am, I am happy for what we have right now.

I just really grieve the life we thought would be for us that hasn't quite come to be yet.

Monday, December 19, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: Unintended Consequences

So, the cards that we sent out for the holidays were (mostly) a hit -- we got texts, facebook messages, and comments both in-person and web-based about how awesome the idea was and how great our sense of humor about the whole waiting thing is.

We also had a few, um, unexpected responses.

My assistant principal stopped me in the hall to tell me how he loved the card, but that it initially made him sad that we were still waiting, which is the complete opposite of what we wanted people to think (well, I guess we wanted it to be more joyfully ironic than out-and-out depressing). He did say he admired our attitude and that our sense of humor will serve us well, but it bummed me out a bit that he felt sadness first.

I also received a card from family friends I haven't seen in a quite a while (after they'd received ours) that congratulated us on our wonderful news and asking us to let us know when the baby arrives... OH HOLY JEEZUM, do they think I'm pregnant? All of a sudden us dusting the nursery and the "Waiting" book took on another meaning that we certainly did NOT intend. I mean, I'm pretty sure we sent them a blatant "Adoption" card last year, but now I'm wondering if it didn't get there... Not quite sure how to handle that one, because maybe they just think we were matched up, but I guess time will out our circumstance, right?

I felt like the "(still a) Mystery Baby" part of our signature made it clear that we're still waiting, and I hope I don't actually look pregnant. I guess if you're not in our headspace all the time it could be easy to read into the nursery dusting not as a "Oh look! We're still waiting! Better dust everything off!" but as "Oh look! Time to clear the dust to make room for a real live baby that's actually coming!"

Oops. I think it was mostly received the way we intended, but these other reactions make me wonder if I should work on the clarity of the message if we're still in this amorphous place next year.

Then again, I hope next year is clear as a freaking bell!

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

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Uterus Update

I am over the freaking moon...the bleeding has stopped. As in, today is the first day in MONTHS that I don't have wear some sort of protective product, and I am officially in the clear. AND BEFORE VERMONT! I am ecstatic, because I had no idea if my uterus was going to try to screw me, even as its functional part was in its death throes. It was a very real possibility.

My post-surgery follow-up is on Wednesday, and I'll get to see what the heck was going on in there and what to expect moving forward. I'll get to meet the polyp that wreaked havoc, in picture form. I'll have what is hopefully one of the last internal ultrasound wandings in my life, ever. I have one more in four months to make sure everything is healing up, but I am hopeful that being wanded will finally be a thing of the past.

How glorious! And the cramping is much, much less than last week. Every once in a while my uterus gives me a bit of a kick, like it suddenly remembered to still be mad at me for melonballing it, but I don't even need ibuprofen anymore.

It is amazing to realize what an impact bleeding for months has on a person. Physically, yes it's tiring and probably not all that healthy, but mentally it really got to me. To have that gone (and hopefully for good) has put me in such a great mood. Hooray endomyometrial resection! So far, I can say the medieval horrors of prep and surgery are totally worth it.

Monday, December 12, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: A Different Kind of Adoption Shoot

Remember last year, when we did our "Waiting" shoot? The homage to the belly maternity shoot I'd wanted but that would never be, done in a way that was hopeful and celebratory and not sad?

Hopeful, excited, optimistic!
A tongue-in-cheek potshot at waiting (oh hindsight, so funny)

Well, since we're waiting again this year we decided to do a different kind of shoot. 

A more...snarky sort of shoot, one that takes this idea of the "perfect" Norman Rockwell family and twists it a bit. I admit, I came up with the concept for the shoot before our president-elect took his current position, and so now the idea of a nod to the 1950s has a taste of bile in it, but this was my rose-colored glasses view of the early 1950s, because that was when all these images of perfect domesticity blurred the actual reality of sexism and racism and fear and loathing.

My shoot's not quite as dark as all that, but there's a dark humor lurking:

Yes. We're featherdusting the nursery.

Putting away books.... "Waiting" and "Peep and Egg: I'm Not Hatching." 

