Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Good Fight

I heard a song last night and was transported, as a good song can do, to a moment in time, just a few years ago, that I would never want to relive and yet, given the outcome and where I am now, is not an entirely unpleasant memory. I know that anyone reading this who is still in the throes of it (and indeed some who've had their happy endings) may not understand and in fact may resent my saying this, but sometimes, in the same way that thinking about your angsty college years or a bad breakup can do this, thinking about my infertility experience is sort of, forgive the word, empowering. It was one of those times in my life when all of my emotions lived right on the surface, when every moment felt vital and true, even if every moment also felt painful and difficult. And thinking about how much I survived, the fears that I overcame and the obstacles that I saw but kept going anyway, makes me feel like maybe I am as strong as my friends kept telling me I was at the time.

Motherhood does this too. It is not for the faint of heart. You are tired and spend more than a few moments trying to reconcile your fantasy of motherhood with the real-life, day-to-day of it all -- the poopy diapers and milk-stained shirts that are its hallmarks -- and combating your own guilt for not living up to all those expectations you had for yourself as a mother. You become impatient when the toddler in the backseat is fussing as you sit in traffic, then disappointed with yourself for feeling that impatience. When you have days when you feel capable, when your reality more closely matches those fantasies of motherhood, you feel like you've conquered the world. Or at least the little universe contained within your four walls.

I have lots of pregnant friends right now. Most of them have been through the fire to get there, they've paid their dues. One of those friends is experiencing complications with her hard-fought pregnancy, and I know she's going to be okay, but I'm thinking a lot about her today, thinking about how unfair it is to have to fight so hard and then not have the luxury of breezing through the pregnancy. Remembering what that felt like for me nearly two years ago. Wondering how it is that the pursuit of such amazing, life-giving love can be such a brutal, teeth-gnashing, gut-wrenching fight.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Boob Tube

Okay, following is the requisite mommy-blog post on TV watching. I wasn't really planning on it, but a discussion thread on the topic on my local moms board has me all soapboxy about it. So here goes.

First, here's my take on TV and kids. In the very beginning, before H was old enough to be curious about or interested in TV, I was all for sticking with the AAP's guideline of no TV before age two. I felt sort of smug and self-righteous about it. I was above letting H near anything so mind-numbing as Elmo and his cronies. No thanks.

However, I did turn the TV on for him for one designated purpose: to keep him still while I cut his nails. Nothing else did the trick, and frankly it felt better to let him watch a minute of TV than feel like I was torturing him with the clippers. And initially it was no big deal; I turned it on, he watched for a minute, I clipped, then I turned it off.

Then sometime after his first birthday, he started showing active interest in what he was seeing. He made faces and gestures in response to the characters and what they were saying and doing. He seemed to be getting something out of it, something I recognized and remembered feeling when I myself watched that show: the delight of seeing a lovable character come to life.

So my feelings toward and tolerance of TV have evolved a bit, and H is now allowed to watch a few minutes of Sesame Street here and there. Usually I sit right there with him and comment on the show with him, or I might (horrors) go nearby and take advantage of his stationary position on the couch by washing the morning's dishes or tapping out a quick email. Then we turn it off and we go on to the next thing.

Well. According to some of the sanctimommies on this message board, my son may be illiterate, or have ADHD or have no imagination as a result of the poison I'm feeding him, because I'm taking him away from activities he could be engaged in every waking moment, like reading or playing, or perhaps writing the Great American Novel while composing a symphony.

Sorry, but I don't buy this. If you choose not to let your child watch any TV for any reason -- because the AAP says not to, because you just feel it in your gut, whatever -- I totally respect that. But I reject the notion that the limited amount of watching H is doing is harmful (as does his pediatrician), when we spend the vast majority of our time reading, playing, singing, going to the library, to music class, to play dates, to art class, and to countless other places, adding up to a level of activity and mental stimulation I am certain I never had as a child.

I believe the strict AAP guideline exists to guard against the irresponsible use of TV by irresponsible parents, just like children's equipment and clothing arrive to you with bizarre labels telling you to avoid things like fire when using them. And I just think it's unimaginative to suggest that someone can develop an interest only in TV or reading/activities of a higher intellectual order, mutually exclusively. Clearly they've never seen how I like to unwind: by watching Real Housewives of NYC while reading The New Yorker.

I think overall the thing I reject most is this chorus of women weighing in with holier-than-thou opinions, waving around evidence and data on every minute parenting detail. It makes my mother and her peers smile wryly, and I can understand why. Yes, understanding evolves and we learn things over time and respond to them, improving the way we go about life, including parenting. I mean, obviously I would choose the medical system of today over that of 1970. But I think we run the risk of overintellectualizing parenting too. I'm sure there are studies showing that TV is harmful. But who did they test? Where and when? How much did they watch? What content? Did they figure out how to account for parental involvement, for how many other things the child engaged in all day long? What else influenced the way they learned to see the world?

Sometimes, common sense is just as important to our decision-making as the latest study. As a very good (very smart, TV-watching) friend said, "Please. I watched an hour every day and managed to get my dumb ass into Penn Law."

Enough said.

[Stepping down from my soapbox.]

Sunday, August 28, 2011

His Safe Place

In case you hadn't heard, we got a hurricane on the east coast today. It was a non-event in the Boston area, though you wouldn't have guessed that listening to the news (I'll save my rant about how annoying it is that New Englanders have lost their famous resilience). So we were stuck inside all day with a stir-crazy H, which made me a little, well, crazy.

