Fixing a Bad Decision

So you know how I had horrible flutters last week, and my anxiety was pretty much in full flower? 

Yeah, that may have been my fault. 

I have this horrible habit of self-adjusting my anxiety & depression medication. 

See, I want to believe that I don't need it, that I feel better and so naturally that means I can go down 25mg, because maybe I don't need these meds to feel good, maybe I can do it myself. 

Spoiler alert: I need these meds. 

I had just started going back to my normal prescribed dose when the flutter attacks started. Now I've been back for a week and...they're gone. It's also break and so my stress has been greatly reduced, but I'm pretty sure the bigger correlation is needlessly messing with my brain chemistry.

I first started taking medication for anxiety when I was at the tail end of my first marriage, and so I associated it with unhappiness. I resisted going on medication when going through infertility, and only when I hit crisis point four years ago did I submit to my body's need for extra regulation. I'm better when I'm medicated: I'm less gray, less neurotic, and only slightly less likely to doom spiral. 

I need to make a sticker with this quote from Glennon Doyle's Untamed and put it on the inside of the kitchen cabinet door where I keep my meds:

"Going off meds because you feel better is jefe standing in a torrential rainstorm holding a trusty umbrella that is helping you dry and thinking: Wow. I'm so dry. It's probably time to get rid of this silly umbrella.

Good idea. Maybe I'll go put it on a post-it note and stick it on that door RIGHT NOW.  

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 


FINALLY, some green...healthy crop of daffodils

I hate being asked "what's your favorite season?" because it is SO HARD to choose. I feel like every season has something to offer -- Fall has crisp air and sweaters and gorgeous leaves; Summer has the heat I hate but summer break and ample time for gardening; Winter has gorgeous sparkling snow and coziness inside (fires! blankets! candles! reading while the wind howls outside!). But right now, Spring has my heart. 

I love, love, love when winter turns a corner and the Greening starts. First the twigs start looking kind of green, then the tiny leaves come out on shrubs, and the buds are clearly visible on trees. 

And my favorite part -- the freshly thawed earth, blanketed in last year's leaves and dead stalks, all brown and dead-looking...except for the little green shoots that pop up. It seems like overnight I can see my little garden lovelies poking their (heads?) leaves up and reminding us that the season of gray and brown is almost over. 

It's Spring Break as of Friday afternoon, and I am just pickled to be off. To have some time to Of course the weather is not planning on cooperating, and while yesterday was gorgeous (sunny and mid-60s), today is rainy and IT'S SUPPOSED TO SNOW MONDAY AND THURSDAY. It's pretty much a guarantee that if I clear some of the leaf litter from my plants, the snow will come again. Hopefully it's not the kind that sticks. BUT, Tuesday is supposed to be in the 70s and sunny. So that will be a big weeding and planting day, as some of the bare root plants I ordered have come in. 

Yesterday was pretty much a cleanup day. I got a folding pruning saw for Christmas, and it is AMAZING. One of my gardening goals for this week is to trim up the zillions of persistent vines and honeysuckle that take over everything. This area is a haven for all things invasive and poisonous, and so there's honeysuckle (which sounds lovely and it's great when it blooms and the berries come out, but it SPREADS LIKE MAD and there's way too much of it), and autumn olive (super persistent shrub-tree that sends up about 20 suckers per trunk as soon as it gets warmer, very very hard to get rid of), and Virginia Creeper, and grapevines, and wild black raspberries (which are delicious when they fruit but treacherous the rest of the time as they are quite stabby and spread like mad and create strange croquet hoops as they root in the ground at both ends), and poison ivy. TONS of poison ivy. I'm hoping it's dormant right now because I've been all over where it likes to live. 

The vines are the worst, though. They attach to everything and weigh tree branches down. They have killed a fair number of trees in our area because they cover them and smother them and then you get sad skeletal trunks with hairy vines all over them until they fall. I look out my office window and can see the evil vines taking over a sapling cherry tree, and there's an area where I've wanted to make a little path, so I took my pruning saw and my loppers and WENT TO TOWN. 

