Friday, December 20, 2013

Theory 26: In the Christmas season, men just need to do what they are told.

Last week, in Theory25:Dang you Tupperware ladies, dang you! But I do love your products, I confessed that I’ve purchased only two Christmas gifts—thanks to a guilt-shopping experience at a friend’s direct marketing “party”. Today is December 20, 2013. I am in the red zone and totally stressed out about Christmas. I do love holidays, just like I love Pampered Chef products, but boy do all the preparations and expenses take a toll on me. Plus, holidays bring intense thoughts that further scatter my brain. Tall Child and I miss our fathers. I feel so sorry for the paper inhabitants of the Angel trees. I feel guilty for being absent so often at church this year. I grieve for the grieving. I look at my beautiful Gnome and wonder how his birth family feels this holiday. My heart breaks for men and women still waiting to become parents through adoption. Women connect it all: left brain lists, obligations, and responsibilities and right brain emotions, attitudes, and energy. I have too much to think about and do and it’s making me sad and mad. My anger seems to be directed toward men, and from what I hear in the teachers' lounge, I’m not the only Mrs. Claus with claws this time of year.

Yes, I am the Grinch of Glen Cove subdivision, (Though I wish I were as skinny as grinch. I’m up 4 lbs., which ain’t helpin’ my mood!) Worn out women should be focused on the birth of Christ, not hypocritically singing “You’d better not pout, you’d better not cry, you’d better not shout I’m telling you why….” Christmas is a musical time. Here’s a medley for ya:

“I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling” 42 and
“I work hard for the money” but
“[I] load 16 tons, and what do [I] get, another day older and deeper in debt”
I’m warning, “Whoa oh here she comes, watch out boy she’ll chew you up. 
Whoa oh here she comes, she’s a maneater.”
So, Tall Child, please “get physical, physical, I wanna [you to] get physical,
Let's get into physical,
Let me hear your body talk, your body talk,
Let me hear your body talk” as it strings these LED lights, finds the extension cord, digs that big wreath out of  basement, and assembles this plastic version of the Alamo. Now.

Hey, at least I can say “Mama tried.”

We women can’t just toss out some red and green Dollar Tree objecto de` artos. Oh, noooooo. We must create magical, mystical, battery and electronically powered worlds. Actually, we must create experiences that awaken and entertain all the senses, at once, every moment of every day, for at least thirty straight days. Our homes should look and feel like the inside of a snow globe.

The Christmas to-do list is monumental, complex, and IMPORTANT and women who “have it all” also have to “do it all.”

Honestly, have you ever heard anyone say, “I can’t believe [insert man’s name] didn’t put up a Christmas tree yet” or “[Man’s name], have you bought any Christmas presents” or “Hey, [man’s name], which Christmas Eve service are ya’ll attending?”

To illustrate, listen to the conversation I had last week with Fancy (university professor and mother of three boys):

 Time: 9:30 a.m.

Location: Elementary School Gym, back row so we can lean our aching bodies against the cinderblock wall and not lose our pocketbooks through the bleacher gaps

Bug: We drove by your house last night and booed you because your tree wasn’t on.
Fancy: I don’t have a tree.
Bug: What! It’s the middle of December. Better get with it, Fancy.
Fancy: [Expletive], I have not had one minute to get a tree.
Bug: Can you get one today?
Fancy: [Expletive], my three boys have 6 basketball games today.

It never occurred to me to ask her husband, The Gentleman, who was sitting right beside me, if HE had bought a tree. He just sat there, looking handsome, eating popcorn, watching the ballgame, dreaming of a white Christmas.

I’m not bashing Tall Child and friends. They care. Tall Child, as his nickname should imply, LOVES holidays. Last Halloween, I hit five stores to assemble Sharky’s zombie fighting Rick Grimes Walking Dead costume, fought Gnome into his football player costume, bought candy, took treats to Gnome’s daycare party, and made trick-or-treating plans. Tall Child did escort Sharky and friends through a neighborhood. He also rolled a yard. Well, actually, he panicked and rolled a tree. I love that guy!

I did create Christmas jobs for Sharky and Gnome as follows:
Sharky: water tree, get mail (Christmas cards)
Gnome: push the red button on the white box to turn on the pretty tree lights

*Cute note: When we brought the tree in and set it upright, Gnome said, “Yay! Now turn it on!”*

Like any man, proud of his hard work.

Let’s break this Theory down by the senses, then further break it down by traditional gender responsibilities. This may reek of Southern female submissive wives. But, hey ya’ll, we love our big ol’ strappin’ men.

We hear screaming hyper children and wrangle them. We tolerate Santas and rocking Rudolph’s on our counters, which means we also have to unplug and replug the toys to open Spaghettios. We carol and force our children to carol. When carolers come to the door, we listen and force our children to listen, while men hide in their recliners. What happens if the Domino's guy comes to the door while the carolers are singing? Should he join in? Should we tip everybody? We hear glass ornaments hit hardwood. Then we hear ourselves sweeping said glass into dust pans.
Men: Men hear themselves crack walnuts that women left in a festive dish on the coffee table.  Men hear ESPN Gameday.

Guys, get up! 

Shaking his Christmas booty

Women: We light evergreen and apple spice candles. We lean cinnamon-infused brooms from Kroger against entry walls.

Men: Say, “Oooh, something smells gooood.”

 Boys, light a fire under it!

Women: Buy, wrap, lift, hide, and deliver gifts in a thousand directions: daycare, school, church, coaches, hostess gifts, secret Santa office parties, God-forbid cookie exchange, friends who say they won’t buy one and do (so confusing),  and family. Then you have the gift matrix: Gnome to Sharky, Sharky to Gnome, Tall Child to Gnome and Sharky, Gnome and Sharky to Tall Child, Bug to Gnome and Sharky, Sharky and Gnome to Bug, Bug to Tall Child, Tall Child to Bug (we hope), then exponentialize all this to Delicious and Bop and cousins and exchange names? I am so confused. The Recession actually helped me out. Did anyone else out there start drawing names during the economic downturn? Don’t go back to the matrix. Please. Then I may have to.

Men: Ripping paper. No bags for my guy. Tall Child prefers presents wrapped in tissue, encased in boxes, wrapped in pretty paper, tied with ribbons that require scissors. It’s an experience, remember? He’s okay with a t-shirt or socks or his annual one-a-day devotional calendar as long as they are wrapped this way.

