Thursday, December 31, 2009
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Welcome to the Christmas edition of getting to know your friends. Okay, here's what you're supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!! Just copy this entire post. Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then post this on your blog.
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? I prefer wrapping paper. Last year I tried to use catalogs as a way to reuse the paper, but this year I have mostly big gifts. I thought about using newspaper and nice ribbon, but didn't do that.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial. We keep it up a long time.
3. When do you put up the tree? As soon as possible after Thanksgiving (but never before)
4. When do you take the tree down? It stays up until January 6 (the Epiphany)
5. Do you like eggnog? No
6. Favorite gift received as a child? A cabbage patch kid doll
7. Hardest person to buy for? My ILs. They buy everything they want and don't like junk.
8. Easiest person to buy for? My hubby. We exchange lists of what we want.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, I try to have reminders of the real reason for Christmas. We also have an advent wreath
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail
11. Worst Christmas ever? My younger sister was born on Christmas day. Although she is great and I love her, when you are 6 and don't get to open presents on Christmas morning because your dad is at the hospital with your stepmom and you have to spend the day with your stepmom's dad who you don't know all that well, it does not make for happy memories from that day.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie(s)? I'm easy to please here. I'll enjoy almost everything. DH loves Rudolph and movies with that similar feel.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Sometime in the fall I'll start seeing things I think people will like and buy it then.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? No
15 .Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? cookies!
16. Lights on the tree? Oh yes. DH is very particular about his lights. We traveled through 3 states to find the perfect lights for him the first year we were married. Two years later they had them in every Target.
17. Favorite Christmas song? Winter Wonderland and Little Drummer Boy
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? This is our first Christmas staying at home since we both moved out for college. Usually we travel either to his parents or my mom's. This year is our year to spend with his parents and they just moved close to us.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? No
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Both. It's nonstop presents in our family. Presents with his parents Christmas Eve. With each other Christmas morning. With my sister and her family later Christmas day.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? So much to do and so little time
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? Most of my ornaments have special meaning. So hard to choose.
24. Favorite for Christmas dinner? Crab.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? a new camera
Now it's your turn. If you play, please leave me the link so I can read your answers.
I have much to do to get ready for the holiday, plus I want to spend all this time with my family when we can all be together. So I'll be offline for most of the next few days. Merry Christmas to everyone!
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
I think we made over 300 cookies/treats. I made about 3 dozen ginger-toffee cookies (one of our faves), 2 dozen chocolate-espresso snowcaps, 6 dozen chocolate biscotti, 2 dozen coconut cookies, 36 chocolate peanut butter squares, 4 dozen cane cane cookies (with peppermint extract), and around 3 dozen shortbread cookies. We gives these out to our neighbors, coworkers, friends, etc.
I used to make these all in one day, but this year tried something new. I made a different type of dough each weeknight and then froze it. Saturday I did all the actual baking. I was still tired on Saturday, but also did finish up my shopping a few other things, so I think this plan worked out well.
Now onto to Christmas cards. My mom arrives on Thursday, so we are trying to get everything done by then so we can enjoy her visit.
Friday, December 11, 2009
It's about Christmas presents for my nieces and nephews and making sure we treat everyone equal (or at least that they feel they are treated equal). My youngest niece doesn't live in the area and is only 9 months, so I'm not really worried about her (but her present is going to be fantastic anyway). For my other 4, I'm worried that one niece will feel left out. She is getting a Hi.gh Sch.ool Musi.cal Wi.i game. She loves HSM and I'm sure will love this game. But her siblings are all getting physically very large items and so I'm worried that she will look at this puny little package and wonder what is up.
My oldest niece is getting one of those chairs you plug an ip.od into and listen to music and play video games. Normally this is relatively expensive, but we got a fantastic Bl,ack Fr.iday deal and so it cost what we planned to spend on each niece/nephew. The 2 and a 1/2 yo nephew is getting this thing he can ride on. My older nephew wants a ping pong table. I'm cutting a piece of wood to fit over their air hockey table and then giving him some paddles and a net to get a homemade ping pong table and still allow them to play air hockey. Again, not super expensive, but very large and will involve 3 packages to open.
To make it more complicated, we were offered 4 tickets to a professional football for our area team playing Christmas evening. The people who would most enjoy this are my BIL and older nephew, so we are going to take them. So my nephew is going to feel like he is making out like a bandit on Christmas.
One solution is to give some of the packages/tickets for my nephew as an early birthday present (his birthday is February). Another solution is to give my niece my old digital camera. She asked for one, although is a little too young for a digital camera, but since I'm getting a new one it wouldn't be a big deal to give her mine. But this would also just be an escalation of the present-giving and so is maybe not the best lesson to be teaching. A third solution is to give the ping pong paddles to my niece as a present. This would reinforce the message that they have to share and play together (although my sister and BIL are good at this already). A final solution is just to put everyone's name on everything, except for the tickets which only one of them can go to. Or maybe some combination of the above.
What do you think? Or am I over-thinking things?
On a more serious note, what my niece wants most for Christmas she is not going to get. She wants an American Girl doll that is made to look just like her. But apparently if you have black curly hair you are not really American and there is no option to get a doll that has hair like hers. There is actually only one option for any doll with black hair (which is basically their slave doll from the historical collection that is dressed in modern clothes). I find this horribly furthering the stereotype that all black people look the same.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Other news this weekend is that we decorated our house for Christmas. The picture of the front of the house doesn't look as nice on camera as in real life. But we think we are definitely the best on the block (which is not saying much on our block). One neighbor did kick it up a notch this year, though.
Here is a close-up of part of our front porch with our Rudolph cut-out. The funny part is that Rudolph is held in place by a wrench set b/c he tends to fall over in heavy wind and it was the heaviest, yet shortest thing we could put out there.
