Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A (Sorta) Fairytale

Gather 'round, children. I'm going to tell you a story...

This story doesn't involve faraway lands, nor does it begin with "Once upon a time". There is a princess involved, however: Princess Charlotte. For this story takes place on the day of Princess Charlotte's birthday celebration. There were presents, a frosted, pink cake, even a tiara. But, the story is not about the princess, rather this tale is about her mother and father, and how they began the day carefully placing pink cups and plates on the table in preparation for their daughter's first birthday party, and ended the day placing dollars at the foot of a stripper.

The week leading up to this party was hectic. I've never thrown a children's party before, and when I've attended them, I've always taken certain things for granted: the gift bags, the pacing, the games, prizes, etc. So, I was a tad overwhelmed at the prospect of being responsible for those things. The goody bags were a nightmare. We tried to not fill them with useless, plastic crap that would just end up in the trash, but that proved to be nearly impossible on a budget.

So, all week long, I ran all over town, buying decorations, but forgetting the candle for the cake. Going out for cups, and forgetting utensils. Buying prizes, then realizing I hadn't planned any games. Luckily, my in-laws graciously offered to host the party and to take care of the food. I really don't know how anyone throws one of these parties without my in-laws to help them. (Seriously, do you rent them out?) She had a great party, though.

In any case, due to the stressful nature of the week and to the fact that my sister (AKA my super-awesome-fun-karaoke/drinking buddy)was going to be in town, we had arranged for the baby to spend the night at my mom's. It was only her second time staying away from home, and it seemed sort of weird for us to be leaving her for the night to essentially get drunk the night after her first birthday party. After all, I am Guilt's easiest target. I obsessed about it all week. Am I doing something wrong? What will people say? Is that what a GOOD mother would do?

In the end, I gave myself permission to be a little unorthodox and maybe even a little selfish, and go for it. So, we cleaned up at my mother-in-law's, went to my mom's where I nursed the baby to sleep, met up with my sister and her boyfriend, and we were off!

We started the night at a dive bar that I just happen to love. During the week they have the world's greatest happy hour. Where else can you get FREE Mexican food and dollar margaritas that actually have tequila in them? But, the real reason I love this place is that every Saturday night, they host karaoke. And I LOVE karaoke. Not enough to be one of those people who show up every week with their cued and labeled CD's and belt out their greatest rendition of some Celine Dion number, but enough to show own a karaoke machine and have held numerous parties in my home that end with someone singing "Livin' on a Prayer" at 4 A.M.

So, whenever my sister is in town, we try to get to this bar, have a few margaritas and sing some mediocre karaoke. Obviously this is a rare occurrence since I had the baby, so I was very excited.

The night went as planned:

We drank My sister is the pretty one on the left.

And drank It's been a loooong time since I did a shot of tequila.

And drank a little more

I don't know if this is a cardinal karaoke sin or requisite behavior, but I totally sang Journey. I don't know anyone in real life who can pull off the high notes in, well, ANY Journey song, but the other reason I love this place is that everyone cheers and claps for you no matter how awful you are.

So, a few songs and a couple gallons of tequila later, my sister and I hopped into our respective cars, with our respective designated drivers (also known as men we are sleeping with), and headed to our respective beds.

Chris and I left the small town in which the bar is located, and headed toward the even smaller town in which you can find our house. As we were exiting the freeway I impulsively told Chris to drive past our street. He was confused, but complied. I told him we were going to the local bikini bar. He told me we most certainly were not.

See, we've gone a few times, and this place is sort of sad on many different levels. First of all, there's the clientèle: Lonely truckers, douche bags, and general perverts. Then, there are the dancers: perfectly nice and generally attractive girls that take off (most of) their clothes and grind aforementioned douche bags and perverts for measly dollars.

It's a gross place. But! It's a place with alcohol. The only place in our town open past eight. A place that isn't my home. And, as it turns out, I wasn't ready to go home.

All night it had been like I was visiting my old life, my pre-baby life. And, it was fun. I love being a mom. I love playgrounds and sippy cups. I love cuddling and Sesame Street, brushing her hair into pigtails, teaching her colors, reading to her. I love my identity as a mother. I even like washing her bibs.