I took a break from Christmas cards for a few years. But, after we brought home Gnome, understandably, Tall Child begged me to send Christmas cards. I pitched a hissy fit and demanded he at least stamp and mail the envelopes. He stamped them alright, on the top left corner of all 200 envelopes. I pitched a hissy fit sequel and said, “People are going to think I don’t know how to put a stamp on an envelope and I teach business education!” Tall Child argued, “I did it.” I argued back, “Nobody will believe that.” (He IS too good to be true sometimes.) Tall Child went to the post office and asked a clerk for clarification, called me, and said “No problem. Stamps work anywhere. Cards are going out today. No delays. That’s right. Who’s your daddy?”

Christmas cards from better people than I am

Women: We hit the grocery store one thousand and one times. We bake cookies and simmer fragrant dishes for our families, other families, our office parties, our husbands’ office parties, for our mothers, our mother-in-laws, potlucks, you get it. And we figure out ways to carry it all without ruining our work and doling out food poison.

Men: Eat.

Teacher Treats

At least bring your plates to the kitchen!

Women: We create and foster the experience. Then, we create miniature experiences within the experience, a.k.a. the Christmas Village and Nativity sets. We also design the system. Glass ornaments up high. Stuffed animals down low. Lights in front of windows. Something shiny for each neighbor. Appropriately spaced candy dishes, nutcrackers, Santa collections….  And, of course, we monitor and protect all the above. I’m losing my grip. Joseph went for a Jeep ride, wrecked, and did not recover. Jesus is flat out missing. The last I saw him he was wrapped in swaddling clothes and hiding under a bedspread with some banana bread crumbs.

Men: Say, “This looks awesome! I love Christmas! Thanks for doing all this Bug.”

An aerial view of an experience within an experience
Thanks for the thumbs up, S.C.!

Tall Child, please find Joseph. Mary shouldn't have to do this all alone.

Let us "recall, the most famous [sense] of all" - the Sixth Sense - one of Spirits:

I have to confess. I am terrified I’ll forget about Santa Claus. Not only do I have to ensure that the original legend is protected, but I also—dad gum it—created my own mythical tasks (back when I was a relatively stress-free housewife hopped up on happy juice and holiday spirit).

Now I have to be you-know-who AND make sure you-know-who eats cookies, drinks milk, and wipes his dirty boots on the rug I place in front of the fireplace. Then I have to make sure Sharky and Gnome leave a Christmas card for you-know-who and later write him a thank-you note. Shoot. We haven’t even written him a Dear Santa letter yet. At least I can get Tall Child to stamp and mail it.

Don’t even get me started on Elf on a Shelf. Ca-ching and congrats to the mother who thought up that tale! Gnome named his elf Blarg. Huh? At least he bought the story hook, line, and sinker. Unfortunately, I’m not the best at leveraging legends. Yesterday I said, “Gnome, you are acting ugly. You’d better straight up because Blarg can see you.”

Gnome said, “No he can’t. He’s in the other room.”

Male readers, don’t be haters. I get tired, but I love doing all this work to see Gnome, Sharky, and Tall Child happy. I know that many of you help create magic for your families. I work with great men and am married to my dream come true. So, take this post in stride. And, answer this question: Why do scissors always disappear on December 24?

The moral of this diatribe is that if I ask my 6-foot-3-inch tall elf to carry a box, or set up a manger scene, or put lights on a bush, he should just do as he's told. Tall Child and friends, if it helps, think of it as a competition, pretend you are on a basketball clock, and, as we used to chant at Pigeon Forge Tiger ballgames, "h-u-s t-l-e, hustle, hustle, totally!" If your lady asks you to help, don't argue with the coach. Be all Nike and Just Do It.

Wake up, men, we need you!

And please ask your wife/mother/girlfriend how you can help her. If your best buddy is a Christmas dud, help a brother out. Go hang lights and haul stuff at his house and keep the po-po at bay this Christmas. Don’t leave the tree stand on the tree when you throw it down the hill January 1. Which brings me to Theory 27: The epic, memorablemarital arguments have titles.

Oh, and Tall Child, “What are you doing New Yeeeeaaaaar’s, Neeeeew Yeeeeaaaaar’s Eve?” 

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn.

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

Let's talk! Find me and friend me!

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!
Twitter: @jodycdyer
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Theory 25: Dang you Tupperware ladies, dang you. But I do love your products.

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Last week, in Theory 24: Teachers are money hustlers, ya’ll, I closed by quoting Downtown Queen. She said, “I was so happy when I retired from teaching so I didn’t have to buy any more junk from my colleagues! If other teachers are so broke they have to sell stuff, what makes them think their teacher friends can afford to buy it? Every time I went in the teacher’s lounge there was some product or some catalog laid out by the microwave.”

Don't we all have a Tupperware drawer?

Here is a related quote from Wikipedia. Yes, students, I am quoting from Wikipedia. I don’t have time to find a journal article, identify evidence in the text, and use MLA citation to credit the source. I’ll save that for my master’s thesis. Remember, I’m busy hustling. Anyhoo, here’s what some unknown but, in my opinion, totally accurate contributor says: “Tupperware pioneered the direct marketing strategy made famous by the Tupperware Party.” Who doesn't love a dish that can fly? Well, Tall Child, actually. 

Thanks so much you direct marketing pioneers. Yes, you’ve liberated some housewives but also forced us to sell and shop by capitalizing on three issues (urges) women constantly struggle to balance: being good mothers, shopping, and guilt.

I totally understand the three components of the Trifecta.

1. Time for Family - Women want more time with their children. Tall Child backs out of the driveway to deliver Sharky and Gnome to their respective schools early each morning. I pick them up. We are apart MOST of the day. That stinks.

2. Shopping – We are gatherers. Ya’ll, women are very different from men. We are talkers. We need to say lots of words and gather lots of things. We are (most of us) service-oriented. Why not shop, talk, and help our friends all in one man-free location?

3. Guilt - Most women work. When I was a housewife, I felt guilty for not helping Tall Child pay bills. I concocted schemes (see Theory 24), sold flowers, substitute taught, and hammered his real estate signs into the ground. I wanted to contribute, but I didn’t want to sacrifice time with Sharky and Gnome. Catch 22 guilt – not uncommon for modern working mothers.

