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September 2004

Down In Flames

The RE appointment was, oh, what is the mot juste here, terrible? Awful? Disastrous? Disappointing? Dream-ending? A car crash? Armageddon? Bad?

I'll fill you in tomorrow.

Oh, and I wasn't trying to start a West Side gang war between people who take kids to the RE and the people who hate them. I was just telling you how I wound up bringing my child to the RE in the hopes that maybe if you understood me you would understand others like me and there would be peace and goodwill and the sharing of candy in RE offices everywhere. Because I totally understand why some people hate to see children there; I get that down to my sugar-loving bones.

When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way...



A Don't Hate Me Letter

Dear My Favorite People on the Internet,

In junior high, I used to really like Ann Landers. She gave such sensible advice, and at thirteen I was very into sensible advice. One letter she printed has stayed with me for years. Someone wrote to say that they had recently taken a subway ride with a man who was letting his two children run absolutely wild. She and her fellow passengers got more and more incensed at the rude children and their oblivious father. He eventually intercepted her dirty look and said, "I'm sorry. We are coming from the hospital where their mother has just died. I just don't have the heart to yell at them right now." Whether this story is apocryphal or not, the point was well made and, I flatter myself, well taken. The Bible covered it too, as I recall, something about "Judge not lest ye be judged."

So, let me explain why we are bringing Patrick with us to the RE appointment this afternoon.

It's not that I am oblivious. I have read what everyone who has ever had to hang out in that lobby of hope and despair has had to say on the subject. I don't remember who covered this topic in a post (Karen? Julie? Grrl? All three?) but I read it carefully and I nodded and then I read all the comments and I nodded and then I wrote DON'T TAKE KID TO RE APPOINTMENTS in permanent marker on the wall by the phone. Because although one woman wrote to say, "I like to see those sweet smiling faces just before an ultrasound; they give me hope" the other 99 million said, "Sweet Mother of Holy Ireland- the PAIN! THE PAIN!"

And on my short To Do list for Thursday [1. Accept delivery of new chair-and-a-half for bedroom 2. Keep Patrick alive 3. RE appointment] you will note there is absolutely no #4. Torture someone.

But... here's the deal.

As people were commenting on all those tiny future voters clogging up an endocrinology waiting room they not only said "It's painful" but they also tended to add, "They should just get a babysitter." Now, muffins, we know that that is just the Devil talking. Good people like us never say, "You should....” What follows is usually asinine and serves only to reflect upon the speaker's ignorance of both the specifics and the generalities of someone else's situation. For example "You should just relax" fails to take into account that a woman can relax until she is comatose but it will not rid her uterus of scar tissue and it won't get her husband's sperm count up from 2. Right? Am I right, folks?

So what the fuck is up with "You should just get a babysitter?" You, my darling, might be able to lay your hands on 15 people who can and will drop everything to rush to feed your child raisins in your absence but we do not.

In our case:

*Mrs. Truly Boring was going to take Patrick until the RE called to change the appointment time to 3:15. This afternoon she has to pick up her children from school and then take her daughter to gymnastics ("But she should just bring Patrick to gymnastics..." Ah-ha! She ALSO takes her daughter's two friends and there is no room for Patrick in the car. "But she should buy a bigger car..." Yeah, right, ok. I'll talk to her about that.

*Every single person we are related to lives a minimum of 700 miles away.

*Even if they did not live yonder, they all have careers that tie up their afternoons. Yes, even my mother.

*My close friends here all work full-time, with the exception of the one who is running for Minneapolis City Council. While her schedule might permit greater flexibility than the others, she is, you know, devoting her time to public service.

*We do not use teenaged babysitters (as I am terrified of calling them on the phone) but if we did they are required by law to be in school during the day.

*We do use a nanny service and they are always available during the day, given enough notice. They are also $15 per hour plus mileage and they have a five hour daytime minimum. So a thirty minute RE appointment would cost us $85 for a babysitter. Now, I don't doubt that it might be worth it to YOU, my beloved fellow patient, to have us pay that much and leave Patrick but the problem is that it isn't worth to us. Because we are selfish like that.

So, Patrick will be going to our appointment with us.

We will also be bringing Bear, twenty books, his stroller, the mini Etch-a-Sketch, a bag of blueberries, ditto of Teddy Grahams, 2 pints of Yo-J, and the CD Walkman. I just bought the Complete Symphonic arrangement of Les Misèrables and Patrick is digging the revolution (You in the barricades listen to THIS/ No one is coming to help you to F-i-i-i-ght/You're on your own, You have no friends/Give up your guns or DIE.)

We will push him around the hallway until our appointment.

We will not roll the stroller over your toes.

We will not change his diaper on the reception desk.

We will not choose this moment to call my mother on the cell phone and loudly encourage him to "Say Hi Nana! Say I love you Nana!"

We will not be oblivious to the fact that you are seeing a reproductive endocrinologist and therefore by necessity are having a crappy time of it already and, equally therefore, do not need to be reminded of what you are missing by the obvious display of what we have. So, no trick-ponyisms.

In short, we will do everything we can to keep Patrick quiet and content during what I hope will be the incredibly brief time that we wait to see if there is any chance we might be able to have another one. We will endeavor to minimize discomfort: his, yours and ours.

