Salt in the Womb

life, love, and maybe babies

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Letting go and moving forward

Six years ago on this day, we transferred one embryo. 

Just one.

That tiny little spec of molecules was the result of a tapestry of feelings: vulnerability, fear, angst, sadness, and hope. As I laid uncomfortably in the hospital room, the edges of my brain blurred. The Valium the doctor gave me helped calm the nerves, but also dulled my senses. Everything seemed like it was, to quote "Stranger Things", happening in the upside down. I was alert, yet completely oblivious. Cold, but burning with excitement. 

More than anything, I was ready. 2015 had just begun and it felt like the start of something new and exciting. The beginning of a new life for our family.

My husband was there to watch the entire process from start to finish. He remembers it well. All I can truly recall is thinking it looked like a giant video game being played all up in my lady parts. I remember thinking it was astonishing that we were willingly paying a stranger great sums of money to do this to me.

I remember thinking that we were willing to pay great sums more if it didn't work this time around.

In the end, we didn't have to worry. After nine excruciating days of waiting and wondering, we got our answer. That one embryo was a fighter...and a winner. I was officially pregnant for the first time in my life, and would birth my son in September.

(Just kidding it ended up being October because the kid was then and is now on his own timeline.)

A half decade has passed since that day. Since then, each year a bright blue envelope has arrived like clockwork in our mailbox. A letter asking if we wished to pay the fee to keep our remaining 13 embryos. Or did we want to release them, or donate them?

Over the last six years I had struggled to make a decision about what to do with those little icicle miracles. Even though we didn't have plans to expand our family beyond our son and my husband's two daughters, I never wanted to tempt fate by letting the embryos go.

As crazy as it sounds, I worried that releasing the embryos would somehow initiate a chain reaction, or a butterfly effect, that would ultimately result in us needing them. 

I never said I was logical.

This year the envelope arrived in the mailbox - and I waited for that feeling of uncertainty to creep into my stomach. 

But it didn't happen.

A shift had occurred. 

Maybe it was the sh*t storm that was 2020. The knowledge that our lives are in a much more precarious place than we think or want to admit. The awareness that other women and men just like us are out there, during a pandemic, amidst racial tensions, watching what feels like the world falling apart...and waiting for their own miracle. Meanwhile I had my miracle right in front of me, yet was still pondering if I wanted to ask for another one.

It felt selfish and silly.

After all, for years I begged, pleaded and made 3:00 AM bargains with any God who would listen to please let me know what it was to be a mother. To celebrate first birthdays. To snuggle on Christmas mornings and put Band-Aids on skinned knees. I only ever asked for one chance to experience that.

And I got it.

Why did I need more?

And so in the last month of 2020, we made the decision (together) to let our 13 embryos go. What to do with them wasn't even a question. We chose to donate the embryos to science rather than disposing of them. 

Our embryos were donated to science - something we believe in more than ever in these times -  in the hope that perhaps a different type of miracle might be created. The miracle of doctors and scientists using our embryos to potentially identify why infertility affects so many, and how it can be prevented.

Maybe those 13, tiny little embryos will hold some answers. Or maybe they won't. But I will know we tried to help in our own way.

As for me, this doesn't conclude my fertility journey. Not by a long shot. I will continue to reach out and offer an open ear to anyone who needs it. I will continue writing blogs (hopefully more than I have recently) and articles and memes. I will speak loudly about my experience so those that are suffering infertility in silence might find the courage to speak up and ask for help.

To all of you: I'm here for you. I hope you get your miracle.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Easy as Humble Pie

Every now and then I have to eat a meal that I absolutely loathe. And no, I'm not talking about stroganoff (although God knows I despise it with every fiber of my being), and I'm not talking about donuts, which I also despise.

Oh, calm down. Not everyone can like donuts.

The meal I'm talking about is harder to swallow than all of my least favorite dishes combined into a giant, gross, festering stew.

It's Humble Pie. It's so painful to eat and today I had to do it.

Let me back up.

Nearly 13 years ago, I became a stepmom to two amazing little girls, ages 3 and 6. I had a picture in my mind of how it would feel to settle into my new role. I pictured transitioning into the family easily, where everything just fell into place and everyone loved each other.

Unfortunately, as many people discover, the relationship between myself and the girls' mother was...well, difficult right from the start. There were reasons for that difficulty beyond my control, but I still desperately wanted to make an effort to be the perfect stepmom and please everyone: my husband, the girls, and their mom.

(Spoiler alert: This is impossible and altogether hilarious.)

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As much as I tried, I struggled to find a balance between being treated as a glorified babysitter (a label that still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up) and a worthy, loved, parent-figure in the girls' lives.

