Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year, New Wishes

Normally, I take a little time around my birthday to take stock of what the last year has brought and what I want from the new year.

Here is what I hoped for last year and how things turned out:

That I step up my research efforts.
Yes and no. I am behind as usual, but I have a relatively light load next semester and I intend to finish two projects and start a new one that I am excited about.

That I make getting more sleep a priority.
Oh my goodness, no. I failed miserably. I think I will have to write an entire post about why I can't seem to get to bed at a decent hour and how my children think 6 a.m. (or earlier!) is a fine time to rise.

That my girls are healthy.
Yes, thank goodness. Very few illnesses this year other than the horrible flu last January.

That I find ways to deal with my children's tantrums without losing my cool.
I'm still working on this. I will say that life with E is getting better. I feel guilty for admitting this, but I really did not enjoy most of her three's which made the two's look like a day at Disney. Luckily, she seemed to turn a corner around her fourth birthday and is (generally) fun again.

That J and I continue to work on better communication.
It is hard to assess right now as I'm still smarting from the birthday thing last week.

That we have another healthy pregnancy.
We certainly tried, but between two miscarriages and upcoming spinal surgery, it seems highly unlikely.

That we are able to retire our debt and start saving beyond what we are putting into retirement.
Yes! Real progress here. We will be able to pay off our car in the next few months and will have no debt other than house debt after that. We have also been building our savings a bit and hope to ramp that up.

That I work on becoming better organized and home and at work.
In progress, but I'm improving.

That I take time to take care of myself.
Not so much.

That fewer stray hairs show up on my chin and jawline.
I've discovered the beauty of the epilator. I use it once or twice a week and I'm pleased with the results.

That my growing-out hair gets past the awkward stage quickly.
I found a great hair stylist who eased me through this. I now have a chin-length bob that I like.

That I see my friends more often.
Yes! I went away with my friends in November and I've been having lunch dates. I neglected friendships for far too long.

That I keep writing in this space.
Though I post infrequently, I'm still happy to be posting here.

Here are my wishes for 2009:

That I close out old projects so I can start a study of differences in social support systems between stay-at-home mothers and working mothers. (Note: I am not implying that mothers who aren't employed outside the home aren't working. I am just interested in variations in the social organization of support.)

That I make getting more sleep a priority. This is a huge problem and I think my health is suffering.

That my girls are healthy.

That I lose my patience less frequently when my children are trying.

That J and I continue to work on better communication.

That I am happy with the family I have and don't mourn the family I thought I might have.

That I work on becoming better organized and home and at work.

That I take time to take care of myself. I need to work on nutrition, sleep, and getting strong before my spinal surgery so I can have a quicker recovery.

That I continue to make time to see my friends.

That I keep writing in this space.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Now, I'm a forty something. That went by so fast.

J seems to have completely blown off my birthday. Except for a brief "happy birthday" this morning, there wasn't so much as a card for me today. No wonder little E recently told me that mommies don't have birthdays. I don't expect much, but damn.

This was the warmest Christmas Day in the books. 80 degrees. We took the girls to the beach this morning and let them go barefoot. Tomorrow we leave for four days to celebrate with the families. I'm not looking forward to it, but it seem unavoidable.

Hope you are having a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, super Kwanzaa, or festive Festivus or whatever you celebrate this time of year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I suppose I'll need to come up with a new title for this blog

But I'm still in my thirties for one more day (23 hours, anyway).

All in all, I must say that turning 40 beats not turning 40.

And I'm happier now in many ways than I was at 20 or 30.

I have tenure. I don't feel the need to please other people so much. I have two beautiful children. Relative financial stability. I can occasionally say "no" without feeling guilty.

The only thing I really miss from my 20s and 30s?

My perky butt and boobs.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A quick update

What a month. The delicate life-work balance I have worked to establish has been smashed to bits and I've desperately been careening from one responsibility here (student projects!) to one here (sick child) to one here (new program director) back to this one here (happy kids). I can't say that I'm doing anything well, but I'm doing it.

I have 20 more 30 page projects to grade by Wednesday, a final exam to grade Wednesday night, and course grades to compute on Thursday. I'm sure that something will go wrong and I will be finishing up ten minutes before the deadline Friday morning. Saturday I will be shaking hands at graduation and that gives me Sunday through Wednesday to get Christmas together, clean the house and pack for our visits with families.

Complicating all this is my increasingly bad disc problem. It has certainly affected my productivity. Three epidurals over two months have brought no discernible relief so surgery is in the cards. Today, the surgeon seems shocked that I want to wait until May when school is out, but if I had it just after New Year as he proposed, being able to function at work during the critical time of the new semester would be highly doubtful. Then there is the small problem that my girls share my break so I would be attempting to recover from heavy duty surgery while caring for the girls. Basically, unless I start having motor symptoms, I can just tough it out a few months (using a judicious amount of drugs, of course).

All of this brings me back to the trying to conceive issue. This is my last month trying. I'm in the two week wait and I actually think a negative next week (just in time for my birthday) will be OK given all else going on. In fact, I think we were idiots not to use birth control this time given the spinal issues. J has been receptive to getting a vasectomy and I hope to have him in for that shortly after New Year.

Ah. The medication I was given today finally seems to be making a difference. Bed time.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


When I was five, my father woke me to watch Nixon's resignation speech. "This is history," he told me. "I hope you always remember this sad moment in our country's history." And I have.

In a few minutes, I will wake E to watch Obama's speech. "This is history," I will tell her. "I hope you always remember this moment as one of pride and hope." And I believe she will.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Single Parent

J is out of town for four days. Four days! I know that there are many women out there who are used to doing the single parent thing, but I'm not one of them. As much as I gripe about the division of labor around here, having him gone makes it much more difficult to get anything done.

For instance, this morning as I was attempting to make waffles, Miss M decided that she needed to be held right then (and when I wouldn't pick her up, she clung to my legs so tightly that I couldn't take a step). Because I didn't have anyone to hand her off to or to delegate the waffle making duties to, I actually burned a batch. This infuriated E who proceeded to cry and moan, "that's not how daddy makes them." A glorious start to the day! Miss M is still clingy and E is in full-out whine mode. How long, I wonder, until I am in full-out wine mode?

Friday, October 17, 2008

What have I done?

About two weeks ago, I was approached about directing a somewhat neglected, but potentially important interdisciplinary program. To be polite, I said I would consider it. I checked in with former program directors and current faculty to get a sense of the program's current state, but I decided it would be way too much work to get the program back on track. Rather than turn the deans down with a slacker's "it is too big a job, too hard," I decided to present them with conditions that would be impossible for them to meet, especially in the current economic climate. I asked for a larger director's stipend for myself along with a six hour course release in order to create and supervise an internship program, a 100 percent increase in the operating budget, and extra money for faculty stipends. Today I met with the deans involved and outlined my conditions. I expected them to say, "Thanks, but we don't have the resources." Instead, they became very excited about internship possibilities, community programming and other initiatives I mentioned.

Just call me madame director.

