Thursday, April 30, 2009

Silver Lining and a Conspriacy Theory

Never let it be said that I am a complainer. Ok, I am a HUGE complainer (Hey, I do have some self-awareness....I'm just powerless to stop it) but every now and then I try to find the silver lining (as ridiculous as it may be).

Once, my mother told me that now that I was pregnant everyone knew I had had sex. Yes, I'm nearly 40 and married to a hot man so to assume I have the sex isn't what I'd call wild speculation or particularly scandalous but if proof were needed, a pregnant belly would indeed be proof...for most women. (Clearly, my mother has some deep, long-standing Catholic guilt about sex which she unsuccessfully tries to pass along to her kids.) And I told her, "We'll they'd be wrong about that. Mr. Peeveme and I were not even in the same town when we conceived."

So I guess when Piccolina or Bambina asks how they were made I can say, "When a mother and father love each other very much they go to see a Dr. and a team of highly trained professionals who, for lots of $$$$$.....

Not that I'm trying to maintain my virgin status or anything and I mean no disrespect to The Virgin Mary but my conceptions have been immaculate. Maybe that's the real reason the Catholic Church is against IVF?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Parable Corner

This isn't really a parable. I just found out that parables tend to have human characters. Sorry about the inaccurate post-tile but I do love this story and wanted to share.

Do you know the difference between the Dead Sea and the very much alive Sea of Galilee? The Dead Sea has no outlet. Both are fed by the same source but the Dead Sea can only receive an inward flow. The Dead Sea is prevented from flowing outward and the accumulation of salt has killed it. The Sea of Galilee is alive only because what flows in can also flow out.

-From The Story Factor, Annette Simmons

Monday, April 27, 2009

Perfect Moment Monday

Today I am going to pay my embryo storage fees. I'm paying for the year so it's going to be hefty.

I never thought I'd even have that privileged.

Thanks to the Donor.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pregancy Update

Some of you may not want to read this becasue you are in a bad infertility place right now. Others might not want to read this becasue it's long and boring. You've been warned.

I have been mum on my pregnancy. I have been reluctant to post much for many reasons. At first it was a lot take in and I was deep in the throws of 1st trimester symptoms. I was dealing with some emotional issues related to DE (which will become it's own post). I have the usual level of guilt many former infertiles have and am careful not to go on and on about how super-awesome it is to be pregnant. Don't get me is super-awesome but I always felt a bit ...miffed... when former interfiles get pregnant and completely forget what it's like still be in the trenches. I think everyone can and should glow but I do want to have a certain amount of sensitivity. It's a hard line to find but I read many blogs that have done just that (been happy about their pregnancy but maintained a certain sensitivity). Other times I feel hurt (even thought I am pregnant) or annoyed by what can come across as carelessness. I fear coming across that way.

That being said here is my update.

I am 25 weeks as you can tell from my widget. Everything looks great. Other than the time I had a stuck uterus everything is textbook and healthy. As of today I am at a 16 lb weight-gain which is exactly what I should be. Baby is kicking all the time. I feel bigger than last time around but I think that's normal for a second pregnancy.

All tests on baby look fine. Since the donor was 27 at the time of transfer and all screening test have come back in normal ranges I did not do an amnio. If we were using my old eggs I would certainly have done one but for this pregnancy it I didn't think it was neccessary. Plus amnios are scary and painful. Overall I'm just a lot less stressed about this pregnancy than I was the first time. Again, I think that is standard with a 2nd pregnancy. Plus having a younger, healthy egg helps my anxiety level.

At the level 2 u/s everything measured healthy. All parts of baby and me are on track and accounted for. Baby didn't not cooperate so we do not know the sex. The tech said he thought it is probably a girl so we'll go with that. I would like to know with more certainty but an eductaed guess is good enough for me. Besides, all I really wanted to know from that test is that baby has a brain and that it's kidneys are on the inside. Not that I want to be surprised...I like to plan, pick out a name, bond...but I can do all that with a 75% chance. I could pay for another u/s but 1) I don't want to spend the money 2) I'm not in love with doing medically unnecessary tests. So we'll just go with the assumption that she is a she.

