Monday, November 30, 2009

PSA

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled programming about infertility, hormones, Other People's Children, home decor, cooking, and other things that strike our fancy for an important public service announcement.

If you receive a comment from one "sheldonhillyer" that is just a hyperlinked series of dots, DO NOT PUBLISH IT and DO NOT CLICK ON THE HYPERLINK. It's some sort of por.nography. And wouldn't you know that the filters on my work computer, which seem to block things entirely at random, wouldn't block it, so I had to look at a picture of some sort of contorted female in a th.ong (or something) for about 1.5 seconds before I realized what I was staring at and shut the window. I should not have clicked a hyperlink from an unknown commenter. Obviously. HOWEVER...

HOWEVER, I have a small point to make here. I think por.nography is evil, harmful, hateful, and wrong, and I have no tolerance for any opposing viewpoints, from whatever religious, moral, or philosophical background (you can have them, and I'll respect you, but I don't respect that opinion). As far as I am concerned, this is not a Catholic thing, it is a human being thing. That being said, I am a practical person and I am aware that the por.nography industry exists. It's an in-demand commodity, and many have argued that it is the pure form of laissez-faire capitalism (to which I would reply that nobody ever actually reads Adam Smith's book, but that is neither here nor there). But my understanding of por.nography is that por.nographers exist to make a profit. Thus, all the filth lurking on the interenet, kazaa, wherever (both legal and illegal) is for sale. There are bootleg and homemade things available for free (especially the illegal stuff, I believe), but all these websites that are set up exclusively for por.n require payment to view the filth that I would probably pay some money if I never ever had to see again, even by accident.

Which brings me to one of life's inscrutable mysteries: por.n spam. By all logic to which I have ever been exposed, there is no reason why any por.n purveyor would ever sneak porn into the view of the unsuspecting, or force it on the unwilling. Mr. Hillyer, you pig, if you exist, obviously you know I don't want to view your garbage, or that hyperlink would have read "see h.ot nu.de g.irls!" rather than "......................................." But if I don't want to see it, then I'm not going to pay you to see it, and if I'm not going to pay you to see it, then why on God's creation would you go to the effort of (or go to the effort of designing a bot for the purpose of) sneaking it into my comment box where I might naively think it was some interesting material on the subject (infertility) that I blog about?!

I recognize that my latest profile change - which amuses me greatly - might have made me a bigger spam target (and I will mull over whether it's worthwhile to make some changes on that basis), but NOTHING will explain to me the rationale for por.n spam.

KEEP YOUR N.AKED PEOPLE TO YOURSELF.

Friday, November 27, 2009

bright spots

So the Festival of Menstrual Lunacy has drawn more or less to a close with the appearance of what would seem to be an actual period today. After four days of quasi-invisible spotting, wrapping up the previous cycle at a whopping twenty-two days. Because I am boycotting the phenomenon of menstruation altogether, I have not yet taken any Aleve. However, while my midsection feels faintly sore and, on one side, slightly pinchy, the debilitating my-body-is-decomposing-from-the-abdomen-out death-pain that usually arrives with my period has not yet shown itself. I'm sort of running an experiment to see what effect the surgery had on my cramps. (We know it made my cycle into a hideous mess, so who knows?)

Life is not all bad - I ate myself silly on Thanksgiving food, I got an email from the Universal Drugstore this morning to say that they'd shipped my new thyroid meds (which will therefore arrive in 10-14 days. I have high hopes that my metabolism will finally be restored. Yay drugs!), and at some point I shall venture out to Target and H&M to look for some Christmas presents. For now I am indoors in my PJs, however, and to console my menstruant self, and you all, in case you are feeling fat/sick/menstruant/crampy/cranky/hormonal/weepy/irritable/unpregnant/left-behind/infertile today, I am indulging in pretty house pictures. See!


So many varied dining room ideas, it can be impossible to settle on one. This one says to me, "Mead! Roasted beast! NomNOMGobbleSlobber!"


Every home should have a butlery. (Full disclosure: none of the homes I'm looking at has one. Guess it can be kind of hard to measure up to the seven-bedroom monstrosity with the servants' stairs and the dumbwaiter that my parents bought for $75k when I was five!)