And here is our tree.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Then I went to church today. This is the season of Advent, a time of preparation and anticipation. Often people will compare Advent to expecting a child, which makes sense since it is about preparing for the birth of Christ. So there I am sitting in church, when our priest makes this connection. And then he called up all couples who are expecting a child for a special blessing. I'm sure you can all imagine my reaction to that. A million things went through my mind at once. I was upset that I had yet another reminder of this struggle. Angry with yet another extra attention paid to pregnant women. Wishing I could just disappear.
But as my mind (and stomach) started churning, he did something else. He invited any couple who wish they were expecting a child up for a blessing as well. If my thoughts were swirling before, now they were in overdrive. Was this meant for me? Is this some type of sign? Should I go up? Finally, some recognition of others in this expecting journey. Validation. Confusion. We are not "out" in our church. Would everyone expect some announcement after mass? What does DH want me to do? Would it be weird if I went up by myself? Do I look like an unwed mother?*
See, DH is not Catholic. He's currently going through RCIA, which is education for adults to join the church. The people going through this actually leave mass halfway through to talk more about the readings and learn about how the church interprets them. It's great that he is doing this, but since he left mass before this blessing, he was not with me at this moment. I had no way to know how he would feel if I went up there when I knew it would solicit comments afterwards. And he wasn't there for support. Three other couples went up and there I was by myself getting a blessing for expectant mothers.
And the comments definitely came. We have coffee and donuts in our church hall and I tried to find DH quickly to explain what happened. But he was late getting out of his group and ended up seeing some people in our small group first, who of course mentioned it right away. Even a couple we don't know, but recognized each other from church as we both ate brunch at the same place after mass today took that opportunity to introduce themselves to us. It was kinda "hey, I remember you as the single woman going up for a expectant mother blessing, we'll keep you in our prayers." It was nice of them, and they meant well, but still I felt like I had a big scarlet letter on. At least DH was with me this time, so they could see there is a man in my life.
So now we are out. I hope they don't continue to mention it and don't keep asking if we have an announcement.
The blessing was nice. Although I initially felt a jumble of emotions because of the unexpectedness of it, after I had a chance to talk about it with DH, I feel some peace now.
* I don't mean to criticize single mothers (my own raised me and my sister by herself) but obviously the Catholic Church has particular feelings about premarital sex.
Monday, November 30, 2009
I love Black Friday shopping. I know it is psycho, but I love it. My sisters and I left at 4 for Walmart. I ended leaving them there to head to Best Buy b/c Walmart was too crazy, no one knew what was going on and where the line was for electronics. Some people knew they were not in line but planned to rush the counter anyway at 5am. There was something in particular that I wanted and both Walmart and BB had a good deal. So I was able to buy it at BB with no hassle!
There is one woman at Walmart who is emblematic of why Black Friday is so insane. While I was eager to head to the stores early in the morning, I was willing to wait my place in line and treat other people with respect. As I was walking back down the parking lot to my car, I saw the woman in the car next to mine load up her trunk from the shopping cart. Then she left the cart directly behind my car! Not only did she not think to put the cart back in the corral area, she wasn't even considerate enough to put it outside the path of my car.
On the way down there, we drove one of my nieces, who is 7. She felt special b/c she got to ride with us and it was fun. I did try to teach her to crochet on the trip down, but she was not getting the hang of it. I hope I have more time to give her another lesson.
Another rude person story. We forgot to mail our credit card bill on time, so we decided that paying to mail it overnight would be better than paying the late fees. The post office was already closed when we got there so we stood in line to use the automated machine. One woman had a stack of Christmas cards to mail. Not a problem, I thought, she could buy a book of stamps and then put them on the envelopes while the next person used the machine. Except she was sending them international and we waited while she individually punched out postage for about 30 letters. At one point, the machine kicked her off, having reached a limit. She just started again without thinking of the line of people behind her.
My RE's office is in a center for women's health. Now I know women's health is a wide area and there are lots of reasons women could go there. But why does their postcard have to include a big picture of a pregnant woman?
We postponed IUI this cycle b/c ovulation would have coincided with our trip to a different city over Thanksgiving break. So of course, what do we see on almost every billboard in this city? Ads for a fertility clinic. If we had known, maybe we could have arranged to have the IUI done there.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
But there is always the tricky issue of how much to share. I want to be completely honest. This blog is many things, all of which require a great deal of openness and honesty. A way for me to express my feelings. A way to offer support to others going through this IF journey to know you are not alone. A way to get advice on what I should do. But I still have to wonder where to draw that line with sharing too much. It gets complicated now that I have a few people IRL reading this. And the added difficulty is that I am not on this journey alone. Sharing myself and my journey means I'm sharing someone else's too.
Not to mention that there are some things I don't even want to admit to myself. I don't even want to give this post a title for fear that I have name it.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Now I want to ask you for something else. I want to participate in Creme de la Creme and put my best post on the list. But I need your help figuring out what my best post is. So I want to ask my readers: what do you think is my best? Is there a particular post that drew you in and made you keep coming back?
If you don't know what Creme de la Creme is, you can find info here.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Also, as the Christmas season is getting closer and decorations are going up (not in our house as I believe in giving Thanksgiving its due, but you can't escape Christmas in stores), I remember how optimistic I was last Christmas. We trade off spending Christmas with each other's parents, so last year I knew we would be spending this year at home b/c his parents live nearby. This will be our first Christmas as adults where we wake up in our own bed. And I was so sure that it would be our first Christmas with a baby. I thought everything would be different this year.
