Archive for the 'Infertility' Category


24 May 2012

My mother’s always been rather dramatically up-and-down with her weight and it’s a great concern of hers. From where I sit now I think that as a kid and during my adolescence I had a perfectly healthy weight and body shape. And then, as now, in fact, my body image has always been decent. Even at my highest weight I have always been able to look in the mirror and think I look somewhere between okay and fantastic (the same is not always true of photographs), and I’ve never been one to talk negatively about my body to myself or others. While to some degree what my weight is doing is a reflection of my self-regard, it’s not at all the main source of it.

There were a few months when I was 13 when I dieted severely in reaction to social pressure (a jerky boy and the naturally slender girls at my lunch table) but for the most part any worrying about my weight when I was growing up came courtesy of my mother, despite my reasonable-for-me then-size-8 shape. I remember lots of forced time on the stair climber and a preponderance of dinners consisting of tofu and cabbage. I’m not naturally and never will be a slim person, that’s true, but I certainly wasn’t overweight, so when my mother’s doctor at my pre-college health exam told me my BMI was too high, I recall feeling like it there was no point in trying to control the quality and quantity of my food if I was going to be “fat” regardless.

That’s why it’s no surprise that, once off at college and in charge of my own diet and exercise habits, they became extravagantly unhealthy. My first year of college I gained weight from grilled cheese sandwiches. My second year of college I gained weight from macaroni and cheese. My third year of college I gained weight from pizza. My fourth year of college I gained weight from cheese enchiladas. (I guess I really like cheese.) By the time I graduated I had gained something like forty-five pounds!

I married and got a miserable job that required me to drive around a lot, leading to my eating a lot of fast food. When I got a desk job, I spent a bunch of time hunched over at the computer, snacking. Then I went through infertility and became depressed and gained even more, and my particular version of infertility was worsened by extra weight. The medication for my fertility-reducing insulin problem (which I’d had symptoms of even back in high school, before I was overweight, just for the record) and the reproductive endocrinologist’s insistence I exercise helped me slim down a bit, and as a result of these various factors and the mysteries of reproduction, I eventually became pregnant.

Morning sickness the first third of the pregnancy helped me shed around twenty pounds; I eventually gained forty back, but by the time I finished lactating I was dozens and dozens of pounds slimmer than when I’d gotten pregnant. It was the first time in my life I’d lost significant amounts of weight and I put no effort into it at all. After I stopped breastfeeding the weight loss slowed, but healthier eating habits (gained from caring about what I fed Little Girl) and a more active lifestyle (especially when we lived by the beach and I was swimming and jogging every day) helped me get to what I think was a perfectly reasonable adult weight for me. It was still twenty pounds over what I weighed in high school, but I think it was a good, healthy size for Adult Me.

But then we moved to Sweden. Chocolate balls, cinnamon buns, ice cream trucks, strong Swedish coffee which I had to put tons of sugar in to tolerate, a long, snowy winter, boredom, loneliness, immigrant stress—they all took their toll and I gained weight. I became pregnant and had no morning sickness and gestated a boy who made me very hungry, and, by the end of that pregnancy, put on forty pounds. I didn’t breastfeed long enough to shed much of the baby weight.

This left me unable to fit into lots of my clothes and feeling rather lumpy. But not exactly unfit. Even at 41 weeks pregnant I was hiking in the forest and climbing flights and flights of stairs without getting winded. It was just extra fat from extra calories from too much sugar that I’ve been carrying around; I kept up my pregnancy eating habits long after the pregnancy was done. After a few months of just sort of hoping I would magically lose weight, I discovered that my summer shorts wouldn’t close.

Since I’m way too cheap to buy new shorts, that was the motivation I needed, evidently. Over the last six weeks or so I’ve cut out most sugar and snacks and eaten smaller portions of healthier food and, hardest of all, gone hungry a fair amount (I’m hungry right now). It’s been really very challenging and extremely slow going and I have had days where I’ve gotten frustrated and eaten chips and salsa for breakfast, but I can finally button those damn shorts. In a few more pounds I’ll even be able to wear them in public. That’s all I ask. I hope I never gain a bunch of weight again and have to try to lose it, because now I finally know what everybody is talking about when they say losing weight is so hard.