When we saw what a non-event it was, we decided to venture out after H's nap. So we went where any good American goes when the weather outside is frightful but the prospect of their own four walls is even scarier: the mall. And we ate? At the Rainforest Cafe. Shudder.

H seemed to enjoy the spectacle of the place, but he was really tough to settle down tonight. At one point when he cried out from his crib, I asked him if he was scared of the elephants that "came alive" from time to time at the restaurant. He said yes (in his own way, which is more like "da"), and when I sat down with him in his rocker and told him it was all pretend and he was safe with mama and daddy in the next room, he closed his eyes and fell asleep quickly.

How lucky he was to feel the cozy security of his mother's arms as he drifted off to sleep.
How lucky I was to be those arms.

To become a mother is to have these moments -- all the time -- where you feel like you finally understand the meaning of life.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Who Invited Her?

Okay, so to update you, I was so spectacularly not pregnant this cycle that I got my period on the first day of our vacation to Maine last week.

And in case you're yearning for details, while last month's was super brief and easy, like Aunt Flo just decided to stop over for tea and didn't want to impose, this time she was obviously in the mood to put her feet up on my coffee table and have a good long chat. It was like old school awful -- I even had cramps, and if I could have asked for a hall pass to go lie down in the nurse's office with a hot water bottle, I would have. All in all, I was a mess.

When you only go to the beach once a year, this is all really. Freaking. Annoying.

So basically? I feel sort of nostalgic for the days when AF only showed up under the influence of synthetic hormones. Especially since I'm not getting the feeling that having a regular cycle is going to produce the intended result.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Old College Try

Several weeks ago, I was talking to a friend, one who's been on this boat, bought the t-shirt and lived to tell about it. I was telling her that my cycles have been more or less regular since delivering H (and the post-baby surgeries to correct my banged-up uterus), and that we were "trying" for #2 but I wasn't quite sure about ovulation. That I had tried to use an OPK one month but I got tired of peeing on sticks and stopped doing it before I ever got a positive.

She sort of looked at me sideways. I think she saw right through it. She asked me: Didn't I owe it to myself to really try? Didn't I have as good a chance as anyone else? And even though really trying might bring disappointment, wasn't a chance of success worth that gamble?

I consider myself a pretty self-aware person. I exposed my every emotion in a raw and real way, put everything out there on the Internet, as I worked on baby #1. It didn't exactly take Freud to figure this out but I really didn't see it before this conversation: I was afraid to give it a real try. Afraid of going all in. Afraid I was pushing my luck. Afraid of what it would mean to hope again. Afraid I couldn't stay detached if I allowed myself to hope. And afraid of feeling foolish if that hope was ultimately in vain.

Afraid, afraid, afraid.

There are times when fear is unavoidable, and there are times when it just isn't practical. In this case it's both, and I need to feel the fear and do it anyway. Because as in H's much-loved book about the family bear hunt, there's no way around this one but through it. There's no way to try for a baby except to really try, and that will bring both possibility and the possibility of disappointment.

Having recognized all of the above and realizing that my RE appointment at the end of August is nearing steadily, I bought myself an OPK early this month and peed dutifully, every day, beginning on day 12. On the evening of day 16 I got a positive result. This is good, because as we all know you can still get your period without ovulation, even though I went for months without one before H so I figured the presence of a regular one was a good sign.

Anyway, we -- um -- timed everything accordingly, so this month I would say was the first where I could say a genuine, full-hearted attempt was made. I've seen that some of you have had positive HPTs starting 9 DPO so I tested yesterday (negative). So I guess there's still a possibility this month, though I'm certainly not putting any money down on it.

How am I feeling? A good question to ask. I liked to think I was above the whole "thing" this time -- the whole getting swept away by it thing. I am learning that the reality is it's impossible to want another baby, try for one and have a decent chance at it, and then not be at least slightly disappointed to see a single pink line. I want to believe in the possibility of this, believe that the whole concept of natural reproduction can be redeemed by the way this one plays out for me.

I would love it if this would work, but have promised myself not to dwell on it if it doesn't. Because I've got a napping toddler upstairs, living proof that there's hope beyond the old college try.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A Change Will Do You Good?

I'm having an odd existential moment that reminds me, not in an entirely pleasant fashion, of my college years. Having just turned 35 on Saturday, you'd think this would be welcome, but in the end, the thing that's supposed to be so nice about 35 is that you can finally unload all the angst. So, not really.

But before I go on, I just need to tell you the song that's going through my head, because of course when you're having an angsty moment, you need a soundtrack from those eight years of high school and college. The song is "I'm trying to tell you something about my life, maybe give me insight between black and white...the best thing you've ever done for me is to help me take my life less's only life after all. (Yeah.)." Name that tune! Maybe now it will stop playing over and over, although to be fair, if you're going to have a song on mental repeat that's not a horrible one to have.

Anyway, when last I whined to the Internet, I was trying to sell our house and thought THAT was the stressful part.

The house sold. I was wrong.

The stressful part is actually trying to figure out where the hell to live when you have a child whose entire future seems to hang in the balance of that decision. Where will he get the best education? Where will he find really good friends? Where will he be happy?

So basically, when faced with the above questions, one option is to totally shut down and not make the decision at all, which is essentially what we've done. We're in temporary housing for the summer, ostensibly while we figure out where to live and actually buy a house, but for now, it seems, to buy us time to agonize about it some more. We're really good at that.

Meanwhile, one of our cats, who was adopted just a month after we got married nearly 11 years ago, died on July 4. Losing a pet absolutely sucks. It feels horrible and sad and helpless and is strange to mourn. There's really nothing else to say about that other than that it's contributing to all the change that is making me so angsty.