Last night I went to my church's women's council meeting for the first time. I should have known to avoid it when I'm feeling down, but a friend has been encouraging me to go for a while. But as she was introducing me to people, the first question everyone asked was how many kids I had, or if my kids went to the parish school.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
This party was also a chance to see my MIL with my nieces and nephews again. More importantly for this post, my youngest nephew. I know that some people lavish their attention on a pet to make up for not being able to have a baby. Or lavish attention on nieces and nephews (my personal method). I'm starting to wonder if my MIL is thinking of my youngest nephew as the closest thing she may get to a grandchild.
See, DH is an only child. So if we don't have any kids, they don't have any grandkids. But my sister and her family live nearby all of us and we get together relatively often. The older nieces and nephew have had enough time with my mom to develop a close relationship with her. But not the youngest. He knows my ILs much better, just because he sees her more. And my MIL and FIL eat it up. Now they are even keeping a few small toys in their house for when he comes to visit.
Friday, November 13, 2009
So no clo.mid and no IUI for me this cycle. I'm still hoping there is a way I can get a good Christmas present in there.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
When I took clomid before on days 5-9, I ovulated between days 16-18. So that's what I'm trying to use to base my calculations. Our plan is to go for an ultrasound a few days before I'm expected to ovulate to see where the leading follicle is. If it's on the right, we will be set to go. If it's on the left, we have to decide if we still want to do the IUI. Since we are not quite sure if the left tube is blocked or not, we may decide to save money and just try on our own in that case.
The other day I was listening to NPR and they had a story about Sesame Street's anniversary today. I was just thinking "hey, cool, we have the same birthday" when my phone rang. My sister called and said "did you know you have the same birthday as Sesame Street?" How funny that we were listening to the same radio station at the same time. A lady is not supposed to reveal her age, but I will give you a clue. Sesame Street turned 9 when I was born.
Last year was supposed to have been a been bigger birthday (i.e., a nice round number), but this year feels so much harder to turn a year older.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
So each month I wonder, do I count as sick? Would it help if I was anointed with oil and blessed? Would everyone else in my church ask me how I was sick after mass if I went up? Would they criticize me and say that IF doesn't really count or is not serious enough?
Saturday, November 7, 2009
But according to what I read, the savings build over time as you get used to it and build up the store of coupons. Plus this week Kroger was tripling coupons and had some great deals on top of that. So I decided to try it again. It was like a comedy of errors. The strategy here is basically to stockpile coupons so you can stack a store coupon on top of a manufacturer coupon on top of the item being on sale and save big time. So I printed off coupons online, gathered all my other coupons, made up my shopping list of best deals, and went to the store.
First casualty: my reusable bags. I already have a cabinet full of plastic grocery bags and care about saving the environment so we have canvass bags we use. In my excitement to head out the door with my coupons, I forgot most of them.
Second casualty: all the people I kept bumping into or just generally being in their way. I swear I was the rudest person in the store as I was so engrossed in my coupons that I ignored all the people around me.
Somehow I made it through the store and bought everything I wanted to. I did get some great deals on things we buy all the time. I wasn't going to buy things we don't normally buy just to get a good deal on it, though. Still, I headed to the checkout confident that I was getting great deals on the goods, but unsure if this whole thing would work.
It did! The first total the checkout lady gave me was $63. That already included $21 in Kroger plus savings. Some of that I probably would have gotten anyway, but some I know was due to my diligent efforts to find what was on sale. Then I handed her my stack of coupons. My total went down to $46! I couldn't believe that this whole thing worked.
Except it didn't quite work all that smoothly. Two of the coupons I printed online didn't scan. So I had to go to the customer service area and wait another five minutes, but eventually I did get my $3 back (2 coupons to save .50 that were both tripled). And then in my excitement for saving so much, I threw all my bags into the trunk. Including the eggs. Oops.
DH was proud of me when I came home and told him about all the savings. But then pointed out what I see as the flaw of extreme couponing by one simple question. He said "this is great, but I don't see what there is to eat for dinner this week." See, this whole process depends on stockpiling food, which means it requires a lot of freezing food or buying non-perishable items. But the most expensive items we buy are perishable (mostly fresh fruit and vegetables). And I'm not willing to sacrifice the quality of the food I want to eat just because something else in on sale. For example, there is a local blogger who does extreme couponing in my area. So presumably we have access to the same local coupons and deals. She posted her weekly savings with pictures and details of all she bought. The only item she bought in the produce aisle was bananas. How can that be the only fresh produce you buy? And I noticed she scored great deals on this ground chuck. I saw it was a great deal and was tempted. But we buy only the leanest meats and I couldn't bring myself to buy it. This high fat ground chuck falls in the category of something I don't normally buy. Does this make me elitist? In some ways I'm impressed by all she does, but in other ways I can't see myself buying the items you need to buy to save the most money.
I guess it comes down to how much of a necessity this is. I remember one year I asked me mom what she wanted for Christmas. She said she thought I had more time than money (I was in grad school) and so what she wanted was me to convert her home movies to DVD. I had the technology to do that, but I looked at my dissertation, decided I actually had more money than time, and took her videos down to a company that did it for me. I see couponing as the same thing. Sure, there are ways I could save a whole bunch of money. But it does take time, energy, and some possible compromises. I think I will continue for a while just to see how I can balance all those factors.
Friday, November 6, 2009
So even though I did get all my questions answered and we have a plan, I still left my RE's office today feeling down. It didn't help that she had a resident with her to witness my meltdown. Here's the story.
We talked about whether to continue with more diagnostic tests or move to IUI. I am officially unexplained, although I have a couple of "iffy" issues. She thinks I might have a variant of PCOS even my hormone/insulin levels don't suggest that. DH had one low SA, but then his second was OK so she's not too concerned about that. My HSG showed my left tube was blocked, but she doesn't know why and is not even sure it is really blocked b/c she said about half the time the HSG shows it is blocked it is just a spasm or something (to which my DH replied, then why waste your time on that test? Good question). Anyways one tube is fine and so we should be good with that. The next step would be a lap to figure out what exactly is going on with the left tube and also to check for endo. But I don't have any other signs of endo so she doesn't think I have that and honestly she didn't seem that concerned about the left tube.
