Sunday, April 16, 2017

Angry

I've been so angry for the last couple of weeks.
I don't really like anger. It doesn't feel good, and it's kind of exhausting.

But school is full of so much busy work! I strongly believe you are never too old to go back to school, but I also often think, "I'm too old for this." Some of the assignments and projects have no professional value, yet they are tedious and a complete waste of my time.

So that's part of it.

But when I'm feeling angry for a sustained period of time, I try to think about what it's really about.

Five years ago this month my husband and I stopped using contraception. Oh... That...
The body never seems to forget.

I thought I'd get pregnant. I thought I'd have a baby. I thought I would be raising a child by now.

So I'm just doing the best I can. Trying to get my work done, trying to take care of myself. Definitely making sure I eat and get plenty of rest. I know life is hard, whether you're working and/or going to school and/or raising children. I know I'm lucky I get to study for a new career. I know it is a great opportunity. But sometimes I get sick of looking on the bright side. And, like I said, I've been feeling angry lately.

I worked all weekend long and I wasn't studying anything terribly interesting, but it all had to get done anyway. So tonight I decided to treat myself to an exceptionally good dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. Everyone was busy, including my husband, so I went by myself. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the restaurant and savored the food. I even purposely over-ordered so I would have leftovers for tomorrow, because tomorrow is going to be an extremely busy day without a lunch break. (Yay classes, meetings, and group projects...)

And at the end of my delicious meal, which I thoroughly enjoyed, the waitress said, "You've been the happiest person I've waited on all night. You just exude such a happy energy."

Wow. I didn't see that coming. I guess I'm doing something right.

Now I'm feeling thankful and I'm ready for the week.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

Stupid IVF

I wish everyone who wanted to get pregnant and have a baby could get pregnant and have a baby.

Just two weeks ago I learned about a friend who was pregnant from IVF. I was sad for myself but happy for her.

Today I found out a different friend was not pregnant from IVF. I was sad for myself and sad for her. She has many more embryos left in storage, so she is staying on the fertility treatment roller coaster for now. I hope it works out for her. I hope it doesn't all come at too high of a cost. And anyone who has tried fertility treatments knows the cost isn't just financial.

I hate IVF. I'm glad it works for some people, but I wish it worked for everyone. I wish we were told that it actually doesn't work over 70% of the time. This is such a rarely known fact.

I'm glad I made the decision to move on. The waiting and hoping and the devastation and trauma of trying to conceive was too much for me. I'm sad that I'm not a mom and not raising a child, but I'm glad I am creating a new life for myself.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Self-Care Above All Else

I missed my first class in this program. I felt really proud about my perfect attendance so far because I've never had perfect attendance in anything in my life. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted haha. Self-care above all else.

One of my classes is discussion-based. Each week everyone reads the same research article and then one person leads the small group in a discussion. Last week I sat down to prepare for that week's article. It was about motherhood. Oh shit... I started reading. Within the first paragraph the article started talking about how motherhood brings meaning to women's lives. Fresh off a recent pregnancy announcement where a good friend's IVF had worked, I immediately started crying.

Oh hell no.

There is no way I'm going to this class.

I can't even get through the article.

I tried again and immediately thought, Why am I doing this to myself? Who freaking cares??

So I stopped reading. I cannot even tell you the relevance of this article to the class or my profession. It seemed pretty out of left field to me. Maybe there was an explanation further in the article. I will never know. I threw away the article and emailed my professor.

I told her I would not be attending class because the article was too upsetting for me, but I was more than willing to do a make-up assignment or read an additional article if needed.

She wrote back. (She never writes back. Add that to my list of complaints about this program.)

She said something along the lines of: I am disappointed you chose to skip class for this reason. You will not have any choice in the future about which patients you work with... Something about being unprofessional... Blah blah blah...

Um... What?

That's not even relevant.

In the future I will not be having hour-long discussions with patients about how motherhood gives women's lives meaning.

Plus, I would not have been able to make it through that discussion without crying. Hard. Listening to my classmates inevitably talk about how their children gave their lives meaning and how they are working hard for them to give them a better life. It was a no-win situation for me. Unprofessional if I missed class, unprofessional if I cried throughout the whole thing.

I wrote her back.

I said something along the lines of: Thank you for your feedback. Each month I make great strides in my grief and recovery from losing my children and I feel confident that I will be able to handle whatever situation comes my way in the clinical setting in the future.

She said nothing.
How rude.

Anyway, I don't really care all that much. I really don't. I'm not impressed with my professor's first response and I'm definitely not impressed with her lack of response after sharing with her that I lost my children. But I don't feel even 1% bad for missing that class. There was no way in hell I was going.

