Jason, one of Monkey's teachers is on paternity leave now because he and his wife had twins this summer. He comes back to the classroom November 1st, but in the meantime he comes to visit the kids once in a while to ensure that the transition from his substitute to him being in the classroom is not a traumatic one. Since they always have two teachers in the classroom, this shouldn't be a problem, as they will have the continuity of their other teacher through the transition and beyond. But I appreciate the effort. This past Monday, as I came to pick Monkey up from school I saw Jason standing by the playground with the double stroller. I mentioned it to Monkey in the car, and she said that he came to class with the babies, but she didn't remember their names.
In the aftermath of A's death one of the things Monkey wanted to know was how do babies get into mommy's tummy. She already knew that babies grow from a single cell, but now she wanted to know how it got there. So we talked about the special cells mommies and daddies have that need to combine to create that first cell. I knew why she was asking, though, and I also knew that I needed to convey that it doesn't happen every day or even very often. Basically, I needed to buy us some time. So I made sure to say that mommy's special cells are only available once in a while, and that sometimes daddy's cells can get to them, and some of those times the special cell is created, and some of those cells sometimes can make it to that compartment inside mommy's tummy where the baby grows, and some of those times that group of cells that came from that first cell actually implants in that compartment, and then the baby can grow. Without telling her that it won't be next week, I could see that she got it, and we had some breathing room. I was really hoping that by the time the wait would become too much for her we would be able to tell her that yes, there is a new baby growing inside mommy's tummy.
All of this is my fault. I am eight years older than my sister, and I lobbied, hard, for her to exist. I remember my pitch to be to the effect of "I want a sister or a puppy," but my mom has said that it was a sister or a color TV. I think I am right, though, and that I didn't value my hypothetical future sister on par with a machine, even the wicked cool machine that the color TV was. In fact I do remember lobbying for the TV, but I believe that was a completely separate lobbying campaign, one that centered around how everyone else seemed to have had one of those for years. When my sister came along, I was the absolute best big sister ever. Not kidding. As proof I offer not only that I taught my sister to read, but also that my reaction to Adellyne's hair pulling was simply to restrain her (by immobilizing her legs with my rear end and her hands by crossing them over her body and holding them with my hands-- this hold is patented, but you can feel free to use it), rather than responding in kind. Aren't you proud of me?
I loved my sister as a little kid, what with those impossible huge eyes and deep loyalty that didn't allow her to accept a nosh from the kitchen without demanding another one she could bring, triumphantly, to me. But there also came a day when I came home for a visit, and Adellyne came into my room to talk that night, and we talked for hours, and I realized that my sister is a very cool, by which I mean interesting, and funny, and loyal, still loyal, young adult. She is not that young anymore, but she is still cool, and I love that we are finally in the same city. My mom, by the way, is an older sister too, by six years, and she is still very close with her sister. Although, and I think this gives my mom a bit of secret pleasure, Adellyne and I seem to be even closer.
So when I say it is my fault what I mean is that I wanted that for Monkey. I wanted her to be a conscious big sister. I wanted her to wait for the baby, to help, and to want to help, to revel in her older-siblingness, to watch with wonder the little one grow, to, to, to... a million little things that being big sister meant to me. And so we waited. I wanted the gap to be six years. JD wanted as little as possible, ok, four. So we compromised on five. And it was going to be five. Exactly, on the nose. A's due date was the day after Monkey's birthday, which was also her due date. And boy was she ever the big sister of my dreams. Adellyne said that the cutest thing she ever saw was Monkey hugging my belly and saying "Shabbat shalom, little brother" after we lit candles on Friday nights and greeted each other with that age-old formula. I would have to agree-- it was impossibly cute, and remembering it on this Shabbat evening has put a knot in my throat. I have, a few times now, made her day by telling her she is the best big sister ever because of how much she loved and loves her brother and how she remembers him. Each time I said it her face lit up. I imagined doling out that particular praise to her, and her face lighting up just so. What I never imagined is what I would come to define as being the best big sister. I would so much rather talk about helping with diapers or sharing toys, or reading him a story, as she promised me she would do.
When we got home Monday after school, I had to putter around the kitchen, and Monkey went to her room. She came back a little while later and presented me with a paper that had, on the bottom, a picture of a mom with a stroller, a dad and a girl nearby, and in big letters over the picture "Dear mom don't worry a baby will be born to you"* Her eyes. They were sad, they smiles a little, and they asked. They asked whether she did good with the picture. They asked whether she was right. I hugged her, and scooped her up, and thanked her, and then took her to the couch for a talk. Why did she think I was worried? About her little brother.
