Monday, December 27, 2010

Renewed

It may be my own little Christmas miracle that Christmas was really enjoyable in spite of the bitter disappointment and sadness just a few days before.

We had neighbours over for Christmas Eve dinner, and the evening was filled with easy chatter around our big dining room table. Christmas day was just family and we had a relaxed day filled with gifts and food and games. It was really lovely, no pressure, lots of indulgences, smiles and cooperation to get all the work done. Props to go Mom and Andrew, the-most-fabulous-husband-ever, who did all the cooking. :)


As far as the future goes, I'm feeling calmer and more certain that God has a plan for us. Last week this time, I felt abandoned, hopeless and distraught. Today, I feel rather resigned to whatever our future holds and I'm asking God to show me the way. I want to trust that whatever happens, we will be okay, in fact we'll be happy, joyful even.


I want to stop taking this struggle so personally. I want to let go of the belief that there is a reason for this....it's not serving me to try to sort out why we're going through this. Whether it's fair or unfair, deserved or not.


At church on Sunday the pastor talked about how God's presence in our lives it not evidenced by the absence of struggle and pain but by the presence of love. And I have a great deal of love in my life. I'm grateful for my husband, my parents, my sister and nieces, my friends, my extended family that I'm proud to belong to, even my fabulous cat. I'm remarkably lucky to have so much love. I just need to hang on to that when the grief hits over the things I do not have and want so much.


I still don't have an answer to my question in my last post. "If the answer to my dream continues to be 'no,' what will that do to me?" But I'm starting to suspect that the answer has something to do with me surrendering and changing.....changing my life in such a way that I can fulfill my needs, even if it looks very different from what I thought it would look like.


For now I'm still praying for the original dream: a healthy pregnancy, healthy baby, a comfortable home in a safe neighbourhood, great neighbours, a nice park to walk and play in. It's a good dream.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Crushed

Ah yes, that harsh reality did indeed come crashing down. Another negative....I think that makes 33.

Those three happy weeks were a gift. And I know there will be more of that in the future. But this, today, feels like a punishment.

So what does one do when the answer to their greatest desire is 'No' or at least 'Not yet' for the 33rd time?

It's really hard to look down the road and have hope when I know there could be more of this awful feeling in the future. Desperation hits when I start seeing no choice but to withstand more. I can't just turn off my dream of having a family. I can't just dream something else.

So what happens if the answer to the dream continues to be no? What will that do to me? How much can I take? And what would it mean if I couldn't take it anymore?

I don't know. I have no answers.

It's time to binge on chocolate and maybe by Christmas I'll feel better.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Spirit

We are prepped for Christmas! We've got a real live tree creating a gorgeous outdoorsy smell. Cards are in the mail. Gifts are bought ....or this close to. We've got Christmas music, a Christmas menu, Christmas gifts, Christmas guests, Christmas lights, Christmas dreams and glitter on every freakin surface in the house!

Woo hooo!

And I'm even in the spirit. :)

Now, a rather harsh reality may come crashing down on me in, oh, like 24 -48 hours. But I have to say I've been in a good mood for over two weeks now and it's been lovely. I've thoroughly enjoyed thinking about India and thinking about adoption and all the possibilities there are. And last night I had a fabulous dream about twin baby girls.

I have no idea where 2011 will take us. But I do know this year I'll be celebrating Christmas in my home with family and I'll be ringing in the New Year with great friends. And that's a great place to be.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Life I Planned

This potential opportunity to spend a couple years in India has given my brain a whole lot to contemplate.


I'm trying to stay in the moment and feel my way through this. I don't want to just be swamped with the thoughts of all the what ifs, and lists of what we'd have to do to make this happen or all the things that would be hard. I want to think about how it would fit in the bigger tapestry of life, what it could mean long term and how it fits in with my values and my life plan.

Now as far as long-term planning or life planning goes (insert wry, cynical laughter here) there is a lot that is out of one's control. I mean really, the life I planned had me pregnant 2 years ago and by now back at work contemplating baby #2. Planning has not helped me a smidge in acheiving this goal of a family. This opportunity of living abroad was not planned at all, however it has a certain element of....spiritual assistance I'll say, that I've felt before.

When I was 13 I had a dream of being one of the high school grads who got all the awards when they graduated. That came to fruition...ok, not all but plenty enough to fulfill the dream. When I was 18 and roughing it around Europe, I dreamed of returning as a young business woman, staying in hotels and eating in the nice restaurants. That happened. These dreams were broad and long term and not something I thought about on a daily basis. They just sat quietly in my bank of dreams and God worked them out.

When I was 20 I lived in Japan for 9 months. The experience was fabulous and also incredibly challenging in many ways. It left me with a deep sense of Canada being home. It also left me thinking I'd like to do a year overseas again sometime....maybe in my mid-30s with some kids in tow and a neat work opportunity to pursue. As far as plans go, it was broad but clear, without a lot of specifics but not unrealistic. It fit with my desire to lead a full, interesting life and be a part of the bigger world in a tangible way....not just reading about a far off places but having experienced them.

When I think about India, I'm left with a question of my values. I value great travel opportunities, the chance to see another culture and, ya know, live an adventure every so often. But that value/dream does not trump the number 1 dream of having a family. Does one have to preclude the other?

I love my life right now, our situation. But when I imagine staying here, in this place, for the next 2 or 4 or 6 years without children, I feel horrible. I imagine looking back at it as wasted, empty time. It wouldn't be empty if there were kids but it can't be filled only by the hope of them.


Let's face it, the baby dream is not coming to fruition. So what do I do with my life while pursuing it? What do I do with this time of waiting, which could be weeks, could be months or years or could be forever? Do I live a quiet, safe life that would be ideal for a baby or do I just live life the best I can and take whatever opportunities come?


Baby or no baby, living in India for 2 years could be an amazing adventure. If I end up pregnant next week, India would be a nice warm place to spend a couple of years being a new Mom....albeit without the great support network we have here. If I'm not pregnant, I can still pursue treatment, here or in India and be living an adventure that doesn't come around every day.

So much to think about.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Upside of Down

This week has been a sweet relief from the previous...oh, month. This week, I had great energy, my mood was generally light and positive, I've been busy at work, relaxed but effective at home and getting into the Christmas spirit too.

Boy does it ever feel good to find this upside after being down. Maybe that is one of the benefits of having down times. It makes you appreciate the good times that much more or at least makes you really aware of having the good time. Like, "Wow, I haven't felt like this in....can't remember how long! Criminey, better enjoy it while it lasts!"

Now, there are multiple factors that created this upside. My sweet, jet-lagged husband is home. YAY! My piano lessons are really challenging but really really good. Work is busy but things are starting to take a turn for the better. Pepper cat is doing better, not perfect but better. I finally got the insurance company straightened out and I'm getting reimbursed for a portion of the fertility drugs.

And speaking of fertility, we're mid-cycle of the current IUI treatment. That means action. And action always makes me feel better, even when it involves sticking needles in my stomach. (A girl's gotta do....)

And to top it all off! (Brace yourselves peeps) We're talking about what it would mean to move to India for a couple of years.

And there is nothing like contemplating throwing my whole life up in the air to give me a shot of adrenaline! Whoo hoo imagine the work we'd need to do to organize that. Imagine the adventure! Imagine the challenges, the stories, the life experience, the learning, the yoga potential, the fun of telling people, the possibility of adopting in India.

Oooh little brown-eyed babies! Of course, I have no clue what adopting would be like or even if it would be possible. But right now I'm in fantasy mode and on the upside and the world is my oyster and God will take care of the rest.

Woo hoo!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Perogie-Palooza

Christmas in our family didn't always mean lots of family gatherings. Living far away from most of our relatives meant our holiday time often included family friends rather than family.

However, that's not to say there weren't lots of traditions that we could count on each year, even if each year wasn't exactly the same. We always had a tree and a decorated house. We always had lots of 'special' desserts in the freezer. We always had a few items in the stocking that were the same each year. Wes always played Santa with the stocking stuffers. We always had company for Christmas Eve dinner and that dinner always, always, always included perogies....as did Christmas morning.

