Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Drop me in the water

In the Jewish religion, today is the ceremony Tashlich, which is Hebrew for "casting off." As part of the start of a new year, this is a chance to symbolically cast off the sins of the past year. Jews go to a natural body of flowing water and throw in pieces of bread to symbolize the shedding of these old errors. The idea is to get rid of things you do not want to take with you into the new year. While traditionalists focus on specific errors made in the past year, right now I am thinking more about the ways I make life unnecessarily harder for myself. By tossing away some of these I hope I will feel lighter about whatever happens in the next year.

I would like to leave behind:

  • Sadness that I have not had an easy road to pregnancy. Whether or not it works this time, this is one area where I have actually made a lot of progress compared to earlier this year. I am ready to move forward with one child or with two, but without the sadness and self-pity I was lugging around in the spring.
  • Anger and frustration at Ada's continued refusal to use the potty. I am horrified by how hard it is for me to get past this one. Even as I think about how to change my response, I want to write out all reasons I am justified in feeling so annoyed with her. I have a lot of work to do on this; it is going to take a lot of bread crumbs. 
  • Fear. Fear of messing up, fear of being found out as unqualified, untalented, uninteresting. I know that a lot of people carry this one around, especially those of us who like to be in control all the time. Carrying this fear takes a lot of energy. I am sure that letting it go would help me find more energy for other things. Saying that, I know that this one is especially hard for me to release. I will be cutting myself some slack if I am not quite done with this one yet.
What would you like to move forward without? I'll toss it in the river for you today.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A House Dweller Can Still Use Apartment Therapy

Last week Apartment Therapy's Re-Nest site put out a call for creative-reuse ideas. Looking up from my computer, I saw the canning jars I turned into photo frames.  Some photographs and an email later, and voila, Re-Nest is sharing this idea with its readers. Check it out.

reuse project
One of my favorite pictures: Baby Ada with Adam

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Waiting is Half the Battle?

If my personal history is any guide, this is the day on which I think to myself, "this whole waiting is no big deal, I can wait another week for a blood test, no problem." That would make Monday the day I think, "There is no way I can wait another week, this waiting is killing me!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Maybe she'd settle for ALMOST a grown up?

Walking to school, Ada and I pass a bunch of cob benches. As we came alongside them, Ada pointed and said: "Three benches and three benches."

Me: That's great, Ada. Do you know how many is that all together?

Ada: Six.

Me: That's right! Do you know what you just did?

Ada: What?

Me: Math!

Ada, after thinking about this for a moment: That means I'm a grown up!

pink hat
looking quite grown up, except for the food on her face

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

Belmont Street Face

Zaftig describes in one word what it takes two hands, outlining an hourglass figure, to do.

Leo Rosten
The Joy of Yiddish

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Monday is the New Day of Rest

Monday at 11 I've got a date with some embryos.

Of the 9 eggs retrieved, 8 were mature. (So much for that high tech ultrasound.) Four of those were successfully inseminated. Monday I will find out whether any or all of them look good after 3 days. I'll take what I can get.

I'll be resting today, and thinking about how these can be pictures of the same child, taken just one over year apart:

7/21/07 Sheep Wagon
July 2007

Ada enjoying the sheep wagon
September 2008
Whatever happens, I am incredibly lucky.  

Friday, September 19, 2008

3/4 Dozen

Friday morning I had an egg retrieval. It went about as well as possible - they got 9 eggs.

Health policy wonk that I am, I had an extensive conversation with the Anesthesiologist about his native Sweden's health care system. I then remained awake for the procedure (a first) which was both fascinating and uncomfortable. Turns out both Chris and I were trying to decipher what the doctor, nurse and lab tech were telling one another as they worked.

This afternoon Jill called to let me know that if for some reason none of the eggs work out, we can use our frozen ones.  This is something I had asked my doctor about earlier this week, but I think he was not clear what I was asking, and I got a confusing answer about exogenous estrogen.  (Now there's something to say five times fast: exogenous estrogen, exogenous estrogen, exogenous extra... oh crap.)

So, we are on for a Monday transfer, and if I can get it together I might actually feel hopeful about it.

