Saturday, December 13, 2014

Perspective- what a difference time makes

Last year at this time, we were hopeful that Joe would get a new job after about 6 months of unemployment. Then we found out in an extremely unprofessional manner that he didn't get the job. The whole situation was quite a blow to our little family. And then he lost his unemployment benefits. There was some hope because of a refinance we were able to secure for our home, but we still questioned how we were going to make it through financially.

But we did. Last Christmas was full of generous people choosing to selflessly share their abundance with our family. It was humbling, touching, and amazing. In fact, it was the best Christmas I ever remember having. Still, our trials weren't over.

And, of course, even though I found a job and Joe later found a job, we have had trials this year as well. Having your identity stolen is not something I would wish on anyone (except maybe the person who stole mine, although I suspect her identity is not much worth stealing).

I remember when Joe lost his job and we had to exercise a lot of faith. We figured we'd exercised sufficient faith and were ready for our trial to be over. What a joke that was! Trying to tell God you've learned your lesson is much like trying to hold back the ocean.

We are feeling much more stable as a family this year. We got to spend so much time together last year and for part of this year that the very limited time we had together as a family once we both got jobs seemed grossly inadequate. I missed my husband. And yet, we did what we had to do to provide for our family, hoping that there would be an end to opposite schedules and a chance to have more time together to connect. While our schedules are still not ideal, we are finding that we finally do have more time together, and we are grateful for it.

Joy is surprising and amusing us every day. She is learning so much that I think if I was away from her for a week, I might go into shock at how different she'd be upon my return than she was when I left.

Sometimes I think about how much she is changing and wonder how much I am changing. Am I growing and developing in ways that I am unrecognizable to those who only knew me in the past? I am pretty sure that in many ways that answer is yes. And that's a good thing. While that growth was often squeezed forcefully out of me as I was thrust into challenging situations, I am able to look back and see the good that came from bad situations. I am able to ponder and reflect on things from a different angle that I would not consider before.

When I look at old photos of myself, I suspect that the past-me would not recognize the current-me or even begin to comprehend how she could get to this point. But I guess that's what you get when you grow as you live your life.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Secondary infertility and PCOS

These are topics that have been on my mind a lot lately for various reasons. But I realized that some well-meaning folks may not know a lot about one or both of these topics, so I figured I would do a quick post as a sort of PSA for anyone who might stumble across my blog.

Secondary infertility is the inability to conceive once you have had a child before. This difficulty can come for many reasons. But just because someone has been able to get pregnant before does not mean that person will have an easy time getting pregnant again.

I learned during my own struggles that my mother had difficulty conceiving her first child, just like I did. She got pregnant after using Clomid, just like I did. And then, as far as I know, she didn't have any difficulty conceiving the rest of the clan.

I, on the other hand, have a 3-year-old daughter and occasional conversations with well-meaning folks who ask when we're going to have another child. Please, please, please reconsider before asking people this question. It really isn't anyone's business but the family's whether or not they will be adding to it. Sure, you're curious and you want to know the information, but it can hurt. After all, I've had one child, so I therefore should be able to have more, right? Forget the fact that it took several years to get pregnant and get past the first few weeks of pregnancy. Forget the fact that I had to be put on Progesterone after finally getting pregnant to keep from miscarrying again. Forget the fact that I ended up in the hospital at 9 weeks pregnant, closer to death than I realized, due to a blood clot that had broken off from my legs and traveled to my lungs, filling both with clots and making it impossible for my body to get enough oxygen. Forget the hospital stay and surgery and tests. Forget the fact that my entire pregnancy was full of injecting myself in the stomach two-- and eventually three-- times a day with blood thinner so I wouldn't die, as well as a ridiculous number of blood draws to test the blood thinner level in my blood and run tests. Forget my high number of doctor's visits due to my high risk pregnancy. Forget the 9 months of nausea and vomiting in addition to all that other fun stuff. Forget my terrible delivery experience after my terrible pregnancy experience to top things all off. Forget the late-onset postpartum depression I suffered and everything that came with that long-lasting nightmare. Forget whether or not I WANT to possibly go through any or all of that again. 

Forget all of that. Just know that the reason I'm not pregnant right now has nothing to do with not wanting another child. 

I am currently suffering from secondary infertility. 

Phew. Just saying that-- just putting that out there-- is scary and freeing and heartbreaking. It is the first time I have worded like that, even to myself, despite the fact I knew that was what was going on.

Just like before I was able to conceive Joy, I celebrate pregnancies and births with happiness for my friends. But just like before, they are each reminders of my body's current failures. Just like before, I answer well-meaning friends and acquaintances politely when they ask when/if we're going to have another child. But just like before, those questions stab me in the gut. 