Unfortunately, despite my best and occasionally misguided efforts to be the best stepmom I could, I often felt under-appreciated, devalued, and most disappointingly, attacked. It made me angry. It made me judgmental toward her. Because all I wanted was to be treated like a quasi-equal. A teammate in raising these children. I was loving these kids the best I knew how. Obviously I wasn't perfect, but I certainly wasn't locking them in a tower or forcing them to mop the floors while cartoon forest creatures fluffed the beds each morning.

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Let's be real though, there were lots of crimes being continuously committed on both sides of the parenting/step-parenting fence. I was no angel and neither was she. It's how these things go. Angry words were said or texted. She did this thing because I did that thing. I did that thing because she did this thing. Anger stewed and festered. Side eyes were thrown around like pies in a pizza shop. Emails were sent. Emails were replied to. There were curse words. There were threats. Everyone acted immaturely.

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But then one day it happened. I got vindication. My husband and I discovered that the girls had never been to the dentist. At the time they were nearly 6 and 8 years old. AHA! She wasn't mother of the year!! After all, what kind of horrible mother doesn't send her kids to the dentist?!?!!?

I got out my biggest blanket and snuggled on the couch, cozy in my pettiness, looking for a pediatric dentist for my stepdaughters. It was time for us (my husband and myself) to do the parenting on this. We would handle it.

And we did handle it. We got both girls an appointment and were sad to discover that the youngest daughter (age six) had several teeth that needed to be pulled. I remember that day so clearly. I remember her walking back to the chair with a smile, not sure what would happen. And then I remember when she came back out, so helpless, a mouth full of stuffing in her mouth and huge gaping holes where the rotted teeth had been. There were small blood splatters on her lace white shirt. She had been brave, but terrified.

I turned to look at at my stepdaughter's mother and the expression of absolute horror on her face. Today, now a mother to my own child, I can actually feel her emotions. The guilt. The pain. The regret. I imagine it consumed her for weeks and years to come. She must have felt two inches tall.

Back then, though, I was busy being a petty bitch.

"Good!" I thought, swimming in self-importance. "She thinks she's such a perfect mom and I'm soooo terrible. Well look how the tables have turned now! She didn't even take her own children to the dentist and now look where we are. I would never let that happen."

Time went on. 10 years, in fact. In those 10 years, I admit I've looked back on that dentist episode with some pleasure, especially when I feel particularly demeaned by their mother.

"No matter how bad she makes me feel," I've thought many times. "I'll always have the dentist."

Until now.

Now I realize what an absolute asshole I was. Because something happened.

Earlier this week, I was filling out selections for our 2020 medical coverage and stopped dead when I came across the dental section. My stomach dropped into my toes. My heart raced. I racked my brain forward and backward trying to think of when I'd made an appointment. But no, it was true.

We'd never taken our son to the dentist.

He is 4.

HOW DID I LET THIS HAPPEN? When I was pregnant, I read every book about when to take my kid to which doctor and how often, and the dentist was always at the top of the list. I wasn't about to let my son be the kid who never went to the dentist.

Oh, how the mighty fall.

I barked at Siri to call the exact same pediatric dentist that my stepdaughters went and made the appointment. And today, there we sat. In the same waiting room. The same chairs. The same wallpaper. The same kids movies playing on the TV. 10 years later with our son. Our son who is only a mere two years from being the same age as my youngest stepdaughter when she had those teeth removed.

In his case, we were lucky. We brush our son's teeth often and carefully and he only had one cavity. Nothing traumatic befell him. He would be fine.

But me? I could smell the Humble Pie cooking.

While we hadn't waited quite as long as the girls' mom, we still waited too long. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a dental visit by age ONE. I missed that by three years.

In the end, here's my takeaway. I don't know what's going on in the lives of my stepdaughters' mother. I didn't know back then, and I don't know now. I don't know what she's dealing with, even when I hear bits of (likely incorrect) information from one of our teenagers.  Regardless, it's none of my business. Maybe back then she didn't have insurance for dental visits. Maybe she didn't know when it was recommended to take her kids for an appointment. Maybe she couldn't take the cut in pay that would be required to take an hour or two off work.

It. Doesn't. Matter.

In my intense desire to be on the parenting team, I should have given my teammate some grace. I shouldn't have reveled in her pain when she saw her daughter come out of that dentist appointment. I shouldn't have been gleeful at someone's misery. That wasn't kind of me. How could I expect kindness from her if I wasn't willing to give it out myself?

Today's lesson wasn't one I wanted to learn, but I can tell you what it was. Absolutely necessary. I needed to climb down out of my ivory tower.

Never judge, never assume, and never wish pain or suffering on another person, no matter what they might have done to you first. We're all doing our best, especially as parents. There's enough judgment from friends, family, co-workers, social media, and every random person we meet in our daily lives. The last thing our children should have to worry about is their parents and step parents trying to make each others lives miserable.

