Monday, October 26, 2009

And The Award Goes To...

And now, for the intriguingly named Kreativ Blogger Award! From the intriguingly named NoodleGirl, no less - many thanks to you for thinking of me!

First, the guidelines:

1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
4. List 7 things about yourself that people may not already know.
5. Nominate 7 new Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to those 7 nominated blogs.
7. Leave a comment on each of those blogs to let the person know they've been nominated.

1. I'm persnickety about cleaning products. I don't like the fake clean smell of most of them, so I usually use the health-food store brands that don't smell like much (no matter what the label claims) or else just diluted white vinegar. I love having a cleaning person, but it drives me crazy when she uses her regular cleaners in my house - I can tell the minute I walk in that some kind of icky chemical is in the air.

Sometimes I have to air out hotel rooms because of the cleaning smell. I have actually told the front desk that I have some kind of terrible lung disease and can't be exposed to chemicals, which is about the only thing that has ever worked at some hotels where I suspect the staff sprays cleaner into the air to give the room that "just cleaned" smell. I try to tip really well to make up for being complainy, though.

2. I've been going gray since college. At first it was just a few strands here and there - through my twenties I didn't really have to worry about covering it since it sort of just blended in with my highlights. But it's been getting more and more obvious for the last ten years. I finally went to a famous colorist known for creating natural tones and told her I'd do whatever she recommended. She said I don't have the right coloring for highlights and that I shouldn't "go blonde" until my hair is almost completely gray. She chose a demi-permanent dye since my hair is a light reddish brown color that doesn't cover well even with permanent color.

The color did fade every few weeks, so after a few appointments she told me that she had perfected the recipe for my color and that I could just order it through the salon and do it myself at home since I didn't need the foils. It was incredibly generous of her - I obviously had to re-dye so frequently to maintain that look, and I think she genuinely just couldn't bring herself to sell me on a less attractive but more permanent dye just to keep booking me. Such a sweetie!

Of course, I haven't dyed in a while now - would rather be grayish than constantly worried that I've caused some kind of irreversible damage. Which I know is overly cautious, but I can't help it.

3. I've been reading my daughter's books lately. Ever since the Harry Potter books we like to read the same things so we can talk about them. Now we're reading the Percy Jackson series, which is HPish, but with Greek mythology instead of witchcraft. So far, we've read a lot of series - Little House, Wrinkle In Time, Unfortunate Events, Benedict Society. I know the Twilight books are looming, but I've read some of them and they're just a little too into the obsessive infatuation of desperate lust for an 11 year old...

I actually like reading middle school literature. I was a voracious reader as a kid, so I would finish whatever I could find - good, bad, great, too young, too old - and so many of those stories are still on the shelves in bookstores. I remember a story about a girl who got sent to boarding school called something like "V is for Victoria" but I can't find it anywhere...

4. I don't really like taking baths. I always feel like I have to take a shower after I get out of a bath.

5. I'm so happy that lawn is going extinct. I never liked lawn, even before it became the water-guzzling, chemical-guzzling, gas-powered-tool polluter that we see it for today. The smell of freshly cut grass makes my nose itch, and I don't like the feeling of cut blades poking my bare feet. If lawn isn't given a good edge condition it almost always has some kind of problem at the sides - adjacent planting cut by weed-whackers or runoff sinkholes in the corners. Since I often actually have to work with lawn - ironic, isn't it? - I have spent a lot of time at sod farms and ag school experimental areas. I have seen soft Kentucky grass lawns, super-tolerant Israeli grass lawns and a new, promising incredibly drought-tolerant lawn - but I still prefer native grasses that are allowed to grow to their full height, to send up their tiny flower stems and sway in the breeze. Mmm, meadow!

6. I don't like to swallow. Sorry, not even on his birthday.

7. Laundry is my favorite chore. Even more than gardening, really. Which is convenient, since we seem to do about a billion loads a week. I sort fairly specifically and then tailor my soap/softener ratio to the particular load. I listen to This American Life podcasts while I fold and iron and hang things up. Dishes, on the other hand... bleh.