But, I need to recharge to keep that enthusiasm fresh. Sometimes it's a movie with one of my friends that does the trick. Sometimes a simple cup of coffee. Sometimes a date night in the comfort of our living room while the baby sleeps will suffice. But sometimes, apparently, I need an exotic dancer to shake her ass in my face. Who knew?

After I convinced Chris to drive us to the club, we parked, and I dragged him into the building, up to the bar, and ordered our drinks. We sort of stood there for a moment, me with my beer, him with his whiskey, contemplating approaching the stage or occupying one of the tables in the back.

But once the girl ( I say "girl" even though she was at least 35) took to the stage and began dancing to Weezer's "Hash Pipe", we were intrigued enough to take our seats up front and place some dollar bills on the stage.

I can't remember her name, though I'm sure it was "Destiny" or "Sparkle" or something. One time a girl called herself "Brazil" and even took it so far as to say she was FROM Brazil. No way in hell that girl was from Brazil. I've decided my stripper name would be "Chardonnay". Just sayin'.

She eyed the money through her slightly too-long black bangs and strutted over to us, beginning with Chris. He looked more than a little uncomfortable as she gyrated in front of him and pushed her breasts up against his face. It didn't take her long to move on to me.

I have a theory that strippers probably have a love/hate relationship with straight female patrons. On the one hand, we don't shell out as much money as the guys do. But, on the other hand, most guys just adore some girl-on-girl action, and I think the girls use this to their advantage.

So Destiny/Sparkle/Brazil, whatever her name was, crawled her way over to me, picked up a dollar bill, put it between my lips, and removed it with her own mouth, thus simulating a kiss. And, you know, I'm on board with the faux lesbian action, but not so much with the putting filthy money in my MOUTH action. But, she was sort of pretty, danced to good music, and she smelled of peaches, so I let it slide.

We only stayed for one more dancer. She was of a bigger build, with long platinum hair, and she was dancing to atrocious hip hop music. She was rather fond of smacking her own ass and was slightly more, shall we say, aggressive.

To put it simply, as we walked out of the bar, I folded my arms across my chest and said "She bit my boobs". The fact that I wasn't talking about the baby was just a little too absurd for me.

All in all, we were there about twenty minutes. Enough time for me to reclaim a little bit of my former self, but not enough time for one of us to contract Hepatitis.

I woke up the next morning, barely hungover (Gotta love being in your twenties!) and ready to see my baby. Hugging her the next morning, I thought about the night I had just experienced, and I wondered if I could reconcile the person who was going to spend the day changing diapers and playing peekaboo with the one who gets the occasional lap dance.

I'm still not a hundred percent sure, but I think I'll have fun figuring it out. Just for good measure, here's Charlotte with her birthday balloons.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happy Birthday, Charlotte!

Well, I knew this day was coming.

Charlotte is one year old today, and, just as foretold, it came far too quickly.

I'll be honest, though, the first four months or so, kinda dragged. I was in awe of her, in disbelief that I was finally a parent, in heaven with her tiny little limbs tucked under her body as she slept on my chest. It was beautiful and perfect and amazing.

But, it was also BORING.

I mean, we waited months for the first smile. A SMILE. I guess I take them for granted now, so the idea of holding my breath for a curving of the lips seems ridiculous. And now that she is is running all over the house (and everywhere else), I can scarcely believe that we were so worked up over her rolling over for the first time. She was lovely, but her activity level and particular state of alertness resembled that of a potato. She was Potato Baby.
A very cute potato, I might add.

There were just days and days of staring at her as she slept in her bassinet or watching her for cues of recognition Did she just look at me? Oh my God, I think she just...made eye contact! when we talked to her. There were eons of me sitting on the couch, nursing her while watching reruns of The Office, then feeling guilty for not staring at her in wonderment, turning the T.V. off, getting bored again, and then beginning to text.

