Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A Little About Me, Before the IF

First off, I want to apologize for the typos you may see in my posts and comments. I am a writer and editor, so you would think I could do better. The thing is, after writing at work all day, then working on my master's thesis at night, I just need to write what's on my mind without thinking too hard about it.

I wasn't always a writer. I started my career as a Theatre teacher, who occassionally taught a few English classes. My undergrad degrees were in English and Theatre, and the teaching job sort of fell on my lap right out of college. I decided not to pursue acting when I figured out that late night rehearsals and weekend performances really aren't that conducive to raising a family. I really enjoyed teaching and had some great students, who I still refer to as my kids, but after a few years I decided to go after a career that was more of my choosing. I don't think I had what it takes to really last in the teaching profession. It was so easy to burn out, especially as I was in a very rough school. I really admire those of you who are teachers and are dealing with IF. I feel your pain in trying to arrange subs for time off and dealing with kids who think you are a lesbian if you spend too much time with a female friend. :)

Anyhow, I thought about teaching at a Catholic school, but my main motivation for doing that was so that I would have an easier time raising my own kids with summers off and free Catholic school tuition. I decided sacrificing acting was already enough for the kids I didn't have yet, so I started looking at what I wanted to do with my writing skills. I figured I could always go back to teaching once I had kids.

My brief moment of career selfishness turned out to be very good for me. I found work writing about science and technology, something evidently most writers trying to earn a steady income don't like to do or don't do well. As a result, I suddenly had a very high salary for a writer. As the years went on, my earning power even surpassed H's, who had always teased me that I would never make as much as him with my English/Theatre degrees. He may have been teasing, but I believed him. I mean, writers are usually pretty low on the salary food chain. It's been a little surreal to be so successful in something that people told me I wouldn't be able to do. One of the things I am most grateful for right now is that I have a career I am proud of and that makes me happy.

In doing well at work, I was offered an even more lucrative position a year ago and I took it, right about the time we started ttc. The new job was more than I bargained for, though, in that there were all these personal dramas always going on in the office and the work itself wasn't valued by those in charge. I was putting in more hours than ever before, but producing less. So I started looking elsewhere, thinking that at any moment now I could get pregnant and knowing that this work environment would not be good for me to be in while raising a child. Most of my colleagues were single, childless women in their 40s and 50s, and I could tell from conversations that they would not have been open to me taking time off for maternity leave or working from home part time.

I found my current job right before my IF diagnosis, and it is the best place on earth to work if you want to start a family. I get paid the same amount as before, but I work less hours. I have a completely supportive and pregnant boss. I can work from home when I need to and almost all of my coworkers have little kids. It's just a very family friendly place. I have business trips about 4 times a year, and people are encouraged to bring their spouses and kids. They even have activities for them. I would get a 4 month maternity leave, paid at 50 percent. My vacation time is double what it was before, plus I now get sick leave to cover all my doctor visits. It's a dream come true after having to beg to leave an hour early for a doctor's appointment.

I was thinking I would get pregnant immediately once the job stress was over. Wrong. But at least I have a very good job situation for going through IVF. I can take off when I need to for the procedures without a lot of questions and I can work from home on days I have afternoon appointments.

I do have things to be very grateful for--H, my career, my new employer. I'm trying to remind myself of that. But I keep thinking back to myself as the teacher...who really loved her kids and was considering staying in a profession she didn't love in order to make it easier to have her own. Would I have kids by now if I had stayed a teacher? We probably would have started trying sooner. Would that have made a difference with H's subfertility? My left tube would probably have been okay back then.

I know you can't second guess yourself. It is what it is. But I just wonder how many of my choices contributed to the situation I am in right now, and how much of it was avoidable?


StellaNova said...

I am a teacher and often feel disillusioned with it all, even though I really do love the kids. I would love be a writer too, but my own stuff, not that for others. And then I think, as you did, I have a great hours for a family. Now I just need the family!
Good luck for both of us.

StellaNova said...

I also meant to say, it sounds like you are profesionally very happy now. You can't beat yourself up over the 'what ifs'. You have to be happy before you can spread it around.

Meg said...

Emmie - Thank you for sharing more about yourself with us. I envy you your job.. I've written lots of posts about how much I struggle with teaching. It takes so much out of you, and I don't have that to give to others at the moment.

I also wonder about how things could have been different. My step-son is ten, and I met T. when he was four. Presumable he was still fertile when we first met.

But that type of thinking isn't real productive right? Here we are. Either way.

(And there a LOT of teachers writing IF blogs, too - it's quite uncanny!)

Jamie said...

You totally crack me up. :)

Teaching is a total burn out profession and I feel the same way you do about it -- only I am still in the profession. Who do you write for?? :) Can you get me a job too?? :)

I went into teaching because both of my parents are teachers and because I thought it would be easier to raise my own as a teacher. The money sucks -- there is no denying that one. It does have some rewarding days but most of those are few and far between. Unfortunately, I would have to say that you definitely made the right decision to get out of the business.

We all have those days where we look back and wonder what might have been and think about all of those dollars that we spent on birth control that we wish we would have saved for IVF. I think one of the big things you have to do during this process is let the past go -- everything about it, even past cycles. You have to keep moving forward and know that you made the best decisions you could at the time and that you made them for good, solid reasons then and just keep moving forward with what you have to do to get to your current goal -- a baby. :)

Emmie said...

I am more than happy to give people tips on how to get started as a professional writer. I have particular experience with helping teachers target their resume towards technical writing. :)
So, feel free to email me if you want to discuss further. I've gotten two other teachers jobs where I work. It's a bit of a hobby with me. I can't reveal too much online in order to protect my identity.