Goodbye Lila Hello Rupert

It’s been a while since I last posted. Over the last 2-3 years as I’ve processed and evolved there has been less for me to write about and more time spent just living. But with living has come some rough times few tougher than earlier this spring when we unexpectedly and suddenly lost Lila. There have also been some amazing times when we welcomed Rupert into our home. It’s been the roller coaster of life continuing at high intensity.

For those of you who have followed this blog or know me from other Social Media outlets Lila was our rescued Greyhound. We met and adopted her on August 12, 2012 at a time when we were TTC a few months before we found out that I’m not able to have children. I’ve written before and it is true that had I been able to have children that we likely never would have adopted Lila. The day we adopted her she was the third dog we met that day. What sealed the deal for K is that Lila leaned on K when she walked her.

When we adopted Lila she was a five years old and a shy reserved dog who had been previously returned because it was said that she was always sad and hungry. As we came to learn the sad part was just her being reserved and needing time to come out of her shell. The hungry part was definitely true as she could eat until she exploded. The first six months to a year were rough as she dealt with separation anxiety and confidence issues. But once she came out of her shell she showed the world what a sweet dog she was.

Lila was with us during our darkest days of finding out about my infertility to our journey to parenthood ending. No matter how dark the day she always made us smile. She became a part of the family that everyone loved. Her calm demeanor helped my MIL overcome her fear of dogs leading my in laws to get a dog of their own. If not for her I am not sure K and I would have made it through infertility and being childless after infertility.

When Lila turned 10 in 2017 we knew she only had a few years left. She began to slow down not going up and down the stairs as fast as she used to and began to pant more often. She also did not get out of bed when we immediately woke up as she used to. Though when we took her for what would be her last vet check up in December 2018 all of her blood work came back good. We figured she’d be around for a while though we’d still try to enjoy every moment we had with her.

Saturday April 27th, 2019 started as any typical Saturday for us. K & I both did our routines of waking up going to do our workouts and chores around the house along with taking care of Lila. Then there was the debate about what to do. With it being a beautiful Saturday afternoon we decided to take Lila out with us to go to the local Farm Store as we needed propane for the grill and Lila needed treats. After heading back home we then decided we’d go out for ice cream. Lila knew exactly where we were and as soon as she got out of the car began to pull on the leash excited for ice cream. She quickly scarfed down what would be her last mini cone of ice cream. On the way home we stopped at another pet store to get treats. For Lila it was the perfect day.

After dinner that night K took Lila out to go to the bathroom while I cleaned the kitchen. While I was washing dishes I suddenly heard K scream. I quickly ran outside to find K holding Lila in her arms saying she collapsed. K handed Lila to me. I was in such shocked that I fell backwards into our bushes with Lila. K rushed to get the keys to her car while I carried Lila into the back seat of her car. Carrying her was like carrying dead weight and her tongue was dangling out of her mouth. But she was still breathing.

On the car ride on the way to the E Vet as I held her in my arms I told her to hang in and that I wasn’t ready to lose her. It was the longest 20 minute car ride I ever have had. I felt her breathing slow down for the first part of the ride. As we got close to the E Vet I felt her breathing and all movement in her stop. I knew we’d lost her. It took every ounce of energy not to scream and tell K as I didn’t want to distract her. Once we got to the E Vet I carried her for what would be the last time through the doors into the facility handing her off to the Vet team. They asked if I wanted them to try to revive her and I said yes. I was brought into a waiting room waiting for K as she parked the car holding out hope that Lila could be revived but knowing deep down she was gone.

It took about 5-10 minutes for the Vet to come back to the waiting room to let us know they tried to revive her but she was gone. We were told it was likely either a massive heart attack or stroke. We were in shock. Just hours earlier we had been having a great day with her and now she was gone. We couldn’t have planned a better last day for her if we knew it was going to be her last day.

We couldn’t go home right away so we stopped at my in laws for a bit. Both of them were in just as much a shock as we were. When we finally got home I went over to Lila’s downstairs bed and collapsed breaking down completely. K joined me and broke down as well. Her bed and blanket still smelled like her. The bone she had been chewing on just hours earlier was there but she was gone.

The next day we spent in our bedroom crying most of the day taking calls from family and friends offering their condolences. We only went downstairs for water and food. It was appropriate we spent the day doing that as Lila was extremely lazy and would spend most of her days sleeping and laying down in her beds. We both took off from work the next day to spend time together morning the loss. The intensity of the pain for me was greater than anything I have dealt with in my adult life including infertility and our parenthood journey ending.