Hill garden on the left, birdbath garden on the right, and you can sort of see the trail I've started. This is not a "Before" picture, I forgot to take one yesterday. 

You can see the "trail" better here... still far to go! Also this is today, when torrential rain foiled my plans to weed and plant bare roots. 

I always forget that it's hard work to pull vines down and out of areas and to prune honeysuckles, but for all that hard work, there's the hauling of the vines and branches down to our brush pile. SO MUCH BRUSH. 

But by the end of the day, there were also so many hints of my gardens to come poking up out of the ground: 

"Onyx & Pearls" penstemon poking up

Minnow daffodils poking up on the driveway hillside

Hellebores starting to bud up out of last year's dead leaves

Narrowleaf mountain mint poking up, spreading nicely (mint of any kind is a spreader)

My "Royal Wedding" oriental poppies are coming up! They were too new to flower last year.

Starship Deep Rose lobelia (cardinal flower)... looks like an alien fungus but those are leaves!

These tiny leaves will become purple Grecian Windflowers

Spring shows that persistence has two sides, which I know from my experiences with infertility. There's the vine side -- they grasp and hold on and don't let go, but they take down everything around them. They are singular in their focus and destructive, even though you have to admire their tenacity. It's not good to hang on to something if it results in a choke hold. And then there's the flower side -- every year these plants die and are reborn. They come up through leaf litter (poisonous walnut leaf litter in my case, of course), through snow, through frozen ground. They survive spring snowstorms and frosts. They poke up anyway, and enjoy their time in the sun. And maybe end up deer food, but sometimes surviving a deer pruning results in a bushier, healthier plant. 

I've been both types of persistent, but I want to be the flower kind most. I feel like this new life we are building for ourselves has been like coming out of an extra-long winter, unfurling our leaves and buds, and getting ready to bask in the sun whether or not the frosty snow showers try to get us down. 


 My anxiety is amping up again. I mean, we've been at this for a year and it's been very stressful, and maybe the cumulative effect of all the stress is catching up to me. My district is announcing plans to open fully with all kids at once on Thursday. That could be a piece of it. They are looking to rearrange all our special ed programs and I am having to do that tricky balance of being flexible and knowing that I can do hard things, but also knowing what I have enjoyed doing and what I am very good at. 

So yeah, lots of uncertainty swirling around. 

My flutters are now intrusive and pairing with a racing heart and I'm having to take medication to make them stop, at night at least. It's a horrible feeling. 

A good thing is that we have a new friend for Lucky at home... Her name is Emmy, she's three, and she's super sweet, but in isolation so we can do the introductions right. We are so burned from the last time we tried this and it did not work out and was heartbreaking, so the shelter agreed to a foster-to-adopt agreement. This shelter is small, and no-kill, and only cats, and I wish I'd known they existed two years ago. Wish us luck as we get the two cats together this week! 

Here is Emmy!

Soaking up the sunshine

Pretty eyes!

She is loooooong

Pretty girl! 

Want to read more #MicroblogMondays? Go here and enjoy! 


Every year, teaching The Giver by Lois Lowry throws curve balls. 

This year, I'm not teaching it in my own 15:1 class, and I'm not teaching it with the same coteacher I had for 7 years or so. I'm with a new teacher, who is super receptive to my wacky ideas. 

So today and yesterday (because hybrid teaching means you have groundhog day across two days as you teach cohort 1 on Monday and then repeat the lesson for Cohort 2 on Tuesday), we did a circle discussion about... The Stirrings. I love love love this awkward conversation, because The Stirrings are basically puberty's arrival by way of a saucy dream, and because they report their dreams at breakfast to their families, the main character's parents are alerted to his sexual awakening and start him on the pull that will take those feelings away. Every adult takes the pills. So no one has those sexual feelings, no one has romantic love, NO ONE HAS SEX. Babies in this world are born to Birthmothers, who are assigned to the job (everyone's assigned to something) and do three births, then hard labor for the rest of their lives. People with spouses are assigned children after they apply for them and are approved. 

This BLOWS THE KIDS' MINDS when they realize all the implications. 

