Friday, December 4, 2015

Crosspost with Amateur Nester

Amateur Nester interviewed me for her blog and I was honored and grateful to share my story with a new audience. You can read my interview here:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Hope Box

I have a love/hate relationship with my house....for context let me explain the layout a little further. The first floor has the master bedroom, and all the other living areas, kitchen, etc. We currently don't really need the three extra rooms on the second floor and it has been eating at me, especially when I go upstairs to dump more things I don't know what to do with up there. The bonus room was going to be the guest room, the other spare room was going to be the nursery, and the room off to the side is already my office/standby bedroom for #2.  The house is beautiful and open and well lit and I love the feel of it... but this house also reminds me of how optimistic we were 2 years ago, and how foolish I feel today.

So, in an effort to make the house feel less wasteful and empty I have rearranged the rooms upstairs a bit. The spare room is now the guest room, and the bonus room is now a hobby room/lady lounge. I have started to fill it with inspiring words and images, crafty tools and a place for most things that make me happy... its a work in progress. The other half of the room is still a dumping ground. In the pile of junk that I don't know what to do with I found a cardboard box that broke me today. I always knew the box was there and I remembered it had some things I didn't want to deal with but I couldn't quite remember all that was in there. I felt strong today and I really want this room to look and feel nice... a sanctuary I can go. But I can't feel peace there with this box just sitting there, taking up space and pestering me to deal with it.... so I did today. I opened the box and found my husband's childhood stuffed animals that he has carried with him all this time to hand down to his children, and this takes quiet the effort cause he moved around a lot. I have that same love/hate relationship with those toys. They are ugly, old, and tattered... but they mean so much to him, the man I love, and they mean something totally different to me, an unfulfilled promise.
I found more things we have collected over the years, keeping to our gender neutral rainbow color theme, a quilted sun and moon, a rainbow glass decor that reads "Dream", some more old needlepoints and things he has carried around and saved for that special little someone we are still waiting for... We had a theme, we had names, we had plans... and yes, I say had, because it hurts too much to hope anymore, to live on that idea that its still a "when, and not an if." After 4 years of this I just can't keep planning, keep collecting, and instead of letting that box feed my hope, it just feeds my grief, of all of time lost, of pain, and the changes within us, and in our lives, continuously adapting and adjusting to it as others move on, become bigger families, and we stay as we are, holding on tight to each other for fear that we might fall apart if we don't.

I did take one item from that box for myself. I can always give it back if it's ever needed elsewhere...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Writing Assignment #3: Goals vs. Fears

I have always been an astronomy aficionado. I was probably one of the few kids in 4th grade reading about black holes and trying to understand how immense the universe was. I acknowledged I was an anxious person so I knew that even though being an astronaut sounds really cool, realistically, I would never do that, so by 6th grade I had decided I wanted to work in the NASA control room! I wanted to be a NASA engineer. I stuck by this for a long time. My first attempt at a college degree was for Systems Engineering with this goal in mind. Along the way I talked myself out of it, and decided it was a long shot to get hired by NASA and that I should figure out a back up plan, something else I would enjoy doing with a systems engineering degree.... but nothing came to me. Life changes occurred, I had to move away two years into my engineering degree and I went on a totally different path. I had always been fascinated with psychology, I believe myself to be an intuitive and highly empathetic person, I didn't know what I wanted to do with the degree exactly but I knew I would enjoy research of some sort, so I pursued a psychology degree. I did get an A.A. and when I moved on to the 4 year college to get a bachelors I realized I would need to do a lot more school to be able to get into psychology research, so, I changed my mind again. I was getting married and I felt I just needed a degree so I can be a real adult and a contributing member of our new family. 
I really took my time with this decision, I thought a lot about what I want to do and the best way to get there. I realized that one of nagging issues with the engineering degree was that I didn't feel like it would necessarily give me the kinds of jobs that would be helping other people and not just corporations. I wanted a job that made me feel like I was directly impacting a person's life for the better. While getting my A.A. I had an amazing biology teacher, Mrs. Rutledge. I had honestly hated biology in the past. But the way she taught it was like it was the most fascinating subject on the planet! I LOVED her enthusiasm so much! She made me feel like learning about cells and genetics was the most important work I could ever do. As I deliberated about my future I kept remembering Mrs. Rutledge, and felt a calling to go into Biology. I could specialize in the biomedical field and feel like I can make a difference in peoples lives, and so I did. I am still passionate about the importance of the biomedical field, and I still love the science behind it all. I just happen to be in a place my career where I am waiting for the next thing, and I don't know what that is. 
If I didn't have to worry about money, relationships, or opportunities.... I would go get a PhD... I have let so many people scare me out of this idea so many times I had let it go. But if I want to make a difference and I want my voice to be heard, I feel like I need more credentials than just a bio major. I also think that the life experience I would gain from a good doctorate program would be fulfilling. What is holding me back it just that, money, the desire to improve our financial situation so that we can adopt, and the fact that because of all of my bouncing around and life getting in the way of my education, I don't have the best academic record. My early years are beautiful. It was my last years at the four year college that hurt the worst. they have shaken my confidence in myself. Then add on the infertility struggles, and the job issues I have had recently, and well, here I am.... doing the best that I can to rebuild myself back up to the strong confident woman I know lives inside me... somewhere. 