I am thrilled either way. I had no preference about sex going into this. A girl is easier since we have all the stuff. If it turns out to be a boy...he'll have to wear some pink at first. No big deal. Actually with Piccolina I bought mostly gender neutral stuff anyhow so it will all work. Plus it gives me more lobbying room to get Mr. Peeveme to agree to #3. I would like to try for a boy (even though 3 girls sounds pretty awesome too). He's dead-set against a #3. Even though he agreed last year to a #3 and we have 7 blasts on ice. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

No preparations have begun for this baby. Really. Nothing. I figure I have everything I need. It's just a matter of getting it out of the garage and assembling it. The most time consuming thing I will have to do is get all the clothes out of their storage bags and wash them and rearrange the kids drawers and closet to accommodate two sets of clothes. (Two sets of clothes...I could pinch myself)

With this pregnancy I seem to be a lot more tired. I remember having more energy last time. I have 3 explanations 1) I am 3 years older 2) I have a toddler 3) I am not able to take care of myself like I did the last time (see reason #2). I am also having some issues with incontinence (again, normal 2nd pregnancy stuff). Every time I laugh I pee a little which, in turn, make me laugh even harder becasue I think it's's a vicious and damp cycle.

Since I am at the point of viability I did contact my doula. I would really like to go unmendicated again and without her I would not have made it through an unmediated-induced labor. She's open during our due date! So I need to read my book and start doing my Kegels which should also help with that little incontinence problem I mentioned.

Ok so that's about it. We are healthy and on track. Baby is probably a girl. Have done nothing to prepare but I don't really need to yet. One or two trips to BabiesRus and and weekend of washing and folding should do it. I'm only 25 weeks so as long as things continue on this healthy path I have lots of time. I say that now....once that nesting energy kicks in I will probably have all that nervous energy and freak myself out. The biggest thing I have to do is prepare myself for unmedicated labor: read, make that mental commitment, meet with my doula.

When people ask me how I am doing I tell them great. Everything is just great...becasue it is. Of course, I have the normal pregnancy issues (so tired, uncomfortable, stressed, heartburn) but really it's wonderful to have all those inconveniences.

They way I describe it to folks is: "I am stupid-happy morning, noon and night".

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mascot Question and Answer

Question from Parenthood for Me

That must be so satisfying. I have a question for you. I live in W. NY. Home of the Iroquois Tribes. I live in a town called Irondequoit. Our town name means "Where the land and waters meet" because our suburb is surrounded by water on three sides. Our high school mascot was an Indian head and our team names was the Irondequoit Indians. The name and logo were changed in 2003. Our residents were disappointed b/c our town name is NA. What is your opinion on this? Was our mascot and name offensive? I have always wanted to ask Native American their opinion.


Thank you so much for your comment about the mascot issue. I know it can be confusing for people especially when it is not done out of malice. I understand that many communities do not intend to offend Indian peoples.

In regard to your specific question about if the high school mascot was a word, yes. It is always offensive to use Native Americans as mascots even if that is not the intent. Now, if the school was named for a prominent Indian person (say ..Oren Lyons) then that would be an honor. The way Americans honor their peoples is to name the school, bank, airport, street after them....not the mascot. So Sitting Bull High School is a completely different thing then having Indians/Warriors/Braves as the mascot. Does that make sense?

To put in into another context: John F. Kennedy High School is an honor to one of our Presidents. Having the Cheerleader dress up in bill-box hats and calling them the Jackie-ettes would not be honorable.