Since earlier this week when I was told there were three eggs and the cycle might be cancelled, I have assumed the worst. This not-entirely effective self-protective measure is one I slip into easily.  Several people have recently suggested I could be more hopeful, including an old friend who noted that I could put off worrying for a bit.  The worry will be there later. He has a point, and while I won't be counting any chickens yet, I can certainly give the Eeyore routine a rest for a bit. 

In the mean time I have a brunch, a wedding and a birthday party to look forward to. And delicious mozzarella-tomato sandwiches for dinner. That alone is enough to make me do a happy little jig.

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

(random) cow

If you don't like it, I'll slap you with a spoon.
Portland Trailblazer Channing Frye

Thursday, September 18, 2008

An Update, Mostly to Torture Myself

On Monday things did not look good.  The docs had me come in Tuesday, which confirmed the not-good-newsness.  Wednesday didn't improve the news, but at least it clarified my options.

Each time I do this, something new is goes poorly.  In January, my body struggled to overcome the ganirelix, and I endured a record breaking 17 day stimulation. (In general, the antagonist protocol is thought to be smoother, but not for me.)  In March my response was much better with the lupron, so good that I decided to have only two embryos implanted instead of three.  In retrospect it was the wrong choice, but then things could have turned out the same way with three. 

Now, after several months off, my body is not cooperating.  It looks like I will cough up three eggs, or at least I hope I will.  I had a long talk with my lead doctor today, and this ever optimistic man said that if I wanted to go forward with a retrieval with only 3 eggs, he would support it. (Normally they like to see 6 eggs for a retrieval.) So we are going forward, knowing:

  • the cycle could fail because the three eggs that look good on an ultrasound turn out to be not so great once they are outside my ovaries;
  • the cycle could fail because none of the eggs is successfully inseminated; or
  • the cycle could fail because not one of the embryos makes it the three days to 8 cell stage.
And, even if none of the above bad things happens, the cycle could fail because the embryos do not implant.  I know all about that; getting to the end with everything looking good, only to have it fall apart quietly and mysteriously during the two weeks between implantation and pregnancy test.

I know that there are so many things that could go wrong.  I assume something will go wrong.  Partially this is a rational assessment, but it is also self-protective. I need to help myself from having the hope that supports me just long enough to allow me to feel crushed by the negative blood test.

I am trying to hold on how I felt earlier this summer, when I knew it would be okay to have an only child. I am not a superstitious person, and I do not search my surroundings for signs or secret meanings. Despite this I can not help but notice that in the past few weeks I have reconnected with two old friends, both only children.  I have resisted the urge to ask them what it was like to grow up an only, what it is like now.  What that would tell me that would help me now, I don't know.  It is not important, I think. Rather than try to talk myself into why any outcome is going to be fine, I just need to get through the next few weeks. I can mourn when the time comes, but for now I just need to hold on. 

Tonight I took the medicine that will induce ovulation in 36 hours.

Tomorrow I do nothing. (Ok, not nothing, but after "don't blog about work" my second rule might be "don't blog about enemas".)

Friday morning I go to the doctor for the egg retrieval. I don't have much hope, but of course I have hope.  Otherwise I'd just walk away and wait for the doctors to refund me the money we paid up-front.
Wish me luck.  Just don't tell me you are sure it will work, please.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Amusement (Park)

In a previous moment of navel-gazing I mentioned that I am not sure how I well I will share with Ada the amusements that my parents taught me to disdain. Well, maybe their training was not as thorough as I previously imagined, because Ada and I had a fantastic time at Oaks Park, an old-fashioned (in both the good and bad senses) amusement park on the south end of town.

Through this month, Oaks Park offers pre-school aged children two hours of full access to the kiddie (and as they refer to them, "intermediate") rides. For $6 every Tuesday and Wednesday, the kids can ride the carousel, train, "rockin' tug" and other rides.

When Ada rode a carousel 18 months ago, she looked half dazed and half frightened. Both those emotions are gone, replaced by a joy so complete that she almost shakes.

Zebra and Ada
Please note I have sacrificed here, showing not the "best" picture, 
but the one that gives a glimpse of Ada's permanent carousel-grin.

