Saturday, August 8, 2015

Hey girl, you should totally get that yarn ball tattoo...

...says that Ryan Reynolds meme.

So I did. Finally.

taking a picture of my wrist was awkward

My tattoo artist was a former marine who also knits, he had a girlfriend who crocheted, so he learned to knit. He said it was very relaxing, I don't think you get much more stressed out than being a freakin' marine, so it just speaks to the power of knitting. 

"Breathe" isn't very original as a tattoo, but it really resonates with me. One of the biggest take aways from my OCD and panic disorder therapy has been the breathing. It's not really a secret, just breathing to help stop the vasovagal freakout that makes me dizzy, clammy, stomach crampy, and shaky.
Breathing is also part of my yoga practice, which is still very beginner, but the breath is so important.

And then there is the advice they give you on planes in case of disaster: put your own oxygen mask on first. And a large part of me getting on the path to wellness was the equivalent of putting on my mask. Putting myself first. Taking care of me while other things were a disaster. Taking care of me because I am worth it. Because I am not a failure. Because it is important.

The sparrow is for remembrance.

And I had the whole thing done to face me. These are reminders for me.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


This seems like more of a post for here, my mental health and OCD figure into it all.

Last month the stars, the hormones, the fertility drugs, and  my ovaries all aligned and we found out we were finally pregnant. We were going on our eighteenth month of trying with timed intercourse, dipping sticks in pee, checking, counting, and the utter hell and heartbreak of infertility. If you've ever seen a movie or tv thing about a woman trying to get pregnant, it's much closer to the truth than I ever imagined. We lose our goddamn minds with it.

I have been stranded on the toilet sobbing too hard to even stand up and pull my pants up at least once a month during this time. Or waylaid by a woman who walks through the waiting room with a newborn. Utterly shattered by the toddler in the grocery cart near me who is playing peek-a-boo. I have have been so sure that it was our month so many times. It never was.

And then, there it was, two lines on a test. Two lines on a dozen tests. Five digital tests saying it was true.  Then a quantitative HCG blood test. And then another. And yet another. And yep, I was knocked up for real. Everything was doubling in 48-ish hours. We set up my dating scan for mid-July. We spent that weekend being giddy and cuddling and randomly saying things like "Oh my god, we made a baby. Well, right now it's a blastocyst. We made a blastocyst!" It was the first Father's Day that I acknowledged since 1984.
It was us and the poppyseed.

The next week we just let it soak in. I can't say I felt sick or tired or anything yet. Things smelled different all of a sudden. Mostly I felt gassy. I wasn't but I just felt bloated. And then I felt some little stretchy things, it didn't feel like anything else. Just like little stretchy kind of sparky twinges. And warmth. I was HOT. my body temperature was up over 99 degrees for three weeks.

And we started to accept that this was really happening and we were nearly 6 weeks along and getting closer to that ultrasound every day. That ultrasound where we would see a heartbeat and could relax.

And then it stopped happening. I started bleeding. The doctor's office told me to hang in there and just take it easy and remember to breathe. The next day it seemed to stop for a while. And then it was back and painful. It was obviously not going to be OK and the repro med center wanted me to come in that afternoon.

The ultrasound showed no gestational sac in my uterus. The remnants of one were near my left ovary, it was reabsorbing, there was no more evidence of the poppyseed, which should have been a sesame seed by then. I know it's the best possible outcome for an ectopic, my body was clearing it out. It was so efficient that my right ovary was already working on the new follicles.

I wasn't pregnant anymore. I wanted to make everyone in the room just stop and let me take it in. I kept thinking they can't tell me this, we want this so much, we have done absolutely everything possible to get here. How can they break my heart before I have even been allowed to put my underpants back on? While my doctor was telling me to go to the main hospital lab I was just hoping I wasn't bleeding all over the floor. Because the cramping was getting worse by the moment.

We left and I had to sit down in the lobby. I couldn't breathe. It all hit me so hard that it just took my breath away. Emergency blood work at the main lab confirmed that my HCG had dropped by a huge amount, and two days later it was down in the definitely not pregnant range. And for the next few days I would randomly fall apart crying while my body was working on tidying up, it was painful and upsetting. I really hadn't thought of miscarriage as a process more than an event. It took several days to be complete.

And then I was OK and carrying on. We got the go-ahead to try again as soon as we wanted. And through whatever fuckery that governs my endocrine system, I was gearing up to pop out an egg on my own so, we once again gave it our best shot. And I did ovulate and even early. So we waited.

