Not fair to leave you hanging but the back story to my re-involvement with my parents isn’t all that grand. My mother was in the hospital a couple of months ago to treat a recurrence of diverticulitus. She was very sick and in a lot of pain. I believe that this particular bout was severe enough that she faced her own mortality in a real way for possibly the first time in her life. We were all sick at our house so were unable to visit her, but I did call her while she was there and brought her a gift when she got home. She was frail and for a long time after.
The incident shocked her into some sort of mind shift. She talks a lot about wanting to “make amends” and to wanting to “set things right”. I am not sure the depth of change she is capable of but, at least superficially, she has been easier to be around. What is different about this attempt is that she has not wanted to re-hash the past, hasn’t wanted to play the blame game, hasn’t been hypercritical of me, and hasn’t overestimated her relationship with me and us. What the latter means is that she isn’t calling me, isn’t sending me emails, isn’t showing up on our doorstep at all, isn’t expecting us to have them over for Sunday dinner or vice versa. This has all translated into a willingness on my part to engage in a cursory relationship. For me, that means that I can call over there if/when I want to, will allow the kids to see them if/when I want to, will oblige the occasional family event if/when I want to, without expectation that the dam has been busted open.
It also means that I am able to be nice and not be on guard all the time. This is going to prove to be critical as I am battling an issue with my adrenals and their relay with my pituitary. That is something I will write about at another time as it is still unfolding (I’ve had two types of tests and need one more to diagnose the cause). In short, my cortisol is low and another hormone, adrenocorticopic hormone (acth) which should be high as a result of cortisol being low, is also low. Whatever is going on is contributing to my inability to lose weight. I won’t be surprised if I have adrenal fatigue and, frankly, as bad as that is, I hope it is nothing worse.
If you are a long time reader you know that I’ve never mentioned to my mom that I have been in touch with my birth mother. Given our estrangement over the last four years, it just hasn’t come up. I happened to be over at my parents house with the boys and my mom commented that it was a shame that my birth mother didn’t know that she has these grandchildren. In a nanosecond I made the decision to tell her that she did know and that her knowing has meant nothing to her. I could see the wheels turning as my mom tried to determine if this was information she somehow already knew. I continued to take the assumptive approach, letting her think she must have known that I’d been in touch with her and went on to recount the various notes I’d gotten from her.
At any rate, my mom asked if I’d be OK with her writing a letter to my birth mother, allowing me to preview it, first. At this point, given that my birth mother has been unresponsive to my last two letters, I figured there was nothing to lose. My mom drafted what is likely the most thoughtful, heartfelt thing I’ve ever seen her write. In deference to her (shocking, I know!) I won’t post it here, but if you’d like to read it, shoot me an email and I will share it with you. The gist was that my mother did as my birth mother requested (raised me catholic, gave me piano lessons), that I’d grown up into an accomplished woman, that I lost my brother at a young age and that providing the name of my birth father would go a long way toward healing any void I may feel.
Time only permits me to write this much. Oh, my birth mother’s birthday was yesterday. I decided to send her flowers. They’ll be delivered tomorrow.
I finally took the time to catch up on the over 100 blog posts in my reader, comment on a few, and feel slightly reconnected to the blogosphere. So remiss am I at writing (and failing at #30 on my 50 before 50), that my 5 year blogoversary came and went back in January with nary a celebratory word from me. Regardless, five years! Happy to still be here.
Part of what has distracted me is the addition, two months ago, of a second dog, a one year old puppy that we rescued. She is a 10# terrier mix, not at all the kind of dog I would have gotten had I been intending to get a dog (I would have gotten an American Fox Hound mix). After a couple of friends added a second dog to their families, I got the bug up my butt to do the same. Wouldn’t it be great?, I thought. Aside from being more work than I recall which includes once weekly hour long training sessions, she has been a great addition to our family. She is smart and easily trainable, has been a good match for our aging Italian Greyhound, and is the perfect dog to have with young children. She is rambunctious but sweet as all get out. We named her Bowie and those of a particular age will know why:
I haven’t been resting on my laurels as I march toward 50, though (and my 49th birthday is next month). My life and energies are focused, first on the boys and our family, and second on myself. The highlights in terms of self-care are: having regular facials (I have not partaken in any medical treatments, yet); finding a new work-out to add to the mix (in the form of hard-core group circuit training which I now do 4 times a week while only doing my beloved Cardio Barre once/wk). This has been VERY good for my body and energy. It is a hard work-out, ever changing, ever challenging. But, just in the two months I’ve been doing it, I can manage more reps of whatever we are doing and at higher weights. I held a plank for over 2 minutes last month and have set my sights on getting to a 5 min hold. I am stronger even if I don’t weigh less.
