Photo Friday: Play

July 30, 2010

(Note: Children pictured.)

The theme this week for Calliope’s Photo Friday is play.

Here is a snapshot of what play looks like in my house, minus the parts where they snatch toys out of each other’s hands, crawl over each other en route to a toy, try to teethe on their twin’s skull, etc. Sometimes peaceful as depicted below, often not so peaceful, but always colorful, in every sense of the word.

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Thoughtful ThursdayTranscript of a conversation between my SIL and my friend Mrs. OH while I sat there silently. As background, Mrs. OH knows all about my infertility history, but SIL knows nothing about it. And yes, my SIL does talk in exclamation marks all the time.

SIL: I got pregnant the first month I tried!
Mrs. OH: You’re very lucky.
SIL: I didn’t expect it! My two best friends both took so long to conceive, one took 8 months and one took more than 2 years, so I thought it would take me a while too. I was really surprised!
Mrs. OH: I actually conceived the first month we tried too. I thought it would take longer because of my age. We really got lucky.
SIL: It actually wasn’t the best timing, because I had to change the wedding date, and it wasn’t so good with my work schedule.
Mrs. OH: It was meant to be.
SIL: Don’t get me wrong, it’s great!
Mrs. OH, very deliberate: We are Both. Very. Lucky.

Someone else might notice that I sat silently through the whole conversation, but SIL is too self-absorbed to realize that I did not pipe in about my own luck, or lack thereof. Someone else might also notice that Mrs. OH seemed to be pushing the luck angle particularly strongly. I did, and I found it quite kind that she was making this point with a nod to my experience.

Fast forward a few months from that conversation and Mrs. OH is pregnant with #2, well before her baby’s first birthday. When Mr. OH called us to break the news, he was kind of horrified. They had pulled the goalie, but didn’t really expect or want to conceive just yet.

The sarcastic infertile in me wants to say, “Boo hoo, you chose to have unprotected sex and conceived a baby right away, what a horrible problem.”

A more reasoned part of me realizes that having two babies in a year and a half is a lot for anyone to handle. That having a baby when you weren’t quite expecting one (even if maybe you should have expected it, because, you know, unprotected sex makes babies, or at least that’s what I’ve heard) can be a problem just like not having a baby can be a problem.

That reasoned part of me also says that someone might lose something in never having a BFN. As much as I very much did not enjoy the almost 100 BFNs I had through the TTC process, each one certainly confirmed my desire for a child. Some people like Mrs. OH, even without their own BFNs, can have empathy for others’ experience, but many others seem not to get it. They don’t understand why infertility is hard for others, because they’ve never faced that kind of disappointment themselves.

I think anyone would agree that 7 years of infertility is pretty unlucky. But, at the same time, I ended up with the jackpot. Maybe being infertile was lucky after all, because I ended up with these two amazing babies.

Months of bedrest and a month of hospitalization seems unlucky, but my babies stayed inside a month longer than we thought they would, and our NICU stay was short. We were incredibly lucky in that regard. I was fully aware of my good luck at the time, and I constantly amazed the staff with my sunny outlook. They would remark that it was unlucky to be stuck in the hospital, and I always told them how much better it was than the alternative.

I didn’t blog about it at the time, but when I was in the hospital, DH almost died. As in literally very narrowly escaped death. He did not die, and instead was barely hurt. He was, we were, unimaginably lucky. Some people commented that it would have been even luckier not to have faced the situation at all. Perhaps, but more likely we are better for being able to appreciate life so much more.

I have had some bad luck career-wise lately. As in, stomachache all day, kept up at night with worry. Some of it involves things that perhaps I could have done differently, and some is just me getting screwed. The good luck hasn’t shown itself yet, but so far in my life it has always shown itself eventually. I’m sure, or at least I hope, that I’ll feel like my bad luck was very good luck after all.

How do you tend to define luck? Does luck mean having the outcome you wanted in the first place, or do you find the bright side regardless of what happens?

Formula

July 27, 2010

Along the lines of my efforts to trace infertility through my family tree and keeping in mind my breastmilk supply woes, I present a conversation between me and my mother.

