Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Igor and Igor

From "Young Frankenstein" (1974), there is this scene, one of my favorites in which I'd like to share with you- the first meeting between Igor and Dr. Frankenstein. 

Igor: Dr Frankenstein....
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: "Fronkensteen."
Igor: You're putting me on. 
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: No, it's pronounced "Fronkensteen."
Igor: Do you also say "Froaderick"?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: "No... "Frederick." 
Igor: Well, why isn't it "Froaderick Fronkensteen"?
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: It isn't; it's "Frederick Fronkensteen." 
Igor: I see.
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: You must be Igor. (pronouncing it 'ee-gor')
Igor: No, it's pronounced "eye-gor."
Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: But they told me it was "ee-gor."
Igor: Well, they were wrong, aren't they?

Going in and out of the doctors' offices in late 2011, to determine what was going on in my uterus, with the noticeable bump that could pass for a 4-month pregnancy, there were many ways I could cope with this, in trying to get some control of something that was wildly getting out of control.  

I have a morbid sense of humor, I admit, and that's what I did.  

Remembering the movie, especially this scene- "What hump?", I started to call the bump "Igor."

Don't get me wrong, I knew it wasn't a baby.  I needed desperately to add humor to an already bleak situation.   

While talking with friends, I'd refer the bump as "Igor."  I didn't want to think about the bump as a tumor, a cyst, or even cancer, but of an annoying pest, yet right there when you think he's not there. 

"You know how in that movie, Igor said his name is pronounced "eye-gor?"

"Yeah I remember that." 

"Well, THIS Igor, it is pronounced "Ee-gore.  They are gonna be twins, kinda.  Ugly, pesky but a relief when out of sight."  

Silent with a stare   

Yup, how sicky my humor could go!  


Before going under on the day of the hysterectomy, I stared at the doctor, telling her-  "I want pictures of Igor."  She looked perplexed. Before, I sunk into the darkness, the interpreter (who is also a friend) explained what Igor was.  

So, when I saw the doctor the day after the surgery, she reassured me that there were photographs taken of the fibroid. She then described the size of the fibroid,  that was removed along with the uterus. She explained  about many blood vessels she found attached to the tumor.  The size and numbers of blood vessels surprised the doctor, especially with it complicating the surgery, on top of finding out that one ovary was wrapped up by a fibroid, which was not noticed on either ultrasounds or MRI. It was removed, too. I recalled nodding in numbness at the information sinking into me, one ovary less, which led me to forget about Igor.   

It was a week and so after surgery, when I got a email from an address that was not familiar to me.  I was hesitant but I went ahead when I noticed the company in the end- name of the hospital where I had the surgery. After downloading two photos, I then opened the first one- not sure about what to expect.  At first, I wasn't sure what I was looking at- it was all red, pink and bumps- kinda like a brain. It was then I realized the photo was zoomed up over 100%, so I was looking at one part of the picture.  So I zoomed down, so I'd see the whole photo.

I stared fixed at what I was seeing, and then I realized...this was Igor.  

I was mesmerized with what I was seeing.  "So that's you, that f**ker."  

Ravager of my uterus. Baby dream-destroyer.  Cause of all the fear and the anxiety.   Childless not by choice, end of being a biological mother.  

And not even one hint of cancer, as they tested in the labs.  (and that's a post in the future.) 

For the next few weeks, in the dark of night, I'd creep to the laptop and open the photos, feeling if I should be busted like the husband in the Farm State commercial, where his wife grabbed the phone and said "who is this?" 

I decided to deal with that by creating a meme, only to me, putting totogether the Igor from Young Frankstein and the fibroid- and from there, I found I didn't need to look at the photos/meme anymore.  So it was a validation that it all happened, and you know..I'm okay with that. 

Oh for the meme?  I'm keeping it for myself, to remind myself sometimes humor is needed for survival.   

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My house.

You came in the house.   You looked around, noticing the placement of furniture.  The decorations.   The curtains.  The lights.  The texture of the walls, and the floor.  you went, "Hmm."

You immediately imagined how you'd change this chair from the window to a corner- "it would look better that way."

