Thursday, July 21, 2011

Letting Go and/or Moving On

I just read something on FB and it brought tears to my eyes:


Laugh when you can,
Apologize when you should,
And let go of what you can’t change.
Letting go doesn’t mean you’re giving up,
It means you’re moving on.

I don’t want to let go. I don’t want to move on. I don’t know how to do those things. I guess in time I will figure it out. I don’t really have a choice. Like the little saying says, I can’t change it.

The same person posted this saying:

I can choose to let regrets define me, confine me, refine me, outshine me – or I can choose to move on and leave them behind me.

I have many regrets that I have let go of and some that I haven’t. Even with my spiritual crisis lately I can’t honestly say that I regret doing our IVF. That is hard for me to admit because I question whether or not God actually sent me down that path or my own free will did. I don’t regret it because it gave me several days of real motherhood. Like I said in a previous post I believe, for me anyway, that it was better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. My heart was so full of love and happiness that I could barely contain it. I have never known love like that. I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to have loved so much in such a short amount of time.

I must really like to torture myself, too. I went back and read the posts from my very first BFP to the end...I also read all the comments. That girl was so happy and confused and hopeful and scared. Most of all, she was pregnant and then she wasn’t. It was almost like I was reading someone else’s blog. It feels like a lifetime ago. All the comments were so sweet and genuine and reassuring and supportive. I would not have been able to get through things as well as I did (have I?) if not for you guys. When I asked for level headed that is what I got. When the shit hit the fan I got tons of love and hugs. There is no place like my little place in the blogosphere.

I know this is quite a rambling post and I didn’t have any intention on posting today but after reading that saying on FB I needed to come here and let out a little emotion. It hit a cord with me to say the least. I’ve been racking my brain on ways to get money for egg donor and at the same time wondering why I’m even thinking about it. It’s very simple really; I don’t know how to let go or move on...yet.

Lately I have not been praying for a miracle baby. I have been asking for strength to let go of my yearning. I have been asking for help with acceptance. I guess I need to pray harder because it’s not working. Or maybe God knows that I don’t really mean it. Since He knows what’s in my heart then He must know that I still desperately want to carry a child. I’m trying to get over this, I really am. Most days I’m ok and then other days...well, I’m a mess. I guess it’s a process that I have to go through until I get to acceptance, right? I wonder how much longer I have to wait.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Out of the Blue

I was getting ready to write a post about my weekend when my cell phone started ringing. I looked down to see my clinic’s name and number on the display. I thought about not answering it. I thought about whether or not we were scared away with our bill. I thought (and this is completely crazy but it actually went through my head for a split-split second) my last embryo didn’t really die...they froze it and forgot to tell me and want to transfer it right away! I know, I know, crazy and completely out of left field but that’s one of the things that popped into my head.


It was my nurse calling to catch up with me. I told her that I had nothing new to report. We pretty much know our only option is an egg donor and it’s a bit out of our price range. She agreed that it’s very expensive. I also told her that I had even spoken to the DE coordinators and went over all of our options and we are pretty much stuck right now...just healing. She was very sweet and understanding and said that if I needed anything from her or Dr. M to just call her...even if I just wanted to talk about what we are going through. I thought that was very nice of her.

This call came at a very sensitive time for me. As I said, I was about to post about my weekend. Here’s a snippet of how yesterday was for me:

I was sitting on the couch browsing through my pictures on my cell phone when my pee stick pictures popped up. I was taken aback a little and BJ noticed. He asked me what the picture was and I told him it was my positive pregnancy test...I had forgotten it was on there. I flipped back a few more pictures and there were my embryos. I didn’t forget they were on there I just apparently like to torture myself.

We had to go to our niece’s birthday party yesterday. She is turning 4 tomorrow. The entire family (BJ’s BIL’s side) was there. This family has exploded over the last 2 years to say the least. There were 6 toddlers there aged 3 and under. And to make matters worse, my SIL’s friend showed up. She’s 47 years old and has been fighting secondary IF for about 8 or 9 years. She’s due September 1. Everyone was fawning all over her. I’m fine with it as she has fought hard (not sure how the baby was conceived and won’t ask) to get this second child. I just wish it were ME. I was supposed to be 15 weeks pregnant right now. They were talking about her shower and how she’s feeling and if they’ve thought of any names. Very typical stuff. Like I said, I’m very happy that she is finally to this point with a healthy pregnancy and baby...I’m just jealous. I was so ready to leave. BJ was ready to go but he just doesn’t like all the commotion and screaming of so many little kids. Ugh.