Reading this over I realize I am an ambitious person that does not give up. I may be knocked down, doors may close, but I get back up and push open a window, wiggle in and start again. I believe I have something to contribute, and that what I have to say matters. I will not rest until I find the place where I can fulfill my purpose in life, whatever that may be. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Writing Assignment #2: Untruths vs. Truths

Things I tell myself about myself     UNTRUTHS

  • I do not have a feminine body and am not sexy
  • Not being attractive is why I have difficulty keeping friends
  • I am not as intelligent as I wish I were
  • I procrastinate so much that I will never amount to anything
  • Others are more successful than I am because I am mediocre at everything I do
  • I am selfish and don't do enough for others
  • I am a hypocrite because I live my life the way I judge others of doing

My truths and virtues
  • My body is my own and a generous gift from God and I love myself just as I am. Sexy is a state of mind and there is nothing more sexy than confidence
  • I am a loyal and caring friend and that is why I am blessed with as many friends as I have in my life. Friends leave because that is the way life is, we grow and we change and we need different support at different times in our lives.
  • I am smart and capable. I can follow along and contribute in conversations of varying subjects
  • Allowing time for myself is not a reason to feel guilty. It is healthy and necessary and the small amount of time I take for myself will help me become the person who I want to be
  • I should not measure my worth and success against others who are on different paths than mine. I should measure my worth and success by how much I give of myself to the things that make me happy and feel satisfied.
  • Giving of myself to others is something that I truly enjoy and is as equally important to give time to others as it is for myself
  • I am not perfect, neither is anyone else. All I can do is continue to love God and give Glory to His name and be forgiving of others and of myself.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

My vision of success - Writing assignment #1

This assignment reminds me of the "magic wand" exercise my therapist had me do recently. I analyzed and listed all of the things that are causing me distress in my life, then I was to use a magic wand and fix it all, the write what my life would look like.

What I think matters most to me, when dissect it down to its root is, living life with a real purpose. I believe that every person is on Earth for a reason. We are all nuts and bolts, gears that fit perfectly into this world that God has set in motion for us, because He loves us and wants us to be happy, and since we are social beings, we need each other to accomplish our individual purpose. I want to live my life to the full extent of that purpose, and I believe every life shaping event that occurs in my life is heading me in that direction, whatever that may be. If I continue to allow God to be my guide in this life, to hear him and have him fill my heart with His love, I will be happy, and I can help others achieve their purpose and happiness as well. Feeling like I am being a useful member of society, contributing all of my talents and skills at work, in the community, with loved ones, is how I think success would feel like. When it comes to tangible things, I believe God will provide, and when I am successful, it will mean that all of those things will fall into place as well.

But all of that will not happen if I do not trust in God with my whole heart, and believe in myself. I have to believe that I am capable, confident in my own skills and knowledge, and able to continue to push forward no matter the challenge. I don't believe all of that right now. I don't think I am strong enough, or worth as much as I know others believe me to be. I am not being kind and loving to myself, and that is the challenge. I can't know where I am going if I am not willing to believe that I am going anywhere at all. But I also know that I need to let others be there for me, and not just make them believe I am ok and that nothing is wrong. I love being there for the people that I love, I should let them do the same.