This week's trip to Oaks Park is our second in as many weeks. Last week Ada cried when we got off the carousel the second time, saying "I don't want to get off. I want to STAY." This week she realized that some of the other rides are just as fun as the carousel (if less picturesque). The balloon ride was a big hit - we rode it three times today. The whole frame rises a few stories into the air, and spins the balloons in a circle. Each basket also spins independently, to Ada's great joy.

Balloon Ride
The balloon ride may be Ada's new favorite.

Purple Motorcycle
A purple motorcycle, what could be better?

Last week, 11:30 came too quickly, and we were caught unaware that the end of ride time was upon us. Not anxious to repeat the tantrum that followed the abrupt end, this week I was careful to tell Ada that the rides were ending soon.  For her last ride, Ada chose the Rockin' Tub, a boat that swings and sways and looks like this (image borrowed from the oaks park website, which OP management should not be upset given all the nice things I am saying about the park):

Before climbing up to the boat, Ada told me I should wait outside. What? My cautious child, telling me to hang back while she climbs in to shake and shimmy? I was floored. Since this was the last ride, I convinced Ada to let me on, albeit two rows behind her.

Rockin' Tug

The family in the row between us commented on how brave she was. She looked very proud of herself. I was thrilled for her, but to be honest, I could have used someone holding my hand a bit.

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week

You must be shorter

I'm adding pecans. You can use, again, what kind of nut you like. Cashews work really well. But I like pecans. You know how squirrels like nuts.

Heidi Wilson

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The real problem with IVF, part 3

On day 7 of the stimulation meds I lost the ability to function.

The previous weekend was fantastic - camping with Ada, Chris and Juniper, and the start of the week was fine.  I even made it through three evening work events last week, all of which were timed to require injections in assorted bathroom of varying cleanliness. Amazingly, only one of those bathroom visits involved half-explaining myself to a stranger. The stranger in question, who found me with needles and vials in the bathroom at the Chinese Classical Gardens, was completely unfazed and in fact slowed my progress by talking my ear off about the annoyance of having to shlep medications around (she has glaucoma).

Ada got tired
A not-so subtle reminder to myself of some of what I already have.

By Friday, I was worn out from a lack of down-time and from medication side effects. By Sunday I wanted to run away from home, or at least flee Ada's unexplained crabbiness for a few hours.  Instead I suffered through the nursery school picnic and took pictures of Ada enjoying the merry-go-round.

Merry Going Round
She loves the ride, but just thinking about it makes me a little queasy.

Mega-doses of hormones strip away my usual protections.  There is nothing between me and the world, so I feel annoyed and frustrated every easily. Unfortunately, this hyper-emotional state makes me to want to blurt out to everyone that I AM TAKING LOTS OF HORMONES AND AM NOT TOO HAPPY ABOUT IT. Luckily for myself and others, I am mostly able to keep the shouting to a minimum.

I decided to reserve judgment about how this cycle is going until I got the day 10 results Monday afternoon. As usual, my body has responded a bit slowly to the meds, but from the day 7 results it didn't seem like things were going any slower than in the past.  I thought the main thing was just to deal with my over-the-top response to normal frustrations and annoyances.

Well, until Monday afternoon, when Jill called.  I love Jill, who broadcasts her news even before she tells you how sucky it is. Her tone of voice tells all, and I knew from her hello that things were not great. My estrogen is fine, but (as I already knew from the scan) I don't have a lot of eggs. As in - 3 or maybe 4 decent sized ones.  This is a new wrinkle.

I really don't know how to feel.  I mean, I feel shitty, but in a larger way, I don't know how to feel. I have not felt hopeful about this cycle from the get-go. Maybe it is the almost-year of failed cycles behind me. Maybe it is a sense that if it was gong to happen it would have last time when I felt so good about it.

I spent the past few months coming to terms with the idea of not having another child. But coming to terms with it, even thinking there are good things about having only one, it makes it hard to get my hopes up for this round. It is hard to hand over the credit card, repeatedly plunge needles into my belly, suffer the mental and physical annoyances, all while smiling at the nurses and making small talk about shoes or the weather. It was all I could do not to grab the doctor this morning and demand that she agree that this sucks.

