Friday, August 30, 2013

The Toughest Question

Sometimes, like last night as I was laying in bed after staying up too late reading, it sneaks up on me: the question I really don't want to think about. It's a question I may be scared to answer.

Do I still want children?

If we had children, I wouldn't be able to stay up too late reading and get up whenever I am rested. With a baby crawling around I would need to worry about keeping the floor a lot cleaner. Everything would need to be rearranged and thoroughly child-proofed; everything about our lives would change. 

The fact of the matter is that I've gotten spoiled. Our lives, our money, and our time are ours to do with as we please. (Yes, there are still family obligations, but they're much more limited without children.) I don't have to wonder about whether we would live up to our ideals or plans for how we would raise children. I don't have to deal with dirty diapers, and my vomit clean-ups are limited to the cats. I don't have to worry about illness, teething, or growth charts. If we want to spend the evening watching TV or playing video games, we can. 

I still enjoy being around friends' and family member's children, but it's nice to not have to be the one imposing discipline and dealing with all their problems. Yes, I still find children adorable, and my heart still aches, wishing we could have our own. But the all-consuming drive to do anything we can (that is licit, of course) to have children has eased. 

But... (and you knew there had to be a but coming, right?) my husband still desperately wants children. In my less charitable moments, I can't help but feel that he has been less affected by all the side effects, discomforts, and emotional roller coaster rides. (I mean really, how many transvaginal ultrasounds or HSGs has he had to endure?) In my more charitable moments, I know that it's his innate optimism that keeps the desire strong. But the problem lies in the fact that if one of has children, the other has children, so we both have to want this.

For now the plan is to see a NaPro doctor in 2 weeks and see what he recommends. Once we know what is being asked of us we can decide if we're willing to do it. In the meantime, I'll keep trying not to think about the toughest question.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Better get to livin'

I love music; it's been a major part of my life for almost as long as I can remember. One of my favorite pictures from when I was young is of me and my cousin dancing to "The Monster Mash." Growing up I played the clarinet and sang in choirs. I have long loved to dance and have been ballroom dancing for many years. And there is no way I could get through my workouts without the right kind of music. Some songs I like just for the way they sound, but the ones that mean the most to me are those whose lyrics reach me. (Okay, I still have to like the way they sound, so the most powerful songs are those that best combine lyrics and melody.) Beyond that, my taste is somewhat eclectic. Today's reflection is brought to you by Dolly Parton.

Better get to livin'. Okay, I get that. It's too easy to put things off when you're dealing with IF; to say "that might be a day of fertility" or "that would be around day 1, so it would be too painful" or "I might need surgery then" or even "I might be pregnant then." Then the end result is that everything is hold, and you feel like you're going nowhere. 

But what does "get to livin' " mean when you're limited in what you can to towards the goal(s) you have? Right now my biggest goal is to do what I can to get healthier and get pregnant. We're currently waiting for our first visit to a NaPro doctor, so it doesn't seem like I can do much there. Yes, we can use our potentially fertile days, but after trying for this long, we have little hope or expectation that we would succeed during a non-medicated cycle. Trying to eat healthier and get more exercise doesn't feel like doing much.

I've finally started to figure out what it means to "get to livin.' " It means saying yes, even when I'm scared of what is involved. It means venturing out more, being around people, being more social. It means not spending all my time trying to protect myself from the inevitable hurts. It means doing more than just waiting; it means facing my fears. It means acknowledging that I do not know what the future will hold, so I can't just wait to do anything. 

Buying a new sofa and re-doing the living room is living. Before I had hoped that our 14 year old sofa would last through the time when the kids would destroy it. Now I'm enjoying figuring out how to make the room more inviting, for us and for when we entertain. 

It's a long, slow process, but I'm starting to live again.

Friday, August 23, 2013

And now a brief message from our sponsor...

If you never have occasion to give gifts to children, then this post is not for you. (I hope to see you back later, though!) 

If you come in through my front door, the first room you notice is the library. Yes folks, we have enough books that we really needed a library in our house. And that's in addition to the built in bookshelves in the living room and office, and yet more freestanding book shelves in the living room and blue room. I love books, and I love reading.

