Thursday, February 26, 2009

75 - 10 honest things about myself

So I saw this on Davs blog. Fun. Here are 10 honest things about myself.

1) I am a "regular" at a donut/deli shop down the street from our house called Dimo's. On my worst days (and even on some of my good days) I walk in at about 6:30AM and ask for my "usual". Here is the honest part - my "usual" is a buttermilk donut (usually still warm I must add) and a small diet pepsi. I do it 1-2 times a week. Yes, girls, I did give this up about 2-3 months prior to cycling last summer and have recently given it up as we prepare for our upcoming FET...but it was hard. They put crack in their buttermilks.

2) About our upcoming FET...yes, it's true. We are heading back to Colorado in the near future. Alex and I have decided to keep the specifics (including the specific date of it) on the DL. We decided that we want to tell our IRL people about the success/failure on our terms, in our own time.

3) I really, really struggle with being vulnerable...except when I write. I will pour my heart out on paper, but ask me to share that depth in a one-on-one conversation and I often freeze and become stone cold - somewhat robotic. I rarely cry in front of people. My closest friends, friends I've known for 25+ years would probably say that they can count the times they've seen me cry on one hand. Sadly, my husband would probably say the same thing. Yet I'm deeply sensitive and empathetic...I just hold it all in and let it out in private. This is honest - and something I would really like try to change in myself.

4) The reason I didn't become a professional pilot is because I couldn't learn how to solely trust my instruments in the airplane. I got my private pilot's license with no problems, but I struggled tremendously with the instrument training - no visual reference to the must trust that your instruments are correct and keeping you from colliding into the ground. I couldn't do it. This really is a commentary about my general trust in the world. Thank goodness I was able to be honest with myself. Failure to be honest with myself in this case could have killed me...literally.

5) I love hymns. LOVE THEM! That's right folks - this free thinkin', spiritually confused, somewhat-pagan loves good ole' traditional hymns. Blessed Assurance, Crown Him with Many Crowns, Amazing Grace, Great is Thy Faithfulness...all of them. In fact, in the spirit of finding relaxation techniques for our upcoming FET, I went into a Christian bookstore today and bought a CD of hymns. Where does this love come from you may ask? I was a church pianist/organist for about 7 years...another honest tidbit.

6) This aviation lifestyle is hard - really hard. The divorce rate in aviation (in situations where one person flys) is about 85%...add the layer of infertility struggles and, statistically, Alex and I have about a 5% - 10% chance of making it for the long haul. But we're doing it (approaching 11 years in marriage), and I'm proud of us...honestly, though, we are doing it because we WORK OUR ASSES OFF at it. It is not an easy road and we do not have a perfect marriage...thank goodness we are both willing to work our asses off.

7) Speaking of's something totally honest. I DO feel like a glamorous, jet-setter when I travel with Alex. Especially when I get first class and he comes back on his break, all spiffed up in his pilot uniform, and I lean over and whisper in his ear, "Is there a Mrs. Pilot, Mr. Pilot?"...and then we giggle and all the surrounding passengers look at us. Sometimes, I feel like I'm on a movie set. Honestly, it is a ton of fun.

8) Sometimes I go to bed without brushing my teeth. I don't know why. I've talked about it in therapy before - she says it is because I don't do well with self-care. I say it's because I get lazy at night. Who knows - but I do know it's gross. My mouth feels really disgusting in the morning.

9) There are only a very select few who are above my dog, Kharma, in the friendship chain. Sorry, it's true. I love her so much. When I cry, she lays on my lap or licks my tears. When I'm happy, she totally picks up on it and wants to play with me. She never asks me about the infertility stuff. We cuddle a lot. Honestly, some of my most favorite moments is when she is laying on my chest and I listen to her breath....ummm, do you think it's time for a baby? :-)

10) I don't think I have ever experienced the feeling of boredom - ever...since I came out of the womb. I don't allow it. If I feel that I am approaching boredom, I get a ton of projects/adventures going and make my life very complicated. Sometimes this is done out of my healthy, tenacious need for growth, other times it is done out of my unhealthy quest for chaos. Either way, I am confident that, if lucky enough to be given the opportunity, I will look back on my life and say "Wow - that was a full and very interesting journey.". However, I'm not so sure I will be able to say that I was "content". Honestly, I think I'll take "very interesting" over "content"....even though ,someday, I would like to have them both.

