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10 Things, Part 2

On Monday, I revealed the first five of ten things about myself so you all can get to know me a little bit better. Here is the second part of that list:

6. I was a good student. I graduated from high school with all A’s except for two lousy B’s that still make me mad these many years later. In college, I graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English.¬† I also won a writing award, had two of my short stories published, and won the top award in the Humanities Department for my senior research project on Harry Potter (yes, it’s true). Several of my professors encouraged me to pursue grad school and I am sure I have disappointed them all by choosing to stay home and parent my daughter instead. But I do hope to one day return to school, hopefully this time to finish my degree in nursing, because I studied that for two years too. Okay…bragging done. ūüôā

7. I’ve suffered a lot of loss. And I’m not talking just about my Teddy Graham or my sanity as I have taken this infertility journey. In my 28 years, I have lost six grandparents, two uncles (and one was only 40 years old), and a 19-year-old cousin. I don’t know if this is a lot for my age or not, but I do know that in my circle of friends, it is. Some of these deaths were more unexpected than others and some have hurt my heart more than others have, but they have all affected me in some way, big or small. And I still mourn my losses, especially my maternal grandparents, my maternal uncle, and my cousin. My cuz and I shared the same birthday (five years apart) and our children were born on the same day (three years apart), so we always had a connection, even if we fought like crazy. Not to mention that he was very young and died in a senseless act that could have been prevented. I miss him. I miss them all.

8. I love to travel. Like, loooooove it. If I could travel for a living, I would. I love it that much. It all started when I was very young and my beloved grandparents would take me along on their summer road trips. Two of my favorite places on Earth are London (where we will be returning to in October) and Kangaroo Island in Australia (where the Honey and I honeymooned), but I also have enjoyed Paris, Zurich, Venice, Cairns (in Australia), Sydney, Hawaii, New York City, San Francisco, Alaska, Cancun, Carmel (California), Yellowstone National Park, Walt Disney World, and so much more. In fact, there are very few places that I haven‘t liked. Some day, I hope to visit every state (I have 15 to go) and every continent…both are on my very-long-and-perhaps-impossible-to-complete Bucket List!

9. I’m very flawed. I’m lazy. I’m self-centered. I’m bossy. I’m so indecisive that I changed my college major a total of five times. I half-ass things (like housework) if I can get away with it. I’m a control freak. I’m super sensitive and get my feelings hurt very easily. I’m painfully shy, which I’m afraid sometimes comes off as stuck-up and snobbish. I’m terribly insecure. I’m occasionally self-righteous. I have unfair and unrealistic expectations of everyone, including myself.¬† The list really could go on, but I would hate to make you think I’m totally unworthy and then cause you stop reading my blog.

And finally number 10. I’m an only child…sort of. I was raised as an only child and I am my mother’s only child, but not for lack of trying. My mama would have loved to have a handful of children, but my dad (the man who raised me as his child) was sterile due to diabetes (type I). So I was conceived by a sperm donor. I guess I’m part of the first generation of sperm donor babies! My mom tried to have another baby after me, but after 12 tries, she finally gave up and I was raised without any siblings (which I hated, but I’ll save that rant for another post). However, in January, thanks to The Donor Sibling Registry, I connected with a half-sister who was conceived by the same donor and lives just three hours away. Amazing, right? Like, we could totally be a Lifetime movie. I’ll save our full story for another post, but I can say now that I have a sister (which still seems so weird to me)…and yet, she doesn’t feel like one. Not yet. Not at all.

So there you go! A little about me. But what about you…any little-known facts you want to share?

10 Things, Part 1

Well, in an effort to keep my word and be more open about who I am, I’ve decided to share ten things about myself that are not related to my infertility or loss (mostly). But I’ll do it in two parts so that I don’t monopolize your time with an ultra-long post. So, my new blogging friends, here I present to you the first five:

1. I grew up in northern and north-central Idaho in a few small towns, where everyone knows everyone and your best friends in high school are the same ones they were in elementary school and homeowners (or at least, my folks) don’t lock their doors and parents let their itty bitty kids walk through downtown alone. My mom and dad still live in one of those towns, but Honey and I moved to a neighboring state after his college graduation. We went in search of opportunities and we found them. We love our new city, but I still miss that small-town atmosphere that I enjoyed for so long. Sometimes, I lament that my daughter will never call a place like that home.

2. I love animals. Sometimes even more than I love humans. Because of this, you will rarely see me kill a bug and you will often see me close my eyes to say a prayer when we pass roadkill on the highway. I’ve been a Vegetarian Lite (I still sometimes eat turkey, chicken, and fish) since I was 12 and have been making regular contributions to the World Wildlife Fund almost as long. And if I could take in every lost, injured, or abused animal in the world, I would. I just love all of God’s creatures so much.

3. My husband was my first serious relationship.¬† While I have been boy-crazy since I was six and have had plenty of crushes and a handful of dates and even a first love who wasn’t my Honey, I was just much too shy, guarded, and insecure to ever really put my heart on the line for anyone. It was only after a lot of persistence from my Honey in college that I finally agreed to a date and, from that day on, my heart was lost to him.