This Trifecta of female characteristics has made Tupperware a legendary household name and made millions for the companies who followed suit:

Pampered Chef
Rodan & Fields
Mary Kay
Thirty-One Gifts
Matilda Jane
Park Lane
Arbonne International
Southern Living
Stella and Dot
Tastefully Simple
Creative Memories
Discovery Toys
Stampin' Up
Cloud 9 (intimate apparel)

Whew, and these are just the companies with which I’ve had direct marketing contact. By the way, my friends have sold this stuff and I wish I could afford to buy more of it. Why? For one thing, I love the products. They are high-quality, aesthetically pleasing, functional, and they last forever. Plus, I am a contestant in the battle of the Trifecta! I want to support my girlfriends’ independence, I love to buy stuff, and I feel guilty when I can only order the cheapest thing in the catalog. But, remember, I’m a teacher hustler. One day my ship will come in! Maybe you readers can buy my book, The Eye of Adoption, and help my ship set sail! Ooooh, maybe I could host a book party! Hmmmm, this teacher hustler has an idea.

Delicious and I talked one day about how teenagers “go goth” to be different but then find themselves in hundred-person packs of black-clad, silver-studded gothness. They conform to non-conformity. Kind of like all those “individualistic” mountain men in Asheville, NC who have the exact same facial hair-do’s.

I particularly like the conforming to non-conformity explanations we women give when we pick up the direct marketing banner. Here are a few I’ve heard or, ahem, said:

I’ve had an epiphany.

I really wanted to contribute to the financial security of my family.

This product has changed my life.

I love the products and get a huge discount.

I enjoy spending time with my friends and talking about household products.

The Lord called me to sell _______. (Did not hear this from the intimate apparel saleslady).

Honesty is refreshing and actually a really good sales strategy. Maybe “direct” saleswomen should be just that—direct. They could say:

I am tired of hearing my husband gripe about the grocery bill. I need my own cash.
I want Dollywood Gold passes. Every year.

I miss working but I don’t want to get up at 6:00 a.m. and put on panty hose and have a boss.

I want any reason to hang out with my buddies, drink wine, and shop. 

Simple math. If twelve women come to my house, one man will leave.

I’m saving up for a divorce.

Of course, there’s also the super guilt, guilt component. Let’s call it G2 (Guilt Squared.) I go to the party even when I’m broke because I’m afraid no one else will go to the party and I buy something because I don’t want the hostess to think I’m a mooch. So confusing. Teachers get paid once a month. Delicious says, “I just don’t feel right until I’m almost broke.”

Once, I asked her, “Do you ever balance your checkbook?”

She said, “No. I like living on the edge.” Direct salesladies, if you are marketing to teachers, host the party on a payday. Hustle smart. Ladies, doesn’t it seem like we get invited to these parties when we are flat out of money? 

Also, “market” your products appropriately. A work buddy told me that his Sunday school classmates were telling praise and prayer requests when a fellow Christian said, “I’d like to give praise to my four-year-old son for bringing me my morning AdvoCare Spark.” Not cool. Can I get an “Amen”?

So, say you are a “living on the edge” and down to your last dime and get the party invite. How can you conquer Guilt Squared and regret the direct marketing party with pride and with respect to your friend/cousin/co-worker hostess? Stick with the theme. Be direct. Maybe say:

You are serving alcohol and I’m only three weeks out of rehab.

My boobs are too big for those blouses.

My butt is too big for those skirts.

I have edema. Can’t wear boots.

I’m not smart enough to figure out how to complete your order form.

My husband is a tightwad.

[Child’s name] has basketball/baseball/football/ballet/guitar/unicycle practice.

My mother-in-law buys all my children’s clothes.

I’m allergic to latex.

~ ~ ~

I have deduced the ultimate, sweetest, most considerate, tricking-of-the-Tall Child solution to the problematic Trifecta and Guilt Squared: I buy all my Christmas presents at these parties!

I shop efficiently and guilt-free. I support my friends. And, I score some high-quality loot for my family. One day, when (not if) the zombie apocalypse finally happens, you’ll all thank me for those Pampered Chef pizza cutters.

Bring it on.
You are no match for this shopper!

Why don’t men shop in little parties? Couldn’t they all drink beer and watch a friend do a grill set demonstration? Maybe they could cook nachos in rubber dishes and try on different designs of belts. Don’t they ever feel guilty? Even at Christmas time? Which brings me to Theory26: In the Christmas season, men just need to do what they are told.

See you next post! Until then, think outside the barn.

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

Let's talk! Find me and friend me!

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!
Twitter: @jodycdyer
Author website:
Buy The Eye of Adoption here:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Theory 24: Teachers are money hustlers, ya'll.

Reader friends, I have really missed my weekly exercise in sarcasm (it’s the only exercise I do). To all of ya’ll who read and shared the first five chapters of The Eye of Adoption (my blog posts in November—National Adoption Awareness Month), I shout out a huge THANK YOU!!! I took a risk there, but it paid off. New readers, particularly waiting mothers, found The Eye of Adoption and found a new friend—me—on every page. Ya’ll would not believe the stories I hear from families battling infertility or riding the complex currents of adoption. Those chapters will stay in the blog archive and are also on The Eye of Adoption Facebook page in the notes section. Share at will.

If I were independently wealthy, I’d write a separate blog (maybe even a book) detailing the incredible stories I hear from waiting and adoptive mothers. But, I need insurance and a paycheck, so, for now, I’ll just post our Friday laughs to this blog, write my little “Stop and Think” article for the local Hibu magazines, guest post for other bloggers, and market the heck out of The Eye of Adoption.

Working girl

I am a middle aged, mid-sized woman going through the daily grind in a middle income and wonderful teaching job. I’ve always been an overachiever and pretty ambitious. Heck, I get up at 5:00 am to write. Hmmm, I don’t have time to exercise, but I make time to write. My rear end definitely shows my preference. Tall Child thinks I’m nuts but, between you and me, he spends more time on Sunday battling my cousins and friends in Fantasy Football than I do writing all week. I guess our gambles are similar. He hopes to win the pot. I hope to sell more books. By the way, this blog will morph into a book and I want YOUR theories! Mint Julep and Delicious have given me some stellar ideas. Y’all need to like Theories: Size 12 on Facebook so we can chat it up and you can be part of the Theories: Size 12 paperback and Kindle.

See how fluidly I “sold” my Facebook page? I just mentioned the book four times and Facebook 4 times. See how I am warming you up to one day purchase ten copies of Theories: Size 12? Did you know Kindle sells the Theories: Size 12 blog now for only $.99 a month? Smooth.