The ones who suffer from that are the kids. And that's never okay.

I'm off to heat up another helping of that Humble Pie. I won't lie; I'm having it with wine.

Monday, April 9, 2018

What Happens in Vegas...Sometimes Almost Doesn't Happen At All

I have a confession. Today I found out I made a mistake. A big one. Like, a really, really big one.

I'm only going to share it because look, it happened. I am a human. We live in an edited world of glossy, social media selfies, Facebook funnies, and only-take-a-photo-from-my-best-side reality. But kiddos, we actually live in the real world. Sometimes shit goes sideways. I feel the need to share this story with you so I can make you feel better about accidentally hitting "reply all" to 78 people on a personal email. Or accidentally dropping your phone in the toilet. (I have done all of these things, btw.) We should all feel better about being a flawed, stupid, dumber-than-a-box-of-rucks human being sometimes.

Let me tell you what happened. 

Several months ago, my husband and I concluded that it's totally still okay to use our birthdays as an excuse to go on a vacation. We forwent the traditional dinners out and sugar-coma inducing cakes and instead decided to go see our Lord and Savior Justin Timberlake on his just-announced tour. At the time Kansas City wasn't one of the tour stops, so we took it as a sign to fly to one of our fave places to watch JT kill it in April...

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I consider the two of us to be pretty cultured, but damn we are suckers for Vegas. We love the eat-your-feelings-buffets cuisine. The shopping. The music. We love a quick little stint at the Roulette table. And we love the fact that if you're savvy enough, you can fly in, have a great time for two days, and fly back without blowing the budget.

Because the JT Concert was obviously going to sell out, I laid out my plan. I first became a Tennessee Kid in order to have access to the presale. Bye bye, $25.00 annually. Then I hunkered down like a GI Joe in a WWII fox hole and waited impatiently for the moment to arrive. When 10:00 AM arrived, I did my little click click click, found affordable-ish seats in the arena and booked it.  

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Everything was set. We were going to Vegas.

Fast forward to this morning. I'm there in my home office, catching up on emails and maybe shopping at Target for shit I couldn't possibly need, when an email notification popped up from JT's tour. My knee-jerk reaction was to delete it, but something told me it might be relevant to our upcoming trip this weekend. I opened it.

It was an automated email from Justin's tour asking me to give my feedback on the amazing concert last night. Did we have fun? Was the arena clean? Would we be coming back to Quebec soon? How was the-


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No. It couldn't be. Right? This was an email glitch. Surely.

With trembling hands and repeating "no no no no no no no no" like Rain Man, I pulled up my email receipt with the JT tickets, only to find my. worst. nightmare.

This is what my worst nightmare looks like.

I had bought tickets to Justin Timberlake in CANADA for the week before his Vegas performances.

Now, for those of you that are clenching your butt cheeks for me and feeling my pain, add in a few more clenches for when I realized this:

  • If I had tickets for Canada, then I didn't have tickets for Vegas
  • I had to tell my husband

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Every marriage has a moment like this. One person effs up and the other has no idea it's even happened yet. Like when Carrie cheated on Mr. Big in Abu Dhabi or wherever. For a hot minute, I considered keeping the secret. I mean, I could get away with it. He very rarely checks the credit card statements. If I bought tickets to the Vegas show now, he'd never even know.

And that my friends, is how the slippery slope toward everything unholy in a marriage begins.

I knew I had to tell him. 

Here's another fun fact about me. I can't sit quietly on big news. Good, bad, or otherwise, I have to get it off my chest NOW.

(This is maybe why my friends don't ever tell me anything.)

And so, like the thoughtful wife I am, I called my husband at work at 9:02 on a Monday morning and sobbed into the phone, "Babe I have to tell you something, and I don't know how to do it. It's so bad. It's SO so bad and I'm so sorry and I don't even know how it happened."

(As I'm typing this I realize he probably thought I was confessing infidelity, and considering I wasn't, maybe I'm a little more of a genius than I realize.)

Anyways, I told him what had happened and he was basically like:

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Can't blame him.

We had to choose. Option A: Cancel. Southwest flights were refundable and the hotel was refundable until midnight on Wednesday. Option B: Bite the bullet and buy tickets again, but at the correct venue.

We didn't think about it very long.

This was our vacation, and it was becoming more and more obvious that I really needed one. Justin Timberlake is our Elton John. Our Michael Jackson. Our fave performer in our fave city. Ultimately we opted to take it on the chin and purchase tickets to JT in Vegas. The other tickets from Quebec obviously can't be refunded and that investment is just...ugh I can't even think about it.