Now, I don't believe there is such a thing as a perogie unless it is made by one of my relatives. The stuff you can buy simply doesn't compare, you cannot call those things perogies. And although I know perogies can have different fillings, in my family the perogies is filled with potatoes, cottage cheese, butter and onions......and something extra special. Also, the dough is very very very tender.

I know I've assembled perogies before with my Mom but it's been a very long time. This year, when we spoke about it, we determined we'd do it together and for the first time ever, I was responsible for ingredient!

This is a huge step. Me, responsible for how these little pieces of heaven, these tasty harbingers of Christmas, these little Christmas miracles will taste! Gah! The pressure was almost too much and I wasn't even doing the hard part.

I was responsible for the filling, the potatoes. And in gaining that responsibility I became privy to the secret ingredient. Hold onto your hats people because I'm not afraid to share it: cream cheese!! Hello! Cream Cheese Potatoes! That's right, included in the potatoes with cottage cheese and butter and wrapped in dough. TRUST the Ukrainians to know how to maximize the fat and cheese content of any food. Unbelievable!

And I now understand why I never seemed to take enough lactose pills with Christmas eve dinner.

Regardless, I'm pleased to say, after sacrificing two onions, perogie-palooza 2010 was a success. I have 200 little beauties safely packaged in my freezer and after a little taste-testing, I can safely say they pass muster....even if they are a little under-salted. (Note to self for next year)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Skype, how I adore thee

Growing up my Dad often travelled for work. Although I could be totally wrong, I recall it usually being a couple of weeks a few times a year. But there were also a few years when there were big trips, when it was more like a month or two away from home.

When those trips happened we would get a call once a week and Mom would talk to Dad, catch him up on the goings on at home. If we were around, we'd be invited to say a few words, "hey Dad, things are good, school's the same, how long till you come home?" That was about it.

Today, my husband is on the other side of the world. We've only been married a few years and this is the longest we've been apart since the wedding day. Now, as I've said before, I'm a pretty independent person. After a week of him being gone, I'm pretty comfortable in the house by myself, I'm getting by just fine.

But oooh boy, it's been a long week getting to this point. I've had some really emotional days this week, days when I really wanted a partner to come home to....and thanks to skype, I could. Oh skype! To think a week ago I barely knew you. I couldn't have known how you would enable the brightest moments of this otherwise gloomy week. :)

A. is 13.5 hours ahead of me. When I get home from work, he's greeting the following morning, up for the day and ready to go for breakfast. We have a good hour to talk before he heads out.....and thanks to skype we can do that! For Free, people! Free! I get to hear his voice and see his face and expressions. He showed me his hotel room and the view from his window. And there is no time limit!

This boggles the mind when I think of what I grew up with during Dad's travels. How different would it have been if we'd sat down at the dinner table with a laptop and camera and still had dinner chats with Dad almost every day?

Amazing what technology allows. I'm incredibly grateful for it today.

S

Fine

"It'll be fine once it's over. If it's not fine, then it's not over."

Sometimes TV has good lines!

November is my month off.....from active treatment. Too bad it couldn't be a month off from infertility. Or a month off from winter blues. Or a month off from myself.

I'd like a self-vacation. Today I could have happily flushed my 'self' down a toilet and walked away, good riddance. How does one accomplish that? I mean without medication or substance abuse. Oh right, only with medication or substance abuse.

Yeah, I'm not there yet, unless cheesecake counts.

Good riddance Tuesday!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Coupled and Decoupled

I'm not cut out for a long distance relationship - quality time is decidedly my love language and yet I also consider myself a very independent woman. How does that fit? Being on my own has left me reflecting on coupledom and how we play our roles....and what shifts when suddenly I'm decoupled for a couple of weeks.

On the one hand, I get a kick out of being the only one to consider when making basic choices and taking up space. What, when and where to eat becomes an opportunity for a little indulgence and breaking the usual rules and routines. Sleeping in the middle of the bed, using all the bathroom counter space, both hand towels, and the entire towel rack is thoroughly enjoyable.

Plus, being alone somehow spurs me into doing tasks and chores that I generally avoid. Tasks that may fall into my partner's realm and doing them feels like an act of independence. I get my car fixed. I take the yard waste to the disposal place. I take out the garbage and do the vacuuming. I haul out the decorations, even the hammer and nails, and make changes in the house. I plan social activities without considering anyone else's needs or plans.

My time is my own and I do things on a whim. I am capable. I am competent. I can do whatever I want in the world, however I want to do it.

I am woman, hear me roar! Wooohooo!

Aaaand on the other hand.....

Having no one to tell all that stuff to, no one to plan with, consult with, do those tasks with, leaves me feeling lonely. There is a void where there used to be someone to bounce off of, talk to ... consider. When no one knows my plans, my activities, how my day went, I go to a place of thinking there is no one who cares either. The cat just doesn't notice that much.

Plus, this house is big. Too big for one person. I rattle around in here, feeling small even though I try to take up more space and make noise.

When it's dark and dreary all day, pitch black all evening and there is a roaring wind storm rattling the windows and throwing branches at the house making it sound like there is someone trying to get in....... well, it's an unpleasant experience alone. I have trouble falling asleep, listening to the unexpected noises and I hate the idea that the power could go out. With someone to share it with, the exact same evening would be a great time to snuggle in, comment at the power of the wind and feel safe and snug tucked inside together.

So, having this time alone has me feeling both lonely and empowered and very appreciative of my hubby. We caught each other online today and I rushed home from work, giddy at the chance to skype and have a real conversation.

The opportunity to miss someone can be a real gift. And oh, I miss him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Questions

There are questions in life that have no answers. Questions that confound the mind, prey on your insecurities, make you wonder if there is such a thing as "fair."

Case in point: HOW can a man pack everything he needs for a two week trip (business and casual) into a single carry on suit case? How? How?

I don't get it. It makes no sense.

I'm so irritated, it may take me two weeks to regain my equilibrium and actually be able to welcome him home again.

Kidding, Love. Kidding... you'll be welcomed home with open arms....I need you to rake the leaves, the pine needles did me in. Love you!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The things you worry about....and the things you don't

November is my month off, my sweet escape from the tumultuous rollercoaster of trying for a baby.

Knowing it would be a month without the demands of appointments at the clinic and hopefully without the usual emotional extremes, I scheduled some different things. One was my annual physical.

I had a couple of small ... I wouldn't even call them concerns, the were just items to mention and get reassurance on. My regular doctor wasn't in so I saw her replacement, which was fine, she was friendly, reassuring and direct. We did the usual full physical stuff.

Any changes? Any concerns?
What's with the heartburn lately = take a tums
Not really recovering my energy after my last period = we'll do some bloodwork...
Breast exam, all fine...
Pap, as is usual....
Stethescope deep breaths, sounds good...
Listen to the heart.....hmmm.....

"Has anyone ever told you you have a heart murmur?"

wtf?!? "No, no one has ever told me that before." I knew it, infertility is literally heart breaking.

"No problem, it's probably nothing but whenever someone develops a murmur as an adult we want to take a closer look."

So! The plan is to go in for an EKG just to check things out.... get a closer look and listen. Probably won't happen any time soon as it's certainly not an emergency. But this has thrown me for a bit of a loop... has made me think about worry.

I worried about not being able to have children. It's a real concern and I even had anxiety around it prior to trying for children because it was so important to me. Worrying about it didn't keep me from experiencing infertility. "Did it assist in causing it?"my horrible, self-hating voice asks. It's a worthless, self-defeating question.

I've never worried about my heart .... but that didn't keep me from developing a little 'something.' I'm not worried now but that's not going to stop whatever happens from happening. However, it may make life easier to enjoy if I'm not anxious over it while waiting for the test.

In the meantime....Um Lord, not sure if you got the memo: This is my month off, Lord, my month off!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

In Other's Words

Sometimes I think I'm writing the exact same thing over and over again. Disappointment.... Pain... Hope.... Learning.... Choices.....

