Monday, February 26, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Oh, Death Cleaning Lady...

So I'm reading this book, The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter, and I am MOSTLY enjoying the bejeezus out of it.

She is funny, she is snarky, at times it's a little dry and surprising -- after writing about her third death cleaning for someone else (her husband had passed and she was downsizing to an apartment), she said:

"It would have been incredibly nice to have had my husband's company to help me get through emptying our home, my third death cleaning. But it was impossible. He was dead." 

I love the concept -- cleaning and clearing so that if you were to die you wouldn't leave your family and/or friends with a cluttered mess to clean up on your behalf -- you will have already done it mostly yourself, leaving your home with mostly wonderful things you truly love and not, say, leaving a drawer full of exotic dildos for your grandchildren to find (a real example from the book!).

But there is the rub, the MOSTLY. It assumes that you have children, and grandchildren, to give your things to, to go through your stuff after you pass, to save the burden of cleaning up your cluttered home when you pop off.

The assumption runs deep, as she speaks of the wonderful baby clothes her mother hand-made for her  (five) children that she was saving for her own grandchildren, and says:

"I kept some of these items in a box in the attic, in case I was to be blessed by grandchildren. And when grandchildren failed to arrive, I would take the box down remind my lazy children of what I wanted. It worked. I now have eight grandchildren. And no baby clothes in the attic." 


That was the only thing that REALLY rubbed me the wrong way. Ah, I see. All I needed was for a parent to wave my baby clothes in my face and remind me of my unfulfilled promise of grandchildren and POOF! Grandchildren! My god, how freaking lazy must I be?

Fury. Total almost-throwing-the-book-against-the-wall fury. But then again, it's a really nice compact paper-over-board hardcover, so I didn't want to damage it. She redeemed herself with the image of grannies passing away with a hidden stash of dildos in their closets (lesson: keep ONE dildo when you think you may be nearing death, fifteen is too many and an unnecessary shock to your descendants).

It just amazes me how some people are so removed from infertility struggle. And how ever-present it is in my life. And how as I read this book, I think, "My goodness, death cleaning is particularly important for us because WHO WILL BE LEFT to help clean out our stuff when we're gone, given we have no dutiful children to (possibly maybe) take on that task?"

Sigh. (But also, enjoying this whole get-rid-of-clutter kick.)

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

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Purge Project

One of our goals for this year is to get serious about purging -- to clean and declutter, to make our home full of the things we love and devoid of the things we don't need or have sat unused for a long time.

I've read bits and pieces of Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I've seen things in Pinterest for scaling back that I can do, and I recently bought the super morbid sounding The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson. I don't think I'm going to die anytime soon (at least I hope not) but the idea of "freeing yourself from a lifetime of clutter" sounds amazing. I also enjoy that her first chapter is called "Death Cleaning Is Not Sad."

Bryce has always been all about the decluttering, and it has always stressed me out. He laughs at me and asks if maybe I was raised during the Depression and don't know it. Ha, ha. It is very, very hard for me to throw things out, and I am always thinking, "but what if I need that..." but for some things, that never happens.

I remember throwing out a giant stack of Real Simple magazines from years ago, after insisting that I could razor out stuff and I would get to it all, and then realizing that there was NOTHING simple about that and that recycling them would feel like a giant weight, lifted. And it was.

Ditto my giant stack of Parents magazines. That one was weighted a little differently, but putting them in the recycling bin was an oddly healing act.

We go through our stuff on a fairly regular basis, but we decided to sort of create our own method, The Purge (not to be confused with the scary movies somehow ALL OF MY 13-YEAR OLD STUDENTS have seen), and it has been lovely to see space open up, stress get alleviated, and the things we love actually get used and appreciated as they deserve.

Principles of The Purge
For this, we go room by room and attack it. We sort of do the whole "Spark Joy" thing, and try to get over guilt that coats items like a glue trap, making it so that we keep things that we honestly don't want or need simply because we feel stuck out of obligation. That's deeply ingrained, and it's hard to loose ourselves from the glue trap of guilt. But we're getting better with it.

