Friday, September 22, 2017

Just add vodka

My career is on a rollercoaster at the moment. There are many, many high moments, where everything is exciting and there seems to be so much potential. But then there are the lows. The emails that start out with "We're really interested, but . . ." Or the seemingly simple tasks that turn into mountains in almost a flash.

Yesterday was filled with those lows. After spending the morning nursing a migraine, what should have been a simple experiment proved far more complex. Hours later, with no clear answer in sight (I think the issue is the filters, but need to test), I got an email that basically killed with grant writing endeavors for a program I want to get off the ground. The cherry on top was running into someone who was an undergraduate while I was a graduate student. Turns out he has not only finished his PhD, but is now the founder of a start-up in the same facility the community lab is housed. Clearly I have been slacking for the past 6 years.
Evidence of complete failure
I know, I know: "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade" (thank you Dale Carnegie). And really, there's a lot of good that is still happening, even though I feel completely out of sorts with it all at the moment.

Still, sometimes (often times), I just want to add vodka. Anything to dull the pain that is in my head, blurring out the anxiety that comes from realizing that the clock ticking.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Through his eyes

He-Beat has discovered the camera on my phone. It always makes me laugh to find these crazy surprises later on, seeing how unfocused they all are.

Still, it's interesting to see the world through his eyes.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Making nice

On Sunday, the Beats met their uncle Lucas for the first time. This past year has been one where family has traveled either specifically to see them or has modified work obligations to squeeze in a visit. So far, it's mainly been my family, which has resulted in Grey covering me to met up with them and then making sure he's checked himself in order to not instigate a fight. This time it was my turn.

I'm still a bit raw from how everything went down during our time in the trenches. Even though there's been some back and forth, there's never been an actual sit-down to talk about it. Which had Grey very worried that the limited few hours he had seeing Lucas would revolve around that.

Instead, I played nice and made the focus about the Beats. It wasn't hard to do, given that just before Grey and Lucas got home from the airport He-Beat was coming out of time-out from throwing a shovel full of dirt into She-Beat's face.

And so the evening was spent with them meeting their uncle, learning about their cousins and then them hugging him good-bye he and Grey could spend the few remaining hours catching up.

All of it leaving me in a weird place yet again because though I managed to avoid so much unneeded drama, I did so in a manner that is foreign to me. I'm not one who makes nice unless I'm resigned that the other party in question won't be able to change. Which is completely new as each of these encounters we've had has been in an attempt to heal the relationships. To grow.

But maybe, like so many things, this is my new normal. Or it needs to be. Making nice, projecting kindness and learning to let things go.

Monday, September 18, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Picking battles

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

It's an ongoing part of the morning routine. Following breakfast, the Beats race upstairs, strip out of their pajamas and select their outfits for the day. Sometimes if I've had a little bit of time, I'll lay out 3 options for each of them, hoping to reduce the bickering that always results. 

I know it's part of wanting control and being more independent. Frankly, I'm grateful even to have these battles, as it not only shows normal development but that we even are lucky enough to be battling over outfits.

In addition, their choices are resulting in harm. They are clean, their clothing is weather appropriate, it fits and is school appropriate. All the major points have been hit.

Still, how does one convince a 4 year old that her Moana nightgown cannot also double as a dress (seriously, I haven't been able to come up with a single reasonable answer)? Or that tutus every day may not be a great thing? Or that the yellow shirt has already been worn once this week?

Picking battles. Usually with me losing most of them.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Making friends with fertiles

One of the best perks Grey and I lucked into with our new home is the mini-community of families that exist across the street. Dubbed "Backyard United Nations," this group is made up of a handful of families from all over the world that have unfenced backyards that connect to one another. Within days of moving in, the Beats grabbed Grey's hand and insisted on going over to this community in order to check out all their toys introduce themselves and make new friends. And this group welcomed all of us immediately, adding me to an ongoing text chain so we be included in gatherings, impromptu play dates and to offer support.

Yesterday, despite a desperate need to get dinner prepared (and despite protesting howls from Jaxson and Daisy about needing dinner 30 mins ago), the Beats and I went over to the Backyard to check in with this group. As they raced off to play on the trampoline, I wandered up to one of the dads who has a confused/resigned look on his face while looking at his phone.