My husband's job is sort of in a weird time and place since his company was bought by a major, household-name company. His group seems to be coming unraveled and we just don't know what that means for his future there. Another possible change.

Oh, and I've got baby #2 on the brain. Not anywhere near in the same way that baby #1 was on the brain, but it's there. I'm 35 now officially, and I get that people have babies much older than that, but as established before, we're already dealing with a known fertility issue. So I've been trying to figure out my cycle (which continues to be regular, miracle of miracles) and really give it a serious try (more on this later) before we meet with my doctor in late August.

And last but not least, there's H. He changes every. Single. Day. Another word, a new awareness of something. A whole new way to interact with him, really talking to him and having him listen and communicate back. At 17 months he really feels like a little person now, and it's thrilling and scary and joyful and sad all at once.

So all this change is adding up to major anxiety, because unlike most evolved humans I am terrible at dealing with it, even though my easily bored mind would seem to welcome it. That's why I've been a little MIA, a little paralyzed by all these things I need to process and decisions I need to make and therefore a little driven to hibernate and try to figure it all out.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Guts and Guile

Yeah, so, things could be better over here.

Honestly, it just feels like one thing after another lately. I can't seem to catch even the smallest break. It makes me a little bit paranoid, makes me begin to suspect some universal plot to keep me from getting too comfortable. I'm reading a memoir right now in which the author suggests that we all have a certain number of allotted days in which everything is fine, no problems to report, all is hunky and dory until the next consuming problem comes our way. And, although what I do have on my plate right now is nowhere near a "crisis" in the true sense that, say, people living in the aftermath of a major earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown are dealing with, I sort of long for a day, hopefully in the not-distant future, when I can get a breather.

Basically, I've discovered that in the scheme of things I have going on -- taking care of a toddler, freelancing and just generally keeping up with the business of life -- selling my house is just one thing too many. Now yes, it would help if we weren't listing the house ourselves, if we had an agent to help us with some of the dirty work, but that would also require funds we don't have since this house, purchased in an up market and being sold in a down, was the worst real estate investment ever.

Anyway, we were thrilled to have a contract on the house after just two weeks on the market, and all was going along fine until the most anal home inspector in the history of this planet arrived last Saturday to ruin our lives. He basically told them that our house was about to burn down due to two circuits of old wiring (which we've since learned can be removed for a minimal fee), that our garage needs to be rebuilt, and that we need a new furnace and hot water heater. So they came back to us and asked for $35k (not insignificant in this particular real estate deal) so they could have all of those things. If anyone finds the kind of real estate deal where you pay for an old house but get a bunch of gifts from the sellers that result in a virtual new house handed to you, please let me know. In the meantime, these first-time home buyers will continue to search in vain for their dream-world house with unicorns and fairies dancing in the backyard.

Still, I feel some regret, because I'm not sure I handled the negotiation as well as I could. I can be really unrelenting in a negotiation that involves something personal for me, and I fear I came on too strong out of the gate in light of their obviously unrealistic request. But truthfully the agent (theirs, whom we would still be the ones to pay) did nothing to filter her buyers' request, educate them on why it was outrageous or keep the deal moving along. So I'm pretty sure these people would have tortured us until the deal was done -- and maybe even after.

We are so ready to move on, and I keep thinking back to what went through my mind as we trying to have H -- that we only needed one (in that case, one good egg), that you think it will never happen and then suddenly it does, etc. I'm trying to remember that just because it feels like you're stuck in limbo doesn't mean getting unstuck isn't right around the corner.

On top of all of that, I am still recovering mentally from a really awful incident with my mother. At some point I will probably bore you with all of the sordid details, but for now, suffice it to say that until she learns to respect the boundaries I can rightfully set as an adult, I can no longer carry on the facade of a relationship with her. I made this clear when responding to the half-assed, insincere, blame-the-victim apology she emailed to me last weekend.

Add to that the fact that my foot remains broken (since last July), and I just feel a little downtrodden.

Overall, what I really need to do is stop whining and focus on all that is good. I am healthy. H is healthy. Hubby is healthy. I am not running to the bathroom 10 times a day. What more could I need?

I need to grit my teeth and get through this house-sale thing with more, in the immortal words of the late, beloved Elizabeth Taylor, guts and guile. I've used them before; I can use them again.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

On Trying Again

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." -Joan Didion

This was supposed to be a blog about having a baby. About parenting a little boy that arrived here on earth only after so much sweaty, teary-eyed, wing-and-a-prayer effort. But what I've discovered is that infertility remains inextricably part of my experience as a parent, because it's part of who H is -- the daily gratitude I feel for him is also a reminder of every difficult moment conquered to get to him -- and because of the future. Because unlike most parents milling around suburbia, as I say goodbye to each stage, as I put away baby toys and tiny infant clothes, I know I could be slowly moving out of this time and place of parenting a small child. Could be leaving behind the very thing I've wanted since my time began. I may not get to linger here like the others. May not get to give those maternity clothes another spin.

I look at H these days and see a boy. His cheeks still have a little bit of puffy baby to them, but he is taller, sturdier, more sure of himself. He brought a book over to me this morning, and when I asked him if he wanted me to read it to him, he nodded. It was the first time I felt like we had a real conversation. I feel like we've rounded the bend into the second year and I'm gripping the edges of his babyhood for dear life, mentally willing us back to the fall, when toddlerville still seemed so abstract.

Don't get me wrong: I love this place, too. It keeps getting better and better, and I continue to declare each new month "my favorite stage." But I looked at some pictures of H as a newborn last night, and I can't even remember what it felt like to hold him when he was so small. It was like looking at someone else entirely. I don't know how to be better about capturing these moments. I don't know how to file them away in some safe area of my subconscious, where I can find them again and dust them off on some gray day when all of this is really behind me.

