Monday, May 20, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: A New Family Member

We have a new kitty!


Meet Maebe, our sweet older girl who we adopted May 3rd after meeting her the day before at our local Human Society shelter. She is slowly adjusting to our home -- she's a bit skittish and Lucky seems to be enjoying terrorizing her just a LITTLE too much. They are both 12 years old, but Maebe is more of a sweet old biddy, and Lucky is still a frat boy at heart and wants to haze the crap out of her. She is pretty confident with the bedroom level of the house, and we'll find her in the shower or in our bedroom when she's not in the guest room, which is hers, but she has only come downstairs of her own volition once (and we've sort of forced the issue a few times to try to get her to be a little more comfortable).

Making her way downstairs...
The one time she made it on her own! (So far...)

We were looking to adopt an older cat, more like 5-8, but she just loved on us and we knew we could give her what she needed. Because, she is a bit of a fragile flower... in addition to being 12, which is considered "senior" and not quite "geriatric," she has a low-grade heart murmur and an old left hip injury (although she's super agile), and we found out at her first vet appointment that she has concerningly high blood pressure (so she's on meds like we are, ha ha). Thank goodness it's apparently thyroid and not heart failure, which was a possibility.

Making herself cozy at the vet's

Anyway, welcome Maebe...cross your fingers that she and Lucky learn to be at least peaceable if not buddies soon, and she gets brave enough to explore the rest of the house and hang out on the couch.

Lucky, stalking her like a tree leopard

Playful girl chasing ribbon
I love my new home! (Also, the receiving blanket is perfect for new kitties...)
Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The End of Recovery

It seems crazy that I go back to work on Wednesday, that nearly six weeks have come and gone. It feels like both forever and a short slice of time, and I'm honestly ready to go back and finish out the school year. Family in the Midwest were confused, because they're almost done if not done, but we go until June 26th (although last day with kids is June 19th). So I have almost a month left, but really just 19 school days when I show up Wednesday. Which is NUTS.

Since my last recovery post, I've been able to do more, which is lovely. Only in the past few days have I been able to feel like I'm truly back to regular activity, although I still get real tired.

As of Three Weeks, I was largely couchbound, and halfway to going back. I had my second post-op followup with the surgeon on Friday 5/10, and he cleared me for regular activity, within reason. "Don't go doing everything all at once," he cautioned. So what did I do? I went to see Avengers: Endgame with a friend, went to dinner, went to Home Depot, went back to cooking and being more up and around, went grocery shopping for my mom's Mother's Day brunch... and by Sunday afternoon I thought I was going to DIE. I honestly felt like my incision was opening up and my intestines were going to come spilling out at any moment. It hurt SO BAD. I felt better on Monday after spending Sunday evening on the couch, moaning, and Monday on the couch as well, limiting my stairs and my movement.

I panicked. I can't go back to school soon if this is how I feel after normal activity ran through my head over and over, until I called the surgeon's office and left a message on the nurse's line and then used the mychart portal to send an email, hoping for a response sooner. They said no. I'd asked for my back-to-work letter on the 10th, and even though I hadn't submitted it yet they were like, "If you need to change your date you need to see the doctor, so we'll set up an appointment for Monday (5/20) and see what happens." I was honestly annoyed, because I was only asking for two more days of not working (this year we have a miraculous four-day weekend for Memorial Day, so if I went back on Tuesday 5/28 I would be gaining nearly a whole week for two days of work). But, the RN said that it's normal to feel like crap after returning to normal activity, and I still had a week and a half to suss it out, so let's see, shall we?

So I slow rolled it a bit, and worked my way up to more activity throughout the week. By the end of the week, I could do a little gardening, I could go for a 3 mile walk, and I didn't have any of that "I've been gutted" feeling. A little sore, yes... in need of naps, yes... but feeling like death? No. So I cancelled the appointment and wrote a message in mychart that they were right, I just needed to keep building up my stamina.

It will be nice, because I go back Wednesday, I have that day and Thursday, and then I have a nice long weekend to gear up for a four day week, and then there's only two full weeks and a three day week left after that, with students. I can do this.

My big accomplishments have been planting up the deck railing planters and pots (with the help of a friend who did all the heavy lifting for me on Wednesday), planting my small corner garden out by the street (the first 5 plants were done by my mom, I felt well enough Saturday to brave the shovel  and get 5 more plants in the ground...), taking a long walk, and starting to get back into school work.

Oh, and reading -- although getting back to normal activity definitely took time out of my schedule and so my numbers slowed down, which is okay. I also watched a few movies and am enjoying Dead to Me on Netflix, although I was surprised my friend who recommended it didn't mention the pregnancy loss aspect of it, which I'm going to take as a compliment, but was initially jarring nonetheless.

To recap, here's the list from the beginning, bringing me up to 18 books so far (I'm just starting my 19th, I fear my weird overly ambitious goal of 20 won't come to pass):

Week One
Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett
You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Week Two
Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
The Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden
The Power by Naomi Alderman

Week Three 
Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patti Yumi Cottrell
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
Maeve in American: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else by Maeve Higgins
A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings: Quirky Collective Nouns of the Animal Kingdom by Matt Sewell
Man-eaters Vol 1 by Chelsea Cain +

Week Four
- The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

Week Five
- The Secret Place by Tana French
- The Unwinding of the Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams
- Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Week Six (so far)
- The Collected Schizophrenias by Esme Weijun Wang

I loved all five of these, not a stinker in the bunch.

The Hazel Wood was definitely a favorite, I'd had it for a while but it finally called to me, and I read it in almost a single sitting. It was upper YA fantasy, but not other-world-space-or-dragons type fantasy,
more of a meshing of worlds, I suppose. I can't really say much without ruining things, but it was very well done and it didn't make me want to throw it, not once. I thought the characters were fascinating, and it wasn't predictable. LOVED it.

The Secret Place has been on my to-read shelf for about a year, and while it wasn't a particularly fast read and the beginning sort of dragged for me, by the third-to-halfway-point I was utterly captivated and couldn't put it down. It was fascinating, taking place largely at a girl's boarding school in Ireland, where a murder of a boy from the neighboring boy's school happened last year, but now someone has put a card on this anonymous message board meant to give girls an outlet and give the adults insight into problems, a card that says "I know who killed Chris." So the present day parts take place over one day of interrogation at the school, and the past parts go back to the beginning of the school year until the day the murder happened. It made me eternally grateful not to be a teenager now, it was fascinating for some procedural stuff about interviewing minors, and it had several layers that kept me guessing.

I could (and will) write a whole blog post on The Unwinding of the Miracle. It was not a light and beachy read, as Julie was a real person who wrote about living with and dying of Stage IV colon cancer, but it's not just a "I have cancer" book. It's the story of her life as a visually-impaired culturally-Chinese immigrant from Vietnam, it's the story of how she wanted to portray her coming to grips with her illness and preparing for her death as brutally raw and honest, it's a philosophical journey into what it means to know you're going to die young (she was in her early forties) and how to try to plan for your family after you're gone... it was just beautiful. And a lot of what she said about how people treated her could be transferred over to infertility, although obviously not apples to apples because typically you don't die from infertility. I would put this book up there with Nina Rigg's The Bright Hour (another young woman writing about the process of living with and dying of cancer, but in her case Triple Negative metastatic breast cancer), which I also loved and recommend highly. I was glad I read this one on my Kindle, because I highlighted the ever-living crap out of it.