In Theory 23: God and prayer are most definitely in schools, I wrote of my first year teaching in an urban school. I couldn’t pronounce some of the students’ names (the school is an English as a Second Language hub and quite diverse), so I nicknamed them based on behavior. One day, it dawned on me that fast typists could make some cash tapping out other kids’ papers. I said so aloud, and my student named “Always Stands” shouted, “Mrs. D, you a hustler. You always tryin’ to make money.”

I replied, “Well, Always Stands, I paid $1800 in daycare before I got my first teacher paycheck for Knox County, which was $1900. So, yes, I have to hustle.” I told my affluent friend OMGG the sum of that first paycheck and she laughed the mascara right off her face. Honestly, Tennessee isn’t exactly known for its high-paying teaching jobs. Most of us love teaching, but we also seek financial security, so, we hustle.

One of my colleagues said just last week, "I think I've designed an app that I can retire on."

I’m tossing out only a few adventures in money-making my teacher relatives, friends, and I have attempted. I labeled each with cautionary headings in the vein of Theory 3: You should be nice to everyone you meet, because you will meet again, especially if you were not nice in the first place.

Fellow educators, I hope you like your nicknames, and I hope you’ll share these anecdotes with students (after semester exams, of course) and save us some summer stress.

Cautionary Tales:

Finish your homework for English class. Your teacher may stir your green beans this summer.
Teachers know concessions stands, so transition to restaurant work is natural. Plus, living in a series of tourist towns that lay a path to The Great Smoky Mountains gave my teachers ample hustling opportunities. Delicious, Mooch, Big Booty J, Moon, Baby, and others tossed salads and dished desserts to nine million tourists gobbling their ways through Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. Delicious and BBJ made appearances at Hobie’s, Howard’s, The Green Valley Restaurant, and Applewood. I don’t know many Gatlinburg teachers who didn’t serve a tour at The Heidelberg Restaurant at Ober Gatlinburg (where the Tram lands). Even the grammar school music teacher, “The Instrumentalist,” donned lederhosen and played brass and percussion for the Oompah Pa Band. Gatlinburg-Pittman Highlander teachers quickly shed their kilts to make some German dough.

See Theory 7: Everyone should work in a restaurant (Part 1, Part 2) for more entertaining and embarrassing adventures in food service.

Once, in the teachers’ lounge at Gatlinburg-Pittman, a then chunky Delicious joked, “I am sick of waiting tables. I may try prostitution this summer.” Her co-worker “Πr2” asked, “Are you going to charge by the pound?”

Don’t eat the yellow snow cones if you smarted off in history class.
Handsome teacher “Magnum P.I.” chipped and flavored ice for hot tourists on Gatlinburg’s main strip. Our Honors Typing (that’s what we called it) teacher “Goose” powdered greasy funnel cakes in his own booth just a few yards away.

Late for practice? That may cost you extra at the baseball card show!
Magnum P.I. also hosted the occasional baseball card trading show in a borrowed hotel conference room – usually the Howard Johnson. Cousin Roscoe (son of BBJ) and friends (then ages 12-14) helped him out. Once, Roscoe begged me, “Bug, give me just one of your summer paychecks and I’ll double it at the baseball card show this weekend.” Hustlers beget hustlers, ya’ll. FYI – Don’t have a car wash at the top of a mountain. Hustle smart.

Teachers get physical in the summer.
“Mystery Coach” loaded—hand-under-hiney style—tourists into sight-seeing helicopters.

Grammarians with gusto make Great Tour Guides – Tell Your Granny!
Teacher “Tush” owned the microphone when she hopped on crowded tour busses as they cruised into the Smith Family Theater parking lot in Pigeon Forge. By the way, Smith Family Theater entertainers are former teachers. My cousins. Mentioned elsewhere in this blog. They really don’t want to go back to teaching, so please see their show when you visit The Smokies. Best Show in The Smokies for years running—as determined by The Mountain Press readers! Hustlers hustle for other hustlers, ya’ll.

Want extra credit? Bring your married aunt and uncle who make a combined income over $60,000 and have decent credit to Coach Bama’s timeshare booth!
Timeshare booths perch at busy spots along the PF and G-burg drags. Calm, sweet, honest Coach Bama raked in a few good sales before he had to start basketball camps. Camps. Consider these the super hustle. Coaches spend entire weekends managing schedules, phone calls, disputes, money, and snacks. Exhausting. I tried it.

Students' parents: Support your teacher friends when they hustle. They will return the favors!
I held a “Jody Camp” a few summers ago. I toted and hollered at 5 campers for 5 days. Sharky, Gnome, “Brother,” “Boyfriend,” and “Angel #3” picked blackberries, swam, played monopoly, and cruised the farm. I scored a little cash but a priceless week with my friends’ children. That was some of the hardest money and those are some of the funniest memories I’ve ever made. “Brother” (who was my oldest camper at age 12), later used me as a reference to apply for a camp counselor job. My recommendation surely sealed his young hustler deal!

Prefer a sanitized inner tube for the lazy river? Get your pronouns straight.
Teacher “Wild Onion” expertly doled out tubes to SPF’d tourists at a local water park. Meanwhile, just across the cement pond, sweet science teacher “Daisy” served up nachos and fountain drinks.

Practice your clarinet like a good geek because your band director may soon be your boss, or worse, your employee.
As a teen worker at The Track, I handed out skee-ball prizes to indecisive goobers. I rescued fat tourists with no hand-eye coordination as they frantically circle spun strained rubber boats in the center of bumper boat pools. I handed out golf clubs and neon balls in the putt-putt booth. I labored under the watchful eye of my high school band director, “Music Man.” Music Man moved up the management ladder quickly. Track owners trusted teachers to separate scraped up tourists from go-cart asphalt and serve concessions. Teachers are used to saying “Wash your hands,” “Wait your turn,” and “Do the math” (mini theory: people can’t count once they leave home). But teachers who applied took the risk of being managed by a former student. That’s just a gamble teachers take.

