Thursday, November 13, 2014

Infertility: Faith, Hope, and Love.

Please note that comments on these posts on infertility will be heavily screened; derogatory, offensive, or inflammatory comments will be removed.  If you truly aren't sure whether your comment could be read as such, but you feel like you could add constructively to the conversation, please send a private message through TACN's Facebook page. For this particular post: keep in mind that this isn't a forum in which to discuss birth control, and any comment making it about that will also be removed.  Also, this post talks about my faith and infertility. When talking about my own journey, the two are inextricably linked.  Everyone's experience with faith is different; please be respectful.
Infertility is a medical condition: failure to get pregnant within one year while having frequent, unprotected intercourse (upwards of 90% of women will conceive within that year).  This doesn't mean that women diagnosed with it will never get pregnant; most women who want to get pregnant will eventually go on to conceive, though usually with a doctor's help.  Others will of course go on to adopt or take a break from trying to recoup their energy. Infertility can happen at any point in a woman's life after she starts ovulating, even though statistics often include only ages 25-44. It doesn't just affect women who are 35 and older, or women who have other health problems, or women who have been on birth control.   It doesn't even affect only women without children.  Infertility looks different for everyone. 

While I do have "Female Infertility" on my doctor's chart, and I do require treatment due to polycystic ovarian syndrome, my journey hasn't been as long or arduous as some.  I don't claim to know the heartbreak of miscarriages or failed in vitro attempts.  I haven't been actively trying for two or more years.  I haven't had an adoption fall through.  I haven't had ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome or needed an operation to fix or remove an organ.  To all of you who have: you are stronger than anyone could imagine.  It has, of course, still been a frustrating experience. I've done unsuccessful rounds of Clomid and Femara and Follistim.  I've been disappointed by who knows how many negative pregnancy tests, even when I knew I probably hadn't even ovulated. I finally found a medication and dosage that gives me a chance, and I do have hope.  I also believe that I've been going through this for a reason. Even if I get pregnant this cycle or next, I think it's important to normalize the emotions that women feel and the choices they make when they don't get pregnant within that one year window of time.  


In the back of my mind, I anticipated having some trouble conceiving; I went on the pill in my teens, because slightly elevated androgen levels pointed to PCOS, though I wasn't "officially" diagnosed until I came off it to try to conceive.  I nonetheless held out hope that perhaps I was wrong and would come off the pill and bam!, pregnant.  One day after the first six months, when I hadn't yet even ovulated, I went to the bank to deposit a holiday present that was about to go straight into our fertility treatment fund.  I pulled into the parking lot, and suddenly the flood gates opened.  (PS, I apologize to anyone who witnessed me breaking down and seemingly yelling at my windshield and thought they might need to fear for their safety.)

Is this even going to work?  Because I've been waiting for the opportunity to be a mother for a long time now.  I can't reconcile a God who would instill such a desire in me with one who would then keep it from me.  There are people who get pregnant without trying at all.  What's wrong with me that I can't do that?  Am I not meant to have children?  Am I supposed to adopt?  Can I at least get an "Amen" somewhere? Is the fact that I'm not even ovulating my dry wool on the ground, as it were? Can there be words in the sky?  A sign at the side of the road?  A text?  Can't you just tell me if this is what I'm supposed to be doing?  I need some confirmation, because  I don't understand, and I'm floundering here.  Why must I make these decisions?  

I was upset, crying, angry.  I didn't think I'd get an answer, because at that moment God felt cold and distant to me.  In fact, I doubted that even if He existed, He actually listened.  Then unexpected words rang clearly in my mind.

Who ever said that this was your struggle?  This is our struggle.  

And as suddenly as I had started railing against God's silence, my body, and the injustices of life, my perspective changed.  This wasn't going to be God's punishment, or the universe's way of telling me that I shouldn't be a mom, or a sign that I wasn't as prepared for parenthood as the people who so easily got pregnant. This was just the trailhead of a meandering, more challenging hike up the mountain to the breathtaking view from the top.  It might be hard, and I might grumble when I faltered along the way; I might slide backward occasionally. But the blessing at the end was worth striving for, and I realized something important about myself; I was willing to fight for it, to endure for it. And God had said He would be there with me, my guide, picking me back up and dusting me off and giving me water whenever I sat down and thought about giving up.  Rejoicing in my progress.  Crying with me when I stumbled and bruised myself, even as He healed those wounds and made me even stronger.

Yes, I might get to the top and find a different landscape than I expected-- God could say, "Now that I've led you here, you can better see that child over there who needs a home"; He's God, and He does that sometimes-- but I knew that outcome would be equally as beautiful, and whatever journey preceded it would still be worth it.  Because while faith, hope, and love always remain, the greatest of these isn't hope.  

And day by day, God is just building up the love I have to offer when our child arrives.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

11 Things Not to Say to Anyone Struggling with Infertility.

Please note that comments on these upcoming posts on infertility will be heavily screened; derogatory, offensive, or inflammatory comments will be removed.  If you truly aren't sure whether your comment could be read as such, but you feel like you could positively add to the conversation, please send a private message to TACN's Facebook page. 

Like with parenting, most everyone has an opinion about infertility that they feel the need to share, even if it isn't based on fact or experience.  So with Fit & Active October giving me a segue into other health issues for November, I've decided to do a short weekly "series" about struggling with infertility. Next week, I'll share some of my personal story.  This week, I decided to preemptively shut down some nonconstructive comments on future posts; I think most people know if their words are blatantly offensive, but I'd like to help people better understand how words spoken without thinking can be insidiously insensitive.  We all have different triggers.  This list might not include some, and the ones included might not apply to everyone, but I do know that these are prevalent.

