Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Born to sparkle

This morning, after dropping He-Beat and Grey off at their respected locations, I took She-Beat to a special event hosted at her school. Despite only 2 days at this new preschool, we have seen a drastic change with both Beats and it was an opportunity for me to meet the staff and other teachers involved in the program.

While finishing up eating breakfast, She-Beat wandered up to a girl, clearly very interested in her princess-themed outfit. It was then I saw the slogan on her dress, that resulted in a fit of laugh-crying from me: "Born to sparkle."

On November 20, 2012, I was in a very different place. Having come off a long commute to work to finish up some grading and course-related prep, there wasn't a lot of light in my life. With a screw-it attitude, I decided to take an unexplored detour to work, stopping at a coffee shop my students had been raving about. It was upon walking into the shop that I found this lovely creation.


This lamp basically described all I was feeling about life at that moment. After 4 failed rounds of IVF, 2 miscarriages and no idea whether the pending final round of treatment was even going to work, I was feeling like the walking dead. The color had literally gone out of my life, tainted by pain and grief that so few seemed to understand. And yet, when that pain was dulled, usually with the help of an evening beer, I was able to find what light was left in my heart. A light that even though it felt like it was being extinguished, still showed through as I made the decisions to fight towards a path of resolution.

Looking at this new friend of She-Beats, I instantly was reminded of this beer-can lamp and all that I had experienced. Because for most these kids, despite how sweet and loving they all are, daily life is usually a struggle. They working harder than their peers to overcome challenges due to their disabilities. Yet when given a chance and with proper help, the light they carry sparkles and shines to fill the room. In a lot of ways more strongly and brightly than those that have never faced what they face daily. These kids sparkle and shine.

We're currently in the thick of the holiday season. Many in the United States will be traveling to see family, sharing meals with those that are near and dear. I remember while in the trenches how terribly hard this time was, finding myself having to make plans for what I could and could not endear, stealing my heart from those moments that would add to the pain. I also remember feeling that in this dark period, my light was being extinguished. Looking back now, I see that it was actually the complete opposite as in those darkest of hours, the light in me was actually shining through.

To everyone reading this, I wish everyone of you moments of peace and love tomorrow and in the days to come. And may you know that in those hard moments, where you're feeling muted or like an outcast and where the pain seems like it's too much to bear, I can still see that light inside of you. Because we are all born with the potential to sparkle, but our journey through trauma, loss, heartache and pain makes us shine in the most unique and beautiful ways.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Reset

Yesterday I botched another phone interview. The position is for a company that is going through a lot of growth and though it's not my dream job, it would have been an interesting in. But I didn't connect well with the hiring manager, struggled to answer his questions and felt like we weren't understanding one another (outside of the fact that I'll be available to start at the beginning of December).

I was fairly pissed off last night. All the reworking of my CV and cover letter felt like an absolute worthless endeavor. The end result was an 8 pm bedtime, leaving Grey to fend for himself as dinner consisted of leftovers in the fridge.

Laying in bed, I ran through all that had happened yesterday: the shitty comment at the beginning of class that left me fuming quietly, the hours spent on filling out forms for future assessments and then finally a phone interview that left me feeling utterly worthless and waiting for the pending "No" next week.

Then I remembered picking up the Beats from school. That after only one day, their behavior was the polar opposite from the other daycare. Having He-Beat run happily into his new school, settling in with activities and asking me to leave. Having She-Beat wave good-bye to her brother, then happily lead me into her new school, showing off her doll to all her new friends and also waving good-bye happily. And at the end of the day, finding them sitting together quietly on the classroom rug, listening to the story the teacher was reading; clearly aware I had arrived but also much more interested in the activity they were engaged in.

The final bit of evidence was the daily notes from both schools. Hearing they both had very good days and the comments about how sweet they both had been. Considering I've gotten zero actual communication from their previous teachers and the director was consistently negative about them, I found myself completely dumbfounded.

Reflecting on all of this this morning, especially as we had a repeat in drop-off behavior (something they haven't done since switching to the previous daycare), I resolved myself to have a different outlook on yesterday. Yes, my co-instructor did a shitty thing. But he's a coward and an entitled ass who knows the only reason he has his current position is due to his wife. Throwing me under the bus is just part of his MO, even though it will likely bite him in the butt in the very near future. Filling out two 27 page assessment packets was exhausting, but it's a necessary step in order to follow up on the previous assessments, ensuring the Beats have access to help and resources. Something many struggle to do out of a sense of shame.

And the interview. The truth is, I've never applied or worked in industry before. I had a 2 month stint as a QC technician when I first finished my undergraduate degree (resulting in a party trick involving Ovaltine and a story about my revolution to corn syrup), but I'm in a completely different place career wise now. The idea I would have nailed something that is literally foreign is naive.

So today is about resetting. Continuing to revamp my application materials, including social media, and searching for new opportunities. Because so far the trend has been that those who don't want me as an employee I actually want nothing to do with career-wise and even personally. Forcing a fit just has not worked. And though I don't believe in destiny or "meant-to-be"s, I do believe in carving your own path. The more tangled, the better.

Monday, November 20, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Believe

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

they doubted you
they laughed on you
they never believed you
they were sure about your failure
you heard them
you started believing the same
you failed you injured
you started thinking
you realized it was not the truth
you started again
they were same
you ignored them
you won the battle
you defeated the luck
it was not their thoughts in the first time which
gave you failure
it was your assumption of failure
which made it happen
do what they say you cannot do
believe in your words which your heart says to
your mind
never allow someone to control your actions
believe in you
be the you...! 

~Believe by Shaddha Bhatt

My morning started with one of the co-instructors apologizing to the class for my poor performance. Patting himself on the back for being able to deliver the material in a manner that they will enjoy and promising improvement in the future. This thinly-veiled insult is one that normally I would fight. Except for the fact that it's not worth the fight given I'm leaving and I also know his evaluations have traditionally been low.

Still, it's these moments where the doubt could creep in. Where it becomes apparent that some exist in the world solely to cut others down in order to advance their own interests, often unsuccessfully.

This past weekend was spent revamping my CV and preparing for a phone interview today. All on the heels of a lot more rejection letters. It would be so easy to slip into a state of believing I'm somehow worthless and deficient. But after the hours spent reworking my applications, I saw that actually the opposite is true. It's just a matter of getting my foot in the door.

And believe that I can do so.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pauses

About 6 months ago, the Beats and I established a new morning ritual. Following a 6 am wake-up call (side note: I haven't needed an alarm clock in over 4 years), both the Beats and cats lead me downstairs to help empty the dishwasher and feed Jaxson and Daisy. Once completed, we begin breakfast. On days I don't have my act together, it's cereal and apple sauce. But on other days, it's a ritual of preparing waffles, with them loading their breakfast into the toaster to be warmed up. The weekends are more involved as I'll make said waffles, allowing them to help with preparing the recipe: 2 cups flour, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 tps salt, 1/4 tps baking soda, 1 1/2 tps baking powder, 2 egg yolks, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 1/2 cups cultured buttermilk and 2 egg whites (beat to slightly-stiff peaks).

