Monday, October 23, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Flip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Faking it

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

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

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

Friday, October 20, 2017

Ripples

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

Nothing has resolved the situation.

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The space between

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

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

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

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

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







Tuesday, October 17, 2017

How infertility kills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 16, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: For worse, for better

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For worse, for better. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Love and light

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

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


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

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

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


Friday, October 13, 2017

Golden Afternoon

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

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



Thursday, October 12, 2017

Filter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The "I'll never"s

Bargaining is something you do a lot of when you're facing trauma. It's part of the grieving process, with our minds trying to find a way out of the situation we are facing and its a normal, healthy survival strategy in order to avoid pain. Like many, I did a lot of bargaining while in the infertility trenches. From modifying my diet and incorporating "healthy" lifestyle changes to promising to reform all aspects of my life, I made a lot of statements and promises about how life would be one day when I was no longer in the trenches.

One of the most profound things I did was make promises about the type of parent I would be. Part of this came from the bargaining, but the other part was also from a deep-seated fear I had about not being worthy due to how I was raised. It's a hard thing to explain to those who have good relationships with their parents, but given the trauma that came from my childhood (and how I behaved as part of it), I also was coming from a place where I didn't want to revisit that trauma on any child. Hence I promised to be a model parent, as if somehow proving my worth to even be given the opportunity.

There's a problem with such bargaining, though. We see these models of how things should be, but fail to grasp or understand that bottling it all up to be picture perfect can actually be just as damaging. For me, this has been particularly difficult both due to me being a people pleaser but also due to me not knowing how to manage angry in a healthy manner.

All of this got tested yesterday. After a emotionally trying morning with She-Beat's assessment (she did awesome; me: not-so-much) followed by a hard drop-off at daycare, the Beats were both wired. The effort to burn off some of this energy quickly went south at the playground and quiet time at home ended even faster when I discovered they both had scaled by dresser, using the air conditioning unit next to the window to aid in this endeavor.

But the straw that broke this camel's back was finding them both in the bathroom later, covered head-to-toe in a Shea Butter ointment I use on dry skin, having emptied the entire container  and clogging the bathroom sink in their exploration and attempt to clean-up.

It is safe to say it's the maddest I've ever been at both of them.

Through deep breathing, I somehow managed to strip them both and got them into the tub to be scrubbed and degreased. But I wasn't the kindest I could have been in that moment and 10 minutes later, Grey would come home to find both Beats in their room with both of them looking pretty upset having been sent to bed without having had dinner and me in the bathroom, swearing under my breath as I declogged the sink.

I didn't sleep well last night after the episode, even though Grey made sure both kids got dinner and were made aware that their misbehavior wasn't okay, but we loved them just the same. A big part of it was the guilt I faced as I could literally see the 2012 Cristy, with all the "I'll never"s that I swore up and down not to do staring me in the face.

Because here's the thing about infertility and the side effect of all the platitudes people feel inclined to give: you start believe there's a reason that you cannot get pregnant or carry a child to term. The "it wasn't meant to be" translates into "because you would be an awful parent." So in an attempt to overcome it, to prove it all wrong, you bargain in a way that those gifted with fertility fail to grasp.

I know what you're going to say. The questions like "why are you beating yourself up?" or statements of "you're being unreasonable." Truly, my logical brain gets it. But that's the thing about "I'll never"s. The aftermath of infertility or any other trauma, with those platitudes always seeping through.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Snap

One of the hardest things about any transition is changing the self-dialogue that goes along with it. Though there's initially excitement about anything new, it doesn't take long for it to wear off, particularly when you start encountering roadblocks or set backs.

This weekend was a major roadblock. Though the quality time with the Beats was very good, the reality is nothing that needed to be done (like job applications, correspondence, deadlines and finishing lectures). And generally, it never does despite all the best intentions. Normally while this would be a mild frustration, it was aggravated when Grey wanted to start talking about future plans (i.e. strategies for retirement, savings and buying a house). When I pointed out that I still didn't have anything solid lined up for January, he was quick to answer with "I'm sure you'll find something even better."

