Busy Bee

Back when I was single I would often work multiple jobs to keep food on the table.  I never liked the idea of using State assistance since my getting pregnant was no one’s fault but my own.  Sure, I relied on my mother’s kindness and the generosity of so many people I can’t even begin to name them all, but for some reason taking money from the Government didn’t suit me.  I think it’s because once you start relying on that assistance, it’s hard to move away from it.

When I got married I was given the option of staying at home.  After nearly two years of consistent 60+ hour work weeks at two jobs that paid little more than minimum wage I was absolutely thrilled to be able to stay at home with my daughter and try to be the suburban housewife that I knew I could be.  Growing up we straddled the poverty line, and having a baby so young didn’t help to improve my situation.  Don’t get me wrong, there are young women who have babies at 16 and go on to do amazing things.  I lacked the drive and motivation to do so, though.  The idea of a woman staying home to look after her husband and children seemed a luxurious dream to me, and one that I always kept in the back of my mind as a goal I’d like to achieve.  It wasn’t so much that I wanted to be a stay at home mom as it was that I wanted the freedom to do so.

It didn’t take long after getting married and settling into a routine that I got restless.  I wanted to go out and earn money!  It was a strange feeling not having an income of my own, and it felt very strange to have a bank account that I contributed nothing to yet could spend as though I did.   After some encouragement from my husband and mother-in-law I decided  to get my Real Estate licence.  It sounded so fun!  Getting to meet people, getting to look at pretty houses, getting to wear fancy clothes and hand out business cards.  Having a job that I could proudly tell people about.  “I’m a Realtor” sounds a lot better than “I’m a shift manager and KFC and a regular old employee at a grocery store deli”.  I didn’t expect it to be actual work, or to actually have to find clients.    Not being native to the Houston area I was (am) at a disadvantage.  Having a deacon at church and a mother-in-law who are Realtors also put me at a disadvantage, as everybody I ran into was either through my church or people who have known my mother-in-law longer than they’ve known me.  Ethics plays a huge part in your reputation as a Realtor, and snagging contacts from other Realtors is hugely frowned upon.

So after about a year of not making any money in Real Estate, I decided to go back to school and pursue something I’d actually be good at and find some passion in.  I still have no idea what that might be, but I’m working through my prerequisites before I have to decide what I actually want to do when I grow up.

Kristilyn started high school a month ago, though, which means in four years her education will take priority over mine.  Since we’re paying out of pocket for my classes, I can only take a few classes at a time.  Add that to the cost of having her involved in band and in public school in general, plus our newly adopted 18 year old son (more on that in another post), and Joe’s job situation changing to more steady work at a lower rate of pay, the money situation around here has been a little less comfortable than I think we’d like it to be.  We’d like to be setting money aside for a new house as we need more room, as well as paying down debt so that we can get our credit score up for said house.  Oh, and our one car lifestyle isn’t working anymore so we need another reliable vehicle. Basically, you can never have too much money as a middle class suburbanite.  There’s always something to spend it on.

So I submitted a background check to Uber, which came back with a big thumbs up.  So now I am doing that in my free time.

Let me recap:

I am taking nine credits two days a week at the local community college.

Homework for those nine credits.

I am volunteering with the band boosters, as well as playing taxi for Kristilyn.

Weekly football games to watch the marching band perform.

Keeping up with a house that now holds 2 dogs and 4 people.

Running errands for those 2 dogs and 4 people.

Cooking for those 4 people.

Studying to renew my Real Estate Licence.

Trying to keep up with SOME knowledge of Real Estate.

Trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, even if it’s only seeing friends once a month for coffee or texting more often to keep my relationships up.

Catching Pokemon.

And now driving for Uber.

 

I just got a FitBit which helps me track my sleep, and I average about 5 and a half hours a night, and that is fairly restless sleep.  There’s times I’ve felt overwhelmed lately, but what this ultimately comes down to is that I really don’t like having downtime.  For me, downtime means time to think and time to think means that depression can come in and invade my space.  Even keeping busy depression can get in there, but I find it’s harder to stay away from if I’m sitting around and playing Minecraft all day.  I really enjoy relaxing, don’t get me wrong, but I always feel like there’s something else I could be doing.  Maybe that’s my burden as a woman more than anything, is that I know in the back of my mind that there’s things that only get done if I attend to them (most likely because I’m the only one in the world who cares if that particular thing gets done).

