"There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company than a good marriage."
--Martin Luther

Friday, 27 February 2015

Rest in Peace, Blaire

On Sunday morning, I woke up expecting a packed day. I worked on a project for school, went to church, stopped by the mall to take out money from the bank machine, and ended up the day at my friend's house watching the Oscars. I had no idea that the day would take a turn in the saddest possible way.

I found out late Sunday evening that my friend Blaire had passed away. She was 35 months pregnant and the mother of a three-year-old girl. She suffered a sudden heart attack at age 27. Her unborn son died with her.

There are no words for this kind of a loss. All griefs are hard, of course, but when my grandparents passed, at least we could remember their long lives. This one hit like a sucker punch. I am sad that I will never see her outspoken political posts on Facebook again, or chat about life's insignificant details like Oscar fashion or what kind of milk we buy. I am sad for her husband, as he grieves these terrible losses and tries to keep it together for his young daughter. I am sad for Rowan, who will grow up without a mother. I am sad.

Blaire was a tireless advocate for progressive politics. She longed for a day when everyone had access to adequate medical care and education. She adored her daughter. She loved Disney. She was Blaire, and I loved her for the person she was.

This loss has put so much into perspective. All the trials of this week - which included papers, presentations, and a broken furnace - seem a little less daunting in the light of such a loss. I've been holding Gil a little tighter each night. I've realized that although I want to be a mother more than anything, I don't want to waste my days dwelling on what is not. I want to live. For Blaire.



RIP Blaire and baby Cassius

A few of Blaire's friends and I have put together a Go Fund Me page to help her husband with funeral expenses, as well as to save for Rowan's education. If you're interested in donating, the page is here:
http://www.gofundme.com/emersonfamily

Sunday, 15 February 2015

It Doesn't Get Easier

The other night, I was watching television and ended up full-on weeping. Like tears streaming down my face, nose running, etc.. It was awful. What were we watching? Not Parenthood (that cry-fest) but the new show called Forever. There was an episode where Henry and Jo were investigating the death of a deposed king of a (fictional) country. They interviewed the man's wife, and she spoke emotionally about how it turned out they could not have children. Even though it had been decades, she still spoke with obvious pain about finding out she was infertile. Friends, I know television is not real, but this program killed me.

As we've gotten further along in our infertility journey, I keep hoping in vain that I'll wake up and feel better about it. That I'll stop wanting it so badly, the way I stopped wanting to go to law school or play keyboards in a band (yes, really). It doesn't seem to happen that way. Some things do get easier. I stopped obsessing over random symptoms ages ago, which is helpful to my mental health. I rarely cry when some well-meaning acquaintance asks me when we're going to have kids, but the ache is there every day. I never close my eyes at night without thinking and praying and wishing for a child.

I can't help thinking that ten years from now, twenty-five years from now, fifty years from now, this ache will still be there. It's gotten harder to believe that we might conceive or adopt a child, but even if we do, I'd imagine the longing and grief of this period will be hard to forget. Thirteen years ago this week, I was a lost and angry young lady, alone in a foreign land with my family falling to pieces around me, and I grasped at a light. I sought for God and found Him. But when I think of that time, it still hurts. I cannot forget the sense of being adrift and alone. Time provides perspective, but it doesn't heal all wounds, no matter what the saying claims. I can only grasp at hope that the light is coming soon this time around.

Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/470485492298261649/

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Things I Dislike In Book Romances

Today's topic for The Broke and the Bookish is "Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike in Book Romances."  I chose to focus on what I dislike, since it's so much easier to decide on ten topics. Here are my picks:

1. Obsessive love: You know what I mean. "I can't stop thinking about him. I can't function. When he's not near me, it's like there is no air to breathe." That's not love, it's obsession, and it's not cool. Yes, I'm looking at you, Twilight...

2. Instant love: Call me a cynic, but I don't really believe in love at first sight. You know, there is beauty and romance in growing to know and love someone over time. I prefer more Persuasion and less Romeo and Juliet in my books.

3. Love that is focused on appearances: Sure, good lucks are nice. We all like the feeling of being attracted to someone. However, real love is about more than just looking at someone and getting weak in the knees. If an author tells me that one character is in love, and that character is constantly ruminating about his/her love interest's taut body, chiseled abs, and penetrating eyes, I'll quickly feel like this is more lust than love.

