2011, One Word at a Time

December 31, 2011

Let’s sum up each month of 2011 with a single word, plus the corresponding post.

January: Smiling
February: Bridesmaid
March: Emotion
April: Audit
May: Mothers
June: Mailbox
July: Limbo
August: Satisficing
September: Zen
October: Kiln
November: Yaaaaaay!
December: Transition

Why no link for December? Because I’m telling you about it right now.

Fittingly, December’s events bring me full circle to the encounter with Lori that started the year. In January, her family came to my region of the country. In December, I visited her house as part of a reconnaissance trip, because… this coming January, I will become her neighbor.

I got a job! A better job than any of the four for which I’ve been the runner-up in the past year and a half! We are moving to Loriland!

I am temporarily in transition, but I am finally out of Limbo.

Uhhhh… anybody want to buy a really cool house? I’ll throw in some pottery!

Happy New Year!

Farewell, Summer

September 20, 2011

Having grown up in a place with no seasons
not being someone who likes to go outside
really having enjoyed autumn in New England these past few years,
I don’t usually miss summer when it ends.

This year, I miss it already.

So does Stevie.

And Frank.

And Belle and Sebastian.

And Dar.

And The Beach Boys.

And Joni.

And The Decemberists.

And Elvis.

And The Magnetic Fields.

And The Doors.

And Dusty.

On the flip side, toddlers + adorable outerwear = hooray for fall!

Perfect Moment
Last March, when I was barely pregnant, as in ‘only one beta and even that had been done early because I was flying away to the Land of Don Quixote’ pregnant, I made a couple of purchases. Both were tremendous leaps of faith that the pregnancy would stick around and result in a Real Live Baby. Both of the purchases waited in a box until the time, if and when, they would be useful.

One of them I’ll post later this week at Show and Tell.

Here is the other one: a mobile we bought in Barcelona. DH and I stood in a museum gift shop for a length of time probably suspicious to gift shop employees, debating with ourselves and each other whether we really could let ourselves buy something for a baby that we didn’t yet trust to come into existence. Together, we made that leap of faith.

It didn’t seem right to put the mobile up when I was pregnant. Too presumptuous.

After the babies came, things were too crazy to put it up. When they calmed down a little, momentarily, I tried to put it up, got out the ladder and everything, but the spot I picked wasn’t amenable. It was impossible to find a time when the babies were both out of the nursery yet I was available to drill holes in the ceiling.

Then, instead of the spot I’d first picked, I wanted to use it over one of their cribs, but I couldn’t figure out a foolproof way to ensure that it was safe to dangle over the crib. When I bought a developmental mobile with a built-in crib clamp, DH said with a little hurt in his voice, “But what about our mobile?” It was so sweet.

Finally, this weekend, I figured out a way to put up our mobile that did not involve a power drill or risking anything crashing onto my babies’ heads.

The first Perfect Moment is actually getting something done.

The even more Perfect Moment is seeing one of my babies look up from the changing table, watch the mobile turning in the breeze, and laugh. That is why I made that purchase. That is why I did all of it, really. All of the years of treatments, and waiting, and emotions, and more waiting. I did it all for that little giggle.

view from the changing table

See more Perfect Moments at Weebles Wobblog.

2009: The Year in Pictures

January 3, 2010

Exactly one year ago today, my house was full of guests and I mysteriously disappeared for several hours to transfer two gorgeous embryos for IVF #2. I don’t have embryo pictures for Burrito and Tamale, so I like to think that this picture of their potential siblings bears a strong resemblance.

2009 was my most eventful year ever. Not the year with the most treatment cycles, but nonetheless the most eventful in terms of infertility and every other way — except my career, which played 2nd fiddle to pregnancy and babies this year. With that in mind, I offer you some of the highlights, in pictures.

January: In addition to IVF #2, I baked a cookie.

