Archived entries for

Sunset at Madeline Island

For the past couple of years the in-law side of the family has started a Yearly Family Camping trip. Before you get ideas of us all going and doing the full-on “roughing it” style of camping I will say straight up that this is not so. We sleep on air mattresses. We only go to campgrounds with showers and flushing toilets. This last year there was even electricity on one of our campsites and will be again this year. There is campfire cooking, but also gas grill/stove stuff going on. Some people will say “but that’s not real camping!” and to them we say so what? We have fun. Last summer we made the trek up to Big Bay State Park, jumped on a ferry (ooph, boats) and headed out to Madeline Island for a week. Due to my laziness procrastination EXTREMELY NOT BUSY LIFE I’ve been sitting on the photos since then but am now trying to go through my archives. And because I can, I’m starting somewhere in the middle of the trip.

One evening we were looking for something to do. What I remember is that for the first few days of the trip it rained and then the days turned unbelievably hot. But on this day we decided to go down to the lake and take photos of the sunset. This would have been better planned in advance but some of us are pretty spur of the moment folks. Since the timestamp on my photos say these were taken just after 9PM I know that it was instead right about 8PM. (I forgot to change the date/time on my camera when we moved.) (I only fixed it last week. Oops.) The interwebs tell me that the sun would have fully set at 8:23 that day so we cut it pretty close. Once we had parked the car (walking would have taken too long) we started running for the beach. Why running?

Because this is what we saw once we made it past the trees. Just look at those clouds! That swirl was amazing. I wasn’t repeatedly mashing my shutter, though, because with a scene like this one has to just stop and stare.

Would you believe me if I said the only thing I’ve done to these images is apply some noise reduction and straighten them ever so slightly? Because that’s what I’ve done. No exposure changes, no curve adjustments, no color shifting, nothing. In fact, I used matrix/pattern metering and no exposure compensation! Once I saw that Aperture Priority was giving me what I wanted I didn’t bother. AND? These came from my 18-55mm lens, probably one of the least expensive that I own. (Not that I own many expensive lenses. Wait, define expensive because with camera gear the term becomes highly relative.) It’s not a bad lens, really, but I usually gravitate to my prime lenses. However, my widest prime is only 35mm and that simply would not do. (Another point to be made: what good is having a camera with interchangeable lenses if you never have those lenses with you? For another time, though.)

The photo above is my favorite of the set, I think. I want a large canvas wrap of it to hang some day.

By 9:11, the fire had definitely begun to fade. Time elapsed from the first shot until this? Less than five minutes. (This one is probably runner up for personal favorite.) (I love parentheses.)

This last photo was taken while looking back east. Two days later I decided to head out to watch the sun rise at this same spot. If I can stop being lazy get it together I’ll be posting those photos in a few days.

I wish that I had had more time to prepare and had managed to take the photos needed to create a panorama. But that’s what we get for doing this spur of the moment and ending up with just 5 minutes to take it all in. However, I did get some pretty amazing shots and had a great time with my fellow sunset chasers.

The first visit

I was right about one thing: I didn’t know what was going to happen on Monday. I still don’t know much more than I started out knowing and feel more than a little weird that the OB left so much of what to do entirely up to me. She gave me some options and we’re going to think about which it is we’re going to do. By the way, my blood pressure was fine! I was totally surprised because the nurse was already talking to me about why I was there when she started taking it.

This is the part where I started to get panicky: writing the followup post. I know I’m the one who decided to put all of this out there. My site, my decision. But now that I’m going to need to make these other decisions I’m thinking “whoa, I could soon be getting a whole lot of unsolicited advice”. I’m really not looking for people to tell me what to do or not do, or criticize me for doing something that they wouldn’t. I know it’s likely to happen regardless but this decision making process is difficult enough on its own.

So for right now I’m going to take a step back and take care of what I need to and once again, when I feel like bringing something up I’ll write about it. Eventually. If I need help or opinions I’ll ask. (There’s a whole lot of stuff about how pregnant people and women in general are sometimes considered ‘public property’ and many other people thus feels entitled to command, police, and generally try to control those people. Pretty sure I’ll get to address this later but basically: paws off!)

Thanks to everyone who’s chimed in or offered to chat, and even everyone who’s been reading without commenting.

Where we are now

Last post I left off with some advice to let people bring up their childbearing choices in their own time. Well, I’m bringing it up now. (Obviously.) I’ve actually been in the “smile and nod and give noncommittal answers about ‘someday'” spot. It is no fun. And unless you’ve been in my position I don’t know of any way to explain just how terrible it feels. Like I said before, years ago I was pretty ambivalent about having kids. And then something changed. I don’t know what or how but for about two years the thought of wanting a baby actually makes me ache. I dream about it, often quite realistically, and am beyond disappointed when I wake up and realize it isn’t true. So if you’ve never wanted something that badly I don’t think you can know. To say it’s not fun is actually putting it very, very mildly.