One of my fondest wishes was to be able to read to my own children, passing on to them the gift of a love of books and learning. Obviously the "my own children" part isn't working out so well so far, but I still want to pass on my love of reading to the children in my life. That's why I love giving books as gifts, since you never know which book will spark that interest and love. Nieces, nephews, friends' kids, cousins' kids... you name the relationship, if I've given them a gift, it has almost always included a book. (An added benefit is that books don't make noise or play songs that you can never get out of your head, which helps keep you in their parents' good graces.) I am hosting an online Usborne books party in conjunction with Joy Beyond the Cross. They have books for babies to teenagers, covering a huge range of topics. All the books that I have seen are very high quality, and Usborne provides great service, too. My online sale lasts until August 31; the website is here. If you order 2 or more books, you will receive a $5 rebate check. If you're interested in hosting a party and getting free books, the full scoop is here.

Thank you for your time!

And now we return you to our regularly scheduled programming...

Friday, August 16, 2013

"Fear is Easy, Love is Hard"

I love this song, which has challenged me to think about my fears.

I am afraid of:

  • rejection. (Despite being an extrovert, I am terrified of people not liking me or not fitting in.)
  • failing, over and over without end.
  • never having children.
  • that my cats will be my only "babies."
  • that I really will turn into a crazy cat lady.
  • losing myself during these struggles and not finding myself again.
  • giving up too much of what I enjoy, what makes life worthwhile, in the quest to have children.
  • becoming truly bitter and resentful of all that others have been blessed with that we do not have. 
  • not having a purpose other than being an example of what not to do.
  • IF damaging my relationships with my husband, family, and friends.
  • losing my faith in God.
  • withdrawing so far from life that I become a hermit, cut off from everyone and everything.

For me the hard part comes even before loving; the hard part is trusting. I struggle to trust God's plan and purpose for me. (Whether you consider IF part of God's plan or simply something that he permits, there is no denying that it is something that, if were His will, He could end at any time.)

At times I have struggled to trust that my infinitely patient and optimistic husband truly shares in the suffering that IF has caused. He doesn't often show it, even to me, which makes me doubt how it has affected him. (Granted, he also doesn't think about it as much as I do, but that may not be uncommon for men.)

With the casual, inadvertent hurts from family and friends that don't understand it becomes harder to trust them, harder to open up and ask for support.

Fear keeps us apart; it makes it harder to reach out and build relationships. It is only by overcoming it that we become stronger and more loving. 

What are you afraid of? And what is that fear keeping you from doing?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A perfect cat for an infertile

When my beloved Mara

died earlier this year, I knew we would adopt another cat. I was also pretty certain that we would again turn to Siamese Cat Rescue Center, since we had such a wonderful experience with them when we adopted Bilbo 3 years ago. The volunteers were fantastic, so helpful and friendly, and they made sure that we chose the right cat for our household.

I spent a lot of time browsing the adoptable cats. There were so many that were so beautiful and needed good homes. I was tempted to choose a Geezer Meezer, but I realized that an older cat wouldn't necessarily be happy with Bilbo and Robin wanting to play. Though tempted by the sheer adorableness of the kittens, we decided that our best bet would a female between the ages of 2 and 5. 

In time we saw a listing for Biscuit; she was the right age and playful. She even had the same foster mother that Bilbo did years ago, in Indianapolis. When we heard her story, though, Steve was certain that she was the cat for us. Biscuit was found as a stray, and a good Samaritan was feeding her. With the help of the staff at a local shelter she was able to lure Biscuit into a dog crate and trap her there. Biscuit was pregnant when she arrived at the shelter; it was too close to her due date for her to be spayed. One Monday the shelter staff came in and discovered that Biscuit had gone into labor the night before; she had given birth to 3 kittens, none of whom survived. To make matters worse, one of Biscuit's kittens was stuck in the birth canal; she needed an emergency C-section. Biscuit had 7 kittens total, none of whom survived. Shortly thereafter Biscuit came into rescue at Mama Katie's. 

