Sunday, May 29, 2011

Patience or Action?

My original plan had been to finish nursing, wait to get my period, see new OB/GYN for annual exam and discussion about TTC#2, and then TTC#2. Only, it took longer to get my period than I thought it would after we stopped nursing, and I ovulated really late once my period finally started again (ie, CD-26-ish). Now I'm wondering if I should still stick with the original plan. I'm worried that the doctor will recommend a wait-and-see approach to my cycle. Maybe not, but I'm worried about it. My old RE was very clear that ovulation that late means poor egg quality. Dr. Google, however, has just found another RE who states for all the internet to see that EARLY ovulation means failing ovarian reserve, and delayed means good ovarian reserve and does not relate to egg quality at all. Hrmmm. . . It's a little maddening.

I found a fertility clinic here in my city which I could go to, for a more definitive answer. They'd do a fertility workup for a relatively small amount of money. That might not be necessary, at this point, but at least it would give me some peace of mind about hormone levels (or, not). I'd probably have to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed (oh, the joys of American health insurance in a foreign land), but it's doable out of pocket, and my insurance would likely reimburse. I feel a little silly about that, though, like I'm jumping the gun.

I could see the OB/GYN first and see what she says about late ovulation and Clo.mid, but that means I lose another cycle. At least theoretically, I should get my period this week. I think I could get in and get the fertility testing done at the beginning of this cycle, but there's no way to get in and see the OB/GYN AND get the fertility testing done. There isn't time. It's a little crazy-making--I wish I'd anticipated this. I just though things would be different this time. I'm starting at a healthier weight, I've been taking good care of myself. It's supposed to be different! Except, I'm also two years older. And yet, I'm still really optimistic about all of this. I have no idea why.

I hate this part, the part where you don't know what's going on and you don't yet have a doctor or a plan. I know it will get squared away, and soon. But until then, I'm second-guessing myself every two minutes. Right this minute, I think I will probably see the OB/GYN first, and go from there. But five minutes from now, who knows?

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Sometimes, only time can give you perspective. Certain ideas, thoughts, and experiences need to ripen in order to be understood and appreciated. I suspect that this was one of those weeks for me.

The thought has crossed my mind more than once recently that in leaving one career behind for another, I left good things behind with the bad. One of the things that I sometimes miss is the intellectual challenge of my old job, although enough time has passed that I recognize that the challenge was both good and bad for me. When you have worked hard at something, something difficult, and you have excelled at it, there is a certain satisfaction to it. Of course, the ugly truth is that there is a often a cost to excelling at something hard--it takes blood and sweat and tears and time, and more often than not, you sacrifice your personal life at the alter of success. My current job is interesting and unique and often fun. It is sometimes intellectually challenging. But. . .sometimes I'm bored, and mostly, it's not overly difficult for me. Which is sort of one of the reasons I chose it, because on the other hand, I am not sacrificing my personal life. Just the opposite, in fact--I'm home for dinner (almost) every night, and we do things as a family every weekend. My husband says he's seen me more in the last year than in all of the time we've been together (well over a decade).

However, over this last week or so, I was working on a big project, and it was intense and fun and interesting and unique (although, also not exactly intellectually challenging). I was perfectly competent at it, and people seemed to appreciate that, but. . .it was pretty much just logistics on my end, lists and phone calls and moving pieces around the chess board. What I highly enjoyed, though, was not so much the actual job, but the pace, which was crazy. It was all very intense and last minute and rush-rush-rush, with lots of moving parts, and I LOVED that. It reminded me, just a tiny bit, of one of the things I truly loved about my old job. I am an adrenaline junky. I like the fast pace. I thrive on chaos. I like to walk the tight rope without a net. I thought, ah, THIS is what I've been missing lately. With a little more of THIS, I would be so happy.


As much as I thrive in high-pressure situations, it was also equally clear to me how toxic it is for me to be in them. It's so addictive. . .like a drug, I become all-consumed by it. Time melts away, I become intensely focused, even forgetting to eat. I love how brightly the candle burns when there is a goal in sight and you can go after it all-out. Yet, late nights arrivals home and early morning departures are not what I want for my child on a regular basis. I will not be that kind of parent. That is part of the reason I turned the page a year ago.