I don’t remember much of my dreaming last night except this one little tidbit: I had just POAS and got a VERY dark second line. It was so dark, it was almost black. Someone had to tell me to look at it again to prove to myself that the 2nd line was there. I remember thinking that there is no way I’m losing THIS pregnancy....look at how dark that 2nd line is. The next thing that happened was I woke up (except I was still asleep) within the dream and had to remind myself that it was real and that I wasn’t dreaming. Imagine my disappointment when I woke up FOR REAL and realized the whole thing was a dream.

And then my nurse called me this morning. If you add that to all my conflicting feelings regarding my Faith and my “plan”....what do you get? A big emotional mess.

Geez...my mind really knows how to mess with me.

Anyway...thank you all for reading through my mix of emotions last week regarding my crisis of Faith and my apparent floundering. You all have great opinions and insight and I really do appreciate your views. I wish I could reply to comments but have yet to figure out how to do that in Blogger. I’d like people to get notified (you know, like on FB) that I have replied to their comment. If I just post a comment I don’t think the person is notified...they’d have to come back and read through everything to see if I have responded. Anyone have any better methods?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Happiness Is...

I did not proof read this post so I apologize for any errors in advance...major time crunch here.  :-)

- Opening a door in my house (whether it’s my bedroom, the garage or the bathroom) and having little Gizmo meow loudly, throw himself on the floor, roll on his side and stretch (as only kitties can do) himself out so that his belly is fully exposed for me to rub. He’s such a sweetie and so damn loveable. I thanked him for being my personal escort every time I leave the powder room on the first floor. He sits and waits for me to come out and sometimes he puts his little paw under the door so that I touch it. He doesn’t escort BJ the same way so I feel a little special. :-)


- A beautiful weather weekend coming up. It will be in the mid-80’s and not nearly as humid as it has been. I can’t wait to spend some time outside Saturday cleaning up my rose bushes and maybe buying a new set of hanging baskets for the porch. The ones we have are just about dead. It got so hot that no matter how much I watered them they are just wilting away.

- Working out on a regular basis again. I’m not doing a lot right now because I work out on my lunch break and don’t want to get all sweaty and nasty. The things I have been doing are making me feel better. I’ve also declared war on my will power and have been trying to be a lot more cautious about what I’m eating and how much of it. I’ve put on almost 10 pounds this last year and I want it GONE. It might take a while but as long as I’m working on it, I’m happy with myself.

- Rita’s frozen custard. I had never been there before and we have one right in our town. BJ and I decided to try it out about a month or so ago. O.M.G.!! I love soft serve ice cream and this stuff is the best I’ve had in a long time! I had the chocolate (natch) with chocolate sprinkles and ate it out of a cup. It was so smooth and creamy and just melted (well duh) in my mouth. We’ve had it 2 more times since then. There is a place on the boardwalk down by where we used to live that serves soft serve ice cream and they have been my favorite for the longest time. Now this frozen custard stuff is trying to steal its place in my heart.

- Communicating with other bloggers . I love the blogging community, which is no secret. I always receive support and understanding from my readers. I know that I can come here and spout things and even if it sounds crazy or doesn’t make any sense I know that I am safe here. And for all of you new mommies (and not so new mommies) and you pregnant ladies...do not ever feel like you can’t comment or that I don’t want to hear from you just because you are on the “other side”. I love to hear from ALL of you.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Elaboration

I just want to elaborate a little on my last post. Some of your very insightful and thought provoking comments have gotten me to thinking about this some more.

I think “punish” was the wrong word. I think “consequence” would have been a more appropriate word to use. I feel that we all have consequences for our actions. Whether they are good consequences or bad. Every action has a reaction of sorts.

I remember some stories of great suffering in the Bible. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar enough with the stories to quote them here. I remember them, though. I know that God has the power to do anything...whether it’s to create life in a virgin or to flood the earth. There are reasons that He does these things that I will never understand. That’s why it’s called faith. I’m ok with that.