I don't expect anyone else to understand my life. But I also don't have to do things just to make other people happy or comfortable.

I'm the only one that lives my life and I put self-care above all else.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Honoring My Sadness

It has happened again.
Another friend is pregnant.
Complete with a cute photograph shared on social media and accompanied by 500+ "Likes."

Again, I am happy for her. I really, truly am. This woman is a special person who makes everyone she meets feel good. She has struggled to get pregnant for years and has had many surgeries to make her body hospitable to pregnancy.

But.
But...

I lost it.

I hadn't cried over an announcement in a seemingly long time. I have begun to realize that other people's lives are separate from mine, that I've got my own thing going on and I am moving on. But this announcement still made me sad for myself.

Why does IVF work for other people but it didn't work for me???

I am proud of myself. I didn't read the comments. I knew they would hurt me.
Lots of:
-No one deserves it more than you
-God has blessed you with life's most precious gift
-Welcome to motherhood, it's the greatest thing ever
and more comments of that nature, I'm sure.

I am happy for her, but it's another lost friendship for me. For us. Her husband was one of my husband's closest friends. Our lives are going in different directions now. We won't see them for at least six months, because I don't like to hang out with pregnant women. And my husband said he doubts we will ever hang out with them again. They have a ton of friends and they all have children. Our lives don't match anymore.

For the first time, my husband got what I call a "fishing" text, though he didn't realize it at the time. I have received lots of these over the years. The kind of text where the person feels you out, sees what you're up to, and how you are doing, especially with regard to the whole baby situation. We had already shared with them that we were done trying and we thought maybe they were coming to the end too. Turns out she was pregnant and they wanted to see where we were with the whole topic... He didn't say anything, but, in retrospect, I think my husband felt a little weird about the text. Or maybe I'm projecting. I always feel weird, a little pitied, after receiving those fishing-type texts.

So, anyway, I cried. A lot. At first it was just a little. A few tears silently streamed down my face. But that wasn't enough. I could feel it deep down throughout my whole body, so I just gave in and had a really good cry about it.

I felt dumb for crying. (Geez, will the self-judgment ever end??) I thought, I've come so far in my healing. Why am I upset? This woman is awesome and her pregnancy has nothing to do with me. Why, after all these years, am I crying about her announcement?

I texted my best friend. I said, "I hope one day other people's pregnancy announcements don't affect me. I'm happy for this most recent couple but I get jealous that IVF worked for them but not for me." And my best friend, my wise, loving, inspiring, and beautiful best friend, wrote back: "I think that's fair!" I told her I had been crying and she said: "Okay, I'm being serious- why wouldn't you? What 'honor' is there in not being sad?"

Wow. I had never thought about it like that before. Honoring my sadness. She is so right. Of course, I don't have to be happy all the time. I already knew that. But honoring my sadness? Yes! That is so valid and necessary. I love her. I loved her comments to me. I continued to cry, but this time I didn't judge myself. I let the tears flow. I felt sad for my children that didn't get to be here and that I didn't get to raise. And I honored that sadness by expressing it instead of ignoring it or judging it.

Grieving is not a linear process. And losing my children to infertility is a lifelong loss. So I will continue to feel sadness at different points throughout my life. And I will honor my sadness when it surfaces.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A Typical Question with an Atypical Ending

Last week I had my first clinical rotation. I cannot even begin to describe how awesome it was!! As much as I hate school, I know I am on the right path with my new career. I can barely wait to graduate and get out into the work force.

Oh the work force... I am thankful every day for how far I've come in my recovery from infertility. After the first day of my clinical rotation I came home and told my husband, "I would NOT have been able to do this a year ago."

Dang, people talk about their kids all the time!!!

I was mentally prepared for being around a bunch of women all day and that there would be a lot of conversation centered around their children, but even with my foresight, I was still surprised.

I did fine though. I didn't get sad or depressed. I listened a little and tuned out a little. One woman had just returned from maternity leave. I asked her baby's name, because I've always had an interest in what people name their children. But I was conveniently out of the room when newborn photos were being passed around. (I just stepped outside the room while it was happening and nobody even noticed. Never underestimate the importance of self care! I know newborn pics are still a tough thing for me so I just discreetly stepped out of the room and pretended to be studying my notes in the hallway.)

It wasn't until my second to last day that someone even asked me if I had children. I was asked by an 80 year old woman, a former volunteer who had stopped by to say hello. At first, I thought we were headed toward a train wreck. Then the conversation ended in a surprising way.


Her: Do you have children?

Me: No. (Expressed with no sadness or any other emotion. Simply stated with no further explanation.)

Her: You missed all the good parts!

(pause)

Her: And you missed all the bad parts... Nothing is perfect.