Which brings me to some not so great medical news. I have been STRUGGLING to lose even a pound and have even gained a few over the last several months. I have made many positive lifestyle changes none of which has amounted to a decrease in my weight or body fat or measurements. I’ve pushed my doctors (my primary care physician and my endocrinologist for answers, not at all being satisfied that my inability to lose is tied to peri-menopause, aging, being on anti-depressants (which I’ve weaned to the lowest effective dose to keep my hot flashes away) and being hypothyroid. I requested to have my cortisol levels checked. When the urine test (a 24 hr urine capture test, fun times) showed lower than normal levels, I had a fasting blood test. The results of that were slightly worse: not only was cortisol low but another hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone (acth) which should have been high as a result of cortisol being low, was also low. This requires further testing that I am not looking forward to, but must be done. Getting at the cause is important because how we treat this is dependent on it. I hope it is nothing worse than adrenal fatigue (which on its own is bad enough and hard to heal from).
I made an appointment on my 49th birthday to finally get the tattoo that I planned to get on my 45th birthday and then had to cancel getting on my 46th birthday when I was pregnant with Baby G. I decided to go with a back piece, up my spine and across my low back in both directions, two hummingbirds, both boys names, and a stalk of kangaroo paw. I can’t wait!
I have also been touring day care/preschools for G as I prepare to, hopefully, return to work. We are on the wait list for one in particular. And, on the work front, I’ve reached out to former colleagues, been looking for opportunities regularly, reached out to a friend to, perhaps, speak to my RE on my behalf to test, again, if there is an opportunity there, and have been toying with the idea of opening my own infertility concierge business.
Those are the highlights from a busy time in my life. By and large, I am fit, happy, and deeply grateful. Oh, and did I mention that we’ve been seeing my family fairly regularly and that my mom sent a letter to my birth mother? Oh, yes, there’s that.
…for that brave eleven yr old girl and how upside down her life was
…for the loss of innocence, that little girl grew up over night
…for the myriad ways she would always miss her brother
…for the memories of that fateful day that she would relive over and over and over and over
…for the physical pain she endured but never let on to anyone
…for the way worse emotional pain she endured and never let on to anyone
…for the happiness that she exuded, the mask she wore, so that no one would cry
…for the nine long months she was bedridden, flat on her back
…for the indignities she had to face, using a bed pan and being entirely dependent on everyone for everything
…for the leg that would atrophy to the point that she would be unable to stand, let alone walk
…for the scars that would never let her forget
…for the insecurity that being in a wheelchair caused, the stares, the pointing, the whispers
…for how alone she was with her grief, the stuffed animals that surrounding her becoming her therapists and friends
…for the fear instilled when her orthopedist told her she’d never walk again
…for how she wished it’d been her instead of him
…for the way she blamed herself, replaying what happened and what she could have done to prevent it
…for the fractured and broken family that was left behind to care for her
…for how terrified she was of what would become of her
…with pride for just how much she overcame
…with relief and joy because she survived
People say and do shitty things all the time. Sometimes we, as consumers, get lucky and have the opportunity to do something about the shitty thing that someone has said.
Since Dolce & Gabbana decided to share their views on IVF children, surrogacy, and traditional families with the public, we get the opportunity to show them how we feel (if how we feel is offended and disgusted that they would use their celebrity to call children conceived through IVF “synthetic”, and refer to surrogates as having “wombs for rent” and spewing their hypocritical, anti-gay propaganda by saying “the only family is the traditional one. Life has a natural flow, there are things that should not be changed. One is the family.”) by joining in the boycott of Dolce & Gabbana goods and/or by selling any goods of theirs we have and donating to an infertility organization, or making a donation outright in their names.
I am incensed because the definition of the adjective synthetic is, “(of a substance) made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product.” Children, no matter how they are conceived, are not products and those conceived through IVF are not imitations of a natural product. The implication makes me want to vomit.
