I Am A Podcast Guest!

There are many reasons to love Lori Lavender Luz, otherwise known as Lori Holden. She is a blogger,  the author of The Open-Hearted Way to Open Adoption: Helping Your Child Grow Up Whole, the host of Adopting.com's podcast, Adoption: The Long View. She is also empathetic, kind, constantly looking to learn and grow and help others to learn and grow, and an amazing friend. I could literally listen to her voice until the end of time -- so soothing! Like an auditory hug! 

I am so excited to say that I was a guest on Adoption: The Long View's Episode #306, now available wherever you get your podcasts (and in the link above). 

WHAT? You may ask yourself... But you didn't ACTUALLY ADOPT! Why on earth are YOU on a podcast about ADOPTIVE PARENTING????

Well, let me tell you! This episode is titled: "What if Adopting Doesn't Work Out?: Exploring the Uncharted Exit Ramp of Adoption." 

Yes, that's right -- someone who writes and talks about adoptive parenting, who is a parent of two through domestic infant adoption, who is sponsored by ADOPTING.COM, wanted to do an episode about NOT adopting. Whether it was deciding that was not an option to pursue like her other guest, Greg, or going through the process and eventually stepping away (albeit after the proverbial beaten horse was nothing but a puddle of bloody pulp) as we did, Lori wanted to give the perspective of resolving without parenting through the lens of pronatalism AND the fact that there are on average approximately 40 waiting, hopeful adoptive parents for every ONE infant that is being placed. 

I am so grateful to Lori, and I think you will also want her to be your very good friend after listening to her podcast. 

If you are a parent through adoption, please check out her entire podcast -- she features guests who are adoptees, birth parents, adoptive parents, adoption therapists, authors, advocates, and more -- and really does a bang-up job with presenting and validating many viewpoints, with the endgame of providing parents (and prospective parents) through adoption with resources to help in the long view of adoption, the marriage and not just the wedding, to quote her. If you aren't connected to adoption but want to know why you should NEVER say "Just adopt!" as if it is easy and simple, give it a listen. 

I am so honored to be a part of Lori's podcasting genius! It is so strange to hear myself talking, but I am proud of the message and the storytelling I offer in this episode, and of the message and storytelling that Greg offers from a different perspective, and the masterful facilitation of the conversation led by Lori. Thank you, Lori, for the opportunity to share a lesser-heard perspective, for empathy, solidarity, and support. 

Go forth and listen

Image from adopting.com

A Little Positive?

In our last IVF cycle where I was actually capable of receiving an embryo transfer, I peed on a stick. I figured what the hell, why not? It was one of the last times we would do it and I was feeling hopeful. I went to look at it, and couldn't tell if there was a second line or not -- it was fuzzy, I wasn't sure. I came back 30 minutes later and there was a faint line. Was it an evaporation line? Was I just a "little pregnant?" No way to know. 

Saturday I woke up from a nap and felt...weird. My throat was super scratchy, I had a headache, I was foggy, and super bitchy. I sat there for a little bit on the couch while Bryce made dinner, and then went upstairs and tested. I'd gone to a conference earlier in the week and while I masked for most of it, there were social events where I got a little complacent, I was drinking and eating and schmoozing and I let my guard down. So I was like, oh god, this is what open bar gets you!

When I checked the test...there was a faint line. Almost just fuzzy, but definitely SOMETHING where I've never seen ANYTHING before. I looked at it under bright light, under my phone flashlight, and was like, Okay, this is it -- it finally got me. 

Bryce and I did a little research and apparently, any line is a positive. No matter how faint. False positives are very, very rare (a percentage of 1%). So, I emailed everyone I'd spent time with in the car ride home from the conference and who I saw for even a moment without my mask on. 

And then Sunday, I tested and it was negative. But I felt crappy and my throat hurt and my head hurt and I was tired and felt super heavy and sore in my bones. So I canceled everything I had early this week, including committee interviews for our new assistant principal, which I was very upset to miss. 

Tested today... negative. What the what? 

Is it possible that I fall in the percentage of a percentage point? Do I have superimmunity somehow? Did I get exposed and my body magically fought it off? I AM SO CONFUSED. I do know that I still feel like crap. I am following the protocol just in case, but what the hell is going on? 

Why must all the medical things fall under, "huh, that's a mystery," for me? 

If you have any insights, please leave a comment, I am flummoxed. 

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

Things With Secret History

A little bit ago I had an outdoor party for whoever in my special education department could come. A "Deck Party" is what we called it, since we have our lovely (ginormous) deck and really haven't used it yet to entertain given, you know, pandemic. 