It's these morning moments, even though my brain is barely awake, that have been staying with me. The forced pauses in the rush to get out the door in the morning. They're reminders for why Grey and I fight to carve out a space for our family in this world. From seeing Jaxson sit up on his haunches, eyes trained on the bowl of food He-Beat is bringing him; rewarding He-Beat with a quick head butt to say "thank you" as soon as his bowl is placed on the floor. Or seeing She-Beat as she hands me spoons or glasses out of the dishwasher, her face frozen in fixed concentration as she remembers where all the dishes belong. Or seeing both Beats wait patiently by the toaster, all the while informing me about the art of waffle warming and the next steps of maple syrup application and cutting that need to happen.

All of this is in stark contrast to the rest of my day. The rushing around, frantic checking-off of items on the to-do, the job applications and planning for an uncertain future. The feeling of having to race to the finish line, be it the day, the month or the contract with no clear end in sight.

Not surprising, it's not the rush, but the pauses that give me peace; that form the memories and magic moments. Starting with memories from long ago of sleeping in late, cuddling with Grey. Of kitten Jaxson curled up on Grey's lap in the car as we drove to see my in-law. Of the hikes through cedar forests and camping trips by hotsprings. Of morning playmat sessions while I was pumping. And now with unloading the dishwasher and warming up waffles.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dive

Job hunting has put me into a weird headspace. Scanning job boards, drafting cover letters and reaching out for new network connections has been a draining process. On some days, I'm able to kick out at least 2-3 applications, finding a way to muster the energy to seeing myself in the role and how bringing me in as part of the team would benefit that company.

What's hard, though, is expecting the rejection. Knowing that most of the time this ad was written with a particular person already in mind and that rejection letters will likely follow.

All of this reminds me of infertility and being in treatment. The mindset that can readily set in from too many failed attempts of doing the same thing over and over.

I've been thinking about this all morning as I ran my first educational program. One that I helped design and was in charge of executing. In so many ways, there's how I wanted it to play out and how it actually went. How even though the outcome wasn't what I expected, there was a lot of amazing things that came from it.

With fertility treatments, Grey and I ultimately did get the expected outcome. We got to experience pregnancy and bring home our babies. But the road we traveled, the people we met along the way and seeing the paths towards resolution most wouldn't consider were unexpected outcomes. I exited the infertility waiting room changed in a way that I never expected, teaching me to dive into realms of possibilities that have shaped me for the better.

So that's what I've been holding on to. The assumption that there are things I shouldn't consider or paths I shouldn't follow has been thrown out the door. Because at the end of the day, who knows what the outcome will be from that increasing pile of rejection letters or failed endeavors. What if it was all about just having the courage to try, diving into the unknown?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Slow

This morning, I took with the Beats with me to visit She-Beat's new school. He-Beat had zero trouble integrating, but She-Beat took her time. Within a few minutes, she was settled for Circle Time, participating in the morning activities.

Yesterday, I reached out to a recruiter to begin the process of finding contract work. Given my extended stay in academia, I know industry has zero idea how my skill set will transfer, so I'm in need of help with this transition. The recruiter did a nice job asking needed clarifying questions, giving me guidance on what not to do and laying out a plan for next steps.

Later today, our landlord is having a HVAC professional come to our rental to assess the oil tank and furnace, hopefully also identifying why we have no heat in our bedroom.

Finally, Grey has been given some clarifying news about his situation. The fact that there are competing parties who once again are competing for him, but also the suggestion that he apply for a position that he was told wasn't for him (that hiring manager apparently was reprimanded as they've been backtracking a lot).

All of this is happening slowly. Bit by bit, the pieces are coming together. There's still a lot of fighting and hard feelings; grief over what has been lost (trust being a big one). But there's movement. There's change. With me praying that it will all be for the better.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Coming out of it

So yeah. Yesterday. . . .

The interview was awesome. Truly. I love the team, the mission and what they are envisioning for the future. And I could see not only how I could fit into the group, but could grow. I truly felt that a younger version of me who didn't have to worry about silly things like finances would thrive there.

But that's thing, I do have worry about finances. I do have small children to consider and all financial support for my family comes from Grey and me.

And so I spent yesterday facing a very hard and fast reality that I can no longer pursue this work. That as much as I believe in what I've been doing, it's been hurting the Beats and Grey. I've sacrificed them for too long and it has to stop.

We live in a world where the focus from our leadership is "me and mine." As those in power point fingers at one another, spending their waking hours trying to shuffle blame, what they fail to see is how avoiding the needed hard work is hurting the majority. Those that serve our communities and help them grow (teachers, social workers, emergency personal) have been minimized and punished for too long. Greed has become the driving force for those who lead this nation and our world. And it's a scary thought as greed, fear and hatred have never been rallying points for building and overcoming hardship.

Today I'm closing the door on a chapter that I truly loved. I'm beginning the process to apply for positions that will allow me to use my science training in more corporate settings. It all makes me so sad as it's not what I wanted or envisioned.

But the truth is neither the world we currently live in. And I'm beyond tired of fighting a battle at the expense of those I care most about.


Monday, November 13, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Visualize

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

This morning I had an interview for a new position. It went very well, with a fruitful discussion afterwards. I love the mission of this organization, which is job training and placement for those who are socio-economically disadvantaged. 

The problem is the pay. The insanely low pay that doesn't cover childcare. 

Years ago, a woman I was climbing with had an affirmation in her kitchen reminding her to visualize her end goals. In her case, it was finding employment that would allow her the ability to pay her bills while giving her the freedom to pursue rock climbing. But the affirmation was a universal one.

And that's what I'm trying to do at the moment. Instead of panicking and throwing all this hard work out the window, I'm trying to put together an image of what I want. Even if it's just for the short-term. To visualize an end-goal that promotes my family.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Punching back

I'm exhausted. After a running an educational program yesterday (which went very well and was a lot of fun), spending the evening filling out new enrollment forms and prepping for an interview tomorrow, a nap is what I was looking forward to today.

Until I learned that our bedroom doesn't have any heat. Making it not habitable. And it would be one thing if this was the only issue, but when the lawyer mentioned "Board of Health" combined with "shutting her property down," I found my head spinning.

I'm so fucking tried of fighting with people. Of being treated terribly by others for no reason other than I don't come from specific social circles. Now that we've hit the unlawful end, though, it's time to start punching back.

And that's probably the most baffling of all. That it takes setting boundaries and informing people of "no" in order to get them to behave. Sure, there's in initial argument. Them fighting to convince you that the problem actually lies with you. But when the dust settles and the facts are laid out, these same people them treat you better if for no other reason than that they hate the bloody nose or cracked teeth they received in the process.

So we're contacting a lawyer again, figuring out what we can and cannot do. We're looking for options for housing, but also for jobs elsewhere in the country and/or the world. Because after living with a leaking oil tank, a broken furnace and so many other problems, why not.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fighting together

Yesterday was pretty shitty. Following spending the morning crying my eyes out during the enrollment termination meeting, I spent midmorning reviewing the course I'm helping with (the graduate students are being buttheads, but the thought on how to address said buttheadedness has revealed polar opposite viewpoints). I ended the day with another rejection letter (not the position I'm interviewing for on Monday), leaving me feeling extremely deflated.