By all means let me know if there is anything else you can think of that might make your exposure to the wee bairn more bearable.

And, that said, if you happen to see me there, is there any chance you could cut me some slack and not damn us to hell?

Thanks.

Love you guys,

Julia



23 Things About Steve

I have been giving Steve a lot of rotten press lately and I feel sort of bad about that. Not that I didn't warn him that the Internet would have to be told of his nefarious post-miscarriage conduct, I did. He said he was willing to live with that consequence. Then, when he asked me to fix his computer after Hoovers crashed on him six times in succession, he refused to believe me when I explained that the Internet was pissed at him - what did he expect?

My miscarriages don't bother Steve the way they bother me. Hell, they don't even bother him the way they bother YOU. He is disappointed by a loss, as I am disappointed by a bottle of wine that should be good but isn't. The best I can figure, five years ago we found out that I would miscarry a lot and he accepted that as fact. He preaches caution in the face of pregnancy and sighs when I start pulling out the Celtic name books. We handle it differently. I handle it BETTER, of course, but that is ok.

Anyway, I think I successfully covered his flaws. Now, without further ado, I present twenty-three little things about Steve:

#1. He makes me laugh.

We went out to dinner with our new neighbors last winter and they explained that they had met when the husband was working on a Navy medical ship jointly run by the US and Australia. "One of the few times our nations have been at peace," Steve gravely observed.

Just before I delivered Patrick there was suddenly a long lull between contractions. The nurse had brought in another nurse and the OB had said, "This is it! The next one is the baby!" and I got ready to push again and... nothing. The pause went on and on and I started to feel embarrassed because this was an enormous moment, fraught with drama - LIFE! - and my timing was off.

"Say something," I tittered nervously to Steve.
"I want you to know this doesn't change anything; I'm still leaving you," he instantly replied.

Good grief it was funny, you should have seen their faces.

#2. He is the most generous person I have ever met. Steve will always pick up a check, make a donation, cover the difference, treat, pay-by-stealth or just give give give.

#3 He is positively tone-deaf but it doesn't stop him from singing anyway. The house rings with great Steve originals like, "Let's Go Change Your Diaper," "Good Morning Patrick," and "O My Darwin."

#4 He can fix anything. Seriously, he installs washing machines, rewires lamps and glues tiny fragments together like St. Francis of Home Depot.

#5 He can build anything. Someone asked if I had gotten anything sparkly lately and the answer is, sort of. There used to be a fireplace (gas) at the end of the kitchen and I hated it. As of two nights ago there is now an enormous window and window seat in its place. I'll put up a picture when he gets the rest of the cherry to trim it.

#6 He loves to surprise me: "Good Lord! What happened to the fireplace!"

#7 He drove me to and from work every day for two years, just because.

#8 He takes care of Patrick for two to three hours every morning, letting me sleep until nine. And then, when they do wake me up, he always brings me a cup of hot tea.

#9 He sewed my wedding veil.

#10 He and I can communicate almost entirely in Simpsons' quotes.

#11 He is a great father and he is madly, passionately in love with Patrick. They have elaborate silly games they play and when I try to join in Patrick coolly says, "Mama go away." You would think that this rejection would be hurtful but actually it is delightful. I am thrilled that they adore each other.

#12 He loves my mother and hopes that she will live with us one day (and when I say this state isn't big enough for the both of us he says that he'll have to think about that one.) When he ordered the fixtures for the new guest bath he insisted that I call her to ascertain whether she prefers the straight-back or sloping tub.

#13 He frequently tells people that I am smarter than he is, even though this may and or may not be true.

#14 He paid off all of my student loans for my 28th birthday AND got me a present that I could open.

#15 He has never laughed at my filing systems. I am a tremendously, a frighteningly, a POWERFULLY organized person. This is because I am bone-lazy and it just seems easiest to me to neatly organize outgoing mail in a toast rack by bill due date next to my computer. I plan menus for the week because then I only have to think about it once and I paste recipes by food type (Entree - Seafood, Composed Salads, Breakfast - Company) into a divided binder because when I go to plan my weekly menu I want to just flip flip flip and be done. I have all of the bookshelves arranged by genre and alphabetized by author and then title because I want to read that Kate Chopin short story NOW, damn it. In one minute I can lay my hands on any receipt or medical record or electronics warranty card from the past six years. SOME people have made fun of me for this, but not Steve. He thinks I am cute. He also likes it when the IRS says we owe an extra $34K and I respectfully show them our meticulous records and tell them to cram it in their Old Glory.

#16 He did not kiss me on our first four dates. On the fifth I specifically suggested renting a movie steeped in graphic violence so I could press my face against his shoulder and shudder. Nothing. Half-way through the movie I knocked him over and started kissing him. Five minutes later we were completely undressed and in the bedroom. By morning I decided I was moving in. And I did.

