Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Making Myself At Home

It is difficult to put down roots. It requires vulnerability and trust. When I first became a Southerner, I was very guarded. I had just left my “home area” of 25 years, my friends, my climate, my terrain, my singleness behind and moved to Parsons. It shouldn’t have been that different, but it was in almost every way. And I was different, too, in almost every way. I’m sure it didn’t help that I had to deal with the passing of my Mom during that year as well, as that only added more ways that my world and I had changed.

Sam and I realized the other day, that after over 2 years of living in the house we own, we still haven’t really settled in. We have no art or pictures on the walls, we have piles of belongings in most corners, stacks of magazines we meant to throw out and never did, half-finished home improvement projects. Neither of us had made this our home. We had to take a hard look at why we hadn’t done such a basic thing. We realized that the underlying reason is that we had both been planning for a future that revolved around the kids we don’t have. So, in my quest to be content with my present situation, I have been making a conscious effort to put down roots--to make real friendships and not just acquaintances or Sam’s friends, to put up decorations, to make our house a home.

Last night, a friend and I took dinner over to another friends’ house. Her family is going through some tough times and we have been trying to help her out as much as we can. They both have daughters right around the same age (one just turned 4 and the other will turn 4 next week) who are good friends. The girls were so happy to see each other, they just kept running and playing and screaming and being adorable. My friends and I just chatted about life, and laughed at the kids, and enjoyed ourselves. It was one of the first times since I’ve moved here where I felt like I had friends I could hang out with without our husbands and have a genuinely good time. It was so fun and refreshing.

We are working on de-cluttering our house, finding permanent places for the things we use instead of stacking them in corners. We are working on making it a comfortable home for us and for those who come to visit us. Last weekend, Sam let me buy a wardrobe to house our blankets and the set of dishes I inherited from my Mom. Our dining room looks so much warmer!

Home is a slow process. It is hard to change so much and then relax and settle. I’ve clearly done a pretty rough job of it for the last 3 years, but I’m working on it. I’m so thankful for my sweet husband who supports and loves me, even when I’m confusing, isolating, and unhappy. And I’m thankful for my friends here, who have tried repeatedly to be my friends even while I held them at a distance. It is good to be loved. I definitely am loved.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Infertility is my Belly Button


More and more, I’m learning how terrible I am with this concept. I have *almost* everything I could ever want or need. I have the most fantastic husband I could ask for. He spoils me rotten (he’s letting me get the iPhone 5s next week!), he cooks for me, cleans for me, works on his Masters degree, works at his job, teaches classes, hugs me, kisses me, supports me through everything. He is seriously amazing. I know, you’re all jealous. We have a house that doesn’t leak, keeps the cold/hot air out and keeps the warm/cool air in. We have two crazy dogs who are so excited to see us, even if we’ve only been gone for a few minutes. We have two cars that work most of the time. We both have jobs, insurance, food, and clothing. We both have interests, hobbies, projects. We both have families who love and support us. And yet, in the midst of all of these amazing people/animals/things we’ve been blessed with, I still have this nagging hole in my heart and mind.

We bought a big house so we would have room for our kids. We got jobs so we could pay for their food and fun adventures as a family. Sam is working on his degree so that we can easily afford for me to stay home with the kids. All of our plans, or at least all of mine, are centered around people who don’t exist.

And when you’re planning for a future around people who don’t exist, how do you live your current life? I seem to spend most of my time cycling through periods of hope and despair and indifference, focussed inward on the hole. My mom used to talk about “Belly Button Syndrome.” She said there is a period in a baby’s development where they realize they have a belly button. It is fascinating to them. They can’t get their minds off of how amazing their belly button is. She said most people never leave that stage. They are fascinated by their own person, focussed inward on their own self (the good or the bad). They barely see the people around them, except to share with them the complete awesomeness of their belly button. I used to think I wasn’t like this. I thought I looked around, congratulated others on their belly buttons, aware that I had one of my own but not focussed on it. I have come to realize lately that infertility is my belly button.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Fourth of July

I hope you all had a fantastic Fourth.  Last week could not have come at a better time in our house.  Sam worked so hard, finishing assignments, studying for, and taking, a test and a final.  He was spent.  I was spent. I don’t know how many emotional breakdowns we had that week. You know it’s bad when you can’t even count the breakdowns.  But we survived.  He took his final on Thursday... and passed.  We celebrated by renting out the pool and inviting our friends and family to swim and eat homemade ice cream with us. It was the perfect celebration for a very impressive accomplishment: survival.  