What I’m having trouble with is my belief that God creates every life for a reason. It might sound silly and na├»ve, but that is how my heart feels. It’s what I’ve always believed. I was taught that God has a plan for every person that He puts on this Earth. I also believe that people stray from the right path on many occasions. When I say the “right” path I mean the path that God intended the person to walk. That is where free will comes in.

With the free will that we were granted we make choices. THOSE choices shape our lives. I’m finding it harder and harder to believe that even if/when we make the wrong choice that it was “meant to be” and “in God’s plan”. Does God intend for people to become drug addicts and alcoholics? Does He intend for people to kidnap little kids and do unspeakable harm to them? Does He intend for people to commit suicide? I don’t think so. I think these people strayed off the path that God intended for them and made their own choices.

One of the commentors from yesterday stated that her desire for motherhood was God given. I totally get that. I feel I was born to be a mother. I feel it in my bones that I need to keep fighting and do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal. However, I think God has other plans for me. I was born with terrible eggs. I’m guessing that means God never intended for me to birth a child. I feel like no matter how certain I was that fertility treatments were right for me, that God was not leading me in that direction after all. I made those choices and I apparently was not listening to God enough. He has shown me over the last 10 years that His plan for me does not include a biological child. I’m finally starting to get it. It’s finally sinking in.

I’m not being punished for anything I have done or not done...I was born without the ability to produce a child. I’ve had a sort of epiphany about this lately. It really sucks ass, but it is what it is and there’s nothing I can do to change it. I don’t have a fixable problem. There’s no way to skirt around ovaries with bad eggs. Well, short of spending a minimum of $15,000 on a shared donor.

I’m starting to realize that the Little Guy is probably supposed to fill my need for mothering. I have always felt so lucky to have met BJ when I did. The fact that he had a little boy was such a bonus. The fact that he lets me mother his child is a real blessing. What I want is not what God wants for me. Nor is it what God obviously has planned for me. I made the choice to date BJ. I made the choice to marry him. Those were free will decisions. Those decisions brought this child into my life and that is a consequence I can deal with.

I’m still so very sad at the thought of ending my journey of trying for my own child. Sad is not even a good word to describe what I’m feeling. I don’t know what the future holds for me. I’m going to trust that God has some good things planned for me and that I don’t stray (keep straying?) from my path. Maybe I’m so far off the path that I am unable to find my way back. I hope not. With all my doubts lately I’m not even sure I have a definitive path. I’m just a compilation of my many choices. I know that God loves me. I’m one of His children and He loves us all. Even the non-believers out there, He loves you, too. God’s love for me was never in question. There are enough things that I question, but that is not one of them. I’m so grateful for His love. Right now though, my heart just aches for the life I had with me for that short time that is now with Him. I just hope that He didn’t give me that life and then take it away as a consequence for not following His will.

Ok, enough with all of that. I’m sure you are sick to death of reading about my spiritual crisis. Thank you all for your great comments. I get such great comfort in knowing that you are out there and that many of you have had some of these feelings, too. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fate/Destiny/Master Plan?

I’m going to get a little religious/spiritual in this post. It might be offensive to some and it might make others laugh at me. I do not mean to offend anyone and the thoughts posted here are just that, my thoughts/opinions/feelings. I’ve wanted to write this post for a very long time but haven’t quite been able to put it all together. I still don’t know if it will come across as well thought out or not but I need to get it out of my head.

I’m a Christian. I believe in God and in Jesus as my Savior. I pray for others, myself and for forgiveness. I don’t go to church anymore and I don’t like that about myself but obviously not enough to change it. I try to lead a “good” life. I have pretty high standards for myself. I try to treat others in a way that I want to be treated. Pretty standard stuff.

In my journey of TTC there have been so many prayers to God. I’m sure you can relate to what those prayers entailed. I’ve tried bargaining, begging, desperation...none of it has worked. I never thought I’d try IVF. I didn’t think it was *natural* to create life like that. When the time came and we had the money I really felt that I was ready, both spiritually and mentally. I really thought it would work. I thought that God would see how much it really meant to me/us and He’d let it happen. I thought that He’d see that I was willing to give myself shots and put myself through the emotional wringer and He’d reward me/us. We were in the process of selling our house and trying to find a new place. The market was not good and we feared that we’d be stuck. We got an offer pretty quickly and then we found out that we could get a really great interest rate to allow us to build a brand new house in a great neighborhood in the town we really wanted to live in. Not only that, but our realtor had a house that we could rent for just a few months while we waited for our house to be built. Things were really falling into place. It must be God’s plan, right? To finally get a baby, and a new house and a new life with my new husband and step-son...it must be my master plan/destiny, right? Wrong.