I don't edit what I write. I generally post as soon as I think I've said what I want to say that day. I don't think ahead about what I am going to write. And I don't particularly think about an overall message or goal or how I'm coming across to my 'audience.' I feel pretty safe in spite of this because, hey, I've only told a handful of people I trust about this blog. As far as I know only close friends and family read this and I believe they know me well enough to see the bigger picture of me within the writing.

I myself read a lot of blogs and over the past two years I've found a lot of comfort in reading the stories and experiences of others who have struggled with infertility and written very eloquently about the same feelings I struggle with. Some of the best posts I've read were advice for the infertile, stories about personal journeys and choices, and about educating those around you so that you don't feel so alone in your experience and infertility etiquette. I don't think I've done much educating yet or even given a very full picture of my own experience, even with the blog. So I want to link to these amazing women (all now mothers - ah sweet hope!) to help share the bigger picture of this experience.

Thanks for reading!

Love,
S

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Really negative

Home PG test on Friday was negative. Overall, it's a good night to have a total meltdown... doesn't matter how swollen your eyes are the next day. The Monday blood test was negative too, got the results today. After all the crying and gnashing of teeth on the weekend and Monday, today I just feel low.

It's a harsh reality that this process just gets more painful instead of less. Luckily the plan calls for me to be on the pill this next month to give my ovaries a total rest for a month. That means I get a break for a month, my first in 2 years.....no reason to hope, no reason to be disappointed. Bring on the wine and cheesecake.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

More to Life

At the end of August I embarked on a bid to make my life bigger, richer, fuller. A bid to stop working so hard and do things just for fun, things that interest me. I started a number of activities and they have been paying off.

Piano:
I took 12 years of lessons from ages 6 - 18 but I had really lost much of my ability to play my old music and learning new stuff was painful so I never did. After a ... uuum, crumb!... a 15 year hiatus from lessons, I started taking a play-by-ear group piano lesson. The instructor, Linda Gould, is awesome, a true pro who actually wrote the book we're using.

My brain is working in ways I forgot it could. It's expanding my understanding of music and all my old songs. It's making sense of sounds and chords that were always a big unknown in the past. I'm learning about voicing chords and broken bass lines, stepping up chords and sevenths, root chords and the circle of fifths. It's completely new to me and totally fascinating...and totally frustrating at times.

I'm plugging my way through Ode to Joy, working hard at simple songs like Scarborough Fair and actually suffering over Entertainer, which completely defeated me last night. I've learned I have terrible, terrible rhythm. Terrible. I've learned that practise does yield real results. I've learned that muscle memory is way better than brain memory. I've picked up my old music and been able to play it better than I have in, oh, a decade at least.

I'm loving it!

Nutrition:
It's a lifestyle, not a diet. :) We met with a nutritionist about a month ago. I partly wanted to confirm that I eat okay, but I also wanted to understand something about simple carbs and inflammation. We got some excellent advice and I've made some small but really significant changes to how I eat.

For one, when I'm going to eat something with added sugar or white pasta or bread (simple carbs) I now pair it with protein and fat or high fibre, which help even out the insulin spike which contributes to inflammation in the body.

Secondly, I eat snacks in between meals and try to have those snacks consist of two food groups while meals consist of three. My desk at work is fully stocked with nuts, granola bars, muffins, high fibre crackers, and fruit.

Third, more food from home and less restaurant fare for lunches. I swear I'm ingesting more calories, I'm less hungry and I'm losing weight, which was not the goal but it's a nice side benefit of being healthier. Crazy!

I feel good. I feel happy more often these days than I did in August.

Yoga:
The instructor is quite awful but the workout is great. It leaves me feeling healthier at the start of each week. It's a core workout, which is something I've often avoided but desperately need for my posture. The class is only once a week but it's a start to being stronger. And being strong makes me happy.

Winter isn't looking nearly as intimidating as it sometimes does.

Happy Fall Everyone!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Head case

Feeling positive

Like, really positive

In fact I'm sure I am.

That said, I've felt sure at least....oh 15 times before.... but this time...

No really

I think I am

Really, I'm sure!

Caveat: Andrew has heard this at least 150 times over the past 2 years.
Excellent Husband Award awarded Sept 23: Upon hearing this for the 151st time he immediately responded with an enthusiastic, over-the-top "that's awesome!" And then we laughed and laughed.

And life is about so much more than this rollercoaster. Soon, very soon, I'll post something real about real life.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Best Layed Plans

So.... there was a plan...and that plan wasn't going to work. Blah blah blah timing...blah blah blah travel.... blah blah blah not willing to wait another three months. Too long to be without hope or action.

Long story short, we jumped right into IUI (insemination) and the first step was an ultrasound to see where my follicles were at on day 2 of my cycle. Bad news: the largest were far too advanced, meaning they would most likely be completely unviable by they time I ovulated. This is not good, or to quote the specialist, "really not good."

However, the Dr was willing to try one cycle of IUI before we looked at other options. With some hormones, we hope more follicles will develop at a more normal rate and will be better quality when I ovulate. So last Thursday I took a really deep breathe and steadied my nerves and forced myself not to puke as I plunged a little needle into my stomach to deliver the first dose of medication. I'm rather proud of myself for that.

Skip forward 1 week and two more ultrasounds and the news does not improve. My ovaries are not developing the follicles the way the Dr would want them too with the hormones. It's not looking good. Regardless, we will do the IUI this cycle just to try. And we will hope and we will pray.

But honestly, right now this seems like a science experiment and I am not hopeful. I am sad. I am so sad.

That said I am still interested in the next step and I want to know some numbers, some likely hood, that we'll ever have our own children. The next step the Dr wants to try is to give me medication that will put my ovaries to sleep. Then he'll give me some other medication that will slowly wake them back up....hopefully in that process they'll develop the follicles more slowly. More science experiments.

So why am I willing to do all this if I'm not hopeful that it will work? Perhaps I do have a little hope. Perhaps this feeling of hopelessness is just a protective shell I'm trying to build up to ward off the inevitable pain and disappointment of another failed cycle. However, the more likely reason is that I need to know that we tried.

It's such a precious dream to have to give up that I can't do it without a fight. I think I need to let it go slowly, in stages and hope that by the time I cannot continue fighting, we'll be closer to another parenthood option .... through adoption. So we will continue and I will practise trusting God; trusting him with my fear and my heartache, trusting that he has a plan, trusting that someday we'll be a family even though it won't happen the way I dreamed it would.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Girl with a Plan

I like having a plan, a framework, a structure to work in or live my life in. I have to work to mix things up and be spontaneous.....well, either work at it or be in a really good mood. This past month has given me both.

My inexplicable good mood since returning from vacation has been nothing short of a blessing. It hasn't been due to good weather because there hasn't been much of it. It hasn't been due to good news because there hasn't been much of that either. But it may be a combination of blessings and jumping into new activities and sketching out a plan for the winter.

We had an appointment with the specialist shortly after we got home. He basically said he can find no reason why we aren't getting pregnant....it may be a little of this....it may be a little of that....but none of the things found are significant enough to explain infertility. That leaves him quite hopeful for us in the long term but also has him estimating that we have about a 5% chance each month.

So he set out some options: 1. antibiotics to clear up some inflammation, and an adjusted diet to reduce future inflammation 2. a fertility drug on it's own that may increase our odds by a couple %, 3. intra-uterine insemination, which would bring us to about 15% chance and 4. IVF, which would bring the odds to about 50%. It's entirely up to us.

And we've chosen. This week: a simple antibiotic. Next cycle: we'll start with insemination and the doctors recommend up to 3 rounds of that before we move on to IVF. Whatever happens, within the next year, we'll have tried what there is to try. And I'm ready to try. I'm ready to Do Something and am happy to make whatever lifestyle changes may help me through all of it. Bring on the yoga, snacks, reduced simple carbs, minimal dairy.

