Stop Asking #startasking #NIAW

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week again, and this year’s theme is “Start asking.” It’s a theme dedicated to empowering women to ask for the support that they need from friends, family, lawmakers, the media, etc. I’ve been feeling unsure of what to write in regards to this theme.  Couples dealing with infertility have so much going on.  Yes, I want to encourage people to advocate for themselves, but I also want those struggling not to have every conversation be a war zone for their hearts.

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If you know someone battling infertility (and you do), I want to encourage you to stop asking.  Stop asking the wrong questions and start asking the right ones.

Stop asking, “Why don’t you just adopt?”  Instead ask, “Where are you in your journey? What options are you considering?”

Stop asking, “When are you going to have kids?”  Instead ask, “What are your hopes for your family?”

Stop asking, “You have a baby, so why do you still call yourself infertile?”  Instead try, “I want to better understand your disease.”

Stop asking, “There’s always next month, right?”  Instead, go with, “I’m sorry. I’m here. I’m listening.”

Stop saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” Instead say, “I’m sorry you are suffering. What can I do to help?”

Stop saying, “My coworker’s cousin’s ex-wife’s sister got pregnant by drinking tea/eating soybeans/standing on her head.” Instead ask, “What’s your story?”

Some couples dealing with infertility are very open while others are much more private. Either way, ask your questions in a way that indicates you care for and support those dealing with this disease. If you wouldn’t say it to a cancer patient, don’t say it to an infertility patient.

There are many of us out there who want to raise awareness.  We want to share.  We want you to ask questions.  We also want you to acknowledge the physical and emotional roller coaster that we are on. Start asking questions with compassion and sensitivity.  You can never go wrong with, “How are you? How can I help?”

Write Something

One of my goals for this year is to rebuild my writing habit.  Writing has fallen by the wayside over the past couple of years, at least in terms of this blog.  I still write papers for classes and write at work, but I haven’t been writing for myself lately.  Writing is not only something I love to do, but it’s my most powerful reflection tool.  It’s still early in the year, and I already feel like I’m struggling to write.  It’s not that I don’t have ideas — I have plenty of ideas — but it’s more that I’ve developed this mindset that every post needs to be polished and meaningful.  So I get stuck because I don’t always have the energy to write something amazing, and I’m out of practice so it’s tricky to get started.

I just need to write something.  Anything.

Just like reading begets reading, writing begets writing.  I need to get back in the habit, practice, and put my words out there.  Even if they aren’t my best words.  The more I write, the better I’ll get.

So, tonight, that’s what I’m doing.  I’m just writing something.  I am quite literally writing about how I need to write more.

One of the things I value most about this blog is that it’s always been my place to tell my story.  This has been my space to share about and process all that has gone on in my life.  I miss taking the time to share my story and to connect with all of you.  I’m working to get back to that place.  Writing this now, it occurs to me that I never shared something with you.  A couple of months back, the team I work with spent a morning together sharing TED-style talks.  I poured my heart and soul into developing my talk which was about the importance of telling your story.  Creating that talk is what sparked my desire to write again.  It reminded me what a powerful tool storytelling is and that I needed to get back to it.  Anyhow.  I figured, I would go ahead and share my talk with you now.  It’s long and it’s not the highest quality video, but I’d love your feedback if you do take the time to watch.

How do you keep up your writing habit?  What does sharing your story do for you?

Spark

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I would like 2015 to bring for me, and about how I want to approach this new year. I always set reading goals (100 books this year), but otherwise resolutions really aren’t my thing.  They just don’t work for me.  This year, I decided to try the “one little word” approach to the upcoming year.  Rather than a list of specific goals or resolutions, my one little word is meant to be a guide for me this year as I work towards my goals and reflect on the world around me.  After careful consideration, the world I’ve chosen is…

SPARK

I chose Spark because it fits so well with my personal and profession goals as well as the person I want to be.  It just takes one tiny spark to start a fire, to elicit change.  I want 2015 to shine with the sparks I put out into the world.  This year I hope to…

  • Spark curiosity and wonder in my girls.
  • Spark new friendships.
  • Spark new reading interests.
  • Spark (rekindle) my joy in writing.
  • Spark inquisitiveness and reflection in those I coach.
  • Sparkle by letting my true self always shine through (and by wearing sparkly nail polish).
  • Spark conversations that lead to change.

