You Are Not Alone: National Infertility Awareness Week

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Lots of years ago, the Hubs and I decided we wanted to grow our family. I was 24 and had no reason to think getting pregnant would be difficult. So I stopped taking the pill, started paying attention to my cycles and was convinced I was pregnant two months later when my period was late. You know that stupid saying that you’re over the moon? I hate that statement- but we were over the moon imagining how life was going to change with our little one. But the pregnancy tests kept coming back negative even though my period didn’t show for over 3 months. We just assumed it was my body’s reaction to going off hormonal birth control after so many years and didn’t get too concerned.

After a few more months though, we knew something wasn’t right. My cycles were crazily erratic, I was putting on weight rapidly and my skin was a disaster. Shortly there after, I was diagnosed with PCOS and we realized that our path to having a baby was not going to be an easy one.

This is National Infertility Awareness Week. Did you know that 1 in 8 couples deal with infertility? Think about that for a minute- 1 in 8 is a lot of people. It’s your friends, your family, your coworkers. It could be you.

When the Hubs and I first realized that having kids was going to be a challenge, we kept it to ourselves. I literally only knew of one other couple that had trouble conceiving and their child bearing years were 20 years earlier. I was scared and confused, ashamed and guilt-ridden. My body had failed me- had failed us– in a monumental way and I had no idea how to deal with that.

A year and 3 months after we started trying to grow our family, I got pregnant for the first time. We told everyone when I was about 5 weeks along. We didn’t think anything of it, we had never heard of anyone miscarrying. Then we became that couple who miscarried.

We were reeling and all the well-meaning people telling us that I’d get pregnant again soon just ate away at me. The dam broke and I told everyone everything. Words like PCOS, Clomid, IUI, Injectables and Reproductive Endocrinologist became a part of almost every conversation I had. Sadly, Miscarriage, Repeat Pregnancy Loss, Clotting Disorders and ANA did too as we dealt with 3 losses. (You can read how we eventually went on to have Scorch here.)

The crazy part was, the more I talked, the better I felt. No one could take away the pain, jealousy and heartbreak I was dealing with but the more I spoke out, the more people I found in the same boat as the Hubs and me. I found an amazing online community pretty quickly, but slowly I found local women in my life dealing with infertility. We called ourselves the Broken Vag!na and Limp D!ck Club. Not the most politically correct or medically accurate name, but it made us laugh. Our monthly dinners were sanity saving and one of the rays of sunshine during a dark time.

Eventually we all graduated from that club in one way or another. Some of us by having kids, some of us by living a fulfilling child-free life. Either way, we had each other.

It’s been almost 13 years since infertility reared its ugly head in my life. Since that time, at least a dozen women in my life have dealt with infertility in one form or another. The two kids I love just about as much as I love my own are IVF babies. I’ve held hands with more women than I’d like as they’ve mourned their losses. It’s been heartbreaking- but I’m so glad we’ve had each other.

Medical advances have out paced my knowledge and experiences, but I still share my story and lend an ear to anyone going through something similar. To know that you are not alone can sometimes be one of greatest blessing during a horrible time. The more I’ve talked, the less ashamed I am. My infertility wasn’t something I asked for, it just is-  like my brown eyes and wavy hair. I don’t wish that journey on anyone but I’m so very, very happy that infertility and pregnancy loss isn’t a topic talked about in whispers anymore. No one wants to be part of the Broken Vag!nas and Limp D!ck Club but if you are, come talk to me. I’ll listen.

 

Really, Mom? Can You Not?

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It may come a surprise to no one, but I like myself. I’m comfortable in my own skin 95% of the time and don’t really care a lot about what people think. Scratch that. I do care- but sometimes I get so lost inside my own head or in the moment that I forget to care. That results in me dancing on the sidewalk as I’m walking the kids into school. Or singing under my breath to the songs in the grocery store (not loudly, not obnoxiously- you’d have been right next to me to even notice). Or holding impromptu dance parties in the car or the kitchen. I’m both a horrible dancer and singer, but sometimes the feeling over takes me and my feet are moving. I also like to greet everyone I know with a smile and a hello, using their name which is awesome 99% of the time unless I call someone by the wrong name. Which I’ve done. Multiple times.

Scorch is my son through and through. He doesn’t care and will more often than not join me dancing and talking to random people everywhere we go.

The Bean, however, is her father’s child. More private, more subdued and more prone to being completely embarrassed by me (or the Hubs or Scorch- we’ve all sinned against her). The Hubs and I are lucky enough to take both kids to school together most mornings. The kids start their day in an L-shaped hallway, with the door to their morning assembly being off the longer part of the “L”.  Guess where she makes us say goodbye to her now? Yup- the short part of the “L”. Kisses must be short and quick and no long hugs are allowed because someone may see us. That stings more then I thought it would.