None of that was helpful to Grey when he walked through the door and announced that work is fucking with him again. He's frustrated as they continue to give him stellar reviews, but then dick with him about his contract. They did this a few months ago, hemming and hawing his employment status and only got things together when they got word another company was interested in hiring him (this lead to more infighting when it also became apparent that each group leader wanted him on their project, meaning he was booked up 200%, which has since been rectified). He's been feeling like the dirty secret in this relationship with them sending signals they aren't interested in truly committing. So coming home on the heels of a shitty news combined with more shitty news didn't combine for a great evening.

One of the things Grey and I have been struggling with is how to fight together. Part of this comes with feeling safe to vent frustrations with one another, but being frustrated by more negative news that adds to the frustrations. The additional part is just being so exhausted. Our careers haven't been stable in a very long time and the training we've received never truly prepared us for what we're both facing now. The mental gymnastics we both do for our careers is exhausting in and of itself, never mind throwing in all the recent drama with daycare and our housing

The thing is, I also know that when we fight together, we're a pretty amazing force. I've lost count of the examples I can give you where we've tackled a problem together resulting in an outcome that exceeds expectations (if not frightens the offending party). We're pretty damn awesome at playing to each other's strengths, covering for the weakness or struggles and building towards what we want. It's just a matter of setting the stage, giving us both time to plan and assess. And not feeling attacked or undermined.

That’s the part that messing with us: setting the stage. Identifying what we both want and strategizing each of our roles in order to get to that end goal. Because as of late, there’s been way too much to navigate. With the daycare, it’s buying time until we can firm up enrollment at the new schools. With housing, it’s deciding if our landlord is moving fast enough vs deciding to find a new place (though we did learn she has violated the lease). And with our careers it’s a matter of figuring out what we’re each willing to live with. Each of these is a project in and of itself.

So we’re trying. Often unsuccessfully, but still getting back on that horse. Because the only other option is to fight one another. And frankly, that would be the worst fight of all.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Breakup

This morning, I gave notice at the Beats's daycare. The director and I had already scheduled a meeting the previous week to follow up on the assessments, but everything had gotten extremely bad since the initial assessments were sent in. It was clear that the director's goal was to reprimand me for my outburst on Monday, schooling me on proper communication. She left the meeting expressing shock over the complete failure of communication from her staff, both to us but supposedly to her and was visibly upset when I told her about the Beats actively expressing they didn't like school.

My phone conversation with Grey helped me remember that it's always a warning sign when people who supposedly have a track record tell you that your situation is something they've never dealt with before. I first experienced this as a young adult when my landlord misplaced my rent check and called demanding a replacement. When I informed him the check cancelation fee was coming out of my rent, he threatened me with eviction and informed me that he had never heard of such a practice before (I would find out later he regularly did this and was on the city's slumlord watch list). We went through this again with Cyrol, with his insistence that no one ever had a problem with him. More recently with our last landlord when she informed us she had never had a conflict with tenants (even though she had previously confessed to the contrary). Sadly, this is more of the same. The difference is we also have documentation from an outside source supporting otherwise.

As of today, a clock is ticking for transition. Yesterday I signed application forms and put down a deposit for a new preschool. Plans are already moving forward with the new institutions. In addition, I have agreed to be respectful, emphasizing that I need the same in return (which hasn't been happening). But that's the thing about breakups: no one really leaves the situation happy and the goal with terminating the relationship is to do so in a way that is least destructive. Considering the Beats are on the line, it's even more important.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

When it pours

Yesterday, as I settled into doing some last minute work prior to picking up the Beats, I got a phone call from their daycare. The teacher was calling to let me know that She-Beat had a rug-burn mark on her body, but that she had come to school with it so it wasn't something they were going to document. As the teacher began to hang-up the phone, I informed her that She-Beat hadn't left the house with any marks on her body.

45 minutes later, I would be standing in pediatric urgent care, begging the nurses to an appointment. They got her in as soon as they could, where the doctor assessed the raised marks on her body, declaring it some sort of bug bite or allergic reaction that she had been rubbing and sending us home with a dosing recommendation for Benadryl.

I would then end the night with trying to return some rotting vegetables that had been purchased a couple of days earlier (the store's policy allows for it), but being treated terribly in the process like I was somehow scamming the system.

It wasn't a good night.

Today has been a hard one. Despite having two good tours for new preschools, news from our landlord that she's moving forward with repairs and a pending interview for me next week, I'm really struggling with feeling hopeful. A big part of me wants to fight, laying into the people that have been the sources for so much anxiety and pain. It's because of this that Grey and I have been fighting as he really wants me to avoid burning bridges (and I do agree with him). But damnit, it's hard not to go off the deep end for things that make everyone in the room quickly fall silent and stare at you with wide-eyes.

There's the saying "when it rains, it pours." Hell, there's even a country music song and rap song about it. The bad on top of the bad. But like with any storm, the downpour can only last for so long. I'm just wondering how much longer this downpour is going to go on for. Because I would really, really like to see a rainbow very soon. That instead of feeling a need to scream, there's just a sense of peace.

Monday, November 6, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Meraki

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

Meraki: putting yourself into something; usually described doing something with soul, creativity and/or love. 

Given the complete shit-storm that was this weekend, I've been craving creativity. So last night, instead of ordering delivery,  I pulled some pizza dough out of the refrigerator and learned how to toss it. 


The end result was far from perfect, with there still needing to be some experimentation. But spending those 20 minutes doing something outside of problem-solving a situation that has been draining my soul, filling it again felt good.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Baby steps through trauma

This morning, as I went down to the basement to grab laundry out of the dryer, I discovered standing water around the washing machine. Because it's never just one repair. After alerting Grey and allowing him to do some investigating, I contacted our landlord to alert her to the problem. Which is when the angry phone calls started. The frustration on the other end of the line from two people, making it clear that they were well in over their heads.

Later that afternoon, I ran into our landlord's aunt, who happens to be our neighbor and a conversation began not only about the ongoing maintenance problems but also how the family is trying to help our landlord manage the current situation. And though the future isn't terribly clear for how all of this will play out, what is increasingly clear is the need for moving forward was tackling the issues one at a time, taking baby steps to overcome now two massive maintenance projects.

It's been odd to be in the middle of all of this, hearing the panic from someone where it's clear that all of this is the most traumatic set of situations they've ever faced. To see this newness of pain and trauma following having lived through so much loss myself. To be clear, I'm not judging the pain. After all, Grey and I are the ones who are currently living in the middle of it. But whereas we have a honed strategy and a tiredness after years of dealing with trauma after trauma, its very odd to observe this fresh sense of shock and grief from people who have never faced anything like this.

So in a weird way, we've become the teachers. We're guiding our landlord through dealing with all this uncomfortableness and unpleasant surprises will reminding them that they cannot put their heads in the sand. In short, we're acting as guides on how to do baby steps through trauma. The identifying priorities and helping them address what is immediately in front of them.