Let me add that over the years with my previous husband, each and every time I wasn’t pregnant when something significant happened in our lives I always used the line, “well I guess that’s why God hasn’t let me get pregnant yet.” It always made sense. And then I would tell myself that I didn’t get pregnant because God knew that we would divorce. However, if we’d had a child I don’t know that our marriage would have dissolved. It’s one of the biggest questions I have. He now has 3 children so it must have been his plan, right? To learn from our marriage and then to move on and have kids with someone that is fertile must have been his destiny, right? I don’t know.

Do we have a destiny? Is there a master plan? I always thought so. I am guilty of using the phrases, “what is meant to be will be” and “everything happens for a reason”. I don’t know what to believe now. God might have a plan for all of us but we, as humans, have plans of our own. We were given free will, the ability to make choices. We make wrong choices throughout our lives. Sometimes no matter how hard we pray and ask for guidance, we make a wrong choice. Did God know we would make a wrong choice? Was that wrong choice in our plan all along? If so, then it really wasn’t wrong was it? God told Eve not to eat the forbidden fruit. And pardon my ignorance...did He know she would anyway? She made the choice to go against God’s wishes and because of that, all of humanity was punished...sin was introduced into the perfect world.

Back to me...I’ve often wondered what my plan in life is/was. I wonder if I have made too many choices that have completely altered the way things were supposed to be. I made the choice of staying with my mom when I was 16 and my dad made the choice of letting me. Things would have been very different if I had not made the request or if he had said no. It’s things like that that have led me here today.

I started thinking about those sorts of things after our loss from our IVF in April. I chose to do IVF. I want a baby so badly that I chose to try again. Aren’t we supposed to learn from past mistakes as to not repeat them in the future? Since the first one failed I wonder why I though God would let the second one work. I had to try, though. I felt it was the right thing to do. And when I think back to how calm and serene I was through most of the process, I wonder why I was so calm. I think it was because I knew it would work. Somewhere deep inside, I had come to terms with the fact that it would work. I was ready for whatever emotions came my way. I had learned how to deal with it from our past attempt. I felt confident that it would turn out differently than last time. I was right, to a degree.

God allowed me to get pregnant. And then He allowed me lose that baby very early. I think it was a form of punishment. Before anyone tells me that God doesn’t punish people like that, hear me out. I used to think that way, too, until my loss. When women are born they are born with as many eggs as they will ever have. I was born with fewer than average eggs. I was also born with bad eggs. I have been TTC since I was 24 years old. My eggs were just as bad then as they are now. So obviously, God’s plan/my destiny/my fate has always been for me not to get pregnant. God created me and he created my eggs. He never intended for me to get pregnant. And what do I do? I keep going to doctors to try and rectify the situation instead of just learning from my past. If we had not tried again I would not have this heavy hurt of a lost baby in my heart. I would not sit here in sadness every day thinking about how far along I should be and what milestone I should be reaching each week.

When I think about how desperately I wish we had money for donor eggs I have to stop myself. What makes me think that donor eggs are “in my plan”? Why would God want me to go ahead and seek more medical intervention? He has already proven to me that He never intended for me to have a child. Why would I choose to try something like that? Honestly, if we had the money, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I’m driven by something else that I can’t put into words (maybe it’s greed or selfishness?). If I did donor eggs and God decided that he was angry enough at me for going through with more treatments, what would my next punishment be? I shudder at the thought of His power. I am, after all, a God fearing woman.

It’s all so confusing. And don’t get me wrong...I do not think that donor eggs are against God’s wishes. In my opinion, God creates all life and it’s up to Him if that life turns into a baby. And if a woman uses donor eggs and has a baby...I’m very happy for (and a bit jealous of) them. I’m just in spiritual turmoil right now. I’m questioning all my decisions with regards to reproduction lately. I’m also still trying to figure out if there is any way possible to pay for the donor egg program. I’m a walking contradiction. It’s not easy living in my head these days.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Happiness Is...