What have I done? Why couldn't I have channeled my inner Miss M and said, "No! I don't want to do it! No, No, No!"?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My Biggest Worry

Last week, as all hell broke loose and the stock market imploded, I checked my retirement statement only to learn that a jar buried in my backyard would have been a slightly better place for the money I have invested in my retirement account for the past ten years. But that wasn't my biggest problem. Confirming that the muscle spasms, neck pain and headaches I have been experiencing since July are due to a ruptured disc and that the surgery I had to fix my first ruptured disc probably contributed to the latest problem? A cause for concern. Sure. But not my biggest problem. Learning that I was offered less than a male colleague in the sciences to direct our interdisciplinary environmental studies program? Not my biggest worry.

My biggest worry? Miss M.

Her week started well enough. On Monday, she flew out of my arms and into her teacher's arms with barely a "Bye, mommy." J picked up the girls after school because I had an appointment with my neurosurgeon to discuss my MRI results and options for my neck.* J basically handed M off to me in the driveway because he had to get E to soccer practice so we didn't have a chance to talk. I noticed that M was being a major crank, but I dismissed it thinking she was just upset that she was not joining her sister for soccer.

I had to stay home the next morning to wait for the cable guy. While waiting, I went through the pile of stuff J had left on the kitchen counter the evening before. The stack included M's daily report from school. Now, when I pick the girls up each day, I read the reports very closely because it helps me interpret their behaviors later in the day. I can only assume that J did not so much as glance at the sheets because when I called and read M's report over the phone, he responded, "Oh shit!"

The report stated that M "had several big tantrums today" with "lots of crying and refusing to stay on her mat" during nap time.

I emailed her teacher to find out if she was having a better day.

Her teacher replied, "So far, so good. Hopefully naptime will be better than yesterday. She actually was removed from the room twice! I'll keep you posted."

Twenty minutes later, I received a second email, "Oh dear, she is having a huge tantrum and refusing to get on her mat. We told her no paci if she isn't on her mat, and she isn't happy at all!!!!! Hopefully, she will give in. Wish us luck. "

And then, "M is still shrieking and having a fit. She is refusing to get on her mat and insists on crawling under the tables, etc.... We are desperate here because she is keeping both classes awake. Any suggestions? Can you come and speak to her? "

I was still waiting on the cable guy, but I threw on some shoes and rushed to campus. M was in the teachers' break room playing calmly when I arrived. "Hi Mommy!" she greeted me. We decided that it was best for me to take her home so she could get checked out by the pediatrician to rule out a physical origin for her behavior such as blocked ear tubes. Fortunately? her ears were fine, but we did receive a diagnosis: TWO.

I decided to observe** her class at naptime. She was wiggly, but one of the graduate students sat near her and she seemed close to sleep. I left to teach my 1:00 class relieved that she was behaving.

Between classes I emailed her teacher:

"I observed the beginning of naptime and was happy that M seemed to be settling down. I hope she'll continue to be good for you."

Two minutes later her teacher replied:

" I just returned to school from across campus, and was informed that M has been screaming since about 1:25. Carol, our nap worker, has had her outside because she refused to stay on her mat and wanted to run around the room. When I walked outside to see her when I returned @ 2:15, she broke into a big smile and thought that she was going to be with me. When I told her that she wasn't coming with me, she started crying again. I was told that she went down okay because Katherine stretched out next to her. Hmmmm....we are at a loss right now. I do know that I'm not going to allow her to get out of the room and be with me because that will be a treat for her (I don't mean to brag). Any ideas?"

As if.

I met the teacher a bit later. Basically, the only thing M could have done to be more disruptive would have been to fling poo.

J and I decided that we would BOTH observe naptime. I couldn't get there in time to see the beginning, but J was taking notes.

12:23 Entered room and washed hands.
12:25 On mat. Fidgeting.

This time M's teacher sat near her but didn't tell M to get back on the mat and didn't take her paci away for being off the mat. Instead, M played a game of chicken, keeping one part of her body in contact with the mat, but most of her body off the mat. She flopped around the mat, circumnavigating it twice. She did yoga poses with one foot or one hand on the mat. She twirled her teddy bear in the air above the mat. At one point, she stretched her legs and put them on the mat of another child. Then she put her feet on his head. The teacher stepped in at that point, moving M away from her sleeping classmate, but not saying anything. Finally, forty minutes into naptime, she drifted off, head and shoulders on the mat, torso and legs off the mat.

I observed naptime again. She went to sleep. On the mat. Phew!

I think maybe I have had a glimpse of the future here. Where E is eager to please (teachers at least), M is a bit more willful and defiant. In the future, when I get calls from the school, I will have to assume they are calling about M. It is probably M who I will worry about sneaking out, riding a motorcycle without a helmet, and experimenting with who knows what.

Of course, there is a bright side here. It has taken me almost 40 years to get to the point where I don't feel like I have to be the "good girl" or say yes to things I would prefer not do, or feel free to disagree with others. M seems to be well on her way.

*epidurals, massage and physical therapy for now
**this is a demonstration school so they have observation rooms with one-way glass

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Another birthday party

I have about 24 hours to clean the house and prepare for a double birthday party for the girls. This is the family party. Only grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and a friend I've known since I was 11 are invited. The real birthday parties, the ones for social acquaintances and people who don't know just how fucked up my family is, are separate events. I learned the hard way two years ago that my family and the outside world do not mix. My father, who is mentally ill but completely oblivious to this, sat in his convertible Miata the entire party chain smoking. This wouldn't have been a big deal if his car weren't parked smack in front of my house and if my mother hadn't lost her cool a few times and loudly exclaimed to anyone she could corner that she was SO EMBARRASSED and that he was JUST SO HARD TO LIVE WITH. Meanwhile, my conservative brother was baiting my peacenik father-in-law about Iraq and other fun party topics. I think my bartender turned truck driver turned salesman turned bartender brother may have arrived during the last ten minutes of the party because I remember my mother loudly exclaimed HE IS JUST LIKE HIS FATHER.

Anyway, after that little fiasco, I decided that a separate family party was the way to go. So now we have three parties. One for M, one for E, and one for the crazies. The downside of this is is having to prepare for three parties (though E's party will be at the Children's Museum next week so no housecleaning necessary). I wish I could say that my house just needed a little vacuuming and a little dusting to be ready for guests, but it needs deep cleaning. That is how slack I have been the past two weeks. In order to do emergency cleaning, I have to clear toys and papers and books and mail and other clutter. In order to decutter, I have to find somewhere to stash the clutter.

I've told J that he has to take the girls away this afternoon for at least two hours so I can clean (for some reason I am unable to clean when they are present). I'm going to power up my iPOD and get through this as quickly as possible. I'm also calling a friend to see if she wants to go out after the children are in bed tonight. I think a pre-family drink will do me some good.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Due Date

Tomorrow, September 13 would have been the due date for the pregnancy I lost last winter. I didn't think it would bother me, but the lingering sadness that I have experienced over the last few months seems a little sharper today and my mind keeps wandering to what might have been. What would the baby look like? How would the baby feel like in my arms? Would E and M be happy to have another baby in the house?

I have the sense that our days of trying to conceive are extremely limited. We can't try this month because I need an MRI next week to help diagnose some upper right quadrant pain I have been experiencing since my more recent miscarriage* Because of childcare and work issues,** the timing would have to be quick, probably by my birthday in December. Then, there is the issue of that birthday. 40. I know it is just a number, but it is still a milestone. And,oh, did I mention my sucky eggs?

