Monday 22 August 2016

Microblog Mondays: Tangible and Intangible Accomplishments

Summer is winding down! As a teacher who is paid for 12 months of the year and can afford to not work extra in the summer (this is by no means true of all teachers) I have an extra helping of unstructured time. So, what did I do with it?! Some of it I spent doing not much (or fun activities: I'll write about some of those in an AJ-centred entry) but I feel like I must hold myself accountable as well. A lot of projects get put off during the rest of the year, when we are both working full time and being parents to AJ. Two months sounds like a great opportunity to get caught up, to feel like I'm "on top of life" again.

On this theme, I started the summer with a To-Do list prominently on the fridge, and even posted it on Facebook, too.

A few weeks later, not doing too badly I think:

Some of the jobs are/were mainly Mr. Turtle's, I should point out. I can put together IKEA furniture but it always is a bit wonky when I do, so I leave that to him. He's also doing the anchoring and baby proofing. We took the first step toward consolidating our bank accounts together, but Mr. Turtle has to do the last steps. We are actually both still working on the office clean up, but I was so excited that we even got started that I wiped it off the list early.  What else: I'm not sure I can take all the bottles to the depot on my own, so I'm procrastinating that till we both can go, and neither of us want to. Running the oven cleaning cycle only involves pushing a few buttons, but it makes the house smelly and I'm afraid of fire and won't do it when I'm alone. Plus we have to wait for cool weather. Photo organizing is just as intimidating today as it was June 30, so I have done nothing there. We have done a pretty good job on the yard. We never got around to "landscaping," but at least it's not totally overgrown. Visitors nod thoughtfully and say it has potential, which is what it's had for the last six years.

And then of course there are other  things that weren't on the list that I did. The freezer is getting well stocked up with frozen lunches, including a giant pot of butternut squash and ginger soup cooking on the stove today. I have new eyeglasses! I went, or am going to, two work-related professional conferences, which feels great and is getting me excited about the new school year. We spent a lot of time with family. Not so much with friends; I have to address my social apathy/avoidance at some point.

These are some of the "tangible accomplishments" alluded to in the title. They are the things I believe I should be doing with my time.  They are the most visible to other people (sometimes even to me). They aren't always the things I feel I need to do. I call this other category "intangible accomplishments."

My intangible accomplishments this summer:

All the entries on this blog. I guess a blog entry is sort of tangible, in that it's visible and people read it. But it doesn't make an obvious difference in the progression of everyday life. Still, I'm driven to write in a way I'm not driven to do a lot of other things that appear superficially more important or urgent.  I want the documentation of that feeling or experience to exist. I want validation that goes beyond the ephemeral pleasure of having a clean house for 10 minutes or clean laundry for 5.

Following/reading other blogs. I enjoy following people's stories, and sometimes, philosophical musings driven by their experiences. So much of this drama is invisible in everyday interactions and relationships because people hide it beneath their facade. But it's so interesting.  (You would have to know and closely interact with me for at least a year to see a glimmer of what I share on torthúil. This is probably true of many other bloggers as well). 

Reading books. No novels. I don't have any interest in fiction lately.  I don't want to escape; I want to go down deep. Although I can't say exactly where I'm going with my summer (soon to be fall) reading. I'm exploring a sense of powerful uneasiness; I'm trying to figure out what it's about and where, if anywhere, it lines up with the some of the political battles currently being fought. I've read (or am currently re-reading) three very interesting books this summer.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel. JD Vance's Hillbilly Elegy, and finally Sebastien Haffner's Defying Hitler. The one thing that draws me to each of these writers is that they all have a strong sense of self, and they struggled (successfully, more or less) with a dysfunctional culture. I'd like to write more about these books, but I don't know what shape yet that writing will take. I'm still note-taking, comparing, contrasting, turning over ideas at 1am. Sometimes I get the laundry folded too. I don't know how I'll work in the infertility angle. But I'm creative that way. :-)

Oh, yes, speaking of fertility. If ever there was work that was grueling and intangible. Trying to conceive has been a major focus this summer. After my previous discouraging non-cycle, the current one is at least a little more promising. I had a positive OPK. And fertile mucus! Not at the same time though, that would make too much sense. About 6 days apart. It's possible that I had a second LH surge, of course, but I ran out of OPKs before I could test for it. Anyway. Two week waits are so much fun, because I have no idea how long they are actually going to be, although I can make some guesses. I'm afraid I can't call hours of Googling symptoms and bodily functions any kind of accomplishment at all. But I'll call maintaining some form of mental and emotional balance through this "is or isn't it possible to conceive again" time an intangible accomplishment.

In summary, what I've learned this summer is that I need to work on both the tangibles and the intangibles, and that they both take effort, though with tangible accomplishments the result of the effort is a lot more visible. And sometimes the biggest effort is to get started at all.

Next entry will be AJ-focused. Promise.

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Things I can do and things that I can't

Yesterday evening I spent some time in my family's workshop with my brother N. My dad put together the workshop, but it would not be entirely accurate to call it "his" as it was always a family space, shared by him and my brothers (I didn't have an interest in it). N., who lives in an eastern province, is visiting for a couple of weeks and also making plans to ship the milling machine out to his shop. Shipping it involves building a crate around it. I helped N. start the base of the crate by sliding wedges of wood under the (100 lb? 200lb?) machine while he tipped it carefully. Despite feeling like we were making one of those workplace accident videos, things went well.

