Tuesday, September 22, 2009

it's baaaaaack!

You know how when you finally stop looking for something is when it sneaks right up on you? I was thinking the other day that it was too bad my DH was going to come back after my fertile phase was over (not that it matters, of course - I'm not NFPing pre-surgery because I am capable of learning from experience over here). It didn't occur to me to wonder how exactly I could tell it was my fertile phase - I've been mystified for several cycles (only the temperatures indicate, after the fact).

Well, you can guess how. I didn't visit the bathroom early and often today to make a voyage of CM discovery, as I have been wont to do these past few months, when it was nowhere to be found. I don't think I went until after lunch, when I'd been at work for hours. And I was completely taken aback by what, in happier days, I used to see every month. I never would have imagined that something so essentially gross would be cause for celebration - having a messed-up body changes you. So the fertile CM is back. Slight yesterday, quite definite today. We'll see about tomorrow (I may not be all the way back to a normal-length fertile phase yet?)

When I interviewed for my job (I promise this connects), they asked me where I saw myself in ten years. It should be an easy question for someone with a career (ha!) to answer, but I can't answer that question at all (people at work still ask me now and I do no better. Fortunately my interviewers decided to overlook my complete inability to come up with an intelligent response). What I thought when they asked the question in the interview was, immediately, I want a family and I don't care if I never work again. You can see how having that at the forefront of your mind would make it difficult to come up with a reasonably accurate but more palatable answer to keep the conversation going.

So one of my big problems dealing with infertility is that, absent children, I have no idea what I want. I just keep running my mind into a brick wall in my attempts to picture my future. Subtract babies. Think forward. Put imagination in gear. Oh, no, wall - CRASH! Repeat.

Then last week I had a blessing. A friend invited me to a Catholic lawyers' and professionals' organization event. It was put on very nicely and all sorts of good things. Then they introduced the speaker. She was supposed to talk about how to live your faith in the DC working world. Great. She didn't, by the way; she talked about the different activities her organization puts on, but that wasn't the problem. Oh, I should note that this woman is very impressive and accomplished - not that I really care. The man who introduced her made me so angry I almost walked out. I have what probably amounts to a fairly unique view of the role of women, the world, and their faith. (I am persuaded that I am right, so I don't care whether everyone else thinks I'm crazy.) And I've had to confront this issue early and often - I went to a competitive undergrad, then law school, and now I'm an attorney. Everyone has always had notions for me - how high-powered my career should be, that sort of thing. So the role of women is something I think about a lot, or, perhaps, try not to think about.

Anyway, the introduction. I think the very first thing he said was that she was the first woman and the first layman to hold a particular ecclesiastical office in the diocese. She is not 90 and she is not a Supreme Court justice, so the "first woman" crap - gag me now. I'll tolerate sixty seconds of it about Sandra Day O'Connor (don't like her opinions, but I get how her life was unusual), but not for a woman who has lived this woman's life. She should be able to shine on her own merits - or not at all. The other problem, of course, would be that if no layman had ever held the office before, there probably was a good reason only ordained ministers of the Church held it until the last ten years - and they should have kept it that way.

Anyway, the introduction went on, and on, and on. I heard more about her being the first woman at things (truly, nothing that would make anybody stand and take note - jobs and career moves you've never heard of. Oh, including being the first woman president of their organization. If anything, that reflects poorly on the organization - not well on her). And the gushing - it was terrible. He threw in a point about how she had been so trailblazing because she had found a way to "serve God and the Church as a woman." Poor Ss. Therese of Lisieux, and Catherine of Siena, and Joan of Arc - and Mary, the Mother of God. If only they had had this woman to show them how to serve the Church as a woman, imagine what they might have been able to accomplish!

The stupid introducing man finished by thanking her personally, on the basis that he has a ten-year-old daughter - and the girl is lucky that women like this exist, to show her how she can live a worthwhile life too. Too bad the fellow doesn't think his own wife is example enough for the girl. And, seriously - if the speaker and the ten-year-old were both working on being, I don't know, blind stock-car racers, then fine, you need a trailblazer there. But a Catholic woman with a job? Seriously?