*Ultrasound suggests a stone in the bile duct.
**Our department chair is going to step down next year and colleagues are lobbying me hard to at least consider being the next chair. I'm not wild about it, but I'm obviously not rejecting the idea outright either.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Day Eight-Virus Time

It took only seven days back in preschool with all the other little disease vectors for both of my girls came down with runny noses, scratchy throats, and surly dispositions.

Still, having the girls back in preschool is wonderful. They are both much happier (less bored anyway) and are tired at night. Last year, we had moved M whose birthday falls near the cutoff to the older class. We did this because the next oldest child was three months younger and because E is a very big kid who is tall and solid like her dad's side of the family. While she did well in the class academically, she never seemed to gel with her classmates and most often played alone. After much hand wringing and agonizing (social development or academic development?), we decided to keep her back with the younger group this year in hopes that she would be better off socially. I haven't had a chance to speak with her teacher yet, but she tells me that she played with her friends today so I guess that is a good sign.

M seems to be transitioning to the new center with few problems. it probably helps that her big sister is in the next room* and that they see one another on the playground. She loves painting and singing and playing in the kitchen station of her classroom. Sometimes, when I have a few minutes free, I watch her through the one-way mirror in her class. The other day, I couldn't help but to laugh as she followed the master teacher around asking, "What's this called?" as she pulled out every item from the classroom treasure box.

Update: I'm making halting progress in my push to get my act together. Having a hurricane day for Hanna followed by this virus (my version seems to be worse than what the girls had and I had to take a day off today) hasn't helped, but I know I can make it up.

*E is the oldest in the three-year-old class and M is the youngest in the two-year-old class.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Day Three

My house is a wreck, I almost let my flood insurance lapse, and I've made no progress on papers, weight loss, or anything else I boldly announced I would be working on this month. And yet, I'm in a jolly good mood. Why? Sarah Palin. Oh thank you, John McCain, thank you. With the Alaskan branch of the Spears family to keep me entertained for the next two months, I am positively giddy. If they stick around longer than early November, expect a precipitous drop in my mood.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Day Two

Last night at 10:03 p.m., I pulled out our homeowners and flood insurance policies in case we get hit by Hannah as forecast. It was then that I noticed that our flood policy was set to expire less than two hours later at 12:01 a.m. on September 2, 2008. Much cursing followed. The last thing I want when faced by a tropical system is to be without flood insurance. Actually, the last thing I want is for J to find out that I forgot to pay the flood insurance premium.

I ended up calling State Farm which helpfully has people working around the clock. I was able to pay on-line less than an hour before the policy was set to expire.

On the bright side, if I hadn't designated this "get-my-act-together-month," I probably wouldn't have pulled the policies out until the rain was blowing sideways and the trees were snapping around us.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Day One

I've decided that this is the month I get my act together. You know the drill. Lose five pounds, make long overdue doctor appointments, get a paper out, clean my baseboards, socialize with my friends more often. . .

It is no accident that this new resolve coincides with both of my girls being back in preschool after three long months at home. Maybe this is wrong to admit, but even with a part-time sitter, I thought I would lose my mind this summer. It is too hot in SC to be outside much in July and August so we were indoor bound much of the time, bored and cranky to boot.

Take two cranky toddlers, stir in one miscarriage and top with a week spent with in-laws and you get an irritable, cursing, impatient mom. It wasn't pretty, and I'm not proud, but I never said I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Now, after just four days of full-time care at the same preschool,* I am feeling much more patient and optimistic. I'm also feeling more competent because my college students seem to take me more seriously than my children and because my colleagues don't whine. . . much.

Here are a few pictures of M at her birthday party** last weekend.

*M just made the two year old cutoff. Cue triumphal music and choir of angels.
**We finally decided not to go overboard and only invited two other children. It was the best party ever!

Thursday, August 14, 2008


We are leaving for the mountains tomorrow. I was looking forward to the trip until I realized that my in-laws would be with us slightly over half of the time we will be there. Now, this is their new mountain house and I can't very well say, "no, we want to be alone," but at the same time, my mother-in-law told us that we could have the house to ourselves whenever we wanted so I was looking forward to some downtime. Somehow one night with them present has become three.

So J and I are having a disagreement. I say it isn't a vacation if in-laws are present. My reasoning: I can't wander around in my pjs, I have to be on guard as to what I say, and I have to plan meals and mealtimes around them. NOT a vacation. J says it is a vacation because we are away. If we invited my parents, I am guessing he would feel differently.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Time for sightseeing

I finished interviewing candidates a little while ago. In all, we met with 23 new or soon-to-be Ph.Ds. A few were very, very good. A few were very, very bad*. Most fell somewhere in the middle.

Now it is time for a little sightseeing. I just came back to my hotel, changed into shorts and walking shoes, and . . . .watched as clouds enveloped the city and rain began to fall. Shoot. Hopefully, this will be a short lasting downpour.

In the meantime, I'll look through my Boston guide and try to decide what sort of small gifts to get the girls. E, who is nearly four, is VERY aware that the departure of a parent means a gift upon return. In fact, rather than get upset that I would be gone for four days, she grinned as I left the house and called out, "I want a present, Mommy."

Ha! The sun is breaking through the clouds. Time to be a tourist.

*One candidate would not look me in the eye. Each time I would address him, his would turn his body away from me and stare across the interview hall. The other two interviewers from my institution noticed, too. Very, very strange.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Wheels up

I’m sitting in the airport waiting to board the first of my two flights to Boston. The woman on the PA just helpfully informed us that we are on “orange alert.” Whatever.

I resisted this trip. I really didn’t want to leave my girls for a conference. But as program director, I was told, “you have to be there,” so I dutifully packed, filled out my TA and now I’m nearly on my way. I’m not presenting my work on this trip. Instead, I am interviewing 24 people for an assistant professor position. I think 20-24 is obscene, but that is what the committee decided and who am I to argue? It will be like speed dating. With nerds. We already have their vitas, but this will tell us if candidates have necessary social skills to be a colleague who won’t drive us to despair and infighting and gnashing of teeth and wailing and backstabbing and all the other behaviors that we frequently witness from less couth departments. After the meetings, we’ll invite the candidates we liked to apply for the position and hope that the money we spend screening pays off.

Our decision to pour resources into these screening interviews stems from one interview a few years ago in which the candidate wore a Breathe Right nasal strip the entire interview and snorted loudly at odd times. During his teaching demonstration, he made a comment about a colleague’s ass. Later, at a department social gathering held at the home of a colleague, he railed against the evils of tract housing, in her tract house. For his job “talk” he picked up a local rag and just started blabbering nonsensically. We did not hire him, but his interview made us much more sensitive to the fact that while you can study society, you don’t necessarily belong in it. We also learned that a nice vita and good letters mean nothing.

So, here I go. Three days. 24 candidates and no idea how I will tell them apart. They all look alike-- so new and sparkly. I’ve been a professor for ten years, and I am far enough removed from my grad school days that I now find grad students to be kind of cute in that earnest, untested and as of yet unembittered-by-politics-and-the-realization-that-you-are-never-ever-going-to-get-rich-doing-this kind of way.