#17 He proposed after a frisbee tournament in Boulder, Colorado. He was smudged with dirt and he smelled like ripe goat. It was a Sunday afternoon and we had stopped in a dark little bar for hamburgers with my brother, Steve's friend JJ, JJ's wife, their 8 year-old daughter and her 8 year-old friend. The young ladies and I were playing Hangman on a cocktail napkin when Steve asked me to do him the honor of becoming his wife. We all goggled. My brother ordered champagne and the waitress looked behind her at the row of Miller taps and dusty DeKuyper bottles, "I don't know if we have champagne..." she said doubtfully.

#18 He agreed to start IVF this Fall with such alacrity that I was afraid he did not understand that it can be a process. "You'll have to give me shots," I started. "Oh I can TOTALLY give you shots! NO problem! I am ALL OVER THAT!" he enthused. Scary.

#19 He calls me Sweetie, Sweetheart, Honey, Darling, Sweetie Pie, and My Wife. He never calls me Jules.

#20 He once told me that I would not have insomnia if I just fell asleep sooner.

#21 He has a great speaking voice.

#22 He agreed to go look at a litter of Ragdoll kittens one night because I had told him they were interesting cats and the place was on our way home. We played with the kittens for a while and then I stood up to go back to the car. Which is when I noticed that he was cradling the runt of the litter in his hands and rubbing noses with it. "I'm not leaving him here," he hissed at me, covering the cat's ears. "What?" I said. "I. AM. NOT. LEAVING. HIM. HERE." So, that's Kelvin. Partly blind, electric cord obsessed, $1500 abdominal surgery having Kelvin.

#23 He makes me laugh. I mean, really, and that is so important I think it has to count twice.


Speechify Is Really A Word

I am always interested in what you guys notice in a post, particularly in the posts that ramble across a broad area. The thing about Patrick yesterday prompted a couple of different responses (yes, Shelley, the story about Bear is 100% true and if it weren't for the fact that he is napping right now with the boy I would take a picture of him so you could see how loved he looks.)

I read what you have to say with great interest and I frequently act upon things that sound bloody sensible. The comments that galvanized me (not to be confused with the drunken galvanizing that Melissa is always getting up to) into action this morning concerned Patrick's speech habits. Last night I got an email from a speech therapist who very gently asserted that what I described of Patrick's language was "atypical." Now, no one wants to hear their child described as "atypical" unless maybe it is in the course of a presentation in which an esteemed Swede notes how atypical it is to present the Nobel Prize to someone so young. However, after the sinking sensation, I felt a surge of relief. I am essentially a woman of action and it is not like me to dawdle over something. When I do hem and haw it is because I am afraid and sometimes it is nice to be forced to assess just what I am afraid of and what can be done about it.

So, in light of the email and a few comments that touched on the speech issue as well, I asked myself why I was putting off an evaluation. Was I afraid that they would determine that Patrick is fine and the evaluation was a waste of time, or was I afraid that they will say that he could use some therapy? I realized that I find it highly unlikely that any expert confronted with Patrick's "Oh Dada upuh haha" would laugh and say, "Why, the child wants to get up on his father's shoulders! Perfectly normal!" So, what kind of jerk doesn't get cracking when her little muffin needs some help?

Not me. I'm not that kind of jerk. I am a different kind of jerk altogether.

Therefore I called the Early Intervention Network for our county this morning and left a beautifully modulated, perfectly articulated message asking that they return the call to arrange a speech evaluation for Finky.

Thanks, pumpkins, for mentioning it.

There were a few leftover questions that I didn't get the chance to answer from earlier this week. I thought that was sort of fun (not to mention easy), so I will polish those off tomorrow. If you have anything else you want to ask, now is the time.


The Patrick Post v.I

This is all about Patrick. If you are feeling that gushy toddler stories are not quite what you had in mind for the day, by all means just skip this.


Patrick is absolutely delicious. Quite literally, when he kisses me I can taste the lingering tartness of cranberry juice and where his hair curls at the nape he smells sweet like crushed honeysuckle. Steve and I kiss a lot, I guess. We kiss Patrick and each other and the cats on their ears and noses. We are a kissy family and Patrick has gotten into the swing of things in the past month or so. When I get up in the morning he races over to me and says, “Heesh mama” with his face turned upwards. Then he holds up one finger and says, “Heesh dada,” followed by a second finger and “Heesh mama.” As if he had a To Do list in his head (Kiss Daddy. Kiss Mommy. OK) and has just ticked off both items leaving him free for the day.

He is a very easy-going little kid who smiles and laughs a lot. Tickling cracks him up, as does a funny face or repetition of the word “Marinara.” He can run very fast and walk surprisingly long distances without ever wanting to be picked up. We have a mile-long loop we do through the woods in back and Patrick hikes it with alacrity. Of course, it takes a million hours to finish because he stops every two feet to examine an acorn or switch out his walking stick for a new one. He is curious about things, but has an innate understanding of rules and boundaries that he has yet to test too strenuously. He never tries to open the kitchen cabinets that he is not allowed into and for the most part he leaves my books and plants alone. Yeah, I was horrified when he handed me two pages out of a Booth Tarkington first edition the other day, but in fairness to the child, Tarkington was a crummy writer. Ironically, the book he ripped was Gentle Julia and I responded by mildly telling him that if he tore apart my books again I would slay him. He smiled at me.

