Thursday, October 18, 2018

Out of the frying pan

Teddy is finally sleeping through the night. For anyone who has ever cared for someone who's sleep is being disrupted (pain, illness, insomnia, etc), typing such a sentence is a bit of a dream. For us, it signals that we're turning a corner regarding pain management; that the healing is finally hitting a stage where the tissue in his throat is less raw and we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel (and hopefully crunchy foods again too).

While all of this has been happening, we've been preparing for Grey's first work trip to China. Between getting a visa (an adventure all its own), arranging travel plans (the travel agent assigned to him failed miserably on this end), and doing all things necessary to travel to a foreign country by oneself to represent your employer, there's been a lot of stress. Add in that this is an extended trip and the summary statement is it's about to get interesting.

It's hard not to cocoon oneself when there's a lot of hard happening. My natural instinct is to curl up in bed for the next few days, but the truth is that wasted time will ultimately hurt more than help. Still, even though things are getting better and recent events are actually roads to better things ahead, I'm also craving something to be easy in my life. That instead of hopping from fry pan to fry pan (and sometimes directly into the fire with a miscalculated jump), the landing would be someplace safe, cool and solid, afford us the time to heal and regroup.

This week has been spent finishing a round of job applications, reaching out to new contacts and hunting for new opportunities, all while concurrently medicating Teddy and transitioning him back to his normal. As I've been scanning the internet, it's been hard to avoid the news, making me increasingly disheartened by those who are in positions of power. But one thing I have learned is that hunting for silver linings and paths less traveled is rarely easy, often requiring one to risk jumping out of the frying pan and landing in the fire.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Adding light

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




Even though the sadness is less acute, there's a bit of calm that comes when we remember them. Because though only a handful of people even knew of their existence and short time here with us, they still were here. No less loved than their siblings we are fortunate enough to be able to hold.

So we add to the light, remembering all the others who left too soon. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Cut

The past few days have been spent in a state of sleep deprivation delirium. Teddy's surgery went very smoothly, with us learning that he only needed one eardrum patched as the other had already healed, and his time in the recovery area was fairly standard (we also learned Maddy is now the stuff of legend given how hard her recovery period post operation was so rough). 24 hours post-surgery, we were beginning to feel overly optimistic as Teddy was eating popsicles like a champ and taking medication without complaint. That all changed on Sunday at 3 am, where suddenly I was dealing with a small child who was inconsolable about being in pain and was refusing to swallow medication that would alleviate it. Last night was the first night he was able to sleep through, fighting us when we tried to rouse him at 11 pm for one final dose (he ordered both Grey and me out of his bedroom), but we're definitely not out of the woods.

As I've been living in this small bubble of post-surgery recovery, the world around me has been reeling from the news about Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation. The shock from the lies others in power have told themselves to confirm an overly privileged individual has resulted in societal levels of denial, anger, and disbelief that most who have lived through trauma are acutely familiar with. Watching all of this, it's hard not to see the same patterns seen time and again for those new to ALI community.

What's been most surreal is making the comparison about Maddy's and Teddy's surgeries to what needs to happen in the world. It's painfully clear that the current leadership is irreparably broken, but underlying all of that is also acknowledging that our mindset about the situation is too. Article upon article has come out analyzing how people could support Brett Kavanaugh or any man like him following Christine Blasey Ford's testimony, with enough articles and opinion pieces to fill a small section of a library. The truth is complex, with acknowledging that not only is this not a black-and-white issue but that often humans have multiple layers with their actions and intentions. Good people do bad things and bad people can do good things, but often we all exist somewhere in the gray with treating those we love well while treating those we don't agree with or view as outsiders horribly.

Watching all of this, I cannot help but feel we're rapidly approaching a period where radical change will happen; that things are becoming so intolerable that a great upheaval will happen to correct. What scares both Grey and me is that this tension is fertile ground for war, something that would be horrible for all involved, but it also can usher in a period of reset and reestablishing order. Like with an operation, cutting out the disease and problematic tissue will also result in healthy tissue being disposed of, so the goal is figuring how to minimize all of that to preserve the greater good.

Teddy is healing and we're already seeing the benefits from this surgery. He no longer sweats at night and he's sleeping for longer stretches. But the pain has been something that would test most people, bordering on intolerable during some moments that make me question whether this was a good idea. Being mindful of that, I'm preparing to carry that mentality into this election session with cutting off the life-long careers of some politicians and giving life to those who aren't backed by the parties in hopes of injecting in change.

But I think this needed change will require more than that. It will require also speaking out instead of staying silent, angering many who have benefited at the expense of others, but also calling out that there isn't a black-and-white outcome to our current ills. Acknowledging there are women who are abusers, that there are men who are victims, that racism comes in all colors and forms and that a lot driving this is due to socioeconomic inequality. That it's only when we acknowledge our role in this problem that we can truly begin to enact the change that is desperately needed.

Because without cutting away the disease, it's only going to get a lot worse.

Monday, October 8, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Gudetama

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

I don't know why I got sucked in. Part of it is wanting a distraction from job hunting; part of it is being insanely tired after two straight nights of medicating a 5-year-old (the screaming in pain from swallowing medicine which will relieve said pain has been hard). The other part came from a request to patch an old knit elephant coupled with hearing about how the 9-year-old East Coast twins are clearly obsessed with getting their hands on a figurine, resulting in Lucas's recent trip to Japan evolving into a mission to find this character.

I don't get the appeal of Gudetama; anything that whines leaves me wanting to pull my hair out. But I do know that there are currently zero knitting patterns (and the one on Raverly costs $11.50).  So in a fit of inspiration, I decided to put my knitting skills to use and 20 minutes later this was the end result.


I have a few more that I want to try, including trying to perfect the butt (who knew an egg yolk would have a butt), but I'm thinking what I've got so far isn't half-bad. 

Friday, October 5, 2018

Letting go

Teddy is in surgery as I type this. After 8 rounds of being in a surgery center, you think I would get use to this, but each time is hard with me wishing it was me who was about to undergo anesthesia and be going under the knife; that they were operating on me but giving the benefits to these two kids.

This morning, as we prepared to go to the surgery center, Teddy asked Grey if he could be the one to take him in. This isn’t the first time requests for “Daddy” or other people have come, with both kids routinely asking for have other people in their lives do things with them. From drop off at school to trips to the store to even preference to car (Lenny is currently the favorite vehicle given they don’t get to ride in him much any more), the preference for all things not me has been increasing. Today, though, was the first time either kid has requested not to have me there when going into something scary.

