Sunday, February 26, 2012

worst reasons to POAS

...on CD8, or something: because you feel emotionally flimsy and hormonal, and you haven't been charting, so it seems like your period has lasted longer than usual, but maybe you're just impatient and cranky, but surely you couldn't feel this sad at this point in your cycle unless you were pregnant.

I decided to double (triple? quadruple?) down on the insanity by: (1) Determining that I could not bring the HPT box home with me, so I would discard all the packaging before I left the store and shove the (unused, don't worry) pee sticks in my purse. I was going to toss everything in a parking lot trash can, but then I saw a bunch of trash cans helpfully placed inside the store...in Target...and somehow had no memory of how long it always takes me to get those packages open...so I spent several minutes in a busy store in lighting as bright as a movie set uselessly shredding at tiny pieces of the cellophane wrapping on a neon-pink box with the word "pregnancy" on it in letters you could read at a hundred feet. Two different men walked around me to toss something in the trash can during this endless process; neither made eye contact. (2) Forgetting that you're supposed to wait three minutes. This part isn't really important, but I have become so accustomed to the negative tests that I forget that there are special instructions for people who want a positive one. At least I got a control line this time. (3) Remembering several hours later that I should have waited three minutes, and fishing the whole mess out of the trash. Still negative. (4) Pondering the fact that you're supposed to wait 3-10 minutes, and I waited hours. I'm pretty sure once they show a + they stay that way (you know, I've heard), but the directions do say not to wait forever. And I remembered a post on 999 Reasons to Laugh at Infertility that lampooned RE-peeing on old HPTs. I've never done this. Who knows - I might never buy another package. (I have told myself this many times.) What the heck? It was still negative, of course.

The million-dollar question is why I would do this in the first place. I know, I know: this is an audience that can imagine innumerable insane - but compelling! - reasons to spend that $6.99. For two tests, by the way - so this insanity can repeat itself (without the HPT-Unwrapping of Frustration and Shame impromptu performance art in Target) at a later date.

In this case, despite its being CD8 (which is totally canceled out by the fact that I felt sad. You're following, right?), I was suddenly overcome by the concern that I have actually been pregnant almost constantly during the last six-plus years, and my occasionally varying periods (variances apparently catalyzed by various fertility drugs, surgeries, and invasive diagnostic procedures - or maybe, so I thought!) were not actually the resumption of menstruation but some sort of innocuous early-pregnancy bleeding, and if only I had taken an HPT in mid-"cycle" all these many times, I would have long ago realized that I was not infertile but a "habitual aborter" (for those who haven't read TCOYF, look it up) and sought early treatment to keep those pregnancies and I would have like five healthy kids now.

Sigh.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

RAAAAAA...AAAA...aaaaahhh?

I had a four-day weekend and I am not best pleased with my results.


My goals were to (1) demolish the tile-board in the kitchen, repair the plaster behind it, and prime and paint the walls; (2) create a stenciled "stair runner" on our back stairs and varnish them; and (3) get a substantial start on repainting the built-in bookshelves and souping up their chintzy molding. That would leave me with plenty of momentum to finish the bookshelves during the week and tool with a full head of steam into next Saturday, when I would paint the entire stair hall with a color magically selected out of my sea of indecision.


My results look rather different: (1) demolished tile-board, but not all of it. I can't get it out from behind the kitchen cabinetry (!!!), so I can't get that wall done and repainted. So I'm not going to repaint all the walls. They're currently white and the new paint is yellow, so I need a logical stopping-place so I don't have a half-painted wall. So I basically got about half the tile-board off. I also discovered that the walls behind the tile-board were in poor condition when it was installed (i.e., there is more damage to repair than that caused by my demolition), and some of this exceeds my ability to repair. My sister suggests beadboard wainscoting, and I am giving this serious consideration. I did the plaster repair, but I haven't sanded, primed, or painted it, because I got mad at my husband (the one who was in a hurry for me to finish the demo), and decided to focus on the projects I wanted to do if he was going to be a pill.


Which brings me to...the stairs. I had painted two coats of porch paint onto the stairs last week. Friday (when I did the demo - my most productive day by like 1000%), I got the stripes taped and painted. But then the tape ripped off half the original paint when it came up, so Saturday I spent touching it up instead of stenciling. Grrrrr. Sunday I stenciled, and Monday I put on two coats of varnish. But I decided it needs a third, so I will be doing that tonight, in addition to going to the grocery store, because I didn't manage to fit that in all four days. I also did only half the laundry (my sister did the rest), and didn't find time to clean the bathroom, which I really need to do. Or cook. I am a disaster.