My secondary infertility is a side effect of my PCOS. My PCOS was also a contributing factor to my infertility before. So, yes, in theory, if I can get it under control somehow, I may no longer be infertile. One of the best ways to treat PCOS is through weight loss. When you have PCOS, losing weight is extremely difficult. Gaining weight can happen very easily, though. When you have PCOS, your hormones are out of whack. When your hormones are out of whack, your body does not work as a well-functioning machine. 

Don't get me wrong. I am truly grateful for my family the way it is now. My daughter is what I call my miracle child. Being born after a loss, she is also my rainbow baby. I'm not sure if my family is complete now or not, but time will tell.

Be kind to people around you. We are all fighting our own battles. Some are more visible than others, but those that can't be seen aren't any less battles than those that can. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

So I guess I should write something...

I haven't updated my blog in forever. In part because I don't like to hear myself whine and in part because it's a lot easier to just write something in my private journal or on Facebook. But I know not everyone is on Facebook and that no one is able to read my private journal. So I finally decided during these moments of quiet to write something (Joy is sleeping and Joe is getting the oil changed in my car and picking up a few groceries).

"Well, what the heck is going on with you these days?" you might ask. A lot and a whole lot of nothing at the same time, likely.

Joe and I are knee deep in the job hunt game. Interview-wise, he is currently having more luck than I am. Random-job wise, he is also having more luck. I did help a friend clean out her fridge and she paid me 20 bucks for the hour-and-a-half it took me. I kept thinking how much I should probably do that with our own fridge. I also have another friend who introduced me to one of her co-workers who was looking for a cat sitter. I have watched said cats on a few different occasions now. The pay is pretty good. Other than that, I'm still delivering papers and selling Origami Owl ( if you're interested). But none of those things are long-term solutions. They were plans to help put a little extra money toward bills and savings and vacations back when Joe had a job. Now that he doesn't have a job, the money is being put toward bills, but there are many more bills than there is money to put toward it since his unemployment has now officially run out.

Yes, that leads me to the bulk of what has been on my mind since finding out the news. But to give a little background first. With the downturn of the economy, people and the government learned that 6 months of unemployment just wasn't enough for many people to help cover bills until they were back on their feet. Emergency funding was approved with an expiration date that extended the unemployment benefits. I'm not sure what the absolute longest is that someone could be on it, but when I was unemployed not-by-choice before getting pregnant, I was on it for a year before they took it away. And believe me, I was still looking for lots of jobs during that year! Most of my interviews were with staffing agencies to get me signed up with them. And most of them I never heard from after that. But I digress. When the expiration date for the emergency funding came, Congress approved an extension of benefits, as the economy was still in the crapper. This happened more than once since the funding was initially approved. And it just happened again. In the past, so I've heard, Congress has let the program expire before renewing it or changing it or whatever they did. I mean, why not? It's not like they have to worry how they're going to pay the bills and where they're going to sleep at night. And, so I've heard, those who lost the benefits were able to get back-pay of benefits. But I'm sure that time between was tough for them. I know it's tough for us.

And, of course, we don't KNOW that we will be eligible for any more unemployment. What gets me the most is that Joe spoke with someone in early or mid December to verify how long he would have unemployment benefits. He did this because we were starting to consider our "options." These options aren't exactly good for our financial health or my stress levels, but we wondered if we had reached the point where we should walk away from our house and move in with family until we could get back on our feet. You see, we are upside-down in our house by about 50K right now, so selling it isn't exactly an option. During the time Joe has been unemployed, our bills have exceeded the money we have had coming in by approximately $1000 a month. But we had savings and figured that if the money coming in and going out stayed consistent, we could last for about a year unemployed. So when Joe called the unemployment office and was told he'd have benefits for a year, we were relieved. Only that wasn't the case.

We are at a crossroads. We could borrow against our retirement savings because of this emergency, buying ourselves another couple months to live before being in terrible shape still and then being without options. Or we can move. Of course, Joe could also get a job, or I could get a job, or we both could get a job, and then we could stay here. But we only have so long before we cannot afford the bills anymore if that doesn't happen. And even if I get a job (which several people have been so kind as to send me job leads, but most are for jobs paying less than $13 an hour), unless it is by itself enough to pay the bills (spoiler alert: it won't be unless it pays approximately $5 an hour more than the most I've ever made at a job before), we would still be in this predicament. Joe can make enough, even if he takes a pay cut, to pay the bills and allow me to continue to be a stay at home mom. Washington state has one of the highest childcare costs in the nation to go along with its high cost of living. So there's that fun factor to take into account.

And here we are. Currently, we're playing a bit of a waiting game while still looking for jobs. We're waiting on Congress. We're waiting on this company Joe interviewed with before Christmas to let him know where he stands. We're waiting to hear back from other companies we've spent countless hours applying for jobs with. And while we wait, if time runs out, we need to start selling our belongings, packing, and walk away from the house.

But, in the meantime, we have received a lot of blessings at Christmastime. Family, friends, and strangers have shown us support in different ways. We are so grateful for and appreciative of that! We hope this next year is kinder to us, even though we aren't off to a good start yet!