Having a second child is a kind of betrayal, to my mind. A first baby remains a baby as long as he is the only one in the house. We tell ourselves we're having another to give the first one a playmate, but really where the child is concerned, we know he would rather be the only one with reign over the toys in the house. Really, it's about giving him a family that will be here long after we've moved on -- about giving him the kind of person who will know exactly what he means when he says, Remember how mom and dad used to... and he won't even have to finish. And really, if you keep searching, more than anything it's about keeping your house filled with sweet baby laughter for as long as possible. It's about wanting to relive baby #1's babyhood, but this time in a more deliberate, less uptight, more enlightened way.

For me, and for all of us who had to work harder than is fair to get our first babies, that drive for a second may be an unfortunate biological wire crossing -- an innate desire gone wrong. I may, in the end, need to find something else to do with my time and energy for this. But I have to try. And, with 35 looming and eggs that can't afford to be any wonkier, that has to be now. I have to push toward it despite the voice asking for more time, reminding me of all that was so complicated about my last pregnancy. I have to tell myself that this one will be different. I have to trick myself into believing that, if it works again, it will be 9.5 months of pickles-and-ice-cream bliss. That I will believe in it this time, I will relish it, I will buy designer maternity jeans because they will not be a waste of money. I will have preggie pedis and have my bump placed on record by a professional photographer. I will be active until my due date. And I can have a VBAC! A two-hour delivery! No traumatic birth experience to cry about this time!

This is what I tell myself. Because I have to try.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Are You There, G-d? It's Me, Egg

I'm having an 8th-grade health class moment. Bear with me.

You all know far too much about my wonky cycle -- how, pre-H, it would never happen on its own. How it suddenly seemed to happen spontaneously after H hatched, and made natural conception a possibility (although a far-fetched one, to my mind). Between January and February, I had a 32-day cycle, so this month I thought there was a very good chance it would be about the same.

So day 32 comes and goes and I have no AF but I do have serious cramping and, even though I know better, I think there is a possibility I could be pregnant. And what I think about that, friends, is shocking. Sit down. Ready? I am not elated. I am horrified.

Seriously. I look at my little H, still -- even though he is full on walking now, and trying to talk up a storm -- just a little baby. And I feel like I've committed an irreversible betrayal, that I've infringed upon his sweet, parental-attention absorbing innocence by possibly welcoming -- nay, creating -- an interloper that will seriously mess with his world, in which all things currently rise and set around him. And I am sort of sick about it.

So I POAS and I see the familiar one line of days past, and I feel relief. And then slight disappointment (I never said I was easily pleased, or that my feelings and thoughts made any sense). But more relief than anything.

I call the nurse at my RE's office the next day, to see what she thinks about no period. Could the surgery have somehow delayed it? Are we dealing with a possible return of scar tissue or PCOS? She says she is not sure but that women often see normal variation of up to a week from cycle to cycle. I realize how clueless I am about normal reproductive operation and hang up feeling ridiculous.

I wait and wait, and then finally AF arrives without fanfare on Monday. So we're talking about a 39-day cycle. Which is better than what I had before (months and months without anything at all), but still makes it a bit of a challenge to think about trying for a baby, although I'm sure my husband, like most husbands, would be very glad to make the attempt on CDs 14-26. Because strangely enough, I'm still interested in trying, even despite the feelings of ambivalence I had when I thought I might actually have gotten pregnant in the first month of trying (ha).

I am left with lots of questions, dear readers, like I'm in puberty, redux:

-How much variation do you see in your cycles?
-And especially for those with wonky ovulation who may have experience with OPKs, how much variation did that cause with your ovulation day?
-When should I use an OPK -- what days? Do they really work for someone with PCOS tendencies?
-Is this all totally pointless? We all know it is probably not going to work.

Please don't harm me for saying this, but IVF suddenly seems quite tidy, predictable and overall not that bad.

Friday, March 11, 2011


I am crazed. And not in a good way. Trying to juggle multiple work projects, keep H in one piece and now also sell our house after our first attempt last summer/early fall was a colossal fail. Since we bought at the height of a real estate market that has since collapsed, even in the tony suburb where our real estate agent pronounced poor behavior as "un-[name of my town]-like," as if we were the standard setters for all things of discriminating taste, we are trying to sell our house ourselves. Clearly this is not my first choice, but since we're already eating it on the price of our house, I refuse to dole out another $15k for the privilege of having someone schedule showing appointments for us.

Anyway, I went out shopping last night to pick up some things for a community service project sponsored by my town's parents group. They are putting together care packages for this amazing organization called Project Night Night. If you don't know this group, check them out. They came up with the brilliant idea of creating these Night Night Packages with a book, a blanket and a stuffed animal, for children that arrive at homeless shelters with no comfort objects to help them feel safe. I first read about them as pregnancy hormones surged through my veins, and need I even say that it brought tears to my eyes. So I was thrilled to learn my parents group was sponsoring the project and enthusiastically signed up to purchase several bags.

So I arrive at the checkout counter with a cart full of baby blankets and books, and an older, grandmotherly type is the checkout lady. I'm sort of relieved, because I'm about to be a little bit of a pain and I wouldn't want someone young and impatient having to deal with me. I'd told some friends in one of my play groups about the project, and they'd generously offered to contribute both items and money for the cause. Pay attention, because what follows is high finance. I had $50 in my wallet from friends for the bags and I wanted to make sure that money went right to the items. I wanted to pay for the rest with my store credit; I didn't want to end up paying for the whole thing with my credit and keeping the cash -- that just seemed weird.