I did get the results from my progesterone test when I took femara and it was low-lower than when I ovulate on my own. So that drug is out for me. I also asked about my FSH level b/c that is one test she never did. She doesn't think it is necessary b/c it won't change treatment anyway.
So with her not thinking we need to do any more diagnostic at this point, we are moving on to IUI. That is what we wanted to do anyway. We are going to do IUI with clomid right now. And this is where I had another point of freaking out. I assumed there would be a cycle of tests or preparation or something so that the IUI cycle would actually not be for a while. But she's ready to go next cycle. So things are really speeding up.
One thing this RE said that rubbed me the wrong way. As our meeting was ending, I mentioned that I was nervous b/c it seemed like a big step and I don't like taking medication anyway for other things. Her response was that there is still a pretty good chance we could have a baby on our own but it would likely be a while and the treatment makes sure we can have one when we want. As if we might get over this whole baby thing as just a phase we went through. Maybe I should look into this other fertility clinic in my town. Basically the options for IUIs are her and one other clinic. I do think she is good as doctors go and when we were in the diagnosis phase, my insurance was better with her. But insurance won't cover the IUI regardless of who does it.
I think my hesitation is also due to my fears that it won't work. The planner that I am, I'm already thinking through the next several steps. DH and I both don't feel comfortable with IVF and the idea of having our embryos just hanging around. So right now our plan is that if IUI doesn't work, we will move on to adoption. But then this feels so final as well. What if it doesn't work? Will I be able to face our options then? As we get closer I already have had some different thoughts in my head about IVF. For example, would we think differently if we agree to eventually transfer all embryos? But then wonder I if these second thoughts are just my way to find a rationalization for something I'm not that comfortable with. I know there is a big difference between IUI and IVF both in terms of intensity of the experience and everything entailed. But still I lump them together. The funny thing is, I don't think my worries are that related to the real concern of multiples. I know DH is worried about that. I'm more focused on the fear of what if it doesn't work and what do we do then?
On another note, there is one reason I'm looking forward to this appointment. At our last appointment, she told me it would help if I lost weight, even if I lost 10 pounds. Well, I did that. Actually, I lost 15 pounds since then, but stress-related eating due to a busy period at work and Halloween candy put me back at a net of 11 pounds. I know other people have noticed. Let's hope my dr does as well.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
In happier news, today I had lunch with my only friend IRL who also struggles with IF. She gave birth a few months ago to a cute little boy after doing IVF. It was nice to hear how she dealt with things and what her experience was like. Especially when she mentioned her dark period. I went through one myself and even though now I feel like I'm doing OK, I have my moments (like last weekend).
In less happier news, after enjoying a nice lunch today and actually being productive at work, I checked the news and read about the shooting at Fort Hood. My brother is there right now as he prepares to head off to Afghanistan. Of course I started panicking. I thought I wouldn't have to worry about him until he left the country! Fortunately he is OK, although he was in the area where the shooting happened. But it is just a reminder of how much danger he will be in. Even when you think you are safe, you are not.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
I have a baby shower to go to today. I'm OK with going, but this was not a planned pregnancy and the father is not really present, so it is a reminder of how easy it is for some people. I just can't believe she chose to have the baby shower on Halloween. Who does that?
I do plan on leaving the shower relatively early so I can be home for the trick or treaters. We usually get a lot of people in this neighborhood. I'm starting a new tradition this year. OK, I stole this tradition from a house I saw in the town I went to college in. I'm going to take a picture of everyone that comes to trick or treat at our house. Next year, I'll do the same thing, but also put up a poster with pictures from this year. So people who come for multiple years will see how they grow over the years. The house where I saw this, they had about 15 years of posters and big group of people on their porch looking back on all the years.
I've wanted to do this the past couple years when we realized our neighborhood has a lot of kids. I've hesitated b/c while I think it is a great way to document and build community, it can also be kinda creepy to have someone take a picture of your kids. But after my group in church was talking this week about the importance of community, I thought that was the nudge I needed to get started on this.
Friday, October 23, 2009
I discovered the termites in our mulch while planting some seeds and bulbs, in hopes of having a beautiful house with great curb appeal in the spring when everything blooms. They put not one, but three of those in-ground tubes right where I planted the bulbs, as well as where I planted the seeds. First, I don't know why they had to put 3 in one place. But more to the point, why couldn't they put them slightly to the side so they would be behind existing bushes? There is another spot in our front yard where they put them behind a bush, so they are less noticeable.
I was so looking forward to my flowers. Oh well, I guess now I can just look forward to a termite-free house.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Now we've never tried it or even seen a place where we could try it, but my sister the Starbucks barista said this poo coffee is all the rage. I'm not exactly eager to try it, but what I do want to know is how this coffee was discovered. These types of discoveries always intrigue me. Who sees coffee beans in the fecal matter of some obscure animal and thinks "hmm, I bet that is some good coffee"?
What about you fellow bloggers? What discovery/invention always makes you wonder how it was discovered?
Sunday, October 18, 2009
I am also taking this opportunity to get rid of some packing popcorn and various bubble wrap. A lot of this is leftover from when we moved to this house 2 years ago and some we acquired from various packages. I have a hard time getting rid of boxes and packing supplies. I think it has to with how much I moved around throughout my life. I never want to get rid of boxes because before I know it, I'm moving again. But we definitely plan to stay in this house for a while, so I guess I can let go of some of these moving supplies.