So, we asked a bunch of questions that went around the circle, and eventually got to...

"If no one is having sex, where do the babies come from? Do you need to have sex to have a baby?"

It eventually gets to the biological science of reproductive technology, and that we actually have this technology now, and in appropriate terms I explain it and how they could use science to create the babies, and how it's an option now but in the book, that's how ALL babies are made. 

And when giving examples of reproductive technology, the teacher I coteach with mentioned a science teacher who did this and had twins, and her sister in law who is a lesbian and had twins with her wife through this technology, and everything was going great until...

She said, "in our world, this is how people who can't have babies the old fashioned way get to have babies! It helps everyone have a baby who wants one." 

 I just about choked on my own bilious spit. 

"IN THEORY," I said a little aggressively. "SOME people use this technology over and over and over and NEVER get to have a baby. It works for some, not all." 

The kids kind of looked at me funny and then we moved to the next prompt, but it stuck with me. I didn't want to get all nitty gritty with it and be like, "it's great but it doesn't actually work 70% of the time." Normally I might have shared bits of my story with the students by now, but the weird schedule and the masks have kind of inhibited that personal connection. 

I don't doubt that some savvy students may have caught my irritation. I'll take it though, over "in our world, anyone can just get busy and have a kid!" which overlooked the whole idea that not everyone gets what they seek in our world. 

A fairly painless Giver experience this year, for which I am grateful. 



I really enjoyed Sarah's recent post at Infertility Honesty about her embryo garden. I loved the picture of it on bloom and in snow, I loved the white flowers, I loved the statue. I also loved that she buried a (metal?) box with her embryo pictures in it and put rocks on top so she's know where it was. 

Gardening is a way of healing for me, too. I don't have a specific garden for remembering my losses, and I didn't want to bury anything at the time we were memorializing them because I worried about leaving them behind if we moved (which is why the box/rocks are so brilliant).

Bryce gave me a beautiful garden statue of a little boy Buddha reading a book that I loved, but I strangely didn't want to put in a garden outside because I didn't want anything to happen to it -- the idea of birdshit on this representation of our miscarried child just didn't sit well with me. Also, I wanted to see it more often.

Sometimes I put flowers in the book, sometimes I pat his head, but mostly he just sits in the window on the stairs where I pass by him every day. He doesn't bring me sadness, just remembrance. 

Maybe when I'm creating my butterfly gardens, I'm creating remembrance gardens without consciously realizing it. Butterflies are that ultimate symbol of transformation and remaking yourself. I'm sustaining life in my flowers that then sustains life in butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Maybe this spring I will take our embryo pictures from the box in the attic and put them in a metal box and add them to my new butterfly garden that I see out my office window. That is an idea that gives me great peace. Thank you, Sarah. 

Want to read more #Microblog Mondays? Go here and enjoy! 

The Dangers of "The Children I Was Meant to Have"

We have a bad habit of reaching for our phones on Sunday mornings as we lazily stay in bed just a little longer, because we can. Bryce was looking at his Google feed (which seems to be filled with terrifying COVID-related news that I've told him he can't share with me anymore because I have to hang on to the belief that at some point things will be less scary), and an article popped up: 

"The Anguish of Saying Goodbye to My 25-Year-Old Embryos," on the Today website.  

Bryce said, "Well, you don't see that headline a lot," and I started reading over his shoulder when he said, "why don't I just send this to you. I don't really want to read it." 

You don't really have to read it, either, unless you want to -- but I will tell you it filled me with a special kind of fury, once I got to the end. 

Basically, the author's piece was summed up by her tagline, "My unused embryos were recently rediscovered. I know I won't use them, but after years of struggling with infertility, how can I possibly let them go?" which was followed by a picture of her two living children when they were little. 

She went through infertility and recurring miscarriage, and had a horrible time with infertility treatments and loss in a time when it wasn't as widely discussed or supported. She became pregnant after an ectopic pregnancy took her good tube and she turned to IVF, did a couple cycles with no positive result, took a 6-month break, and then had the "best cycle of her life." She describes the pain and loss of being pregnant and wondering each moment if she'll stay that way, if she can dare to hope for a future with a real live baby in it. She does give birth to healthy baby boy and then "eventually had a second son from that same batch of embryos." 