(By the way, you're welcome Quebec-ians at the concert that were able to spread out in our absence. Hope you enjoyed the extra leg room!)

At this moment, I still don't understand how it happened. I distinctly remember clicking the "Las Vegas @ T-mobile Arena" link. But how many times have you clicked on something and actually landed somewhere else? I think in my haste to GET THE TICKETS, with the impending doom of a sell out looming over me, I probably goofed and ended up on the wrong tour date. Either that or I was busy buying the afore mentioned shit at Target and just wasn't paying enough attention.

Look, we're lucky. The Kim and husband of 10 years ago would have been out the money, cancelling the vacation and doing this instead:

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To our credit, my husband and I have worked hard and we've saved a little fun money, so we are able to make this work. We are incredibly fortunate.

Needless to say we shan't be returning home with souvenirs and will likely eat at McDonalds for each and every meal, but we will still belt out "Mirrors" and cry to "Young Man" and create everlasting memories. That's what truly matters.

So just remember, no matter what you see on FB or IG or Twitter, no filter can keep you from making a mistake. When it does happen, you can hide and pretend it didn't happen (which hey, you do you) or share it with the world (or in my case 50-ish readers), learn from it, and do your damnedest to never let it happen again.

Stay imperfect, my friends. I need the company.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Kleenex From the Ashes

It's 2018, ya'll.

How in the fresh hell did that happen? One minute I'm shopping for Valentine's Day cards for my kid's daycare and the next minute I'm asking Alexa what Christmas gifts I can order that will arrive in 48 hours.

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I literally cannot even.

(Side note: I made a resolution to never say 'I literally cannot even' ever again.)

Moving on. 2017 was a year of the highest highs and the lowest lows. One of those lowest lows coincided with the highest of highs and it made me feel all weird and sorta sucked the life out of me.


We'll begin with the highest high. 

We bought a new house. Not only were we not in the market for a house, but also we had just completed updates on our existing home and were finally ready to enjoy the fruits of our labor. 

Only about five miles away, nestled in mature trees and windy roads was a neighborhood that my husband and I have always been drawn to. Uber eclectic, great schools, 80's architecture. It's so very, very us. Every now and again we would 'dream drive' through that neighborhood and do the Wayne Campbell about one particular house.

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Spoiler alert: dreaming works.

In early August that house came up for sale. It should have been financially unattainable. Thankfully it needed some major love, which is exactly how we prefer our houses because it makes them cheap and customize-able to our super picky tastes. Quicker than you can say are we seriously doing this we made an offer and bought it. Oh and we sold our house in 28 hours. 

'Slow and steady wins the race' clearly isn't our bag.

So there we were in the dead heat of August, getting ready to close on the house of our dreams. Needless to say we were preoccupied, operating on all cylinders.

The day before closing the craziness got to me and I snapped at Hubs for something incredibly important like one of his socks was higher than the other. He rolled his eyes on his way out the door for work and said, "Note to self - Kim's period will be here tonight." 

I shot him a well you aren't getting laid tonight look and then abruptly stopped short. Wait, was my period on its way? I started counting...

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When I got to 42 days since my last period, I started to panic. This resulted in a 6:30 AM trip to the store to buy a pregnancy test and ingredients for nachos. 

In an unrelated story, I love self checkout.

Anyways I came home and peed on the stick and also a little bit on my finger. Pregnant. Six weeks pregnant.

Okay but hooooow? I've only been pregnant once and it took injections and pain and tears and loads of money and depression and all the rage. Oh and WE JUST BOUGHT A HOUSE.

Could we afford another child? Did we even want one? (Because remember, I had just posted this not long before.) It didn't seem that the Universe particularly cared about my infertility or our new house. I was pregnant.

Right away I told my husband. Hindsight is 20/20 and I may or may not could have done it a little more eloquently. As it happened I asked him to go to lunch at 10:59 AM, put the pregnancy test in a Warby Parker glasses case and gave it to him as we walked to the restaurant. He opened it and looked at me like this:

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Needless to say he was shocked. Our lunch mostly revolved around me sobbing and freaking out while he tried to reassure me it would all be okay. He basically became Matthew McConaughey in "How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days."

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Anyways. We decided I should go to the doctor first and foremost. After all, the child we do have is an IVF baby so chances are this one would need extra love and care as well. We made an appointment for that Monday morning. 

But first we had to close on the new house. It was exhilarating and scary all at the same time. This house was an upgrade. Of course we would never buy something we couldn't afford, but staring down the barrel of another $1000 a month in day care costs will certainly make you ask is this a good idea? Despite those reservations, I found myself getting excited. A baby. A brother or sister for our son. A new member of our family to love in this new house. A new start. It seemed meant to be.