Saturday my nephew had this robotics competition and we saw him use the robot and tried to watch him do the oral presentation, but that was closed to the audience. But we were there to give moral support. Even my IL's came, even though my nephew is from my side of the family. His team did well, although they didn't make it to the next round. But considering they were mostly 6th graders and the competition went up to 12th grade, they did pretty well.
We also went with my ILs to a home tour in the area. DH and I love home tours and open houses. Basically we love getting inside other people's homes and snooping around. This particular tour had a bunch of homes in our neighborhood that had always intrigued me. But then we went inside and found out there wasn't much there to be jealous of. This one house had this historic entry way with an elaborate staircase. But then you move into the living room and see a bed in the next room on the way to the kitchen. There were no doors separating the room, just a bed right in the middle of the room. And the house got weirder from there.
Today after church we went to an art show and then I spent the day working in the yard. I planted some more flowers and trimmed the front lawn. Then I tried out our new blower/vaccuum and love it! Our yard looks so much neater and I was able to pick up a whole bunch of leaves. But I still can't wait until our fall yardwork is done. I enjoyed doing our front yard, but now the leaves is just work. We were even talking about it and the type of leaves we have are not even the pretty leaves like maple leaves. They are small and just shrivel up and make the yard look ugly rather than something you want to pile up and jump in.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Anyway, I follow many political blogs. The past several days the local political blogosphere in my city has been filled with talk of adoption by same sex couples. There are various proposals to make it illegal. I am a big proponent of equality for same sex couples. My mother is gay and so having been raised by a lesbian and seeing the difference between my mother and her partner and my dad and stepmom, it makes me mad when people argue that as a rule one couple is better/healthier/more natural than the other. Or that one set of my parents would automatically raise me better. Sure, I've had some of the usual stepchild-stepparent tensions with my mom's partner (you know, a little jealousy with losing the "smartest person in the family" label). But compared with my actual stepmother locking me out of her house when I went to visit my dad, it kinda gives you a different perspective on what family composition is healthier.
But yesterday I got a little obsessed with a particular blog post on this topic. And I think it has to do with our IF. See, there are two parts to the argument opponents of same-sex couples adopting that make me particularly sensitive to how they might also apply to couples struggling with IF. One, if nature doesn't think you should parent, then maybe you should listen. And two, the whole thing is more about giving the adults the life they want and not what is best for kids. Let's take these in turn.
First, one very common argument against same-sex couples adopting is that it is not natural. If God doesn't think two men or two women should be parents, then why should anyone else? (I'm not going to get into the whole separation of church and state thing here b/c my point is more about whether these arguments apply to infertile couples in addition to same sex couples.) At one point, this particular blog (which I won't link to b/c I don't want to send people there) said that it is "profoundly obvious" that couples that can't reproduce naturally have no business being parents.
I'm a person of faith. While I don't believe that God is moving us around like pieces on a checkerboard and organizing everything in our lives, I do think that our lives take a certain shape because God is present. So this is a hard thing for me to think about. Is God trying to send us a message that maybe we shouldn't be parents? Are our attempts to get pregnant through technology just a way to ignore this message?
There are a lot of shades of gray in my husband's and my journey with IF. So you could make the argument that we can reproduce, it's just very unlikely we would do so naturally. But what about my friends who have no usable eggs? Or my friends with husbands who have zero sperm? The truth is, I'm not sure how much difference people see between a same sex couple that can't reproduce and a hetero sex couple that can't reproduce. I mean, if you compare a lesbian couple to a couple with azoospermia, their basic reproductive difficulty is the lack of sperm between the two of them. So why do we say that one is fit to parent and the other is not?
This is not just an academic argument. Luckily I have not experienced this personally, but I know many of my IF friends have had people say straight out that maybe they are just not meant to be parents or maybe they should just listen to the message that nature/God is sending them and focus on something other than parenthood. And if I'm honest with myself, I've thought that in the deepest part of my brain.
And this is where we get to the second argument against same sex couples adopting that I think is tied to IF. Is the whole endeavor just about attaining our vision of what we want in life and the children involved just playthings for us? As expressed by opponents of same sex couples adopting, this is about gay rights, not about what is best for the children. While I don't agree that same sex couples are by definition less fit to be parents (and so the "it's not best for the children" is a red herring), I do see some truth to this argument. I am after all thinking of doing IUI and/or adopting because I want to be a mother. I don't like to think too much about the negative aspects of IUI (such as what happens if there are too many babies and thus the consequences for their health). And when I think of adopting, I think of bringing home a cute little newborn and say how great it is that I'm helping a kid in need. I don't think about adopting a toddler or older or a kid with special needs who are truly the children in need of good homes.
So part of me wonders that my passion for defending same sex couples in their ability to adopt stems from my own insecurities about IF and what it means for me. Should I listen to the message that maybe I'm not meant to be a mother? If I don't (because truly I don't want to), am I putting my own wants ahead of what is best for children? Regardless of what you think about same sex couples adopting, how do you all work through these questions?
Monday, October 12, 2009
I was very happy that something I planted actually grew, but had to pull it up because it just didn't work in that area. We planted some new bushes by our porch and some tulips and daffodils. I'm optimistic those will do well where I planted them. It already looks much better by getting rid of the overgrown flowers and planting the bushes.
The other task I accomplished was getting rid of some overgrown weeds/shrubs/trees. I'm not even sure what to call them. They got so big they really were trees (some were reaching our roof. But I think they start out small and just grow quickly like weeds. These particular weeds formed the border between our house and our neighbor's house. At one point there might have been some decent shrubs there, but the weed trees took over. I spent a good bit of time on Sunday cutting them down and clearing them out. Not all the way, so there is still some divide between our houses, but this looks so much better. The funny part is that two other neighbors actually stopped as we were doing it and said how they had really grown way too much.
I learned that I actually do like working in the yard. It is good meditation time and you accomplish something. Now if only I can get the lawn to actually have grass in it.