In the upcoming days and weeks life was very different. I never realized how much of our lives and routines were because of Lila. Purposely we both did everything we could to stay out of the house as much as possible with so many things in the house reminding us of Lila. Unlike Infertility where for a long time I grieved by myself with losing Lila I made sure to grieve with K as this was our loss.

We had Lila cremated and a week later picked up her remains. I always thought it was weird when people kept their pets remains but now understand. They’re family and give so much to us. I can never repay Lila for all the love she gave us and taught us. She lived everyday without a care in the world living it as though everyone was her last.

Before she passed I wasn’t sure if I wanted another dog as I wanted Lila to be the only dog and wasn’t sure if I could love another the same way. K was always sure she wanted another and told me to take my time grieving that she would be ready for another when I was. We began to look at Greyhounds available for adoption as we loved the breed and with so many coming off the track with Florida in the process of phasing out Greyhound racing. There were a few that caught our eyes so we submitted a new adoption application to the agency we adopted Lila from.

A few days later I spoke with the woman who runs the agency to go through our application and I asked about one dog in particular. He was a brindle male who was on the smaller side for males. He recently came off the track with his last race on April 9th. I was told that he had a great outgoing friendly personality but on the trailer ride up from Florida he had sustained a cut on his leg so he was in the prison program to heal. The prison program is just that it’s where prisoners help train rescue dogs as part of their rehabilitation.

Due to scheduling we weren’t able to meet him for a few weeks but knew that when we met him we’d likely come home with him. Unlike with Lila where we had nothing for a dog and had to pick up beds and supplies on our way home we were prepared. On May 23rd we finally met him at the prison signed the Paperwork and headed home with a new member of the family.

The car ride home should have been a sign of things to come. He couldn’t get settled and tried to climb into the front seat with us. We had to stop the car a number of times with one of us getting in the backseat with him to keep him from climbing into the front of K’s car where less than a month earlier Lila had died in my arms.

Once we got home our new family member explored the house as this was the first time he had ever been in a home. K found some old toys of Lila’s that she never played with and he instantly took to them. Since I named Lila K would pick the name Rupert for our new family member. In the first 24 hours Rupert would show more personality than Lila did in the first six months we had her.

Here we are almost two months later and Rupert has managed to take over our house and lives in ways Lila never did. He’s gone into every room in the house including bathrooms which Lila rarely did. It took him until his second day with us to manage to get his way and get on our couch after us giving up on trying to keep him off it. Lately we’ve been fighting the battle of keeping him out of our bed at night. It’s the one place we don’t want him. After all he has four other beds to sleep on whereas K and I have to share a bed lol. Whereas Lila always found a way to make us smile everyday Rupert finds a way to make us laugh everyday.

Outside of them being Greyhounds and Brindle Lila and Rupert couldn’t be more opposites of each other. Though Lila was sweet there were only four people she was extremely affectionate with: Us (though K was her favorite person), my mother and my MIL. Rupert loves all people and wants to meet everyone. His tail goes nuts when we met new people or they come over. We’ve had to work with him on not jumping up at people which he does out of excitement not being vicious. Overall he’s a happy friendly dog with a ton of personality.

He’ll never replace Lila as she was our first and will always be special to us. But he has brought light to us in a time when there was darkness. Kind of like infertility and while the loss of becoming a parent can never be replaced there are things in our lives that bring joy and hope.

Below are some pictures of Lila, her boxed remains and Rupert being Rupert. I hope everyone is well.

Lila when she first came home.

Lila in her old age.

Lila after she crossed the rainbow bridge 4/27/19.

Lila’s boxed remains on her bed with her favorite blanket and last bone.

Rupert’s first night in his new home

Rupert being Rupert (he’s a bit of a weirdo)

Rupert where he’s not supposed to be.

My Views on the Childless Before Infertility

After almost 7 years since my initial diagnosis I’ve thought back to times before infertility and how different my perspective was then compared to now. Back then I was innocent and ignorant. I thought that everyone who wanted to become a parent could. I thought that if we tried hard enough we could become parents. And most importantly I had a completely different view on those who never had kids than I do now.

Growing up I had a number of relatives who didn’t have kids. My mom has cousins that weren’t able to have kids. My Uncle (Mom’s Brother) and Aunt (Dad’s Sister) never wanted kids for different reasons. I was never that close with either though I learned recently my Aunt was always fond of my brother and I. She passed away last August after a battle with cancer.

