Over the Hump

It's been almost a month since I posted! I've been pretty occupied with gearing up for this move. The Variety Show I organized for the students went pretty well. We didn't have a huge turnout for the show, but I considered it a success that most of them did actually perform something and have that success and added confidence going forward. My program Director also posted the show on FB so it got out to more folks and was positive for the program.

RC has been here for the past week supporting me to prepare for moving lots of my stuff into the pod yesterday.  We ended up hiring a guy from Craigslist to help us with labor, as there were a few things that he and couldn't have moved on our own. We are now on the other side, and I feel super relieved! My place has emptied out and now just has necessities to get through the next 10 or so days. RC is coming back in about a week, next Monday, for the final load-in, and then we head down the coast to his place. Crazy!

We have had some tension this week, because he had expectations of how the week would go with him being here - that it would mainly be about him physically moving stuff. But for me, and I tried to communicate this to him but not clearly enough, the initial task was providing moral support and provide energy/encouragement to get some challenging organizing/packing steps done. A big challenge was that I had to work last week, so he was at my house feeling frustrated during the day  because he felt he couldn't move forward on that much.

But to me, it was hugely helpful to do certain things, like: move the boxes out from under the stairs so I could sort through them and repack some of them; buy more boxes and packing stuff at the store; repack a storage bin that had collapsed and take apart the crib and desk, etc. I had a little energy left when I got home to do a few things, but then I needed to rest and recharge for the next day of work. I knew tasks were moving forward in the way they needed to though, whereas he couldn't see it as much because it wasn't his stuff.

Anyway, we ended up talking it through Friday evening and Saturday morning I got a bunch of stuff done for when the moving guy came at 11:30. We had a wonderful walk around the lake that we like to do and a nice dinner where he actually broached the topic of marriage (!), so the week is ending well. I'm going to go make him breakfast before he has to drive back. Feeling a lot of gratitude and excitement about future possibilities. I also had a phone interview with that university in Eugene this week - more on that later!


Big Changes

Sunday morning, April 22...beautiful day here in Northern California. Feeling grateful for the weekend and catching up on sleep after a hectic week, including a tech rehearsal for the Variety Show I'm producing for our program as drama club advisor, and the show is coming together, though I have felt like I am herding cats for much of the process. After next Thursday evening, the show will be complete, and I will have a lighter load.

I've been spending some time this weekend planning and thinking through action steps to prepare for moving in with RC at the end of May. We came up with this new plan after he had a mini-breakdown thinking of moving up here right now. He has lived in his place much longer than I have and will be getting rid of lots of stuff in the move. Also, he has a strong support system down there, and he just started an intensive 12-week online program to become a fitness trainer.

As we talked through it more fully, it does make sense that I put my stuff in storage and move down there. I have no work up here - he can work some part-time concert event hours down there at a winery - and I can get unemployment wherever I am located. Also, I am seeing it as an opportunity to really focus on creating my online introvert/professional career transition program.

The negatives include: his place is not very nice, as I mentioned earlier; I have pack up all my stuff again after doing that just a year ago; and we will be living on the Central Coast in a location that is less desirable than my current neighborhood.

I think the positives outweigh the negatives, though, and include: saving money through paying less rent and his additional income; simplifying my life so I can really focus on creating this online program; he and I spending quality time together this summer in-between both of us focusing on completing online programs - he from the student side and me from the counseling/coaching side; and giving him more time to sort through his stuff and decide what to get rid of, keep, or store.

The negatives are mediated by the fact that it will be time limited - two or three months at the most - after which we plan to move closer to family in Eugene or Austin! We have been talking about this since we met and will likely be taking a short trip in June to visit his family and check out Austin. At this point, Eugene is looking much more likely because he really liked it there and my family has the athletic club business where he could work part-time, to supplement his retirement income. But I'm open to falling in love with Austin and switching gears if both of us feel that way and see a positive future there. As a side note, I have applied for a job at the university in Eugene, which could definitely be a factor, as well.

Spending some time on the Central Coast also has perks in that I have a couple of friends to spend time with down there from when I lived in the area (where we met), and it really does have some beautiful hikes and state parks, some along the ocean. His friend has a winery, as well, which might be a benefit and a fun place to visit.