We signed the papers and started our renovations on the home. The whole weekend all I could do was think I'm pregnant I'm pregnant I'm pregnant. But that initial excitement I had felt was running low. Years of infertility had made me less optimistic than I had realized. I was doubtful. But I didn't want to say that to my husband. I wanted to think positive.

That afternoon I remember walking into what would become my son's room. My husband looked around at the empty walls and parquet wood floor and said, "Yeah, this would be big enough for two kids...if it all works out." It shook me. The if. The fact that the both of us were already expecting the worst.

(Question: on a resume under "Qualifications", can you write handles the bitch of reality very well?)

Ultimately, we were right. My HCG levels never got high enough for it to be a viable pregnancy. We knew what was coming. The doctor wanted to do a sonogram to be sure, but the night before we went in, I started bleeding. By the time they did the sonogram, there was nothing left. The baby was gone as quickly as it had shown up. 

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't devastated. Because I really was. More than I thought I'd be. Even though this wasn't planned, and even though it would make more sense to use any of the 13 amazing embryos we already have if we want another still hurt. It seemed like the Universe was saying "You can't decide if you want to go through with another one? Well I'll just make the choice for you."

But then to take it away?


Why give a woman, who had finally accepted that she couldn't get pregnant on her own and was given her miracle child, why give her a pregnancy and then yank it away? It just seems cruel. Heartless. Mean.

I didn't talk about it much when it happened. I only told a handful of people. At 7 weeks, I wasn't showing. And part of me felt like I didn't even have a right to grive. So many women have had this happen to them multiple times. They never share it, so why should I? So I mostly dealt with the anguish on my own as so many women do. I woke up every morning and knew that something inside me had changed, even though the outside still looked the same.

After some time had passed, I realize I wanted to share. I've always been a sharer. (Clearly.) I shared my battle with infertility to get my son, so why wouldn't I share the after-shock of it as well? Just because I have my child now doesn't wash the infertility away. Two years after becoming a mom, I'm still, in the end, an infertile. It is a part of me. I am a part of this community. There are those of us (most of us) that are silent about it, and that is understandable. But I feel there are those of us that choose to be vocal. To inspire understanding. To inspire empathy. I'm happy to take that role on.

From this experience, all I really know is, I am changed. Forever. Maybe this happened to me so I could better understand the infertility community. Before this, I only knew the pain of not getting pregnant. I didn't understand the turmoil of having, then losing. Women and their partners who have gone through this, you are troopers. You are warriors. You are amazing.

Today I am a little bit softer and a little more broken, but a whole lot stronger. This miscarriage tore me up, but I've put myself back together...with a lot of emotional Scotch tape. 

Emotional Scotch tape pictured below:

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Parenting over popularity

Today I'm veering off the topic of infertility and instead I'm going to whine for a moment about the other thing in my life that is just as important...

Step parenting.

Right off the bat, let's get something out of the way. I love being a stepmom. For real. It is something that was not in my life plan, but it came to me anyway and I'm forever grateful.

My step kids are everything to me. I love them with the same heart, soul, and mind that I love my own biological son. But full disclosure, it is a different kind of love.

(And by the way, that's how it should be.)

My stepdaughters have two parents who love them with their entire being, their every breath, their every thought. They are loved by their parents in the same way that I love my son. I will never love my stepdaughters that way because they are not mine. The position of Mom and Dad have been filled...I just work here.

So that being said - I still need to bitch, because step parenting (and spoiler alert, even regular parenting) isn't always glitter and hugs and marshmallows.

Here's the deal. My husband and I parent very, very differently than my stepdaughters' mother does (we'll call her Mama Ex). I'll spare you all the gory details, but for over 10 years we have tried the whole "co-parenting" thing, where we offer to get together with Mama Ex and sing kumbaya and come up with a plan for how to be on the same page or at least in the same chapter.

It's a lost cause. We aren't even reading the same parenting book.

In our house, my husband and I believe in rules, chores*, and responsibilities so we can raise his daughters to be productive members of society.

(*Chores equals clean the bathroom, unload the dishwasher, and occasionally help wipe the table after dinner. We're not talking slave labor, here.)

Mama Ex doesn't necessarily believe in those things, which is totally her right. My stepdaughters don't clean their room at her house, or mop a floor, or wash a dish. And that's fine. She can and should raise her children however she sees fit, and it's really none of my business...

Until it is.

I see my husband's relationship with his daughters taking a turn to negative-town before my very eyes because of this glaring difference in parenting styles. Earlier this month, my oldest step daughter texted her dad that she wanted to stay with her mom for the week and not come to our house. Her reasons? We treat her like a child and she should be able to make her own decisions about what she does at home. (Cue an eye roll so hard I literally saw the front of my brain.) Obviously we declined her request to skip a week at our home, but when she turns 18 next August, she will technically be able to stop coming over if she chooses. 