Don't get me wrong. I loved every minute. The day she finally rolled over, I cheered and clapped and scared the hell out of her. And sometimes, I DID marvel at her while she nursed. Some of the simplest moments were the ones that overwhelmed me with love for this person I had waited so long to bring into my life.
Photo by Little Blue World Photography

But, at the same time, I was so eager for the next step, always. I had read that it was important to live in the moment, enjoying the stage your child was in without worrying about the next step. I tried to comply, but it was so hard not to look ahead in eager anticipation of what was to come. It felt wrong, like looking at the last page of a book you're reading, but I couldn't help fantasizing about watching her toddle around on the beach or putting pigtails in her hair and feeding her cookies. In my mind, I was cheating on Potato Baby!

Now that we're here in Toddlerville, I do have moments of longing for the simpler days in Newbornland. I sometimes wish I could just hold her as long as I want, whenever I want, instead of trying to wrestle a simple hug out of her. Photo by Little Blue World Photography

Ever since I was a kid, my mom has periodically looked at me and wistfully exclaimed that she remembers how I used to sleep "right here" as she indicates with her hands the small space on her chest I previously occupied. I thought of that last night as Charlotte's feet were dangling off of my legs in the rocker chair tonight. She is already getting so big, and I can't believe one day I will be telling her about how she used to sleep "right here" as she pack up her room and goes to college.

I remember having a feeling when I was pregnant with Charlotte that she was going to be, shall we say, willful, when she would kick me every time I tried to lean over and rest my head on my desk at work. It was like she was going out of her way to prevent me from getting any rest and to make sure I was constantly reminded of her.

Well, it's been over a year, and I must say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. This kid is on the go from the minute she wakes up to the nanosecond I place her in her crib at night, depositing her toys in locations all over the house, following me into the bathroom where she pulls everything out of the cabinet while I do my makeup, coming into the kitchen while I cook so she can splash in the dog's water and try to eat food off the floor, and basically demanding to be involved in everything I do.

And it's great.

Her dad and I are exhausted, but we spend all day laughing at her baby talk, glowing with pride as she figures out how to stack her cups or learns one of her colors. Her brain is growing as fast as her feet, (Seriously? How many times do I have to buy you new socks?) and it is incredible to watch.

Still, excited as I am by the prospects life with a toddler will bring, I will always be looking back over my shoulder just a little bit, missing the days when all she needed was to be in my arms. I'll spend the summer taking her to beaches, aquariums, hiking trips, and play dates, and I'll remember how I couldn't wait to do these things when I was in the midst of a marathon nursing session with a baby too little to wear sunscreen.

But, I won't ever forget how wonderful it was to take pleasure in the seemingly tiny milestones: the first smile, the first time she grabbed something with her fist, the first time she lifted her head up. It may not be as exciting as brushing her own teeth, but it was amazing because it was her.
Photo by Little Blue World Photography

So, as I celebrate Charlotte's first birthday, I will try to enjoy every second of her as she is now, while forging ahead, only occasionally glancing in the rear view mirror when I see a little bald baby in the store that reminds me of what I have lost.

I probably won't get it right. But, there's always the next baby...

Monday, March 22, 2010

ControverSunday(ish): Extended Breastfeeding

I need to start writing these entries as soon as Perpetua posts the topic. I'm pretty sure I am the very last one to write her ControverSunday post this week. I couldn't wait to read them, and they were all really interesting, thoughtful, well-written posts that make me proud to belong to this little circle of bloggers. However, in retrospect, I probably shouldn't have read everyone's post before writing my own because now I'm convinced I have nothing new to add to the conversation, and when you read these excellent entries, you will agree. But, I haven't been able to stop thinking about this topic since Perpetua announced it last week, and I can't tell you how good it feels to finally be sitting down to write it.

Before we get started, I want to once again thank Perpetua for hosting and Accidents for the badge. And go read their posts because they are real live smart people with fascinating things to say on the subject. And be sure to check out the links on Perpetua's page to everyone else who participated. I'd link here, but she has the most current and thorough list, and I don't want to leave anyone out.