The Community College where Sam and I work was closed all last week, so when we left work Thursday, we started on our 10-day weekend.  It was absolutely perfect timing--coming off of the most stressful week either of us could remember and straight into 10 days of paid vacation.  We had plenty to do that week, since the Fourth of July is a major holiday here.  And life threw a few curve balls into the mix also.  Here are the highlights from the last 10 days:

Friday: I went on a nice, hot, 7 mile bike ride in the afternoon.  And then we went to the pool for the party!  We swam and talked and laughed and ate ice cream!  We brought vanilla and coconut (vegan) ice cream and Phil and Julie (Sam’s parents) make a chocolate ice cream that tastes like a Wendy’s Frosty. It was tasty.  Everyone who came brought a topping. We had some tasty sundaes!

Saturday: We left in the afternoon to drive to Joplin for our friends’ wedding and to do a little shopping and have dinner before the wedding started.  We made it about 10 miles outside of town and then our car broke down (*again*).  No tow trucks were around the area, so we had to call our very, very kind friends to come pick us up with their car trailer.  They brought us ice cold bottles of water since we’d been sitting on the side of the road in the sun. They’re so nice!  After a new fuel pump purchased and installed on Monday, the car is back to running again!

Tuesday: Sam was playing games at a friend’s house and I was getting some things done around the house.  I weeded the front flower bed, watered it and had just started to mulch it when I leaned on the one of the rails at the front of the house and felt a sharp stabbing pain on the tip of my first finger.  I pulled my hand back quickly and saw a black spider crawling on my hand.  I shook it off and ran inside. It hurt *so* badly.  I washed it under cold water and it just kept burning.  I put some ice on it and then called Sam to see what I should do (since he took the computer with him).  He came and got me and we tried to find a non-ER doctor to look at it, but no one could.  So I went with Sam to the friend’s house in case I started feeling sick or having an allergic reaction.  But nothing happened other than stabbing, burning pain every time I took my finger off of ice.  So, it must not have been too serious.  The pain calmed down (still hurt, but not so bad I couldn’t think) in the afternoon, so I did some more work around the house. There is still a red dot where I was bitten and it still has that same burning pain if I push on it (which has only happened on accident), so I leave it alone and all is fine. But it was definitely exciting!

Wednesday: Bridesmaid dress shopping with my Aunt, Cousin, and Cousin-In-Law for my other Cousin’s wedding.  We went to the mall afterward and bought $5 Old Navy t-shirts.  My Aunt bought us frozen custard on the way home for my birthday (1.5 months late, but it’s the thought that counts, right?)  Then... Altamont Fireworks!  We went back to the pool for a pool party with our friends.  After the party we had some snacks and watched the city fireworks.  The water was cold that night so I’m pretty sure no one watched from the water, but it was still fun.

Thursday: We woke up to a puddle of water in our laundry room.  The fun part is that in the laundry room we have several possible water sources, so we had to spend quite a while pulling things out, drying the floor, watching where new water appeared, etc.  We finally decided it was our semi-scary water heater (possibly about 15 years old).  We then tried to figure out how to drain it, which we did, but happened really slowly.  We left it to drain in the afternoon and went to my Aunt and Uncle’s for dinner before the Parson’s fireworks.  The nieces and nephews were all super crazy in the evening, so my cousin and I took them to the park to run around.  Sam and I priced hot water heaters using the internet on our phones while we waited for the fireworks to start.  They finally started and the show was great!

Friday: I decided to ride my bike down to Phil and Julie’s house for their fireworks party.  I got everything ready for Sam so he could just load it all and leave.  I left at around 4:20pm and rode into a headwind the entire way down.  It took me over 2 hours and I made it within 3 miles of their house (I rode 22 miles!) before I called Sam to come pick me up.  It was fun, but I was exhausted!  We ate food and played around until the sun went down. Then Phil and Uncle Steve lit off fireworks while we Ooo-ed and Ahhh-ed.  I laid on a blanket with my nieces for most of the show. It was lovely to play and cuddle with those fun girls. We also did our laundry through the evening, since our laundry room is still torn up.

Saturday: We relaxed for most of the day, but by the evening I was feeling restless.  So I texted some friends to see who was free to hang out and then went for a walk with the dogs.  Some Joplin friends drove down and we had Taco Mayo with them.  It was delicious and good fun.  We also got to play Munchkin with them. If you haven’t played it, you probably’s fun.

Sunday: Some friends who couldn’t come on Saturday (or who didn’t get the message until late) invited us to a cheap Matinee showing of “Man of Steel” so we drove over for that. It was a decent movie...entertaining enough.  And then we had chinese food afterward since Sam had been craving sushi all week.  