Do you have a word for 2015?  What do you hope to spark this year?

Three Years

It’s been three years since you left.

It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been that long.

I still have your number in my phone.

I’m still tempted to call you even though I know that number won’t reach you.

It’s just that I want to tell you so many things.

I want to tell you about my crazy and amazing new job.

I want to tell you about how Charlotte names her poops.

I want to tell you about how the girls call sneezes, “Bless Yous”.

I want to tell you about how much Evelyn loves her foof.

The truth is, I can’t write a post long enough to tell you everything I want to tell you.

There aren’t words to explain how much I miss you.

I would give just about anything to kiss your scruffy cheek again.

In my life, I love you more.

More? Maybe? Who Knows…

There comes a point after the birth of your first child(ren) that people start asking.  When are you going to have another one?  Do you want more children?

I really should just learn to say, “Maybe, someday…” and leave it at that, but I can’t seem to just give a simple answer to what, for me, is a very complex question.  So here’s the complex answer…

Right now, my family feels very complete, though that doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind in the future.

I know that I don’t want to have fertility treatments again, so I’d be willing to try and get pregnant naturally if I knew I could.  But since I don’t have a crystal ball, well, that’s setting myself up for a lot of heartache that I’m just not sure I can handle.  If we decided to have more kids, I don’t think I could just let it go if it didn’t work…and that would mean more surgeries and treatment.  In addition to the emotional aspects of it, I’m just not sure I want to put the time and money towards it.

Adoption is another option, but that process is lengthy, expensive, and emotional as well.  Again, we may think about that route in the future, but right now my heart and my wallet can’t handle it.

It’s hard for me to think about growing my family because it would involve so much sacrifice for all four of us.  It would be hard to pay for dance lessons and preschool while paying for an IUI or IVF.  It would mean vacations get put on the back burner while we wait and hope for another child.  Please don’t get me wrong, I think another child would be worth all the sacrifice, but right now I have a hard time thinking about not giving everything I have to the two beautiful daughters I already have.

Part of me thinks that we made these fantastic little humans, and surely we should make some more to populate the earth.  Another part of me just feels so blessed to have two when so many are still waiting for one.  Asking if we want more just leads to more and more questions in my mind.  For right now, though, it’s not a pressing issue for us.

Right now, our family feels complete.  I feel whole and content with the two amazing, sweet, funny, goofy, ridiculous, and awesome daughters that I’ve been blessed to have.  I’m happy with where we are as a family, and I’m not looking to change that any time soon.  Though, I fully reserve the right to change my mind in the future.

Does that answer your question?

You Say It’s Your Birthday

I’m a fan of birthdays.  Not just my birthday, but all birthdays.  I think they are fun and that everyone deserves a day to celebrate themselves.  I like cake and balloons and presents and fun.  Birthdays are my thing.

I especially like my own birthday.  I love to get excited about it, wear a crown (it’s Halloween, so I can get away with it), and pester people about what my presents are.  It’s fun.

Except…it’s not so fun anymore.  Since my dad died, I can’t get into my own birthday.  Last year was my first birthday without my dad, and since he was a huge fan of birthdays too, it made sense to me that I’d feel sad and miss him.  I thought this year would be better.  I was wrong.

When I think about my birthday, I immediately think about my dad.  I think about how he doesn’t get to have birthdays anymore.  I think about how I won’t get a goofy birthday phone call from him.  I think about how I’ll never get to talk to him again…and that makes me think about the last times I talked to him.  Those final few days when he didn’t even look like himself because his eyes were bulging and his skin was pulled tight across his skull.  And he couldn’t say anything back to me, but I would talk and he would just stare at me.  Could he hear me?  Did he know what I was saying?  Did he know who I was?  And then the tears come and the pain so deep in my chest that I’m sick to my stomach about it.