Living rooms are key. Fancy! (I need a large piano. Maybe a harpsichord?)


Cozy! (That ottoman looks comfier than my bed.)


Airy!


Generally not as much of a fan of art deco, but this here is a potty masterpiece.


Likewise, the contemporary all-white idea is not something I would probably actually do in my house, but this makes me happy. Maybe I can do an eyelet lace mosquito-netting type canopy? Could I pull that off?


Ignore the anorexic pet (I feed my plants more than that!). Something about the blue and the printed bedspread and the wood tones...can I have this flooring? Pretty please?


This color scheme, as they say, speaks to me. And the screened porch on my tan house has heavy curtains on the inside (in a mustard heavy velvet that I just don't love). So I've had my eye on heavy curtains. I love these.


I think I am going to integrate a plate rack into any cabinetry I have to do any work on. I don't know whether they are as practical as they seem, but they are so charming!


Kitcheny happiness.


Nothing too fancy, but love the look. I think I might actually try to reproduce this.


Happy yard!


Where can I buy this dresser?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

good stuff, yo

Before I go on about houses (which I'm just about to), I would like to say a few words about my cycle. One of the words young ladies should not say starts with "f," but there is just no other way to describe this cycle. It's f-ed up.

Now, I didn't chart the cycle during which I had my surgery, because my CM was so darn weird. But I was going to chart my next cycle. I hadn't gotten around to writing it down, but I had it memorized - the two or three days of very heavy flow, with clots (yay TMI!) that I don't remember having in a decade (if ever), blah, blah. And then fertile CM on CD8 and 9 (SERIOUSLY!) and none thereafter. And then on CD19 (NINETEEN!) spotting. OK, fine, early peak (or whatever that was) could mean a really short LP too maybe? Ooh, except I've now had three running days of very light - almost invisible - spotting.

I may be ridiculously, award-winningly infertile - seriously, I might set some records here, right? I know, there's a lot of competition around - but I've had consistent-length cycles, no spotting before my period started for months (umm, not in response to any treatment, it just stopped), ovulated every darn cycle for years, and even had relatively decent LP lengths, plus totally normal CM. And then I have an HSG and an SHG and my CM got screwed up and, though it improved after a few months, never got back to the healthy pattern it was - and then I had surgery so I would be all better (HA!) and I DON'T EVEN MENSTRUATE ANY MORE. Seriously, if I didn't have a vagina, I wouldn't be sure I was a biological female at all here.

Because what does Dr. L's "your best odds are in the twelve months after surgery" mean if I spend the better part of those months (the first few must be the better odds anyway, right?) NOT OVULATING OR MENSTRUATING?! It's a good thing I have given up on ever having a biological child, or I might be really UPSET that I spent time in the hospital, gave myself four enemas (causing hemorrhoids for weeks. I am twenty-seven and have never delivered a child, and let me tell you, I LOVE HEMORRHOIDS), took sick time so all my coworkers thought I was a freak, got a second, even larger scar across my abdomen, and am NO healthier and my fertility signs are WAY, WAY WORSE, and this would be funny if it wasn't actually NOT FUNNY AT ALL. I don't know what organs you removed, so-called doctor, but we are NOT AMUSED over here. Are you listening? No. Well, never mind, then. On to the house.

So the dh and I went to see the tan house with the realtors last night - first time we've been inside. Here's the house on the outside again (not when we were there, 'cause it was dark):


And I took a whole bunch of interior shots, but they load to the internet crazy slow. So here's just a few, for interest value. First, the living room and the family room (the latter being an addition) are both a really good size. The floor plan makes me think more federal than Victorian (fewer nooks and oddly-shaped rooms), and I like Victorian better, but this is OK too. The living room has a lovely mantle and so forth. It does have two giant support posts, which are nice-looking but interrupt the floor plan a bit. The family room has lots of wall space for all the bookshelves I want. The walls aren't the knotty-pine paneling I expected - they're dry, untreated raw wood, as far as I can tell. I'm intrigued. Do I paint it? Leave it?


