Friday, June 29, 2007

On Fertility

(First: I'm not pregnant, and not trying to get pregnant right now. I have just had some conversations that got me thinking about this.)

There are two schools of thought regarding how open you should be when trying to conceive.

School #1tell no one.
You never know how long it is going to take, and if you tell people you are trying, they’ll just want to know if it has happened yet. Even if it has, you might not want to tell people until the mysterious and powerful first trimester has passed. For those who are more private about their personal lives, this is a great way to go. It works less well for someone like me who lives through discussion.

You might not be able to tell if you only know me from the blog, where I am not quite as self-revelatory as I am in person, but I am a sharer. Plus, like many women, I like to talk with friends and strangers about important things. I like input. I might not always take the advice, but I want to hear it. On the up side, this gets me a lot of feedback that can make me feel better about my situation. As a consequence, I know a lot about friends’ and strangers’ fertility. Once I started to say, “well, we had Ada through IVF” I got a lot of interesting stories in return. The couple that had only one egg implanted but ended up with twins anyway. The people who never tried but got pregnant. The people who tried and never got pregnant. People want to share those stories, and it is nice to hear them. But I was talking about NOT telling people.

As I mentioned, I am a sharer. That said, since conceiving Ada the hard way, I have several times gotten annoyed at people who announced they were trying to get pregnant, as if just announcing it would cause the blessed event to occur. Should I congratulate you for having sex? I mean, isn’t sex it’s own reward?

As petty as it is, I have been annoyed at what felt like crowing, even before the fact, about a success in an area that was such a challenge for Chris and me. I haven't felt this way with friends, but I do think that with people you don't know so well, maybe holding back on the "we're trying" could be a good idea. (Blog posts are exempted, since by definition a personal blog is the place for that kind of thing.)

At this point let me reiterate:
(1) I am not pregnant.
(2) I am not trying to get pregnant.
(I know you are thinking about it, so I just wanted to remind you.)

School #2tell everyone.
Once Chris and I started trying to have a baby, it was hard to not think constantly and compulsively about fertility. Because we were trying and I was thinking about it, I told people. And then it went on for months, which turned into years. So I stopped telling people we were trying. And then we found out that we needed IVF to conceive. I wanted to talk about it, but the stakes felt too high. What if we spent all the money, injected me with hormones, had eggs extracted, fertilized and implanted, and it didn't take? Did I really want to tell people about what was going on? So I only told a limited group of people. ("Limited" is a relative term. In my case it meant more than four people, less than everyone I knew.)

It was hard not to tell people, particularly when I was hopped up on hormones and in a very stressful meeting at work. More than once I wanted to interrupt a meeting with "I'm crying because of the injections, and the stress, not because you are an asshole. For two years you've been an asshole, but it didn't make me cry before now." But I didn't want to tell coworkers what was going on, lest I have to tell them it failed.

Once we found out the IVF worked, we kept mostly quiet out of a superstitious fear that telling people would cause the embryo to flush itself out of my body. Well, I kept quiet. Chris said he would, but then he kept telling people. This actually made me love Chris even more. When a quiet guy like Chris can't keep his mouth shut, he must be very excited.

The thing I got out of the whole process is that I should have no fear of telling people about our fertility struggles. In fact, the whole process made me want to tell people about it. It was hard to be struggling with fertility and thinking you are the only ones. But we weren't the only ones. Once we knew what was keeping us from conceiving, I started talking to people about fertility again. Although I didn't tell too many people that we were actively doing IVF, I told people we were going there.

Once we'd finished with the IVF itself and we were really, truly on the way to having a baby, I happily told all kinds of people about our struggles, IVF and whatever else was on my mind. Until then I kept a private blog. I wrote to myself about what I was thinking and feeling, and once I was ready to share it, I added it publicly to this blog. I get found by people searching for IVF information, and what I really want these searchers to know is - You are not alone. Whether you tell people or keep it to yourself, you are not alone.

For me, talking is good. Not talking has its place, but since I am not good at it, I won't beat myself up for sharing what others might keep to themselves. It feels too good to share, and I can hope that it helps someone else once in a while.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

She told me of her engagement as we waited for the first dim sum carts to stop by our table, and I congratulated her.

"That's really great," I said. "I'm so happy for you." And I was.

I myself had little to report, aside from the recent implosion of my relationship.

"What happened?" she asked.

I told her that she hated my dog, which was more or less the truth of the matter.

Jerome E. Copulsky
Modern Love: In the Dressing Room, Relationships Laid Bare

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Happy Two

Ada has just gotten the concept of birthdays in a real way. When we told her we were going to have a party for her, she replied hopefully: "with cake?"