I thought this birthday would be better, but I just find myself missing my dad more than ever.  I know he would want me to have fun and be silly and talk about presents non-stop.  I know he wouldn’t want me to be sad…but I just can’t find the energy to celebrate my life without him in it.

In My Life I Love You More

There are places I’ll remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All this places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life, I’ve loved them all

But of all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new
Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more

Though I know I’ll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I’ll often stop and think about them
In my life, I love you more
In my life,  I love you more

I love you and miss you every day, Dad.

A Moment

It happens at least once a day.

There is a moment.

The Beatles play on the radio.

My red paper cup from Starbucks reminds me that Christmas is coming.

The girls do something new and you aren’t here to see it.

Someone mentions their dad, a dad, says the word “dad”.

There is a moment every day.

My breath catches in my throat.

My heart stops.

There is a moment every day when I realize that you are gone, and my heart breaks all over again.

 

I don’t know how to talk about it.

When someone asks me how I am, I tell them I’m fine.

What else am I supposed to say?

How do I talk about the wound in my soul?

How do I express how deeply I miss you without breaking down completely?

It’s impossible.

In those moments.

When I realize I will never see you again.

The grief feels insurmountable.

 

It happens at least once a day.

There is a moment.

Just a moment when the world stops turning, and all I can do is miss you.

Snippets of Grief

If you run into me — at work, the store, what have you — you won’t know.  You probably won’t see the sadness.  I’m going through my days as my usual hard-working, goofy self.  You’ll probably think I’m doing really well.  I’m not.  I just don’t show it in public.  At home, especially when I’m alone, I feel like I’m drowning in grief.  I can almost taste it.

—–

The other day, when we were out to lunch, “Sweet Caroline” was playing.  We were chatting away, but my mind was someplace else.  Remembering.  On a cruise.  A mariachi band.  And my dad.  We all sang that song at the top of our lungs.  In the middle of a restaurant.  On a cruise.

—–

I can’t remember what my dad looked like without looking at a picture.  When I close my eyes, I can only see him the way he looked hours before his death.  So gaunt.  I remember how strange his jaw looked.  I remember the way his eyes bulged.  I feel sick when I think about how he looked when the priest performed his last rites.  He couldn’t talk to us anymore, but he was so alert.  Did he want to say something?  Was he scared?  I felt terrified for him, and that image still haunts me daily.

—–

I want to find a way to say thank you for your emails, your tweets, your cards, your prayers.  I just can’t seem to find the emotional energy to do so.  I can’t find the right words, and it just makes me want to cry again anyway.  So even though what you’ve done means so much to me, it goes without thanks.

—–

I’m pretty sure I’ll never get anyone a plant when their parent dies.  It seems like such a nice gesture, but then the plants come home with you.  There’s nothing quite like a peace lilly sitting in your kitchen whispering, “Hey, remember when your dad died?” every time you walk in the room.  There’s nothing like feeling you need to take care of that glaring reminder of your loss.

—–

Even though you probably don’t see it, the sadness is there.  It’s just under the surface.  A raw wound that constantly reopens.  It will heal in time.  But not today.

In My Life

Arnold May

August 18, 1952 — May 22, 2011

There are places I’ll remember, all my life though some have changed…

Some forever, not for better, some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments, with lovers and friends I can still recall…

Some are dead and some are living…

In my life I’ve loved them all…

But of all these friends and lovers…

There is no one compares with you…

And these memories lose their meaning when I think of love as something new…

Though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before…

I know I’ll often stop and think about them…

In my life I love you more…

Though I know I’ll never lose affection for people and things that went before…

I know I’ll often stop and think about them…

In my life I love you more…

In my life I love you more.

I love you daddy.  We miss you.