February: Went to NYC to be “healed”. The healing may or may not have directly led to finally getting pregnant for reals; I still have no idea if that’s what did it. I don’t believe that it could, but it’s hard to explain it away after 7 years of BFNs with a couple of miscarriages thrown in.

March: Found out I was against-all-odds pregnant on the way to Spain.

April: Met the Weebles Wobblog family and participated in Sock It To Me.

May: Met Dora. Fetuses started to look human.

June: Met Lollipop Goldstein and learned the sexes of my babies.

July: Reached viability and celebrated my blogoversary with a contest.

August: Went into preterm labor, narrowly avoided delivering at 28w, and began my stay of more than a month in the hospital.

September: Learned that I’d only just barely won the baby race in the family and spent the month in the hospital, where I received a few visitors.

October: Gave birth, struggled to recover, saw the babies (and myself) through a couple of weeks in the NICU, and brought the babies home.

Click through to see the Burrito.

Click through to see the Tamale.

November: Tried to manage life at home with two newborns including ongoing attempts at nursing and pumping, observed the babies’ due date, dealt with the idiocies of the health care system, and saw my Impossible Dream realized.

Click through to see my dream come true.

December: Wrapped up a year of Thoughtful Thursdays.

Many of you experienced wonderful things in the past year, but I also know that many of you had sucky 2009s. Onwards and upwards for 2010, everyone!


September 21, 2009

I knew it. I just knew it.

Less than a week after predicting that the eldest of DH’s younger siblings would probably have a baby in 2010, and that I’d win the baby race by only the tiniest margin, I found out she is pregnant after all. I found out one day after she POAS. She got pregnant the first cycle after going off the Pill. The Pill that she’s been on since I first met her, over 15 years ago. And I am the only person she has told about the pregnancy. Now I must counsel her daily on pregnancy symptoms and crib safety and how long her wedding dress will still fit and when she should announce to the family and which hand-me-downs I will be giving her. Did I mention that she is 4 weeks pregnant?

After DH read my Dibs post, he said, “Not 2010! Maybe 2011.” And I corrected him, “No, 2010.”

DH: She’s not even getting married until the summer.
Me: But she’s already pulled the goalie. She’s just gone off the pill.
DH: How do you know?
Me: Don’t ask me why, but she confided in me.
DH: That’s really weird. You’re not close at all.
Me; Yup.
DH: What is her hurry?
Me: It probably has something to do with me being pregnant. Who knows.
DH: But you have no way of knowing that she’ll get pregnant right away. Maybe it will take 7 years like it did for us, and she’ll have a baby in 2017.
Me: No, it will be the first cycle that she tries.
DH: Why?
Me: Murphy’s Law.

At least I saw you coming this time, Murphy, you bastard.

24w0d: Milestones

July 28, 2009

There are all sorts of milestones that infertiles and babylost mamas mark (celebrate? cling to? white-knuckle their way to?). Milestones that regular fertile pregnant women don’t even know exist. While they’re counting months or trimesters, we’re marking a different set of dates.

  • ~5 days past ovulation: implantation, hopefully
  • ~9 days past ovulation: HGC may be detected by the more sensitive urine pregnancy tests (unless implantation was late, oh please G-d let the negative be because of late implantation and not what it always is)
  • ~3 weeks past ovulation: gestational sac can be detected by ultrasound
  • ~3.5 weeks past ovulation: fetal pole can be detected by ultrasound
  • 4-5 weeks past ovulation: heartbeat can be detected by ultrasound

Up until this point, many regular pregnant women don’t know they’re pregnant. We already have baby photos.

  • 8-10 weeks gestational age: heartbeat can be detected by doppler, meaning that those who get a doppler for home use can listen as often as they like to confirm that their baby is still alive
  • 18-20 weeks gestation: quickening, or feeling fetal movement, meaning that there are periodic indications from the baby saying, “Hey, I’m still alive! And I don’t care for orange juice!”

From here, some infertile pregnant women relax. But some, especially those who have higher risk pregnancies, have histories of loss, or worry a lot, keep on counting.