I’m hoping I’ll find ten minutes here and there for sightseeing. I miss my girls already.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Remember when I said that my recent pregnancy would be my last pregnancy no matter what happened? Am I crazy for reconsidering?

Even as I was coming out of anesthesia, I was telling the nurse that I just didn't feel like we were done. In the five days since the D&C, I've been thinking about it a lot, and I'm not sure if I am quite ready to throw in the towel. I posted a message about this on SIRM's bulletin boards, and Dr. S replied that back to back anembryonic pregnancies were bad luck and reflected declining egg quality, but were seldom due to other conditions. He said that 1 in 6 eggs is good in the typical 39 year old so conception is often a matter of catching a golden egg. If that 39 year old ovulates regularly, then she should ovulate a good egg twice a year if she falls on the good side of the odds.

I'm not much of a gambler, but I think we are going to roll the dice a few more times.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Then and Now

When I miscarried in February, I felt surprise and dismay.

This week, I had steeled myself for the worst, but still had that moment of stomach sinking horror when I saw the empty orb on the screen.

Then, I had allowed myself to start planning. . . the girls would have to move into the same room. We would need a trundle bed. We would probably need a van. I called and put our name on the daycare list. I freaked about money. I imagined what a good big sister M would be and what a great helper E would be.

This time, I tried not to think ahead. I had a few moments, of course, like when I googled about car and booster seat combos and Honda Civics, but I tried not to go there yet.

Then, I didn't want to disrupt my school schedule or my children's schedules by taking a whole weekday for a surgical procedure and opted, instead, for an office procedure. Of course, I paid for that by hemorrhaging and requiring emergency surgery.

This time, I opted for the next surgical appointment available and figured we would work something out for J's work and the children's care. It worked out.

Then, I felt like it was just a genetic fluke and that I would certainly end up on the right side of the statistics the next time.

This time, I feel defective. Something is wrong with me. I don't make babies anymore, I make sacs. Beautiful empty sacs. It sends me right back to the high FSH diagnosis with the less than one percent chance of conception prognosis.

Then, I felt empty and sad. Now. . . I guess some things don't change.

Thanks for your lovely messages to my last post. They've been a source of comfort.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Another blighted ovum

I think my eggs must be cooked. This morning's ultrasound showed a beautiful sac measuring right on target, but no baby. D&C is tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Last night I dreamed that J had been offered a great new job, one that pays almost $40k more than his current one. I was so, so, so happy! I spent that dream money on childcare, home improvements and a visit to the Mouse.

Then I woke up. Bummer.

I got out of bed (there was a certain almost-4-year-old poking me, saying " Mommy I'm hungry, Mommy, I'm hungry, Mommy, I'm hungry," over and over and over again until I had no choice but to bolt from the bed lest I start bashing my head on the headboard). I walked into the kitchen only to realize that J had not lifted a finger to clean the kitchen before he went to bed last night. Normally, I am the one who stays up late, sweeps the floors, clears the counters and otherwise makes things look inviting for the next day, but I was very tired last night and went to bed early. Plus, J had come home late and created a new mess after I had cleared the dinner mess from the girls and myself. I expected that he would be the one to straighten up. Bastard. Waking to a messy kitchen just sets the wrong tone for the day.

Next came the phone call from J at 8:45 as he was being pulled over by the police. Apparently, we neglected to pay his car taxes when they were due back in, oh . . . April. I quickly paid them on-line during the traffic stop, but now he has a court date to see if the judge will dismiss or reduce the fine.

As I was leaving the house, my summer nanny* looked at me and said, "I need to talk to you about picking up more hours when you get home this afternoon." When I hired her, we agreed on 20-25 hours a week this summer, but I guess she wants closer to 25 hours (I have been doing 20 hours now that I am out of summer school). I was hoping to save the extra $300 or so a month, but I guess I'll be rethinking that now. Must keep her happy.

Finally, I am having serious nagging doubts about this pregnancy. I want more symptoms, damn it. Except for the fatigue and cramps, I don't have any pregnancy symptoms. I suppose that is normal for 5.5 weeks, but I don't know how I am going to make it to the first ultrasound.

So, my day is not off to a good start. I am tempted to ditch the office and take a long walk by the waterfront to see if it improves my mood. The weather report said that the humidity is way down to 71% today so it might even be pleasant out there.

*E's school is on break until the end of August so I took M out of daycare and they are both home for the summer. Their nanny is with them part-time so I can work.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


My beta went from 13.5 to 126 in 90 hours. I think that is still a little low for 16 dpo, but it was better than I had hoped for. First ultrasound is in three weeks.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Beta Hell

My beta on Friday was a whopping 13.5. Ugh. On the bright side, we know that First Response is VERY sensitive. The nurse called today and sounded skeptical that this pregnancy will be viable. The doctor (who I have never met) wants another beta and a progesterone tomorrow to see what is happening. I've been doing my own pee-on-a-stick beta monitoring and while the lines are darker than they were on Friday, they aren't all that impressive. Whatever happens, I'll be OK, but I hate having to wait until Wednesday for my next beta results.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

What? I can't booze it up anymore?

Last night I attended a divorce party for a friend I work with. We had been looking forward to this for months as it was a nasty divorce and it had taken its toll on my friend who lost her entire retirement to her intermittently employed slack-ass ex-husband. She had carefully planned the party--penis pasta*, a divorce cake complete with the bride pushing the groom off the cake, disco ball, and alcohol, lots of alcohol. It was a good time, a celebration of a milestone, that, while sad, marks the passage to what has to be a happier time.

J knew I was looking forward to this, but last night as I was walking to my car he stopped me. "Promise me you won't drink. I know there will be a lot of alcohol flowing."

I should be offended, right? I mean, I am not an idiot. Plus, I'm hardly a boozer, even when not pregnant. A glass of wine a couple of times a month is my speed. I didn't have as much as a sip of wine while pregnant with E and I think I may have had a sip of champagne for a toast at a wedding while pregnant with M. So, obviously, his suspicions were well-founded.

I'm tempted to pour all of J's beer down the drain tonight and then act guilty about my "bender" tomorrow. Or make some penis pasta for tonight's meal.


Friday, June 27, 2008

The last pregnancy

I didn't realize that I hadn't posted in more than a month. I think it will take a month's worth of daily posting to catch up with everything, but tonight, I bring to you the most important news:
I seem to be pregnant again. I tested this morning and, while the line is light, it is there, and I don't even need my glasses to see it.*

Poor J. I am not one of those wives who wraps the stick in a box and presents it lovingly for a memorable gift over a beautiful dinner. Nor am I the clever wife who buys two onesies, one pink and one blue, and allows my husband to find out gently and memorably. Oh no, I am the wife who stands over her still sleeping husband insisting, "I need you to see something NOW," and thrusts a test stick in his hands with a "How many lines do you see?"

This will be my last pregnancy no matter how it turns out. I'm just getting too old for it.** Of course, I am hoping for the best and trying to get my ducks in a row. First duck: beta. My obstetrician moved away earlier this month, so I am on the hunt for someone new. Calling for a beta when you are not an established patient is no easy task. That didn't stop me from pissing off a nurse in his old practice and pestering her until she ordered a beta for me. Of course, she didn't call me back with the result, so I won't know that until Monday. This means that I will be studying hpts very carefully for the next few days to be sure the test line is getting darker.