Part of this is because I blew hours of potential labor on Monday buying a car. It was a snap decision, in that I saw the ad Sunday, called Monday, and drove the car home Monday evening - inspection, negotiation, payment, all done. On the other hand, I've been looking for the car for...a year. So a large item is now off my to-do list. Getting to the DMV has now become more pressing, which is horrible, but...I guess I have to do that.


As a consequence, all I accomplished on the bookshelves was ripping off the old trim and reading about how to strip the ugly varnish. My goal is that tomorrow after work, I will strip the varnish; then Thursday I will cut and hang the new molding; then starting Friday I will paint. But it will take many, many coats of paint (since I want the backs the same color as the room's walls, and since it will need varnish over the paint). And the weekend after next is our housewarming party, and I also want to paint the stair hall before then, and when will I do that?


My DH can prime and paint the kitchen if he wants it painted. I consider the large plaster patches to be a conversation piece.


I guess there is some good news. I picked out and purchased the new bookshelf molding at the big orange store, so that project has gone from the Psychic Anguish/Acquisition Planning stage to the Awaiting Execution stage, which is much lower-stress but does involve random lengths of molding on the floor. I also picked out a color for the stair hall (probably ramping up my antsiness to paint it). Neither my DH nor my sister likes it, and neither, I suspect, will any of you, but this time I am absolutely positive, so I am going to go ahead with it. It will be magnificent - you'll see.



So I decided (as mentioned) to work from the color in the green bedroom. That color is just a shade darker than Behr's "Garden Spot":



I know, that color looks sort of innocuous. It's actually intense. How intense? Well, actually, now that you mention it, I do have a picture of the walls...taken in terrible lighting, I'm afraid:


I note that this is not going in a before-and-after set of pictures of the room just yet, because I have ONE more item to hang that will not go on its wretched hook, and also my sister's stuff is all over the room, so until she finds a nice apartment (not that I'm in any hurry for her to do that, I'm just saying that's why you all don't get any before-and-afters) I can't document where I put all the furniture and the nice curtains I found on Amazon and all the things I hung on the walls and, you know, stuff. So this is just a smidge.


And here is a close-up of the wallpaper (I custom-matched the wallpaper, but it is more or less exactly between "Garden Spot" and the color one darker on the chip):


So anyway. I went to the Behr Color Center online thingy and tried to pull the lighter version of that color, and got the highly suspect "Fairway Mist" I showed you before:



As many of you commented, it's substantially pistachio and not very attractive. But I misread the color center thingy 'cause it's automated and I can't see it and color is deceptive on my laptop, and when I went to the store I realized that the color I actually wanted was "Spring Morn":



Yeah, that probably looks about the same. It isn't. It's lighter, and way more yellow (yessss!!!), and I bought a sample can and painted my foam-core board and it looks awesomely awesome and my sister and husband don't see that but they will when I paint it aaaaaaalll over the hallway. So will you.


And soon, I will share before-and-after pictures of my painted staircase. It's...interesting. I will be fascinated to hear your opinion.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

unwanted milestones

So tomorrow is my 30th birthday. I had very fond notions of doing some sort of quasi-pagan rain-dance type celebration nude on top of a mountaintop at midnight, commemorating the end of my fertility treatments for good.

But because I didn't get my act together last year and was distracted by things like moving and the home-purchase transaction from he!!, I was way behind on the six months of HCG shots I promised myself I would take before my "retirement." At the end of 2011, I got my act together and started actually working on taking the shots for consecutive cycles (if they can have a cumulative effect, which apparently they do in other people, I really ought to try to take them straight in a row). I just finished my fifth overall and third consecutive round of them (today is p+11), so I'm not going to be able to retire for another month. Among other things, this totally ruins my available answer to "What are you doing for your birthday?" I feel I could really knock off the "Oh but we have to celebrate!" lunacy if I could say that I was engaging in a pagan ritual to say goodbye to my fertility. (What do you think? Effective?) As it is, the explanation would be way too long, so I've just said that I will not speak to anyone who attempts to celebrate at/for/with me, which is far less effective because apparently people will not shut up.