We touch everything and decide what's important. For us, a lot of what's important is books. I TOTALLY DISAGREE with Marie Kondo and her assertion that books are clutter and if you haven't read a book because you say you'll get to it "sometime," that actually means "never." LIES. I have actually done a fair job purging some of my books -- ones that are beach reads, or that didn't stick with me, or that I feel I enjoyed and can pass on to others and have them keep passing it on like a lovely literary regifting spree, or donated to a library so that lots of other people I have no connection to can read them -- but at the same time I have books I will NEVER get rid of. And I have books that I received years ago, and just picked up now, and I sure as shit finished them. I like to think of it as my library for the end of the world or more personal apocalypse -- if I have a disaster and can't leave the house for a while, I will have PLENTY of reading material that is new to me. So, no. (But also sort of yes, for the books that were Target impulse buys and were devoured quickly and can be passed on.)

Our goal isn't to get rid of everything, it's just to carefully curate and keep what we love, in a way where we can actually enjoy it and it's not surrounded by a whole lot of other things we don't love, suffocating in a pile of clutter.

Where I Have Trouble
I am super proud of myself, because like I've said, I HATE throwing things out. And I have managed to throw things out over the past month or so and keep them in the trash (or recycling or donation bin) and not rush over in a panic to rescue them. Some things that I keep are just plain weird. This morning I threw out four spent votive candles that had no wick anymore but there was still a chunk of wax, and they smelled really good, so I was like "I can MELT these and enjoy the smell!" But I know I won't actually do that, despite having a wax melter thing. They will just languish in a drawer with the zillion jar candle lids that I collected (and finally threw out). I won't use them as coasters (too unstable), I won't need them once the candle is spent, they should really just be tossed.

I have a tremendous amount of guilt from the tossing, though. There are some things you just can't donate, or that truly have no other purpose, and when I throw them out I feel the weight of the landfill and see the bulging eyes of a sea creature caught in that plastic island out in the ocean. I wish that there were more things that just didn't come with extra trash in their packaging -- I want to make a better effort to buy candles that don't have extraneous lids and are totally recyclable. So there's a plus, too -- more careful selection of items we buy to make sure they don't produce as much trash.

I also have "but maybe I will use this someday"-itis. Although, to be fair, I save a lot of money by smoothing out tissue paper and saving gift bags (I draw the line at wrapping paper) and beautiful ribbons, and I do reuse boxes for gifting or craft organization. But things like pants I don't have a prayer of ever fitting into again (and even if I could, will they still be in style then?), or a hideous (to me) trapeze-style swing tank top in orange and navy that's never been worn but I kept in a Stitch Fix because it was cheaper for the other 4 items... I'm never going to wear them. I should just donate. And make a lot of dusting cloths from t-shirts with stains. If there's another option for clothing that's damaged or stained other than the trash bin (because I don't think you should donate stuff you won't wear because of those reasons), please let me know.

Today's Progress
This break was largely about writing IEPs and doing schoolwork, but today I did NONE of that and instead attacked my drawers. I've been slowly redoing my drawers in my closet, which is necessary because I kept the nursery dresser and those drawers are SMALL (but perfect for bras, and pajamas, and exercise wear). Something I love about the whole Kondo philosophy is the folding things so that they stand up. It really, really makes a huge difference. I can see everything and get to it and I can put a ton more stuff in my drawers as a result. I suspect they'll be less wrinkly, too.

So I went and did that to my dresser(s), and it looks so pretty now:

The drawer that started it all -- my PJ drawer. Still not perfect, but pants on the left and shirts on the right and tank tops sideways at the back. 

Ooooooh, shirt drawer! The left are t-shirts with graphics or words on them. The middle are mostly short-sleeve plain t-shirts, with the bottom starting the long-sleeve party that continues on to the right. I can see EVERYTHING!

Pants! Jeans are a lot harder to fold so they stand up. It drove me crazy. But I have jeans on the left, my favorite jeans in the middle (I'm wearing the missing pair), and colorful/soft pants on the right with leggings at the back. Ahhh. 

This is a magical underwear drawer! On the left side are my camisoles. I got rid of ones that I haven't worn in forever. And then, the underwear. I got rid of anything with holes or stains I don't have to worry about anymore thanks to my surgery, AND I got rid of a bunch of fertility-related orange underwear. That felt good.  
I put all my tank tops in this bin in the door section of my dresser. So easy, and now I can use some of them more easily for layering with sweaters. 

