Monday, February 20, 2017

Sigh

Sigh.

My nephew's first birthday was on Valentine's Day.  His birthday party was over the weekend.

I didn't go to the party.  But I did see pictures.  He was adorable.  The party looked like fun.

I didn't think it was going to bother me.  But it did.  And it still is.

In many ways it gets easier as time passes.  But in many ways the kids around me that I love are a reminder of what might have been.  Tonight it's the latter.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Ouch!

A person at work bounded into my office this morning and exclaimed "I have the best video to show you."  It's not that uncommon for this person to do something like this and we share a mutual love for dogs, so I assumed it was something dog related.

Nope.

The video was of her daughter's ultrasound.

Her daughter is an only child.  This will be her first grandchild.  She's excited.  It's special to see the baby and hear the heartbeat for the first time.  I get it.  She should be excited.

But damn.

I know she didn't mean to hurt me.  I know that she wouldn't have shown me if she thought it would.

I held it together until she left.  Then I had a little cry.  Then I went about the rest of my day.

I'm doing really well most of the time.  My good days outnumber the bad, probably 10 to 1, or maybe even a bit better.  But I can't do ultrasounds.  Especially not when ambushed with one.  Maybe it will always be this way and maybe it won't.  And that's ok.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Hodgepodge

I have so many things I want to write about, but right now I'm lacking in both cognitive capacity to put words on paper in a cohesive and coherent manner as well as the time to do so.

Lately, most of my writing time and energy has been devoted to writing or calling my elected officials to voice my concerns about, well, pretty much everything the president has done, is trying to do, or has plans to do.  I doubt it matters much, but it makes me feel like I'm doing something.

The reaction to my last post has been overwhelming.  While definitely not my most commented on post, in 2.5 years of blogging, it is the most viewed post that I've published.  I interpret that to mean that it struck a chord or at least made people think.  And I really hope that I didn't piss anybody off. Privilege is a hard thing to think about, acknowledge, and write about, and I'm thankful to have this space to do it (even if it isn't remotely related to my usual topics).

I'm also still in the midst of the wonky cycle that I mentioned earlier in January.  So, just in general, I'm still feeling pretty crappy, and am really close to surpassing my longest cycle record.  I'm still hitting it pretty hard at the gym, I'm down a few pounds, and I'm starting to see the physical changes in my appearance, which is both positive and motivating.

My nephew's first birthday and birthday party are rapidly approaching.  Much like her baby shower, my sister wants me to put my feelings aside and attend.  I've already thanked her for the invitation and declined, but she's having a hard time accepting my decision as final.  I got a bit blunt with her yesterday after she tried the guilt trip route, so hopefully that will put an end to it.  Even putting all of the difficult feelings about babies and birthday parties aside, it's not practical to go, because I have two nieces and two nephews who all have birthdays that fall in a span of 4 weeks.  It's not fair to just go to one or two parties and it's not possible to go to all four.

Finally, my grandpa passed away in his sleep on Wednesday morning.  I'm thankful that I got to make two trips to see him in January, and mostly I'm thankful that he's no longer suffering.  It's hard to watch someone slowly die, but at least he is at peace now.  It's a weird feeling to know that he's no longer here.  Thankfully the family seems to be mostly well behaved and is rallying around my grandma, so that's good.

I guess there's not much else that I can really say.  Despite everything I mentioned above, I'm actually doing pretty well.  Thanks for still reading along even though I haven't been doing a very good job at writing or commenting on your blogs lately.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Privilege

I have privilege.

I am white.  I am married to a white man.  He supports me in everything that I do.  I am a member of the American middle class.  I am well educated.  I have a stable job that I am fairly compensated for performing.  For the most part I do not experience workplace discrimination.  I own my own home.  I have good credit.  I walked into a bank, applied for a mortgage, and walked out with a pre-approval letter.  It was easy.  I own two well-maintained and reliable cars with insurance for both. And if I wanted to replace one of the cars, I could do that today.  I have money in my checking account.  And my savings account.  And my retirement account.  I am able to budget my money to go on vacations and for home maintenance.  If my car or my furnace breaks unexpectedly, I can get them fixed without enduring financial hardship. I have excellent medical insurance, the money to pay my co-pays and deductibles, and the knowledge to advocate for myself. I have the means to purchase and cook healthy and nutritious foods.  I can take time off if I get sick and not worry about job security.  Aside from a few grants that I was eligible for in college, I have never received government help of any kind.  I have a copy of my birth certificate (two, actually). And my social security card.  I have a passport.  I have a driver's license. Heck, I even have a gender neutral name, so if you see my name on paper you can't immediately tell if I'm a man or a woman.

I have it pretty good.

I am not rich and I never will be.  I do not say any of this to brag or draw attention to myself.  I worked my ass off to get to the point that I'm at today.  Aside from my own hard work, perseverance, and resilience, I acknowledge that I wouldn't be where I am today if not for luck and a few people who entered my life at just the right time to mentor me and guide me and give me a swift kick to the ass when necessary.  People who saw more in me then I saw in myself.  And I acknowledge that it could all disappear in an instant.

