Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Bother and a Nuisance

I often wonder if people get irritated with me when my infertility makes me emotional. I mean, it's happened frequently over the past eight years, and though it happens much more rarely these days, the people I turn to are still the same people I turned to in the past. They've heard it all before. They've witnessed the tears and the heartache. And most of them can't relate to it at all. So, do they find it grating and annoying after a while?

I know there are some who do. Granted, those are not the kind of people I typically share my feelings with. Even so, I've heard things like "You already have one kid, just stop complaining and be grateful," and "Stop worrying about it and maybe it will happen!" and "It's not that big of a deal. Just adopt."

These are not helpful comments. It seems that people who have never been in my position are more likely to invalidate my feelings. It's easier to dismiss people like me, and the pain we go through, than to try to understand how we feel.

And I get it. I know for a fact that I used to be much more draining to talk to when it came to this issue. And I've met women (online, especially) who are exhausting, because all their pain is worn on their sleeve. It's bare, like an open wound, and it can be uncomfortable to witness. Their pain is so raw. It's easier to distance yourself from it than to empathize. And those kind-hearted people who do try to empathize are not immune to how tiring it can be. That much anguish, heartache, and hopelessness has the power to drain anyone. And it's so nice to have a willing shoulder to cry on, that we probably abuse those generous people. I know I've been guilty of it in the past, especially in my darker days.

So I do wonder if I've overstayed my welcome when it comes to those people I lean on in times like these. I wonder if they hear the tears in my voice and think, "Oh no, here we go again..." I'm sure most of them are happy to listen to me and let me cry, because they love me, but even so. I can't help but feel like I might be a burden.

But here's the thing: this is such a hard trial to suffer through in silence. Most of the time, you live your life, and you get along okay. But then something happens, like your period being a week late. You're shocked when you realize it, because that's literally never happened before, except for that one time you were pregnant with your daughter. A day or two late, sure, but never more than that.

As a couple more days pass by, you can't help but start to hope. You picture surprising your family with the news when you go visit them at Christmas. You think about how you'll tell your daughter. You can't help but calculate your due date, and think about what kind of clothes you'll need during that time of year for your newborn.

And the whole time that's happening, you're telling yourself to STOP IT. "Don't get your hopes up, it's been more than eight years! What are the odds that you're actually pregnant? You're not pregnant. Stop thinking about it!!!"

But you can't help it. And you're acutely aware of every change in your body. Everything that your body does, you wonder if it's a sign. You're not sleeping well, because your mind is always going a million miles a minute. You're not focusing well, because your mind can't think about anything but 'what if?' Every time you consider taking a pregnancy test, the nervousness overwhelms you to the point where you feel sick, because every past negative pregnancy test has left a bleeding scar on your heart. You're a bundle of nervous energy, full of hope, trying not to hope, wanting to know, but terrified to find out, trying think about something else, anything else...

And you can't talk to anyone! Because if it's good news, you'll want to surprise them, and if it's yet another heartbreak, you don't want to burden them further.

So finally the wondering is just too much, and you're so sick of it that you break down and take a pregnancy test. While you're waiting for the results, you spend the entire time on your knees, praying to God that you'll be able to cope when it's negative. You pray that you won't fall to pieces again. You pray that maybe things will be different this time. You pray until you run out of words, and there's nothing left to do but check the test....

And it's negative.

And even though you've promised yourself that you're okay, and it's no big deal, and you're not going to cry... You break down and sob like you've literally lost a child. Because, in a way, you have. You've lost the future you've imagined with the child you've never known.

But most people don't understand. They can't relate. And they don't get why you have to be such a bummer about this stuff. After all, you already have one kid. And you're in the process of adopting! What's the big deal???

And I really have no way to properly explain it. All I can do is look for the people who are willing to offer a shoulder to cry on, and hope that I'm not draining them too much.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 26: The Big Finish

We made it! Today is Thanksgiving. We got through yet another November of me writing about things I'm grateful for. Has it gotten old yet?

Thank you to everyone who stuck it out and read these, even the boring ones. It's always nice to be able to share my thoughts and feelings with those who care about me. It makes me feel like I'm connecting with people, even if they're far away.