Thanks again for your question. I think it's important for people with honest questions to have the forum to ask them in without fear of being attacked.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Step Son- The Infertility Angle

I can't tell you how hard it is to be raising someone else's kid while going through infertility. It's unreal. If infertility is hard you can double that emotional difficulty if you are also raining someone else's kid. All the sacrifice...none of the joy. I know that sounds harsh but when you are raising a difficult teenager (is there any other kind?)there is no joy. Just survival. Keep in mind that he lived with us full-time and Mr. Peeveme traveled a lot.

Until I came into the picture Mr. Peeveme never really parented Noland. He lived on the other side of the country and when Nolan was visiting he would stay with his grandparents and Mr. Peeveme would show up for dinner then go out or go home and Nolan would sleep at his grandparents house. When Mr. Peeveme and I got engaged I began to push for Mr. Peevme to be the one Nolan stayed with when he was visiting. He'd go to his grandparents for the day while Mr. Peeveme was working but would eat dinner/sleep at Mr. Peeveme's house. Mr. Peeveme really needed to be more of a father to Noland at least for the few weeks a year he was here. I was worried my MIL would hate me because I was taking her grandson away from her...turns out she literally praised God for me. She knew Nolan needed his dad but what surprised me is that she also said that he needed me. Once he moved here she told me that since I had come around she could see a change in Nolan. He seemed happier although I'm not sure that is the right word. Maybe more at ease, secure.

I looked forward to building our family.

When Nolan came to live with us we had already been TTC for a few months. Then the months of charting, the testing, 7 failed clomid cycles and 2 injectable cycles.

In addition to the resentment that comes with raising someone eles's kid while not being able to have your own, the lack of privacy in my own home was the hardest thing. Think about doing all your infertility stuff and trying to keep it private from someone living in your home. Logistically and emotionally it's very difficult.

Keeping my medicines hidden away, voice-mail messages from my RE, I couldn't even have an argument, sex or a good cry in my own home without being very aware that I had to be very quiet.

I remember one ironic moment when Noland was 17(ironic and horrific). Mr. Peeveme was away. I went out to the garage to go to work and I found a used condom in the floor. I called Mr. Peeveme and told him. When I got home that night it was gone (thanks goodness...soooo don't want to have THAT conversation with my step-son). But it's ironic...I'm desperately trying to get pregnant and my step-son is trying to prevent getting his girlfriend pregnanct. At least he was using a condom.

Side story: I was also very pissed that his girlfriend was at our house when we were not home and having sex in our house. Her parents had a rule that Nolan could not be at her house if they were not there. We made the same rule. So when Mr. Peeveme spoke to Nolan about the condom he mentioned that she was not to be here and he was not to be there if there were no parents home. Nolan told Mr. Peeveme that her parents didn't mind anymore. Mr. Peeveme asked him how he knew that. Noland confidently informed Mr. Peeveme, "They made that rule before they knew me. Now they like me". Of course, there was no change of the rule (I spoke with her mom to confirm...but I did not mention the condom). It was just Nolan thinking he's so charming, embellishing, lying.

When I finally got pregnant and had a baby I had no privacy. Trying to breastfeed, bond, etc. No time alone. His mother, who lived with her boyfriend nearby would not let him stay for more than one night. Her live-in boyfriend had once made the comment to me that Nolan was not a very good house guest. I wanted to have a week to myself to heal, learn to breastfeed, bond. I'd be up multiple times a night with the baby and had no place to go. I left my bedroom because Mr. Peeveme was sleeping. I could not go in the family room because Noland's was room adjacent and the noise woke him up. I'd sit in the kitchen. It may seem like a small thing but I really wanted to be able to sit on a comfortable sofa and watch a little TV in the middle of the night while breastfeeding a colicky baby. Instead I was sitting on a hard chair in the kitchen.