Bird Box was a curiosity project, because I watched the Netflix movie when my dad was here and then learned that it was a book first (I thought it was adapted to a book from the movie, which sometimes happens but not in this case), and wanted to read and see which one I liked better. I absolutely HATE that the cover has that printed "Netflix movie" sticker marring what is otherwise a lovely cover image, but it was that or an actual movie cover, so lesser of two evils it was. It was structurally very much like the movie, going back and forth between Malorie's trip down the river with the children and flashbacks to how she got to that point in the first place. The movie was DEFINITELY Hollywood-ized, and some of the more ridiculous scenes from the movie did not quite happen that way in the book, but I see why they did it. The movie was also updated, as you could tell technology had progressed quickly since the book was written. Amazing how quickly things become dated now! The book was taut, and the prose was spare, reminding me of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. I thoroughly enjoyed it and consumed it like candy.

I seemed to go back and forth from fun to heavy, and The Collected Schizophrenias was definitely not like consuming candy. It was, however, well-written and a fascinating window into what it is like to live with schizoaffective disorder, to be diagnosed later after an initial bipolar diagnosis, and to learn just how stigmatizing having anything resembling "schizophrenic" in your chart can be. The collection of essays covered everything from the diagnosis process, to higher education's difficulty accommodating for the severely mentally ill, to various delusions, to decisions regarding children, to Slender Man, to the trouble with reality when you get immersed into certain movies. It was beautiful, and interesting, and gave a lot of food for thought about treatment options for the severely mentally ill, the effectiveness (or not) of involuntary hospitalization, medication, and how to live your best life when you know you will have psychotic episodes that are terrifying. A solidly absorbing read that's also super informative.

So there it is, only two days left before I dive right into the sweaty time of year, the crazy end-of-the-year days of middle school. I am already looking forward to going to bed at about 8:30 on Wednesday night, anticipating the exhaustion but also the excitement of seeing my kids again, of getting back into a routine before the expanse of summer hits and I have free time again but without the inability to physically do all the things.

Monday, May 13, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: An Answer For The Unexplained

Technically speaking, I did not have unexplained infertility -- we had several diagnoses working against us. I was (finally!) diagnosed with PCOS (polycycstic ovarian syndrome), and Bryce had male factor infertility (low counts, low motility, low morphology). There was no mysterious reason why we would have trouble, we were spared the hazy and infuriating "unexplained infertility" that came from having no revealed diagnoses.

However.

As we continued through cycle after cycle, as we suffered negative after negative, two losses, donor egg, and donor sperm, and STILL had no success...it became clear that while we had diagnoses, we were still Unexplained.

Because all of the things that we did to combat our infertility should have been mitigated by any or all of our treatment decisions. By the end of our time at our first clinic, our doctor said, "I should be able to tell you why you can't get and stay pregnant, but I can't -- it's an unfortunate mystery."

But now, four and a half years after our last attempt to make my body do what I now know it never could, I have the answer, because my uterus is no longer in my body and could be poked and prodded and forced to give up its secrets in a pathology lab.

I had my second follow up with my surgeon, and he confirmed that yes, adenomyosis was likely the culprit for our failure to conceive despite a zillion IVF protocols, use of donor egg, and use of donor sperm; that based on my history of heavy, painful periods, abnormal uterine bleeding, and pelvic pain, it was likely there all along. As I blinked back tears, he said that I could take comfort in the fact that it is commonly not diagnosed until hysterectomy and that there isn't anything they could have done to mitigate the condition in order to result in a pregnancy. (Two articles on adenomyosis and infertility: 1) easy to read celebrity story, 2) mind-dizzying NIH report that I read all of and comprehended maybe 70%, but if you're science-y it's fascinating and also fills me with fury that there's a possible treatment for this in infertile women but very little research done to extend it.)

I'm not looking for blame or a gotcha, but I do feel like had I known that I had a condition with no treatment that would inhibit implantation and even contribute to first trimester miscarriage, I would have known there was no hope. I could have, in theory, stopped the relentless march down path after path promising possible pregnancy that ravaged my body and soul.

Coulda, shoulda, woulda. All moot. I have no time machine. It makes no difference.

I'm glad I asked though, and I heard the too-late bells tolling for my uterus's functionality. It is so sad to me to realize that pregnancy was never, ever, EVER going to be something my body could achieve to term. But it is also freeing to have an answer, to have it confirmed by my surgeon, to have my uterus finally do something useful at the end of its miserable life.

Knowing is so much better than not-knowing.

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

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Mother's Day Past, Mother's Day Present

After my birthday last week, I was thinking on how I'd said my birthday didn't make me sad and I'd felt I'd reclaimed it. It still holds true -- I was able to celebrate my 43rd and not feel any reproductive or family-building angst about it at all. I remember thinking, "The same does NOT hold true for Mother's Day...that one still stings."

But now here I am, almost through Mother's Day, and I have to say...it doesn't sting. Not the way it used to. I have proof of this: I've written post after post after post on surviving Mother's Day. I've shared all my self-care methods to preserve my sanity and treat myself tenderly on this day that is spattered all over and only applies to a select few.

It's a hard day for many -- those who've lost their mothers, those who've lost a child, those who've lost a pregnancy, those who ache to be mothers but aren't yet, those who have complicated relationships with their mothers, I imagine birthmothers (I don't personally know anyone who is, so I have to imagine), those who are waiting to adopt but aren't making headway, and those who aren't moms and will never be. That's a LOT of people for whom this holiday is at best conflicted and at worst a day to burrow in deep and hide from.

Going back and reading my Mother's Day survival/preparation/coping posts all the way back is fascinating to me. There's good advice in there, but also an evolution of what I felt at each stage of my shitty journey to living childfree not by choice:

- 2018: First Year Not In The Thick of Crisis, Second Year Knowing This Won't Ever Be My Holiday

- 2017: Still Deep In The Fire, Just Past Calling Off Adoption, The Mother's Day Post That Wasn't

- 2016: I Host Brunch And Feel Prematurely Smugly Okay With It, I Rant On About Cards, Potted Plants, and How Even Though I'm Waiting Through Adoption I Can't Celebrate For Me Yet

- 2015: Newly Waiting For Adoption, I Say No To Things, Bryce Accidentally (But Fortuitously) Books My Birthday Trip On Mother's Day Weekend

- 2014: Last Year of IVF (not sure I know this yet), Surviving Through Hermit-ing

- 2013: Year of Egg Donor IVF, I Am Frustrated With The Holiday And Wondering When This Hell Will End

- 2012: Hopeful Short-Lived-Ness Of Being Unable To Celebrate, Survival Tips, The Year I Miscarry in August

- 2011: My Very First Mother's Day Post, My Second Year of Enduring Infertile Mother's Day

After getting over the fact that I have NINE Mother's Day posts from NINE years of blogging (if you count this one now), I realized a theme:

  • Have the courage to say no and take care of yourself if you are just not in a good place
  • Make it a pajama day inside or a gardening day in the backyard to avoid the parade of strollers
  • Stay off anything with ads -- Cable TV/Services with ads, radio
  • Stay the EFF off social media for at least two days -- you think you're safe on Monday but you are NOT, it's not truly safe until Tuesday or even Wednesday (you can go directly to your mom/mother-in-law's pages to wish them a Happy Mother's Day, and then for the love of all that's holy, resist the urge to self-torture by looking at your feed AT ALL. 
  • Do what nourishes you.

I saw all the hope that one day this holiday would be mine to celebrate. I saw that hope waver. I saw that hope turn to a sort of bitterness/rage-filled/grief-fueled disbelief that still, STILL the holiday wasn't mine.