So, those are my seven slightly obscure tidbits of info - hope you enjoyed at least one of them!

And now I will pass this onto 7 more bloggers, because I'd like to know what their obscure tidbits are:

Gwynn I have a feeling she has some surprising things to say!

The Babychaser Something unexpected, maybe?

Midlife Mommy Usually so good about editing herself to one subject - how will she do with seven random ones?

Bad Egg Just want to hear from you!

Breeder Beware Makes me laugh out loud and I want more...

Suddenly Old Eggs A little something to do while going into a new cycle?

Clean Slate Wondering what you'll come up with!

In other, more basic news, everything's fine. The anatomy scan was completely uneventful, things look good and I've started telling people our news. My dad and stepmother, as predicted, were delighted. I haven't got the gumption up to tell my mom yet - but only because I've been unexpectedly swamped at work and literally too tired to cope with the idea.

I suppose I'll have to gather my courage and call her this week - that'll definitely be a post of it's own!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I have two real-life friends who have been going through IF treatment. One is pregnant and due only a few weeks after me, and one just had surgery for a septum and is ready to start with her next cycle. We tell each other everything and they have known about my pregnancy since I peed on that first stick. As for everyone else...

I've been wearing very carefully designed outfits and carrying extra large bags (easy enough since I usually have a giant tote filled with rolled up permit-drawing sets wherever I go) and sweaters draped strategically over my shoulder. I think my boss is so wrapped up in his own thought process most of the time that he hasn't noticed much beyond the fact that I may be gaining a little weight. But at this point, it's fairly obvious that I'm not just eating too much cheese. If I don't start talking people will make their own assumptions. Plus, my dad is coming to visit, so at least for my family that's the de facto deadline.

I was going to wait until the level 2 u/s to officially announce anything, and I'm sure my dad will keep quiet for an extra ten days or so if I ask him to, but now I wonder if it's really necessary. I'm more optimistic than I thought I would be at this point - all the tests are good, I have the fancy doppler with the digital readout and the heartrate is incredibly consistent, plus I've been feeling little squirmings in there for about a week now. I think I'm going to just take that leap of faith and make the big announcement.

My dad is probably the best person to start with, anyway. I know he'll be really happy for us, say the right things and I won't have to worry about even a hint of a negative comment. My mom will say something like "Aren't you supposed to be planning your retirement instead of raising another child? Have you thought this through?" But my dad will just tell me that he's thrilled, and he will be. So, the first part will be easy. As for my mom - I'll have to do some kind of calculus to figure out how long information takes to get from my dad and his wife to my sister and then to my mother. The proof will be when the aunt who doesn't get along with my mother finally calls me - then I'll know the news has made it all the way through the family gossip mill.

I'm thinking about sending the announcement to all of my aunts and cousins at once - thereby depriving my mother of her precious gossip, but also bypassing her possibly dire spin tactics. For a woman without much in the way of a life, it would certainly ruin what could easily be the highlight of her - week? month? - but I'm sure she'll make up for it with follow-up emails and all kinds of conversations behind my back.

See why I like to keep this blog kinda private?

PS - Thanks for the recent lovely blog awards - I promise to do them after my dad leaves!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Better Than Normal

The thing is, when the nurse calls you with your second-trimester screening results, it's always good news. If the doctor calls you at home in the evening, you should just grab a few kleenexes before she even starts talking. But when the caller ID is from the office and not the OB's cell phone, and when it's the nurse's no-nonsense voice on the other end of the line instead of the doctor's sing-songy cadence, it's just a routine call to let you know that things are normal.

Normal!!! Although I have no idea what the odds are for any of the tests, because I suddenly realized that I don't care so I didn't bother to ask. Normal is good enough for me! I know there are no guarantees, but at this point a lack of panic is all I really need to be happy. I feel so full of fortune and gratitude. Normal may be just "normal" for most people, but for me it's a cause for celebration and thankfulness.