Friday, October 9, 2009
I work for a very large company, and we are fortunate that we have 3 options. They have varying levels of premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance. If our medical expenses for next year are about the same as they were this year, then one option is much cheaper. The disadvantage of that plan, though, is that it has the highest out of pocket maximum, so in the worst case scenario, we would end up paying $2K more than the other plans. So we have to decide how we feel about that risk.
But here's where it gets even trickier. None of the plans pay for the treatment of IF, but they do pay for the diagnosis of it. Our expenses this year were exclusively for diagnosis (they all have the same prescription drug plan so I'm not including costs for cl.omid or fem.ara in figuring this out). But, assuming we are not successful this cycle, we are going to start getting more aggressive and will start IUI. So we will move from diagnosis to treatment as our major contributor to costs.
I can also get a health savings account where basically I can put some of my income in an account specifically for medical costs (and this is good for fertility treatments) without paying taxes on it. But this amount does not carry over at the end of the year, so if I don't use, I lose it. Since this account can be used for IUI and IVF, my first inclination is to put a lot of money in there and save on taxes. But assuming I'm not pregnant now, I hope to do one IUI cycle before the end of the year. And then of course we have no idea how many cycles we will need.
What would you guys do in this situation?
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
It's not that I'm McDonald's biggest fan (although they do have the best french fries). But the only time I can say I was truly impressed by a fast food restaurant was at a McDonald's in Paris. Actually this one was just a few blocks from the Louvre on the Champs-Elysees. This was not your normal McDonald's. First, the entrance was on the first floor, but the restaurant itself was on the second floor. There were greeters on the first floor pointing the way upstairs. But they had headsets and were not wearing the traditional uniform. And the stairs are like a steel cage. The whole thing felt more like you are entering a club.
The club feeling continued inside the restaurant. The menu had all the usual items (although in French), but rather than the tacky old menus, they had video screens that flashed different menu items and little mini videos. When you picked up your food and sat down, there were more video screens playing music videos. I was traveling along on that trip and sat at a counter with a row of stools. At each place was a set of headphones where you could listen to music while you ate. You would not believe this unless you saw it yourself.
Friday, October 2, 2009
Sorry for my extended absence, but my life has been crazy for the past month. I had two big deadlines come to a head at work at the same time. One deadline was Wednesday and one was Thursday. unlike most deadlines in my job, these were firm deadlines so missing them was not an option. And both involved a great deal of work, especially the second deadline. We were writing a grant proposal and while we've been working on it all summer, there were many people and many institutions involved and of course it's always hard to get people to actually deliver on different parts until right at the deadline.
I did have a few nice things happen during this push to make the deadline. While meeting with a grad student I work with, I mentioned that I was tired because I didn't sleep much the night before. The next day she brings in a set of CDs she uses to help fall asleep and said she knows what it is like to lie awake at night stressed. I was touched, but then had to explain the reason I wasn't sleeping is that I was up working at all hours of the night. But that was so sweet of her to think of me.
Now my deadlines have passed and my life is somewhat back to normal. I managed to get caught up on email I ignored for the past 2 weeks. I spent some time vegging out and am mostly relaxing this weekend.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
Eight years ago I left my house on a bright morning. I walked the 25 minutes to work and it seemed everything had changed. I entered my office and my officemate told me a plane hit one of the World Trade Center towers. Her sister works in the World Trade Center and she was trying to get a hold of her. We didn’t know what happened, but I saw the pictures online and wondered if it was an accident.
Soon a second plane hit the other tower and we knew it was no accident. Just outside my office was a conference area in our office with a wall of windows that looked down over 20th street, just blocks from the White House. My boss called someone he knew at the CIA and came over to tell us they are saying it was terrorism. A co-worker had an instant message from a friend saying there was fire at the Old Executive Office Building (where many there are many executive branch offices and even closer to us than the White House). Someone else was on a cell phone saying there was smoke in the national mall. Another instant message: the military was taking over Lafayette Park. I’m not sure if these rumors were actually true, but at the time all I knew was everywhere I turned there was more fire and bad news.
The only (somewhat) good news that arrived: my officemate talked to her parents and found out her sister was not in her office that day. While it gave us some comfort, there was not much comfort for the many who still have loved ones there.
Word arrived that a plane hit the Pentagon. It was across the river, but almost due south of us. Immediately we all went home. I walked the 25 minutes back to my house in a sea of people who couldn’t get on the metro or their bus and somehow had to make their way back home, in some cases all the way to Maryland. Getting on a bus wouldn’t have helped anyway, as the streets were packed and cars barely moved. A woman walking with me borrowed my cell phone. I walked up 16th Ave NW to my house; walking just a bit faster every time I remembered the White House was just below us at 16th and Pennsylvania.
I spent the rest of the day glued to my television and trying to call my family. My sister in New Jersey, just in case she or my brother in law had decided to go into NYC that day. My friend who was studying there. My family in California to let them know I was back home. Neither of my roommates were able to make it back to our house. But one of my roommate’s friend came by around noon. I had only met him once before. He couldn’t get his car out of the underground parking garage and our house was the only one he knew in walking distance.
We watched the devastation together that day. I didn’t really know him at the time, but I felt connected to him. Both my roommate and I have moved to new places now. I don’t see her often, let alone her friend. Yet I still think of him sometimes and wonder where he is on this day.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
A few years into our marriage, I was about to finish my Ph.D. and start a new job, we were moving to a new city that was closer to family, and my sister had just given birth to a new nephew and DH had his first chance to see a newborn. The confluence of these events made us move from thinking about children as an abstract concept to something that could actually be real in our lives. We decided that once we settled into our new city, we would start trying.