About 17 or so people came over, which is more people than my house has seen since our housewarming party in March 2019, and that was an open house so maybe it's the most at one time, ever. It rained at first (of course) -- here we are in a drought but if you plan an outdoor party (and this was the RAIN DATE because it rained on the first date), IT WILL RAIN. We started in the garage (doors open, fans a-blowin') and then migrated up to the deck when it stopped and we had toweled off the seating. 

Very few people went inside, and masks were a requirement if they had to go pee or wanted a little tour of the house. 

You know what's funny? I realized that my house has several things that at first glance seem somewhat commonplace, but then have a sort of secret history, a deeper meaning that isn't immediately apparent. I am proud to say that I gave a tour of my house, not a tour of my memories of trauma and resilience. 

Someone said how much they loved our Buddha statue in the window going up the stairs:

Upper left corner, above the cat who was just making out with a roll of paper towels that's rolled down the stairs. Womp womp

I said, "Thank you." I did not say, "Thank you, he's a little boy reading a book because he was a Christmas gift from Bryce to commemorate our 2012 miscarriage, sort of like the little boy we thought we'd have (even though it was too early to know that sort of thing), and a way to remember and honor what we'd lost." That would probably dim the party mood, and I don't owe that to anyone. So, yay me for just leaving it at what it currently is -- a cool piece that we love, but that has private meaning and reminds us of our resilience more than our sadness at this point. 

Someone else noted our drying racks for glasses on the kitchen counter: 

I said, "Thanks! We love it too!" I did not say, "oh hey, that's actually a bottle drying rack called "Lawn" and the little branches and cactus are actually meant for bottle parts, but it works just as well for wine glasses and reusing zip-loc bags. One of the very few shower things we didn't return or donate after we knew we wouldn't have a baby." Yup, no one needs to know that. And if they look it up, they'll probably figure it out. I'm fairly certain I have never complimented something at someone's house and then looked it up though. 

I no longer explain that the "Craft Room" aka "Puzzle Room" aka "World's Most Uncomfortable Guest Room" aka "Eggi's Room" is furnished with a few pieces that were meant for our nursery.

We had chosen an upholstered reclining glider so it could fit in with the rest of our furniture later, and it lives in there. The cats have pretty much made it a scratching post so it's worse for wear, but we do use it. The dresser in the room is by Fisher Price, meant for baby clothes. Okay, if anyone is actually having a baby or knows someone who is, for the love, you do not need a special dresser. That was the biggest racket. This dresser LOOKS normal but actually has insanely tiny drawers. Two are empty for guests (LOL, COVID), and the rest hold gift wrapping supplies and laundry appliance maintenance stuff. They've been just "furniture" for far longer than they ever were meant for a tiny human, and it doesn't make me sad to see them. It makes me sad to see the clawed up upholstery, though. And that the bed we thought was a "daybed" is just an insanely uncomfortable twin bed on a very large frame with what we thought was a trundle but turns out to be a drawer. Which is for puzzles. Or I suppose, if you're boring, linens. 

I look at these things now as a map of resilience. They were sad at one time. They were reminders steeped in grief and what-was-supposed-to-be. But now, they have a purpose. And no one but us needs to know their secret histories. 

An Age Reality Check

This week, I have the exciting new experience of positional vertigo, or BPPV. No clue what caused it, but I was at Pilates yesterday and when I went to get up I got real dizzy, the floor seemed like it was coming up towards my face and everything was tilting and spinning. It felt like I was either a) horrifically drunk or b) on a ship that was in the middle of a terrible storm. 


But then, later in the evening, I was stretching out my hips by lying on my back and then twisting to one side, then the other. Left was fine. Right...had the room spinning again. Like, major visual disturbance -- I was looking towards my brick fireplace, which is two-sided so I could see through to the dining room, and it was literally spinning. I sat up and held on to the floor for dear life. It subsided, and I pretty much couldn't tilt my head to the right on the floor or the bed for the rest of the night without some major Inception-style mindfuckery. 

I googled it, which is always dangerous, but in this case it assured me that I am NOT dying, that it's NOT a tumor, that it's just little displaced crystals in my inner ear wreaking havoc on my spatial awareness and balance. 

I had PT today for my shoulder (two more visits to go!), and I mentioned it just because sometimes we loosen my neck and do some tilty things that I was pretty sure would result in me a) on the the floor and/or b) vomiting. He said it was pretty common, and if it doesn't resolve naturally he'll do this thing called an Epley Maneuver that tries to resettle the crystals and usually works. 

But then he said, "I've seen this a lot actually, it can be caused by stress, or an ear infection, but also it's never young people." 


"It's always middle-aged and older." 