Why I am not planning on trying for any more children

19 May 2012

—Want to pay very close attention to the children I already have.
—Really, really enjoy sleeping.
—Not all that sure I would do a decent job with more children.
—Don’t desire the all-consuming, maniacal worry of pregnancy.
—Husband doesn’t want any more.
—Enjoy occasional kid-free time, don’t want it to diminish further.
—Don’t want to go through any more miscarriages.
—Like not giving two shits about my fertility anymore.
—Feels risky, asking fate for another perfect and healthy child.
—Travel gets harder the more children involved.
—Not psyched about the idea of a third c-section.
—I only have two arms.
—Feel very fulfilled with my two special little people.

Grown-up Job #2

5 May 2012

After I left my horrible social work job I fortunately found a great temporary gig at a research consulting firm (I later ended up a full-time regular employee). Everybody had their own office at this place except for the temps who doubled up and my office mate and I really hit it off. Frankly I’m impressed either of us got any work done at all because all I remember from those days is laughing really hard, constantly, and also lots of lunches out.

The office manager was not a fan of ours (maybe, now that I think about it, because we spent all our time being loud and taking long lunches). One day when our door was only half-open she popped in and informed us that, as temps, we could not close our door at any time. After a few months, when I started having carpal tunnel from all the computer work (which, again, I have no recollection of since all my memories from those days involve giggling), I requested a wrist support pad, which the office manager was extremely pleased to get to inform me I would not be receiving, since I was a temp.

But not all my interactions with the office manager were negative. One day in the break room she showed me how to microwave bacon. And she was also the one in charge of office snacks and she was not stingy. They kept lots of things on hand (several flavors of instant soup, two kinds of popcorn, a huge array of coffee creamers) because they wanted you not to leave the office in search of food, and instead to stay holed up in your office working.

After I was made a regular employee I got my own office. It had no window but was near a copy machine. At this point Husband and I were going through infertility and working with a reproductive endocrinologist but meanwhile, at work, nine ladies were pregnant. My supervisor went on maternity leave. My interim supervisor went on maternity leave. (Thank goodness my next supervisor was in her sixties!) When I finally did get pregnant the office manager wanted to know if it had been intentional, bless her heart.

I quit that job to stay home with Little Girl (I was also in grad school at that time, and went back to that part-time when she was four months old). Everybody at the office was so confused that I was leaving permanently. “So…when is your maternity leave over?” But the person they hired to replace me turned out to be, well, evidently not as awesome as I was, so when Little Girl was about a year old they made me a great offer: work from home part-time as much as I want, whenever I want (it ended up being about 15 hours a week). By that time I was done with my graduate degree and teaching part-time, but I had enjoyed the work (and the pay) so it was nice to go back to it a bit. Working mostly when Little Girl slept, I kept that up for a few years until we moved to Sweden. It was too complicated to employ me from abroad so I quit.

Now I think about that job every time I make popcorn or open Word, but otherwise it’s kind of amazing how something that once took so much of my time and effort has no bearing on my life now at all.

What could have been

5 December 2011

Maybe I should just go ahead and fall out of touch with my old friends from college. While I’m at it, most of my high school buddies, too. Because talking to them just bums me out. They’re all surgeons at important hospitals and Ph.D.-wielding consultants and costumers for famous musical groups and NYPD cops and head hospital pharmacologists and award-winning lawyers and college professors and, well, what am I? Right, I’m on maternity leave–from my unemployment.

I have a graduate degree, sure, and I had great positions teaching at universities and I worked a rather long time in research, but that was all before I moved. Now I have no contacts or prospects. Swedes seems confused about my credentials. I’ve been told I should probably get a new degree here to be taken seriously. I’ve love to go back to work part-time when the baby is a year old or so, but there’s not even a real university where I live, and that’s my proper milieu. I’d consider myself lucky to teach a night class at the community college, while everyone else I went to school with is getting mentioned in The New York Times, or being sent to China on business, or saving lives every day, or making assloads of money, or usually some combination of the above.