And we didn't catch it.

And it was somehow harder to accept this failure. I don't know why, it just made it all so much more real.
So it's a new cycle, and this time medicated. And at seven days into it, it could be the fertility drugs talking, but it hurts. I feel like a raw nerve. I cry. I cry so hard I can't breathe. When I'm not crying my throat hurts from swallowing the tears. My ovaries are feeling warm and heavy from the pills. I am trying to feel positive. I am trying to accept it all.

But I just want to scream that it's not fair. That this hurts too much. That I can't do this again. Except that we aren't ready to give up yet, we can't not do this.

And so we move ahead and I am focusing on my bans*, I am doing a leaner version of fertility charting, I am not checking and double checking or triple checking every symptom. I'm still going out. I am letting people in. I am feeling my emotions and handling them in appropriate ways.

It's the hardest thing I have ever had to do. June 29th was absolutely the shittiest day of my life so far.
I think that February 24th will be the second shittiest. It's the day after my birthday.
It would have been my due date.

* my bans are my banned behaviors, things I am not supposed to do. It's part of cognitive behavioral therapy. Negative self talk and OCD information seeking are my superpowers. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

No worries at all?

I have been working on my yoga practice to help manage anxiety and all sorts of things. And as part of that I have been working on meditation as well. I have used some guided meditations and recently bought a package from Circle and Bloom that specifically focuses on PCOS and fertility and cycles.

I was listening to today's segment and after some typical relaxation routines, she says to focus on when I was "ten years old and had no worries at all. "

And that kind of stopped me cold and all day long it's been running through my head. Because my life was being turned upside down and shaken when I was ten years old. My mom packed us up and moved us out, they were going to get a divorce, my dad just...unraveled, there were horrible, terrible fights where I was basically sobbing hysterically and begging them to stop yelling. They ignored me until my mother would tell my dad to look at me and see if this is what he wanted. To do this to his daughter.  Again. Neither one was willing to stop fighting until I could be the weapon to use against the other: "Look what you're doing to Annie!"

And then he was dead and I blamed myself for it, we moved back to our house and I felt like I had to take care of everyone. Someone had to take care of us.

I can't actually think of any age where I had no worries at all. My mother once tod me a story about how I was such a good baby. On Saturday mornings she did the big housecleaning for the week, and to keep me busy, he'd give me the old TV guide in my crib. And I would rip every single page into strips while she worked. My OCD therapist was quite intrigued at that.

One of my earliest memories is hiding with my mother and infant sister in the way back of this storage closet because we were hiding from my father. He was drunk and spoiling for a fight and we had to hide until he passed out. I would have been two.

When I was five, he said goodbye to us so he could go get help. He did inpatient alcohol detox at Hazelden. I think he was gone for a few weeks. I don't know if he completed rehab or not, but he was sober when he came home and AA was his religion for a long time.

He wasn't drinking, but he was still always up for a fight. Late at night they would argue and one night a large vase was thrown by one of them. Another night it was the phone, a heavy late 70's rotary dial phone. One night they came to check on me while I was asleep and got into a shoving match when they both tried to peek in the door at the same time. I pretended to be asleep.

When my mom would go out for her sorority meeting, he would seethe and get worked up that she wasn't there and would imagine all the ways that she was betraying him until he took it out on us. More than once he would come into my room and wake me up to make me clean it. If it was already kind of clean? He would just walk along the shelf with his arm out and knock everything to the floor.
I was in first grade being kept up on school nights just so he could poke at her, to try and make her stay home.

There was a lull for a couple years, we put on a good face. Then in third grade, things began to veer off the rails just a little bit. I can't remember if there was a triggering event, or if my brain was just already wired for worst case scenarios, but something happened in third grade, I was suddenly too scared to go to school. I could not handle it. I didn't like my teacher at all, but I think it was something at home. I would fight going every morning, looking back I recognize that I was having full on panic attacks. And then resulted to gagging myself until I vomited every morning to get to stay home. And I would take super hot baths and stay in the tub as long as I possibly could, I was probably the cleanest third grader in the world, I don't know if I felt safe in the water or if it was part of my contamination phobia/OCD. It went on for a few weeks. Until they brought me to school and my father had to carry me to my classroom and practically put me in my desk in front of everyone.
And then I had to talk to a nice lady named Karen every few weeks at school. The social worker.
And I would have been nine.