For today's grand finale, I'm going to list twenty-six things I'm grateful for, in no particular order. It's kind of like at a fireworks show when they start off with one or two beautiful fireworks at a time, then finish the whole thing by lighting up all the ones they have left and filling the sky. It's a bit chaotic, and more than a little noisy, but it gives one heckuva finish.

1 - I'm thankful to live in a country that has a holiday set aside to specifically celebrate gratitude, even if it's often lost in the rush to get to Christmas. I know we're not the only country that has a Thanksgiving, but most countries don't. And while gratitude should ideally be practiced year-round, it's nice to have an annual reminder to count our blessings.

2 - I'm thankful for my Facebook friends. All of them are also real-life friends and family, but the majority of them live too far away to visit very often (if ever). It's great that we can still keep in touch, and I appreciate the love and support I get from those friends.

3 - I'm grateful that our dinner today turned out so great! We just cooked a turkey breast, rather than a whole turkey, since it's just the three of us. I'd never done it before, so I was nervous, but the turkey was super delicious. And I don't even usually like turkey! And Evie peeled and mashed the potatoes, which were awesome. We also had green bean casserole, rolls, and stuffing. And I got it all onto the table at almost the same time! It was truly a feat never before seen in the Fifield home (ours, at least).

4 - I'm thankful for the relationship I have with my daughter. While we were cooking today, she was singing "fork, fork, fork, fork-fork..." to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat," while I was chiming in with rhythmic "fork, fork, forks," in the background. It was absurd and delightful, and went on for a much longer time than was necessary. But that's just how we roll. And I love it!

5 - I'm grateful I got to do silly gratitude napkins for Evie's school lunches this month. It was such a fun challenge, and I really got my creative juices flowing. Some of my favorites were, "I'm thankful that T-Rexes didn't have tiny hind legs like a wiener dog," "I'm grateful that pancakes aren't carnivorous," and "I'm thankful that I've never given a monkey reason to throw poo at me... yet."

6 - I'm grateful for Ben's arms. They're my favorite. I also appreciate his broad shoulders. And his face. And "[his] legs, and right where [his] legs meet [his] back. That - actually that whole area. That and... and above it." All of him, really.

7 - I'm thankful that we get to put up our Christmas decorations tomorrow! Yay!

8 - I'm thankful for warm pajamas and fuzzy socks. It doesn't get that cold here, but it's definitely cold enough to give me just cause to snuggle down in my warmest, comfiest clothing.

9 - I'm thankful for my musical ability. I love singing, and being able to accompany myself on the piano when I sing makes it that much better. Plus I'm able to put those talents to good use, anytime someone needs a pianist at church, or someone to sing for a ward party or sacrament meeting. And it's one of my great joys to be able to perform in musical theater from time to time, especially when I get to perform with my equally-musically-talented husband! My musical talents are a gift that I will be eternally grateful for.

10 - I'm grateful for Evie's teachers. She's had such wonderful teachers throughout her years of school, and I feel certain that the trend will continue.

11 - I'm also grateful for all the teachers I know outside of Evie's personal education experiences. I'm blessed to have several in my family, and many more among my friends. They're some of the best, most selfless people in the world, and they deserve so much more than they earn. Hopefully they're getting extra blessings from Heavenly Father to make up for it. I'm sure He's grateful that they take such loving care of so many of His children.

12 - I'm grateful for my own education. Without it, I doubt I would have such a passion for books. I'd have a much harder time dealing with our bills and budgets. I'd be a terrible scorekeeper when we play Farkle. I wouldn't be able to play a piano, or sing nearly as well as I do. I wouldn't know how to explain to Evie what "high blood pressure" is. I wouldn't have an appreciation for the things people have dealt with in the past, or been able to learn from their mistakes. I certainly wouldn't be writing this blog. Education is such a gift. Not that I'll ever be able to convince my daughter of that fact...

13 - I'm thankful for our Tivo. Take that, commercials! Ain't nobody got time for that!

14 - I'm thankful to be more than halfway done with this list!