Not that raising my children isn’t a wonderful occupation. Because that’s certainly the one thing I have that pretty much nobody else from my cohort has, busy as they have been with their exciting careers and advanced degrees. I can’t figure out, now, what I was thinking, but I started trying to get pregnant when I had just gotten married after graduating from college, at age 22. How ridiculously young! What did I think was the rush? As heart-breaking as the subsequent years of infertility were, I’m grateful for them, now, for giving me time to go back to school. But I can’t even blame the children on my stalled career prospects. The move to Sweden gets the credit there. And I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking when we decided to do that, either.

I try so hard not to bore my old friends when we reconnect, but our lives are in such totally different places. I’m scrutinizing my infant’s sleep patterns so as to develop a methodology to encourage him to lengthen his naps, and they’re having trouble managing to pick up their dry cleaning in between court appearances and flights to Toronto. They can’t decide which suit-wearing man to go to drinks with, and I’m picking up my husband’s dirty socks again and again and again. If their biological clocks are ticking they haven’t mentioned it, and hearing about my life isn’t going to encourage them. I pretty much always have to hang up because somebody is crying. I guess I should be glad they called at all.

How we are doing

16 November 2011

Now, having had two, I feel like I can make some generalizations about the babies I produce: they are good sleepers with troubled gastrointestinal tracts. Honestly I can’t figure out how Baby Brother is remaining so very fat since it seems like most of his milk ends up on my shirt. For the most part he doesn’t even seem to notice he’s leaking food so I guess it’s not a serious problem. To deal I just ordered masses of more bibs and burp cloths and thank goodness my mother sent additional sheets for Baby Brother’s little bed since I keep finding him and it soaked in sour milk, poor dear.

Baby Brother’s interests, at ten weeks, include: watching his big sister, chatting with his mobile, and conversing extensively with his parents. What a talker! He finds lots of little games hilarious and enjoys story time. Bath time is the highlight of his day. Baby Brother is still largely unaware that he has hands, though at this age his big sister already had a favorite toy. I guess he has more to look at than she did (since she had no fascinating older sibling who was always doing something interesting and loud) so he doesn’t feel the need to try to entertain himself yet. Anyway, he’s doing fine.

Little Girl is really enjoying her time at the village day care/preschool and informs me whenever the dogs, baby, and I have walked over there to pick her up that we have arrived much too early, and also that she wants to live there. She’s gotten much more comfortable with speaking Swedish and sometimes even uses it when she is playing by herself. However, her pooping issues are still highly troublesome and frankly disruptive to the whole family, so I am really looking forward to her doctor’s visit in a few weeks and hope we can find a resolution. Although since these problems have been going on for most of her life and we have tried endless remedies, physical and psychological, already I just don’t know what can happen. I really worry for when she starts school. I feel so much like I’ve failed her.

For a while I was suffering from something I thought of as post-partum boredom. The constant, repetitive drudgery of the upkeep of small children was wearing on me. The feeling has faded a bit, and even if I am not excited about it, I’m not dreading so much each day’s promise of more loads of laundry, more dishes to wash, more children to clean, more food to prepare, more dogs to feed, ad infinitum. If I can connect with friends occasionally, leave the house once a day, and have just ten minutes alone to drink coffee and read a magazine I’m pretty okay. Now that winter’s here and it’s starting to get dark ungodly early and going places is starting to get to be a hassle (e.g. having to scrape ice off the car while the baby wails in his much-detested car seat kind of makes you just want to stay home) I hope my mood doesn’t deteriorate, though. But I do truly delight in and feel grateful for the children, which helps. Honestly I still can’t believe I have two healthy children. I spent several miserable years thinking that would never happen and I am constantly surprised to find that it has. What good fortune!