We weren't first in line to adopt Biscuit, and we couldn't imagine the people ahead of us not falling in love with her, so we kept looking. Eventually the family that was first in line for Biscuit decided that she would not be a good fit for them; she could be ours if we wanted her. We set up a Skype call with Katie, since that would be the only way for us to meet her before making our decision. Biscuit was scared and skittish; she needed people who would be patient with the time it would take her to learn to trust. 

Katie's vet discovered that Biscuit hadn't healed properly from the C-section/spay surgery; she had a hernia. Before she could come home, she would to have surgery to repair it. But before Biscuit could have surgery, they discovered that she was anemic, and there was a problem with her lungs. So first Biscuit needed to be re-isolated and put on antibiotics for 3 weeks. Then if the blood work showed improvement, she could have the hernia repair. Because she is a rescue cat, the testing that was done was limited; we don't know what caused the lung problems or the anemia and probably never will. Biscuit tolerated the antibiotics well and came through her second surgery with flying colors. 

This poor little girl has been through so, so much, and yet is amazingly resilient. She is one of the happiest cats I have ever met. I have a lot to learn from her about bouncing back from pain and difficulty. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

I love my house

In the 18 months or so before I married Steve and settled into our home, I moved 5 times. Anyone who knows me knows how truly and deeply I despise moving, partly because I am slightly compulsive about being able to find things. I also tend to be somewhat acquisitive and own a ridiculous number of books, neither of which makes moving any more fun.

When the time came for us to look for a home, I was adamant that I didn't want a starter home; I was done moving frequently. I wanted to find a house where we could stay for 30 years or more. After much searching, we found a lovely 4 bedroom, 2.5 bathroom house in an established neighborhood with character and beautiful trees. There was plenty of room for the family we planned.

Over the five years we have been in our home, we have cleared brush and weeds from the back part of our lot, reclaiming the flattest part of our yard, replaced most of the windows, added a bay window, replaced the deck, added a patio beneath the deck, and put in hard wood floors. There is much that we love about our house; we have made it ours. There were times when Steve was unemployed that I thought we would need to move elsewhere for him to find a job, but he eventually found a fantastic job that he loves and is a reasonable commute from where we live.

But lately I have begun to resent our house and yard. 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths on half an acre is more than two people and three cats need. The guest room is used maybe twice a year; the other bedrooms even less (other than for storage). There's a lot of extra space to try to keep clean, not to mention heat and cool. Tending the yard and gardens takes quite a bit of time and energy. Having a larger house means that we are called upon to host family gatherings regularly; we do have all that room. 

And above all, there is the pain of knowing that it wasn't supposed to be like this. There were supposed to be children in those excess bedrooms, running and playing in the yard. At times, I resent our home and the lack it accentuates. I have begun wondering about downsizing, finding someplace smaller and less expensive, that better fits our status. But I love my house... (You wanna buy it?)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Welcome to Chateau d'IF

Chateau d'If

Chateau d'If was built in 1529 by King Francois I as a fortress to defend Marseille against attacks by sea. Later the chateau was turned into a prison, as its location and architecture rendered it escape-proof. It was frequently used for religious and political prisoners. 

As was common at that time, prisoners were separated by class, with the lowest classes housed in cramped dungeons and higher classes having cells of their own. However, the prisoner was expected to pay for the privilege of having his own cell and the comfort of a fireplace and garderobe.

The prison was made famous when Alexandre Dumas chose Chateau d'If as the site of Edmond Dantes daring escape from prison in The Count of Monte Cristo. In truth, no one is known to have escaped from Chateau d'If alive.

More information on the physical Chateau d'IF can be found at:√Ęteau_d'If 

Why Chateau d'IF?

Chateau is French for castle; IF is the common abbreviation for infertility or infertile. So Chateau d'IF is the Castle of Infertility. As with the real Chateau d'If, this castle is a prison, albeit one made of my own body and broken heart in lieu of stone. 

In later posts I'll detail more about who I am and how I came to be imprisoned here.