Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You Must be This Pregnant to Ride, Guest Post: Lindsay Riddell

Every few weeks, I receive an e-mail from a reader telling a hopeful story of waiting for a baby.  Many of you who read here are mothers, but there is also a great number of women who come and read and take part in this community who are not.  Maybe some choose not to have children--and that's quite alright--but the ones who wait and hope and try and wait some more--well, it's an emotional journey, one that needs a lot of love and support.

In my own circle of friends and family, I know many that faced years of infertility struggles.  Many of these women became moms in different ways, and some chose to pursue other dreams without children.  Either way, this challenging journey so many women face is made a little easier when there is a community of support.  When we are well-informed and understanding and stand together.

According to Resolve, the National Infertility Association, currently 1 in 8 American couples of childbearing age suffer infertility issues.  Each has a story to tell.  Among these stories is that of Lindsay Riddell, our guest blogger today.

Lindsay, thank you for bringing your vulnerability, your beautiful words and your strong voice to this space.  I'm so honored to have your story here.  You can follow Lindsay on Twitter @LoisLaneSF or on her new Tumblr: Gross Stuff No One Likes.



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Photo Credit: Paige Green Photography

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You Must be This Pregnant to Ride:
Our Journey Aboard the Infertility Roller Coaster
by Lindsay Riddell

My husband asked me if I wanted kids a month after we started dating.
I was all: "Hey buddy, slow down, what's with the baby questions?"
He was all: "I'm 39. I want kids, and I don't want to waste my time."

I've joked with him about his bold approach, but fact is, I liked that he was upfront about it. Not only did I know he wanted kids, but I also knew he was already considering having them with me. We picked the names right then and there, Friday June, after "Girl Friday", the name given to the first female reporters, and June, after his mother. Jack Danger was an easy choice, because, 'No. Danger is my middle name' will always be funny. Our relationship, from then on, was serious.

There were other important things that influenced our courtship: Though he's eight years older than me, we love to do the same activities; biking, running, generally being outside; We prefer the same beers and the same movies and the same TV shows at least 80 percent of the time. And because he's color blind, he can't criticize my decorating decisions.

When I hold up my iPhone and say "pretend we're on a roller coaster," he always does it, no matter where we are. We have a series of these roller coaster photos: On the beach in Hawaii; at a super nice restaurant in Austin, Texas; on an airplane -- arms raised, eyes wide, terror-stricken. This might be my favorite thing.

When he travels for work (which is often), we'll FaceTime before we go to bed. If I've had a bad day, he'll pretend he's in a canoe, rowing back and forth across my screen until I start laughing. He totally looks like he's in a canoe! It works every time.

While he's logical and I'm creative, we're a good balance, the right amount of yin to yang; color-seeing to non-color-seeing.

He proposed on our two-year anniversary when he was 40 years old and I was 32. After a July wedding at City Hall in San Francisco, we started trying to make some babies in February of 2011.

It did not work.

For months we were really chill about the entire thing. We relished our 'Whatever happens happens' attitude. But one by one our friends started to announce their pregnancies and I started to get frustrated.

First, my best friend and her husband got pregnant literally the first time they tried. Blammo. Just like that. This is so easy!
Then a member of my book club who is a local farmer, got pregnant the first month she started trying - you know, to time the delivery for Winter when things would be slow on the farm. How convenient!

Next up was my neighbor, who had been on birth control for 18 years, and who got pregnant.. wait for it... on her first shot. First shot! These stories were all so hilarious!

My husband was convinced we just needed to be patient. That eventually it would all work the way it was supposed to.

After we'd been trying for more than a year, I went to a baby shower where, I swear, I was the only non-parent, not-pregnant person in attendance. A friend I didn't even know was pregnant waddled up to me rubbing her adorable pregnant belly with some encouraging words: "It took us five months," she said. "It's your turn next."

But it wasn't my turn. Two of my cousins got pregnant, one with her third kid, a girl, just like she planned. The other cousin got pregnant with her third - "an accident" (Whoops! Right?).

A longtime friend who bought us our first ovulation kit and had it sent to my house after a year of fruitless, non-strategic trying, flew to town, and held my hands across a dinner table. She was pregnant again. We both cried. But her empathy to my situation was real and touching. We could be happy for her together and sad for me together. And we were.