I guess I also always think of what I want people to say at my funeral.  It’s a macabre thought, I know, but I’ve dealt with death my entire life and thus the realization that some day I will be dead has always been in my brain.  I don’t want people to have to rack their memories for days trying to remember what good I’ve done.  I want to be remembered as a good person.  And, more importantly, as a strong person.  Despite my depression and anxiety, my infertility due to PCOS, despite my chronic pain (more on my potential fibromyalgia diagnosis in a different post), despite living in a household with an alcoholic father who ultimately died while I was still young and then being raised by a single mother, despite losing my sister and having a child so young, despite all of my obstacles I want people to say “wow, that chick was tough”.  I believe we all have burdens that we carry and challenges that we deal with, but I really try not to let the ones that I’ve been handed defeat me.  I know I give in too often to my depression and anxiety.  I know that there’s days I’d rather lay about than try to defeat the fatigue that weighs down on me.  And I know I complain all too often.  I am still only human, and I just hope on the days when I am feeling at my best I live to my fullest potential, not wasting a moment.  We live in a culture of victimizing ourselves.  I cannot stand the mentality of playing the victim to garner sympathy.  I’d much rather earn respect than have people pity me.  I try to be self aware in this and not dwell too much on why I should be allowed to be an awful person sometimes.  And if I catch myself talking about any tragedy in my past I wince a little internally.

Now, I have no intention of dying anytime soon.  In fact, I plan to live long enough to be a 120 year old woman who lights a cigarette with my birthday candles and takes a shot of tequila as people sing to me.  I want to grow old enough that I can be blunt and straightforward and not care what people think about me, and come across as endearing rather than abrasive for being that way.  To put it frankly, by the age of 70 I want people to think of me as one bad ass motherfucker.

 

 

At Peace-ish

Last week a dear friend of mine revealed her pregnancy to me, then immediately apologized.  She knew the struggle that Joe and I had been going through, and knew on a personal level how difficult infertility problems could be.  She asked if I was okay, and it dawned on me that I really, really was.

I don’t know when it happened, but sometime in the last year God gave me a peace about potentially not being able to have a baby.  I don’t know if it was in realizing how much work having a teenager can really be, or perhaps it’s realizing that I enjoy travelling and doing so as often as we have been wouldn’t be possible for a couple of years if we had a baby, or maybe it’s that I finally started the path towards my lifelong dream of a graduate degree a few months ago.  Whatever it was God has shown me that maybe now is not the time I need to be working on adding to my family, but instead I need to work on strengthening myself and my bond with the family I already have.

It’s been wonderful not taking my temperature every single day, not looking at the calendar ALL OF THE TIME, not spending a small fortune on pregnancy tests, not having to plan romantic time around certain days of the month (especially when you’re not even sure what those days are of if an egg will drop that month or not).  I have enjoyed not seeing my doctor more than I see many of my friends.  Mostly, I have enjoyed not dealing with the crippling depression that comes along with infertility struggles.

I even made a post on Facebook about how wonderfully at peace I’ve been.

And then yesterday at church a baby smiled at me.

I have never been a fan of roller coasters, yet now I’m on the biggest one ever constructed.  It’s called the Emotioncoaster and it is about to have a pretty severe drop.  Let’s just hope that I can hold on until it goes back up.

Husband

In honor of Valentine’s Day I’d like to say a few words about the man that I share my life with.

He is patient,  though I rarely am.   He is hard working and does not complain, though most days I feel as though that’s all I do.  He is interesting and intelligent,  and has the kind of sense of humor that anyone can appreciate.  His heart is large and full of kindness.   He puts G9d first.  He’s easy going and allows me to take charge almost always,  because he knows that being in control is important to me.   He’s also there to pick up my slack when I inevitably fail at trying to do too much.

My husband is my best friend.   I was just shy of 29 when we met,  and it didn’t take me long to know that he was “the one”.  We’ve had a bumpy road,  but it’s just made me appreciate the journey all the more.   Never before have I felt so content and comfortable in my own skin.  Being his wife has brought me more happiness than I could have imagined.  

I love you,  Joe.  Here’s to many more Valentine’s Days that include Netflix and naps.

Back to School

Going back to college at the age of 33 isn’t recommended by anybody, professional or otherwise.  Something happens to your brain after you turn 30 and retaining information isn’t as easy to do as it was when you were twenty and your mind was still fresh from high school and easily mold-able.

