Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Trial Period of Motherhood

So the end of my summer came to an abrupt halt about two and a half weeks before I actually had to be back at work.

Let me backtrack. I started a rescue group in the summer of 2013 after cutting ties with the one I had previous been working with (long and very boring story if you weren't involved). I have been volunteering and fostering cats since 2011.

I was working an adoption event when a lady came in with three precious little baby kittens she found in a tire behind her husband's shop. They were barely three weeks old. She begged us to take them. No one else had room and against my better judgement I said yes. I had taken in a three weeker a couple years ago and after doing everything that I could, she got sick and died and I swore I'd never do it again. Hah. Best laid plans. But oh my god. How could I say no?
So I took these babies home and spent the last 14 days of my summer vacation waking up every 3 hours to feed them. It was in the middle of being covered in kitten formula, exhausted from only getting about 1.5-2hrs of sleep at a time since it took almost an hour to feed them that I realized this was a pretty good trial run of motherhood. Did my house turn into a pig sty in about 3 or 4 days? Yep. Who has time to put things where they go? Did I wear the same clothes for at least two days? Oh yeah. Laundry? Shower? Psssh. Did I wish I was sleeping every time I marched to the kitchen to start mixing formula? HELL YES. But when I finally was released from the anger haze that is know as the first 5-10 minutes after you wake up, I was so excited to see these sweet faces. I seriously texted my coordinator when they used the bathroom on their own for the first time because well, they don't do that naturally. You have to make them go by rubbing their little rear ends with a warm rag. Seriously. 

It gave me a great sense of confidence that once that time comes, I will survive on little sleep, a dirty house and being covered in formula, medicine, food and bodily fluids. 

Where are they now?
Unfortunately with baby kittens, they are very fragile away from their moms. Generally speaking they need to get to the 6 week mark before they are out of the woods. Tiger Lily, the sweet baby girl in the middle passed away at 5w2d. It was a freak accident. It was the first day of school and I had one of my friends over to check on them. They had just started eating food on their own the day before so I didn't tell her not to worry about bottle feeding them anymore. When she went to feed Tiger Lily, she bit off the tip of the nipple and swallowed it. I was told to wait and see if it passed in the next couple days and monitor her temp. She was fine until Thursday when she started vomiting. The nipple became stuck in her intestines and they had to operate to try and remove it. She made it through surgery but since she weighed barely a pound they did not have a tube that fit in her throat for surgery and she ended up vomiting and aspirating it into her lungs. She died early the next morning. I was heartbroken. She was so healthy and I had done everything right but this freak accident took her from me. It still stings. 

The two other girls went on to be healthy little holy terrors. Being hand raised makes them a special kind of spoiled and boy did they know it. They were adopted together by my assistant principal at school. Such a happy ending for them :)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Head vs. Heart

How can you want something so much and also be so unsure of it all in the same breath?

My whole life all I've ever wanted to be was a mom. It makes my heart sing when I think about holding my own child in my arms and ache when I think it may not happen.

Then I also have this voice in my head telling me I'm selfish. I'm doing this for the wrong reasons. I will never be able to give the life that my child deserves. I'm not fit to raise a child. 

Then I think there are millions of people in this world who have gotten pregnant from one night stands or by boyfriends who then bail and what makes them deserve parenthood more than me?

I've always been a very sensitive, introspective and logical person. But this dream of mine is challenging me in ways I never thought possible. Logic is my normal go-to guy. Analyze the situation, determine what action makes sense. Done. But not here. My heart has lead this charge since day one so I am riddled with emotions and unable to use logic to steady myself. Instead logic seems to be my enemy here. Or is it the societal and family norms that have brainwashed me? Both?

My biggest hurdle as I continue to pursue this dream of mine is allowing myself permission to want what I want. My head and logic are still trying to fight for control here because they ALWAYS have control. Never once have I disregarded my head and gone 100% full blown, balls to the wall with my heart. 

Well, there's a first time for everything right?


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

One Small Step

Today was an emotional day. Probably the first of many on this journey of mine.