I am over 40, I have a blood clotting disorder and a tendency to make crappy eggs. Add into that mix the relatively low success rate for IVF in my age range, and the fact that I am having a so-far "normal" pregnancy seems miraculous. I am just so, so grateful that I even have this chance. And I think I wouldn't even have gotten to this point if it hadn't been for the blogs I read which showed me how to be an IVF contestant.

It was from reading blogs that I realized that my first RE, kind-hearted and well-meaning though she was, was probably fine for someone with blocked tubes, but I needed a specialist with more tricks up their sleeves. I learned that if egg quality is an issue, go directly to a big-gun clinic with lots of experience in coaxing decent embryos out of balky ovaries. When I look back at my dainty little protocols from the first few times I tried injectables, I have to laugh. If I hadn't read about other women with secondary infertility, and what the various issues and possible problems could be, I would never have thought of myself as a candidate for a heavy-duty protocol with ICSI and assisted hatching. I thought that having had one child meant it should be fairly easy to have another one - that surely if I was willing to fork over the big bucks for IVF my biggest problem would be worrying about how to raise twins.

I found a research-oriented clinic that had special protocols for egg-quality issues. I found an acupuncturist who was a nurse practitioner for years, who knew how to integrate her practice with my new protocol. And I discovered supportive, encouraging friends when I started writing my own blog, women who helped me through it all and understood everything, even though we had never actually met. And I did all of this from my keyboard.

Maybe I won't get a take-home baby out of all this - I'm not even halfway through this pregnancy, and anything can happen. But for now I am pregnant, for now things are normal, and for now I am just so grateful for everyone who ever wrote the story of their struggle with infertility and sent it out onto the internet, for anyone who really needed it. Once, that was me, and I know I wouldn't be here now without those stories.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Girl Talk

First, thank you for all the emails and comments regarding my mean mommy moment. I feel so much better about it all after reading about how many of you felt that you were stuck in the role of people-pleaser and struggled to break that habit. I'm not sure I was a people-pleaser so much as a self-underminer, but I am determined to show my daughter that she can look out for her own best interest without being a mean girl. The few women I know who have vowed that their daughters WILL NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES become people-pleasers have been the mothers of the girls who tend to coerce and manipulate the other kids. I just can't believe that that's the only other option.

The one thing my daughter said is something that I think we all know too well - it's so much easier to figure out, afterwards, what would have been the best thing to say. Doing it in the moment is the tricky part. And figuring out who tends to put you in those spots is crucial - it turns out that the sleepover girl tends to be pushy in lots of situations. Which is probably useful, since I can almost certainly rely on her to provide some "learning opportunities". And the other thing is, she's not a bad kid, really - it will probably be good for her to be stood up to, just to know that she can't always have everything her way.

Maybe the expectations of "being a girl" are much broader and less stereotypical than they were when we were kids - but most of the same cliches are still there. The mean girls are still wearing short shorts and lots of lip gloss and flipping their hair around when the boys are watching. The boys still flock to the eyelash-batting queen bees, who make perfect fake MacCaulay Culkin-esque expressions of shock when their bra straps are snapped. But I do think the quieter girls have a better time of it these days - at least when my daughter is teased about being too Hermione Granger-ish, she takes it as a compliment.

By the way, I won't have to worry about girl issues this next time around - today's scan left no doubts about that:

That second image is an upside down baby with knees up and ankles crossed - fetal yoga? Couldn't really ask for a better angle, though.

As far as the other things that this "early structural" scan revealed, all systems look good, there are no soft markers for any of the problems that routinely show up at this phase, and blood flows through the placenta and the cord are fine. The cord has three vessels and the placenta is safely out of the way on my right side. The second trimester screening info should be back next week - and my OB says that the fact that she hasn't heard yet is a good sign. Bad news tends to come back faster, for some reason. The other interesting thing she told me that the first trimester screen - blood plus nuchal scan - is more accurate for Down's than the second - there are less false positives.

I know there are 97,000 other things that can go wrong, but being oooooold means that Down's is more likely, so that's been a concern all along. My daughter said she just hopes the baby's cute. I told her I hope he doesn't have any major problems, and then she said that not being cute IS a major problem. But I'm pretty sure babies are generally cute, so at least that's one thing I'm not too worried about.