Recently I started to look for a part time job that I might enjoy but I kept running into a road block.  Most jobs that aren’t minimum wage in pay grade require some form of degree or experience in that field.  Thus far I have spent my life in those base-level jobs.  At 33 years old it’s expected that you can do more than slice deli meat or operate a cash register.  And while I’m a fairly quick study at most things I do, I don’t look very good on paper.  Every job I’ve had since I was 16 and started working have been jobs that most people do while they’re waiting to do something else.

So I decided that now was the time to actually work on a degree and mean it.  I’m not encumbered by a full time job as I was so many years ago when I attempted college the first time.  Math has always been my Achilles heel academically.  It’s not that I’m bad at it so much as I have trouble retaining information that I deem unuseful or unnecessary.   Algebra has always fallen into that category for me.

As it turns out I’m not half bad at mouth.  As usual whenever I’m put into a classroom setting (be it for various work classes or college or anything in between) I have found that I’m a lot smarter than I think I am.  Your brain, like anything else, loses some functionality if you don’t use it.  Now that I’m using it more, I find that it works better.  For the most part, anyway.

I’ve spent my entire adult life until now waiting on my life to start, or for the rapture to happen, or something.  I’m not really sure why.  I’ve just procrastinated doing what most people do early into adulthood for one reason or another.  Realizing that you’re only employable for minimum wage or slightly above at 33 years old is a real eye opener.

I’ve always felt that I was meant to do something incredible, so maybe I’ve just been waiting on that something incredible to present itself to me.  Apparently that’s not how life works.

Overall I still don’t know what I want to do with my life.  Well, except have lunch with Adele and Jenny Lawson and Allie Brosh in Ireland in a castle overlooking the Shannon River while Oprah reads some Harry Potter to us and JK Rowling busily writes my life story from the other room.  I’m not sure if knowing what you want to do helps you find your path any faster, or if I really am taking the long way around.  Either way, I’m going to enjoy the journey and stop delaying what I can go ahead and get done and out of the way.

Seriously, though, if anyone could hook me up with any or all of those women I’d be forever indebted to you.

Anxiety Forever

Having anxiety is a lot like running a race that you know you’ll never win.  You start out optimistic, thinking that you know which hurdles you’ll need to jump but soon realize that no part of the race is predictable or fair, and you end up feeling like a failure each and every leg of the race.  Except, unlike a race, anxiety never ends.  Ever.  Like, never ever.

I realized today, after dropping my daughter off at school, that anxiety is a sneaky little thing that can strike at any time.  I was driving by a pawn shop and got that old familiar stab of tightness in my chest for no real reason.  I once had things in a storage unit that ended up being auctioned off, so my thought process might have jumped from that to the idea that people who bought my old stuff might have pawned it off.  But really, what the hell, Shannon?

Not being able to control when or where my panic attacks (large or small) will pop up is aggravating, but even more so is the constant underlying feeling that something is wrong and I need to worry about it.  All the time.  Constantly.  Most people get to take vacations away from the stresses of life, but for people like me the stress IS life.  There is no escape.

Vacation can often times be even worse, actually.  When you add in unfamiliar surroundings to a mind that’s already at war with itself, it’s like a bomb waiting to go off.  A bomb of hyperventilating and freaking out over nothing.  Literally.  Absolutely nothing.

I envy those that don’t have to constantly battle with themselves.  Do you know how exhausting it is to have to constantly sort out rational and irrational thought?  And how exhausting it is to really have to try and see the difference?  It’s terrible.  Those commercials for medications that deal with depression and talk about  “getting back to your old self” are bullshit.  If you live with anxiety or depression, you don’t know how else to be.

I would love to be the person I think I am.  Witty, intelligent, interesting, put together, organized, energetic, etc.  Instead I am only two of those things and only because I have to make up for the mess inside of my brain.  The best thing that can happen for somebody with anxiety (and ultimately depression since the two are like siamese twins that the devil designed) is to realize that while it’s always going to be there, but you can make it better.  Create coping mechanisms and don’t allow yourself to be a victim.  Just because you HAVE anxiety, doesn’t mean that anxiety HAS you.  Don’t let it.

Some days are bad.  Some days are not.  Relish the good days but allow yourself a few bad days.  Reward yourself for the small victories (I left the house today, woohoo!  Time for 12 hours of the Sims to celebrate), but don’t punish yourself for the failures (I couldn’t leave the house today, but it’s okay because I am still valuable and important).

