Sunday, September 4, 2016

Making Things Grow

Hey guys. I guess I haven't blogged all summer. A lot's happened since we last talked. I even had a birthday. Don't worry if you didn't get me anything. It's never too late.

I got out of school OK. Merilee was telling everyone I finished with a 4.0. It's true, but it's almost as embarrassing as your mom bragging about you getting on the honor roll in middle school. I guess I'm getting that now since I failed 8th grade the first time.

A paperweight for Boeing's 100th birthday.
There's a bunch of these on Ebay now.
I've started two new jobs since we last talked. I'm working as a software tester for a company here in town. I'll be carrying the job into the school year. Extra money will be nice, and for many reasons it's just an amazing job to have as a student. I also pretty much had to commit to working this school year for them to consider hiring me. I could seriously burn some bridges if I put in my two weeks before next summer. Training took over a month and I'm still getting the hang of things, but I really enjoy it most of the time.

My second job is as an apartment manager for a small complex close to campus. We get a discount on rent in addition to earning a little each month. The result is that our cost of living is significantly lower and we're looking forward to saving lots of money in the next 2+ years. Being the manager for the 15 units really isn't that big of a deal, but it does get hectic at times. Right now it's annoying because people (probably not even from our complex) are dumping couches by our dumpster. It doesn't affect my paycheck, but I still hate that it's costing my company $50-$100 every time they do it. 

As an on-site manager, I have to live on-site. So we moved. We'll miss our old apartment complex which featured coin laundry and two pools and a hot tub we never used. We also changed wards. It's nice meeting new people and not having 4 callings.

My wife is so cute.
Speaking of callings - Merilee and I were invited to speak with a member of the bishopric 15 minutes before sacrament meeting on our second Sunday there. Since our records had been requested the previous week, we were extended the calling to serve as primary workers. We were sustained 30 minutes later, then our records were read in so we could be welcomed into the ward. I felt the order of things was appropriate given the state of things. I guess willing volunteers are scarce here as well. The ward does seem to be a bit bigger than our last one though.

It's hard to see, but basically there were a lot of eggs in our compost.
Unfortunately our apartment isn't any bigger. Somehow I feel like we're able to utilize the space a bit better though. We have less space yet everything seems to have a place. There's a community garden in our complex that no one uses. We had the worst time trying to garden in the back patio of our previous apartment. It would have been nice to cultivate our own little vegetable patch but the sun just didn't shine enough on it. This community garden gets plenty of sun, but I don't think I like sharing dirt with other people. There are some weird people out there, you know?

At the moment we're hosting some friends who are in limbo with their house being worked on. They had to sell their home when they bought a fixer-upper and it's taking some time to get it habitable. I've been helping them with some demo and other miscellaneous work. It's nice learning a little bit about the renovation process, and they've been paying me, so it's nice.

Sewing machine, 3D printer, computers, electronics,
Rubik's cube. Yay for being kind of a nerd. Mer sews not me.
I've been saving my dollars with the idea of buying a 3D printer. My friend Sam took his with him to his internship. I don't blame him, but at the same time it's hurt my progress on our project. Rapid prototyping is really hard without a quick and easy manufacturing method. The plan changed when I realized that our new apartment gets a lot hotter than our last, especially with the gas oven pumping out bread and pies and cakes and cookies. I invested in a portable AC unit instead. It's pretty cool.

That didn't stop me from getting a 3D printer though. Peterson in-laws are awesome. It turned out that Randy had built one at a workshop and brought it to us from Missouri when they visited us. I thought he just brought it so we could play around and nerd out with it, but he gave it to me as part of my birthday ensemble. It was awesome having them over to visit, and my workshop has been upgraded significantly with their contributions. So I'm giving a shout out to Randy and Sheralyn for making Christmas come early this year. By the way, you too could earn a shout out on my blog. Find out how. #Shameless

I was trying to take a picture of a rocket part. I got some sweetness instead.

We might be re-locating the workshop, however. Though our apartment is full of stuff, we have yet to fill it with another person. Just as meeting with the fertility specialist this time last year had somewhat calmed our anxiety about the uncharted realm of IVF, we thought this year it would be beneficial for us to take the foster care classes the county has. We would likely be going in that direction eventually, even if IVF worked the 3rd or 4th time.

Egg Harvest #1
I don't think foster care will be how we start our family for a few years. It became pretty apparent to me early on, but I was waiting until the last class before totally ruling it out. I just couldn't see a possible way for it to work between work schedules and school. I was also going through a rough patch, rougher than I am now at least.

I don't think I've taken offense too many times for things that have happened to me in life, but after our last failed attempt it just started to feel personal. I really don't think I knew what it was to be infertile until I had to tell Merilee the results of her last (as in final) pregnancy test. I thought I was really fortunate (and I was) to know, even before dating Merilee, that I would need to do IVF to have children. I was fortunate because I, unlike so many couples, could go straight to the fertility specialist. I wouldn't have to try for months or years to get pregnant naturally before I could get a referral. I wouldn't wonder what was wrong. However, now I really have no idea why IVF didn't work. On paper, Merilee and I look like ideal candidates for in vitro.
Our first embryos.