I know I was a baby in the IF blogosphere when I started my blog (at 26) and I mean no implication that those of you who have already turned 30 have your lives entirely over. I assume you all understand this. Presumably some of my IRL friends (especially the single girls) who are over 30 find it difficult and/or offensive to understand my lack of desire to celebrate my birthday. But it's more complicated than being "old." I was married at 23. I was going to have five kids by the time I was 30. Now I need to schedule an OB/GYN appointment for the end of March so I can go on depo, which is really just a stalling tactic for a few years before I have a hysterectomy and turn in the biggest dreams I ever had for my life. I understand the crosses of women who are 35 and single are significant, but even though I am married, my complaints aren't petty. These may be the only ones I have that aren't "first-world problems," in fact.

My husband, at least, has acceded to my demands not to have ANYONE celebrate ANYTHING (principally because for several years he has insisted this himself). This is probably aided by the fact that as of 2AM this morning, I had come down with a stomach bug that kept me home from work and may do so again tomorrow. (Happy 30th birthday, me!) I've stopped vomiting, and for a few hours now I've kept down a bowl of cereal, a small piece of chicken, and an orange (and some ginger ale and tea), but I really don't feel it would be prudent to try anything heavier, and earlier today I came very close to blacking out in the bathroom. I'm especially frustrated because I've spent a whole day at home and there's an extensive list of things I'd like to get done, and I really haven't been able to do any of them. But I've offered up all the unpleasantness for my still-childless friends and those with gravely ill children. After spending so many years contemplating a permanent and worsening illness, a temporary one really seems like nothing. (So I guess that's not much to offer up. Sorry, guys.)

Moving on, therefore, to my far more consuming first-world problems, with which I hope you can help me: what color do I paint my hallway?

It's a two-story hallway, and thus one of the largest paintable surfaces in the house. Two of the bedrooms, the full bath, the dining room, and the living room open onto it, so the room-to-room "reveal" will be key in picking a color. In fact, if I were smart, I would have picked that color first, but I had so many more ideas about the other rooms, and so many of them were painted such awful colors that they got done first. The living room is medium gray and our bedroom is very light gray; the dining room has yellow-on-yellow damask wallpaper; but the second bedroom is intensely green (I had to color-match it to the wallpaper. I kind of like it, though). So things that go nicely with the first three rooms tend to go poorly with the fourth.

First I decided that I needed to find a color I hadn't done yet, and needed to start somewhere to find inspiration. So I found the Miller Paint historic reproduction colors palette at colorcharts.org, and perused it. I decided I liked Hawthorne Green, which appears (online) to be a color at the exact intersection of blue, green, and gray. I have blue, green, and gray, but none of that intermediate color, and I thought it would look lovely in the hallway. I then settled on Behr's pretentiously-named "Contemplation" as embodying all the things I liked about the color:


At the same time, I realized that I might not be branching out enough, and that there was significant potential for "Contemplation" to clash hideously with the green bedroom. (It does.) So I also got some color swatches in hues of taupe with significant pink or violet undertones - I don't have any purple on my walls yet. I got a sample of Behr's "Down Home," which is a nice color:


It goes better with the green bedroom by far. On the other hand, it's kind of an out-there choice from my point of view, and while "Contemplation" gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling, "Down Home" feels a little more edgy, and I am afraid that in a few years I might grow to hate it (and that a subsequent owner of the home would truly loathe it). So then the other day I was struck by inspiration. I want the hallway to be a really pale color; while it has a few windows, it's somewhat dark, and the current battleship gray feels oppressive. I want it to feel airy. So: what if I went for a super-light tint of the green color in the second bedroom? If I start by working around that color, I know it will "go." And I think the green would go with the two grays and the yellow wallpaper. And it's a pleasant, non-upsetting color. And while I'm trying to branch out, I only have one green room so far, whereas two are gray, two spaces are blue, and two will be yellow. I believe Behr's "Fairway Mist" (horrendous name) is the shade I'd need.


But here is my major concern: is it a color that's super-trendy right now? If so, in five years I'm going to hate it. I'm pretty sure that none of the other colors I've used is at the epicenter of any current trends. Light blue, light gray, butter yellow, and grass green have been around a long time, and will stick around. I hope.

What do you think?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

it gets better

OK, so I'm not technically sure that's true.

But sometimes there is a reprieve.