So, here we go!
Charlotte will be one whole year old on Wednesday. As of now, we are still nursing. Ask me how much longer we'll be doing it. Go ahead. But, I won't be able to answer you.

See, this is just another example of how becoming a parent made me a liar. Because, prior to having Charlotte, I fell neatly into the "If they're old enough to ask for it, they're too old" category. I also questioned the motives of mothers nursing two and three-year olds, wondering whether they were carrying on due to a need to be needed, an attempt to keep their babies, well, babies, longer than was necessary. And, to be perfectly honest, I still think that is probably true for some people. I KNEW I would not nurse any longer than one year because once it became biologically unnecessary and my baby could drink whole milk, there would be absolutely no point. Plus, it would be creepy.

But, here's what's changed.

I realized how ridiculous it is to say that a child who can walk up to you and demand to nurse is too old because mine was doing that at ten months! Given my former dedication to make it to a year, why would I stop just because she has sturdy legs and a vice grip on my shirt? I thought it would be weird to have a child "ask" to nurse, verbally or otherwise, but I actually find it hilarious and adorable when I sit in the rocker with Charlotte, and she takes her pacifier out of her mouth, hands it to me, and starts pulling at my shirt. So, that's not a reason for me to stop. But, hypothetically, if a mother was creeped out by that, there would be nothing wrong with that. And, once she stops feeling comfortable nursing, she should stop. No questions asked. No judgement.

And as for my claim that some mothers keep nursing because of their own desire to feel needed, I maintain that it's true. But, I have a few (possibly conflicting) thoughts on this. On the one hand, if a child and mother are both enjoying nursing, they certainly should not feel the need to stop at an arbitrary date. There may be a point, however, when motives play into the issue.

In my humble opinion, the health benefits of extended nursing are probably pretty insignificant, unless your baby isn't eating many solids. But, Charlotte's binky isn't fortified with vitamins, and I'm not going to take THAT away from her abruptly because she's a year old, so not everything boils down to nutrition. If a child is comforted by nursing, if mother and baby bond through nursing, if a mother wants a little cuddle time after working outside the home all day, then by all means they should not feel pressured to stop before they are ready.

Unfortunately, I have witnessed some discussions online that make me think some moms might have less than noble intentions. I saw one woman confide in her fellow nursing mothers that she was saddened by her daughter's waning interest in nursing now that she's a toddler. She said she wished her daughter would get more of her nutrition from breast milk because it was an ego boost for her to provide nourishment for her child. Getting a little weird, but okay. THEN! She started wondering if she could do anything about this. Perhaps offer less food? Umm, what? Shouldn't you be encouraging your TODDLER to grow, fostering her independence, not stifling it in an effort to stroke your ego?

I have also seen extended nursing conversations that are all about one-upping each other. It's wonderful to be proud of nursing for two or even three years, because it's hard. And quite a commitment. But, vowing to nurse a child until he is four, without taking into consideration that he might not WANT to, and then bragging about it to like-minded people, is just...weird.

But, you know, to each her own. I might not agree with your reasoning, but that doesn't mean you have to stop what you're doing.

For me, the issue of sexuality has very little to do with this conversation. I have no problem seeing my breasts as dually functioning. When I'm nursing my daughter, they aren't in the least bit sexual. And other times, they are. And that works for me and everyone in my family. So, if I were to see a four-year old nursing in public, I would be disturbed, but not because I see what he or she is doing as being sexual, but just because I think of it as regressive behavior. I would be equally disturbed to see a kindergartener drinking from a bottle or sucking on a pacifier.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe nursing is just like cuddling to those families, and I certainly wouldn't suggest that a child is ever too old for a hug. But, that's my opinion, my comfort level. I fully support your right to nurse as long as you and your child are comfortable. But, like others have suggested in other posts, don't expect an end to the sideways glances if you choose to do it in public. We're just not used to it. And most of us are not comfortable with it. And we don't have to be.

As for me, I am ready to be done. Maybe I have a hard time understanding the need to nurse longer than is "necessary" because I have had such a complicated relationship with it. Breastfeeding has all but taken over my life this past year.