So I handed the lady the cash first, and then wanted to pay for the balance with my credit. Easy enough, right? Except instead of then asking me for the balance, she started taking out money to give me change. I told her actually, I owe you, and then we both stopped and stared at each other. I began to doubt myself -- was I sure I owed her? -- because I was exhausted and could barely think myself. Remember my previous post about mom brain? Well, here is a case in point for you. It was like the blind leading the blind. She was really a sweet lady, but I'm afraid that one day they're going to count up the money in her register and find she's really off, and that will be the end of her retail career.

Anyway, while I was shopping, I really started thinking about these kids, the ones I was shopping for. I looked at blankets and pajamas that had those cutesy sayings that I personally loathe (Mom's Favorite All Star! Daddy's Little Slugger! Cutest Alarm Clock!) embroidered on them. I just thought, this kid might not have a mother. Might not ever know her. She might be a crack addict. Or she might be there, and loving, but plagued with serious problems that these lighthearted messages seemed almost to mock.

I looked at the books they had, particularly for the older kids, and wondered what content would be appropriate. Would it be a good idea, for example, to give a homeless child a book about some kid who has a really lovely home and parents who dote on him 24/7 and has some silly little problem at school? Would that serve as healthy escapism or bring into sharp relief that child's own, far more serious, problems in comparison?

I stood in the store staring at these things and became profoundly sad for these kids. The simple kindness of these bags, the small gesture that might bring some modicum of comfort to a child in distress, touched me but also broke my heart a little bit.

I mean, there but for the grace of God. What separates us from these families? Was it just a few bad financial decisions that spiraled out of control? Wrong place at the wrong time?

On these crazy days, when it's hard to see anything but what I need to accomplish next to finish a project, get us in a new house and keep H on developmental track, this was just a really helpful reminder to stop and look around. And really see.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mom Brain

I may have mentioned this before. In fact, I may have written this exact post already. As I'm about to explain, I have a hard time remembering and keeping details straight these days. Anyway, if this post sounds familiar to you, feel free to close your browser now. Or stick around and suffer through the encore. Your choice.

Before I had a baby, I thought that women who complained about not having time for anything because they had kids were full of, forgive my French, le shit. I thought, how is it possible that I work 45-50 hours a week, participate in a number of extracurricular activities and still keep my ducks in a row -- but because they have kids, it somehow made them busier and their minds more taxed? The whole "pregnancy brain" and "mom brain" thing drove me batty. Especially if the woman in question was a stay-at-home mom.

(The fact that I was also going through infertility and wanted to scream anytime I heard a mother remotely complain about the stress of life with kids may or may not have had something to do with this. But let's just say for the sake of argument that this is an irritating principle to anyone without children.)

Okay, so that was before. And then I got pregnant. And then I had a baby.

The pregnancy wasn't so bad, though I was totally consumed with get this kid out alive, please and had little attention span for anything unrelated to that topic. Then he came out alive and, though a relatively easy baby, he kept us up all hours as newborn babies are wont to do. And my brain cells slowly began leaving for Bora Bora.

I'm sleeping these days, so I'm not sure what my excuse is anymore, but here is what's happened to me: I lose things. Gloves, baby shoes, important papers. Baby nail clippers. I search frantically for such things and then sometimes find them, inexplicably tucked in drawers that make no sense. I "lose" my iPhone at least once a day.

I forget words. They are on the tip of my tongue, but I can't quite bring them home. I'm not talking about fancy words, either. Words for everyday objects. I really have to concentrate to finish a sentence sometimes.

I lose track of my schedule. Some days, I wake up and feel certain that I'm supposed to be somewhere, but I don't know where that is. My calendar, when I can find it (I'm still using a paper planner and dare anyone to try to convince me I should move to an electronic one. I will never give up my paper planner, and until the last real book disappears from this earth I will never use a Kindle.), is not helpful. So far nothing catastrophic has happened but I'm just waiting for the day when a client, H's doctor or an old friend calls me and asks me why on earth I'm not at their meeting/appointment/dinner.

I feel like a granny, or just a really ditzy person. Couple all of the above with the fact that I am no longer reading a national newspaper on a regular basis and I definitely feel a lot dumber these days. The particular angst of all of this has me dreaming my recurring bad dream, the one I've had since college, where it's the end of the semester and I realize I haven't gone to any of the meetings or done the reading for one of my classes, and the final paper is due the next day. I need some serious professional help.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? And do you think it is permanent? I used to be pretty together. I worked with CEOs of household-name companies. This is kind of hard to believe when these days I can't even keep track of a notebook or put something in the mail on time.

It's official: I have become one of those people. I have the thing I thought they made up. I have mom brain.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mother Lode

I can be sensitive. Impatient. I am often prone to hyperbole. Sometimes I jump to conclusions and become unnecessarily defensive. So tell me if I'm off my rocker here.

Today I took H to our class at a local parenting center. The center that I walked into while pregnant and declared the Parenting Theme Park. It's a high-end baby gear store, and they also offer prenatal and mom-and-baby classes for overthinking parents. In truth I love this place and have been blissfully spending lots of time there since before H was born. The classes are great -- lots of fun activities for the babies and time for the moms to meet and share war stories. I've met a bunch of great women this way.