Kitchen has older white wood cupboards, which I would repaint (they look slightly worn), but are OK. Nice, newer white appliances. Sadly, the house is not plumbed for gas, but I am willing to accept a glass-top electric stove as a second until I can get my Chambers gas stove. The wood floors in the kitchen (which continue from the dining room) are comparatively recent, cheap, and, in the kitchen, already warped from water exposure. This confirms all my prejudices against wood floors in the kitchen, and I would rip them out and replace them with slate. I would also rip out the old formica countertops and replace them with butcher block. There's a nice work triangle, as you can see below. The layout is super-weird, but I'm sure I could put a rolling table between the dishwasher and the other part of the counter.


Also, did I mention that all the rooms on the first floor have high ceilings and beautiful trim? One issue: these people may have gone overboard with the built-in storage, and not of the best quality. The upstairs bedrooms didn't originally have closets, I guess, and the solutions they came up with are not precisely what I would have suggested:


The master is an OK size (not huge) but does have that screened porch, which is pretty giant. Maybe five or six feet deep, even. Could do a lot with that.

Good news: the bathrooms are really pretty good. There's only 1.5, so eventually it will need more, but I definitely wouldn't gut them (and most of the other houses need that!). Turns out the half bath downstairs isn't under the stairs - it's actually at least two rooms away from the "entertaining" rooms (living room, family room, and dining room), which is key.


So what would I do? Obviously, the kitchen needs work. Dining room needs fresh paint, new wallpaper, and a new wood floor laid. Other rooms need painting. Door frames upstairs need to be ripped off and replaced with trim that matches the original (the silly '70s stuff they put on looks really out of place there). They put carpet all over the upstairs and it needs to be ripped out and the floors underneath repaired if necessary. Same with the downstairs bedroom. Some shelves need straightening and some need to be ripped out. Plus, they put WAY too many shutter-style doors up everywhere, and some need to be replaced just to relieve the monotony. The basement is damp, wet even - so the gutters, and maybe roof, need replacing, and it needs the outside ground graded, and maybe a sump pump and some sealing. But it will never be a finished basement - I can only stand up in most of it. That's a lot of work and expense, but I don't have to gut bathrooms! I'm sure happy about that.

We also met the realtors! I really like the realtors (they were the realtors selling the original "my house" waaaay back when). I was iffy on some of the terms of their contract, but they said we could just do all the paperwork after we found a house. (These are some pretty awesome people. If anyone needs a realtor in Maryland, you let me know.) So now, we have our own realtors, and I trust them. We did tell them that we were thinking about maybe closing a deal in March/April. They were OK with that, but they did think all the houses we like will be gone by then. I don't agree. They had been on the market for months when we found them this summer. Winter is a slow time for the real estate market. And they know which one is supposed to be my house. It will wait.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

vocation

I'm in Chicago at a training conference on HR stuff for the week. Seeing Chicago, with its towering buildings and opulent storefronts, reminds me that DC is not actually a big city.

I also have had my antennae up for examples of women living vocations (other than motherhood) passionately. One of our presenters has been working in HR her whole career (she's now around 60). I don't know whether her home life and values are the same as mine (and I have no idea whether she has kids). But listening to her presentation, it's obvious she is happy, and genuinely happy to see everyone who's attending (all strangers), and wants to engage them; she loves what she does and is passionate about it.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to note that she's clearly from the South. Southern women, as we all know, seem to do the loving and sweet bit better than the rest. For my part, I drive well in the snow, love the mountains but not the beach, and can do both formal courtesy and biting sarcasm before I wake up in the morning, but I don't call *anybody* "hon."

Nevertheless, even with all her natural competitive advantages, something about her really struck me. I think she really is happy. It would be easy to say that as she's on the speaker circuit, she's at the pinnacle of her career. But being a speaker isn't so huge - she could be a professor, or a bestselling author, or something, and consider herself even more successful. There's nothing about what she's accomplished professionally that means she should be happy and I shouldn't. And all work is work. Getting to do what you love does make a difference, but this woman apparently loves talking about workers' compensation law. Obviously, it's what she's bringing to it.

Now, I like the line of work I'm in. I like to accomplish my tasks with enthusiasm, and I try to be friendly to the people I work with. But I am not doing what she is doing. Could I do that? Could I make my job a vocation I love? I have to admit, I like doing things well, but I haven't been driven to excel since I've been in school. There's a difference between wanting to do a good job and needing to be the best. (And who likes people who are over-competitive in the workplace anyway?)