Now, we are both planners by nature. It seems like the IF community is filled with natural planners, which is funny since this process is a lesson in what can't be planned. But we are planners and once we settled in, our first move was to get out the calendar and figure out when it would be best to have a baby and then work backwards to see when we should start trying. We thought we had a real shot at getting pregnant our first time trying, or at least in the first few months, and even worried that it would happen too soon according to our preferred due date.
I started charting my cycle a few months before our "go" date. From that point on, I always had an expected due date in the back of my head. I bookmarked a due date predictor on my computer. I thought the distinction between a due date based on the first day of AF or based on ovulation was a big deal. Every month when AF came, I figured out a new due date, and after I ovulated, I figured it out again, secure in my knowledge that this due date was more accurate. It's not that I thought babies were always born on their due date; I considered the normal range of when babies came with a certain due date. I started hoping that the baby would come a little early to be here by Father's Day. Or even if the baby was a little late, I could still count it as a great birthday present. Over time, I saw my due date pushed back. March 30. April 29. June 9. As we moved past our preferred to time have a baby, I thought about how I would make accomodations for each new due date.
But none of those due dates ever came to fruition. Indeed, none of those cycles ever resulted in pregnancy so there was not even a reason to ever calculate a due date. But I did. Every month. Usually multiple times a month.
Slowly my attention to the due date waned. When AF came I just waited until I ovulated to figure out the new due date rather than calculate it twice. A few months later I didn't bother to find the due date until I had reason to hope that this time the due date would actually matter.
I realized yesterday that now I don't remember the last month I calculated a due date. I no longer feel the need to figure out each new due date. Worrying about how I will accommodate a maternity leave into my work schedule has taken a back seat to worrying about whether there will ever actually be a due date and maternity leave. The idea that this cycle would actually be successful seems like such a faraway proposition. I am starting to feel like I did in the early days of our marriage, where us having children and being parents is more of an abstract concept. It's not that I want to be a parent any less; I do very much so. But after all this expectation and constantly changing expectations, it feels less real.
So I decided to calculate a due date should we be successful this cycle, just for the heck of it. June 11. I don't want to hope that this date will actually have a big red circle around it on our calendar. But there it is.
Monday, September 7, 2009
It wasn't the park setting that made me think about it. We arrived early to have a picnic before the play started. Sure, there were plenty of pregnant women also enjoying the nice weather and a picnic. But that didn't bother me. I was determined to have a good evening.
The play started out well. It was the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged. And it was hilarious. By the end of the first act we were laughing very hard. The reminder of fertility treatments (Petruchio and Kate Plus 8 joke) just added to the fun. We spent the intermission reviewing the funniest segments and eagerly awaiting the second act. They were going to do an interpretation of Hamlet. They hit this part when Hamlet tells Orphelia to "get thee to a nunnery" and pull in an audience member for participation. To show her what to do they involve the whole audience. We have to act out various parts of her subconscious. One guy had to run back and forth. One part of the theater had to wave their hands in the air. Another part chanted something. A third group screamed the nunnery line.
We sat in the far left section of the theater. We were the last group to get our instructions for this participatory segment. And guess what what we had to do?
Yeah, that's right, we had to scream our biological clocks were ticking. And it all came back to me in that instant.
To be honest, I don't really feel my biological clock ticking all that much. I mean, I definitely wish we were parents by now and get sad when I remember how long we've been trying and how much longer of a road we likely have before us. But I'm only 30. I get frustrated that this process is taking so long for us, but not because I feel like we are quickly running out of time.
But sitting there, everyone around me yelling about their biological clocks, I started to wonder. Are we running out of time? Is this something I should be worried about?
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I work at a university. The semester started last week. Over the past several weeks we've received several notices (many emails, announcements in meetings, etc) about the importance of flexible attendance policies so sick students don't feel compelled to come to class and infect the rest of the class. I got a care package for the start of the year with some of the usual goodies (pens, dry erase markers, sticky notes, aspirin) and a bonus full-size bottle of scented hand sanitizer.
I also use our faculty/staff gym. For the past month, there has travel size containers of hand sanitizer available at the exit, not to mention the many hand sanitizer bottles placed around the gym itself.
This week they pushed it up a notch. Staff members have been stationed in the parking lot in the morning handing out hand sanitizers as we arrive. The dean's office dropped off several containers of sanitizer for various places in our office. Seriously, you can't turn around without seeing hand sanitizer.
But the most over the top thing they did was station people (doctors? med students?) at the entrance to the cafeteria (used mostly by undergrads, but staff can also go) to answer questions about the flu and remind people to isolate themselves if they feel sick. I know they are trying to contain the flu and there have already been some cases on our campus, but this is really getting out of hand now.
I guess we could take the approach my nephew and his class have taken. His 6th grade class also has hand sanitizer bottles all over it. The class has named them and given them personalities. Some of the hand sanitizers are dating each other. So funny!
Monday, August 31, 2009
So when I learned that she wrote a book about IF, I had to read it. And it did not disappoint. Orenstein is a feminist who, in addition to researching girls' schooling experiences, also has written about the difficulties professional women face in the work/life balance. Parts of her book deal with her conflicted feelings about both believing women should not have to make professional sacrifices while at the same time going to great lengths to conceive. She describes fighting for women's right to not be defined by their uterus while she is wondering if her dedication to her career meant she lost her chance to be a mother. I also identify with her frustration that she has been able to achieve everything else she set her mind to but pregnancy.
I would recommend this book to anyone in the ALI community. Through her journey, she experienced three miscarriages, several IVFs (including one with donor eggs), and went through the adoption process. I'm sure there is much we can all identify with.