All the while being mindful that the Pain Olympics serves no one. Because at the end of the day it doesn't get us to the end goal we desire.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Deferred Maintenance

Midmorning, Grey, the Beats and I made our way to the U.S. Post office to deal with passports. For Grey and me, our passports are expiring and require us to submit renewals; for the Beats, it's the first time we've applied for them. Following pictures being taken and both Beats settling in with our phones so we could finalize applications, the postal worker asked us why we haven't applied sooner. After all, most people pursuing these applications when their children are infants. The quiets pause that followed with her scanning the looks on both our faces basically gave her the answer she needed with her announcing "Say no more!" in order to proceed with the process.

Yesterday, Grey and I learned the oil tank for our heating system is leaking. Our landlord, who inherited the property from her mother, has been completely beside herself with the knowledge that this not only has to be replaced but is going to be far more expensive than if she (or her mother) had done the preventative maintenance. Thankfully that replacement is scheduled to happen (otherwise this would be a very different post), but it's gotten me thinking more and more about maintenance and how Grey and I have been finally doing a lot of it after years of deferral.

The passports are one sign. This is something we should have done long ago, but were unable to (read finances and time). Household technology has been on that list and so has car maintenance (Lenny is long overdue for a full detailing job). But there are other things too. Purging has been happening as well as doctor's appointments. Dead last on the list that neither Grey or I have touched has been self-care. Both with pulling out his bike and me just getting time to take a long, hot bath.

One would argue that parenthood has been the issue, but the truth is a lot of this deferred maintenance stems from years before. With fertility treatments, where all extra time and resources were being sapped to dealing with the condo (and all the problems there) to even helping family. Time and again, we've put ourselves last, hoping for a period where we'll find some time in order to catch up.

But the truth has been, that time has come due to the need for it to happen. The oil tank is an excellent analogy for this as that sucker is extremely corroded. And yet, until yesterday, everyone involved with the property was telling us not to worry and that it would be taken care of at a later date. Even though planning out a replacement would have allowed for time to shop around and plan, allowing for a smoother transition instead of the situation that they are now facing (compounded by the fact that our lease is official broken and we are legally free to leave, leaving the landlord to lose tens of thousands of dollars if we do). Grey and I are in a similar boat with parts of our lives.

Because the reality is, we couldn't afford to tend to ourselves until now. We couldn't afford to think about anything beyond basic survival for years. And the sad thing is we are not abnormal. So many around us are forced to make similar choices that those in positions of privilege fail to see. So many of us are beyond burnout, craving time to heal just a little bit but cannot afford to.

So we slowly chip away at the things we can. Passports, updating legal information, careers, dreams and life.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Iron mom

I have vivid memories of the parents and caregivers of those with special needs. Starting from elementary school, with the teaching aids and parents of the children that were in class with me; later it would be as a young adult where I helped run programs that included special needs adults. There's always been two camps these people fall in: either clueless and not caring (these were few and far between) or some of the most incredible human beings I've had the pleasure of knowing. It's the latter camp that has made an impression: kindness and patience abound when working or caring for the special needs individual, combined with a firmness for advocating what is needed and a strong set of problem solving skills. These individuals have always left me in total awe, but also with a sense that there is no way I could do what they do daily as I lack so many of these qualities.

I'm not a patient person. I'm also not overly kind. I struggle with daily interactions with most people, failing to assert myself and my own boundaries in a constructive manner, which usually results in me either swallowing hurt or coming across as being an asshole. I lack grace in conflict and skill to navigate delicate matters.

The problem is, I need to somehow master all the above in order to move forward. She-Beat needs me to in order to make this transition and get her the help she needs. And hence a major reason I've been in a constant state of tears for the last 24 hours as I'm convinced I'm going to fail my daughter.

Yesterday I blew off work in order to hunt for new schools, fill out paperwork and to contact the Beats' current daycare to request a meeting. Like a chickenshit, I avoided talking with the director when she immediately demanded a meeting as I was convinced it would only result in a screaming match. I also began contacting family to let them know what was happening. My aunt and uncle were amazing (see above description for why), but my MIL wasn't happy about the news or the decision to pursue services, suggesting that maybe it would be much better if we waited to see. I spent most of this morning's commute hiding behind sunglasses and staring out the window as those silence tears fell, feeling utterly ashamed with myself.

This isn't the first time these feelings have surfaced. While in the thick of infertility and loss, I regularly had similar thoughts as my inadequacy as a human was the reason I wasn't able to conceive. I know what so many are going to say ("Why?" "It's not true!" etc, etc), but the truth is that having spent years where my self-identity has been so negative, it's hard not to come to these conclusions when faced with them. The problem is now I have to counter them and fit myself into a role that I had previously determined I could never do.

In a world of Dragon moms and Tiger moms, I have to figure out the path of a special needs caregiver. Somehow I have to figure out how to be patient in the face of frustration, to show kindness when feeling the exact opposite. I have to figure out how to assert unapologetically for what is needed while also doing so in a way that opens doors and builds bridges. I have to become skilled at finding the light, even when things seem so dark. And though I have some amazing role models, both in this community as well as in real life, the truth is I don't know where to begin to make this transition. I don't know how to recover when I make mistakes as it's not me that's on the line.

In short, I'm afraid I don't have what it takes to be an Iron mom. To protect my daughter and help her move beyond so that she can grow to her full potential. And that She-Beat will be further harmed because of it.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Assessment results

This is still fresh, so please forgive me for the fragments and typos. I'm still reeling, but writing helps me process.

This morning, I met with the team for Special Education at the local school district to talk about the results on the assessment on the Beats. With He-Beat, despite some concern about hyperactivity, it's been determined that he is developing normally and does not need services at this time. But She-Beat is another story. After an hour of walking through observations and results from each team, it was concluded that she does qualify for special education services and an IEP is currently being put together for her so that we can get moving on getting her the help she needs.

Somehow I managed not to cry in the meeting, focusing on what was being said and making plans for what needs to be done in order to expedite this process. But afterwards in the car, I weep like I haven't weep since infertility.

There are so many negative emotions at the moment. I'm angry at myself for missing this and not acting sooner, I'm so sad that my little girl has been suffering, I'm frightened about what lies ahead, especially as I'm now looking at terminating me working in order to make sure she gets the help she needs. But I'm also angry at their current teachers, as part of the evaluations reflected that they view the Beats in a hostile manner. I'm angry with the rollercoaster Grey and I have been on that has inhibited us from being able to see this. And I'm angry with those we have supported who have completely failed us. Any guilt that remained about cutting those people out of our lives is now completely gone as they truly do not matter.

I don't know what to do at the moment. Phone calls have been made this morning and I will be reaching out to others in order to get additional support and guidance. All I know is I can't afford to do nothing. Nothing is not even an option.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ghosts

Two days ago, I found a letter addressed to my landlord from a company that specializes in foreclosure assistance. Immediately recognizing this type of letter, I put it to the back of the pile of mail and brought it inside. All the while my heart pounding. Later that evening, as Grey was inspecting the recently repaired furnace and leaking oil filter, I showed him the letter. And that's when the old ghosts were allowed to emerge for both of us.