In October of 2012, my husband and I visited the infertility specialist and I got my eggs tested. I have plenty. I'm a spring chicken, eggs-wise. This is not that helpful as it turns out. My husband got his junk tested and guess what? Levels are normal. Despite the fact that he's an ironman who spends lots of hours on his bike crushing his sensitive parts to numbness, he has lots of swimmers and they swim.

The doctor explained our options: Clomid - a drug that stimulates eggs to drop; artificial insemination; and In vitro fertilization. We had already ruled out IVF - which can be a really great choice for some people, including a friend of ours who just this week delivered a perfect little baby after just one cycle of IVF. It doesn't feel good to me, however, and it isn't how I wanted to produce a baby. I knew that before the appointment and my husband supported that.

And even though the infertility doctor drew us a stark graph that gave us a 2 percent chance of getting pregnant on our own given how long we've been trying, we were not quite convinced. We thought "We can do this."

In November, a bunch of my cousins came to visit. One of my cousins, one of my best friends in the world, had some news. Telling me was hard. For her. For me. For everyone visiting.

My response: "God dammit." I said it out loud. And I cried. Not because I wasn't happy for her. She knows I am. Only because it sucked for her to have to tell me. It sucked, and it's the kind of news that shouldn't suck. When I woke up the next morning with all of my cousins at a fancy San Francisco hotel, I discovered I had started my period a week early. Insult. To. Injury.

In December I felt weird. Bloated. Ornery. I had sore boobs for two weeks. My back hurt. I looked at WebMD every day analyzing my symptoms, waiting to get within the window that I could take a pregnancy test and finally show my husband those two freaking lines. I tried to tamp down any hope, swallow it before it escalated and took over. But hope is a powerful thing. It is highly resistant to being swallowed or tamped. And it crept up anyway, bursting through that two year build up of dark infertile clouds casting a shadow over my future.

I started my period 8 days early, three days after Christmas.

In January we took a sexcation to Hawaii, to recover and to relax and to... you know. It was not fruitful despite our valiant efforts.

I turned 35 at the end of January and when I woke up on my birthday, I told my husband that this was the year we would have a baby - or at least confirmation that a baby was on its way. We were going to have to accept the fact that despite how much we wanted it, and despite how hard we tried, and despite how many trips we took on the proverbial roller coaster, we might not be able to make a baby.

Yesterday we took matters into our own hands. We made an appointment for our first adoption orientation. We are nervous and excited and so anxious. We don't know if we'll get pregnant, but we've decided to adopt even if we do.

My husband asked me if I wanted kids one month after we started dating. And today, six years later, and for the first time in a long time, our arms are raised, our eyes are wide, we are terror-stricken. But we are hopeful.

— Lindsay is a San Francisco-based writer. You can follow her on Twitter @LoisLaneSF or on her new Tumblr: Gross Stuff No One Likes.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rambly Stuff

So, new neighbors moved in across the street this weekend after a dear elderly couple sold their house. We haven’t had any new neighbors within a 4-house radius for years now, so this sort of thing gets our street excited, beginning within seconds of the erection of a sold sign. We’re sort of like obnoxious children on a long drive, Brett and I, except instead of “Are we there yet?” we repeatedly ask surrounding neighbors, “Have you met them yet? Have you met them yet? Have you met them yet?”—them, of course, referring to the incoming residents who hold our curiosity.

We have a nice thing going on our street—a cluster of neighbors who’ve become like family and all fulfilling an important neighborly role. The Second Set of Parents neighbors. The Always Have Anything You Need to Borrow neighbors. The Owns a Generator and Will Let You Plug In During a Hurricane neighbor. The Show Up at Our House Any Friday Night and You’re Guaranteed a Good Time neighbors, who also happen to double as the Our Son Will Do Crafts with Your Daughter for Hours neighbors, a total bonus. But we’re still secretly always on the lookout for more kids. Fun couples would be great. Grandmotherly types who’ll bond with my kids and maybe invite us over for cookie-baking Sundays. Just please no crotchety grouches who scorn when we wave and smile or growl at my kids when balls roll on their property.

