Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A token of his esteem

it was delicious

"you'll want to heat it up for a few seconds so that the inside gets all..."


(it did.)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

T-minus 36 hours.

After the world's longest follicle-stimulation cycle*, at 7:30 Sunday I took the shot that will induce ovulation. The ovulation, and the retrieval of the eggs, happens Tuesday morning.

I don't remember my 2004 retrieval, probably due to the anesthesia. This is what I thought about it at the time. This time we have the added complication of an existing child, and getting to the doctor by 7 AM means doing something more loving with Ada than stashing her in our trunk with some cheese crackers and a Madeline book. Luckily we also have the world's nicest child care provider, who agreed to show up at 6:25 AM on a day she doesn't normally work for us, get Ada fed and dressed and over to Monkey Boy's house so they can both be cared by a different care provider. Juni's response to my request was essentially, "No problem, I am happy to do my part to help you have another child, so I can love it up." Did I mention what an amazement she is? I really don't know what we'll do this fall, when she'll be done with school and ready to move on to full time employment.

We also have the added complication of a lovely but intense friend coming to town tomorrow for his father's cancer work-up. I am sure he'll understand that I need to work around certain unavoidable appointments, as well as around work, family, sleep, etc.

The timing is actually pretty good as such things go. I don't usually work on Tuesdays and Fridays, and those are also days Ellen is around to help me out. Tuesday should be fine - Ada will be with Monkey Boy and a child care person in the morning and Ellen will feed and make sure Ada gets a nap. The trick is going to be Friday. I need to get over the guilt feeling associated with letting someone else take care of my child for most of the day. I am supposed to lay low post-embryo transfer. After the transfer a few months ago, I felt fidgety and could not really stand the idea of lazing about. A day off (especially one with no child) left me dying to clean up, start a load of wash, and generally engage in activities not conducive to quiet relaxation. This time I am feeling a little more superstitious about following the doctors' orders. I'll work on that this week, and just in case I will do laundry on Thursday.

As long as I am thinking about this, here is a shot of why Ada loves my fertility doc's offices:

Plus, the view includes several bridges and this ship-building dock, complete with huge blue crane:

(Not pictured, the "tram hut" at the bottom of the OHSU tram. She loves all things tram.)

*For those of you who know or care about such things, usually the stimulation is 8 to 12 days, 14 at the outside. Since my ovaries didn't cooperate until day 7, the docs pretended that was my day 4, and went from there. I have been on the meds for 16 days, and it is just in the last two days that my ovaries have started to feel incredibly huge and heavy. I feel like I'm carrying two bowling balls in there, instead of ovaries. Ok, maybe not full-sized ones, but at least the duckpin kind.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The things she likes

My parents were never big on doing the "fun" kid things that other people's families engaged in.

Let me back up. It might be helpful to point out the following: my parents like to remind me that I once said I was the product of a nerd marriage. They say this proudly, as well as teasingly. My parents are intellectuals and not interested in pop culture in almost any form. They could not name a single football player, they don't care who wins the Oscars, they probably could not pick Britney Spears out of a lineup. With this as my childhood normal, as an adult I often feel embarrassed and discomfited by mass-market and other child-centered entertainments.

I feel torn writing this. Just writing this seems to suggest that I resent the choices my parents made, but I don't. I love that they took me to museums and on hikes, rather than to whatever passed for gymboree in 1970s LA. In some ways it is less where they took me as a child, but the discomfort with pop culture that they instilled in me that I am working out. I mean, they made me the kind of person who would navel gaze about just this topic.

(I am not even sure "pop culture" is really what I mean. But what is the word for mainstream entertainments if not "pop"?)

Despite my innate discomfort with certain types of kid-entertainment, I have the sense that some of these things are fun, if not for me, than at least for Ada. (Two year olds being such discriminating connoisseurs of the finer things.) So I try to balance what I do with Ada, including the cultured and the fluff. Sometimes the things I think are going to be fluff are actually really fun. A couple of weeks before Christmas Chris, Ada and I hopped on the holiday train with Monkey Boy and his parents. This 40 minute ride involved a steam engine (and five cars) chugging slowly backwards down the track for a while, then returning (forward) along the same track. The train passes wetlands along the Willamette River, allowing glimpses of houseboats, herons and floating logs. The tracks parallel the Springwater Corridor bike path, so we also saw a lot of walkers and bikers (some wielding camera-phones).

Proof I am not the only documentarian in our little group

As much as Ada and Monkey Boy enjoyed the train ride, they were even more excited to see the engine up close. It was pretty impressive:

Ok, a ride on a holiday train, not so pop. So I pressed forward in my efforts. We live near one of those streets where not only does every resident decorate for Christmas, but where it is mandatory to do so. Despite the proximity to our house, I'd never seen the street in full light action before. I figured Ada would be into this, so I wanted all week for it to stop raining long enough for us to pack her into the stroller with hot chocolate and lap blanket and mosey on down to see the splendor. As I'd hoped, she loved it. Or, as she gushes, "I yuv it!" She also yuved the "choco".