So that's the truth - the honest truth. Anyone else up for the challenge? I must say, it was fun and introspective.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

74 - Profound experience

You all remember the "infertility" lecture day I had in my theory class last fall? Although that particular class was quite painful, the professor was one of those people I instantly connected with and knew early on that somehow, regardless of our paths, we would remain in contact. I'm guessing she is in her mid 50s? She's brilliant, graceful, strong, and compassionate...traits I admire so much. She is one of those people that I think of when I think about what I want to be like and where I want to be about 20 years from now. She's been a therapist for a very long time and has also taught part-time. In the classroom, she exhibits the perfect balance of compassion and boundaries. I can only imagine her techniques are the same in therapy. My PhD application that would lead towards a full-time teaching position at the university is due, and although I'm leaning towards that path, I'm still gathering information about my decision to abandon the therapist idea (for now, of course...I'm always one for leaving ALL my options open:-)) and teach full-time. That's one of the many things IVF has instilled in me (for better or for worse) - before making a decision, gather and analyze information until all sources have been exhausted.

I contacted this prof and asked if we could meet so that I could ask her some questions about both professions. She was more than willing, and we met for lunch today. After the lecture last fall, I told her about my infertility. So today, while discussing balancing career with family, she asked about how the family part was going...fair enough. I brought it up. I told her that we were getting ready to head back to Colorado soon...which led to a discussion about the shots. I told her that even the baby ones were difficult for me sometimes, not because of the pain, but because of the psychology of giving myself a shot. She looked me dead in the eyes, her eyes full of compassion, and said, "My husband gave me mine.". I cannot describe the emotion I experienced when she said that, when we connected in that moment.

She had talked about her son frequently in class, using examples when we talked about the stages of development, etc.. I know he is a teenager. I know from her stories that not only do I admire her professionally, but also her mothering skills (at least the ones she shared in class). After that precious pause, I asked "so that's how you got your son?". "No - he's adopted. The IVF didn't work.". I always assumed he was their biological son when she would talk about him in class. She then shared their trials and tribulations about the process - how she reached the point of being content with their golden retrievers...and then, the situation with her son came out of the blue (I'll spare the details). They adopted him when he was three. She said that the pain of the process went away once he was in their home.

I thanked her for sharing her story with me - with tears in my eyes.

It truly was the first time in a year and a half that I haven't felt alone. And I mean that with no disrespect to all the support I've had throughout the infertility crap from my friends and family...but this connection I made with her was different. She's the only person I know who has been through it and is completely on the other side.....healed in a deep way. And happy. And brilliant. And graceful. And continuing to make such a huge impact on those who come across her path.

We did talk about career choices. She stayed neutral, for the most part. The conversation ended with her telling me that she also felt a strong connection while I was in her class. And then she gave me the biggest compliment I've received in awhile...she said that she has some students she can't really see as therapists and some students she can see as fellow therapists, but very rarely does she come across students whom not only does she see as therapists, but therapists she would choose to work closely with. She said she thought I was the latter. And regardless of what career choice I make, I'll remember how I felt when she said that.

So I came home to news - a friend is pregnant, possibly another friend has decided to try again. Yes, we do live in a fertile world. But the connection gave me a boost of strength. I said "congrats" and meant it...I know there is happiness on the other side of this...I saw it sitting across from me at that little Italian restaurant.

73 - A *Berry* nice surprise

I opened my mailbox today to find a nice package from my niece, J, and my nephew-in-law, E...a Strawberry Shortcake DVD package complete with a play jeweled crown. First, let's clarify - my niece and nephew-in-law are in their mid-20's. My sister (my niece's mother) is 17 years older than I am (my brother is 14 years older). Yes, yes...I was a true "oops" when my mom had me at the ripe "old" age (back then) of 36. Maybe "oopses" are in my genes? I can only hope. Anyway, bottom line is that my nieces and nephews are much more like cousins.