Let the games begin. . .

*Somewhere in the last month or two I have become VERY dependent on my reading glasses. Aging is a bitch.
**I don't think 40 is too old for a baby, but I'm feeling old. And blind.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

My Six Quirks

I took the plunge and answered OvaGirl's plea for readers to sign up for this meme.

I'm not sure that it was entirely wise for me to volunteer. The more I think on it, the more I realize that there is a fine line between "quirky" behavior and pathological behavior.

1. Lists
I can't function without lists. Sure, everyone uses a list for the grocery store, but I use lists to structure my day. I hesitate to call myself hopeless, but I do not accomplish much without lists. As an example, I offer today's list:

--Go to gym (take girls to jump castle after workout)
--Buy new stamps at post office
--Buy bananas/ strawberries at Food Lion
--Make lunch for girls (pb&j? peas and chicken?)
--Early naps for girls
--Wrap birthday present
--Take girls to party
--Go to furniture store to order new chairs (don't forget coupon!)
--Clean pantry
--Plan grocery list for Sunday shopping

This list was fairly tame since it is a weekend. My weekday lists are insane because they combine domestic and professional items (e.g. clean bathtub; write executive summary of needs assessment findings; look up things that turn toddler poop purple*) . The sad thing is that, without my list, I probably would not be very productive. I'm certain that without my list I would not have gotten stamps, shopped for fruit or remembered the big furniture sale. I do think I would have made it to the gym (free babysitting!) and the birthday party though.

2. Love Hotels; Hate Staying in Homes
We don't travel as much as we did before the girls arrived, but when we do, I much prefer staying in hotels to staying in the homes of friends or family (no matter how lovely they are). Staying in someone's home is always a disaster for me. I can't relax; the bed or air mattress is uncomfortable; the room is too hot, too cold, too stuffy, too light, too loud, or some combination; the room comes with a cat and a stinky litter box; the room comes with a dog**, etc. We nearly always stay in a hotel now. It helps that we have a gazillion Hilton Honors points because we charge everything to that credit card and pay off the balance each month.

3. I Won't Eat What I Can't or Won't Kill
In 1990 or 1991, I was cooking chicken for J (yes we have been together 18 years this summer) and I was suddenly repulsed by the dead flesh I was handling. For the first time, it hit me that this was a formerly alive chicken. I served it to J, but did not partake. I haven't had chicken since. Nor have I had beef or pork. I set one simple rule for myself: I would not eat what I was not willing to kill. I could never kill a chicken, or cow, or pig. Fortunately, given my location on the coast, I have learned that I am willing to kill shrimp or at least pull off their heads after they have expired. I have also been able to collect and cook oysters.

4. I Could Get Lost in a Bathtub
I have almost no sense of direction. Once, when planning a seven mile run, I ended up running 12-13 miles because I turned onto a wrong street and did not notice my mistake for several miles. Another time, I got lost in southeast Washington, DC, which, if you know anything about DC, was not a good thing at all. Although we have lived in this city for nearly ten years, I still manage to get well and truly lost at least once a month.

As it turns out, I do have an excellent memory and can remember birthdays and phone numbers of childhood friends that I haven't seen in 25 years. J has no such memory and barely remembers my birthday and anniversary though they both fall on or near major holidays. If our daughters get his sense of direction and my ability to remember dates, they will be oriented in time and space and will go far. If they get my sense of direction and his sense of time, they will be lost and stupid. It gives us pause.

5. I Can't Sleep without White Noise
I have to have a fan running in order to sleep. It can't be just any fan. It has to be loud enough and the pitch and frequency have to be just right. If not, I toss and turn and experience terrible insomnia. White noise machines generally don't do it for me, but I did find this little gem for my recent conference. Positioned about 10 inches from my head, it worked perfectly.

6. I Buy a Lottery Ticket Each Week
I know it is wrong! wrong! wrong!*** that my dream home, dream retirement, and dream life plans are based upon receiving a huge inheritance from a wealthy mystery relative or from being the lucky owner of the winning Powerball ticket. That doesn't stop me from plunking down $2 each week (one for each drawing) to keep the dream alive.

Hoorah! I found six quirks and J assures me that there are more, many more. Have to run. Powerball drawing is in twenty minutes, after all.

**Who snores.
***I teach statistics, afterall!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

I'm not a big fan of Mother's Day (which I would not be at all surprised to learn is the evil invention of Hallmark and the floral industry). The holiday--and others like it (don't get me started on administrative assistant's day)--are just sappy over-commercialized stress generators, particularly for J who invariably seems stricken in the days preceding any given holiday.

Of course, my distaste for manufactured holidays did not stop me from taking J up on his offer of letting me sleep past 6:30. Nor did it stop me from enjoying the card he presented that had been me "signed" by both girls.

The Front: Motherhood summarized
The Inside: It's hard

And motherhood is hard. It is a slog--much tougher than anything I could have imagined six years ago when the ticking of my biological clock was too loud to ignore any longer.

But, of course, I can't imagine it any other way. I was reminded of that this week when E made a picture of the family that touched me more than any Hallmark card ever could. In her picture, the four of us are are standing in the sun. "This is my family," she tells me proudly, "This is Daddy and Mama and me and M."*

*Notice she has put a frowny face on her little sister for extra authenticity. Also notice that she proudly signed it (the last letter is a "Y").

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Conflicted no more

On Friday, I tested with one of my cheap, internet pregnancy tests. To my surprise, there was a faint second girly-pinky-purplish line. I was, of course, wary of the cheap test, so I went to Target and bought expensive tests. Saturday morning, I tested again, this time with the expensive brand. It was negative. Very negative. No amount of squinting, holding it to the light, turning it just so, or retrieving it from the trashcan just to take another look was going to make a second line appear. I repeated the exercise with another internet cheapie and it was equally negative. My period started in the wee hours of the next morning.

So, I'm not pregnant, but judging from how many times I dug through the trash to fish out the faintly positive test and then the very negative tests, I'm not ready to give up on it just yet. Despite the fears about finances and energy, I still feel like our little family could do with one more. And J seems to agree. Last week, when I suggested that we might be at the end of our family expansion, he looked pained and said, "I hear that adding a third isn't nearly as hard as adding a second." Tell that to my ovaries, buddy.

The last six years of my life have been centered around trying to conceive. RE visits, Clomid, Femara, injections, suppositories, IUIs, FSH from hell, the frantic search for cm during natural cycles, charting, analyzing every twinge, sex during LH surges, worrying, and worrying more. I'm done with that.

So, yes, we will continue to try, but I think we are also going to live a little. It is time for a kinder gentler trying, one that includes wine, soft cheese and caffeine, all in moderation, even through the dreadful two-week-wait. I'll still use ovulation kits and probably chart to confirm ovulation since my RE and OB have agreed that I need progesterone support, but that is it.

I'll probably be a madwoman in a few weeks, but right now I feel pretty peaceful about our new approach.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


I tested this morning and it was negative. I suppose I should feel relieved after last night's second thoughts, but I felt the way I always do when faced with the snowy white test: disappointed and sad. I'm not entirely sure of what I want right now. When did I become this indecisive?

