This is Hard.

I’m having a particularly rough week. It’s been a month since I stopped working and the reality of being forced back into a one-income household are staring me in the face.

There’s been a lot of laying awake at night, wondering what I did wrong. I’ve spent a huge amount of time pondering life’s questions between 1:30 and 5:00 in the morning.

Much of this situation is necessarily tied to family building. How will we have enough to adopt, now? And if I start a new full time job, we’ll probably have to wait at least another year before I’ll qualify for any kind of leave. If I don’t work, we don’t have the funds to adopt a baby. If I do work, we don’t have the time.

There’s not much else in my head right now. Just those thoughts, and a vague attempt at coming up with something that will fix what seems to be an impossible situation.

Rough week.

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Pain is a Gift

Appropriating Doctor Who quotes for my own use

There’s a quote from a recent Doctor Who episode that resonates for me (the writing is dang good this season, just sayin) –

Pain is a gift. Without the capacity for pain we can’t feel the hurt we inflict.

To me, this quote is about empathy. Without our own memories of pain we wouldn’t be able to appreciate or understand the way others behave when they are in pain.

I’m thinking about all this because today is an anniversary. I didn’t think, at the time, that it would be as big of an anniversary as it is. At the time, I figured it would simply be a memory of one moment. And it is that – it’s the date I had emergency surgery on a (literally) dark and stormy night. Which was scary and sad.

Turns out, though, that the day wasn’t just a day of loss. It was the beginning of being barren. It wasn’t until several years later that I could fully appreciate that day, as sad and low as it was, was something to be cherished. It was the last day I was ever “able” to carry a child.

So, obviously, painful. But not even close to as painful now as it was seven years ago. These days it’s more of  a distant ache, more a memory of pain than pain itself.

And the thing that I’ve really been marinating on is how it made me (I think) a better person. Healing from the immediate pain and then the extended loss took a lot of time and mental energy. One of the things it did was shift my perspective, in a good way.

pain-is-a-gift_by-elvenwhovian-deviantart
{image by elvenwhovian on deviant art}

There’s a lot more room in my head for grace and different opinions than there once was. When people behave strangely or poorly, my first thought is to wonder what they’re dealing with. I am not nearly as judgmental as I once was.

Basically, my perspective has widened. My own pain affected me in ways I never expected, so now I often assume that others are dealing with the same kind of surprising, disconcerting changes that come along  with their own pain.

That’s a good thing, I think, and prevents me from being a total ass to those who seem to be struggling with things I know nothing about.

I’m better to others (because of pain).

That is a gift.

Do Your Job

Aka: How to shut up and keep a paycheck.

Work kicked my butt last week, figuratively and literally.

There was a giant event that was 100% my responsibility to plan, execute, and run. And, while I have done this kind of thing before, it was the first time with this group – as they continuously reminded me. Unlike previous experiences, this group is mostly a lot of type-A micro-managers.

by Evil Erin on Flickr
{image by Flickr user Evil Erin}

Challenging.

Several times during the last two weeks I was reminded of an old family-favorite story of a certain blue-collar fella’ who spoke some truth during a post-event celebration at a local bar. This guy was way past the “work appropriate filter” stage, so when someone mentioned the reigning supervisor, we all got this gem in response:

Oh he is SO a boss-and-not-a-leader.

So-a-boss-and-not-a-leader has become a catchphrase in my family. It’s a way to communicate someone who is happy to be in charge, with the power and accolades that come with being the boss. At the same time, it describes someone who avoids getting their hands dirty, avoids the hard decisions, and generally fails to inspire.

For myself, I tried hard to be a leader. Worked my tail off, got down and dirty. Delegated appropriately without standing around watching others work. On more than one occasion in the last 24 hours I had to bite the crap out of my tongue to avoid verbal attacks. It’s tough to maintain a “respectful” presence when you’re tired, sick, and frustrated.

Doable, though. I know because I did it.

The event went well – smoothly and without any major hitch. All the bosses were pleased. I had some valuable learning experiences I can use going forward, including some humbling moments. Always tough to realize I’m not *quite* as incredible as I secretly believe myself to be.

All told, the event was a definite, solid WIN for me. I don’t celebrate those enough. So this post it an attempt to do that in some way: document the difficulty, document the win.

Today I’m sequestered in my living room with some serious respiratory issues, glad I didn’t mic drop and quit my job mid-week last week. A steady income is a glorious thing. Paid sick days are also wonderful.

It turned out okay. I didn’t die.

WIN.

by kitty.green66 on Flickr
{image by kitty.green66 on Flickr}

Borderline Morbidly Obese

Doctors, man. I rarely leave a meeting with a doctor (especially one related to my reproductive parts) without at least one incredibly painful line that will follow me around for years to come.

We had a truly banner day, recently. We “met” with our adoption  consultant (over the phone) and are now officially “started” on the adoption journey.