  • 20 weeks gestation: theoretically the halfway point of pregnancy, but for those of us who aren’t expected to make it to 40 weeks, the point at which people tell us it’s halfway and we make a face; also, depending on who you ask, the transition point between miscarriage and stillbirth
  • 22 weeks gestation: the cusp of viability, or the time at which a baby born can have a chance of life (only actually achieved by a few of those record-setting babies); this isn’t one that I’ve heard other bloggers talk about, but it’s one that I’ve had in my mind all along… I thought I’d feel better when I reached 22 weeks, but I didn’t
  • 24 weeks gestation: viability, or rather, the time at which a baby born will have a 50/50 shot at living
  • 28 weeks gestation: survival quite likely
  • 34 weeks gestation: if born, lungs may be developed enough to function without major intervention
  • 38 weeks gestation: full term for singletons; for many of us, a shangri-la

Regular pregnant women may be counting the days until they can get that baby out of their body (and meet their child), but we are trying to keep them in as long as possible, one day at a time.

My bloggy friend Carrie, who is pregnant with triplets (from a two-embryo transfer), has made a countdown calendar to 24 weeks. The dates of her own milestones are burned into her brain.

I always know the exact count for the current day. I get strange looks when people ask how far along I am and instead of “5 months” they get answers like “23 weeks 3 days!” But unlike Carrie, I can’t tell you the dates of any future milestones without consulting the calendar. All I know is today. There are no guarantees tomorrow, but today, things are okay. 

Some of those milestones shouldn’t be as big a deal as they are to me, because they are still pretty bleak — and also, there’s no reason at this point to believe that we won’t make it all the way (or as close to all the way as twins tend to go). But still, the milestones matter. Today I am 24 weeks, and that matters a lot. As much time as I may spend worrying about tomorrow, and a hundred tomorrows after that, for today, this is enough.

14w0d: 2nd Trimester

May 19, 2009

Happy 2nd trimester to me!

It didn’t feel like I’d ever get here.

In one way, I had blind faith that I’d get here (and beyond) eventually. Through 7 years of infertility, even when all signs pointed to No, I still believed that I would get here.

But in another way, as I have checked the toilet paper for blood every time and expected each ultrasound to reveal non-beating hearts, it was hard to trust that I’d ever make it to the “safe” zone.

Safe, ha ha ha. Infertile girls and babyloss mamas know better than to think that a pregnancy is ever “safe.”

But yes, now that we’ve passed this milestone, it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. It’s time to make our announcement to the family members that we’ll see in person this week, and to call the other family members almost-simultaneously with the same announcement.

DH has even thought up an adorable way to tell the in-person relatives. His excitement about everything is so sweet. He doesn’t share the Dead Baby Thoughts, and he only feels the optimism. Must be nice.

I know that everyone will be thrilled, even moreso because these are the first grandchildren on either side. They’ve waited a long time too… albeit without the tears, losses, injections, general anesthesia… But yes, I know they’ve been waiting.

When we make the announcement, I’m concerned about all of the conversations that will follow. I’m not afraid of questions about what took us so long, which I will finally answer without lying. Part of my concern is that by diving excitedly into talk about pregnancy and babies, it’s like pretending the past 7 years haven’t happened. But a bigger part of my concern, which infertiles know all too well, is that talking nonstop about “mommy” topics is flat-out boring.

I don’t want to pretend to be a normal pregnant lady, talking about swollen ankles (they aren’t), too-tight pants (they are), and diaper choices (twins? disposable, of course). Partly because of the charade, and partly because it’s boring.

I have been the only childless woman in far too many conversations where no one has anything interesting to say. Debating methods for pureeing bananas does not qualify as interesting. The consistency of anyone’s poo is not interesting. Know what’s really not interesting? Nipples.