And today we’re back to work.  The other highlights of the week are: I learned that I actually can run!  I decided to take some friends’ advice and slow it down to where I could talk while running.  On my first run since maybe March or April, I ran 1 mile with only a 1-block walk break....and this was after a nearly 4-mile walk with some running in there too (the dogs couldn’t keep up with me!).  I was pretty happy with myself.  The next time I tried it, I went a little farther (1.5 miles) and just took Huckleberry with me. He’s more in shape than Ralph.  Then I went back and got Ralph for another 1.5-2 miles of walking with a little running.  It felt great!

Anyway, I hope your week was exciting too (but maybe less expensive, and with fewer insect bites).  I hope you got to see lots of friends and family, I hope you felt like you accomplished something impressive, and I hope you had some time to relax and rest.  

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


We made it through Mother’s Day.  It was better than I expected. I think having more than 6 month’s distance between now and my mother’s passing was helpful for that.  Also the anticipation of the next weekend was incredibly helpful.  I had accidentally found out that Sam was surprising me with a trip to KC for my birthday.  As a cover, he had suggested we go to Tulsa on Friday.  I got really excited about our Tulsa trip. I knew it was just for one night, so I started thinking about what we could do that would be fun and relaxing for Sam as his break between classes.  A few days later, I asked if I could plan our trip and book our hotel room.  He said no.  What?!  I was sure this was because of one night in KC where we were just looking for a cheap hotel to crash in for the night. I found one on Priceline and it was.... gross.  And scary.  

“Do you not trust me?  Is this because of that hotel in KC?”

He just sat there, eating his Taco Mayo and trying not to say something.  I assumed he was trying not to tell me he didn’t trust me.  It started out as joke, but I actually started getting mad.  He just kept shaking his head and not saying anything.  I kept pressing the issue.  After a while he finally let it spill.

“You can’t get our hotel room in Tulsa because I already got us one... in Kansas City...for your birthday.”  

He always tries to surprise me, but hates waiting, so he always tells me the secret or gives me the present early.  This time I ruined it. I felt awful, but also so excited!  A weekend in Kansas City with Sam was exactly what I needed.  And we had so much fun.  We got a good hotel room with air conditioning and cable (the two most important things in a hotel room) and we spent a good portion of our time just resting and relaxing.  We did a little shopping, went to the City Market (the coolest, giant farmers market I’ve ever been to), saw a movie, and ate good food.  It was so much fun.

And then the next semester started.  It didn’t seem too bad at first.  It was a lot of work, but Sam had some friends coming to hang out for the weekend, so he got it all done quickly.  He spent the weekend hanging out and playing games. I spent the weekend at dad’s house, making cakes for a friend’s wedding and hanging out with family.  By the time I got back, it was almost June.

June has been a fairly steady decline.  Sam’s current class is a 6-week class, with just as much work as a full-semester class. In the middle of studying for tests and cranking out multiple homeworks per week, Father’s Day snuck up on the both of us.  Neither of us expected it to be hard, but it was.  A few days before that Sunday, I’d gone to the store to buy cards for our dads.  Mixed in among the cards for fathers were a few cards for “fathers-to-be”.  I almost started crying in Walmart.  I wanted so badly to buy one of those cards for Sam.  I quickly picked out cards for dad and Phil and managed to leave without tears streaming down my face.  It hit Sam hard, too.  It always makes it both easier and harder for me to deal with all of this knowing that Sam also wants a baby--easier because I feel less alone in this and less like I’m going crazy, and harder because I hate to see him Sad and defeated.  And from that emotional weekend, we rolled into a week where Sam had 5 assignments due in one week, and this week, where he had a test yesterday and a final on Thursday.  He has done homework for around 8 hours a day for the past two weeks, just taking time to do his job at work and time to eat meals with me.  I’ve been working to make sure he doesn’t have to do anything else on top of all of that.  We are both exhausted and drained.  

I went for a walk on Sunday night, on a particularly difficult and draining day.  I didn’t get out until the sun was setting, which made for a very nice, not overly hot walk.  On our way back, it was getting dark.  A spark of light caught my eye.  It flashed again a few seconds later.  Fireflies.  They are one of my favorite things about living here.  I smiled.  It lit up again.  