Since moving to Sweden this is the longest I’ve remained in the country at a stretch. For one or another reason the first fifteen months I went abroad about every season. The US, the UAE, London. It’s now been five months and I’m starting to feel pretty ants-in-my-pantsy about jetting off. But since the baby can barely even tolerate a trip to the library I guess that’s going to be pretty far in the future. Current travel ambition: an entire trip to a grocery store with nobody crying.

While I don’t recall any such feelings the first time around, I am not that happy now with my post-partum body. One problem is the two c-section scars. That’s a bit over-the-top. And also I’m stuck at a number somewhat higher than my pre-pregnancy weight. With Little Girl I lost weight continuously the whole time I lactated with no effort at all and ended up something like thirty pounds lighter. Once I weaned I never lost weight again, and that’s been the case this time, except I didn’t breastfeed long enough to lose that much baby weight. As an adult I’ve never lost weight any other way, actually and even with the daily hour-long walks nothing is happening. Plus I’m on the pill now and suddenly have the worst skin. And I’m always covered in spit-up and my hair is stringy and somehow my glasses are constantly smudged. Well, Husband doesn’t seem to care, and I’m usually wearing a gigantic parka anyway if I go out in public, and who’s looking at me when I have a cute baby, so I guess it doesn’t really matter.

One year anniversary

23 April 2011

A year ago today we moved to Sweden. When we drove up to the house, much of Husband’s family was waiting for us. There were balloons, a big hand-lettered välkomna sign. It snowed.

Today promises to be gorgeous, like yesterday. We worked in our garden, preparing to put in the potatoes.

Though I certainly manage to do it anyway, my life offers little to complain about. A happy marriage, a healthy child, a wanted pregnancy, a big and pretty house with a great view, financial security, safety, a caring family nearby, a caring family far off, friends, plans, hopes.

But like I said, I have complaints, anyway. My problem, if you can really call it that, has been an abundance of good fortune. I’m the kind of person who hasn’t had a lot of real challenges (infertility probably tops the list, and has evidently been resolved), so that not being able to use the jets on my fancy bathtub for a few days while we figure out a mold problem ends up seeing like a way bigger deal than it should. I’m spoiled.

It can’t be denied being an foreigner can be hard. For different people in different ways. What’s most difficult for me is never feeling fully competent in communication. Since self-expression and seeming smart are such big parts of my self-concept, the language issue looms large. When I reflect on many immigrants’ experiences, though, I know I have it pretty easy. I don’t look different. I have a variety of support systems. I have choices. I chose to come, and I can go back.

And life is good, really. Sweden’s fine. This spring, summerlike weather certainly helps me think that. It’s amazing how quickly that seriously long and harsh winter fades from memory. Was it only a few months ago I was wearing a headlamp at 3 PM to walk the dogs in the pitch black dark while saddled with parka and hat and gloves and boots? It seems a more distant past than our life in the US, somehow. Alien, anyway.

But winter is a part of Sweden, as much as letters from the government, concerned we are not using our parental leave funds, suggesting various ways we can take out the money. Raspberries in August; IKEA furniture in nearly every room; salmon and potatoes for lunch; celebrating all holidays on the day before the holiday; dagis children in their yellow vests, holding hands as they cross the road; neighbors in their yards in their underpants on warm days; invisible neighbors all winter unless they’re fetching you sand to unstick your car from the ice; more time off from work than we know what to do with; open-faced cheese sandwiches with butter and a slice of cucumber. Not so bad.

So here’s to next year, maybe it be as full of joys, but significantly less confusing.

Babies and kiddos

4 September 2010

I never get why people think you need some sort of clear, logical reason to want to have children. It’s the whole point of life, biologically speaking. There’s no mystery there, and it’s not a matter for rationality. It’s much more interesting when people don’t want to. Or what happens when those who want to don’t, or can’t.