When Piccolina was born he simply ignored her. He absolutely never acknowledged her existence. Never looked at her, used her name, asked about her, and was put-out anytime we had to stop listening to his long "I'm so great" stories to tend to her. I can see a 6 year old being jealous that but a 16 year old? I don't expect a teenage boy to take an interest in a baby but there was something very wrong with his behavior;the way he absolutely ignored her existence. It's one thing to not be that interested but another thing to completely ignore a baby. Mr. Peeveme would purposely walk near Noland while holding her and Noland would leave the room. Nolan's grandparents, aunt, my parents all found it very disturbing. I actually didn't care that much. It just confirmed what I already knew about Nolan: he has emotional and character issues that run very deep.

When we were trying for number 2....more Dr.s appointments, medicines/needles to hide (which is hard to do for medicines that need refrigeration). When I had a miscarriage at home I had to stifle my cries of pain and anguish. That day I went to work, came home and cooked dinner then excused myself from the table to go upstairs and had a miscarriage as quietly as I could. During those m/c months (took about a month between the time I found out I would m/c and the actual m/c plus another 6 weeks before my HCG was down to 0) I was depressed, angry, short tempered, you know, your basic sad chick and I had no privacy to mourn.

It's not Nolan's fault that I'm infertile. It's not his fault that his mom cares more about her boyfriend than him but I can't tell you how hard it is to help parent someone else's messed-up kid while I am trying desperately to have my own. Resentment is impossible to avoid.

I think I will always feel robbed of my privacy both when I was infertile and when I was a new mom. Again, not Nolan's;s just the way it was but his lying, manipulation, weirdness abotu the baby didn't help this situation. He;s not responsible for his mothers' irresponsibility or my infertility but he is responsible for his own behaviors.

It was not a good time for any of us. Things seem to be getting better though. I am pregnant (YEA!)and when we told Nolan while he was visiting in December he actually said with real sincerity (I can tell when he's bullshitting) "Oh, wow, Congratulations".

He has found a good job; no small thing in this economy. He just moved into a new apartment. So it looks like with this baby I will have some privacy.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Perfect Moment Monday

I am an activist. Have been most of my adult life. I happen to be a known expert on the Mascot issue (as in the use of American Indians as school/sports mascot). This past week I was asked to speak at an event. First there was a documentary film and then I spoke.

Some of our faculty members offer their students extra credit to attend these types of events. The day after, a faculty member sent me an e-mail one of her students wrote in completion of her extra credit assignment.

"In watching the Mascot video, a lot of aspects of how American culture perceives Indian culture now strikes me as disrespectful. I never even gave a second thought to why mascots with names such as "Red Skins" would be offensive until I saw the reaction and heard the arguments from Indians themselves. There were many measures taken to ban use of Indian related names and mascots for sports and there has been much success in middle schools, high schools, and college to further these restrictions.

The guest speaker moved me so much because she has such a passion for what she does. Her job is to go to schools and teach people about how to respect Indian culture and how sacred values are to Indians. She is a descendant of the California Indians who had been almost completely wiped out. She reached me deeply as she spoke about how important it is for her to protect her culture and to try and revive what is left of it. Her songs she sang in her native language were beautiful and she emphasized that learning her language is so important because now she can actually pray in a voice that her ancestors can understand. She was truly an inspiration to me and she compels me to reach further into my heritage and be proud of where I came from, my history, and who I am today."

I was offered a stipend for my services which I usually donate to the sponsoring organization of the event. This e-mail is the type of payment I prefer.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Perfect Moment Monday

Mr. Peeveme and I started dating 9 years ago. At the time he, his brother (John), and father ran a family business. Mr. Peeveme and his brother were good friends. They went out together, knew each others friends and they were even considering buying a house together. When Mr. Peeveme and I started dating we hung out with his brother often. A few moths after Mr. Peeveme and I started dating John met a women (Clara), they started dating and moved very quickly into living together and her working at the family business. You can see where this is going. In about a year Mr. Peeveme and his brother were barely on speaking terms and Mr. Peeveme was being bought out (forced out) of the family business.