EDIT: If I didn't make it clear in this post, if you say something that makes us feel bad, we will tell you and not just let you guess! This is mostly a compilation of things I've heard on forums, comments on other blogs, and what others struggling with infertility have said bothers them. There is also a huge difference between certain comments if you've been with us every step of the way and giving opinions or advice as an acquaintance or outside observer.

11 Things Not to Say to Anyone Struggling with Infertility.

-You should just adopt; there are so many kids who need good homes.
Always remember that most women struggling with infertility have weighed (and sometimes agonized over) all options.  Adoption should certainly be one of those options, and if you are absolutely sure that someone has dismissed it out of hand, perhaps a discussion about why is in order.  But saying this without knowing us or our thought processes implies the unkind assumption that we haven't thought or are incapable of thinking through our decisions for ourselves.  We do respect people who choose to adopt. For some people, it's the right choice; for others, it isn't. Adoption is often just as expensive as fertility treatments-- sometimes more expensive, depending on the treatment-- with the addition of other legal, family history, and attachment issues to consider.  No one "just" adopts a child. Also, when people say this to us, they imply that our bodies not functioning normally somehow makes us more responsible than others in solving a global problem, and that we ought to feel selfish for not "using" our bodies for a cause. That's a heck of a lot of psychological and societal pressure to put on such a small fraction of the human population.

-You need to stop trying./I went on vacation and got pregnant when I wasn't so worried about it.
We've all heard that stress can affect fertility.  However, we may not ovulate frequently enough to have regular cycles and therefore need monitoring, or due to past complications we're at a higher risk for miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies.  We might have high pressure jobs or be dealing with complicated family or friendship dynamics.  We're glad that you were able to take pressure off yourself and relax, but that might not be an option for us.  Paradoxically, reminding us that we're unable to lessen our own stress load can cause even more stress.

-When you do get pregnant... /When you have a baby...
This is a tricky one.  On the one hand, we'll clearly indicate to you whether we feel like talking about "what if"s.  Sometimes we'll be happy to discuss possible baby names, or pick out future nursery colors, or discuss our plans to dress up as Princess Leia and make a baby Yoda costume for his/her first Halloween.*  We might even like to talk frequently about future plans for children. But try to let us bring it up first, and if you want to bring it up, ask. We know that in many cases you're trying to be optimistic to compensate for our worry.  The truth is, you can't know if we'll ever get pregnant.  Even if you feel confident about it, the best, most helpful thing you can do is listen.

-This was our first month actively trying, and my period just arrived (or my pregnancy test came back negative), and I'm SO disappointed and upset.
OK, so you can say this to us; sometimes we might initially bristle at it, thinking, "Really? Only one month? Bah! You don't know what real disappointment feels like," but then... we'll remember that we felt similarly to you when just starting out.  We know this is a horrible feeling at any point in the process, first cycle or thirtieth.  Just don't be surprised or think us unsympathetic when we remind you to be patient and give it some time.  One month truly isn't much time; neither is four, really.  The majority of you will conceive within the first six months of trying, and the majority of the remainder within a year. The emotions you're feeling right now are valid, and they suck, but keep in mind the reason we can identify with them so well.

-It isn't God's plan for you./It's not meant to be./You can do other things with your life besides being a parent.
The short answer is that we considered this ourselves and concluded that it still might be in the cards for us.  Isn't it pretty arrogant of anyone to assume they know "the plan" for another person's life?  (While the first particular phrasing isn't overtly offensive to me, I still believe it should never, ever be said to anyone, and as for it not being God's plan if someone doesn't conceive easily, see: Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth.)

-It was such a surprise./We weren't even trying./We never planned on having more than one./We were shocked because it was our first month trying./& similar
This does not mean "Don't tell us that you're pregnant."  And if you don't know we've been having trouble, we don't expect telepathy.  We certainly don't expect everyone around us to never ever talk about having babies.  We will be ecstatic when/if it happens for us, and we are happy for someone to get pregnant if they're happy about it. We might have additional feelings of jealousy and frustration; we likely even feel guilt (sometimes extreme guilt) over the jealousy, because we want to share fully in your joy and excitement and sometimes feel like we can't.  But it is difficult hearing people talk about it as if it is just that easy. If you find yourself saying one of these things without thinking, don't beat yourself up; simply understand why we might not share your enthusiasm at that moment.  (Also, if we're close enough to you that you'd tell us about your pregnancy in the first place, we can probably tell if it was a "happy accident" or similar situation.)

-I don't understand why some women make such a big deal out of being pregnant.  People get pregnant every day.
Yes, they do.  We don't.  Acting like pregnancy is no big deal can feel like you're trivializing our struggles and bring deep-seated insecurities to the forefront. Think it silently if you wish, but if it's a big deal to a person, just let it be a big deal.  Let other people be happy about something important or exciting to them.  It doesn't hurt you to allow that.

-I hate(d) being pregnant./I never want to experience pregnancy again./You'll wonder why you wanted it so much when you're actually pregnant (or have a baby)/& similar
Hopefully this one doesn't have to be explained in detail.  It sounds ungrateful and dismissive to us. We know some people don't enjoy the experience of pregnancy while others love it.  We know that caring for a child is hard.  But the fact that you got pregnant in the first place is a miracle to us.  If you don't like the fact that you're always running to the bathroom or throwing up, we understand complaining about the symptoms.  No one actively enjoys those (we'd give a lot to experience them right now, even so).  But acting like pregnancy or a child's infancy is some horrible trial you're forced to endure? Leave that discussion for other women you know to be like-minded.

-Well, there's always next month.
This is another phrase that people often use to try to comfort us.  And while we sincerely appreciate the thought, sympathy might be a better option.  A simple, "I'm so sorry.  What can I do to help?" never goes amiss.  Because we might have "always had next month" for a long time now.  We might not even have regular monthly cycles or be forced to go back on birth control for a while to help regulate our hormones; sometimes for us, there isn't next month.

