A challenge changes shape

I have always wanted to be a mother. I like to tell people that I’ve thought about having children since I was a child, because it’s true and because it sounds good. I like to read about teaching methods and childhood development and what effects experience can have on personality and learning. I often think about what sort of environment I want to provide for my children, how I want them to feel comfortable and safe and loved, and how I’d like to foster in them a love of exploration and creation and imagination. To this day, when I hear about a fun trip or project, I think about doing it with my kids.

Two things came along in my life to derail my assumptions. Neither of them managed to snuff out my dreams, no matter how hard they tried. But together, it seemed that they would see to it that my dreams never became a reality.

The first thing, of course, was cancer. I was diagnosed with biphenaltypic leukemia in 1997, and the three rounds of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant I underwent to conquer that disease effectively destroyed my ovaries–or, perhaps, the eggs inside them. I only have regular periods when I’m on hormone replacements, and despite having nothing but unprotected sex throughout my seven-year marriage to Sean, we have never had so much as a miscarriage.

Through my struggles with this reality, Sean always told me to face reality, to try to be happy without my dream. Sean didn’t want children; that was the second thing.

He never wanted kids. Never dreamed about it, never thought about it except when I talked about it. The most he would ever agree was that he’d accept it if I happened to get pregnant; aggressive fertility treatments and adoption simply weren’t things he was interested in. There was a time when I tearfully tried to express just how important having children was to me…he was silent for a time and then said quietly, “I didn’t think it was a deal-breaker.”

It wasn’t, of course. I knew how Sean felt when I married him. I married him because I loved and still love him, not because I expected him to give me everything I wanted. I’ve come to realize that Sean doesn’t fully grasp how much I love him, how leaving him to pursue one of my dreams simply isn’t an option.

And so, over the past ten years as I struggled with the knowledge of my infertility and had doors slammed in my face with every test, I was alone. Sean ached for me, but never with me. He wanted me to be happy. He wanted me to forget about having kids and just enjoy my life with him.

In a way, that made it a little easier. At least that way, if I couldn’t give him children, I wasn’t disappointing him.

But that part of the equation fell away last weekend, when Sean said, as if I’d known it all along, “I still want to have a daughter one day. Just one. Of course, with my luck, we’d end up with a boy. I’d like us to be able to have a kid, but if that’s not possible…I would be okay with adoption.”

We’ve got a lot going on right now. We’re planning to move across town, and Sean’s trying to get a certification and move on with his career. Once that’s settled I will be undergoing elective surgery. We won’t be ready to try expensive fertility treatments for a year after that.

But that’s the plan now. It may be too late…or it may never have been possible. But we’ll try.

And if that fails, it looks like we’ll be adopting.

I honestly don’t know how to feel. This isn’t a too-good-to-be-true situation, but it’s still so much more than I was led to expect these past ten years.

My world view, which for so long has felt so narrow, seems suddenly to have expanded. If I just turn my head, I feel like I could see it all.

But I can’t bring myself to go all-in just yet. Not with all the disappointments I’ve already gone through.

At this point I will clamp down and allow myself only the tiniest cautious flicker of hope.

Too bright

I had just finished opening all the blinds in the living room and kitchen when Sean got up.

“Hiss,” he said. “It’s too bright in here.”

“Hi!” I replied, glomping him. We hugged and he settled down in his gamer chair. “There’s food for you in the microwave.”

“It’s too bright in here,” he responded.

I started laughing, and bent down and wrapped my arms around him. “I love you and your silly ways.”

“…it’s too bright in here.”

I gave in. “Since that seems to be the only thing you can say, I’ll close this one,” I said, reaching up and twisting the cord on the blinds next to his table.

“That’s much better,” Sean sighed, relief flooding his I-just-woke-up voice.

Poor baby ;)

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Me: I’m going for a bike ride. Be back in a couple of hours.

Sean: A couple of hours? That’s a long time! What am I supposed to do without you?

Me: Well, it takes that long…I have to get there, and then I have to ride, and then I have to come back.

Sean: I suppose I’m not allowed to watch Smallville while you’re gone.

Me: No!

Sean: And I know I can’t watch Monk either.

Me: No, you can’t.

Sean: So what am I supposed to do?

Me: Isn’t there some sort of quest you can go on?

Sean: I can’t save the world all the time. Sometimes, other people have to do it.

Me: Would you rather I not go?

Sean: No, I want you to go. I just want to watch Smallville while you’re gone.

Me: Well, if you do that you’ll have to watch the same episodes again when I get back.