I'm trying not to think too much about pumping drugs into an almost perfectly healthy body. Instead I'm trying to focus on the goal of a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby. That's the reason for it all. If, in the end, we do not have a baby, at least I will know we did all we could. Plus, with IVF we'd likely gain more information about the quality of my eggs, which they can't really test for.

All this when so many people can simply drink a bottle of wine on a beach and presto....

I'm also trying not to ask 'why?' quite so much. Apparently there is no answer.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Big Impression for a Shortie

Apparently I leave big impressions. I have proof.

The first time this occurred was when I was back home visiting after I'd moved away. I'd been gone a year and had not changed anything substantially about myself in that time. However, upon my return, people kept asking, 'How did you lose ALL that weight?" They were genuine! They were flabberghasted! They were impressed and wanted the details! Or, in the case of my mother, concerned.

Now this would be very flattering had I once possessed a lot of weight and done some amazing work to lose it. But that was not the case. And although I denied it, for some reason people refused to believe me. That's where this becomes a pet peeve.

I am a very truthful person. I detest lying, subterfuge, even negotiation and sales tactics as they so often involve half truths and partial disclosure throughout the process. And I'm incredibly honest about myself and my life with people close to me. I would never lie about something like dramatically losing a lot of weight. Luckily, I've been blessed with a very consistent metabolism and my weight only fluctuates about 5lb over the years. (One single exception being when my first marriage fell apart and I lost about 15 lbs and gained it back over the following year.)

Now I would have shrugged this off and kept it as an odd, slightly flattering memory but over the years it recurrs and recurrs. Today was one of those special days.

I ran into a girl in the hall at work who has just returned from maternity leave. I said a friendly and enthusiastic, "Hi, how are you? Are you happy to be back?"

She quickly answered and then said "You look so different!"

I thought for a second, "Oh yes, the hair is streaked and shorter!"

"No," she said, "you're so small. How did you lose all that?"

"Oh, no," I said knowing what was about to happen,"I'm the same as I always am."

"No, you're not" she insisted giving me another sweeping look.

By now I know it's futile and I should just lie and say I lost 20 pounds and say thanks for noticing. But I can't! I haven't! I AM exactly the same as I always am!

"You're not alone," I say, "this often happens when I haven't seen someone in a while. People remember me bigger for some reason." My smile is slightly strained, I want to move on, drop the topic.

"Really?!?," she asks, giving me a slightly hurt, I-don't-believe-a-word-of-it, why-are-you-lying look.

"Really," I say, "I'm the same, no change."

"Oh, well..." awkward pause.

"Anyway, glad to have you back," I say and we part ways.

And she is not alone, over the years this has happened with my mother, my sister, old friends, new friends who I haven't seen in a few months, colleagues, and even the ex-husband! That was a good day... that was satisfying....until he refused to believe me. Until he insisted, "You were never in all the time we were together, (9 years) ever, even close to that skinny." And when I said rather irritatedly "I own a scale." He said 'Then it's broken."

The truth is at the end of our marriage, when things hit the fan and I was a total wreck, I was almost 20 lbs less than at the time this conversation occurred.

I believe it is a general rule in 'polite' society: Don't comment on other people's weight. And if you slip and you do, thinking it will be a compliment, let it go immediately. Just say they look good and move on. Don't persist, it becomes insulting.

I don't want to think that people remember me as being fat. That's totally depressing.

So instead I try to believe that I leave such a big impression that people actually remember me larger than I am in actual life. And since people generally don't lose inches off their height, they end up thinking I've lost inches off my a.... other areas.

We make our own reality right?

In other news, I don't know what has come over me or what has transpired to make me so happy but I have been in a good mood for over two weeks! Whoo hoo. Even cloudy cool days weren't bringing my energy down or dampening my spirit. And so I blame happiness for my blogging absence.

Will do better. Lots to write about!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rolling Home

Oregon was fabulous! We did all the things we were going to do and even threw in a few changes. We'll definitely be back to see the things we missed the first time around. Hiking and horseback riding and dune-buggy riding and beautiful scenery made the trip fantastic. Wine country and Portland shopping didn't hurt either. Plus the weather was with us every step of the way....except for two very cold nights in Crater Lake.

I came home relaxed and happy to be in my own bed.....or at least my own home. We were happy to see our bed but our bed was not happy to see us.

The first night home, as Andrew characteristically flopped himself down onto his pillow, the bed collapsed. The side board actually split in half. Somehow the screws that hold the board were not entirely screwed in and well...

You know you've been 'trying' for too long when your hardware starts to give out. Last week I would have sworn that my sanity would go first but apparently I am more resilient than the bed....or perhaps I just have better support. :P

Regardless, the bed will get fixed and I will go on with my mission for a full life. I'm going to sign up for piano lessons tomorrow and I really look forward to it. It's not an answer to life fulfillment but I think it's a step in the right direction.

I want to be loud. I want to be fun. I want to expend all this energy in some way that reflects a part of me. Writing does that to some extent but it's a very quiet activity. I do a lot of quiet activities. I'm ready to make some noise.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

A break

It's time for a vacation and it starts tomorrow. I'm relieved and grateful and feeling much, much better than I was last week. The saving grace of the horrible cycle is that there is a reprieve (almost) every month.

The vacation will include camping and hiking, beaches and sand, forests and mountain lakes, horseback and dunebuggy riding, wine and driving, driving, driving. Just us two. It will be good.

And after the vacation, I will be picking life back up but trying to instill a little more fun in it.

This reproductive stuff has been work. I've been working at my job 8 hours a day and then spending a great deal of my home time working on learning and growing and dealing and suffering and struggling and hoping and planning and trying, trying, trying for a baby. It's time to bring some more balance into things. It's time to paint and take fun exercise classes and try things I haven't tried before.....maybe a cooking class, or a how-to-play-by-ear piano lesson.

It's time to fill up my life instead of making room for something that isn't coming ....yet. I've made so much room in my life for a child that I feel hollow with missing it.

So, here is to the pursuit of a full, rich, interesting, vibrant life!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Life Lessons

They never stop I guess but sometimes I wish there wasn't quite so much 'opportunity' to learn.
Big lesson this week is actually rather ancient: Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. (A buddhist lesson no less, brought to me by a councellor.)

When I agonize and rage over the unfairness of this infertility shit, or torture myself over how I deserve or don't deserve children or what I need to do/need to stop doing in order live a life that is consistent with my values, that is suffering. That is my choice and it is optional.

When I feel gut wrenching pain over someone else being pregnant, or breath-taking sadness or this soul deep depression and bleek hopelessness, that is inevitable. That is just life, people! I can choose to feel it and make room for it and then make room for all the other good stuff too....which will hopefully lead to healing over time. Or I can fight it, or pretend it doesn't exist, or rage against it, or focus on everything else (only the good) until I exhaust myself with the avoidance of it......ie choose the suffering.

I have this idea that this was a choice we all got to make before coming to this earth to live these lives. God warned us "I never said it would be easy. I only said it would be worth it." And somehow we all chose, in spite of the hardship that is inevitable, to come here and live these lives. Now I face the same dilemma in life. Is the pain (inevitable pain) worth the pursuit of a life that is consistent with my values (being a parent)? .....when there is absolutely no guarantee that it will actually lead to a life with children? but perhaps that it will lead to a worthwhile life?

I don't know. In these times of real sadness and pain, the answer is a very real 'no.' No, it's not worth it if there are no guarantees.

So I hold fast to the hope that it is guaranteed. I strongly believe it is promised as long as I am open to whatever way it is meant to happen - IVF, donor eggs, adoption, whatever. I hold on so tight and it's exhausting.

A lot of tears this week. A lot of tears.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Investigation ...complete!

Sunday prior to surgery:

I'm a day and a half away from my surgery. I'm feeling pretty accepting at this point but I spent much of the past week and a half feeling pretty anxious and negative about everything.


My biggest fear is that they'll find something they don't expect and it'll be bad news. Bad news at a time when I'm not really 'with it,' all hopped up on painkillers and groggy from the anesthetic. However, realistically I'm going to have questions written down and the hubby beside me so I should have all the information and the support I need.