That's one reason why it feels personal.

It feels personal because Merilee can't have so much as a caffeinated Dr. Pepper while undergoing treatment and gets injected with expensive drugs that are supposed to help her get pregnant. All the while, meth addicts and abusers of all other kinds of drugs can't help getting pregnant and continue to use during their pregnancies. Maybe our doctor should have prescribed Merilee meth instead of fertility drugs?

The two which were thawed for our frozen cycle.
It feels personal because, though Merilee has served exclusively in primary callings since we were married and has helped so many of other people's children, she will never have one of her own.

It feels personal as couples who have been married much less time than we have are starting their families.

It feels personal when there are people who think that they have too many kids or say things like "if it's a girl this time OK, but if not..." We will never know their struggle.

It feels personal when a cycle ends and all the other women in the doctor's office got pregnant but your wife.

It feels personal because facebook is full of children and "hey we're having a baby in 6 months" announcements (please don't take offense, your babies are cute and you have every reason to share pictures of them. The chances are that if you're reading this, we want to see more pictures of your babies).

It feels personal when I remember our first visit with the doctor who told us that we were going to "make [him] look good."

Egg Harvest #2
I've felt so angry with Him (at God, not our doctor). It's an anger I haven't felt since I lived at home with my parents. Do you remember when you wanted something so bad, but your parents wouldn't let you have it? It doesn't matter how unimportant it seems now, but then, you had an insatiable desire for whatever that thing was. Those fools, they just wouldn't listen. They would not budge no matter how much you begged or were willing to sacrifice. The answer was always no (unless you were one of those spoiled ones?).

That's a lot how this feels. He's said no. He's been showing us this past year, in no subtle terms, that we will not have our own child, and that is what makes me angry at Him. Then a lot of the time I also feel guilty. I stopped feeling guilty for being the reason why we can't have children when I considered that if the situation was switched (ie if Merilee was infertile), I would know she was not responsible. I would never want her harboring guilt over something so beyond her control.

What I do feel guilty about is feeling like God is picking on me when there are people who have real problems. I'm not fighting for my life, neither is my spouse nor are my siblings. I have plenty of work and so does my spouse. We are able to live comfortably and watch movies and eat cookies every day. My spouse is a constant source of comfort, joy, love, affection, excitement, and laughter. I'm progressing towards an exciting career, excelling in school and gaining valuable work experience.

Egg Harvest #3
The list goes on to prove my point that I don't deserve to be pitied. Yet at the same time, I do feel a huge loss. A loss of a family I'll never have. A loss of being able to see my wife bear and nurture our children. A loss of seeing resemblances in my children of their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. It's knowing that our children will have other parents. It's accepting that our family can only grow by the dismantling of others. It's expectations since childhood that will never happen. It's many things that I feel guilty for wanting so earnestly.

I knew that it was wrong to be angry with God, just like I was probably a brat to my parents. I'm trying to repent and get rid of the guilt. Already I'm seeing some results. Since I started making a more conscious effort to see things His way and really be open to whatever His plan is (even though it would certainly not have been my first choice), I've noticed a few things. Over the last few days we've randomly met friends of friends who have done foster care in the past, we've discovered that acquaintances from work and church also have done foster care, and particularly for me I've had some specific words spoken over the pulpit pointing me in the right direction. Thanks Bishop Canaan (he didn't buy anything but gets a shout out anyways).

Third fresh cycle embryos from my sperm.
I've started to believe that He (again - God, not Bishop Canaan) needs us to care for someone. I think that He's been preparing someone for us, and us for him/her. It must have needed to be now. Perhaps he didn't bless us with successful IVF because he knew we'd delay foster care until I was out of school if we had a baby. I could be wrong, but I don't feel like this is the time that we'll start our family. I think we're more likely to be a temporary support for the a child in the age group we can manage (which is right now probably between 5-10 yrs old).

Third fresh cycle embryos from donor sperm.
We had high hopes for the big one.
The system favors reunification because studies have shown that biological parents that provide the bare minimum for their children are still better than perfect strangers. Even if we were perfect foster parents, I don't think I could go into the arrangement with the idea to take away someone else's child anyways. We're not against adoption or another type of permanency, but I like the idea of helping a young person during an extremely difficult time before they are reunited with their parents more than being plan B.

So anyways, that's why we might be moving the workshop into the bedroom. We're thinking if we can curtain off the den, it might pass as a bedroom for one or two kids. We don't have our license yet but will probably start parenting before the end of the year. It's kind of scary but at the same time I feel assured that this is what God wants us to do right now.

Merilee's dad said that we would need a miracle to have a baby, and we do believe in miracles. It's true that He could bless us with that tremendous gift. Right now however, we're focusing on what He wants us to do instead of what we've been trying to get Him to do for us. Maybe we'll plant something in the community garden too.

Hugs and bubbles.

1 comment:

  1. Such a great post. You are an inspiration to me Chawles! You and that sister of mine! I love you guys! Thank you for your examples of faith and resilience.