Thursday, December 24, 2009

Another Christmas Wish


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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Food for thought

Here's a link to a very intriguing NPR story exploring how/why breastfeeding rates are quite distressingly low in the Black community:

I'm interested to know if women of color feel that this piece paints an accurate picture of the breastfeeding history and choices among Black women, or not...although I find the story really convincing, I am hesitant to take NPR's word for the situation (especially with something so personal).


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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Betty Davis Eyes

We had to travel unexpectedly to see my grandmother who fell and broke her hip (not a great Xmas gift for anyone). Hanging out in her home tonight we discovered a box of family treasures. We pulled out my grandfather's worn leathe Bible, birth certificates, and dozens of sepia-tone photographs mounted in cardboard pockets.

I loved looking into the faces of my relatives and seeing myself. My Grandpa Ervie's smile, my Grandma Dutchie's saucer eyes, my father's confident stance. I've always enjoyed collecting family tales, but I know much more about my mother's side than I do about these people who stared out from the past tonight.

I felt what I always feel--a sense of belonging, of knowing who and WHY I am. And as much as I believe in adoption, gazing into the familiar eyes in the photos makes me long for a biological child in whose laughter I hear my father's father and in whose cornsilk hair I smell my baby sister. I don't know if it's a biological or cultural drive, this pull towards continuing a lineage (no matter how flawed), but I feel the tug.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009


Today I cross-country skied in the Rockies under a big blue sky. Back where I live, hundreds of kids reveled in the fake snow that the mall drifts down on shoppers each night. They use soap flakes, I'm told, although I've never stuck around to see the "magic."

I ache for those kids whose parents take them to the mall as a treat, living as they do in a world of Disney-fied winter. Again I ask, how will I raise a child who values realness and authenticity over the virtual reality that is all around and all the rage? How will I give my child faith and hope and a sense of wonder when every "snowflake" is not unique?

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hallmark Ornament Makes Its Mark

We're home for the holidays and helping my parents deck the halls and ornament the tree. I always like to hang up my threadbare Baby's First Christmas 1979 ball but this year I felt a little silly. I'm ready to stop being the kid. Everyone reverts a bit when they go home and my mother makes it especially appealing by doting on us and catering to our whims. As delicious as it is, I have this yearning for new roles, and I fel like that won't really happen until I become a parent myself. I'm making a Christmas wish that this is my last holiday as "baby."

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Friday, December 18, 2009

My husband and I were talking over beers in the airport tonight and a teenage mother was sitting nearby. My covetous glances led to a conversation about how hard teenage parenting is and how much I'm like Liz Lemon from 30 Rock as I contwmplated offering to adopt the young woman's infant.

But all bad jokes aside, I came to a new realization about how I'm trying to approach pregnancy now: in the past, I had a "mission mentality" and now I'm trying to cultivate a "prayerful mentality." 'Tis the season after all...

Thursday, December 17, 2009


I haven't posted since Monday because I've been too crazy--we've had something to do every night after work, which just kills me. Add onto that madness the leftover fatigue from the party we threw last weekend. Then toss in a dash of alcohol every night. Finish the week off with brownies, cookies, toffee, cake and more at work and voila! you have the New Me.

Considering this turn of events, it seems I may have fully achieved my goal for the month: to stop trying to become the perfect vessel for conception and actually increase the likelihood of being fertile because I'm less controlling overall.

"Chillax," as my husband would say. I'm not sure I managed to either "chill" or "relax" in terms of stress this month, but I did successfully mellow out about alcohol and caffeine, and I stopped beating myself up for every sugary treat and missed day of exercise. Will this add up to better odds of conception? I'll keep you posted. While we're wating, would you care for some eggnog?