His version of a temper tantrum is so lame I am almost embarrased for both us. After first registering shock that I am denying him anything, his face will crumple as he begins the outraged cry. Just as he starts the toddler coup de grace, however, the full-on body slamming tantrum, he will quickly look behind him to see what he might land on if he flung himself backwards. On occasion he has actually stopped at this point and led me by the hand into our bedroom, which is carpeted. He will then carefully arrange himself on the floor before trying to start his tantrum all over again. I just say “You have got to be kidding me” and we read a book instead.

Patrick still loves books, particularly alphabet books. Depending upon which book is in vogue at the moment he will use it as a reference point for many conversations. We have a lovely wildflower alphabet book that caused him to answer “What is J for?” with “Jimsonweed!” for weeks. In some ways Patrick is quite advanced and in others he is very young for his age (26 months.) He has the alphabet down cold and has for almost a year. He can recognize and say all the uppercase and lowercase letters and several different punctuation marks like hyphen and comma and exclamation point. He really fundamentally understands books and how words work. He spends a lot of time saying each letter in a word and sort of working it out in his head. I expect he will be able to read early, and in my secret heart I believe he already knows a few words. I spelled B-L-U-E-B-E-R-R-I-E-S in front of him this morning and he looked interested and asked, “In the green bowl?” But it might have just been contextual. He knows all of the numbers and can recite to 40 or so, but I am not sure he understands counting. If you ask him to count to ten he will say, “Ten” which is certainly expeditious but cheating. He knows every shape although I haven’t had the heart to tell him that a Stop sign is actually an octagon, not a hexagon as he asserts. He knows all of the colors and can tell you what yellow and blue make, etc. He is like a walking Kindergarten primer.

There are also the areas that I wonder if he will ever get, like speech. He never shuts up, don’t get me wrong, but 90% of what he says is completely incomprehensible to me and I would guess that it is closer to 99% for the rest of the world. He has this weird short-hand/substitution language going that is utterly baffling. A few of his words are attempts to imitate us, but the rest… who knows where they came from? “Nah” is both red and light, and “nahdah” is rabbit and strawberries. “Dah” covers the gamut: Bear, dog, pig, B, P, D and pink. Despite the fact that he can say the word ‘Blue’ beautifully, his word for blueberries is “dindahees.” Sometimes I admit this whole thing freaks me out and I think I should get him into speech therapy immediately. I will never forget the day that I was in Kindergarten and said, “Somebody left the gwoo [glue] on the tayboo [table]” and the whole class laughed at me. I ran out to my mom in tears and explained that I had been “Yoo-miliated.”

Just as I am about to commit to a speech evaluation, though, I notice that he is making strides in little ways every day and I think I should just chill and see how the next few months go. Today, for example, he took me by the hand and said, in ringing bell-like tones “Let’s go up.” Up we went.

He is extremely attached to his teddy bear who he calls Da. Da goes everywhere with him and if you start to read a story Patrick will stop you until he can go get Bear. The inference is that Bear really likes a good story, just as Bear loves The Red Balloon. Bear has a rather romantic history, actually. Years ago, before Steve and I were married, we lived in Oak Park, Illinois. I would drive down this one street every day on my way to work and there was a thrift store there with a teddy bear in the window. The teddy bear looked so utterly bereft that I could not stand it and finally screeched to a halt one day and bought him. Then I felt guilty because I really didn’t need a teddy bear and he looked just as forlorn in my apartment as he had in the thrift shop window. Time went by and we eventually had Patrick. Lots of people sent stuffed toys and there must be at least 40 of them up in his room, not including some of my old ones. But Patrick only had eyes for Bear. He is his best friend and although Bear is starting to lose his fur he finally looks happy.

Other Patrick things. The potty is a sealed book to him. When I ask him if he has to go he looks utterly, utterly blank. The more I talk about what our bodies do the more glassy-eyed he becomes. I have never seen a living creature less aware of his own functions, although I have noticed that he has started to hide after befouling himself (aw, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that I have the bathroom issues. Yes, but I say ‘pooping’ to Patrick, I swear it.) When I suggest that he could come and tell us that he needs a new diaper (Brightly!) he looks embarrased. You know what else embarrasses him? Anybody singing but Steve or me. We went to communist playgroup and he covered his face with his hands every time there was a song. It was actually really cute but the other kids singing along and swishing their bus wipers were cuter.

He is still in his crib and has not shown the slightest interest in moving to a bed. Melissa suggests keeping him in there until he is 15 and I think that sounds sensible.

What else? He loves all vegetables and most fruits, generally at the expense of protein. He won’t touch chicken but he usually likes fresh salmon and cod (unless I have gotten it especially for him in which case he rejects it untouched with a terse, "All done.") He would sell his soul for a purple yogurt-juice blend called Yo-J. He has never had an actual cookie (other than graham crackers and an animal cracker or two) or cake or piece of candy or a popsicle or soft drink in his life. Since I am a sugar junkie you can just go right ahead and call me a big assed hypocrite. I can take it. Steve gives him breakfast every day and as far as I can tell (being asleep at the time) I think he gets the EXACT SAME THING to eat every morning. It would drive me crazy and I go to a lot of trouble to insure that there is variety the rest of the time. But I admit that I don’t care enough to wake up early and supervise. I mean, Dads are Parents too.