- Getting my hair cut and really liking it for the first time in almost 2 years. I had been going to the same lady for about 7 or 8 years and then she moved away. She did my highlights and my cuts and she knew what I liked and how to do it. Since she left I’ve had a really hard time finding someone that can do it the way I want...not the way *they* think it will look best. The people at work that always notice when I get my hair cut didn’t have a clue that I even got it cut. A sure sign of a fine job. Yay!!


- Yummy homemade banana bread. I received a recipe from a gal at work through one of those recipe exchange chain e-mails. I had never made banana bread before so I thought I’d try it. Sunday was the third time I have used her recipe. It’s so good and it makes a great snack. I put in a little more flour than the recipe calls for because if the bread is too moist it makes my stomach turn.

- Going back to the gym. I haven’t been to the gym (at work we have a very small fitness center) on consecutive days in about 4 months or so. I have decided to make a real effort to get in there at least 3 days a week on my lunch break. Going there at lunch keeps me out of the heat, I get a better workout than walking outside and it stops me from making a pit stop at McD’s or the frozen yogurt place or any other place I find myself stopping while I’m out walking. I’d like to be a little more bathing suite ready when our vacation gets here and this is a good start.

- Steamed asparagus. I bought a little steamer a while back and have used it for rice (it cooks it perfectly!!), broccoli and asparagus. It cooks the asparagus to the perfect tenderness. I don’t like it crispy and I don’t like it mushy (like out of the can). We usually have it when we have salmon. This past weekend we had it with crunchy chicken tenders....it was still yummy.

- A huge thunderstorm last night. The lightning lit up the sky for about an hour and the thunder was almost continuous. We got a little rain and a little wind but nothing too major. I love a good summer thunderstorm...as long as there are no tornadoes attached. I’m terrified of tornadoes. *shiver*

Friday, July 8, 2011

Why?

There are many times during the TTC process that we Infertiles ask the question “why?”


Why is it taking so long?
Why do I have endo?
Why do I have PCOS?
Why are my tubes blocked?
Why does my husband not have any sperm?
Why do I not ovulate?
Why do I keep losing babies?
Why? Why? Why?

The list just goes on and on for most of us. The “why?” that I’m asking today is this: Why do I still think there is a chance I could get pregnant?

I saw ewcm yesterday and put a plan into action to seduce my husband. Surprisingly I succeeded in doing just that. I’m only on CD9 today. The sighting of the ewcm means that ovulation will be today or tomorrow. I’m not peeing on any sticks or strips to know for sure. Being this early in my cycle I know that if there is an egg in the follicle that it’s most likely not mature. On the off chance that it is mature I’m sure it’s not normal. My track record speaks for itself. So again I have to ask myself, why?

Why do I keep doing this to myself?

I had a dream last night that I was at a neighbor’s party. It was the neighbor that is 41 and has stated that she never wants kids. It’s my opinion that she tried and failed but I have yet to ask her about it. I could be wrong but that is the feeling I get from her. Anyway...back to my dream. She was sharing her eggs with me. No, not her ovarian eggs, actual eggs that you would crack open and cook. Someone told me that the eggs wouldn’t be any good, that they’d be messed up. I assured them that the eggs would be fine. It was a half carton of eggs which is how I usually buy them. As I opened the carton, I inspected each and every one of the eggs. And wouldn’t you know that every single egg was cracked and oozing? I was so very disappointed.

Isn’t it amazing how our minds can work our life into some bizarre dream? I know my eggs are all crap, pretty much just like the ones in my dream. However, the ones in my dream weren’t mine. They were given to me and they were still bad. They were meant to replace my own but I couldn’t use them either. That’s pretty much how I feel. That even if I could afford donor eggs, I still would not end up with a baby. But again, why? Why am I even thinking about donor eggs?

Why am I holding on to this hope? It’s torture on most days. I hate this feeling of being defeated and at the end of my rope. Sometimes the good guy doesn’t win. All too often the villain gets the prize while the deserving champion sits on the sidelines knowing there is nothing that can change the outcome. Why? Why does it have to be this way?

I wish I knew. One of these days I’ll stop asking “why”. I’m sure it won’t be because I have an answer...I’ll just eventually grow tired of asking. Or maybe I’ll learn to just accept things for what they are and I won’t care “why”. I wish I were in that place now.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Happiness Is...