And then... acceptance. Glorious, end-of-limbo acceptance that I can still be tender with myself on this day, but that it doesn't hurt quite as much as when I still thought it was possible to "join the club." I can honor my mom and my mother-in-law and my grandmother (for I am fortunate to still have one of those on my father's side), and then make it a Sunday like any other, but maybe with more pajama time and reading and the customary Not-Mom Champagne.

I loved Mali's post this year on Mother's Day: "That Day" Again. It has so many wonderful messages, my favorite of which is:

"It  has power if we give it power...as time passes, it is easier to stand up straight and say, 'nope, I'm not giving this day power over me.' It is easier to dismiss it as irrelevant to our lives. The guilt for not caring goes too. And you know what rushes in? A sense of relief, and freedom." 

I would have never believed two years ago that so soon after the end of the dream of what we thought our life would be and the transition into the reality of our life as is, that I'd be sitting here on Mother's Day, grateful to have moms in my life to celebrate and so, so grateful for the life that I live. I don't need this holiday. (It does help that I have seen ZERO ads and avoid shopping locations around this time, and I studiously avoided all the New Mom cards when picking out for family.) It's okay that it's not for me. And I was reminded of that by several incredibly caring friends who called or texted to tell me they were thinking of me today, and that I am a good and giving person even though I don't have children, and this is a Hallmark Holiday, anyway. And most of them were moms, so it wasn't a mom-bashing thing. I felt seen, and loved, and I could honestly say I am good today. I can celebrate this beautiful house free of fertility ghosts, and all of the wonderful life we will live here, together, and all the love I have to give people that is separate from being a mom.

I give this day no power over me. 

I hope hearing this from multiple people at different points post-family-building helps anyone battered and vulnerable to the throes of this holiday's power gives you hope -- you may wonder if this holiday will ever be yours. But it's also good to know that even if it never results in cards or potted plants or brunches in YOUR honor, it can be good, too. No matter what happens, there can be an outcome that isn't terrible and sad. It can be the start of a beautiful new life, defined differently.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Reclaiming My Birthday

Sunday is my birthday -- I will be forty-three years old.

I have had a complicated relationship with my birthday thanks to infertility -- it was always this harbinger of doom, of time running out, of reminders that I have a reproductive expiration date (or more like a "best by" date I suppose), that it is much harder to get matched with expectant parents when you are over 40, that the older we got the more we had to weigh in how old we were going to be when our child graduated high school and things like that. It sort of took joy out of celebrating my day of arrival on the planet.

It's amazing how taking all that OUT of the equation has freed up my birthday to be a celebration, and to not be sad. I am not really all that concerned with looking older -- I mean, I have a peel scheduled for Monday and I have quite the collection of skincare items, but I am not examining my face for wrinkles and contemplating injections or anything like that. I am continuing to grow out my gray hair, which is like silver highlights in my mind, and when it's all natural, then I will choose what I want to do with it.

But age, now that it is separated from my ability to reproduce or my attractiveness as a potential adoptive parent, isn't something I am ashamed of or sad about anymore.

My laugh lines and crinkles about the eyes are from moments lived and enjoyed.
My (new) worry lines across my forehead are from anxieties I've survived.
My silver highlights show that I am experienced at life, and I have stories to tell.

I may feel differently when they are less fine lines and more etched into my skin, but I'm not sure. I love Helen Mirren for being glamorous but also confident in the reality of her age, and for posting a "getting-ready-for-the-Oscars" selfie that was her with NO makeup, NO eyebrow filling in, wet hair... and it said, "What, you thought any of this was natural?" I LOVED HER SO MUCH FOR THAT.

Now I am free to celebrate my birthday for what it is -- another trip around the sun, another chance to do the things I love or aspire to do, the gift of more life to live. I love being in my forties, now that it's not a scary dead end, a boogeyman of the race against time. I don't love how my body seems to find new ways to torture me, but I do love that I've gotten rid of the organ that's caused me the most pain. Happy birthday to me; RIP Uterus.

I'm looking forward to a fairly low key weekend. I am seeing the matinee of Hamilton tomorrow after lunch with a friend, then having my dinner out with Bryce (hopefully sitting in the auditorium theater for several hours won't render me useless), then on my actual birthday having a glorious 90 minute massage, a visit from my mom and stepfather, and a homemade dinner from Bryce of the Roasted Buttermilk Chicken from Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat. If you haven't looked at the beautiful book or watched the four-part Netflix series, go do it. After watching the series, twice, I feel like Samin is another person who needs to be at the Dinner Party and I want her to be best friends with me. Especially when, upon experiencing the Parmesan cheese cave in Italy, she says, "I just want to stay here forever, and eat cheese until I die."

I'm sure there will be naps in there, especially as Saturday doesn't sound all that low-key. Hey, we bought the tickets before my hysterectomy was scheduled. We are in the wayyy nosebleed section (as in, I'm pretty sure there's no one behind us but wall), but it will still be amazing and thrilling and beautiful.

So there it is, 43, in just two days. A celebration of living a life I love, of leaving behind a time when my increasing age felt like stamps of failure in my family-building passport, and just enjoying What Is. Because what is is pretty damn good.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Three Weeks In

Three weeks ago today I was still in the hospital for my hysterectomy, in Recovery. I am halfway through my leave, and trucking along towards healing.

The first two weeks were filled with family visits -- first my dad, then my mother in law, and while it was lovely and we received a LOT of very appreciated help, it has been lovely also to have the week where the day is mine and I can accept visitors if I'm feeling up to it or I can spend the whole day alone on the couch if not.

I have been spending a lot of time on the couch.

Which is good, because I learned real quick that if I overdid it, my body would tell me LOUDLY that that was unacceptable and pretty much render me a weeping puddle of void-pain. So I have been listening more and embracing my couch potato status.

Saturday in particular was a tied-to-the-couch day -- Bryce made sure I had any tea, water, breakfast, coffee, lunch, what have you delivered to me on the couch and I lay there in pajamas under a throw blanket with a book all damn day. I felt pretty fantastic after that.

Speaking of books, my list is now:

Week One
- Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett
- You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
- Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
- The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Week Two
- Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
- The Country Diary of An Edwardian Lady by Edith Holden
- The Power by Naomi Alderman

Week Three 
- Sorry to Disrupt the Peace by Patti Yumi Cottrell
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
- Maeve in American: Essays by a Girl from Somewhere Else by Maeve Higgins
- A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings: Quirky Collective Nouns of the Animal Kingdom by Matt Sewell
- Man-eaters Vol 1 by Chelsea Cain +

I am not watching a lot of TV, clearly. My favorites so far are Truth & BeautyDo Not Become Alarmed, Tess of the Road, The Power, and Maeve in America

The weirdest is probably Man-eaters, a highly entertaining serial graphic novel about a mutation called Taxoplasmosis X that turns adolescent girls into vicious man-eating panthers upon their first period. it's very creative, funny, kind of scary (from a socio-political aspect, not the panthers), and went well with The Power and Tess of the Road, which were very different but also in the feminist literature vein. Tess of the Road was one of Bryce's Christmas book picks for me, and it was so good. Tess is such a great character, and I loved the commentary on cultural norms for women, expectations, sexual freedom, and how some organized religion can serve to oppress groups. (Note: there is baby loss.)

The one I enjoyed the least is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I read that one because it's been on the shelf forever and Bryce has his copy from the 1980s and it's been on all these lists of must-read books, and I caved. I didn't hate it, I didn't love it...I felt like it was work. It was super stream-of-consciousness, with multiple narratives happening at once, and had me feeling a lot of "wow, this is a window into 1970s cultural norms and some of this makes me uncomfortable" -- like attitudes towards women and minorities in particular. But it was fascinating and I'm not sad I read it, I just had to treat it more of a project than an enjoyment.