I decided a few weeks ago that at today's annual appointment I was going to talk to my OBGYN about my future plans. No action, just me sharing that this is something I am thinking about now and planning to act on in a couple years.

I had two plans. One was just to be very straight forward and leave the emotion out of it and the other was to allow myself to be a bit more vulnerable and include my feelings. I ended up going with the latter for a few reasons but mostly because I felt like I wanted her to see just how much this meant to me. Baring more of my soul I felt would give her a greater understanding of my decision.

God, I was so nervous. I have a panic disorder so having to wait in the room for 20 minutes going over in my head what I was going to say and the anticipation building with every passing second almost threw me over the edge. I got to a point where I didn't think I was going to be able to do it. But then I began asking myself "Why are you doing this?" and was able to find peace in my responses:

"You are doing this for you. You are doing this for your future."

"This will be one of many things on this path you are on that is going to be hard." 

"You cannot let your fear keep you from what you want. You do not want to live a life of regret."

Somehow I found the courage. I was open and honest about my lifelong dream to be a mom and my willingness to sacrifice just about anything to have that dream come true. I made it through without going into a full blown sob fest, just my typical leaky eyes.

I tried not to think too much about what her reaction would be because overall it's not important in the grand scheme of things (even though I ache to be validated with everything I do) and I did not want to be disappointed if I envisioned something and it turned out to be something else.

She listened to everything I had to say and let me know that I would be supported in her care. She was very gracious and understanding. We laughed over how she deals with all the babies and I deal with all the teenagers and how she has no clue how I do what I do. I, in turn, marvel at the fact that she brings life into the world. We talked about world travel, my next school year. Normal conversational stuff. She's so easy to talk to when it's not me baring my soul. However, I couldn't read her when I was doing just that. I'm pretty good at reading people but she's got a great poker face. I've only been going to her for 3 years but I really like her. I haven't had much time to get to know her nuances very well so I left a little unsure of the interaction. Again, I think that's rooted more in the fact that as much as I say it doesn't matter what other people think about my plan, that I still want to be understood and truly supported. Doctors are in a weird limbo where they support you from a medical standpoint but may not necessarily morally agree. That makes me uneasy.

Overall I am very proud of myself for doing this. I didn't let my fear win. I took one small step towards my dream. The first of many.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

The "Talk"

I've been meaning to get back here and write for quite some time, but ever since I realized just how much planning I still needed to do and that my plan to jump in next summer just was not feasible/smart, my feelings have been turned down to simmer and it has been harder to tap into exactly where I'm at right now.

What I do know is that finances are my biggest obstacle at this point. I am still plugging away and saving every month but it's frustrating that something that I have almost no control over (my income; education is definitely not the ideal career for going the SMC route) is going to keep me from pursuing this for at least two years.

What I have been contemplating after talking to my mom and counselor is having the "talk" with my doctor. Right now she does not know that this is something I have thought a lot about and have basically decided for the next big step in my life. While she won't be the one who actually does any of the baby-making procedures, the hope is that she gets to do the baby-watching and then baby-delivering. So she will eventually be a big piece of this puzzle.

But I am quite honestly afraid to tell her. My fear of judgement is totally beating the crap out of the logic in this situation. I love my OBGYN. She is the perfect combination of kind, compassionate and caring. I cannot wait to get to the point where she can be part of my pregnancy and bring my child into this world. But right now this is basically a huge secret and telling secrets is not easy for me (is it for anyone?!). For me, I've held onto many secrets that just drowned me in shame. While I am not ashamed of this secret, I am fearful of being judged. While I know she will be nothing but gracious, supportive and professional, my worry is that somewhere in her mind she will be thinking "What is she thinking?! She can't do this! She's going to fail! She's going to mess up a kid!"

I have my annual coming up in about a month and I have to decide what I want. My whole reasoning for bringing it up now, even with everything being 2 years down the road is to ask about some blood tests/screening that can be done now to give me a better idea where I stand as far as my hormones and my own fertility health. I have no idea what to expect. If everything checks out great, then waiting two years and continuing down the smart path (financially) still seems like the best decision. If something comes up and I find out that there could be issues with getting pregnant, then that will change things. I will probably go the more "dangerous" route and throw caution to the wind and go ahead and start next summer, finances be damned. I'm still young (30). I actually have that going for me in this situation. I am not going to miss my chance because I waited too long to start. I'd rather be in debt and have my dream come true than have all the money I need and no dream. I'll find a way to make it all work.