Once word was out that new neighbors were on their way, Brett set out on a Nancy Drew clue search, scouting their property for the evidence of kids. Like he checks windows for family stick figure decals on any cars that might happen to be in the driveway. Honor Roll bumper stickers. Special license plates that support children’s funds.

Friday night, he ran in from the driveway, practically out of breath. “They’re over there,” he pants. “The new neighbors. Dude. Two kids. A boy and a girl. Girl, maybe 7. She’s doing handstands in the front yard. I talked to them.”

“Nice?” I ask.

“Very,” he proceeds.

This is like neighbor jackpot.

“Go over and say hi,” Brett suggests.

I get all fidgety and sweaty all of a sudden, fixing my hair in the hallway mirror and practicing my “Welcome to the Neighborhood” in my head as I walk across the street. Listen, we weren’t the cool kids in school. Okay, I was homeschooled, so moot point. Regardless, I have hopes for a relationship with our cool new neighbors, and first impressions mean a lot—especially when our yard currently says “We don’t really care about anything.”

These people are really nice. Firm handshakes, warm smiles, jewelry with cross charms which never hurt. The kids are polite and friendly, and Lainey thinks Gymnastics Girl is the bomb. I’m feeling some really good vibes here.

End of Ramble #1.

Beginning of Ramble #2.  Our weekend outside of stalking new neighbors. 

Adventure days are sometimes planned around here but far more often just thrown together as we go.  Like Saturday when we loaded up the diaper bag, buckled in the kids and drove north, with only the hope of hitting one of the better antique shops in town.  On the way there, we passed a putt putt adventure golf center, its enticing water falls and caves completely drowning out the itty bitty quiet voice of reason we failed to acknowledge--the one that said "it's far too hot to golf today."

But there's a sign that says "Feed Baby Alligators" and did I mention waterfalls?!  Caves!  So we listen to the sirens and we golf.

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Two holes in, we find the hole that's shaded by a cave and camp out there for a while, watching Nella chuck the ball against the cave walls and listening to Lainey repeat "No throwing, Nella!" over and over. Other golfers soon need to use the cave hole, so we're forced to move out into Death Valley again, our only relief coming from the few breezes that sent a waterfall mist our way.

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We lasted a total of six holes before we turned in our clubs (they offered us a rain check) and called it a day. Nella's victory dance:

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The rest of the day was spent in the historic district of Fort Myers, an area I've never really explored extensively.

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Pigeons loiter on corners of brick streets, palm trees frame café entrances, and there's an old and mysterious boarded-up shop for every five or so charming new ones--enough to make these few blocks seem both up-and-coming and full of stories from the past. I made note of several restaurants worth looking into, and can check off Ford's Garage and the outside terrace area between the Mexican restaurants as definite "Come Back Again."

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The girls chased each other, oblivious to the heat, for a good twenty minutes.

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And I found a thrifting urban legend at the antique mall, the Holy Grail of 80's Totes...
...the cotton canvas Esprit bag.
I know.

Post Thrifting Smiles:

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The last ramble (Ramble #3, if you're into labels) is really more of a word-free exhibit of Things That Made Me Smile This Weekend.

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 photo print7_zpsd2ffe9e7.jpgChompers!!

Clean Slates. Possibility. Happy Monday.

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Over at All Parenting sharing a list of ways we like to turn ordinary moments into really special ones in our home.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Enjoying: Car Line

Unicorn: verb. to take something sucktacious and turn it into something good.
Sucktacious: adjective. Generally bad. (see also: craptastic)

I realize I need to start an ETST glossary for my made-up words. Actually, there's probably an entire archive of them buried in posts. What fun it would be to alphabetize them and actually define them for you, but then again--ya'lls pretty smart; I bet you figured out their meaning on your own.