-You should try [acupunture/diet/weight loss/weight gain/supplement].
If we ask for advice (and most of us will ask if it's needed/wanted!), or if we're friends and having a conversation about ways to enhance fertility, then there's no reason not to mention these things. If we don't ask or don't even know you, then please don't give us advice.  We probably already have a plan based on our individual needs and particular health problems. We've probably been to various doctors and started a new routine of self-care.  If you know we're trying to conceive, and you know we regularly drink heavily or smoke cigarettes, then unsolicited advice might be warranted.

-If you don't want opinions, don't publicly share your struggles.
One of the problems with the Internet is that everyone assumes if you share a story, you're doing it for validation or vindication.  Or that even if you say you don't want opinions, they're entitled to give them to you because... Internet?  Right to Free Speech? (Because it's far too inconvenient to demonstrate respect for others when you have a point to make?)  But women going through this don't share for opinions.  We share in the hope that other women with similar struggles might gain hope, peace, comfort, or even just a sense of community.  We share as catharsis, because our emotions are so numerous and varied that holding them all in becomes unhealthy. We share because we feel like our bodies are traitors to our hearts, and we're using the tools we have to navigate and make sense of our situations.  We don't need your opinions. We need your support and encouragement.  And if you can't offer that, it's easy enough not to say anything at all.

*If/when, this is happening.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Loquacious."

Today's word is "loquacious," an adjective meaning "talkative or chatty."

I am not a loquacious person in real life, preferring to silently process information, even though my blog might give the impression that I am naturally expansive.

What is this strange device?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Gelastic"/Fit & Active October.

Today's word and segue into short Fit & Active October post is "gelastic," and adjective meaning "laughable."

A very uncoordinated person joining a dance class for exercise might seem gelastic, and in many ways it actually is; you just have to learn to laugh at yourself.

I mentioned in my last post that when deciding on classes to take at the Y, I resolved to only continue ones I enjoyed.  One that stuck out to me on the schedule was Dance Blast.  I thought perhaps because I sometimes turn music up very loud and jump around to it in my kitchen (Um, never mind.  I don't do that at all.  Ever.  I swear.), it might be something I'd enjoy.

Like this. Only different.

What I didn't realize is that the classes don't methodically lay out all the steps for you, even when doing new songs.  More difficult steps might get a brief introduction, but for the most part the instructor just jumps right in, and you follow along.  So during my first class, I was completely lost, oh, about 50% of the time.  That said, when the class ended, I was hot, sweaty, exhausted, and happy about it. I've never been happy about exercising in my life.  But to enjoy myself, I had to focus not on how much I was messing up the steps but on how much more fun it was to move my body around to the music than to simply listen to it while pedaling a stationary bike or running on a treadmill.  I found out that my body doesn't particularly like monotony.  Which was rather surprising considering that I am normally all about routine and habit.

I also had to realize that no one was focusing on me.  Everyone was busy with their own dancing; it wasn't a competition.  When I did look around to see if I could follow someone nearer to me than the instructor, I noticed that many people weren't perfect.  Some knew the choreography better than others, and some knew it perfectly, and some hardly did the same dance at all, but everyone was dancing without any apparent self-consciousness.  I've gotten better at following along each time I've been, but I'll still never be a great dancer.  It doesn't matter, though.  I'm getting a workout and having fun, and no one is judging me for not being perfect.

So here are some thoughts to take away from this: if you're ever nervous about varying your exercise routine, remember that you'll never know how much you'll enjoy another activity until you try.  And always, always remember that it's OK not to be perfect.  It's your workout, no one else's.

Oh, and sometimes laughing makes exercise even more fun.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Fit & Active October: Changing My Perspective.

Last year, a group of bloggers organized "Fit and Active September."  At that point, I wasn't ready to participate in any fitness-related group activities (even blogging), so I am glad that Sophie over at Two Cakes on a Plate decided to bring it back for October 2014.  You see, in the past, talking about health has sent me on a downward spiral.  I've always had a very disordered relationship with food and exercise.  Whenever I started eating healthfully or going to the gym, my motivation was always simply to be thin enough, because I thought being thin was expected of people in order to be accepted... and, to be honest, in many cases it is, which is part of the problem; expecting a certain appearance from people doesn't help them stay healthy or lose weight (if weight loss is what they actually need to achieve for health.  You can't know that for sure if you don't observe their daily habits, and unless you're living with them, doing so would be, um, creepy and probably illegal?).

I had an eating disorder in college, and although it never got to the point of hospitalization or feeding tubes, it drastically affected the way I viewed exercise.  Exercise was for burning calories. It started out as an activity to burn calories from the burger, fries, and coke I had for dinner last night.  Then it turned into burning calories from that sandwich I had for lunch.  Then I needed to burn calories from the 2 egg whites and half a turkey sausage I ate for breakfast.  It was so exhausting that I finally decided simply not to consume more than 1000 calories a day.  I was proud of myself when they added up to 800, devastated if I ever had a day that came close to 1500.

Exercise was a chore that only indicated when I'd done something bad to deserve it.  And (full disclosure) it never occurred to me to think about it any other way until only recently.  One reason I began this blog was in the hopes that I could help people from falling into the same spiral of guilt, shame, and body hatred with which I've struggled.  I never imagined that it would open me up to a community of wonderful, vibrant women and men who can balance being body positive with trying to be healthy on their own terms.  They've all had their struggles and setbacks, but I've been encouraged by their attitudes to think of exercise not in terms of calories burned or even in terms of how it makes my body look, but in terms of how it makes my body strong.  How it helps aches and pains and endurance and posture.

