Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A sunny day

Today was a little busy, a little too busy to really let the reality of where I am these nine months later sort itself out. But I did make it to the cemetery. This fall, when it hasn't been rainy, has been brilliant around here. You can still see a blindingly yellow tree here and there, or a fiery orange one.

The colors are much more sedate by the baby section, though. I don't know whether it is by design or accident, but most of the color you can see from there is the subtle mix of all those shades of brown and those very few shades of green and yellow that comprise the nondescript background of fall foliage, the stuff you normally don't photograph.

The section itself used to be surrounded by these bushes that looked spiky and naked, and prickly appropriate when we first saw them on a brilliant and windy day in early February, and then blosomed, not green but dark red, in the spring.

Some of these stoic guardians either dried or froze out, and so they have been removed, along with their close neighbors. In their place-- nothing so far, but the ground looks like it had been tended to. A's spot used to be right by where the bushes rounded a turn, so it looked very enclosed. And now you can see that the ground to the right slopes downwards. I am not used to it yet. I don't know whether I think it's airier or too exposed now. I wonder whether I will miss the enclosure when the grass reclaims the slope. How fucked up is it, by the way, that I noted as a plus of the new arrangement that now there seems to be room right next to A, should we ever need it?

Only about a third of the wall of bushes remains. The red bushes are my landmark-- they are how I know I found our section. I like this navigation technique much better than looking at the section names and numbers.

The bushes bear these funny red berries, but only in small clusters and only in a few select spots. Always on bare twigs. What do you think-- blood or tears?

As I was making my way out, I spotted this tree. I was going to say "spied" but really there was no missing it. It looked even brighter than the camera was able to capture, I think-- piercing brilliant wonder.

I don't know why I wanted to go by myself today when I knew that JD and I are going together tomorrow. I don't know why I wanted to bring the camera, or why I took all these pictures. They really are a very poor substitute for those first pictures of a baby playing in the autumn leaves, aren't they?

Monday, October 29, 2007

No pressure

Monkey has been really good. She has waited and waited. She has stopped herself from saying things, and she has renamed her drawings. But last week in the car, after telling me all about how babies like to shake their booties if you give them your fingers to hold on to, and how if we have another baby maybe we will let her give the baby her fingers for support so the baby can dance, she told me she can't wait any more. I know, baby, I know. And then,
"Mama, I think by the time we have a baby, I will be all grown up."
"Probably, since you are so very grown up already."

As Friday dragged on without a word from the clinic, as the weekend wound its brutally elastic way towards what I perceived as a certain phone call first thing Monday morning, and as Monday inched and inched all the way until mid afternoon when the phone call finally came, the debilitating cacophony in my head preventing me from accomplishing anything requiring any real effort kept building, high among the many melodies comprising it the one about how my daughter can't wait any more. She is clearly bored with this "only child" gig. She needs interaction and reflection, she longs for companionship, and soon she will be all grown up.

So you can imagine that when the nurse said that the doctor would like me to repeat the ultrasound in another six weeks, I was not amused. I very nearly lost it, actually. She started with the recommendation, and I had to ask for the result. Which is that Immanuel is still there. Pretty much the same size. Still complex. So nothing is changing, but they want to give the bastard another chance to make himself scarce. This is not what Dr.YoungGun said would happen when we saw him. He said then that appearance on the repeat ultrasound would earn that mofo a one way trip to the OR. Let's just say that I am not doing well with this prospective pushing off of our hypothetical first cycle way into the new year. Maybe even past our one year anniversary. Which I don't think I would handle too well.