Sean: Okay, fine. I give in to your demands. The plane will be waiting at the airport.

Me: Don’t forget the $30 million.

Sean: Whatever, terrorist.

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Happy Thanksgiving :)

I hope you all had a lovely day. We did!

Our table

Grandma Flo

Sean (right) and his dad, Reid

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I walked into the kitchen, stared around blankly for a few seconds, and then said aloud, “I don’t keep my purse in the kitchen anymore. I need to remember that!”

As I stepped into the guest room, Sean called loudly, “Heather.”

He never calls me by my first name, just like I hardly ever call him “Sean”, so I paused for a moment to make sure I’d heard right.

“Yeah?” I said tentatively.

Deadpan, he informed me, “You don’t keep your purse in the kitchen anymore.”

This is how we get along ;> Sean seems to find me infinitely amusing. The other day I was looking at the kitchen floor and I said, “This floor never looks clean. I don’t think it is clean. I think it’s dirty!” And he could not stop laughing.

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Things are going well. Mom has been able to stay longer than I originally thought she could, which has been so great. She actually dusted my apartment. I don’t think that has been done since we moved in.

But seriously, it is so nice to have her here. A lot of people don’t get along with their mothers, which is such a shame. My mom is just wonderful. She was strict enough when we were kids and when we became adults she treated us like adults. Now she’s my friend and my mom, which is just neat. We can sit and enjoy a good conversation or go out together and have fun, but then when I’m sick or upset I can snuggle in for a good Mommy hug.

Plus, it feels so good to have someone take care of you. Sean and I are both really independent, and while we do take care of each other, we’re not doting. And I don’t really want to be doted on by him. I know he loves me; I want him to do his own thing and be his own person. But occasionally I do like to just relax and be coddled, and while I can ask Sean to take care of me sometimes, my mom will instinctively know what to do and just go ahead and do it. It’s such a comfort. I’ll really miss her when she goes back home.

Monday I felt all right up until the end of the day, at which point I got really tired. Tuesday, though, I felt great the whole day, such that I ran errands on my way home and then tidied up the apartment. Yesterday was another okay day. I haven’t had any moments this week where I’ve had to stop and gasp for breath, probably because I’ve been careful not to exert myself too much, but there have been times when I’ve been tired. At those times I just put my head down for a few minutes to recharge and I’m usually fine.

I’ve been sleeping all right, too. Last night and the night before I decided to skip the Flonase to see if that would help with how I seem to lose my voice when I’m at work. And it did seem to help yesterday; I wasn’t nearly as hoarse. I think I can probably stop using the Flonase. Conveniently enough I have a doctor’s appointment this morning, so I will ask him when I go.

I’ll also be asking him if a sleep study is actually necessary–it probably isn’t, so I should be able to cancel it, which will be good. I’m not sure how much of that insurance was going to cover :>

Later today I’m seeing the cardiologist again, and she said she might prescribe a third heart medication.

The next steps I need to take care of are organizing exercise and diet. I need to get a treadmill so I can walk indoors, and I need to figure out a good plan so I can eat heart-healthy foods and maybe lose some weight. It’s funny to try and lose weight at a time when I can’t really exert myself, but whatever ;>

Beyond the health stuff, there are a couple other things I want to do soon. First, Mom wants to buy me a new cell phone so I can take movies and pictures. Sean and I had a ridiculous experience at the Sprint store this past weekend–we were all ready to buy this brand new phone, but their system wouldn’t let us buy it!–so we may change carriers. Hopefully we can make that decision this weekend.

The next thing is to get a dining room table, because I am planning on hosting Thanksgiving. I know the exact table I want, so I should probably just go ahead and order it. The problem will be finding chairs…the chairs that come with the set don’t do it for me. We’ll have to see how that goes.

I also need to get a desk and a file cabinet, or maybe just a desk with a file drawer, for the multipurpose room, so I can get all our paperwork off the floor. (I gave Gargantua the Monster Desk to Rex from work.)

Mom keeps asking me why I haven’t bought an electric piano…I guess I just don’t feel comfortable spending thousands of dollars when I’m not sure I’ll be dedicated to it.

Grandma Flo called and offered to clean our apartment for me once a week, which is going to be a huge help. I’m going to see her on Saturday and work the details out. Also on Saturday, I think Mom and I are going to the mall. Maybe we can all go together…we’ll have to see. Then, that evening when Sean’s up, maybe we can figure out the cell phone thing.

And that’s pretty much what’s been going on. I feel fine on the whole, I have an idea of how things are going to work from now on, and I should be getting more details worked out today with my doctors. So there you have it.