There were lots of other slights and offenses during those years. It got very uncomfortbale. We would be at a family gathering they would not even say hello to us. Mr. Peeveme's mother was distraught because her sons use to be good friends and now they hated eachother. I made an effort to at least be polite because I respected my MIL. But each time we tried we were rebuffed. Have you ever tried to have small talk with someone who pretends they can't hear you or gives you a yes/no answer then walks away? Yea. Good times. And it wasn't like I wanted to talk with them. I was dong it to try to make peace.

My MIL told me that ever time she asked them over to dinner they'd ask if we were coming and if we were they'd decline.

Resentments ran hot and thick for a long time.

For almost a year now we have been actually enjoying each other's company. It's beyond just trying to get along with each other. I genuinely enjoy seeing John and Clara and I think they feel the same.

John and Clara have two a year older and one a year younger than Piccolina. The girls love the play together. And seeing them play together makes me as happy as I have ever been.

On the drive home last night from dinner at my In-laws I just smiled to myself. I can't believe how far we have come. Clara and I talked about shoes and our mutual love of the show House. John told me I was looking a little pudgy these days and I played right along with a "does this make me look fat?" question. We planned a family trip for Easter...all of us together. I am so grateful we are past those difficult years. It was so draining.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Step-Son: The Teenage years

Nolan came to live with us when he was 14. Prior to that he lived on the other side of the country with his free-spirited mother. By the time he was 13 he had moved 14 times. While he was in no-way abused as a court would define it he did have a destructive combination of spoiling and neglect the effects of which were very apparent. Not only was I the custodial step-mom of a teenager but my husband traveled a I was the primary care giver as well.

I realize there are much worse step-parenting stories out there. We weren't dealing with a kid who was violent, drug addicted, yelling "Shut-up, bitch, you aren't my mother". No, In fact, Nolan is rarely surly or cross like most other teenagers which I greatly appreciate. Mostly he's a very pleasant and engaging person. But he's sneaky and manipulative. You know you are NEVER getting the full story and you have to ask 1 million questions 1 million different ways to find his angle...becasue there is ALWAYS an angle. It's exhausting and really disconcerting and frankly makes me dislike speaking with him becasue I know it's all bullshit. Most of what he says is embellished, pertinent facts are omitted, and there is always such an arrogance and know-it-all-ism.

Here is an example of the type of lie he tells continually and why I was so concerned from early on. For weeks he was planning a big debate at school on the death penalty with the Republicans (his side was anti-death penalty...I gotta say the kid has great politics). The morning of the debate I said, "Oh the debate is today. Good luck Nolan. I can't wait to hear how it goes". And he says, "Thanks". Just making conversation I asked him, "Is it at lunch or after school?" After hemming and hawing for a bit (which clued me into the fact that something was up) he finally admitted the debate got canceled.

Most normal people would have said, "It got canceled" first without my digging deeper. The fact that he would knowingly let someone operate under a misunderstanding...a misunderstanding that he weird. Why does someone do that? Power? Status? Image? There is no reason to lie here so why the lie of omission? I find it to be even more troublesome than a teenager who outright lies to stay out of trouble. At least they have a reason for lying. Nolan does not. He simply lies and manipulates. All the time. To everyone.

To me that kind of behavior reveals an underlying contempt for people. A need to have control over other people by hiding facts from them...even facts of no consequence. In the end I think Noland likes people to the extent that they are useful to him or to the extent they do his bidding. He sees himself as the smartest, most creative, and only person that matters.

Given his mother and his life you might feel sorry for him and I do have a certain amount of empathy for him but his continual choice to lie, manipulate and never accept responsibility makes any empathy quickly fade away. Even more so now that he is 19.

His first semester of high school he got on the honor roll. After that his grades slipped. And by slipped I mean he was continually in danger of failing multiple classes. Furthermore, he insisted on taking all the Advanced Placement courses. He always managed to pull out a c- so he could move onto the next level. Why the AP courses if you can't handle them? Status. Image. He loved to say he's in AP English, AP Physics. It's all about image but not effort or truly earning esteem.