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Second thoughts

9 days past ovulation on a textbook cycle probably isn't the best time to be second-guessing whether one wants another child. Yet that is exactly what I am doing.

I'm thinking that having two is already lively.
I'm thinking that with three we would be outnumbered. And need a mini-van. That guzzles gas.
I'm thinking that we are already feeling the financial pinch of stagnant wages, high childcare costs, and inflation. How on earth can we be thinking about adding more expenses to the equation?
I'm thinking that botox/ microdermabrasion/ line filler might be a good fortieth birthday gift to self.
I'm thinking that my colleagues will not be pleased to have me working part-time for another semester.
I'm thinking that if we add a third child, my environmental studies students won't take me seriously.
I'm thinking that I've just started running again and I'm enjoying it. Maybe it is time to train for a marathon or half marathon.
I'm thinking that maybe this should be our last cycle trying to create my ideal family of five.

It isn't as if these second thoughts are completely new. . . when the second line appeared on my pregnancy test in January, my initial "two lines!" thrill was followed, without pause, by "Oh my god, oh my god." And this wasn't an "Oh my god, this is wonderful!" It was more of an "Oh my god, what have I done?"

Still, for four weeks, until I knew the sac was empty, I calculated and plotted and planned and decided that yes! we could definitely handle this. So when the pregnancy ended, I ordered ovulation tests and preseed and waited anxiously for my next cycle to start.

Here I am two cycles later with a major case of cold feet. Suddenly, I'm wondering if my push to have a third child had more to do with my infertility history than with what is best for my family. [Fuck you infertility! I can reproduce if I damn-well please.]

I had a pregnancy dream two nights ago that was similar to the dreams I had before discovering I was pregnant with Baby M and then with The Sac. I'm having major cramps that are similar to my early pregnancy cramping (in all fairness, these are also similar to menstrual cramps).

I'll probably test tomorrow morning. It is a bit early, but I feel the need to pee on a stick (which I have lots of because I ordered in bulk after my D&C).

Thursday, April 10, 2008


That is how many hours I've been away from my girls. I miss them, but waking up at 8 a.m. was a dream. A dream I say! Still, I'll be glad to get home Saturday night.

Here is what I am missing:

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Writing from a remote location

I've been too busy to post or read blogs, plus my iBook had to go back to the good folks at Apple, so it has been a while.

I don't have anything exciting to report. I seem to have recovered, from my two D & C procedures, but my hormones seem to be out of whack and I'm far from confident that we'll be able to conceive again. I started wheat grass pills this week (supposed to be good for fertility) and I ordered preseed*, but otherwise my health habits have been crap. I haven't been getting enough sleep, and my stress levels have been up there and I gained back all the weight I lost in the Fall.**

I took a train to Richmond, Va. today to attend a conference. I hate driving and found it to be a mostly pleasant way to travel, especially since it gave me time to finish the paper I will be presenting Friday morning. As we were boarding in Charleston, I noticed that several people had little coolers with them. I thought it odd since there is a dining car on the train. However, when I visited the dining car, I realized that the cooler bearers were veteran train passengers who are already familiar with the generally crappy dining car menu. Still, going hungry was a small price to pay for not having to drive and for finding time to finish the paper.

This is my first time away from Baby M and the longest time I've been away from Little E. I must confess that I shed a few tears at the train station as I kissed them goodbye. And yet, it was time. I know it was. Though I have been trying to get Baby M completely weaned since her first birthday in August, she is still nursing for about a minute--right boob only thank you very much--just before bed. This extended absence should spell the end of that. If this goes as I have planned, then last night should go down in history as our last nursing session. I am sad about it, but relieved at the same time.

The nicest thing about being away is that I will get to sleep in tonight. Actual sleep. No little one crawling into bed at 4 a.m. and stealing my covers, no dogs scratching at the back door, no 4 a.m. early wake-ups. I am about to get some honest to goodness sleep. If my hotel neighbors get loud, there is going to be trouble. Big trouble.

*We used it the cycle we conceived Baby M.
**I have A PLAN to deal with this. More on that next post.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

What I don't like about daycare

Overall, we have been very happy with daycare/preschool. There are no nanny dramas, it is relatively affordable* and the socialization is good. With daycare, I don't worry that a caretaker is going to have a bad day and take it out on my child, and I don't worry about what to do when a nanny gets sick, has a personal crisis, or decides it is time to move on.

However, the last month (known hereafter as THE-MONTH-OF-SNOT-FEVER-AND-BARF-AND-MULTIPLE-D&Cs) has illustrated the one important shortcoming of group care: there is no care when the child is too sick for school. Until now, this has occasionally been inconvenient, but not devastating. The last four weeks have changed things, though.

Baby M has been sick a lot. First, it was the flu for a week. Shortly thereafter it was a stomach virus. She and her sister (who had by this time caught the flu) were home another week and a half. Then, after returning to school for only three days, Baby M caught another flu-like illness that had her out an additional three days.

If you are trying to do the math, we have had one or both children home for most of the last four weeks and the results have not been pretty. I'm behind at work, J is behind at work, the house is a mess (because we have been trying to work while tending to sick children), and tempers are short. I only missed one day of classes during all this, but I missed some rather important committee meetings and my students haven't had much access to me. My conference presentation on the 15th was rather so-so and I've not started my paper for my April conference (though the data analysis is mostly complete).

Tonight, I came close to a meltdown upon realizing that Baby M was running a fever of 101 again. However, her crankiness through much of the day left me suspicious that this might be an earache, and sure enough, her ear started draining tonight. The beauty of tubes is that we can just treat her with Motrin and antibiotic ear drops and she is usually fine within 12 hours. Hopefully, we will all go to work and school tomorrow and make it until Friday, the start of Spring Break.

One thing I am going to work on during Spring Break is coming up with a much better system for handling sick children and work. We have no family here so we don't have that sort of backup system. I wonder how other parents manage?

*If I could have afforded it, we would have started Baby M in group care a bit later, at 18-24 months like her big sister, but we had been through our savings for nanny care by the time she was born.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Best Laid Plans


The Plan: D&C at OB's office ; Recover at home while watching The Wire

Reality: D&C at OB's office ; Recover at home while watching The Wire


The Plan: Teach courses, write tests and quizzes for week, take a mid afternoon walk to deliver books and stretch legs.

Reality: Teach courses, write tests and quizzes for week, have walk interrupted by call from Baby M's center. Baby M is vomiting. Run back to car. Leave frantic messages on J's cell in case he is closer. Get Baby M. Take home. Get vomited on twice (it is me or the rugs and I am easier to clean). Take shower twice. Trail Baby M with towels and catch next five retching episodes. Rugs OK. Watch J walk in door with Little E. Inform him that Baby M is in bad shape. Watch in disbelief as J leaves to go to the the track because his Tuesday run is "very important" to him. Stew.


The Plan: Go to office and work on conference presentation; contact caterers for undergraduate conference I am chairing; go to gym.

Reality: Stay home with Baby M who is no longer vomiting, but who is having issues at the other end. Attempt to entertain Baby M and work on aforementioned presentation. Get call from Little E's teacher. Little E is lethargic, running a temperature of 104 and complaining of headache. Call J who is able to get her. Go downtown after hours to pick up tests and quizzes. Realize that student worker only copied ten tests because I neglected to tell her how many to copy. Curse. Loudly. Copy 80 tests and quizzes. Go home. Bathe children. Stay up all night with Little E who is miserable.