I guess overall it makes sense, but it's a huge pain in the immediate time frame of May when I will be packing up! He's coming down to help in a couple of weeks. I'm going to get a pod so that we don't have to unload the stuff into storage and can just move it up the coast to Oregon, if that's where we decide to settle, or to Austin if the ship turns in that direction.

Of course, my priority remains having a child through the California ivf donor egg program, and a big reason to save money is so that we can go forward with that in late July or August. It makes sense that we stay in California through August so that we can drive to complete the treatments there, versus having to fly. In the meanwhile, I have started working out and taking supplements and will continue to work towards being as healthy as possible before the transfer. Our next steps are my getting all the fertility tests done again, and he doing some tests then going through sperm extraction and freezing, probably at the end of June or beginning of July.

How's that for some big changes?


A Fertile Spring

Amazing to look at the calendar and see April 7th! RC left last Monday after a two-week stay.  It's weird how our time together seems to go through different "phases.". I guess we haven't settled into a routine or consistent pattern. For example, the first part of the trip was about co-housing and exploring a local co-housing community and open house. We talked a lot about how we would like to live in an intentional community like that for the benefits of community meals and events, resource sharing, and a child growing up in a loving extended family-type environment.

The second phase was getting matching tattoos from a well-known local tattoo place. I will add a picture to this post later, but I'm happy with how they turned out. Lots of pain, however. Yes, you do feel like a badass and yes, you do get an endorphin rush that is very interesting and relieving when it finally kicks in. Getting these tattoos brought home the level of commitment we are making.

After the tattoos, I experienced what I might call a minor emotional backlash, in which I felt questioning and at times judgmental towards RC and the ways that we are different. We continued our reading in a spiritual relationship book, which opened up sadness about this backlash and it's impact on our relationship. I talked about my worry a little bit; that it's come up when I don't feel he's tuning in or really listening to me, especially with regard to ideas or intellectual thoughts, and that I was afraid we may not be as compatible on that level as I would like.

In this conversation, I learned more about him and his engineering background, and I felt reassurance that he cared and wanted to listen to me in a way that met my needs to matter and feel like he was interested in my thoughts. I recognized that my distancing through judgment is toxic and gets in the way of experiencing the love and joy that both of us want to feel. I'm trying to remember that and make adjustments when I slip into this pattern that started long before him.

In the next phase, we drove to Sacramento for a Cal IVF consultation, which was VERY exciting to both of us, to say the least. We talked there and back about it in the car, then went out for drinks and food and talked some more. I researched information on questions that came up, including supplements and other strategies to support implantation, as well as donor IVF statistics, etc.

The first step is for RC to go through a sperm extraction process, which a specialist does at the center. We weren't sure how reliable or successful this process would be, but he was beyond encouraging, giving 96% odds of healthy, usable sperm samples. We could then choose an egg donor, looking at pictures and background information, that hopefully resembles me. They require ICSI with the IVF procedure. If it doesn't work, then statistically we should have frozen embryos for a second try. RC looked up financial information and said he could borrow from his retirement account to cover costs.

But...later on, he had a lot of anxiety come up around adding to his debt load right now. He would have to pay back the money on his retirement account, apparently, and it would add a substantial monthly payment to current expenses. The last couple of nights he didn't sleep very well because he was anxious about this, but either he wasn't fully aware of why he was anxious or he wasn't able to tell me for some reason. In any case, it created a little tension in the last couple days before he left.

After he got home, he reflected and wrote about it, becoming more clear about his feelings so he could share them with me. Right now, he is doing some work on his budget/spending plan, and we are both talking about how we can afford the extra payments. The way I'm seeing it now (and hoping and praying for) is that we could move forward in August or September. In the meanwhile, we can work on getting more healthy, eating well, doing required fertility testing and choosing a donor. Financial changes coming down the pike include:

  • He is currently completing a three-month fitness-trainer certification program, which guarantees employment and will add to our income.
  • Although I am not working at the college this summer, I will receive unemployment, then start teaching my three classes (an increase in the income I have been receiving) in mid-August.
  • As soon as school ends next month, I will begin attending the local BNI business networking chapter to increase local contacts and client referrals. By this Tuesday, I also plan to publish a newsletter and schedule a new local Meetup event, also in hopes of connecting with new clients. The two clients who just finished their sessions with me have also said they may want additional help in a month.
  • Lastly, when RC moves here on May 19th, he will start paying half the rent, which will open up more money in my budget to cover the IVF loan payment (first to cover my budget shortage on unemployment, then to cover the payment).