And I realized this week how different my life is now. I loved many things about my old job, my old life, but it was like I was living in black and white. It was very, very good. But now, with Miss M, I have a happy little family, and my life has sprung forward in full color, and it is so much better than before. There is a texture, a richness that I never knew existed before she came into our world. I wouldn't trade it for anything. The intellectual challenges of the past, the fast pace, the adrenaline. . .it's fun, but it's like great sex. You enjoy it in the moment, but you can't build a life on just that. There must be more.

So it has me thinking a lot, about the tension of thriving off something that is also not good for me, and where I go from here. My current assignment ends in another year or so, and I have a chance to do something more intellectually challenging at that point. Questions abound, though, as to whether I can take up something more complicated, without also sacrificing my personal life. There is the very real possibility that while some people may be able to do hard work and work very hard without making personal sacrifices, there may be unique quirks of my personality that make it impossible for me to find a happy medium between serious work and a full family life. I may only be capable of jumping off the cliff and leaping all-consumed into professional challenges, rather than wading in up to my ankles.


PS My fertility monitor finally gave up on ovulation, and flashes that annoying little "m" at me every morning, taunting me that I'm supposed to have my period already. My painful ovaries, however, have told me that I finally ovulated around CD26 or 27.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Making Changes

While I was in the bookstore searching for a new book that the latest issue of InStyle claims is THE style guide, I discovered a section called "tragic life stories." You know, "fiction," "home decorating," "tragic life stories." I'm not kidding. It was full of books that had pictures of angelic looking children on the covers, and the books were all essentially about how they died. There were many, many dozens of titles on the shelves. WTF??! I was completely horrified. And I didn't find the style book, either.

I was searching for the book because Operation Self-Renovation is well underway. Well, I spent a day shopping, which is practically the same thing. Thank goodness Miss M is a delightful little shopper. I browsed magazines, I searched the stores, and I have ideas for a few new purchases (which I haven't committed to yet. . .I wanted to get an overview first of just how dreadful my current wardrobe is--it's not too bad, actually). I'm in need of some new shoes, some new belts, and some new weekend clothes.

Although I didn't actually commit to any clothes this weekend, I bought new lipstick. Two, in fact, both of them perfect shades, one neutral and one very, very red. I heart them. They are a local drugstore brand, but creamy and moisturizing with just the right amount of color in them. I scored a very good new mascara, too. I've never become married to a mascara brand, so I try a new one every time. This one seems like it might be a keeper, but I need a few more days in it. My lashes look great, but I'm also all about the staying power when it comes to mascara. I'm not sure what I do to it, but I manage to end up with half of it under my eyes halfway through the day, if it's not the "right" kind. It's like my eyelashes sweat.

Here's what I have discovered so far, during my mission: style-wise, the universe seems to have fallen into the realm of 1984-1990. I am a serious saver. If I MIGHT need it someday, I pack it neatly away to a location I am sure to never remember. I have saved all of my clothes (unless worn out) for YEARS. But, before I moved here, I cleared away all of my outdated fashion items, from cutoff jean shorts to palazzo pants, because they were so. . .1984-1990. And now everywhere I turn, gah. . .cutoff jeans and palazzo pants. I just read a magazine article oohing and ahhing over Rachel Bilson in a hideous floral dress and a black blazer. It was like Laura Ashley plus Armani. . .awful. Everywhere I turn, this is what I find. I think my utter lack of style might be preferable. But, I'm still shopping.

As for my hair, I don't think I'm so far off. It's really long right now--maybe 6 inches or so past my shoulders, and wavy. I'm probably just going to cut a couple of inches off the bottom. I'm thinking about some long bangs that I can sweep to one side, but I'm on the fence about those. I haven't had bangs since high school. Once I realized what a pain it was to grow them out again, I never wanted to risk bangs. But it's just hair, and I'm toying with the idea.