Sometime that summer I found his handgun. And I put it back because I was scared of being caught. But I was also scared that he might kill us with it. And then the next winter we moved out and he was dead by spring. Thirty-one years ago this weekend, actually.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Sew and sew

Since I have this fancy sewing room, I am using it.

I dug out a quilt top I made forever ago, and promptly screwed it up when I tried to put a binding on it.

So, I need to practice binding, so I made some runners. One of them....I had to cut the binding off and now it's an oddly thin scrappy runner with a terrible binding. Then I made another one from scraps and if you don't look closely, it's not as horrible. And I got to practice making strips and joining them to make a scrappy binding, which I think is actually pretty cute.

And then today I was feeling all kinds of sorry for myself and sad. But I figured out what this really pretty pre-quilted fabric I bought a while ago wanted to be.  A cute bag with pleats. So I gathered together some options and then looked all over the interwebs for a pattern that I liked.

I didn't see any I loved, so I decided to cobble together my own thing.

And then put it all together wrong.

Oops. The lining was inside out when I turned it. I had to rip.

And then I screwed up the lining again when I went to tack it down and I will have to fix it. But I can fix it tomorrow instead of tonight.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

An all new craft cave

So, the painting and sprucing took a while, but I am pretty happy with how it all came out. I still need to find a cover for the existing ceiling light, or get  new light if it's not a standard size. The identical one in our bedroom exploded a couple summers ago, raining broken glass all over the entire room. So we took this one down in case it was a flaw in the glass. And then we didn't use this room for anything but storage so we never got around to getting a new cover. So it's a bare bulb for now, which is not cute at all.

My sign was getting all creased by staying rolled up,
I figured might as well hang it up.

I have so much fabric! My personal stash is in the closet.
This is all AP stuff.

My yarns, let me show you them.
And my beading supplies.
Looking into the room.The floor came out so well, I
loooooove it. And I have one trash can for trash, and one for
fabric scraps to be used somehow. Eventually.

Because lights are fun.

I had a small math fail and the curtains aren't as full as they should be.
But I love them anyway. They are fully lined.
And now the neighbor's living room won't be on full view when I am working.

ZIPPERS. Most of them. And my dishtowels that need to be ironed.
Why the fuck did I buy dishtowels that need to be ironed? Seriously.
My ironing board cover is gross, I know.
It's just water, Mary Ellen's Best Press spray, and scorch marks.
Mostly scorching.

It's a giant button that's a tin.
How could I not have it?

It will never be this clean again. The curtains fabric was how I picked the pain colors and the blue table is on it's third or fourth coat of paint. it has been white, red, cream, and now dark turquoise. The shelves are all closet cubes from target and I move them around like big ass Tetris pieces to fit whatever space I use or when I get bored. The floor is chalk paint with two coats of satin polyurethane.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I can't adult

Today has been a total shit show.

I had a thyroid check 5 weeks ago, after we increased my meds from January. It wasn't cooperating fast enough, so we bumped up the dose of thyroid hormone. I had a recheck yesterday, and it is worse than before. We have to increase my dose again. The theory is that getting my prolactin down, has allowed my estrogen to rise and therefor my thyroid is further out of whack. And fertility drugs can also screw it up.

Needless to say, the whole hormonal cascade of my cycle is 17 flavors of fucked up, shitty ovulation, short luteal phase, freaky barely happening period and on and on and on.

Also, I am tired all the time. I want a nap about two hours after I wake up. My bones ache. My hips hurt no matter how I sit, stand, or lay. My hands ache. My hair is falling out again. I hardly ever feel warm, even laying in bed on flannel sheets next to my space heater of a husband underneath two comforters. Wearing a sweater over my jammies.

I'm pretty sure I'm never going to get knocked up. I don't know how to pick up all the pieces of my heart. I don't know how to let myself hurt this much. I've worked so hard to learn how to have feelings again and now I don't know how to make it stop.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Time for more painting.

I am moving my sewing/work room downstairs to what I hoped would be a nursery. We will start painting it this weekend. We aren't giving up. But we are being realistic. I need to do something aside from just housewifing to help with the constant stream of my brain telling me how much I fail. It's too hot up there to sew much in the summer. Mr. Freak Flag has been pushing for this and I have resisted because it felt like I was giving up. But it's not. I can easily repaint if we have a baby.

I may sign up for a few shows to sell, a maker market and a green market.  There are some handmade boutiques around town, too. I could consign. I don't know. It's something. I feel better when I am designing and sewing. I need to have something already going so if/when we call it quits in a year I won't have a complete come-apart.