In between nerve-wracking lessons in the physics of large heavy objects, I found it surprisingly comfortable to be in the shop. It's not a place I spent a lot of time in, but I think it tells a story about my family if you look closely. Tools cover almost every space on the wall, and over the lathe, somebody carefully traced the outline of each tool and then painted its silhouette, so that each would always go back to its correct place. Who did this? Possibly my mom, who would have felt proud that she was supporting her husband and children. Or quite possibly my oldest brother A., who shares her sense of detail and precision and would have take pleasure in creating an efficient system (he now works in IT for a pipeline company). Scraps of wood were tucked away in corners. To me they look like rubbish that should have been thrown out, but when N. wanted pieces of wood to place under the base of the machine he was able to find exactly what he wanted amid the scraps. If I looked very closely I could see remnants of family projects (a puppet stage that we built when I was eight years old).

Standing in the shop I felt both my dad's presence and his absence. The absence obviously, because I felt he should be there taking an interest in what N. was doing. The fact he wasn't felt almost like a betrayal. Also apart from obvious ones like screwdriver, hammer, crowbar I have no idea what most of the items in the room are for. I even have some difficulty appreciating a milling machine (is it really so complex just to drill holes in stuff? Uhhhh....yep.) All the knowledge that my dad brought to that space to make it meaningful and useful is gone. Except it isn't. N. knows what the tools are for, and intuitively where to find them, although he hasn't lived in my parents' house for almost 20 years. It was interesting to hear him having a sort of dialogue with the place as he worked: "Did Dad have a socket set....I can't imagine him not having a socket set....he even gave me one.....ah yes there it is!"

I felt my dad's presence there because even though I never worked with the tools and machines, I know exactly why they are there. My parents were always transparent about their values and it is something I deeply appreciate. I might agree or not agree with aspects of how they raised their children, but I know why they did what they did.  The world outside our house might be random, ridiculous and even cruel, but within there was purpose and intention, always. The shop existed to encourage their children's interests and build skills. My parents believed (as do I) that children need to learn skills and develop interests in order to make good choices for themselves with regards to leisure, education, careers, relationships. Although they were very frugal about luxuries, they spared no effort or expense to make that happen to the best of their ability. I should add that even though I'm talking here about something that didn't really include me (by my own choice!), there were many other family pursuits that did.

All this has got a dialogue going in my mind about things I can do and things that I can't. As you know, I'm trying to figure out which category "have another baby" fits into. There is an answer to that question, but I don't know what it is yet. I hope that having another baby is a "thing I can do," but, well, I have to consider that it's a "can't," as well. Right now I'm pondering the "can't" possibility. This cycle I went for bloodwork on day 2. I don't have the results yet, but I'm as sure as I can be that I have had an anovulatory cycle. Since I was doing the bloodwork I decided to get "scientific" on my end too. I bought 20 OPKs and tested from day 5 to day 15, twice a day in the middle of cycle (or what I thought was the middle). I never got a positive. I also didn't have fertile signs like slippery/stretchy mucous, which I do usually have. And I started bleeding after only 15 days.

It sucks that my bloodwork was done on this cycle. I wish I had it drawn on what I consider a "good" cycle (more than 24 days, fertile signs).  I already know that the crappy cycles are crappy; what I really need to know is if the ones I consider good are actually good. But of course there's no way to know which kind I'm going to have on cycle day 2. Anyway, in light of recent events, I may have to re-name The Period as The EBB (estrogen breakthrough bleeding). The EBB is not a real period; rather the lining sheds because in the absence of progesterone produced by the corpus luteum, estrogen alone can't sustain it.

Funny, eh? When I started sharing this TTC business online, the drama on the message boards was about whether or not you'd get your period. AF here again? Soooooo disappointing! Well. Now I'm wondering if I'm even going to get my period. How nice it would be to be sure that I'm actually having a real period.

It all gets me thinking of how we can so easily take for granted what we can do. I know, and have known for some time, that absolutely everything I can do without a thought is something that another person in the world struggles to do every day. It's a sobering thought. But that's not all: everything, absolutely everything, from cuddling my daughter to driving to work to typing on this computer to kissing my husband to eating food to breathing: every single thing that I can do today, I will not be able to do one day. I will lose every last one.  Every last learned skill. Everything my body does to keep my alive. I may lose them slowly, or I may lose them all at once. But I will lose them. I do not have a choice.

Kind of a depressing thought? It is....but it's also liberating, in a way. If I'm going to lose it all in the end, maybe instead of clinging to those things that are on their way out, I make the most of those I get to have, for now. I know my dad had many regrets when he died, mainly for every(thing)(one) he still could have done and seen and held close if he had more time. But he did not have any regrets of what he passed on to us.

Anyway. This doesn't mean that we intend to stop trying for a child. I still have a few months to take the DHEA / COQ10 and see if it helps. There might be a good egg or two. If not, we are still in a position to use donor egg, as far as I know. But it's useful to put the whole process in a little bit of context.