4. Cheating: If you're with one person and fall in love with another, I don't want to read about it. Sorry.

5. Love triangles: So over done.

6. Ridiculously fast engagements (in modern fiction): In Jane Austen's time, sure, you could meet someone and be engaged in a month, but in reality, that's kind of bizarre. I mostly see this in Christan novels, and it weirds me out. When half the book is on whether they even like each other, it usually feels way too rushed if they're on their way to the alter before the end.

7. When one person is in love and the other is oblivious: The whole "He's my best friend, but he won't even notice me" is kind of tired. I mean, it does happen, but when the blinders come off and the oblivious one is suddenly in love, that's way too cliche for me.

8. When everything works perfectly right away: Holding hands, kissing, sex, it's all awkward at times. Show us that. I'm picking on Twilight again, but the whole, "It's our first time and we had so much passion that we BROKE THE FURNITURE" is ridiculous and paints unrealistic expectations.


Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: I Can't Believe I Haven't Read These Classics

Today's Top Ten Tuesday (at the Broke and the Bookish, as always) is top books from any genre that you can't believe you haven't read. The only genre that I'm fairly consistent about is, yep, classics. So here are some of the classics that I really should have read by now:

1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: I know, I know, I'm a Russophile and ashamed. One day...

2.  The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky: I'm a Dostoevsky fan. I've even been to good old Fyodor's house. I've read several of his books, and I even have this one.... but it's been sitting on my shelf forever.

3.  The Enchanted Wanderer by Nikolai Leskov. Yes, more Russian lit.

4.  Anything by Virginia Woolf

5.  Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott: This seems like one of the classic of all classics. I'll get around to it some day.

6. Anything by Emile Zola

8. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo: I finally read Les Misérables in 2013 and loved it, so this is definitely one to read in the near-ish future, like when I'm not in school. I adore the musical (not the Disney movie, the French stage show), so I have high hopes for the book.

8. Howard's End by E.M. Forster

9. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka: As a German enthusiast and a lover of Prague, I really should have read this book by now. I think it's because I feel like I ought to read it in German that it never gets done.

10. Berlin Alexanderplatz by Alfred Döblin: This isn't one that I feel like everyone should read, but I'm embarrassed because I've started it twice and never finished. As with the above, it's probably time to put down my German copy and buy a translation, otherwise it will take me eons to get through it.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Sabbath Rest

Since September, I've been involved in a Bible study survey of the life of Moses. We've covered Exodus and Leviticus now, and are in the middle of the book of Numbers. There have been some exciting and familiar reads, such as the parting of the Red Sea and the plagues of Egypt, but also a lot of those passages that, let's be honest, most of us skip over. It's been interesting to actually study the laws and the nitty-gritty details of the tabernacle. However, one thing that has stood out strongly to me is the concept of rest.

The idea of Sabbath rest is in the Bible from the very first chapter. Whether you believe the Old Testament or not, this idea is part of our culture. We all live with a seven-day week (even in medicine where those weekends are not really weekends!), and the word "sabbatical" is used in academia and other professions as a throw-back to the fourth commandment. If I'm honest, taking a rest is something that's easy for me. I've written previously about the fact that getting married and quitting my job was a wake-up call for me, an opportunity to realize how much my hectic lifestyle was literally making me sick.

A recent study on Sabbath years and Jubilee years reminded me once again that God's plan involves taking time off, and it suddenly dawned on me that this applies to our infertility journey too. We've been in this game for a year and a half, and it's taken a huge toll on me. It's no secret that hormones make you freaking crazy, and when you add in dozens of blood draws and various and sundry tests, it is extremely difficult emotionally. Fertility treatments really do take over your life.

And yet... it's hard to walk away. Any step away from the clinic feels like quitting, giving up on a dream. How can I say that I want to be a mother more than anything and then stop after less than a year of treatment? The truth is that we are on hiatus not because I can't hack it, but because Gil and I are not exactly on the same page about what comes next.

Reading these portions of Leviticus, however, made me realize that part of God's pattern is to take time off. I can't read this too literally, because it's not like we have tried for six years and are taking the seventh one as a breather, but I am challenged to see this waiting period not as sitting in limbo, but as a Sabbath, a chance to sit still a while.