So anyway, neither during the introduction nor during her rather pointless address was it ever mentioned whether she had children. Or what her husband's name was. Or what her experience of marriage was like. Those are her vocation. Her job is - a job. Maybe it's a great job, but that's the best of a bad lot. Your real life, and your real faith, is the people you love, not what you earn your paycheck doing. Her talk made it clear that she doesn't know that (or chose not to express it to us? Sort of missed the title of her own remarks), and neither do the people who know her.

So after I was done being alternately patronized and bored, I went home and was struck rather forcefully by a realization. If I really, really wanted it, I could have her stellar career. I don't want it. I want to have time to be at home, see my friends, call my sister, learn new dessert recipes; more than I want to have a cool CV. In fact - I don't want to have a cool CV at all. I'd like to have jobs that demand something of me, are a little fun, intriguing. If other people think they're cool, bonus. But just to have a title? To have a lot of authority? Be the "first" at things? Assume positions because they're prestigious? No. Maybe if I could get a job that would catapult me into position to teach law - OK, then, because then I could have a fun job and also have summers off and be home in time to make dinner. Score.

Anyway, I realized that although my future seems like a blank to me, there's actually a lot that I do know - starting with never wanting this woman's life. My faith may be suffering - and though I didn't see it, hers may be very deep - but I never want someone to introduce me as a Catholic - and talk about my jobs. Even if I never have kids, I want my marriage to be so important that nobody who knows me could miss it. And though I have only an itty sliver of a view of what I want my future to look like, there is something there. In my mind, I see myself with a house full of at least a few people, pulling something or other out of the oven. No babies running around. I don't know what I do the rest of my day, but I know I want a home, into which to welcome people; I want people around to love (and to feed); and I want time enough to be invested more heavily in my home than I am now, and less in work (not that I have to work excessively hard as it is).

So I do have a future. I don't have to have kids. I don't know what else I'll do. It sounds silly to me to be really invested in making your home a home when you don't have kids, but I think that's what would make me happy. So until I receive further direction, that's what I'll do. I don't know the rest of the story, but if I can devote a reasonable proportion of my life to making pie, I don't think anything else could be so bad.

In the meantime, I want to get myself on a schedule where I have more life and less work (which means I need to get to bed at a decent hour and get up earlier). I want to get into a churchgoing arrangement where I belong - I'm going to need to find a daily Mass in English to make that work. I don't need to fill myself to the brim with fertility medication and I don't care whether my estradiol and progesterone are in a 1:10 ratio ever again, but I want my old familiar (apparently completely healthy) CM back, I want my digestion to work well again, I want my accustomed energy back, and, once I can drag myself off the couch without the Jaws of Life, I want to get my 22-year-old figure back, and wear cute pants again (!), and skip off to work in my adorable Elie Tahari tweed suit that I loved so much and only fit for about six months. I don't need miraculous abilities (you know, like childbearing) that I never had. I will contentedly settle for the restoration of the unremarkable health that I once took for granted.

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On an unrelated note (I was going to make these messages of equal length, but I can't seem to get control of this brevity thing), I would ask your prayers for my husband's uncle. He is eighty and has terminal cancer - he just learned today. He has less than a year to live. He's actually a religious priest, and probably less afraid to die than anyone I know (other than the other monks in the order - they're all very matter-of-fact about death. They care for their own brothers when they're dying, so they see death as part of their ordinary lives). I know his siblings will really miss him, to say nothing of his numerous nephews and nieces. And I will surely miss him too. He said our wedding Mass. He's a wonderful man.

15 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, I know what you mean about the blank future. I have trouble in seeing it blank vs seeing it as what might be. I get caught in what might be world a lot.