In the rain

I had another bad night last night. A few hours I went to bed, I coughed so much I threw up, a lot. This is the third time that has happened in recent weeks. After throwing up I felt marginally better, but it didn’t last, and after awhile I was hungry again. Fearful of nausea, I had a Slim-Fast instead of food, which thankfully stayed down.

Later, I woke up in a panic, trying to breathe. I had stopped breathing in my sleep again. I haven’t had that problem since I started sleeping with my head inclined and using saline nasal spray and Flonase. But there it was. My nose was clear and it didn’t feel like my throat was stopped up. Instead, it just felt like I stopped breathing for no particular reason. I tried to go back to sleep but my breathing felt weird and I was terrified I’d stop breathing again, so I got up and messed around online for awhile.

I felt horrible. It was like there was a rock in my chest, and I kept having waves of mild dizziness, the kind of feeling you get when you take a sedative. I pondered going to the ER several times.

Finally I tried going back to bed and lying on my stomach. For some reason, this calmed me down and made me feel better. My breathing didn’t feel as forced. I wasn’t able to fall asleep, but I was able to relax, which felt great. Finally I rolled onto my side and slept until after noon.

Today I had a Slim-Fast for breakfast, again out of fear of throwing up. I still felt a little nauseated due to gunk in the back of my throat. And sitting there in 70 degree air conditioning, I started sweating and feeling overheated, which has been happening intermittently for at least the past week. My skin gets clammy and Sean says I’m freezing to the touch, but I feel so hot and uncomfortable I can’t stand it until I take a bath or shower. But I don’t have a fever; I’ve checked.

Another symptom I’ve had off and on is swelling/bloating in my feet, ankles, thighs, and hips, but thankfully I’ve had little or none of that today.

I wasn’t feeling too hot, but I needed to run to the store and pick up a few things, like laundry detergent. So I went. Shopping when feeling this way is not fun; there’s nowhere to sit down, and the cart I chose tended to roll away when I leaned on it, so the best I could do was stand still for a few minutes whenever I’d start to feel woozy or urpy. After a time I noticed that I was hot and sweaty again, from hardly any movement, in an air conditioned building. My skin was all pink and my clothes were sticking to me. Additionally, I felt very tired and run down. I wrapped up my shopping as quickly as possible and wondered if I should ask someone to help me get the stuff to my car. Ultimately I got everything loaded myself, returned the cart, and then just sat in the driver’s seat for awhile to recover.

It was 98 degrees out, but I left the windows rolled down rather than use the air conditioning, and it was nice. The heat evaporated the sweat (although it did cause more), and the breeze felt nice. As I drove home it started to rain, just a slight spatter here and there. I stuck my arm out the window to catch some of the droplets. An inexplicable emotion came over me and I moaned as if I was going to start crying.

The on again, off again rain continued as I pulled into the apartment complex. I stopped in a space and turned the car off and just sat there, watching the rain pelt my windshield and die away. I eventually opened the door and let some of it smack me in the arm.

After a time the rain got harder and harder. There was no lightning; it was just a downpour. I got tired of my left arm being the only part of me to get wet, so I got out of the car and stood full on in the rain.

It felt so good.

My clothes were drenched within seconds, but I stood there anyway. The air was warm enough that the rain felt very comfortable. I glanced over and saw a neighbor sitting on his porch, presumably staring at me, though it was hard to tell through the sheets of water. I shrugged and went back to enjoying the rain.

It wasn’t long, though, before I decided it would probably be best to get my purse out of the water, and also take the refrigerated groceries into the apartment. So I opened the hatch and grabbed all the perishables and lugged them up to the front door. Opening it, I set the sopping bags and my purse in the entryway and called Sean to ask him to put them away. “I’m going to stand in the rain for awhile,” I said, and shut the door.

I stood outside until the air temperature started dropping and the rain started to feel cold. Water washed over me and I considered sitting on the steps to enjoy it, but ultimately I just stood there until I thought I might be in danger of catching cold. Then, reluctantly, I opened the door, removed my shoes and left them outside, wrung out my shirt as best I could, and made a bee-line for the bathroom, where I stripped down and hung all my clothes in the shower.

Emerging with a towel on my head, I informed Sean, “That was awesome.” He looked pretty perplexed.

Honestly, I don’t know what it is with me and water, but it just seems to rejuvenate me. And I’ve always loved standing in the rain.

I can’t say I feel 100%, but I certainly feel better than I did when I was leaving the grocery store.