You heard it here first. I will not talk about my nipples. I will continue to talk about work, current events, the weather, popular culture, and my not-quite-as-frequent-but-still-extensive travels. I will talk about the babies sometimes, and sometimes I will talk about other things. If 7 years of infertility has taught me anything, it’s that there are other things going on in the world aside from diaper rash. It’s not that I’m not thrilled to be in the position I’m in — of course I am. But I can’t forget where I came from, and I can’t forget that most people, particularly those without children, not only aren’t interested in burping techniques but may feel deeply saddened by such conversations.

Everyone who wants to talk about pregnancy or babies nonstop can expect to be redirected: “But enough about the babies. Do you think the Minnesota Supreme Court will rule for Franken or Coleman?”

I may be a one-trick pony when it comes to blogging, but I will not turn into Only A Mommy. These babies deserve more, and so do I.

13w1d: Nuchal Scan

May 13, 2009

I had my nuchal scan on Tuesday. But first, a few examples of how infertility still affects me.

  1. This weekend, we informed a friend-of-friends couple (you may know them as, “Have BabySmiling’s boobs always been that big?”) about the pregnancy. Wife was basically jumping up and down with joy — not easy, since she’s 8 1/2 months pregnant. Husband proceeded to make all sorts of lewd comments about the process of getting pregnant. I didn’t bother to correct him and explain that no sex was involved. Throughout the night, he kept interspersing random comments like, “Hey, you must be pregnant. Your tits are huge!” They’re a breast-oriented couple, apparently. I actually like the husband a lot, despite how jerky he sounds.
  2. I’ve had an Amazon book order in my shopping cart for more than a week, including some twin books and some regular pregnancy/baby books. I have been putting off the order in case the nuchal scan revealed that one or both of the babies are dead. Thanks, infertility mindset!
  3. The night before the nuchal scan, for the first time in this pregnancy, for hours after my husband went to bed I was unable to sleep. For once I was actually caught up with my blog-reading, so instead I tried to catch up on Creme de la Creme. Thanks, Dead Baby Thoughts!

My fears were thankfully unfounded. Nuchal scan went fine. The babies were so beautiful. I could make out the individual vertebrae of their spines, fingers, stomachs, button noses. They kept waving their arms in the air like they didn’t care (or rather, waving their arms in the amniotic fluid like they were druids?).

We also got blood draws to check for translocations and some other genetic issues. The genetic counselor said that given my two prior miscarriages, she personally would have pushed for genetic testing before conception, but I told her that Dr. Full Steam Ahead wasn’t so full-steam-ahead with genetics for some reason and didn’t want to test until after three miscarriages. That ship has presumably sailed, but if genetic testing reveals anything out of the ordinary, it will give us important information on these babies since some of the usual screens like the AFP aren’t helpful with twins. It would also be doing a service to any relatives who might share that genetic issue — for instance, if DH has any genetic issues, his four siblings who will be trying to conceive within the next 1 to 15 years would probably benefit from getting checked out.

The phlebotomist asked, “How are you with blood draws?” I wanted to say, “Fabulous! I have had more blood draws than you can possibly imagine, and I’ve given myself hundreds of injections!” But, I never want to make phlebotomists so complacent that they get rough or careless, so I blandly said, “Fine.”

And now, the main event! By the way, in case you’re keeping track, I’m pretty sure they’re still in the same positions with the same A/B assignments from the last ultrasound. But, last time, A was the bigger one, and now B has caught up and passed his/her twin. B’s heart rate is still a little faster. (For my own future reference:) currently the one on my left is A and the one on my right is B.

Baby A, measuring at 13w2d (2 days ahead), heart rate 158; it looks like A is sucking his/her thumb, but it was more like waving to us

Baby B, measuring at 13w3d (3 days ahead), heart rate 162

I love them so much.

Now it’s time to place that Amazon order…

Vignettes of three mothers, in honor of Mothers’ Day.

DH’s Mother, last mentioned on this blog when I had a dream in which I called her a “fucking shrew whore”

I had another dream about DH’s mother last week.
She rudely asked me, “So when are you gonna finally have a baby?”
I replied, “November! Ha, in your face!”