Don’t underestimate your teachers. They are trained researchers and industrious risk-takers.
Delicious and I made a gamble once. We bet on Mother Nature’s bounty on The Crippled Beagle Farm. We heard that one of my elementary teachers—let’s call her “Ginseng Guru”—was digging and selling ginseng for over $1,000 a dried pound. We freaked; $1,000 is serious money. With student loan and medical debts out the yin-yang, Delicious and I were gonna dig out of the recession with some Crippled Beagle ginseng! We made a plan. I scoured the internet and learned to locate ginseng using companion plants, to dig only plants with three or more prongs and five years of maturity. I knew how to dry and sell the roots and even lined up two buyers. I watched videos and printed pictures. We set a digging date. Obviously, plants are easier to find in the spring. But we were fired up, so we started our hunt on a cold, wet, January Saturday. We wore old farm clothes and carried grocery sacks and different size shovels. Delicious did no research, so when I told her ginseng grows on steep hills, she choose to support me from below. Delicious poked her walking stick through mud and black walnuts behind the barn and made a verbal shopping list while I climbed, slid, and cussed. My miserable hunt lasted 90 minutes and resulted in three plants. I think that, with my misted hair, aching knees, and desperation for easy money, I saw mirages in the undergrowth. I dug some kind of ginseng fool’s gold green stuff. Now, listen, poaching is a big issue for ginseng farmers, so let me make this clear. No hunting is allowed on The Crippled Beagle Farm. Ever. For critters or roots. Plus, if there were Ginseng on my farm, I’d wouldn’t be hustling so hard at school teaching, now, would I?

 Thar's gold in them thar hills!

One of Knoxville's greatest ladies—"Downtown Queen"—taught PE for many years. She once confessed to me, “I was so happy when I retired from teaching so I didn’t have to buy any more junk from my colleagues! If other teachers are so broke they have to sell stuff, what makes them think their teacher friends can afford to buy it? Every time I went in the teacher’s lounge there was some product or some catalog laid out by the microwave.” They were hustling, my Queen. Which brings me to Theory 25: Dang you Tupperware ladies, dang you. But I do love your products.

See you next Friday! Until then, think outside the barn.

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

Author website:

Let's talk! Find me and friend me!

Facebook: Theories: Size 12 (See each post, comment, share, and talk directly with others readers and me!) I'd LOVE to hear your theories!
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Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Enemy: Infertility

Readers, lots of folks have enjoyed Chatpers 1-3 of The Eye of Adoption! Thank you for spreading the message! Today, I add Chapter 4, "The Enemy: Infertility."  Each Friday in November, I'll post an additional chapter of The Eye of Adoption. You can read Chapters 1-4 in this post.

I’ll be back to my humor theories December 6. I miss them and can't wait! 

Until December, my writing efforts are focused on promoting adoption as a modern, healthy option for creating families and helping men and women facing crisis pregnancies.

I’ve also teamed up with other adoption authors to give our books away throughout the month. Be sure to check the links at the end of each post for information on how to receive other authors' download dates.
In one weekend, The Eye of Adoption was downloaded over 4,000 times!

So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity;
for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 (NKJV)

Friends, I am the same everywhere I go, and that includes my writing style. I promise you will laugh and I know you will learn, so I hope you will read and share these chapters and my message of hope and humor, faith and family.

Besides, doesn’t everyone love a good adoption story?

Do you see the baby in the clouds? An ethereal ultrasound?

~ ~ ~


the true story of my turbulent wait

for a baby

Jody Cantrell Dyer

~ ~ ~

This book is protected under the copyright laws of the
United States of America.  Any reproduction or unauthorized
use is prohibited without express permission of the author,
except brief quotes for use in interviews,
newspaper or magazine articles, or reviews.
For information, contact author.
ISBN-10: 1481040138
ISBN-13: 978-1481040136

Bible verses quoted within are from the following versions:
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by
The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
The King James Version is public domain in the
United States of America.
Front cover photograph obtained from
Back cover artwork by Houston Dyer
Cover design by Sherri B. McCall

 ~ ~ ~

Chapter 1
No One “Just Adopts”

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick:
but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life.
—Proverbs 13:12

When I was a toddler, I entertained relatives by singing this little song:
Special, special, I am very special
           God made me this way!
I would draw out the word “way” as “waaaaaaaaaaay” like an operatic trill, a crowd-pleasing ending to my parlor trick performance. That song rings true for every child. My children are no more special than your children or the child for which you pray and wait. However, adoption is special. It was divinely designed and serves as a living example of God’s graceful, abundant love for humankind. 
I have two friends who, years ago, placed babies for adoption. Each was in college when she was surprised by a crisis pregnancy. One friend told me her experience when she found out my husband Jeff and I were trying to adopt. She gave me crucial advice regarding the birthparents’ extended family. Her help later proved vital. The other friend is unaware that I know she placed a baby for adoption. When she sees us, she asks to hold my child. I think holding my baby gives her assurance and peace about the decision she made so many years ago.
My initial purpose in writing this book was to chronicle the sweet and sour elements of our adoption story for my children. I am a public school teacher, not a writer, but I wanted my children to understand the extremes to which their father and I suffered and succeeded to create our family. Our children will have a colorful, descriptive, documented account of a story that tested love, endurance, commitment, and faith, a story they can learn from and someday pass on to their families.
As I revisited my journal entries, mined through letters and emails from friends and relatives, and studied countless pieces of medical documents and adoption paperwork, I realized that my story could benefit people outside my little family. For that reason, I expanded the book to reveal details regarding every step my husband Jeff and I took toward our second child. In these pages I will candidly present information to intimately describe how Jeff and I clumsily but successfully battled through the uncontrolled currents of infertility and adoption.  To protect my adopted child’s most personal history, I kept much of the birth family’s biological and social background information private. My intention in writing this book is not to expose my child, but to expose the raw and rewarding aspects of adoption.
Throughout each section of this book, I divulge friends’, relatives’, and strangers’ commentary, support, criticism, and reaction. I share the effects of all of the above on my marriage. I also try my best to illuminate God’s concern and involvement in every moment of our trek toward a baby.
I hope my story will benefit people who wish to become adoptive parents, regardless of where they are in the process. Whether you decide to adopt after failed fertility treatments, lost pregnancies, a lost child, no chance of conceiving, have a dozen children already, or feel “called” to adopt, I respect you. No matter the circumstances, adoptive parents share a special bond. I hope “waiting parents” will relate to my emotions, experiences, tribulations, and triumphs. I hope by doing so, you find camaraderie, relief, and optimism.
Because adoption is a spiritual transaction conducted within a commercial industry, success in adoption requires involvement from what seems like everyone connected to the adoptive parents. Thus, adoptive parents’ friends, relatives, co-workers, and even pets will find themselves here, too. I urge anyone connected to waiting parents to read my story to empathize with the adoptive family and perhaps alleviate, not complicate, the inevitable burdens. Do not underestimate the depths of suffering and lengths of endurance required of adoptive parents. Do not underestimate the difficult choice to find a child through adoption. No one “just adopts.”
My mother thought of the book’s title, The Eye of Adoption. She has a particular gift for naming pets; my aunts, uncles, and cousins often contract her to name their animals, so I asked her to name this book. After reading the book, her critter-naming gift prevailed once more.
Adoption is a storm of faith, fear, paperwork, people, hurt, healing, words, work, devotion, divinity, rawness, revelation, days, and, hopefully, a delivery.
I was not strong on my own. I relied on my husband, my mother, my friends, my family, and my faith to prop me up during my doubtful and weak moments.
I hope my story is a clear window through which you can visualize your potential adoption experience. I hope my story comforts you as you live in the eye of adoption.
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!
—Robert Burns, “To A Mouse”
~ ~ ~