I must confess, I’m feeling odd about this. For the most part, I’m proud that Teddy doesn’t require me for everything in his life. Whereas not so long ago, the idea of any separation was not even on the radar, this development means that both kids are learning not only to trust others but also themselves. This independence is important and should be fostered.

Sitting in the waiting room, though, I’m surprised to also be feeling sadness. Because the baby I once believed I would never be holding has grown into a small child and as proud of him as I am, I’m also hit with the fact that those baby years are gone. A selfish aspect given that I’ve been given an incredible gift to even experience them and that both kids are generally thriving.

Sitting here, I’m working on shedding this sadness and letting go of things that have served their purpose. There’s so much ahead that needs focus and attention, fueled by a lot of good. Just wishing my heart was in sync with my head.


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Graffiti

Tomorrow Teddy goes in for surgery. My morning has been spent on the phone, making final arrangements for a 2-week absence and rearranging deadlines to accommodate. In addition to this, I'm fulling in job hunting mode, already fielding some interesting conversations from potential employers and reworking resumes and cover letters to circumvent HR entirely. All this while dealing with all the other drama.

So in light of this heavy, you can imagine my amusement finding this bathroom graffiti. The polarizing and provocative statements, poems, and observations written by authors who have newly entered adulthood and are holding an audience who has next to no choice but be surrounded.

A reminder that so many things we see in black-and-white can become grayed as we walk down our individual roads in life.






Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Price of advocating

On Tuesday, I connected with the director for aftercare and asked for an update on all that had transpired from the week before. Following a Monday morning of emails to the principal and some discussions with the aftercare teachers, I had a sneaking suspicion that the mother of the other child had stopped attacking, finally seeing that her aggressiveness was actually making the situation a lot worse, but no one had confirmed with me what had happened. Talking with the director, my hunch was confirmed. I learned that an extended meeting had taken place, where not only were the rules of proper and acceptable behavior laid out for this woman, but she was told what the next steps, which would involve CPS, would be given the seriousness of this incident and the safety concerns for all involved. I learned that this mother was finally open to listening, reversing a lot of her previous story and statements.

Then I learned that she apologized to the staff, the director and the principal, leaving all of them feeling better about this situation. It was when the director saw the look of surprise on my face and then learned this woman had not reached out to me, she froze. Then she asked about the medical bills, learning I had again heard nothing.

I've been struggling since I learned about these apologies. A part of me says to let it go and proceed with this new normal; embracing forgive and forget is something many would like me to do. The problem is that the other half of my brain reminds me of all the trouble and heartache that came from this approach, often exacerbating bad situations and leading to far worse outcomes than if I had addressed them sooner. With Cyrol the end came after he filed a lawsuit against the association with his explicit goal (detailed in a letter) aimed at hurting me. It took a judge ruling against him, the association winning a counter lawsuit and threatening him with jail time to get him to reconsider. Even then, the stalking didn't stop and likely would still be happening if not for the fact he has no way of contacting me. With Latham, the man who raped his 16-year-old daughter, it took social isolation and holding him accountable to debts to get him to move. Fleur literally missed a forcible eviction by the sheriff by 1 day (he showed up the morning she finally vacated the property after months of squatting). And the list goes on. There's also my history of being the whipping boy in my family, with my emotional health taking a beating solely so others wouldn't become upset about being called out. Being silent has not served me well.

What's foremost on my mind is that I don't want Teddy to become a focus for bullying from this other kid. Though I know CPS investigations are stressful, the child is still enrolled in this aftercare program and the mother has not modeled for her child the need to make amends following wrongs. No mediation has been scheduled to resolve this issue. And given all the lies, false accusations and anger, I don't foresee this mother taking ownership.

Yesterday, after doing some reading and reflecting, I contacted a personal injury lawyer about the unpaid medical bills to explore our options and gather information for how to proceed. To date, nothing has been done and no one has been hired, but I also am aware of the power of knowing one's options, even if they are unpopular to those not intimate with the situation.

I'm already paying the price for advocating, even though all of this is speculative; very similar to ones I have paid before. What those outside looking in don't consider is the much larger price that comes from not advocating. How remaining silent and not rocking the boat can ultimately enable unhealthy acts that can spiral out of control. Frankly, the paying the price for silence isn't one I'm willing to face given all we've already been through.

Monday, October 1, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: The journey

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


For the highs and the lows
and the moments between,
mountains and valleys,
and rivers and streams,
For where you are now,
and where you will go,
For "I've always known,"
and "I told you so,"
For "nothing is happening,"
and "all has gone wrong,"
it is here in this journey,
you will learn to be strong,
you will get where you're going,
landing where you belong.

~Morgan Harper Nichols

Friday, September 28, 2018

When they scream

I had hoped the drama would be over by now. That with Teddy healing and the reports aligning that the biting child's mother would see the writing on the wall, being willing to sit down and actually find a way to resolve this situation. Instead she went to Teddy's school principal. This mother is claiming I screamed at her child (I didn't). This mother is claiming the aftercare teachers are negligent and incompetent (they are not). She's still demanding that Teddy to be kicked out. And she's demanding that this facility lose their license.

Writing a long email today to the prinicipal, I immediate thought about Brett Kavanaugh's testimony. How he came in screaming and demanding other's believe his innocence, following on the heels of Christine Blasey Ford's testimony. It's hard not to see the similarities of Mr. Kavanaugh's and this mother's approach, using shame and anger to scare others into backing off and giving them what they want.

It's been hard to witness all of this, being on the receiving end of so much focused aggression from someone who clearly is brimming with anger towards the world.  Equally hard is seeing the responses from those who are uncomfortable with all of this, wanting to make that focused aggression disappear, returning to a more peaceful state. The difference with Teddy's situation vs. that being played out on Capitol Hill is that there are rules in place the school has to follow, while our government is driven by leaders who have their own agenda to promote the norm.

Today the aftercare is meeting with this mother, but I've already requested that they open a case with Child Protective Services. In addition, I've also begun looking into having this mother cover Teddy's medical expenses. As mean as that sounds, documentation is needed to build a case for intervention from outside entities as well as to protect my family from someone who has made it clear that they have no issue hurting my family to protect their normal.

Regardless, it's all been hard and I've been experiencing why so many don't share their stories following assaults or other traumas. The judgement inflicted on them is often unfair. Because too often those in the wrong scream the loudest when confronted. And too often, they are rewarded for it.




Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Fear driven

Yesterday morning, following dropping off Teddy and Maddy at school, I drove over to the office for the aftercare center to meet with the director. Greeting all the staff, I found the director immediately ushering me into her office and closing the door so we could speak. Calmly, I restated everything that was in my email, emphasizing how traumatic all of this must be for her and her staff.