So I'm working on finding my courage right now. Finding the right words to convey something that is so much more vulnerable than tossing my feet into stirrups and sliding down the table. That's a cake-walk compared to this. If anyone actually reads this, advice is so appreciated.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Now vs. Later

I had a minor meltdown Friday morning complete with crying on the phone with the Lowe's customer service rep who had no idea what hit her. Poor lady. LOL. Somehow last month I accidentally put my monthly payment into the spot labeled "Recurring Payment" rather than "One-Time Payment" so I woke up to an overdraft notice Friday morning. This month has been extremely lean with the hail that destroyed my roof, A/C that had to be fixed and re-doing the front yard. I had $70 in my bank account to last me until the 15th (4 more days to go!). Thankfully money was automatically rerouted from my savings to my checking and I wasn't charged a fee, but it still spent me into a tailspin.

Came home Friday night and opened up an Excel spreadsheet to see just how much I spend each month that is constant, compared to my fluctuation spending, where I expect to be 2 years from now, and then estimated baby costs. I did two baby cost comparisons. One that was on the lower side of what I've seen quoted for daycare and one in the mid to high range. A reasonable guess for diapers and formula (should I need it) based on Amazon prices. I can afford the lower end of my estimations but it only leaves about $150 left each month. It's doable, but a bit close for my comfort. The high range is not possible. If my paycheck wouldn't change due to increased medical insurance I could swing it, but my insurance through my school district (which is state subsidized) sucks and just for the cheapest plan for one adult + child is $300/mo.

I've already been trying to cut back on things to help contribute to my long term saving, but if you see my "Baby Dollars" post, it has been a bit ridiculous the past few months and I've actually gone backwards. But I got everything paid off including the stuff for my sister's wedding. So I at least have that behind me. More good news is that I cancelled my cable a few months ago (hooray for Netflix), so that's saving me $70/mo. I'm doing a good job of meal and grocery planning and have gone from spending $100-$150/wk at Target just for me down to about $40-50/wk. I've temporarily halted my retirement contributions which is another $250 extra each month. My HOA and car insurance is paid up until November so this is prime time for me to start saving.

Best case scenario, I can save around $800-$1000/mo from now til November, nothing in December because my HOA, home warranty (if I renew) and car insurance will all be due at the same time. Then back to normal in January. Worst case scenario it's more like $400-$500/mo. Well actually, worst case scenario it's like it has been these past few months... but I'm trying to stay positive here.

My biggest struggle right now is when I take the plunge. Up until Friday, I was ready to start next summer.I'll be 31 next summer so that is the best thing I have going for me is that I am still considered "young" in regards to most people who are SMC. My worry is that if I wait another year to get everything more in order that I'll hit some invisible fertility time limit and have all these struggles that may not have been the case had I been just one year younger. I don't ever want to regret anything. If I had to choose doing it too early and being in debt or planning everything out, having tons of extra money but not being able to get pregnant then I'd choose debt every time. Bring on the bills.

That's why I started freaking out. I don't want to be unprepared and stressed about money the entire time I'm pregnant or a mother. I understand it's probably an unavoidable situation in general but there is no need to set myself up for failure. I read on another blog that one mom had saved up like 16 months of daycare which helped her "afford motherhood". Prior to having bought my house a few months ago, I was in such good financial position that I could go ahead with my plan now if I wanted to. But that's not my reality right now. If I can stick to my best case scenario in this next year, I'll be set to have about $250/mo extra to supplement my income for 2.5 years. That's a decent cushion on top of whatever else I can manage to save each month once a baby is in the picture.

I keep telling myself that things are going to happen no matter how much I plan and save for them and that I will find a way to make it work no matter what. Which is true. I would, it's just extremely scary to think that something I want more than anything in this world is dictated by things that are out of my control.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Emotional Intensity

It has been a crazy week for sure. Ever had to keep teenagers engaged in learning with only 4 weeks left til summer? Yeah, it's as fun and easy as it sounds.