Anyway, today we walked in and the others were already sitting discussing naps, namely the consolidation of two naps to one -- when, how, etc. I got us settled and mostly listened to the conversation, since H and I aren't there yet. At the end, I offered up the fact that I'd done a sleep consult through this center (more on this another time) when we'd had transitional sleep issues in the past and had found it enormously helpful since an actual expert tailors a plan to your child's needs. The woman who'd brought up the topic in the first place with regard to her son looked at me squarely and said, defensively, "See, I don't really think that we have a problem." Okay, then.

Twenty minutes later, we had the kids at a water table the teacher had set up with sudsy water and bath toys. Another mother in the class watched as her son removed a full cup of water from said table, turned around and dumped it on my lap. And then said nothing. I gave her plenty of opportunity, too. I said, "Oh, gee, that was a lot of water on my lap." Not a peep.

People. Am I the insane one?

I don't know what it is, but becoming a mother does often, unfortunately, seem to bring out the crazy in people. Mainly what I see in these parts is an unfortunate testament to all those negative stereotype monikers floating out there: Sanctimommies. Martyr Mommies. Mompetition. It seems like all this choice-making to stay at home has created a new monster of competitive women with a lot of latent energy from their formerly driven career lives to now dedicate, solely and completely, to raising the perfect specimen. And to show how brilliant they are at mothering by demonstrating how everyone else fails to measure up.

Case in point: A woman I'll call Jane, from one of my mom & baby classes early on. I knew Jane was trouble from day one. It's sort of hard to describe how she slowly tortured us all with her nonstop oneupmanship and conversation-hogging blather. But oh, she bugged. Anyway, friends of mine have since run into her in random kid-centered venues. What she does when you see her "off-campus" is, she comes right up to you. Doesn't say hello. And simply says, "Is so-and-so walking/talking/reciting Shakespeare/playing Mozart yet?" and then proceeds to tell you how her little darling is.

Another case in point: A friend of mine recently met another mom in a social setting. They talked about a play date, given that their children were of similar age. But then crazy mom found out that my friend only has one child. Apparently she prefers to consort exclusively with moms who have kept pace with her output and have two children. So, no play date for you!

Okay, it's true, the vast majority of moms I've met have been wonderful women that are quite supportive and nonjudgmental. Maybe it's because I spent so much time and energy watching other women with babies, wanting what they had, that I zero in on this kind of BS and have such little tolerance for it. It annoys me (I am just figuring this out now while I write) because I feel it's distracting from the real mission. I don't want to play the game. I just want to keep my child healthy and try and enjoy the ride.

Motherhood is hard, sisters. It's exhausting and it can be hard to get measurable feedback on how you're doing from the person who really matters. So really, unless you're intentionally (or through lazy neglect) doing something harmful to your child, who am I to judge whether you're giving him the exact right proportion of meat to vegetable today?

I have no idea if any of this is coherent, but how 'bout that for a rant? I can't even blame hormones.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Another Holiday Down the Toilet

In the fine tradition of the past few months, I'm spending another holiday in the bathroom.

Not that we had any Valentine's Day plans anyway. So, why not?

Stomach bug and/or food poisoning has hit our house. Woke up at 3 a.m. Sunday morning to find husband in downstairs bathroom. Was actually annoyed (I know -- I'm not winning any wife of the year contest) that he was getting sick, since we had things to do! People to see! that day. Until I started feeling the nausea about an hour later. And then the diarrhea. And then the body aches and chills -- and then, oh, woe to me, I threw up, which is like the Worst. Possible. Thing that can ever happen to me. Still so sick today. Thank Gd for my parents, who came yesterday to pick up H for the night. Although I felt like the worst mother ever -- shouldn't I be able to overcome my own complaints for his sake? -- it was a lifesaver as neither of his parents was equipped to take care of anyone.

Meanwhile, H seems to be having "loose" GI action as well. It's confusing with him, because a) I'm pretty convinced that what husband and I have is food poisoning, since it's hard to think of what we ate on Saturday night without feeling the need to run to the toilet; and b) we just started him on milk last week, so I was aware that this might happen, especially since he does seem to have digestive issues when he has a large volume of yogurt and cheese.

The milk switch thing has been fairly rocky, and I'd love any helpful hints. Our pediatrician recommended switching to a cup (as in giving up the bottle completely) at the same time that we gave him the cow's milk (which we started last Tuesday). That was pretty much a non-starter. He'd drink a few sips, make a face and push it away. Even though he's been drinking water and formula from a cup for months now, and even though, we've since learned, he will take the milk in a bottle. Any negotiation tips on that front? And as far as the GI issues, my understanding is that they can come on several days after starting the milk (which they have), but usually resolve within 1-2 weeks. Should we just continue to watch it (as if we have any choice), especially given that we also possibly have a GI virus in the house?

Praying that we all are spending less time in the bathroom tomorrow, and that the next holiday (St. Patty's Day?) will please be GI-disturbance free.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My Ute Makeover

Hysteroscopy a resounding success. My ute is as good as new.

Can't type much now, because I'm still having a hard time stringing words together. Percocet + valium made me love everyone for most of the day. Now I'm just foggy and having a hard time keeping my eyes open. Thank Gd for husbands who aren't afraid of quality time with the little one.

More later.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ctrl + Alt + Delete on My Ute?

Aunt Flo arrived on H's birthday.

A 32-day cycle.


Before I started IF treatment, after I went off the Pill (which I was on since the age of 18 since they suspected PCOS), I once waited eight months for a period. And even then I had to medically induce one. So a 32-day cycle is unheard of. Could it be that in this case, I'm on the good side of the odds, I'm one of those stories you hear about pregnancy hitting the reset button on your reproductive system?