The nurse was sympathetic, and seemed to be genuinely concerned. I told her that I am very unhappy about this miscommunication, and she asked whether I thought it would help to come in and talk to the doctor about it. I told her honestly that I didn't think it would help too much to have a fight with the doctor. She very gently suggested that she can put me in touch with their social worker who is very good. I said that I needed things to move and not to talk about how I feel about them not moving. The thing that annoys me the most is that both before, when I was trying to reschedule this ultrasound, and now, she said that I could try a regular GYN to see if they would be willing to do the surgery faster, to accommodate my new job. Well, first, I don't have a GYN, only an OB. Second, this smells suspiciously like encouraging doctor shopping, which I don't think is right. Either you think that I can have the surgery now, in which case you should do it yourself, or you think that I shouldn't have it now, and in that case you don't encourage me to find someone who would be willing to do it anyway. And then there is timing. I didn't bother trying to find anyone like that before now because I thought I would have a whole week to get the surgery in at this place, which seemed very doable. But now it would be a laughably impossible task of looking for someone who would get me in and do the surgery with only nine business days remaining until the start of my new job. Clearly, not happening.

I am much calmer now than I was when I was blindsided by this information earlier today. I think I came up with a compromise that should satisfy both the doctor and us-- I will ask to do the next ultrasound in four weeks rather than six, in time to have the results for our next appointment at the end of November. He'd better be amenable to this.


Nine months ago, on another cold Monday night, my husband played his guitar and my children danced, separated by my skin. I thought that he must be a big baby-- his twists and turns were really starting to hurt. That was the last night of our before, the last time we were all together, the last time that big, important things seemed good. I can't even say that they were good. The pathologist thinks that A was so active that night because he was in pain, suffering the effects of bacterial infection which she later ruled to be a contributory cause of death. I miss him so very much today.

Friday, October 26, 2007


So I am of the opinion that if anyone is going to put anything up my pudengo (thank you, Whoopi), I should (a) enjoy it; (b) get something out of it (like, you know, a baby); or (c) at least get the damned picture. Who is with me?

Right. So the stupid radiology place has the stupid policy to not show the patients the stupid screen, not to tell the patients what is on the stupid screen, and, in fact, not to tell patients a thing until the stupid doctor sends the stupid report to the requesting doctor. And, predictably, as of the close of business today, no report.


I am also vaguely unsettled tonight by a birth announcement. It came by email a couple of hours ago. It is the first one that is really hard. Maybe it's because this is the first baby I didn't know about prior to the birth, or maybe it's because if you do the math, it turns out this baby must've been conceived some time around the time of A's death. Next week is the ninth monthaversary, the first one to fall on the same days of the week and to have both the death and the birth dates. Halloween isn't really the best time for that to happen, but I guess it's just one more thing in which we don't get any choice.

How to make a grown man run for the hills...

...or at least threaten to. Well, in the case of my wonderful OB, Dr.B, all I had to do was tell him that I am getting a job at the Other Big Hospital. Which means that I will have access to full text of every medical journal on the planet, more or less. He said he was moving. Without a forwarding address. We had a good laugh.

He also assured me that while the risk would be significantly higher if despite everyone's best efforts I did end up pregnant with twins, it wasn't going to be a deal breaker. He said he would bump up the monitoring and maybe start himself on Prozac. Did I mention I love my OB?

We talked about other things, like my medications and Dr.YoungGun's qualifications. Overall it was just very nice to see Dr.B, to know that he is still thinking of us, to get this reminder that if and when I get knocked up again, we will be in very good hands indeed.

Afterwards, I went upstairs to try to schedule a few things. They were able to move my ultrasound to today, so I will be leaving for that in a few minutes. They also scheduled JD's second swimming test for a month from the first one, and our follow up with Dr.YoungGun for a week after that. So a productive day overall.

As I was picking up Monkey from school, I told her teacher that Berura now knows about A because Monkey told her. The teacher replied that Monkey has told a lot of kids, and that they are accepting of the story. One of them came to the teacher to ask whether she knew, and received the confirmation that she did indeed know and that it was very sad. I think we did good with this school.