I know I'm not exactly YOUNG, but "young" is relative and I have a hard time with "middle aged" as a concept. I think that was the first time SOMEONE ELSE labeled me as such. It makes sense -- I'm 46, which is half of 92, which would be a nice long life and so yes, I am middle-aged. It was just weird to be classed so nonchalantly. 

Later, at Pilates again (can't go tomorrow so she fit me in to a class today, two days in a row = super sore!), my teacher said it a little kinder -- "I've had a lot of clients in perimenopause or post-menopause who have that. I wonder if there's something to that..." 

I know I am middle-aged, and I know I am perimenopausal thanks to hot flashes and other sneaky clues since removing my uterus makes it tricky to know in other ways, ha. I feel like being labeled perimenopausal was less ouchy than middle-aged, though. Not sure why!

Maybe it's because although hot flashes and irritability and stomach bloating/weight gain suck, but I'm perfectly happy to lose the cycles that never worked properly in the first place. It's more sobering to realize that I am teetering on the downslide of my life cycle. That I would be fortunate to be halfway, especially given the precarious state of the world.

It stuck with me throughout the day. Thankfully, the spinning has lessened today, although dizzy spells where I have to grab on to something to steady myself have not. Fingers crossed that I can stay upright or at least be near something soft if I upend my middle-aged self -- I can't afford another injury! Quite literally, as my insurance only covers 30 PT visits PER CALENDAR YEAR, not per injury or script, which is some bullshit for those of us who are accident prone. I have two visits left before I would have to cash pay, which is $80/pop, which especially in the summer when I have no paycheck is a NO GO. 

This experience keeps underscoring how the way society is puts everyone an accident away from financial disaster, especially if you're on shaky ground to begin with. (Slight tangent.) Anyway, age is just a number (but does actually mean SOMETHING), and I'd far rather be middle-aged than have to do "youth" over again! 


Friday was a milestone day -- Bryce had his Research Review Milestone Meeting for his PhD, which is basically presenting the work he's done and what's left to do to his committee. It's the last formal thing before his dissertation defense, which is slated for October. 

Not surprising, but HE ROCKED IT. Bryce had one of his committee members say, "so...you're a physicist, right?" and he thought for a moment and said, "YES. Yes I am a physicist." I think that was one of the high points for him! That and the fact that he has met his publications goals thus far and has two in Optics Letters, which is for novel and urgent discoveries/work. The second was just published within the month. 

Bryce started his PhD when we were starting adoption, in 2015. His PhD is over 7 years going (he's part time because he works full time) -- seven years of gestation! It's very strange to think that had we adopted successfully, we'd have a child between five and seven. Which, sidebar, explains the promotional materials from Highlights Magazine I keep getting in the mail and depositing straight into the recycling bin -- I am grateful that is the only thing like that I still get. It didn't make sense to me at first, because with IVF we'd have a 9 or 10 year old given the timing of our losses, but adoption timing fits. 

Regardless, I am super proud of Bryce and the milestones he keeps achieving towards this goal, towards this labor of love (and a shit-ton of hard work) that is finally coming to fruition. He is one smart cookie. It's nice when you work and work and sacrifice and it results in a tangible achievement, ha. One more milestone left! 

Bryce's Research Review Encouragement Card

I make a card for each milestone exam/presentation and hand-stamp terms from whatever publication or work is most recent. Lately I've included a graph from his research -- the last one looked like a purple butterfly, I think this one looks like a mustache (my symmetry needs work). The orange and black are his university's colors. He's got a small collection of these at this point! 

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

Taking Back Spaces

Last weekend, I had family in from out of town (out of country -- Guelph, ON). It was my cousin-ish/niece-ish - my stepfather's brother's daughter who is 21 and finishing up her university degree. The title is tricky only because my parents are only 20 years older than me, and there's a gap between my stepfather and his brother which results in him being only 7 years older than me, so it didn't necessarily feel "uncle-y." 

Anyway. She came to visit and we spent the day together -- she'd bought tickets to the Strong National Museum of Play, which I haven't been to in a VERY long time. For somewhat obvious reasons. 

You know what's kind of amazing? I didn't even think about it until we got there, that this was a place FULL of families, of strollers, of toddlers toddling about, a virtual center of everything I will never have for myself. And when I realized, oh yeah, this is a major parent/child/family place, I just kind of shrugged it off. I DID NOT FEEL SAD AT ALL, NOT ONE BIT. 