My beloved sister arrived from her extended sojourn doing research in Europe last Wednesday. She's been gone for almost two years, and while she eventually has to get a new apartment near her university and go back there to keep working on her dissertation, my house is the chosen landing pad for her re-arrival in the States. I pride myself on offering a relatively convenient place for people to visit. We're near DC, a useful destination. It also has three airports and numerous train stations. We're walking distance to commuter rail. We're also walking distance to lots of shops and amenities (library, church, etc.). Our neighborhood is safe and there are places in it to go running. We now have guest bedrooms that give visitors some of their own space, and enough "public rooms" (living room, dining room, kitchen) that people can be doing various things without interfering with one another. We have wireless internet, which we originally got in part because it would be nice for guests. We're pretty low-key about our schedules, and people can come and go as they choose; and I almost never make dinner at night, but I try to have food in the fridge that people can heat up whenever they're hungry.

Anyway, I now have my very favorite shopping buddy. Plus she has apparently decided to clean my whole house. I'm an indifferent housekeeper, but it wasn't filthy, and I had cleaned the bathroom before she came and did some other stuff the next day. She swept floors I had declared did not need sweeping, and yesterday when I got home she was scrubbing my stove burners. Every day I have people plural to come home to, and yesterday a friend of mine from college came over to go running, a friend of DH's from college came over to watch the election returns, and I persuaded everyone to let me make them cocoa. We went to bed late, but it was so nice to have a house full of people.

Even better, I have things to do without having to deal with the "now with babies" crowd in the area. It doesn't mean that I won't see them until she leaves (a month or so), but it means that I have an excuse to get out of things if I don't want to go, or I can show up and leave on my own terms; there's another person there who also doesn't have children; and because my sister wants to do something other that sit around the back yards of my husband's college friends and "hang out" drinking wine until all hours (which seems fair), I have been moving toward engagements with more of an activity (a comic opera with seven girls from my book club, for example) and/or a more intelligent bent. In other words, situations in which a 45-minute "cry it out" conversation would be far less likely to happen.

I may have to deal with the same-old, same-old crowd this coming weekend, but already it sounds like the events would be more active (making dinner as a group, if I wield my influence successfully) and include half single people, which gives me lots of people to talk to who don't have babies in tow.

Here's to a gayer 2012, already.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

backward

When I started blogging in January of 2009, I was dealing with infertility about as badly as anyone could, shy of picking people off from a clock tower with a high-powered rifle (and if my vision were better I wouldn't have ruled that out). Once in a great while, I have the good sense to reflect on how far I have come, and how, though my dysfunctional responses to infertility and life in general are legion, there used to be a legion of legions.

Unfortunately, any ability to take a global view of the thing means that I also realize, once in a while, that I am sliding backward into the abyss. Isn't that nice?

I'm sure I've mentioned this on here before, but one infertile friend got pregnant in August (or July) and the other adopted in December. Also, friends of infertile couple #2 (the adopting ones) moved into town over the summer. These friends have three kids (and are obviously not infertile - she's a home-schooling SAHM, so obviously, I have never met anyone with whom I have so much in common. The first evening I spent with her she had a whole bunch of whiskey and literally spent a straight 45 minutes telling me that her oldest is gifted [might be true, but regrettably for him, his mother isn't] and showing me iPhone pictures of his artwork since he was 3 [he's now 5]). I know, that sounds like a joke about a social evening attended by an infertile, but it really happened, and I didn't kill her. I was actually nice. I refrained - with great effort - from telling her that I had spent my entire time in school through 12th grade in gifted programs, and giving her suggestions. Instead, I nodded wisely at pictures of scribbles and offered it up.

But at that point, friend #2 (who was sitting there through this conversation, apparently marveling at my comments, with her eyes glazed over) had not yet been matched for adoption.

So last Saturday, we spent a darling evening. The new friends in town are great cooks, and they invited us for dinner. When we arrived, their three highly energetic young children were still running, shrieking, and refusing to finish their hot dogs. Also attending were friend #2, her husband, and their new baby. Of course. And to round out the group, another couple. The wife in this one is the one who sent the very understanding email about how she wouldn't mind if I didn't want to attend her baby shower. So of course, they also had their six-month-old. I got to watch five children fed, hear endless comments on the baby, participate in an hour-long discussion on "cry-it-out," and otherwise enjoy myself thoroughly. Shopping was not once discussed.

The weekend before, at the home of a different set of friends (couple #2 and infant still in tow), the hostess asked me politely how work was going and I realized that...I was the only woman there with a job. (Friend #2 is technically employed but is not working while the baby is a baby.) Two years ago, all of those women worked full-time. When I answered the question, they stared at me with polite smiles. No responses. No engagement. No comments of fellow feeling. I engaged the diatribe about the gifted five-year-old artist...