We also met with a local fertility specialist for the first time. We are in a new area and about 8-9 hours from the last one we worked with. There’s one frozen embryo (hereafter referred to as Frosty) left from our IVF cycle last year and we both feel like we have a moral obligation to give it a shot. It’s a life.

That being said, we are now officially eight years into infertility. By that I mean we’ve been “trying” for eight years. During that time we’ve had three chemical pregnancies and an ectopic pregnancy. And about six years of zilch. Apparently that one fallopian tube I lost was the good one.

So you’ll understand why we are less than optimistic about Frosty’s chances. We have had multiple pregnancies and not one has made it past 10 weeks. Would it be delightful and miraculous if Frosty was the one that made it? For sure.

Do we expect Frosty to make it? Not remotely.

That being said, we’ve spent years wishing and hoping and praying for a kid, watching others raise theirs, and turning off news stations where folks mistreat or abuse kids. Life is precious. We have a life that we created and we are not going to let it go. We are going to fight for it. Even if it’s a losing battle from the start, it’s still worth fighting for.

SO.

We met the local fertility doc. And it was generally pleasant. He knows what he’s doing. He’s friendly. He’s positive. He’s even slightly pushy about the whole “don’t give up” thing, which we expect from a doctor whose specialty is making babies. But dude.

Apparently I’m borderline morbidly obese.

This comes as a surprise to me. It’s been increasingly obvious that I’m overweight. It’s been on my mind. I’m mildly active. I know the activity could use an uptick, but truly it’s the diet that needs to change. I’ve been crossing my fingers that the metabolism of my 20s reappears so I can keep eating delicious restaurant food four nights of the week and drinking a beer with dinner. Every time I look in the mirror I’m like “just a few more years with sweet potato fries and craft beer! Please!”

All that came crashing to the ground, though, with the proclamation of “borderline morbidly obese.”

So what did I end up with from that banner day? Hope and joy that we will soon be parents through the sociological miracle that is adoption? The faintest glimmer of possibility that I might actually be able to give birth once in my life? No. No. Nope.

Look, I know that guy was off. I understand the unreliability of BMI as any kind of accurate gauge of health or weight. I know it’s actually a small spread with a lot of grey area and room for interpretation. Even within those broad parameters, “morbid” obesity is so much further down the road than where I am. I can look at myself in the mirror and see that his words are a gross overstatement.

But still.

It’s a doctor. It’s an “expert.”

I’m so tired of medical people. I 100% can not wait to be done with them in relation to my reproductive parts. They are THE WORST.

On the slightly brighter side, now I have the appropriate level of self-disgust to give up sweet potato fries and craft beer. Bravo, doc.

Dr. Cox exercise program | sundriedtomatoe.wordpress.com

Beating the Old Man

NOTE: I wrote this post in July or August of 2014. It was the kind of thing I needed to write but I wasn’t really ready to post it right then – still wrapping my head around it. I DID wait that guy out; I gave it two months after he retired and then I quit. Spent a (wonderful) year freelancing. Now I’m working a job at a place that LOVES having me. They tell me every day. It’s incredible.


 

I’ve very recently been bumped to an upper tier. I now report directly to the CEO, meaning I’m pretty high up there. However, I am a lone wolf – my department is just me and my work consists largely of one-off, single-person duties. As such, I have no real interaction with any of my “peers” other than the occasional hello or perhaps a shared training session.

What this has meant, lately, is that I am “known” professionally by the people I worked with and for prior to this position. Everyone else in my new peer group only knows me by word of mouth.

Maybe this wouldn’t have been (or shouldn’t be) an issue, but one of my previous bosses doesn’t think much of me being in an administrative (ie: peer) position. He thought I was AWESOME when I was working for him. Now that I’m working with him, he’s not a fan. In fact, most of my interactions these days consist of my former boss (now peer) brushing me off or actively deriding me.

Sometimes it’s too my face, other times I hear about how I’ve been characterized (in closed meetings) after the fact.

It’s made work not just unpleasent. It’s made me distrustful of all my peers, and my boss. It’s created a feeling of animosity toward the institution at large. And it has destroyed my enthusiasm for the work that I do. If I get any feedback at all these days, it’s negative. And I KNOW that I am doing good work. The disparity between what I’m doing and what I’m hearing only serves to further undercut whatever confidence I might still have retained for the others at and above my level.

I want to leave. I think about it through every weekend. I think about it most mornigns when I wake up. It’s a thought that follows me around during really bad days at work.

But if I leave, that’s the end of the story. “It sucked royally. The end.” For perhaps the very first time in my entire life, I want to stay just as badly as I want to go. I’m not going to beat this guy at whatever power struggle thing we’re now engaged in. I’m probably not ever going to be able to undo the damage he has done to my professional reputation.

He’s old. I will outlast him. I can get the end of the story closer to “Then it got a little better. The end.”

That’s enough.

 

Pile O’ Blood

NOTE: I wrote this post in/around March of 2014, shortly after our try with IVF. At the time, I didn’t want to publish it because I was still wrapping my head around what was going on. Now my head is firmly wrapped.