Julianna asked what it feels like to be a mother. Wonderful, comes to mind. Amazing. You fall in love with your child. You think about them when you are not together and you dwell over every little kiss and sweet gesture. It’s a great big love affair and it carries many of the same highs and lows. Anxiety and gratification, lots of both.

It is also boring. Playing peek-a-boo with Bear fifty million times may be a never-ending source of delight to a two-year-old but, um, I am not two. I am thirty-two and being pinched between mindless repetition and an imminent screaming fit is no fun at all. Sometimes I look at Patrick and then look at the clock and realize that there are three hours until dinner and we have already played with every block, read every book, smooshed all of the playdough…. Like I said, sometimes it is boring.

When Patrick was first born I was completely stressed out by the whole thing. I was terrified that he would cry, terrified that breastfeeding wasn’t working, terrified that I would finally fall asleep only to be woken up again five minutes later. I vividly remember lying in bed with Steve one night, two-week-old Patrick lying peacefully in his co-sleeper next to us, and flatly stating, “I was happier before we had him.” I was then so horrified that I said it, that I could even think it. I mean, we had wanted this for so long, how could I not be happy?

Steve, who apparently has his moments of goodness and empathy, said, “Me too. But it will get better.”

And, of course, it did.

Right now my life is exactly the way I like it, exactly the way I have always imagined it would be. Our days are structured but leisurely and we laugh a lot. Food is important and books and everyone sleeps until they are rested. We rarely dine out and we hardly ever travel together but it does not feel like we are missing anything. Steve and I did these things before we had Patrick and we will all do them once he has grown a bit.

In the meantime we savor the kisses and the ridiculous tantrums and even the boring monotony of the nap-based day. For us, these are the years to enjoy being home.


In Which All Is Revealed

#1.

Steve’s sperm were delivered to the loading dock of Shdy Grve hospital. I can’t tell from here, being 1100 miles away, but I assume the hospital is pretty close to the PGD Center? Spitting distance perhaps? Does close count in horseshoes, hand grenades and semen sampling? No matter; they are gone, missing, fini, AWOL. Perhaps they are hurtling through some antiquated vacuum-tube mail delivery system, perhaps they hopped the Red Line to Tenleytown… they are dead to me.

Tomorrow poor Steve (who finds this entire process intensely embarrassing) will perform on command again and I will chauffeur the new troop of tiny reprobates into Minneapolis. The lab manager told me that Federal Express told her that they could not give any assurances that this would not happen again. They suggested that she write: DO NOT DELIVER TO ANY OTHER ADDRESS on the package. Yes, Fed Ex suggested that. I always thought that was sort of implied when you paid a parcel delivery service to deliver your parcel but… OK. What I find so baffling is that the PGD Center does genetic testing for people all over the country. How do they usually get their specimens, carrier pigeon?

Now that I think about it, the guy who will be doing the FISH test mentioned in an email that he is actually going to be visiting my clinic tomorrow- hey! Do you think I can just ask him to bring it back with him?

#2.

The actual D&C took four minutes, according to the post-OP nurse. Perhaps she thought this would be reassuring but in truth I was appalled. Steve takes longer than that to floss. How could my OB possibly have treated my uterus like the Ming vase it is in less time than a commercial break? The mind boggles.

Physical condition after D&C: excellent. Minimal bleeding, no cramping. Terrible sore throat from where they stuck the tube in while I was under general anesthetic and lingering post-anesthesia headache but all in all, not bad.

#3.

Summer wins her next Burmese meal on me for both successfully guessing the first asinine thing the nurses said to me and for conjuring up that delightful, high-protein Ben & Jerry’s flavor: Spunky Monkey. I bow.

I saw, let me make sure I get them all, seven nurses for my D&C on Friday. Each one started by establishing that I was there for a D&C for a missed aborti… miscarriage. Then, like so many clock-work parrots, they said, “Well you can always try again.”

Ladies, do you think trying again is my problem?

Then, after they got a handle on the number of pregnancies, miscarriages and D&Cs I have had they grasped the one salient point: “At least you have your son. That must make this so much easier for you.”

One, whom I later learned had been through fertility treatments and has one child as a result, went on to say, “Some of these women come in here so upset [by the fact that they are having a D&C following a miscarriage] and they already have a child… I just want to tell them, to tell YOU, that you should get down on your knees and thank God for what you already have.”

Let me assure you that this remark is even less palatable when you aren’t wearing any pants and the person delivering these sanctimonious nuggets is digging around in the back of your hand trying to find a vein.

I grinned at her and nodded and said, “Oh yes. YES. That is so true. I feel that having my son makes any future children expendable.”

She said, “Exactly,” but looked uncertain.

#4.

I hung up on Steve at 3:20 on Saturday afternoon. He walked in the door at about 9:30 Sunday night. He said, “Hi sweetie” and I said, “I am going to bed.” And I did. Then he was on a business call when I got up this morning and did not get off until after I had taken Patrick to communist playgroup. I did not speak to him until after Packy went down for his nap at 12:40.

