pie graph describing emotions behind anger (like shame)

The Antidote to Shame – Share Your Story (thanks Brené!)

I recently watched John Mulaney’s newest comedy special on Netflix called “Baby J.” I like John Mulaney, I think he’s funny. He’s got at least two or three other specials on Netflix from earlier years, but he hadn’t done anything in a while due to some crazy life circumstances he went through. His newest special, “Baby J,” is really him opening up about what the last 2-3 years had in store for him.

Obviously in the last 2-3 years, we ALL went through a little thing called COVID-19. So in a sense, all of our worlds were kind of rocked. But John Mulaney had a particularly difficult time, and he begins sharing that experience in the first few minutes of his show. He kicks it off by describing his process of finally having to deal with his drug addiction and going to rehab. And he does it in a way that is funny! I loved that he just came right out and talked about the elephant in the room. His entire special is about what’s it like to go to rehab, how he really didn’t want to go to rehab, and how badly the drug addiction had a hold on him. And I respect him so much for doing a special all about that. Yes, it’s funny – but it’s also so beautiful and real.

I have no experience with drug rehab, but I admit it did remind me a bit of going into the mental health hospital when I had postpartum depression. So maybe in the tiniest way, I felt like I could relate. I could relate to people being worried about me. I could relate to having to be away from friends and family in a facility that kind of felt like a prison, and where many of my basic rights and choices were taken away from me. But I was only in the hospital for a week. John Mulaney describes being in rehab for months.

Tom Felton's book: Beyond the Wand

It reminded me of another person who recently shared their experience of rehab and addiction: Tom Felton. Earlier this year I read his memoir, Beyond the Wand, and like with Mulaney’s special, I also remember being appreciative that he would share his story and be honest. His story started the same way John Mulaney’s did – with an intervention by friends and family. A bunch of people all gathered in a room for hours on end, trying to convince someone they love to agree to get help. Which both Felton and Mulaney eventually did.

Both Felton and Mulaney describe the intense anger that they had in those moments of confrontation. They both knew they were in bad places, and I don’t think either of them were surprised that they suddenly found themselves at the center of an intervention. But they both describe feeling livid.

What is it about others telling us that we need help that makes us get so angry? Why is anger our first emotion when people who love us want us to get healthier? Is anger covering up our shame? I would guess it’s something like that. And I think Brené Brown would guess that too.

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whale in the sky holding up a plane

What I’m Watching: Extraordinary Attorney Woo

I recently finished watching a show on Netflix: Extraordinary Attorney Woo. I’ve watched a few other Korean shows and movies (Squid Game and Train to Busan to name a few), and as I was looking for something new to watch, this show sounded interesting. I didn’t expect to love this show as much as I did. I have to say, I loved this show so much!

I don’t typically love legal dramas, but the synopsis of the show intrigued me. The main character, Attorney Woo Young-woo, is a newly hired lawyer who has autism, and the show does an excellent job portraying how a person with autism might experience navigating a career, relationships, and life in general.

Obviously, autism manifests itself differently and to varying degrees in different people, so it can be hard to create a show like this without falling into stereotypes.

The first portrayal I ever saw of a person with autism on t.v. was probably the movie Rain Man (1988) with Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. When I was young and would tell people that I had a sister who was autistic, they would sometimes wonder if she was “super smart” or exceptionally good at math like Dustin Hoffman’s character. I would then have to explain that not everyone with autism was a savant.

These days autism is much more commonly talked about and heard about, and I’m grateful for more representation happening on shows like Attorney Woo.

In the show, Woo Young-woo is obsessed with whales, and whales kind of become an important theme. In the intro of the show, as Young-woo is crossing the street, the crosswalk sign utilizes whales instead of the more classic icons like the red “stop” hand or the “go” person. Initially I didn’t realize this was made up – I really thought the crosswalk signs in South Korea had whales icons and I thought, “that is so cute!” I was a bit disappointed once I realized the truth…

At one point in the show, Young-woo describes herself as a “narwhal in a sea of beluga whales,” because she knows she is different (not neurotypical). It made me think about how lonely that would be – to know that others view you as “different,” and to know that in many ways you really are different and may not always fit in, but to also not be able to do much about it.


Despite Young-woo’s differences, she is an excellent attorney. In fact, her differences help make her one of the best attorneys at her firm.

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The End of Our Infertility Journey

***note: I originally drafted this post in January of 2023, when the emotions were still very fresh. I have done a lot of healing over the past few months, but it has not been a quick or easy process. A lot of ugly parts of me have been revealed during this process – anger, bitterness, resentment – for the people who have stuck by my side during some of my worst seasons, thank you. Thank you all for giving me grace as I try to become a better, healthier version of myself.

This is the third, and what I believe will be the final, update on our infertility journey. In May of 2020, my husband and I started trying for a second child. In January of 2023, we stopped trying. After 2 and a half years of this emotional roller coaster from hell, we finally decided to quit.

There’s a lot more to the story, but if you just want the cliff notes, that’s about it. I suppose it’s not really the end of the journey, because now it’s time to take a detour on the path called grief. I wish that the journey was just over and I could go back to my life before. I wish I could feel like who I was before we started trying to have another baby, but I don’t know how to do that. We will be forever changed by this experience, and I’m just looking forward to the day when it doesn’t hurt so much.

Because I’m weird, or perhaps a bit obsessive, I tracked how many cycles I’d had since we began this process and figured out how many times we ended up trying (and failing) to get pregnant. So here are the stats below:

31 months total
35 cycles total
30 = # of times we tried to get pregnant
5 = # of cycles we took a break from trying
17 = Longest consecutive stretch trying for a baby

Over a period of 31 months, I had 35 cycles.
Out of those 35, we made an effort to get pregnant 30 different times.
There were 5 cycles that I purposely opted out of trying because I needed an emotional breather every once and a while.
Our longest consecutive stretch of intentionally trying was 17 cycles in a row.

I don’t know if it’s helpful or not for me to see these numbers, but in a way I feel like it validates my experience. I can look at the numbers and understand a little more why it has been so hard. 30 is a lot of times to feel emotionally shattered.

So what happened? Why did we decide to quit trying?

In the last update I gave in October of 2022, I had just talked about how we had recently seen a reproductive endocrinologist and that potentially we could try one of the less-invasive treatments: intrauterine insemination (IUI).

After thinking about it, we came to the decision that starting in January of 2023, we would give IUI a try, up to three times. If it didn’t work, then we would plan to call it quits.

But not every couple is eligible for IUI. There’s a lot of factors at play – sperm count, number of healthy eggs left, fallopian tubes being open/blocked, etc.

When we last went to the doctor back in August, it looked like we were good candidates for this procedure. But before going through all the trouble of attempting IUI in January, we wanted to double check that everything still looked promising, so we did a few tests again. This time, the test results were not good. What our results showed is that things had changed, and we were now ineligible for IUI.

“Let us know if you’re interested in pursuing IVF.”

That was the last message we got from our doctor’s office.

But I had already decided that I was not going to pursue in vitro.

I’ll pause here for a moment because I just know someone out there wants to ask, “if you want another baby so badly, why aren’t you going to try in vitro?”

Infertility and the journey of trying to have a child is a very personal, not to mention difficult, journey. What’s right for one person may not be right for another person. And that’s okay. And when a couple decides their journey is over, it’s important to validate that decision.

For me, the mental and emotional toll of not getting pregnant every month is something I can’t continue doing. The past year I found myself struggling with depression often. At times, I found it hard to find the energy to get out of bed.

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