It's hard to believe that a year ago, Grey and I were in a situation where we were unable to sell our condo and facing the prospect of foreclosure. Throughout the recession, we managed to hang on to the property, making sacrifices in order to make sure we never fell behind on a payment. But when we faced not being able to sell due to a toxic resale certificate created by our property management company, we found ourselves in a situation where we wondered if foreclosure would be our only way out.

Thankfully, that wasn't the case. Through some gymnastic-style negotiations and the help of our rental manager, we were able to convince the Board to fire the association's property management company, replacing them with a company that is much more ethical. In addition, through more guidance from our rental manager and due to an insanely hot real estate market, we formulated a plan to sell that involved absolute transparency (something that scares most realtors). In short, we were able to turn an insanely bad situation around, getting out ahead.

But the scars from that trauma are still very fresh and this trigger was a reminder of that.

There's this odd assumption most have that with time, the scars from a traumatic event will magically disappear. Very often, I'm told that "time heals all wounds," but what people fail to understand that healing does not equal erasing. Pain can become less acute and relief can come from the triggers, but the ghosts remain.

Part of that is a good thing as the learning that has happened has shaped how we live today. Part of knowing about the foreclosure process means that Grey and I are also aware of what our rights are as renters (which are fairly substantial). We cannot be evicted because of our landlord and any new owner will either have to take up our rental contract for buy us out of it. We also have basic rights to living conditions that have to be maintained and we know the channels to use if these aren't met.

But the other part is processing all that happened. Of allowing us to confront those ghosts once again and acknowledge they were extremely scary and awful. That what happened was beyond simple life decisions and/or choices, but an actual robbing of a simple desire that most didn't have to worry about.

In the meantime, we have an 8 month warning about a pending move, giving us time to hunt and hopefully a chance to find a better situation.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Unsilencing

It was a simple email exchange. My MIL is going through a work issue and Grey and his siblings have been working with her to navigate all of it. Since first learning about this issue, there's been emails exchanged between the siblings to share advice, strategy and determine who can handle which aspects.

But it was a portion of one email that caught my eye; a paragraph actually. In that paragraph, Grey shared with his siblings how taxed we've been with all the transitions, illnesses and surgeries, telling them that he was limited with what we could provide. And though that may not seem like much, this was the first time openly shared any hardships with them instead of trying to take everything on.

He would go on to do it again during a conversation with MIL. Opening up to her in a manner he likely hasn't done in years, with it being clear she was surprised. But the unsilencing has been good for him; for them too.

Like Grey, I've never been one to talk openly about my struggles. From a young age, I learned it wasn't socially acceptable to "whine and complain" about my ales as it was likely others around me had it much harder. Instead, my role was to act as a support system, helping others in need find solutions and roads forward. There's a lot of problems with this thinking, particularly the learned assumption that asking for help is a sign weakness, but another one is the burn out that comes from suffering in silence. When you're giving all the time, neglecting your own self care, it's hard not to start resenting others for their requests, be they simple or overly complex.

Loribeth's post about the Misery Filter got me thinking more about this, particularly the point most the need to educate people about suffering. Part of this education requires training and learning how to be resilient, but there's another point which involves normalizing suffering and making it much more common place then it already is.

With infertility, we're starting to see this. Whereas a few years ago, post like this one from Dear Prudence were common (and I'm still angry with Emily Yoffe for her callous response), the articles now are more sympathetic (and this podcast had me cheering for Mallory Ortberg) with people finally opening up about their journey. The big thrust behind this change is because of normalization. It's because a brave few started all of this by coming out of the infertility closet, shameless sharing their stories. And those few grew to many more, empowering many more to do the same. And though infertility and pregnancy loss are still taboo, particularly if you don't resolve by parenting, the truth is there are more much needed conversations that are happening. The unsilencing has lead to awareness.

Something has lifted in our household recently due to the embrace for openness. Things are still hard with surrounding this period (finding out our new rental is likely going to be foreclosed on in the near future hasn't helped), but by asking for help while acknowledging the hardships of others has been freeing and selecting. Those who love us and want to support us know not to jump in with assive or offer callous critiques, but instead to offer empathy and someone to talk to. But there's also something very freeing about no longer living under the shroud of silence. A validation that we actually matter too.

Monday, October 30, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Reclaiming Halloween

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

Late last night as I listened to howling wind, I sat crouched over a bowl picking out and cleaning pumpkin seeds to roast. Earlier in the day, the Beats sat at the kitchen table with me, helping me scoop out their pumpkins and excitedly shouting out directions for cutting out their jack-o-lanterns. As I sat cutting out triangles and circles, they chattered on about their costumes and all the festivities from the weekend. 


There are many things I allowed infertility to rob me of. Connections with others, special events and even places I had loved to frequent. The holidays were at the top of the list, being there is such a focus on children and family-centered events. So for years, I isolated myself during this period, steeling myself to do the bare minimum in order to protect my heart.

But the downside was that I lost a lot along the way. Ski trips, hiking adventures and even going to a favorite local pub. I allowed the intrusive relatives, the baby bumps and the fear of strollers to dictate where I could go. And because of it, I missed out on the things that brought me joy. 

It was right before my final round of IVF that I declared I had had enough. So I started reclaiming the holidays in my own way, starting with Halloween. I made a point of carving pumpkins and roasting pumpkin seeds while enjoying a special bottle of beer because, damnit, it was something I enjoyed. Thanksgiving would be next, with a tradition of pumpkin pies and roasted chicken. And finally would come the Winter Holidays, being determined to find a way to bring in light despite the sadness in my heart.

Admittedly, it's been easier to celebrate since the arrival of the Beats. The things that once stopped me no longer hold the same power (though I am still terrified of strollers). But a part of that also comes with having reclaimed Halloween all those years ago. Being determined to find a way to celebrate the life I already had with my family of two. 

Friday, October 27, 2017

An epidemic

Last night I found myself staring at a virtual map detailing opioid overdoses across the country. On the heels of a press conference where a state of emergency has been declared, most people I find myself surrounded by daily seemed surprised about the degree of this crisis.

This news is on the heels of emerging reports about the homelessness epidemic in this country.

And yet, once again, our leaders are clearly failing to connect the dots about how the decisions to protect a privileged few are resulting in all of this. That actions and willful deafness to the plights of those outside their doorsteps is stressing the majority to the point of chronic life pain,  leading to the early death in otherwise physically healthy individuals.

We're well overdue for action and a solution to this issue, though I fear it’s going to get far worse before then.

Many have been talking recently about infertility being a source of life pain (myself included). But what isn't talked about as much is that having walked this path this community is in a unique position to help others navigate it. That there's wisdom so many gain from having walked this path, finding ways to survive while living on the fringes.

As I go on, it's becoming clear that those who have no idea what life pain is have any clue how to address it. Meaning that as much as they believed they are entitled to steer this ship, the best course of action involves dropping them off at the closest port. Ignoring the temper tantrums that will surely come. Following that enforced grounded will come the need to new navigators. Those who know how to sit with others as they process their pain, offering support and even a simple “I’m sorry” so that healing can begin. And things can be rebuilt.

Because we cannot survive this epidemic much longer.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Grumpy

So yesterday. The short of it is that the thought-experiment activity went well. But other parts of lecture, specifically focusing on the assigned reading, belly-flopped. A plan for picking up the pieces and tackling again is in motion. As is reassessing how to move forward.