The most beautiful, literally, are The Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady and A Charm of Goldfinches. The Country Diary has been on my shelf forever, I bought it used because I remembered looking at my mom's copy growing up and it's pretty, but I never really read it. I got a puzzle (that I am STILL working on, it is neverending and a prime example of why I don't typically do 1000 piece puzzles, and I'm pretty sure I'm missing a couple pieces) that was Spring from the book, and it inspired me to look at it again, and to actually read it. I was like, "HOLY CROW, this is the original Pinterest-y bullet journal!" It inspired me to start mine back up again. And I got a coloring book based on the same illustrations for Easter.  A Charm of Goldfinches is an adorable book of collective nouns for creatures of land, air, and sea, illustrated with Matt Sewell's quirky watercolors and full of interesting origins for the terms. I now know that bluejays are in the the corvidae family, same as crows and ravens, and that a group of seals is called a harem. I picked it up because I adored another book he wrote, Owls: Our Most Charming Bird, and I wasn't sorry.

Maeve in America was a top favorite. I love reading essays, and I was so hopeful that You'll Grow Out of It would be super enjoyable and it was until that horrible final essay on infertility, so I was a little nervous going into this one. I shouldn't have been. Maeve is funny, insightful, and never made
me want to throw her book. In fact, she made me want to go get a drink with her. It made me laugh out loud ("Swimming Against Dolphins" is a particular favorite) and it was heartwrenching and politically apropos ("Wildflowers" specifically). Her writing is a thing of beauty. She might be my new pretend best friend, and she is definitely going to The Dinner Party (an imaginary get together where Bryce and I pick famous people we think would make a good guest list).

All in all, I am really enjoying this concentrated reading time and the opportunity to plow through my books-to-read shelf(ves) and perhaps some new books I couldn't resist snagging.

An older picture of Abner in the old house... RIP sweet old boy
I will leave you with close up photos of my cat, Lucky. I don't think I mentioned here that we lost our old boy, Abner, the week before my surgery. It was very sad and such a difficult decision, and poor Lucky is out of sorts without his buddy, even though he was sort of a glorified furry pillow in the end. I guess it's been good that I've been home so much all the time to keep Lucky company, as he does seem lonely and in need of extra snuggles. Every day I'm feeling better, and (surprise surprise) the more I relegate myself to pajamas and couch, the better I feel. It's crazy to think that I am halfway through my time before going back to school -- I am feeling way better than 3 weeks ago, but I can't imagine making it through a whole school day yet. I guess that's why I have 3 more weeks to go!



My buddy





Monday, April 29, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: Gardening Season

Things have greened up, almost magically, here in Western New York.
Our backyard, a week ago in the evening

Actually, the magnolia tree is studded with magenta buds and it's a LITTLE greener even today:

Our backyard, this morning, opposite light, actually not looking greener in this picture but I swear it is
Magnolia tree, slightly doctored for more saturated color so you can see the pink buds better as I can't get off the deck to get a closer, more obvious picture

That magnolia tree says it all.

I CAN'T GET OFF THE DECK.

I would love, love, love to be walking around, working in the garden, investigating my new surroundings. Actually, it should be working in the "garden" because there really IS NO garden, not yet. I am pretty much starting from scratch.

This is both an exciting opportunity and a source of loss -- I went to a garden center (don't worry, I moved very, very slowly and sat on every bench, and then hurt afterwards and stuck myself to the couch) with my mother in law last week on her last day, and the majority of my thoughts were:

"I used to have that." 

Such a sad realization that my gardens at our "old" house were a labor of love that didn't crop up overnight, that were a result of careful tending and trial and error and developing beds over a good decade. And while I can create all new gardens here, and it's a bit of a blank canvas and a great opportunity for my grandiose plans to eventually have a mini botanical gardens instead of grass anywhere, right now I'm missing my flower babies that I used to have. 

We were driving by the area where our house was, and Bryce said, "you want to drive by and see your gardens?" and I was quick to say, "HELL NO." I knew it would either a) make me sad because all my pretty spring flowers would be blooming there with strangers, or b) make me sad because it was all overgrown and neglected. (I'm pretty sure it's option A, as a neighbor let me know they took my list of plants that I left and didn't laugh and throw it out but rather started researching the plants to take care of them, which made me all warm and fuzzy inside, but I also don't want to find out that it was all too much and is neglected despite good intentions.)

So I guess this is a lesson in patience. Wait and see what comes up here, make plans knowing it won't materialize from my fantasy into reality in one season, and enjoy the surprises that crop up in unexpected places while I wait to be physically able to get down in the dirt. 

Pretty Hellebores in a way-too-structured-for-me front garden area
From above, sad structured mini terraced garden that needs to be filled to the brim with plants and have that ghastly weed-preventing, soul-crushing garden fabric removed from under the hideous red cedar mulch. I may have opinions on this, my apologies if you love that sort of thing...I need to cottage it up, stat. 

Wild surprise daffodils in the black raspberry thorns, I'd love to see this whole hill covered in them
Surprise front yard daffodil, by the road, in with the weeds

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

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Why I Can't "Get Over It"

Mali at No Kidding in NZ wrote a post that resonated with me: "I'll Never Say Never". Read the post, but the quick and dirty is that while the phrase "get over it" is often used to silence people who are experiencing pain and grief, it is also used as a badge of sorts when talking to people about your pain, as in "I'll never get over it," and that can be extraordinarily unhelpful for a new person to childfree not by choice (CNBC) living to hear.

It reminded me just how much I hate the phrase "get over it."

Here are things you can get over:
- a speed bump
- a hill you are hiking
- a cold
- a disappointment, such as not getting a job, getting fired, not getting an accolade, having a project not work out the way you'd hoped, laying thick hints for a birthday present you'd like and then not having it appear in pretty wrapping, etc.

A speed bump is a temporary tiny hill, that you slow down for, jog your shocks for a moment, and then continue on your way.

A hill you're climbing is a longer process, usually a challenge you've sought out. It is sweaty business, but when you've climbed over it you have that sense of accomplishment and endorphin rush, and sore muscles that last a few days.

A cold sucks while it is invading your face, throat, or chest, and you can feel like you are Patient Zero of the new pandemic and you will surely die, but then it does eventually go away and your voice goes back to normal, your lungs go back to normal, your nose and throat and sinuses all go back to normal. The only reminder of your cold is a third of a bottle of NyQuil under the sink and a trash can full of tissues.

Disappointments are difficult, but solvable -- if I don't get the job I wanted, I look for another one. If I get fired (which I have, and it is no fun), I have a chance to remake myself, to find a new job, to reflect on what happened, to learn from it, to figure out how to survive. If you were hoping for an accolade and you do not get it, it hurts and can impact your sense of worth, but you try again or go for something different. If a project goes sour, like planting a new garden and most plants don't come back the next year, you figure out what went wrong, you feel sad about the plants that didn't make it, you make a new plan. If you've hinted and flagged catalog pages in the bathroom and thought that you were transparent and possibly telepathic but those puffin slippers do not arrive for the holidays, you can order them your damn self and call it a recuperation present.

"Getting over it" is possible when it is something that is temporary, that does not have lasting impact, that makes you upset or frustrated or disappointed but doesn't sink roots deep in your psyche. You can get over a cold, but pneumonia could have lasting impacts on your body that ripple out well into your future. You can get over getting fired, but if you repeatedly lose a job or have difficulty with steady employment, that crosses over a threshold into more than just disappointment.