I didn't make any major makeup purchases this weekend, because it was more than I was up for. The makeup counters were mobbed, and I just wasn't in the mood (other than lipstick and mascara, which were easy purchases). Eye shadow and foundationy products always confuse me. I need a lot of help with finding the right shade.

In other news, I still haven't ovulated, and I'm on CD24 or something horrid like that. I still haven't picked a doctor. I might just go with my gut. It's just one appointment, at this point, and I might as well test drive the doctor at a time when it won't matter if we don't connect. I have a crazy week coming up at work (more successful people, more famous people, oh joy!), so it will be next week before I can find time for an appointment (assuming I can even get one that quickly--my old practice was booked waaaay in advance). And right now, I'm falling asleep over the keys, so it's off to bed for me.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Travel Tuesday: Where to Stay

Welcome to my new project, Travel Tuesdays!

I have been doing a fair bit of traveling since we moved here. I've always loved to explore new places, and I am a bit of an armchair traveler regardless, always reading travel stories and travel guides and doing a bit of planning in my head for that next trip. I've picked up some useful tips along the way. I thought it might be interesting/helpful for others with small children to hear about our experiences traveling with a toddler, and to here my tips and tricks for making it work. We take Miss M. pretty much everywhere, so I'll be covering all sorts of topics. And T. is so entirely sick of listening to me talk about the trips I'm currently planning, so I sort of need a new audience!

First up: Lodging.

It goes without saying that one of the biggest components of travel costs, after transportation, is lodging. I have three core approaches to lodging, as follows:

1. I generally start by reviewing guidebooks and online listings regarding hostels in the area I will be traveling to. Although I'm a bit old to stay in a hostel dorm room, and most hostels don't allow toddlers in their dorm rooms anyway, many hostels DO also have double or family rooms. It's worth checking out this option, as you can sometimes find really cool options which are also VERY inexpensive. The downside to this option is that they are often booked way, way in advance, as hostels tend to have only a small amount of such rooms on offer. It's always worth a shot, though. Plus, hostels tend to have cool community living rooms and kitchens that you can use, and we've met loads of interesting people that way.

2. My second stop is usually Price.line. But wait. . .I don't just go on Price.line and bid. I have developed a STRATEGY, based on a very helpful website called Better Bidding. The website is useful in a few different ways: first, it has entire sections devoted to areas where you might want to bid (each American state, Caribbean, "other countries", etc.). Say you want to travel to Boston. You can look under Massachusetts, and then see what deals people have scored recently (or during the same month last year or the year before) for Boston hotels, so you have a ballpark estimate on the amount of money you might need to bid to be successful (if you've ever bid on Price.line, you know why this is important. . .you can only bid so many times before you have to wait 24 hours to lodge another bid). The Better Bidding website also has reviews of hotels, as well as lists of what hotels Price.line has put in which zone, and what classification (how many stars) Price.line has given those hotels, so you have some inside information on how to bid on a hotel that you actually want. But, perhaps most useful is the part of the site that talks STRATEGY. You see, Price.line is based on zones. Let's say there are five zones in the city you are bidding. You can actually play with the zones to discover whether there are any four or five star hotels in those zones. If there are NOT, you have basically won yourself the ability to bid an extra time without adding a zone. So, say you want to stay in the "center city" zone, but looking at "really far away from center" zone, you notice that it has no 5* hotels, nor does "north of center." You bid $70 on 5* hotels in "center city." If you win, great, but if rejected, you can take another bite at the apple right away. You add a second zone ("really far away from center"), because you know it has no 5* hotels, and bid $80 (you are still only bidding on "center city", because "really far away" has no 5* hotels. . .but Price.line doesn't recognize that and lets you bid a second time, anyway). If rejected, you then bid a third time, adding "north of center," because it also doesn't have any 5* hotels. And so on. If you are reasonably accurate in your initial assessment of what a successful bid will be, by looking at prior bidders winning bids on the Better Bidding website, you can usually use this strategy to land yourself a good deal. If you cannot, it's likely you are bidding during busy season, or in a really expensive city. Sometimes hotels will also pop up few weeks down the road, if you can wait a bit longer.