So, I figured out a way to unicorn Car Line--Car Line, of course, being the proper noun attributed to the sucktacious afternoon event of sitting in your car between three hundred other cars all crammed together in a giant "S" that overtakes two skinny parking lot lanes at school. There's a strategy to Car Line--an exact time you can arrive that doesn't make you too eager beaver, all first in line with a whole hour of awkardly looking out your window at the other eager beavers lined up next to you (me, first day), and yet avoiding the holy-crap-I-almost-forgot-to-pick-up-my-kid end of line straggler (me, every day come the last two months of school) who comes whizzing up the curb at the end of the day while safety patrols clean up the traffic cones. The thing is, the strategy to nailing the perfect Car Line wait time is kind of a mystery as you never know how many parents on one particular day are going to attempt to arrive at that perfect time. Brett has no patience for it. In fact, when he says the word "Car Line," it sounds like expletive, expletive, Car Line, expletive. Me? Well, I try to practice the language of my unicorn heritage as much as possible, so I smile and say things like "it's not that bad." And now I've actually figured out a way to turn "not that bad" into so good that Car Line is one of my favorite parts of the day. I go an hour early, get first in line, bring my laptop, work in the car and listen to one "This American Life" podcast (thank you, Pam, for the app tip) while I wait. Car Line is now up there with getting a manicure--peaceful, quiet, productive.

Enjoying...

* Lainey climbed in the car after aforementioned Car Line today and said, "Mom, guess what? I saw a boy crying today and me and a girl named Reece helped him." My heart skipped a little happy beat.

* My girl who loves to do my hair while I work.

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* Abiding by one of Florida's Ten Commandments: If thou drive past the beach, thou must stop at it.

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* Seeing a turtle at the beach.

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* The way she thinks running toward the camera is a game.

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* Dash's new tripod. We count to maybe ten before we notice pre-teeter-over movements, and then we swoop in to save him from a fall.

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* Cat Piano Concert for Duck Audience.

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* Dreaming about the day this boy will sleep more than two-hour stretches.

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* Making dinner with Lainey last night and letting her use a blunt butter knife to cut garlic. She thought she was Top Chef.

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* Swiper. He's particularly fond of Brett's crib mobile doppelganger.

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* Sisters who read together.

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* The balloon game.

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* Ice cream just 'cuz. We do that a lot.

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* Finding this amazing song by Vance Joy (thank you, Nicola!) and realizing that their album is called "God Loves You When You're Dancing."

God Loves You When You're Dancing
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I love that. I really love that.

Happy day, friends.

Monday, August 19, 2013

First Days: Onward

Well, we're off to a new school year with this morning's drop-off to the first grade classroom looking entirely different from last year's. Lainey's calm assurance left me with such peace as I kissed her cheek, waved good-bye and walked out of her classroom, looking back only once to confirm that no, I wasn't seeing things. She was comfortable and fine, and that felt so good for all of us.

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There are some things about homeschooling that I love and gave up with choosing public school, but we homeschool our kids from the minute we pick them up from school to the next morning when we take them back. So I like to say my kids have both. I know public schools have to think about germs and cleanliness with so many kids, so I get that classrooms can't have couches and pillows and quilts and stuffed animals; but I miss those things. "First grade feels so tiley," I told Heidi today after drop-off. "Why is there so much tile? I miss rugs and blankets." Moving on. We love our teacher, we love first grade.

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I procrastinated on school prep until about noon yesterday when I decided I'd tackle two week's worth of work. I flew around the house tornado style, cleaning, folding, vacuuming, scrubbing. Nella followed two steps behind me, uncleaning as she went. But somehow we made it, and last evening there was a clean house, clothes set out, lunch made, school forms filled in, backpack ready and children bathed. I did the beginning-of-school rundown with Lainey: "Wash your hands a lot, tell the teacher if you have any problems, don't share hats or brushes, keep track of your water bottle, be kind, be kind, be kind. You're going to learn so much." And then I did the beginning-of-school rundown with myself, which goes something like "When did this happen?!" When did I go from being a first time mom, all pinching myself because I got to wear a Baby Bjorn with a kid in it who actually belonged to me, to a mom of three kids--making lunches, e-mailing teachers and planning a trio of Halloween costumes?

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Big Sap gets sappy when school starts.

......

In other weekend fun, we met sweet Ellie and her family, visiting from D.C.

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When Nella wears skirts, she looks down and watches her feet and the way her skirt swishes so much that we have to tell her to watch where she's going.

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And this one finally broke two teeth last week. Glory be.

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He's scooching, reaching, kicking, moving.
Onward. Forward.

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For all of us.

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This week, I'm over at BabyZone sharing 9 Great Thrift Shop Finds for your Nursery and I'm at All Parenting talking about why we're turning off the iPad more these days.

Happy First Day of the work week.