Category Archives: Muse Vessel

A place to keep my muse.

We Might Be Okay Now, Well Better Than Last Year

Fifty-two months ago Adrienne had a hysterectomy. We have seen four Mother’s and Father’s Days since the decision.  Each one is easier than the previous however for some reason this Father’s day was more melancholy for me than the previous.  The first Mother’s Day Adrienne wrote

There is no I-had-my-uterus-and-ovaries-taken-at-32-so-I-will-never-have-children-of-my-own day. If someone makes one, I hope it’s in August. I don’t have anything else to celebrate in August.

The name isn’t catchy, the sentiment too raw, and it risks emphasizing our infertility.  Whatever it is named, we observe that day on August 11th.  I originally posted a request to our friends in this blog in 2010 where I detail objectives of the day. We receive a nice response each year.

Most of the time we are okay. Every once in a while emotion overwhelms us.  2013 has been pretty good, evidenced by the sparse blog updates on the subject. (Read most of the saga there.)  Thank you to all our friends sending Adie well-wishes yesterday.  It really means a lot to the both of us.  We spent the day playing video games then went to a private restaurant industry party, kind of a typical day off for us.

I am thankful that Adie & I survived the crucible.  Through the moments of weakness, flaring rage and years of emotional strife we built an unshakable relationship that continues to broaden and deepen.  With all we have been through I am profoundly grateful for this relationship borne partly from hardship.

To end this post I want to invite curious readers to ask me about the experience.  I feel compelled to talk about it, however the subject rarely surfaces and most people awkwardly change the subject.  Engage me if you are going through something similar and want to talk, or just want to know what it is like.  I may tear up, but I am better than last year – sadness and joy are part of life.

Happy Bragging Day (still not quite right, but getting closer)

Fourty months ago Adrienne had a hysterectomy.   We saw three Mother’s and Father’s Days since the decision.  Each one is easier than the previous.  The first one Adrienne wrote

There is no I-had-my-uterus-and-ovaries-taken-at-32-so-I-will-never-have-children-of-my-own day. If someone makes one, I hope it’s in August. I don’t have anything else to celebrate in August.

Today, August 11th, we observe that day.  The name isn’t catchy, the sentiment too raw, and it risks emphasizing our infertility.  One friend suggested Bragging Day and sometimes we call it Phantom Uterus Day, but I’m not sure either gets the point across.  Adie & I had some decisions, truly life-altering, world-shaking realities, forced on us but we want to make something positive out of our situation.

Let’s try to give today a good name.  Please think about someone that cannot or will not have kids and drop them a note to:

Celebrate the life and happiness they have

We let go of a lifetime of desires and expectations while simultaneously redefining and reorienting ourselves.  This process is not over, but our goal on this day is to be happy with all we have.

Emphasize accomplishments

Birthing and raising children is often quoted as the biggest accomplishment a person can make.  We do not believe it.  Your affirmation drives us on to other altruistic endeavors.

Show that they are whole people

Any -ectomy takes something away from a person.  We felt “broken” and may not get over that.

Today is not about trying or failing to be a parent.  We need neither sympathy nor reminders of our “enviable freedom” and that parenthood is “not all joy“.  At the same time the day’s purpose is not to belittle family.  Reinforce the good things that all of us do.

If you have a good name for today post it in the comments, twitter, facebook or email.

Infertility Checkup

It has been twenty-eight months since Adrienne’s hysterectomy.  Last year I made a request to our friends to help us celebrate our post-infertility life.  August 11th is this week and we still don’t have a name for I-had-my-uterus-and-ovaries-taken-at-32-so-I-will-never-have-children-of-my-own day (someone call Hallmark).  At any rate, here’s what we are going to do on Thursday.

Celebrate the life and happiness we have

We celebrated our 10 year anniversary last September with an Alaskan cruise.  We stay out late and listen to live music and her migraines due to hormone replacement are far more infrequent.  Adrienne spent ten days in Malaysia.  We continue to thrive despite my layoff eight months ago.

Emphasize accomplishments

Adie passed her PhD qualifying exams and is nearly finished!  I founded a brewery and a freelance software company.   These things are not impossible with children in tow, but I would feel much more pressure to stabilize our income and she to stay home if there was more responsibility over our heads.

Show that we are whole people

Any -ectomy takes something beyond guts & viscera away from a person.  As time goes on this feeling fades.  You’ll have to take it from Adrienne, because I don’t really know what it’s like.

I’ll close the same way I did last year: we are not the only ones.

So many couples and singles struggle with their sense of childless self worth.
Think of them on this day.  If you would like to help, it is simple as a phone call, email, tweet or Facebook post just to say “hi” or to remind someone of the good they do.