First, there were the newborn days when she was constantly, and I mean CONSTANTLY attached to me. I ate most of my meals on the couch while nursing, occasionally dropping food onto Charlotte's head. I couldn't even have a cup of coffee with a friend without having to negotiate the nursing cover and awkwardly position the baby at the breast while trying to maintain discretion and carry on a conversation. I got used to all this, and it was all pretty normal.

But then came the thrashing, the screaming, the pushing me away in public and in privacy. Then there came the refusal of all silicone nipples and therefore, the end to any hopes I might have had at an evening away. Then came the teeth and the biting. Then came the constant night feedings after we had just got her sleeping through the night.

I'm not saying my experience is any more difficult than anyone else's. And maybe a different (better?) mother could have loved nursing despite all these things. But, I just...didn't.

Right now, I never have to nurse while we're out. Charlotte loves table food, and only needs the breast before bed or a nap. I don't know that I have the fortitude to aggressively wean her right this minute. I might just offer whole milk frequently and stop offering her breast milk, only nursing when she asks. But, eventually I'm going to have to start refusing.

It breaks my heart, but I am so TIRED. I'm tired of clasping and unclasping my nursing bras. Hell, I'm tired of nursing bras. Tired of counting cups of coffee and counting the hours since I had that second glass of wine. Even though these days, it's relatively simple, and I don't have to deal with nursing covers, cluster feedings, or pumping, I just don't think I will be totally at ease until we're done.

I'll miss it. As difficult as this year has been, I will miss her playing with my hair. I'll miss the cuddle time. I'll miss watching her go into a trance and drift off to sleep. No amount of pretty bras, margaritas, and bottomless cups of coffee will replace those things.

But, we have so much more to look forward to! And, who has time to pine for nursing days when you're taking your toddler to the beach for the first time? Not me.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

But Can She Make a Dry Martini?

Charlotte's particular brand of independence is what I would call defective. I would like to exchange it. No, I do not have a receipt. THIS ISN'T WHAT I ORDERED!

Don't get me wrong. I love that she is so independent. In fact, I think my kid is pretty bad ass. She is brave; just today my mom and I took her to get her picture taken with the Easter bunny. I was worried that she would be scared of him, not want to sit in his lap, that I would have to bribe her with cookies or the whip cream from my overly-indulgent coffee drink. Instead, I watched with pride as she sauntered right up to him, climbed into his lap, and started chatting to him in her own special language. We even got a good picture out of her!


At the playground, she loves the slides, and she wants to negotiate the ramps and stairs without my help (She is afraid of the swings though, which is lame). When I vacuum, she doesn't cower or cry; rather, she smiles and wants to investigate where the noise is coming from. Today she even followed me around, holding the cord for me. She's a big helper. Charlotte loves to shut drawers and cabinets for us, throw things in the trash, hand us the objects we ask for, and brush our hair, as well as her own. This is the stuff that makes me beam with adoration. But, there are also several downsides.

Sometimes she wants to assert her independence when it is just downright inconvenient. The other day, my friend and I took our kids to the park. Samantha is five, and though she adores Charlotte, she quickly gets frustrated by the baby's inability to play hide-and-go-seek with her and her propensity to put the toys Samantha packed for them to play with, directly into her mouth. So, when a couple of older boys started rolling down the hillside, Sammy was quick to ditch us for their company. This left my friend and I to entertain Charlotte. We wanted to keep her on the blanket with us so we could talk and catch up. But, Charlotte was more interested in walking over to another group of people, trying to chat them up. So, I had to go get her and bring her back. Then she wanted to go play with the big kids. But, they were playing with a ball. A ball that most likely would have clobbered the baby if she got to close to the game. So I had to go get her. We tried to make staying with us seem fun. Jami put up a valiant effort, but, alas, Charlotte could not be appeased. She very magnanimously uttered a few courtesy laughs at Jami's exuberant antics: putting the Polly Pocket on a green dog, making the dog fly, making the dog talk, putting it on her head, but soon enough, Charlotte was ambling across the grass, chasing after Samantha and the other kids. I mean, come on, Charlotte. A talking, green dog that flies? What more do you want? So, I spent the rest of the afternoon alternately chatting with my friend and collecting the baby from various locations.