So, unless you count the terse bed announcement we went 45 ½ hours without speaking.

#5.

Steve called Saturday morning and said, “You sound terrible.”

I said, “Yeah, my throat is still really sore and I have an awful pounding headache.”

“Well, take it easy.”

“Right, I am. How are things there?”

“Oh fine,” he said, “I pulled my hamstring so I am out for the weekend but BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH and then Q-Tip ran BLAH BLAH and Boston actually….”

What I heard was: I pulled my hamstring, so I am going to be sitting here in the middle of a polo field doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING for two days while you are most likely getting sick plus bleeding and cramping plus taking care of a crazy two year old all day long.

I said, “You pulled your hamstring? So could you come home early?”

There was an almost imperceptible pause and Steve said, “No. No, I’ll be back tomorrow night as planned.”

I ended that conversation by saying that I had a problem with this assessment, but we could talk about it later.

It was only when he called back that afternoon and asked how I was and then said, “Make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids” that I snapped.

FLUIDS? I don’t need orange juice, you asschunk, I need my husband to come home and take care of our toddler so that I can take a fistful of vicodin and go to bed until Monday. Monday’ish.

So I delivered a brilliant ex tempore speech to that effect and slammed the phone down. Then I threw all of our phones into the basement and put The Red Balloon on again (and yes, Virgina, Patrick ate about two pounds of sesame snack sticks on Steve's pillow while I cheerfully reminded him to wipe his hands.)

Steve was flattened and gray when he got home and has been suitably chastened ever since. He was wrong. He knows he was wrong. And I’m cool with that. He is sort of my bitch now, if you can say that respectfully in a loving and fully actualized marriage. Among other things, he is suddenly 190% in favor of IVF (since he suspects that the last D&C drove me over the edge)- provided the FISH results look ok. He’s asked me 50 times if I want to get a masseuse in every week for a while. He ordered all sorts of computer games that he thought we could play together. He called around to the various clubs and we are going to take tennis lessons this winter. OK, so I married a guy who tends to try to solve problems with… money. Can I say that? It’s so tacky, but it’s true. It is not my way, growing up in the 'hood, but I can sympathize with the intrinsic limitations that have left him with such a scarcity of tools.

He’s trying. At least he’s trying.

I am SO GLAD I hung up on his ass, though.

Drink fluids, my...


Never NEVER Tempt The Insurance Fairy

SEE? See what happens when you gloat? Nemesis licks her chops and smites you but good, that's what happens.

Wednesday, as I said, I dropped off Steve's vial of gelle de vie. Semen, man joy, whatever. I checked their notes, told them sternly that it better get off safely, bid the stuff a fond farewell and then trusted the Andrology Lab to take care of things.

Actually, I didn't. I went home and emailed the director of the PGD Center affiliated with Shdy Grve who will be doing the FISH testing (LOVE him, LOVE him.) I told him they would be receiving a specimen from us on Thursday and wanted to make absolutely certain they had all of the information they needed.

Friday morning, this morning, he emailed me to tell me that they had not received the sample. The sample that was supposed to be Overnighted on Wednesday.

No fucking way, I said. I called the Lab (the one that took my $1600 check but refused to print a receipt for me to start the insurance reimbursement process until the specimen was sent out, bastards) and asked what happened. The young lady said they might not have sent it overnight, she would check and call me back. I emailed the FISH guy and repeated what I was told and then asked if this would interfere with the testing.

He emailed me back (this is the DIRECTOR of the center, amazing- what a guy!) and said that he had spoken to the Andrology Lab and although they had sent it out correctly, FedEX had delivered it someplace else. No one knew where. We might need to get them another sample.

This sounds so suspect to me. FedEX just randomly dropped a biohazardous package (heh heh, Summer, you're funny) on some unsuspecting industrial park tenant?

Although I am intensely irritated, I am also highly amused. A Federal Express commercial this indubitably ain't:

SCENE OPENS TO SHOW A SMALL FACTORY, STRANGELY QUIET. A MACHINE IN THE FOREGROUND GUSTS BLACK SMOKE AT INTERVALS. A FEW WORKERS (MAKE SURE WE GET A GOOD RACIAL MIX. OH, AND SOME WOMEN) STAND IN GROUPS, CLEARLY ANXIOUS. A KINDLY-LOOKING MAN IN A SUIT (CAN WE GET BURL IVES? OH? DEAD? WELL, HOW ABOUT THAT GRANDFATHER FROM THAT SHOW. YOU KNOW, HE DID THE OATMEAL SPOTS) SCRUBS HIS FOREHEAD AND GLANCES AT THE SHOP DOOR.

He speaks: I am afraid that if we don't get the replacement part soon we'll never make the Hong Kong deadline. And... (falters)... those holiday bonuses were really riding on this one.

DOOR SLAMS OPEN AND FEDEX DELIVERY GUY MARCHES FORWARD, LIGHTLY DUSTED IN SNOW AND BEARING A SMALL BOX. EVERYONE CHEERS. WORKERS SLAP EACH OTHER ON THE BACK AND SOME EMBRACE.

Owner, beaming, fumbles open the box: Well, I guess, thanks to Fed EX we just might have a happy... what the?! This isn't a new DX-4823 capacitor!

