Tears on Loan- National Infertility Awareness Week

Tears on Loan-2It’s been exactly seven years since I struggled with infertility. 10 1/2 years if you count when it started.

I’ve written at length about my journey through that hard time, but many of you are newer to reading my story and may not want to go scroll through my old blog (annasjoyblog.blogspot.com), so I’ll share a bit of it here.

We were married in 2005 and a year later planned to start trying for a baby. In anticipation of this, I prepared to separate from active duty service in the Air Force and we started clearing out the room that would be the nursery. It’d be more dramatic to say that room stayed empty for four more years, but the truth is that it served as a guest room and housed foster kids in the meantime.

A year and a half into the trying, we decided to get tested to see why we weren’t getting pregnant. The tests, including a Hysterosalpingogram, came back inconclusive. My obgyn suggested some things that might help; Metformin (a diabetes drug that was thought to help fertility), Clomid (a fertility drug that is supposed to regulate ovulation), seeing a urologist who specialized in male fertility, but nothing helped. We still didn’t have a baby and still didn’t know why.

I started following several bloggers who wrote about their journeys through infertility and started a support group with other women in my church desiring to be moms. Fortunately, I never felt alone, but I did feel lost because for us, there was no roadmap or timeline to the end of the journey.

If something can be both long-awaited and sudden, that’s how our infertility journey ended. In April 2010, Ayla came in to being. I knew someone was “in there” after about 12 days because I’d been Taking Charge of My Fertility. We wanted to have kids close(r) in age, but ours are three years apart (almost exactly. April is a good month for us!), so we had a second–shorter–trip in the waiting lane.

Sometimes I see one of my kids interacting with someone, creating joy with their magical smiles and hugs, and I think, “yep, that’s why they are alive and this age at this very moment.” And while that might be a comfort to me now, I’m not naive enough to try to use it as hope bait for someone still waiting for the end of that journey.

I still struggle with infertility because I still have precious friends walking through it. It feels somewhat trite for me to sit here with my life full of mommyhood, saying “I know what you’re going through.” But there isn’t a month that goes by that I don’t remember what it was like to want to be pregnant, to mourn on the day it was clear I wasn’t and to hold the questions of Why and When like burning coals in my heart.

No, it’s not the season I’m in anymore, but I want to remember it and honor those who have been through it and are still there. My tears for the loss of dreams, expectations crushed and unanswered questions may be stored in the vault of memories, but today I’m taking them out on loan for my loved ones still in the wait.

In honor of this week, a time to recognize that infertility exists and affects millions of women (1 in 8 couples), I’m raising my hand and waving my banner to support those I love in this battle.

One of my favorite warrior mamas, JM, shared an incredible blog post about her story of Unexplained Secondary Infertility, and I’d love for you to read it. If you, or someone you know, is struggling with any type of infertility, there’s a list of resources at the end of her blog you should check out.

Finally, I’d love to pray for you (for this or any other issue) if you’d trust me with that. Leave a comment or email me at annasjoy at gmail. Thank you.

 

 

Of Musical Geniuses and Laminations

The copy machine at my daughter’s school turned into a time machine the last time I used it.

What’s really weird about it is that it took me to two different places at once, a parallel universe within a time warp, if you will.

It was parent-teacher conference day and I had accidentally arrived an hour early for my appointment. Earlier this year I volunteered to be on call for lamination projects, so I put the extra hour to good use to help clear out the task basket.

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Instead of the school hallway though, I was suddenly 17 years ago and a few hours down the road. I worked at a big office supply store as one of my many jobs in grad school. I loved working there. You wouldn’t guess by my messy desk, but I love organization. I might actually love the idea of being organized more, but just working in that store allowed me to live in an organizational fantasy.

Life got even better when I transferred to the copy center, or should I say, “heaven.” I really did enjoy making copies (ooh, do you want that double-sided, collated, color, on cardstock?), binding documents, laminating, and helping design business cards and banners. I mean, I was Leslie Knope before she was.

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For someone like me who likes to check off boxes and have something pretty to show for a day’s work, the copy center was my happy place. Don’t even get me started on the thrill of being able to clear a paper jam without needing the manual. Give me that work order, sir or madam, and I will give you your completed project.

As I copied and clipped little clock worksheets in my daughter’s school so the children could learn to tell time, I easily settled back into the sweet rhythm of my copy center days.

The other place the time machine took me was a not so distant time, but a very far off place. When we moved to the Middle East almost four years ago, I had a hook-up for a job at an international preschool teaching music to the little ones. I’ve decided to do a whole separate post about this job, but for now I’ll say it was one of the worst I’ve ever had.

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They did give me a cake on my last day there, so it wasn’t all bad!

I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know what was expected of me. I didn’t know how to manage the classes. I had so many students in so many classes at different levels, with no training for either teaching music or teaching children. Doing both in an international setting with language and cultural barriers, being pregnant and enduring culture shock and a 2-year-old who was also adjusting to all these changes just about did me in. I looked forward to the semester ending almost every day from the first one.

As the end of the semester loomed, I learned that I had to fill out report cards and do parent teacher conferences. I had over 70 students on a bi-weekly basis and had to fill out a report card for every one of them!

Then, to do parent-teacher conferences? Thankfully, I had only three kids’ parents sign up to meet with me, and only two showed up. I asked for some guidance on the meetings, which was that the parents usually just wanted to hear that their child was a musical genius. If I was under-qualified to be teaching these classes, I was negatively qualified to make the “musical genius” determination. I ended up telling these parents that they should pursue individual lessons for their children if they were interested, and keep them exposed to all kinds of music, which would help them in all kinds of learning. They heard what they wanted to.

Stepping back into the present, I shuddered as I waited for Ayla’s teacher to tell me what a genius she is. I’m so glad I’m not on the other side of that little classroom table anymore! I’m more than happy to do my part by the laminator.

(In the final approach to my 40th birthday, I’m contemplating my past, present and future. You’re likely to see more posts like this and I hope you stick around!)