In the weeks and months prior to her passing I did contact her. I thanked her last June when she sent me a birthday gift. But looking back I regret I didn’t reach out to her more than I did. Let me be clear my Aunt was a loud know it all who had a sense of entitlement that rubbed me the wrong way. But when my Great Grandmother had dementia and when my Grandfather needed someone to care for him she was always there to step up. I’m not sure if it was due to her caring nature or it fell on her because my Dad had kids and other responsibilities.

My Mother who though I love her and wouldn’t be where I am without (beyond giving birth to me) shaped and influenced my feelings on my Aunt. She would always say that my Aunt didn’t have the responsibilities my father did and that she should take care of my Grandfather. It was painted that my Aunt was a selfish person which she may well have been.

Because of that my feelings on those without children were selfish people and I viewed them as being not as important than those with children. I viewed that not having children was leading a life not as valuable as those who had children. I viewed it as strange not to have kids. It wasn’t until after I found out we would be unable to have kids and when our journey to parenthood ended that we became the people I harshly and unfairly judged growing up and even in early adulthood.

Based on all of this I’ve become a hypocrite and have projected a lot of my own criticisms of those without children on myself. It’s led to me resenting myself and a lot of the insecurities I have as a result of my own thoughts and prior feelings. It’s led to me taking so many things personal when it comes to parenthood and viewing my own life as less than.

The challenge moving forward is now that I recognize what’s behind these feelings is what do I do about it to break out of this way of thinking? How do I stop comparing my life and what value it has to others? I’ve always been stubborn and my toughest critic. I’m a creature of habit and getting into a new way of thinking has always been difficult. I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder feeling I have something to prove.

Is what I have to prove that I was wrong and that our life without children can have value? But how do I know if and when I’m able to prove that? I know this is a lot of rambling and hope it makes sense.

A Stumble in the Road

This quote is all to familiar with a lot of us. Life is never simple there are always stumbles that get in the way of our plans. This blog exists because of a stumble in my life. I’ve connected with many of you due to your stumbles.

2018 has been filled with stumbles in my life between family members being sick and passing to self inflicted financial expenses. Four weeks ago I literally stumbled on the road while out on a run. I had caught the edge of the road where it meets the grass twisting my foot which caused me to trip and fall. When I got up my hands and one knee was scraped and my left foot felt sore like I had a rock in my shoe. I was able to walk and tried to run again but something didn’t feel right with my foot. I tried to stretch but that didn’t do anything. I was two and a half miles from home knowing I probably couldn’t make it home. Luckily I always have my phone on me while out for my run so I called K to come pick me up.

When she picked me up the first thing I did after getting in the car was take off my left shoe to get a better look at it. This is how it looked…..

The bump on the edge of my foot had me a little worried but I felt it was a bad bruise as I was still able to walk with a slight limp. I went to bed hoping it would be better in the morning. When I woke up I could feel it was still sore and unlike the previous night I couldn’t put much of any weight on it. It also had swelled up.

It was then I decided that I should go to Urgent Care to have an X Ray done to confirm whether or not it was fractured. In the back of my mind I was thinking here I go again finally back to being in good enough shape to train for a marathon in the fall and this happens. It had been two years ago when I had begun training to attempt my first marathon when I sustained a tear in my Achilles Tendon. I took four months off to recover. It had taken me nearly two years to get back to where I was the last thing I wanted to do was have to take significant time off.

While waiting to have the X Ray done I was hoping it wasn’t a fracture but somehow knew it was. Sure enough when the X Ray was done it confirmed I fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in my left foot.

After googling the injury I learned that it’s a 6-8 week recovery injury. I knew then that running a marathon this year was not happening. I was instructed by Urgent Care to see an Orthopedist to receive a full diagnosis and plan of action. In the meantime I was placed in a boot and told to get crutches to not put any weight on it.

A few days later I saw the PA at the Orthopedist who wanted me to see their foot specialist to diagnose whether the fracture would need a screw to fix. I had never broken a bone in my body nor had I ever had surgery. The thought of having surgery scared me. The thought of missing more than 6-8 weeks of running demoralized me.

A week later I saw the foot specialist and finally received good news. He wasn’t recommending I have surgery. Instead he recommended I stay in the boot for another three weeks then come back to be evaluated. If all is well then I can ditch the boot and go to wearing a sneaker. Until then the only exercise I should do is stationary bike and upper body work. While being in the boot is annoying limiting how well you can get around it still beat needing surgery.

As frustrating as this whole ordeal has been unlike 3 years ago where I would have fallen a part especially with so many other tough situations in my life I’ve not fallen a part mentally or emotionally. I’m confident I will recover from this and will be back to my normal workout and life routine in a few more weeks. If anything it’s motivated me more to train and complete a marathon before I hit 40 (less than 2 years away). I don’t care if I need to crawl across the finish line because I will finish a marathon in the fall of 2019. I refuse to let this stumble in the road be the end of this journey.