Ok, I am off to see how Immanuel is doing. I hope he is a rude kind of a bloke and has made his exit without any of those social niceties that would compel another, more civilized cyst to stick around for formal good-byes. But I am not holding my breath.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Making plans

Two years ago we ran away for Thanksgiving. Just the two of us. Monkey went to visit my parents, and we hopped a plane to Aruba. There were many great things about that vacation, not the least of which was watching crazy Thanksgiving weekend traffic in the States on TV, while sipping blue cocktails or getting ready to go for the morning dive. The vacation was so great, in fact, that we bought another one (a resort preview) right in the airport before we flew out. We then talked my parents and my sister into coming with us on that one. And we took Monkey, too.

This past spring we took a cruise, our first ever, to the Caribbean. This picture is from a snorkeling excursion we took to Stingray City at Grand Cayman.

I took the picture with our water- and shock-resistant digital camera, bought specifically for this trip. Yes, put it right under water and took the picture. Freaky, I know.

I love that picture. I love just about everything about it. I love the grace and the fluidity of movement, I like that it suggests how close I had to be to the stingray to get that shot, I even like that the creature's body carries reminders of scuffles, the sign of authenticity. This here is no pet stingray. This stingray has seen the rough side of the ocean. And of course, I like the shadow on the sand, the subtle hint of how clear the water is.

But today that picture is making me anxious. Not the picture, of course, the memories. JD wants to go away for Thanksgiving, to warmer climes, but more importantly away. And I am suddenly filled with dread. I didn't want to go on that cruise. It was too soon, not even seven weeks, after A died. JD had a good argument-- let's make new memories he said, everything here is all the same, as if nothing happened, I need something new and different. I heard him, and I knew he needed it. I knew Monkey would love it, and the friends we would go with were real friends, although long-distance now. So I agreed to go. As the time for the trip approached, however, I grew ever more anxious. I didn't want to go. The chores of getting ready for a beach vacation-- waxing, shaving, pulling out summer clothing while it was still certifiably winter outside, things that I would normally enjoy, or that would at least amuse me, it all felt wrong, it all felt like too much.

The cruise itself was up and down, with some great highs and some spectacular lows. When I think of it now, I mostly think of the good memories. Unbelievable dives, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, talking with friends, happy kid faces. But today I am transported right back to that time when I was getting ready to leave, that heavy, anxious place I hoped never to revisit. Experience tells me that if we go, the vacation will be good for me. The place JD found even has resort-wide free Wi-Fi. I could keep up with blogging from the beach, which is good, since I am not a big beach person otherwise. So why am I so mortified at the thought of going? Why do I feel right back there all these many months ago? Is it just that I was all set for a quiet long weekend at home? Is it the stress of the infertility stuff? The stress of the new unknown? I thought I was better now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What's in a number?

I am not my body. My body is not exactly up to factory standards, but I can't return it or put in for replacement of defective parts, so I deal. I live for the numbers, though. In the ancient times when I could wrangle my body to my will, make the defective parts run to an ok approximation of the industry standard, the numbers were my weight, length of my cycles, my LH spike for ovulation purposes, mid-luteal progesterone as a benchmark for those early pregnancy readings, and hCG and its doubling, or not, for the pregnancies. There were also thyroid readings as necessary. Pregnancies brought their own numbers-- weeks, heart rates, crown-rump, nuchal fold, probabilities, glucose tests, blood pressure, protein in urine. This year brought measurements of heart rate and blood pressure sans pregnancy, too many stuck LH readings, and now the cyst size. Numbers, numbers everywhere. I am a geek.

But at no time did these numbers measure my worth. I am not my body.

Waiting for JD's numbers this weekend was somewhat different because I worried about how he would take it if the results were not good. Before we had Monkey, two different tests showed borderline low numbers. We talked about this when this test was first ordered. Whatever the test says it won't matter, I said. It means nothing. It's just to tell us what we need to do. This feeling did not change for me as the test, and then the results day approached. Good, I thought, at least I am not a hypocrite. He is not his body either.

To be completely, thoroughly honest, I was thinking that given the history, some of the numbers will be on the low side. I even thought that if they are, we might get the diagnosis of male factor added, and that it might actually help speed up our stupid insurance coverage.