Despite his best intentions, this really didn't help.

After waking up due to a rather unpleasant nightmare, I've been feeling rather down this morning. And all the self-doubting dialogue was streaming in full force.

What if I don't find a new job?
What if I never will because my contract wasn't renewed?
Maybe it's for the best that I stay home with the Beats in light of the challenges they are facing.
Maybe it was stupid to push for all the things I've pushed for.

It was in that moment, when nothing but negativity was flowing through my brain, that this happened.


The light was so strong, it actually physically hurt.

But it also snapped me back to the moment. To what I was missing with all that bad dialogue and the fact that the main thing holding me back on all of it was me.

Today I'm at the library, staring directly at the mountain of work. But you know what, I've scaled steeper mountains and crawled my way out of deeper pits. And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what the naysayers say.  It time to change the dialogue, snapping out of the mood that is productive to no one.

Monday, October 9, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Nature Walk

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

Braving the rain, we went for our walk. They carried their bags to collect bits and piece from the journey. The only rule being that nothing was to be picked or pulled from the ground; all had to be found lying along the trail. And for the most part they followed that rule. 

But most interesting was the conversations from observations. The noting of berries only at certain parts of the trails, the observation of moss and seeing the birds fly over the pasture. All moments from a nature walk.





Deep in the Quiet Woods

Are you bowed down in heart?
Do you but hear the clashing discords and the din of life?
Then come away, come to the peaceful wood,
Here bathe your soul in silence. Listen! Now,
From out the palpitating solitude
Do you not catch, yet faint, elusive strains?
They are above, around, within you, everywhere.
Silently listen! Clear, and still more clear, they come.
They bubble up in rippling notes, and swell in singing tones.
Now let your soul run the whole gamut of the wondrous scale
Until, responsive to the tonic chord,
It touches the diapason of God’s grand cathedral organ,
Filling earth for you with heavenly peace
And holy harmonies.


By James Weldon Johnson


Friday, October 6, 2017

Final preparations

CAPRICORN HOROSCOPE (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) ~ by Jessica Lanyadoo @ The Hoodwitch
You can’t please all of the people al of the time, and trying to is a fools errand. Emotions are running high this week, and if you get too caught up in what you think other people are saying, thinking, or doing, you’ll lose track of what’s really happening for you. Stay centered within your own feels, and make sure your actions are in accord with your integrity. You’re not in control of much, but what you give your attention to is always at your own discretion, my love.
One of my weaknesses is that I'm a people pleaser. It's a survival mechanism I developed at a young age that seemed to serve me well throughout my youth, with me pleasing the adults around me and being rewarded.

As an adult, though, this tendency to please has really bitten me in the butt. I find myself often caving to strong personalities or those in positions of power in an effort to keep the peace and have been overly concerned about how others see me in the world as I don't like being on the outs. It's because of this that I struggle with setting boundaries, often feeling like I'm being minimized or used when conflicts arise and often feeling spent in the process. I've lost count of the number of times where I would have benefitted everyone if I had swallowed my fear of disappointing someone and instead spoke my mind or defended my points or observations.

The hardest part of being a people pleaser has been dealing with strong personalities and those who are use to getting their way. Engaging with people who are use to battling (and even thrive off of it) is extremely difficult as it doesn't take much for boundaries to be crossed. There's also a sense of competence that comes from those who are able to defend their points of view. I've been in situations where the person arguing has been flat-out, factually wrong or is just being an asshole and yet struggled to defend myself or bring the facts to light. In my world, it can make the difference between being taken seriously or shown the door.

My horoscope this week has been a potent reminder of this as I'm meeting today about material I will be presenting in a couple of weeks. The final lectures for my current position. Already, I'm getting push back and different opinions on the material I've selected and where to focus. But underlying all of this preparation is a sense of whether I'm competent enough to actually deliver this information. A feeling that my failure would somehow be a validation for the sudden decision to not renew my contract.