Thank you Kaeleigh MacDonald

Wow, it’s been over a year since I last blogged. I know I used to get on people who got their happy ending to all of a sudden disappear then I go and do the same thing lol. I just haven’t been feeling much of the infertility and child stuff lately. Unfortunately we’ve been dealing with aging sick parents, parents relocating and within the last 10 days have friends that lost their son less than a month before he was due to be born. Also, I had a really close call getting into some serious shit due to my own stupidity that could have been life altering. I won’t get into specifics but 2018 has not been a pleasant year so far and to be real it will likely get more difficult before it gets easier. But that’s life just have to make the best of what is.

Which brings me to why I’m writing now. Over the course of the five plus years in the infertility I’ve met many amazing people and formed many friendships. There are too many to name in one post and I know I’d forget some I’d later regret, In some cases these friends are people who at times I wasn’t the nicest to. I won’t make any excuses for it as I own my behavior. Some of these people no longer interact with me and I understand why and hold nothing against them. Others have stuck by me despite me shitting on them multiple times for that I truly love them as friends.

One of these amazing individuals is Kaeleigh MacDonald, my buddy from Canada. I initially connected with her on Twitter and also through her blog Unpregnant Chicken. She’s a witty, funny upbeat personality who is easy to like and get along with. She’s also incredibly passionate about helping others and no doubt all of these qualities have led her to be an amazing mom, wife and friend. Well over a year ago she had asked me to put together a guest blog piece on a topic of my choosing. I had the topic picked out in my head. I had many long runs where I would write it out in my Head only to come home and never sit down to write it. I felt bad cause Kaeleigh kept asking about it and it was just a matter of carving out time to write it. Finally about two months ago I finally got my piece to her.

Some of you I know have read it and I’ve shared it on other social media platforms for others to read and hopefully explain where I’m coming from and where I am now. I hope you enjoy it. I really want to thank Kaeleigh for the opportunity to share my story, for being a great friend and being the amazing person she is.

http://unpregnantchicken.com/2018/04/squawk-box-infertility-easy-part/#

I’m not the “Great Uncle” Type

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and it’s mainly because I haven’t had anything happen or come up relating to infertility. All in all things are well. Put another piece of the life we were trying to build behind me as I replaced my Toyota Camry which was big enough for a baby with a smaller more sporty VW GLI (which I love). Also started wearing my hair differently dumping the spikes which I had worn for over 17 years with a more conservative part. Small changes that are positive putting things in the past.  
The only thing that has come up recently is with my brother moving in with his girlfriend it looks like he finally may have found the one. With that thoughts of them getting married and kids down the road. I’ve wrote about this a little bit in the past that people tell those who are Infertile to not worry that they could always become a “Great Aunt/Uncle”. My feelings have been that it’s not the same as being a parent.

Lately my thoughts have gone beyond it just not being the same. Not only is it not the same but for me I don’t think I want to be a “Great Uncle”. It’s just not something I ever had a desire to be. Don’t get be wrong I’d be happy for my brother and his spouse and wouldn’t ignore his kids. I’d do the usual gifts see them on holidays once or twice a year but I don’t have the desire to be that Uncle that is involved in their lives. Those kids would have their parents. They wouldn’t need an Uncle getting in the way of that.

Settling for being that “Great Uncle” is a weak attempt at pretending to be a semi parent. It’s having fun with kids without doing any work. Those kids will never really care or have the bond that they do with their parents. I know this comes across as me sounding selfish but if god intended me to have that bond with a child he would have given me the ability to become a parent.

Deep down I feel this way because it would be another reminder of what I’m not capable of. I’m not capable of making my parents grandparents. I’m not capable of raising a child. I’m not capable of doing something the majority of adults can do.

Again I know I come across as being selfish but I really do hope my brother never has kids to avoid this trigger. I just fear of the fallout. It’s fallout I don’t want to face or have the potential to fall back into the deep depression I was in two years ago. Only time will tell whether I will face this but I know that I have no desire to be that “Great Uncle”.
On a side note I’d like to finish this piece promoting a new book by Justine Brooks Froelker “The Mother of Second Chances”. I just received my copy the other day and can’t wait to read. Justine is amazing a very special person. Below is the link to purchase on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1544630662/ref=ya_aw_od_pi?ie=UTF8&psc=1