Some caveats about this: I only bid on 4 star and 5 star hotels on Price.line, because I think quality just gets too unreliable when you go down to 3 star hotels, and although Better Bidding also gives you info on Hot.wire, I never use it, as I don't think the deals are as good (if you are so inclined, however, Better Bidding can help you figure out what Hot.wire hotel you are bidding on, BEFORE you bid on it). I have stayed in very nice places all over, using the aforementioned Price.line strategy. Most recently, we paid $85 for a newly renovated hotel in Brussels which had a fantastic pool. The best available rate online was about $140. I really, really wanted a hotel with an indoor pool, and was fairly confident that I could get this one, based on my Better Bidding research, and was thrilled when it worked out.

3. My third go-to option for finding reasonably priced lodging is to rent an apartment. Pretty much every area that caters to tourists has short-term apartments for rent. We just stayed at a gorgeous place in Amsterdam, with a small yard, huge living room, full kitchen and bedroom, for less than we would have paid for a crappy hotel room per night. We never could have afforded to stay at a 4* hotel in Amsterdam--even the budget places were crazy expensive. From the apartment we rented, we could walk to tourist locations, and we were also right near a tram. It was perfect in every way. It was beautifully decorated, and the owner had left maps and other materials there for our use. It had a television, cd player, cd's, books, linens for our use, pots, pans, dishes, dishwasher, and all of the usual appliances. It was really fantastic.

I was resistant to renting apartments for a long time because I was concerned about getting conned, but it's so much more convenient than a hotel when you have a small child. You can keep things in the fridge, and eat meals on your own schedule. It's nice to have coffee in your own place in the morning while the baby plays. Having a kitchen also saves you money. I do like a good meal out when I travel, but it's so much easier to be able to have some meals at home. As far as eating meals out go, I find it's generally cheaper to splash out on a big meal at lunch than dinner, anyway, and then have a simple supper at home. You get to enjoy the local cuisine at a fraction of the price of dinner--and, restaurants are more open to toddlers at lunch than dinner!

I find apartments by locating a reputable rental agency, and checking through their listings for something that meets my budget. I'm not too particular on number of bedrooms, since it's sometimes cheaper to rent a two bedroom than a one bedroom. I more look at overall price, the location of the apartment, and the location of the places that I would like to visit in the city. Again, I consult guidebooks and online message boards to find good rental agencies. I also try to find reviews of individual apartments from people who have rented the apartments in the past. Note that an apartment might be listed by different/competing rental agencies for different prices. I discovered two agencies were renting a unit that I liked for an upcoming Italian vacation, and there was a 60% difference in price between the two agencies! So, it's worth googling the name of the property to see if anyone else has it listed for a better price. However, note that some rental properties might be rented under multiple names by different/competing agencies for marketing reasons, which can make it a bit hard to compare prices. I only found the two agencies were both marketing the property I was interested in because I had looked at a LOT of apartments online while searching, and the photographs of this one apartment were particularly striking and identifiable. (I was also able to get a 5% discount from my preferred rental agency, when I mentioned I'd found the unit listed by someone else!). Many of these agencies also accept credit cards, which makes me more comfortable, but the chance of fraud is obviously a small possibility. I do a lot of research before I commit to an agency, to try to make sure I'm dealing with a reputable agency.

I've used each of these options in the U.S. and abroad. There is no one option that works every time, but one or the other generally seems to come through for me. I rarely simply go online to book a hotel. And, I always stay someplace nice, at a reasonable price, because vacation is about enjoying your surroundings. Even if you don't spend piles of time in your room, it still adds a little something to stay in a nice place with a bit of character.

Next Travel Tuesday: Amsterdam

Monday, May 16, 2011

In Style

I caught sight of myself in a department store mirror today at lunchtime. Good lord, I am in desperate need of a makeover. My skin is pale and washed out. My hair is too long and shapeless. My clothes all seem to be too big or too small, and I have these very definite piles of "work clothes" and "play clothes," rather than some overarching sense of style. Frankly, at my age I think a woman should have style. Yet, here I sit in a tshirt and yoga pants, and my weekend wear doesn't stray far from this.

