Wednesday, December 31, 2008

65 - 2008 Recap Part Two

The previous post is my Top Five Bad Moments of up...
The Top Six Happy Moments of 2008 (again no significance to the order):

#1 Alex got hired by Delta. While an aviation life is not ideal under any circumstance (see previous posts :-)), Delta is SO much better than his previous flying job. In the old job, he was gone for a minimum of 17 days a month, in a row, every month, and we sustained this for almost 4 years. Now he is usually gone for 3 days in a row and more like 12-13 days a month total. So much better. This is a pic of the airplane he flies.

#2 We met J and T while at CCRM. J and T are the people we stayed with through our whole IVF process out there. J is the sister of my previous piano teacher whom I still keep in touch with. J and T have a beautiful 6,000 sqft home that over looks the Rockies - and they essentially gave us the whole lower floor to live in. They were with us and such a support during this very stressful time of our lives - and they were wonderful. We had never met them before I showed up on their doorstep that night before our first CCRM stim check...and now I know we will be friends for life. Below is a pic J emailed me after our BFN. Their cat hated me for some reason...must have been all the hormones I was on while we were visiting :-).

#3 Aaron, my best friend's son, is doing amazing after his extremely traumatic entry into this world. He's cruising and is so close to walking. He waves. He claps. He laughs a lot and gets angry. He attacks my head and earrings when I hold him in front of my face. A miracle. And I also feel that this traumatic event has brought me closer to my three best friends of 29 years - L (Aaron's mom), M, and B. We talked a lot during that time and really supported each other. Here's a pic of Aaron in the nicu and a pic taken this fall-

#4 I had the best trip of my life in February of this year. I went to Sicily to visit a friend/professor/co-worker (I know, the boundaries are all blurred). She has family in central Sicily, so we spent time staying with them - it was such an authentic experience. I will never forget the few hours we spent on their family farm, soaking up the sun and looking out onto the rolling Sicilian hills while sipping limoncello. These were perhaps some of the best few hours of my entire life - truly. The image attached to my profile on this blog was taken in Sicily...and the ricotta in those cannolis was actually warm (it was so fresh)! Thank you, D and P!

#5 I loved my first semester in MSW school...the courses, my professors, the environment, etc. I learned so much.

And the 2008 happy moment that tips the scales for the "good"...

#6 Obama.

Seriously, how can 2009 NOT get better?

Revision: How could I forget! Another Happy Moment for 2008 was that Alex and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary. We celebrated in Florida where we first met in 1995. Sorry babe for the really was a 2008 highlight. I made a slide show of pics of us from the last 13 years then surprised him by presenting it to him in the lecture hall where we first met. We had a good celebration.

So now the scales officially tip 7 good to 4 bad. See ya, 2008!

64 - 2008 Recap Part One

So we all know that the Grinch's heart ends up growing, then he sings and eats with the Whos and everyone lives happily ever after. Ummm...unfortunately, that's not how the rest of my holiday or birthday panned out. Perhaps the Grinch can become my new mentor for continued emotional growth :-).

I won't go into the details as this is currently a public blog - just the typical last minute changes, let downs, not enough alone time, sprinkled with a few very inappropriate infertility comments. So now it is New Year's Eve, and I am hanging low by myself (Alex is in Africa, and while I had some offers to go out, I just really craved the alone time) and writing this post...after experiencing a day of treating myself and eating breakfast for dinner. I love eating breakfast for dinner.

So here is Part One of my 2008 recap - the bad. I have limited myself to the "top" five bad events. I will post the good of 2008 in a separate post and plan on forcing myself to come up with six for that one. I have to start the New Year with an attitude of the good outweighing the bad - I have to.

Note: There is no significance to the order.

#1 My mom had to get her kidney removed when they found a tumor...she is doing great now, but this was really scary at the time.
#2 My best friend's (of 29 years) uterus ruptured, and her baby was born not breathing and without a heartbeat. They managed to revive him, and he spent a few touch-n-go weeks in the nicu...see my "good" list for follow-up on this one.
#3 CCRM BFN - no explanation required, and unfortunately, there is no follow-up on the "good" list :-(.
#4 Two planes that Alex once flew were involved in major accidents - a B747 and a DC-9. And I mean he flew the EXACT planes that crashed (and, at some point, had worked for the two companies involved in the crashes). We both knew the crew members involved. Unfortunately, one pilot and two people on the ground died, but, miracuously, everyone else was ok. It shook us up a lot. Below is a pick of the B747 involved in the crash.