I decided to get a Y membership and only do exercise that I enjoyed.  I promised myself that if it felt too much like work, I would find something else.  That isn't to say I wouldn't extend my limitations and push myself at all; I just wouldn't allow exercise to become my job.  I felt dread when I thought about returning to do the elliptical.  I found lifting weights monotonous.  Pilates was OK, but I knew I needed to build up a bit of strength first in order to really reap the benefits of it. Finally, I went to yoga one day and a dance class the next.  And when the time for yoga and then the time for dance came around again, I was excited about going.  I love almost any and all music, and dancing around to it makes getting my heart rate up fun rather than grueling.  With yoga, I've already seen a significant decrease in back pain, and I can use my abdominal muscles to hold me up without slouching (much) without it hurting.  My weight and outward appearance haven't changed, at least noticeably, but I feel good.

I'm planning on doing one more post in October on not worrying about looking foolish while exercising, because I do look pretty silly in both dance and yoga.  But... that's OK!

Have you ever had a change of perspective or revelation about your exercise routine?

Friday, September 26, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Discombobulated."

Today's word is "discombobulated," an adjective meaning "bewildered" or "disconcerted."

The fact that it is Friday and not Thursday leaves me discombobulated and wondering where the time went.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Pandemonium."

Hey everyone!  Today's word is "pandemonium," a noun meaning "disorder, confusion, or chaos."

If there were no teachers looking out for kids during recess, there might be complete pandemonium.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Adversity."

Today's word is "adversity," a noun meaning "hardship" or "misfortune."

When your bra size changes, it can be difficult to triumph over adversity and find new bras that fit.


When your body size and/or shape changes for whatever reason, be it hormonal, through intentional or unintentional weight gain/loss, pregnancy, or exercise, it's easy to let clothes (especially bras) not fitting get to you.  Having bras that don't fit can even become painful.  I've been struggling with some health issues, and that and changes in exercise routine have drastically affected my bra size, even though my body hasn't changed much in weight or appearance.  It's easy to get overwhelmed when you know you need new bras but have no idea what size or brand or shape.  It feels like starting from square one all over again.

After doing a lot of research on Bratabase, I took the plunge and ordered three new bras, and I'm crossing my fingers that they'll fit when they arrive, because even though the measurements "match" my own, sizing isn't an exact science.  Measurements alone may or may not accurately or precisely determine one's size. I can exchange them, but honestly, finding a perfect fit can be exhausting and sometimes pricey.  Do you ever get frustrated with bra buying?  Is there anything that would make it easier for you?  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Boobs and Being Seen (Another Rant).

I don't have kids yet, but I am planning on breastfeeding if I do.  If I can't, I will still feed and care for my baby to the best of my ability.  I know women who chose not to breastfeed who loved and raised their kids just as well as any breastfeeding mothers.  I'm already tired of "mommy wars," and I'm not even a part of them yet!  The point is, it's a very personal and often difficult decision whether or not to breastfeed, and some women don't even get that choice due to previous health problems, surgeries, etc.  I firmly believe that most moms know if they're making the best choices for their circumstances and that people, for the most part, know when they succeed, when they fail, and when they make mistakes.  We should certainly give everyone all the facts and encourage each other to make good decisions, but good decisions aren't the same for everyone.

Breastfeeding moms are simultaneously told that they're making a good decision and told that they can't breastfeed much of the time.  Bottle-feeding moms are harassed for everything from "not giving their baby adequate nutrition" to "feeding their baby poison."  What is wrong with people?  I want to live in a world where breastfeeding and bottle-feeding are both respected, rather than a world where bottle-feeding mothers are constantly put down and breastfeeding mothers desperately try to find private nooks and maneuver into uncomfortable positions (for themselves and their babies) that won't offend anyone.  Yes, breast milk has, according to many sources, the best combination of nutrients for newborns, infants, and toddlers. Many organizations, parenting classes, doctors and midwives strongly support breastfeeding.  That doesn't mean that babies who don't receive breast milk will turn out unhealthy, unhappy, or anything of the sort.  There are more factors in a child's development.  I would, however, like society to stop stigmatizing breastfeeding in public and making it more difficult in practice than bottle-feeding, especially if they're going to hypocritically sing its praises in general.

What do you mean you were feeding your baby?
You could have been seen!

When people notice* a breastfeeding mother in public, there is inevitably a storm of questions and often even a media frenzy.  It's ridiculous. 

Does she know we can see her?
Why can't she do that in the bathroom?
Why didn't she pump?
Shouldn't this be private?
Why can't she do that at home?  
Does she know people can see her boob?
Why can't she use a sheet?
Can't she supplement with formula?
Aren't boobs for sex?
Does she know she's making me uncomfortable?

Let me answer those questions with some questions of my own.

Do other people exist?
Do you regularly take your meals into public bathrooms to enjoy them? 
Have you ever desperately tried to extract toothpaste from a nearly-empty tube and failed, giving up because you have other things to do?
Do you shut yourself in a closet to eat?
Do you like getting out of the house?  Do you sometimes go places that aren't close by your house?
Isn't the baby's head in the way of your view, or are you trying to watch?
(Seriously, can you even see anything in most of these pictures?)
Do you sometimes get hot, sticky and sweaty under blankets?
Do you have certain foods that you avoid for health reasons or because they upset your stomach?
Do you understand basic biology and anatomy?
Do you know why you're so uncomfortable?

My opinion is that it should only be "rude" or "inappropriate" to breastfeed when it would also be "rude" or "inappropriate" to bottle-feed... in other words, at places or events which you shouldn't bring kids to in the first place.  At your company's fancy holiday dinner party. At someone's "adults only" wedding. At a venue that has age restrictions.  If you want to go to a nice restaurant, but you know it's usually full of couples on romantic nights out, and you've rarely seen a kid under the age of 12, much less a baby, perhaps then it would more considerate to others to go elsewhere or stay in.