Loving up the glider in the nook

Oh, rascal

Greeting Bryce with his martini, yup that's real snow

Making that twist for the martini
(it's really water, Bryce was so disappointed but it was noon, so...)
And one of my favorites, which is a direct dark-mirror image of one of the original shoot setups:
Get it? The first one was "Every Family Starts With a Wish"
and then there's just more somewhat-patient "Waiting"
I love it because both shoots are beautiful, and both shoots are reality. The excitement and fresh hope of a new process, and then the reality of keeping it light and sarcastic and still hopeful despite a longer wait than we'd hoped for. Why not do two shoots? 

Here's last year's card:


And this year's:


I wish the story had progressed to a baby announcement this year, but that's not how it went. I think we did pretty well with the story we got, though...Happy holidays to you, and may you always find a way to laugh at the twists and turns life throws at you.

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

* Last year's photography by Kelly Zimmerman Photography
** This year's photography by Tres Bien Images 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Deep Thoughts

Recently, I saw a movie and read a book which posed questions/thoughts that made me think. They lodged themselves in my subconsciousness and just keep working their way through my synapses.

"If you knew how everything in your life was going to end, would you change anything?" 
I may have paraphrased it, but that's the gist of a quote from the movie I saw last Sunday.

It's like that whole hindsight being 20/20 thing, only with knowledge ahead of time of what you're walking into. It's a hard one, because I believe that everything you go through makes you who you are. Bryce and I talked a lot about this -- we are the couple we are in part because we've had to go through so much together. You can go back even farther to the fact that had I not had a disastrous first marriage, I wouldn't have met Bryce at just the right time. I wouldn't have learned the lessons of that experience that make me a better person today. It might not have knocked my marble in just the right trajectory to become Bryce's wife and partner in a life that's beautiful, if messy (and really, whose life isn't to some extent?).

But at the same time, would it have changed things to know ahead of time that we would ultimately be horrifically unsuccessful with IVF? Would we have entered into the adoption process sooner, fresher, less beat-up-feeling?

It's sort of a question that pries itself into the what-if part of my brain. What-ifs are fairly useless, because you can't change anything and wondering what different trajectories might have done is wasted time, because they didn't go that way. However, this question is asked in the sense that it IS possible to see ahead, to have memories of events to come, and then to make decisions knowing what the trajectory is going to be. It could make each moment precious for knowing, or it could make you in a way responsible for outcomes that were inevitable once a certain choice was made.

I don't really believe in things being inevitable, so it's just brain food, thinking on this question for me, but it sure is interesting to think on the effects of our choices and experiences. Infertility was not a choice for me, but how I tackled it was. We made a zillion choices (and still make them) in our quest to build a family. Would I change anything? Or would changing something bring me to a different outcome than might have been otherwise possible? Like Bryce coming into my life at just the right moment through Match, is our specific Mystery Baby out there at the end of this gauntlet? What if there is no Mystery Baby at the end of all this? Would that realization change the way we moved through all this? I just don't know.

Which brings me to the next thinker.

"The world isn't your's not designed to go your way. All you can do is make the decision to muscle through and fight the trend."
This is from Today Will Be Different, by Maria Semple. I LOVED Where'd You Go, Bernadette, which was her last novel. It was funny, it was quirky, it was heartfelt. It's my go-to book recommendation. Today Will Be Different has some similarities, but seems a bit...darker. It's twisty, and I didn't altogether like the main character/narrator, but that's okay because I enjoy that sort of thing. But this quote stuck with me...something about it wedged its way into my noggin.

At first, it kind of seems super pessimistic. Well, to me it totally made sense. Although there are ways in which the world is my friend (um, BRYCE, our life together minus the absence, my job) there are ways in which it decidedly is not (anything having to do with procreation, the slow crawl of the adoption process). But then again, it's that second part that appeals to me.

The world isn't designed to be a fairy godmother, giving you everything you want, making sure that everything is smooth...but you can fight your way through it and make the best of the things that did fall into your trajectory, a trajectory that you didn't necessarily sit and let happen to you but that you muscled through and influenced, yourself. You have the power to wrestle the ways of the world and get some things to go your way. Not everything, but that's not what this quote says. This quote says that you muscle through and fight the trend, and the trend is against you. You have to make a conscious decision as to how you're going to fight, in what way, and what you can influence versus what is outside your control. I love this quote because there is only fighting, not control.

It puts responsibility on you to captain your ship, to realize that LIFE IS NOT FAIR, but that you have to work to make the best of your situation, of your life, of existence. At least that's how I see it.