You gave in and moved a little statue from a side table to the mantle.   Emboldened, you relocated a plant from the corner of mantle to a corner where the window is.

You got yourself hooked- you moved the stuff to another room, to paint the walls in a color you like, "that's who I am."  You replaced the carpet, for something that is more to your taste.

You then found yourself moving around the furniture-  the sofa, now upholestered in a fabric you prefer, is now in the center, not against a wall anymore, "to make it two rooms."  The armchair that was resting in one corner is now at one side of the sofa.   You replaced the shades of the lamps for something you like, "the shades looked so old, time to bring in new!"

You went through the books, tossing out books that made you go "eww" "nasty", and then re-organized the books you determined worthy to keep, alphabetically.

You replaced the art on the wall, that defines you.

Can you see the problem here?

You just changed MY house, into something that YOU like, to define YOU, never mind that it's MY house.
The house, who is an echo of who I am, my personality- and you attempted to change all that to match YOU, to make you feel comfortable, to match your expectations.

That's the problem- 
You tell me how to get better; you're just moving MY sofa to one other side of the room. 
You proclaim to me on what to do with my health; you're re-organizing MY books. 
You give unasked advice about how I "should" handle my grief; you're upholestering MY favorite armchair.
You, uninvited, try to fix the issue that I live with; you're putting artwork on MY walls, pretty much a band-aid.
You get frustrated or angry about how I deal with my own mental/emotional health, on my own time; you're replacing MY carpet for a rug you prefer.
And you declare your displeasure about my journey; you're painting MY walls in your favorite color.

You're trying to change me into someone you think I should be, when it's NOT who I am.   At first I was going to say "I'm sorry for disappointing you, not meeting your expectations," when I realized no... it's YOU who should apologize for trying to change me into someone I am not. 

Would anyone wonder why I'd toss you out the door if you tried to change my house?

******* This post is for us who go through the infertility journey, dealing with good-intended yet hurtful advice, and judgmental comments.  Can also apply for individuals living with chronic illness, grief, trauma, mental illness, domestic violence, recovery, etc.*******

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Little boy, big giant.

Almost a year ago, I wrote a post "Small step, big step?" which was about a friend who had a baby, had reassured me to take my time, before I'd feel ready to hold her baby.  I felt both excited and apprehensive at that time.

It's almost a year now.

I hadn't held her baby yet, who is now a 1 year old cheeky toddler.

Now I could look at photos of him.   I find myself smiling when the friend share a story or two of her children, here and there.

But the idea of meeting him....

I'm afraid.

What exactly am I afraid of?

That I'd break down and cry, front of her and her family;

That I'd have to look the friend in the eye the next day, and resent her for being a mother;

That once I hold the child, I'd feel nothing.  Or everything;

Or that I'd find myself back in the cycle of doubting myself, re-examining my life, and trying again in acquiring  a child, knowing I'd go through the frustration and confusion, not knowing what would be the outcome, but likely the familiar taste of grief all over again.

Just a friggin' 1 years old toddler, yet to me, he's Galactus.

P.S. My geekiness  sneaks up here and there.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Try to lead a herd of cats? Try 11 teenagers!

Attempting to discuss on helicopter vs. authoritative parenting, I was challenged about having the ability to parent or not;
"You mean, since I don't have children, I don't know what it's to be a parent?"

"Well, that's not what I mean... you don't have children, you know?"

"I took care of many children, including my cousins, that meant  babies to adolescents. I have three godchildren.  Have you EVER taken care of 11 teenagers under your roof for 6 weeks? Especially them being all girls...  have you?"

"Eleven girls- how did you do that?"

"With a sense of humor; a routine for chores; clear rules with enforcing responsibility for actions; listening and empathy; not taking B.S; and also to know that I'm not perfect, but I did my best. Even the kids knew that and appreciated that."

A pause, then "I guess you do know how to parent."  