In the middle of this conversation, the director's phone rang and on the other line was the mother of the child who bit Teddy. Immediately she began screaming, claiming that Teddy had been harassing her child for weeks, had forced his entire hand inside her child's mouth, that her child was defending himself and that the teachers had completely failed to stop any of this. She claimed that her child never behaved aggressively, screaming that they needed to kick Teddy out of aftercare. Taken aback, the director calmly stated that she would be investigating, but also how out of character this accusation was both for Teddy as well as her staff. She emphasized that biting was never an acceptable form of defense and that the mother would not only be billed for Teddy's medical expenses, but that CPS would likely be involved. As this mother attempted to escalate, the director responded as calmly as she could, promising to investigate and report back to all involved.

By noon, I learned the mother had lied. The teachers told an entirely different story about this child, how he had been picking on Teddy and how quickly he attacked him. How this child was battling with classmates at school, having already been called to the principle's office due to bullying behavior. How the mother had changed her story within 12 hours, initially admitting fault as she had counseled her son to fight back whenever he felt threatened instead of finding a teacher (completely in contrast to school and aftercare policy).

To say the teachers and director are pissed is an understatement. Given that this woman made accusations that called into question their competence, impacting their jobs and center licensing, there's been a lot of stress. To have all of it be untrue has brought an element of urgency for dealing with this family that most ultimately never want to experience.

All of this calls into question why would this woman lie as well as why she is also teaching her child to lie (which is something all involved have been witnessing).

I've been reflecting on this situation as well as generally on why people are less-than honest for a few weeks now. With my current work situation, I'm facing a boss who I don't trust to be truthful with me, meaning I'm documenting all my work as well as hunting for a new job. I'm also remembering an incident I encountered years ago while working at Teddy's and Maddy's first daycare. There was a parent who escalated follow his 5 year old daughter exposing herself to her classmates, resulting in the other children teasing her. What the investigation revealed was that there was abuse happening at home, with the parent escalating further and further until it became clear that the authorities needed to be brought in. What immediately comes to mind is in all cases, there's fear of discovery underlying the behavior. Just like throwing sand in someone's eyes, the goal of escalating or blaming is to distract from what problem is currently being examined.

There's a lot to be said about fear and how it has impacted my own life. It's true that fear can be a good thing, protecting us from dangers that would otherwise be devastating. But fear has also been destructive. Fear of being an outcast has driven me to behave in ways I haven't always been proud of. Fear of failure resulted in my pushing myself past breaking-points, scared of asking for help either because of rejection or told that I needed to stop. Fear has also resulted in my being less than truthful, both with those around me as well as with myself.

The problem with fear-driven behavior is it doesn't solve the problem and often can make a situation a lot worse. Failed experiments repeated time and again out of fear would later reveal that something else was actually happening (that often was far more interesting). Fear of being an outcast kept me in circles with others who didn't really care about me as an individual. And fear of being labeled stifled seeking help, finding resolution through different paths and roads that I couldn't find on my own.

As odd as this sounds, this current situation has left me feeling sad. Speaking with social services and the county public health department yesterday, I learned that there's reason so many are frightened by these agencies given that their investigations are meant to be thorough. Thankfully Grey and I won't be investigated, but we have passed on all the details of this incident to the aftercare program as it's clear they are preparing to file a report against this child and the mother. Involving entities that have removed children from their homes is something most would like to avoid and I can image how scared this mother is now, especially as I now know that a meeting has been scheduled for Friday.

For his part, outside of the initial trauma from being bit, Teddy has been taking all of this in stride, exercising kindness and happily accepting special treatment from his teachers as his thumb heals. For my part I've been working hard to address the residual anger I feel towards this family, focusing on modeling forgiveness and healing and being sure to thank all the teachers for all their hard work.

But I'd also be lying if I didn't confess the fear I've been fighting that about potential retaliation and further harm to both Teddy and Maddy over this. That I'm fighting my gut reaction to pull them from school entirely, allowing the bully to win as I try to protect my kids. And I'd be lying if I didn't confess that I need help countering the negative thoughts in my head. Even though I know it's all based on fear and that ultimately it's not the road to healing and growing.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Rewire

It was pick-up time when I found Teddy sitting on the bench in tears. Another child close by with a teacher trying to mitigate the conflict. Initially holding back to let them resolve, I was brought into the situation when the word "bite" was brought up. Years of being in a daycare situation had made me numb to biting incidents, but looking at the almost 8 year old child accused on biting in front of me who was actively justifying why the decision to use teeth was okay immediately made my hair stand on end. Somehow I managed to keep my cool, listening for a few moments before telling this child that what happened was far from okay. All the while feeling guilty about having to reprimand them.

A couple of hours later, we would be in the emergency room. Teddy had spiked a fever and upon hearing that he had been bitten the nurse wasted no time on getting us in. Sitting across from the doctor, I watched as her eyes widened in horror as she examined Teddy's wound, looking even more concerned when told what had happened. Following cleaning, bandaging and giving a prescription of antibiotics, we began a discussion about an early discussion I had had with the triage nurse about how this incident would be reported to the county and that it was likely Child Protective Services would be called to investigate. I was upset as calling the police into this matter is something a parent never wants to encounter, especially when the actions are due to someone else. Yet there's nothing I can do other than to let a potential investigation take its course. As we learned, human bites from older children and adults are very seriously and potentially life-threatening.

One unforeseen side effect of infertility and multiple miscarriages is that I still don't consider myself a true parent. I adore my kids and would do anything for them, but it doesn't take much to make me feel like I'm over-reacting or that I don't have as much authority as someone who could conceive without years of treatment. To this end, I tend to hold back, never really bonding with other mothers as they swap parenting advice (seriously, what advice would I dare to give someone?), shared birth stories (the mere mention of a high-risk pregnancy ending with me going into liver failure tends to kill these conversations) or all things "mom" focused. In an odd way, I don't see myself the same way others do in their role of being a parent, making it not only hard to connect but even harder to confront when conflict does arise.

The problem with all of this is I'm often left feeling like a doormat when situations arise where I need to advocate for Maddy and Teddy. I usually end up beating myself up afterwards, even though I'm often in the right, do so respectfully and only do so to protect them. Days will go by where I'm beating myself up.

Tonight's incident takes all of this to a new level. If Child Protective Services is called in, it's very likely the other family will be investigated. With an 8 year old who is biting where many have commented how unusual that is, one can only speculate what will come out of all of that, but what I do know is Grey and I will likely come under the microscope if there is an investigation, with questions being asked about our role in caring for Maddy and Teddy and whether we are protecting them.