Starting the "You Project"

There are events in life that will change you permanently... at the time they seem like the worst thing that could ever happen and the sense of incredulity sets the world into a tailspin and you cannot find your bearings. The first time this happened to me was when I moved away from my friends and family in 2004. The second time this happened was when the IVF treatment failed in 2013. I did not expect another event like this so soon, and yet it has, and here I am trying to find my bearings again in a different aspect in my life but with the same impact. I think perhaps I never really did feel like I was on solid ground after the treatment failed because so much broke inside of me that I am still working on mending, rebuilding,... breathing. And now, I realize how unprepared I was for another major life change. I find myself needing to... well, find myself. The definition of who I thought I was and who I am is very blurry and I don't know what to think or feel anymore.
This is when I finally decided to download "The You Project" by Keiko Zoll, the owner of the blog, and resource website "The Infertility Voice". I found this book a couple months ago while doing some research for a sample article I was writing on PCOS as I begin dabbling in science writing. I saw it and thought it was a great idea, a self help book written specifically for women dealing with infertility and all of the emotional distress that comes along with it. The subtitle is "Kickstart your authentic self in three weeks!" It was something I felt I would need to do eventually, when I had time and I figured out a solution to the stressful work situation I was dealing with, but "not now" I thought. Today, I have decided to make the time for this, for me. This is exactly what I need. When your life starts feeling a little to close to the biblical story of Job and you need to figure out what God is trying to tell you, you don't shush Him and say "not now, God, I'm kinda busy here" cause He will find a way to get you to listen.... Ok God, I'm listening!
There are writing assignments as part of the activities, and Keiko suggests many ways to do this, one of which is sharing it on a blog. I thought it might be helpful to others, and hopefully not too uncomfortably honest, for me to write my assignments on my blog. Perhaps in doing so, you get inspired to try this out for yourself because you too are struggling to find yourself in this journey. Perhaps this will be the best way for me to communicate to others what I am going through. Mostly I think the blog will keep consistent, finishing all the assignments and giving myself the best chance to get through all this and come out stronger, and more determined to live a meaningful life. I am also going to share this with my two supporters, my husband and our best friend and my faith companion. This is not going to be easy, and its gonna get messy, and I may regret posting such a personal journey online, but hey, what have I got to lose? Fear should never be a factor in making any decisions in life! So here we go!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Not being chosen

For some time now I have been enjoying the gift of storytelling by a person special to me whom I admire. Her podcast is called Story Divine and it is dedicated to telling the biblical stories of the lectionary in the most meaningful way. The one I listened to recently was the story of Justus and Matthias (Acts 1:15-26). She reflects on this story and has you imagine that you are Justus and you have not been chosen in this particular leadership role in the early church to serve God and how one is to move on from that? At the end of the podcast she challenges listeners to tell a story of when they were not chosen, how to move on?
This prompt stirred inside of me the feeling, that is hard to put into words, through this journey of infertility. I find myself a lot of times reprimanding myself for thinking: I did everything right, I waited till marriage, I finished school, and made a conscious decision to have children, and here I am 4 years later still waiting, trying, hoping.... I feel like I have not been chosen. What is my life supposed to look like now? I feel like I am struggling in finding my place in society, in life, and though motherhood does not define me, I had envisioned what my family would be like and being a mother was part of that dream. I dreamt of all that I would share, of my life experiences, of my love for God, my love for life, the meaning of friendship, the meaning of love to me. I felt that through motherhood I would serve God by passing on my faith, and watching this new life find their own truth in that faith.
So what does moving through this part mean to me? What it's like to not feel chosen for this privilege of motherhood? I can tell you what it doesn't do: as I am sure it was for Justus, it does not lessen my faith. Instead I believe that it has helped me realize that my faith is stronger than I ever gave myself credit for, because here I am, still full of love for the Lord, full of gratitude for the life I was given and the privilege I feel to know of love, to feel loved, and to love others unconditionally. I may not have been chosen for motherhood, but I was chosen to be a spouse to an amazing husband, I was chosen to be a sister, a proud Tia, a friend, a scientist, and above all else, a servant of God. All of these things are all important roles in my life that allow me to serve God. I don't think the ache will ever go away, but I will grow stronger, and one day maybe I will finally hear the calling for whatever this journey has prepared me for.

So there it is, my story of when I was not chosen and how I will move on.... though this is just a chapter in the book of God's grace in my life.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Why I am open about our journey

This week is National Infertility Awareness week! I absolutely love their theme for 2015: You are not alone.