4. My favorite number is 8. I’m not superstitious by any means, but I do consider eight to be my lucky number. I was born on 8/8/83, so it’s only natural.¬† My love for the number is one of the reasons my Honey and I chose to marry in 2008 and chose March 14th for the big day. (3/14 = 3+1+4 = 8) It was also exciting that my daughter was born 11/21/2010 because all of those numbers add up to…you guessed it…eight!¬† Like I said, I’m totally lame and maybe slightly obsessed, but I do so love that number.

5. I was sexually abused. I made brief mention of this before and debated whether I wanted to add it to this list because it’s such a sensitive topic, but the truth is that it is part of who I am. I hate it, but it is. However, not many people know this about me and I do still have contact with my abuser, so I will protect his identity for now. This abuse, however infrequent and mild it may have been compared to so many other horrific stories, has wreaked havoc in my life and a number of my relationships. It is only recently that I have started dealing with it and talking about it to those who are closest to me. I am healing, and still trying to forgive.

Are you now just hanging in suspense, waiting anxiously for the next five things about me? I’ll post them later this week. Stay tuned!

I Am Infertile.

This week, there has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere about identity. It’s made me ponder, think and wonder. It’s made me cry. And it’s made me feel. Feel anger. Feel fear. Sadness. Confusion. Regret. Despair. Guilt.

Here is the thing: I do not, in general, identify myself as infertile. At least not aloud. As I mentioned before, you will rarely hear me call myself that. I don’t like the word and I don’t often use it. Because I’m ashamed.¬† That’s the sad truth: I am ashamed that my body, which appears to be all-woman on the outside, cannot do anything that a woman is supposed to do on the inside. I am ashamed. Let me be clear, I do not think anyone else on this journey has any reason to feel shame. I think those of you whom I’m getting to know through the comments you leave and through your own blogs are so very strong. You are brave. You are fighters. You should be proud. And yet, in one of the many double-standards in my life, I am ashamed.

But however desperately I sometimes try to hide it, in the quiet moments when I am alone, I know who I am and the truth remains: I am infertile. For me, there is power in saying that. In saying it over and over, and being honest about who I really am. I am infertile. It took me fifteen (fourteen-and-a-half if I’m being very exact) months to conceive my first child, our little Cupcake. By most of your standards, that probably isn’t very long. To me, when in that time I ovulated a grand total of once (maybe twice), it was unbearably long. Two years later, we conceived our Teddy Graham in less than three months, but that does not make me more fertile than I was just a couple years earlier for my first pregnancy. No, it just makes me smarter. I could have waited six months or a year only to realize I would never ovulate on my own…or I could do what worked the first time and try to force myself to ovulate with drugs. Which I did. And regardless of whether my loss that followed was (in)fertility-related, and regardless of how long it takes us to conceive this next time, and whether we get a happy ending or another tragedy, I am still infertile. I. Am. Infertile. I’m not proud. I’m trying not to feel ashamed. I’m just working on accepting it. This is who I am. It is a part of me. A part of my identity. A part of who I am. I am a mother, wife, and daughter. I recently learned I’m a sister. I’m a writer. I’m a realist. I’m smart. I’m shy, insecure, and timid. I’m adventurous, hopeful, and gentle. And I’m infertile.

And just as I will always be a victim of childhood sexual abuse and that makes me sad and sometimes really, really mad…so I will also always be an infertile, regardless of how many babies we eventually have, and that, too, makes me sad and mad and everything in between. Sometimes it does ruin my day. Some days it does consume my life. But I don’t particularly feel like there’s anything wrong with that. We had some unexpected house guests this weekend and my Honey and I took them to a local tourist attraction. There, I saw a young woman in the early stages of her second trimester and I cried to see her bump, the same bump I would have had if our Teddy had stuck around. (Sorry to Jeanette and everyone else who hates the “bump” word…but I do use it, and I love it!) I cried very hard and suddenly in seeing that woman. But I think that’s okay. It’s only natural, given the path my life has taken. Yes, it does hurt when another friend announces another pregnancy. I have no expectations that the world should stop because I am struggling and I wish them all well, but it still hurts. Often, deeply and for days. But this does not make me weak. I am not weak because, right now, I need to avoid baby showers. Or because I have blocked expecting friends from my Facebook news feed. Or because I ache when I see another bump, or newborn. I am not weak. I am smart, because I’m acting in self-preservation. For the first in a long time, I am taking care of myself and doing what I need to do to protect my well-being. But what if these things did mean I was weak? Well, there is no shame in weakness. No shame in fragility or vulnerability. Or infertility. We are all weak in our own ways, and strong in others. And this — the sadness, the frustration, the panic, the simultaneous avoidance and obsession with all things baby-related, the anger at the unfairness of everything, the highs and many lows, even the shame — is all part of the journey. I’m starting to accept that. To embrace it.

But even that is a journey all its own.

And when the journey is feeling too long and too hard, and I wonder if it’s worth the effort, I just tell myself this: All journeys have an end. Regardless of where this journey takes us, there will one day be an end to it and we will move on. Another journey will begin. And we will be stronger and better for it. I hope. However much we hurt right now, however much infertility takes over our lives, one day it will not. I think the only real tragedy would be if we let it destroy us beyond repair.

Me? I plan to be a survivor. I may come away from the fight bloody, battered, and bruised. I know I won’t ever be the same. But I plan to survive, and I plan to do it with as much dignity and grace as I can. How about you?