Something else that just leapt out at me about this woman was that she is feminine. For some types of public speaking, the speaker can be sufficiently anonymous that no personality need shine through. But with larger-scale talks, you have to get people to pay attention to who you are. And in a situation like that, there is nothing worse a woman can do than try to act like a man. Second-worst is self-deprecating and insecure. She did neither of those things.

Let me tell you what she did. First of all, she was dressed business casual (she's not an attorney). She wore a colorful jacket - not too outrageous but not severe and black. Nothing was too tight, and she wasn't wearing a low neckline or a short skirt. (I imagine some of her evident poise can be attributed to the fact that she was comfortable in her clothes.) Her hair, makeup, shoes, and jewelry were decidedly female, without screaming for attention. She spoke on her topic with knowledge and confidence - but she wasn't bossy, didn't become uncomfortable at all if someone offered information she didn't have, and never talked down to anybody. At one point someone asked a question, and she asked an assistant to write it down for later - but politely and smoothly enough that the fellow might later have turned out to be her boss. (I have had few subordinates in my career, but I tie myself in knots when I try to give them directions, so I was specially impressed with this.) She was warm, and she was passionate without being strident.

I think men *generally* make better leaders and public speakers, though there are men who are plain awful at either of both. The women who justify the inclusion of women on other-than-political grounds are those who can do just as good a job while being completely different people, rather than mimicking the men. I think I may mimic the men.

Maybe this is hard for me in part because of my job training. I'm told they did a study of mock jurors and separated the results by gender. Women tended to react in a similar way - reaction 1. Men reacted a little differently - reaction 2. They also studied attorneys. Male attorneys reacted even more differently than non-attorney men - reaction 3. Female attorneys were indistinguishable from non-attorney men. Interesting, eh? Now all I need is an example of a passionate and feminine female professional who is also a lawyer.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

bravery

I know I've been talking about this house-purchasing thing for aaaaages and I haven't gotten on the ball with DOING anything about it. (I think I do deserve credit for getting on top of the one thing that requires lead time - getting an erroneous late payment report removed in August. But it's now NOVEMBER.)

So this morning, I realized I was being a wimp, and I signed up for a seven-day free trial at freecreditreport.com. (I know I have mentioned before how I love their songs.) I thought it was 30 days, so I'm a little disappointed, but this was time enough to find out that there are no errors, all my accounts are current (I need to double-check that they're all also "never late" - the site doesn't say, so I need to go back to annualcreditreport.com and get my second statutorily required free report for the year and check whether there are any late payments. And THEN I canceled a Capital One card that I HATE because the credit limit is $500 and they have refused to increase it even though they promised to and I charge more than that and repay it every MONTH and I think they are ridiculous. Unfortunately it is my oldest credit card (by a little less than a year though) and I just read that you're not supposed to do that, so I hope it doesn't do any harm.

Now, I figure that people might enjoy the break from estradiol and progesterone numbers and efforts to improve them. So...

...my credit score is apparently 750. This is in the "excellent" range, which warms my heart. However, according to this article (which seems really good), the break point for good interest rates is 760. Now, I really really want to get a 760. I cancelled the stupid Capital One card (which may actually hurt my credit. But I hate them, so I'm still not going to have it reinstated). I am going to pay all my credit card bills the minute they're payable, instead of merely in full by the due date. I am going to check whether I've got any payments registered as late ever (I don't think so, but just in case). And I am thinking about repaying the one of my college loans that's not consolidated with the others. The total balance on that one is less than $800, but I'm not going to put the money there until I find out that that will really help.

I want that 760. After I get it (and help my DH get off his history the adverse court judgment of the guy in Baltimore who happens to share his name), I am calling first USAA, and then every other lender I can find until I get a rate I like. So, we shall see how that goes.

Friday, November 13, 2009

fertility causes indigestion

I bet you didn't know that. It must be true, though, because my abdomen has been putting on a regular symphony (mostly percussion and brass) for the last two days. And the only thing that connects them, other than the fact that I ate Afghan food, which is really mild and anyway I had that big surgery and now my intestinal tract is TOTALLY FINE so it can't possibly be that, is that I had fertile CM both days.