It feels so good to get things in their place. It feels wonderful to take our house, which felt so crowded and overwhelming before, and make it a just-right space, clearing out what we don't need and keeping/adding what is joyful and useful and beautiful. I'm in love with this ongoing project!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Childfree After Infertility Silver Linings List

One of the things that Bryce and I have done since making the decision to end our parenthood journey and resolve childfree is to keep a list, a running tally, of all the GOOD things we have or will have because we don't have children. It's a nicer list than the one of all we've lost, which I did as a journaling activity while reading Life Without Baby. That one's a sad list of grief and loss and opportunities that will never present themselves, and there's really no need to go on and on about that one because it's pretty apparent. And it seems to be what people not in this community focus on when you resolve childfree -- all the "Oh but you won't..." and "It's so sad that you'll never..."

So this is by no means an exhaustive list, as we keep mentally adding things, but it's a pretty darn good one of things that are actually positive (for us) about being childfree at this point in our lives, post 8 years of very real trauma. It's a little crazy to me that we never actually wrote it down, and now's as good a time as any for some positivity!

The Childfree After Infertility Silver Linings List: 

1) We can sleep in on weekends
2) We can go out at a moment's notice, no need to find a babysitter
3) We can have light-colored furniture and not freak out (too much) about possible stains
4) We don't have to put those babyproofing plugs or locks or gates everywhere
5) If we wanted to, we could move to a house with a creek in the backyard (I always worried about toddlers drowning)
6) If we wanted to, we could move to a house on a street with two yellow lines (that was always a hard no because I worried about children getting hit by cars)
7) We will never have to fly in an airplane with a baby
8) We will never have to go on a Disney vacation (for some this is with or without kids a dream come true, for us it's always been a living nightmare)
9) We don't have to pay for daycare
10) We don't have to pay for college
11) We don't have to juggle schedules of gymnastics or hockey or violin lessons or tap dancing or swim meets
12) I will never have to be a Den Mother or a Girl Scout Leader
13) I don't have to deal with the Mean Moms out there
14) I will never be judged for breastfeeding or not breastfeeding (just for not having kids, ha)
15) We will never be judged for disposable diapers vs cloth diapers
16) We will never have to change a diaper if we don't want to
17) We will never have a trash can that smells like shit (maybe until we're really old, but fingers crossed for never)
18) We will never have to have a swingset/play equipment in my backyard
19) We will never have to worry about pedophiles, at least not coming after our own children
20) We won't have to worry about cyberbullying (for our kids, at least)
21) We won't have to have the fight over when you get a smartphone, or being the last person EVER to get a smartphone
22) No small person will ever yell, "I HATE YOU, MOM/DAD!" at us (and if they do it will be really, really weird)
23) We will never have to watch Bubble Guppies, or Pet Patrol, or Caillou, or any of the really weird and frenetic cartoons that are out now
24) We will never have children's music cds on loop in the car
25) No one but me will say "Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"
26) We won't have to go see the Wiggles or any other equivalent in concert
27) Ditto to Disney on Ice, Sesame Street LIVE!, the circus if it still exists anywhere, etc.
28) We won't have to go to Hershey Park
29) We won't have to go to Sesame Place
30) No one will ever beg us to go to Great Wolf Lodge, where all I'd ever do is worry about drowning in a wave pool or getting decapitated by a water slide (sense a theme here?)
31) We won't have to get up extra early on weekdays to get someone on a school bus
32) We won't have to pay for a wedding
33) We don't need a bigger house
34) We can stay in our smaller house, make it into our dream farmhouse cottage, and save a shit-ton of money not buying a more expensive bigger house
35) We can take some of this money we're saving and take really amazing, fancy trips
36) Bryce can get the fancy cars he loves and not have to worry about fitting a car seat in them
37) We can spend more time and energy on our marriage and nurturing our relationship
38) We can spend more time, energy, and money developing our own interests
39) We can do weird adult things like buy art for the walls that comes from an actual gallery (we might have done this with a painting from an artist we saw in Carmel-by-the-Sea, and it is FABULOUS)
40) We will never have to argue with someone to put their shoes on already
41) We will never deal with disliking our child's significant other
42) We will never have in-laws who we may or may not like (this could be a negative or a positive, but after one of the recent and horrific shootings where the guy was looking for his mother-in-law, my TA said she called all her sons-in-law to make sure they weren't harboring anger, and I was like SCORE! I will never have a son-in-law who might want to kill me! It was a very strange moment, and probably fairly inappropriate, but I'll take positives wherever I can get them!)
