woman with her head (literally) in the clouds

My Word for 2023: CURIOSITY

Normally at the beginning of a new year, I come up with a word – a focus for the year ahead. But when January 1 rolled around this year, I was drawing a blank.

I was in a bad place at the beginning of this year. Well, really since earlier than that. But everything sort of culminated in January. I had poured my heart and soul into trying to get pregnant in 2022. I felt like God or the universe (or someone) had given me signs that it was going to happen. And then it didn’t.

When 2023 started, I was so angry. I felt like I was angrier than I’ve ever been in my life. Angry at everyone, I hated everything.

I told my therapist that I was tired of hurting, I wanted to feel better now, but I didn’t know how to make that happen. And she told me that maybe I was doing exactly what my body and mind needed me to do: simply being in a horrible, bad place and just feeling my feelings.

It reminded me of the practice of mindfulness. I needed to be aware, without judgment, of my feelings and just sit with them for a while. If I repressed them or tried to pretend that they weren’t there, I wouldn’t be able to move past them or heal.

Feeling my feelings was not the answer I wanted to hear. I wanted a pill, a drug, a quick fix to my problems. I had felt so many feelings already and it was exhausting! How could I make them go away?

We left that therapy session and I (jokingly) told Dean, “what are we paying her so much for?” She hadn’t solved my problems, she hadn’t fixed my pain. But I found out about 3 weeks later that she was 100% right.

For 3 weeks, I burned with anger at God and the world. I resented hearing about any new pregnancy announcements. I was lethargic and unmotivated about most everything – with the exception that I decided to start training for a half marathon. That was my one goal, my one distraction that kept me grounded. And I had so much anger that running was a good way to get it out, or at least to fuel my runs.

For 3 weeks my body worked through a lot of the hurt. I grieved. I processed. I survived a faith crisis (that’s a whole other story). And then suddenly it started to not hurt as much. I hadn’t “done” anything in particular. I had started exercising (good), I had done a lot of journaling of my feelings (also good), and I had shared and cried with some of my closest friends about my sadness and grief – and because they are wonderful friends, they listened without judgment and offered me grace and compassion.

I’m not going to pretend like it doesn’t still hurt, it does. But the constant feeling like someone has kicked me in the chest has gone away. The clouds have lifted and I’m feeling more like myself, the Erica before joining the infertility club.

Honestly, I had kind of forgotten who I was before becoming so obsessed with trying to get pregnant. It had taken over me. It seemed like all the fun, spontaneous, and happy parts of me had gotten lost, and the only parts left of me were the ugly, angry, and bitter ones.

In that same therapy session where I told my therapist I was tired of hurting, I also told her that I wanted to get another tattoo. “Another tattoo?” she said. She hadn’t even noticed the one I had on my wrist. I then told her that I kind of wanted a sleeve, but that I wasn’t totally sure what I would get – maybe I’d let my tattoo artist help me decide.

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2022 year in review

Recap of 2022 – It Really Sucked (and it was really great)

This has been the most up and down year I’ve ever experienced emotionally! As I thought back over 2022, my initial reaction was, “it sucked.” (Infertility really colors your perception of life.)

Back in January of last year, I thought I was ready to give up on trying to get pregnant with a second child. I felt like I had gone through a lot of the grieving process already, and I wanted to move on. At that point, we had been trying for a year and a half. We had thought IVF was our only hope to get pregnant again, but then in February we got some updated test results that showed that we actually might have a good shot if we kept trying on our own (supposedly).

I remember feeling shocked, and honestly angry. It felt like a trick. And I was scared. I didn’t want to open myself up to hope again, only to be disappointed. I had plans for 2022. I was going to live life to the fullest and not be so obsessed with ovulation and pregnancy achievement. It was going to be “my year.” The day before we heard about the new test results, I had literally taken every baby item I had saved over the years and put it all in a big pile in the garage to donate (or trash). I had literally just emailed a friend about why I was feeling content with only having one child and being a family of three.

What a dangerous thing, to declare it to be “your year!”

I figured if we didn’t keep trying, I might regret it one day. What if I really could get pregnant?

But the months all passed, and here we are at the end of 2022, and there’s no baby in sight.

Obviously, that’s been the most sucky part of this year. But there were some other doozies too:

  • January 3rd I tested positive for COVID, less than a week before we were supposed to go on a big family trip.
  • In February I applied and interviewed for a job I really wanted, one for which I thought I was a shoo-in, and ended up not even getting called back for a second interview – a HUGE hit to my self-esteem.
  • In April I randomly had to go to the ER for pain from an ear infection because it was so bad I couldn’t sleep or wait until the morning to go to the regular (and much cheaper) doctor.
  • Month after month after month I didn’t get pregnant – my own hellish version of Groundhog’s Day

So yeah, 2022 really did kind of suck.

But it was also really great too.

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Image of foot with bones

2 Years After Foot Surgery – Slow But Steady Progress!

Two years ago was Feb 4, 2020. The “before-COVID” times. It was also the day I had foot surgery, specifically an osteotomy, to address my inflamed posterior tibial tendon (aka. my flat arches were causing issues). I had to have three large incisions on my left foot, and one on my calf to “lengthen my calf muscle.”

Afterwards I had to be non-weight bearing on my left foot for four weeks, and I was riding around on a knee scooter like a pro! Then I used crutches for four weeks, and after that did three months of physical therapy. You can read more about the details here, and even see gross post-surgery foot pictures if you want to!

The healing process felt never-ending. Even after I was discharged from physical therapy, I wasn’t back to normal. I still had a bit of a limp sometimes. When I first got up in the morning, my left foot was stiff and I would hobble around for a while until it loosened up. I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to go running again, and honestly I was kind of afraid to, since that was the catalyst for my injury.

Even one year later, I was still keenly aware of some of my limitations that I hadn’t had before my foot injury – like experiencing some residual foot pain and always needing to wear supportive/orthotic shoes.

I think it’s valuable to take a moment today to look back and remember where I was two years ago, so that I can fully appreciate just how far I’ve come in terms of recovery. In my post from May of 2020 (four months after the surgery) I had written:

My foot is not perfect, I’m still waiting for that glorious day when I can do a heel raise while standing only on my left foot, but I’m not there yet. I’m longing for when I can go on a walk around the block without limping or feeling sore, and I’m dreaming about a day when I might be able to go for a jog again.

May 2020

Later that year in October, five months after writing those words, I went for my first post-surgery jog. It had been 17 months since I had been able to run. I couldn’t run as far or as fast, and my foot was really sore after, but I did it.

How often do we get to receive the things our hearts are so desperately longing for? Honestly, it may be more often than we think. If you do any sort of journaling – whether it’s personal writing, blogging, or even photo journaling – it makes it easy to see where you were and how far you’ve come.

Many times we get the exact things we’re hoping for, and we’re happy for a little while, but then we move on to hoping for the next thing, and then the thing after that. It’s easy to feel like we haven’t “made it” yet because there’s always something we are looking to accomplish next.

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