Speaking of which, no, I am not trying to get pregnant. We had thought about starting to try this month, but then I did some math and realized that, as summer is the only halfway decent time in Sweden, I’m not about to ruin it with a newborn. We’ll start trying in a few months instead, I think. Hah, I write this like fertility and I are good buddies and I really have some say in the matter.


Little Girl is not doing super-awesome in the preschool/daycare thingie. She keeps talking about how scared she is of the other kids, and how she doesn’t want to go, and she cries and clings when I drop her off (though not every time–it depends on what exciting things are happening on the playground.) A few times she’s had potty accidents there, and she’s been very resistant to speaking Swedish (though in private, with me, I can get her excited about the words she knows.) She told me she will speak Swedish when it snows, which, for a little girl from the southern part of the US, is akin to saying “when pigs fly.” When I observe her unseen she steadfastly refuses to respond in Swedish to the teachers, and she’s often playing alone.

I know how she feels, a bit. When I was three we moved to the US from China, where I’d spent my babyhood as my parents were teaching English there. I recollect my frustration in trying to communicate with my cousins who did not, of course, understand my Mandarin. Eventually I switched over, though at first not wholesale (I kept using the Mandarin word for “I” since, duh, that’s who I was.) And eventually, with no outside reinforcement (much of my time in China I had been in preschool or with a Chinese nanny), my knowledge and use of that language slipped away altogether.

Little Girl has a trickier situation. Everybody over 10 understands her when she speaks in English (which is why when the big kids are out on the playground, including her neighbor friend, she glues herself to them). At home it’s mostly English. My in-laws persist in speaking to her mostly in English. From her point of view, it’s just at dagis that she’s forced into this difficult linguistic environment, and since she’s having separation issues at the same time, having never much been in formal childcare before, and Daddy is now working full-time again so he’s gone and suddenly Mommy is off to places, too, to deal with this same irritating language–well, no wonder she’s unhappy and confused and a bit scared and reluctant. I get it, but it doesn’t make the goodbyes any easier. We talk about her feelings a lot, and I am very confident she is receiving excellent care, and I think it’s important for her, socially and linguistically, to be there, and I know it will improve…but right now things are hard.

Evil socialist medicine

22 June 2010

Remind me, what’s supposed to be so bad about socialist medicine? Something about long wait times and useless, uncaring doctors? Because so far I am completely pleased with the medical care I’ve gotten here in Sweden.

It all started with my never-ending yeast infection. I had needed some Diflucan, and I needed my metformin (insulin regulating med) refilled sometime, as well as my hormonal birth control. After calling the local doctor’s office (you are assigned a medical center, though you can change it if you want to) and leaving a message, a nurse called back and then we set an appointment for three business days later. Not amazing but not at all bad.

When the day came, I had to take a number to talk to the receptionist. Swedes love taking a number anytime you might need to wait in any kind of line. When it was my turn, I had to pay my copay of about 12 dollars. You have a max of 100 dollars out of pocket a year for medical care, and some other, similar amount for prescriptions. Then we were told to go to another waiting area (Husband was there for interpretation if needed, which he wasn’t really, and Little Girl came as well) and soon after the doctor herself came out and got me and took me to her office, which was a relaxed room with her desk and papers and an examining table off in the corner. Nobody ever checked my pee or my weight or anything. Nobody asked for my family’s medical history. I filled out no forms.

After talking to me a bit, she only then checked my blood pressure since I mentioned I’d had some high readings over the last few months. It was still high. She said after the nurse’s vacation, in August, I should wear a blood pressure monitor for 24 hours to see what is going on. We talked some more about my various health issues (I had brought all my records and lab results dating from the late nineties documenting my liver, endocrinologic, blood-clotting, obstetric, etc. anomalies), and she saw how complex it all was. She said she was see about getting that BP check done sooner and suggested, with my history of infertility and problematic pregnancies, in light of the fact that we are thinking about trying to conceive again soon, that I should contact the local hospital and let them know, basically, to expect trouble. I would either be infertile or I would have another high-risk pregnancy. (Typically pregnancies here are mostly hands-off and cared for by midwives, but that’s not likely for me.)