Yes, with cake. Today is her birthday, and while I got ready to go to work, Chris sat with Ada watching old sesame street videos on youtube. She could barely be bothered to say good-bye when I left. Although a part of me is sad that she'd more interested in Bert than in her mother's comings and goings, getting to this point has been a long road, so it is also nice to see her her with interests outside of whether or not I am holding her.

Ada, I love you and am already prouder of you than you'll ever know.

Minutes After Her Birth

At Six Months

A Year Old

18 Months

Last Week, Almost Two

Monday, June 25, 2007

Things To Love About Portland (Airport Bathroom Edition)

On my way through Portland International Airport on a recent trip to Texas, I saw this in my pre-flight trip to the bathroom:

Where else would an official informational notice include reference to "#1" and "#2"? (Yes, I am that immature.)

What a dork I am, taking pictures in an airport bathroom. At least I remembered not to use the flash. (There is a pun lurking in there, but I'm taking the high road.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Blame Debbie

This is all Debbie's fault. And by "this" I mean the fact that I created a scrapblog in yet another shameless attempt to win my way to Blogher.

Why, you ask, why would I spend time and energy on this little project? (Why, other than the vain hope of winning airfare, a hotel stay, and admission to Blogher?) Well, I really had no plans to go to Blogher. Ok, I'd had the stray fantasy, but really it was not more than that. And then a couple of months ago Debbie asked if I was going to go. Or wanted to go. Or had thought about going. Since the answer to at least one or two of those questions was yes, she saw the one little chink in my otherwise flawless "I am not going to Blogher" armor. Since then, about every two weeks she's asked me whether I want to go. Her methods, though varying, are nefarious. She and her roommate have room for me. She thinks I'd have a good time, that she'd have a good time with me there. She'd buy me drinks. Plus the assorted ego-stroking comments that didn't hurt my sense of self, if you must know.

Most recently, I talked by phone with Debbie while I tooled around the Dallas airport's skylink. (and really, for anyone who has been to or lived in Dallas, is there anything in the rest of that city that matches the coolness of this nifty airport tram?) But I digress. The point is that Debbie brought this whole Blogher thing up again. It is working on me a little, her nudging. I still haven't bought a ticket, but it is because of her intervention that I have been forced (forced, I say) to do things like build a scrapblog in order to enter a contest. Apparently every view of this silly thing gets me an entry into the their contest. So I did it. I spent a portion of the evening fiddling with the site.

So take a look. Please. I need all the help I can get.

It won't be a complete waste. You'll see some pictures from my trip to the beach. You'll note that, in true Oregon fashion, a mid-June coast trip required sweaters and pants all around. The cloud-cover did break a bit, but when the sun managed to poke through we were all so blinded that we were physically unable to take pictures. Just as well, lest more people see our pasty white skin.

(P-man, does it count as shilling if I am doing it for my own selfish interests? In case it is, I apologize in advance. Now click anyway.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

I don't think that I can take it
'cause it took so long to bake it
and I'll never have that recipe again

Jimmy Webb
MacArthur Park

Monday, June 18, 2007

One of my favorites

My sister and I have been spending a lot of time on the phone lately. Karen is getting married next month, so we are chatting about that, but recently we have also talked about why our parents are the way they are, whether she should go to China, and what happens to friendships over time.

The other night we were talking late into the night, and while thinking of some moment from our shared childhood I decided to look through some old photos. I found one of my all time favorite pictures, one that makes me laugh whenever I see it:

I love this picture for so many reasons. I love the layout, the fact that despite all the available room my family is crowded into a corner of the frame. I love the early 80s outfits, hair and glasses. (Having recently seen old pictures of Phil Specter, I wonder at my mom's 'do.)

Even more than all these other things about this photograph, I love my sister. I love that she's not looking at the camera, but instead sticks her bottom lip out at something unseen and unnoticed by the rest of us.

I dragged this photo through the scanner this week to share it with Karen. She is one of my favorite people and I hope she knows how much I love her and how excited I am to be part of her wedding. It is all I can do not to cry just thinking about it. But then I look at this picture. And laugh.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Fine, and you?

Have you seen this? It is a project (called We Feel Fine) that searches blogs all over the world for sentences that contain the words "I feel" or "I am feeling". You can look at random phrases, make montages with favorite phrases, or search for the saddest, guiltiest or sexiest cities. Oh, and you can click on a sentence and find the blog from which it originated.

I found this:

Strangely addictive and fascinating. And someone found me through this. How do I feel about that? I feel fine.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Saying that men talk about baseball in order to avoid talking
about their feelings is the same as saying that women talk
about their feelings in order to avoid talking about baseball.

Deborah Tannen
You Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation

Monday, June 11, 2007

A Berry Good Day

Ada and I often spend Friday mornings with a group of kids (and their moms). Three of the six moms have had babies in the past couple of months, which has put a little damper on our socializing of late. I hear rumblings that the (once again) new moms are ready to start visiting again, while we were on sabbatical Ada and I took in the sights. And then Debbie called. Berry picking? We'd love to pick berries! I called Ellen and she and I packed the kids in the car, meeting Debbie and her redhead at the farm.