The past 24 hours have really brought all of this to a head. After an emotional morning with the Beats' evaluations (on an aside, they really worked very hard and I'm proud of them), my day only got harder following some phone calls and discussions where it became clear that I'm the one developing programs and designing curriculum. Things are falling squarely on my shoulders and people are watching to see if I can step up to the challenge. The final icing on the cake was hitting dinner time and realizing that only Daisy was in the house and ready to eat. Sitting outside and knowing it was fruitless to go hunting for Jaxson (I've never found a cat that wasn't ready to come home on their own accord), I faced being powerless for what felt like the 50th time that day. When Jaxson reappeared an hour later (and has now been grounded until death), I reread my horoscope and knew what I could control is what I chose to focus on.

So that's where I'm at this morning. Pushing aside any thought about what others think of me. Sure, I don't know every minute detail into various processes, but honestly that's not the point going forward. I have to start trusting myself and assuming that some level of conflict can be resolved as long as I do so. Because I cannot please everyone. Some people seem damn content to be angry that I'm even breathing. But what I can and should do is be true to myself. That's all that really matters in the end.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Brave for them

It's funny what kids take in. Their ability to observe and see the world in a way most adults have lost. I was once told that small children are the ultimate scientists, driven by a need to know and a willingness to fail in order to find the answer. A big part of that, though, is observation. The things they clue in on and can take in, all in a manner that betrays them either being uninterested or being completely unaffected.

Today I took the Beats in for their evaluations with special education. Though I wasn't in the room with He-Beat as he completed his evaluation, I did sit in for part of She-Beat's evaluation with the speech and language assessor. And though I hid in the corner as so not to distract She-Beat from what she was doing, I could hear how the assessment progressed. The waves of emotions that suffered throughout the entire 2 hour process left me marveling at how strong so many of these parents and caregivers before me have been just to sit in that chair and observe.

Through it all, I knew it was critical that I put on a brave face. That I cheer them on for doing such a good job even though all I wanted to do was breakdown and cry.

At the end, I didn't completely succeed. While talking with the staff at the end, the tears readily flowed. But I promised to do better next time. For the road ahead. Because though I'm feeling like a complete failure, I know that going through this process is so very important so that we can help them grow and thrive. That it's important to be brave for them.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Ticking things off

Busy. Theme of my life at the moment. Busy with preparing my last lectures. Busy with developing new programs. Busy with trying to develop a new project. Busy with applying for jobs. Busy with family and preparing for the evaluations tomorrow. Busy with life.

I've been very overwhelmed with all the uncertainty and having so many balls in the air. A lot of it is excited (all of it is scary), but I'm struggling with keeping things together.

Yesterday, in a fit of feeling I had no grounding, I pulled up an old FET calendar. And using it as a template, I began to make a list and timetable for events. Who knew thing calendar would ever serve another purpose.

This morning, readings were completed. Two job applications have been submitted. Another one will go out the door this afternoon. And then there's reading up on NGSS followed by putting together some flyers for advertising new programs. An expense sheet too. If I'm lucky, I'll get an outline of my concept paper completed so I can begin working on a draft.

Just need to keep ticking things off the list....

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Sensitizing

In December 2012, Grey and I took a much overdue vacation to Las Vegas. I didn't write a post about the trip given it wasn't terrible stellar (though Hover Dam was awesome!!), but there was a moment that has stayed with me. A moment I've remember vividly since the news about Las Vegas yesterday morning.

As part of the trip, Grey decided to surprise me by booking a room at the Bellagio. Not just any room, but one with a view of the fountain. After checking in, taking a much needed nap and getting some food, we came back to the room with the intention of relaxing prior to some sight-seeing the following morning.

As Grey went to shower, I found myself staring at the fountain. A few moments later, music timed for the fountain show began to flow into the room. And it was then that I grabbed a bottle of champagne, pulled up one of the chairs in the room in front of the window and parked myself for the next couple of hours, watching the fountain performance again and again.



For the past two days, as the media focused on all aspects of this mass shooting, I've had memories of the calm and peace that was in my heart as I watched that fountain. Of something that brought me joy as I was facing so much uncertainty and trying to will myself to have hope.