Controversial Post is Controversial

I generally avoid confrontation as it makes me uncomfortable.  However, like most people, I have opinions that I like to express.  I try to avoid doing so on social media, so that’s what I have a blog for.

Feminism is not about equality, and in reality hurts women.  Now, I know some of you are thinking that I should have to turn in my woman card for such a statement, but hear me out.

I like being a woman.  There is no part of me that wants to be a man.  There is no part of me that wants to deal with what a man has to deal with.  I can ogle men without being labeled as a “creep”.  I can talk about my vagina without being thought of as a sexual predator.  Hell, I get to take twelve weeks off of work when I have a baby without anybody thinking twice about it.  I can go where I want, do what I want, and not be questioned in my own home.  I can cry without being thought less of.  I can also get angry without being thought of as a threat.  If I get really angry and hit my husband (not that I ever would), people would likely think it justified.

Women have so many advantages.  There’s definitely a one sided lean to those advantages, too.

Why do “modern” women feel the need to complain about all the “injustices” they see?  I, for one, have never felt that my options for birth control were limited.  Nor have I ever felt that I have been paid less than a man for doing the same job.  I have yet to see any first hand accounts of either.  And, honestly, even if any such accounts were presented I’d wonder what the other side of the story was.

We, as a society, have a tendency to jump to conclusions.  Whenever I see this happen (read: at least 1,000 times a day on Facebook), I want to giftwrap a Jump to Conclusions mat and send it out to all of those who can’t see past the tip of their nose to realize that there are at least two sides to every story, and each side believes as fervently in their rightness as the other(s).

Did you know that the pilgrims originally settled over here to get AWAY from Europe?  There was even a big war against England and everything.  So why, now, 250 short years later are we trying so desperately to be JUST LIKE the continent our forefathers left behind?  Geographically, the US is much larger than most (all) European countries.  What works there most likely cannot be implemented here due to the sheer size of land we cover.

Look, everyone has opinions and yours are just as valid as anyone else’s even if they’re wrong.  You have just as much right to express them as anyone else.  Did you know that not every country has that?  That women in some countries are ACTUALLY oppressed?  That, in some cultures, if you’re cat called it’s your fault for drawing attention to yourself rather than the fault of those doing the cat calling?  If you’re a woman walking down the street and get cat called, maybe you should just pepper spray your offender.  After all, as a woman you have a whole lot more leverage to do so than a man would in the same situation.

Did you also know that in the case of child custody the woman will win more often than not?  A man has to prove that a woman is unfit to raise a child, whereas a woman simply has to show that she’s not on drugs to make sure a man only gets to see his kids four days a month.

So why DON’T I need feminism?  Because I like having more power than men.  I like being in control.  I like my husband to open doors for me and pull out my chair for me.  I like being domestic while at the same time being able to have a career.  I like balance and roles, and I feel that feminism takes away my power as a woman.  At least modern feminism does.

One last thought:  78% of statistics are made up.  Don’t trust one sided sources for your information, no matter what side they lean towards.  Anybody who can’t respect the fact that other opinions exist and have some validation cannot have a respectful or intelligent debate.

Shannon and the Sugar Craving

Dieting is overrated.  Every time I try to eat better, I end up hungry and cranky and all around miserable.  Sure, once the detox from junk food is over life gets a little better, but it can sometimes take weeks for that to happen.

A few months ago I gave up soda.  It wasn’t nearly as hard to do this time around as it has been in years past.  I’d have a little bit of coffee in the morning to get my caffeine fix in and avoid a headache, but I didn’t find myself craving Cokes when I would sit down to eat.  But I gained five pounds.

What the hell, body?  Do you even know how to body?

In the last week or so I’ve started drinking soda again. Basically, this whole infertility and PCOS thing has made me incredibly cranky, and instead of drinking the bottle of wine each evening that I would like to, I’m cracking open a Coke and sipping on it while eating a bit of potato chips with ranch dip.

My husband is starting a diet tomorrow, and I hope to get the soda back out of the house once we run out of what we have (I hate wasting things).

There’s days I wish that I could be naturally skinny and beautiful, and not grow hair where it doesn’t belong but grow hair on my scalp instead of having terrible patches and having to wear a wig.  But then I realize that the physical challenges I’ve faced have forced me to develop a personality and rely on my brain a little more than I might have had I been born more physically appeasing to society.  I understand that nobody is perfect, and I certainly never would claim to be.  However, I do like my brain and suppose it’s better than a flat stomach and a smooth, hair free face.