43) We won't have to watch the same movie over and over and over again
44) We won't have to put someone to bed over and over and over again
45) Our laundry loads are smaller and take less time
46) Traveling just two people is a lot cheaper than adding a third or fourth into the mix
47) We won't ever have a small child have a meltdown in a public place where people stare and stinkeye and wonder if they need to call CPS
48) We will never have to dedicate time in the evenings for homework help (although I felt I was particularly well-equipped for that task)
49) We will never have to pay for sports equipment, dance equipment, uniforms, instruments
50) We will never have to pay for summer camp
51) I won't ever have to volunteer for elementary school events (just middle school events that are part of my job, ha)
52) (Hopefully) No one will ever come into our bedroom at night and announce "I'm going to throw up" right before puking all over the quilt
53) We won't have to change sheets in the middle of the night for a wet bed
54) We won't ever step on a Lego (in our own home)
55) We won't be going to the emergency room for a tiny person's terrifying high fevers, or broken bones, or stitches
56) We won't have to worry about curfews
57) We won't have to teach someone to drive (unless we very nicely volunteer)
58) We won't have to add a teenager to our car insurance
59) We won't have to tour colleges or help with college applications
60) We won't have to worry if our child is doing drugs or having sex
61) We can go for as long a walk as we want to -- no need to walk at the pace of the smallest family member
62) No whining. (Okay, maybe I whine from time to time, but it's RARE.)
63) No Leprechaun Traps. Whoever thought those things up is the devil.
64) No freaking Elf on the Shelf. Why are people creating these things? And then why do people go crazy making them do things, so that kids go home and complain that their Elf is lame, and then you have to step up your Elf game? I am so glad to miss out on this phenomenon. I just like putting seasonal hats on my octopus pillow for my own amusement.
65) No pretending to be the Tooth Fairy, or forgetting about being the Tooth Fairy and then making up a story about why the Tooth Fairy forgot or couldn't get to the pillow in time.
66) No having to be careful when talking about Santa, or the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy
67) No being accused of being a dirty rotten liar when the truth is found out about all those creatures above
68) No worrying about getting an adult child out of the house and into their own living situation
69) The ability to afford fancy dinners out whenever, or last minute weekend getaways
70) The ability to accept last minute invitations or opportunities to do really cool stuff (like going to an OSCAR GALA next weekend!) because we don't have to juggle childcare
71) Being able to be sick without also having to take care of a tiny sick person, being able to wallow in sickness
72) Being able to wallow, period, without someone truly being dependent on you (I mean, there's Bryce, but he can make himself dinner if need be without supervision)
73) No one will walk in on me on the toilet in my own home
74) No one will walk in on me in the shower in my own home
75) No hosting sleepovers, ever
76) No crazy 21st century kids' birthday parties (even if I wasn't going to buy in to the craziness, they'd have to go to one eventually, and then THEY'D KNOW that's possibly an option, ugh)
77) No play dates where the parents are easily 15 years younger than me
78) No being mistaken for our child's grandparents when they're 12 and up
79) No having to go to waterparks or local amusement parks or spray parks
80) No house full of toys people (who obviously hold a grudge against you) have given you that are battery operated and make lots of noise
81) No having to leave a restaurant because a small person is crying/tantrumming
82) No video game addiction in my house
83) No teenagers using SnapChat or whatever new instrument of poor decision making comes out next
84) No getting covered in mashed sweet potatoes or peas or beets at mealtimes
85) No paying for college while also figuring out retirement
86) When I can retire is not pushed back by maternity leaves
87) I have accumulated more seniority as a teacher because I never got to take maternity leaves
88) We are done with living in a terrible, neverending limbo
89) We can make plans for a year from now without worrying about what if (profiles, treatments, clinic calendars)
90) I can go for a walk without my phone. I AM FREE OF MY PHONE TETHER.

That's a pretty good list, no? I'm sure there's more. For a lot of the things on this list there's a sad flip side, but for a bunch of them it's just straight up positive. Like Disney. And that demon Elf on the Shelf.

It feels good to make a list like this. It's definitely specific to our circumstance, and makes me feel very fortunate for our flexibilities and financial situation. I think there's so much value to making this list, though -- it reminds me of all the good things I still have, of all the opportunities that lie before us, despite being denied the life experience we most wanted.