It breaks our hearts to know that might actually happen.

The way I see it, it is because we want to treat her like an adult that we give her and her sister chores and responsibilities in this home. If we wanted to treat them like a child, they wouldn't be expected to do anything and we'd also be wiping their tushies after they go poo poo.

Look, I get it. I was 16 once. I hated my parents for imposing chores on me (especially in the summer. Ugh FML). I wanted all the benefits of being an adult (do whatever, wherever, whenever) but none of the responsibilities (like paying for whatever, wherever, whenever) and I'm sure that's how my stepdaughter feels as well. 

The difference is, I grew up in a home where both of my parents understood the necessity of preparing me for adulthood. They knew that being a teen is supposed to suck. Otherwise I'd have ended up 32 years old, living in their basement, with a stimulating career at "Things Remembered" engraving wedding goblets for all of my friends who got the hell out of their parents' house. The job description for a parent is to make life just uncomfortable enough that one day your kids wake up and think, "Huh, maybe I should get my own place. Then I can leave pizza in my room for 5 weeks and not get in trouble!"

(And then they have to pay for an ant exterminator and you laugh at them and say I told you so.)

My parents didn't enjoy giving me chores per se. Of course they wanted to give me a carefree life, but they knew that doing so would cripple me from becoming the adult I was meant to be.

Unfortunately in our current situation, one parent wants to truly treat his child like an adult, and the other wants to keep her seemingly in a state of toddlerhood. Both styles of parenting are valid and both have their merits and downfalls. But, for this child, choosing between those two "parenting styles"? Girl, please. Obviously one of them totally rocks and the other seems awful and abusive.


Why should the person who loves his kids so much that he's willing to be the parent and not the friend be punished for doing so? 

Many people that I have vented to say something along the lines of, "Don't worry, when she gets older, your stepdaughter will understand." While that's a nice thought, there's no guarantee. Because over there across town, Mama Ex is thinking the exact same thing. She's also thinking that someday her daughter will grow up and understand how mom has been right all along and her dad was indeed a cotton headed ninny muggins.

Someone is going to be the loser in this scenario. And seemingly it will be the household who is a lot less fun...i.e. us.

Part of me wants to say, "Screw it, Mama Ex. You win. We will no longer give the kids any chores or make them accountable for any damn thing they do." I mean, that would be the easiest. The girls would be happiest in the short run. 

(Although that means I would have to start cleaning their bathroom and I mean, hell to the no.)

The biggest problem I have with giving up and giving in is, parenting isn't about the short game. If it was, I would let my son play with knives because in the short run OMG IT MAKES HIM SO HAPPY. But in the long run, he really does need his I take away the cutlery. I feel that I owe my husband's child the best part of my parenting self. To do any less would be a disservice to her. 

And in case you're wondering, I will raise my son exactly the same way. Homeboy will be doing chores as soon as I can trust him to not drink the toilet bowl cleaner.

Parenting is all about the long haul. You can't (in my humble, often unasked for opinion) raise smart, savvy, strong kids by doing everything for them and also letting them do whatever they dream up. They have to learn the most basic of the basics so that someday when they're shacking up with their hot new boyfriend, they don't have to ask him to wash their underwear.

My husband and I believe that learning to be accountable, learning to save and manage your money, learning to load a dishwasher...these are important enough lessons that they must be taught by someone.

And so we will do it.

Even if that means we have to be the bad guy.

Even if that means we lose the popular vote.

Monday, June 5, 2017

decisions, decisions, decisions

Look! My blog got a face lift? Do you like? I hope so. I spent a solid 25 minutes on a lunch break trying to figure out if I wanted to pull the trigger or not, and landed on "yes" because my sandwich was getting cold.

That's how all the best decisions are made, don't you agree?

Anywhoo, I do hope you like the new blog outfit. If not, mmmk. Onto today's post...


I have always loved getting mail.

When I was young, my mom would announce that she heard the post man drive by and I would beeline to the front door, stepping on my sister's ponytails, knocking my brother to the floor, all in an attempt to please let it be my turn to retrieve the day's take. And because this was before Fitbits, my mom was all too willing to accept my generous offer because really, who wants to walk out to the mailbox?

(Also, my mom was an adult and knew there was nothing in that mailbox that was going to give her anything but a headache.)

The mailbox deliveries were generally a disappointment to me. Coupons for a free car wash, a bill or two, an envelope from the Publisher's Clearing House with some white haired dude promising me a chance at 30 million. Yadda yadda. But it wasn't necessarily the actual bits of mail that would excite me anyway; it was the anticipation of what might be there. I lived for it.