YAY FOR SLIPPERY MUCUS! It came BACK. By ITSELF. Like everything was NORMAL and the surgery was over and it knew it was time for a "return to normalcy" even though that's not a WORD, President Harding, and what kind of example are you setting when you can't even speak ENGLISH properly, I ask you? Shows how much YOU know about cervical mucus. Sigh.

Anyway, there is the small fact that the slippery started on CD8, which is a wee tad early, but this reassures me that I don't need to worry that (by CD9, today) I haven't yet reached the "drowning in CM" stage that I'd really like to return to some day. Also, maybe it means that I've become one of those super-fertile b*&^%es who has a good...OK, I just did the math, that would be SEVEN running days of slippery if CD14 were peak day. Hahahahahahaha. Ha. Hee hee. Snort. Ha. Whew.

So I guess this is the weekend. Maybe tomorrow I'll be a decent human and go running. And start my Christmas shopping! I think it's an appropriate time for a little early Christmas shopping. And exercise. And VISITING THE HOUSE. Oh, and calling to get preapproved for a mortgage...huge sigh. I am brave.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

variety pack

A few thoughts, connected by nothing in particular.

First...

The white fixer-upper house with the lovely southern front porch is under contract - and the last contingency is the inspection. That will either go through or not by December 15. I have a
feeling it will go through, which makes me sad. But I still haven't visited its neighbor the tan house, which lacks that fabulous porch (and doesn't have a garage either). But it does have some things to recommend it, among which is a better floor plan. Here, for example, is the living room (way bigger than in the other house):


I'm afraid this picture might be too big to see well, which is tragic. Though it doesn't come together as exactly the ideal living room just now, it has so many things that make me happy...the old wood floors, the pretty wooden mantle, the brickwork all the way to the ceiling, the wood-paneled walls, the exposed wood ceiling beams, the baseboards and crown molding, the bathroom under the stairs (so cute - but if that bathroom door is actually shutters, it has to go. It freaks me out when downstairs bathrooms are right off the main living area as it is - who
wants their friends to hear them peeing?!)

Maybe something like this? It's a color scheme I think we would both like, and I admit I covet this couch.


Or maybe something like this?


Fun to think about. Maybe we'll go visit on the weekend.

Second...

I'm late to the party (always) - but there are rays of light shining into the Catholic IFosphere! A pregnancy and an adoption - such blessings. My prayers are with the new parents.

And, in a special way, I am praying with, and very much thinking about, those who are still waiting, who walked similar paths. I suppose with adoption this may be particularly poignant - it's easier to measure that people have been waiting for the same amount of time, have spent the same amount of money, and are waiting still. The rest of the world offers much joy for new babies, and I have nothing special to offer in that regard. My joy is stunted, perhaps. But I often think that what little this odd community, with all its broken members, has to offer, is companionship and strength in sadness. Those who graduate from it have many friends and family members who wish them well. Those who remain are ours, and they need us more. Such is my perspective.

Third...

I had an unexpected conversation with my husband after we'd stayed up way too late on a work night. He said something about the awful mentally ill disturbed children we would have had, and I got angry, and told him that if I accepted not having children, it would be happy children that I let go of, not monsters, and what he was saying was horrible and I didn't want to hear it any more. And I showed him the picture of the little girl I found to make a post about my "theoretical child" many months ago. That child looks so much like both of us. He started to cry. He's never cried over us not having children.

The closest he's come to any human emotion ever is to be angry with a friend who made a pregnancy announcement several years ago because I was crying (after we got home). In the past several years all I have heard him say on the subject was that I make too much of it; that he figures we'll eventually adopt so it doesn't matter; and that it's for the best that we didn't have children since they'd be horrible and we'd screw them up. I'll give him this, after several years, he was convincing. I thought he meant it. I thought he didn't care. Although I could picture in my mind how he'd really be if I found out I were pregnant (I have to imagine, since I've never even had a false positive), and I don't think for one minute he would say it was regrettable since the child would be messed up. I know he would be happy.