#5 I'm actually having a problem coming up with's ok, though. I think the above four are time for happy thoughts.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

63 - Redefining "aviation lifestyle"

So I promised myself when I started this blog that I would try my best to be authentic. Authenticity is one of my ultimate goals - embracing everything that I am...the good, the bad, and the ugly. Well, while previous posts have embraced the good side, here is one that embraces the bad and the ugly.

In the last post, I talked about how, for the first time in 10 years, I was embracing our aviation lifestyle. I defined "aviation lifestyle" as one filled with traveling - specifically around the holidays. A lot of pilots just don't get holidays off - any of them. With Alex being so new at Delta, it will probably be a good 10 years of so before he will spend a holiday at home (Thanksgiving and Christmas). I hate this part of the holidays - HATE it. We have worked so hard at overcoming this as couple - Lord knows we have had countless "discussions" about it as we work to bring children into this family. So, as I previously stated, I thought I had made big progress by embracing the idea that I will just travel with Alex on the holidays...and as soon as our kids got old enough, we would all travel with daddy on the holidays. It has taken so much work to get to this place of acceptance.

So, it's the holidays. Christmas Eve. And I'm not traveling.

Alex is sick. Head cold. We all know it is dangerous to fly with a head cold. He decided about 9 hours before we were about to leave on our Italian extravaganza that he is too sick to fly. Of course I'm not blaming him for being sick, but when he made this decision, something inside of me truly snapped - truly. I think it was the years and years of instability around the holidays - both in our marriage and before our marriage - coming to a head. I tore down all the Christmas decorations yesterday - all of them. Both trees, all the little stuff. I sat out the one lonely 7 inch tree (undecorated) I bought last minute last year as I rushed to the airport in an attempt to meet up with him somewhere. Now does the above picture make sense? I'm not celebrating this year.

This "snap" would have happened regardless of circumstance - Alex being sick, the plane breaking, canceled flight because of the weather - it wouldn't have mattered. So let me now redefine what I mean by "aviation lifestyle"...

The beauty of traveling is a part of it...but a small part. What really defines the aviation lifestyle is instability...never knowing if what you've planned and hoped for is actually going to work out. Sounds familiar, doesn't it (to all you IFs)? And I know this is life in general...but aviation adds a thick layer of instability to the normal chaos that already exists in life. Do I mind staying at home with my husband for the holidays? Absolutely not. So many times I have hoped for this and it hasn't worked out. So I tried the other side - find hope for a happy holiday traveling...get excited about traveling. I've tried so hard to try to find a way to be happy with this lifestyle around the holidays. Now I'm at a loss. I really think the key to finding happiness around the holidays in an aviation lifestyle is to remain hopeless. I really don't mean that in a depressed way - I mean it in a very logical way.

Anyone reading this blog a pilot's spouse? I would love your comments and/or suggestions.

What's interesting is that it is now the next morning after I've torn down the decorations, and I have no regrets. I guess it had to happen - the snap, that is. Boy, it was a long time coming.

So I'm not sure what we are going to do these next couple of days. Alex is truly sick. So, we'll hang low. I'll go to the grocery store and buy some food (we, of course, hadn't shopped because we were going to be gone for so long). I think I'll do a little retail therapy today while Alex naps. My birthday is the 26th - the big 34. Is it just me or do birthdays now represent one more year down the infertile road?

Happy f'in Holidays! :-)

Saturday, December 20, 2008

62 - Abundance

The above picture is from our recent holiday party...about 45 guests and a lot of dancing! It was a blast!...who knew that I would be using the word "blast" in a context NOT associated with embryos :-).

All of us infertiles laugh (perhaps out loud, but often in our heads) when we are told "you just need to relax" or "the minute you stop trying so hard it will happen". Using the cancer analogy that I have often seen on other blogs, this is the equivalent of telling a cancer patient that maybe they would have a better chance of getting cured if they just stopped treatment, i.e., "the minute you back off on the chemo and quit trying so hard to get well, I bet the cancer will go away". I'm not comparing the trauma of going through cancer to the trauma of infertility, but I am making the comparison that both are medically diagnosed issues that are most often not "fixable" (for lack of a better term) without some form of intervention. It truly has nothing to do with "relaxing"...if the eggs are poor quality and the sperm won't swim, relaxing isn't the solution. I have believed this with all my heart...for the most part...