I would love to hire a professional stylist to shop for me and show me how to put everything together. Polaroids for my closet would be nice. I like to look good, but I don't like for it to be any effort, and it feels like such an effort, in the midst of everything else. Of course, I can't afford to hire a professional stylist.

The baby dropped my favorite eyeshadow and smashed it, I smashed my blush, and in a moment of supreme grace managed to drop my mascara in the toilet. It is so clearly time to start over.

Where do you start, when you need new hair and new makeup and new clothes (or at least, a healthy infusion of fresh pieces) and a style makeover? Sigh. And if I can't find a doctor I like, how will I ever find someone to cut my hair?

PS CD18 and no sign of ovulation. Double sigh.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Baby the Second

I am having a challenging time identifying a doctor here, or really even navigating the healthcare system at all. It's so confusing, and it's clearly not patient-driven, because there is essentially no information online about physicians' practices and hospitals. Someone gave me a list of "recommended" doctors, but it's completely outdated. One of the hospitals on the list has closed, and at least one of the doctors isn't practicing any more. It was hard enough for me to decide on a doctor and a practice in a healthcare system I was familiar with and confident in. It's exponentially more difficult in a foreign country. Also, all of the OB's here seem to be men. I am soooo not into that. I have had bad experiences with male doctors and my nether regions (painful ones), and my rule is that if you don't have a hoo-hoo, you shouldn't touch mine.

I have found one that seems like a good fit on paper. She's practicing at a hospital I think I could live with, not too far from my house, and I found a few newspaper articles which seem to reflect a philosophy close to my own. I wish I could talk to some of the women in my office who are pregnant or have recently given birth so I can find out what their experiences have been like with various doctors and hospitals in the city, but there is no way to do that without outing myself, and I don't know any of them well enough to know if I can trust them. It's hard to commit to a hospital, in particular. It's hard to choose without feedback from someone you know and trust, and without being able to ask questions. I will have to troll message boards to see if I can come up with some personal experiences.

(As an aside, Little House on the Prairie happens to be on right now, and it's an episode addressing infertility. The female character, one I'm not familiar with--Ann?--is furious that everyone thinks she should consider adoption, because she is just so sure she can get pregnant, no matter what the fancy city doctors tell her. Huh. Ohhhh, there is a sad little boy that needs adopting, and she's resisting because she wants her own kids, and her husband wants to adopt him. Who knew LHONP was so in tune with reality? I'm in tears watching how badly her husband wants to adopt. And now, she has decided she wants to adopt him. I love a good old-fashioned happy ending. And bacon. Which I can smell. Yummm. . .T. must be cooking me brunch!)

And don't even get me started on the labyrinth of health insurance. I have American insurance, and we generally have to pay out of pocket for care, then get reimbursed. Ouch. The flip side, though, is that healthcare is more affordable here. Tests that costs thousands in the U.S. are only hundreds here. But still. . .ouch.

I was also just reading about Clo.mid, and it looks like it really isn't recommended for women my age, due to it's negative impact on the lining, which the RE had also mentioned last time. I've noticed that the skin on my hands and neck is thinning and looking kind of crepe-y if I don't keep it well-moisturized. It looks ancient, and it is weird to see it. I don't feel like I'm old enough to have skin that looks like that, and I certainly have never been a sun goddess. Aging is so odd. I guess you never feel as old as you are, or you look. Dr. Google tells me that thinning skin is a result of dropping estrogen levels. Another warning sign, I suppose. Argh. I feel old today.

As an aside, I am launching a new project on Tuesday. Stay tuned!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

On Being Famous

I am a little bit sad, because I have to work on this glorious Saturday, and can't spend the day with T. and Miss M. They just left the house for an adventure with a friend. I am going to meet up with them later, but I am still sorry to be missing out on the intervening hours. Since I don't have to go to work for a little while, though, I'm going to use the quiet time to do some things around the house that I've been blatantly ignoring for far too long (like, folding laundry, and packing away baby clothes that no longer fit. . .oh, and blogging!).