HOLDS UP BLUE-LIDDED PLASTIC JAR.

Why, it looks like.... oh my god!! Is this....??? Ewwwwwwwwww!

CUT SCENE

So where do you think Steve's sperm are? The National Zoo? Visiting the Smithsonian? Hanging out at Georgetown Prep?

I am going to wait until tomorrow to talk about the D&C. Right now I am going to bed.


I'm Impulsive Like That

After I wrote that post yesterday about possibly getting insurance to cover the FISH test I smacked myself. Because, really, our insurance has not actually paid for it. They haven't even promised that they will. All I have are the written opinions of a couple of doctors who just happen to be affiliated with the health maintenance organization that just happens to be the medical arm of our insurance company. My naive assumption that they will feel some obligation to honor this bill ignores the small-print: Any commitment to assume partial responsibility for legitimate medical expenses should not be construed as an actual commitment to assume partial responsibility for legitimate medical expenses.

Do you want to know what my problem is with managed care health systems? The inherent conflict of interest. Insurance, all insurance, is a gamble. My homeowners' insurance policy bets that my house won't burn down and I am betting that it will. In the case of health insurance, I bet that I am going to get sick, $500-a-month-sick, and my insurance company is gambling on their belief that I will not. That is all very good and well and I have nothing against free enterprise, but when the same company that is betting I will not need medical care is the employer of the only doctors who can order that care for me... well, it gets dicey.

I can tell you flat-out that I would cost my insurance company less money with IVF than without it. I mean, provided it doesn't turn out that Steve is 98% lethal. They are about to pay for my fifth D&C (oh right, I'll tell you about that,) not to mention the zillion blood tests and early ultrasounds and near-daily OB visits for which they have coughed up over the past five years. Help me get a genetically normal embryo started and I will disappear like a mist. Keep me trying unassisted, however, and there is nothing except my own fragile sanity to keep me from going through doomed pregnancy after doomed pregnancy until the cows come home. Well, until I stop being able to conceive at any rate.

So I guess my post-pregnancy loss waiting threshold is two weeks. For two weeks I sort of cruise on auto-pilot and hope my body will do something on its own. At two weeks I snap and think, "OK, enough waiting" and call my OB's office. This is sort of the way I approach haircuts, only in the case of my rapidly darkening locks I usually do nothing for four months and then realize that if I don't have my hair cut in the next two hours I will go stark staring mad. In a rare retrograde moment, both events occurred simultaneously today and I got my first haircut since May this afternoon. And tomorrow I am having a D&C.

The timing could be a wee bit better, what with Steve leaving for Chicago as soon as I am home and more or less conscious. I know, what are we going to do with him? He's reaching levels of near pirate-like callousness. I suggested that maybe Patrick and I could just head down to Chicago with him (my plan was to then throw myself in Lake Michigan) and he said, all shocked, "JULIA! You will have just had a D&C!"

I replied, "Oh, gosh, my angel dream rabbit, do you think I might be feeling poorly afterwards? Maybe I shouldn't be left with the sole care of a two-year old all weekend."

He pointed out, reasonably, that I could have scheduled the D&C for after the weekend.

What can one do when I insist on immediate gratification for all of these little whims? Did I mention I also had my eyebrows waxed today? And when the door fell off our dishwasher on Monday (no, really, look)dishwasher


I frivolously bought a new one not 24 hours later (just for reference it wasn't just the rather spectacular fall-apart; we hated this dishwasher. And my new one has a coolie cool flat silverware rack at the top. Steve insisted on stainless steel which is so-o-oo this millenium's Harvest Gold, but I kind of like it. Pre-retro kitsch if you see what I mean.)

So my new dishwasher is being installed at 8 tomorrow. My D&C is scheduled for noon (oh! Great news! The nurse who conducted my pre-admittance interview said she was sorry I had to go through this but we can always try again! Imagine my relief.) And my husband is heading south as soon as I can answer the question "How many fingers am I holding up?" with a number, any number.

Patrick and I will be watching The Red Balloon over and over and over again this weekend. I will be letting him eat crackers in our bed as we read stories. If there is a choice between my having to get off the couch and Patrick coloring on the walls allow me to assure you that we will have murals by Monday. I am announcing the beginning of Toddler Anarchy, Chez Moi.

Feel free to stop by. Bring wine.


Little Victories

In April we got a referral for FISH testing for Steve. This is the test that will tell us what percentage of Steve's sperm are antisocial killers, the remainder of which we can then safely assume will be baby-making snuggle-sperm. As interesting as this information will be for dazzling small talk at cocktail parties, it will also give us a great deal of clarity as we decide our future course, since this article indicates that when abnormalities account for more than 65% IVF with PGD will not work.

So, as I said, in April we got a referral for the test and then nothing happened for five months because my reproductive endocrinologist office was renegotiating their lab contracts. In August, during that blissful week when I thought I was pregnant with twins (sigh- that was so cool; I loved that week) the office called to say they finally had their contracts in place so feel free to swing by with the spunk. I declined, as the prospect of spending $1600 just for the hell of it was not so appealing.