15 - I'm grateful that Ben doesn't have to be gone nearly as much now as he did when we were at Dyess AFB. He was literally gone at least half the time we lived there. It was awful. I'm strong enough to handle things at home on my own when he can't be here, but that doesn't mean I like doing it. Having him home is vastly superior. 

16 - I'm thankful for chocolate. In the Harry Potter books, they use it to help students feel better when they're in shock. It totally makes sense to me. Why don't they stock chocolate in more doctor's offices and hospitals?

17 - I'm grateful that Evie enjoys hearing me read out loud. I love reading to her, and I love how excited she gets about the books. I mean, just look at her Fablehaven birthday party, and her Hermione Granger Halloween costume! It's awesome.

18 - I'm grateful for uplifting news stories that stand as evidence that the human race is a pretty decent lot. It makes me happy to see that not all the news on TV and the internet is bad these days. That kind of thing can really make you cynical. Paying attention to the positive stories, however, helps you realize that people aren't so bad after all. 

19 - I'm thankful for friends who are just as insane as me, and who are willing to prove it through crazy antics. They're the ones who not only support me when I'm doing something weird, they're jumping right in and doing that weird stuff with me. They make me laugh, and they're always there for me when I need a friend. They bring me incredible joy.
      Juleigh, basically. I'm thankful for Juleigh. She's the one friend that I've ever had with whom I felt I could truly, fully be myself. I miss her every single day. 

20 - I'm thankful for chocolate-peanut butter ice cream. 

21 - I'm grateful that I can look up fantastic recipes online anytime I wonder how to make something. It's all right there! One Google search, and I can find a plethora of recipes. So many options! Which, of course, means I can be picky about which one I choose. It's great!

22 - I'm grateful that I have a personal relationship with God. I know who I am, I know why I'm here, and I know that I have value. I know He loves me. I know He's personally involved in my life. I have so much peace and joy that comes from that knowledge. 

23 - I'm thankful for my body. It's not perfect according to the world's standards, but I've realized lately that I'm perfectly okay with that. As long as I'm taking care of it (which I am), it's perfect enough. I'm happy with who I am and how I look. I'm comfortable in my own skin. That hasn't always been the case, and I'm so grateful that I finally can appreciate it for the miraculous gift it is.             My husband thinks it's pretty great, too. And if I like it, and he likes it, who else do I really need to impress???

24 - I'm thankful to have a plethora of extended family members and in-laws! I know that I will never be without family, and that Ben and Evie won't, either. No matter what happens to me, or to Ben, or to Evie, we will always have a loving support system to help us get through anything. That is such a gift. 

25 - I'm grateful to be an American. I've been to several foreign countries, and I have to say, this is absolutely the best country in the world. It's far from perfect, but we have so much more freedom and privilege than other places. Most of us don't even realize how completely blessed we are. Take my word for it - we are crazy lucky to be Americans. 

26 - I'm thankful that I'm more and more able to have an attitude of gratitude in everyday life! It takes effort, and practice, but it's something I'm learning. And I think I'm getting better at it. It's certainly helped me to see the world, and my life, in a more positive light. There's so much beauty all around us, if only we're willing to look for it. 

That's it for my gratitude posts for this year. But like Ah-nold, "I'll be back!"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 25: Isn't It About... Time?

Sharp, but not sneaky.
I got to spend a shocking amount of good quality time with my family today.

I say, "shocking," because normally Ben would sleep throughout most of the day. Today, though, he only slept a few hours before waking up to deal with schedules and arrangements so he can be in Forever Plaid. The director said there are a few more things to finalize and work out before they can commit to moving forward with the show, but once they work all that out, Ben has a part waiting for him.

So Ben didn't get much sleep today, but he was in an exceptionally good mood because of the upcoming chance to perform again (which I totally understand - it's like a drug! It's euphoric!), And Evie and I were here pretty much all day, playing video games and hanging out, so once Ben was done napping, we all got to do stuff together.

I wonder which
expansion this is from?
We played some Paper Mario, then watched a couple of superhero TV shows (because we're nerdy like that). Then we played a few rounds of Munchkin. It was Evie's first ever time playing, but we figured she's old enough now. And sure enough, she won the second game! Granted, I let her win, just a little, by not throwing everything I had at her to prevent it. But it was either her or Ben, because he was also one monster away from winning, so my parental instincts sided with Evie.

