Sunday, October 15, 2006

Two years ago I went on vacation

On October 15th, 2004 I had the embryo later known as Ada implanted into my uterus. Actually, I had two embryos implanted, but the other one became twins (oh, I know, can you imagine three at once?) and neither of those two made it past about six weeks. But I digress.

The doctors said that I should take it easy for a day or two after the implantation. Despite knowing that people get pregnant on ski trips and while training for marathons, when you've gone to all the trouble to get pregnant, um, with assistance, it is hard not to want to do everything "right" to make the pregnancy stick. I wasn't up for a 26 mile run, but low-level activity seemed like a good distraction. I knew that I would not want to sit around the house too long, and going to work while I wondered whether the embryos would attach sounded like a recipe for disaster. ("Let's see, is there anyone in the building who hasn't already seen me cry?")

A vacation was in order, so Chris and I hopped into the car and headed south. We were headed to my sister's in Berkeley, but our first stop was my cousin's home on the coast. My cousin is a mostly retired geologist who still writes papers with younger researchers. At this point I think he does it to keep sharp, and because he enjoys interacting with younger people. [He also likes getting them in trouble. Once when he was in Iceland for a project, the team had brought flares in case anything went awry. On the last night he was on the site, he convinced the research assistants to set off a bunch of the flares for fun. The next day he left the country, so he wasn't there when the local authorities stopped by to let the grad students know how not ok it was to be shooting off flares in the middle of the night in Nowhere, Iceland.] My cousin is the kind of old man who wears a bolo tie and rakishly placed cap and looks eccentric and fun. Which he is. His wife is less flamboyant, but smart and lovely in her own right. She never wears bolo ties, but did agree to honeymoon in Japan in the 1950s. Plus she came to my graduation in a cap with a propellor.

Currently my cousin and his wife spend a good part of their time traveling the world so that he can give talks and collect awards. He's won the geology equivalent of the Nobel prize. When my cousins are not globe-trotting, they live in a small town on the Oregon coast. It is beautiful but, like much of Oregon outside of the Willamette Valley, kind of red state-y. My cousins love visitors, especially those with a liberal bent. We went to the one cafe in town that caters to Democrats, drove and wandered around the area on a sight-seeing attempt cut somewhat short by wet weather, went out to dinner at what passes for haute cuisine in those parts, and admired my cousin's collection of Chinese communist propaganda posters.

We had a good time with them, but I felt weird not telling them that I'd just had IVF. Superstitiously, I worried that if I told them or in any way suggested that I might be pregnant, the embryos would detatch themselves and flush themselves right out of my body. Crazy, I know, but investing so heavily in a chance to get pregnant will do that to a person. So after a short visit with my cousins, we got back in the car and headed south again. It was kind of nice to be in the car most of the day, sedentary yet hurtling forward. Chris drove while I read magazines and nibbled at snacks.

My sister and her man greeted up with a fabulous meal. (Did I mention how much my stomach enjoys having a restaurant guy in the family?). We wandered around the bay area eating, enjoying a science playground and wandering up and down streets around San Francisco and Berkeley.

My sister is brilliant and funny. As I have mentioned before, my in-person relationship with my sister changed forever when I met Chris. Although we have always been close and often use one another for support and cheerleading, once Chris and I got together my visits with my sister tended to include him. We've carved out some "sister time" but for the most part have included Chris in our adventures. And my sister has borne the brunt of that. After all, I'm in love with Chris, so having him along is no problem. My sister had to do the adjusting. She and Chris get along well and are both in-laws and friends, but I recognize that this latter relationship took energy on both their parts. And meeting my sister's then-boyfriend made me realize it was time for me to make such an adjustment. Spending time with my sister with her guy around was an adjustment. Pair that with my fears about whether the embryos would attach, what pregnancy would be like, whether I'd be a good parent, and well, it was somewhat of an odd vacation.

I am not normally a superstitious person, but on that trip two years ago, I was looking at everything for meaning, taking everything as a sign. Even as I hoped to be distracted, everything reminded me of my possible pregnancy. (It is a bit like buying a car that way. You start thinking about buying a honda and suddenly the streets are filled with them. You want to be pregnant and the sidewalks are choked with waddling, center-heavy women.)

Two years ago I was thinking a lot about family, about what I wanted out of life, about when my next shot in the ass would be. Everything in my life isn't perfect, but I did get what I most wanted two years (and three years, and...) ago. And life with Ada is still what I want. I am still thinking about many of the same things that preoccupied me two years ago (though the space taken up by shots is now filled with dirty diapers). Though I am thinking about the same things, I feel a lot more positive about them. I know I am a good parent, even on the days I have done a less than stellar job at it. Today feels like a world away from two years ago.

On this October 15th, we are hopping once again in the car and heading south. This year we are only going on a day trip to see Ada's grandparents. Just in case Chris starts feeling nostalgic for the days when he acted as my syringe-wielding nurse, I'll be wearing double padding and keeping him away from sharp objects.


  1. Your cousin had me at 'let's set off all the flares.'

  2. Ah, there's nothing like pregnancy (or potential pregnancy) to bring out our latent capacity for superstition. When I was pregnant with the Pie, I spent the day before my ultrasound finding "signs" everywhere that she would be a girl: in line at the grocery store, I was directly behind a mother and daughter (can you imagine the coincidence???), and everywhere I drove I saw cars with license plates including the scrambled letters of her name (there are hundreds of these license plates in my city, but still - it had to be a sign!).

  3. This is a wonderful post, truly. We conceived Thalia on October 10 and like you, I still think so much about what that weekend was like and how it colored everything I saw, every decision I made. Your Honda analogy is just perfect. I remember saying, "are there more pregnant women around or do I just notice them more?"

    I think the answer is "both."

  4. I'm so glad it was successful, I've had friends go the IVF route and I just admire how much you all have gone through to be able to become a mother. With all the work to get pregnant, I would think the superstitions would be even stronger.

  5. I love this makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

  6. From the very beginning of my first pregnancy I started looking at the world through a different set of eyes. What a wonderful post.

  7. What a wonderful, wonderful anniversary. What a wonderful ode to such an anniversary!

  8. You are a good parent. Do it again.

    sorry is that too bossy.