"Well, baby, I don't worry about him. I love him, and miss him, and I am sad, but I don't worry. Is there something else?"
"Yes-- you might worry that there won't ever be another baby in your tummy."
"Sweety, who is worried about this, me or you?"
"Me." And a shy little look.
So there it was. It came up again last night at dinner. JD told her that there will be a baby some day. She wanted to know how he knew, and he said because we will do everything that is necessary to make it happen. See, she never did ask exactly how those mommy and daddy cells meet up.
I have wanted to have three kids for a very long time. And the plan, the plan I sold JD on that allowed that five year compromise to happen in the first place, was that the younger two would be very close in age. In fact, I had set a mental oldest-to-youngest gap for myself at eight years-- the same gap that I have with Adelynne. Even after A died, I thought I could still pull it off for my living children. I would end up with four kids (the number that seemed impossibly huge when I was thinking about kids before, but that was before), and the youngest two will have to be less than two years apart, the older of them just a little more than six years younger than Monkey.
Insert a hearty laugh here. Even six and a half looks not particularly likely now. The time is not exactly racing by me, but it seems to be crawling by in fast forward. I bent my body to my will before. I made it ovulate without a single drug. But not this time. This time I have no time. I can't spend a year doing what is necessary to make my body behave. I am not even sure whether it is possible anymore-- PCOS is a progressive disease, and my weight gain lately is not a good sign.
So I gave it an old college try, shock treatment-- a diet that severely restricted calories for ten days, and increased them and food variety slowly over the next couple. I went to see Dr.YoungGun on the last day of that diet. And two days later I got a period. With no symptomatic warning whatsoever. We can't try on our own because of Immanuel. The ultrasound to look at that bastard is not until November 5th. If he is still there, there will be surgery.
I hate this game. The part where I have nothing to do but sit around and wait. I know a few things now courtesy of the blood tests. We know that after being stuck in the half-on position for over a month, my body seems to have done something. The blood tests from CD-2(aka CD71) showed that LH had gone down (3.8), as compared to the previous three measurements (the ones that indicated I was stuck), and progesterone was up 1.9, headed down (since I did get a period), and estrogen was also down (23 compared to 220+ before). I don't believe I ovulated. I think the caloric restriction had brought on an unovulatory period. Which saved me something like two weeks-- if I didn't get a period on my own, there was prometrium in my future to bring one on. I may ovulate this month, or I may not. Even if I do, we can't try. And I don't believe I will ovulate a second time on my own. Why so pessimistic? Because my day 3 tests (LH=5.7, FSH=6.3, and E2=45) look a little worse than they did in June, and that was only good for one ovulatory cycle.
There are more things I would like to know, but probably won't find out because I am afraid of what my insurance will do with the information. I would like to take bloods every week for a while to see what the hormones do. But if I do ovulate this month, that would only make it less likely that insurance would pay even if I did get stuck again next month. So I won't. Instead I will try to keep myself busy until that ultrasound.
It should be ok for a little bit, and then it will get hard again. This week I obsessed about day 3 results and re-organized my kitchen. Next week I have the interview for the only position I applied for this year (another post-doc, not faculty) and an HSG the next day. I will also be watching and analyzing every twinge for possible ovulation connection. Then I am going away for the weekend. When I get back I will busy myself worrying about JD's test at the end of that week, and then I will worry through the weekend about what the results will show. And then I expect that it will get hard because I will be staring at about two weeks with nothing reproductive to do but wait for the ultrasound. And try to reassure Monkey, of course.
I don't even know for how long that can possibly work. Even if I do get pregnant at some point, it will be another couple of months before we would tell her. How long before "it will happen" won't cut it for her anymore? How long until it won't cut it for me? Early on I thought I knew what the future held. The subsequent pregnancy would be hard, but we would get that take home baby in the end. Not a replacement baby, not A, but a new baby, a new hope. Time was supposed to help us heal. To some degree it did that. But it is also putting pressure on me, chasing me, laughing at me. I can't see ahead anymore. At all.
*This was in the Old Country language, so this is my best translation, preserving as much as possible, but not the word order in the last part.