After a long discussion tonight, Grey and I decided to act instead of waiting. An email has gone off the to aftercare center director asking for a meeting to discuss this biting incident and how we can work with them to resolve this issue, protecting both our kids. I've also written to Teddy's Kindergarten teacher, informing her of the incident and asking her to contact me if anything is off with him even though he is cleared for school tomorrow. We figure if we're about to be questioned, we'd like enough evidence to show we not only care about our children, but we are taking steps to protect them. All that while monitoring Teddy, making sure he doesn't develop an infection or contracts a disease due to this incident.

Still, there's guilt with sending these emails. That somehow my actions are meant solely for judging another parent(s) who likely may be struggling. I'm working on putting all of that aside, refocusing my attention and quieting the worthiness doubt infertility created long ago. I can't afford not to.

#MicroblogMondays: Meet Norman

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


Knitting has always been a great distraction when life gets too complicated. Prior to Maddy and Teddy, knitting was my refuge following a bad day or when infertility seemed like it was sucking the life out of me. Over the past 5 years, though, its been hard to find time to pick up the needles. 

Thursday evening, though, I hit a wall and knew I would be needing help to get out of my funk.

Meet Norman the Hedgehog


Given that Grey has been working on a project where all things hedgehog have been a running joke and the fact that hedgehogs are not allowed in California, I figured this would be put to good use.



Sadly, only Maddy and Teddy were fans (Grey declared him an armadillo). So I'm off to round 2 of hedgehog knitting and Norman has found a new home with one of the neighbor children. But it feels oddly good to pick up the needles again.

Friday, September 21, 2018

And so we start again...

I'm job hunting again. Following 2 weeks of tension at work, with my boss calling my work sloppy, being excluded from group meetings and me enduring some rather childish remarks, I sat down with another manager where she flat out told me that I shouldn't be enduring any of this and should be looking for greener pastures.

It goes without saying that I'm angry. A month ago I was being praised about my hard work and all that I was helping accomplish. I was also told that moves were being made to keep me on permanently. But the other thing I'm angry about has been the lack of direction and guidance. My boss doesn't believe in task lists, is often vague about what she wants for a final product and often leaves things to the 11th hour, meaning there's a lot of opportunities for mistakes. Which wouldn't be a huge problem if she also wasn't so concerned about final presentation and output, meaning there's not a lot of room for error.

But the final bit that makes me angry is learning that my current treatment is due to her projecting from two previous employees. That instead of being willing to work with me, she's already decided there's no way I can change because the last ones didn't.

Processing all of this last night with Grey, we both reflected on what has happened the last few weeks and how that relates to the past few years. Basically how different things are now then they were even a year ago.

  • Last week, Grey included me in a text message to our complex manager informing her our home was being cased. A young man was witnessed turning to enter our back patio, then tossing a cell phone and coming around to the front door. Following knocking loudly, he was visibly surprised to find Grey answering the door. Mumbling that his brother had thrown his cell phone into our back patio, Grey closed the door and passed the broken cell phone over the fence back to him. Grey responded all of this by installing a security system while I walked over to the neighboring condo association where I believed this person originated and made contact with the HOA president. Between the two of us, we not only secured our home, but made contact with a neighborhood watch group and set into motion plans not only to remedy the casing (it's one family that are facing eviction very soon) but also to move again soon. 
  • In addition to this, Teddy's surgery has been rescheduled because the surgeon made the last minute decision to request a second opinion despite my repeated requests for 2 months. He's now unhappy as I've called him out for unprofessional behavior (and his staff has been dumbfounded), but the result is that now another surgeon is being brought in to address the remaining holes in his ear drums, applying a new type of patch that should resolve the problem and hopefully restore his hearing. 
  • We also had some drama with aftercare given that there was a new teacher that Teddy and Maddy were testing. Working with them, we've come up with a plan to resolve this that appears to be working very well. 
  • All of this is on the heels of both Maddy and Teddy being reassessed by pediatric development medicine. What we learned is that unlike a year ago, Maddy is testing ahead of her peers and they are impressed with her current IEP as they are not only seeing a striking improvement, but they believe it will help her overcome what remains from her speech delay. Teddy also tested ahead, with concerns that he is on the road to an ADHD diagnosis. But when they learned about the sleep apnea, they expressed hope that we may also see a similar change in behavior that we've seen with Maddy following surgery. We have a referral for OT, but the recommendation is to see what happens following surgery.
  • And then there's Grey's job, where after 6 months in his current position, his boss's boss has moved him off his current project (which has been going very well) to a new project that is struggling, promoting him to the role of hiring manager and talking about him building his own team. That and the VP of the company announced last week they are sending him to China for a week. All indicating that not only are they happy with his work, but they are making plans to promote him. All this is contrast to what he was hearing a year ago from one of his former supervisors, who themselves is now facing a potential fallout for poor management, failure to deliver and demonstrating they are completely incompetent. 

Sitting across from me, Grey laid all of this out. And then in an attempt to make me feel better, he told me that though we've been through the wringer before, what we've learned is that sometimes we need things to get so bad that salvaging a situation is no longer an option. That we force ourselves to quit a path that is hurting us, laying the foundation for recognizing paths and opportunities we might have been blind to before.

Despite me knowing this, I'm still struggling. I'm tried of feeling like I'm failing, struggling to dig in for work that I believe is both important and needed. But the truth is, I'm been trying to grow things on infertile ground for a long time now. That though there are those who are doing insanely amazing work, there are also many who don't share my mindset of how to address this need. And there's also demons they are grappling with that can make the work and the environment a poor fit.

So I'm starting again; feeling like I'm traveling done a road I've already been down many times before. The emotions involved haven't been any easier to deal with, but I'm finding that I'm becoming braver about asking for help and absorbing the feedback on what didn't work so I can stop making the same mistakes.

Friday, September 7, 2018

The melting part of a meltdown

This meltdown has been building for awhile. Between stress work, stress from home, stress from Teddy's upcoming surgery and stress in general, I'm been feeling out of sorts for awhile and aware how thread-barred I've been becoming.

So when yesterday I misread an email that landed me in some hot water with my boss, followed by a rough morning with her in general, combined with a follow-up email from Maddy's teacher where she flippantly asked about meeting times and then another email from Teddy's surgeon where he decided Teddy needs to see a hearing specialist prior to surgery next Thursday (he's had 2.5 months to sit on the information I gave him), the meltdown began.

And though my boss apologized later, making it clear she wants me to communicate with her, I didn't feel any better as now I'm convinced my contract isn't going to be extended.