I'm really starting to get attached, though. It's just impossible not to, really.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

And Now, For Something Completely Different...

Here's the thing: a situation just came up which was so annoying to me that I have been upset about it all day, even though maybe it's no big deal. So, I figure I'll just tell y'all what happened...

Now, whether or not you have pre-teen kids or stepkids, I can assume you fairly well remember what it was like to be elevenish. And this is an elevenish thing, so think back to those wonder years and tell me if you recognize any of this:

My daughter's friend asked to sleep over last night because her mom had some kind of early appointment Sunday morning and she didn't want to be left alone with her teenage brother. Okay, fine - We were supposed to go to a charity thing but my husband was really happy to get out of it by agreeing to stay home with the two girls. He took them out for pizza, then made popcorn for them while they watched a movie. So far, so good.

I came home from the concert (architects showcasing their musical talents to benefit Habitat for Humanity - not bad, actually) about 11:00 to find my husband fuming. He had just told them it was time to get to sleep and he saw that the friend was in my daughter's bed and my daughter was on the air-bed. The friend had all the blankets - the quilt and small blanket from the bed, and the big fleece blanket that he had brought in with the air-bed sheets. He mentioned that even though our house is warm at the end of the day, it gets cold during the night so the fleece needed to go back on the air-bed. Fifteen minutes later he heard them still talking and said they really had to sleep - my daughter has a workshop on Sundays and really couldn't be up until midnight. He noticed that the friend still had the blankets and my daughter had a little throw blanket from the sofa.

In the morning, I found out that the friend had said she didn't sleep well at home the night before and she needed to sleep in a real bed that night. She also said she gets really cold at night, so she needed all the blankets. (Her pajamas were a tank top with boxer-style shorts.) When we were alone my daughter said she really didn't sleep well since it's kinda weird to sleep in your own room but not in your own bed, plus it was cold with just that little throw so she kept waking up shivering, and that she was too tired to go to the workshop. She hadn't wanted to switch beds with the friend, but she felt bad saying no, so she did it anyway.

I said she had to go to the workshop. I told her that she was manipulated out of her bed and her blankets and that she should have either figured out how to say no or asked her dad for more blankets for her friend. This wasn't even a serious problem and she just allowed things to be bad for her because she wanted to be "nice". She would just have to be tired at the workshop because she had to live with the consequences of not standing up for herself in her own room, and that next time she should think twice before agreeing to let somebody else have whatever of hers they want. If she wants me to trust her in sticky situations, she needs to learn how to find solutions without just giving in to somebody else's wants.

Was I mean? I'm bummed that this friend did this (it turned out she had done it last time she slept over, too, but we just didn't ever find out), but I'm also bummed that my kid let herself be walked all over. If this friend was just horrible, I would put a moratorium on any more sleepovers with her - especially if she invites herself! But this is a generally good kid, although it seems that she has learned too well how to negotiate getting her own way by playing her recently divorced parents against each other.

I'm just worried that I was too hard on my own kid. She isn't very savvy to the kind of manipulations that kids with siblings are used to battling on a daily basis. I think that's one of the big benefits of having siblings - to learn when you need to stand up for yourself. But she doesn't have that tough skin - she doesn't want to say no if she thinks the other person will be upset. And in a few years, if that situation involves drugs or getting into a car with a drunk driver or some unwanted physical attention, I just want her to have the strength to say what she really means, instead of just giving up and muttering "Umm, okay, I guess...".

It was only a sleepover, and maybe I was overly influenced by my husband's bad reaction, but it really bummed me out. Why didn't she just grab one of the blankets back when she woke up shivering? Why didn't she come wake me up if she couldn't find another blanket in the closet? Did she even bother to look for another blanket?

At the same time, I don't want to teach her to be selfish. How do I make sure she can be a good hostess AND take care of herself? And later, how do I tell her that she has to be a good friend AND call the police if something scary is happening? All I know now that this teenager thing is not going to be easy...