By the time we were done playing together, it was time for Evie to shower and get to bed. We played the whole day away. It was awesome.

That's my favorite thing, and my strongest love language: spending quality time with the people I love. Nothing makes me happier.

It was the perfect way to spend the day before Thanksgiving. :)

Admit it - you're intrigued!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 24: The Best Medicine

Today, I'm thankful for all the people in my life who make me laugh so hard that I risk shooting liquids out of my nose.

You know who you are.

Here are some of the people (and pictures) that make me laugh every time I see them:

If laughter is the best medicine, I may just live forever. :)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 23: Vivid Hallucinations

This meme has been making the rounds lately, and I find it utterly delightful. 

I always knew I was probably crazy. And I've always loved reading. So it sounds about right that this hobby of mine involves intense, hours-long hallucinations that make me laugh, cry, and wish I could live in a fictional universe. 

Some teenage girls daydream about boy bands and handsome movie stars. I had crushes on literary characters.

I still do, actually. Peeta Mellark, if he were a real person, could potentially steal me away from Ben. (The book version, of course, not the movie one.) Luckily for Ben, Peeta is a fictional character.

Lucky for Ben, sad for all the ladies in the world whose hearts Peeta has stolen.

My favorite books typically fall into the fantasy genre. I've read and enjoyed epic fantasy, modern fantasy, dystopian fantasy, sci-fi/fantasy blends, reimagined fairy tales, satirical fantasy, young adult and children's fantasy, etc. Pretty much all of the above.

The only thing I don't like is when books are really graphically violent, profane, or x-rated. In other words, I tried Game of Thrones, and I loathed it. It was way too dark. Hallucinating that world was like living a nightmare.


Books like that are not on my reading list. But I love everything by Brandon Mull, Terry Pratchett, Marissa Meyer, Sarah J. Maas, Brandon Sanderson, Suzanne Collins (her Gregor series is lighter and more fun than Hunger Games, but just as gripping), Kiera Cass, Orson Scott Card... I could seriously go on and on. But I'll stop, because that would get boring real quick.

There are some non-fantasy books I enjoy as well. I loved Nancy Drew when I was growing up. There were several classics I read in school that I really liked. And, in college, I went through a thriller/suspense era where I mostly read Dean Koontz and a little bit of Stephen King.

But for the past ten years or so, I've become more and more genre-specific. I love worlds full of magic, crazy technology, weird rules, and battles of good vs. evil. I love it when an author can create a reality that I've never dreamed of before, and get me invested in the characters. I feel like it opens my mind to ideas I'd never have otherwise known.

And the hallucinations in my head are always so much better than anything Hollywood can come up with. That's not to say that I don't enjoy movies based on books - provided they're done right. But they never live up to the fantasy.

I will, however, be seeing Mockingjay Part 2 as soon as I possibly can. Those movies have, thankfully, been very true to the books - although Josh Hutcherson will never live up to the Peeta in my mind. ;)

I'm grateful for books, and for all the inspired people who write them! They truly have a gift.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 22: God Rest Ye, Merry Cassandra

Sundays can be pretty exhausting. I love my calling, but there are always extra meetings happening either before or after church. Then there's choir, and while I would like to use my meetings as an excuse to not be in the choir (because they really do take up a chunk of my Sunday), our ward choir is so tiny. They really need all the help they can get. And it's fairly easy for me to pick up the songs. Ergo, I attend choir.

That means that some Sundays have me at church for about six hours.

Today was not one of those days, thankfully, but I did have to go to a rehearsal for a couple of hours after church. And in the few hours that Evie and I were home, we had to hide upstairs so as not to wake Ben. Keeping Evie, the dog, and myself quiet while Ben sleeps is draining in its own way.

By the time we got home from rehearsal, it was dinner time, and I was completely disinclined to cook anything. I was way too tired. Lucky for me, my family was willing to settle for grilled cheese and tomato soup.

I can always count on them to try to make my life easier. I'm very grateful for that.