And though Maddy's teacher explained in a follow up email that she just wanted to chat in general, I emailed a request to the principle for a formal sit-down as I already know this type of communication will lead to future conflict and this needs to be rectified now, making me agitated that I have to initiate these boundaries

And though the ENT staff is scrambling to get Teddy in to be seen, the surgeon and I are now angry with one another as I pointed out that this delay really is not acceptable (and he's angry as physicians aren't use to this type of push-back), meaning today is a cooling-off period before an escalation happens that cannot be undone.

Somehow I got through the work day, but last night was spent with me pacing and floating in-and-out of tears, with Grey finding me curled up in the kitchen at one point. I'm consumed with guilt over all the negativity and am gripped by fear that comes with once again having to resume a job hunt. I'm tired of feeling like a failure and less-than based on a career-path I chose.

But above all, I'm angry. And that's not a great place to be.

Despite next to no sleep and a commute that continues to be taxing (~100 miles every day has been wearing), I'm trying to pull myself together today to get final pieces put into place for this event tomorrow. Grey has stepped up and will be the primary parent for the next 48 hours and even Maddy and Teddy have agreed to jump in to help out by showing Grey the ropes to their typical day. Still, I feel like goo, with next to no skeleton for support. And that sucks.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Playing tourist

Sunday, while every local headed out of the Bay Area, Grey and I decided to play tourist and venture into the city explore. My younger self use to turn up my nose at any activity that fell under "tourist attraction," but my opinion has changed as I've aged. After all, even if outwardly cheesy, these activities are often a lot of fun and far too many locals miss out one something that truly can be unique to an area.

After a lot of back-and-forth, we settled on Fisherman's Wharf as our destination. And despite a late start (really don't recommend arriving at any location at 11 am), we ended up having a fun morning/early afternoon exploring the piers and taking in the sights



It was on the walk back to the car that Grey commented about how rare it is for us to spend a day out together. A big part of this has to do with all the chaos over the last 5 years. Between moving, work stress and housing stress, there's not been much room for taking any down time. And as Grey reflected on this, I thought more about how this was a major factor that separated us from a lot of other people in our circle. How others around us have found a way to schedule vacation time while we've had it on the back-burner.

I'm hoping that this day-trip is the beginning of change on that front. Though I have no grand illusions about going somewhere exotic, simple trips like this where we can get away and reset while not having to worry about employment status or where our home will still exist seems like something reasonable to aim for.

In light of that, I'm hoping we'll have another opportunity to play tourist again. Because I hear the cable cars are a worthwhile experience.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Blue

Its the week of a major event at work. Tensions are high as all of us are preparing for a showcase of updated curriculum and introducing the science education community to new team members. And there's the added fact that my future with this organization rides on Saturday going well. All leading me to second-guess myself and my worth given that I've not been included in meetings about aspects I was previously a part of.

Then there's the email from Maddy's teacher, requesting a meeting as she's been struggling with communicating followed by no response to me asking for when we can meet.

The cherry on top of this that we are looking at moving again in 6 months. Our current apartment complex is transitioning with cooperate management that is clearly interested only in profit. Between the garbage bins being filled to the brim as word has gotten out that this complex is a great place for illegal dumping, a lot of pot smoke, repairs piling up (and threats from management for me not to do them) and dealing with neighborhood kids have been peeking into our windows (parents are no where to be found), we're realizing there isn't a sustainable community here.

It's not often that I find myself wanting to throw in the towel. Usually I can find a reason to power through a day, holding onto promises of progress and movement forward. But today has been a blue day where I feel both like a complete failure and angry about being pushed around as there doesn't seem to be a solution.

Even though I know a letter from a lawyer would make the next 6 months bearable with our living situation. That Maddy's teacher will get back to me and we'll work out a solution for moving forward. And following this Saturday I'll have an answer about my future with this company.

Monday, September 3, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Opposite of the plan

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

Yesterday, after some bribery and encouragement, I took Maddy and Teddy out to the parking lot for a maiden voyage on their fully reassembled bikes. Holding onto the back of their seats, I did what so many have described before, chanting "pedal!" as they gained speed before letting go. And though there were a couple of stumbles, 20 minutes later they were both biking around the parking lot with am amused looking Grey documenting the whole scene, including a very winded Cristy

As all of this was happening, some of the neighbors came out to watch, commenting on how quickly Maddy and Teddy have learned to ride. I had to laugh as what they were witnessing could easily be misinterpreted for the how the whole experience actually played out, with them missing all the moments over the past 2 months that had all gone completely opposite to plan.

Like the fact that I never intended to use training wheels, yet quickly threw that idea out the window after a week being on modified balance bikes (seats lowered and no pedals) as they were bored from pushing themselves around and didn't know how to get themselves moving. 

Followed by the fact we would go on to spend the rest of July and most of August on training wheels, with both kids picking up speed and Teddy getting off his training wheels for the most part, but both resisting the idea of removing said training wheels as they figured out that was what was keeping them balanced. 

How it took Maddy basically breaking her training wheels from all the leaning, followed by a night of serious argument with Grey after I asked if we could somehow fix the problem (we couldn't and he's still convinced I shouldn't be allowed to make future bike-related purchases), that lead to a fit of anger on my part resulting in removing the training wheels all together as well as pedals and lowering the seats again. 

And how over the next week following that ugly night, where I didn't see a way forward, both Teddy and Maddy would put it all together, mastering balancing on their modified balance bikes and then going on to riding them like it was second nature.

All of this has been a bit heady for me given that I thrive on plans. I like mapping out how to attack situations, making small modifications as needed but generally sticking to the skeleton that was laid out. Despite this, my life so far has gone no where near what was planned and I've often found that when I buck "going with the flow" I tend to lose. The problem is that a lack of structure is stressful for me and it's not where I tend to thrive. But what I'm reminded of is that too much structure and rigidity is also harmful. That we as humans learn best through failed experiments, finding roads and options we rarely would considered unless pushed.


We still have a way to go with biking before I can send Maddy and Teddy off on the trail with Grey (that's my current pipe-dream). Teddy is doing well with getting himself started on the flat, but gravel trails are a bit more difficult. Maddy still is more cautious and needs to gain confidence with speed; hills are going to be hard for her. Yet watching them both today on the school playground blacktop, zipping around the courtyard, I was reminded that oftentimes the best things come in ways that I could never have planned.

Something I need to hold fast to for this coming week.

Monday, August 27, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Chemistry in the kitchen

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

Lessons learned from today's experiment:

1) Ball size matters

 2) Ratio of frosting to cake is key to success


3) The presence of chocolate in cocoa butter makes a HUGE difference in consistency
4) Vegetable oil does wondrous things to chocolate.