#niaw #youarenotalone

This is such an important idea to promote because infertility leads to isolation, depression, anxiety, despair, hopelessness, very low self esteem and self worth. ALL of these feelings are normal and we have ALL gone through them. I don't know of a single person perfect enough to go through month after month of trying to conceive with no luck for months, years, and be able to come out unscathed at the other end, and that's because no one is perfect, and we are all incredible people each with our beautiful imperfections.
This is my third NIAW post since I started this blog around this time in 2013. I got into writing a blog because of this very feeling, that I didn't want to feel alone. I wanted to know that everything I was feeling, thinking, going through has been done before and therefore I am not some horrible anomaly in womanhood and that I was not in fact losing my mind... or if I was that I wasn't the only one that did during these trials. I found some wonderful, inspiring blogs: The Infertility Voice, The Amateur Nester, Where the Bleep is our Stork, among so many more that I browsed. I found myself reading the blogs until they conceived then feeling [irrationally] let down and moving onto another blog, until it happened to them, and so on. This is when I decided that I should start my own. I realized in reading all of these different blogs that though there were a lot of similarities in how one reacts to certain situations, each person's journey is different and something I may learn along the way may be beneficial to someone else later on. I was grateful to everyone that blogged about what to expect about each procedure we had tried. It helped them not seem so scary, and in some cases it helped me realize the odds of something working which helped lessen the blow when it didn't.

My call to all those couples reading that may still be silent about their journey because its vulnerable, and hard, and scary, is that's worth opening up and talking about it. It gives those negative feelings less power over you because you don't have to feel like no one will understand. I have read this happen throughout the online infertility community, once you open up about your journey, others share their stories with you, people you would have never guessed and all of the sudden you are not so alone...

THANK YOU to all of you who have helped me feel like I am not alone, those who have shared their infertility stories with me and even those who have not gone through infertility yourselves, you have learned how to be supportive of me and have made me strong.

Let's spread the word, educate our communities and be strong for each other!

NOTE: Its important to mention the best resource out there: RESOLVE The National Infertility Association for those going through infertility and for those who love someone who is going through infertility and want to be supportive and helpful.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Love... and genetics

Relevant preface: I am not sure if I have mentioned this before but I am a geneticist and a nerd about it too.... Francis Collins is one of my heroes! (Recommendation: The Language of Life and The Language of God written by him).

I had the most wonderful feeling when I woke up this morning. I was filled with love for my husband! I was also in awe of how in love I felt with him after almost 10 years together, and then I was overwhelmed with gratitude for that love. As we lay in the stillness of the morning before the day began I got to say a prayer of thanksgiving to God for this wonderful way to start my day. As I prayed I had that feeling again of wishing I could give him a child. But this time it had a different ring to it. Before I have felt that I wanted to give him a child because he deserves that joy in his life and because he'd be an amazing father, and because I know how much he has wanted that since we started dating and who knows how long before that. So, in part, it was a selfless desire, and mostly of just wanting to add joy to his life. Today, I felt all those other things, but I also thought, the world needs more of him. He is an amazing man, a generous, good hearted, loving, kind, man that dedicates his days to the betterment of society through his work as a high school teacher of science and life. He willingly gives of himself in this way and enjoys doing so, which is rarer than you think and says so much about his heart. I remember when I first was falling in love with him almost a decade ago, that was my favorite part, what I called in my diary, his golden heart. This morning overcome by this warm feeling of love and awe for all he does I wanted more of him. I wanted to make sure that it is people like him that reproduce and succeed in this life (enter genetics). Besides how super cute our children would be, it was more that I wanted his goodness, his altruistic soul, and his intelligence to live on past our years and to contribute, what I would hope would be, good genes to humanity through him. His family is small and the longevity genes from his mother's side die with him, with us. On his father's side there is some hope, but whatever blessed combination of nature and nuture that became my husband ends because of me, and I feel sad that humanity will miss out on that. Its a good case for a surrogate for sure. And on that note, I am going to say something insane... I kind of miss trying. I miss the hope (not so much the loss) of trying every month. I am still very much wanting to adopt from my country in the near future, but how great would it be, if I had that little miracle and I was able to contribute, at least one more of him... and hope his genes are dominant, and that its a male so that no daughter of mine would have to suffer what I have gone through thus far.
Craziness!..... right...?