Chapter 2

The Master Plan

Do not squander time
for that is the stuff life is made of.
—Benjamin Franklin

Though I am a “lonely only” child, I have nine first cousins who enjoy close relationships with their siblings. As a child I did not particularly want a brother or sister. I relished the one-on-one attention and communication I had with both of my parents. They talked with me and included me: we enjoyed a tight bond. When I was nineteen, my father died. It was June 1993. He was forty-four. I had just finished my freshman year of college.
My father’s death altered my way of thinking. I suddenly grasped the quantitative nature of my and my mother’s existence, life’s fragility, and death’s finality. I, erroneously, felt responsible for my mother’s well being. From then on, I longed for a sibling. I desperately needed a brother or sister, someone who knew exactly how I felt, someone with whom I could commiserate. Also, already known for my smart mouth (a high school teacher nicknamed me “tongue-lasher”) my sarcasm and cynicism sharpened.
A week after my father’s death, I applied for a summer job at IHOP in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. My cousin Toby, a return summer worker, championed my cause and implored the restaurant manager to grant me a coveted breakfast shift so I could be home at night with my mother. I did my best to model southern hospitality as I teased customers who ordered the Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity pancake platter, but grief and anxiety accumulated like the plates precariously stacked up my left arm. Often, when I was exhausted from my trancelike trudge through a day of waitressing, I fibbed to customers when they ordered desserts, “We are out of that.” I just wanted the giddy tourons (my father’s term: half tourist, half moron) to pay and go back to their hotels so I could go home and be miserable with my mother. The fry cooks felt sorry for me and routinely treated me to rich chocolate chip pancakes with hot syrup, Cool Whip, and vanilla ice cream.
In August, I took my plumped up rear and sour attitude back to The University of Tennessee’s Humes Hall filled with carefree co-eds. College and the future took on new meaning for me. I became an impatient control freak, worrier, and planner. I wrote papers the same day professors assigned them. If my mother did not answer her home phone, I freaked out, figuring she had died of a heart attack like my father, had a freak accident (she did almost run over herself once), choked on peanuts…. My mind went into orbit with any hint of mystery as to her well-being.
I set my sights on graduating early to save my mother, a high school English teacher, money. I majored in finance to secure a lucrative job; if I became a young widow like my schoolteacher mother, I would be better able support my family. I mapped out my entire future: graduate early, earn a high income, take care of my mother, find a husband, have a big family, and hit all my goals in case I was going to die in my early forties. At nineteen, I had already made the decision to have three children when I got married.
Chapter 3
Blueprints for Footprints

In dreams begins responsibility.
—William Butler Yeats, Responsibilities

Jeff and I married on April 15, 2000. What a deadline. I was twenty-six, and he was thirty-six. We were not naïve. As an only child whose mother suffered two miscarriages, I did not take pregnancy for granted. I sincerely hoped to become pregnant as soon as possible. I even promised my mother-in-law! I wanted those three children.

Jeff and I lived in a one-level, three bedroom ranch home with a flat backyard and a big kitchen. It was in the perfect proximity to hospitals, libraries, and parks. I saw no reason to move until we had a school-aged child. But Jeff wanted to. That was one of our first lengthy arguments. Jeff put a For Sale by Owner sign in the front yard. Daily, after Jeff backed out of the driveway and turned out of sight, I jerked the sign up from the grass and threw it in my backseat. When I got home from work, I pushed it back into place so he would never know. Weeks later, overcome with guilt, I admitted my crime. My forgiving husband hired a realtor to find us a house, so I stuck the For Sale by Owner sign in the grass and left it. Not long after that, I negotiated the sale to a co-worker.

So, just four months after Jeff and I married we began looking for a new home in Knoxville. Jeff wanted to move closer to his friends and be in the “right” school zone.

My parents raised me in Sevier County in East Tennessee on seventy-two acres of Appalachian hills, hollers, and creeks. I could see Mount LeConte from my Gatlinburg-Pittman High School parking lot. My mother (who taught at my high school) and I drove through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park every day on the way to and from school. Sevier County has grown tremendously, but when I was growing up, trips to the grocery store, school, hospital, or church were long and tiresome. As a new wife and habitual worrier planning a three-child family, I desired a safer, more convenient location in which to raise my family. My must-haves were much more specific than Jeff’s: in my search, I combined my future children’s needs and my desire to re-create my best childhood memories. I thought through the details and played out all kinds of scenarios. My children needed to grow up close to a hospital. All the bedrooms had to be together so, in case of fire, I could grab my bra (The Red Cross does not usually get my size over-the-shoulder-boulder-holders in their donation bags) and my children and “head for the pines” for safety. I wanted to be able to wash dishes and watch my children shoot basketball. My cousin Claire says you know you are in East Tennessee when someone misses a rebound and the ball rolls fifty feet downhill and then a fight ensues about who is responsible for its retrieval: the shooter or the rebounder. We also needed a spot for spinning Big Wheels. I grew up in a one hundred year-old cold farmhouse, so I was low maintenance. I was not picky, just specific.

Our realtor found several pretty houses near Jeff’s friends, but the homes either had split bedrooms or no basketball goal within kitchen view. No deal.