The next morning a nurse called and asked if I could come in that very day to get fitted with the BP monitor, and since nobody is employed or really all that busy, we could. I wore a cuff on my arm attached to a black, medical-device looking box that I wore on a type of belt. Peopled looked at my funny. It went off every 30 minutes for 24 hours, and then we dropped it off back at the medical center along with the log they’d asked me to keep of my activities. Pretty easy.

The next business day the doctor called Husband on his cell phone and told him the monitor said my blood pressure is actually totally fine. It only spikes when I am stressed: my high readings were when we were attending my first get-together with the club for American women in the nearby big city (more on that later) and at the doctor’s office. Apparently, interacting with other human beings really freaks me out. Or maybe just strangers? At any rate it’s such a relief to know I don’t have a new physical ailment, just the same old anxiety. What concerns me more is I felt like I was enjoying meeting those people. Am I so un-self-aware?

The doctor also said she was going to go ahead and write a letter to the women’s clinic asking them to see me for a consultation with the closest thing they’d have to a reproductive endocrinologist or a maternal-fetal specialist (these were my kinds of caregivers in the US, but the doctor seemed to think that a gynecologist interested in endocrinology was probably the most I could expect) in preparation for thinking about trying again for another baby. She also apologized for not having been more prepared for me when I came in–not having known I didn’t speak Swedish, or that there was quite so much to my medical story. But we assured her we were quite happy with her care.

So far the Swedish medical system has been quite satisfactory. Fast, easy, and kind. Sweden has the lowest infant mortality rate in the world so I am optimistic about the next set of doctors I will met.

Do you think she’s too young to learn the lyrics to “Bad Romance” next?

3 February 2010

You know, it’s remarkably how quickly one can descend into depression, especially when a person is disposed to it. I hadn’t mentioned here but I started therapy at the end of December, largely to help me reframe my negative feelings about the upcoming move abroad. For mostly scheduling reasons I’ve only had two sessions, and I don’t have another one planned until next week, but I was already feeling much more in control and content. And then this whole health thing has happened and now I’m nearly awash in despondency.

Three readings in two days show my blood pressure to be disturbingly high, which hasn’t been the case for me besides preeclampsia, and that put together with my reappearing ovarian cyst issue has made me feel astonishingly unwell. And impotent, since the sorts of things you can do to reduce these issues–healthy diet and regular exercise and medication–have all been well-addressed in my life of late. I’ve been running and biking to a happy exhaustion and practicing a mostly high-nutrient vegetarian diet. Today I looked up foods to hep with high blood pressure and insulin issues and the suggestions read like our goddamned grocery list. What more do you want from me? I’m already doing my best. And my body is just falling apart anyway. And you only get one body. And mine is fucked up.

Even assuming satisfactory Swedish health care, which in fact I am, I won’t have access to it for a while. Soon Husband will leave his job, and though we’ll cobble something together, we’re not going to have the kind of health care coverage one would feel financially safe actually, you know, using. And I won’t be covered immediately when we move: my understanding is I’ll have to apply for my personnummer, and that takes a good month to get, and then I have no idea how long after that I’d get an appointment to see a physician. How will I get my monthly prescriptions filled? I worry about this a lot. No wonder my blood pressure is high. Ha ha. (I’m being sardonic, as I am all but incapable of finding humor in this situation.)

While waiting for blood test results there’s not a lot I can do, decision-making wise. Just wait and see what all is broken. (“What all” may be a Southern phrase.) Since evidently good diet and exercise habits are totally useless, I’m currently giving them up. Tonight I opened my favorite wine and baked with Little Girl. I drink rarely, so when I say I poured myself two glasses, please understand that means I was, in the beginning, quite distressed, and then at the end, quite inebriated. I’ve never parented impaired before, and I have to say I was extremely fun. And Little Girl learned a new song: “These boots are made for walkin’.” And I learned three-year-olds have a hard time getting to sleep if their dinner consists of unknown quantities of cookie dough followed by four actual cookies. So all this hasn’t been a total loss. Cue the sardonic laughter.