This is really the first year her vocabulary allows her to enthuse with abandon, and she gushed about the lights, the santas and snowmen, the candy canes. For some reason a house with all pink and white lights really got her going, enough so that she mentioned it a couple of times on the way home.

12/20/07 Choo Choo (Cough Cough)

And as a side note, she seems to have finally mastered the concept of "cover your mouth when you cough"!

All this is good for me, remembering how fun these things are for little kids not jaded about the world and what is cheap or cool or horrifying. I still feel kind of uncomfortable about some of the child-centered entertainments I see in advertisements and on parent blogs. I'll still be dragging Ada to museums and taking pictures of her with sculptures. I'm not buying tickets to Elmo On Ice just yet, but it is all about baby, er, toddler steps, right?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Casting a Wide Net

Today's doctor visit went better (I'm still on the slow boat, but I have 9 or 10 teeny egglets growing and my estrogen level is up. I feel good enough to share the following, non-fertility-related item.

Initially I thought this was just run-of-the-mill spam, but now I see it is more than that. It is spam, in that they guy found me by googling something like "nonlinear analysis" but as far as I can tell it is not a come on to get my money. My ideas, but not my money.

* ** * ** *

You are kindly invated to Participate and submit an Abstract to:

Chaotic Modeling and Simulation International Conference
(Chania, Crete, Greece, June 3-6, 2008)

Call for Abstracts/Papers (Deadline: January 31, 2008)

The forthcoming International Conference (Chaos2008) on Chaotic Modeling, Simulation and Applications will take place at the MAICh Conference Centre,
Chania, Crete, Greece (June 3-6, 2008).

The general topics (You will find the detailed list in the Conference web site: www.chaos2008.net) and the special sessions proposed for the Conference
Chaos2008 include but are not limited to:

1. Chaos and Nonlinear Dynamics
2. Stochastic Chaos
3. Chemical Chaos
4. Data Analysis and Chaos
5. Hydrodynamics, Turbulence and Plasmas
4. Optics and Chaos
5. Chaotic Oscillations and Circuits
6. Chaos in Climate Dynamics
7. Geophysical Flows
8. Biology and Chaos
9. Neurophysiology and Chaos
10. Hamiltonian systems
11. Chaos in Astronomy and Astrophysics
12. Chaos and Solitons
13. Micro- and Nano- Electro-Mechanical Systems
14. Neural Networks
15. Chaos, Ecology and Economy

More information from the conference secretary at: (email@address) or by using the facilities of the conference web site: http://www.chaos2008.net.


Name, CHAOS2008 Chair
Address, University
Chania, Crete, Greece

* ** * ** *

Sadly, I am not that kind of nonlinear girl. Then again, this looks right up Chris' alley.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

My hat!

Neon King Kong standin' on my back
Can't stop to turn around, broke my sacroiliac

Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
The Message

Monday, January 14, 2008

Not what I was expecting

In all my worrying, one thing I was not worrying about was my response to follicle stimulating drugs. Knowing that Chris and I need IVF due to a, shall we say, difficulty encouraging individual eggs and sperm to get together on their own, I never spent much energy thinking about other problems that could keep us from conceiving. The first time we did IVF several years ago, I was a little slow to respond to the drugs, and the dosages were upped midway through the process.

After my "day 4" appointment this morning, Jill (my favorite medical assistant and apparently the bearer of all my bad news) called to set up my next appointment and let me know about the blood test results. She told me that my estradiol level was low - below 20. That didn't mean much to me, so I mentioned that the first time I'd been a slow starter too. Trying to help me understand the results, Jill said, last time my day four estradiol level was 45. At the time they'd considered that kind of low.

"Oh." I replied, just starting to understand what she was telling me. "So what do we do?"

"Just keep on going. We can't change the protocol, since you are already on the highest dose of the drugs. It is only day four, don't worry."

But I do. I worry about the low hormone level, and I worry that I didn't think to worry about this before now. How can I employ my vast powers of magical thinking to protect myself from bad things happening if I can't think of all the bad things that could happen? Why didn't it occur to me that this could be a problem?

The first time I had IVF I was 32. I am now 36. Still young-ish (at least by fertility doc standards), but no spring chicken. After each of the tests and procedures that led up to IVF, each one ending with a resounding "well, we don't know what's wrong but your fallopian tubes/ovaries/uterus, etc look normal," I started to believe that if we could just fix our one issue it would all work fine. We just had to find that issue. Eventually we did, and ICSI fixed it. But now I am forced to remember that fertility can be much more complicated. My body is important in this process, and is fallible.

* ** * ** *

One other thing - by typing the words "day four", IVF and estradiol, I will be found by a lot of other women going through what I am now experiencing. A note to those women, who invariably never stay long - I think I understand what you are looking for, and I know why you only stop here a few seconds. You want more than information, you want reassurance. I wish I could give it to you. I wish I felt it. Today I found myself googling "day 4 estradiol level" in a crazy attempt to figure out what a "normal" day four level is.

"Can I go from less than 20 to just fine in a few days?" I stopped myself before digging deep into google's mysteries. There are no answers out there for me and the other women who want to know more than what the "right" estradiol level is. We want to know whether we'll get what we want, whether we'll carry a pregnancy to term, whether we'll feel the happy exhaustion of labor. I don't know that, for myself or for my brief visitors.