This day is not about trying or failing to be a parent.  We need neither sympathy nor reminders of our “enviable freedom” and that parenthood is “not all joy“.  At the same time the day’s purpose is not to belittle family.  Remember, Adrienne and I still make a family.  Reinforce the good things that all of do.

How To Edit Friends and Not Look Dumb to People

At first I was going to detail how to make a friend list, put people in it and edit your privacy settings all in that little box.  Instead you get a blog post with pretty images.

An Allegory

LinkedIn is the “social network” for your co-workers. I keep track of a lot of people there.  Sometimes you like a person you work with enough to go to a Judas Priest concert with and you totally have to share that picture of you two with K.K. Downing.   So now you and Judas Co-worker are friends and she’s friends with that annoying guy in accounting who sees her tagged in a photo with a Grammy award winning guitarist and you.  That leads to Ned McNedly pressing the + Add as Friend button on your profile and you don’t really want the boss’s son to see how much you play Dumbo Racer.  Sometimes the network works against you.

If you can’t send Ned to you clinically app-free LinkedIn profile you can friend him without giving away too many personal details.  Time for some pretty pictures!

Go to that giant time-waster (that’s not the way I really feel about you Facebook, don’t be mad) and click on the Account button, then Edit Friends (where is this functionality IRL? JK I <3 u just the way you r).

Press the + Create a List button.  Call it something that would burn the soulless zombies you work with to their very core if they knew they were on your list.

Lists are a great tool for categorizing your friends.

Now to shut out the unworthy.  Click Account again and choose Privacy Settings.  You should see a giant field titled Sharing on Facebook.  Change to Custom, then click Customize Settings.

On the next screen you can “control” all the privacy leakages social networking enables.  Try it out.  Pull down the control next to Posts by Me and choose Customize.

Type the name of your new list in the Hide this From box and you can safely play Dumbo Racer all day long.

How Do You Know It’s Working?

Facebook gives you a way to check what your profile looks like to other people.  Click on Account then Privacy Settings.  You get the Sharing on Facebook screen pictured above.  Choose Customize Settings again.  In the upper right there will be a button labeled Preview my Profile.  Try that.

Profile Preview

Do like it says and start typing a friend’s name to see the world in their eyes.

Sales Tax & Your First Amendment Rights

This morning I heard a story about a large corporation and a judiciary both acting in favor of privacy over taxes.  It warmed my cockles.

As the recession continues states look for ways to fix budget shortfalls.  Raising or enacting taxes is politically incendiary in an election year but one state saw a way to increase revenue.  Last year North Carolina asked Amazon for information about goods it shipped (complete with names & addresses) to residents between 2003 and 2010.  It intended to collect sales tax owed by the good people of NC.

Even though Amazon does not charge sales tax on purchases the buyer may be responsible for paying come April 15th.  North Carolina asked for records revealing identities and purchases as part of a tax audit of the online retailer.  Amazon replied with detailed information regarding the items purchased, dates, amount of purchases, and county to which the items were shipped, but no personally identifying information.  The state acknowledged the information is sufficient to assess sales taxes, but pressed for all the requested details.

With the aid of the ACLU Amazon fought back citing the First Amendment, specifically the Video Privacy Protection Act which bars “wrongful disclosure of video tape rental or sale records.”  Since passage in 1988 the protection was extended to cover DVDs, video games and books.  The federal district court in Seattle, Washington ruled in favor of Amazon.

Withholding the information was financially disadvantageous to the company because Amazon could not claim potential deductions, resulting in a higher tax bill.  They did the right thing in the face of monetary loss.

The cynic in me sees Amazon putting up a great public relations campaign in favor of privacy, all the while selling our personal information in secret to other companies.  Other states, including my home state of Texas, are pursuing uncollected tax revenue from Amazon and making a strong showing against the Tar Heel State may bolster their other cases.

Overall it is a win for privacy and I’ll take it.

References:

A Request to Friends

It has been sixteen months since Adrienne had a hysterectomy.  Saying “we’ve been through a lot” is meaningless truth.  Adie and I will never be parents.  Ultimately the decision was ours, heavily influenced by cold biological facts.  This blog is small catharsis, but its material is not for those with a weak emotional constitution.

We have seen two Mother’s and Father’s Days since the decision.  Each one is easier than the previous.  The first one Adrienne wrote

“There is no I-had-my-uterus-and-ovaries-taken-at-32-so-I-will-never-have-children-of-my-own day. If someone makes one, I hope it’s in August. I don’t have anything else to celebrate in August.”

I will observe this day on August 11th and I am asking our friends to do so with me.  The name isn’t catchy, the sentiment too raw, and it risks emphasizing our infertility.  With a little effort we can all turn this day into something positive. This day we should:

Celebrate the life and happiness we have

We let go of a lifetime of desires and expectations while simultaneously redefining and reorienting ourselves.  This process is not over, but our goal on this day is to be happy with all we have.