Regarding the adoption plan, we have been feeling torn. My agency has said they do not want clients pursuing fertility treatments at the same time as trying to adopt. Our energy and excitement right now is towards the donor IVF option. So, I think right now, we will likely focus on that, but I am worried about stepping back from that route after all the effort I've put towards it. I think it's probably the right thing to do, though...

Overall, however, many developments to happily anticipate. I'm so glad Spring is slowly slipping into view. Flowers blooming and smelling heavenly, temperature creeping up. It seems timely, as our energy and excitement are rising, as well.


Emotional and "Real World" Progress

Life keeps rolling along... relationships take focus and energy; I find myself with less blogging motivation. But I still appreciate having a space to process and record the journey, so here I am again.

I started seeing a cognitive behavioral counselor yesterday for help working through intimacy and commitment fears, which I recently identified as a specific phobia and OCD, without the compulsions. Somehow, it's helpful to have a label for these fears and anxieties that arise in the context of intimate relationship, often in the form of judgments. It's already led to some helpful insights and reframing.

One of the underlying fears is that if I commit to something that is not "perfection," then I will lose the opportunity to be "un-abandoned" and have ideal, completely safe unconditional love and merging with someone. I will also become dependent on one person to meet all my needs. There is a sense I will be "trapped."

Obviously, these thoughts and fears are not rational and have as one main source my mother dying when I was four-years-old (and never really bonding with my step-mother). I think there are other layers, sources, and faulty beliefs acquired over the years, as well.

My relationship with RC has continued to grow. We connect emotionally, spiritually, romantically, and sexually. Also mentally, but a little less than I hope it grows into, as he engages more with an external passion or interest. Though we are physically affectionate and regularly sexual, I would like more fire from him, in terms of feeling his intense desire for me. I realized this dynamic of someone wanting me helps spark my own passion. He says he is strongly attracted to me and hasn't really felt this type of unbridled intense physical passion with someone before, that he can remember. So, it's something he's asking himself about - how can he feel open to losing some control in that way?

Overall, I feel excited and happy, hopeful about our future. We are having some spontaneous and relaxed, playful phone calls, which I am enjoying. I can be my quirky, silly self with him and feel comfortable. I can get frustrated or have strong feelings with him and feel comfortable. He is starting to show me edges I haven't seen before, which, while sometimes uncomfortable, I really appreciate.

So, we are moving forward both emotionally and in the "real world," as he is planning to move up here with me in May. This will only be about seven months into our romantic relationship, but considering our past friendship of several years, during which we spent a lot of time together, I think we are at a different place than many couples would be. I am tired of trying to maintain our intimacy over long distance between times we are together. I'm also really looking forward to having a life companion and someone who is "with" me in the journey of adopting or having a child. Combining finances and splitting rent will certainly not hurt my security and stability either.

He's coming up here for a couple of weeks over Spring Break, starting next weekend, during which we plan to get matching tattoos (!). Not the elaborate one we've talked about, but a simple celtic-style one of a combined heart and infinity sign. I'm excited to spend more time with him and learning more about each other and getting comfortable living with one another. So glad that my procedure is behind me and we won't have that stress and annoyance hanging over us!


Valentine's Visit - Part2

 Sorry, that was more of a delay between posts than I intended… Things have been a little hectic, but overall I'm feeling good.

To finish sharing about RC's visit,  we had a wonderful Valentines dinner at the same place we went for my birthday. We were seated in the back room so it felt a little more intimate, and we both ordered surf and turf with steak and scallops. Amazing! I think we both ate nearly all of it.