But given the disappointment, combined with frustration about job applications, networking (Cristy got schooled yesterday), program design and the ongoing crappy weather, I'm in a grumpy state.

One of the things that is hard at the moment is juggling being motivated and a self-starter with constant rejection or seeing cases where the same rules don't apply. I learned a couple of days ago that my replacement is someone who doesn't have the advertised requirements, leaving me feeling like I was doomed in the position from day 1. In addition, I found two messages in my inbox this morning that indicated I wasn't being considered for those positions. Add in having the furnace at our rental break not once, but twice due to lack of maintenance and it being very clear our landlord really isn't interested in doing more than the bare minimum for correcting the problem or dealing with the leaky oil fuel tank and it's hard not to feel like throwing in the towel.

So today is about allowing myself to feel grumpy for exact 20 more minutes. Then to get back in there with job applications, preparing for Friday discussion, solidifying curriculum and bugging my network.

Because one lesson infertility taught me is that the only one who is going to find the road forward in all this craziness is me. And it doesn't matter if those outside looking in approve of if or not.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Over the rainbow

I can't remember how old I was when I first saw "The Wizard of Oz," but like so many I grew up loving the song "Somewhere over the Rainbow." It's importance changed when I moved to my version of the Emerald City and changed once again when Grey and I left.

There's a prelude to this song that most aren't familiar with. Finding these lyrics takes a bit of digging, but they are ones I first heard as a child and immediately became attracted to due to the haunting beginning.

"When all the world is a hopeless jumble
And the raindrops tumble all around
Heaven opens a magic lane

When all the clouds darken up the skyway
There's a rainbow highway to be found
Leading from your windowpane

To a place behind the sun
Just a step beyond the rain"

Yesterday I found these lyrics again, in the form of a read-along book I had checked out for the Beats. As they listened to Judy Collins singing this prelude, I found myself completely overcome with emotion.

I miss my Emerald City. All that it was and all that came during my time there. I struggle with knowing that it no longer exists, instead is a shadow of what it use to be. But looking at the Beats and at Grey, I know we carry that version in our hearts. That one day we'll find our version again, though it's likely we'll have to help build it.

Hence the hope in these lyrics. That there can be light and warmth after the bitter storm. That there are rainbows and magic lanes to follow to find that place.





Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Intermission

Yesterday went okay. I managed to accomplish my goal of getting the students talking, seeming to perk their willingness to share their thoughts and insights. Something that has been sorely lacking for these past few weeks.

Despite this, though, I still had one student fall asleep. There were others who looked at me with skeptical eyes. Hence I wasn't surprised about the email from the department chair, informing the course head (and the rest of us) that the graduate students are complaining. And despite the idea of asking for feedback, the truth of the matter is the issue stems from something a lot more fundamental and primal. That something drastic needs to be done to shock them out of their current state and help them reset.

And it needs to happen tomorrow.


The idea came while I was looking over lecture slides. Feeling once again that this relationship was far too one-sided, encouraging them to sit back and absorb (which we know doesn't work), I found myself staring at the glass of hopped apple cider in front of me. Only a few moments before I had been asking the barista what "hopped apple cider" was, to which the response was "you have to experience it to answer that question." Not a bad sales pitch, huh?

Which is when it dawned on me that these students didn't have ownership because they weren't experiencing all that comes with problem solving. To them, the answers were already a given. And they need to be reminded that this is rarely the case (and if it is, then they really haven't earned their PhD).

So tomorrow, as we dive into RNA interference and CRISPR-Cas9, we'll pause and do a modified flavor tripping experience with white vinegar.  I'm both excited and terrified as there's really only two possibilities for the outcome of this experiment.

Wish me luck.

Monday, October 23, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Flip

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

It started innocently enough. Sitting in a coffee shop with hopes of finalizing my lecture tomorrow, I was quickly becoming distracted by a young girl who was bouncing on the bench next to me. Looking up, the mother quickly caught my eye while she bounced a newborn on her knee, rolling her eyes and mouthing "sorry."

"Don't worry about it," I responded with a smile, thinking that would be the end of the conversation.

"It's just so hard sometimes!" she exclaimed.

"I know," I absentmindedly responded while turning my attention back to my computer screen. "My twins are at home with a sitter."

"Twins!" she shouted, for the whole shop to hear. "Why, that must be SOOO nice! Every aspect of parenting done at once. So much easier than doing this one at a time!"

I think you could have heard a pin drop in the moments that followed as all eyes quickly became glued on me. Everyone in the shop seemingly waiting for a response, with the energy and looks suggesting anticipation for a fight.

*****************
One of the things that is guaranteed to put me in a fighting mood is the comparisons from others about how difficult their lives are. I struggle with others jumping in, cutting people off with their attempts to share and empathize by exclaiming there's no possible way as this situation is extraordinary. With infertility and parenting, the situation is much more tangled as there's this assumption that those who are not parenting have zero frame of reference. From sleep deprivation to financial issue to simply juggling the day-to-day of a new reality surrounding a little one, the thought process is that of exclusion.

Recently, though, my outlook on the Pain Olympics has shifted. Part of it comes from having a family building story that can easily cause the audience to fall silent fairly quickly, but the other has been me learning to stretch and search for the root cause of this complaining main due to my own fumbles and belly-flops I've inflicted on others. Being socially awkward, I'm frequently an offender especially in the arena of answering the question "so what do you do?" And as those awkward pauses have come, usually with me kicking myself immediately afterwards, I've thought about the snarky remarks or the stone-cold silence and how I've struggled being on the receiving end.

There's another element, though. Being an educator, the core of my job is identifying misconceptions and helping guide people to new conclusions. As I walked home from the coffee shop, I thought more and more about a compulsive need most of us have to top one another's venting episodes. That sometimes it can be about an oddly failed attempt at commiseration. While other times it's actually a sign of something terribly wrong; that either this person is feeling isolated or overwhelmed or abused or feeling trapped. Often they are hurting, sometimes in ways that will even surprise them. Geared up for a fight as that is really their only form of being able to connect with humanity.

And if you look at the situation that way, flipping the view from someone who is unnecessarily venting due to privilege to someone who is broken on some level, all the sudden addressing the problem at hand becomes a lot different.
******************

I honestly don't know why I responded the way I did. Maybe it had to do with it being a warm, sunny day or me fighting fatigue from staring at a computer screen for way too long. But following the comment, I looked right at this women with small children and I saw someone who was overwhelmed and tired. Quietly packing up my things, I pulled out a set of crayons and some scratch paper that I always keep on me in case the Beats are getting out of hand. Immediately the bouncing young girl's eyes lit up and she swiftly settled into coloring.

"How old are your kids?" I asked, hoping to initiate a conversation as I observed another older woman slide in next to the young girl to encourage her with her drawings. And almost as if the flood gates were opened, the whole shop spent the next 10 mins with this woman listening as she told life story, including her frustrations with being a single mother and finding balance in life. Discovering very quickly that this was someone who was actually pretty lonely in life and struggling to find connection.