I love how even on the dark days (or weeks, or years), there are small flashes of light.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mother's Day

It is Spring again.  Spring in SEK (SouthEast Kansas, is not for the faint of heart.  Stunning, clear-skied days with the sounds of bird songs and children laughing floating in the air (along with quite a bit of various pollens, of course) are followed by days of pouring rain and chilling wind.  In Denver, Spring was just like Winter, except it brought wetter, heavier snow.  Spring in SEK is an actual season.  Flowers bloom, grass grows, gardens are planted--just like the Springs you’ve read about in books.  It is also torture.  Unlike most of the people here, I don’t dislike cold weather. I love snow and cloudy, cold days.  They make me want to listen to sad folk music and pretend I’m artistic. I like hoodies and sweaters and blankets.  However, I will admit that my heart is jolted each time I have to experience perfect, sunshiny weather (I say “perfect” because the temps stay below 80 degrees) one day and then freeze the next.  I suppose it is for the best, then, that the cold days seem to be over.  However, the warm, muggy days are here to stay.

I think I say something in each post about how it has been so long since I wrote last.  Ugh...some day I will remember to write consistently.  I think part of my problem is I don’t always know how much actual personal information to share on here.  I always try to keep it to “here’s what I’ve been doing” and “here’s a recipe” instead of real, important things in my life.  I don’t know if that’s good or bad.  I don’t know how many people read this and actually care about what’s going on anyway. Lately, the real, important stuff is becoming more and more of what I’ve been doing, which is probably partially why I haven’t written.  

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching.  For most, this is a day of celebration, hugs and kisses, cards and flowers. People return to their parents’ homes to share Sunday lunch with their moms and try their hardest to make her feel special. My mom was always fairly easy-going when it came to Mother’s Day.  I think this was mostly because her mom was anything but easy-going.  For my Nana Beth (that’s what we were supposed to call her, not Grandma), it was a day entirely revolving around her.  She would often make lists of acceptable gifts for my mom and her siblings to give her for Mother’s day, her birthday, or Christmas.  I think Mom got so tired of this attitude (that, and she married into Dad’s family, which barely celebrates any special day), so we celebrated birthdays, Christmas, and nothing else.  Looking back, I wish I’d celebrated mom more.  I wish I’d taken more opportunities to tell her what an amazing mom she was.  But, I’m sure that kind of regret is not one worth hanging on to for long.  

Mom and I, 2010
Combine that history with Mother’s Day with the fact that my mom passed away in November, 2011, and you have a decent combination for not really enjoying the day very much.  Now, add in the fact that I’m not a mom, despite our efforts to make that happen.  For the past two years, this has been our “real, important stuff”.  We decided we were ready to start trying for kids in May 2011.  That would allow us to be married for over a year before our first kid was born.  We waited until we were “older” to get married, so we wanted to get an early start on kids and not be the 60-year-olds who dropped their kids off at college (not that there’s anything wrong with that--we just prefered to be younger).  As my mom got more and more sick, I wanted more and more to get pregnant. I wanted so badly to be able to tell my mom the good news before she passed.  Mom kept telling me not to worry about it, and that it would happen eventually and that we’d be great parents.  A year and half after she passed, I’m still trying not to worry about it.  I still do a terrible job of that. We are dealing with doctors that have narrowed down at least most of the issues.  We are just waiting for medicine to kick in and for our bodies to start working properly.  But with every month that comes and goes without a positive pregnancy test, I get a little more worn down, a little more emotionally ragged, and a little more sensitive.  If you’re wondering why I’m not on Facebook anymore, this is why.  It got to the point where every time I would find out I wasn’t pregnant, I’d get on Facebook and one of my friends would post that they were pregnant, or post baby-belly pictures, or post a picture of their baby that was born yesterday.  I just couldn’t handle that sort of slap in the face, even though it was unintentional.

We are both trying to hold out hope that we will be parents.  We are trying to take advantage of the time we have now (sleeping in on Saturdays, running away together last minute when we get the chance, not having to deal with babysitters, getting to spend time alone whenever we want, getting to save money for later, watching movies made for people over the age of 8, etc.), but still longing and hoping for our family to expand.  The waiting is a lot like spring in SEK. Some days are sunny and beautiful and I’m happy with life.  Some days are cold and rainy--slightly painful and jarring.  Overall, I still like my life.  I’m still fairly solid on the fact that God has a great life planned out for us.  As deeply as I desire children, I know that He will satisfy that desire.  His timing is perfect.  It doesn’t make it any easier.  It doesn’t make it hurt less or be less emotionally exhausting, but it is perfect.  I’m still sure of that.  

On Sunday, or any other day, make sure you tell your mom you love her.  You always expect her to be around for ever, but you never know when she’ll be gone.  Don’t miss out on your chances to make her feel special like I did.  Also, be kind to the women around you.  Don’t assume that she doesn’t have kids because she doesn’t want them.  If she mentions struggling to have kids, talk to her about it.  Listen and let her be open with you.  It is a deep and painful thing to have trouble getting pregnant.  It is harder when you go at it alone.