But it isn't practical or possible for women to stay home all the time, even stay-at-home moms. You never hear about people telling a bottle-feeding mom that she should have stayed home when she starts feeding her wailing baby in a casual restaurant. They see a hungry baby and a mother who quickly attends to the baby's needs. Ironically, they would probably complain if the baby kept crying because he/she was hungry and the mom couldn't breastfeed at that time.  People can be irrational jerks like that.

Personally, I wouldn't sit down shoulder-to-shoulder with a stranger or even very close to another person and start breastfeeding, but that's because I don't like sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with anyone and think it's important to respect personal space. Growing up with social anxiety and a touch of claustrophobia, I'd hate to put others in positions that would make me uncomfortable were I in their place.  But I'd like to be able to go out for coffee, and if my baby starts getting cranky, I'd like to be able to feed him/her in a timely fashion without fear of public shaming.  Is that too much to ask?

*I am almost 100% sure that there have been moms who have breastfed in public without anyone even noticing, much less making a big deal out of it.  It's as if people who protest are actively looking for reasons to be offended.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Capricious."

Today's word is "capricious," an adjective meaning "given to sudden changes of mood or behavior."

Some might see the sporadic Thesaurus Thursday posts as evidence of this blogger's capricious nature; she might even get up to make coffee and forget in the middle of a post that she 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

If I Should Ever Have a Son.

The other day, after scrolling through Facebook and various other blogs and online articles and reading some horrifyingly misogynist comments, I had the rather daunting realization that if I ever have a son, I will be at least in part responsible for many of his attitudes about girls and women.  The following is what I would want him to know.  

Dear Son,

You're coming into the world with an advantage.  It's an unfair advantage, and it's simply that you are a man.  People will pay you more for your work.  People outside of school and work (and sometimes even at school and work) will be less likely to comment on your choice of clothing. They will be more inclined to treat your anger, sadness, or joy as valid and not as the result of a hormonal mood swing. Some will even tell you that as a man, you are entitled to authority.  As a man, you aren't.  You will encounter your own set of problems and challenges in life, but please listen to me when I say that they are separate from the overwhelming systematic sexism that women face every day.

Being born into such privilege as described above shouldn't make you feel guilty--everyone knows that you didn't come into the world thinking you deserve more than anyone else--but not recognizing it or making any effort to change the prevailing mentality... well, that should.  I hope you will earn most of your achievements and rewards by working hard and respecting those around you.  Some good fortune might fall into your lap because you are lucky or because you possess innate talent.  That's great.  But again, you wouldn't deserve it because you're a man. You wouldn't deserve bad luck because of that, either, and I never want you to think that men should "atone" for misogyny by groveling, worshipping, being downtrodden, or experiencing hatred and discrimination themselves. That's misandry and not any better than misogyny.

I want you to grow up understanding that you should respect everyone.  I also want you to understand that this does not mean you should be blind to any of their differences.  Human beings are diverse creatures.  Why should we pretend otherwise?  Celebrate it.  Marvel at variety. And when I say appreciate everyone, I include women.  This might be a more difficult one for you. Not because I don't believe you're capable of treating women with respect, but because you will be surrounded by subtle... and sometimes not so subtle... implications that women are beneath you or indebted to you.  Women don't have to act a certain way for you.  They don't have to cater to you.  Nothing you do, nothing you are, will ever merit a woman altering her appearance or sleeping with you.   Treating a woman nicely or lavishly does not earn you a place in her heart, home or bed.  On the other side of the coin, if you've had a pleasant dinner with a woman and she pays for it, you don't owe her anything more than a sincere "thank you," either.  My hope is that you'll be the type of person who might, on another occasion, treat her in kind and pay for the next meal, but that isn't a requirement.

All women will differ from individual to individual. You might find that you develop preferences. You might like girls who play sports.  You might find yourself drawn to blue eyes.  These preferences do not devalue the women who don't meet them.  If you meet women without stretch marks or cellulite, it isn't a sign that they are somehow better than other women. I will say that while marks and such shouldn't be considered flaws--the overwhelming majority of women of all shapes and sizes have them--you aren't required to find them sexy or appealing, just as a woman isn't required to find innocuous parts of your body sexy or appealing.  If you do, that's not a problem.  But they never merit disgust or teasing or even remarking upon if you don't.  How you would feel if a girl constantly told you how much better you'd look if you had less knobbly knees or shorter toes?  I suspect you'd try to avoid such an unpleasant person.  I wouldn't want that for you.

Finally, let me get this out of the way before the end: Puberty.  It happens.  For girls, this usually means breasts, periods, and raging hormones.  For boys, this usually means voice changes, facial hair, and raging hormones. Note that I said "raging hormones" twice; it isn't just you.  Never make someone feel embarrassed or ashamed of simply growing up.  I trust that you and other boys and girls are capable of communicating if and when you are all right with looking or touching. With that said, it's wrong for girls to make you feel uncomfortable by laughing at your voice cracking or touching you without permission.  It's wrong for you to make them uncomfortable by staring at their bodies or teasing them when they get their periods or touching them without permission.  You all might do these things without thinking sometimes; the main thing to remember is when you notice that you're doing it and it's making others seem uncomfortable, stop. And of course, if they ask you to stop, stop.  Please also remember that silence is never an invitation.  Oh, and by the way, you don't have to go around talking about periods, but they aren't "gross" or "freakish."  They allowed you to be here in the first place.

It's true that as your mother, I will probably hold you in higher esteem than others.  But I will not value you any more highly because you're my son rather than my daughter.

I love you,

Friday, July 18, 2014

Quick Update!