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Happy Birthday, honey!

“Tomorrow you begin the last year of your 20s,” I told Sean last night.

“Really?” he said. “I thought I was turning 28.”

That’s okay. He didn’t even remember his birthday was coming up until I mentioned it this week.

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Normalizing one’s environment

I decided that since the air conditioner is working again at the office, I will keep it on at home as well, to avoid putting my throat and nasal passages through lots of changes all day. At the moment my throat is dry and I’m able to breathe fairly normally.

When I got home I cleaned up a bunch of garbage, vacuumed, and started some laundry. I took all the bedclothes off our bed, intending to wash them, but with one load in the washer and another in the dryer I felt very tired all of a sudden, so I crawled into the spare bed and fell asleep.

I awoke vaguely when Sean came home, opened the door to the second bedroom, and looked at me, and I babbled something to him about thinking I was avoiding an allergen by being in a different room, but that it didn’t seem to be working. He looked at me some more and then left the room. I think he was more interested in “where’s my dinner?”, but I obviously wasn’t coherent at the time :>

It occurs to me that I still haven’t thanked him properly for yesterday. I’ll do that before I go back to bed.

After awhile I got up, brushed my teeth, folded the laundry in the dryer, and shifted the stuff from the washer into the dryer. Then I got on my computer and read manga for awhile, and ate some cottage cheese, which has really been a lifesaver lately. (I need to buy some more!)

Now I think I will give Sean a kiss and go back to bed. I have to be at the hospital at 9 to go to the ear, nose and throat clinic.

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“I’m ready for something new and exciting in my life,” I said, posing dramatically. “And you have to help me.”

“Go to bed,” Sean replied.

Well…fair enough.

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Wacky dreams

Last night I had a funny dream and a very vivid one.

In the first dream, I dreamed that a guy I deal with a lot in the Chicago corporate office, Mike, had sent me an email to tell me that I was annoying. Then, in the dream, I “woke up”, and I told Mike about that dream. And he said, “Well, that’s kind of true.”

(I emailed Mike to tell him about the dream today and he thought it was hilarious. And, for the record, he said it wasn’t true at all ;>)

In the other dream, Sean and I were with my family and some other people outside when all of a sudden a big cloud of gray and yellow dust started moving towards us. As we looked at it, we saw what appeared to be little birds riding on top of things three times their size, but as they drew closer we realized they were actually large bees carrying huge white and yellow flowers.

I ran for my camera, but couldn’t find it.

The bees didn’t seem to care about us at first, but for some reason as time went on they became hostile, and at that point I noticed their five inch stingers. One of them stabbed Mom in the behind as she was fleeing indoors, the long, thin, needle-like stinger going all the way in.

“Did it hurt?” I asked her.

“Not really,” she grimaced.

I thought we should just leave the bees alone, but many people started to go for the bug spray. Four-year-old Logan grabbed some and started spraying it around, then lost his balance and almost fell off the table he was standing on. I and someone else grabbed him and sat him down.

“Do you know why we’re mad at you?” I asked him, because I wanted him to understand that there might not always be someone to catch him when he fell, and he needed to be more careful.

“Yes,” said someone else, answering for him, which was annoying. I’m not sure who it was…it didn’t seem like Mom or Faye, so maybe it was just a character interjected into the dream to represent bad parents, even though Logan actually has very good parents.

Later I was headed off somewhere and I was a little paranoid that the bees would sting me, so I hurried, and then I heard Mom behind me saying “They’re going after Faye–er, Heather.” (She will sometimes go through a whole list of names before finding the person she’s talking about ;> I’ve been called Bev, Carol, Sally, Faye, and Amanda many times.) Regardless, somehow, I managed not to get stung.

This dream, of course, partially reflects my experience every day when I leave the apartment and have to walk through a horde of wasps and hornets. Occasionally I think about calling management to have pest control come out, but they’ve never stung me, and it’s only nerve-wracking for those few seconds while I walk to my car, so usually I decide not to worry about it.

(This morning they were even crazier than usual, actually running into walls. Is it mating season? Still didn’t get stung, though.)

At some point during the dream about the bees, I remember meeting a nice older couple who were talking with Sean about his wedding ring. He apparently needed to have it fixed (although I have no idea what could possibly go wrong with a plain white gold band), but due to various tax and political family issues, he didn’t want to have it done in Augusta. The couple was recommending he send it to Kentucky and then we could pick it up at Christmas.

“Oh, and while you’re there, you should meet the so-and-sos,” the woman said. “I know you’ll like them!”