Me and my anonymous "niece-ish" -- in front of the Sesame Street stoop

One reason was probably that we were running around like lunatics, touching and playing with all the things. Climbing up into the giant's beanstalk lair, or into the pirate ship/Robinson Crusoe treehouse. Sorting wooden veggies in Peter Rabbit's garden by shape and color. Oh I'm sorry, tiny child, you will have to wait your turn to play "Ode to Joy" with your feet on the giant Big-esque floor piano! The 20- and 40- somethings have their turn! It's not like we were rampaging the place, but we definitely had a lot of interactive fun and it was goofy. 

Every once in a while I felt like maybe we were looked at crossways, like why were we here with no children (we were probably the only ones minus a very few tourists from out of town)? But I did not worry about it much. It is a museum of play, and you know who has fun playing? EVERYFREAKINGBODY. Why not enjoy the displays with giant sliding puzzles and floor pianos and a laser harp that irritated me because the high pitches were on the long "strings" and the low pitches were on the short "strings," which makes NO SENSE? 

Except there were some things that apparently change when you get older. There was a house you can go up into and across and it is full of illusion stuff that makes you feel all wonky, and there is a railing on the side so you can clutch it, which I NEVER HAD TO DO BEFORE, but holy crap something in my brain has shifted since I last went. There's a little window on the side, with a sign that says, "look through -- if you are dizzy, don't enter as you could fall." Well, did I listen? NO. And I hung on to that railing for dear life as though I was on the edge of a building because my brain could not reconcile the illusion and told me I was falling the entire time. I didn't fall, which is good. 

They also had a thing called the High Line or Sky Line or something like that that was a harnessed climbing adventure above the carousel, and I wanted to do it SO BADLY until Bryce reminded me before I left the house that I am still recovering from a rotator cuff shoulder injury, and perhaps it would be smart to skip something that could aggravate it. DAMMIT. Next time, harness climbing thing, next time. 

The second floor had a timeline of toys and a display of Barbies through the years, as well as this absolutely terrifying doll: 

SHE IS COMING FOR YOU IN YOUR DREAMS. There was a lady that was taking a picture of it too, because her mom ACTUALLY HAD this doll, and she was like, "it was the creepiest thing ever, and I think it disappeared and we never did find it." It's probably wandering an attic somewhere, waiting to terrorize some other family. 

The other half was an arcade -- tons of video games throughout the ages, including Frogger, Centipede, Tetris, pinball machines -- you needed tokens to play so I totally got some and we had a great time! They had a giant Tetris that we absolutely sucked at, but took up most of a wall. 

It was a really fun day (followed by lunch and then a trip to my tiny independent book store), that fed our inner kids. We laughed, we acted like goofs, and NOT ONCE did I feel sad that I wasn't there with my own small child. I think people think of this museum as for families only, but I can honestly say that I had a blast. I don't think I'll make a habit out of it, but it felt freeing to take a space that I had felt was no longer for me and reclaim it for my own fun. 

Happy Not-Independence Day

I have been struggling to put into words all of the things swirling around in my brain, so I've been putting it off. It's the 4th of July, which in the U.S. is a celebration of Independence Day, which is a holiday with not the most inclusive history (for a long time, just Independence for landowning white men) but feels particularly un-celebrate-able with recent moves by the Supreme Court that make me feel like we are just hurtling toward Gideon and I should practice saying "Blessed be the fruit" and "Under His eye" and "We've been sent good weather" because Margaret Atwood was a soothsayer. 

Overreacting? Maybe a tiny bit, but when the Supreme Court rules that women are no longer constitutionally guaranteed the right to make decisions about their OWN bodies for their OWN health and their OWN wellbeing, and it's harder to restrict guns, and now the doors are wide open for prayer in public school (bye-bye separation of Church and State)... kind of hard not to feel like the U.S.A. today is sliding backwards into something unrecognizable. 

It burns my britches that the same people who had signs that said "my body my choice" when it came to vaccines, a PUBLIC HEALTH MEASURE that impacts everyone, have now made choice over bodily autonomy not a thing anymore for women. I know that this decision impacts men, too, but it's WOMEN who carry pregnancies, WOMEN who assume all of the risks, WOMEN who lose time from work due to pregnancy-related things like birth, C-Section recovery, IVF procedures, bed rest, complications, WOMEN who face our dire maternal death statistics in the U.S., WOMEN who have no choice but to be left with the bodily consequences of any number of awful situations because men are depositors. That doesn't mean that all men choose to just spurt and run, but there are no maternity tests (obvious) but there are entire shows dedicated to paternity tests and men trying to prove that they are/they are not the father. 

