Sunday, March 31, 2019

A Reading List for Recovery

Here it 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...




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. 

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'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?


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.