"How are you?" I asked.
"I don't know." He responded.

Looking up, he proceeded to tell me and two other women who joined us that his daughter was married today. Immediately we all turned to look at his 4 year old daughter who was happily climbing a tree.

"Really?" said one of the mothers.
"Were you invited?" I asked
"No," he responded. "In fact, I just found out about the wedding due to a video one of the teachers sent me."

Cue snickers from the group.

"Course, I should have known this was coming," he said. "I mean, she's had 2 separate boyfriends since the time she was 3 months old. And you know they're firmly committed to one another if they insist on using the bathroom together." 

Snickers turn to laughter.

"Wait?" I ask, "you said there were 2 boyfriends? Who did she marry?"
"That's the thing," he says while scratching his head. "She married the one that she didn't seem as interested in." 

Cue confused looks from the adults

"What was the deciding factor?" one of the other women asks.
"Apparently she married who could got to the church first."

One of the biggest downsides to being an introvert is establishing social connections. I flat out suck at making small talk and introducing myself in new situations. Infertility added a new level of social isolation given the pain that would come from questions like "do you have any kids?" to overhearing discussions about pregnancy and parenting.

But one of the things that comes with resolving is finding a way to integrate yourself back into society. It literally feels like coming out of a coma and all the sudden dealing with a world that has changed while you've been absent from it. Hence the coming up to speed with all things that I couldn't begin to focus on while in the trenches, but also integrating myself back into social settings that I actively avoided.

Initially in this process, I avoided anyone who was fertile. During my pregnancy this was extremely easy to do as it didn't take much for me to scare the crap out of most anyone around me simply by sharing my history. But then the Beats arrived and started daycare. And suddenly the friends they were making and the families we were bonding with came from all walks of life, including people who became easily pregnant (one family accidentally conceived their son the night before my transfer).

I'll be honest, it's been a weird struggle. On the one hand, there's this ginormous, life-altering trauma that Grey and I lived through that so many cannot begin to fully grasp (and my story had what is considered a happy-ending). I find myself editing how much a share at a time as there's been so many failed connections due to them being scared off. 

But on the other hand, there's a lot I do share with these families. From cultural interests to political views to values to insights about family. The friendships have formed and expanded due to elements of the core that are there. And often that can be enough to begin opening the door to those less than pleasant discussions and shared stories. 

About 3 weeks ago, my parents came to visit. My mom has really been trying, respecting boundaries and space better than Grey and I expected and we've been trying to reward that interaction. Still there are moments that are hard (I've come to expect that), usually leaving me in a reflective space that Grey and I have to talk through.

There were a couple of moments during this visit. The first was my mom sharing that my sister had suffered a miscarriage at 12 weeks during her third pregnancy. My mom has never experienced miscarriage and found my sister in a state as my sister had already been happily sharing the news she was pregnant and assumed everything would go well. Facing the reality of loss had hit both of them hard. It was during that story she asked me about my losses. When had they happened? How had I been effected? As I answered her questions, she was quick to remind me that because my losses were so early, they couldn't possibly have impacted me to the same level as my sister (um, no), but then also confessed that she had never experienced miscarriage so her only perspective was as an outsider (bingo).

The other moment was when she told me she had been sharing my infertility journey with others. That with infertility becoming more of an acceptable topic, she was finding so many of her friends had gone through similar experiences and pain and it shocked her how common infertility was. What got me was both this knowledge I was now one of those stories people used to cheer people on when they were in the trenches (I literally felt sick from that one) but also how flippantly my story was being shared. 

Explaining this to another mother who is also an infertility survivor lead to an interesting discussion. The shared knowledge of how difficult it is to share this part of our lives that had altered the way we both view the world with those that struggle to even begin to relate. But then she pointed out something I hadn't really considered.

"It sucks, because there's this comfort that comes with finding people who truly know this aspect and can easily relate to all that's happened. But the thing is, if we limit ourselves only to those people, aren't we doing everyone a disservice as we're not growing beyond? We're not given ourselves a chance to grow, our families a chance to move beyond, but also not giving others permission to fuck it up so that they can learn and grow too. If nothing else, I think it's worth putting myself out there and to have those discussions where we all come away feeling less than comfortable because learning happens in that discomfort. My scars have made me tough enough to do that."