It's been a pensive time lately. I never mentioned this on the blog before, but in the first month that we tried, I really thought I was pregnant. I had eighteen or nineteen days of high temperatures and even swore I saw a faint line on a pregnancy test, but only one time. I'll never know what happened, whether this was a chemical pregnancy or I was seeing things, but I do remember thinking that we would have a baby in spring, 2014, and that by now, we were supposed to be thinking about the next kid. I had plans. I had goals. I was going to do what I could to make them come to pass. And now I'm sitting, contemplating, marinating about whether I will ever be a mother. The Israelites too had plans. They were supposed to get to that promised land and start farming. How strange it must have been for them to think about taking a whole year off of farming. What would they eat? What would they even do? It's a reminder to me that I can't figure it all out myself, and that try as I might, I can't make things happen according to plan. So for now, I will try to enjoy this Sabbath as best I can.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Infertility Books

Whoa, here I am, combining my two most common blogging topics. Has your head exploded yet? This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic (at the Broke and the Bookish) is a freebie. I thought long and hard about this... Umm, okay, no, I left it to the last minute and then went with something that I already had a list on GoodReads about. :) I chose to talk about infertility books, not the non-fiction books that try to tell you how to survive, or what step comes next and all that jazz, but novels and memoirs that touch in the infertility experience. I've read most of these by "accident", in that I was not actively looking for an infertility book, so I would say they are definitely not geared only towards those of us in the trenches.

1. All Good Things by Sarah Turnbull: A memoir of the author's time in Tahiti, but it also goes through her IVF experience. I found it very moving. It's also probably a good read for those of us in the northern hemisphere wishing we could hit the beach.

2. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman: I actually found this a bit hard to read because I didn't agree with some of the choices made, but the portrayal of Isabel's isolation and repeated miscarriages was so heartbreaking and real.

3. Eden by Yael Hedaya: This wasn't a book focused on infertility, as it looked at a wide range of characters with intersecting stories, but the first paragraph hit me across the face with its discussion of Dafna's IVF experience, and I found myself drawn into her story.

4. The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Clayton Whyte: A good portrayal of what it means to be supported by one's friends through the trenches of infertility, and also the isolation and shame that some women feel. I can't imagine how hard it would be to go through this decades ago, when there was no internet to find community and women had few career options outside of home.

5. I Am Forbidden by Anouk Markovits: I had mixed feelings about this book because the second part seemed so rushed, but it really showed the strain that infertility puts on a marriage and on your mental state.

6. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty: The main focus of the novel is on Alice and her marriage, but the sub-plot with her sister Elisabeth showcased the difficulty of navigating relationships when one side is infertile and the other is not.

7. Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda: It's been a while since I read this, but I recall being moved by Somer's plight and how even though she was a highly educated and driven woman, her career and marriage could not fill the hole left in her life when she could not have a child. It strikes a nerve for me.

8. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: I love this book so much. I'm guessing I can't blame my own infertility on my husband's time traveling genes though?

That's all I can think of for now. There are a few that I've heard good things about like Ben Elton's Inconceivable and Peggy Orenstein's Waiting for Daisy. What about you? Any books come to mind?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2014... But Didn't

This week's Top Ten Tuesday over at the Broke and the Bookish is about 2014 releases that we meant to read, but didn't. However, if you've been around here for a while, you'll notice that I don't really read based on release year. There are a few writers whom I follow and try to read their work brand new, but for the most part, I don't anticipate books coming out. For this reason, I'm re-jigging the topic a little and writing about books that I meant to read last year, but didn't get around to.

1. The Betrayers by David Bezmozgis: This is one of the few writers whom I do follow. I meant to buy this as soon as it came out, but money was tight as I'd just started school, and I've only just ordered it now. (Yay!) It'll definitely be a 2015 read for me.

2. Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas: This has been on my to-read list for almost five years. I even own two copies. *Hangs head in shame*

3. He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope: One of my Classics Club picks. (I chose a list but don't actually blog link, so it's just a personal challenge. I had this ready at the end of the fall and ended up picking up a couple of heavy biographies instead.

4. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton: Started, but got caught up in something else. It might be a summer read.

5. One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp: I've heard this is great and have a copy, so it'll definitely be something I read ASAP.

6. Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler: I read the first book and meant to pick this one up too.

7. Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung: You know, I have just been too busy to get around to it, hahaha.