And though the interaction wasn't a long one and the transition wasn't completely smooth, the outcome was one where the atmosphere in the coffee shop changed with someone offering to buy this woman another cup of coffee, most others smiling at the little girl as she proudly showed off her drawings and even others beginning to open up about their struggles with loss and failed life goals.

All of it stemming from seeing the situation as it actually was, which wasn't about someone wanting to fight, but about trying awkwardly to connect.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Faking it

It's sunny today. Sunny, warm and unseasonably beautiful as I'm rolling around the chemistry between SOLiD vs SBS sequencing in my head. Learning about SMRT and Nanopore as I prepare for the conversation tomorrow. Hoping upon hope that I sound like I have a firm grasp of what I'm talking about (even though I don't).

Part of my anxiety comes with the audience, knowing there's someone there who is watching me and hoping I'll belly flop. Part of it comes with the fact that I know if all goes well, tomorrow's conversation could actually be that: a conversation. An opportunity for these students to bring their opinions and insight to the table that they haven't really done so far during the formal lectures. And as that is my main goal, I'm trying to figure out how to allow for the comfort of conversation to come while also having enough material there so that they have a firm foundation to speak from instead of defaulting to a state of bored silence.

So right now, with slides finalized and me reviewing Drop-Seq, I'm also formulating a strategy to fake it well. Remembering that it's not my job to have all the answers. In fact, it would be better for all if I don't so that they can have the opportunity to shine.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Ripples

For over a decade, Grey and I have struggled with early morning wake-up calls from Jaxson. He's always been glorified food whore, requiring constant supervision when any meal or snack is out, but the wake-up yowling has been a different level of torture. We've tried ignoring him, locking him up, have positioned squirt bottles, constructed shake cans and even in moments of pure desperation have resorted to launching pillows in his general direction. We've also had him evaluated by vets (all of whom have assured me he is in good health after spending a small fortune on blood work), books and the web.

Nothing has resolved the situation.

Thursday I hit the end of my rope. I haven't been sleeping well to begin with, but a 4 am wake-up call where he decided to wake-up the Beats in order to get breakfast put both me and Grey over the edge. After taking the morning to calm, I decided to do a last-ditch internet search, using a different combinations of words ("yowling" being the key). Which is when this article appeared. And after reading it, with it making sense given the behavior pattern, I formulated a last effort plan of instituting second dinner for Jaxson and Daisy just before Grey and I went to bed.



This morning, I woke with a start realizing that despite it being 6 am, the house was quiet. 10 minutes later, with two Beats wide awake and ready to begin their morning routine, I found two drowsy cats who were stretching themselves awake and slowly making their way to the kitchen for breakfast.

I've been thinking about this sudden change in cat behavior all morning as I've been confirming appointments for follow-ups for She-Beat. Specifically there's been a request to bring in a speech and language specialist to observe her as it's now suspected that the root of her difficulties is due to her ears. That what we're seeing from her is actual a struggle to communicate, initiated due to her limited ability to hear. Something so simple and yet the effects are insanely profound and it's this idea of a cascade, like ripples in a pond following a single event, that's been giving me a lot to think about.

This isn't the first time I've encountered dramatic shift in directions and paths solely due to identifying a minor detail most wouldn't consider. With infertility, though the root cause was never formally identified, I found myself on a different road following the addition of a blood thinner. When I was younger, it was the decision to brave being alone in the world and failing at my chosen career path that allowed me to pack a van and relocate West. More recently it's been this active decision to sit back and wait for the pieces in motion to move around, hoping they will fall into place. All of these seemingly minor, trivial events or actions that to outsiders should not have any impact.

The ripple effect isn't a new concept. Within biology, we talk about buffering for such effects through redundancy and robustness, but the reality is that sometimes a seemingly stable system can collapse upon instead simply by eliminating a certain component. Any though this collapse can seem destructive, this change can also identify something that is crucial. A keystone required both to heal and rebuild.

Grey is a bit more pragmatic than me, usually the more data is required before he'll declare anything is resolved. Even this morning, when he too was surprised to find the house unusually quiet, he's skeptical that we've found the core issue of the hell from the past decade (though he is quick to let both cats know that he's always been for second dinner, putting the blame squarely on me). So the experiment will continue, just as we'll continue with assessments and working to lay down foundations for the future.

Still, the thought of ripples and finding the stones that create them is one I'm focusing on. That maybe bringing about meaning change requires looking for the minor events and digging down to what rings true.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The space between

The cursor has been blinking back at me all morning. Despite the mountain of work I have to do, the words fail to flow and efforts to chip away at the walls seem quickly to be undone.

It doesn't help that my body is tired, causing my brain to feel foggy and heavy. Filled to the brim with no way to drain. And yet, drain it must. Drain in order to be filled again, with ideas and plans modified so as to continue striving for an ever-moving end goal.

Next week I begin my last round of lectures. For the most part, the slides are done and I have an idea of what I want to talk about (one lecture slide needs to be finished and the paper read). But I'm struggling to get the motivation to do this last round of polishing. Of getting my act together enough to make sure I bring my "A" game to lecture. Part of it is normal: polishing too far in advance means I'm overcooked when its time to present. But the other part is that after these lectures, my obligations are technically over, leaving me free to put my energy into building these new opportunities and pushing for changed.

Easier said than done given that nothing is solidified and pushing on things seems not to have had much of an effect.

This space between is mentally trying. The remembering that what I'm leaving behind, though it has served me well, no longer fits. Even though there's still this primal drive to go back to what would be comfortable. To climb back into the nest instead of braving the fall.







Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How infertility kills

Like many, I have folders on my computer filled with photos. There's wedding photos that have been digitized, hiking/camping/rock climbing photos from youthful adventures, photos from trips and vacations and family photos, including separate folders specified for the Beats and Jaxson & Daisy.

But there's also a folder I rarely look at; one that contains photos of myself during my time in the trenches. This folder is much thinner than the others, reflecting a period were I avoided the camera at all costs. The photos that are there are an emotional trigger as the version of me looking back is zombie-like: The forced smiles, the glassy eyes, the visible pain. It's clear something is very wrong.

A common theme that echos through society is that infertility, unlike other diseases (cancer being the go-to one for many making this argument) doesn't kill. When looking for support, many who are infertility-naive will immediately point out this "fact" that the infertile should be counting their blessings as they aren't dying and hence should really shut-up. But there are two things that aren't considered by the people making this STFU argument. First is most aren't actively dying and usually have no direct experience with death outside of the pending fear they have on the topic. But the second, which is far more potent, is that there are many forms of death with grief and trauma being a very formidable one.

BnB and Mali had separate posts talking about moving on from infertility as a form of survival, with BnB having a similar observation about self photographs following her infertility diagnosis. The death that comes from a life planned and hoped with expanding one's family for isn't something that can simply be covered up but is instead physically manifested. And hence the conclusion that infertility doesn't kill is actually dead wrong.

The memory of my time in the trenches, where I felt completely detached from the world and was instead living in a gray-toned, muted Elseworlds is still painful. There were moments were I wondered how long I could go on living that way. Hence why Mali's call for choosing to survive, stepping outside the comfort zone to find a way is so important and it's was a choice I remember making even when our path to resolution wasn't clear.