Mom: What kind of formula do Burrito and Tamale drink? Similac? Do they still have Similac?
Me: Yes. Why?
Mom: That’s what we used to give you.
Me: I thought you breastfed me.
Mom: I did, but you also had Similac. I didn’t have enough milk.

She likely did have endocrine issues, and who knows about her infertility, but she didn’t have a c-section or blood loss or a preemie or a sleepy baby, and there was only one of me, and still she had supply issues. Was my own milk supply already doomed three and a half decades ago?

Hmm.

Thoughtful ThursdayThis is one of those Thoughtful Thursdays in which you help me make up my mind, though you can extrapolate the questions to another situation if you’d like.

Burrito and Tamale have been the recipients of many generous gifts, but the majority of their clothes are hand-me-downs — many of which were barely or never worn. To continue the cycle, and to get all of this stuff cleared out of my house, my intention has been to pass along their outgrown clothes and gear to others.

My nephew Murphy has been the recipient of all of Burrito’s clothes. Tamale’s belongings have been waiting to find a home. There are several candidates, but no one leaps to the front of the pack.

I could hold them for a future niece, but DH’s sister may not have a girl next time around (whenever that happens), and the other siblings aren’t yet at the stage of having children.

I could hold them for the DH’s best friend, Mr. OH, who will have a second child in a few months — but they aren’t finding out the sex, so it may not be relevant anyway.

I could give them to a coworker who is pregnant with twins after a long IF journey. Between the twins and the infertility, she should be the obvious choice — except that I can’t stand her husband. I tried to give him another chance now that we have the twin connection, but he was even more obnoxious than I remembered. Also, they’re not finding out the sex either. Mathematically there’s a 75% chance that they’ll have at least one girl, but it’s possible that they could have two boys.

I could give them to my friend who is definitely giving birth to a girl in a couple of months. They don’t need anything they can get the way that parents of twins do, and the baby would have plenty with or without me, but I like both her and her husband tremendously.

Would you base hand-me-downs on obligation? Need? Liking? Keep it in the family, keep it in the circle of friends, or just get it out of the house? Stay in a holding pattern of possibility versus embrace certainty and get it over with?

Calliope needs some cheering up, so I must oblige by joining this week’s Photo Friday.

A few years ago, one of my cat’s canine teeth got dislodged and prevented her from eating or drinking. The vet figured that while she was under anesthesia for the dental surgery, she might as well have a growth on her shoulder removed and biopsied. After the surgery, my poor cat had to wear a little sweater to keep her from licking the stitches. In addition to two weeks of twice-a-day antibiotics, I had to administer a week of morphine. The first week of medication was much easier, because she was so stoned from the morphine; once she’d kicked, in the second week, she started objecting strongly to the antibiotics. This photo is from the first day after surgery, when my poor, stumbling, doped up cat tried to sleep off her opiate high, oblivious to her unfashionable gauze sweater.

If it weren’t for the sweater, the photo could be from any day, with my sweet girl curled up in a ball fast asleep.

Thoughtful ThursdayMel had a lovely post this week about clearing out her childhood belongings from her parents’ home due to their upcoming move. She found that the objects turned out to be less important than she’d expected.

I have a similar situation — well, sort of, not really. Basically, all of the contents of my mother’s home will soon be emptied out — I didn’t grow up there, but all of my childhood stuff is there. If there’s anything I particularly want, I can put in a request and maybe someone will come across it. Otherwise, it all goes away. The house is across the country, so I will not be a part of the purge.

It’s rather a different scenario than one that faced the same house a few years ago when there was a natural disaster evacuation. In that case, my mother had only a few minutes to take what she needed. Here, there is not the urgency nor the need to gather necessities for survival. Here, there is plenty of time for sentimentality.

The only thing I’ve requested is my baby book. I have no idea if I’ll actually get it; it is in there somewhere but I don’t know where. No one has seen it since the mid-90s. The photos on the walls will also be kept, though not necessarily by me.

The rest of it? I wash my hands of it. Anything I really wanted I took long ago. Anything else I might want probably couldn’t be found anyway. But, even if it could, I don’t think I’d want it.

Any visions I once had of my children playing with my old toys have vanished thanks to the apparently high lead content of everything from the past.

Books I read 20 or 30 years ago? I’ve been fine without them so far. The price of buying a new one if I need something again far outweighs the cost of shipping and the lung damage from the dust I’d be inhaling.