It's a great life. It's going to be such an adventure.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Adoption and Ethics: A Memory Makes Me Think

There was a moment towards the end of our adoption journey where I had to stop, and think, and really re-evaluate how I was feeling.

It came from, of all things, a PEOPLE magazine article. There I was, on my couch after a long day at school, and I was reading about this place in West Virgina, called Lily's Place.

Lily's Place is a Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Center. In their own words:

"At Lily's Place, our mission is to provide medical care to infants suffering from Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) and offer non-judgmental support, education and counseling services to families and caregivers. Together we can create healthier families and help end the cycle of addiction."

Sounds great, right? The article was full of hopeful stories of young women and couples who found themselves pregnant while either addicted or in methadone treatment for recovery, and were feeling at a loss until they discovered Lily's Place, where they could get help and support in weaning their infants from the drugs. Where their baby could stay and receive the treatment needed until discharge, and where they could receive training on infant care and the special needs of NAS affected babies, and follow up visits.


And you know what I thought when I read the article?

Sounds great, what a wonderful service. Oh shit, but what if that means that people who may have placed their babies in those situations will now choose not to, because they have support? What does this mean for MEEEEEEE?

I immediately felt a deep, dark, impenetrable shame. What the everliving hell was WRONG with me that I could think such a thing? I felt ugly. I wondered what the eff was up with my priorities.

Because, you see, services like this are incredible BECAUSE they make it possible for families to stay intact, for people to get the support they need in order to raise their babies despite terrific adversity. They are sorely needed in this era of opioid epidemic.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were more services to help people who find themselves expecting, but unclear as to how their future will pan out?

I felt insanely uncomfortable with the fact that even for a brief moment I was resentful that services existed that would make it less likely for someone to place their baby. That aspect of adoption -- that my only way of becoming a parent was through someone else's loss due to a variety of circumstances -- was tough to wrap my head around.

I felt the same way when thinking on profile opportunities where financial hardship was the main reason for placing -- doesn't that just seem WRONG, that money could be the only reason why you feel cannot parent your own child? That an inequity in circumstance, possibly built on privileges I hold that others don't simply by virtue of my race or geography or socioeconomic background growing up, could make the difference between someone raising their baby instead of placing him/her with me and Bryce? (And oh, yes, I have privilege -- I didn't have to work in high school to help pay bills, I didn't have to watch younger siblings due to lack of childcare, my family could afford my violin and my racing flats and my tap shoes without sacrificing food or bills, my state university tuition was paid for by my parents, I graduated free of any student loan debt...I had quite the head start from those things alone.)

I believe that there are many reasons to place, and there are many adoptions where placement was truly weighed and considered the best option by birthparents. I also, though, believe that there are many situations where someone feels that placement is the best option because there are no other options, no palatable services that would enable someone to feel that they could parent. And it makes me sad, because in my hopes to become a parent, I felt (albeit VERY briefly) resentful that someone had created a service that could do just that for many families.

How to justify these two things? How to take the desire to be a parent and the inability to become one genetically or biologically, and feel the complete injustice in that and feeling of every option being harder than the last, and weigh it against the ethical dilemma of who to service -- is it better to have more services for adoption, or more services to help pregnant women in need be self-sufficient? Does my desire to be a parent and to raise a baby to have "a better life" outweigh the possibilities of more people parenting their biological children because there were services available to give them a boost until things were stable?

I sincerely hope that most if not all adoption agencies provide a whole bunch of information about services that could help someone who's not sure what to do weigh out all the options, all the resources available, and then make a decision that's right in the long term.

In no way am I being a sour grapes person here -- I was not successful adopting and so no one should -- not at all. Adoption is a wonderful option, but it does seem like some situations feel...icky. Not coercive per se, but a little feudal, maybe. We felt very strongly that we were most comfortable with profile opportunities where the birth parents felt it wasn't the right time, or the situation's timing was terrible (pregnant after a breakup, pregnant and not with the person), or the person wanted to pursue other things (like education) at that time but stay involved through open adoption, or something like that. Luckily most of the profile opportunities we received were like that. But there were plenty that were financial reasons, like not being able to afford a third child, or worrying that paying the bills was difficult without a baby and it would be impossible and give fewer opportunities without placing. Those were far less palatable. We did have one situation where the birth parents had both gone through rehab recently and were in outpatient treatment, and felt that the added stress of a baby at that time when life was just coming together was too much. I'm not sure a place like Lily's Place would help in that situation, and they seemed satisfied with the plan they had made (it just didn't include us in the end).