- Spending 4 days off work with my honey. We didn’t do much but we hung out together, ran a few errands, did some cleaning, went to a cookout, set off some fireworks with the Little Guy, slept in and just enjoyed each other. We didn’t seem to get on each other’s nerves much at all. :-)


- Having both my cats on my lap at once. It has never happened before and I don’t know if it will happen again, but wow. First, Smokey was on my lap like usual. Then all of a sudden, Gizmo jumped up on the couch and laid down on me. He was half on my mid-section and half on the couch. I told BJ to hurry up and snap a picture with his phone. Gizmo rarely comes up on the couch when there is more than one of us sitting there, let alone when Smokey is laying with me. It didn’t last but maybe 2 minutes but I loved it.

- A quick conversation with my mother over the weekend. I haven’t heard from her since my birthday. She’s “ok”, whatever that means in her world. She’s alive and seems to be ok, and I’m thankful for that.

- Watching Rocky movies over the weekend. We watched the end of Rocky IV, Rocky V, Rocky, Rocky II and Rocky III...in that order. They were playing the movies back to back on AMC. I haven’t seen those movies in YEARS and didn’t remember a lot of them so it was like watching them for the first time. When Rocky IV came on again I wanted to watch it from the beginning because I couldn’t remember how he lost his fortune (BJ told me but I wanted to SEE it) but BJ said he just couldn’t sit through one more movie. Poor guy.

- A new word game on my phone. I downloaded Word Whirl (I think that’s it) and have been playing it like crazy. It’s like my Kindle game of Every Word but it plays “faster”. I love word games and this is just the game for me. Plus, it was free!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Filler

Before I move on with my story I want to fill in a few blanks. There are some things that I forgot to mention before that have popped into my head since writing my last entry.


I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea about my sister. I love her very much and I always have. There has just been a major disconnect with us from a very early age. It sucks that we didn’t grow up together but it’s probably a good thing at the same time. Well, considering how each of us was raised I’d say it’s a very good thing we didn’t grow up together.

There are plenty of good memories that I have of my mother and my siblings that should not be glossed over. Several summers in a row my mother would either make or buy us (my sister and me) a matching outfit to wear. It was fun and cute and we took pictures. My mother made each of us kids a small pillow with our initials on it. I slept with mine for years...cried myself to sleep on it countless times because I missed my mother so much. We would watch wrestling Saturday mornings and all cheer and then we’d have our own wrestling matches in the living room. It was great fun. My mother took me to my first live action wrestling show when I was about 7 or 8 and I got to see Brett the Hitman Hart (our all-time favorite) in person. She also took me to see George Michael in concert (my very first concert) when I was 11 (I think). My sister and I would play with all of her My Little Ponies. She had them all and the castle that they lived in, too. I played Star Wars and MASH with my brother’s action figures. My favorite MASH character was Clinger. My mom and I used to stay up really late and watch Beretta on late night TV. We’d sing the theme song together. Because of her, I started watching Days of our Lives and General Hospital. I wanted to name my daughter Kayla after my favorite character. We used to sit in the kitchen and listen to the Oldies radio station and call in at lunch time and make requests. My mom’s favorite song was Cathy’s Clown...that’s her name and her mother used to sing that song to her. The other song we would request all the time was Funny Face...a nickname her mother gave her. We went to a local amusement park and rode the roller coaster together 10 times in a row...in the front seat! We also rode the Scrambler a bunch of times and just laughed and had a great time. We had one of those small pools in our backyard and we used to swim all the time. My mom would get in with us and she’d take turns dunking each of us. She’d hold us like babies and then tell us to “say goodbye!” and that was our clue to hold our nose and then she’d dunk us. It was great fun, I tell ya. My mom was a blast.

I was always very protective of my siblings, especially my older brother. He was scrawny and he’d get picked on by the neighborhood kids. He also had (and still does) a mouth that wrote checks his ass couldn’t cash. That’s when I had to step in. It seemed like I was always standing up for him in some fashion. He was a wimp and he still is. He talks big but can’t back any of it up. I could probably still kick his butt. There was one instance when I was about 8 or 9 and he was outside playing across the street with Joey. Our windows were open (my mom didn’t like running the AC) and I looked out and saw him and Joey in Joey’s front yard. Joey was on top of my brother and they were wrestling around. I yelled out the window for him to “get off my brother” but he obviously didn’t hear me or he didn’t care because he didn’t yield. My hair was in pig-tails and it was a rare instance that I was wearing a dress. I proceeded to run down the stairs, across the street and knocked Joey off my brother. Tony swears I clotheslined Joey and if there is ever a movie made about my life I will definitely write that in for dramatic effect. However, I just remember knocking him over. I remember a few times jumping in between my brother and one neighborhood boy or another. I was smaller than them but my natural instincts were to protect at any cost. In many ways I wish I could have protected my mom.