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Latest Obsession

Have you read Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder? I just borrowed it from my mother-in-law and I can't wait to read it over the break! I have a feeling you're going to hear a lot about it on my blog...Check it out:

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Please read my friend's blog from 12/12/09:

In my mind it proves that mothers have to be (mad) geniuses to deal with the things kids throw their way, literally- and figuratively-speaking.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Old News

Tonight I chaperoned a school dance and was reminded how these are the people who, biologically speaking, should be getting pregnant. 15- to 18-year-olds are clearly in the prime of their fertility lives--you can see it in the girls' struts and the boys' hungry eyes. The film "Juno" recently brought teen pregnancy back into mainstream conversation and, although I would never advocate teen pregnancy, it does make biological sense to have babies when you're young, energetic, idealistic and physically resilient.

I have to laugh at myself and my 30-year-old body: it can't compete with what I saw at the dance tonight. That's fine. I'm not old by today's pregnancy standards, but biologically speaking, it's easy to envision the difference between my eggs and theirs. In fact, if we followed Nature's lead, I'd be chaperoning my own 15-year-old daughter at the dance! This reminds me of just how artificial our lives are in so many ways. Getting pregnant is the most "natural" thing a woman can do in many ways, but waiting to do so until you're 30 is wildly unnatural. I'm not saying that anything "natural" is inherently better, but there is something shocking in how far we've come from that biological pattern.

Seeing those kids flirting tonight reminded me of just how strong those primal drives to reproduce are at that age, and I sometimes feel nostalgic for those raging hormones, even though they cause so much trouble.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Down for the count

I haven't written my blog for the past two days (as you may have noticed) because my SAD has come to town early this year, beating out the holidays for the first time. If you're not familiar with Seasonal Affective Disorder, it's basically depression that sets in with the diminished light of the winter months. Although I've never been officially diagnosed with this illness, I have enough of the symptoms every year to feel pretty confident that it's part of who I am.

What has this to do with matters of the womb, you ask?

Well, my only thought is that maybe I haven't gotten pregnant this fall because somebody out there didn't want to double my inner turmoil during the winter months--and I hear that being preggers can be fairly emotional. I know it's a long shot if you don't think of God/the universe in this way, but it's a reassuring thought for me.

Also, since I'm not growing a human right now, I have the opportunity to "mother" myself a little bit more. In winter, this means getting up early to sit at my light box (which I'm doing now...), forcing myself to exercise even when it's rainy (like today...) and yet still giving myself permission to drop off the map with friends and activities now and again (like the blog...) without beating myself up. I get to be my own baby for the next three months.

Happy birthday to me!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Watching one of my colleagues (who is also the mother of a toddler) during a meeting today, I noticed how focused, yet also detached, she seemed. She made some excellent points but did not dwell on any particular issue; I appreciated both her insights and her brevity. After the meeting, I heard her on the phone with her child's caregiver and her voice was alive with feeling, yet still calm. I was jealous that she had something beyond work to care about with that level of integrity and purpose.

There, in the copy room, I had an epiphany: part of why I'm so invested in getting pregnant is that I'm ready for my life to center on something besides work. Which is also to say, I'm ready to have societal permission for my life to center on my relationships with the people I love. Now don't get me wrong, I plan to be a working mother. However, I do have the feeling that I'm ready for my career to be part of who I am, but not the focus of who I am.

This is not a new concept for me; I've always prided myself on not sacrificing my personal life and boundaries for my job. I think I do pretty well, but it's still oh so easy to think about work all the time, even as I enjoy a full life outside of my job. However, (while I could be wrong about this) my sense is that once you have a child you tend to think about them first and foremost. With all the obsessive work-thinking I've been doing this month, having a child's needs and happiness to attend to sounds like a relief.

Oh, the irony! Millions of women have fought long and hard for my right to devote my life to my career and to do the work that men do, for the "same" pay and the "same" respect. And now all I want right now is the chance to NOT take work so seriously? Some Feminist I am!

To be continued...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Welcome to a complicated world, baby!

Some of my friends just welcomed a third child into their family! I perused their photos online and still haven't heard the whole story (which apparently involved some intense medical interventions), but what I am struck by is the love that is so evident in those photos. The twin "babies" I used to change and comfort and cajole when I babysat for them are now caring for their teensy sister, smoothing down her wispy hair and dangling colorful toys in front of her still-blurry eyes. They've only known her for three days, but already they are glowing with pride and an obvious desire to protect their new sibling. According to my friend's note, she and her husband can hardly hold the baby at all--her big sister and brother want to cuddle with her all the time!

