Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013

We've reached the end of 2013. I feel like the older I get, the faster the time goes. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that it's going to be 2014!

Much has happened to us in the last twelve months. Here's a little recap of what this year looked like for our family:

January: K turned six months old and Danica celebrated her honorary 4th birthday:

February: We had our first big trip to the emergency room after some issues with K's lungs. I also shared parts of our adoption story on BlogHer.

March: Someone had far too much to drink on St. Patty's Day . . .

April: I celebrated my first birthday as a parent, and K said her first word -- dada!

May: Joey graduated from UCF, and then our whirlwind travel month began. We took our first trip with K (to Atlanta to watch my brother graduate). I flew up to D.C. to participate in Advocacy Day. Then, Joey and I took our first trip sans baby to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary.

June: I bought my very first new car as an adult!

July: Our baby was no longer a baby -- turning 1 on July 2 to cap off an amazing year of growth, love, and oh so much laughter.

August: Joey and I began, unbeknownst to some, seriously applying for jobs in the Seattle area. We also placed our house for sale.

September: We took our first family trip on an airplane to see my SIL, BIL, and our new nephew. But that wasn't the only first for this month. K also took her first steps and said "mama" for the first time! I came out to Seattle for a job interview that didn't pan out. Little did we know what was around the corner . . .

October: Joey was offered a job in Seattle and accepted. We were heading to the west coast!

November: A month for the books. We sold our very first house. I was offered a job in Seattle. We celebrated Thanksgiving with our families. And then, we packed up our lives and moved over 3,000 miles from home.

December: It's been a long month of getting settled in our new city. We both started new jobs, we had to get K adjusted at her school, and we of course had a new climate and culture to get used to, as well (in addition to the time change). But we managed to get ourselves into a routine -- just in time to celebrate the holidays with my family.

Which brings us to now. Never in a million years did I think that I would be writing my final post of 2013 in Seattle. What an adventure it's been. I'm looking forward to seeing what 2014 brings for us in this wonderful new city. And that the new year brings positive events to each and every one of you, regardless of where you are in your journey with infertility.

Cheers to you and yours, and have a very safe and happy New Year.

Friday, December 27, 2013

christmas in seattle

Our first Christmas in Seattle was a success. I opted not to cook, choosing instead to order Christmas dinner from Whole Foods and spending the day with K rather than in the kitchen. I missed a home-cooked meal, but I didn't miss the trade off of relaxation and family time.

We ate, watched our favorite holiday movies, and put together plenty of toddler toys. Legos were the big hit this year, as were wooden puzzles, a guitar, and several Fisher Price "Little People" sets.

And, as you can see, we also spent some time streaking around the house. It was a balmy 50 degrees, which made it acceptable to (briefly) show off our Christmas spirit in diaper form. :)

I hope you had a wonderful holiday, especially those of you celebrating it as parents for the first time. And to those still waiting: I truly hope it's your turn next Christmas.

Monday, December 23, 2013

rediscovering the christmas spirit

Christmas week is here, and it's a week that's notoriously difficulty for those in the ALI community.

Mother's Day. Father's Day. Halloween. Thanksgiving. They are tough days to face when you are wishing and hoping for a little one. All of these occasions were difficult for me, but none ever compared to Christmas. I'm not sure why. It could be because it was the end of a busy holiday season -- a three-month momentum built up to this day that was all about children. It could be because I typically enjoyed celebrating Christmas and then, suddenly, it became a reminder of everything that I couldn't have or be.

Whatever the case, it served as an emotional day for me for four years. Infertility sucked the "cheer" out of the holidays. I coped in various ways, some of which were healthy and some of which were not. In fact, one year, we didn't even attend any Christmas events. We bought tickets to a basketball game, instead, and spent the day drinking beer and eating nachos while watching the Orlando Magic.

Last year, my first year as a parent, was surreal. I didn't exactly feel like I was fully re-immersed in the Christmas spirit. We were not too far removed from bringing K home from the NICU (just four months), and likewise not far removed from our battle to become parents. I felt like an imposter. Surely, these gifts under the Christmas tree weren't for MY baby, were they? I couldn't possibly need to buy a "Baby's First Christmas" onesie for MY child, could I? But those gifts were for my baby and I did buy (more than one) "Baby's First Christmas" outfit. It wasn't a dream. It was reality -- a reality that I waited four, long years for.

Now, here we are: one year later.

This year, I feel less like an imposter and more in the Christmas spirit than I have in quite a long time. Some of it has to do with having more distance between the hell that was the first half of last year and now. The rest of it I think is related to my child's age and the fact that Christmas can now be an interactive holiday for her. However, this doesn't mean that I've forgotten what this holiday holds for others in this community -- because some of it is what I've lived in years past. It's not a day that is joyous for everyone.

In the ALI community alone, I know that there are those of you who are still waiting on your bundles of joy. I know others who are anxious for their adoption finalizations. My sweet friend who gave birth to twins at 24 weeks will be spending Christmas in the NICU, an experience that no mother should ever endure. And, of course, there are those whose children never lived to see their first Christmas.

I'm not a prayerful person, or at least not as much as I used to be. Yet, during the holiday season, I always prayed for a Christmas miracle. For four years, I asked for the miracle of becoming a parent. Now that I've received that miracle, I haven't stopped praying for more Christmas miracles. Not for more children for me, but for each of you. I pray that maybe, by this time next year, you will have the experience of feeling like an imposter, too. I hope that you will know what it's like to wrap gifts for your little one. I wish for you to buy at least one "Baby's First Christmas" outfit or stand in long lines to meet Santa.

