Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The difference between 'if' and 'when'

There are nuances in language when speaking to someone unable to get pregnant.
Nuances in language that I wonder if anyone thinks to consider.

For me, there is a big difference between 'if' and 'when'.

As an example, a dear friend who recently had her first baby has taken to speaking to me about her experiences with her little one by saying things like:
"When you have a child, prepare for messes!"
"When you have a child, don't pay attention to people saying you need name brands!"
"When you have a child... etc, etc."

It's not a secret to anyone that I do hope to be a mother someday, and my friend knows that.  Now, let's take her sentences and change one word:
"If you have a child, prepare for messes!"
"If you have a child, don't pay attention to people saying you need name brands!"
"If you have a child, etc. etc."

Can you see the difference, between when and if?
When someone says to me, "When you have a child..." it tells me that they believe it will happen someday. That it's not a matter of if, but only when. That they acknowledge that motherhood is something I yearn for and they believe it will happen.
The word if implies that there is question. Obviously I don't know what the future holds, and maybe from a logical level 'if' is the more appropriate word... but if doesn't give me hope. If doesn't make me smile at the thought. If makes me feel a bit worried and anxious.

Now, I know you shouldn't count your blessings before they're granted, but it's still nice to hear that others believe in that dream with me. It's nice to hear "when you have a child" as if it's a real true possibility that people believe will happen for me. That makes me smile.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Vanxiety Attack

Hello, before I dive in I just want to highlight how clever the title of this post is.
I also want to thank those that have emailed me such support and encouragement during my five month hiatus! I didn't get a chance to respond to all of them, but know I read every one.

I am back to discuss my cleverly titled 'Vanxiety Attack'.

"But what is a vanxiety attack, Kristen?" you may be wondering, and I am so glad you asked!
It is a vagina centered anxiety attack.
In my case, it is the first time I have ever had an actual anxiety attack, and it was quite terrifying.

Let's time travel together to 4 weeks ago.
There was something going on with my vagina. I didn't know what it was, but it was apparent that something wasn't right. There was a strange feeling, a pain, that I had never experienced before.
I called my doctor and talked to the nurse, who after speaking with the doctor requested that I go in to be seen as soon as possible.  She told me I should also contact the surgeons who created my vagina to give them a heads up and made an appointment for me the next day.
I was at work while all of this was going on, making my phone calls during my breaks.
After my initial discussion with the nurse, I started to feel strange. I couldn't stop thinking that something was very wrong with my vagina, and my mind jumped to outrageous possibilities as to what could be causing the pain.

"What if it's caving in?"
"What if some bug crawled in there and is building a nest?"
"What if I stretched funny and broke it?"
"What if I waited too long in between dilation sessions and ruined it?"

I am highly protective of my vagina, obviously, and extremely focused on keeping it healthy and in tact.  As my mind rushed from one possibility to the next I realized I was having trouble breathing.  I excused myself from work, only to find myself inexplicably crying as I left the building to sit in my car. Crying while having trouble breathing is not a good mixture, and I began to feel faint. I also  couldn't just sit in my car, I kept leaving the car to pace around outside, then went back to sitting, then back to pacing. I couldn't stop crying and shaking. I was an emotional mess, and I couldn't calm down for awhile.
When I finally did, I realized with a start that I had just had an anxiety attack. Probably a mild one, I don't know, I've never had one before.

The thought of anything happening to my vagina gave me my first anxiety attack, isn't that wild?
I'm usually fairly level headed emotionally in situations, but when it comes to my vagina that sensible side of me seems to vanish.

It turns out I had a yeast infection, the first one I have ever had and quite common in women, according to my doctor. Also the first normal thing to ever happen to my vagina.  My doctor laughed at how excited I was and I went home and celebrated with wine and pizza.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Thoughts on thoughtlessness

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a gentleman who was quite upset.
There are times when people just need to vent and get everything off their chest and all they want is for someone to listen to them. I happened to be the person this man wanted to vent to, and so I listened patiently.
What struck me so profoundly about this interaction was that as he was sharing his life's woes with me he stated (very agressively) that I had no idea what it was like to go through hard things or to be depressed and angry.
What a bold claim!
He was clearly distraught and not in a place where my arguing with him would do any good, so I let the comment slide.
But I was upset by his assumption.
How often do we become so lost in our own despair that we lose our compassion and empathy for others? How could this man, who did not know me on a personal level, possibly assume that my life had always been nothing but sunshine and rainbows?
This man was so consumed by his own sadness and heartache that he couldn't believe that there was anyone else sad like him. He was so hung up on his negative life experiences that it changed the way he viewed the lives of others.
Don't be like that man.
Don't get so caught up in the negativity of MRKH or anything else that you lose yourself in it.
Don't become so centered on the sad feelings that you lose your empathy and compassion.
And don't ever assume that the people smiling around you are living perfectly happy lives. We all have negative experiences, painful memories, and challenges in life. They feel worse for us because we are the ones living them, but that should never lessen our care and concern for others. They shouldn't rob us of our compassion.
Sadness and pain are not a competition of who has it worse. We should always be building each other up, whether friend or stranger.

To be honest I was quite taken aback by his comment. My mind whirled around all the painful things I had been through. Growing up with divorced parents, one who never had anything kind to say about the other. Being pulled out of recess in the 5th grade to be greeted by police at the school office who asked questions about my home life and watching them take my older brother away. My diagnosis with MRKH. The week I spent in a mental hospital shortly after. Being thrown out of my home a week after my 18th birthday and desperately trying to find a place to live so I wouldn't sleep on the street. Holding the hand of an old friend I loved as a grandfather and watching him take his last breath. Sitting in the same hospital room a few years later, alone, as a machine breathed for my mother and not knowing if she would live through the night. The doctors told me I should speak to her, but even as I held her hand I could think of nothing to say and I felt that if she did die it would be my fault for being so cowardly. Holding my older brother as he cried in my arms after he returned from his third tour as an infantryman in Iraq, and realizing I didn't know who this man was anymore. These things were difficult things. I do know what it is like to be sad, to be depressed, to lose hope and to despair at things lost. To shout at the heavens "God, why!?" But I do not dwell on those things. I do not want to become bitter and angry, like that man. I choose happiness. I choose joy. I choose light.
MRKH is a piece of my life puzzle that caused me pain, but it is not the only painful thing in my life and I know there will be many more to come. My greatest prayer for myself is that no matter what happens, I will not lose my joy. Because in between all those terrible heartaches there is so much good.