Best of luck to us all.

(And thanks to magpie, who correctly identified that I was talking about estradiol, not FSH. Apparently more than my response to the drugs is slow these days!)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

keep your clothes

He didn't have hair either, so he was called a redhead arbitrarily.

Danill Kharms
Blue Notebook #10

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Another problem with living in a city that is 77.9% white

Chris and Ada were looking at the newspaper one recent morning. Ada noticed a photograph of two African Americans, one female and one male. Pointing, she announced: "Gordon and Susan!"

Monday, January 07, 2008

One last thing or two about the holidays

Jammed into one photo-filled post, here's my holiday wrap-up:

Crafty Holiday

Now that I have given my gifts out to friends and family, I am free to share what I made.

I got really inspired by all the ideas posted on Sew, Mama, Sew! during November. In addition to the apron I made for Ellen, I made a bunch of zippered wristlets:

zippered wristlets

wristlets showing insides

I also made a bunch of heat therapy bags (muslin bags filled with orange-oil splashed rice). They can be tossed in the microwave and then used as heating pads for sore muscles. For each one I made a linen and cotton bag to go over the "ugly" bag. I had a lot of fun making these, but then completely forgot to take pictures. Luckily I realized that I actually made one more than I gave away. I made four in linen and cotton, and one in all cotton. The last one I didn't give away, because I thought the linen version made a better gift. After literally sniffing around the house for the orange-scented bag, I found it and snapped this picture:

heat therapy pillow

I also made a couple of eye bags filled with lentils and lavender. No photos, because other than the nice fabric, these rectangles aren't much to look at. (Mike, if you are reading, know that I have one in my dining room with your name written all over it.) Here is a small photo of one of the trapesoid bags I made for a couple of women at work. I found a quick and easy "one yard, one hour" pattern for a lined bag, but it was so boring I ended up using velcro to adjust the shape a bit. I also made a great little bird shaped sachet for Ada (who had requested a smelly pillow after seeing me make the eye bags and rice bags). Sadly, I forgot to take a picture, and the thing is upstairs with her now while she sleeps. I got the idea from this tutorial.

Christmas Eve White Elephant, or was that Dusty Duck?

Chris's family always spends Christmas eve with his aunt's family. We catch up on family news over egg nogs, eat dinner (ham and turkey), and retire to the living room for a white elephant gift exchange. This is not one of those exchanges where everyone brings something nice and bland and cheap (movie tickets or bon bons). This white elephant is an attempt to out-weird one another. I was sure I had a winner with my Home Face-Lift Kit (picked up at a white elephant exchange last January), but then I was met with several really impressive entries, including a Ukranian sunflower plate, a set of cat-butt magnets, old-lady doilies, a sexual board game, and this:

Dusty Duck

As you can see from the finger-prints, this one had been in the garage for a while. My 12 year old nephew had three separate gifts stolen from him (part of the game, but really, he's twelve!), but one of them was some card games that my mother-in-law and I got back to him. All in all, a nice evening.

(My brother-in-law ended up with the duck, which he intended to take home as a "treat" for his family's cats. Ten days after Christmas, my sister-in-law reported that the duck was still intact. Apparently the cats are more frightened than delighted by the stuffed bird. Funny, so was I.)

Christmas was a success

This first year of Ada understanding that Christmas involved lots of food and presents went over well. Exhibit A:

C is for Christmas Cookies

She only ended up icing two cookies, because she could not understand why you would ice a cookie if you weren't going to immediately eat it.

Exhibit B:
My in-laws saved this Fisher Price town from when Chris was a kid. I had one too but mine went to a goodwill somewhere in LA the moment my interest in it flagged. Not only does it have the police car and fire engine, but a bunch of "little people", furniture and playground equipment. Plus, my mother-in-law made a felt park and, because she could not find the original letters that came with the set, made new letters. Each laminated letter is addressed to one of Ada's friends or family members. She loves delivering the mail, and the process has solidified her sight knowledge of her own name and that of a couple of other people named on the envelopes.

Her Town

New Year, New Projects

Mostly because I have no idea what to get her, I am making my mom a farmers market bag. I stopped by my favorite fabric store today to pick up material for the handles, and found they were having a sale. I ended up buying a bunch of material for several planned projects.


Traci - the fabrics on the left are for the bag you hoped I'd make you. We can take it out in trade or blood, whatever works for you.

Karen - do you like either of the two middle fabrics on the right for a skirt? Depending on which one you like I will make myself a skirt with the other fabric.

The orange fabric will become a shirt from a pattern my essentially-sister-in-law gave me, and the bottom one will become a table runner for my mother-in-law. I will give it to her for Christmas next year, so I think I have a little time. (Yes, I can not resist a bargain.)

Somehow writing that all up was more exhausting than actually living it. I hope everyone is recovering nicely from their holidays.

(Chris - can you help me fix this dang blog so that everything I post doesn't end up like this, with edges trimmed in a messy and unwanted way?)