A Year Later…..Things have Changed

I figured it was time to do a personal update piece because it’s been a while since I last did. When I think back a year ago and to where I am right now it’s amazing how things have changed. A year ago I was working through deep depression, my personal life was in the crapper, I was in the middle of training to run my third half marathon and on the flip side my work life was on solid ground.
Today I am for the most part passed depression, my personal life couldn’t be better, I am in the middle of a four month rest period so my Achillies Tendon injury can heal (causing me to drop out of running my 1st marathon) and my work life sucks. Until I thought about it the last few days my depression hasn’t been much on my mind outside of taking anti depressants every morning. I’m no longer down about my life. Sure there are still times the realization of not ever becoming parents fucking sucks but overall I’m in a good place. My personal life is as good as it has ever been. My relationships are better than ever. I’m more comfortable with who I am and it’s easier to look past the little things.  I’m able to feel and give love again.  I have that happiness and laughter rather than anger I had last year.  And next weekend I will be seeing my friends one year old son for the first time as I am getting together with my college friend for a weekend of Civil War battlefield visits in VA.
Three weeks ago I had to officially shut down my training for the Philly Marathon in November as I sustained some tears in the tendon from my Achillies tendinitis. It took convincing from my acupuncturist to accept it. Though I felt when I couldn’t even run 3 miles without pain I had a feeling the time had come to shut it down. If this had happened a year ago no doubt I would have gone into an even deeper depression. Instead frustration is what I’m feeling. The frustration of having to stop doing what I enjoyed due to once again my body betraying what my mind wants it to do. November 27th is a long ways away but I’m hoping that day I’ll be able to go for a short run pain free.
Overall life is well. I’m more confident I can work through short term challenges and have not thought much about what the future holds. The long term future does scare me. I still have fears about not having family outside of our home spending the holidays alone. There’s nothing I can do about it now. Whatever it will be like when we age it will be. There’s no use in letting it get in the way of the life to live right now that I can enjoy.

I hope everyone is well wherever you are at in your journeys.  

It’s not Always a “Choice”

This is going to be another one of those pieces where I hope it generates a productive conversation that leads to progress rather than take offense. It’s not that I care if I unintentionally upset people. I care more about being able to create positive change.
Each of our infertility stories is unique and different. No two infertility stories are exactly the same. With the reproduction of two or more people required to create a fetus leading up to 40+ weeks of gestation there are so many factors in each situation that could go wrong. Even when a diagnosis is the same for an infertile female in a couple you still have the male factor with many different possible reasons for lack of conception or potential for miscarriage. Also you have the being able to afford treatment factor. In taking a hard look at this, the options available for one couple might not be available for another couple when it comes to a couple either conceiving a child or third party reproduction.  In some cases there are no options to become a parent through some type of scientific intervention.
When it comes to becoming a parent via non biological or other scientific ways the ability to do so can vary as well. Depending upon where a person lives, their financial status and other personal circumstances (health, marital status, etc.) the ability to to become a parent via adopting isn’t available for every couple or person. For instance depending upon where a person/couple lives and what the laws are for adopting they maybe disqualified from adopting. You could also be in a financial situation where you are unable to afford the costs to adopt and lack the ability to raise funds to adopt. Lastly you could be disqualified from adopting due to a health condition you have.  In some cases a person/couple may not be able to adopt.
When you add in all of that the conclusion reached is that not everyone will be able to become a parent. I say this because personally I’ve been told by others that it’s my choice to be childless and there are options I’m choosing not to go through. They say this without knowing our full story. There are so many other factors in our story that I haven’t disclosed that are personal to us. I’ve also seen other people be told that if they want to become parents they shouldn’t give up in finding a way to become parents.  That is completely unfair to assume unless you know the person/couple’s entire story.
People mean well when they ask those going through infertility if they’ve considered adoption or tried a certain treatment.  If a person is curious about what the couple/person has tried instead they can ask what their options are. It’s a more broad question that gives the person going through infertility the ability to have control of the conversation. They may have options they are pursuing or may have exhausted all options. The only way to know is ask rather than go to one specific option that either worked for you or someone you know.
My point is infertility and our ability to become parents is extremely complicated.  We should recognize that we all have circumstances that give each couple different options. In some cases a person/couple may choose to pass on their options but in other cases the circumstances may take away any option a person/couple has to become a parent. We can’t assume that a person/couple is choosing to be childless unless we know their whole story.
I say all of this not to be bitter for those who have been able to become parents after infertility. I am grateful that people have been able to become parents because it gives those going through infertility hope that they one day can become parents.  It gives me hope that future generations don’t have to go through what so many of us have dealt with.  I say this to help others better connect with those going through infertility and those who never become parents.  Hopefully this piece can help us better communicate with one another.