And when you pick that kid up when she doesn't want to be held? Oh, man, you should hear the squawking. Yes, squawking. Like a bird. Like, a loud, obnoxious bird. And her whole body gets stiff as she attempts to maneuver her way out of your arms. The best part is that she does it in public! Like yesterday, at the coffee shop when she tried pulling candles and mugs off the display shelf. My mom and I took turns scooping her up and away from the forbidden fruit. Meanwhile, the other patrons of the coffee shop shoved biscotti into their ears to block the horrendous squawking. Why not just lead her away from the breakables, instead of picking her up? Because that's when she throws herself onto the floor and cries, a la tantrum! I'm telling you, this girl is a piece of work.

For our next course we have "I can do it myself" followed by a little "If you try to take that spoon away from me, I will cut you" (With a knife. Which we totally let her have). Charlotte likes to feed herself. I wrote about it once before when she was first starting on solids. She liked to hold the spoon herself and put it into her mouth early on. But, now the mealtime shenanigans are on quite another level. She eats very little pureed food these days, which means most of the time, she is deftly shoveling tofu, peas, or avocado into her own mouth at an alarming pace. But, hey, it works for me. I can clean the kitchen while she chows down. UNFORTUNATELY, there is the matter of her very favorite food ever, and that, sadly, is yogurt. When I pull a container out of the fridge, she starts grabbing and bouncing and chattering like a monkey about to be given a banana. It starts out with her wanting to hold the container, while I dip the spoon in and feed her. Then she squeezes the container, and yogurt gets all over her hands. At which point she begins to SUCK the yogurt off her hands, making a slurping noise that almost makes the squawking bearable. I said almost. Then, my worst nightmare is actualized, as she decides it's time for her to hold the spoon. This wouldn't be so bad except that she is a baby. A baby with very under-developed motor skills. A baby with little coordination who sometimes falls down when she laughs. She can't actually get the contents of her snack onto her spoon. So, in a last-ditch effort to feed herself without my help, she DRINKS the yogurt. I laugh and laugh because it is adorable and funny and then I realize that FUCK! I have to clean this off of her. I figure it's not kosher to just dump a bucket of water over her head, so I begin the arduous process of wiping her down with a warm washcloth. Lots of batting away of the hands.

More squawking.

I know, I know. This is all par for the course with a toddler. And, honestly, this isn't what really bothers me. The (pathetic) fact is that sometimes her independence makes me sad. I feel like I spent her first few months on this planet sleep-deprived, and wishing I could lay her down for five minutes without her waking up and screaming. I was stifled by her neediness. And now I can scarcely get her to slow down for a drive-by hug or to let me hold her for more than a few minutes. I tried to listen when everyone told me to relish the days when all she needed was me, because those days were numbered. They were certainly right. I remember those words ringing in my head when she took nap after nap on my shoulder, her sweaty head sticking to my skin. I'd be hungry, hot, need to go to the bathroom. Everyone would tell me to PUT THAT BABY DOWN. But, I wouldn't. I remember marveling at the fact that Charlotte "tricked me" into cosleeping It was something I had never planned on doing. Chris and I would complain about the kicks to the head, the snoring, the tossing and turning. But, secretly, I loved it. No matter what kind of day we'd had, there was my sweet little girl (while she slept, at least), snuggling up to me, her hands on my face. I was a little relieved, but mostly heartbroken, when she wouldn't sleep anymore, and we had to move her to her crib. I forced the issue long past its expiration date, bringing her to bed when she wouldn't sleep, thinking "This time it'll work!", only to be thwarted yet again. I'd like to think I savored every minute of her neediness, but in my heart I know there were times that I wanted her out of my bed, off my boob, and maybe even in a different time zone. I don't know if that could have been helped. But, I do know that I miss those days, in a way. Even though where we are now, and where we are headed is so much more exciting.

Ah, simplicity!