So, I loved the surprise! I was obsessed with Strawberry Shortcake as a child - obsessed. For a good three years in the late 70's-early 80's, those dolls were my life. I believed they had souls. Strawberry Shortcake herself - what a great role model to look up to...she was kind, fun, totally not frumpy, smelled like strawberries, and had a whole posse of friends that smelled great and whom all had very colorful pets. I so wanted to be her. In case you forgot...

Above - The late 70's - early 80's version

The modern, liberated, free-from-hose Strawberry Shortcake

Personally, I think she had more style in the 80's, but didn't we all...didn't we all :-).

So thank you again J and E! I think what really made my day about it is that you knew I would totally get a kick out of it. You know the goofy, silly, child-like side of me...the side I struggle to keep alive these days. I totally plan on putting on that crown, popping a bowl of popcorn and watching "A Berry Blossom Festival" :-).

Monday, February 16, 2009

72 - Joy in a piece of candy

First of all - awwww, you guys are very sweet and did help me get out of my frumpy mood. Lost in Space (Brenda, right?), what's a MAC store? I'm assuming you didn't mean the fun place where you purchase laptops, iphones, and ipods? Perhaps my rock is a little wider and heavier than your's :-).

So Alex and I had a big, over-the-top Valentine's night...and for good reason. We most often spend this holiday apart in different countries, so to know he was going to be home and plan an evening in advance was quite a treat. He made reservations at this restaurant on top of the RenCen in Detroit. It was on the 72nd floor and is apparently the second highest restaurant in the US. The food was good, typical high-end chophouse stuff, and the view was great. Poor Detroit, definitely a city that struggles (even more so in this economy), but at night, with all the lights, it's just another beautiful city.

We got all dressed up. That day I had to get some shoes to go with the dress I was wearing. As I was shoe shopping, the mantra of "I am not frumpy. I am not frumpy." ran through my head. The following shoe selection was the result. Can you believe it? I have never worn 3 inch heels in my life, and, let me tell you, it was quite a sight to see me attempt to walk in them. But then, miraculously, after a half bottle of wine, I was a heel-walkin' would have thought that I trained on a runway :-).

Alex got me a cute little black number and a small box of chocolates. And that's about where the evening ended. I was plugged up with disgusting volumes of snot, and Alex, although he wasn't feeling bad, had residual intestinal issues from Africa. SUPER HOT AND SEXY! :-) We both popped the appropriate pills and headed to bed.

The small box of chocolates he gave me got me thinking...the littlest gestures do that sometimes. Back around the holidays, I was walking at the mall (yes, for exercise, NOW try to tell me I'm not frumpy :-)). As I turned a corner, I noticed three mentally-challenged, middle-aged adults in wheelchairs letting out these squeals of joy...I mean, it was a level of joy that I may have only been able to match by receiving a BFP the day of our beta. Seriously. I was so intrigued by this that I hid off to the side and observed - I was a cross between a stalker and a scientist conducting a sociology experiment :-). Come to find out, their caretakers had just informed them that they would be heading over to the candy store and that each one of them would be allowed to pick out a piece of candy. Joy! Joy! Joy! I got a little closer and quietly watched the whole thing. The candy selection process, their reactions as the cashier handed them their selected piece, their savoring of every last morsel, unaware of anyone around them. These folks were truly living in the moment. They knew how to really savor the small things in life. They had a piece of wisdom that I have somehow lost along the way, and I observed them with envy.

As I opened the box of four little chocolates on Valentine's Day, I thought about what if that was it...what if there was no over-the-top dinner, no sexy little black thing, no Alex at home to celebrate with...and, in the long-term, no children to come home to after our night out. Would I still be able to experience an abundance of joy as I savored a single piece of that chocolate? I would like to think that I could say "of course!", but I really don't know the answer. I get into these ruts of thinking the only true joy will be the joy we will experience when there is a child in our home...and in the meantime, I lose so many opportunities to savor all the little pieces of decadent chocolate that come into my life.

So I think of those three middle-aged adults at the mall often. Their squeals are imprinted in my head. And I think "if they can find that level of joy in something as simple as a piece of candy, so can I". They have been the greatest teachers I've had in a long time.

Friday, February 13, 2009

71 - Lessons in make-up application

Lesson #1: When you line your lips in the bathroom, but your actual lipstick is in the car, REMEMBER TO APPLY YOUR ACTUAL LIPSTICK BEFORE SPENDING 45 MINUTES IN TARGET PRANCING AROUND WITH BIG, UNFILLED CLOWN LIPS.