Our nanny and friend Juniper has been asking when she should start sending the positive energy our way. Today I told her I needed it.  I need someone else to be positive for me. I am not feeling it myself, and nothing I am hearing from Chris screams hope and excitement, or even whispers that the outcome matters much to him, frankly.

I go back in Tuesday morning, and in the afternoon I will hear whether the few eggs I do have will get plucked Thursday or Friday. I find myself hoping that they'll have me hold out for one more day, but I am not sure why.  An extra day is just that, one more day to hope and fear and make bargains with my body and the 8 celled embryos that will soon inhabit it. Despite the possibility that one or two more eggs will have a chance to mature, an extra day of hoping is just what I don't want.  I can't help but hope for it anyway.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Eggplant for Haters

Magpie Musing and I recently talked about eggplants. She does not like them, and until this summer, neither did I.  Actually, I am still not crazy about eggplants, but I do have one recipe that I enjoy enough to pass it on to her (and to you).  My anti-eggplant/pro-this recipe declaration feels a little like a racist who declares he doesn't like people of such-and-so race, except for that one friend of his who happens to be of that race. Except where racism is just dumb, anti-eggplant bias is totally understandable. So without further ado I present:  

The Eggplant Recipe For People Who Don't Like Eggplant
  • 2 Chinese Eggplant  I can only vouch for this recipe if you use skinny asian eggplants. If you use globe (american) eggplant, I think it will be like any other recipe made with globe eggplant, which is to say: sucky.
  • Canola oil
  • about 1/2 cup Chinese rice wine
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup broth 
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soy sauce
  • Honey or brown sugar
  • Dark sesame oil
  • Scallions, chopped (I use the whites and some of the greens)
  • Salt
Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise. Fry the eggplant halves in canola oil (open side down) until they are a bit browned. (don't expect the eggplants to be cooked at this point)

Add the 1/2 cup rice wine and 1/2-2/3 cup broth.  The eggplants should be mostly covered. Cover and simmer until the eggplants are pretty soft when poked with a fork.

Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet.  Scootch them around with a spoon to keep from burning.

Heat up a little water (maybe a 1/4 cup) and melt the honey or brown sugar. Make a sauce of soy, honey or brown sugar, sesame oil, chopped scallions, and toasted sesame seeds.

When eggplant is soft, cut halves into pieces, then add to sauce.  Add salt if needed (though I think the soy sauce is salty enough).

Note: Don't come to me all up in arms, yelling "how can you discount eggplant parmesan?" Eggplant parm is something I can eat, but choose not to because really, wouldn't it be better without the eggplant?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Random quote and unrelated photo(s) of the week

Meter Face

Sweet Smile


Shown for scale

Friendly Free Paper Dispenser

Not everyone dreams of being a KJ (karaoke DJ), video game addict and burned out rocker.

Jessica Machado
Is it real . . . or is it 'Rock Band'?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Other Memories

When I look back at what was a day of immense personal and national tragedy, what I remember is sitting in a cubicle in Rhode Island "talking" on the computer to my friends across the country. We spent the day together, conferring, consoling and questioning. I remember this connection with friends from all over, and it makes me feel so lucky.  Not just because no one I know was injured or died, but to have such a caring community around me.

It feels a little awkward to bring this up on a day of remembrance for the lost. It in no way makes what happened on 9/11 less horrible, but I feel compelled to remember that even in such a terrible moment, good existed as well.

Let It Go

On a sunny, perfect afternoon earlier this week, Ellen and I were driving across town with the kids chattering in the backseat. As we sped across the Ross Island Bridge, Ellen told me that she would like to be able to let things go. Literally.

Over the years she has accumulated a lot of things, some of which she can not use now or is holding on to despite their being mis-matched with her life. A roomy house with a big basement have no doubt added to this feeling; it is so easy to keep things: in case they are needed; or you gain or lose 10 pounds; or you grow your hair out again. Other things are kept because they have sentimental value. You do not need that teapot, but it was your great-aunt's, and it is so lovely and delicate.