We never did get any answers or definitive results from any of the rounds of testing we did. We are officially “unexplained infertile” and it will most likely stay that way until the end of time.


 

March 2014 — So Hubs and I scraped up enough moolah to try a round of IVF. It’s something that has been on the back burner for several years as we worked in recovering emotionally from multiple losses early on in our adventure. Last November we started taking a close look at how much IVF would cost, what would be involved.

It costs a lot. Our insurance doesn’t cover any infertility treatments. Grand total was over $13,000, which we paid in cash. Holy smokes that’s a lot of cash.

It involved a lot of needles. During one week I was injecting myself with three different needles every morning. I got pretty amazing at pinching my thighs. I got really good at giving blood too. Lotsa regular blood tests involved.

Unfortunately, the cycle failed. We had a positive pregnancy test and then the blood started flowing a few days later. We had some serious moments of despair that week. Plenty of quiet tears. Fortunately, this kind of loss is not the shock it once was.

We have had a few weeks to marinate on where we go from here. Before we started we were looking at adoption as our next move. Then, after the IVF cycle failed, I started investigating options closely. There are some things about our options that raise concerns for us. Still on the table, but cautiously.

I’m loathe to experience another pregnancy loss. It’s tough. It’s lonely, and I hate seeing my husband hurt. Watching him deal with this loss were some of the worst moments of my adult life.

So before we even think about any more medical interventions we are getting yet another round of tests done. This round tests both of us for chromosomal issues that might mess with a developing fetus. And I’m being tested for immunological issues that might account for a bunch of very early pregnancy fails.

I filled up a LOT of tubes the other day.

image

Fun fact: nurses love when you warn them about a vaso-vagal hypersensitivity ahead of time.

This Week in History

TimeHop is an app that “crawls” your history on social media and tells you what you posted “on this day” as many years back as your history goes.

This week is apparently one for the books. Here are two short stories.

This Week in History | SundriedTomatoe.Wordpress.com

Six years ago we were living in a shady area. We’d never really lived anywhere where crime happened in our neighborhood. We’ve always lived places where crime happens nearby.

And I’m not talking anything big, like murder or kidnapping (although that stuff did happen) I’m just referring to petty theft, vandalism, etc… Before eight years ago, that was a thing we only heard about.

So this week six years ago we had a rock thrown through our front window and we kind of realized that we weren’t living in a great place. Up until then we had brushed that notion off. (For the record, there wasn’t anything malicious about the incident. Most likely it was some kids walking around late at night, being jackasses.)

What was the scariest the next morning wasn’t the gaping hole in the front of our home, it was the fact that neither the cops (who didn’t even show up after we called 911 twice) nor the apartment complex people cared at ALL. The reaction of the locals was kind of, “why are you freaking out about this? It was just some kids with rocks.”

This incident really got our wheels turning on a move. Six months later we were in a different town and I was back in school working on my Master’s. Kind of a pivotal event, all told.

This Week in History | SundriedTomatoe.Wordpress.com
A year ago I was working as a project manager, grant writer, IT liaison, and accreditation director. I was becoming overwhelmed but this week was the beginning of the end. When I saw this little post on TimeHop I had to stop and catch my breath.

So the story is that it was the first grant proposal I had to get approved. All the ones I’d written before that were kind of “it’ll be nice if we get it, but no biggie.” For this one, there was a ton of pressure from all leadership to deliver.

The conference was a killer opportunity in terms of project management. I had won a fellowship to it and was going on just travel costs. But by the time departure day rolled around I knew that I absolutely did not have the time to take those three days and leave behind the Proposal.

I really want to go into details on how crazy that whole thing was. Mostly, know that it was essentially an undeliverable. There was no way I was going to be able to do it with the resources I had. I asked for more resources and was turned down. I tried to deliver anyway.

I was also beginning the process of training the whole organization on a major program change from IT.

I was also the director of a major, organization-wide external evaluation report.

I had other jobs. At the time the above post was written, I was working a solid 60-80 hours a week and falling way behind every day. I wasn’t sleeping much and I had started losing hair, which was weird and scary.

Oh! And we were going through a round of IVF! We had started the process months earlier but had put it off several times because of work commitments for both of us. By the time the above post was written we had decided that no time was particularly good (ie: life was going to be crazy all the time) so we just went for it.

I didn’t tell anyone at work what was going on in my private life – it wasn’t the kind of place where they want anything that distracts from the Job. So when we had a positive pregnancy test, we rejoiced in private. And, a week later, when I started to miscarry, we mourned in private. And I kept going to work.

Six months later, I had quit that job and was happily freelancing, spending most of my “work” hours with a great friend; and Hubs and I were starting to work through our options for adoption.

All of this is to say I’m kind of interested to see where we are six months from now. There’s been enough quiet upheaval in the last few weeks that I could probably mark this week (this year) as another “beginning.”

We shall see. Definitely stay tuned.