I guess the upshot is that adoption is complicated, and it creates a whole lot of ethical quagmires that you have to wade through. I was horrified with my thought pattern when reading that article, and in part that made it clear to me that I was okay with moving on from the process, that something vital in my moral fabric could be irrevocably damaged if I put my desire for a child above other people's  possibilities to have a family without so much splitting. I hope that more services like Lily's Place become available, so that there are more choices and options for people who find themselves in a difficult situation, and adoption is one of several equally viable options for the future.

Monday, February 19, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: Maintaining Traditions Without Kids

I don't know why I have felt so busy and exhausted lately, but it just seems like I am half drowning and my go-to action is just gasping for air. It's February break now, and I am so grateful to have a little rest -- although some of that drowning feeling is probably coming from the fact that February Break is really IEP-writing Break.

Wednesday was Valentine's Day. We really don't do anything at all for that holiday except make each other Valentines, but that's been something fun and important over the years and it made it into the Our Traditions spread in our adoption Profile Book.

So this year, when I was real tired and came home relatively late and Bryce was working late and then had a bunch of research things to do, there was the temptation to skip it.

Thank goodness we both were like, NO! There will be no skipping of the Valentine-making, because that becomes a slippery slope and before you know it we've lost our traditions because we're "busy" and there's no profile book to provide picture proof to and there's no children to do it for, and WE WILL NOT SLIDE DOWN THAT SLOPE.

Because we don't have children, I'd argue it's even MORE important to maintain these traditions -- the Christmas tree, the Valentines, the Easter Fun Hunt, the dressing up for Halloween and having the fire pit in the driveway -- these are things that bring joy and family fun to our tiny little family of two. I live in fear of having a "mushy" existence where the days just sort of run together and we float through life, milestoneless, traditionless. It's a bit less of a danger because I work in a school and my calendar year runs September to June and is marked by report cards and breaks and IEP meetings and talent shows and DC trips and 8th grade Luaus, but at home everything could turn into a sort of bland vanilla pudding life.

So we made the Valentines, which came out lovely, and Bryce of course took it wayyy too seriously and made a piece of gorgeous art, while I aspired to have mine look like a 6-year-old crafted them.

I guess that's part of the tradition, too, and I love it.

Bryce discovered the joy of dry embossing, and made me a field of butterflies with butterfly bushes. 
I also dry embossed, but mine was a lot less fancy...
...and a lot more punny. 
Look! A six year old lurking inside a 41 year old made this! I should have drawn the body first because it sort of resembles a mayfly, but I'm pretty proud of how it turned out. I'd show the inside because there are more smaller mothlike heart butterflies, but the message is NSFW, ha ha. So it's a card of contradictions.

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

Monday, February 12, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: There's No Adult Running This Ship

When we decided to end our journey to parenthood as childfree-not-by-choice, we developed a serious case of Fuckititis. It was quite lovely, actually, because we decided that if we couldn't have a baby, if we couldn't have the dream of a family of our own after trying so hard for so long...well, then we'd make it a point not to deny ourselves the simple pleasures we COULD control in our lives. So we slept in, we drank delicious wine, we decided to go out to fancy dinners on the spur of the moment for no reason at all -- basically we decided that after 8 years of constriction in one way or another that we'd just let loose. 

Well, I didn't think I would end up with stupid fatty liver, but honestly I knew that I needed to lose some weight and regain some healthier habits. More than once I said to Bryce that "there's no adult running this ship" -- we were both Yes Men and it was real easy to go along with things that were tasty and convenient, and to say that we deserved it because of all we'd been through. 

There's some truth in that thinking...but at the same time, indulgence doesn't come without consequence. The treats became the norms -- the buffalo chicken dip, the klondike bars, the chips and onion dip, the bacon cheeseburgers with blue cheese and a ground beef/pork mix -- and I forgot I wasn't 25 anymore. 

There's a flip side, too, though. It feels like everything was always Do This, Don't Do That with infertility, and there were restrictions on our time, our  money, our diets...and so it seems that to cut good food and good wine out is to cut out a big part of what's enjoyable to us and something that we can enjoy more BECAUSE we don't have children. So there's a little resentment about that. 