My in-laws lived in Knoxville at that time, so our plan was to stay with them during the old house sale and new house purchase gap. One Sunday, I had had it. Married only four months and not too eager to live with my in-laws, I decided to rush the process. Jeff was playing at least eighteen holes of golf that morning, so I took off on my own to find a house. I started at Kingston Pike, the main thoroughfare that juts through Knoxville, and took roads left and right until I happened upon a realtor open house in Glen Cove subdivision. Lyons Bend, the road just before Glen Cove, reminded me of Gatlinburg’s steep, snaking, sun-dappled roads. I was still unfamiliar with that area of Knox County. Having driven in all directions all morning, and being naturally “spatially challenged,” I thought I was out in the boonies but went in anyway. I was surprised when the realtor informed me that youth baseball fields and Lake Loudon were only a half-mile away. She further explained that Glen Cove was zoned for Jeff’s sibling’s old elementary school, and was only a few miles from our church. The house was ten minutes from the UT campus, ten minutes from Children’s Hospital, and two miles from Food City.

The 1956 basement rancher contained three bedrooms all on the northern edge of the house and a large guest room with its own bathroom and sunroom on the southern edge of the house. I could store my children on one end and my mother on the other! The basement–just a huge playroom–was a bonus. The Poplar and pine-shaded backyard offered a safe place for children to explore. The sunny, sloped, grass-covered front yard was ideal for a Slip-n-Slide. The back patio, my favorite spot, was the perfect place to spin figure eights on a Big Wheel. Best of all, when I stood at the kitchen sink, I looked out the window to see a basketball goal, slap in the middle of the backyard.

I called Jeff and exclaimed, “I found our house! You need to come over here right now.” I stood guard at the open house until it was over, making small talk with the listing agent and shooing away any other lookers. When Jeff arrived, I used every ounce of my newlywed allure, wit, and equity and took advantage of his eighteen-hole beer buzz to sell him on the house. He agreed to make an offer. I called our realtor. He came and we drew up a full offer contract.

When Jeff and I got home, we talked about our new house. He asked, “How big was that garage?” I told him there was not one. I had whisked him through that house and completely manipulated the deal but it was too late then. I was determined to have that house; the location and the important things—to me—were there. Within days, our full-price offer secured for us a wonderful place to raise our three children. We stayed with Mr. Dyer (Mrs. Dyer was visiting Jeff’s brother, who was working in Africa at the time) for three weeks. Each afternoon, Jeff and I would leave work, go to his parents’ house and change clothes, and then go to Glen Cove to pull up filthy, decades-old carpet, score and strip cigarette-smoke stained wallpaper, and paint. Jeff’s daddy (also named Jeff) brought us supper almost every night. When Mrs. Dyer returned from Africa, she bragged on our remodeling work but admonished us for our combined fifteen-pound weight gain. Jeff and I moved to Glen Cove.

In May 2001, when we had been married a year, Jeff’s sister Jenny came to Knoxville to visit for Mother’s Day and Jeff’s birthday. Coincidentally, Jeff’s birthday fell on Mother’s Day that Sunday, May 13th. The Friday night before, Jenny announced to all of us that she was pregnant with her first child. Thrilled for her, I was sad for me. I had been trying to become pregnant since my wedding day, and I was getting worried. I happened to be a few days late in my cycle and had actually stopped at CVS to buy a pregnancy test. After hearing Jenny’s big news, I over-celebrated slash self-medicated with a few vodka tonics, forgetting until just before I went to bed that I had a pregnancy test in my purse. With liquid courage, I went into the bathroom, took the test, and waited the three minutes.
I was shocked to see two pink lines appear. I looked at that little stick, expecting that second pink line to fade away, but it remained. I was pregnant! I stared at the test for a moment, then walked into our bedroom and told the always-calm Jeff I was pregnant.
He responded, “Are you sure? Take another one in the morning.”
He was hesitant. I was elated. Saturday morning, I tested positive again. Jeff and I smiled and savored the momentous revelation all day.
Sunday morning, we attended church with Jeff’s family and celebrated Mother’s Day and Jeff’s birthday with brunch on the Dyer’s back porch. Jenny was happily babbling about her big news. Jeff and I, still in shock, mentioned nothing about ours. Women’s intuition never fails. Halfway through the meal, Mrs. Dyer looked at me and asked, “Jody, how long have you been pregnant?” I delighted in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“About three weeks.”
Screams of delight filled the patio; we sounded like the bird exhibit at the Knoxville Zoo.
I visited my gynecologist the next morning. He tested my hormones. My progesterone levels were quite low so he prescribed vaginal suppositories. I had to insert the progesterone “tubes” at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. each day and lie still for thirty minutes after each insertion. I was a bank branch manager in downtown Knoxville at the time. We had these ridiculous weekly “call nights” each Thursday. From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. we phoned customers and tried to set appointments to sell bank products. To accurately maintain my 7:00 p.m. suppository schedule on those nights, I sneaked to the ladies room two floors beneath my office, near the hefty main vault filled with hundreds of safe deposit boxes.
 I inserted the medicine and laid flat and still (there are no pillows in bank basements) for thirty minutes, just as the doctor instructed, praying my male boss did not ask where I was. God was looking out for me because, for the six weeks in a row I did drugs in the vault, my boss never caught on. Other than that, my pregnancy was healthy and surprisingly easy; I never threw up, and I had no issues that I knew of other than low progesterone.
Just days before Christmas, Jenny gave birth to my precious niece Ellie. 
On January 7, a week before my due date, I visited my obstetrician. I begged her to induce me the next day. She agreed. I was so keyed up, I mistakenly took the wrong Interstate 40 ramp and drove miles out of my way before I realized I was headed to Nashville. I went home, called the bank human resources department and my boss to tell them I was beginning my maternity leave. I called my mother who squealed in delight. She planned to stay with us the first week after I gave birth.
My matchless mother, a hyper-thinker, has mastered the art of anticipation. She loves to make lists and pack coolers (a throwback to her University of Georgia days of partying) and suitcases. She had packed her bags, made a list of suppers and treats she would cook for Jeff and me, and purchased birth announcements, stamps, and envelopes. She was ready to be a grandmama! On the phone, she told me she had cleaned and ironed a particular bold-colored shirt so her infant grandson would “immediately notice” her. She hung up the phone and carried her suitcases to the driveway. She carefully draped the outfit over her suitcase and went to make sure the stove was off and to lock the front door. Then, in a typical fit of excitement, she cranked up the car and backed over her own suitcase. When my frenzied mother got to my house, she showed me her black shirt, embellished with large, bright puppy faces and muddy brown tire tracks.
The next afternoon, family and friends eagerly waited at Fort Sanders Hospital on The University of Tennessee campus for the arrival of Jefferson Houston Dyer III. At 5:21 p.m., January 8, 2002, Houston was born.
Jeff walked into the waiting room to a crowd of Houston fans and proudly announced, “He looks just like me.”