I have to say, I feel somewhat ashamed thinking about this family's story. Here's why: in high school, I edited the school newspaper and I once wrote an op-ed piece railing against fertility treatments (this was back in '98, when the fertility-treatment induced surge of twins, triplets and even sextuplets in my community was big news). I loudly advocated adoption over IVF without giving much thought to the pro-IVF view and the feelings of the couples who are desperate for a biological child. One of my teachers at the time pulled me aside and said she hoped I'd never have to be in the position to need fertility assistance, but that maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge. I remember feeling embarrassed, but I did not change my views.

Since then, several of my former teachers have shared with me their conception struggles and their experiences with IVF treatments and the fabulous children they were able to conceive through the process. (Strangely, several of them have gotten pregnant again without IVF some four or more years down the line! I'm not sure what the takeaway lesson here is--maybe that you get pregnant when you stop trying?) In any case, all of them felt that the fertility treatments were a moral choice and worth the stress and financial investment. However, I still struggle with my complicated feelings about IVF in a world of children desperate to be adopted into a loving family.

What I do know from the photos of my friends' kids is that that new baby is receiving love love love from her brother and sister, and that her parents are prepared to do their very best for her because they've had practice with the twins. She wouldn't be getting those kisses and winks and silly faces if her brother and sister hadn't been conceived through fertility treatments. And her parents wouldn't be the capable, confident people they are--smiling and shining in the pictures--if they hadn't gone through what they did in order to get pregnant the first time. I would give my right leg to have even one child as brilliant and kind and joyful as the twins are, and as I know their little sister is bound to be.

But would I have fertility treatments? I really, really hope my husband and I don't have to make that choice someday...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Stealing a baby

"Thou shalt not covet"...that adorable 9-month-old baby in a green, hand-knit, goofy hat, sitting on Santa's lap in the midst of happy-smelling Christmas trees on a chilly afternoon.

Hmmm, looks like I sinned big-time today.

Hope Santa was too busy dandling the baby on his knee to notice.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Letter to Santa

Are 30-year-olds allowed to write letters to Santa? If so, here's what I'd write:

Dear Santa,

All I want for Christmas is A) world peace, B) an end to global warming and C) a baby. Not a fully formed baby--spare the elves, I can do the work--just the conception part would be fine.

I personally think I've been pretty good this year; the mean things I've actually done (as opposed to having thought about doing) have mostly involved cutting people off in traffic and yelling at the radio when dumb people are talking. I know these things count against me but they must seem pretty mundane compared to some people's naughtiness, right? C'mon Santa--keep me on the "nice" list for another year!

It would be incredible if you could find it in your heart to grace my husband and I with a healthy fetus, and honestly, it would really restore my faith in you as something more than a commercial gimmick (not that you have anything to prove...). Plus, if I end up pregnant by Christmas, I promise to do even more to bring about world peace and an end to global warming--I'll certainly be motivated to improve this world if I know I'm bringing an innocent soul into it in the next nine months!

Thanks for you time, consideration and hearty laughter, Santa.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Spread 'Em

Odd thought in yoga tonight: there are very few times in my current life when I allow my legs to be completely wide open.

For the 15 years during which I was a gymnast, the "straddle" position was just a normal, everyday stance for me. However, since I graduated from high school and stopped spreading 'em wide for uneven bar routines, etc., I only make the leg-V when doing my post-run/workout stretching regime or in yoga.

Obviously, in yoga it's a whole different thing--a vulnerable, opening kind of thing that I was feeling a little bit wary of tonight. As I lay on my back with my legs bent up, heels together, knees apart, I thought about this and remembered the birth I went to as part of my Senior Project in high school, how the laboring woman had her legs spread-eagled as her husband and I held her her feet against our chests. Quite a view! Lots of opening...