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  2. It's interesting that you posted this today for I was thinking about my life with my dh before we started to TTC. I want that life back...looking at families was no big deal...babies crying didn't bother me...getting a cycle every month didn't mean anything and who cares about my hormone levels. I wasn't taking meds that made me so tired or added on extra pounds. IT was a free life to live...play..work...relax. Next year after I student teach...I will be back to work full time (Lord willing) and I will be looking at cute clothes again(and have the money to buy them and hopefully my 22 year old body back..or maybe my 29 year old body)....the only thing is this time...I will be doing meaningful work...work that brings joy and I will be surrounded by children and families...and I hope by the time this happens...that won't bother me. What I don't understand is how TTC changes all of that? It's like TTC just ripped my world apart. I suddenly was left without a plan. Albiet things are better now....looking back on the six years I was afraid to make plans and committments because I could be pregnant..just seems so wasteful. So..I'm with you...let's go make pie. I'm living for now. :)

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  3. Oh yeah...it is a good thing with cm and fertility reappear...woohoo...whether it's fruitful or not...it is a positive thing.

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  4. I want a family and I don't care if I never work again - isn't that the truth? i remember thinking that same answer at my last job interview (where i worked before we moved)... and thinking to myself at the time "in a year i'll have worked enough for maternity leave."
    i never learn.

    blank future. exactly.

    did you ever hear back from your priest? prayers for your uncle...

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  5. Endo stuff for anyone who needs help!

    surgery can help, excision with an expert is the way to go, many do records reviews for free or low cost

    endoexcision.com

    endometriosissurgeon.com

    centerforendo.com (great!)

    endofound.org

    naprotechnology.com

    progesterone can help

    google progesterone advisory network

    TTC prometrium

    TTC progesterone

    johnleemd.com

    diet can help

    makingbabies.com see diet info

    endometriosis.org/nutrition.html

    endo-resolved.com

    see marilyn shannon's 4th edition of fertility, nutrition, cycles on amazon

    dian s mills book on healing endo

    erc.activboard.org/ google it if it doesn't come up

    nfp docs can help you chart, test hormones and supplement

    omsoul.com

    fertilitycare.org

    endo can be excised with endo, but you need to get the root, you cannot just have the top lasered off - the endo is still there!!!!!

    local docs don't know enough, don't know the locations, stages and areas of endo...

    don't know how to excise from delicate areas...

    but start with diet first, many women are helped by cutting out red meat, dairy, wheat, sugar, coke....caffeine...

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  6. i think it's hard at a certain point, you remember when you weren't 'bitter' or you knew how to wring the bitterness from you...

    anyway! have you tried armour thyroid? have you seen mary shomon's thyroid website, about.com, and her books on hormones?

    armour is in a bit of a shortage now (thanks, stupid FDA), but you can get T3 / T4 compounded, and / or try nature's thyroid, or whatever the name is - i actually like it a lot

    digestion is super important, my endo messed mine up, but excision surgery removed endo and adhesions and i am so much better

    i also take digestive enzymes at EVERY meal, and probiotics every day - along with fish oil with lypo gold, a digestive enzyme for fats

    trust in God, He is there for you, as He is for all His children, even speakers and those who introduce speakers :)

    serious question, have you had your testosterone levels checked? you have a real anger, and that's often high tesosterone....the pcos diet can really help women

    also, some more help for pelvic pain is the IC (interstitial cystitis) diet...some of these overlap...

    finally, there are pelvic physical therapists and acupuncturists who can help women in pain

    and finally, if you have legal skills, think of how to help children who need help, many people try to work with parents (!) who are considering abortion, and those who want to adopt..

    have you heard of the life legal defense foundation? american life league? STOPP, stop planned parenthood?

    legatus.org

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  7. I spend so much time contemplating my future with the possibility of never having children. At our 6 months reviews at work my boss always asks where I see myself in 5 years. I have found the cojones somehow to be blunt; "I want to have children and be a mom and have a working arrangement that accomodates that." Fortunately for me I work for a company and a boss that sees that as worthy. And that's rare.
    I appreciate your perspective on the introduction. I would have felt the same but unable to articulate it as well as you.