Backing up a little, I had to work during Valentine's Day. When I got home, RC had red roses, a balloon saying I love you, chocolate and red wine waiting for me. All the traditional romantic stuff; very sweet. We spent a few hours before our late dinner – we made our reservation last minute, oops - enjoying our own private party at my place. We lit candles, played music and danced, and did some creative stuff like drawing animals on cards, then picking one and looking up its symbolism.

We also had some deeper conversation about tension that's come up a couple times during the transition into going to sleep. In part, it was because we have developed our own nightly rituals and they weren't fitting together well. He has insomnia and is currently smoking a little pot before bed to help. I don't have a problem with that except for that then we are on different wavelengths and he has diminished communication skills. I like to take my melatonin, then look at my phone for a while until I feel sleepy...but then he was waiting for me so that we could cuddle a little and kiss good night, which was just not working for either of us. Anyway we talked this out and came up with some good strategies, so that was positive. We had a fun time dressing up for dinner, too.

My procedure was rescheduled for the following Tuesday. He planned to leave Wednesday morning, so, after Valentine's Day, we had a few days through the weekend to spend together. Our activities included:

  • Going to the DMV together to get some paperwork I needed. So nice to have a partner in these practical things. Grocery shopping was also fun, though it would be more fun if he wasn't so restricted on his diet! 
  • Taking a walk around the lake at the sanctuary we visited before. I love this. It's so beautiful, and we end up having some really meaningful conversation while walking with Zoey. 
  • Watching our show together at night. We have developed a ritual of watching a Netflix series together and texting comments during it when we are apart, so it was fun to watch and comment in person. 
  • Enjoying a yummy brunch of blueberry pancakes (gluten-free for him), bacon, and fruit. He ends up doing more of the dinner cooking, in large part because he makes things he knows he can eat. I usually help out by making a salad or prepping the veggies or something, but he often does the majority. I love making breakfast and desserts, so I feel good to be able to cook for him in those ways. 
  • Taking Zoey for her daily walks together, often late at night when she has free run of the park. It feels romantic holding hands and looking at the stars, although we have to pay attention to navigating her leash and uneven surfaces in the dark. I may not have mentioned but RC is not the most coordinated person…He has fallen several times over the years, so I feel like I need to look out for him sometimes in that way. 
  • Envisioning our lives with a child and what decisions and activities may be part of the journey. 
  • Drinking a little too much wine one night and laughing hysterically. I don't think the jokes would translate LOL but boy were they funny at the time.  
  • Part of the reason we got so tipsy that evening was because we started in the afternoon with some winetasting. Winetasting is so fun! It was a sunny day, we were out on the patio, and we took the opportunity to review and revise the goal cards we initially created on New Year's. Then we walked around downtown and ended up making an appointment to get a collaboratively-designed tattoo over spring break. Eek
  • The day before my procedure, we went to get some lunch, during which we also looked at an anxiety/phobia workbook (more on that later). I started feeling really crabby and unsettled for no real reason. We had talked before about how we are both introverts and need to set boundaries and take alone time, but had so far not managed to follow through. This day, after walking out to the car, I just blurted out, "I need some alone time!" He said he could walk home, but I said, "Well, that's about 15-20 minutes; I need an hour." So, he decided to walk around downtown, and I went home. You would not believe what a difference it made! Within a half hour, I was thinking of him and missing him a little, and when he got home, we shared an emotional embrace, feeling a lot of love and warmth towards one another. Interesting.
The last experience I want to share is getting the hysteroscopy done to remove my uterine polyp. The doctor was so awesome. He explained the details thoroughly and also added some humor, putting us at ease. I was really nervous the day before and when I woke up that morning, but taking the hydrocodone and anti-anxiety medication they gave me an hour before we went really helped. I thought the two fibroids would be removed also, but he explained that they were in the outer lining of the uterus and weren't causing any problems. Also, they can only be removed through more invasive laparoscopy. Best of all, the procedure was not painful, and he was obviously very skilled; it seems like it was done in no time.

RC drove me through the McDonald's drive-through on the way home as a reward, and I spent much of the day resting with him, but honestly I didn't feel too bad. I just took the pain medication on the schedule they suggested and didn't really feel much cramping at all. Here's to not having ongoing random bleeding!

p.s. We cheated and tried some "modified" sexual activity. It didn't seem to create any negative effects, and it was a connected way to end our trip. :) 


Valentine's Visit - Part 1

RC arrived for a 9-day visit last Saturday. We have been getting used to each other again, talking and spending time at my place, as well as doing "normal" activities like grocery shopping and picking up a few items at T@rget.