2 February 2010

Well. It’s so disappointing to learn, after a stressful two-week-late-period-with-multiple-negative-pregnancy-tests-and-subsequent-OB/GYN-visit, that my ovaries are all fucked up again, despite years of behaving themselves on my insulin medication. My formerly very orderly cycles let me know I was healthy, hormonally, and suddenly, for no clear reason, I’m not. My last cycle was a very normal 30 days. But today on the ultrasound my ovaries looked just like they did when I first went to a reproductive endocrinologist for infertility, years ago–filled with useless cysts.

Polycystic ovary syndrome. So we meet again.

I feel like I’m back where I was five, six years ago. No, I’m not actually trying to conceive right now, but we were going to try this year, I think, and I thought I was, perhaps, no longer reproductively-challenged. After all, I got pregnant last January on my first try. I thought I could count on my ovaries. But now I guess I’m definitely infertile.

And if my medicine is no longer working–what then? It’s not exactly good for you to have too much insulin running around in your body. It freaks me out, too, the prospect of going through infertility and treatment in a brand-new country. It was hard enough the first time, when I spoke the language and knew the system. I don’t even have a clue what kind of services they provide in that arena in Sweden, though Husband’s theory is that, with one of the world’s lowest birth rates, they’re probably happy to help people reproduce. Even so, what I want is not to be infertile–and my particular kind of infertility has serious health implications which are also worrisome–in the first place.

The doctor wants me on hormonal contraception for a few months, at least, to calm my ovaries down. (I chose the NuvaRing as it has the lowest amount of hormones.) I’m going to have some blood tests. She doesn’t think it was weird that my ovaries all of a sudden freaked out, didn’t think it was related to the miscarriage, and told me that, coming off the hormones, conception should be easier.

In the past I would be scouring the internet, now, second-guessing the physician, but I’ve spent years really enjoying not reading PCOS and infertility sites. I don’t want to be here again. I’m so over it–but evidently I’m actually not.


29 December 2009

It’s the end of the year and it seems like a good time to clean out my Drafts folder again and try to figure out, from cryptic notes and sometimes absent titles, what I meant to post about but did not. Usually very sensibly:

It starts like this, “A friend of mine, way overeducated for it, is a nanny. Her current employer has gotten all whack-jobby so she wants something new but, due to the above-mentioned whack-jobbiness, she’s nervous about” and there I stopped, below it posting a redacted version of all the back story my friend wanted to me to use while I was being her fake job reference. I had no problem with the lie: the details were what made me nervous. I’ve actually been a fake reference before, for a friend who was applying to the police force in NYC! Neither time was I called. It’s been a bit of a let-down, really. I remember once when I was doing hiring for my social work job, I called a reference and it turned out, I could tell from the answering machine, that the applicant was using her roommate as her “former boss.” The best part of this story is the social work agency was so hard-up for employees they hired the unsavvy fake-reference lady anyway.

“Omigod, I have some horrible illness that just causes high fever (102!) but no obvious symptoms (no coughing, sniffling) so no one is sympathetic. Not that it matters, since Husband had to go out of town for work again anyway. I’ve got my fever down to 100 so at least I no longer feel like I am near death.” That was a really brief illness because I think I was better within six hours of starting that draft. But I really did feel bad!

“I correct other people’s children.” Yep, it’s true. I was probably going to to on to describe specific incidences of this behavior. Hm, maybe that’s why we haven’t made any friends here.

Really good gossip about people you don’t know
Wow, I really wish I knew what this was supposed to be about! I love gossip!

Aha, I’m not going to reprint it here, but you can imagine what follows: I’m trying, but not too hard, to be sympathetic to evolution doubters, and to explain why they are wrong. But that was way too overambitious for a post.

