Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy Tears

Oh guys.

This past week or so has been so rough. I found myself in that dark dark place I have fought so hard against.

I have about six blog posts in draft, and none of them have made it here to the finished page. I re-read them and they're too...


The list goes on and on.

I woke up this morning and thought: today is the day I will end the blog. I don't even know what to say here some days, it seems like I'm just on repeat, I am so tired of the journey, so exhausted from the pain of the pursuit of parenthood, so tired of feeling like it will not happen, so tired of picturing two stockings yet a-freakin-gain this holiday, just so tired. Why write about it anymore?

And then.

I got an email from the lovely Sarang. And she told me to check out her blog, a blog I have followed for a while now after receiving an invitation to view it, long after she had been a super supporter here for me.

What commenced when I read her post was happy tears, happy tears--buckets of em!--ugly crying but in a happy way--you guys know the kind, right?

Her post was a virtual surprise party for me, complete with delicious MEGA desserts and loving messages of support and just...

I don't even know what to say. (and that says a lot! :) )

Thank you seems inadequate but it's all I have.

Thank you from down deep, in the darkest part of my heart that only you guys understand, but also the part that feels hopeful and renewed just knowing you are out there, that I really don't know where I would be without you all and just...

thank you.

(off to cry some more happy tears--it is so nice to have some happy ones every now and again eh?)

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Year Ago, and an "Encounter" With a Deer

A deer ran out in front of my car today, and I couldn't swerve/stop in time. I burst into tears--I could see his eyes as the flank of his body made impact with the front of my car. I love animals, I have an extreme soft spot for animals, I don't eat meat, I can't stand the idea of hunting...and I live in an area where deer are in our front yard or back yard every single day. They are beautiful, gentle creatures. And I feel terrible. I know he didn't make it but he kept going into the woods.

I'm lucky, I guess. My car is pretty smashed but I'm OK. A few years ago my neighbor swerved to avoid hitting a deer, wound up knocked unconcious in a ditch until a stranger rescued her from her burning car. She needed skin grafts and surgery and thank God for that stranger. So yes, it could have been worse.

I found myself thinking "If only I hadn't run that tenth mile, I would have left sooner and I would not have hit that deer." Yes, I went on a longish run this morning and it felt great. It was split in two--five miles on the trail and five miles on the treadmill because of a rainstorm....and those wet slick streets made it harder to avoid the deer, too.

It's useless to think like that, the if onlys and what ifs. It leads down dangerous paths populated with thoughts like like "if I had just started trying earlier I wouldn't be here now' or 'what if we had done a sixth cycle--would that have been our magic one?'

We found out that Ethiopia has slowed down its adoptions/court dates tremendously. It figures. So far there have been nothing but negative changes since we joined up. Let me qualify that statement: the changes are ultimately good ones for the children which is obviously the most important thing, but tell that to my waiting heart. Five+ years of trying to become parents makes for an impatient heart indeed.

Mr. LC and I discussed that if the bottom falls out of the Ethiopian program (like it did with the Guatemalan program a few years ago, when it shut down completely) we will be done.

Childless. Childfree. Whatever the term. Just the two LCs and our pets.

We don't have anything left in the tank, we're on fumes. I can't even imagine starting over again.

One year ago we were back in Colorado, transferring the fab four. George, Jerry, Kramer and Elaine. And one of those guys at least made a bonafide effort to stick around in my twice-punctured uterus.

But yet here we are, a year later and we're just more tired. Excited and hopeful--naturally. But we're steeling ourselves for something major to happen with this program. Maybe it's all just rumors but really...I'd rather not even try to research because there

Tonight we'll work at the homeless shelter--always good for perspective. And then go out for some delish Indian food. That feels wrong--go out to eat after working at a homeless shelter? Thoughts?

And I'll be driving like a granny everywhere I go today....

Monday, November 8, 2010

Teen Mom

So yeah, my last post was a glimpse into my world as a homeschool teacher to pregnant and parenting teens. Katherine was my very first student and she was a doozy to say the least. I will say that in the end, I over-bonded, got way too close, bought the baby gifts, and was taking home phone calls (this was pre-cell phone days) from her mother, Lois, that always ended with "I love you teacher." Needless to say they made room for me on the couch and I didn't know how to set boundaries. I think about that family, I wonder how many children Katherine has now, and I can calculate how old her first baby would be but it just makes me depressed about my own age. Katherine might well be a grandmother by now if the pattern repeated itself.

Oh my students. They did run the gamut. And I did care about them--deeply.

I saw students who were poor--literally with dirt floors--I saw students who were rich--with two Lexuses in the driveway. I saw a student in an arranged marriage with her first cousin who was 40 years old and it still makes my skin crawl just typing that sentence. I saw two students who planned their pregnancies together and delivered within two weeks of each other. I saw one student who was twenty years old and still in the 10th grade, on her third baby.

Of course the beautiful thing at the time was I had no idea of my own precarious fertility. It was slipping away with every visit I made to each teen mom. It was sliding through my fingers as I consoled their crying newborns while they tried to take a test. It was declining while I scrambled to find them a carseat so they could take their baby home from the hospital, while I filled in as a Lamaze coach, while I stood knocking in the freezing cold only to learn the house I was visiting, where my student and her newborn lived, had been raided by the police the night before, nearly everyone arrested on drug charges. But I had no idea--the world 'infertile' wasn't in my vocabulary. I was there to teach, to listen, to hold, to help--to make a damned difference!-- and when I cried for their sad and seemingly impossible situations I am grateful now that I had no idea what loomed ahead for me, for my sad and seemingly impossible situation, or I would surely have come apart at the seams.

Life is full of irony, no?

Monday, November 1, 2010

A glimpse into the past.