Hi everyone!  I just wanted to check in with all Absurd Curvy Nerd readers.  With a busy summer schedule, I haven't been able to post as much as I'd like here.  I have a lengthier post on reserve that I've been tweaking and trying to shorten, and it should be up in the next couple weeks.  After that, I'll be resuming a more frequent posting schedule.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Capitulate."

Happy almost-weekend everyone!  Today's word is "capitulate," a verb meaning "to give in, yield, or cede."

I told myself that I wouldn't buy any more bras this summer, but when someone asked if I would like one that didn't fit her, I capitulated to the urge to buy it and am now anxiously awaiting its arrival.

... These things just happen, you know?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Trouble With Strapless. (A Rant.)

I understand that clear bra straps aren't truly invisible, but what I didn't expect to find when I Googled them, hoping to find pictures of them actually worn with clothing (seriously, are there any?), were lengthy message boards about the "ugliness" and "unacceptability" of bra straps showing, period.  I'm tired of the stigma.

Image from
Nope, Lane Bryant, this isn't a picture of 
"clear bra straps under a dress."

I understand that there are a variety of strapless bras available in the full-bust market.  But even if they work very well for some women, others still won't be able to get much lift or a very good shape from them.  Some women will not have the time to find one that really works if they have to go to an event.  Some women are hesitant to spend so much money on an undergarment they might only wear once (strapless bras are usually more expensive for the full-busted).  And I'm tired of being told, "But they make strapless bras in your size!" as if their mere existence means that I can wear them without any problem.

Because darn it, I really do need the straps.  Bust room is usually provided in a certain area, waistlines are assumed to be here, armholes are just here, and if your chest doesn't remain within certain limits, a garment might not fit right.  For me, even though many come in my size range, I've never had a strapless bra keep me within those limits.*

<--Provided bust room

<--Where bust sits in strapless bra

... Nope. Nope. Nope.

Image from

On these snarky message boards about bra straps showing, I'd often read, "That is just so tacky!" And on more than one occasion, this sentiment was followed by, "I'd suggest an adhesive bra if you have to wear something more revealing."  Perhaps all of this just caught me in a bad mood, but it royally ticked me off.  I couldn't help but think that if currently have trouble finding decent strapless bras at a fairly common full-bust size, imagine how women with larger breasts must feel when confronted with this sort of "advice."  Basically, what I see when I read this type of comment is: Choose to wear things that cover your bra straps, or I'll judge you and talk about you behind your back.  And if you have to wear a particular style for a party/formal/wedding/etc., you can get something with inadequate support/poor shape and likely feel less attractive in it than your less-busty companions.  (Oh, and by the way, I'll probably judge you for the way your breasts look in it, too.) 

And let me tell you about my last adventure with an adhesive bra.  I was 18 and going to prom, and because I wanted to fit in--I'm not saying this was a good or mature choice--I just had to get the cute low-backed spaghetti-strap dress.  I ended up with a Nu-Bra and a good four, maybe five feet of duct tape trying to get it to hold me up and make everything look halfway decent.  I was hot and uncomfortable, and whenever my date (Mr. Nerd. Yes, he remembers this.) would bump into me, there was a dull, hollow thudding sound like rapping on cardboard box. Also, taking that sucker off hurt.  

Seeing how some people make clothes out of it nowadays,
I should have just made an entire dress out of the stuff.

I do adhere to situation-specific guidelines.  I don't wear a strappy top to someone's family event if I know the family is on the more conservative side.  I try to be respectful of any cultural observations. But I'm not OK with discounting an entire subset of clothing because someone is going to get into a tizzy over visible bra straps.  I think that attitude is, well, tacky.  And adhesive bras are great for some people.  But just as I wouldn't go around saying, "Taking supplements is tacky!  I'd suggest changing your diet," to all and sundry**, please, please don't go around recommending them as as cure-all for people's strapless ailments.  

They're not.  Trust me. 

*Except the strapless basque under my wedding dress, which had to be altered along with my dress, which was a custom item itself.  But I'm not willing to do that every time, for obvious reasons.
**"Well, if your child just has to be anemic, then I'd suggest more spinach." 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Nictate."

Today's word is "nictate," a verb meaning, "to blink."  I couldn't think of a good sentence, so I decided to post this on Friday the 13th...

Don't nictate.

(I really am quite sorry about this.)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Your Body Can't Be Reduced to Statistics.

Sometimes I look at the search queries that lead to my blog just for kicks.

an ark with most busty women
... Are most busty women in an ark?  Are the most busty among them in an ark?  The ark is a lie.

bulky busty nude boobs blogspot
... It's oddly specific but somehow still vague.

nerd boobs
... I think I mentioned on Facebook that my boobs have an honorary Ph.D. in Awesomeness.
Not even remotely close to my size, but... but... 

curvy woman. stocking. youtube.
... blogspot.  youtube.  different.

young firm busty eee woman
... I am very disturbed by this. "EEE" isn't a bra size.

actress boobs bra py
...  Py... thons?  Py... lons?  Py... ramids?


busty and don't know it
... You... don't?

busty christian women
... We do, in fact, exist.  We're also a group of people, not a fetish.

<3 Tess Munster.

But my main search term isn't one of these ridiculous queries which I suspect are hastily typed in search of websites quite different from my blog.

It's average size of a woman.

This depresses me, because I can guess what many of these people are trying to find.  I imagine there are legitimate reasons for looking this up, but I expect most often, they are trying to validate themselves.  People seem to balk at being called "average" in everyday life.  But being near the average in terms of weight/size seems to make many people feel... comfortable.  More secure.  And this bothers me.  If you are near the average weight for your height, and you feel good about your body, that's great.  That's not what I'm talking about.  It's when you feel good about it because you're near the average that a problem arises.  "Average" is just a statistical quantification.  By its very definition, 50% of people are below average and 50% of people are above average.  "Average" says nothing about the worth of someone's body.