1 week post-surgery:

I don't know why but I wasn't able to write anything prior to today except for those two short paragraphs above that I couldn't publish. I felt a huge resistance, even to write in my own journal. Maybe it was all the unknowns.

Now I know.

I'm perfect.

.... on the inside. :P Those actually were the doctors words, "everything looks perfect." I was sent home with instructions to get pregnant prior to our followup in September when we'll start discussions about eggs. Thanks doc, we'll see what we can do.

I'm grateful to know that I'm healthy. I'm grateful to have faced all the ugly fears around surgery and to have come out OK on the other side. I'm grateful for my husband who thanked me for 'taking one for the team.' I'm grateful that, aside from the first day of the surgery, which was pretty miserable, the recovery has been quick and without any major pain. OK, the first 2 days weren't great, very bloated/stretched, very sore throat from being intubated, afraid of the pain. But by the 4th day I made a huge turn around and felt much more myself....and my waist slowly came back, thank goodness.

So, now we enjoy summer and let the poor, abused belly-button heal....that's the price you pay for no scars with laparoscopic surgery. Lots of sun and relaxation, maybe a little vacation down the Oregon coast.

Here's to a classic DINK summer! May it be our last.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Birthday wishes

For my birthday this year I asked for a few things but one was particularly dear to me.

We have a lot of projects to do around the house and it is not easy to pick which ones come first. But without a doubt linen closet shelves were always going to be on the bottom of the list because it affects no one and no one sees the inside of a closet....except me. Since we moved in I have been digging and piling and stuffing our towels and sheets into a closet with one sagging wire shelf and a few plastic baskets. This situation made me sad and grumbly every time I had to get or put away linens which was about twice a week.

Doing the math, approx 100 weeks x 2 grumbles per week + unknown number of years of weekly grumbles ahead due to low priority of shelves = one perfect birthday wish.

It really was quite a lot of work but after 3 or so weeks, my fabulous husband has finished the shelves. I now have an unknown number of years ahead with twice weekly smiles. This is a fabulous birthday gift for 33 year old me.

I am trying to beat back thoughts like "who knew I would be this boring at such a young age" and replace them with something slightly kinder like "how lucky is Andrew to have a wife who can be so easily pleased." It's not really working but that doesn't lessen my enjoyment of the closet.

Pictures below.

Before and After: Closet

Prior to the shelves, I had my linens and towels in these sad baskets stacked in the closet.
Shelves already looking better than I thought. The spacing was important to me.

Pepper approved of the entire project.
The great dream-closet builder himself. :) Note the half shelf at the top. It's by design.

And here are my linens, happily shelved and organized at last. I am so pleased.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Real summer

Summer arrived in earnest this week and I loved it. Normally when the heat climbs into the high 20s I don't like it. But this past week has been exactly what I needed. It feels like something has thawed inside me.

My mood has also been fantastic all week. Now this may be equally due to the point in my cycle. However, I give a lot of credit to the bright sun and the heat.

Right now I'm not thinking too much about the surgery in...wow, 2 weeks...no, I'm not spending time thinking or worrying over it. However it does sit in the back of my mind and I still hold out a faint hope that this month will be the month and I'll get a reprieve. Unlikely as that is, God can always work miracles. :)

Anyway prior to the surgery I want to enjoy summer as much as possible. With that in mind, yesterday I bought a bike! A real bike, not the $89 specials at Canadian Tire. And today we went on our first ride around town. I loved it. Next weekend we'll ride out to Thetis lake to laze around or go for a walk, depending on the heat.

We'll likely be sticking close to home though because we signed up for lawn slavery on Friday. The husband layed sod! YAY! and now we're watering our butts off in an attempt to keep it alive.
I'm posting the pictures separately because I couldn't make them appear below the text. :(

Before and After: Lawn







The before pictures remind me of the Grapes of Wrath, which is what I thought every time I stepped outside the door to the heat and dirt. Now the challenge is balancing the watering properly. I hope it still looks good in 2 weeks.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

DINK Weekend

There are many things that I look forward to about motherhood. There are also a lot of things to love about my life today. So I'm going to blog a bit about what I appreciate about today because it helps to focus on the good.

We took a 4 day weekend this week. We stayed home and had the perfect DINK (double income no kids) weekend. It was fab-u-lous!

Thursday I had a long, dress-up-in-a-skirt-and-do-it-right lunch out with a girlfriend. Since that was 4 days ago I only vaguely remember how A and I spent the rest of the day but some of it involved napping and a BBQ dinner and a late movie in the theatre instead of braving the crowds at the Canada day celebration. It was casual, it was relaxing, it was entirely indulgent.

Friday was epic. We slept till 11! Try doing that with kids! Ha, not on your life! Then we took off to home depot and picked up a rototiller and spent the next 5 hours breaking our backs out in the yard. The yard across the whole front of the house is now a dust wasteland. It makes me think of the great depression. We ate lunch at 4:30 when we were nearly falling over from hunger and so filthy we had to take our clothes off in the front entry way so we wouldn't cake the inside of the house in dirt the way we did the outside. It was awesome! We followed that with a bit more dirty work, a survey of the progress and then came inside to clean up.

After we washed the dirt off and out, we got dressed up and headed out for dinner at a pub. Not the local pub. Not even close to home. We headed to Fairfield because it's a cool little neighbourhood and it was a sunny lovely evening and we had no reason not to. And on the way home....yep, we picked up a movie! A lovely night on the couch with no interruptions.

Saturday was more work outside, a quick tidy inside and then I took off for a massage, and then a 2.5 hour hair appointment and came home to have a BBQ dinner with friends and a night of games. Today was church and then an afternoon of shopping including a fantastic lunch out...we got home at 4 and had a nap. Life is good people!

None of this would have happened if we had children. Well, I mean, some of it could have but there would have been 10,000 more steps and things to remember and I likely would have ended up feeling totally fried at the end instead of feeling like I just finished a mini-vacation.

We have to live in the now. It's all we really have. So I might as well drink in all the good there is about being DINKS. Today I am appreciating the following:
- We make our own schedule at our own whims and we can indulge in whatever we choose, whenever we choose it.
- We generally live in peace and quiet.
- We do not have to consider anyone but ourselves when we make plans or change plans or choose to go without a plan.
- When we get down to work on a project we make serious headway! And the results are incredibly rewarding. (Pictures soon)
- I do not have to have a fridge full of food and it is never a disaster when we run out of something. I can eat wherever, whenever, whatever I choose.
- It only takes a concerted 20 minutes of effort to clean up the house to casual friends standards.
- As far as logistics go, life does not get much easier.

Today I am very grateful!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Perfectionism attack

I often think of myself as a recovering perfectionist. However, I often stumble and lose the recovering part.

Approximately 70% of the time I'm quite kind to myself. I believe I eat well, am relatively fit, and run my life in a relatively conservative fashion with a good balance between work, friends and home (reading/cat time, house/garden time and husband time). I'm quite happy in spite of my worries and emotional roller coaster rides. And I feel secure in my world.

However! I also experience times of anxiety when my evil perfectionist twin attacks. Suddenly exceeding my monthly parking budget means I'm financially irresponsible and I feel ashamed to have to pay the extra 10-20$ parking costs for the month. The monthly slice of cheesecake and my lunches out are suddenly the leading cause of infertility and endometriosis. My inability to decide on my investments or to decide whether I'm going to d0 my PMP this year is a clear indicator of my inevitable failure to succeed and I'm sure I'll be miserable and destitute someday due to my lack of planning and having wasted all my opportunities when I had them. My cat having a muscle spasm means I'll have to put her down and I've been a horrible terrible owner to the poor creature.

This kind of thinking/anxiety/perfectionism gets me nowhere, except perhaps closer to the next slice of cheesecake. (Thank God for a forgiving metabolism!) It's a familiar pit and I know that it's a pit I can get out of eventually. But boy I wish I could avoid it altogether. I've fallen into it a few times this past week and I'm feeling pissy over it.

However, one good thing to come of it is that I've identified a trigger: change!