Experiment 2 next week.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Perfect

On Friday, Maddy and Teddy finished preschool. It's a bittersweet end to an era, given they've been in some form of daycare since they were 5 months old and our family has generally benefited from the relationships with the teachers and the schools. Still, we're officially in a weird limbo of no school for the next two days, meaning I have two gift days of being home with them full time, helping them prepare for their first day of Kindergarten.

There's so many things I have on my list of final experiences: baking together, making thank you cards for all their previous teachers who have gotten us to where we are today, getting in some final midday bike rides and maybe trying to hit the pool one final time. Everyone around me telling me how precious and special this time is, making it seem like there's a need for it to be picture perfect.

But the reality is, none of it will be. There will likely be fights and struggles; moments where we'll want to be done with each other. I also have to work during these two days, so there will be some creative juggling happening. Meaning these last 2 days will likely be far from perfect.

Our world is currently focused on the "perfect moments," fueled by social media and unrealistic expectations. It's interesting how sneaky this pressure is applied, either with well-meaning questions or check-lists of things we need to do. 

And yet, what makes something a perfect memory is usually something that seems benign or is unexpected. A touch, a moment, a shared exchange, but even joy or humor during something that is otherwise a disaster or the calm that comes from making up. Things that generally aren't planned.

Today we went on a hike with Lucas and Moon. And it was during a moment when Maddy declared that she was tired and couldn't possibly walk another step (1 mile away from the car) that I lifted her into my arms and walked while she wrapped her body around me. All while one cousin was in tears over being terrified about the wasps and Teddy was tearing off ahead of the group, causing all the adults to panic. In that moment (with Teddy fetched and accounted for), I could feel the weight of this young girl and knew the day was rapidly approaching that carrying her would be next to impossible. 

All of it reminding me that "perfect" is not something we can actually define and hold to a standard. And that sometimes "perfect" comes in the most imperfect moments 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Monday, August 13, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Sploot

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

Just over 14 years ago, Grey and I adopted Daisy. Upon returning home from our honeymoon, we found a very lonely Jaxson who had taken up the habit of laying completely prone on the floor, chinning touching the ground and looking around in a very sad manner. Deciding enough was enough, off to the animal shelter we went to find him a companion, resulting in us finding a small mackerel tabby with a star on her forehead and an attitude that still keeps everyone in line.

But the one habit that Daisy possess that I had never seen before is this sitting position.


Initially we thought it was a way for her to protect her belly following her spay operation, but 14 years later she still does it, usually when comfortable and relaxed. 

Apparently splooting is thing, often associated with dogs but cats and rabbits will do it too.

Who knew?

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The myth of "happily ever-after"

It's later in the evening and the kids are down. Settling into the night, hoping for just a few minutes of relaxation, I say something that triggers a fight. After several minutes of back-and-forth, I end up leaving the room to cool down and reflect. More minutes will pass before I emerge to apologize, trying to repair the hurt built upon more hurt and figure out a road forward.

Maddy has become interested in fairy tales, picking out stories that involve some sort of adventure that wraps up with a happy ending. Watching her recount these tales, I'm reminded of how for the first 30 years of my life I too believed in happy endings: that right triumphed, there was always a reason for the bad and this idea that if you worked hard enough one could overcome anything. Happiness was a destination and despite many failings I held fast to this idea that once I reached it I would be complete.

So it was a bit of a one-eighty that my 30s have been spent tearing apart this myth about happiness in a spectacular fashion, with infertility being the final straw resulting in the collapse of the "happily ever-after" myth and the reality that life is actually insanely unfair journey.

Despite this realization, I still struggle when Grey and I fight. I hate it to my very core, even though I know that the arguing we do isn't a sign that our relationship in trouble (I worry about couples who claim to never fight). Still, my whole being hurts when we're in the thick of disagreement. Even though I know I should know better, it can often be hard to see a path forward.

I’ve been reflecting on this today, picking apart why my world feels like it’s falling apart when Grey and I are fighting. Part of it still comes from the power of the myth of “happily ever-after” and the idyllic pictures of seemingly conflict-free couples. One of the most damaging aspects about the ever-after myth is the unspoken assumption you’re either on the road or you aren’t. A former friend once informed me I was doomed to a life of unhappiness, a threat meant to pull on this fear of a melancholy destiny. Looking at our society, where instant gratification is a multi-billion dollar industry with people throwing almost all caution to the wind in the hopes of experiencing happiness, it's not surprising that this fear exists, highlighting why it can feel so damning if you aren't feeling happy when everyone around you seems to be

One reason that infertility was so painful was this assumption that I was somehow undeserving for parenthood because I wasn't the image of happiness and in the thick of that darkness that was fertility treatments and miscarriages a lie I told myself was that having a baby would resolve all our pain and worry. Never mind that this is the furthest from reality, the idea that I was undeserving stemmed for a belief that it was because I wasn't happy

Another realization is that there's still this myth that happy couples are conflict-free couples. The truth that fighting fair and conflict resolution aren’t skills most people have, with me being one of many that didn’t learn to fight well. With my mother, apologizing for anything meant taking full responsibility for any hurt, leading to an end where one person “lost” and the goal of each argument to “win” no matter the damage caused in the process. Not surprisingly, it was rare to come out of any disagreement happy with the outcome, leading to a lot of negative self-imaginary along the way.

With Grey, and later with the help of David, I have been learning how to fight in a more problem solving mind-set, which has been one of the few gifts from infertility, as the foundation we built while facing the traumas caused by infertility gave us both an invaluable toolkit we still use to this day. The other end has been actively reminding myself that though fighting hurts, with less than happy feelings being experienced in the moment, the goal needs to be towards building together in order to foster that happiness

All that said, I suck at all of this and given my nature it’s hard for emotions not to run high and often to feel overwhelmed. Whereas some revel in conflict and heated engagement, I find myself wanting to disengage and hide. Because though "happily ever-after" is a myth, it's a very appealing one compared the the reality of the work that is waiting.


Monday, August 6, 2018

Shoe on the other foot

Moon is sick. About 2 weeks ago she found herself in the ER due to chronic headaches and vertigo. Due to some pushing, the doctors caught what could have resulted in her having a stroke and prescribed blood-thinners for treatment, but the vertigo has returned.

And she and Lucas aren't communicating much.

Across the way, I learned on Saturday our neighbor's doctor is recommending she have her remaining ovary removed. She's only 22 years old.

A big part of me wants to dive right in, crossing all the boundaries and pushing that we are here to help. In some ways I have already by sending texts to Moon and putting this young woman into contact with friends who can connect her with a second opinion.

Yet, I'm also well aware that with any traumatic event the decision on how to proceed need to be made by those facing them directly. That even though everyone surrounding them, including me, has an opinion, it is not for any of us to decide the best course of action and finding someone who actually can help will take a lot more digging and advocating. Jumping in and trying to fix things is actually the farthest thing either of them needs as they navigate this.