It fills me with absolute fury. I have a wonderful man who did everything possible to support me through all the indignities, pain, and lost time due to IVF when he really only had to be there to provide material in a cup. I chose to try to have a baby and it was HARD, so hard, and I lost two of them -- one to an early miscarriage that completed on its own so I did not need a D&C (which now is something people may not have access to in states that decide that's abortion), and one to an ectopic pregnancy that once identified as such when there was nothing in my uterus but a big old bulge in a fancy ultrasound of my tube, resulted in a swift ER admission to the hospital and surgery that showed that the tube was starting to rupture. I have never considered that surgery that took the embryo growing abnormally in my tube and the busted tube a TERMINATION, even though effectively it ended what was never going to be a viable pregnancy, it saved my life. I saw a picture of my tube and the mass post-surgery, and it was more like a tumor than the tiny half-formed babies people love to put on their anti-abortion posts and signs. Bryce was afraid for me though all of these experiences, but he was afraid FOR me because it was only ever my body that was at risk. 

I am angry that so many people who claim to be about the sanctity of life don't seem to care once that baby is born, or care about the care for the pregnant woman pre- and post-partum. There's not funding for social programs that would help young children and families and the WOMEN who more often than not become caregivers. There's defunding of organizations like Planned Parenthood, which actually do a whole lot more for contraception, health screenings, and cancer screenings than abortion, but oh please, let's start restricting CONTRACEPTION too. People realize that contraception keeps pregnancy from happening (most of the time) which prevents abortions, right? 

I remember years ago, when I was in the IUI part of my journey, I worked with a devout religious person who saw that part of my medical treatment to try to have a shot at having a baby and said, "doesn't it just make you so angry that all those people are having abortions when you're going through this?" 

The answer was no. No, because pregnancies are not interchangeable. They aren't aborting "my" possible baby. Someone else's situation is NONE OF MY BUSINESS. If someone decides to have an abortion, that is between them and their healthcare provider. Just like there are people we knew who did not approve of our decision to do IVF and donor gametes, and who when we were deciding what to do with our embryos that I could no longer transfer, said "well I would never put myself in that situation," YOU DO NOT HAVE TO MAKE THE SAME DECISION AS SOMEONE ELSE. We made decisions that were right for us. Many of those decisions were ones we never, ever, EVER thought we'd be in the position to make. But, we wanted a baby, and the harder it is to have one "naturally," the more of an ethical morass it becomes. But you know what? We made the decisions that are right for us, and no one, NO ONE has ever been in our unique situation. We have never been in anyone else's unique situation. Someone else may have decided to destroy their embryos that they could not transfer themselves. We did not. IT DOES NOT MATTER, because everyone has their reasons. The phrases "I've been in your shoes" or "Been there, done that" fill me with fury because NO, NO YOU HAVE NOT. Everyone's situation is predicated on everything that they've experienced up until that time. Decisions are made based on all those permutations that make your situation unique, and every situation is unique. So would I have chosen to have an abortion had I gotten pregnant due to a circumstance where it was not an outcome that was welcome? I don't know, and I don't presume to know, because I HAVE NEVER BEEN IN THAT SITUATION. Maybe I would have. Maybe I wouldn't have. But what I do know is I would never tell someone else that that is the WRONG decision because of my beliefs. (PS, my beliefs are MY BODY MY CHOICE and if you are facing the risk, you get to make the decision, and it is healthcare and between a woman and her provider to decide.) 

Also, it's interesting to see the shirts that say things like, "No uterus no opinion" and realize that THERE IS A WOMAN JUSTICE WHO VOTED FOR THIS. There are many women who have uteruses and also seek to control other people's uteruses (uteri?) in the name of religion. Also, I feel like I do not have a uterus anymore (but I did have one) and I most definitely have an opinion. I do not want this next reproductively-able generation(s) to be shackled to their ovulation and ability to become pregnant, no matter the situation. I can't get pregnant anymore, I really never had the ability to have a baby, but I would never ever ever force that on someone else. 

Okay, so this is soooo far from a Microblog and I've basically just gone off on a rant that has been building for a while now. But, I guess the upshot is, when the government says they care about the unborn but not the 51% of the population who is physically tied to the unborn, when the actual real life children are shot in their classrooms or at 4th of July parades or we don't fund CPS appropriately and children die at the hands of those who are supposed to care for them, I feel like THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE "SANCTITY OF LIFE." This is about controlling women. This is about disenfranchising women. This is about blaming women for a situation that is FIFTY PERCENT PENIS, but no penis carries an embryo so I guess it's HER fault? This is about caring about the idea of a person but not an actual living person or the consequences of forced pregnancy and birth. This is about telling a woman with a life threatening situation that an unborn life is worth more than hers. 

It sucks. And it makes me feel very much like not celebrating freaking Independence Day. 

Sorry, so not a #Microblog Mondays, but if you want to read others, go here and enjoy!