Wednesday, October 14, 2009

So, Tell Me

How do you do it? How do you reconcile career and family/reproduction/IF/loss?

How's that for complicated?

I am so distracted by all this that I can not seem to care very much about what it is that I'm doing here, in the academy.

I don't have my degree yet. After this semester, I have one more class, then comps, then dissertation.

Is it that it's so hard to decide on something? Is it that I've been away from it, mentally, for too long? I know I still care. But the idea of nailing down my focus, my direction, my energy is daunting. It makes me anxious. I avoid it.

I enjoy teaching, when I can focus enough to prepare a good lesson. My topic is important to me.

Is it just that I feel powerless?

Certainly, I feel the pressure of time on my body, more than my degree. Not that there isn't time pressure for the degree, but my body is more finite.

Freaking paradigms.

In "check in" for my qualitative research class a couple of weeks ago, I talked about how I'm sort of in the process of paradigmatic shifts, both in terms of my professional and personal life. This was the day of the negative beta (the first one) and I was (and still am) getting my head around the idea of adoption, that I really do want to parent a child or two.

I am not researching the topic I was interested in two years ago, not exploring my options, I'm just sitting around saying, "I have no idea what I'm doing here." This makes it really hard to invest in and engage in all the work I need to do to get through this semester. Wah wah wah.

What do I care about?

Maybe the question is, what is most pressing? Or, What do I want more than anything?

Or maybe it's not. C is worried that I'm going to sabotage myself by obsessing over babies and closing out all other parts of my life. My reflex is to say, No! Of course, I'm not doing that!

But I wonder if I am, kind of. But then I think, *this* is what I want. It is not all I am, but... I don't know. Is it sexist to say that it's this primal thing? Is it accurate? I don't know.

I need to move forward, with my life, my career, my studies. But I don't want to let this go, either.

And I resent the hell out of that. Haven't we had to let go of enough?

C says that any pregnancy we happen to find ourselves with is a bonus. At this point, he seems to have given up on the expectation of biological children. That's fine, I guess.

I'm not ready to close that door. But I don't know how to integrate it into my life. Now, or in the future.


Rachel said...

I don't have much advice about 'balancing' academia and cycling. I'm pretty sure that I got nothing done in the months we were cycling except for a few frantic bursts of energy. Part of me realized that a lot of grad students waste time obsessing over things they don't need to (that realization came when my grandmother was suddenly dying and I flew to visit her the week before comps, then never even bothered to tell the committee) but also that what we do (intellectual stuff) is really hard and that my day to day job is much harder to do when distracted than my husband's high-paying, life-altering 9 to 9 job.

charmedgirl said...

i remember being stuck in a sucky (for me) career, going to graduate school, while being stuck in treatment hell. i couldn't make a fucking move...i couldn't commit to anything because MAYBE, IF i got pregnant, everything could change. why start my "career" to have to take a break at what could be a critical time? i got pregnant with the three just as i graduated, and i've yet to work in my field. the whole thing is strange and weird, and i don't even know what i want to do anymore.

much craziness comes into play being home, with the kids i desired, that i fantasized about at work and school...because now i sit at home, sometimes really going batshit crazy, and fantasize about going to work and school. it's a real mother-fuck. the popular opinion is that i'm not appreciative; i'm just being honest. to feel the normal brain-melty-ness of motherhood after infertility/career/loss/education/reproduction and not realize that it's normal...that's the real mind fuck.

i guess my point is, you never stop trying to integrate reproduction into your life, no matter what happens. i always felt like once i opened the door, i was screwed no matter what. i don't want to make light of my children, i'm just talking about my own relationship with my reproductive self, if that makes any sense.

Ya Chun said...

I couldn't imagine going thru what you have been going thru back when I was in grad school. I was so stressed out all of the time.

It really sounds like you need a break. Thanksgiving vacation? B&B for the weekend - with no kid stuff, no school stuff - just relax. Of course, since you will be pregnant at the time (fingers crossed) i guess it might all be about baby!

I am not a good example of balancing my life. I quit my job. I was sick of it anyway. I had to separate out my grief from my career - and my 'career' just wasn't doing it for me. I figure I will figure something out after all the kids I hope to have are in elementary school. I figure, that is the real spoil of women's rights - to choose what you want - and right now, I can handle just one thing at a time. And I want to be home with the baby. So, I pre-empted that by quitting before having the live baby. But, I think, I would not be doing well if I was still dealing with that stressful job. So, maybe it is, for me, about balancing the stresses in my life.

G$ said...

Oh girl, do I have an earful to say on this subject.

Here is where I am at: I can control my work (I would trade out work for academia here), I can't control whether I will get pregnant. Through this treatment mud, I HAVE to have something that makes me feel like I have done something. I can control going home each day feeling accomplished or useless from work.

So, that being said, during treatments I am not very focused on work. I come in, I get the basics done, but that's about it. I have learned through my cycles to frontload in anticipation of this. I do the brain projects when I am not in active cycle (stimming) and I save the completely brainless projects for the TWW. Now, that doesn't always work out (like, I have an audit to do the day after or close to retrieval this time), but it's a good plan that works for me.

I guess essentially for me, I need to excel at something to validate my self worth or I fall into a pit. I spend time wallowing that pit and thinking my job, and everything else doesnt matter. Heck, I am not perfect. But when I am able to push through and get a feeling of accomplishment through my work, my overall world is a happier place. Fuck, at this point, it's the ONLY thing there is for me. And at times, that too throws me back in the pit (there should be so much more...)

As you know, we are working through the Foster/Adopt system too. I hate that it may be our only way to be parents. I hate it a lot less today than I did 3 months ago and a ton less than I did a year ago. I am warming up to it and realizing that my battlewounds from IF and DeadBabyLand are all going to be reopen in this process too, but it still feels like it's moving forward.

My real question is... What happens when it's all over? This fight, this struggle to achieve pregnancy or adoption... What will I do then? That thought wrecks me to even let it drift across my brainwaves.

Hang in there girl. This shit sucks major ass.

Tash said...

This is sooooo hard. I essentially put my life on hold because when we started seeing the RE after a year+ of nothing, my husband got a temporary job out of state. I was NOT going to wait for him to get home to start everything, nor did I think I could find a job (or let's face it, search for one) who would let me go a few days every month at my discretion. (His certainly wouldn't.) Fortunately we got pregnant, and I again put my life on hold. I decided I was done holding. After Maddy I'd go back. And here I am. I froze, got stuck, and couldn't move. I'm finally, FINALLY ready to go out again and the economy is ass and I'm fucking old. I have no idea how this will turn out.

Not sure what I'm saying -- do I regret it? Hard to say; I certainly don't regret Bella or my time home with her. Hard to regret being deep in grief. I guess it is what it is.

BUT, if the process makes you feel differently about something, I would explore that. If this process makes you think, "the academy is really family unfriendly and I'm tired of this crap," you should probably suss that out in a space where you can put grief in a box for a few minutes. Vice versa, "I'm tired of this reproductive bullshit, I'm going to be a professor if it kills me." Again, seriously consider this thought putting the rest in a box for a bit. You never know.

Hang tough.

Michele said...

work was always a means to an end for me. I mean, I wanted to do something I enjoyed but I never planned on working long term. it was all just getting to the family part of our life. so it was easy to walk away from it.