This last cycle was fucking hell with the fertility drugs and I failed again. It wasn't timing, it's me. I'm going to wait a cycle or two to reap the benefits of the kickstarted cascade of hormones and then back with the meds. I get two more cycles this way and then we have to discuss more or considering IUI. It's super expensive and it would be our very last hope.

 IVF will never be an option unless we won the fucking lottery and used donor eggs and a surrogate.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday

I took this picture while The Man parked the car after dropping me by the door of my therapist's office. As of yesterday, it has been two years since I started some pretty intense therapy. He had to drive me to that first appointment. He had to shake my therapist's hand because I didn't touch people. Ever. Not even my husband by that time. He had to sit in the room with me for the first few sessions. I loved those shoes because they had little umbrellas on them, like panic disorder was an umbrella keeping me safe from everything in the world that scared me.

He had to drive me for the first few months until I renewed my license.  He had to learn to watch me fuck up and not try to fix it. It was hard. We started seeing a therapist together to help us create new patterns, or as she put it, for me to stop inflicting my OCD on The Man. Which is accurate. I needed to stop treating him like a child and he had to stop taking care of me to such an extent that it was enabling me.

Some things came up that weren't things my behavioral therapist could tackle, they were traumatic and trauma has to be handled more carefully. For vomiting I had to watch that horrific food poisoning scene in Bridesmaids hundreds of times. Watch it until I felt no panic at all, over and over. By the end I could watch them all vomit and shit themselves and eat dinner at the same time.

You can't do that for sexual assault, so it meant a third therapist who does PTSD and trauma work. It meant poking at things and having flashbacks. It meant learning how to pull myself back into the moment when I would begin to dissociate. It meant being vulnerable. It meant feeling pain, a lot of pain. So much pain that I had built my whole life around not feeling it. I won't lie, it fucking sucked. And I am so angry sometimes, so very angry.

Last January, I was discharged from my behavioral therapist and left to staying responsible for my OCD and panic on my own. This month with my other therapist we have started to discuss wrapping up, maybe having her be on call instead of scheduling monthly sessions. Or scheduling them and I can call and say I think I am OK for the moment. Or say that I am not OK for the moment.

We will still be touching base with the marriage therapist on a semi-regular basis as we move forward with trying to build a family. We need the support and feedback, this is so much harder than anything else we have tried to do.

So that's where we are two years later. I don't have the shoes anymore, I don't walk around with an invisible umbrella anymore, either. It means getting messy when life happens.  Sometimes my feelings get hurt. Sometimes they get hurt a lot. And I can say so. And I may even cry. And it's OK.

Friday, March 6, 2015

this week in adulting

I took another round of fertility drugs from Saturday to Wednesday. I have pretty much been bursting into tears at the drop of a hat since Tuesday, full on sobbing. Uncontrollably. Usually til my nose bleeds. And my ovaries occasionally hurt like little burning motherfuckers.

 I filed the taxes that I completed last week.

 I went to therapy with my PTSD/trauma therapist on Tuesday and after about 18 months of hard work we will begin to wrap things up this spring and move forward on a more “on call” basis.

 But I had to call my behavioral therapist for the first time since January 2014, for a check-up. I didn’t want to have to do that. I want to think I am handling all of this just fine. I can take it. But at knit night on Wednesday my hands started bleeding in several places. Because I wash them too much. Because I’m not handling all of this just fine.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Driven to Distraction

So in my last therapy appointment we were discussing this big thing that I am working on. But that while I can influence it in some ways, I cannot completely control it. Which is crazymaking. Because I want to control the hell out of it. But she asked how often I think about it. Duh. Always. Which is not great, because it's putting me back in that old pattern. And it's setting me up for so much disappointment. So I need to learn how to distract myself. Which is different than avoiding, and avoiding is one of my banned behaviors. This is hard for me. It's my nature to well, obsess. So, I am trying to work on distracting. And I have decided to learn how to make amazing croissants as a project. Go big or go home. So far I know how to make shitty lumps that taste like croissants and have the texture of spongy bricks.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Cow Catchers Story