Changes I hope to make: more nuts, less meat in my diet, more heat, fewer painkillers to deal with PMS pains, more meditative time, less TV and books in the evenings.

You wouldn't think these few things would have me attacking myself but they do. They do because they may have some affect on something that means a great deal to me - fertility. So I'm hypersensitive about it and I revert to all or nothing thinking. Example: if I don't have the perfect diet, how can I expect to have children. Logically, I know this is insane, but emotionally those thoughts actually hit a very sensitive target.

What I want is to be able to initiate new things, make changes in my life and try different approaches without attacking myself.

Awareness is step 1. Acknowledgement is step 2.

I'm slowly making progress.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Only way out

A and I have a saying, "The only way out is through." I don't know where he/I read or heard it but it comes in very handy and it's true for so many circumstances in life. This is one.

I've spent the past 2 weeks processing the need for surgery, the concern about eggs, my own fears around all of that. I'm still processing but it's getting a little easier. The first week felt like crisis. The second week was about preparation and action.

I've got a fistful of referrals from my Doctor - phycologist, accupuncture, massage, nutritionist. I'm going to get through this as 'healthily' as I possibly can. (Is healthily a word?) I actually already had my first accupuncture appointment and it was amazing. I had some strong reactions. This week I've got massage and accupuncture and I'll start making some calls to psychologists to see if I can find one that 'fits.'

I also found out my surgery date - end of July, day before my birthday and smack in the middle of our planned vacation. I'm surprized, relieved, grateful and disappointed at this. (Nothing is simple these days. :)) Except, now that I know the date, everything else can fall into place around it. I'm giving myself permission to do whatever I think may help me be happier and feel better until the surgery date.....and maybe after too. Not a bad way to approach life in general really. Why does it take extreme circumstances to make me care so much for myself? Ah, so many lessons to learn in life.

Monday, June 7, 2010

That's not Nothin!

I don't know if I mentioned it before but part of the crazy of the whole infertility cycle often has people hoping for something to be wrong. As in "please let this be something that can be defined, and fixed so we can move on from this."

I didn't know what to hope for from my visit with the specialist today. I didn't think it would be anything more than a consult; a get-to-know-you, go over all the details, ask all the silly questions about the things I've been trying and not trying and thinking of trying to make things happen.

It was not like that.

It was probably a total of 15 minutes.....it was very fast, lots of information, lots of questions, three different 'exams' and then.....not nothin. I'm left reeling and thank God my great husband was there so I can tell him what I remember and see if it jives with what he remembers. So as I freak out, he can reel me back in.....see he's got a better perspective than me, which may be easier since he's got the super-sperm that leaves all the doctors going, 'whoaho boy, no issues there!' Which is great, it's something to be very grateful for. However....

The great specialist looked at all my details and said, "high chance of endometriosis." This means surgery to determine the extent, which will mean about a week off of work! It's real surgery. It also means there are some treatments but no cure and I don't know yet whether the extent of it will mean infertility long term or not. That's not all though.

I also don't have as many eggs as what he'd expect to see in someone my age....that, along with the shorter cycles and the maturity of the eggs so early in my cycle is reason for concern. It means we want to move quickly. It means he'll likely be recommending assistance down the road. We don't have time to play around with here.

I'm shell-shocked.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Cycling Core Work

I'm starting to wonder if I'm becoming an expert cycler or if God is working a miracle. No this is not a post about exercise.....or maybe it is.

I was hopeful this month. Really, really hopeful, practically certain! And in my experience, generally the higher the high, the harder the fall. As I started to see the first signs that this month was not yet the month, I began to feel the now familiar despair descend. My chest felt heavy and tight, tears were close to the surface. I was away from home, at a women's retreat with a focus on God and Hope, I really didn't want to be miserable. As we were singing that night and I was on the verge of losing it I thought, "I don't want to be crying all weekend, I don't want to be sad." And suddenly the thought that followed was, "I don' t have to" and the feeling that was just about to swamp me lifted away. It hasn't returned.

Now I don't know that it won't return but I'm glad to be free of it for now and I do thank God. I had a fantastic weekend with lots of laughs and lots of prayer and for that I'm grateful. The specialist appointment is right around the corner and I'm very hopeful that help is on it's way.

If I could choose (and maybe I can to some degree) I'd prefer to never face the depths of the down cycle again. It's such a place of anguish, hopelessness and utter grief and it's so hard to pull myself out, gain any perspective or even express what it's like when I'm experiencing it. Yet ironically, often if I let myself just spend time in that place and feel the very worst of those feelings, I end up descending to the bottom and I find it to be a place that is ...unyielding. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say I find a part of myself that is unyielding.

When I bend so far I feel like I'm breaking, I find a part of me that will not give in, will not be silenced and is prepared to fight. It's almost like when I can bend enough to accept where I am, I also find unlimited strength to keep going or look for a new direction. I think that's the part of me that loves the word roar. It's a piece that says, "Fine, this might be the way it is right now but this is not the way it will be." And I'm suddenly ready/eager to move on to whatever the next step is, to pick myself up and not spend another second at the bottom. It's not just tenacity, which serves me so well at work. It's more like a core of me that knows grief and knows there is another side to it.

I've experienced grief and crisis before and I know time helps and healing happens. I know there are better times ahead and frankly, I'd rather be there already! But having the ....opportunity? to experience the deepest lows and find that core of myself that is indomitable, well that's a gift too.

It sure would be nice to be able to find that core without having to descend into the depths.


Maybe that's what's happening this month... I've found my core closer to the surface.


Thank God.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Certainty

This has been a fantastic long weekend: concert on Friday, shopping and family visiting on Saturday, church and garden work on Sunday and mostly reading and basking in the sun on Monday.
It's the perfect weekend to go along with the tra la la phase. :) All is good and right in the world and I'm certain that everything is going to work out just perfectly.....and likely this month will be THE month. Sometimes it helps to admit just how much I think that this truely is the month. I shared this with A last night and felt good about it, felt more grounded.
I know it may sound healthy to be so optimistic and hopeful and maybe it is. The unfortunate thing is that I've been incredibly sure before... and then been totally, utterly, compeltely wrong. That's the deal with these phases, they repeat and repeat and repeat. It's hard not to take my 23 cycles and 'learn' something about cynicism.
However, the tra la la phase dangles a lovely hope that the past is the past and has absolutely no bearing on the future. And all my reading this weekend helps that too...luckily it also gives me a foundation to hold on to as the other phases come. It's a book called So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore and she's fantastic. :)
Whether the months ahead lead to pregnancy or other paths, I do have some certainties to hold on to:
- God has a plan for me/us and it is good.
- The path may not be easy but it will be worth it.
- Whatever the future, I will grow, learn and move forward.
- I have great people in my life who love me and whom I love. I am grateful for them.

S

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tra la la phase

I said before that one of the tough parts and also one of the saving graces of this whole fertility thing for me is that it is so incredibly, terribly cyclical. Inevitably each month there is a period of sadness, followed by acceptance, followed by some version of hope, happiness and peace, often with a good dose of skepticism thrown in, followed by terrible sadness.


But there is so much more going on and it's impossible to sum up in just a few words. So I'm going to try a series on the many faces/phases of the cycle. And I'm going to start with the hope and peace stuff, the tra la la part, which happens to be where I am right now.


There are a few tra la la days for me almost every month. It's the honeymoon period. :) It's the point of 'trying' and waiting and hoping. Oh, it's a sweet time. A time when I'm able to look at things with a fairly clear eye, the grief of the previous week(s) is fading and I feel normal, normally happy.


During this time I'm able to talk about the other days more easily, without crying. I'm able to think clearly. I'm able to hope and day dream and also think more critically about where this journey may take us.


I think a lot about the idea that God may be leading us towards adoption. I believe there must be a reason for this wait. We must be learning something, gaining something that will serve us, that we'll need in the future...in my future as a mother.