I can't believe in all this time that I never knew how sad this made him. I can't believe he had me fooled. So at two o'clock in the morning we stood in our bathroom and held each other and cried. I don't know what difference this makes. I don't know that it matters. It's odd that this comes as I'm growing to some kind of acceptance (rather than just denial). Who knows where our path will lead. But I love my husband, and it has been so exhausting to walk this way alone, and I know that this is, whatever it leads to, a blessing.

It's almost four; I think it's time for me to take a shower and run my thrift store errand and get some eggs so I can make my fabulous lemon chicken soup recipe. (And maybe some homemade wheat bread. Got to use up that wheat flour - I thought it would be great, but it's ruined all my baked goods.)

Blessings, infertile friends.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

in fewer words

kitchen love


puppy love


love it

Sunday, November 1, 2009

what now?

I've had an interesting weekend. Way too exhausted way too much of the time (I know I don't sleep enough, but I caught up enormously and still found myself about to collapse). Spent a delightful afternoon with my MIL who was visiting, wandering around the town where my DH and I would like to buy a house. (The tan house came back on the market 10/22. As soon as it has an open house I am going.) Wore a silly costume to a Hallowe'en party (I do not belong to the non-Hallowe'en-celebrating phalanx of the ueber-traditional branch of the Catholic mafia. I do have huge issues with the "I've wanted to dress as a prostitute all year. What? I'm a cat. See the whiskers?" theory of costuming, however).

My DH was traveling for work this weekend. I end up hanging out with the single people more when he is gone (unsure why), and I have observed some fascinating social phenomena in these groups, so I set as a goal this weekend figuring out what's up there. I don't know whether I have enough for the published study, but I'm starting to get some insight into the DC Catholic dating scene. (Executive summary: GOOD GRIEF.) I also realized today just how good it is for me to hang out with just other young women who share my faith. I NEVER DO THIS ANY MORE. No wonder I feel my personality limping about - part of it is atrophying. I'm not turning into a man, even with all of my DH's guy friends around and my job in a man's world, but I need to nurture my femininity, other than just by watching ludicrous movies.

I went with the gals to a Mass I don't usually attend and the homily was just amazing. I focused more on being at Mass and praying than I usually do. I really need to get this back. I've basically given up on daily Mass. I need to revamp somewhere but I'm not sure where to start.

I realized that I have a particular blessing that I know others have prayed for, that I have prayed for. I don't have the burning desire for a child. I've talked about aspects of this. There's the sour grapes - I refuse to believe I'll have one and I refuse to hope. There's the life mutation - I've been tooling along not having a child(ren), and where into my goofy life would I insert one now? (That last may just be a failure of imagination.) But a lot of these ideas were predicated on bitterness. I'm not going to have a kid and SO THERE. I'm tough and I'll cry in private.

But I've realized that while I've nursed my bitterness, there's been something else going on, too. If I get pregnant in this supposedly fertile year (you know, if my DH is ever home during my fertile phase anyway), I will of course be grateful. I'm not feeling attached to that, though. I'm not expecting it. But I am expecting to try. That's good.

I read a book on discernment of vocation when I was in college that contended that the hallmark of discernment was "freedom to the opposite." You knew you were following God's call (and not your own selfish desires OR your own neuroses) if you felt confident about the way you were to go, but your heart was free, should you receive different information, to turn around and go the other way. (Even if you had a preference, as long as you were free.) I certainly knew what it felt like not to be free to the opposite, at the time.

I'm not sure that this principle applies directly to having children, but I feel pretty close to free now. I expect not to have children. I feel free to welcome them if I should. Or if I look at it the other way...it would be a good thing to have children. I feel free to accept that I won't, if I don't. Heaven knows that doesn't mean there aren't things about which I am anxiety-ridden. I still have a lot of anger at the idea that my endo could come back every five years. I'm angry that to preserve my health I'd have to have a complete hysterectomy as a very young woman. Because it's not enough that I am, in the view of too many, incomplete as a woman because I can't bear children.

I also realize that my acceptance, such as it is, is at the psychological level, really. I've lectured my head until the gremlins that make me conflicted and tortured over every step have largely quieted. Since I've restricted my spiritual life to a smallish corner for the moment, there's not a lot of cognitive dissonance there to interfere with my calm. But I know that I do need to resolve my anger with God for putting me in a position where I had to get here in the first place. I don't have a lot of "did He not think I would make a good mother" issues. I've seen what's happened in the raising of my baby siblings. No one who's not actually abusive could be worse at parenting than their (my) parents. My prospective parenting skills are definitely not the issue. (And yes, it has crossed my mind that I could be put in the position of raising them one day if their parents can't. My DH has brought the idea up himself. If need be, we would do that.)