It's odd to be on the other side watching all of this unfold. So many who aren't familiar with the situation have their own thoughts and opinions about courses of action and listening to them makes me wonder what those outside looking in were saying about Grey and me while we were in the thick of infertility. But more importantly is this feeling of fear about overstepping or alienating. This isn't my journey and their decisions need to be their own.

So I'm doing something that makes me uncomfortable and stepping back. The information and knowledge of support is out there and I'm allowing them to do with it what they want. Because though there were moments I hurt terribly and felt like I wanted to be saved from the pain, what ultimately brought me healing was feeling like I wasn't alone. Even though things were scary and the path forward was often unclear.

Having the shoe on the other foot is fucking hard.

#MicroblogMondays: A red sun

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


There are fires just south of where we are. Too far away to be of any concern, but the past couple of days the sunrises and sunsets have been veiled in a red hue.



Red is the color of passion, fire, seduction, violence and adventure. With red comes a sense of urgency. We've all been feeling it here, even though it's not clear what or why.



Friday, August 3, 2018

The hazards of bridge building

It was lunchtime. Sitting together at a fold-out table, waiting for turns at the microwave, my new co-workers and I shifted our conversation from work to more personal topics. To the outside world, all of it was pleasant and benign, yet I was inwardly cringing as we touched on each topic knowing that though the three of us were clearly at ease, the topics we covered from housing to career tracks to finally our families, focusing on our children, would be landmines for so many.

Since Sunday, I've been thinking more and more about all of this. One of my biggest fears with moving to the Bay Area was facing Lucas and Moon. Until 4 months ago, I had never seen a photo of the daughter they conceived who's due date matches the babies I lost during my second miscarriage. Though Grey talks with Lucas regularly, I made a point to stay distant given all the negative emotions from those years in the trenches. The idea of having them both so close frightened me in ways I struggled to share.

Within a week of arriving in the Bay Area, Grey, Teddy, Maddy and I were invited over to celebrate Easter, a visit I steeled myself for but even then found myself struggling. Then there was another invitation to watch Teddy and Maddy while Grey and I were car shopping, which I agreed to at the last minute when it became clear both kids we're craving time with cousins. This followed with a conversation with Lucas about Moon's friends who were suffering following the loss of their child and then us learning that Teddy was going to require surgery too, leading to a call for help.

But what shocked Grey (and I believe Lucas too) was when Moon and I started texting one another. What started as a simple request to add her as a emergency contact lead to a conversation about birthdays (both sets of twins share a birthday month) followed by an invitation to join us at the aquarium. All figured out without either of the brothers involvement, leading to Grey wondering what the hell had transpired. On the visit, Moon and I would have a few moments to chat, asking each other about work and how life was generally going. It would be later as we were sitting together that she would open up more about her own worries in life. And it was because of that conversation that I would immediately think of her for help with my neighbor's daughter.

Interacting with my co-workers, I realized I'm at an odd crossroads with past hurts and damaged trust. In some cases I'm still fighting, like with my parents about my mother's continued inability to see how her actions and words don't lead to healing (she still doesn't understand why asking me to adopt my cousin's son after he had been removed from her custody as a way to cure my inability to get pregnant would be damaging). But with Moon and Lucas, the situation is different. Olive branches are being extended on both sides and it's becoming clear that the pain that was caused didn't come from a place of malice, but of lack of context to begin understanding.

The thing I struggle with the most is how to move beyond and foster the bridge that is slowly forming. Unlike disagreements or arguments that are considered socially normal, this situation created in the midst of trauma is largely uncharted. For me, trust was broken compounded by the additions of triggers and pain during moments where I felt like I was drowning. Though I know well there were moments I behaved badly, it's not as simple as asking for forgiveness because I believe it's important that they understand there was underlying hurt in how some things transpired. The isolation Grey and I experienced, both together and as individual, was far from okay.

The realization I've been puzzling over more is that understanding infertility and loss is extremely difficult for anyone who hasn't experienced it. Just like any trauma, most people are unable to relate and even for those who have walked this path, there's a tendency that is highly encouraged by society and loved ones to block out that pain. These things frighten so many and there's a natural desire to block all of it out in hopes of continuing with what is normal. Hence it's difficult to understand how things that can be triggers would be painful. There's a societal enforcement of keeping one's head in the sand, preventing others who might want to understand from getting a footing for how. An unexpected gift from infertility is becoming aware, tasting pain on this level and being aware that though there are different paths towards healing; that it's not about making things instantly right or better, even though that's the first instinctual reaction.

But another realization that has been emerging is that triggers for trauma often come through efforts to connect. That when people ask what they consider benign questions about family make up or milestones, the purpose is through their own intention of finding common ground. Granted, so many are extremely sloppy at this, likely encountering many moments where the answers result in awkward silences and them failing to follow through with establishing a connection through another route. The summary statement being that many lack the refinement in social skills to navigate triggering others.

I don't have any sage advice from all these reflections, given that I'm currently navigate the minefield of my own crossroads. Hell, I'd love some advice! But one thing I am beginning to appreciate more is that as humans, though we are social creatures, we struggle a lot even under the best of circumstances. Infertility just manages to fuck it all up even more.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Embracing "wrong"

For the past few weeks in the early mornings, while waiting for the fog to clear, my coworkers and I have been busy destroying 20 years worth of work. Laying out the bins for our portable laboratories that go out to the local schools, we removed and disposed of reagents and teaching tools that others created or cultivated, all while restructuring and thinking about what made the most sense to use as scientists for approaching a topic. The results from these sessions of purging have been shocking for most that knew how things were before, with not only lighter mobile labs and a complete restructuring of the space that houses them as well as them, but also the stripping of mindset and misconceptions that were deeply rooted in fear of failure and the "correct" way to teach these topics. Never mind that doing so has inhibited the very mission we've been trying to promote.

Given what is happening in my professional life, it's hard not to make comparisons to my personal one. To date, Grey and I have been told we made a terrible decision with quitting on Boston. And yet Grey has been happier than I've seen him in a long time, pursuing work and collaborations that were not possible before. Teddy and Maddy have been embracing their bikes, enjoying our weekly routine of hitting the bike path on Saturday mornings; all made possible by putting training wheels back on their bikes and promoting them getting out there over learning the "right" way. With Teddy, we've hit a break-through with behavior when we realized giving him breaks with Legos and praising him for good behavior resulted in a kid who was eager to please.