Cycle-wise, things appear to be craptastic once again. I have to say, even though I knew it probably wouldn't be different, I was oh-so-hopeful that two years down the road, things had somehow improved with my body. I'm on CD16, and still no sign of ovulation. I would like to think that either the fertility monitor isn't working, or the expired test sticks I'm using aren't picking up on it. . .but all of the other signs of ovulation are clearly missing, as well. One of the OTHER things I have to do while I have a few minutes of quiet time today is research doctors. I still haven't found a new OB here, and that is high on my list of priorities. I suspect we will are going to need a little help again this time around.

And now that we've dispensed with the preliminaries, it's time for the top billing. . .

My job is weird, in that I often get to meet very well known and successful people. Sometimes they are industry leaders, sometimes politicians, sometimes Hollywood types. This week, I met three people that easily qualify as famous. One was a well known government figure, and two were Hollywood types. I was struck, as I often am, by how vastly different they were.

The government figure, who I'll call Doug, was kind and decent and smart and funny. He engaged with everyone in the room. He was patient, even when the situation was trying. He was thoughtful. He treated everyone as his equal, even when they clearly were not. He made eye contact. He is a very, very successful and very, very powerful man, but he was comfortable in his own skin, and it showed. He didn't rub your face in who he was, but rather related to you as a human being. I heart him.

The Hollywood stars, who I will call Arse and Arsier (you can see where this is going), were the inverse. They were, the pair of them, both very, very successful in their respective fields. But they were not thoughtful or kind or even comfortable in their skins. They were dismissive, looked through people, were unwilling to engage, and frankly, were downright rude. They were, so to speak, on MY playing field, there to work with my colleagues and I, but they treated me as though I were somehow invading THEIR world, as though I were imposing upon them. (I was simply doing my job, by the way--not looking for a photo or an autograph or anything like that.) I came home from work completely dispirited. It's been a long time since I've felt so invisible. They are meaningless to me, but it was still shocking to see that they clearly thought they were somehow beyond basic human decency, as though common courtesy simply wasn't required of someone famous.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine after the fact, and she has a theory that is a good one, I think. She said that Hollywood fame is hard to achieve, and even harder to maintain, so that when people DO get there, it's almost as though they behave like jerks to show how different they are from people who aren't famous. As though, breathing the rarified air of fame and fortune truly makes they a different animal altogether, beyond the social niceties of the rest of humanity. And, they are incredibly insecure, because it could all evaporate in an instant, so they are paranoid about how they will be perceived, which causes them to be intemperate over the most minor things, and utterly unable to engage, lest they manage to say or do something that is less than uber-cool. As far as I can tell, being famous has never done anything to improve a person's character.

Arguably, Arse and Arsier have had so much professional success, they should almost be beyond such behavior (it's not like anyone doubts their ability, at this point), but I could also clearly see that my friend was right. Both of them seemed insecure to me, during my discussions with them. Which struck me as odd. In the same situation, I would have been comfortable and secure and not thought twice about engaging with me. I would have seen it as simply part of what I was there to do, had we exchanged places. Instead, they hemmed and hawed and were ultimately rude to me, each in their own way. But they were rude because inherently, they were afraid to engage with me, and rudeness was their way of avoiding the situation altogether.

When you achieve a really high level of fame, there must be so many people who want a piece of you that you must end up getting burned over and over again. It's almost inevitable. You trust someone just a little bit, they take what they want, they cash in on you. I can see that, and I can see how much that must suck. By contrast, it's struck me that people like Doug are generally more secure in their success, because they are capable of something that has a bit more substance. They know they have a skill, and if their current job doesn't work out, there are loads more opportunities available for them, because they are smart and successful and accomplished. If you are a successful political figure, you can go on to become all sorts of other things. Hollywood success is more of a one trick pony. If movies, tv or theater don't work out for you, you are basically washed up. There is a confidence and stability in a Doug that isn't there in an Arse. It makes me really prefer working with the Dougs of this world.