It may go without saying that I never want to see any of these people again, but just in case it didn't, I will say so.

I was really and exuberantly happy for friend #2 when I heard they had been matched for adoption. I even reminded myself to email her sister and make sure she was planning a baby shower. (I forgot - thank God.) It took a week or two for the whole business to sink in, and for me to become unbelievably, outrageously angry. After that, I realized that I probably would not be able to see her and the baby in the same room without making a truly terrible face. But I did that, and it was OK. I make almost no comments on the baby, I have never asked to hold him, I engage conversation on him to an extremely limited degree, I did not go to her shower, and I did not RSVP. I've sent a pretty clear message (none of that is even intended to send a message). I started worrying after a few weeks because it wasn't getting better. I've never been upset this much and for this long about anyone else's baby. Last weekend was the ultimate test - could I make it and act normal?

Last weekend - that's the above-described dinner with the five children and the cry-it-out discussion. I did. I passed with flying colors. I gave my opinions and understanding about cry-it-out. I talked about what my stepmother did with my sister; I laughed about the fact that I'd learned this stuff from Supernanny. If there is a gold medal in the infertile Olympics, I won it for every event. I swept the match. I won.

I didn't even realize how shockingly insensitive and oppressive the entire conversation had been until some time after we left their home. Yes, I could have left the room where all the girls (and babies) were sitting and gone out where the guys were smoking to shiver and talk about something - anything - else. I have that as an option. I can do that.

If I were sitting in a group of married girls who were grousing about the specific ups and downs of married life in front of a 35-year-old friend who had told me how upset she was that she was not married, would I have changed the subject after five minutes? Ten? Thirty? Sixty? (And, yes, I emailed friend #2 before the baby came home and told her that I was very upset and needed space.)

I think two. I think I would have forced a change of subject after two minutes. If it didn't happen, I would turn to the single friend and start a conversation with only her, about something she found interesting. Not stare at her while she talked about her alien life - talked with her.

I think I would have done that even if she had been witty and engaged on the subject of married life. I hope I would have.

So despite my heavy burden of gold medals, I am not OK. I am not suddenly able to have any amount of conversations about nothing but other people's children. I know all of these people (except the new friends in town) very well, and I am apprehensive at the thought of even seeing them. (By the way, I am missing the adopted baby's baptism on Saturday. Haven't RSVPd to that either and am not planning to.)

My spiritual director (whom I really need to start seeing again) made an interesting observation. I told him that sometimes I do really well and sometimes I have no patience, and he said that I was probably analyzing it wrong. It's not that dealing with this is a skill that I will fully acquire and then it will be easy. Dealing with it is always a cross. We have a certain amount of strength. Some weeks we are carrying a lot of other crosses already. And if I win the infertile-listening-to-a-coworker-go-on-about-her-pregnancy award on Monday, that doesn't mean I'm a fierce competitor and can take on a 90-minute labor and delivery story on Tuesday. It probably means I've blown my wad - I've taken as much heartbreak as I probably have in me for a while. So if someone tries to tell me a L&D story on Tuesday, I will probably stab her in the eye with one of the useless pens my office buys. And I shouldn't be surprised by it.

Of course, he was right.

And I think that friend #2 adopting may be the worst thing that's happened to me in at least the last year, and maybe longer. I'm reviewing the last year in my mind. There are no close competitors. It's the worst thing that's happened to me in an extremely long time. Traumatic. Terrible. Unbelievably painful, and a source of continuing (and possibly increasing) trauma. Not just not-as-happy-for-me - affirmatively terrible.

No one will see this. No one wants to hear it. No one will even ask how I'm doing.

That might be what infuriates me the very most. Everyone knows about friend #1 being pregnant now, and friend #2 adopting. Nobody says, "Hey, you lost your buddies. Must be rough." Or - if they don't want to venture that far out on a limb - "I know about friend #1 and friend #2. So how are you doing?" The friends themselves seem oblivious that anything could even be wrong, when I have actually said that something is and they know it specifically. The other friends act as if everything is fine and it would be too much burden on them to talk about something other than their kids - no burden on me to listen to it.

Is it wrong to want the earth to swallow them all up? I restrain myself from wishing them ill, but I wish none of them, nor any of their children, had ever been born.

I think I'm about tapped out.