Did I say we'd love to pick berries? Let me restate that: I loved picking berries. Ada, Monkey Boy and the Redhead didn't really get the "you pick" thing. They were all over the "you eat" part, however, and their faces were quickly juice-stained.

Ada and Monkey Boy also really liked the flags set out to mark progress along the rows. Ellen and I tag-teamed the kids, trading kid chasing and picking duties. Somehow she managed to pick two flats, one of which we dropped off at Clyde Common, where they became dessert.

The redhead helped his mom a bit. Mostly by pointing out ripe berries she might have missed.

Ada and Monkey Boy were so sugar-sotted that they even kissed. I was too slow, but managed to get this post-smooch shot.

And then we rolled our strawberry soaked bellies home for baths and naps. We'll be back for raspberries. And cherries. And peaches...

Friday, June 08, 2007

“Where Does My Time Go?” (summer edition)

A day in the life. Now with more parenthetical questions!

6:00 AM
Hear Ada wake up. Listen to Chris get up with her.* Roll over and go back to bed.

7:30 AM
Wake up to hear Chris and Ada coming up the stairs. Open my eyes to Ada joining me on the bed. Listen to Ada tell me: "Wake up, Mama! Get up Mama!" (Why does Chris think that the toddler wake up call is a good idea? Doesn't he know that this just fuels my desire for turnabout?)

7:50 AM
Give in to Ada's demands. Eat breakfast, shower, gather kid stuff. (Why does it bother Ada to see me in bed? Why doesn't she seem as annoyed when it is she finds Chris in bed?)

9:10 AM Drive to Ellen's house, pick up Ellen and Monkey Boy and head for the zoo! (How does Ellen manage to look to put together, while I look like I didn't bother to glance in the mirror after donning jeans and my beloved "sexy senior citizen" tee?)

9:40 AM
ZOO! Marvel how much Ada likes the train ride, and kick myself for never having taken her on it before. (Why am I so resistant to this kind of thing? Is it because my parents always resisted this kind of thing when I was a kid?)

11:50 AM
Drive home. (Why while Ada takes off her shoes, complains that Monkey Boy stole her sock, and generally directs from the backseat.

12:20 PM
Struggle through a pre-nap diaper change. (Why the character on the diaper matters, I still can't figure out. Also, why are there so many Elmo diapers in the pack? I know other kids love the red monster, but Ada is just not a big fan.)

1:00 PM
Chat with Chris's dad, who has stopped by for a visit. Eat the sandwich he brings over. Think but then forget to verbalize my thanks for the food. (How will I ever train Ada to be polite if I can't manage basic niceties myself?)

1:20 PM
Talk on the phone with Aarin about the pleasures and annoyances of blogging, why our children act the way they do, whether it is possible to stay away from freshly made rice krispie treats, and what to drink when we get together on Sunday. (Is it possible for me to be as helpful to Aarin as I would like to be, in these early months of her time as mother of two? I worry about my capacity to do this, but I want to be that kind of friend.)

2:20 PM
Fantasize about winning a pass to Blogher. Remember to send a link about this post to Parent Bloggers Network and Light Iris. Cross fingers. (Why is Blogher such a draw? Why do I already know that if I don't go I will feel depressed the week it is going on?)

3:00 PM
Baby-sit for Monkey Boy so that Ellen can run some errands. (Is it wrong that I am happy to sit on the couch with the computer in Ellen's quiet house while MB sleeps?)

3:30 PM
Deal with Monkey Boy's annoyance that upon waking he finds me instead of his mother. Call Chris, who brings Ada over for backyard playtime.

5:30 PM
Head to Susie and Mike's house for dinner. Coo over their now one year old child, insist that time is not possibly moving so fast. Sing Sunrise, Sunset to myself when no one is listening. (Why, just a year past Ada's first birthday, does it seem impossible that Susie's son is a year old? Is it even possible that this baby has been with us for a year?)

7:15 PM
Put Ada to sleep in Susie's bedroom, return to the kitchen to help with dinner prep. Thrill at the fact that Susie and I both have husbands who take charge of dinner. Enjoy grilled meats and veggies. (I wonder if there is a better way to enjoy summer than with food cooked on the grill. Maybe food cooked on the grill and a drink with lime in it?)

10:45 PM
Finally pick up Ada and drive home, after declaring my intention to do so for 45 minutes. Even while Ada is in my arms, I feel sad for the day I no longer pick her up and cuddle her sleeping form to me, inhaling the scent of clean, sleepy girl. (Do others feel this pre-nostalgia, a sweet, fond sadness for time that is not yet lost?)