But part of this focus on survivorship that Mali and BnB make a wonderful case for is also changing the conversation about what infertility is. That it actually is death, killing dreams, hopes and promises for a chapter of our lives. That infertility and RPL actually do kill. And that telling an infertile to "get over it" is just as terrible as saying this to a cancer patient.

Because death comes in many forms. All of them terrible and live changing for the survivors.

Monday, October 16, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: For worse, for better

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

The phone number popped into my head unexpectedly; one that I hadn't thought about in 15 years. A quick internet search confirmed what I suspected: it belonged to a guy (nicknamed "Mr. Wonderful") I had been casually seeing prior to Grey. That lead me down a rabbit hole I hadn't allowed myself to think about for years, ultimately ending with me finding his Facebook page where there was a photo of Mr. Wonderful with two small children. 

Years ago, a woman on a TTC forum I belong to posted a long rant about finding out her ex was getting married. Despite the fact she had a loving husband, a beautiful son and was unexpectedly pregnant with her second (no fertility issues what so ever), she lamented the news that this ex was building a life without her. I remember seeing red upon reading her post, positively angry that someone who had easily achieved the life I was breaking myself over was seemingly pining over an alternative.

As my time in the trenches went on, I would begin tormenting myself with thinking about Grey leaving me, building a life we both desperately wanted with someone else. I had many an ugly cry with those images of him with two small children, thinking of the woman who would help him complete this happy family.

But despite how hard I pushed him away, Grey stayed. Granted we had some help from David and Dee, but the reality is he also made a choice to not give up on the family we already had

Basic Protestant Wedding vows contain a well-known verse of "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health," and yet when asked about the moments of love most people will focus on the for better parts: the happy memories or the richness of life. But what we fail to grasp is that it's the worse parts of life, the hard moments, that truly test love and solidity of relationships. With infertility you get that in spades: the scary RE appointments, the shots in the ass, the tears following someone else's pregnancy announcement, the dark ultrasound rooms where the tech can't find a heartbeat, the negative tests, the pain and even the moments where you wonder if you'll ever find your way out of the darkness. It's in those for worse moments that love is tested and were many find themselves abandoned by those they thought loved them. But there's also the ones that continue to stand beside us, being our rocks, grieving with us, helping us crawl our way out of the darkness and back into the light.

Looking at that photo of Mr. Wonderful with his children, I literally felt the same passing feelings I would feel for a stranger. My he have a happy life. But when I opened up a photo gallery of Grey, containing all the photos we have together through our time together, particularly from our time in the trenches, my heart soared. Because despite the darkness, the hard, the uncertainty and the pain, this is someone who chose to fight with me, to stand by me at all costs. 

For worse, for better. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Love and light

It started in the most innocent of manners. The Beats asked to see the box I keep on top of my dresser, filled with memories from their time in NICU and from before. Their bracelets, the smallest blood-pressure cuffs one can imagine, onies marked size "P" which barely fit She-Beat's doll and the pictures of them from the ultrasound scans.

It was as we were looking through the pictures we came the ones of them as embryos. Of the Beats from Jan 2, 2013, but also of the first one: The one of them all together.


Today is October 15th: Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day. Part of October being Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Tonight at 7 pm is the Wave of Light. There was a time in the ALI community where this night would be filled with posts, remember those precious children we lost too soon. Today it seems quiet. Or maybe it's just quiet in my corner.

Still, today I've been remembering. Allowing myself to feel that sadness that once consumed my every waking minute. And tonight Grey and I will once again light candles in remembrance of our precious 7 we didn't get to hold. In remembrance of those babies our friends lost too soon.

Sending love out to this community tonight. May you all feel wrapped in love and light


Friday, October 13, 2017

Golden Afternoon

All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill
By little armed are plied,
While little hands make vain pretense
Our wanderings to guide.

~Excerpt from "All In The Golden Afternoon" by Lewis Carol



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Filter

About 4 months ago, I left my keys at work. I realized what I had done after I arrived at the Beats's daycare to pick them up. In a panic, I quickly realized that the only option I had was to take the Beats with me on the bus, commuting back onto campus to go retrieve them. The whole time hoping my coworker was still in the office so I wouldn't have to track down security.

It was a mess of a situation. The bus ride was abnormally long due to traffic, the walk across campus was compounded by rain and He-Beat, in the excitement of the situation, failed to tell me he had to pee resulting in him having an accident and I didn't have a change of clothes. By the time we all got home (thankfully Grey modified his commute to meet up with me on campus so we could brave the packed bus back together), it was very late, we were all soaked to the bone and I was sorely in need of some wine.

But apparently that opinion of misery wasn't shared. Since the key incident, both Beats have announced "we need to go get Momma's keys!!" on almost a weekly basis. Between the bus ride, the new people, new place and meeting up with Grey in a way they normally don't, the whole situation was a grand adventure that must be repeated.

I've been thinking about moments like tis more and more given recent conversations I've been having with people in all aspects of my life. Yesterday I had a conversation with a colleague and dear friend who is in the lecturing circuit and frustrated by the lack of opportunity available to her (despite her amazing evaluations and skill set). She asked how I was doing and proceeded to tell me she was impressed how calmly I was handling my transition. Later I got feedback from a student about how put together and on top of things I seemed. The final bit was two separate emails from advisors on a project I'm trying to get off the ground. They both read through a concept paper I had put together and were apparently very impressed by this first draft, wanting to talk about edits and next steps all while commenting that I really seemed to have a clear direction forward.

It's odd to think that for those not privy to my head space, things can look downright rosy and exciting at the moment. Sure there's planning with me spending far more time in front of a computer than I care for combined with uncertainty about the future, but there's also new things happening that weren't even a consideration a couple of months ago. It's just a matter of which filter you choose to look through when assessing all of this.

All of this got me thinking all the more about we, as humans, see people in our daily lives; the images we project, whether consciously or unconsciously, for the world to take in. It still amazes me that people can a comfortable living off of this projection, using social media as a medium for promoting their own brand. The power that's there is really impressive, but what we tend to forget is that these perceptions are always through a filter of some degree. And there's the additional level of what we as individuals bring into the experience that can impact that filter.

Though logically all of this makes sense, what has been a bit of a shock is thinking about how those outside looking in would see me in the world. That though I have an imagine of who I am and how I fit into the grand scheme of things, others likely have a different perspective. I've been getting a taste of this with some recent experiences with the Beats. From swimming lessons, where other parents have commented about how fearless they both are about getting in the water (all while I'm watching, concerned they are overly wild), to a comment yesterday at the park where as the Beats were wrestling with one another on the ground while giggling uncontrollably and someone commented that it must be nice that they liked one another and wanted to play together, pointing to her children where one clearly didn't want the other around.

But I've also thought about it with this space and what I write her, with the filter being applied no matter what I say or do. How the things I see as hard or wonderful or even life-changing others see differently. How that can be isolating when there's this lack of understanding, but also freeing too. Because sometimes the answers we seek come from viewing the problem differently, but other times it's a matter of trusting your gut, following the road forward that makes the most sense to you. Even if it doesn't to everyone else.
 
Design by Small Bird Studios | All Rights Reserved