So that's where I'm at. Reaching back as I promised long ago to everyone in the trenches as well as everyone who's on their path of resolution. But also finding I'm starting to reach forward. Allowed myself to be hurt a little bit as I form connections with those I use to shun in order to protect myself. Because even though it's scary, there's a lot of potential good that is there.

Thursday, September 14, 2017


It happened again. Another school shooting. The 31st one for 2017. All keeping up with the average of one per week.

This one was a bit closer to home. Grey's parents live in Eastern Washington and MIL works in the elementary schools. She's okay, though a bit rattled. But we know people in the region and there are childhood memories of the area for Grey.

All of this leaves me both sad and angry. 31 school shootings in 2017 alone. 31.

I don't care which side of the gun rights argument your on, there's something seriously wrong when it's become expected, yes expected, that one day a young kid is going to pull a gun on his/her classmates in a setting that is meant for learning and growth. There's something seriously wrong that these shooters even dreamed this was an option for dealing with all the fuckery that's going through their heads.

And there's something seriously wrong with our society that there's the assumption its just going to magically stop without doing some serious overhaul.

Guns are not going away. Anyone who believes that laws and regulations alone are going to "cure" society only needs to look at abstinence programs for sex education as a comparison about how that one is going to work out. The truth is we need to talk about guns. People need to learn about basic gun safety, types of guns, uses of guns and how guns are acquired. Parents need to start having that oh-so uncomfortable conversations with family/friends/children's friends about whether they keep guns in the house and if there are guns, how are they stored and secured.

We also need to start interjecting ourselves into other people's lives. We need to know the friends of our children and know what's happening with them. Both to be sources of support but also to celebrate with them for the good times. Community needs to be built, to the point of nosiness, because so many of these kids/families are struggling silently.

Finally, we need to have serious conversations about mental health. Posts about depression and anxiety are not a joke and shouldn't be ignored. Even if the person posting is normally happy and easy going.

Today, a mother and a sister are grieving the loss of their son/brother on the heels of grieving the death of their husband/father. A preventable tragedy. It's time we prevent more of these. We're overdue.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Rabbit holes

It's been a busy summer. So busy, that activities like hiking and visiting the beach have been put off. To make up for it, Grey and I have been scheduling time to get into the woods and wander, giving the Beats a chance to burn off a ton of energy stretch their legs and explore their surroundings.

Watching them run down the paths, toss rocks into streams and stop to explore the oddities that only nature can produce, I'm amazed at how much these two have grown. Gone is the baby fat, the need for being careful and protecting them at all costs. Replaced are two individuals who charge through life, asking many "whys" along the way and amaze us with their observations and insights into seemingly simple mysteries.

Next year, the Beats begin Kindergarten. They will be entering school the same time as local friends but also two of their cousins. A realization that not only blows my mind but also brings me back to my time in the trenches when we were fighting to expand our family. This idea/wish of even being in our current reality seemed so far away and so far fetched.

In many ways, life has changed. But at the same time, life hasn't changed. The activities Grey and I pursue, how we lead our lives and even what we value is still the same as it was many years ago. And if there has been change, that change has come from who we are and evolved for our core foundation. It's a weird thing to explain, especially to anyone who hasn't lived with infertility.

A few years ago, I saw a movie based on a played called Rabbit Hole. The play gives insight into one families world following the loss of this son. But what struck me most about was the scene where parallel universes are discussed. This idea that there are alternative lives given the outcome of certain events (traumatic or otherwise) is intriguing, but also very real. The manifestation of "what ifs" and thoughts about lives that could have been.

This realization of the Beats starting Kindergarten as the same time as their cousins has lead to another realization that they will be entering Kindergarten at the same time as their would-be siblings would have. If those previous IVFs hadn't ended the way they had, one of those parallel universes would have been our reality.

All of this has left me in a heady space, thinking about leading me to consider all those rabbit holes, leaving me to spend some time in the interspace between them. Themes have been emerging, seeing what would have been different, but most importantly what wouldn't have been. What would have remained the same regardless of the events that have shaped my life.
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