There are other things, too. The cultural stereotype of manliness=virility is alive and well, and is reinforced in this case by two cultures. We also conceived A on the first try. Variance, she is a bitch, in poker and in life, and it can mess with your head but good in both settings. I had that going this summer, when I sooooo hoped to get pregnant that first month we were allowed to try. I think I got over it the day I realized PCOS was kicking my butt, and ovulation was no longer forthcoming. I couldn't really tell where JD was on these things.

Yesterday afternoon we got the results. They are worse than we thought. In fact, the one parameter I thought was least likely to be affected, based on the three previously recorded conceptions, was in fact affected. We have low motility. Very low. Very very low. The numbers are bad, and they don't matter. We have low motility. Yes, we. Because JD isn't his body either. It's just what we have to deal with.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What's your poison?

Because, after all, I have a reputation to uphold, because it's a Saturday night, and a good, no-- great-- game was on, and because I haven't done it in a while, I thought I'd tell you what's been helping me get through the night. Aside from the game, I mean.

Tonight it's Bellini Martini, the approximate recipe for which can be found here (promise me you will never believe the lying bastards who tell you this drink does not include champagne, k? k). The recipe is approximate in that the ingredients are right, but not necessarily the proportions. For the proper drink there is always that nice little place on the piaza level of The Ven1t1an resort in Las V@gas. Or my house. If you choose the latter please do give me at least a couple of hours of warning to make sure there is food to go with the drink.

So what are you drinking this fine time of day?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Big sister

Today was a long-awaited day-- Monkey's first official play date at our house. She's had friends over before, lots of times. She even had kids stay overnight more than a few times. All these kids, however, spoke the Old Country language, Monkey's first language, and these interactions never sounded quiet so official. This time, though, I went to school for pick up and signed out two kids instead of one.

Berura is a nice kid. Interesting I think is the word I was looking for. Even-keeled. Inquisitive. I don't think I have ever seen her running around with abandon, for example. But I have seen her climb and slide and swing. She has what seems like an external internal monologue going by which I mean that often she comments, rather than asks. For example, as she was getting into my car, she commented that this is the second car she's been into without a car seat. Seemingly to nobody. But when I pointed out that there is most certainly a booster, it just happens to be built-in she delightedly engaged the conversation. At my house she confessed her fascination with and penchant for all things winged, particularly butterflies and fairies, and asked me to direct her to our flower patch where she could sleep and drink, since that is what butterflies do, and as she was standing there wearing Monkey's dress-up butterfly getup, she was clearly in need of one. But that was much later. First there was the trip home.

The trip would've been entirely unremarkable-- some random babbling, some discussion of what CD is to be played, some discussion of what's on the CD, ok maybe a little remarkable for me getting that first chance to hear how Monkey now does conversing in English-- except that from what appeared to me to have been out of nowhere Berura declared that she is a big sister. And there it was-- the moment I knew was coming, but one that nevertheless made me tense up and go a little cold inside. I wasn't watching the rear view mirror for glimpses of the girls in the backseat. I can't tell you why. I could try to sell you the line that it was because it was raining and it would've been a bit on the dangerous side, but I doubt you would believe me. Maybe it was because I was afraid that when I see her she would see me, and more than I bargained for in my eyes. I'd like to think, however, that it was instinctual, that it was because I didn't want to interfere, to influence, even with a glance, the dynamic of what was coming.

"I am a big sister too" said Monkey.
I could hear a small noise from Berura, like she was confused and getting ready to say the obvious, about the lack of observable siblings. She never got a chance. Monkey was continuing.
"I had a brother, but he died. But I am still a big sister."
"Still a big sister" repeated Berura. She was not asking. Half observing, half wondering. It was clear she has never heard of such a thing, that it was strange, but also that she didn't plan on challenging this new definition.