As I got older, the mailbox offerings became less exciting and sadly, more predictable. Especially in the college years. I got a lot of "final notice" envelopes with big, scary, red block letters warning me that I was mere days away from having no electricity. This loosely translated to "YOU ARE ALMOST GOING TO BE UNABLE TO KEEP YOUR BEER COLD." 

Fast forward through my early career days, where mail didn't alter much from the college years. Bills, student loan reminders, and perhaps a few credit card statements from places I had no business being approved for. (WHY would JC Penney give a 22 year old a $1,000 credit limit?)

Then, marriage! And with it arrival of envelopes with "Mr + Mrs" on them. CUTE! Plus, packages filled with things I actually wanted, like fun accessories for the house that I could finally afford and order online! Sure I still got notices about renewing my car tags, but there were also wedding invitations and birthday party invites and random late-night purchases from Amazon. The mail had finally turned back into the exciting and unexpected joy it had been for me as a child.

But then - infertility. And the joy was gone faster than it had come. Once we started treatments, that cold, hard, shit-box only held instructions for my medications, invoices from the fertility clinic, and explanation of benefits (or lack thereof) from insurance.

Infertility stole many things from me, but one of the most significant was my euphoria in getting the mail. I suddenly despised the entire mail process. I avoided opening envelopes - and subsequently missed important deadlines - and wanted nothing more then for it all to go away.

Eventually, as you know, I did get pregnant and had my son. And shortly after some nasty bills from the hospital for this little gem of a birth story, the dust cleared, and once again, the mail returned to exactly what I wanted it to be: fun. A daily surprise that held possibilities!

I've been settled deep into the love nest of my mailbox for a little over a year, so perhaps that's what made this last week's parcel so unexpected. I went to retrieve the mail, expecting some lovely new shampoo that will give my tresses strength and volume and  


There it was.

My fertility clinic wants to know if I'd like to pay the yearly fee to keep our remaining 13 embryos frozen or, let them go.

Cold hard reality set in and my heart sank. Not because I'm sad I have the embryos. It's amazing I have them! I'm simply sad because of the unavoidable realization that we truly are probably a one and done IVF family. 

In fairness, we always planned it to be that way. Even before infertility, my husband and I accepted that we already had two kids (two daughters from my husband's previous relationship) and therefore one of our own was probably all we could handle, financially and otherwise. We talked about it, we agreed to it, we decided on it.

But after the drama of infertility and working so hard to get our son, it almost feels vulgar to leave those 13 other embryos un-realized. Even though they've only been grown out five days, I still feel a motherly attachment to them. I'm not one of those people who believes that life begins at inception (though if you are, no judgment at all), but I do feel like there are 13 little (potential) lives in those cryogenic freezers just WAITING to make someone's life amazing. So why wouldn't I use them to make my life more amazing?


Of course, nostalgia and the adorableness of a baby is not a valid reason to make a baby. I know in my heart that the right thing (for us) is to only have one child.

And yet...I still wonder.

My husband is on the anti-baby train all the way. In his defense, I think it's a little easier for him to separate out his emotions. Yes, he went through infertility with me, but he didn't take injections and go through hell in his head every waking was just a different experience. He knew from the beginning we were one and done, and he's accepted that and is good with it. 

But for me, the pull of another baby is still there - I feel myself wanting to go again.

Of course, the option for the last year or two has been easy. Pay the fee, keep the embryos on ice and deal with it in a year. But now here we are, one year later. Do I really need to keep paying this fee year over year when I know we won't be making a withdrawal from the baby embryo bank?

Lastly, there's always donation. We could release our 13 little loves into the abyss of the fertility clinic's database. And maybe someday a lovely, deserving couple would select one. But then my crazy brain starts thinking thoughts like what if someone gets one of our daughter embryos and my son ends up meeting her and they fall in love and get married and it's incestuous!??!! 

(I never said my thoughts are rational. Sometimes I go dark, people.)

So here I am here again. Confused, illogical, and really mad at my mailbox for ruining my week. Though, I do count myself lucky that I even have this predicament to begin with, as I know so many would kill to be in my shoes. 

Overall, common sense and my agreement with my husband says no. But that darn heart of mine sometimes says yes.

Maybe a letter will arrive in the mail telling me exactly what to do. Until then...

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Trouble With Never

Something amazing happens when women get together and support each other, and today is no different. To celebrate National Infertility Awareness Week, and to launch Justine Brooks Froelker's new book The Mother of Second Chances on April 17th, I am participating in her blog tour. Five weeks of 25 women sharing their stories surrounding infertility and loss. Together we are educating and inspiring others to come out of the shadows of infertility, and know they are supported and loved.