And it makes me angry and sad to know that though so many have died and suffered footsteps away from this structure that brought peace to my heart when I needed it most. To know that despite a few well-meaning tweets, nothing is really going to change to prevent something like this again. Not without turning everything else on its head.

Las Vegas isn't my favorite place in the world. There are so many other places I can name off the top of my head that I would rather spend my time at. But just because it's not my favorite place doesn't mean I don't wish this tragedy didn't happen. That the shootings in general didn't stop. That we weren't becoming so numb to this violence.

Monday, October 2, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Metanoia

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

Metanoia: a transformation or change of heart. Usually in the spiritual sense.

This past weekend was a beautiful one. The rain on Saturday set the stage for a crisp, clear Sunday. With autumn in the air, Grey and I decided to venture out to the harbor in order to take in the scenery and run the Beats.




And even though this is not home, the peace that came from being by this ocean and seeing the islands in the distance helped bring about a transformation in my heart. We're here for a purpose and though this beauty is foreign, it's still beautiful.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Navigating humans

For as long as I can remember, I've struggled with conflict. The idea of having disagreeable conversations usually makes me want to run for the hills, resulting in a shakiness that can easily be discerned. Over the years, I've gotten better about advocating for myself. Swallowing the fright in order to talk through things that are unavoidable. But I'm still awful at the hard stuff. And am particularly bad at fighting with people who refuse to meet me anywhere in the middle or see the pain they've caused.

Which makes this past week all the more interesting. Since the revelation earlier this week, I've been struggling with how to deal with the Beats' teachers. Though I have been communicating with the directors of the center, trying to put a plan in place for actions after the assessments, I haven't been able to even make eye-contact with the ones who filled out the assessments. A part of this is a preventative measure. I'm literally so angry that I'm worried about saying things that can never be taken back. Hence a cooling off period is required. But the root of all of this comes from trust being broken. Forgiving being lied to and betrayed.

As I've been wrestling with this, I've also been reflecting on relationships that ended or where a break was needed. In each, an obvious theme has emerged: empathetic or invested communication. The willingness to hear the other party as well as be heard. And it's that latter part that has had me thinking a lot; the need all of us have to be heard.

I'm no stranger to dealing with "hear me" arguments. Just last week, I had a very frustrated student meet with me as they didn't see the need to complete the assignments required for the course (nor for the requirement of this course in general), with it being clear they are feeling forced to spend their time on something they don't see as worthwhile. Other examples come with landlord disputes, arguments with friends and loved ones and even daily dealings at work or with family. In every case, there's a need to be heard, to give one a glimpse inside their heads or reasoning process.

There's value in being heard. It's a self-preserving act that can offer a lot of insight and if presented well can offer insights into a road forward. The conflict comes, though, when the "being heard" shifts from a balanced exchanged to being more one-sided. The reasons for the shift can range from wanting to appease/not rocking the boat to one party refusing to entertain opinions, experiences or insights that conflict with their own. It's this shift that leads to "us vs. them"/ black-and-white thinking fueling wide-ranging disputes, conflicts and even wars.

In 2012, the university I was working at invited Daryl Davis to speak on campus. Though I was unable to attend Mr. Davis's talk, I remember the outcry that arose around campus of seeing the lecture advertisement posters. Many were upset by the image of Mr. Davis shaking hands with a man wearing a KKK robe, demanding that the posters immediately be removed. The end result was that the posters were taken down, but it was only months later that the conversation was able to be resolved, with some of the students who originally demanding the removal having an "ah-ha" moment about what the imaginary was actually about and the power of the message behind it. As I overheard later in during conversations with colleagues, the intention of "being heard" had resulted in their failure to be open to actually hear.

So what the hell does any of this have to do with my current situation? Well, the root of it is once again in this dynamic. Specifically, as Grey pointed out, likely in an effort of the teachers to help us out. The reason for not communicating any worries or concerns likely comes down to not wanting to upset either Grey or me. But then there's the hurried response of filling out these assessments in order to make sure this process isn't being held up. The problem is, in this assumption of "hearing" us, a situation has been created that has resulted in a lot of heartache. Speaking with the other director yesterday, he acknowledged that though there are some of the things in the assessments are true, others are not and that things should have been done with a lot more care. But instead of pushing back on us, requesting for more time or asking for help, the push was to help us along.