I would not, however, recommend this book to those not in the ALI community as a way to gain insight into what we experience. Orenstein's journey, while touching on many different aspects of ALI, also conforms to the myth that if you just relax, not try so hard, or look into adoption, you'll get pregnant. Her several attempts with IVF all failed, but then she would get pregnant while on a break or while filling out adoption papers. I don't think this detracts from the story she has to tell, and she did not write it to highlight this fact, but I couldn't help but notice it.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Logically I know of course that my love for my nieces and nephews is not that same as the love my sisters have for them. But that does not diminish the joy they bring to my life. And they do bring real joy. Take just my oldest niece, for example. I remember being at work the day my sister started having labor pains. I called home every 20 minutes to see if it was time to drive to the hospital. I remember reading to her for the first time. I remember feeling lonely while studying abroad halfway across the world and hearing her say my name for the first time. It was a misprounounced toddlerized version of my name, but it still made my heart soar. And it brought even more joy when I learned she remembered those phone calls and started saying my name every time her mother was on the phone.
I laughed when she was three and clomped around in my way too big for her tennis shoes. We laughed together when she was 11 and gave me a pair of too-small-for-her-but-just-right-for-me tennis shoes. (yes, her mother has really big feet as well)
There are moments of sadness, though, when I think of my nieces and nephews. Not because of what they do, but because they remind me of the joy that children bring and that I wish dearly could be in our house all the time. I get sad when I think that any kids we do eventually have won't have same age cousins to play with. I enjoy seeing my youngest niece and hearing her updates, but I also remember the despair I felt when my little sister gave birth to her after we had our IF diagnosis.
My sister called me a few days ago and asked me to babysit her kids overnight. She works at Starbucks and when my BIL is out of town, it makes more sense for them to spend the night at our house rather than have her try to find a babysitter who is willing to show up at 4:30am so she can open the store. Usually that is fine, although this particular weekend I have a big event on Saturday and she also needed me to take my nephew to his soccer game so I wasn't sure the logistics would work out. We each needed to double check some times, so we agreed to talk again the next day. In the meantime, I started thinking of the fun I could have with the kids: playing games, making blueberry pancakes. When she called the next day and said it might too much work and she would find a babysitter, I was disappointed. I want to spend this time with them. I don't want to miss out on this fun. So we worked it out and the kids will be here in a few hours.
And then I read the blog about how nieces and nephews just don't cut it in terms of providing joy in our lives. That is something I won't accept.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
See, the thing is, this post was written on a blog that is supposedly aimed at working mothers. Obviously I don't know what it means to be a working mother. But I do know what it feels like to think about what motherhood means for my career. I was raised by a single mother who taught me that I can do anything I want. Having a fulfilling career is important to me and part of how I identify myself. I'm a researcher. I still want to be even after we finally become parents. Yes, I want to add "mother" to the list of ways I identify myself. Very much so. But I don't want that be the end of my identity.
This is what I find problematic about this "Moms at Work" blog. The blog purports to be about the "precarious tight-rope act of balancing our jobs and family." But going through the last several pages of posts, very few are about balancing jobs and family. They are almost all about parenting. I'm sure working mothers appreciate these thoughts on parenting. But aren't there a host of issues about this balancing act to talk about outside of how to take time off when you kid gets the swine flu? Shoot, I'm not even a mother and I've thought about these things. I've had senior women (and mothers) in my field advise me to remove my wedding ring on interviews so potential employers don't view me as someone who will jump ship in a maternity leave. They did so because they (and me) have heard others describe new mothers as "less productive" and not distinguished enough if they need 7 rather than 6 years to fulfill tenure requirements. I've heard my sister wonder if her dream of going back to college means it will hurt her ability to give her children what they need. I know women who gave up exciting promotions because they just found out they were pregnant. Or give up new jobs because they needed the health insurance for their new baby. And I couldn't help but notice that my mother, while always respected by her employer, never saw her career take off until after I was out of the house.
These are the struggles women experience trying to balance work and family. I'm sure there are many others, including some of the logistical challenges like snow days and sick children. But these concerns are not the focus of the blog. Instead they focus solely on being a mother. Many of the posts would be of just as much interest to stay at home mothers. And if this was a blog aimed generally at all mothers, that would be just fine.
But the implicit message sent by the totality of posts on this blog is that the important part of being a "working mother" is the "mother" part. Their status as workers or professionals are not really worth mentioning. And that's what bothered me so much about this particular post ranting about women who are child-free. There are many wonderful things about being a mother. And women without children may indeed be "missing" those joys in life. But there are sacrifices that mothers have to make (and let's be honest, even with husbands who take on equal parenting duties, the sacrifices still fall mostly on women). And I'm sure women who are child-free would say that mothers are "missing" out on something as well. We call them sacrifices for a reason after all.
Life is about trade-offs. We make decisions about what is right for us. Child-free women, working mothers, stay-at-home mothers. All have to weighs the joys and fulfillment of one lifestyle with what they may be missing from another lifestyle. I hope all women are able to achieve the balance they want. Some women don't have a choice and find themselves in a category where they feel what they are "missing" all too keenly. My heart goes out to them.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I don't live in Massachusetts and I've never met any of the Kennedy family. I'm not old enough to remember what the Kennedy brothers really meant other than how that period is now portrayed in history. I do think I had a glimpse of what it was like through working on Obama's campaign and the sense that we are headed in a new direction.
But I do have a personal connection to the Kennedy family. I'm actually distantly related to them. It's not like I have my own room in the Kennedy compound (or any of their money or influence). But when I was in middle school and asked my Nana about our family history, she filled me in on this relationship. Terminator 2 had just come out and I quickly worked out that Arnold's kids and I were 5th cousins (Arnold is married to one of Ted Kennedy's nieces). A few years later as I became interested in politics, the relationship to the former president and current senator took on more of a prominence as I tell this story now.
This picture is from the only time I was ever in the same room with Kennedy. He visited my university to campaign for John Kerry in 2004.