But today what I'm especially grateful for is that Evie doesn't have school this week! We still have things to do, and we'll still need to keep extra quiet while Ben is sleeping during the day, BUT, I can sleep in every morning if I like!

Well, except Wednesday, when Evie has a doctor's appointment.

But otherwise, I don't have to set an alarm. And things have been so busy lately that I've definitely been lacking in the sleep department. It's going to feel amazing to sleep in.

Granted, for me, sleeping in means getting up at 8 instead of 6:30. But it still sounds absolutely fantastic.

Thank you, local school district, for giving the kids the whole week off! My tired brain and I salute you!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Thanksgiving Countdown, Day 21: Parental Entities

I considered entitling this post, "The 'Rents are Due," as in "my parents are due for a shout-out," but I wasn't sure anyone would get it. So I went with "Parental Entities" instead, because it's fun to say.

I'll wait a minute while you try it out. Really enunciate those t's for proper effect.

Fun, right?
Me with my moste excellente parents on my wedding day!

So, today Ben and I did our first six-hour foster certification training. It was a beast. Six hours of any topic is pretty brutal, and with Ben at the end of his already long day (since he's working the night shift these days), he was exhausted. Which made him act cranky. Which came across as kind of rude. Which meant that I had to compensate by being unfailingly cheerful, even though I wanted to give Ben a look. 

Anyway, it was a long day. But well worth it if it helps us adopt our kiddos!

The thing I really realized from the class today was this: my parents are awesome. Ben's parents are also awesome. We've been seriously blessed in the parental department. And I stopped to recognize that today especially, because all the kids we heard about in our six-hour class all had parents at the far opposite end of the spectrum. That's why they're in foster care. That's why the parental rights of the birth parents are being terminated. These are some seriously terrible human beings, who have caused their innocent children unimaginable pain and suffering.

Ben's amazing parents with little Evie!
It's one of those things that makes it even harder when I think about my infertility. We're good people, and good parents, but we can't seem to have more children to save our lives. But people who use their children as ash trays, punching bags, and any other number of horrible things are perfectly fertile.

It really makes you realize how unfair life can be.

But, that being said, we have an opportunity now to save a couple of those anguished children, and bring them into a home where they'll be safe and loved. It's such a blessing. We have the chance to be the kind of parents these kids - heck, all the kids! - deserve.

We have the chance to be for them what our parents were for us. We get to be teachers, healers, therapists, nurses, chauffeurs, cooks, guidance counselors, companions, friends... good parents.

World's greatest parental entities
My parents were all of those things for me. And Ben's were for him. It's kind of funny, because when we compare notes from our childhoods, we had very different upbringings. Our parents' styles were definitely not the same. But we both knew we were loved. We knew our parents cared about us, and our thoughts, dreams, and achievements. We knew they wanted us to succeed. And we knew they wanted, more than anything, for us to be happy.

That's really the key to being a good parent. Love your kids, and help them grow up to become the best versions of themselves. Yes, that generally means laying down rules, giving your kids chores, teaching them responsibility. It's not mean to teach your children to work. It's a good thing to teach them humility, and help them learn to apologize. It's important to teach your kids that actions have consequences. It's necessary that they learn to be empathetic and kind, if they're truly to become their best selves.

Ben with his parents at his pilot training graduation dinner
Raising kids isn't easy. They're a lot of work, and we have such a responsibility to do a good job. You have to watch everything you say and do, to make sure that you're giving them the best example possible. You need to be aware of how your words and actions will be interpreted. You have to give your kids room to develop their own personalities, and to learn who they are, while still giving them structure.

I could go on and on. It's a tough job, being a parent. Sometimes you really begin to understand why some animals eat their own young... But then your kids give you a hug, or do one of those great laughs that only tiny kids are capable of, or say, "I love you." And you remember why it's so worth it.

Ben and I have had wonderful examples in our own parents. They really helped us see the best way to raise our own children. They raised us with so much love, patience, and kindness. We were both so incredibly blessed to have such fantastic parents.

Thank you, Mom(s) and Dad(s), for helping us be our best. I hope we can do our own kids as much good as you all did for us. :)

Also: fantastic grandparents!