I digress, but will pull this together in the end of the post. So, for the past 6 years I have done everything aside from selling my soul to obtain a full-time professorship. For 6 years, a full-time position has been dangled in front of me like a carrot - and I have ran as hard as possible to catch it. This past spring, I just realized I was tired. I no longer had it in me to keep chasing that position. I gave up. I applied for Social Work school and got in. I decided that I would be a social worker, still teach part-time as I went through social work school, and then make my complete exit from the field of aviation when I graduated in two or three years. Well, about a week ago, I was told that a full-time position is in fact opening up this spring - the first one in the department in almost 9 years. It's real this time (as confirmed with a variety of sources), and it looks like I have a very good shot at it (upon getting accepted to a PhD program this spring). I've grasped on to this so hard for so long...and now that I have given up, it's come into fruition.

Another example - social work school kicked my butt this semester - I was changing careers, the courses were really academically challenging, and I was trying to manage it coming off of our BFN (we got our BFN the week classes started). My adviser, being familiar with the infertility process, tried hard to convince me that I shouldn't take classes this semester. About half way through, I decided that I would give up the hope of pulling off good grades, and just be proud of myself if I just made it through. I would try to learn as much as I could, with grades being a secondary concern. Those who know me know that this kind of attitude is not in my make-up - at all. Grades just posted this morning - I got a 4.0 in all three classes, which puts me in the running for some sizable scholarships. So now I will spend next semester making some serious choices - but they are choices I will be making because my life feels filled with abundance.

A third example has to do with our lifestyle - the aviation lifestyle. I have fought it hard for 10 long years...depressed at the holidays because we can't celebrate them in the traditional fashion - in our home, with a fire, around the tree, etc., etc.. Well, this year I've decided to embrace our lifestyle. I will be spending Christmas with Alex in Venice, then we will go to D.C. for a couple of days, then I'll go back with Alex to Pisa...and I am actually looking forward to it. We're travelers. That's who we are - that's our life. My view of the world has changed so much as a result of the places we've been - some of them I really wanted to go to, others I was quite resistant - but either way, my perspective on life always changes for the better. Our lifestyle provides amazing opportunities for us, and, hopefully, some day, our children. I gave up on wanting the homebody life...and it's the holidays, and I'm not depressed.

So, how does this tie in to infertility? Do I think that giving up and "relaxing" on having a biological child will make it happen? No. It doesn't mean that we will quit being proactive in our infertility process - either with adoption or continued treatment. But the events in the last couple of weeks have made me really ponder the idea of letting go a little - if even all that does is make the journey a little more pleasurable and bearable along the way.

Happy Holidays to all!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

61 - A baby from Russia?

Ok, not exactly. This is actually a picture of Alex - I'm not sure the age. He is about 1/4-1/8 Russian. In fact, we have his great grandmother's wicker chest in our basement. It was all she had when she came over from Russia back in the day (not sure on the year). I bring this all up because we had our second adoption consultation with another agency this past week. They showed video from all the countries that they work with, including Russia. Most of the children look very similar to the above photo.

Unlike our first consultation, this one went great. They gave presentations on both domestic and international, and both women giving the presentation were adoptive parents. I won't bore with the details, but the end result is that Alex and I made some major decisions on our drive home.

We decided that we will probably pursue international adoption. In Michigan, the mother has 21 days to change her mind and that is AFTER the initial court date. Worst case situation, we could have the baby in our home for up to 3 months and then get him/her taken away. Yes, I know - plenty of domestic situations work out, but we've decided that we aren't willing to take the risk.

We will consider older children and sibling groups. We may continue to look into this domestically as well.

We will also consider international "Children in Waiting". These are children who are either older or may have mental, physical, or emotional issues (some correctable, some not).

We don't care about the gender.

I was amazed - Alex and my hearts were equally matched in this. There was no real discussion - only "I agree!", "I agree!" when we were going through the choices. And I am so proud of us. I'm proud of the size of our hearts - now that we are diving further and further in the process, we are realizing that adoption is a wonderful opportunity to give a child a life, and those that are often lower on the "wanted" list are the ones that may need a family the most. It feels good. We feel good.

So, of course, none of this is set in stone. We are attending another consultation this Tuesday and have a couple more set up. We are still gathering info about domestic, just to cover our basis.

Oh - one last random note. Last week, Alex and I had Chinese takeout for the first time in a long time. Guess what my fortune cookie said? - "Good people are good because they've come to wisdom through failure.". I kid you not. It inspired me to come up with a line of fortune cookies for us unsuccessful infertiles :-).