As for Arse and Arsier. . .I feel a little sorry for them, but the pitfalls of fame don't excuse their behavior. Everyone gets taken advantage of in life, and if more is asked of them because they are successful Hollywood stars, perhaps more is expected of them given what they've been given. I think you can be careful of being burned, and still be kind. You can watch your own back, and still give back.

It hasn't changed what I think of them in their professional capacity, I suppose, because I've never really been starstruck. I see famous people as simply people. I still think Arse and Arsier are accomplished. I still think they produce good work. But, my interaction with them this week does change how I feel about spending money on projects that I know are theirs. I know that my entertainment dollar won't go to their projects from here forward. I don't patronize the restaurant down the street where the waiters are rude to me, even though the food is good and the atmosphere is great. I don't buy things from shops with rude shopkeepers, no matter how cool the shop may be. Why would I go to a movie when the director has treated me poorly in person? They may be talented, but there's a lot of talent out there, and since I don't have time to see every movie or television show out there, anyway, it's just as easy to choose one that involves people who haven't treated me as though I were something less than gum on the bottom of their shoes.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

More Thoughts on Number Two

I was reading this post yesterday about another blogger's thoughts on having a second child. She complied a list of all the reasons why she won't consider another biological child, and on it she put "I never want to even create the chance to experience pregnancy loss again."

When I read that, I realized that I am in a place where I not only am willing to take that risk, but I sort of expect that will be a part of this journey ahead of me. After all, I'm two years older than last time, and well, that didn't go so smoothly. It was interesting, though, to realize that I've so internalized that risk, that until I read that, I wasn't even consciously aware of accepting that risk as part of the potential path ahead of me.

The other thing her post brought home for me is how good I have things. I mean, I do KNOW that, but sometimes it's easy to get busy with life and overlook how incredibly good our lives are. I am blessed not only with a wonderful, loving husband, but a wonderful, loving husband who is psyched to stay at home with the kids while I go to work and indulge myself by nurturing my brain. He is ready, willing and able to stay home with a second child. We can afford to do this. He is really great at it, too. He's been completely managing the household--he cooks all of the meals, does all of the cleaning, does the grocery shopping and other errands. He is awesome. We also live in a great place, and have room for another child. We are really, really blessed. If ever there was a perfect time in our lives to have a second child, it is now.

As I go through my day with Miss M, I have started to imagine what it will be like to have two children. I try to imagine meeting the needs of two, and the sibling rivalry. I am still a little scared of making it all work, truthfully. But I am also really excited about having those family bonds. I can see them, feel them, and I so look forward to expanding our family, even despite the anticipated chaos.

Friday, May 6, 2011

What Was It Like Before This?

T and Miss M met me at work, and we walked to this gorgeous park that has a wide expanse of grass and trees. T had made a picnic for our dinner, and brought wine and plastic wine glasses and a blanket to sit on. Miss M refused to eat, and ran around instead, pretending to drink out of the (empty) wine glasses. She would go far, far, far away from us, turning and laughing at us periodically. She is so bold. Then she'd come running back, and make off with T's hat or her bag of snacks or some other little thing, giggling as though it were the most hilarious thing ever. As the sun set, it was warm but not too warm--perfect picnic weather. She was dressed in a ridiculously cute outfit, too--a white short sleeve bodysuit, a denim Oshkosh overall dress with a patchwork skirt, a Gap jean jacket and baby Frye harness boots. (Thanks to her grammy and many aunts and friends, she has a large and stylish wardrobe!) As we sat there sipping red wine, joggers went by with their dogs. Other families were out and about, kids with scooters and balls and jump ropes. It was just the most perfect, magical evening, and yet so entirely ordinary. As we sat on the blanket and watched her and talked, we tried to remember our lives a couple of years ago, and we talked about what we would be doing if she hadn't come into our lives. Everything would be different, we agreed. We would have made different choices about things. But it's all so much better now. She is such a joy. This life with her is so amazing.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Taking the Long View

When you first start trying to have kids, you think it will be quick and easy. Then, if it's not, you get so bogged down in the details that it's easy to lose sight of the big picture. Sometimes you are painfully aware of time passing, and other times, it slips by unnoticed.