The Plan: Give tests and quizzes; present research to my faculty committee; meet with independent studies student.

Reality: Take Little E to doctor where she tests positive for flu (despite having had the flu shot). Hand her off to J who had stayed home with M who is vomiting again. Get to school late for first quiz. Give test to second class. Get very annoyed because one idiot freshman takes an extra 15 minutes on test. Call chair of committee and tell her to put me on the agenda for the next meeting. Go fill Little E's prescription for Tamiflu. Tell J to give her the Tamiflu before he leaves for work. Watch J force liquid down her throat. Watch E vomit on him. Laugh. Am treated with silent treatment for the rest of the day.


The Plan: Arrive at office early, polish conference presentation; finish travel grant; clean deask; have lunch with friends; grade quizzes and tests.

Reality: Stay home with sick children AND sick husband (who has caught the stomach thing). Change diapers too foul to discuss. Listen to children and husband whine. Contemplate running away. Notice that own post D&C cramping is getting uncomfortable.


The Plan: Go shopping for fabulous boots; clean house; declutter 15 minutes; relax

Reality: Children and husband still ill. Own cramps becoming nearly unbearable. Light bleeding turns heavy, turns to near hemorrhage. Pass golf ball to fist size clots. Call doctor and am told to go to Labor and Delivery. Am dropped at hospital by J and sick children. Call L, my oldest friend, and ask for a ride home for later. Sudden gush of blood gets me to front of line and I am admitted. Call L to tell her to take her time as I will probably need surgery. Ultrasound confirms "junk" in uterus. Am prepped for proper D&C. L arrives and we laugh and catch up as we wait for OR. Best time I have had in a week. Finally wheeled into OR. South American doctor with lovely accent gives me "medicine so you won't care." Informed after surgery that the pregnancy was possibly molar. Too blissed out from drugs to be concerned. L finally takes me home 7.5 hours after I was admitted. Realize this was the first night that I haven't nursed Baby M at bedtime. Too medicated to care.


The Plan: Screw it. I'm over planning.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Glad it is over

After my Friday freak out, I was OK again; I just needed to get it out of my system. By Saturday, I was looking ahead and I even ordered 50 OPK sticks from one of the cheap Internet sites. I almost ordered pregnancy tests, too, but I didn't want to jinx myself.

My procedure was today at 1 p.m. It hurt, and I wouldn't care to repeat it, but the nurses and doctor were very compassionate (for people who clamp your cervix, inject it, jam a catheter into your uterus, and then apply suction). They let J sit with me and hold my hand which was comforting. They sent the tissue t pathology, but I told them that chromosomal analysis was unnecessary. I mean, we know something went wrong, but I don't see any point in knowing what particular genetic accident may have occurred.

I'm cramping badly now, but I have just taken a Valium, a percocet, and some ibuprofen (all sanctioned by the OB) so I should be feeling better soon. J has gone to pick up the girls, and I am going to head upstairs to hide out for a bit. A generous friend is bringing dinner by later. Her kindness is a salve.

While the sadness is still there, I am mainly feeling relieved to have this behind me. I'm looking forward to losing the three to four pounds I gained over the last eight weeks and I'm looking forward to drinking margaritas this weekend. As soon as I start cycling again, we'll give it another go. If it works, great. If not, I have two beautiful daughters, and I am truly thankful for that.

Friday, February 01, 2008


I'm a wuss.

Despite the doomed pregnancy, I functioned fairly normally all week. I taught my classes, attended one semi-contentious department meeting, advised, worked on a conference presentation, wrote my self-evaluation* and cared for my family. The pregnancy was always on my mind, of course, but I didn't allow myself to be completely distracted by it. Emotionally, I was strong.

That changed this afternoon after my appointment to confirm the blighted ovum. While the sac grew some since last Friday, it was still empty, a black hole in my uterus. I didn't expect a baby to suddenly appear, but when the ultrasound confirmed the diagnosis, I was shaken: There is knowing and then there is knowing.

The OB and I discussed my options. Seeing as how what goes in must come out, something needs to be done lest I am surprised one day in the middle of teaching, or while caring for my children alone, or while out of town at a conference, by a natural miscarriage. That won't do.

After reading a ton of negative Cytotec posts on internet message boards and after talking to a friend who had used Cytotec only to need a follow-up D&C, I decided that being knocked out for a pain-free D&C would be my best option. However, we hit a snag-- my OB and I have incompatible schedules. His surgery days next week are my class and meeting days. Missing would require a very, very good excuse, but I can't think of one. ** I could wait, but emotionally, I need this behind me, plus there is that small problem of an unscheduled miscarriage in middle of something important.

He suggested, instead, that I have an office procedure on Monday in which he will numb my cervix*** and use a vacuum to evacuate the uterus. I agreed to it, just to get this over. The fun part is that I will be totally awake and aware for it. He gave me a prescription for 5 mg of Valium to "take the edge off," but I don't think that is going to help much. In the past (before my spinal surgery), it has taken a much higher dose of Valium to even make me drowsy.

I asked about pain and the OB said that I will feel strong cramping, but that it will be over quickly and to take 800mg of ibuprofen. As if that is going to help. They are going to hoover my uterus and all I will get is lousy ibuprofen. Like I said, I am a wuss. Yes, I labored and gave birth without a working epidural (the first catheter came out and the second epidural numbed my left side only), so I know pain. But I don't embrace pain. I am not one with it. I don't go looking for it. I run from it.

I made it out of the building, but started crying as soon as I closed the door to my car. I sobbed all the way home (I must have looked alarming). I don't know whether I was crying over the loss of this pregnancy, or over the fear of a painful procedure, or maybe just over my feeling of complete lack of control. But I haven't cried that hard in a very long time. I'm still weepy and it has been eight hours.

[Note to self: Must get a grip.]

I know that anticipation is often the hardest part when faced with the unknown, and I know that I will survive the procedure on Monday, but that doesn't help much.

In the meantime I have a torture session visit with the in-laws! to endure look forward to. They called tonight and said that they are coming for the day! Tomorrow! Joy!

Can one of you kind readers please just shoot me now? Please?

*Summary: I am a superior professor, but I need to work on being less of a perfectionist.
Translation: Give me a merit raise, fools.

**Would rather tell colleagues and students that I had been abducted by aliens then let them know that I am miscarrying.

***Does the joint use of the words "needle" and "cervix" make you nervous? I broke into a cold sweat just thinking about it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A rotten week

It has been a bad, bad week.

First, Baby M managed to come down with the flu* despite having had the flu shot in the fall. She was miserable, and I must observe that there is nothing sadder than a 17-month-old who has the shakes from a 104.5 degree fever. She spent a good bit of time limp in our arms and spent a couple of fitful nights in our room because I was too worried to leave her in her crib. It was exhausting for all of us.