I suppose all I can do now is continue to marvel at her powerful, little spirit. And enjoy every minute that she allows me to hold her, smelling her hair, feeling the weight of her on my chest as we watch Sesame Street in the morning (one of the only times she cuddles with me), watching her drift off at her 4 A.M. feeding, and even the cumbersome bulk of her on my hip when I am trying to cook dinner and NOW she wants to be held. I know these days are numbered, as well. Sigh!

See ya!

Monday, March 15, 2010

ControverSunday: The Culture of Pregnancy

This week's topic is "The Culture of Pregnancy", and there have been some great posts so far! I am a little late, clearly, as it is Monday night, but bear with me. I'm getting back on track.

There were many good options as far as I was concerned, regarding this topic, but I decided to start at the beginning, so to speak, and talk about my experience with infertility.

I would almost rather not, because it was a very dark time in my life, and I have regrets. Lots of regrets, about how I handled the whole situation. But, best to get it out there, and move on, right?

I was 23. I know, what a perfectly ridiculous age to be panicking over not being able to get pregnant. We decided around January that we were ready to start trying. By Easter, I was convinced I was infertile. I thought due to my age and general health that I would get pregnant right away. Even though I knew it could take a long time for normal, healthy couples to conceive, I was impatient and genuinely scared. See, I'm a very highly strung individual, and I've had anxiety issues since I was a kid. But, that's an (equally ridiculous) story for another time.

In the interest of brevity (not my strong suit, admittedly) I'll just draw up a laundry list of all the steps it took us to get here: I started charting my ovulation, realized this was impossible due to my irregular cycles, saw my OB, got put on Clomid, had a very painful procedure done called an HSG where they inflate a balloon of dye inside your cervix in order to provide contrast to view the fallopian tubes, began to see a fertility doctor, tried insemination (IUI) with Clomid, tried IUI with injections,tried ANOTHER IUI with injections, had another painful procedure known as a saline ultrasound were they fill the uterus with saline (again for contrast), underwent my first IVF cycle, was on moderate bed rest for four days, continued injections, got a positive pregnancy test, miscarried, and finally had a failed IVF cycle before we ran out of insurance money, patience, and sanity.

I guess that was a rather long list, but then again, it was a rather long two years. The shots became part of our daily lives; Chris always did them for me, but there were a few occasions where he just wasn't available. Once I tried to convince a friend to do it for me. She was game until I handed her the syringe She looked at it, looked at my exposed and sanitized patch of skin, and chickened out. So, I plunged the needle into my stomach myself, much to her horror. Those weren't so bad. It was the progesterone shots that had to be administered into my hip that hurt the most. I sported big purple and yellow bruises for months. Luckily, they were hidden by my clothing, but the stains from when the fluid would leak out of my skin and through my pants, were not.

Of course, all the physical pain and discomfort were nothing compared to what was going on in my head. Ugly, regretful feelings, every time I saw a pregnant woman or stroller-pushing mom. It was worse when they were teenagers, which is quite a common sight in my town. Being what I presumed to be "infertile" made me hyper-judgmental of other parents. No one was doing it right, in my book, and therefore no one deserved to be parents as much as Chris and I did. Baby showers filled me with panic and resentment. I could barely sit through one without crying or feeling ill. I hated having to pretend to be happy for my friends when they announced their pregnancies or those of their wives. I WANTED to be happy for them, but lurking at the back of my mind was the fear of never having my turn, and I couldn't shake it.

So, when I say that I have regrets, I mean that there is very little I DON'T regret about those two years. I wish I had been able to shut off the crazy and realize that I was young, and give my body a chance to figure it out before I resorted to such invasive measures. I wish I hadn't dragged my poor husband down with me. After his many failed attempts to reassure me that it would happen for us, he began to believe that perhaps I was right. I regret not being strong enough to revel in the reproductive triumphs of my friends. I regret not visiting my friend in the hospital after she gave birth to her twins because I was too devastated by my recent miscarriage. I regret the countless $30 copays, the gas we wasted on those trips to the clinic, the fees we encountered upon ordering box after box of injectable medication. I REALLY regret all the cocktails I passed up during each one of my cycles.