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  8. It sounds like what you WANT is a life. Work to live. That's a good goal, not letting your job define who you are. I don't think it's silly at all to want to make your home a home even without children. You can have a wonderful, full, worthwhile life without kids. You may not want to, but it can be done.

    There are several couples in my life - all older - who have done just that. I'm glad they're around as examples. They're active and happy and all have good, close friends.

    I'm praying for your husband's uncle. I pray that his remaining time on this earth is full of good memories and good times for him and that he is able to go in peace.

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  9. I'm so glad your CM is back. This was a wonderful post; it's so thought-provoking. It's great that you are focused on your LIFE not your JOB. You've got it exactly right; jobs are supposed to be a PART of your life not the whole thing. I definitely understand the blank future feeling.

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  10. This is a great post. Again. I love the discription of stupid introducing man. Why is that so many try so hard to be 'progressive' towards women and just end up being patronizing. They're all, "ah, look at the cute girl, she works hard just like a MAN." That can be the worst kind of sexism. All right, I need to get off of that topic, because obviously I have strong feelings on that too...

    As far as life without kids...I've got kids, but I wonder what I'll do when their both in school. Should I get a job? We could use the money, but I really just want to stay home and back pies too. Even after they're move out. DH and I can definitely eat a pie a day between the two of us.

    Our culture has such a focus on DOING and producing...but what about just BEING and living.

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  11. Hi! 1st time commenter (lurker for awhile), but I really enjoyed this post and it hit very close to home. I also work outside the home and face those occassional questions from well meaning peers at work. Thanks for sharing your perspective. My absolutely favorite line was "Even if I never have kids, I want my marriage to be so important that nobody who knows me could miss it." I desire that as well and thank you for sharpening my focus on that today. God Bless! -Marie P.S. I will say some prayers for you husband's uncle. St. Peregrine, patron saint of those suffereing from cancer, pray for us!

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  12. I LOVED your commentary of the speaker! I couldn't agree more with everything you said! Haha.. I couldn't stop laughing.. the man's introduction.. her being a trailblazer for women serving the Church .. and how maybe his daughter should be looking up to his wife! Sorry.. I won't reiterate the whole thing!

    Praying for your husband's uncle, and for those he would leave behind.

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  13. Wow- so much of what I wanted to say has already been mentioned above- guess I will just pledge my prayers for your comfort (literally!!) and peace as always!!

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  14. Because we're going through a period of transition (or trying to anyway) with our jobs and everything right now, those thoughts have been constantly running through my head. I also don't want a career - I want my marriage and family to be my career. I never pressured my husband (before this year) to be a stay-at-home wife because I just assumed that eventually I'd get pregnant and be a stay-at-home mom. Now, I don't know when/if that will ever happen, but I'm not willing to give up on my dream to stay at home, to take care of my house and my husband properly, just because I'm not getting pregnant.
    Oh, and I would have been truly annoyed with the way the guy introduced the speaker as well. And if I were his wife, I would have been horribly offended at his lack of respect toward her. I wonder if anyone else even noticed?
    And, one last thought - I've found this area of the country to be less tolerant of non-career women than other places I've lived. People will look down on you if you care for your home and family. Receiving an paycheck for even the most meaningless, mind-numbing work garners more respect. How does that make sense?

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  15. I don't think I'd want to be introduced as a Catholic {if I was} and all of the jobs I'd held either. That just seems so boring. Who cares about the status of it all?

    I think it's great that you want to make your house a home, whether there's kids to fill it or not. Your hubby would, likely, appreciate the homey feel as much as any kids would...and it would make YOU feel good as well. So go make it comfy cozy with warm pies just out of the oven!

    Many prayers for your hubby's uncle!! Very sad, but sounds like he's lived a good, long life. Hopefully his last days {however many there may be} are as painless as possible.

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