My stamp collection? My husband assures me that our children won’t be nearly as nerdy as I was.

Old clothes? Nothing would fit me. What if my daughter someday wants to wear my clothes from the 80s, or her grandmother’s clothes from the 60s or 70s? I would rather take her vintage shopping when the time comes than keep all sorts of musty outfits around just in case she might want them someday for some Halloween costume or dress-up day.

There is some really magnificent furniture that I always thought I’d end up with, but it is across the country and my house has plenty of furniture already.

As a sometimes pack rat descended from certifiable, pathological pack rats, my decision rather shocked me. Or perhaps it shouldn’t — as an adult, my tendency to keep is often at odds with my need for order. Thankfully, order usually wins.

Goodbye, 7 of 9 Cabbage Patch Kids (the important two are in my current house). Goodbye, Smurf collector glasses. Goodbye, vast collection of 2nd and 3rd place trophies from a sport I was obviously not that good at (okay, there’s one 1st place in there). Goodbye, far too many outfits with sequins or shoulder pads. Goodbye, out of date encyclopedias. Goodbye, tables under which I used to crawl and write secret messages. Goodbye, stuff that seemed important at the time but really never was.

If you had to clear out your childhood home, what would you keep?

Thoughtful ThursdayIf I had a million dollars I’d buy you an exotic pet like a llama or an emu.
–Barenaked Ladies

So there’s this guy who grew up with my husband. They’re not really friends, but they have some close friends in common so they sometimes end up together at golf trips and bachelor parties and such, and we attend some of the same weddings and get-togethers.

I just found out that his business has earned him a boatload of money (yachtload? shipload?). A preposterously huge amount of money. As in, eight figures.

Mr. Moneybags has a very big house in the fanciest neighborhood in his city. He indeed has a boat (but not a yacht). He flies first class. He sends his kids to private school. He buys things without asking what they cost.

He clearly lives the high life, but ironically, I think of him as being rather cheap.

You see, one time a few years ago I was asked to deliver the envelope containing his wedding gift for one of our mutual friends. I did not open the envelope and I did not try to peek inside (no, really) but the check fell out of the card and I saw how much he gave them. It was a smaller wedding gift than I would give to anyone. I would give an acquaintance or a coworker more than that, let alone a close friend of 30 years.

Mr. Moneybags literally has 10,000 times as much money as I do in the bank, yet the wedding gift he gave to his dear friend is half of what I typically give. Our non-monetary gift to this particular couple (the groom is one of DH’s closest friends) was about four times as much as the one that wafted out of that envelope.

Obviously I don’t expect Mr. Moneybags to buy anyone a car for their wedding, but I would expect someone with that level of wealth to give his lifelong friends a gift that’s more generous than most. Maybe I’m wrong and he should blend in with everyone else by giving an average-sized gift. At the very least, his gift shouldn’t be one of the cheapest.

I can’t even begin to fathom what it is like to have anywhere near that kind of money. My imagination just isn’t that good, or maybe I can’t grasp numbers that large. If I had even 1/10th of what Mr. Moneybags has, I expect that I would also fly first class, because DH needs the legroom. I would also send my kids to private school, primarily so that they would become bilingual or trilingual. I would get a big house, but not an obscene mansion. I would hire someone to do things I don’t want to do — I would no longer be the one in the furnace room changing the dirty air filter on the A/C, as I did today. I would definitely not buy a boat. Back when I was doing IF treatments, I would have been able to do as many treatment cycles as necessary without worrying about the cost. I would travel; oh, how I would travel. Outside of giving them worldly experiences, I would not spoil my children with lots of material possessions. I would pick up the tab at dinner when I’m with a friend who is down on their luck — just as I already do. I would give generous gifts — just as I already do. I would like to think that I would treat myself well, but I would treat other people better. I would not do it for the sake of throwing money around, but rather to give people a gift that I know they’d enjoy without consideration for the cost, and to help people when they could use some help.

Oh and I would definitely buy a car with power windows, because WTF? It’s 2010 and I have to crank the window by hand? Ah, if I had millions of dollars, finally the toll booth attendants would stop laughing at me.

If you had much more money than you do now, how would you live your life differently?