I've thought about my Uncle Kenny a lot this week, wishing peace for all my family at this sad time. This morning I remembered a story from when I was 16 or 17.
So, I got off to a rocky start with driving. I had one wreck in a winter storm and then another probably from being a dumbass, they were not major, but still. Needless to say, no one in my house was thrilled about that, and my use of the car was very restricted for a while. I came home from school one day and Kenny had been in the Chicago area on business or something and had stopped by. So he was in the kitchen having coffee with my mom and possibly commiserating over having a teenage driver.
I probably asked why he was there or something, but he said he was there to measure the car. Who knew more about cars and customizing? No one. So I asked why he was measuring it.
He said that he was going to be putting some safety equipment on the car, because the insurance company was going to require it. This is where I started to worry. My mom wasn't saying anything at all. So he explained what he was going to do. To keep their policy, the insurance was going to require that the Pontiac be fitted with....cow catchers. Like the front of a train. To keep me from cracking up any more of the car.
Both of them kept a perfectly straight face. I remember just feeling sick to my stomach and asking what, exactly, cow catchers were. So he explained how they got the cows off the tracks. And because they had to be custom made for the car, he had to make the trip in person. Both of them STILL had perfectly straight faces. At first I knew it had to be a joke. But they didn't crack and had all kinds of reasons for it that sounded legit. I was mortified. He went into detail about how they would look, telling me my mom had already picked the color to go with the silver paint on the car, they said she picked bright orange. There was more but I was freaking out.
I told my mom to just take away my license. That I would just give it up until I was 18. Take me off the insurance. Do whatever we had to do to not put cow catchers on the front of the car. I was begging them for any other possible way to appease the insurance while not ruining my life.
Which is when he cracked and I looked at my mom and knew they were totally kidding. I'd like to say then we all had a god laugh, but I was a teenager and super embarrassed, so I probably rolled my eyes and sulked while they had a good laugh

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Not proud of myself.

I am feeling vulnerable and sad. Which means that instead of telling my husband, I just yell at him. Because if I let him know how sad I am, then he will be sad. And I don't want to deal with anyone else's shit right now.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Grief Work

This blog has been woefully neglected while I mainly blog about the emptiness and failure of my uterus, but this doesn't really fit there. And it's not really knitting, either.

I'm sad. Which isn't really accurate enough. I am profoundly sad. I am "my heart breaks a dozen times a day" sad. I am learning how to be sad and letting it suck in the entirety of suckfullness.

Which feels like losing ground, but really, it's not. It is learning how to feel my emotions as they occur, not forcing them away and alphabetizing my soup cans. And I hate it. I hate every second of it. I feel weak. Worse than weak, I feel vulnerable and oh my god, there is nothing I loathe more than feeling vulnerable.

So, the reason? My grandma died. That actually happened in 2002. But I just shut down that whole process until December of 2014. Because in order to deal with grief, I had to first deal with my anger at my mother. And that was just something I wasn't able to do.

Just before Christmas in 2001, my mother let me know that it might be the last time to spend time with my grandmother. We were planning to travel to see her.

Then my husband's grandmother died. It was nearly 2 years to the day after his grandfather had passed away after a sudden and horrible stroke where really important parts of his brain died instantly, but his body was slower to catch on. My husband is an only child. His father is an only child. His mother had a brother, but she may as well have been an only. His grandmother had been sick with lung cancer for months, she insisted it was just a bad cold. So to her, she had a very bad cold for six months and had home hospice for several of those months. When she passed away it was the last of my husband's grandparents. It was right before my mother and father in law's anniversary and right before Christmas. The funeral was just the five of us in a mausoleum chapel and then some crappy restaurant for lunch where horrible Christmas music was playing. Seriously, there was some German techno thing that was just beyond ridiculous.

So, when my mother called me two months later and told me that it looked like the end was coming, I made plans to go with her to be there. She was going to call us and we would meet at her house and then drive down together.  My husband and I packed our bags and basically waited for her call. I tried to reach her for several days to get updates. After several days my stepfather answered the phone at their house. He was surprised, he thought I was with my mother. She had been gone for several days. In fact, my grandmother was gone.
I had no idea.
He must have reached her fairly quickly, because she called shortly to say she had meant to let me know, but she just could not get cell phone reception. So she didn't call to tell me that she left, and she didn't call to tell me that she was gone. She just....didn't.

How do you even deal with something like that? The hurt and the anger were completely overwhelming. And the grief. I couldn't deal with all of it. I had to just shut it all down to get through it without just screaming at my mother. So I never dealt with it, just put it all away in a corner of my brain. And then in December, we unpacked that box. And I have felt like a raw nerve for the past 5 weeks. I alternate between sadness and anger ad just feeling so....angry. And also still hurt by my mother's behavior.

There are so many times where I rationalized and excused her behavior. This time, I could not. It was damage that I wasn't dealing with, but at the same time I could not ignore. It was really the beginning of me extricating myself from our relationship.