My mom has a cousin named Dave. She said he’s her cousin, anyway. I’m not sure how they are related. He was married to a woman named Jeannie. He was a biker dude in every sense of the word. He was big and burley, had crazy hair and a beard and tattoos. Jeannie was his biker babe. She was tall, blonde, rough around the edges and had her share of tattoos, too. At one point they were living in a trailer that was parked next to our house. I think I was 9 at the time. We called him Uncle Dave even though he was not our uncle. I didn’t like him very much. He made me uncomfortable, squeamish. The most vivid memory I have of him still haunts me to this day. My mom and I were cuddled in a chair watching TV. My red, white and blue afghan (my grandmother made it for me since I was born in 1976, the Bicentennial) was covering us. Uncle Dave was sitting in a chair across from us. I had closed my eyes because I was getting pretty tired but I wasn’t asleep yet. They were talking but I don’t remember what they were saying. I opened my eyes just in time to see Uncle Dave using his hands to express what he wanted from my mother. One hand was in an “o” shape and he was using his index finger of his other hand to go in and out of the “o”. I think we can all figure that one out. He looked alarmed that I had opened my eyes and slowly lowered his hands. I closed my eyes again and pretended that I didn’t see anything as I heard my mom say, “No, we did it last night”. I don’t remember anything else that was said. I just remember feeling very confused about what I had just witnessed. It was obvious that my mom didn’t want to proceed but I got the feeling that she was required to do so anyway. I was right. I found out when I was 16 that he repeatedly forced her to do those things under the threat of telling my step-dad and other blackmail threats. I feel so bad for my mother and I wish that I could have protected her from this monster. I’m sure she was scared of him, too. I do not believe that this was something she was doing willingly. He used to beat his wife and I’m pretty sure he was “rough” on my mom, too. I vaguely remember her having to wear long sleeves in the summer to hide bruises on her arms. It makes my heart ache to think about what she went through. And I really believe that all of these things that happened to her along the way are the reasons why she is the way she is. There was no one to protect her, to stand up for her. It really is a tragedy what happened to her. I was so glad the next summer when I came to visit and Uncle Dave was gone. I never knew the whole story (or maybe I have just forgotten it) of how his and his wife’s departure came about. I don’t care to know.

Other fond memories I have of my mother are Monday nights. Monday night was bowling night. We’d have pizza for dinner at home and then my mom would change into her bowling outfit. She wore a nice blouse and a denim mini skort. She had a small blue bowling brace that she wore on her right hand. We loaded into the station wagon and off we went. We each got some money for the snack bar and the pinball machines. I remember watching my mom bowl and how much fun she seemed to be having. She took it very seriously as she walked up the lane. She had the same stance each and every time. I remember thinking about how pretty she was and how I wanted to be like her when I grew up. I’m glad that didn’t really happen but at the time she was the best thing since sliced bread. She used to collect key chains. She had about 20 or more hanging off her keys. She could always find her keys in her purse, that’s for sure. She drove barefoot. As soon as we got in the car (a big Ford station wagon) she’d kick off her sandals and drive. She could barely see over the steering wheel. She bought me a pair of Dr. Scholl’s sandals that I loved...and of course they matched hers so that made them that much more appealing. I idolized her to say the least. She was my mother and I barely got to see her so I cherished all the time I had with her. When it would come time to leave I’d be hysterical. We would say, “No tears” but we always failed at that. We were both a blubbering mess by the time I got on the plane to leave. People on the plane always felt so sorry for me. I would sit there and cry...almost the whole flight. Back then, it was ok for the cockpit door to open so the flight attendants would take me up to see the captain to try and make me feel better. I would get little plastic wings to pin to my shirt and a deck of cards. And then I would cry some more. I just wanted my mom.