Part of me though wonders why I took such good care of my body when I was hoping to harbor a tiny potential person in there, and then when that became impossible I just dropped some of the healthier habits, because it was "just me." 

Aren't I worth that care, too? 

And can't we balance out the fancy decadent dinners and amazing wine with nights where we have salmon and wild rice and brussells sprouts, and nights where we go to the gym and have grilled chicken and veggies? 

Balance. It all got out of balance when we developed raging Fuckititis and forgot to have at least one adult on the ship at all times instead of a crew of Peter Pans, and ended up in a "Feast every day, no feast" situation. 

We're headed back into balance. We are doing the responsible thing, but also allowing ourselves to steer the ship into Pleasure Island now and then, too. We've got to have SOME total hedonistic fun while getting back to a healthier place, right? And we still sleep in on the weekend, until someone tells us that THAT is detrimental to our health, too.

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays, probably shorter ones than this 19-sentence cheaterpants post? Go here and enjoy!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Plan

Funny how the title of this post makes me think back on all the plans I had so carefully made that didn't quite work out the way I'd hoped -- a year ago this might have been The Plan to Make It Through A Third Year of Adoption Waiting, two years ago it might have been The Plan to Wait Gracefully in Adoption, three years ago (!) it would have been about The Plan to Adopt, period (as we just hit the 3-year anniversary of when we ended our fertility journey and registered with our agency), the year before that would have been The Plan for Egg Boot Camp, the year before that would have been The Plan for Donor Egg, and it just keeps going back and back and back until February 2010 when The Plan was just... Get Pregnant. Pre IVF, Pre-donor material, Pre-clinic switching, Pre-adoption. 

This is not a Plan about that, but it is related. This is The Plan to kick PCOS in the ovaries and take back my liver

These are the things I am doing to try to lose those pesky 15-20 pounds I need to lose so that I don't a) develop diabetes, b) have permanent liver damage, c) have an EVEN HIGHER risk of heart disease thanks to that bastard, Fatty Liver: 

1) Gym 3 times per week minimum, no excuses, 45 minutes to an hour total each time. 
2) Combine cardio with weight training. Build muscle. Muscle eats fat. 
3) Add in a fourth day of yoga, pilates, yoga-pilates blend. Make time to do this. (So far I suck at that part.)
4) When it's no longer icy, walk daily (other than the frantic walking in the halls at school). 
5) Replace GF bagel and whipped cream cheese breakfast with Pamela's blueberry oat bars. Bagel on the weekend, not every freaking day. Who thought that was a good idea? (Me)
6) Replace my delicious gluten free Amy's Organic lunches with something far less fatty and calorie-laden. Just because it's organic doesn't mean it's good for you. 
7) New lunch choice -- LUVO power plant bowls. They are gluten free, meatless, 300 calories or less, and real heavy on the veggies and fiber. I eat it and don't feel hungry for a really long time. And most of them are delicious! (The one I had today was a bit too cabbage-heavy. No can do.)
8) Attempt to snack on hummus and celery. Yes, celery. How freaking cliche. It's not a bad combo and I feel all diet-y doing it, even though I'm loading up the crunchy water with hummus. But it's Ithaca hummus, all cold-preserved and natural and flavorful and not-bad-for-you. So that's okay. 
9) If I must eat buffalo cheese dip, which has become a staple like milk in our house, no more than 4 corn chips of buffalo cheese dip for a snack. Count the damn things. No more mindless shoveling after a rough day at work. COUNT THE FOODS. 
10) Keep a food diary. I read somewhere that just by writing down everything that you eat, you eat less and eat better. Some kind of weird self-shaming thing I bet. It is working pretty well though. No one wants to write down "shoveled countless buffalo cheese dip corn chips into mouth for approximately 15 minutes straight." It doesn't look good on paper. 
11) Drink more water. Sometimes when you're hungry, you're actually just thirsty. Hydrate that effing liver. 
12) Add fish oil back in. We cleaned out the medicine cupboard in the kitchen not 3 days before this fantastic diagnosis came in, and there was a bottle of fossilized fish oil left over from pregnancy attempts past that we chucked in the garbage. I have this weird association between fish oil and Egg Boot Camp, but if I read it's good for your liver, well then dammit I'm going to take the fish oil. So I ordered new online. I love Nordic Naturals -- it's got lemon in the softgel and so if you burp, you burp lemon and not horrid fish. And I don't even burp with it because it's high quality triglyceride form, or so says the marketing materials on the bottle. 
13) Take a probiotic daily. Probably a good idea anyway, but I read that it can help Fatty Liver. my belly you go, helpful live cultures. Apparently the daily yogurt I eat isn't good enough, because it has sugar in it, which negates the effects, but I don't like plain yogurt so there you have it. 
14) Be conscious of sugar intake and avoid as much added sugar as possible. 
15) Eat more fruits and vegetables. If I want a snack, go for that first. 