Ellen was inspired to release some of the things she has accumulated over the years by a neighbor who routinely and generously passes things on to Ellen and Monkey Boy. Ellen decided to commit herself to a year of letting things go, and asked if I would join her. I said yes; I share Ellen's desire to, and fear of, letting go of loved but unused treasures. We agreed that it would be easier to give something away if we knew it was going to someone who wants or needs it.

For Ellen, and for me as well, the release of things implies a release on an emotional as well as a tangible level. Both Ellen and I hang on to feelings, sometimes continuing to wring them out past the time we should let go. Hopefully this release of items can serve as a training ground, allowing both of us to let go of useless feelings about long past events. We may not want to pass such feelings on to others, but we can release them nonetheless.

Letting go is not completely new to either Ellen or me. We give one another clothes, share children's toys, and have even unloaded furniture on one another. But this time we have agreed to be conscious about the release - to find things that we do not need or do not use, and pair them with people who will value them.

Ellen is starting with a plate. The story of the plate is not mine, but maybe Ellen will tell it here. In any case, the plate (which has been in the basement for a long while) is going to find a new home soon. I am still looking for my first item to give away. As practice, I am going to return a shirt given to me by a neighbor. The color was no good for her, but one that works for me. Sadly, the shape is not flattering. By returning the shirt to my neighbor, I hope she will be able to find a more suitable home for it.

Things have stories. They are our stories, but they can also be part of a longer tale shared by many.  So here we go, we are starting a year of letting go.  Feel free to join us, and let me know what you give away and to whom. Because I love a good story.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Crossing My Fingers

Please join me in hoping for a positive test for my IVF-blog pal Penny, as she goes in for her blood test today. 

I have never been a big fan of blogs solely focused on infertility.  Maybe it is that the issue is too close to my heart for me to read regularly about this particular pain, or maybe I just have not connected with the writing of other infertility bloggers. Penny's blog Incompl-te is an extraordinary exception.  Throughout her round of IVF, she has written clearly and with good humor about the milestones, emotions and small details that make up this process.  As crazy as it sounds, I have looked forward to her daily posts, which are written in a tongue-in-cheek "what to expect" style.

Penny, I wish you the best and have  my fingers crossed for a good outcome.  Whatever the results, know that I care about you and hope for many good things for you and your family. 

Monday, September 08, 2008

The real problem with IVF, part 2

Friday at the grocery store I ran into a friend of Chris's.  His mother recently died, after a brief battle with ALS (Lou Gerhig's Disease).  I had talked to this guy at the start of the summer, and offered some support based in my experience with this disease.  (My grandmother had it.)

I walked over to tell this man how sorry I am for his loss. We talked for a bit, and I found myself welling up. He (a man of good stoic Norwegian stock) remained calm, while I was close to sobbing. And I went over to console him.

Fucking hormones.

Friday, September 05, 2008

I think I am in love

Pirates AND ninjas, what could be wrong about that?

Absolutely Small puts these videos together using her little creations. Check out her youtube page for more videos. (and thanks to Craft Magazine's blog, where I found this.)

Ada, Chris and I are going with a friend to camp, eat pancakes and soak in hot springs.  Hope you have a great weekend too!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Random quote and unrelated photo of the week


Sophie resides on a Greek island - an island like any other, where gnarled old ladies drop whatever they're doing in the olive grove and tunefully join in on nineteen-seventies Swedish pop songs.

Anthony Lane
Euro Visions

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

To Friendship

After a string of "I will" "we can't" "ok, maybe" "no, wait" emails were flung from my fingers to Mother-Woman's inbox, Chris and I finally committed to a pan-Cascadian trip to see this fine woman and her family.  Before I get into how great they are and what a wonderful visit it was,  I feel compelled to offer the following Public Service Announcement:

If you find yourself at the U.S.A./Canada border, and the very nice Canadian border guard asks, after taking possession of your family's passports, about the purpose of your visit, it is reasonable to answer: "We are visiting friends."

But, when that guard follows up with: "How do you know them?" it is perhaps not advisable to (honestly) declare that your wife met them on the internet.

Unless you want the guard to ask skeptically, "Have you met them before?" which you will be compelled to respond to in the negative.

"But I have known them for almost two years" you might chirp nervously.