Had to go to my OBGYN today to pick up a refund check that got lost in the mail the first time they attempted to mail it to me. In hindsight, I should have seen it coming but even though I didn't, I'm glad that today played out as it did. It has pushed me to think about some things in a different perspective.

An excerpt from an email I sent to my mentor tonight.

"I was a bit blindsided today going into Dr. Mac's office. I knew it was a bit ironic to be going so unexpectedly, but I didn't expect it to be emotional. I mean, I was in there all of like 60 seconds. But as I was walking out I got this overwhelmingly strong feeling, sort of like déjà vu, but more like whatever term there is for seeing in the future. I just felt in my heart that I would one day soon be walking out of those doors having just seen my son or daughter on a video screen. It is so wonderfully exciting but at the same time so unbelievably terrifying that the emotions just became too much that I just pushed it aside.

It has been so fun to think about so many aspects of this dream of mine coming true, but so often they are things that have emotions involved only as a secondary effect. Every now and then, the emotional side becomes the leader and it is insane how intense the feelings are. This was one of those times. It’s hard to stay in that moment and feel that intensity full on.

Never before have I had something in my life that has brought out so much emotion in me. I’m not used to feeling so much and so often. I feel like one giant nerve. I can talk about things that don’t call on the super emotional feelings but there are still things that I can’t even bring myself to say because just the thought of saying it brings me to tears. Gosh. When will that get easier?
Part of me is starting to understand how unbelievably huge of an emotional undertaking this whole motherhood thing is and that no matter how much talking and prepping and thinking I do about it, I will never reach this place of being fully prepared. There will always be some other feeling or worry to contest with. So trying to gauge when I’m ready to move forward by that factor seems pointless. It’s too fluid. I will forever be a work in progress in that area and realizing that has brought me some peace. It helps me to feel more free to listen to myself about when I’m ready as opposed to feeling like I have to follow this unwritten, non-existent emotional checklist of things before I can move forward."

Monday, April 28, 2014

Baby Dollars

So I just bought a house last November. After this idea was planted in my head a few years ago I realized that if I did ever follow it I did not want to raise a child exclusively in an apartment. I wanted to be able to provide a house with a backyard, neighborhood, school and overall community feel. So I started saving and in little over 18 months I had saved almost $14,000.

Most of that is gone between my down payment and some kitchen remodeling (plus $2500 charged interest free for new appliances, down to only about $1000 now!) so my goal has been to get back to saving. While at my apartment I would average saving around $800/mo, it has been a challenge being a home owner. I never budgeted before because I never needed to. Unfortunately since I didn't have a home before, I put a lot of money into cars and changed out every two years. Ugh. Regretting that now. My current car I've had now for almost 3 years and will have paid off by mid-to-late 2016. But that's not really the issue. Owning a home is not cheap! Between the increase in rent/mortgage, to the increase in electricity and now having to pay for water/trash/sewer, that's taking about 1/3 to 1/2 of what I was able to save before.

But every month it seems like it has been something else. My water heater quit working in December, January and February were pretty quiet, March brought a trip to Disney with  my best friends and their boy (he got a Make A Wish trip and they invited me... don't regret it one bit), April has been the absolute bitch. First, the hail storm that totaled my roof. Needs to be replaced. Second, I decided I wanted to re-do my flowerbeds. The front yard was in dire need of something but I got a little caught up in it all and didn't think out my vision. $800 later it looks amazing, but I'm (more) broke. And then this last weekend... I had my A/C serviced because I wanted to make sure I'd be good to go for the summer. When they installed the new unit (about 3 months before I bought the house) they soldered some piping too hot causing a cracked valve and ALL the refrigerant to leak out. Guess who has two thumbs and got to pay to fix that? This chick.

Guess who still has more? This chick. My sister is getting married this summer and of course it has to be a destination wedding. So guess who will be shelling out about $1500-$1800 to go watch her sister do something that would be free if she did it here. Sigh. I'm not resentful or anything. I'm happy for her. Really. I swear.

