Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Working, working

Sorry I haven't updated. I've been super busy. I've been busy at work writing a proposal where our deadline is right around the corner. I've also been busy advocating for health care reform.

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

Throwing out the calendar

Before we got married, we both agreed that we wanted children eventually. But that eventually seemed very far away to both of us. The truth was that while we both wanted children in the abstract, neither of us were really emotionally ready to take that step. So we waited.

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

Orphelia's clock

It seems I can't escape thinking about IF, not even watching Shakespeare in the Park.

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

Swine flu

Swine flu panic is making a comeback.

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!
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