This is privilege.

But it hasn't always been this way for me.

Beyond being white and straight, I spent a good portion of my life not being able to tell you any ways that I had privilege.

I had a childhood where I grew up fast.  I shouldered responsibility that wasn't age appropriate.  I endured things that no child should endure ever.

If you asked my high school teachers, they probably would have told you that I had equal odds of making something of myself and of being an unwed mother of three on welfare and cooking meth to sell in my free time.  I was smart, I just didn't have a whole lot of direction back then.  My high school guidance counselor told me that she didn't know why I was bothering to go to college because I'd never finish.

I worked my entire way through college and paid my tuition myself with wages and loans.  Many (most) of my peers didn't have to work.  There were a few semesters where I wasn't sure if I'd be able to return to school because of money.

I was without health insurance from ages 22-25, despite working full time at a low wage job.  I had the misfortune of getting sick and requiring hospitalization at one point.  It took me five years to pay off this bill, and that was after they gave me a "discount" because I was considered low income.

There was a point in my life where I had to make the choice between keeping the lights on and buying groceries.  I got very creative with Ramen Noodles.

If not for Planned Parenthood, I wouldn't have been able to afford birth control or checkups.  Like the time I found a lump on my breast.  It turned out to be nothing and went away on it's own, but I knew that it was nothing to worry about because of PP.  They gave me low cost birth control too.  It's no secret that an unplanned pregnancy at that point of my life would have drastically altered my life trajectory.  I don't think I'll ever be able to repay them, though through my regular donations, I'll do my best to pay it forward.

There was a time when a car repair or unexpected bill would have put me in crisis mode.

I overcame a lot.  So much more then I'm willing to write about publicly.

I know what it is like to struggle every single day.  I vow never to forget this.  I also know privilege. I vow to not use my position of privilege to judge others, and instead to use my voice to advocate for them.

Knowing all of this combined with my previous posts about politics in my country, you'd have every reason to assume that I marched in the Women's March.  I didn't.  I believed in every single thing that the march stood for.  I wanted to be there.  Up until the day before I planned to go to the sister march in my city.  I wanted to use my voice for those who are trying like hell to claw their way out of the cycle.

My anxiety won on that day and I didn't go.  I think I'll regret not going for the rest of my life.

I did, however, stand with all of my sisters who did march.  I am so proud of them.  I was with all of them in spirit.

The march was important to me because I believe that the most qualified person should be the one who gets the job.  I've been passed over for a job despite being more qualified than the person chosen simply because I lacked a penis.

The march was important to me because I believe in equal marriage.  I believe the government should have no authority to prevent two consenting adults from entering into the legal contract of marriage.

The march was important to me because I believe in equal pay for equal work.

The march was important to me because I believe in affordable, high quality childcare options and reasonable paid maternity leave.

The march was important because I believe that the government has no business legislating my medical care.  That should be between me and my doctor.

The march was important to me because, on the intake paperwork for my recent surgery, I was asked if my husband consented to the procedure.  No.  My uterus.  My body.  My choice.  Period.  He doesn't get a say.  Of course he supported my choice, but that's not the point.  I shouldn't need his signature to get medical care for my body.

The march was important to me because I believe that there has been systematic discrimination against non-white populations in this country (since it's inception) and that we haven't done enough to right those wrongs.

The march was important to me because I believe that all Americans (and citizens of the earth) should have insurance and access to medical care.

The march was important to me because I believe that a person should be able to practice the religion of their choice or no religion at all.

The march was important to me because discriminating against a person because of their race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, zip code, or any other reason is wrong.

The march was important because washing your hands on the way out of a public restroom is far more important to me then the parts that the person in the next stall who is minding their own business while taking care of their biological functions was born with and whether or not they correspond to the sign on the door.

The march was important to me because violence against women is not ok.  Women shouldn't have to worry about being catcalled just for walking down the street.  Women shouldn't be called a whore for their clothing choice.  Women shouldn't have to be wary of accepting a drink because it might be spiked with something that will incapacitate them.  Women shouldn't be grabbed by the pussy or raped behind a dumpster.  And they definitely shouldn't be victimized over and over and over and over again when they have the courage to report it.

And finally, the march was important to me because we cannot normalize abhorrent behavior and hatred.  Our president needs this message more than just about anybody else.  Because if our president normalizes these behaviors, I shudder to think of what it means for my country.  By not speaking out against poor behavior and by not apologizing for his own deplorable behavior, he normalizes it.

I suspect that there will be many more opportunities to march in the future.  I will not miss those. And I think it's important that all of those who are lucky enough to have privilege make the commitment to advocate for those who don't.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

A belated welcome to 2017

It's hard to believe that this is the first time I'm sitting down to write a post since last year.  Well actually it's not, I have a couple of posts that I'm chipping away on, but they're not done and I don't know that the timing has been right for them anyway.  I'm also woefully behind on blog reading too, and I promise to catch up.  Eventually.  But as for tonight, I thought I'd give a brief update.

So what's been going on with me?