So, please, consider using your outrage for good in the form of donating (in any amount) to one or more of a number of infertility organizations:
PVED (Parents Via Egg Donation) RESOLVE (The National Infertility Organization) ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine)
I am saddened by the death of Lisa, someone whose blog I’ve linked to here before and that I’ve followed for over a year. Her writings as she lived with metastatic breast cancer and faced her own death had a profound impact on me.
She often ended her posts with this quote and it is the only fitting thing to say:
“Find a bit of beauty in the world today. Share it.
If you can’t find it, create it.
Some days this may be hard to do. Persevere.”
Writing consistently is a habit, one that I have clearly not cultivated. So much for posting once a week here.
We will be celebrating my older son’s 8th birthday next week. EIGHT. Oh, my love for him is big. He is both infuriatingly stubborn and prone to crying in frustration and charmingly sweet, always ready for a hug or kiss. I know those days are likely numbered so I am always ready when he is. He is maturing and so independent already. He wakes in the morning and dresses in his school uniform before coming out of his room. He makes his own breakfast and clears his plate. He takes his own bath or shower. He comes home from school, gets a snack and immediately starts on his homework. All of this comes from our giving structure to his life early on, when his strong-willedness was apparent. And we all benefit from his adherence to the order of things now.
G is joy. Pure, unbridled joy. Always. I am so fortunate after having my parenting teeth cut on such a handful in my older son, to enjoy the relative ease of parenting G. Our prolonged time together (I returned to work when my older son was 13 mos but have been home with G all of his 26 months) has made him deeply bonded with and connected to me. He is equally a mama’s and a daddy’s boy, his love is fluid for us both, but he is the heart of my heart.
As for me, I am feeling an itch. I would not quite call it a ‘mid-life crisis’ because I am not in crisis, but I am mindful that I have lived more of my life than I likely have left and am hungry to feed so many aspects of myself. I know that there will not be more children for us, but have recently gotten it in my mind that I want another dog. I have scoured the local shelter and petfinder listings. I became attached to one pup so much that I made a two hour trek to see her, twice, taking both boys with me once. Alas, she was too rambunctious a puppy for our home with a toddler. But, it did help me narrow what I think I would like and that is a small-medium, low-shedding, quiet, sweet, female dog. Our dog is getting up in age, having just turned 10 (or, gosh, is it 11, must check) and I don’t want to be without a dog when she passes. My husband, gawd love him, would prefer no more pets but is humoring me in this pursuit. I jokingly said to him that if my mid-life crisis costs us some botox, a tattoo, and a dog, we’ll be well ahead of the game.
And, yes, I said Botox. I had an appointment for today, in fact, but rescheduled it as I have been sick and getting needles in my face was an intolerable thought. I went in for a consultation at a med-spa owned by a plastic surgeon friend of a friend. Just as a color my gray, I am working on maintaining the best of my face. I’d like to reduce/eliminate the laugh lines under around my eyes and Botox seems to be the most effective and economical way to do that. There is another, newer treatment called ultherapy which used heated ultrasound waves to stimulate collagen, but it is quite spendy (just doing 1/3 of my face would be $1,200 vs maybe $200 for Botox). We’ll see how it turns out.
I don’t know, it is certainly a combination of restlessness and a bit of boredom. You know what they say about idle hands. I’ve settled into this life, this routine, of being a SAHM and as I approach the 5 year (death-knell) anniversary of being unemployed, it is harder and harder to even know what kind of work to look for. We need the additional income and with semi-annual property taxes due in April, I am acutely aware of just how much we do, but it has been so hard for me to focus on finding work. Alas, I must.
I have changed my eating and work-out regimen. I joined a group fitness circuit training studio in town that was recommended by a friend and happened to be running a greatly discounted offer so I do that 3 times a week and cardio barre twice/wk. I abandoned the rules and regulations of Trim Healthy Mama (except for the positive changes I’d already embraced) in favor of an alternate day fasting (ADF) program suggested by my doctor. There are many ADFs to choose from (5:2, 4:3, JUDDD (Johnson’s Up Day Down Day), etc) and I’ve settled on JUDDD. I restrict my calories to around 500 on Tuesdays/Thursdays/Sundays and eat sensibly the other four days of the week. In the first two weeks, I’ve lost 5 pounds. Given my myriad underlying conditions: hypothyroidism, peri-menopause, taking ADs), it has been impossible for me to lose weight. I am NOT giving up, though, and hoping the combination of circuit training and fasting will do the trick to get my system moving.