OK, so I'll work on that.

So I've started getting to the point now where I'm thinking of money amounts in terms of babies. My sister's wedding? That's 1-1.5 babies (what my research shows appoximately what IUI will cost here). My flowerbed? 3/4 of a baby. My damn roof? 4 babies.

I hate that I'm going backwards but I keep reminding myself that my luck has to turn sometime and that I have done a really good job of budgeting with everything else. Had I not been working really hard there, I'd be even worse off than I am now. But that being said, I am still disappointed that I seem to be getting farther away from my dream than closer to it for the time being.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Overwhelmed

I don't even know what to write about, just that I need to write.

Sometimes it is so overwhelming thinking of being a single mom.

First, let's just talk about actually getting pregnant. Everything I read seems very stressful with dates, times, symptoms, measurements, data, etc. I am by nature a very logical and organized person so it isn't that that specifically worries me. It's the emotions that connect to the whole process. One tiny, miniscule moment in time literally connects with everything I've ever wanted in life. That's not heavy or anything.

Second, let's talk about finances. I am a teacher. I work in a very affluent district and make good money for what I do. I am not rich but I'm not hurting either. I have the ability to make it (or my very scientific calculations of what all "it" encompasses) work on a month to month basis. This is more the whole fertility process. It's not cheap. And my insurance is crap. Ergo, I will be paying for it all.

Third, let's talk about the fact that no matter how much I want to be a mom, to be pregnant, to have a baby, that it may not happen. I would be willing to throw any and all of my money at making this happen. But that doesn't mean anything. I could spend my way into bankruptcy and still end up childless.

Fourth, let's say it all works out beautifully and one day in the hopefully very close future, I have a baby. Then Oh. My. God. Part of me feels so empowered by this choice. I have full confidence that I can do this on my own, but it's the fact that I won't have anyone for my child. At least with divorce they still have that parent. Even in death, they HAD that parent. My child will have a void. I am choosing to sacrifice that part of my child's identity for the sake of my own joy. It seems so hurtful to me. I don't want my child to hurt because of something I did.

But then I think about being handed a tiny, beautiful, squirmy little baby that is mine and it makes me willing to walk through fire to get it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Just Missing Baby...

I'm starting this blog for me but I hope that someone out there finds it and through my words finds comfort in knowing they are not alone. I've done some searching and reading of many blogs out there and while there are many making the same decision as me, I have yet to find anyone with a similar story. This is for that person out there who needs these words just as much as me.

A little bit about me for that someone who may or may not be reading this blog right now. I'm 30, single, a teacher, Texan, an animal lover and a huge sports fan.

And a mother... just without a baby.

For as long as I could remember I wanted to be a mom. Not just playing with my dolls or wanting to be like my own mom, but I knew in my heart that it was just who I was. I was a mother. I never wanted anything else from life except that. And it never even occurred to me that anything would stand in my way of that.

But motherhood is something I will never step away from. About 3 years ago I could feel my mind and heart shifting to the possibility that I would never want to get married. So I began preparing myself for the possibility that motherhood for me may be destined to be something else.

I was so ashamed of even thinking about choosing that path for my life that I buried the thoughts and never spoke of them. It became a burden I carried around like a giant scarlet letter that I was sure everyone could see. I thought about it a lot. I even obsessed over it at times. But I never spoke a word about it. Until about 6 months ago. My 30th birthday was creeping up on me and I was so overwhelmed with my biological clock ticking that I confided in my counselor that this was something I was holding onto and that I couldn't keep it a secret any longer.

With the release of this secret came so much emotion. Even now as I write this post I am overwhelmed with the sheer volume of thoughts, feelings, fears, worries, etc that come with this "plan". 6 months later it is still just as frightening. But there is a huge difference between then and now. Then it was just a hypothetical. Something I had thought about but hadn't really decided upon. I could barely even talk about it. Now it's real. In my mind I know the decision has been made, but my brain is about 6 months ahead of my heart so I can't admit it yet. I can't fully commit. But it's coming.