So, last week after the nightmare, I started thinking a lot about how I view myself and how that may effect this irrational feeling about my health. I view myself as frumpy. This was somewhat confirmed when I went with Alex on a trip and was hanging out with the flight attendants. One of them commented - "We knew the moment we saw you that you weren't the typical pilot's wife. They're mostly trophy wives. We knew you would be much more intelligent and down-to-earth.". Of course my overactive mind immediately read between the lines and interpreted their meant-to-be-a-compliment as "you're frumpy". And it is true - I spend no time or money on hair, make-up, nails, etc. If I do, I buy the absolute cheapest products, and I usually have no idea how to use them. So after the dream last week, I decided that I would spend an evening at one of those make-up counters and learn a few things.

It was great fun! She recommended using multiple eye colors AND an eyeliner. Whoa - a little over stimulating for a virgin-like make-up person, but I tried to pay attention and vowed that regardless of how I was feeling on a particular day, I would keep this routine up for a week. She also recommended lip liner in ADDITION to my regular this was getting complicated, but I sat strong and held tight to my vow.

So, I have kept up the routine since that counter appointment...and I must admit that I do like what I see a little more when I look in the mirror. Yesterday, I went through the whole routine in my bathroom, lip liner and everything, but then realized that I had left my actual lipstick in the car. Not a big deal - I would just put it on when I got in the car. Never happened. I stopped by Target before teaching (thank goodness!) and, sure enough, pranced around that baby-lovin' store for a good 45 minutes with big clown lips that looked very similar to the ones in the above picture. It was true divine intervention that caused me to look at myself one last time before heading into the classroom a hour or so later. You know, people were looking at me a lot in Target, but I just thought that they were looking at my new, beautiful eyes :-).

Ah well - the whole thing made me and the multiple people I told, laugh.

Today, Alex and I have no obligations. We are going to go around to some home-type stores and find some cheap stuff to give our place a little uplift in the midst of this long winter...things like a new shower curtain, dish towels - stuff like that. And then probably out to lunch. I love days like this. Hopefully, he will tell me if I forget and have big clown lips again :-).

Sunday, February 8, 2009

70 - Nightmare

First of all, you may notice that a recent post has been deleted. Thank you, feedjit, for the heads up :-).

So I had this dream last week that turned into a complete nightmare. It was a dream that started out as a day of complete self-indulgence and self-care. Good, right? It was good until the end when I got in the shower and looked down only to see grotesque, potato-like tumors hanging off my body. Yikes! My heart was beating so fast when I woke up.

I happened to have an appointment with my therapist last week and, of course, this dream-turned-nightmare was the topic. I truly expected her reaction to be "So, you've finally had the "day-of-indulgence-transformed-into-grotesque-tumors" dream". Instead, she looked at me wide-eyed and said "Christina, I have to tell you that this is a very abnormal dream and is an indication of some serious and deep issues". She then proceeded to tell me that the first thing I should do is thank my body for allowing me to have such a dream. WTF? Thank my body for that nightmare? That nightmare practically sent me into cardiac arrest. This is not what I meant by a "lighter" 2009.

But then after some thought, I understood what she meant and here's why - I have always felt that, for whatever reason, I have a very unhealthy mind/body connection. I have always had this looming feeling that something is really off about my body, yet outwardly I show no signs of being "unhealthy". Knock on wood, but it's not unusual for me to go a full year without having a cold. I get my yearly check-ups and, so far, nothing has come up. So because there aren't outwardly symptoms, I've discredited the power of this looming "feeling" by not putting any energy into figuring it out. To me, this dream is sort of a wake-up call that those feelings require attention. I know, I know...infertility has the power to mess with us in this way...but this feeling has existed long before the trials and tribulations of infertility. Perhaps that is part of the untangling process...figuring out the exact moment that these feelings of unhealth started.

I've been thinking of acupuncture on and off for a bit, and this dream has prompted me to take action. Tomorrow I am going to make an appointment. A girl in my social work class gave me a recommendation. Did I mention that she had been TTC for 1 1/2 years and got preggo about a month after she began acupuncture treatments? Just a BTW - obviously this has no influence on me using her recommendation :-).