At this point, you can not fault the guard for asking about the nature of your web site. Using all your powers of restraint, try not to use the word "blog," but simply respond that you discuss parenting issues and bathroom remodels. The guard might then decide that you are not heading up to Vancouver to sell your child to these "friends" and may allow you on your merry way with only a raised eyebrow and a laugh at the expense of those foolhearty Americans.

**            **            **

Now that we've got that out of the way, on to the gushing! I feel somewhat overwhelmed by how fun it was to visit Mother-Woman and her family. I am always a bit nervous right before anything new, and to be honest, the border guard's skepticism could have been well-founded. Not because we were likely to be housed by dangerous criminals, but because a virtual friendship can be very different from one based on real, in-person meetings. In this case, I should not have worried. Mo-Wo is lovely, charming, smart and fun. And cute, so cute. P-man, who shows a consistently curmudgeonly face to the internet, is actually a charming and funny guy.  Plus, he very kindly guided us to the house when I called from across town to say "help, I messed up the directions!"

But enough of those two.  The real charmers are their kids. Miss Fancy and the toddler I came to think of as Captain YES! are lovely, adorable children with way better table manners than my child on a good day. (Let's just say that only one child climbed under the table at dinner, and it was not either of Mo's.) They were so cute I wanted to eat them up. But that would probably have crossed some guest-host boundary.

Ada immediately took to both kids, enough that by bathtime of the first day she got in the tub and asked: "where are my girl and my boy?" Enough so that when I told her that all four parents would be going out, leaving her and the kids with people (okay, grandparents) she'd met only minutes before, who would feed, bathe and tuck her in, she was not at all phased. Enough so that on our post-return trip tricycle ride around the block, Ada declared her desire to be just like Miss Fancy. (Never mind that she meant she wanted the same kind of streamers on her trike, I later used it to further my potty-training agenda.)

Decorated Bike

Mo-wo and P-man are incredibly gracious and kind, they fed us well and made both excellent conversation and delicious coffee. Before the visit I worried about whether we would have enough to say to one another to make it through the weekend. Luckily I was wrong. We talked about kids, work, gardens, books, neighborhoods, politics, beluga whales and why the band Destroyer is crap. (Chris, who is reading this over my shoulder, notes that Destroyer only has one song, played repeatedly throughout the show we attended. And what was up with the people who were there to see Destroyer and LEFT after Neko Case came on?)

Skate and Hermit Crab
The girls (er, skate and hermit crab) building a fish-lodge at the Vancouver aquarium

A few months ago Metrodad asked his readers about how they viewed their internet relationships: were they as important to people as in-person friends? Even though I have a couple of good friends who I met through blogging, I have in-person relationships with them that are now more important to me than our blogs. These women live nearby, making it easy to get together regularly.

Mo-Wo and P-man are hours away, across an international border (though thankfully, no time zones). We probably will not see one another often, but this weekend makes me wish that were not the case. I want to be able to stop by for coffee and have them bring the kids over to barbecue. As wistful as it makes me feel that I can not pull these wonderful people into my everyday social life, I am thrilled that I have that wish. I only hope that they had a good time this weekend and are not now changing their phone numbers or planning a name change.

Oh, and speaking of hope, I very much hoping that Blogher does end up being in Portland next summer, if only because P-man has threatened to attend, tarted up in drag, no less.

Oh Sew Crazy

While I compose my thoughts about the fantastic weekend I had with Mother-Woman and her family, I will distract you with fabric:

A while back I posted on Did You Buy That New about my sewing. I am proud enough of this Lotus Dress that I wanted to paste the photos up here. Other than the usual caveats of a novice sewer, I am very happy with the result.



Monday, September 01, 2008

The Most Delicious Spam

Looking for a lost email, I found a number of good subject lines in my spam filter.  I see a pattern emerging:

Britney Spears' New Hair Extensions Are Lindsay Lohan's Pubes

Pope Benedict to Exorcise George Bush and Britney Spears on US Visit

Dalai Lama denies receiving fellatio from Britney Spears

Britney Spears shaken but unhurt after failed suicide bomber attack

Britney Spears Confession: 'I'm the Father of Anna Nicole Smith's Baby!'