I suppose it's pointless to get bogged down in the past. And, what I do not regret is the incredible bond that Chris and I developed over going through something so painful together. Even though we looked perfectly ludicrous sitting in that fertility doctor's office amongst all the women in their forties, women who REALLY had it hard. Even though after two years of pumping me full of hormones and draining our bank account, all it took to get me pregnant was a couple of whiskey and Cokes and the backseat of my car. Even though I will always wonder about the baby we lost. I can never truly regret the road that led up to Charlotte, no matter how many syringes and tears were lining it.

Me at the Hollywood Forever cemetery, the night before I found out I was pregnant

But, what I can do is ask a question. And here is where I (finally) get to the controversy: Were the doctors who treated me doing the right thing? When test after invasive test showed that there was nothing really wrong with me, nothing that suggested I would be unable to get pregnant unassisted, were they justified in performing a procedure on me that ultimately cost my insurance company about twenty grand to pull off? Or are they allowed to poke, prod, and inseminate anyone so long as they get paid?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not misplacing the blame. It was my own psychotic willfulness that lobbied for these procedures. But, I am genuinely curious about the line between helping and extorting. I remember pondering this issue when Octomom gave birth to those babies. People were discussing the doctor that implanted those embryos, wondering if he was ethically obligated to refuse to implant so many, especially knowing how many children she had already. Is it his place to refuse, or should a person be given a carte blanche to make irresponsible decisions because it is their body?

I definitely do not have the answer to this one. I guess I feel like a doctor shouldn't be forced to perform a procedure he or she can't reconcile, just like we should not be forced or denied to do something to our bodies we wouldn't choose to do. In my situation, I sincerely wonder if the doctors were only doing what they thought I wanted, trying to appease a customer. Or, were they taking us for a ride, squeezing out every last penny? I know that if they had refused to treat me, I would have been livid. And if they had kept recommending hormone therapy, and never suggested moving on to the next level, we would have stopped going to them. So, maybe they just did what they had to do to keep us coming back for more. But, I am having a hard time coming to terms with it, especially since they suggested the in-vitro. In my mind, that was way too far. Too unnecessary for a 25-year old who had only been trying for less than two years.

So, what do we think? Where do we draw the line between treating a patient and taking advantage of their paranoia and insecurity?

Also, here are the links to the other ControverSunday posts. All done by wonderful bloggers who I am loving getting a chance to read and interact with. Please check them out!

Our Lady of Perpetual Breadcrumbs (Special shout-out to the host!)

Accidents will happen (Special shout-out for the awesome badge!)


I Know Why You're Single (This post offers a pretty good counterpoint to the one I am tiptoeing around. If I elect to have a procedure done, I have to suck it and own the consequences. But does that mean docs should exploit our fears and perform unnecessary procedures just to shut us up and make some money?)

Allison @ Partial Disclosures


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Things to Come

I'm just checking in to let you know what you should be looking out for these next few days. On this blog, I mean. I can't tell you what to look out for in, like, life. Runaway buses, maybe? Pickpockets on the subway? Your garbage disposal? You know, because sometimes things get stuck in them, and then you turn it on, and a KNIFE COMES FLYING AT YOUR FACE!

I've heard.

Anyway, tonight at 10 P.M. EST, so 7 P.M. PST (for those of you worse at math than I) I will be a guest on Lee Allport's web show. Here's the link if you're interested (and you'd better be) Lee has a successful web show and product-review website. I'm VERY excited to be on the show tonight and chat with her. (I'm having trouble with the link, but you guys can copy and paste. Right?)

Also, in case you are getting bored with the rather dull layout of this blog, (and really, who wouldn't?) stay tuned for Now You're in the World's first ever face lift! Now that I'm done with school, or rather will be when I write these last three pages, I'm giving the ol' blog my full attention. Time to make it all pretty and to, you know, WRITE in it more than once a week.

So, that's what's going on! Now to write about T.S. Eliot...for the last time (I hope)!