So tell me, what are your thoughts on these things? Is everything a conscious decision to wade through what's given? What's a choice, and what's not? How much can you change in your life? Do you have a trajectory, is it changeable, and would you want to know where it all goes in the end? Would that influence your decisions or would you still go with the flow for the whole experience of it all?

Those are my deep thoughts for this Sunday. I'd love for you to join in...

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Goodbye, Functional Uterus

Well, I made it through what I started calling "The Melonballer" procedure. I am on the other side, sore and crampy but all in all not feeling too bad.

I'll tell you what WAS bad. The seaweed laminaria experience.

Tuesday afternoon I went in with Bryce to be sedated for the laminaria insertion. They showed it to me in its package, and while I didn't get a picture I found this one at this link from the Museum of Contraception and Abortion in Vienna. Well, who knew there was such history to this "little" stick! When image searching one, I came across all sorts of medical illustrations I could do without seeing.

About the size of one of those fireplace matchsticks.

They used it to dilate my cervix so that they could more easily pass the instruments through that would essentially peel my lining from my uterus.

It was, no lie, the most painful part of the procedure. So that I felt better about the size of my laminaria, which was bigger (longer) than I'd envisioned, they showed me a "size 8" one that was no joke the circumference of a pen. NO THANK YOU. They got the IV in on the first try on Tuesday, which was a freaking miracle. I was sedated for the insertion (thank goodness), and let me tell you that sedation works FAST -- one minute I was commenting on the wavy ceiling, the next I was gone. They even gave me a much smaller amount than they would Wednesday.

I woke up to cramping, in part because there was something in my cervix but also because it protruded quite a bit into my uterus. My uterus doesn't like invaders of any kind, but especially not this stick of evilness. I was given prescriptions for antibiotics, and anti-nausea stuff for the next day's sedation, and thankfully narcotic painkillers. The nurse wisely advised me, "Be sure you STAY AHEAD OF THE PAIN. Don't think you'll be okay without the You won't, and it will steadily get worse, and you won't be able to catch up with the pain pills. Take it as soon as you can."

Even with taking them as soon as possible, the pain welled and welled and just got steadily worse until I couldn't stay on the couch to watch Interst.ellar, a movie that is greatly enhanced by pain medication; ha, ha. I had to curl up on the floor with a pillow and a heating pad. It was horrible. It was what I imagine early labor to be like, as I felt it clear in my back and it came in waves that got steadily more awful. But unlike labor, I didn't get a baby and there wasn't any pressure from above to add to the pain. The pain medication probably covered about 70-80%, and then blissfully I was able to sleep around midnight and when I woke up it was much, much better.

As soon as I started moving around the cramping got worse, but nothing like the night before. I took one pain pill to get me to the next sedation round. I ate breakfast (since it's conscious sedation the deadline for food and water is 4 hours before, which is much more humane than other anesthesia) and lots of water. I hoped skipping coffee would lower my blood pressure, which for every check related to this procedure was ridiculously high. I have always prided myself on my blood pressure, but it's been creeping over the past 5 years. In this medical office it was WAY WAY higher than ever, like concerningly high. Interestingly, after the last sedation and the procedure was over and I was conscious again, it dropped back to my rockstar levels. Something to keep an eye on, but definitely related to all the anxiety related to my procedure.

It took three tries to get my IV in for the procedure. My veins are crappy, and yesterday confirmed that. In fact, when I said, "man, they're still tired from IVF," the nurse practitioner said, "And not from previous drug use, right?" UM NO. NO, I am NOT a previous heroin addict THANKYOUVERYMUCH. I just have crappy veins. I then joked that I would make the WORST heroin addict ever, because if they can't get an IV in what would be the chances I would ever get in there? Ha HA ha ha. I was a little offended but not much because, you know, opiate epidemic.

By the time it went into my hand they were ready to sedate me, probably because my ramping anxiety levels were evident and also because I kept mentioning how much the surgical instruments looked like clay sculpting instruments, and that they look like when my dad sculpts things in clay first, which opened interesting conversations about prosthetic makeup and how no, he doesn't live here, he lives in L.A. (which makes a lot more sense), but then I kept saying that they were "The Peelers" and I think my sense of humor was a bit...uncomfortable for the people about to do the peeling. Ha.