His dad would tell him "No more AP courses" and Nolan would big-fat enroll in them anyhow. Mr. Peeveme went to the school and the counselors insisted that he let Nolan try AP courses again. Both he and I were pissed. We know our son. What in his transcript makes you think he can handle this? Mr. Peeveme caved into the pressure. Mr. Peevme, not being manipulator, was less convincing than Nolan.

In his senior year Nolan upped his antics to include the habitual cutting of classes. As in he never attended class. He would even ditch the course he liked such as choir and photography. At one point the kid had 8 out of 65 points in his econ class. And since he was 18 and could sign himself out of class, we didn't even know he was cutting. Not that we could have stopped him.

Surprisingly, during this time, there was no angry door slamming (on Nolan's part...Mr. Peeveme slammed a lot of doors). There was no disrespectful attitude. When we'd eat dinner every night we'd have lovely conversations about politics, technology, copy-right law. Nolan was positively delightful...especially when he was in trouble....which was really troubling. Again, it's manipulation. What kid gets grounded for the entire Summer and 1 hour later is cheerfully chatting up his father about his views on Net Neutrality? Poor Mr. Peeveme fell for it most of the time. Which made me mad at Mr. Peeveme most of the time. "I think Nolan is really ready to make a change this time. I think he's really serious and gets it", he's say. I would wonder out load and to myself, "When is Mr. Peeveme going to catch onto the fact that this is all manipulation?". It was maddening for me. Not good times I tell ya. Most of the time I was more angry with Mr. Peeveme than with Nolan.

When it looked like he was going to fail high school his mom was all over Mr. Peeveme saying, "You can't let him fail" and Mr. Peeveme was all, "I can't stop him". Besides, Mr. Peeveme and I felt that Nolan SHOULD fail; that he SHOULD understand the idea of consequences.

Nolan always found a way of wiggling out of the situations he got himself into. Either by begging, borrowing or doing just enough to pass. He'd make deals with teachers who, becasue they'd look bad with the administration if the failed a student, would "help" him to pass with extra credit assignments. Everyone bent over backwards for Nolan and he screwed them all by never living up to his side of the negotiated and renegotiated bargain. Teachers, parents, bosses. 2nd Chances, 3rd chances and more. Time and time again this was the pattern. All promises and talk. All manipulation. And it was never really his fault don't cha know.

He did finish high school over the summer at a continuation school to make up for the course he failed. Most of his other grades were D's.

During his Junior year he become enthralled with R.I.T. (Ro.chester Institute of Technology). Many times we told Nolan that we could not afford a private school. California has some of the best public institutions in the world and we could neither afford nor we were willing to pay for a private education when low-coast, high quality education was near-by. Additionally, given his tract record we weren't going to give him one red cent for college until he proved that he could be serious. No matter. The summer after he finished high school he moved out to New York (with the encouragement and the assistance of his mother) and deferred enrollment for a year. Of course, he had a "solid" job lined up which, of course, didn't pan out which, of course, was not HIS fault. Of course.

Within six months he had gotten fired from two jobs (actually he quit before he could be fired), pissed off his roommates who put his possessions on the porch, ran his credit into the ground. Crash and burn in 6 months.

So now he is back but not living with us. He is staying with a friend. But a 19 year old with ruined credit, two jobs in 6 months and probably bad recommendations from his former bosses doesn't bode well even in a good economy.

Mr. Peeveme and I sincerely hope that this is truly humbling for him, that he understands this is his fault, that these were HIS bad decisions. We hope he changes while he is still young enough to change.

I'm not seeing good signs though. Statements like: "My roommates were all crazy" (really all four of them?), "I was smarter than my boss", and "Ro.chester isn't a good place to live if you don't have money" make me think that, again, he feels nothing is actually HIS fault. It's Ro.chester's fault after all. DAMN YOU Ro.CHESTER!

Next: being a step-mother to a difficult teen while infertile.