(image source: Pinterest)
So it’s been 2 months this week since we got our keys and began the long ass process of moving in and getting our house in order. And beyond the hell of remodel, there is the new hell of figuring out who we are as a childless-not-by-choice couple in a totally new world. Some of the things we’ve learned and/or realized in the past 2 months…
- Two of our neighbors are grandparents, which means visiting grandchildren in the summer everywhere (5 acres yes, but sound travels of little ones playing)…oh and one of those couples are only a few years older than my husband…
- Another neighbor across the way is a family. A very large family. How large? How about ELEVEN children. As I mentioned, sound travels here in the sticks. Oh and can I tell you, their kids (and the dad) are out of fucking control when it comes to their dog? I love dogs but what I don’t love? Assholes who think that they should get their kid a puppy and not train it. Assholes who think that screaming at the dog will get it to obey. Assholes who think chasing a dog all the way across the road, through our pasture, and into our backyard over and over, violently yelling and screaming at the dog to come (rather than – gasp! – having a nice fenced yard for it or taking it out on walks on a leash), is okay. Assholes who, as of yesterday, I have now called Animal Control on because the dog almost killed our littlest duck Cocoa as she was free-ranging with the others in the garden just feet from their coop (our sweet girl was nowhere to be found for over an hour, and we found her cowering in fear, traumatized, under the stairs deep inside the garage of all places). And the ironic thing? It’s a golden retriever who is very smart – when the dog was racing around enjoying the chase and not about to get anywhere near the insane adolescent boys or father screaming from his property, I just stopped, squatted down, and gently called the dog over and it was by my side, sitting quietly as I held him waiting for the kid to come take him back home. Let’s just say this has zero to do with my infertility but I needed to vent as the way I feel about bad pet owners is very similar to how I feel about the fact that there are a whole lot of people who had no problem getting pregnant and are shit parents.
- Lots of invites from neighbors to get together, including the most recent being a gathering of neighbors this past weekend which we politely declined in our remodeling chaos that has allowed us little time. Well, to be honest? We can be around one couple with kids, but the possibility of an entire classroom and the complete disinterest I have right now in responding to the kids question? Y’all I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready for that magnitude of social situation. (Ironically when I was younger I was known for throwing Solstice parties…but going to any type of large gathering where I don’t have a job to do? Not me at all…proves my inner introvert is alive and well, y’all…)
- Oh and when we went to the Summer Bazaar a few weeks ago… it was like stepping right back into Portland with the folksy/hip artists and their similarly dressed kids, minus shoes, so sweet and pure and articulate and oh gawd, my heart began to sink. And sink. And sink. It’s a terrible thing to think “I don’t fit in with these people”. They say hello to my husband at his work, but they know we don’t have children (they don’t know why) and so really, what is there to talk about if not talking about one’s children or grandchildren? I suppose it’s why we’ve connected with the pet and livestock owners.
- Then there was my husband’s employer, where I guess if you have an all-staff meeting you can bring your kids. I drove up to pick him up and a coworker came out with her baby in a carrier. He and I both just squeezed each other’s hand. It’s not their fault, the world just goes on about its business while the CNBC (childless-not-by-choice) wonder how we got to be so damn invisible. Because we’re not in the majority, we don’t exist. It reminded me of how on 4th of July so many people are fine with blowing up illegal fireworks despite the trauma it inflicts on animals and people with PTSD from living or fighting in war zones. Because it’s not the majority, they don’t need to be sensitive to it. I understand both sides. Yet I don’t. Because I’m in it, you know?
Last week was World Childless Week and I tried so very hard to not think about it. I’ve written so much about my infertility, the loss of my baby, the adoption failure with Ethiopia’s program closing its doors, and the now 15 months it has been since we went domestic. I’m tired of writing about it. But I’m also tired of grieving. I’m also tired of looking at myself and thinking, was there anything I could have done to change this? Yet I read about things well after the fact… like how a severely retroflexed uterus (something I didn’t know I had until my radiologist told me after my HSG back in 2015) can affect both fertility and increase one’s chance of miscarriage, or, as I’ve discussed in past posts, how your age DOES affect implantation, even with a donor egg, something that doctors have been lying about to patients for years – including mine.
The other day I met the neighbor on the other side of my house for the first time. They’ve got a big red barn that I love to look at from the other side of our pasture, and I’ve noticed he’s got a couple of Rotties and is building a home while living in the trailer out front. From the former owner to the surrounding neighbors, all I was ever told was “you won’t like him, he’s weird, he’s not friendly, his wife is nice but he’s weird”. And I looked at my husband and I said you know what, I’m going to call bullshit on that. They’ve turned him into Boo Radley, I’m guessing.
So I’ve been called the weird one for not fitting in, and one thing I can tell out here in country life is that if you don’t participate in everything, there’s something wrong with you. If you don’t stop for a chat, you’re different. If you just want to have your peace and quiet or if you are simply not a social butterfly, you’re…yep…weird. So the other day when our sweet Cocoa had gone missing, and I was crying my eyes out in the pasture, he waved across the pasture at my husband to come over there. And just like my gramps would have said, he offered his own version of empathy, in the form of you know if that dog comes on your property you can shoot him. Not something we’d do, but we understood that was his attempt to be helpful. And then after that comment he was, one on one with my husband, shooting the breeze. So after my husband went back to the barn, I brought him over some pickles for he and his wife, and we stood at the fence, chatting. And you know what? He’s Boo Radley. One of the first things he said to me? “I grew up on a farm in Oklahoma 28 miles from the nearest town so after school I came home and worked on the farm, so I’ve never had a lot of social skills.” That was enough for me. He’s 70, he’s building a house, he’s got horses and dogs, and he keeps to himself. And he was perfectly nice to me. Not the socializing type? No problem. Who gives a shit! That doesn’t make him “weird” – it makes him just a quiet dude who prefers animals over people…something my dad used to say, and I very much understand!
So why do I include this story? One small thing he said quickly in passing was that he never got the chance to be a father. Now I didn’t ask for details, but I can say this: there was a hole in his heart. Boo Radley or whatever one might say, he is no longer invisible, at least not to me.
The losses we experience change us. In two months it will be 10 years since my father died at the way-too-young age of 62. At the end of this year it will mark 4 years since my infertility was realized. And today, if our baby would not have died, he would be just over 18 months old. I’m shaped from this and will continue to be, whether I write about it or not.
So I’ll leave it at that. Autumn is nearing, and it’s time to prepare for whatever life is going to bring us next. The sun is out, and I’m just waking up every morning remembering to breathe, checking things off my list, and looking for the small things in the world to be grateful for. And the big things as well – a company that’s lasted over 6 years now, a home on a huge piece of land that I never thought would be possible for us to have, and a husband who has got my back and has shown himself to be the most loyal, loving, truest partner anyone could ask for. I may not have it all, but I haven’t lost sight of what I do have.