To my great surprise, Sean was not only thoroughly enjoying the conversation with the couple we barely knew, but also seemed eager to meet their friends in Kentucky.

And that’s about it for last night’s dreams :>

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The Date(tm)

I really like this date thing Sean and I are doing on Saturdays now. It gives us a reason to get up and get dressed and go somewhere and be together.

Yesterday we went to Fujiyama on Washington Road. We’ve ordered 2go-Box from there before, but we’d never actually been to the restaurant. The ambiance was great. There’s a little bridge over a fish pond out front, and inside there’s plenty of woodwork and shoji-esque windows and electric lanterns. There are hibachi tables and regular tables and a sushi bar. Unlike how the interior of Kurama used to be before it burned down, the hibachi tables aren’t all in one place, but instead scattered around the building. Each hibachi room is separated from other rooms by architectural features such as door frames, though the pathway is wide open so you can see from room to room. The lighting isn’t overly bright, either. The shoji “windows” along the wall where we were sitting were backlit by lightbulbs so it looked like daylight was shining through them. Kinda neat.

Unfortunately, the tempura wasn’t very good…I think we just prefer the batter at Mikoto. The dipping sauce didn’t taste quite right, either. Too much soy I think.

Sean’s sushi was great, though, as usual. He loves their spicy scallop rolls. I ordered the seafood udon because my throat was sore, and it really helped. It was very tasty too–there was some sort of fish in there, shrimp, crab (probably imitation) and scallops, plus mushrooms, onions, and that weird soft white thing with the pink outline that tastes good, but I can never remember what it is. Good stuff, but very filling…I ended up bringing most of it home.

After dinner we went to the new hhgregg to see about a flat panel television. American Express had a deal recently where they gave away 30 Sharp flat panel televisions for $800 each, instead of the MSRP $3000. We tried to get in on that but were unsuccessful. That whetted our appetite for a nice big flat panel, though, so we decided to check out hhgregg’s sale, which included an HD-DVD player and 5 HD-DVDs for each flat panel purchase over $1000.

After looking at all of them, a particular Sony model stood out to us as having the best picture, and it also had essentially all the features we wanted. We left and came home to research what people online thought of that particular television, and to see what other places were charging for it. Then we went back to the store to haggle.

Ultimately they didn’t come down enough on price for us to feel comfortable buying it, but it was fun to research together and talk about what we wanted and run around together and make the decision together. I know this sounds like a really routine thing, but Sean and I are such independent people that we often just do things individually, so all this togetherness was really nice. I’m not the type of person who needs her husband to be there 24/7, but I do miss him when he’s not around :)

When we got home we snuggled on the couch and watched a few episodes of Friends from seasons 6 and 7, took a break in the other room for awhile ;>, and then watched Hikaru no Go DVD 8, wherein the pro exam preliminaries begin. By the time we finished it was somewhere around 2 o’clock, so I reluctantly went to bed while Sean got into some serious WOWing.

All in all it was a really good day :)

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What is UP?!

Thought I’d drop a quick line and tell you what’s going on with me.

1) Brooke’s wedding was beautiful, and this past weekend I saw her off at the airport. She’s coming back next month though, so it’s kind of like she’s just on vacation…especially since her apartment still looks like she lives there ;)

2) Sean got a new job. He started yesterday. So far it looks pretty good. He works my same hours, 10 to 7. This morning I got up and made us both a lunch :) Assuming things work out, we will be buying my new Yaris around the middle of March.

3) My mom’s older sister is going through a difficult time with some medical issues, so my mom is flying driving up there to take care of things. I’m just hoping everything will work out. I wish my aunt would move to Kentucky and live near my mom.

4) Water is dripping from the apartment above directly into Sean’s shower. I guess it’s good that it’s not seeping into our floor! The maintenance guy showed up this morning at 8 o’clock. I was still in bed.

5) I have a BIG DECISION that I have been weighing for weeks now. I think I’ve almost made it, but I’m still waiting on some information before I commit. Certain things that are happening in the meantime are making the new venture more and more appealing…

6) I love art blogs. One relatively minor goal in my life is to make enough money so that I can buy a few pieces from my favorite art bloggers.

7) Lately I have really been wanting to buy a Japanese-style hot water heater, some green tea (the actual tea, not a tea bag), and a teapot. The water heater would be the most expensive, but I’ve wanted to have one ever since I first went to Japan. It’s just that in the past few weeks, I’ve really wanted to have the option to brew a pot of green tea at work without having to microwave the water.

8) I’m getting over my cold.