I feel like I have settled into an unsustainable life as a SAHM. I love being home, I do. But I do need to set my sights on earning a living. What to do, what to do (I feel like a broken record in this regard or maybe just a slacker).
Here I am, finally, the holy grail of my motherhood dream, parenting two children. This is what we struggled for so long and hard for, come to fruition. Is it what I thought it would be? Is it what I wanted? And where do I put my infertility now that I am here?
Yes, this is what I wanted and what I thought it would be. Truth be told, I would do it again, and again. If we didn’t live in this expensive state. If public school was an option. If I weren’t fast approaching 50, I would do it all over again and have three or four children. I ask myself why all the time, especially now that we are hitting our new normal since G turned two. Quite simply, I love motherhood. It comes naturally to me, it is rewarding, and I’m fulfilled by it. I am no Pinterest or Etsy mom nor am I a home-schooling mom. The monotony of playing Candyland and Go Fish! grate on me. But, my heart is made happy at being called ‘momma’ and ‘mommy’. It has given my life a depth of meaning and purpose like nothing else. Even though I was a successful executive in my pre-children life, who thrived on the business of business and who was the most competitive person in my role, I have found my calling in being a mother.
The thing I dislike the most? The endless bending over to pick stuff up. It is relentless even though I have fairly well trained children (both pick up after themselves or at least help clean-up when asked). Be that as it may, thank gawd for the elasticity of my lower back as I am bending over dozens upon dozens of times a day to pick someone or something up or to clean up a mess or a spill. True, I feel more relaxed in a a clean home and granted I bring some of it on myself as a result, but the near constant picking up about does me in.
Now that G is two, there is a bit of cross-over in what the boys like doing. And, because sharing is a new concept to a 2 year old, it requires a fair amount of refereeing. Mostly, I try to leave it to them to sort out; a 5y9m age difference allows for that, but, even still, there is a lot of “mooooooooooom, I had it first” or “mooooooooom, he won’t let me have a turn”. And, frankly, I love it. What a high class problem to have! To see them together, playing together is everything I wanted and more. There is a rightness about their brotherhood.
I also feel lucky that even though I won’t get to parent a girl, my boys are completely different from each other in temperament, personality, and behavior. Where my older son is Type A, strong-willed, stubborn, whiny and bossy, the baby is easy going, easily distracted, amiable, laid back, totally chill. I feel like I won the motherhood lottery in getting to parent such different kids and it has stretched me in rewarding ways.
We do our fair share of dividing and conquering, given their age difference. G is still napping once/day, smack dab in the middle of the day, so it limits all day family activities. My husband and I each spend alone time with both boys, we do as many family events as we can, but, there are just some things (like going to a kids movie, or taking our older son to golf lessons, or taking G to speech therapy) that we do separately. I know it won’t always be this way and I sort of cherish this time now. I find myself needing a fair amount of alone time (and I’m not sure why that is, but it’s true) and doing some things separately allows for that.
As for where to put my infertility…it is part of who I am and a tribe I identify with. I counsel many friends who are trying to have their first child and it is hugely gratifying. I counsel younger friends on freezing their eggs to give them options well into their future or on how to get pregnant naturally (it is surprising how little even educated women know about trying to conceive having spent most of their adult lives trying not to). Even though I am no longer as active on fertility boards, as a veteran, I do feel a sense of responsibility to remain connected, see others through. I am called to it even more fiercely than I am called to adoptee rights, even though that is something I also feel at least tangentially involved in. I feel like an advocate for both, and I guess I am.
Mostly, I feel like I carry the torch for those newly diagnosed or suffering secondary infertility. I remember being there. It was a full quarter of my life trying to start and complete our family. My heart hurts for those who are waiting for a BFP that sticks, a live birth, a surrogate or birth mother match, an egg donor, the finances to travel abroad or start or continue ART, or whatever it is that is preventing them from becoming a parent right this very moment. It is a sisterhood unlike anything I have ever known and I feel loyal to and protective of it.