I often also get into a very hopeful thinking pattern of, "maybe there is nothing at all wrong! Maybe it's just taking time and the past 22 cycles haven't been the perfect time. But this month, oh, this month may be different! And even if it's not, I'm doing okay. I have so much to be grateful for, I'm sure we'll get there and it'll be great. Maybe I'll be late month and then I'll pee on the stick and then burst into happy tears! Maybe I'll get to tell A and oooh how would I tell him..." Thus begins tangental day dream of how I'd tell Andrew that we're expecting. I think I've imagined about 10 different ways. All very emotional and happy and romantic.


These are sweet days....even though I know the trip down from here is rough, I enjoy these days. See I only have today, I only have right now, the moment. Should I not enjoy it because the moments to come may not be as good? Should I ignore it in anticipation of what's next, or what's better? Should I overrule it in judgement of the likelyhood it lasts?


Or should I sit back and enjoy, appreciating the feelings that are right now, revelling in the good and knowing that 'now' is all I have and all I ever will and this too shall pass away?


I'll revel in the good while it lasts and be grateful for all I have.

S

Dye test

Well, that was interesting!

My hospital experience was actually great. I had a fantastic nurse who was so friendly and gave me all the information I could want when answering my questions. They did a great job of describing everything that would happen and the whole thing was really fast! Surprisingly quick! There was definitely cramping, and there still is but I did take an advil ahead of time so it's not bad.

The pictures clearly showed the dye spilling into my body cavity. Which is great! Wierd sounding but great. It means my tubes are clear and that's fantastic.

Strangely I didn't expect there to be any issues. Even so, it was nice to see the images. Gosh the inside of a uterus is tiny.... really tiny.

So that's the update! More about the fertility journey to come.

S

Monday, May 17, 2010

Out of the closet

Will I? Should I? Why? Why not? Who wants to know? Who do I want to know?


I've gone back and forth debating on whether to write about this or not.....my/our fertility journey. I feel very vulnerable around it and that makes me want to stay quiet. However, I also feel angry and frustrated and often so alone that being private about it doesn't work very well either. I'm also tired of this ridiculous sense of shame that is completely illogical and yet very real.

So instead of staying quiet, I'm going to write it out and hopefully connect with others and keep my close family updated on what's happening. Because soon things will start happening. After 1 year and 9 months, 23 cycles, we finally have appointments with doctors. Doctors who can hopefully help or at least investigate.

When we started down this path, we had been married for 6 months. I knew that it could take a while to get pregnant and was prepared to be patient. So for the first few months I was hopeful and just mildly disappointed when things didn't work out each month. I tried to stay focussed on other things, work, planning and going on our honeymoon...good stuff.

After about 6 months, I wanted to make sure we were doing things 'right.' I bought a great book on the advice of a friend and I started charting and temperature taking. This made me feel good. It gave me real data to work with, and I had the comfort of knowing we were doing things 'right' at the right time and I could watch my cycle like clockwork go up (yay ovulation!) and then back down (bummer menstruation). However, as each month passed I also felt a little more afraid that maybe there was something wrong.

At about the 10 month stage I had to have a good talk with God about the fear. I wasn't enjoying walking around with this bag of anxiety on my shoulder. I spent a lot of time praying, journalling, talking to A. I worked through a lot of the initial fear. However, by the 1 year mark, I was ready to ask for medical assistance. My doctor gave me a referral....oh the great hope of medical assistance!


I was finally going to get some help and it was just around the ... what the F*@#*&!! NINE months away?!?! Nine freakin months?!! I got angry. I got really angry and had the great opportunity to go to an anger course with A just a few weeks later. It was perfect timing and gave us some great skills for shifting energy and being loud in a safe comfortable way. In getting angry I was also able to let go a bit. Let go of some of the energy, "let go and let God" and move forward.

We made some changes at that point. We stopped 'trying,' stopped temperature taking. I did just the most basic of data collecting and we took it easy....focussed on Christmas, focused on being healthy and going skiing and even doing early gardening in January. It felt good to let go of the trying and relax. However it wasn't possible to let go of the hope each month. And it wasn't possible to let go of the disappointment and my growing scepticism, along with a deep sense of grief.


I know grief, I've had some experience with it. It's something that I have learned to live with and live through and I know it gets easier over time. There have been a few months where that grief was overwhelming and yet the beauty and the pain of infertility is that it is so cyclical. Inevitably there is a time each month when I'm dedicated to trying and doing my best, a time when I'm hopeful (the tra la la phase) and a time when I'm grieving. The grief is not for the month though, it's a big grief, an encompassing grief and I know I'm going to write a lot more about it because it is a loss that is so hard to define.


Right now, however, this post is long enough. I'm out of the closet! Yes, we are trying (and trying and trying) for a baby. And I'm looking forward to Wednesday, which is the first doctor's appointment. My first foray into the world of medical assistance/investigation will be my HSG test (the dye test) and I'm both nervous and excited to finally have something new to look forward to. I'm also incredibly grateful that I'll have A by my side, that I'm not really alone in any of this.


S

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Down Days Steps 4 and 5

Other than forcing the clouds to part and let through that brilliant beautiful sunlight...an art I haven't perfected yet...my options in dealing with SAD are unlimited. However, I think consistency is pretty important in my life. So I tried to stick with a few simple rules this winter to survive.

I faltered with steps 4 and 5 but they did make an impact so when I found I was falling down a bit I'd push myself to improve using these two.

Step 4: Sleep
My ideal amount of sleep seems to be 8.5 hours. That's a lot I know but it seems ideal for me. In the summer, it's not a big deal if I only get 7 or 7.5 or even 6. The sun wakes me up the next morning and I'm pretty chipper.
In the winter, however, I don't have that assistance and it's easy for me to fall into a dark mood that I can't shake all day long. Those days I feel like I'm always on the verge of tears....I'm constantly trying to sort out what is wrong. I'll actually ask myself 10 - 15 times a day "what's wrong?" And the only answer is, "I feel sad."
So I made an early bedtime the rule rather than the exception this past winter. It was rare for me to see 11:00pm from October - April. I'd try to get ready for bed early so I could turn out the lights just after 10. This didn't guarantee a good mood the following day, but it did ensure I wasn't overtired as well as sad.

Step 5: No Sugar
Oh boy was this ever a tough one to take on and I fully admit that I fell of this wagon more often than rode it. However, when I got down I knew that this was one thing I could change that would make a big impact within a few days. When I cut out sugar, I left behind the false ups and downs of everyday existence. Life is already full of emotional tides, why add chemical ones on top of them?
Now I wasn't hard core about it. I didn't count the sugars in my morning granola and yogurt or fruit. What I cut out was all cookies, cakes, mints, sweets, doughnuts, muffins....that kind of thing. I had a really good run in October/November where I was sugar free for about 6 weeks. Then I fell off the wagon over the Christmas season. After that I was on or off given how I felt.
Ultimately I knew that if I was feeling low, cutting out sugar for a week would help me feel better. So I relied on this step as a fail safe when the other things weren't working.

And that's how I survived my SAD winter 2009/10. I plan to tackle it similarly next year. Take that winter!

S

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Down Days Steps 2 and 3

OK there are only 5 steps in total so this won't drag on but I really do want to emphasize how important each of these was to me. Particularly the steps that involved a bit of a lifestyle change or involved doing something that I previously pshaw'd. Step 2 was one I previously pshaw'd, like for all my adult life.

Step #2: Vitamins
Starting in October, I began taking a multi-vitamin specifically for women. It has all kinds of good stuff in it and I figured it couldn't hurt. I took it religiously at dinner time and then forgot about it. I believed that since I tend to eat relatively well and I get my greens, that I should have all the nutrients I need in my diet.

However, looking back, I have never had a healthier winter than this past winter. I didn't get the sniffles, cold or flu once! Now granted, I am a serious hand washer but my level of healthiness went beyond germs. I am now completely sold on multi-vitamins.

Step #3: Exercise
I know the importance of exercise and in previous winters I have kept up a weekly date with a jazzercise class. However, I fell off that bandwagon a while ago and can't seem to get back on it. Therefore, knowing my tendency to isolate in the winter and knowing how hard it is to get exercise while sitting on the couch, I set up a commitment with a friend to walk once a week.