Although I know every woman choses a different position for giving birth (with a midwife, at least), it does seem to me that I'll need to regain some of my comfort and confidence with my legs being spread open if I'm to allow for the literal and psychological openness that birth requires. I can already see, just from the yoga position, how tricky and risky it is to open one's legs wide and give in to the experience--not use it to stretch particular muscles or to prepare for a particular movement, but to just let the whole body breathe. Given how wide the vagina has to open literally, giving birth must be a psychic/energetic opening beyond my wildest imagination!

Scary thought, but oh so inviting too.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Off the chart

Today I stopped into the new library in my area to peruse their range of--guess what--fertility books. A glossy, Usborne-esque volume caught my eye with its cheery color scheme and stiff pages. In the section about optimizing your chances for conception were the usual pieces of advice about limiting alcohol intake, exercising, eating right and taking boatloads of folic acid, etc. However, in a side-bar was this little gem: "Avoid charting your temperature and timing sex to your fertile days; the stress of doing so will reduce your chances of conception beyond any benefit the charting might offer. Just have sex two to three times a week."

WOW. That breezy bit of wisdom is so intriguing. Is it condescending? Are women really so "stressed" by paying attention to their bodies and cycles that it would be more to our advantage to just live in blissful ignorance? Isn't "taking charge of your fertility" supposed to be empowering, not distressing? What happened to our belief in the power of knowledge, especially self-knowledge?

On the other hand, it can be less enjoyable to have sex in response to the fertility chart, and watching my temperatures behave somewhat erratically does make me anxious about whether or not all my hormones are lining up properly. When I'm stressed, my cycle gets all out of whack, which has to make getting pregnant less likely. If I wasn't watching so carefully, maybe my stress level would be lower and all my body systems would function at a more optimal level?

Hhmmm....what to do?

(Ironic that I'm now stressing out about the advice meant to lower my stress.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Zen of Errands

Running errands is both irritating and soothing. There's something satisfying in checking those tasks off one's mental list, but there's also the mundaneness of it all and the sense that you should be doing something else--exercising? writing? reading?--with that lingering afternoon light. I was walking around Target tonight, after having grabbed some groceries and gotten the car washed, when I tried to figure out how in the world I would do those things with a baby in tow.

I might be crazy, but I don't think you can do two hours of errands at the end of the day with a baby. How does who's a parent get anything done? I've heard parents lament the total lack of personal time and space that comes with having a child, but I haven't really thought in a detailed way about how having a baby will radically alter the way I manage the practical, quotidian pressures of groceries, dinners, cats, cars, the mail, paying bills...Life.

It already seems that, "The hurrier I go the behinder I get." I'd better learn to appreciate how much time I really do have now, even if I always feel like I should be getting more accomplished. Or maybe, the whole concepts of accomplishment and what "needs" to get done just change when you have a child?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Round Five

So, I didn't have to stress about whether or not to use the Early Results Pregnancy Test because it became obvious to me that I was going to get my period last weekend, while camping. And I did. *sigh* Not the most fun part of my 30th birthday, I have to say.

When I made sad eyes at my husband about another cycle come and gone without a pregnancy, he repeats his fertility mantra: "We have to stay positive. That's the most important thing."

Is he right? Is it worth getting my hopes up every month? Wouldn't it maybe be better to be painfully pessimistic and wallow in how unlikely we are to get pregnant and then--wow!--someday end up pleasantly surprised? Three couples I know needed fertility help for their first kids and then got pregnant without trying about seven years down the line. Maybe if I just give up hope and condoms, someday I'll miraculously spawn a child! But alas, I suppose cynicism and negativity don't create the optimal baby-making environment, spiritually speaking.

I'm such a whiner--we've only been trying for four months and I'm already discouraged? Millions of women have had to keep their spirits up for years before they carry a child to term. I need to suck it up! Pep talk complete: tonight I'll toast to my husband's wisdom (yes, I'm drinking again and it's dreamy) and will "stay positive" for another spin of the lunar cycle.