I'm not getting carried away or anything. Obviously. Even if my cycle is regular and I'm ovulating now, I still have the Asherman's to contend with. I scheduled the office hysteroscopy (she's going to try to cut out the remaining adhesions in the office with the help of my friends valium, percocet and cervical block. Night night.) for next Thursday. Stay tuned.

Anyway, getting my period was a relief, because I was starting to think I was developing major anger management issues. At a wine tasting party we went to last weekend, I wanted to rip some guy's head off for making an obnoxious comment. Just an old-fashioned case of PMS. Although, in all fairness to me, the comment was, "I know which bottle of wine here is most expensive, because I brought it."

In other news, my husband is back from his business trip (he was away this week, which was not ideal considering he missed H's official birthday -- not that I can complain about such things, since he is by far the main breadwinner these days) and we're going to my parents' house to celebrate H's birthday tomorrow. There will be cupcakes, party hats, balloons, presents. I even got him a t-shirt for the occasion. I can't wait to see my little boy smash into a cupcake. I'm sorry, but life doesn't get any better than that.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy Birthday, Baby

My sweet, sweet boy turns one tomorrow. The idea of this is kind of blowing my mind.

How is it possible that an entire year has passed since I lay in that hospital bed, blissed out with my squishy, warm, heavenly baby? I took one look at his perfectly innocent, sweet face (well, the first look that I really remember after I came out of my doped up c-section trauma) and realized that I knew both everything and nothing about this little being and how to take care of him. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at once.

Let's be real. I won't pretend baby poop doesn't stink. This first year hasn't been all mommy glow and baby bliss. Having a newborn is a grueling exercise in physical torture. I never knew you could feel fatigue in your bones like that. There are the whiny days, when the baby is just "off" and cranky, and you feel like calling the funny farm to see if they can send a car service for pickup. And I definitely think I have become a little bit dumber over the past year. I forget details, leave small objects in public places (two weeks ago I bought a pair of gloves at Target and lost them while doing errands the very next day) and am the least informed about world events as I've ever been.

But, oh. The joy. The heaven-on-earth that is your baby's laugh over a face you just made. The feeling of his warm head burrowed in the side of your neck -- the pride that you are the mother he needs you to be. Watching the milestones unfold before your eyes like a story you know has been told before, but is somehow full of new magic at that very moment. There have been many, many times throughout this year when I've looked around and thought that I must be getting away with something, I must have the best-kept secret, to have this be the way I'm spending my days.

Tonight, I feel gratitude. For the amazing doctors who helped me believe in the power of my dream of parenthood and deliver the medicine we needed to see it through. For the strength I somehow found, time and again, to keep hitting my head against the wall when nothing could guarantee me that it would end well. For all of my amazing blogger and IRL friends for cheering me on, and for never laughing at me when I asked stupid, rookie-mom questions. And most of all, for this delightful, miraculous, spirited child who has turned my life upside down in all the ways I'd hoped.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Birth Control for Dummies

Went for a follow-up appointment with my orthopedic doc yesterday. Can't remember if I've brought you all along for any of the craptastic ride, but I broke my foot in July while...drumroll, please...walking at the mall. Because I'm me, and this kind of stupid stuff happens to me.

Anyway, I broke my tibial sesamoid bone, one of two tiny, pea-sized bones under your big toe that, if I'm understanding it correctly, keep your big toe sort of anchored so it doesn't start veering off to the wrong side. Also? It is the worst bone in the body to break, because there's almost no blood flow to that area. I was in a boot for several months and finally got an orthotic (too sexy) in December, so at least I can now wear matching shoes, even if the insert only fits into my big shoes, like these.

So after initially being told by one surgeon in town that it would require surgery -- total removal of the bone in question -- I went in December for a consult with a new ortho who works with types like athletes and dancers and is at the top of his game. He said we could probably heal it with more time and the use of a bone growth stimulator, this ultrasound machine I hook my foot up to once or twice (if I'm being good) a day.

Yesterday, I went for a follow-up. The bad news is there's still a fracture, though it is markedly improved from my last x-ray. The good news is he thinks we're almost there and confirmed I won't need surgery. But what was really memorable was the exchange I had with the x-ray technician before she took the images.

She asked me if I could be pregnant. And hilarity ensued.

She asked specifically if there was "any way" I could be pregnant. Now I can be a pretty literal person, so when you ask me a question like that I'm going to answer it literally. I told her I could not rule it out 100%. She looked at me, serious and concerned. It probably didn't help that this doctor, who sees both adults and pediatric patients, is at the Children's hospital here, so they don't encounter this gray area in the realm of pregnancy and fertility area often.

Well then we can't do the x-ray, she said. I said I definitely didn't think I was. I explained that I had fertility problems and that the chances were like .000000001, but that I'd had a period at the beginning of the month so I couldn't say with full certainty that there was no chance at all, which, after all, was the question she had just asked me. Then I got philosophical: I said, isn't there always a chance? and she said, no, not if someone is on birth control pills.

It was a surreal, nuts-and-bolts, conception-101 type conversation that sort of creeped me out.

Ultimately, after she -- clearly irritated -- brought someone else in, we all decided that I would have the x-rays, they would just double cover my girl parts with the lead aprons, just in case. Which was fine with me, because we know I'm not preggers, people. I mean, I have not forgotten about the past several years. But seriously? If it were ever going to happen on its own, you know this would be the month, the month I had the foot x-rays, so I could spend the next 9.5 months imagining the two-headed baby that would emerge from my ute to keep H company as his sibling.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Snow Daze

More snow? Seriously? I grew up in New England and I have to say the whole old-man-winter thing never really got to me until the last couple of years. I am getting old for this. For boots and hats and coats and gloves and ice melt, shovels and snow plows. Add all the gear usually required to tote a baby anywhere, as a baseline, and my brain is about to explode.