No joke, like slightly smaller versions of these.
I woke up all sorts of disoriented, and Bryce's job was to keep me talking so that I wouldn't slip back into sedation. I was in far less pain than the night before. I apparently told the IV story and the clay sculpting tool story about a zillion times. I don't think I swore as much as I used to when getting twilight sedation for egg retrievals, which I guess is a good thing. 

It's weird not to get a detailed update right then and there -- they are going to discuss findings at my followup two weeks from yesterday. They did find a polyp. No clue how big or small, although the nurse who called today said it was "average size" whatever that means, probably bigger than the little alien colony who last waved at me after a hysteroscopy. They did send all my endometrial tissue to the pathology lab, and they'll call if there's anything abnormal, which they don't anticipate. 

Major thanks to Bryce, who has kept me comfortable and supported and loved even when I didn't remember it. He ran out to get me more pads, as I clearly was going to need more than my supply, and set me up in a cozy nest on the couch with my book and water and the bottle of painkillers nearby, and I didn't wake up until 5 but really just felt so cared for. That Bryce. Such a good egg. He even found it funny and not irritating that I told the same lame stories and jokes over and over all day yesterday. 

And so there it is -- I did take one pain pill today when the cramping got cantankerous, but otherwise I just feel tired. I don't feel that much different than before, even though 5% of my uterus is gone and I can quit taking the Depo Provera and my lining will never function ever again. I am bleeding, and can expect to for a few weeks. I'm hoping it ends before the Vermont trip, but if it doesn't at least I know that it will end and hopefully end for good after that's over. It might be too much to ask for, but man it would be nice to be back to my normal self by the time we take our romantic holiday vacation. 

I thought I'd be sadder because my lining is gone, but I'm not. It's over. Hopefully this works and I don't need a hysterectomy down the line. Even though I've known my reproductive life was over in January 2015 when our last cycle was cancelled, December 7th 2016 marks the date it really and truly became no longer all. It was a fraction of a percent before, and now it's zeroed out. There's a certain relief there. A sadness, sure, a compilation of complicated feelings from how our journey ended, my-body-wise, but a finality that went from depressing to hopeful. Maybe now my reproductive system will stop torturing me. Maybe now I can live a life free of the reminders that my body was supposed to be able to procreate, but can't. It's freeing, actually. 

Unless that's just the vic.odin talking. 

I don't think so, though. My uterus is healing up and I do believe that as it heals, so will my emotional feelings about how it never did what it was supposed to do, the rejection I felt, and the hurts sustained by a body that just plain refused to cooperate on this front. These feelings won't ever completely go away, but I do believe that I can make peace with them now. 

Monday, December 5, 2016

#Microblog Mondays: Agency Holiday Party

This weekend was a bit of a blur. Bryce has a paper and presentation on the paper due shortly after my surgical procedure on Wednesday, so he was working for most of the weekend and I was trying to take up some slack and get my own work done for this coming week (sub plans, finalize lesson plans, make sure they are sub-friendly...) since I'm only teaching two days thanks to torturous-sounding uterus surgery.

Nestled in there was the adoption agency holiday party. We decided to go for an hour, and this year we actually stuck to it. Our policy is that when Santa comes, we skedaddle...because really, what point is there in us standing at the periphery, watching other people's children receive prizes from a bearded stranger in a weird red suit?

I made gluten free brownies and we saw people that we knew and so felt a TINY bit more comfortable than last year when we were meeting our mentors for the first time. We even introduced ourselves to a couple who seemed awkwardly in the corner as we had been last year, but the overwhelmingness of the party as a new prospective adoptive parent was too much and one person had to excuse herself to cry...thank goodness before we left she found us to say that it wasn't us who upset her (because we were worried our comforting, "we felt this way last year" might have been upsetting because of the implied wait length...whew that we weren't cry-causers).

A bittersweet moment was seeing friends from our neighborhood who we met for the first time last holiday party, not knowing we were neighbors, and they had been homestudy certified for just a couple months. They brought their new son to this party, and we...well, we brought brownies and a better sense of when to call it good and leave than last year.

It's good to go, to meet new people, to spend time with our mentor family, to see what we hope is a peek into our future. But it's also good to take off early, get a little more work done, and then reward ourselves with Five Guys and a rare Sunday night movie at the fancy recliner theater.

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