Nice to know I get approval to parent... (sarcasm) 

(Note: I was a summer counselor. Two other counselors, who were teamed with me, were too busy with their summer flings and gossip, leaving me alone with the teenagers in a range of age 13 to 16. Including two kids that had a history of being kicked out in past years- but they managed to complete the stay with me. All sharing a cabin with two toilets, even so. Gotta love Camp Endeavor in FL!) 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Facebook landmines

A dear friend had shared this article: When Facebook suck! on my page- and I'm touched that she had thought of my situation, since she knows I had repeatedly hid some people on Facebook.  

After reading the article, I'm telling you- if I was that good in writing, that's exactly what I would have written sometime ago! Although, I admit I do hide certain people who is pregnant or over-sharing of their children on their posts (or restricting number on new feed). I know how much some parents love their children, but must they talk about their kids every 10 minutes on Facebook?! Or over-share 20-50 photos daily of what their kids do?
"His first accident-heeheh"
"see how she's so cute sleeping with her Barbie!"
"His first car!" (with 11 photos, taking all angles of the car, no less.)  

You get the idea... I had to hide or de-friend one or two last year before/after the hysterectomy surgery for my own self-preservation (fortunately, one understood, the other didn't, unfortunately). I do understand that some parents find joy in sharing info of their children, although a hundred-thousand photos in a month? Don't you think that's a tad too much? I admit occasionally I feel a concern about one's intentions (even good ones) for sharing photos with friends, friends of friends, or even to public. After all, have anyone truly considered that one might use your photos of children for their own profit/purposes that may not be...nice? Last fall, a friend came crying to me, being very upset, that one of her Facebook photos of her child daughter had been "stolen," and it had gone viral as a meme.

I do share info about infertility now and then- but not often..since I don't want folks to feel like they're 'walking on eggs' if you get my meaning. I was flabbergasted when someone, I thought, as a good friend, claimed that I share posts about infertility "8-10 times daily, woe is me." I had to check my feed to see if that's true biz, of me over-sharing. I even asked a friend who is quite objective, without explaining why I wanted her to do so, to check numbers and what I share in a week, in the last three weeks. Love her, but she reported, literally "17 Star Wars memes, 8 Johnny Depp memes, 6 tiny house posts, 21 positive/feel good quotes, 3 infertility posts, one infertility meme, countless geek crap (hmmmm, I take that she doesn't like geek stuff, huh?) and...." I told her that's enough. Well, even *I* would get sick of myself if I do that much as that person claimed! The purpose behind my sharing is to help increase awareness for infertility. After all, according to the U.S. census 2008, there's a finding: slightly less than 50% of women (18 years old to 44 years old) are child-less (by choice, or circumstance). One in five encounters infertility (and I know I'm preaching to the choir here..) 

Back to the point, The friend shared the article to show support, and that's significant. What's wrong with wanting to share information, or to be an ally? It's all the same, as in the idea for cancer awareness or MS support or education to watch out for symptoms of depression.

And in long run, advocacy for awareness of infertility helps me heal as well. Face to face, being public and being supportive of each other (my tribe), instead of sweeping it all under the rug, hence leaving it to fester and increasing risk for relapsing to bitterness, avoiding emotions, pretending it all didn't happen- that's not healthy for me.

I chose this path, of being a public face for infertility, childlessness not by choice, and for deaf women who may or are already on the path that put them without children to raise. To give hope, and to reassure that they are not alone. By sharing my story, and by posting articles and quotes now and then on Facebook, I'm saying, "I may be down sometimes, but I'm not out."

That's all I can do.... I refuse to stay in bed forever, I refuse to pretend that it didn't happen. I refuse to put a deadline on the grief as some folks think it should be within 1 month to six months- grief is NOT a straight path.....there's good and bad days, there's some moments it's okay to cry, and there's times it's okay to laugh. There's times to step on the soapbox and speak up, and there's times to sit with friends, debating Star Trek vs. Star Wars. And that's why it's important to acknowledge that sometimes Facebook has its plus and cons, when one is infertile. One has to practice self preservation, and that's on you. To walk away, or to take a hiatus from Facebook, or to hide people. Don't chew people out if you're hurting- they have as much right as you to share what they want to post. Just hide them if you're not comfortable. I could go on and on about this since this just happened to me, but that's a post for another day. 

And oh yeah, referring to that article I read today, it's okay to be THAT woman sometimes.