This time, he decided to bring his beautiful, orange kitty cat, Calvin, so it has been fun and entertaining watching Calvin and Zoey interact and gradually make (sometimes an uneasy) peace with each other. They are definitely not in the cuddling or grooming each other phase, but they can walk by each other more easily now and even lie next to one another on the floor.

When RC first arrived, after not seeing each other since January 2nd, I felt a powerful wave of joy and attraction to him. The intensity of this was unexpected. He looked so good and I just wanted to be close to him and look at him. Of course, that has mellowed, but I'm still feeling super happy to have him around. We have been watching some TV in the evening, but for the most part, have been out and about or eating meals. We also did a guided meditation at one point up in my room, which was lovely.

Yesterday afternoon, we finally watched the movie, "The Shape of  Water, which was dramatic, touching, and romantic. Then, later on, we went out to one of our favorite local restaurants, Central Market. We ordered oyster shooters to start, then he had chicken and I had a super yummy chorizo and mussel dish, accompanied by a nice red wine.

As of yesterday morning, back is out of alignment or something and I've been experiencing some pain. RC has been caring and helpful with that. After reading that we could not be intimate for at least a week, possibly longer, following the hysteroscopy procedure, I decided to postpone it for a month or so until my spring break in March. So it's ironic that my back pain is getting in the way of us being intimate, though we did have a chance to connect in that way for a day or two before it flaired up.

I may regret postponing the procedure but literally started crying when I read that guideline and felt that we really needed to have normal connection this week after over a month apart and going through the progesterone hell. It's not an urgent situation, so I don't think another month will make a difference. And maybe it will allow us to time the procedure better in terms of my cycle and lining production, etc.

Today, we plan to walk around downtown, back permitting, and maybe revisit the goal cards we first created on New Year's, as well as guide him through a career values exercise I've been meaning to share. I think I may have said that he's  been in semi-retirement after burning out of a PG&E management job of several decades, and he's wanting to find more meaningful work for the next 10-15 years.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and I look forward to creating some romantic memories, including another nice dinner. Hope your day is filled with love and connection, as well.


Health Update

So I spoke with my doctor on Monday, and she solved the bleeding mystery. Unfortunately, it wasn't the best case scenario I'd hoped for, but it wasn't the worst case scenario either.

She said I have a polyp in the uterine lining that has disrupted the natural formation and shedding cycle; thus, the odd spotting/bleeding. Additionally, I have two small fibroids, one outside the uterus and one inside that are, I guess, re-growing since my surgery a few years ago. Boo.

The good news is that I can get all that taken care off with a hysteroscopy, at the same time I get the uterine biopsy. Just now, in this moment, the question arises for me as to "why" I still need the biopsy if we have determined the reason for the problems. But I guess it's a good idea to play it safe.

I'm going to the medical center today to sign the consent and pick up the medications, then the outpatient procedure is scheduled for the 12th. RC will be here that week and can be my ride, as I'll be kind of out of it.

I wonder if I can go to work the following day? Anyone know? I think I had a biopsy a long time ago but I don't remember, and this is also removing the polyp and fibroids. She said there might be some cramping, but I go home right after the procedure.

There was a question as to whether my lining would  be "too thick" when they do the procedure. As mentioned the (less than stellar) doctor I originally saw put me on progesterone until last Friday. It worked perfectly, as it stopped the spotting and when I went off it, my full period came four days later.

But apparently, there would ideally be less time between my cycle ending and date of the procedure. There was "no way" that I was going back on progesterone, however, as it just about drove me, and RC, insane. We did move the procedure up a few days from Friday to Monday, though, and she seemed to think that would be okay.

That's the latest news...please send good thoughts that this procedure goes well and I can put this whole "interesting" health journey behind me. I'm sooo glad the wicked month of January is over, and I am looking forward to my training next week and RC's visit and I guess just generally getting my health and life stabilized again.