And then there's my situation where I've started turning away recruiters, telling them point-blank that I'm not what they are looking for with some of these positions. Me telling them "no" has suddenly made me desirable, which has gotten a bit annoying.

From a young age, there's programming we are subjected to about the "right" way to do things. Starting with our parents bragging about milestones and achievements to later us being rewarded for taking certain paths or reaching certain milestones within a prescribed time, we're trained early on about the "right" way to lead our lives, with falling outside this perceived correct way as deserving any and all pain that results. The problem with this mindset is two-fold: the first being that terrible things happen to good people, while amazing things happen to scumbags. The second is that being so afraid to doing anything that isn't "right" stifles creativity, exploration and discovery of things that would never be known otherwise.

The days of purging have brought a lot of this to a head, with us ripping of excessive amounts of labeling and tossing materials that should have been discarding years ago but hadn't under the guise that it was somehow impossible to understand the lesson without it. The problem is by adhering so rigidly to a "right" way of doing things, this program has effectively become irrelevant and out of sync with modern biotechnology. Fear of failing or breaking things has made it necessary to not only burn down the house but also to throw the naysayers into total panic attacks about all the wrong in order to turn things around.

The thing is, what is resulting from all these wrongs, both professional and private, is fairly exciting. In less than a month of riding, Teddy is close to having his training wheels removed. While Maddy will likely take longer given that she bikes like an old lady and has no interest in speeding up at this point, she's none-the-less excited about Saturdays coming and doing things her way. Never mind the professional gains that are being made by both Grey and me at the moment.

All possible due to embracing "wrong" and being willing to fail.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Outside looking in

Yesterday, upon arriving home, I ran into a neighbor who was coming home with her daughter following a doctor's visit. Over the past month, this young woman who is in her early 20s has gone from being completely mobile to requiring a walker to get around. When originally asked, there were snippets about an ovarian cyst that needed to be resolved. Yesterday, it became clear a lot more was going on.

In a fit of despair, I overstepped and reached out to Moon for help. Given her training as a nurse practitioner specializing in women's health, I asked if she could talk. Then I walked over to the neighbors apartment, knocked on the door and rapidly explained that not only was I extremely worried about her, but that I had someone she could chat with to get a second opinion.

The long and the short of it is that as a young woman, she's already lost one ovary, her other ovary has a large cyst and there are two additional large masses in her pelvic region. She's in a substantial amount of pain and yet fears going to the ER as she doesn't want to lose her remaining ovary. All the while the doctors telling her they cannot understand why she would be in the amount of pain she's in based on what they are seeing.

All this made me want to cry. Here's someone who shouldn't even be having to think about her fertility and is choosing pain in an attempt to preserve it. Here are doctors who are failing her (her regular OB/GYN is apparently on vacation, leaving her no one else to see over the course of 2 weeks) and she's being minimized for something that is life altering. Though our stories are different, the emotions involved are extremely familiar.

I feel helpless in all of this. To scream about how if her heart was failing how differently the treatment plan would be. How what's she's facing isn't a trivial matter. And yet I know that even if I frighten her physicians, nothing will change. Just as no part of what I went through changed any part of the current system. Fertility is still seen as this taboo element that society then uses as a moral measurement, not a something that qualifies as life-threatening or altering.

Friday is this young woman's appointment; Friday is also my appointment with the Rheumatologist to begin exploring my own lingering fertility issues. All with me not expecting much from either situation.

Monday, July 30, 2018

#MicroblogMondays: Standing hand-in-hand

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

Almost 9 years ago, Grey and I made a trip to Washington DC to help Lucas and Moon with their almost 3 month old twins. Over the course of those 10 days, we would not only bond with the babies, but Grey and I would come to a tearful agreement that it was time to expand our own family.

Little did we know what would lie ahead; the heartache, the pain, the loss and the darkness all caused by loss and infertility. The idea of something so simple that would become so tainted and a myth shattered with the reality that far too many face.

4 years later, that chapter would end when Maddy and Teddy came into the world. Though there was much celebration, the healing that needed to happen would take almost another 5 years. 

On Sunday, Grey, Teddy, Maddy and I made our way down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to spend the day with Lucas, Moon and the cousins to celebrate Teddy and Maddy's 5th birthday. And in that space, there was a moment where all those babies we held and cared for were hand-in-hand, guiding one another through the exhibits and sharing their excitement.


The truth is this moment didn't make infertility right or worthwhile. All the pain and loss of those that died in my womb cannot be justified by this sight, but seeing them all hand-in-hand ushered in more healing to reenforce the scar-tissue to those very deep wounds. Just a simple reminder that there is always a reason to fight towards the light.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

A Name Ceremony

Years ago I read somewhere about a naming ceremony for children around their 5th birthday. For the life of me I cannot remember were I first encountered this (I want to say it's from the !Kung, but have no references for this), but the tradition came from a culture where child mortality was high and the community had established age 5 as a milestone.

For the past few years, I've been subconsciously holding onto this milestone. Following infertility, a high-risk pregnancy that ended with the Beats arriving at 32 weeks and then a month-long NICU stay, I got it into my heart that this milestone would be important.

Tomorrow the Beats turn 5. 5 years since they were pulled from my failing body and brought into the world. 5 years of watching them demand to live and live their own lives. And over the past 5 years, watching them define for everyone in their lives who they are as separate individuals.

So it only seems fitting to mark this milestone for them by doing a name-change ceremony of sorts in this space. Because though Sugar Beat was a name of endearment given during a moment where Grey and I were grasping for hope, it's also a name that they have both outgrown.

Prior to the Beats arriving, Grey and I spent a far amount of time arguing about discussing names for these two. While there was a lot of back and forth about their first names, we wanted their middle names to be reflective for the journey it took to bring them into the world. What neither of us could anticipate is how well their middle names suit them, reflecting their personalities and mannerisms.

She-Beat's middle name is from that night Grey and I stood outside the IVF lab where we left a single madeleine cookie for our embryos that were actively growing inside those incubators. "Mads" and "Maddy" have become names we use affectionately when interacting with her, but we also get questions about our little "french girl" given her mannerisms and physical characteristics.

He-Beat's middle name is in honor of the clinic where our embryos were conceived. Located on Roosevelt Way in Seattle, Grey and I had a lot of back-and-forth about which former President's given name we would use. A coin-toss resulted in "Theodore" and given his energy and competitiveness, he seems like a modern-day Teddy in many respects.

Thus, in honor of their 5th birthday, I'm retiring "He-Beat" and "She-Beat," renaming them for this space as Maddy and Teddy. Because though these two shared a petri dish and were womb-mates, they are unique individuals who remind me each day that they are not only have their own paths but their own ways of traveling down them.
 
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