However, when the ultrasound two weeks ago showed that we had lost this pregnancy, one of my first thoughts was that we should see about having the testing done. It was part of the whole Kick Ass Agenda that is going to be big, and I mean big, this Fall. In the interim, of course, the referral had expired, but I thought it would be no big deal to call and have it rewritten. A minor inconvenience arose from the fact that Steve had switched health care systems this summer, but I hastily switched him back and made him call his old/new managed care coordinated to get her started on the referral. This is when we learned that the primary physician who had provided the referral was not authorized, had never been authorized, to write orders for reproductive testing. We were told we would have to go see their own Dr. Authority and the decision to order testing would be his. I told them I already had an RE and I was damned if I was going to go to anyone else and besides I am not part of their health care system so my Dr. Authority and my husband's would, by necessity, always be two different people.

So I squawked and the managed care person twittered and we went 'round and 'round until she finally suggested that I call Dr. Authority and see if I could work something out. This actually sounded very sensible, so I agreed.

My irritation was all money-based, of course. We buy our own health insurance and although infertility testing is covered, we had been told by various sources that it was unlikely that they would agree to responsibility for the FISH testing. Too arty, I suppose. When we got an order written last Spring I was all giddy because I felt like we had snuck something past The Man and then I was snarked to learn we had done no such thing.

Anyway, I did not have great hopes for getting the FISH testing approved again but I duly called my RE's office and the MOST delightful receptionist promised to fax over the original letter my RE had sent to Steve's primary (and did!) She even re-addressed the letter to Dr. Authority. What a little jewel. I then wrote a letter from Steve to Dr. Authority (it's easier that way, he just signed it) briefly explaining our history and asking that the good doctor please rubber-stamp the referral like the noble spirit he no doubt is. I faxed that letter off and then I faxed a copy of the original useless order. Then I faxed a copy of the article which explains that some men are more lethal than others. Then I faxed over a basket of cookies and called it a day.

Imagine my surprise when a nurse called from Dr. Authority's office not three days later, just to tell me the order had been written and to ask if I would like her to send me a copy. I told her to fax it.

So with a sheaf of paperwork and growing confidence that my insurance company will eat 80% of this cost- heh heh- I duly presented Steve's specimen at the Andrology Lab this afternoon. They graciously let me read the paperwork which will accompany it and I verified that it did indeed specify that they are looking for (1:4) translocations at the correct breakpoints. I had nightmares of going through all this only to be told "Yep, it's SPERM!" or something equally useless.

FedEx is lovingly bringing the product to Rockville, Maryland as I type this and, in a few short weeks, we should know just how freaked Steve is down in Lower Darby.



I... Oh... Well... Aw... Jeez

This is my first chance to post anything in days since my family has been visiting since Thursday. Although I now stick a pineapple in front of my monitor and pretend the computer setup here in the kitchen is just a modernist fruit basket, I rarely fool anyone. I practically had to beat my mother back with a broom now that she has discovered quilts on Ebay. While it is monstrously convenient to have Internet access close at hand as Steve and I debate the exact wording of a Simpsons' quote over our frugal evening meal; when company descends I am terrified that my prying family (or worse, Steve's prying family) will accidentally read my email. Or start browsing through my Internet favorites... ye gads. It's like hiding my diary in the guest bed.

My point is that I have been keeping my computer on the down-low, not to mention the fact that we just bought Steve a new computer and I spent half the weekend reconfiguring our network (which means I lost Internet access for both of us and swore a lot.) Otherwise I would have been back much much sooner to drop a deep curtsey to recently maligned Sarah.

Sarah, whom you may remember from my last post, returned to ye olde bloge, waded through the rather lively commentary that ensued and posted again. She was extremely gracious (go read it yourselves if you like - towards the bottom) and I am so impressed that I am practically speechless. Really. It was very cool of her to write again, and I am not just saying that because she ultimately agreed with us. I have to tell you that if I had posted something somewhere and got universally reamed for it I would not have the courage to acknowledge what I had written. I would put my finger under my nose as a rudimentary disguise and walk away quickly, pretending to be quite a different Julia altogether. So thank you, Sarah, for your composure and, for what it's worth, you are a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

The nice thing about a charming apology is that it inevitably leaves the originally injured party feeling ashamed of themselves. I am no exception. I made assumptions about Sarah based upon her original post and reacted accordingly. I thought she was a person suffering from infertility who thought our desire for a second child was misplaced and greedy. In fact she is pregnant with twins and simply could not understand why I put myself through this. It is actually a more sophisticated point and one that Julie and the ladies covered quite beautifully a while ago: why persist in the face of infertility/miscarriages? Why keep trying when it hurts to do so?

For me the answer is embarrassingly simple:

Because I think it will work. Eventually.

More tomorrow.

PS How long after embryonic demise should one wait to miscarry, do you think? I let it go for five weeks before my first D&C and I am not particularly anxious to repeat that timing. Since then I have tended to wait a few weeks after the heart stops to see if I will miscarry on my own. That never happens and I inevitably wind up with a D&C anyway. If you have any insight, personal or borrowed, I am interested in your thoughts. And don't worry about scaring me, scarring and infection concerns are both perfectly acceptable topics.