I was nervous but I felt like I shouldn't be.
I mean, who was I kidding? I was the grown up. Supposedly anyway.
She was just a kid. A teenager. A pregnant teenager.

She was fourteen years old. Fourteen?

What the hell? What was I doing when I was fourteen? I think I was still playing with Barbies. OK maybe not, but probably I still wanted to be playing with them. I was just starting the ninth grade. I was one of the younger kids in my class, scared and anxious and uncertain about starting high school.

I hadn't even been kissed.

I'd been on a couple of dates but they were ridiculous--to homecoming, to the Valentine's Dance--things were awkward and gawky and maybe there was hand-holding but not much else.

And now this girl--this fourteen year old--was pregnant? As in, she'd had sex? I could hardly get my mind around that, and it was a good thing I didn't know a whole lot more before going to the apartment for that first visit.

My boss has told me Katherine was special.

Mmmm, okay, special? What exactly did that mean?

Special meant special. As in, Forrest Gumpish. A little slow.
But sweet, most definitely sweet. That much I'd been assured.

It was my first official day on the job. Officially. I was a teacher but my job wasn't in any classroom. Unless you counted my trunk as my office and my kids' living rooms as the classroom. It sounded a lot better/cooler than teaching in any traditional classroom--during student teaching (OK let's be honest: during pre-student teaching) I knew teaching wasn't going to be for me. But I was young, married, finishing up college and didn't want to start all over. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Did anyone? So I finished the degree, got the certificate, enrolled in graduate school in a different field but still needed a job and voila! this one fell into my lap.

Alternative school homebound teacher for pregnant and parenting students. Officially.

I imagined the stories I'd have! The rapt attention I'd get at parties as I talked about my students, the poor pregnant darlings I'd be entrusted with...I envisioned myself befriending them, saving them, opening up worlds for them, making their lives better.

Excuse me? Who was I kidding? I was barely older than they were with zilch in the way of life experience. I had nothing to offer other than a way to fill an official requirement to stay in school.
So Katherine was my first. And she was special.

I knocked on the door and despite my best intentions, I was most definitely nervous. My heart was beating hard, my armpits were damp with sweat. JoAnn, my boss, was already there, we'd arranged it that way. We were going to share the first visit--I was going to observe and see how things were done. JoAnn would transition out and then the next visit I'd be on my own.

At least that's how it was supposed to go down.

Katherine's mom answered the door. Lois, as I'd later learn her name to be--she certainly didn't introduce herself-- did not look delighted to see me, to say the least. She looked me up and down as I smiled nervously and thrust my hand forward.

"Hi!" I squeaked. "I'm Ashley!"

"Oh there she is!" JoAnn yelled out from across the room. She was sitting on the couch, all teachery. I felt such relief seeing her there, hearing her familiar sing-songy voice.

Lois moved aside with a grunt and I took that as my invitation to enter the apartment.

My eyes could scarcely take it all in. Sensory overload indeed.

Filth. Trash. Crap.
No surface was spared, it was equal opportunity disgustingness. The kitchen table was piled high with food and food items, empty fast food bags, half-eaten sandwiches, bags of chips--open. Dirty dishes, dirty utensils.

It was a dimly lit apartment and I saw two sagging couches in an L-shape formation with a long rectantgular battered coffeetable in front of one of them. A large older woman--later introduced to me as Katherine's grandmother (soon to be a great grandmother y'all!)--was sprawled out across one of the ratty sofas. JoAnn sat smiling on the other, and I was introduced to Katherine, who sat next to her.

My first official student, Katherine.

Her belly was enormous. Her t-shirt was stretched beyond it's limits and I'm sure I was staring. Katherine did not look at me but I took her in. She had long stringy hair and greasy skin. She wasn't pretty.

I couldn't help but think about her and some boy--the soon to be father--doing it. I swallowed.

"Hi Katherine!" I sounded like such an overenthusiastic idiot. A Pollyanna.

Katherine looked at me and gave a half-hearted smile. Lois had lumbered into the living room and squeezed herself onto the couch next to Katherine.

I stood there awkwardly, my bookbag on my arm.

JoAnn suddenly jumped up and started talking about how she was leaving.

Excuse me? Had I heard right? She was leaving? Me? There? Alone?

It seemed so. She had 'accidentally' made another appointment that was starting in, oh, five minutes so she had to head out. Accident my ass. She was ready to drop this student on me like a hot potato. But she'd left us with a video and an assignment to work on together so no big deal--her words. She kept nodding her head up and down, up and down, looking from Katherine to me and back again. I wasn't listening. I just kept thinking 'don't leave me here, please.'

But leave she did.
And I did stay.
After all, I was the teacher. This was my classroom.

And no one made room for me--the interloper--on the couch. Katherine had somehow filled up the space JoAnn had left when she got up and there was simply no room.

After standing there for what seemed like an eternity I sank down to my knees and placed my bookbag on the coffee table.

OK. I was the teacher. I could do this. The pregnant fourteen year old, her mother and her grandmother were not in charge of me. I was in charge. All twenty-one years of me.

I mumbled something to JoAnn and waved her away, annoyed once again at the fakeness of my own voice. Why couldn't I just sound like a normal human being?

And then I noticed them.

Small brown roaches, a few here, a few there, just skittering here and there across the floor, across the television, across the table.

It took every ounce of restraint I had in my every cell in my body not to scream, not to run out the door. To not have a major freakout. No one else noticed them, or if they did, they weren't bothered by them.

I was sickened. I fumbled through the lesson--which consisted of watching a newborn babycare video and answering some questions about it--a nice easy break-in first visit type lesson. More on that little activity later.

I just wanted to get out of there.
I just wanted to take a shower.