This forced me to get out of the house, socialize, and get a good long walk in once a week regardless of the weather. I may not have always wanted to go but I wasn't about to break the commitment. And even if I was hating it, or in a really down place, I could always spend the walk telling my great friend what was going on for me. Inevitably, even on the worst weeks, I felt better after the walk. Maybe I did still crash on the couch afterwards but I crashed after a good workout and felt closer to someone.

We maybe missed 3 or 4 walks over 6 months but we also added a walk every now and then. So I think we evened out or came in ahead of our weekly committed walking time.

These were two excellent steps in my plan and ones I will do again next year....friend willing. :)

S

Monday, May 10, 2010

Down Days Step 1

I have down days sometimes....down days when I don't remember what up days feel like. Down days when I have a hard time convincing myself that the up days will come around again. I discovered about 4 years ago that winter does this to me....there are other factors but our grey winter weather is the consistent variable.


When I'm down I don't want to interact much, which I know makes me feel even worse. However, on those days I don't feel like I'm capable of being a normal, personable human. I just want to sit on a couch and numb out with a massive slice of cheesecake after work....or worse lash out at anyone and everyone. Luckily I don't usually lash out. I usually cry or have a good rant and numb out on sugar and watch TV. I don't even have the ability to write about what's going on.


So I can really only share what those down days are like when I'm experiencing the up days. Like now in the spring when the sun has me feeling chipper and awake most of the time. That said, I believe that what I experience is the typical SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and not full depression even though SAD has all the makings of depression. The difference is that as soon as the sun comes out, my SAD disappears, depression doesn't work the same.....though I'm certainly no expert.


So I'm going to do a little series of posts on how I tackled my SAD this past year. Because I came closer this year to addressing the issue than I have in any previous year and I think it's worth sharing.

Step #1: Warmth and retail therapy
One of the difficult things about winter is the cold. When I'm down I get tight and when I'm cold I get even tighter. This makes it hard to relax and even harder to feel happy. So step one for beating my winter blues was to purchase and wear the necessary clothing to be comfortable in the cold.

Hello, new winter jacket! There were serious requirements for this jacket as it had to cover multiple uses. (I'm thrifty and not always stylishly so.) It had to be relatively waterproof and have a very good hood to block the wind and rain we get so much of in the winter. It had to also double as a ski-jacket, have close fitting sleeves, and it had to be either a bright colour or a light colour. Bright or light colours make you more visible when walking at night (it's night at 4:45 in the winter here!) from the bus. This is important because nearly being hit by vehicles or just knowing that you are close to invisible in a black/dark coat is uncomfortable. Once the coat was found and bought and loved, I was warm outside!

Note, some people may think, "just use an umbrella, girl." But the wind and rain here are not always condusive to umbrellas. I've had many turn inside out and nearly gotten stuck in the eye a number of times with umbrellas so I needed a better solution.

Being warm inside came at the expense of style sometimes. In order to not freeze in my cubicle, I would wear a long wide scarf draped around my shoulders in the office. Sometimes I'd spend most of the day like that but it was worth it. I was comfortable regardless of what I wore that day (blouse or sweater) and, therefore, happier. Plus I got a lot of use out of my 3 scarves!

At home I also engaged the warm rule. I wore a lot of hoodies and bought new winter lounge wear and didn't hesitate to make a fire in our lovely fireplace on the cold nights. I also always kept a heating pad and a blanket on the couch and usually added a good size lap-cat to enhance the heat. :) The cat is always ready to oblige and have a snuggle.

Step one was probably my favourite step this winter! I highly recommend it.

S

Friday, May 7, 2010

Showdown at dusk

We may have evicted the raccoon! Here's how the final showdown went. Warning: some dramatization may be added for effect...in fact, it's guaranteed seeing as how my husband (A)describes this entire thing in about 3 sentences.

Picture it, about dusk, air still warm, A opens the shed door intending to put a loud radio in the space to make it less comfortable for our uninvited guest. Staring back at him, frozen mid-step down the board that acted as his ladder to his 'nest', is the raccoon. They stare at each other for a minute.

Neither moves, each sizing up the threat the other presents. The raccoon calls A's bluff and continues walking down the board, past A, and under the lower deck out of sight. A crouches down to looks under the deck after him, the raccoon stares back. A issues a verbal threat. The raccoon is unoffended but scoots on his way across the yard and into the trees.

After looking carefully into the hole and determining there are no kits, A quickly goes about cutting a board to size and nailing it up to cover the area that had exposed plastic and insulation. Thus, hopefully closing off all opportunity for re-infestation by said coon.

So, no trapping, hunting or killing of the raccoon was required. Just a stealy gaze, a sharp word or two in a booming bass voice, (for a thin guy, my husband has some seriously low tones!) and some quick work with a saw, nails, and a hammer.

Bye, bye Mr. coon!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Coon gate continues

No coons yet.

Trap empty.

Coon hunting starting to feel boring.

Maybe the sheer prescence of the trap, or perhaps my disgusted disdain radiating through the walls of the house, has made the place unappealing to the creature(s) and he/she/they have hightailed it out of there. Here's hoping!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Coon Tales Part 1

I'm not terribly fond of the raccoon. They are scavengers and often cause a nuisance in suburban neighbourhoods but they are common around our area. However, I'm quickly about to get a lot closer to the raccoon that I ever wished....because they have infested our house.


The discovery: One Saturday, my husband, upon finally getting around to mowing the lawn after about 6 weeks, entered the shed to find things somewhat disheveled. Some wood was knocked over, some insulation was on the ground. He raised his head to find two glowing eyes peering down at him. He quickly exited and called a pest control company who came by on Monday with a humane trap. According to the conservation folks, they only assist with dangerous animals and a raccoon being a small mamal does not qualify. I'd like to argue the 'small' and 'not dangerous' qualities of raccoons. However, more than that, I'd like it gone.


I don't anticipate this being an easy endeavour though. See the raccoon(s?) has climbed up the wall of the shed, which is actually just a partially enclosed area under part of our deck, and dug a nest into the insulation between the deck above and the ceiling of the enclosed indoor room under the deck. Judging by the noise when you go into the room, there may be more than one....like a family!

If/when we catch the wild creature, we have to leave it in the trap, which we have baited with an egg, while we check the 'nest' and if there are babies, we gotta let the sucker out of the trap and allow her to move her babies whenever they are old enough to move.

Uuugh! And if there are no babies, we don't get the satisfaction of driving the wild thing far far away because apparently they will die if you do that. Apparently you have to close up the area they were in and do something to make it less appealing and then just let the sucker go, right there. How unsatisfying. I mean, I don't want to be a murderer, I just want a rodent free home, but I'd like it far far away, thanks.


In the meantime, my husband has turned into a nature of things cameraman. He purchased a motion activated camera, hooked it up to the computer, and set it up in the shed with the light on to see what he can capture.

Let the coon huntin begin! It's been 24 hours and nothing so far.


Ah adventures in home ownership!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Now What?

I have far more questions than answers as to what this blog will be. But the biggest looming question is: Why?!?! And the reciprocal: Why not?

The answer to 'Why not' is sooo easy: Fear. Fear of judgement, of misunderstandings, of cruelty or harshness, of exposure, of embarrassment, of a sense of failure if I end up feeling like I have nothing to write about. My husband's helpful response to these when I discussed it with him was, "Write about that!"

The answer to 'Why': Opportunity to face and let go of the answers to Why not. The opportunity to share my experiences and struggles. The chance to connect with others. And finally, because
Hillary said I should and ever since then I haven't been able to get it out of my mind.

You see I love blogs. That said, I'm almost 100% a lurker because, really, what do I have to contribute? So, how do I make the gigantic leap from blog-lover/lurker to blogging myself? I dunno but there is something about this that is incredibly appealing and so I'm gathering my gumption and trying it out.....just to see where it leads, if nothing else.

First post teaser: Racoon huntin...ok trapping.

Stacey