In my mind, "Getting over it" is for disappointments. It is not for loss. Disappointments make you sad but don't last. Loss results in grief, and changes your life. It cannot be "gotten over," because that is too simplistic for something that has infiltrated the very fiber of your existence.

I agree with Mali -- hearing "I'll never get over it" or "you never get over it" as a person new to a particular loss (loss of parenthood, loss of health, loss of a loved one, loss of marriage, loss of lasting employment, loss of independence, etc.) is not helpful. When you are facing a life different than the one you had imagined for yourself, when the inevitabilities you thought were promised don't happen or are wrenched away from you, you want to know that there is hope for that different life.

This is why the phrases I prefer are "getting through it" or "moving forward."

Facing the end of our journey to become parents and the devastating death of a dream two years ago was a loss that at first felt beyond comprehension. It didn't just hurt, it felt like the world was ending. Almost exactly two years ago we were having difficult conversations following my physical and emotional crisis, and I didn't know how I could ever feel whole again. There was no getting over it. There was just lying facedown on the floor and wondering why everything had gone so wrong and why we no longer had it in us to continue down the punishing path to parenthood that seemed just a twisty, dark  road through a swamp, full of wrong turns and sinkholes.

It was so important to think about not just the end of what we'd so wanted, but how to move forward -- how to rearrange our life and look at this as a new beginning as much as a tragic ending. The trauma part was real, though. It was not a disappointment. It was a huge loss: of a person we'd hoped to meet but who never got to exist, of a life that was vastly different than the one we were facing, of a generational legacy that wouldn't exist -- no children, no grandchildren, a family tree with no branches after us. It is woven into who I am now. I cannot get past it, I cannot climb over that and be the same as I was before.

I can, however, get through it -- I can slog through the swamp and be left with scars that fade over time. I will not stay in the swamp. The swamp is temporary. The swamp has the deep pits that you can fall into and feel dangerously like you'll never resurface again, but you will. It is possible. Those roots that scratched and tore your skin on the way down will help you climb back out.

Getting through the pain is necessary to moving forward, to reclaiming a life that is different that what you'd hoped for and what seemed to be just "next steps" for everyone else. You can absolutely get to a point where you love the benefits of the life you have, now that the swamp is an unpleasant memory.

Or maybe, to get away from the swamp metaphor, which makes everything seem terrible and stinky and squelchy under the feet, it's more like the t-shirt you wear to a color run. (Something I have never done, because you'd have to run, and it became a thing after my brief running period in high school and college.)

You go into the race with a white t-shirt, and as you run it, you are colored with those powders along the way. You have a record of each milestone, each curve in the road, because of the colors on your shirt. And when you finish, your shirt is not at all the same as what you started with -- it is a riot of color, not all of it beautiful. But it is transformed, and it is a record that THIS HAPPENED. You can wear your shirt and enjoy the beautiful and the clashing parts and know that it is a record of something you went through. Your skin is no longer pink and purple and green, I assume that washes off eventually, but your shirt continues to tell the story.

"Getting over it" and "getting past it" deny you the right to wear your shirt proudly, to remember the hills and tough second mile and the cramp in your side, but also that you went through the finish line and you made it. That shirt, those scars, are part of who you are. So I think sometimes when people say "I'll never get over it," they are thinking of the scars that linger or dye that will never come out of the shirt. Perhaps to follow that up with "but I did get through it" or "I am moving forward" would help with giving hope to the newly dazed and skin-stained.

That you can build a beautiful life, even if it doesn't match societal norms or what you'd dreamed of until the dream was gone. That you can move forward from something devastating that seemed like the pain might end you, and while you still can get floored by a painful moment and the sadness can creep up on you, the joy and gratitude and LIVING of a fulfilling life far outweighs that. The balance shifts over time.

It is amazing to me that I am only two years out from the most difficult days of my life, and I can look at my life and be so very grateful. Because I am moving forward. I did get through the toughest parts. I am wearing my color-spattered shirt with pride, and I feel honored to join the people who helped me through the finish line in being here to cheer for those who arrive, exhausted and rainbow-stained, at the other side of the race, give them a hug, and let them know that on this side, life is beautiful.

Monday, April 22, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: Too Much Information?

I am almost at the two week mark from the hysterectomy, and I am trying (and failing) to adequately "take it easy," despite spending all day every day in pajamas, never leaving the house except to sit on a deck if it's not pouring, reading, obsessing over flower catalogs, doing puzzles, etc. etc. Still, if I haven't been prone most of the day, my incisions hurt and I feel crappy. I sort of feel like if I laid any lower I'd be dead, but maybe this is just how recovery goes.

Last week I looked at my online chart from the hospital system because it said I had a new report/test result. I have lived practically my whole life without having access to my own reports, and I'm not sure that this new window into my health is actually "healthy" for me.

It was my pathology report, for my uterus and tube, now excised and summarily filleted and sliced up for examination.

I read it, and then had to look up a whole bunch of things, and then when I did look them up, I felt...sad. And confused. The two things that made me feel this way were leiomyomata uteri with degenerative changes and adenomyosis.

So, leiomyomata uteri are just uterine fibroids, and I couldn't get a good read on what "degenerative changes" are other than some things I saw that said it's just the benign tumor that is a fibroid mimicking cancerous cell changes. Which may or may not be accurate, because there was no explanation or link to anything and so I had to rely on Dr. Google to help me. Okay, so I had fibroids. It's not like I was using my uterus functionally anyway and it's super common in women my age, and now they're gone along with the organ that hosted them, so that was that.

The adenomyosis was the one that was troubling. I was told my uterus was 2-3 times the normal size when removed, and apparently that is right in line with this diagnosis. Which is, thank you Dr. Google, when your endometrium grows into the muscle layer of your uterus instead of out from, and it thickens the uterine walls and causes painful, heavy periods. Huh. When I wasn't pumped full of artificial hormone treatments, my periods were painful, and heavy. It mentioned a bloated, full feeling in the low belly as a symptom. Check. And then it said the thing that made me feel awfully stabby:

"Frequently a cause of infertility and embryo implantation failure." 

Huh. If I could sum up our painful and lengthy IVF experience, it would be "implantation failure." The two times I did have implantation, one was in my tube and the other ended in early miscarriage. The other 25 embryos that went into my uterus didn't stay. They couldn't tell me why. I didn't get any kind of label for what was making my womb so damn inhospitable. 

It (sort of) made me feel better that it said it's more common than not and is treated either by medical menopause (the devil lupron), removal of the lining, or hysterectomy, largely due to pain and quality of life, and then the adenomyosis is typically diagnosed when the organ is put through a pathology exam. 

So, my feelings were complicated. Maybe, just maybe, this was the reason that we'd been searching for -- the WHY for our repeated failure. But then also, if this was the WHY, well then it was pretty damn clear that my uterus had been the biggest culprit all along and we were never going to be successful. Or at least, that maybe if this was known information we could have made different decisions sooner, not that that would have necessarily changed the outcome (and it's moot anyway, seeing as even a time-turner can only safely take you back 5 hours). I lay in a funk on the couch digesting all this information. 

Which is the question -- should I have access to all of this information without any ability to have it explained by a living, breathing doctor? Should I be left to interpret the results myself, causing a fair amount of mental anguish, when maybe it isn't as much of a smoking gun as I thought? Is this TOO MUCH information, too easily read and too muddily understood? I have my follow-up to my post-op follow-up in May, and I have a LOT of questions. 