As a side note - things have been so busy lately. One of the professors in my department is sick, and I have taken over his classes for the next 4 weeks (maybe more) which means that I am a "full-time" prof for the time being. I love it! Last week, I actually felt energized at the end of my days, as if I was getting more energy back from teaching than I was investing into it.

Another side note - I took a long walk yesterday- it was a balmy 37 degress. It really felt balmy. Our Mt. Everest piles of snow reduced to smaller rolling hills, and I heard birds chirping! Birds chirping! It was a beautiful sound and inspired me to want to put up a ticker...a "countdown to bright red geraniums in my window boxes" ticker. I think I'll work on that as a distraction from getting down to some serious course prep :-).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

69 - Unstuck

First of all, no response from Stupid Adoption Lady. That's ok - I didn't need one. I just hope she thinks a little bit more before she speaks when she conducts future consultations.

Alex just returned last night from a trip to Cairo. I was reminded of the trip we took to Egypt in 2005 (the above pic). It was amazing and thought-provoking. We stayed in Cairo for a few days, going to Giza and some other local sites. Then we took a trip up the Nile (ending back in Cairo), visiting all the temples and tombs along the way. I'll never forget a pivotal moment in my life that happened while I was standing in a tomb, looking at this mummified body before me. The air was stale, and the walls were covered with carvings that would put most modern day artists to shame. The Egyptian laying before me believed that as long as he mummified his body, he would one day return to that same body and then continue to live on Earth for eternity. He also believed that the complex carvings on the wall of food, weapons, and servants would actually come to life, so to speak, when he returned to his mummified body so that he would be taken care of. He believed the pyramid structure would serve a purpose in assisting his ascent into the heavens and his return to Earth. His entire life was dedicated to these beliefs and a majority of his time on Earth was spent in the expense of others, I might add (slaves were used to build most of the pyramids, that is if you don't believe the opposing theory that aliens constructed them :-)). His investment in his beliefs well outdid any dedication to a belief system we see in modern day. Guess what? As of 4,000-5,000 years later, that Egyptian was incorrect. His mummified body and the carvings remain (not to say he can't return in a different way :-)).

It was at this pivotal moment that I vowed to never be stuck in my beliefs. I vowed that when I started to find myself getting "solid" in my way of thinking, I would think of that Egyptian, put the warning flags up and expose myself to a different way. Hence, my most recent relationship with Rev. B, whom I just call B. I mentioned him in an earlier post. We meet for an hour or so every couple of months and have a discussion. I mainly express my angst with organized religion and the idea of a monotheistic diety, and he listens a lot, sometimes nodding in agreement, sometimes speaking up in an attempt to "unstick" me. It is the perfect balance of philosophical banter and free therapy - for us both. I get the feeling that although B has very much outwardly defined his beliefs through his role as a reverend, he doesn't like to be stuck either.

In our latest discussion, we talked about people who reached their full potential during this lifetime on Earth. These people truly became "fully human" we decided - people like Jesus and Ghandi, for example. We then continued to try to define what we meant by "fully human". In the end, we decided that to be fully human was to be able to take the struggles you are facing and use them to manifest compassion and wisdom within yourself and others. We agreed that being "fully human" had nothing to do with the specifics of their struggles, as many struggles are beyond conscious control, and that those who achieved it defined themselves by this compassion and wisdom they manifested through the process; not by the struggles they faced.

Wow - what a great thing to strive for...and challenging! I've been testing it out this week, changing my mantra whenever I find that I'm defining myself by my particular struggle (which I do often). I've also changed my blog list title to "My wise and beautiful blog friends". I share a current (or for some, past) struggle of infertility with most of the listed bloggers. I very much admire your strength and ability to share your humanness so openly. And as I continue to follow your blogs and write my own, I see our wisdom and compassion for ourselves and others grow. I wanted to formally identify you by your beauty and wisdom...infertility is just the particular struggle we have in common as we strive to become fully human.

Thanks B for unsticking me...for a little bit, at least. I'll be back :-).

And yes, I do realize that although I stated that this blog would be about life in general, the last two posts have been about adoption and infertility. What can I say? That's life through my lens right now :-).