Following this, she had an unbelievable spontaneous pregnancy, but it ended in miscarriage. She says, "This one is OK, I'm all right with this one. I ended up with two healthy, biological children when I was told I was never going to have that." And then, she relates that today her sons are in their 20s, and she received a letter from the cryobank where her 14 remaining embryos are stored, and she was shocked because she kind of forgot about them, and there was a notice that they'd forgotten to bill her for the past 17 years of storage, and she'd have to make a decision to continue to pay for the storage, donate them, or discard them. 

This is not the part that filled me with fury, but it was where we parted ways with how I could imagine her emotions and experience. 

I cannot imagine forgetting that I have 14 embryos in a freezer somewhere. I had 8 embryos in storage that haunted me for a few years, and when faced with having to pay to for long-term storage, and realizing that we'd never be able to use them ourselves, we also faced the dilemma of what to do with our frozen babylings. Ours were a little different, because we never had living children, and our embryos were not solely our own biological material -- we had two blastocysts from a cycle with my eggs and donor sperm, and 6 2PNs (two pro-nuclei, super early split) from a cycle with donor eggs and Bryce's sperm. Maybe they loomed large in our mental and emotional space because they were the only possible genetic legacy we had left, although a fractured one. We were also faced with the choices -- do we discard? Do we donate for stem cell research (not an option for us in our state, from my recollection)? Or do we donate them? There were two choices for donation -- anonymous donation where we just sort of hand them over and hope for the best but never know the outcome, or placing with an embryo adoption agency, and simultaneously try to adopt a baby while being a strange, not-remotely-the-same-but-still-odd "half-origin parent" for another couple trying to get pregnant. 

It was a very weird space to be in, but that last choice was the one we went with, because it seemed like a way to have a connection to these potential humans that had some of me, and others some of Bryce, and to give another couple a chance. Some people who knew me were concerned this meant I wasn't actually pro-choice, but I am -- it was OUR CHOICE to go through embryo adoption from the placing side, and it was OUR CHOICE to view these specific embryos as potential people, given all the effort and heartache that had gone into creating them. 

Soooo, having gone through effort to create them, and having them carry the heavy burden that they were our last opportunities to have a little bit of ourselves out in the world, we made our decision. That decision is an insanely personal one, and I know people who have chosen differently for a variety of reasons, and no matter is painful. It is hard. 

But I never have known anyone who FORGOT THEY HAD EMBRYOS IN A FREEZER SOMEWHERE. Much less fourteen of them from one "batch." 

It is hard for me to understand this mental space. Its not that I am judging it as wrong, it's just that I can't comprehend it, even as I try to imagine what it might be like to have finally built a family that you didn't think would be possible, and wanting to put that painful, dark period behind you, and so in your busyness of raising two children it slips your mind that there is a batch of probably viable embryos hanging out in a freezer until you get the storage letter. 

But, that's not where the article went horribly wrong for me. Different experiences, I can try to wrap my head around. But harmful tropes about infertility treatment outcomes? NO SIR. NO MA'AM. NO WAY. 

The callout in the article read, "When you're going through infertility, you're on a roller coaster. And it's nonstop. You keep your eyes on the prize and keep going." 

Okay, this is true. It IS a nonstop roller coaster. A roller coaster combined with a merry-go-round from hell. It IS nonstop, and you are definitely encouraged to "keep your eyes on the prize and keep going." Even to insanely unhealthy levels -- it's that "Keep going! Never ever ever give up! Eyes on the Prize!" that had me unwilling to jump off that merry-go-round even as I developed autoimmune issues that will haunt me for my whole life, and destroyed my body, and had a mental health crisis. I did not feel I could step off because MY EYES WERE ON THAT PRIZE. 

But wait, it gets worse. 