I thought it would be nice to be able to review my own medical records as they are added to, but I think it's left me with more questions than answers -- questions that are stirring up old muck that was decently settled but seems to be just as capable of hurting me, four years later. 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Ones that are likely shorter than this one, which is NOT micro at all, sorry...? Go here and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Week One of Hysterectomy Recovery

Hey friends! At this point, one week ago I was either in the OR or Recovery, and my uterus was likely already gone.

I am feeling pretty good about it all -- Bryce was worried I'd be sad, but I'm really not. I feel... exorcised. Freed. I have mourned what my uterus could not do for years, and this is more a celebration of the end of its reign of terror over my body and mind. Buh-bye, unnecessary lady bits.

I am more mobile every day -- even ventured out of the house today to have lunch with my sister and her husband, Bryce, and my dad. It was nice to see all the spring that's sprung since I've last been out, but I am tired and sore now.

My dad flew out from California -- his job makes it very, very difficult to schedule visits for a variety of reasons, but there was a little window of kismet that allowed for his first visit to Rochester since 2004 or so. My sister came down to spend some time with him as well. I have seen my dad more recently than 15 years ago, it's just rare that he can come out to this part of NY, and so it is a special treat.
Me being creepy, sneaking around

My mom also spent significant time the first two days, which helped Bryce go grocery shopping (he is fast realizing how annoying and neverending that particular chore is). I am so appreciative of all the visits.

A friend and her daughter even did a home delivery of our favorite Mexican restaurant takeout. And Bryce's mom is coming in from Maine tomorrow after my dad goes back to L.A.

There's been a lot of movie watching, and flower catalog perusing, and eating of takeout and Bryce Cuisine, naps, and reading. I am in my fifth book of the week:
1) Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett
2) Someday You'll Grow Out of This by Jessi Klein
3) Do Not Be Alarmed by Maile Meloy
4) The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine
5) Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (in progress)

All very different. 2) pissed me off because it was super funny and relatable, but then the last chapter, the last essay, was this...
I almost threw it. But that would have hurt my incisions.

I also did some puzzles, which is a good pastime but required bending more than was comfortable so I've taken a rest on that for now.

I have pain, but it is better day by day and I can now wait to take the heavy duty pain meds until evening. Soon I won't need them at all. I am easily exhausted. I took a shower and blew out my hair the other day, to make life easier in the long run, but it felt like running a 5K. I was thoroughly exhausted.

Bryce is doing a great job of making me sit and lay down. I am doing a crap job of taking it easy without getting (gently) reprimanded. Staying still is difficult for me. But, I need to if I am to heal. This is probably the dangerous time, when I'm feeling better but should still be pretty sedentary.

Speaking of sedentary, I need to figure out a way to communicate to my Fitbit that I am recovering from surgery and haven't just given up on life. It keeps buzzing at me and while I tried just not wearing it, I use it as a watch and I ended up missing it. I guess if this is one of my most pressing problems then I am doing okay!

Thanks for the well wishes, I hope I just keep getting a little better each day.

Probably my favorite so far of the books. Also a lovely warm day where I could sit on the deck. 

Monday, April 8, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: I Know What This Is...

The other day I was thinking about my medical leave, which starts tomorrow. Because my hysterectomy is tomorrow, it's just before midnight, and I am currently eating my last food for the foreseeable future, a piece of gluten free honey toast (sounds sad, but I had Bryce's homemade Chicken Makhani for dinner just a couple hours ago, so I am quite full of tasty goodness...although the wisdom of spicy Indian food the night before major surgery may be questionable).

It's six weeks long.

It involves my uterus.

I know what this is: THIS IS MY BIZARRO MATERNITY LEAVE!!!

First, I have to say, I AM NOT SAD. This concept is highly entertaining to me, neither woe-is-me nor meant to pull at the tear ducts.

I never got to take the maternity leave I wanted so badly. And while this isn't the same, as I am losing my supposed babymaker and not getting anything in return other than a beautifully pain-free existence, it does seem a little poetic. To me, anyways.

It's my farewell to the uterus, off-you-go sendoff, a definitive closing of reproductive years that weren't actually all that reproductive. It's a Non-Maternity Leave.

It feels a bit more pleasant framing my recovery from surgically losing most of my reproductive system in this way; it feels more like something oddly celebratory.

Happy Bizarro Maternity Leave Eve to me!

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

Monday, April 1, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: I Forgot

The other day I was driving with my best friend to that home wares store I love, because she was only here for 24 hours and it seemed a fun thing to do.

The daycare center that we were going to send our fictional child to is on the road just before the store. I think about it every time I pass it, but I don't pass by regularly, so it doesn't exactly qualify as a stabby moment. 

Except this time, we were driving past, and I missed the sign (because it's behind a church and that sign is clearly visible, while the daycare sign is one of those folded board things). 

"That's the daycare where we were going to send our child," I said and pointed back towards the woodsy play area. 

"Oh? What's it called?" 

"It's called...It's called...ummmmmm... Rich something?" 

HOLY CRAPADOODLE DOO. I forgot the name. 

I kept searching my mental files for it, and all I could remember was Rich. 

My friend asked, "Does that make you upset?" 

I grinned. I laughed. I CACKLED. 

"NO! I am THRILLED that I forgot the name! I FORGOT THE NAME OF THE DAYCARE WE NEVER SENT A CHILD TO BECAUSE THAT CHILD DIDN'T ACTUALLY EXIST FOR US! This is a freaking MILESTONE!" 

Even though 3 minutes later I did remember, sort of (Bates Rich, but then later Bryce reminded me that this location was called Rich Beginnings, so I still felt giddy about not remembering), it felt AMAZING. 

Once upon a time I held on to all these tiny details that pricked me like a thousand needles, and I carried them as if they were tiny, yet heavy, poisonous treasures. The fact that I am beginning to forget means that I am letting go of some of that information I no longer have to hold on to; it is irrelevant to my present life. I mourned it, I mourned it HARD, but now this particular piece can be released from my mind and my heart. 

I have never been so happy to forget something. 

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


Sunday, March 31, 2019

A Reading List for Recovery

Here it is...my hysterectomy is scheduled a week from Tuesday, and the nerves are starting to bubble up from the pit of my stomach uterus and I am starting to panic.

I keep thinking of all the things I need to do -- I need to make my sub plans for the awesome person who will be in for me for 6 weeks. I need to plan out and provide resources for Social Studies. I need to write my progress reports, because that's the nice thing to do. I need to have my grade book all set because the 3rd quarter grade-submitting period starts the day AFTER I go out. I need to clean my desk and get all my materials in order, for as much as my goal is to have an organized desk at school I SUCK at filing, and I often do not have a whole lot of time to organize things because I am running from one issue to another, from one class to another, and any available time is spent prepping and grading and all that stuff. So my desk is pretty awful right now.

I need to make sure I have cozy pajama pants and nightshirts, and I do laundry beforehand and show Bryce how to use the laundry machines (that sounds horribly 1950s, but I am the laundry person and the new machines are all space age). I need to be sure that any of my clothes that need special treatment are done ahead of time so no sad mishaps can occur. I need to figure out what I need to do that will allow me to truly rest when this is happening.

But the most exciting thing on my to-do list is to make a reading list -- a stack of books to choose from that are perfect for recouping. The first few days will probably be more NetFlix/Hulu/Amazon Prime days, as I have a hard time concentrating on reading when I'm on pain meds. But then... I WILL HAVE SO MUCH TIME FOR READING AND RESTING!