Anxiety.  Surrounding the impending inauguration of the president-elect and what it means for my country.  Even if I could get past the fact that he is a deplorable excuse for a human being (and I personally can't), his behavior since winning the election has only frightened me more.  So many people have so much to lose.  On the bright side (if you can even call it that), Las Vegas has the odds of him being impeached within six months at 4-1.  I have a feeling that I'd better get used to my constantly burning stomach, because even if he is impeached, the vice president-elect isn't a whole lot better.

After several glorious months of my hormones having their shit together and behaving like would normally be expected in a woman my age, they're giving me a run for my money this cycle.  The near constant spotting is back.  So are the hot flashes.  Insomnia is back with a vengeance.  Whether because of the sleep problems or the hormones or the increased anxiety (or some combination of the three) my concentration and focus ability are extremely limited.  It's not that I don't want to write, it's just that I literally have no brain power to do so by the time the end of the day comes and I have time to write.  Like I told my doctor a few months ago, when everything is normal, I'm great, but when things are out of whack, I feel like I'm teetering on the edge of completely losing it.

Working out is going really good.  I'm down about three pounds since we started, so a little under a pound a week average.  While weight loss wasn't my primary objective (getting into shape and feeling better both mentally and physically were), I'm not going to complain about it.  I'm getting in four or five workouts weekly, and focusing on a mix of cardio and weight lifting.  I'm going to schedule a couple of visits with a trainer within the next couple of weeks, because I want to incorporate a few more exercises into my repertoire, and I want to make sure my form is good so that I don't hurt myself.

I'm actually amazed at how good working out is going and how good I feel.  I'm doing things and feeling better doing them then I have in at least 10 years.  I know that the lap to remove endometriosis/cysts/fibroids wasn't a magic bullet, but virtually all of my pelvic area pain since the surgery has been gone.  I did overdo it in the gym one day and mildly aggravated the pain, but with a day of rest it went away, and now I know an exercise that I can't do (scissor kicks, if you were curious).  I was worried that I went and screwed everything up and I'd be back to where I was before for about a day though and I was beating myself up pretty hard.  But it went away and I'm trying harder to be nice to me.

And finally, my grandpa isn't doing well.  He's 85 and basically his body is worn out and is slowly shutting down.  A week ago he had a stroke while in the hospital and the medical staff wasn't confident that he'd wake up from it.  He did wake up, is doing better, and he even went home yesterday (though at this point "doing better" is relative).  Apparently resiliency and stubbornness run in the family. There's also been quite a bit of family drama, but I'll spare you that.  Facing his imminent death has brought out a whole bunch of unexpected "what's going to happen to me when I get old" feelings.  I have a post brewing about that.  A huge shout-out to Cristy for talking me down from my minor freak out and helping me put things back into perspective.

So that's a brief update.  Mainly I wanted you all to know that I'm not dead.  I want to catch up on blogs soon, because I miss reading, and I feel out of the loop.

Friday, December 30, 2016

I am not 20 anymore

I mean obviously.  But 20 doesn't feel like 15 years ago.  At least not in my brain.

What brought on this realization?  Hubs and I joined a gym earlier this week.

At 35 I do not have the body, stamina, muscles, endurance, drive, etc. of my 20 year-old collegiate soccer player self.

I know joining a gym sounds cliché with it being (almost) a new year, but it's something that we'd been tossing around for a while, so we finally bit the bullet and did it.

I've worked out three times now.  I can barely lift my arms and I feel muscles that I forgot I had. Oddly enough, I'm loving it.

I feel 35 though.  Or maybe 85.

The soreness will be worth it once I begin to see progress.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Gray space

For a few years, during the hardest part of infertility and after, I couldn't enjoy kids.  It was just too painful.  Of course I slapped a smile on my face and pretended to enjoy myself, but really it was a lie. But that seems to be changing.

My middle niece, my youngest sister's middle daughter, is special to me.  She's nearly four now.  I was there when she was born.  I held her before either of her parents.  She's a really cool kid.  She's loud, busy, adventurous, uncoordinated, and sharp as a tack.  She's always been drawn to me.

Not surprisingly she was a source of great pain too.  An ever present reminder of everything we didn't (and later found out that we couldn't) have.  She was conceived right around the time I was starting to worry that having a baby wouldn't be as easy as tossing birth control.

When we did Christmas with my family I got to spend a lot of time with this particular niece.  She and I are both early risers.  On our last morning there, I was up before anyone else in the house.  She must have heard me, so she got up too.  We made breakfast together, apple pie and toasted cheese sandwiches, her choice*.   After breakfast we cuddled up in the recliner and read a few books together.  We spent at least an hour together before anyone else woke up.

I absolutely cherished this experience.  It felt so special to me, and I think to her too.  But it also left me longing for a little boy or girl of my own to cuddle.  Definitely a weird gray space of where I held happiness and longing at the same time.

The takeaway is that I'm having an easier time being around kids and enjoying it, and that makes me happy.

*When you're an aunt, you get the discretion to feed nieces and nephews whatever they want, so naturally apple pie was a perfectly acceptable breakfast choice.