Let's put aside the health trolls, the weight-loss supplement advertisements, the diet plans, and take a moment to stop focusing on "the norm" or "health" or "body ideals" and focus on how incredible it is to be unique.  Even the people who are near average in terms of weight have individual shapes, scars, freckles... the list goes on.   None of us, including identical siblings, is exactly alike.

You are the only person on Earth who looks like you.

And that is amazing.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Kismet."

Today's word is "kismet," a noun meaning fate or destiny.

When I found a lone 30-band Freya Deco strapless bra in a department store among a sea of 32+ bands, I thought it was kismet, until I tried it on and remembered that the Deco shape does not work for me.
:-( :-( :-(
It works very well for a lot of people. though.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Coulrophobia."

Today's word is "coulrophobia" (n.), or fear of clowns.

My coulrophobia is not due to the film It, but that movie certainly did not help.

(There will be no picture with this post, because clowns are scary.)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Arduous."

Hi!  Today's word is "arduous," an adjective meaning "difficult, exhausting, or formidable."

Mr. Nerd decided to embark upon the arduous, ambitious task of teaching me to play Dota 2.  

Image from

I currently spend most of my time fleeing and shouting, 
"Run away! Run away!"

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Wonted." + Freya Hopscotch Longline Review.

Today's word is "wonted," an adjective meaning, "customary, habitual, or usual."

I recently received my first longline and am now loathe to return to the wonted discomfort of regular bras, despite a few glaring fit issues.


I have always wanted a longline but been hesitant to purchase one, because I would fall in love with the patterns on Freya's padded half-cup designs, and I knew I needed a 28H, which they did not (and still don't) make.  Right now, though, after some weight shifting around, I'm sitting pretty comfortably at a small-ish 30 band and ~FF cup in most of my bras, so I decided to take the plunge and order this:

Freya Hopscotch Padded Longline

Isn't she adorable?  I'm a sucker for cotton-candy colors and prints that aren't very bold, though; this might be too "sweet" for many people's tastes.  I ordered a 30FF, even though I knew Freya's bands tended toward the stretchier side, because my ribcage flares out a bit beneath an indent where normal bands sit before tapering to my waist, and I wanted to be able to breathe!  I should not have worried; the Hopscotch band is very stretchy. If your ribcage doesn't have a flare anywhere, I'd definitely recommend sizing down in the band if you're between band sizes, especially because there are only two columns of hooks and eyes.*

While a 28 would probably last longer, the 30 is still comfortable for me.  In fact, my first thought was, "Why are all my other bras not this comfortable?"  My next thoughts were, "The gore doesn't quite tack because the cups need to be a bit deeper, and there's some side- and quad-boob, but darn it, I like how my boobs look, so we'll just... not scoop-and-swoop completely, shall we?"

Top is semi-scooped.  Bottom is (er, mostly) scooped.
It should be noted that despite the bad picture quality, 
the colors in real life are more similar to my photos than the stock photo,
slightly more muted.

Yes, I know... I'm setting a terrible example!  A 28GG would likely check off more of the "perfect fit" requirements, but again, Freya's longlines are only made up to G cups.**  I could return this for a 30G, but (shhh!) sometimes I appreciate the extra oomph from slightly-too-small cups.  And I wore it all yesterday without any of the fit issues showing through my clothes. The width of the wires is actually perfect in this size, even though on me, they could stand to be a bit taller. This is a very low-cut bra; I imagine it would be great for those who like semi-wide, low wires, shallower cups, and less coverage. I think it could work for less shallow shapes too, though sizing up in the cup might be necessary.  But if you need a lot of depth and narrower wires a la Comexim or Ewa Michalak, this would not be your best bet.

One thing that many people have complained about with Freya's longlines is the band riding up, scrunching, and/or flipping.  The band did immediately crease right beneath the cups in front (you can see it in the top photo).  This was a minor cosmetic issue for me; it didn't appear to affect the fit. Unfortunately, the flipping band/riding up does happen.  It seems to be a combination of a stretchy band and lack of boning in the front to hold it in place. If it becomes too much of an issue, I'll probably add some flexible boning, an alteration I saw on Fussy Busty's Patsy longline. A tighter band might correct this without boning, but as it is, I'd rather not exchange something that's already comfortable and doesn't bother me, especially when the sister size of 28G wouldn't be a perfect fit anyway.  I know others have said the rolling and flipping can become uncomfortable and itchy, or create weird lumps and bumps.  If you really want the Hopscotch and have sensitive skin or hate it when bands don't stay in place, I'd plan for adding boning to be on the safe side.

So even though the Freya Hopscotch isn't a perfect fit, I'm keeping it, because it is so, so, so comfortable.  ... And also cleavage.  That is all.

*I don't believe any of Freya's longlines have three?  Let me know if I've forgotten one!
**Please, please, please, Freya, could you extend these to at least H cups like with the normal padded half-cup designs?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Beneficent."

Hi everyone!  Today's Thesaurus Thursday is also a general call to help out a good cause:  A Sophisticated Pair is accepting bra donations for Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers (TROSA).  If you don't have extra bras or prefer to do other things with bras you no longer use*, that's OK, but if you do have any just taking up space and don't know what to do with them, consider sending them over!  They would prefer them in by the 25th of April, but they'll be doing fittings and taking more donations in the future. They can also provide tax receipts including shipping costs.

So today's word is "beneficent," an adjective meaning "generous or doing good."  

Consider being beneficent and sending some bras for TROSA over to A Sophisticated Pair; you can find more information about it here.