Me, a mother by some reckonings but not by others

I received the following acknowledgments of Mothers’ Day this week:
OMG! You Rock Day gifts sent by Kym from I’m A Smart One, including tasty (but not too rich, due to my current food aversions — though I’m told he also makes all sorts of sexy sinful varieties) double chocolate chip cookies made by Frank, whose cookie business will launch soon; a superman/superwoman/superKym insignia; a pair of onesies that simultaneously joke about my blogging proclivities and indicate that I just might actually be someone’s mom soon (times 2). Note that both are blue, even though Kym is guessing boy-girl twins. Also note that Kym sent me many cookies, but they are so huge that I can only fit one on the plate.


A gorgeous laptop briefcase from DH, who previously has been known to ask why I need so many different work bags and briefcases. It arrived on my doorstep with a Happy Mothers’ Day note when he was out of town, and was a total surprise (frankly, I had the odds at 50/50 that he’d give me a card or gift).


My Mother, last mentioned on this blog for creatively naming the presidents

my mom: What is the name of your cat?
me: You don’t remember?
mom: No.
me: I’ve had the same cat for 8 years!
mom: I don’t have a good relationship with your cat.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all mothers and trying-to-become-mothers. If yours wasn’t happy, at least it’s over!

Perfect Moment
Lori from Weebles Wobblog is celebrating her 2nd blogoversary! And she’s one hell of a mother — trust me, I’ve seen her in action.

At previous Show and Tells, I’ve shown you many installments of infertility-related art (my own pottery that I’ve made using gauze from IVF #1, as well as art that I’ve purchased to commemorate various unsuccessful cycles) and, more recently, hopeful post-infertility/pregnancy-commemorating art.

But, I’ve never shown you the original photo that started the whole theme. It’s time.

First, a little background. Way back in February 2004, I was coming up on 2 years of infertility, and I was trying one last treatment cycle (Clomid + IUI) with Dr. Fancy Pants before temporarily throwing in the towel due to emotional and financial exhaustion.

That one last cycle worked. I was pregnant, finally, and it was amazing.

As regular readers are well aware, that pregnancy ended in miscarriage. My first miscarriage, the one that broke my heart and changed me forever.

There were only 8 days when I was aware of being pregnant, but those were the best 8 days I’d ever had. (I’ve had some other good ones since then, but never 8 in a row like that.)

In the middle of those 8 days, DH and I decided to go hiking. I selected a new trail from my Hiking Trails of That State book (you’ll notice that we’re wearing short sleeves in February, so obviously the range of states gets narrowed down) and we headed out. We had a great hike, and on the way home we stopped for one of my favorite meals, Ethiopian food. That was a very good day.

When I got home, I immediately sent the digital photos off to be printed. By the time the prints arrived in the mail, I had lost the baby. The 5×7 photo of the happy pregnant couple standing by a waterfall, our first photo as a family, was particularly painful. I put it away for many years, unable to look at it without crying. I knew the day would come someday.

Then, one day a couple of years later, I was putting together a photo collage, and I discovered that at some point I had become okay with this photo. Finally, I could stand to look at it every day. It would still remind me of pain, but it had transformed to simultaneously remind me of enormous joy. Joy, and hope. The same hope that I’ve carried with me since then, especially since getting pregnant this time.

I don’t actively look at the photo every day, but I pass by many times a day, and most visitors to our house look at it for at least a few seconds. I don’t tell them the secret behind the photo.

But, now you’re in on the secret. I think I’ll point out the photo and tell our babies about the secret too — once they’ve mastered binocular vision.

I apologize for our disguises — I’m paranoid about our identities being discovered by people IRL, as DH and I are both distinctive-looking in our own ways. Even the t-shirts we wore that day have identifying information. But, at least you can see the waterfall.

Finally I present: The first in a surprisingly long line of infertility-related art.


Hey, it’s the 50th edition of Show and Tell. 50 is a round number!