So maybe I’ll give up soda for good, maybe I won’t.  Maybe I’ll strictly follow a diet one day, maybe I won’t.  I’ll never be an absolutely perfect person, but all I can do is be the most perfect Shannon that I can be.

I’d also settle for insurmountable wealth, but one step at a time.

Infertility FTW

When I found out that I was pregnant at nineteen years old, the idea of infertility becoming an issue later in life never occurred to me.  Not really, anyway.  I never considered adoption, though, as I wasn’t sure that I’d ever get married, and I knew that one child out of wedlock was more than my mother was ready to handle as a grandmother.

I certainly never wanted children after the age of 30.

So here is it.  2015.  I’m 32 years old, married, with a daughter who will be thirteen this summer.  I’m also smack dab in the middle of a battle with infertility.

In September, my doctor diagnosed me with PCOS.  He gave me some birth control pills and sent me on my merry way, telling me that after 3 months I needed to stop taking them and my body would begin to ovulate on its own.  As it happens, that was false.

Over the next few months, I read more and more about PCOS and realized that it’s kind of a big deal.  It can lead to things like diabetes, thyroid issues, not to mention infertility and everything else associated with a hormone imbalance.  Oh, and depression and anxiety.

After a brief discussion, my husband and I decided to enlist the help of a fertility specialist.  After about three billion tests (including one that involved a camera in a very private place and some anesthesia), we had a more clear picture of what we’re dealing with.

Last week we were given our results, which were not what we’d hoped for.  While my uterus, tubes, and ovaries all look lovely, I’m not ovulating at all.  I have more eggs than most 32 year old women, which sounds like a good thing but it turns out that it’s not a good thing at all.  Not when you want a baby.

So now our only real option, as far as the specialist is concerned, is to proceed with IVF.  As nice as that sounds, I don’t happen to have $20,000 laying around for something that has a 30% chance of failing.  So my regular gynecologist has prescribed me some Chlomid, which is suppose to help women with PCOS ovulate.  We’re going to give it until the end of summer and see if it works.

Sometimes, life feels like an uphill battle but eventually the hill has to peak and descend.  I’m just ready for some easier climbs.

Shannon and the Hostile Uterus

I have a hostile uterus, which I assume means that my cervix is like that space ship in Gallagha and my husband’s sperm are the little aliens tormenting it and the job of the space ship is to destroy the taunting sperm before they invade my uterus.  I think that’s the medical explanation that they use in Uteruseses 101 at John Hopkins.

Or maybe I don’t actually have a hostile uterus and my husband never pays attention to what I say.  One of the two.

The truth is that I have  something called Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which is a fancy way of saying that my periods are unpredictable and my chances of getting pregnant are pretty slim.  When I was informed of this by the doctor, I was pretty surprised considering that I have a perfectly healthy 12 year old that I had when I was 19 years old.  It’s like the old saying goes:  “Meet a man on Yahoo who claims to be sterile when you’re 18 and an idiot, get pregnant immediately.  Get married in your 30s for the first time and have the means to support a child, never get pregnant again.”

I love my daughter.  That kid is pretty much amazing.  I’ve always wanted multiple children, though.  So at the age of 31, after having finally met a man worth my time and getting married, I was ready to have another baby.  We tried for months, but nothing happened.  So I went to the doctor and explained what was happening, and after asking a few questions he determined that I had PCOS.  I’m sure he explained what it was, but all that I heard was “You’re never going to have a baby”.

He put me on some hormonal birth control for a few months to hopefully regulate my cycle, so that’s where I’m at now.  We’re hoping it works and that I can get good and knocked up soon, or else some more drastic measures will be needed.

I do not like my body telling me what I can and cannot do.  So I refuse to listen to some “diagnosis”.  The doctor seems hopeful that he can get me pregnant somehow (I’m sure my husband will be asked to assist in some ways), and I am hoping that this is only a temporary set back.  I’m 32 years old now, and I have almost a teenager.  I hear a clock ticking louder and louder every day in my head and I need it to shut up and stop stressing me out, but it won’t.  I need to let go and let God deal with this, but why is it so hard to do that?

In the meantime I get to enjoy mornings with no sickness, looking at my feet, not having to pee every three and a half minutes, and full nights of sleep.  Sometimes life doesn’t happen how we plan it, but  if it did how boring would that be?