* I know I sometimes end up with a few spares in the back of a lingerie drawer.  We all tell ourselves they "might" fit again, right?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Thesaurus Saturday: "Agerasia"

I didn't get around to Thesaurus Thursday on Thursday because it was Mr. Nerd's birthday, but have no fear!  Today's word is "agerasia," meaning "youthful appearance of an old person."

Mr. Nerd claims he had a teacher with agerasia who looked like he was in his mid-thirties even though he was in his sixties, although he apparently also looked like he was in his mid-thirties when he was twelve.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Finifugal."

Today's word is "finifugal" (adjective, obsolete).  It means fearful of or hating endings, or describes one who tries to prolong stories or relationships in order to delay their endings.

She was a finifugal Harry Potter reader, taking a month to finish Deathly Hallows because she didn't want to stop pretending that she too went to Hogwarts. (I read it the day I bought it and rather regret that :-/.  I still miss it.)

... After all this time? 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Chimerical."

Today's word is "chimerical," an adjective meaning wildly fanciful or visionary.  It can also mean "related to being a chimera."

Chimerical in both senses of the word.

The chimerical idea that humans would eventually be travelling the skies in metal boxes highly amused the society with which the time travelers interacted.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Confessions of a Wannabe Cosplayer: Part II.

Hello readers!  I am so glad to be back to regular posting after a few life changes derailed the previous restarting of the blog.  I missed you all.

You might recall that a year ago, I wrote a post Confessions of a Wannabe Cosplayer.  With the encouragement of a few fellow bloggers, I have decided to turn that post into a recurring series and chronicle my ongoing internal battle between the desire to cosplay and social anxiety, insecurity, and inhibition.  I'm hoping that eventually the series will culminate in attending a con.  I don't want to put myself under too much pressure, so we'll have to see!

Yes, please.

In that first post, I mentioned that I hadn't dressed up for Halloween in eight years. Where I live, Halloween has become more about casual neighborhood cookouts than costume parties, communal bowls of candy rather than trick-or-treating, and even kids seem to dress up far less often than they did when I was little.

I hate it.  I don't know exactly when or why this transition occurred, but stereotypes about adults who dress up started popping up all over the place: They don't want to grow up.  They're self-involved and narcissistic.  They're ridiculous.  (And often, for women: They're s***s... that will have to be another post)And I bought into it.  I bought into the patently absurd idea that dressing up as someone else says something about one's personality besides, "I like this character, and I like dressing up."  Some people who dress up might immerse themselves in fantasy worlds to a degree that others would consider unhealthy.  Some might be narcissistic.  Some might be ridiculous.  But... the same could be said about everyone, including that guy in jeans and a t-shirt at the gas station.

(Image from wikipedia)

Like Mr. Nerd, he dresses up as an extra from Grand Theft Auto, 
every. single. year.

I will never be a professional cosplayer.  That doesn't fit in with my life and schedule.  But I finally decided that my first step toward any sort of cosplaying would be dressing up again for Halloween. I love steampunk costumes and had seen various pictures of steampunk Disney princess ideas, so I settled on Snow White.  Because I don't (aka can't) sew and didn't want to go out spend much money, I just bought a few extra items like a red bow and welder's goggles and used my own clothes, changing an old shirt into a skirt with a pseudo-bustle in the back (courtesy of scissors and duct tape).

I had no party to go to, didn't plan on going trick-or-treating, and am not a club/barhopping type of person.  So I asked the question on Facebook: Adults running errands and doing daily activities in costume on Halloween: awesome or weird?  The response was overwhelmingly positive.  Most people said things like, "I once saw someone dressed up as [character] at the grocery.  It totally made my day!" or even, "YES DO IT."  And you know what?

I did.

I went to the grocery.  Went to the crafts store to buy cake decorating supplies.  Went to the park. Got lunch.  All in costume.  I won't pretend that I felt totally comfortable or at ease; I didn't.  I often felt awkward and scared and was so worried that someone would say, in a tone that made it clear that they thought I was a nutcase, "Um, why are you dressed like that?" that I sometimes had difficulty getting out of my car.

The truth is that other than a friend from a former workplace, no one commented at all.  I only saw two other adults in costume the entire day.  Sometimes I wonder if people assumed that because a lot of my costume was re-purposed everyday clothing, I was just a girl with a very unorthodox sense of style.  Even though I didn't receive any positive reinforcement, I didn't receive any disparaging remarks either.  A few stares and odd looks, sure.  At times I nearly crumbled under those stares.  I had to keep in mind that those looks weren't inherently negative responses.  I was the one assuming that the motivations behind the stares were negative.   But no one came up and berated me for being "too old to dress up."  No one laughed at me.  No one asked me why I wasn't dressed "like a normal person."  I took solace in that.  I even started to have--wait for it--fun.

So this year, when Halloween rolls around, I might just have to do it again.  

**Blog notice: you might have noticed that the "Redefining Sexy" post never happened.  I had it written and ready to publish at the beginning of the year, but then I read it through and realized that I didn't have anything original to add to the discussion that already took place in October 2013.  If you would like a list of the posts other bloggers have done on the topic, see Les Gros Bonnet's Redefining Sexy Round-up.**

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Acquiesce."

(Yes!  For once I realized that it is, in fact, Thursday!)

Today's word is "acquiesce," a verb meaning accede, comply or go along with.  If you hadn't heard it before, you might have noticed it in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean:

(t-shirt from
Means "No."

Her brother might acquiesce if she asks to borrow his iPod, but probably only if she agrees to clean his room for a week.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Thesaurus Thursday: "Legerdemain."

Ah, back on schedule again!  Today's word is "legerdemain," a noun meaning sleight of hand, skillfulness or adroitness.  

The magician used legerdemain to execute a particularly showy card trick.

Pick a card. Any card. And I can tell you... nothing, really.
Dam*it, Jim, I'm a blogger, not a magician.