In the electric silence that followed I still didn't glance back. I was so proud of her, of her comfort with claiming that which is hers. In the familiar pairing, my insides were tense, and I was sad. Sad, among other things, that this was all that was left for her to claim. In the end it was me who broke that silence, because I thought that's what a mom should do. I will never know whether Monkey was watching the rear view mirror, waiting to lock on to my gaze for support.

"Almost home" I noted, with a bit too much enthusiasm.
"I know that" Monkey replied.
"Yes, but Berura doesn't."
"Ah, I forgot." And with that Monkey dove into a spirited description and then narration of the rest of the way to our house.

The girls had a lot of fun at the house. Aforementioned dress up, drawing, roleplaying, crepe making and eating (yum!), make-believe ice cream party, featuring our previously new package of playdoh, and even some clean-up-- it's hard to believe they crammed it all into two and a half hours. When Berura's father showed up for pickup Monkey was sad and neither girl wanted Berura to leave. The magic of the promise of a reciprocal play date, complete with the specification of who would pick them up from school, finally placated them, and it was all over. After Berura left Monkey and I finished cleaning up, and she took her time finding creative ways of using family room rug and furniture in lieu of regulation gymnastics equipment.

We didn't talk about that conversation in the car. She didn't come to me, and I don't want to ask her. I don't want to overemphasize something that she seems to have integrated so thoroughly into her understanding of self. I don't want her to become self-conscious next time the topic comes up. I wonder, though, whether Berura forgot all about it, or whether she was puzzled enough that she will think of it again, and whether she will ask her parents if or when she does. I have only a passing acquaintance with her parents who seem like very nice and thoughtful people. I hope that if she does bring it up they will accept and find a way to affirm Monkey's words. And I hope that if the story finds its way back into the classroom the teachers will be there to catch it and to offer support, like they promised they would. That's really all I can hope for. But I wonder whether I should email them to let them know it has begun, to give them the heads up. Honestly, I thought it would happen much earlier, and I worried about A becoming Monkey's identifier, of her becoming "that girl whose brother died." I hoped instead that all these new kids and adults would get to know Monkey first, and that for all these people A would become a facet of her story, not her whole story. So now is ok. I hope now is ok.

Because of this episode today I came to realize that this part of the story is hers. To live with, to understand, to tell. The story of a baby brother who made her a big sister, albeit of the kind that so few can see and appreciate. The story of the big sister who is still bursting at the seems to do all these things big sisters get to do, who needs to claim that identification, whose normal is so different from and yet so similar to everyone else's normal. Today I pause ever so briefly to pat us on the back for helping her get this far. I think we did good. But I also realize that there is a lot more work to do. One day we might have to talk about the days she was home and we were at the hospital, when she was still waiting for her family to change, and everyone else knew it already had. There will also be a day when we take her to the cemetery, and probably one when she asks us where A is now. This thing, it never ever ends.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I have a job

I went in to negotiate yesterday. Maybe I didn't do so horribly on the phone, because my future boss offered me what I really needed-- the ability to make my hours in such a way that I can pretty much still pick Monkey up after school every day.

I start November 12th, which is less than four weeks away. I need to get my ass in gear and finish all these projects I have lying around the house, waiting their turn. I called RE's office and asked about the timing of the hypothetical Immanuel-removing surgery, given that the ultrasound is scheduled for the 5th. The nurse is going to call me back at some point with the news on whether or not they want to move the ultrasound up. Friday is JD's date at the lab. Meaning now he needs to be saving up the swimmers for their Olympic trial, i.e. no funny business until then. Oh, well-- more time for the blogs then.

In the meantime, here are two nuggets of coincidence or cosmic irony, take your pick.

One, we went out to celebrate last night. And a large chunk of the restaurant bill was taken care of by the gift certificate my old job gave me as a going-away present.

And two, my new paycheck will be coming from the Other Big Hospital in the city, the one where I never had any luck with doctors. Moreover, I will have IDs from and offices in both the Other Big Hospital, and the Other Big University, the one my alma matter, the place where I spent the last fifteen years (as a student, graduate student, and a post-doc) loves to scoff at. Am I entering the Opposite World?