Emphasize accomplishments

Birthing and raising children is often quoted as the biggest accomplishment a person can make.  We do not believe it.  Your affirmation drives us on to other altruistic endeavors.

Show that we are whole people

Any -ectomy takes something away from a person.  We felt “broken” and may not get over that.

We are not the only ones

So many couples and singles struggle with their sense of childless self worth.
Think of them on this day.  If you would like to help, it is simple as a phone call, email, tweet or Facebook post just to say “hi” or to remind someone of the good they do.

This day is not about trying or failing to be a parent.  We need neither sympathy nor reminders of our “enviable freedom” and that parenthood is “not all joy“.  At the same time the day’s purpose is not to belittle family.  Reinforce the good things that all of do.

I would like to recognize Mandy Tompkins’ kind help in putting this together.  She has been there before us and gone on.

That is not who we are now

I don’t remember the year we decided to try, 2003 probably.  It was a New Year’s Eve, near the same hour of the night when I proposed to Adrienne.  I still remember the thrill of intentional unprotected sex.  A mixture of excitement, apprehension, hope and orgasam.  After that, the time between 2004 and 2010 was mostly pain and frustration.

It’s Infertility Awareness Week.  Right now 7.3 million Americans are somewhere along the same path we took; many of them are as lost as we were.  One of those people may be you.  I can not know what you feel, but I know it is crushingly real.

Ours is not a typical infertility story that odds-be-damned ends with a cherished miracle.  Adrienne and I held fast in the medical treatment crucible while the options frustratingly expired despite our efforts.  We wanted children but have physical and financial limits, so leave that struggle behind us, heads bloody but unbowed.

That we are still together evinces the commitment we made for better or worse, in sickness and in health.  We love each other for neither fecundity nor financial motives, but for the people we are; tempered by that crucible.

Although the strength of our relationship carried us, it took the help of an invaluable infertility therapist, kind family and trusted friends.  Without them, mourning the miscarriages and internalizing our situation would have been impossibly arduous.  Letting go of a lifetime of desires and expectations while trying to redefine and reorient yourself is not easy.

We are no longer the-couple-that-can’t-conceive.  The desire will never leave, but I refuse to let it shape me into a bitter childfree person who congregates on forums proclaiming I want nothing to do with children while ranting about affronts of “breeders” and their rugrats.  That is not who we are now.  We moved on.

Instead we find ways to take joy in each other, our careers, hobbies and the people around us.  It feels similar to that first night: excitement, apprehension, disappointment, and hope, but most of all it feels victorious.

An Early Fall Evening Walk

I heard reports of snow as far south as Denver. Fall is creeping down from the Great White North, but here in Texas Summer still weakly grasps for the Earth, holding ground against the inevitable season. Some mornings it gently rains, some afternoons the temperature climbs to 90°. Today we experienced both.

The sun seems closer in the Southwest. It lazily crossed the clearing sky, determined to dry the lawns and buildings and sidewalks and streets, sending so much moisture airborne. A breeze would make it pleasant, but all day the air was still. The late evening atmosphere sticks in your hair and precipitates on your cheeks, closing around like a womb.

Through the morning’s vaporized rains, with the sun just below the horizon, Adrienne and I set out for a walk. Dusk was quickly deepening into night, bringing yet perceptible relief from the surroundings. We strolled the neighborhood softly rapt with one another and conversation.

Our course led us by a low area where the rainwater runs out of a small wood into a gutter under the sidewalk. The year-round water makes habitat for papyrus sedge and passion flowers and amphibians that splash in the pool when you approach too noisily. As we passed Adirenne stopped.

“Sweetie, look!”

I broke my search for frogs and brought my gaze up to see. At first there was nothing but low shrubs against a background of trees. Standing still as the air around us I waited. Then I caught a wink of low yellow light in the middle distance. “Fireflies.”, she whispered.

Against the dark background of the forest the insects were impossible to see until they revealed their presence with a brief luminescent glow. Within moments dozens of rising lanterns winked in the night. Silently they droned in the moist air, oblivious to the two spectators their mating signals also attracted. I watched quietly waiting for one to silhoutte against the sky close enough to catch.

Spying one, I carefully reached for it drawing my closed fist between us. She bent close to look, but my open palm revealed nothing. For the first time in long minutes, I looked at her.

She stood perfectly still except for eyes that darted over the glen, sparkling with each firefly. A big gap-toothed smile brightened the whole of her face. In that instant the natural beauty around me seemed a reflection of the look on Adrienne’s face. The moment lengthened and I would have liked to stay in it forever.

We lingered at our private fireworks show a while longer not wanting to leave. It seems the longer you stand still, the closer responsibilities of the day press against your mind. Nudged forward, we clasped hands once again and resumed our walk. Looking back towards the creek, Adie proclaimed “Best night ever!”