So. My To-Read shelf is fairly ridiculous, and includes things on my kindle I have but haven't read yet. I thought I'd put my first-draft list here, and then see if you have any recommendations. These are not in any particular order (feel free to suggest one):

- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy
- The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life by Anu Partanen
- The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert
- Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
- Vicious by V.E. Schwab
- You're Supposed to Protect Me From All This by Nadja Spiegelman
- Okay, Fine, Whatever by Courtenay Hameister
- American Girls by Nancy Jo Sales
- Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman
- The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
- The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
- Prairie Fires by Caroline Fraser
- The Secret Place by Tana French
- Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson
- Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
- You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein

I realize I will likely not get to all of these. I have more I could add, but this seemed a pretty balanced list to me. I think that's something that I'm looking forward to -- after this last push of busyness, of rushing to get everything done, I can just...relax. Rest. Recuperate.

I mean, I have to lose an organ in order to do this, but it's nice that there's an upside.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

My Choice Is Not Temporary -- I'm HAPPY Living Childfree

The other day, a coworker friend was driving me to the doctor and the subject of "how's your life now?" came up.

I said it was good, that we were at peace, that the new house was really such a big step in claiming our new life and moving forward. 

And then she said, 

"Do you think you'll ever revisit adoption?" 

I felt like revisiting my words in a thought bubble and bolding them, highlighting them in bright colors...

AT PEACE

CLAIMING OUR NEW LIFE

MOVING FORWARD

No. Nonononononononono. Making the decision to end our quest for parenthood and stop pursuing adoption was hands down the MOST difficult decision I've ever had to make, that we've ever had to make as a couple. (And, thanks to infertility, we've had to make a LOT of difficult, complex decisions in our time together.) It was AWFUL. SO much thought went into it. Heartache and soulsearching and wondering, will we regret this? but also realizing that we were living a shell of our life and it was impacting my physical health, and so the answer was NO. We need to live the life we have and let go of the one we'd hoped for

That is basically sentencing a dream to death. It's not done lightly. 

I did answer, though, and say "No, that process was incredibly difficult on us and it just always went the other way, and we'd started it already exhausted from IVF and loss, and it is actually quite lovely to just BE DONE with the hoping and the wishing for something more than what we have." 

Which I thought was a good, honest answer. 

And then the next question was, "But would you look into foster care?" 

OH HOLY JEEZUM. I adore this person. She is incredibly caring, and dropped everything to drive me to the doctor while my uterus was doing the cha-cha on my cervix, and she just genuinely wants everyone to be happy. She is the mother of three, and I have to remind myself that she probably pushes it because she wants everyone to have the joy and happiness she has from her children. 

But no. Just....no. 

I am so tired of explaining away why we stopped, and why we did look into foster care and determined that it was not the right process for us. That we did not have the emotional wherewithal to withstand more possibilities of instant-child but with additional risks of not being able to raise instant-child long term, or being equipped to adequately handle trauma and difficulties resulting from being removed from your home, from your biological family. There is no good reason to be in foster care, everything is traumatic. And I have the greatest admiration for people who choose to grow their families in this way, or who can help children in a temporary way as they go through difficult times. I think it's an amazing thing to be able to do for a child. But we knew that especially after 5.5 years of IVF and miscarriage and ectopic pregnancy and loss after loss after loss of what we thought our family building experience would be, that we were not those people. 

Rarely is the person asking me about foster one of those people, either. I have never had someone who was a foster parent or adopted through foster care ask me why I didn't do that. They know. It's not for everyone. But it sounds just so appealing to someone who wouldn't have to consider it seriously. As a solution to MY childlessness.

A while ago someone I knew peripherally read one of my grieving blog posts and wanted to talk to me about international adoption because that had worked for her when she was as old or older than me, and she felt maybe I wasn't truly resolved. She said, "I have this feeling you're not completely happy." We did not choose international adoption for a variety of reasons that were well thought out and carefully considered. I certainly was not going to go back and say, "you know what? I forgot this option existed, and I would like to start an entirely different adoption process," more than a year after we resolved childfree. And it seemed that I was comfortable with the mix of sadness and relief that resolving childfree gave me, but she was not, likely because she grew her family with international adoption and so what worked for her could obviously work for me, too, if I just opened myself up to it. 

And that is where I have the most trouble -- why is it that EVERYONE ELSE has far more difficulty with my childlessness than I do with my childfree status? I mean, it's sad that we wanted it and it didn't happen. It's sad that we fought for so long and at such a great cost that we had to end our own journey. But it can't STAY sad.  My life is NOT sad.

My existence without children is not, on a regular occurrence, sad.

I would like for my life to be seen as one of many resolution options, and as one that came with freedom, and opportunities, and does not deny me the possibility of enjoying other people's children.

One that is, actually, a solution to the long terrible time of limbo and heartbreaking events coming in waves one after another.

I do not regret making this decision.

I do not think on it and go, "you know what? I'd like to go back to putting myself through hell for no ostensible return."

I rearranged my life to fit this new reality, this new future, and I LIKE IT.

It took time to get to a point where I myself didn't look at the childfree resolution as scary and sad. So I don't blame people who initially think that, before they talk to me and hear me say that I am happy -- I want them to believe me when I say that. And one of the things that helped me in coming to this resolution was the fact that there were other people out there who had gone before me, who were willing to share their stories, who were putting their realities out there for everyone to read.

People like Mali at No Kidding in NZ, and Loribeth at The Road Less Travelled, and Infertile Phoenix, and Life Without Baby (Lisa Manterfield), and Gateway Women (Jody Day), and Different Shores, and Bent Not Broken.

Books like The Next Happy by Tracey Cleantis, and Ever Upward by Justine Brooks Froelker, and Life Without Baby by Lisa Manterfield, and The Silent Sorority by Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, and Living the Life Unexpected by Jody Day, and Avalanche by Julia Leigh.

These resources helped me to see that resolving childfree could actually be a success story -- that it was possible to have life turn out different than you'd planned but no less important or fulfilling. That I could grieve my childlessness and revel in my childfreeness, all at the same time.

That the operative word in "Childfree" is FREE.

It may not be by choice, not initially, but it was a resolution that I am committed to and that I am fully immersed in. I am turning a corner from more grief to more gratitude. It's always a mix of both, but the balance has shifted.

I wish that there was as much airtime given to people who resolve childfree as those who find parenthood through pregnancy, gestational carrier, or adoption. I wish our stories were seen as equal routes to success, even though we didn't get what we originally sought. That there are three paths to success after infertility -- pregnancy/biological parenthood, parenthood through adoption, or living childfree, and they ALL have their positives and their negatives. NONE of them are wholly negative, sad, or unfulfilling. None.

I am childfree. Not by design, but by resolution. I am happy. I am a success story. This is my life, and it is a damn good one.

This post inspired by "Why Aren't There More Of Us? Part 2" by Loribeth at The Road Less Travelled.

Monday, March 25, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: Choices

Two weeks from tomorrow I have my hysterectomy -- the culminating event in a sad history of an organ that should have done amazing things for me and instead just... failed. At every turn.

It's kind of complicated, saying goodbye to my uterus.

I'm not entirely sad about it -- there's some level of good riddance, what have you done for me lately? Get out, you evil thing -- happening here.

But also, I think of all the people who said throughout our journey,"Your poor body."

I really did a number on that uterus.

I think about all the embryo transfers, the hysteroscopies, the biopsies, the scraping and "refreshing" and checking for receptivity that all resulted in absolutely nothing good.

I think of the image of my uterus covered in scar tissue, a Freddie Krueger of a reproductive organ that could no longer even try to do the job it was purportedly meant for.