You guys, do you know how hard it is for me not to walk down the halls of Bean’s school singing and dancing to “Shake It Off?” now? So. Hard. If it was me and Scorch, I would and we’d both laugh until our sides hurt and go on with our day. But not the Bean, she’d want to melt into a puddle and be so mad at me so I resist the urge to boogie.

I try to be respectful and kind and considerate. I’m trying to find that middle road where I can still be me while still taking the Bean’s feelings into consideration. There will be times I will unintentionally embarrass my kids and there will be times I very much intentionally embarrass them. Right now I’ll save my dances for the car or our house and mind my manners in public in the hopes my daughter still lets me hold her hand and hug her when I want to.

Smarter Than I Look

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I’m not exactly blaming the Bean and her homework for the gray hairs on my head, but I am saying they may be related.  It’s not that her homework is hard- thankfully in 1st grade, I more or less know how to help her (unless it’s math, then we’re both screwed). Nope, these gray hairs are there because she refuses to ask for help and when you do help her (so, you know, she doesn’t get the whole thing wrong) she is Not Happy.

Tonight in honor of Earth Day, she had to make something from materials we got out of our recycling bin. She chose to make a snowman out of an empty OJ bottle, an empty tomato pint, paper towels and straws. She then had to write down what this item could be used for. In this case, she wanted it to be a Christmas decoration.

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The Bean asked for help in spelling Christmas but she was convinced she knew how to spell “decoration.” Now, I know she doesn’t know. I don’t expect my 6 year old to know how to spell that nor do I expect her to get it right when sounding it out, but I did ask her to try. So she wrote: deck or a shun.  Honestly, not bad for sounding it out! The issue came when she refused to believe me when I told her it was 1) one word and 2) spelled the way it was. Around and around we went with me trying to convince my 6 year old that I was not an idiot.

Do you know how I got her to believe me? By asking Siri how to spell “decoration.”

The Speaker of the House

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The Hubs and I have been together since 1998- that’s 17 years for the math challenged. We’re creeping up on the point where I’ll have known the Hubs longer than I haven’t known him and that kind of blows my mind.  When you’ve known someone for so long, you (or at least I) see the whole of them and take what they are like, or what they do, completely for granted. I mean, he’s the Hubs. He’s awesome and funny and a temperamental diva. I still get butterflies when we go out on dates and I enjoy his company more often than not. But he’s my husband and sometimes I forget that his career path and life outside of our family is one that is, objectively, fascinating.

Last week the Hubs was the keynote speaker at a Leadership Awards Banquet at our local college (and his Alma Mater) that was recognizing students on campus that had made an impact in a variety of ways. The students themselves were an amazing group and gave me a ton of hope for our future but, selfishly, it was the introduction of the Hubs and his speech that blew me away.

It really gave me a chance to sit back and see the Hub’s through other people’s eyes. They didn’t know that he leaves his wet towel on the bed or can’t be bothered to actually put his dirty dishes in the dishwasher instead of on the counter next to it. The audience doesn’t see the hours he spends weekly playing the kid’s sport of choice with them or the way Ron Swanson on Park and Rec makes him laugh until he can’t breath.  After 17 years together, I live with the good, the bad and ugly. So it was so freaking amazing to see him outside of our little family unit (where I’m the loudmouth) telling funny stories, sharing quotes and talking about his adventures.

If you ever get to see your significant other in his element, do it- it’s a great reminder of how just awesome that person is on their own.

 

 

Choose Your Own Adventure

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Today, the state tests in NY started for all 3rd – 8th grade students.  We opted Scorch out of these tests, so he had an hour and 10 minutes to read. That’s a loooooong time to read when you’re 8 so I spent some time this weekend finding books to hold his attention. One of the books I picked out was a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book about the Revolutionary War that I figured he’d get a kick out of.

Evidently I picked well because when Scorch got into the car, the book was all he could talk about. He went through the adventure 6 times and he died 3 of them (which is way cool when you’re 8 and sheltered and thinking being hung as a spy is amazing). I asked about the other 3 times.

“One time, to live I had to shoot someone before he shot me. The book told me after I shot him, I immediately fell to my knees and started vomiting over the fact that I killed a man. The book said the guilt from my actions will haunt me forever.”

Huh. Well, way to get way too real there, Debbie Downer.

WWYD: Parenting Other People’s Kids Edition

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This afternoon I  took the kids to the local bounce house to blow off some energy. About a half an hour after we got there, a boy came in with his mom.  He looked about Scorch’s age and Scorch was thrilled when another boy showed up to play.

He immediately asked if he could play with Scorch and Bean so my kids pulled him into their basketball game. Less then a minute later, Bean came out of the bounce house saying that John hit her in the neck. I didn’t think much of it as they were playing a very spirited game and, well, kids get hit. The boy’s mom piped up from her chair, “JOHN- no touching!”