So there you have it, folks! "Nothing is perfect."


Be careful out there in that fertile world. Always take care of yourself.
And remember that you are not alone.

You have a sisterhood that understands you and believes in you as you work toward recovery and creating a new life for yourself that you want to live. 💜

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My Survivor Anniversary


Two years ago today my life changed forever.

Two years ago today my final IVF did not result in pregnancy.

Two years ago today I knew it was over.

Two years ago today I lost my children.


Since then I have completely changed my life.
Not, my life has completely changed. That doesn't give me enough credit. Because I had to do it.

I had to do all the work.
I had to climb out of the deep, dark pit I was in.

I had to move out of my children's house, fix it up, put it on the market, and sell it.
I had to find a place to move to, pack up all my stuff, and coordinate the movers.
I had to box up all the stuff in the nursery and put it in storage because I couldn't deal with it yet.

I had to figure out what I was going to do with my life. I decided to change careers.
I had to navigate the school application process, take all the prerequisite courses, arrange my
              observation hours, track down letters of recommendation, write an essay, take the GRE.
I had to go back to school: register for classes, buy books, go to class, do homework, study for
              tests, meet for group projects, write papers.

I had to let go of relationships that weren't working anymore.
I had to let go of friendships that weren't there anymore.
I had to let go of an old me that didn't exist anymore.

I had to grieve.

It has not been easy.
It has not been fun.
But I did it anyway.

Two years ago I was still living in the house I bought for my children without any direction.

One year ago I was living in a cool little rental property with my former house on the market.

Today I am actively recreating my life with every waking day.
Today I am a survivor.
Today I am free.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

My CFNBC Reflections on Spring Break

I had a great Spring Break. Nothing was planned, but I ended up meeting with friends for lunch every day. From a childfree not by choice (CFNBC) perspective, I found things to be particularly interesting.


  • My first lunch was with my friend, a former co-worker, who is 12 years older than me. Her two kids are grown (ages 19 and 21) but will still be financially dependent for several more years. I have known her kids since they were 5 and 7. Wow, time flies. I enjoyed getting caught up on her life and catching her up on mine. She knows what all I've been through over the past several years. She said I looked happier and healthier than I've seemed in years. She was so happy for me. She is parenting young adults in her early 50s. I asked her if she would want to be parenting teenagers in her late 50s and, without hesitation, she said "No!" Me neither. If others want to do that, that's totally fine. But my husband and I are moving on. Our window for parenting has passed.

  • My next lunch was with two new friends from school, 12 and 14 years younger than me. Not surprisingly, children never came up once in all of our conversations.

  • The next day I went to dinner with my good friend from school (also 12 years younger than me), his wife, and their 1-year old baby. I like their kid, and I really enjoy how they parent in a reasonable, flexible, yet firm and understanding way. And, full disclosure, I am kind of picky about parenting styles. It was a great meal with lots of laughs, and the kid even tolerated the restaurant experience pretty well. Interestingly though, I felt no jealousy, no longing. I've never particularly liked going out to eat with small children, so maybe that was it. Or maybe I have better boundaries between other people's children and myself than I have in the past. Whatever it was, I was glad I could enjoy dinner with my friends without any residual negative feelings.

  • The next day I went to lunch with my parents. Sigh... I love them. But I have to get to a place of acceptance that they will never understand my infertility. They know I want to move and they know my relocation plans are a part of the rebuilding of my life, but they are not exactly supportive. I've done well in school and have made progress in the area of moving (researching, networking, etc.), but my mom still cried when I told her the progress I've made. I love them so much but it's complicated. I wish they could be happy for me.

  • My final Spring Break meal was a totally spontaneous lunch with a really awesome friend I hadn't seen since Thanksgiving. She is my age and does not have children. We ended up spending seven hours together, talking and hanging out. I can't think of many people that I would even want to spend seven hours with these days hahaha, but the time flew! It was energizing and so much fun. I told her that my mom told me the day before that I could be friends with people my age with kids and I told her (my mom) that I couldn't. My mom was confused but my friend immediately got it. She said, "Of course we can be friends with people with kids," but then she followed it up with, "But not really." Hahaha. She said she liked her friends with kids but she often didn't call them because she knew hanging out with them meant also hanging out with their kids, which, as much as she liked them, that sometimes wasn't what she felt like doing. She went on to say that friends with kids had schedules that we didn't. They had birthday parties and school functions and baseball games and dance practices. It was just so nice to be validated and immediately understood.

So, no closing thoughts really... It was just a great Spring Break, and I couldn't have planned it any better. I'm thankful I got to see so many friends. This month alone has been such a contrast to the last five years of my life. As I continue to say, I do not take any of it for granted for a second.