All this leaves me trying to determine how to navigate this situation going forward. But also a general acknowledgement that navigating humans is insanely hard. Sometimes ending relationships has been required as there's no way to resolve the imbalance. But I don't think that's the case in this situation. There's still hope, even though the conversations to restore the balance are going to be painful.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The next hurdle

I've lost track of the number of times I've started this post. Maybe its out of fear of what will come from revealing too much, that will somehow translates to those reading as a justification for infertility or that somehow I'm less deserving to parent. But given the closing of the ear tube chapter and my previous experience with falling outside the norm and how seeking help lead to a much happier outcome, silence no longer makes sense.

So here we go. Please bear with me.

In June, Grey and I sat down to a meeting with the director at the daycare the Beats current attend. We were 3 months into being a part of this new center, but already things were rocky both there as well as at home. Sitting across the table from the director, she told us she had concerns for both kids and suggested it would be beneficial to reach out to special education through the school district to request assessments.

Somehow, I managed to hold back the tears that were choking me, forcing myself to focus on the task at hand and getting the ball rolling on seeking help. But there was so much doubt that surfaced that day as I was told both of them were struggling. Thoughts like "maybe this was why you are infertile" and "you've failed them as a parent" whipped through my brain as I made those first phone calls.

And if I'm being honest, those thoughts still creep in.

After a couple of false starts due to the pending move and them being aged-out of one system, the official requests were put in and all the paperwork was scanned, copied, filled out and sent off. A phone call with the special education director left me feeling hopeful of a process that could work and plans were quickly made for school visits. As of last Monday, following their initial round of assessments and feedback that the Beats had done well, I was feeling hopeful. After all, both of them have also been maturing and we were getting use to the center. Maybe we were turning a corner?

Yesterday, that fallacy came crashing down. After being sent home with teacher assessments (which I don't believe they intended me to review), I found myself in full panic mode. As Grey reviewed the forms, remarking in disbelief what he was seeing, I fired off an email to the center director informing her of my concern and demanding an immediate meeting. I was so upset that I couldn't look at my email until the morning for fear of the response.

Needless to say, I didn't sleep much anyway.

Today has been a hard day. I've done more crying than I have in a long time. I want my kids to be okay and I want to give them the help they need in order to thrive in this world. I'm also acutely aware that no parent reacts well when they hear anything negative about their child(ren). Unpleasant news is probably the hardest thing any teacher will ever deliver.

But I also have been feeling betrayed. I feel I was lead to believe something (that everything was getting better and would be okay) only to have that all ripped away. The foundation I thought was being laid is actually filled with cracks. And I struggle because that foundation is meant for the Beats, resulting in me in a mode where I cannot even interact with their teachers as trust has been broken.

So we're at a point where we're rebuilding. An impromptu meeting with the other center's director helped set us down that road and I'm trying to put a plan into place for going forward. But damn it's all so hard and it makes me question myself and my role again and again. And it makes me particularly testy with anyone who decides now would be a good time to offer advice.

Tonight I'm facing this next hurdle, even though I really don't want to.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Washington Dreamin

It's been a warm few days. Almost as if summer hasn't gotten the memo that it's now officially autumn. But the plants know: the leaves are starting to turn on the trees and the grass is no longer growing in an uncontrollable manner. There's also the betrayal in the crispness of the mornings, signaling the pending transition.


As I watch the leaves fall from the tree in our yard, I have flashes back to autumns in Seattle. The colors present in the trees in late October with a backdrop of green. Memories of hikes on autumn mornings or late afternoon escapes into the mountains to get in a few climbing routes before winter set in.

Washington Dreamin for a chapter of my life that once was. Knowing that though we are building a life here, with a lot of good along the way, that I miss my home. And so with each falling leaf, I dream of what once was and silent say a prayer that one day soon we'll get to go back.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

After

They woke up together. The nurse alerting us that He-Beat was awake first, but we could see that She-Beat was waking up as soon as we walked into the recovery room. Immediately Grey and I split up, each of us attending to a kid. Cuddling them as they emerged from the anesthesia, making sure they had access to pain meds and fluids.