Monday, October 15, 2007

What can I say

Sometimes the theme just emerges...






And sometimes you have to work a little harder to make sure it keeps emerging...






And other times it's just too easy...




There are also times when you have to live with disappointment because you didn't get to take a picture, and now it's too late, and even though you found the logo on their website, it is really not the same as taking that picture.

The important thing, though, is that if you ever

I can tell you exactly where to find those.

And, of course, don't forget about

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Oh, the places we go...

Slooooooooow moving traffic mere 30 mi from your destination: not helpful.

High speed internet at the hotel: good.

But only by ethernet: suboptimal.

Walking distance to good restaurants: very useful.

Vegeterian soups and freshly fried egg rolls: yummy.

A fortune you can laugh at: priceless.


(having a better photographer take the picture: much appreciated.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Holy crap

Pardon the highly unoriginal title. The head of the program where I interviewed yesterday told me then than they have another candidate coming today and that they will call me early next week. Well, he lied. He called me just as we were leaving Monkey's gymnastics tonight. To offer me the job.

I was so not ready for that conversation. I am terrible at negotiating for things I want. I mumbled about my main concern, which has to do with pay and time, so you know I was not graceful. But ahhhhhhh.... I was thinking I would have the whole weekend to think about how to bring it up, and there I was, needing to come up with something to say on the spot. Very awkward, but hopefully not a huge deal-- we are supposed to get together next week face to face to talk about all these things some more. My biggest problem, and everyone should have that problem, is that I was very much take it or leave it about this job before. And now that I met all these cool people that I would be working with, I want it. Which means that my determination to get a sweet deal out of it or not take the job just went out the window.

But I do still have the whole weekend to think about things. And I am leaving on a ... in a car. Early in the morning. For a trip that promises to be very very good and very very good for me. The plan, though, was to think of the job prospect as something remote and theoretical over the weekend. Guess that's not happening anymore.

Also? These job guys are such drama queens! No, seriously, the big event of today was supposed to be my HSG. And they completely upstaged it. Not that it was hard or anything. The procedure went fine, with minimal discomfort. The plumbing looks to be in working order. Which is good news. But given that Dr.YoungGun ordered the procedure purely on the better safe than sorry theory of full workups, we actually expected an all-clear, and I was only very mildly anxious that it wouldn't be. Very mildly, and only for brief periods of time. Honest. Next up in the long slow march towards Immanuel's shining ultrasound is JD's turn. And then the conversation with Dr.B by which time we should have that five paragraph essay on JD's swimmers from the lab people.

OK, I have to go fold some laundry and get ready for my lovely trip. Will try to post over the weekend-- we are supposed to have internets where I am going.

One down, one to go

I tried to write this last night, and promptly fell asleep. Oh, well. I was exhausted. But seeing as this is my 100th post (ta-da!), I wanted to make sure it is at least a little bit coherent.

The interview today yesterday went well. Really well, actually. Stay tuned for my whining sometime next week as I wait for the offer (I am pretty sure it's coming) and then agonize over what to do. HSG is tomorrow this afternoon. And now, I have another interview. Much shorter than the 9am-4:20pm one today yesterday, but every bit as challenging, or more. See, the incomparably thoughtful and lyrical Bon did an interview meme recently, whereby she answered five questions posed to her by the previous link in the chain (that'd be Slouching Mom), and offered to create questions for those wasting time looking for the next big thing. And because this is a meme, and in case you have nothing better to do, if you want to be interviewed, please ask in the comments, and I will gladly try my hand(s) at this genre. So without further ado, the five questions.

Bon: you spent your youth in the old country, and yet most of your adult life in the US...what does the word "home" mean to you, and evoke for you?