At the end of the article, she shares that her sister-in-law suggested she join a RESOLVE support group while she was dealing with the grief and loss of miscarriages and treatments that weren't resulting in healthy pregnancies. And so she joined, and THE LEADER OF THE GROUP, a SOCIAL WORKER, gives out some gems that had me growling and ruminating all morning: 

"The social worker said two important things that kept me going: one, that each of us was going to resolve our situation one way or another. And the second thing she said was that if we wanted a child, that we would all get the child that was meant for us.

That, at least, I know is true: I got two wonderful kids ... who were meant for me." 

(insert loud internal screaming here)

Okay. I was with the social worker in the first thing that she said. Yes, everyone will resolve their "situation" in one way or another. Bravo! Fantastic! There is more than one way to resolve your infertility journey! 

What I wish she said next was, "And no one way is better than another. Some of you will resolve with children, either biological or not. And some of you will make a new life without children. It is OKAY to decide when you have hit your enough. You can build a beautiful life with children, and you can build a beautiful life without children. But you will all eventually resolve." 

But no, she didn't. She said the thing about resolving, and then made it PERFECTLY CLEAR that the only way to resolve when you actually WANT children is to keep going until you get the child that is meant for you. 


This is the thinking that keeps people going and going and ruining their physical and mental and financial health for that quest of "If I stop, it means I didn't really want children badly enough. If I stop, I'll be stopping right before the CHILD THAT WAS MEANT FOR ME comes to me. I CAN'T STOP." 

It is so harmful. It is something that is put out by people who were actually able to have that child through whatever means, and who can't IMAGINE a life without children, and so they perpetuate this idea that it is terrible to give up on that child who is clearly out there for you, if you just STICK WITH IT enough to achieve that end. No matter what.

It blows my mind that this was said by a social worker, leading an infertility support group. Well, sort of. I heard a LOT of ilk like this in my own journey, including the insane (to me) idea that we have to open our hearts and minds (and uteruses) to our "Spirit Babies" who are swimming about in the ether, and all we must do is invite them to come to us with sincerity and all will be well and the children who are meant to be ours will be ours. WHAT COULD GO WRONG WITH THIS THINKING? (All I can think of is creepy spirit babies floating around, saying, "yup, let's go to this one" and evaluating potential uteruses like the Great Pumpkin, Linus shouting "nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see!") The yoga class where this imagery was used was one that I attended after my own miscarriage, and all I could think as tears wet my hair on the mat was that apparently I wasn't sincere enough as my spirit baby had revoked their invitation, and through all my IVF attempts I had been deemed "not worthy" over and over and over again. Not a good feeling. 

I realized, after reading it a second time, that this article was in the Parenting section, but I really, really wish that the media would put out more articles where people resolve without parenting and it's NOT the absolute worst-case scenario. Where someone reading that article could leave it without feeling like a big fat failure, or like they'd better sign up for the next package of IVF cycles so that they too can get "the children that are meant for them." Bryce said that that story isn't viewed as a feel-good story, but I don't see why we can't change that. I think my life IS a feel-good story, thankyouverymuch.

This article showed up in a Google Feed without that searching for "parenting" articles, and probably was targeted for Bryce because of the IVF piece, because Google is creepy. Regardless, there should at least be links to supports that don't seek to make people feel that there is only one acceptable outcome to IVF and the quest for parenthood below the article. There should be some acknowledgment that resolving without children isn't a sad sap horror story of poor persistence. 


Giving My Childhood Away

For a time, the trunk of my car was filled with horses. Six plastic Breyer horses, from a box my mother gave me of childhood treasures. 

When I first got the box, I left it in the garage. I thought, What am I going to do with this? One of the lasting after-effects of resolving our infertility journey without children is this dilemma -- I have things that were mine as a child, and I have things that I bought or saved for my own children, that are left homeless. 

I know that having children doesn't necessarily mean that there will be willing recipients for your stuff. But, some of my childhood memories center on playing with my mom's old toys in the closet of her childhood room (the closet was huge, it's less weird than it sounds). Old dolls, old metal kitchen toys, that kind of thing. The select few things that are meaningful from childhood that you want to share with your future family. 