Most of all, I pray you find resolution in whatever path you choose -- and that you once again find joy in the holiday season. It may seem impossible now. I know this, having been there and felt that overwhelming sense of despair. But I can assure you from someone who has now lived to see the other side of it: rediscovering that joy is possible.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

blank page

Forgive me for not being on my blogging game lately. My days are full from start to finish.

I wake up between 5:30-5:45, catch a bus downtown with K by 7, drop her off at school at 7:30, and I'm at my desk by 7:45. Then, it's go go go until 4:45 when I leave, fetch the kiddo, and get back on the bus to come home. By the time we've had dinner and get K bathed and in bed, it's sometimes close to 8 pm. And, frankly, the last thing I want to do at that hour is write.

The last thing I can do then is write. My mind has become a full slate at that point, incapable of clearing the way for new information -- or at least incapable of putting that new information into words.

Even though I miss it. I mean, I'm writing this now. But I miss writing real, thoughtful, meaningful posts. I miss writing about topics I care about and that interest me. Not just about infertility and adoption, but women's health, life, and other stories I enjoy sharing.

Someday, it will come back to me. I hope. Until then, I open a new post in Blogger every few days. I sit and stare at the blank page for a moment. And then, I close the window with not even a draft to save.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

hello, again

Hi. Remember me? I'm the girl who blogged every day last month, got totally burnt out, and then disappeared for a bit. It's nice to see all of you.

Maybe you're wondering (or maybe you don't care, and that's ok too) how we've been adjusting to life in Seattle. We've been here for nearly two weeks now. The first few days were rough. It wasn't just the time change, it was everything -- the stress of moving, starting jobs, etc. all at once. But I'm happy to report that we are starting to get into a routine. Once we had the house unpacked and the furniture together, things seemed a lot less crazy. K started at a new school on Monday, J's now in his second week at work, and I started my new job yesterday. And Danica? Well, she's adjusting to being a cold weather, city pup.

I promise I'll be back to my regularly scheduled blogging soon. Until then, enjoy giggling at my wiener dog wearing her sweater.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

understanding infertiles

I think I've been rather fortunate since my diagnosis with infertility almost five years ago in that most of my family members and friends have been understanding and compassionate re: our situation. Sure, there have been falling outs here and there. As I always say: tough times teach you who truly cares. But, in general, we've received a great deal of support from outsiders who haven't dealt with the physical and emotional ramifications of this disease.

However, I know that some of you haven't been as lucky. Even I know what it's like to lose someone you love because they don't understand what you are going through or how to help. Somewhere along the way, the lines of communication become blurred. It's almost like a game of telephone. You say one thing and by the time it gets to the end, your words have been twisted and turned to the point where you don't even recognize them.

For the most part, I think we (as a community) are making wonderful progress in helping outsiders understand the basics of this disease. We spread awareness on everything from who suffers to how it's treated. I even think that we are making progress in helping to open those lines of communication -- in teaching others how, and why, to be sensitive about certain topics related to pregnancy, child rearing, etc. Yet, I still hear stories of misconception when it comes to us. The people. The "infertiles." I thought I would take a moment to examine a few of these big misconceptions that I've heard recently:

Myth: Infertiles hate fertiles.

Fact: Those who suffer from infertility don't hate people who don't suffer from infertility. Not by a long shot. I think almost all of us would agree that we don't wish this disease on anyone. I'm happy that a large majority of couples can conceive on their own and I hope that this number increases. I DREAM of a world where infertility doesn't exist anymore. Is it difficult for those who suffer from infertility to be around women who get pregnant easily? Occasionally. Do we envy you sometimes? Absolutely. We would love to be able to experience the miracle of pregnancy in an easier fashion (or at all, in some cases). However, it doesn't mean we hate you. I think I can speak for everyone in the ALI community when I say that nothing we say or do is ever intended to be a personal attack against those who can have children without medical intervention.

Myth: Infertiles don't want to be around kids.

Fact: While seeing children can be a reminder of what we don't have (yet), I don't think I've ever heard an IF sufferer say that he or she doesn't want to be around children. We love kids, clearly, or else we wouldn't be trying so damn hard to have them. But, sometimes, we have emotional days -- as every individual is entitled. Maybe it's the anniversary of our miscarriage or that failed IVF cycle. Maybe we've just had an adoption fall through or another couple has been chosen over us by a birth parent. So, we decline an invitation to spend time with your kids or to attend an event where children may be present. It has nothing to do with you or with your children. It has everything to do with self preservation and protecting ourselves from unnecessary stress and/or emotional trauma. We love you, we love your kids, and we want to be the best version of ourselves when we spend time with you. Sometimes that means taking a day for us. (And surely this applies to so many areas of life outside of infertility.)

Myth: Infertiles will never feel happy or fulfilled unless they have kids.

Fact: I promise, we aren't all bitter, angry hags. We don't sit at home all day, blinds shut, angry at the world. We're all productive members of society. We all enjoy various hobbies and activities. We do like spending time with friends. And yes, many of us enjoy talking about infertility. Talking about my disease doesn't mean that I'm not happy or fulfilled -- and it didn't mean that before I had my child, either. I like talking about it because it makes me feel in control. Speaking about my disease makes me feel empowered. Making friends with others who've had similar experiences is also enjoyable. It's a reminder that I'm not alone, and it's a chance for us all to make a difference in the way infertility is both treated and perceived. It doesn't mean I'm not happy. It just means I'm channeling something bad into an activity that DOES make me happy, which is advocating.

Perhaps this is the next wave of advocacy and raising awareness. Maybe we start to move away from the hard facts and begin moving toward the personal stories. Maybe we focus on making those individual connections that have, for so long, been kept apart. And maybe we begin trying to repair those frayed telephone lines in an effort to understand each other more clearly.