Finally, last fall, we decided that we were in a place where it wouldn’t destroy –destroy might be to strong a word but oh well– our lives. We have insurance (not sure how much that will do because damn if it isn’t expensive).  I did what I needed to to come off my headache prevention medication (one of those that is known to cause birth defects), then after enough time go off of birth control. For the first time in four and a half years. I started taking prenatal vitamins. I started temperature charting so that this wouldn’t be a stab in the dark. (There’s a “that’s what she said” joke in there, somewhere.) And so we waited. Well, we did more than just wait because duh, storks don’t bring babies. But you know. THAT. (Hi, family!) And waited some more.

I got an app for my phone for my chart and set an alarm to make sure I took it at the same time and dutifully recorded the results. I told myself that I shouldn’t expect anything the first few months because sometimes it just takes time. And then some more time passed and things weren’t looking exactly like they should. But, I expected some irregularity. Surely nothing was wrong. And then April came around. I did some traveling in April so that could throw some things off. But then May was just around the corner and I was on day 40 something of my cycle and had nothing but a negative test and no sure sign of ovulation on my chart. Something was wrong because that doesn’t fit any definition of “normal”.

Looking back, I think that it’s very likely I wasn’t ovulating at all even though the app assumed I was, however irregular the data. It just didn’t add up. Knowing what I now do I should have known; that’s what willful delusion will get you. Looking farther back, things may never have been right. Remember how periods were something to not talk about, something to be ashamed of? And how I wasn’t ever really taught about the whole process? My cycles had never been regular. Not that I can remember. But it was never an issue because I didn’t want kids then. Why should I have worried about it, discussed something that was at the time mortifying? Add it all together: I was fooling myself because I didn’t want there to be anything wrong. I didn’t want to have to entertain thoughts of infertility. I didn’t want to deal with doctors again, trying to find a diagnosis for something that could have no answers. But I made myself call and make an appointment anyway. I’m not getting any younger and this didn’t look to be fixing itself.

The earliest I could get an appointment was May 21. Which will be tomorrow. I’m not thrilled about where my appointment is but insurance rather limits my choices. This practice is the only in town, in network practice. I’ve some experience with them but not as a patient. But see, the stuff I learned while researching last year? Wasn’t just about fertility cycles but just how broken the American maternity system is. That is indeed another post on its own; I’ll cross that bridge when (if) it gets here. What will happen tomorrow? I’m not sure. At that point we’ll only have been trying (Hi! Sex!) for six months. There’s no point in guessing about what will happen because there’s no way to know. I think I’m equal parts anxious, terrified, and eager. I just hope I can keep my blood pressure in check because it has skyrocketed at regular checkups just because I do not want to be dealing with doctors. And this is no regular checkup.

To recap: yes, we’re trying to have a baby. Yes, it’s taking longer than we thought. Yes, I AM going to talk about it. People shouldn’t have to quietly suffer from insensitive questions. People shouldn’t be shamed in to not talking about normal processes because it makes some people uncomfortable. Speaking out is one of the best things I can do and since this is my space to do so you’d better believe that I’m going to. Am I opening myself up to criticism? Disappointment? Probably. But I’ve used writing as therapy for a long time and that’s something I need right now.

(Remember! Birth control, adoption, overpopulation, I don’t want to hear any of it.)

An education

This is part two of a three part post. Read the first post Opening Up.

I just had a thought: remember how I said it was awkward talking about this stuff in person? Well, this is the Internet and the Internet is forever. So to my future child(ren): if you’re reading this, I’m sorry if it’s awkward. One day you’ll be young and ignorant inexperienced and you’ll probably put something in writing that one day you’ll look back on and maybe go WHAT WAS I THINKING. And then one day YOUR children might find out.

So what did I learn? A whole hell of a lot. My former education taught me that of course you can only get pregnant if you ovulate but that was about it. Nothing about how one might confirm ovulation, detect ovulation, nothing. Bare basics. Egg + sperm = baby. But I find that there really are just 4-5 days in a cycle (which is most certainly NOT 28 days every cycle) when a woman is fertile. For some people that might be obvious but it was brand new information to me. The best thing I ever did was read a copy of Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Seriously. Before I read it I had heard it mentioned so much in my “research” that I thought surely they’re blowing it out of proportion. One BOOK couldn’t be that life changing. I WAS WRONG. If you’re wanting to have kids some day, whether it’s soon or 10 years from now, read. that. book. It’s so much of what I was never taught but should have been. Continue reading…

Opening up

One thing I realize more and more is that every single person has their very own, very unique set of experiences. It should be obvious but “individual” means just that. While a person may share certain aspects with other individuals or even groups of people, nothing is ever exactly the same. Lately I’ve been thinking about how some things are labeled “TMI” and so hardly anyone talks about them. And how maybe life would be easier if people DID talk about those things. Actually, several of the things I’m thinking about have to do with female fertility so it’s actually not that weird that people don’t like to hear about it because EWW PERIODS ARE GROSS. Yes, I went there and yes, I’m about to discuss a whole lot of “lady business”.

I never really had a grand plan for what I wanted to be “when I grew up.” I had no goals of any sort about a career, marriage, children, none of it. Well, my career ideas are certainly not what they were when I graduated college 5 years ago. (Seriously, it’s been five years this month. Where does time go.) I also got married five years ago; June 30 is our fifth anniversary. Five years ago, having kids was a “yeah some day we’ll do that but not right now” thing. Not having plans may have been a good thing, considering that things hardly ever go according to plan. Continue reading…

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