Probably the biggest part of this plan is MAKE IT DO-ABLE. If I just blanket cut out a shitload of foods, I'm going to be MISERABLE. And cranky. And crave crap. It doesn't work. Reducing, replacing, and increasing exercise on a more consistent basis should help me get there. 

I really wish that once you made these changes the weight would fall off fairly immediately, so that you could feel somewhat accomplished, or at least feel like the changes are worth it and actually doing something. I plan to weigh myself weekly and track it in my handy-dandy bullet journal. I have a whole fatty liver spread. Bet not everyone's bullet journal can boast of a fatty liver plan spread! Woo, yeah. 

Wish me luck. Feel free to offer any suggestions you may have from your own PCOS weight loss journeys. Unless it involves cutting out dairy. That's not happening. I tried when we were trying to get pregnant and I just hate all of the substitute milks and cannot choke them down, and cheese. I love cheese too much. 

Thank you for the kind words of support! 

Monday, February 5, 2018

#Microblog Mondays: A Letter to My PCOS

Dear PCOS,

I really don't have anything nice to say to you right now. I knew when you became my infertility diagnosis that infertility wasn't the only thing you could screw me on, but I was kinda sorta hoping that maybe with the whole being-wildly-unsuccessful-at-reproduction you'd leave me alone for the most part. I mean, yes I spend money every 5-6 weeks to wax my face (not just a little fuzz mustache, but also chops that left to their natural state could have me mistaken for Wolverine...), and for some reason since hitting 40 the occasional chin hair to pluck has become a plague of plucking multiple times per week (and I refuse at this point to add "chin" to the "lip-cheek" waxing appointment, I am NOT there yet!), and yes the extra chub I've always carried in my midsection just keeps growing and growing... but I could do without this latest health nonsense you've gifted me with.

My doctor didn't find gallstones when he ordered the abdominal ultrasound, but something else, unrelated to the horrible public diarrhea attack, made itself known.

Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.

I mean, at first I was like, "great, now even my LIVER is fat," but then further discussion (and research on my part) made it clear it's a concern and not a punchline -- and I need to address it ASAP. The biggest thing is I need to lose 15-20 pounds (not exactly a newsflash, but still an ouch to hear it's a MUST).

Oh, yes, because I don't have an endocrine disorder that makes shedding pounds really, really difficult, right? Damn you, PCOS. Why am I blaming you? Because when I looked it up on a whim, thinking, "hmmm, I wonder if fatty liver and PCOS are linked," I found that between 10% -55% of women with fatty liver ALSO have PCOS. Oh, and one study found that 67% of the participants who had PCOS (half of the 100 studied) had fatty liver, too. FUN FACT: Celiac is also a risk factor for fatty liver, and apparently 4% of people with celiac have fatty liver as the only manifestation. Weird. And real unlucky for me.

Anyway, back to you, my fat furry infertile disorder... I am just so pissed. It wasn't enough to mess up my ovulation and compromise my lining and make me more prone to polyps (and gift me with pleasant plumpness). You have to give me something that's a precursor to diabetes according to my doctor, and possible liver inflammation, scarring, and failure according to various web sources.

Luckily, I can make a plan and execute it, even though it's going to be HARD to lose significant poundage in my 40s, with PCOS, and an already limited diet, when I already don't eat a lot of sugar, no soda, no fast food, not a lot of processed things at all. Seems kind of unfair if you ask me. I know an awful lot of people who eat far crappier than I do and (to my knowledge at least) don't have this fun challenge.

So, thanks a million, PCOS, I can only hope that with the plan (to be posted about following this one) I'm putting into place I can give much of your nastiness the boot.

Not at all cordially,


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