These many months we've had Miss M with us, time has flown by. I've seen how fleeting her babyhood, her childhood will be. Every day feels like a gift to be treasured. It's been both easy to see the big picture, and easy to ignore it.

So, it was with a start that I dug out my charting software password, and realized that I started charting four years ago. FOUR YEARS. It seems impossible to believe (hi Manda! Can't believe I've "known" you for that long, either.). Number of cycles charted before Miss M: 19. I missed so many cycles during those years, had such long cycles. . .19.

Then there's the data: it reflects an average cycle of 33 days; average ovulation on CD21; average LP of 12 days. Then there are the outliers, the minimums and maximums of my cycles: At its shortest, I've had a 24 day cycle; max cycle was 41 days. My absolute earliest ovulation date was on CD14, and my latest was on CD28. At its worst, when I was dealing with super short LP, my LP lasted just 8 days; then there was that max of 17 (a brief flirtation with chemical pregnancy). Somehow, raw data makes me feel like I'm in control.

As if.

Monday, May 2, 2011

My Personal Olympics

All of a sudden, summer is here. It's warm, it's sunny, and every time I step out my door into the sunshine, I am greeted by the sweet perfume of armfuls of tea roses. I had no idea there were so many rosebushes in our yard (we moved in during the fall). It is glorious.

And with summer came my period.

I had wondered what it would be like. Between being pregnant and breast feeding, I haven't had it in more than two years. TWO YEARS! Crazy. I knew it was coming, from how I've been feeling of late. And you know what? It was exactly like it used to be, really--not heavier, not worse, nothing different. I got it on Thursday night, and it was gone by Saturday night. I had been afraid that it would be big and long and awful, but it wasn't. It just seems so weird to be having it again.

So, Friday is Day 1 of this cycle.

T is beside himself excited, because he wants to get going on #2. He is really, really excited to have a second child. I am. . .excited for a second child, not necessarily looking forward to being pregnant again. It's stupid and selfish, I know, but it has been really nice having my body back to myself. I can have as much coffee as I want, and eat sushi when I feel like it without worrying about mercury and other contents, skip lunch if I feel like it, stay up late, drink mojitos. . .all things I DON'T do when pregnant or nursing. I know I put too much pressure on myself to be behaviorally perfect when I am pregnant/nursing, but I am neurotic, and I need to know that I've done everything I can to have a healthy baby. THAT, in turn, has led to what I'm going to call my maternity fatigue. I'm totally into being a mother. I'm totally into having a family. It's fun to fantasize what it will be like to be blessed with a sibling for Miss M. But. But. Pregnancy feels like a lot of work right now. The last year feels like a lot of work. And I really, really like where we are with Miss M right now, who is learning all sorts of new words, obsessed with animals, and just so aware and chipper and fun. It is a BLAST.

But with each tick of the clock, I inch closer to 39. The statistics are scary. Time is not on my side if I want a second child. So, in we wade.

I'm excited about trying again, actually. I pulled out my old fertility monitor today. It's got some weird purple goop on the bottom, and the batteries are dead. I've got a box of expired test sticks (January 2010!), too. I figure this will be my "test" cycle, to remember how this stuff works, get a feel for my cycle, kick the tires, etc. Oh yeah, and get a pap smear and check out a new OB. I'm in a new city, and healthcare here is as yet untested. I know a few women who have had babies in recent months, but not well enough to quiz about their prenatal care. At least, not if I don't want my office knowing that I'm thinking of trying. Which, I don't. I have a list of doctors that are "recommended" though, and I'm going to start to sort through them today. Really, only one practice has all women, and unless the internet tells me they have four heads, I will see them. I need to ask their opinion on Clo.mid (we used it the cycle we got pregnant with Miss M, as well as the one before that that resulted in a (very early) m/c. And also about progesterone suppositories, which we also used with Miss M.

I'm going to venture out now in search of new batteries for my monitor, and maybe a BBT thermometer. Maybe some Preseed if I am feeling really peppy. Because nothing says "all in" like a pile of equipment on the nightstand. Oh, and I should dust off my charting software. . .let the control freak games begin!