Beaner sat by me and not a minute later, Scorch came out saying that John was pulling his hair.

Hmmm, well, that’s a little harder to do playing basketball so when John emerged from the bounce house right after Scorch, I just reminded all the kids that we keep our hands to ourselves when we play. I didn’t single out any of the kids, just issued a blanket statement. The kids all nodded and went back off to play.  John’s mom didn’t look up from her phone.

A few minutes pass and Beaner comes out to sit by me because John was bothering her. John followed her over and slung an arm around her shoulder, messing with her hair, asking me if she was shy. Now Bean doesn’t really like to be touched so I told John as much and reminded him to please keep his hands to himself. The mom, sitting not 4 chairs over from me, yells at him to not touch.

Scorch and Bean are trying to play by themselves at this point, but John keeps following them around. I tried to come up with games (races, etc) the three kids could do that didn’t involve touching or rough housing but somehow John was always touching them. Bean finally gave up and came to sit by me but Scorch still wanted to play, so he tried to engage John in another basketball game. That quickly devolved into a game where John tried to peg Scorch in the face with the ball repeatedly. Again, I spoke up (loudly for the mom to hear, but not yelling) that we play nice or we don’t play together. Hitting our friends with a ball was not nice and won’t be allowed.

Mom yelled again at John from her seat. Which clearly had been really effective.

Scorch decided that basketball wasn’t the smartest idea, so he moved onto another bounce house that requires climbing a ladder up to a slide to get out. John followed and within seconds, I hear Scorch saying “Please stop touching me. Please stop. I said stop touching me.”  I can’t see what’s going on, so I climbed into the bounce house to see Scorch trying to get up the ladder and John either smacking him lightly on the butt or yanking at his feet.  At this point I finally raised my voice directly to John and told him to leave Scorch alone. That Scorch had asked him repeatedly to stop touching him and that he needed to listen. I was semi- yelling, speaking firmly, and John immediately agreed to stop and apologized.

The mom? She did nothing. She didn’t say a single thing to me or the kids as we left immediately after the last incident.

Based on some of the other things I saw John do, I tend to think he may have had some special needs. None of his touching seemed to be mean spirited in any way, it was simply like he didn’t know how to interact properly with the kids. By the time we left, both my kids were in tears wondering why John’s mom didn’t do anything to stop John’s behavior other then sit on her chair and yell his name a few times. And I was at a loss as to what to tell them.  It was a really uncomfortable situation all around.

So what would you have done? Should I have engaged the mom more? Should I have raised my voice sooner at John? Should I have told the owners of the bounce house? Should we have just left?  I feel badly that my kids ended up having a crappy time even though they, to their credit, did everything I’ve ever told them to do when someone is bothering them.

 

Happy Easter

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EasterFrom our family to yours, I hope you had a joyous and blessed Easter filled with those you love most.

~*~*~

We had a great, lazy Easter. Early morning mass meant we had all day home and we took full advantage by napping (the Hubs), playing (the kids) and eating chocolate (all of us).  All the chocolate may have contributed the general craziness after dinner tonight. We had at least 3 meltdowns, 2 bouts of hysterical laughter and 1 good fight that had to be broken up. In other words, it was the perfect day.

At bedtime, the kids and I were saying our prayers. We always say the same 3 prayers, then I say a prayer thanking God for all the good things that happened that day and the kids each thank God for specific things. The half hour leading up to bedtime was a disaster so I was rushing through as quickly as possible (like the good Catholic I am). I had just gotten to the part where I was thanking God for our more-or-less great day, when one of my kids (not telling who) piped up with “I just itched my butt and now my finger smells weird.”

God must have been so proud.

The Good, The Bad & and the Spotted

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The Good
The Bean is feeling about 70% better. She can actually walk, eat and talk and has enough energy to annoy the hell out of her brother.

The Bad
She missed this whole week of school (it was only 3 days long due to Spring break), which means she missed 9 days of school in March total.

The Spotted
Girlfriend’s arms, legs, hands, feet and face are COVERED in a spotted rash. According to the doctor, it’s all part of the stomach virus she had and is not contagious. It doesn’t seem to bother her too much, although her hands and feet are itchy as heck, but it looks terrible.  Not that I tell her that, but I cringe in sympathy/horror every time I look at her.

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The Good
I put ketchup in Scorch’s toothpaste this morning as an April Fool’s joke- just a tiny squirt at the top of the bottle- and it was hysterical. His reaction was picture perfect and I’ll pull the video out every time I need a laugh.

The Bad
By the time we got to school 30 minutes later, Scorch didn’t find mine or the Bean’s continued laughter at his expense funny and proceeded to have a meltdown that included a 5 minute recap of all the horrible ways we tease him. That list included this prank and that fact that we bring up the time Belle kissed him at Disney World when he was 5 over and over. Bottom line, according to my kid, I’m the worst.