At some point in college I realized that I meant many things by the word home. When I was on campus, I could talk about going home to visit my parents, even though I never actually lived in their house, as they moved into that house, the one they inhabit still (post extensive renovations now, and much much nicer for it) the weekend after I left for college. When I was there, going home was back to campus. Talking to friends after class, going home was to my dorm, which was a community dorm, with shared cooking responsibilities, for example, so it was, in fact, much like family. I love The Old City, and this past May I was hungry to breathe its air, anxious for the moment it would open in front of me, the moment that was nice enough to play out just so, just as I needed it to, to fill my sight with green, to inflate and intoxicate me. Our stay in The Old City was amazing, and all of us could've easily used another week or three there. But it was no longer my home. Neither was it Monkey's although she took to it naturally, as if a long-idling genetic memory had been activated. My home is here, in this City, the one I made my own, where we are surrounded by friends, where we have grown so much as people, as friends, as parents, and as professionals, the city where both my children where born, where my son is buried. This is home. And our little house, the one we are desperately outgrowing, if only because we are blessed with so many friends here that it is tough to have even a reasonable subset over at the same time, this little house is home.

Bon: if you had 24 hours entirely to yourself, and money, fears, and travel time were no object, where would you go and what would you do with that 24 hours?

This is tough. The thing I would love to do if money was no object is not a one day thing. Although I could be done in 24 hours, that would not be the objective of the exercise. See, if money was no object, I would love to play one of the big poker tournaments, the ones with entry fees of $10,000 or so. I'd love to see how long I can last, who I can outplay, who I can outbluff, who I can outlast. This fantasy not fitting this particular question is ok, though, because one day I hope to have enough time and determination to win my way into one of these tournaments, and then I won't have to stick with 24 hours. Hopefully.

But if I had only 24 hours, I think I would pick Aruba or Cozumel for a day of diving complete as it always is with the salty dry mouth I get as I start the dissent, but forget about as soon as the first angel fish goes by, only to be hit with it big time when I resurface. Diving requires full attention-- one must be aware of one's equipment and one's surroundings at all times, but it also gives back fully, turning off three of the senses completely or nearly so (seeing as the water turns off the smell and nearly all sound, and that the regulator in one's mouth isn't much to write home about in the taste department), soothing the tactile with the full immersion, and blasting the sight, overwhelming it with the colors, she shapes, the movement, or the stillness. If you ever had a pack of moving color that is tropical fish swim close enough to you that you should've been able to touch at least one, but of course you never get to because they are fish and you are a mere tourist, a curiosity, an oversized loud breather bubblemaker, you know what I mean. And if you then happened upon a resting nurse shark, all six feet of it laying completely motionless in that perfect spot where the current is strong enough to supply it with the oxygen by moving through its gills, motionless that is except for those rhythmically moving gills and the cleaner fish busily at work, well, then you know exactly what I mean. After the dives, melon and joshing on the boat, and then a few of those fruity drinks complete with umbrellas, a good book, and a hammock hung under a nice shady tree would round out that me day pretty well. Of course, if there was a poker game nearby that night I wouldn't say no.

Bon: if you could go back and talk to yourself at 21, what would surprise the younger you the most about the life you're living and the person you've become?

I think it would have to be my career trajectory. That I am not a bench scientist, that I am not in fact a professor. On reflection, though, she would get it. Education was something that attracted me even when I was very young. She would get mad that I had to make the choice, but she would like what I've done with it. She would not be surprised by the kind of mom I am, I think. Well, maybe a little by how easy it is for me to tell my daughter how much I love her-- it's never been easy for me to say it to anyone else. Yes, even JD. She would be sad to know that something has been lost in the relationships with some of my very important friends, and maybe given enough warning she wouldn't make the mistakes I made that led there. She would be happy to know it's better now than it was a few years back.

Bon: you've suffered the shock and grief of losing A, and you've written recently about the challenges you're facing having another child. if a genie granted you three wishes, but these could only impact the future and not the past, what would you wish for?

Two more healthy babies. I feel like this is very greedy of me, so it has to count for two of the three wishes. I would gladly do my time through those high risk pregnancies if I could be sure I would be taking my babies home in the end. But we all know that-- if only that could be a guarantee...