11:30 PM
Resist urge to bring up weighty topics with Chris at this time of night. Fall asleep thinking about what I will do tomorrow. (Why can't I remember the things I think about late at night?)

*Oh how I love summer. Among other enticements, it means Chris and I switch off morning duties and I get to sleep in several days a week.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pardon Our Dust

The use of a new photo should not suggest that I've changed the blog too much. I just got fed up with my previous attempt at sprucing up the template and made some quick changes so that I can stand to look at the page. (Edited to add: all the work to make the header at least semi-presentable is by Chris. Thanks, Chris.)

You know how you can go along with something looking terrible (like say, the kitchen floor) for weeks on end, and then suddenly if you have to live with the mess for one more second you are going to run out of the house and join the circus? No? Well, you probably never let your floor get as bad as mine looks right now. In any case, I had one of those moments with the blog tonight. I needed a change - I'd updated the template, which was fine except I hated the huge margin font and things never worked the way I wanted them to. Maybe one day I will splurge and get some professional help to clean the place up. Until then, I will slowly work on it myself, the equivalent of finally mopping the floors and cleaning off a corner of the dining room table for you.

Until then, I remain, lost in a poopy fog, Nonlinear Girl.

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

I have taken a more accepting, passive approach to achieving my desires in life. If somebody refuses a request, or if things don't work out the way I had desired, I don't argue. I sit back, and I wait for something to explode.

Peter Sagal
Burning Love

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Sharing is Fun

Some of the blogs I read are a glimpse into other worlds. They show me other ways of living, of thinking, of being. Then there are blogs I read because they are comfortable. I have "me too" moments or share something with the writer, whether that's a sense of humor, interests and experiences, or neuroses.

I feel both these things when I read what Laurie of Upside Up writes. I am intrigued by her glimpses into life with twins, and enjoy looking ahead a bit into the life of children just a little older than Ada. I also read Laurie's blog because, even though I have only met the part of her that she shares at Upside Up, I regularly enjoy her sense of humor and find myself laughing out loud at the flotsam she grabs from the ether for her readers. I enjoy "knowing" Laurie, and am interested in the things she has to share.

In support of sharing, I wanted to pass on that Laurie and three blog-friends have just launched a new site, called sk*rt. The sk*rt publicity materials say that:

sk*rt is an online media ranking site created for and by women, featuring topics women dig.

sk*rt was designed to promote sites, blogs, video, products, articles, ideas, art, etc. to women and to the men who want to get in our heads.

I checked it out and find it easy to use and interesting enough for me to return. Laurie asked if I (and everyone else in her rolodex) would help her promote sk*rt. Since I like Laurie and I liked the site, I agreed. I hope you like it too.

If that isn't enough for you, I also wanted to share a brilliant post Laurie wrote in April, about traveling with her girls, and fear and parenting in an unsafe world. This post has stuck with me since I read it months ago. If that isn't enough reason to share such a post, I don't know what is.

She's made her papa so proud

(Please excuse the poor film quality. I shot this with my phone, and it has lost resolution with the increase in image size.)

Monday, June 04, 2007

To a retiring professor

Bob probably didn't realize this when he hired me as a research assistant in 1993, but he gave me a lasting gift - the ability to entertain at cocktail parties.

In 1993, I was new to Chicago, having just relocated from the west coast and feeling a touch of culture shock. I went to Bob for advice on job-hunting. After welcoming me warmly to Chicago and attentively listening to my woefully short list of skills and accomplishments, Bob said he would look around and see if he could connect me to any job leads. I left the meeting appreciative of his efforts, but not assuming that the meeting would directly lead to paid work. The next day I got a call; Bob said he'd thought about it and realized that one of the projects he was running could use someone. I jumped at the chance to work on a University of Chicago research team, even if Bob was just doing a favor for the daughter of an old friend.

The project for which I was hired was a now famous study of adult sexual behavior and attitudes. The work was interesting, the colleagues hard working, and I learned a lot about social science research methods. Even better, the job was a fantastic source of party conversation. Meeting new people in Chicago, I got asked about my job a lot. Answering "I work for a sex study" was a sure-fire conversation starter. It has been over a dozen years since I last pre-tested interviews or analyzed data, but my claim to fame a an ex-sex research professional still saves me from the occasional awkward party silence. Sure, Bob has had other lasting impacts on my life, from introducing me to survey methods to helping me decide to go to policy school. I am sure that he has done these things for dozens, if not hundreds, of students over the years. But how many of them can thank Bob for making them the life of the party?

Thank you Bob, for all of your help. Cocktail party chat aside, I can honestly say that you were instrumental in starting me on the path I am still walking today.

(I wrote this for a collection of remembrances that friends, colleagues and former students are putting together for a long time University of Chicago professor.)