I need a warm weather vacation. Going to do some research as soon as I finish typing.

Also, the wintery weather makes me a slug. All I want to do is sleep. I changed the sheets on my bed this morning, and as soon as I was done I could not resist the lure of that crispy, newly made bed while H had his nap. When H started cooing and half crying only 30 minutes later I silently prayed he'd fall back to sleep. No go.

There's no one I'd rather be trapped in the house with than my gleeful little rascal. But still -- being trapped in the house at all? Is a little crazy-making for me.

What are your housebound-by-snow-with-almost-toddler coping strategies?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Twelfth Month

So I'm afraid to say anything. Really afraid. I mean at that point, my superstitious mind warns, why not go grab a black cat and a ladder and open an umbrella inside. But let's just say I'm no longer on antibiotics and I'm not in the bathroom all day long, either. I would say things are still sorting themselves out in there, but overall I'm better. Whew. Big whew.

In other news, I learned last week that my first cousin (dads are brothers), who is also H's Godmother, has been diagnosed with PCOS, which I find interesting. I guess it doesn't surprise me to think that there may be a genetic component to it. She's hopped on the wagon with Clomid, which I think of sort of as the training bra of IF treatment. I mean, how wonderful it would be if this is it for her, if all she has to do is a couple of rounds of pill popping and hot flashing. But if not, if she's in for more, I am so happy that she has me. She'll have someone to call who's already been down the road. She has a Godson who is living proof that this works. I told her she is going to have a baby, there's no doubt in my mind, it's just a question of how painful and messy it's going to be on the way there. She's going to be a wonderful mother, and I hope it happens soon for her and for the other friends I have in the IF trenches right now. They all deserve the crazy joy of parenthood.

Meanwhile, just trying to stay busy and get out of the house every day despite the massive amounts of snow we have here in the northeast. I finally found H two coats that fit under the straps of his car seat (taking the coat on and off in the car in order to fit him in the seat was driving me seriously bonkers), including this one from LL Bean (I got him the carbon/grass color). Those who know me IRL know that I have a serious coat problem, as in I can't have too many of them, and now it seems I'm applying this to H as well. Not buying a bulky coat for a baby is just one of many lessons this parent learned too late. If anyone has found soft, waterproof boots that work in the snow for a baby H's age, do tell. I ordered a pair last week but they were way too big.

I'm also planning H's first birthday party which, incredibly, is just two weeks away. I don't have the space for a huge shindig so we're just having some family over for snacks and cake, including a smash cake for H. I can't wait to see his face.

I think this has been the most boring post ever, but I just wanted to say I'm still here, I'm seemingly healthy and just enjoying this last month of H's first, amazing year.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Deep & Possibly Incoherent Thoughts

I've really been beside myself about this c-diff thing. As in welcome-to-the-bell-jar depressed.

However. H is now 11 months old. One month left in his first year. And I'll be damned if I'm going to miss this last month because I'm too busy hang wringing and boo-hooing over some bacteria.

It's sad enough watching this first year come to an end. I mean I love watching H grow. I wouldn't trade this opportunity to watch his little self unfold, see his soul emerge. And I look forward to so much -- hearing his little voice talking, watching him walk and run. But it's sad too. I'm mourning the loss of the stages we're leaving behind. The real baby stuff.

Anyway, I'm committed to really trying to be in the moment these next few weeks -- to take snapshots of H at this truly wonderful stage rather than dwell on what we're leaving behind. And hopefully, hopefully, this infection is behind me too.

On another note, talked to my RE today. She'd asked me to check in when I got my period and is very encouraged by how normal it was, since that indicates healthy lining. She threw out the idea of trying to remove the remaining adhesions in the office versus the operating room. I love this idea. She'll give me a cervical block, some valium and some percocet. Sounds pretty fun to me. I mean, not fun as in you'd sign up for it over a day at the spa, but possibly the lesser of two evils.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Clean Slate

Okay, 2011. Bring it.

Woke up this morning, discovered blood. Freaked. Realized was my period. And (if this isn't oversharing, I don't know what is but here goes) things "proceeded" down there more normally than they've been in a month. So all seems to be well with my bodily functions today and I'm taking it as a very good sign that my body somehow knew to deliver a period despite my presumed continued PCOS as well as the extreme stress I've been under.

What a year 2010 was. The year of my baby's birth. A baby I'd come to think might never exist. So that alone cancels out any negatives, of course. Just looking at the year through the lens of new parenthood, it was an exhilarating, terrifying, shocking, joyful ride. I mean, yes, when you have a newborn you're totally flipped out, and I have to say that as Brian Williams did his news year in review last night I didn't even remember half of what he referenced as actually happening. But there are so many moments that I do remember, and they're the kind that stay with you for a very, very long time.

Of course some really crappy things happened to us too. Because the thing is, even when you get what you've been chasing after, even when you have a baby and are supposed to be in a constant state of bliss, life around you doesn't stop moving on. So you get the same roll-of-the-dice odds that something crappy might happen. Like I broke my foot in July and am still wearing a boot today. My husband returned from Japan with a case of campylobacter food poisoning that required his hospitalization. We couldn't sell our house and had to take it off the market. And now this very annoying GI infection. Oh, and my ute was broken by my c-section and requires a second surgery. Not to minimize my own or others' IF-related experiences, but I almost forgot about that one -- it feels like the least of my concerns at the moment.

Anyway. Auld Lang Syne and all that. To the new year. A fresh start. To more good than bad over the next 12 months.

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