But I've gone through a lot of really, really hurtful roller-coaster about this IF thing (I'm on one of the uphill chugs now, but I'm sure I will be flung upside down through some hideous loop again in another five minutes), and only most of that was my fault. I can't say that God chose sufferings for me that were (are, and will be) not fair, because I don't know better than He does. But sublimating my will to His will not work if I have to pretend to think that He was right. I don't feel that He was. He is going to have to explain it to me so that I can understand it, if I am to get past this.

I realize that I've shoved Him out of my life - except in spots where I can get hold of it - as surely as my husband has, even though I am superficially dogmatic as I always have been. (I do believe. I always believe. But, I suppose, I don't trust. I thought kids from a broken home with no strong relationship with either parent were supposed to be showered with graces to allow them to trust in God - not with challenges to estrange them from Him. I don't think I needed a tutorial on estrangement. I am an expert. On the other hand, I suppose my graces on the subject of trust were - my husband. He's flawed, but he has loved me as the other adults in my life never could. I would be lost, more lost than I am, without his love.) When he gets back, I will try very hard to convince him that we both should go on an intense weekend retreat. I'm not sure how to pitch this to him. But I think we both need it.

Supposing I fix all this (ahem, supposing I and my notions clear out of the way long enough for God's grace to fix all this) - I understand about the not having kids thing (and it would be nice to be working through these issues about the time I am closing on a house!), but I'm not sure where to go from here. I don't really care that everyone will always think I'm the defective (or bad-decision-making?) broad with no babies, but I do flounder for a way to present myself. At 27 and four years of marriage, absolutely everyone has put me in the box of "no kids yet." Someday that yet will be an obvious joke. It's silly to me even now, but others don't see it quite yet. What do I show - how do I project myself, my life - what witness do I bear with my life - once it's obviously "no kids ever"? To borrow/paraphrase/butcher from one-hit wonder, I know of no normative identity for a married female observant (we hope) Catholic woman with no children.

And more than how I present myself to the world, what will I do with myself? I think, in the next ten years, if I don't get pregnant (that, in the next year), or adopt (we wouldn't do any kind of agencies, but God does work in mysterious ways at times), I will want a different job. I don't have the passion for working with abused children I did in law school (I wasn't able to find a job in that field). After all the IF stuff, I don't know if I can be there the rest of my life for children other people failed. My heart for that is sort of closed off. (Maybe these things will change.) Since I'm in DC, I will eventually "buy my lottery ticket" and apply for the jackpot of all young-attorney jobs (for which I do not have the requisite resume, but I will apply anyway). But what I want to do long-term, I don't know. A decent job with good pay and nice coworkers is not really what I want for good and all. I do love being home. Absent a passel of children, I am going to need a good excuse. Maybe that's what I should work on in the interim.

I know I have blessings to which my sadness has long blinded me. Our single friends (heh - perhaps that should tell me something) have long commented that my DH and I have an enviable marriage. We have strong personalities, and when we fight, we really raise the roof. We bicker on a fairly regular basis. But the people who know us say we're perfect for each other. We love each other more every day. Though I see the incompleteness in the childlessness, I am not sure that other people see that in us. (There are many years to go, and I do not know how this may change.) I think they look at us and see that...we're happy. We're not perfectly happy. We're not every day, heaven knows. But maybe I miss the joy that is there, that other people can see. I'd like that to be our legacy - not the couple everyone is sorry for, but one that makes everyone smile.

To do that, we need to avoid grasping at our consolation prizes - material enjoyments that are just a bit too ostentatious, because we have the money we're not saving for college tuition; scheduling liberties that are just a bit too obviously out of reach to our friends with children; gallivanting a bit too young and untethered to far-flung locations. That stuff is great when you're single, of course. But I'd like us to be able to live our married life settled, contented, and peaceful - children or no. This is a balance I have no idea how to strike.

What now?