Miscarriage. Polyps. Asherman's Syndrome. Mystery fluid. Purposeful melon-balling of the lining. Failure of that resulting in a painful hematometra, blood that was meant to bring forth life that instead reduced me to a whimpering mess.

Did I do this to myself?

I mean, I made choices, but those choices were informed by situations that were not of my choosing. I didn't choose to be infertile. But the choice to undergo IVF a shameful number of times, to have multiple hysteroscopies in hopes of making my uterus more homey, to have a barbaric endometrial biopsy for receptivity testing that was basically a vegetable peeler taken to my uterus while unsedated, to purposefully remove my lining surgically to be done with all this nonsense... and now, the final blow, the removal of the entire organ...it's a lot.

Am I glad to get rid of it? YES. A thousand times yes.

But do I feel ever so slightly a sense of responsibility for the state of my defunct womb?

Maybe.

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


Monday, March 18, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: The Dark Times

March is fairly awful, as months go, with the exception of Bryce's birthday (which was lovely).

It is typically when I have my IEP meetings, and so I am buried under paperwork and meeting prep and the anticipated stress of a full day of chairing meetings with the team and parents and people from the 9th grade building and students who may or may not want to hear the truth bombs that inevitably fall.

It is Daylight Saving Time, which is lovely for giving us light later and the ability to walk outside after work, but horrid for yet again waking up in the dark. Although a bonus is pretty sunrises on the way in: this morning's was particularly breathtaking.

It is the anniversary of my eye doing all the horrible things and the beginning of the end of our adoption journey and slow march towards my prednisone-fueled breakdown that nailed that coffin.

And now, it's the month where I found myself at a different end, scheduling a hysterectomy to put a stop to pain and unproductive, uncooperative organs that gave me a whole lot of nothing but awfulness.

I had my surgical consult on Friday, after a full day of 7 IEP meetings. The good news is they got me in as soon as they could, and the surgeon actually arranged it on his cell phone himself. The bad news is it's April 9th, which while luckily not RIGHT NOW, which would be super stressful for prepping, is just a titch farther out than I feel comfortable with, given that it's within the window that the pain could return.

Why, why, WHY is it that my cycles become somewhat regular only when it serves to hurt me?

Anyway, my fellow special ed friends and I have dubbed this The Dark Times -- for the insane amount of hours spent writing IEPs and reports and coordinating service providers, for the mailing and copying and updating of information, for the feeling of THIS IS NEVER GOING TO GET FINISHED that feels like a steel anvil on your psyche. To have all of that on top of the hysterectomy scheduling and finagling and planning for a 6 week absence (I could feasibly do 4 if I had a desk job, but I don't, so 6 it is. I could do as many as 8, but I don't think that's necessary. But good to know it's there if I need it for whatever reason), it just seems like too much.

I am ready for some sunshine, dammit.

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

Monday, March 11, 2019

#Microblog Mondays: Taking Care Of Myself

I am admittedly TERRIBLE at taking care of myself. I am a person who has a hard time saying no, and doesn't want to let people down. I will drive myself into the ground trying to do my best job.

I make the wrong call, a lot.

I go in to work when I shouldn't because I don't want to miss instruction, and I think I can soldier through.

It rarely works out well in the long run.

But, for my upcoming hysterectomy, I am going to go conservative. I am going to take the time at the longer end of the range. I am going to nurture myself and take the time for healing. I am not going to try to do too much.

I am going to honor my body -- it hasn't necessarily been my friend, but I need to make nice and treat it gingerly so I can heal and have the best results, and know that I did all I could for myself.

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

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Goodbye, Pear of Doom

Well, it would seem that my uterus truly wanted to force the issue of her departure.

Since the confirmation two Mondays ago that my surgical procedure failed to keep my stubborn lining at bay, I found myself feeling WRONG. Bloated, squishy, and by the end of the week disturbingly like I did when stimming, or more like when I hyperstimulated. I felt like my reproductive organs were suspended in jelly. I felt like my ovaries where navel oranges. I had difficulty walking normally, and my lower right when pain was increasing by the day.

I went to Pilates that Thursday evening, and couldn't bring my knees anywhere near my stomach. I was in tears. I figured I'd call my doctor in the morning, because this couldn't be normal.

I made it through the first part of the morning, breathing funny and walking funny and feeling tremendous pressure on my cervix and blaster but having difficulty actually peeing.

And then the pain just got worse.
And worse.
And worse.

I felt like my insides were exploding. It was unbearable, and I couldn't put a brave face on any more. I called my doctor's office and told them how bad the pain was, and they told me to come in ASAP.

I tried to pull it together. I failed.

A friend saw me hunched over and crying, and when I said I was going to the doctor she insisted that I sit down, and basically forbade me to drive myself. I cried and said I could do it, I had to get there before they closed at noon, but I could barely get a few words in before the pain had me gasping, and so I had to give in.

Which was ultimately a good thing. I am embarrassed, because another friend offered to drive me but needed to clear leaving the building, and so the nurse was called and am administrator was called and a Hold In Place drop was enacted to clear the house so I could be transported sans gawkers in a wheelchair to the driveway and into my friend's car.

I figured it out; this is the FOURTH time in there years I have been in that freaking chair.

Also, it turns out that it is highly entertaining to say the words uterus, cervix, and blood in front of a male administrator. And horrifying.

I got to the doctor's office in time, and they were horrified with my state. The trapped blood was passing through the scarred up tissue, and I was basically in labor. The nurse practitioner later told me she wished she'd taken a picture of me, as I was the perfect example of what 10 out of 10 pain looks like.

Basically, they gave me painkillers and sedatives and said I had to ride it out, but loopy and largely unconscious. They asked when I was scheduling my repeat procedure with the IUD.

I may have said that option was way, WAY off the table.

Goodbye, Pear of Doom.

If this could happen again, I want no part of it.

I cry Uncle. I scream UNCLE at the top of my lungs.

I am done with things passing through my cervix into my poor abused and vengeful womb.

I am done with trying to make nice and keep an organ that clearly has no idea how to coexist peacefully work the rest of my body. That didn't do the one thing it was meant to do, and then just keeps kicking my psyche with stilettos on.

I went back to work last Tuesday, finally free of pain for this cycle but crushed under the weight of IEP writing that could not get done while unconscious or altered, and started my week knowing that I will be having major surgery by early April at the latest.

Is it weird that I really, REALLY want it to be in April 1st? I feel that would be so very appropriate.

I am looking forward to this chapter being done. I am looking forward to (hopefully) no longer having to leave school in an emergency, scaring Bryce and disrupting his day, too. He was supposed to go to San Diego for a conference, and he cancelled -- which I was super grateful for as I couldn't be on my own and hopped up on painkillers, and he didn't know if I was going in for surgery that day, and when I am in that kind of pain I'm sort of like a forest animal, wanting to be alone in my cozy den but with my mate there to lick my face from time to time. So grateful, but also guilty to disrupt a conference where he was supposed to speak.

My consult is Friday, and I'll have my date then. I'll be out of work for at least a month, but I have a lovely long term sub lined up who knows my kids from elementary school.

I will have a sort of forced rest, which although not quite the same as a celebrity retreat, will be in its own way a welcome pause on this crazy stressful school year. I have a stockpile of books and cute pajamas. I have a month of backed up issues of PEOPLE magazines. I have wonderful people who have offered to come help with the house and keep me company while Bryce is at work.

It's going to be okay, after what seems like a lifetime of of SO NOT OKAY. Just another thing I have to say ENOUGH to in order to move forward with what is otherwise a wonderful life.