 ~ ~ ~
Chapter 4

The Enemy: Infertility

A whippoorwill on a window still-
it should have made me smile
But everything sounds lonesome to a melancholy child
—DiPiero & Tillis, “Melancholy Child

That year I turned 28 in February and Jeff turned 39 in May. Aware of our progressing ages and my master plan, we had no time to waste. I began trying to conceive our second child in October of 2002, when Houston was only nine months old. The annoying things I had to endure with pregnancy were minor compared to what was coming.
As a child, I loved hearing the story of my mother’s pregnancy. Birth stories are full of happiness and gratitude with unique details that make children feel loved. While my mother was pregnant with me, she and my paternal grandmother Wimmie began writing journals for me.
Throughout my pregnancy, I kept a journal for Houston detailing my and Jeff’s excitement, plans for Houston’s future, and how much we already loved him. I daydreamed on paper.
I kept a journal for “Baby #2” but in a much different format for many reasons. Initially, I used the journal to vent my frustrations and record efforts in the fertility battle.
During that time, Jeff and I happily welcomed our lively niece, Anna Kate. I loved being an aunt. My desire for another child intensified.
For two years, I used ovulation kits and timed our love life. When trying to conceive my second baby, I spent a couple of years in denial. I reconciled that, since my first pregnancy went so smoothly, I would soon be pregnant. I blamed the negative results on Jeff’s being out of town for business, my misreading ovulating kits, my diet, and everything imaginable and reasonable. I also blamed my infertility on my stressful job. I worked hard, but I was consumed with trying to conceive. I was a mother to toddler Houston and an extremely busy branch manager, so I kept one fat daily appointment book. Once, a male co-worker glanced at the open book on my desk and innocently asked, “Why do you have a heart drawn on Thursday?”
I bluntly admitted, “That’s when I ovulate so Jeff and I have to have sex that night.” He blushed, left, and never looked at my planner again.
In December 2004, I quit my job as a bank branch manager in hopes that the lower stress lifestyle of a housewife would help me conceive. Jeff had switched from a career in sales to become a realtor and could support us on his own. The change in lifestyle definitely made life with Jeff and a three-year-old Houston more enjoyable, but, sadly, being a stay-at-home mother did nothing to boost my fertility. Houston was potty-trained, and I was utterly frustrated. I sought help from a specialist. Our first appointment cost $1,900.00. We rapidly used up money and months. Two months into treatment, I jokingly threatened the doctor, “If I’m not pregnant in six months, I’m going to start smoking. If I’m not pregnant in a year, I’m doing meth. Smokers and drug addicts get pregnant all the time. You don’t want that on your conscience. The pressure is on, doctor.” Jeff and I answered awkward questions and endured embarrassing procedures for the next four years. A friend teased Jeff, “I hear you’ve been treating your body like an amusement park.”
Below is an excerpt from my Baby #2 journal, dated August 8, 2006, two years into the fertility treatment trials.

Dear Hopefully Baby #2,
I’ve been trying to have you for four years now! No luck but a big effort this week should help. My fertility doctor performed hysteroscopy, laparoscopy, and dilation and curettage. He said he could barely identify my reproductive organs; they were encased in scar tissue, likely a result of my birth defect, gastroschisis. He diagnosed me with a clotting disorder (MTHFR). He said I have been pregnant two or three times since Houston and wrote in the post-op report, “There is no rational explanation for the patient’s previous pregnancies.” That includes Houston! I am hoping for another miracle. Am I selfish? I am emotionally, physically, financially, and mentally exhausted but I feel you are on your way to me somehow. I will do everything I can to make you, my dream of a baby, real.
I love you,
 I include that letter not to dredge up pity but to remind readers that the devastation of infertility is a monthly cycle fraught with anxious anticipation and gut-wrenching disappointment. I kept a detailed log of ovulation, menstruation, and sexual activity for my doctor. I hated the necessary invasion of privacy.
By this time, Jeff’s parents had moved back to Nashville, which meant a three hour drive and usually an overnight visit for us. I swear on the Smoky Mountains, for years it seemed like every time we visited them, no matter where I was in my cycle, I either ovulated, which meant I had to skip that month of trying (I could never have sex in the same house as my sweet in-laws—gross) or I spontaneously menstruated, which meant I had to suffer another round of disappointment without the needed privacy for my monthly crying jag.
I actually carried pregnancy tests to Nashville with me. Once when I started my period there, I had a meltdown. In a tantrum, I took Jeff’s car keys and my pity-party attitude to Walgreens Drug Store. I stomped through the store to find the feminine hygiene/family-planning aisle. I bought the biggest boxes of tampons and pads I could find, thinking, Okay God, I just spent twenty-five bucks on supplies; if the laws of biology won’t help me, maybe Murphy’s Law will!
Throughout my years of trying to conceive, I took sixty-five pregnancy tests. They were all negative.
Friends and family should not underestimate how such a systematic dose of failure hurts. I spent six years, wasted thousands of dollars, and humiliated my husband and myself trying to have a second child while people all around me easily became pregnant—or so it felt to me.  I suffered bouts of anxiety and depression, often related to high doses of hormones and fertility drugs. I wrestled self-doubt, weight gain, poor self-esteem, mood swings, and bitterness toward pregnant people.
To battle the hormone and depression-induced bulge, I exercised almost daily. I would drop Houston off at school and head to Lakeshore Park, near our house. The park contains flag football and the previously mentioned youth baseball fields, as well as a two-mile walking trail. Ironically, the park surrounds Lakeshore Mental Health Institute.
I felt pretty “mental” as I paced around that track each morning. For a long time, I took heavy doses of Clomid and progesterone. I never felt suicidal, but I was down. Because I took such strong doses of medicine, I understand the mind-altering power of drugs. I remember walking across roadways during my exercise routine, leering at oncoming cars, and not really caring if they hit my bloated blubber butt. My melancholic attitude only worsened as I plodded past skinny, fit, young mothers jogging behind their babies’ strollers.

~ ~ ~

Readers, please send this post to anyone you know who is touched by infertility, adoption, or crisis pregnancy. You can copy and paste the URL into an email or you can Google+, Tweet, or share on Facebook.

Also, visit or my website to read about my book, The Eye of Adoption, my short story, Field Day, and my collection of essays for parents and teachers, Parents, Stop and Think.

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See you next Friday with Chapter 5! Until then, think outside the barn.