As for the third wish, I am torn. I have wanted for a long time to open a school. We tried, unsuccessfully, for political and technical reasons, to do it before. The easiest way to make it happen would be with a large pile of money. The kind of pile one could get by, for example, winning a major poker tournament. Or from a genie. I am torn, though, because I would also want to wish for some healing for my mother. She is not doing well, and the way she is choosing to deal is not at all helpful for our relationship, or even for her own mental state.

Bon: what three qualities do you most hope Monkey inherits or learns from you, and what three from her father? are there any in either family that you desperately hope skip a generation?

The skipping generation one is easy. In fact, I wish it would go the way of the mammoth-- very very extinct. JD is not so good with disappointment or significant change of plan. Especially when he is tired. And when he gets into that state, you can feel it from across the room-- the vibe he puts out is very on edge, very prickly, very buzz kill. We are also, neither of us, particularly compulsive about keeping our living quarters clean. She should be better at it, although so far, no dice. She could also do with less stubborn than either of us are, but I think that ship's sailed quite a while ago.

The good ones. Let's see. I am not so good with slow and steady where the school work or even work work (or blog posting, ha!) is concerned. I procrastinate. JD though is great with it. She should get that from him. We both cook well, but in different ways. I am better with more complicated things, like dinners of many dishes, all tasty, some of them very nontrivial to produce. JD is more of a quick and dirty, apply principles of chemistry to your cooking kind of a guy. He is the king of grill and, in particular, steak and kabobs around here. She should get both of those inclinations. I have to believe she would have to beat men off with a stick if this should come to pass, right? She should also definitely get JD's athletic abilities rather than mine. I do ok once my muscles know and remember what I need them to do. This is why my swimming form is still very good. But that time required for something to travel from my brain to my muscles, the ability to learn a new athletic skill? Oy, just major oy. For example, when I want to learn something new or improve something about my skiing, I ask JD to show me, and then I tell him to go away and come back in about an hour or more. I spend that time crossing the bridge from understand in my head to make my body do. Very sad. But Monkey does seem to be more JD-inclined with this, if her gymnastics, and last Sunday's performance in soccer are any indication. From me she should definitely get my ability to roll with the punches. Comes in handy. And stamina. Life-wise, 'cause sports-wise: see above.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Time goes by

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.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


Aurelia and Niobe are having fun luring their lurkers out of lurkdom, so I thought I'd give it a try.
The Great Mofo Delurk 2007
But since I am posting this kinda late on this fine Wednesday evening, it is totally ok to delurk on this fine Thursday morning, if that's when you are seeing this (hence: cheating).

And since I know the draw of quietly sitting in the back of the class, I will pose a question, one of the ones I tend to use on the first day of class (if I am teaching a small enough class, that is) as an ice breaker. I will even go first with my own answer. But since I can't cold-call on you out there in the great wilds of the internets, I will ask nicely-- please don't let me be the only one talking, k?

So the question is: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be and why?

My answer: Aruba, and because that place does me good. Or it did the two times we went before. JD found a nice little local diving company there the first time we went, and we dove with them both trips. The guys are very-very good at what they do. They won't rush a dive, they don't overload the divemasters, and they work hard to make sure you see everything there is to see on a given dive site. Plus, they give you watermelon or cantaloupe after the dives. So that's where I'd be-- on board Mermaid II, the top of my head braided into many tiny braids so that the hair doesn't get in the way on a dive, wind in my face, joking with the divemasters. That, or trying to photograph the sunsets.

My second choice right now would be a trip through Europe by train. The train rolling down the track, the sound, the rhythm, the feel, the inertia of it, it would all make a good soundtrack to the strange malaise of my days, days that crawl as I wait for the outcomes of things still weeks away, as I wonder what my body has in store for me.

So what about you?

Monday, October 1, 2007

In memoriam

This is for Meg, D, and M, their little survivorgirl.


It is also for Niobe.


And for all our children, loved and lost.