For me, my collection of Breyer horses fit into this category. I was obsessed with horses as a child, at least pictures and plastic models of horses. The IDEA of horses. My only real experience riding a horse came at a 12 year old birthday party for a friend of mine, where we all got put on a horse and went on a trail ride through the woods of a county park. Well, everyone else had an enjoyable ride; I couldn't get my horse to follow directions and I was also more than a little nervous at being so high up off the ground (who knew ACTUAL horses were so...large, so hairy, so reluctant to follow my orders?). I think the horse sensed my fear, and so I was constantly being left behind as the horse pretty much followed her own path and took her sweet time and the leader of the horse party had to keep coming back to tell me what to do like I hadn't already been trying to do just that, his exasperation clear. The kicker was when my horse did finally start moving and my sunglasses, my mirrored palm-tree sunglasses that I adored, trotted right off my face and under a hoof. Any desire to have my own horse, to go horse riding with my fictional waist-length hair streaming behind me on some coast somewhere, disappeared at that party. 

But, I loved those plastic horses. I kept them on a old dresser in my closet, lined up by size order. Again, my closet was big -- apparently houses from the 1920s enjoyed closets that turned a corner and had secret hideout spots that were great for playing in. My Barbies would ride the horses. They would go on adventures. And then their adventures led them to a cardboard box that was in storage for decades until my mom dropped it off for me to do...something with. 

In the past, this would have made me interminably sad. I would have mourned the loss of my mythical little girl who would have a play closet of her own and create adventures for my childhood horses. I had a brief moment of, "Well, this sucks." But, it was different, very different from the donating of our nursery or the donating of one last group of onesies and baby blankets almost two years after our decision to resolve.

After my sucky moment, it came to me -- I could find out who had horse-loving kids and were young enough to enjoy a good plastic horse model, and then gift my horses to them. I piled them up in my trunk (do you still call it a trunk when it's a hatchback situation?) and took them to school with me. 

Eventually, I had several takers (plastic is easy to sanitize in pandemic-times). One of my friends has two children, a girl and a boy, who enjoy imaginative play, and she took two horses for them. Apparently Breyer made the horses somewhat anatomically accurate as they had a long and hilarious conversation about whether the horses were girls or boys (one was MOST DEFINITELY a boy). I was left with four horses, which spent about a month rattling around in my trunk. Then, I asked my friend the school librarian, who has three little girls. She took all but the smallest horse, which I wanted to keep. Both of my friends sent me texts about how much their kids were enjoying the horses, which made my heart happy. 

It makes me insanely happy to know that my old toys that meant so much to me are making other children happy and enjoying new lives. It makes me more happy that they are in the hands of my friends' children than it makes me sad that my children didn't get to exist to play with them. I do regret not taking a picture of them, but that's okay. 

The last little horse I kept for my Dust Bowl demonstration, which I need to tweak for this year. I set up a popsicle-stick farmhouse, borrow a play fence from a friend, and put my plastic longhorn bull (that Bryce bought for some reason, unrelated to children, that DEFINITELY has balls) into a tub with Nesquik for dust, and then blow a hair dryer into it to show how the dust gets all drifty and sifts into the slats of the house. For good measure I knock the bull over and yell "DUST PNEUMONIA STRIKES AGAIN!" Having my own little horse for the tableau will make it even better. But also I have to figure out how not to get Nesquik into the hair dryer element, because I set it on fire last time and the classroom smelled like burnt chocolate for a week. Also, Nesquik is not gluten-free. Needs some work. 

The point of all this is, I am glad that these horses aren't rotting (if plastic rotted) in a sad, moldering cardboard box in a garage or attic for eternity, and that instead they will be played with. Not by my kids or grandchildren, but by SOMEONE'S. Of all the things I've given away, these are my favorite. So far. I still have a tub upstairs of things specifically for our baby, the things that were too painful to donate or give away. I might keep them, as a way of not erasing that moment in time. But, more and more of my things are going out into the world, to other people's children. It's a way of sending my childhood legacy out into the world. And a way for the things we bought for our FutureBaby that never got to be to have a new life, somewhere else.