This time was completely different from 2 years ago in every way. Instead of awaking crying, they were both quiet, seeming to trust the nurses and all that had happened. But given that the whole day had been different from the beginning, starting with us telling them about the surgery, them being very aware of the vitals that were being taken and, most importantly, going under anesthesia in a calm manner, cooperating with the anesthesiologist by playing breathing games instead of being forced by having the mask held to their faces. The calm beginning and the calm ending.

A fitting ending to a 4 year saga involving ears.

*****************
The saga began when the Beats were about 6 months old and caught their first colds. While most parents in the infant room where freaking out with stuffy noses, we found ourselves in the ER due to abnormally high fevers. "Ear infections" was the diagnosis and us being sent home with antibiotics. We were told it would clear up. It wasn't long before the ER visits became a regular thing.

As time went on, a new problem began to emerge with She-Beat not meeting milestones. While her brother was rolling over, crawling and walking, she was seemingly uninterested in doing anything other than sitting up. I remember expressing concern to her physicians and caregivers, all with the assurance that she just needed more tummy time. It wouldn't be long before she fell outside the normal range and we found ourselves in physical therapy. All the while on the back burner was the concern of continual ear infections.

Looking back, the connection is clear. The accumulation of fluid was giving She-Beat vertigo that no amount of tummy time would cure. But we didn't know that during that first ENT appointment at Seattle Children's. All we knew was there were too many ear infections, concern about continuous exposure to antibiotics, that hearing for both Beats was negatively impacted and that as an aside She-Beat had a gross-motor delay.

If I could go back to my younger, substantially stressed and frightened self, I would hug her. I would hug her so tight, wiping away those tears and allowing her to express all the fears and worries that she was holding close to her chest for fear of sounding petty or jealous of those that were not experience any milestone delays. And tell her that not only was it all going to be okay, but that something amazing was going to happen following a seemingly simple procedure. That these simple medical devices were about to change our lives for the better and that the journey we would be taking as a family was going to make all of us stronger.

It was just a matter of surviving the scariness that came with surgery. 7 surgeries total by the time we would be all done.

****************
As I sat in the waiting room, waiting to be called back to the recovery area, I found myself scrolling through old photos from the day of their first surgery. My uncle and aunt had been kind enough to accompany me to the surgery center to help keep the Beats distracted before surgery and then be in the recovery room. There were a series of photos that made my heart skip beats, but there's one of He-Beat with Grandpa T that particularly stuck: A "before" photo that has forever been etched in my brain.


30 mins later, with them sitting side-by-side in a wheelchair to be wheeled out of recovery to the awaiting car, I would capture my "after" photo.

Before and after. And a story in between.

Monday, September 25, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Round 3

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

Tomorrow the Beats have surgery to remove their ear tubes. It's been 2 years since their last set has been placed (and 2 years since She-Beat's cholesteotoma surgery) and as the tubes haven't fallen out (T-tubes rarely do), its time for them to be removed.

Despite this being routine, I'm nervous. Nervous for the anesthesia, nervous about them cutting into both my babies. Nervous about the risks involved and the what ifs. Sure, this isn't major surgery and it could be a lot worse (as someone who clearly has never gone through this kindly reminded me this morning). And this needs to be done. Plus we have a good surgeon doing these surgeries; something I spent close to 3 months navigate insurance in order to secure.

Still, what if something doesn't go as it should? What if this time something happens that's different? 

And why can't I just trade places with both of them, having the doctors cut into me instead? All for the same benefit to them, but any and all risks being on my body instead.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Just add vodka

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Through his eyes

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

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



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Making nice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Picking battles

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

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

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

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

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

Picking battles. Usually with me losing most of them.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Making friends with fertiles

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

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

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

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

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

Cue snickers from the group.

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

Snickers turn to laughter.

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

Cue confused looks from the adults

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 14, 2017

31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Rabbit holes

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


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

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

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

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

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

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