Yesterday on her blog, Jessica shared her story, today I'm sharing mine, and tomorrow you can check out Meaghan's post at My Beautiful Crazy. Please participate by sharing these posts! Share your stories with the hashtags: #NAIW #infertility and #EverUpward.

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Without further ado, here's my post for today:

I’ve spent a good deal of my life speaking and thinking in absolutes. Yes and no. Black and white. Never and forever. This thing or that thing. It’s just how I’m built.

Sometimes this quality is helpful. For example, as a teen when I was rapidly falling in love with every single male in my high school, my tendency toward absolute thinking was helpful. Does this guy in the Nike hat that I fell in love with in 3rd period even know who I am? Nope. Well, then it’s not meant to be. On to the next. At other times, absolutes can be a problem. Husband is late coming home from work? Well, clearly he has been in a car accident and is lying dead on the side of the road. You can see the issues this type of thinking can create.

Okay, so what does this have to do with infertility? Trust me, I’m getting there.
When I graduated college and began my journey into true adulthood, there were things I was absolutely dead sure about. One of them was family planning. The resolute part of myself decided that I would A) be married by age 26 and B) have at least two of children, maybe even three if my body bounced back, by the age of 31. (No, I wasn’t vain at all.) In retrospect, the arrogance of this whole “plan” still infuriates me. The fact that I thought I had any control of any of the items on the checklist is sickening to me. But, you know what they say about hindsight.
Anyways, this whole egotistical I-am-in-control-of-my-life family plan thing was reliant upon one thing: marrying my high school boyfriend. I’ll let you guess if that worked out. Spoiler alert: It did not work out.
So there I was, 26.8 years old and hit with the realization that my high school boyfriend was not, in fact, marriage (or father) material. I had a dilemma. The clock on my absolute, dead set, never-going-back family plan was going to run out. I was back at the starting gate.
I began to re-evaluate all of the things I was so absolutely sure about. I clearly was not going to hit my marriage goal, and by association, my child plan was looking bleak as well. Thankfully, I met my husband and we were engaged and married within seven months (that’s another story, and it’s a good one so look for that one of these days). My husband had two children of his own, so I became a stepmother at the age of 27. AHA! My child plan was back on track! Yes, a little amended because they weren’t biologically mine, but no biggie, I could still have one of my own easily.
And then life said let me just stop you right there.
The reality of infertility hit at 30. And it hit hard. Not only was I infertile, but the doctors didn’t – and still don’t – know why I couldn’t get pregnant. We began treatments at age 30, so if all went well, I could still have a baby by 31 and stick to my plan.
Somewhere deep inside, the absolute part of my brain was beginning to deteriorate. It was still holding strong, but the walls were weakening.
One other thing I am sad to admit to you is the absolute certitude that I believed I would never, ever, ever, go through IVF. Not even when we began fertility treatments did this conviction change in my mind. IVF was a weird, science-y thing that rich people did when they turned 45 and still wanted kids they couldn’t have naturally. I would never need that. Some injections and pills would take care of everything. Okay and maybe if the pills didn’t work I’d consider that whole turkey baster IUI thing. But why even think about that? Things would never get that far.
And once again, life said hold my beer and watch this.
Three years, two failed IUI’s, a rapidly dwindling bank account, 33 candles on my birthday cake, and still no baby. No more certainty. I was free falling into an abyss that I couldn’t escape.
“Never” had taken on a whole new meaning. Rather than thinking about all things I would never do to have a baby, I was thinking of all the things I absolutely would do to make it happen. Life had, in the immortal words of Missy Elliott, put my thing down flipped it and reversed it. And in the end, the part of me who would never ever go through IVf...went through IVF.
This is the trouble with absolutes. The trouble with never. This life and this universe really aren’t interested in what you’ve decided you will never and can’t ever do. At the end of the day, never is always possible, and we short change ourselves when we decide it isn't. We limit our potential and our progress. No, I didn’t enjoy the process of Clomid and IUI’s and injections and tests and IVF. But…I also wouldn’t have met amazing doctors, nurses, accountants, pharmacists and some of my best friends if I hadn’t gone through it. I wouldn’t have my son if I kept firm to my never. I wouldn’t have met others just like me and just like you. 
As an infertile who has come out the other side, I am done with never. I am done with telling anyone, including myself, what can never happen. And yes, I know there are those of you out there who truly are not able to have children of your own, or even through adoption or fostering. I still encourage you to rid yourselves of never, because we simply do not know where life is going to take us next. It could be somewhere we didn't expect.
Lastly, despite my good-bye to never, let’s not kid ourselves, I’m still a black and white kinda gal, so the draw toward absolutes is still there for me. I choose to feed it in a different form. I am all about the always. I will always be there for those who need me, and I will always advocate for the infertility and infant loss community. I will always be there for my friends, even if they are still stuck in their never.

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