The Good
Every time my dog farts or wags her tail vigorously, it smells like gingerbread.

The Bad
It sells like gingerbread because Crazy had infected, impacted internal anal glands – a fact we discovered 6+ weeks ago and are still working weekly to fix at the vet. Every time the vet does their thing (I’ll spare you the details), they spray her down to help with the smell. It doesn’t help. The scent of Gingerbread now makes me feel sick.

The Bottomline
Kids are sensitive souls with wacky immune systems and elderly dogs have issues that no one ever warned me about because if they had, I would have stuck with cats.

 

Being an Adult is Terrible

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Some days – a lot of days – I wonder where my children’s real parents are. You know, the grown ups? The adults that know what the hell they are doing and look cool, calm and collected while doing it?

Because I’m not that parent.

Except for when I have to be. I had to be on Saturday night. About 30 minutes before bed time, the Bean (who had been 100% fine up until that point) started saying she didn’t feel good. I quickly ushered her off to bed and hoped that what ever it was could just be slept off. She fell asleep quickly and I went to watch TV and fold laundry completely unaware of what was to come.

Around 9:20 I heard this odd noise and a whimper, so I went darting up the stairs to see what was going on. You guys, I found a scene out of the Exorcist. The Bean puked everywhere. On to the floors, walls, doorways; down our vanity and the side of the toilet, on to the shower curtain. Essentially every where excerpt for where she should have puked as she tried – and failed – to make it to the toilet in time.

It’s a well documented fact that I don’t do puke. That’s the Hub’s job. But the Hubs wasn’t home so guess who had to be the adult? Yup, me. Somehow I faked it. I cleaned the Bean up, cleaned my house up, threw the first of two loads of laundry into the wash and got the Bean back into bed (with a bucket by her side) without 1) vomiting myself, 2) crying or 3) just giving up. If that’s not an adult, then I don’t know what the hell is!

48 hours later and my poor baby is still miserable. This is how she elected to sleep for 2 hours today even though she hasn’t been physically sick for almost 24 hours.

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Yes, that is my bathroom floor. Thank God I cleaned ever nook and cranny of it after she got sick Saturday night so I didn’t get too many heebyjeebies when I found her asleep like that. Could she get any more pathetic!?

Here’s hoping she’s on the upswing tomorrow and I can go back to waiting for the legit grown ups to show up.

Snow Birds

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Earlier this month we took a break away from the cold and the snow to spend time in FL. It was *wonderful*.  We started taking these trips down south 4 years ago and now I can’t fathom how we survived winters without this quick trip to the sunshine and warmth.

Normally we drive down- a trip that usually takes 2.5 days (we can sometimes do it in 2 but that is really, really pushing it). This time we decided to shake thing up a bit by driving down to northern VA and hopping on the Auto Train- a train that allowed us to bring our car with us. The train left NoVa at 4 pm and arrived in Sanford, FL (outside Orlando) at 9 am the next day.

I had no idea what to expect, but it really worked out well! We upgraded to roomettes- so we had “cabins” that held two chairs in it facing each other. At night, those two chairs formed a bed and a bunk folded down from the ceiling so each cabin slept two people (pictures of the setup not taken by me can be seen here). A full service dinner and a continental breakfast was included in our fare. We all dosed up on Dramamine, explored the train, did homework, read and played lots of Uno. The hardest time was from 6-7:30 when we had dinner as the excitement of the train had worn off and the kids were bored and hungry. After dinner we all went to bed and by the time we got up the next day, we were almost there.

We spent the first half of our trip in the Tampa area with my parents. Our days consisted of the pool, the beach, fishing and watching the sunset. Our most exciting day was Sunday when the Hubs and my father took Scorch to a Yankees game (basically heaven on earth for Scorch) and my mom, Bean and I went shopping. Tough life, but someone has to live it.

Our picture-perfect day at the beach.

Our picture-perfect day at the beach.

 

Sunset

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From there, we went to Disney! This year we splurged and stayed at the Animal Kingdom Resort. You guys, this place was amazing. Like, take-your-breath-away amazing. This was the lobby:

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And this was the view from our hotel room:

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Right outside our door were giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, antelopes, ostriches and a variety of other birds. It was the coolest thing!

We only had 3 days, so we picked our favorites and tried to hit them all at Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Magic Kingdom and the Animal Kingdom. We did the safari at Animal Kingdom:

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Checked out the Flower and Garden Fest at Epcot:

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And got awestruck at Cinderella’s castle:

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And then we had to come home. I figured we must be doing pretty well as a family if we survived two 12-hour days in the car back to back and were still speaking to each other when we arrived. I tried not to grumble too much as I swapped out my flip flops for snow boots as we arrived home in the middle of a winter storm warning. Winter can’t last forever, right?!?