Coupled with the worry and stress of having a sick baby, was the stress of juggling her care during a particularly busy work week. Because we were interviewing candidates for a faculty position in my department, there were meetings, job talks, and lunches with candidates that I could not miss. This meant that J and I spent the week frantically shuffling what we could shuffle and trying not to fight about whose commitments were more important at any given moment. We managed to muddle through, but it was not pretty and by week's end we were both exhausted from it.**

On Friday, I woke to light pinkish-brown spotting. It stopped quickly and I had no cramping so I wasn't terribly worried. I called the nurse for reassurance and she felt that it was probably just irritation from the progesterone suppositories given that I was having no heavy cramps. Even so, she put me in with my OB so that I wouldn't spend the next week (until my 8 week appointment) worrying.

At my appointment, the OB went through the checklist again:

Any more spotting? No? Good.
It was brown, not red? Yes? Excellent.
Still having nausea? Yes? Good sign.
Strong cramping/ contractions? No. Very good.
So let's take a look.

Out came the ultrasound machine. First he tries the abdominal probe. I see my uterus and the black gestational sac and nothing else. He says he is having a hard time scanning through because of my retroverted uterus, so let's try the internal probe, OK?

Again, he scans. Again a black hole. Nothingness. Nurse and doctor exchange looks. The nurse moves Kleenex box closer to the exam table.

"I'm concerned because by now we should see the contents of the gestational sac," he says at last.

"Blighted ovum?" I ask, knowing the answer already. I am calm, detached.

"It is certainly suspicious," he concedes.

He decides that I should return in a week to confirm. If I haven't passed it on my own by then, I can either take a pill to induce contractions or I can schedule a D&C. ***

So I am pregnant, but not. My breasts ache, my tummy is bloated, waves of nausea grip me, and I am in the grips of that bone deep fatigue that is exclusive to pregnancy. But there will be no baby. No payoff for the hard work my body has done. No sweet baby kicks and no ultrasound peeks at my sweet one. Nothing.

I'm OK. I've shed no tears. I am numb. I am empty.

*This was confirmed with a rapid flu test at the pediatrician's office.
**On the bright side, Baby M is feeling better and should be able to return to her center on Monday.
***Thoughts on this?

Monday, January 14, 2008

My Little Houdini

To celebrate surviving the first OB appointment--complete with a breast exam, pap smear, internal exam, labs and ultrasound*-- I decided to go buy some fabulous boots. After cooking dinner, bathing the girls, and putting Baby M to bed, I left the house for some serious shopping.

As I was walking into the first shoe store, J called to inform me that Baby M had climbed out of her crib, walked to her door, and started knocking on it like a Jehovah's Witness on a mission. He lowered the crib the last two inches and she repeated her escape act. Another call. Could I please come home? Now?

Bootless, I headed home. By the time I walked through the door, Baby M was asleep in her crib. I asked J how he had managed to settle her down, to which he replied, "Duct tape."

Somehow, given his propensity to use duct tape on, well, everything, this seemed more than slightly plausible. So it was with great trepidation I opened the door to Baby M's room.

This is our crib:

I am happy to report that no duct tape was used. What J did was to turn the crib around so that the lower side is facing the wall and the high side is facing outward into the room. It is only a matter of time before she manages to hoist herself out the sides, but it buys us time to get one of these fancy crib tents:

*Gestational sac spotted; repeat ultrasound in two weeks to look for a fetus and heartbeat.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Quick update

Thanks for the kind thoughts in response to my last two posts. I've been intending to update, but there isn't much to say at this point. The hard thing about being a "regular" OB patient is the lack of early monitoring. Here is all I have to share at this point:

My first (and only) beta was 86. I surged on December 20th so I'm assuming I ovulated on the 21st. I think that 86 is a decent beta for 14 dpo--not as high as Baby M, but high enough. My anxiety would be lower (or higher) had I had a second beta, but the OB wouldn't order another-- I had the sense that he was indulging me with the first. I almost called Dr. Negative for monitoring, but I decided against it.

All I can say is thank goodness for HPTs. I've taken a LOT of them. At first, I just took pleasure in watching the First Response brand get progressively darker. Then I switched to the cheap dollar store hpts. These are great because they keep getting darker for quite a while. Did I mention that I have bought a LOT of these? Even the clerk at the dollar store looked at me funny when I was checking out, prompting me to snap, "Yes, I'm a bit obsessed, Okay?" I remember my grandmother, a gentle alcoholic*, used to hide her wine bottles so her sister wouldn't find them. I've started to do that with HPTs so that J doesn't think I've gone completely insane.

I'm going to see the OB on Monday. His nurse said that he was concerned that my one beta was low. I was confused about this until I realized that he was going by my last menstrual cycle start date, assuming that I ovulated on day 14 rather than day 21. I could have cleared this up by telling the nurse that I was sure I ovulated late, but when I realized I would probably get an early scan out of it, I said nothing. I'm evil that way. My name is Em, and I am an ultrasound whore.

*Seriously, I named little E after her. She was the best grandmother in the world. She just happened to be an alcoholic, too.

Friday, January 04, 2008

What does it take to get a beta around here?

Little E was conceived on an injectable/ IUI cycle. We tried on our own six months and then had eight months of fertility treatment. Had we not conceived that cycle, we would have moved on to IVF. We started trying for Baby M when little E was six or seven months old. That took eight months. She was conceived naturally, with progesterone support while we were waiting to travel to a high FSH friendly fertility center for IVF.

This time, we tried once. Once. I've read that pregnancy cures infertility, but damn. Once.

While conception was alarmingly easy, getting a beta was a battle. First I called the OB's office at 8:30 a.m. and the receptionist cheerfully took my information and said, "We'll see you February 1."

Having had my first two pregnancies monitored closely by an RE for the first two months, I thought I had missed something. So I asked when my blood work and ultrasounds were happening.

She said, "We don't do anything before eight weeks."

So I asked to speak to a nurse.

Who called me back at 11:30 and said there was no need for a beta as long as the pregnancy was progressing normally.

So I asked how one can tell the pregnancy is progressing normally in the absence of repeat betas and ultrasounds.

She said she would talk to the doctor.

So I reminded her of my thyroid cancer and thyroid replacement and asked that they check my levels to be sure that things are OK there.

She said she would speak to the doctor.

She finally called back at 3:15 and said that I could have my beta and thyroid labs on Monday morning. When I asked why I couldn't have it today, she said that they were closing at 4:00.

I'll be there, I said. And I was. Barely. With a wide-eyed three-year-old in tow.

But now I have to wait until Monday for beta results (and it doesn't sound like there will be repeat betas). So I went to the store and bought six more HPTs.* Just to get me through the weekend.

*I just used one. Line is definitely darker.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Stick Confusion, Part II

I'm freaking out a little right now. I tested Tuesday and it was snowy white. So I:

--indulged in alcohol

--indulged in a ton of caffeine

--took advil for these "menstrual" cramps

--took cold medicine

I also convinced myself that it would be better wait a little longer to really try since having a baby in September would mean I would have to start teaching again when the baby was three months old.

Tonight I decided to test again, not because I really suspected anything, but because my luteal phase has lasted so long. I was absolutely shocked to get a positive. I mean, we did it once, no preseed, no wheat grass, no progesterone support, no charting.

I'm elated. I'm scared. I'm thinking this isn't very dark for 14 days past ovulation. I'll call my doctor for a beta tomorrow and will report back when I have word.