Oh, this was supposed to refer to this excellent post about infertility and expound on the comment I left there: “I’m a mother after infertility (2.5 years) and loss (one) and am more bemused by all the effortless fertility around me. However, the more I talk to people (and I am really open about the infertility–I always mention it in the kinds of conversations you mention above) the more I see many other people have had those problems, and if not those, then others. And I don’t feel like I am less a member of the motherhood community. Honestly it makes me feel MORE like one–like for crying out loud I WORKED to be here, I deserve it. Now when I was going through infertility, I was totally miserable and uncomfortable with fertility, but now I’m like, eh. And I’ll be honest about something else: I am a little happy that I am not so fertile and don’t have two under two accidentally now or whatever. There are some benefits!”

Religion: I just don’t get it
Again, obvious. This is how I started: “As Steven Weinberg said, ‘With or without religion you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion.’ ”

Awesome and Swedish all at the same time
Let them sing it for you!

What’s on her mind
A transcription of one of Little Girl’s monologues

(no title)
“At just barely three years old, Little Girl has caught on to irregular past tense verbs. “You bought that at the store, mommy!” When talking about our late cat Tang,” and that’s as far as I got. I guess writing about irregular past tense verbs is boring.

Oh yes, I remember this. I wrote this whole long post about something from my past and then realized I’d already basically written that post before.

Seattle trip 2009
This is a bunch of pictures that I worked on uploading and ordering forever, before realizing I wasn’t uploading them to the private blog I keep for family.

Public work
Here we have a comparison of my two jobs and an inevitable complaint. I bet you are super-disappointed I never posted it!

Defending Sweden
Well, that certainly doesn’t sound like me.

Again something positive about Sweden. When did I write all these posts? “You know, none of this emigrating-to-Sweden business was intended to be analogous to the I’m-gonna-move-to-Canada musings many people professed during the Bush years, but it’s starting to be very troubling, even frightening, to me that right-wing domestic terrorism is, like, normal now. I feel compelled to point out that you don’t see liberals killing people who work perfectly legal jobs that they nonetheless don’t approve of. These hate-filled murderers are, to my mind, unable to cope with modernity, so act out in primitive ways.” But that’s a little mean, so I didn’t post it.

Mice on bikes*

Good things
You know me, so surely you aren’t surprised I didn’t have any actual text to go with that optimistic of a title.

The Handyman
I was writing about the handyman at the beach house, and how, in Husband’s absence Little Girl was getting attached to him and how sweet that was, but then I got all pissed of at how slowly he works and didn’t want to say anything nice.

You can’t bring it with you
Things the internet says you can’t buy in Sweden:
Adult-size broom
Large trash cans and garbage bags
Underwear if you wear over a size 10
Baby powder
Chocolate chips
Ziplock baggies
Baking soda

Posting to other blogs
Before my camera broke, I was getting really into taking pictures of things and sending them into snarky blogs. Like this one about apostrophes.

Okay, I am getting bored with this activity. There are 51 drafts left! If I posted as often as I began a post I would break the internet!

PS: Bloglines seems to be pretending my blog doesn’t exist again, but it really, really does!

The Afghanis

21 November 2009

I was pretty depressed the years I kept not conceiving a child. The usual fixes were sought: the services of a reproductive endicronologist, a therapist, an anti-depressant medication, a new life direction (grad school), and everybody’s favorite suggestion for combating being mopey, volunteer work. (It must be said, though, that with all this, the only thing that really made me feel better about not being able to get pregnant was getting pregnant).

I decided to teach English as a Second Language to refugees and got hooked up with a family of Afghanis who lived in the run-down apartment complex not too far. Twice a week for a year I tutored them in their home. Despite spending so much time with them I never did get to know everyone very well in terms of demographic details–names, ages, familial structure–due to linguistic and cultural constraints as well as what I suspect was a sort of purposeful lack of forthcomingness and clarity on their part that I decided to respect and let go, being aware their previous and current life circumstances were not altogether happy and might not be enjoyable or simple to recount. I know at least one child of the oldest couple present had been murdered, and that mention of the Taliban made everybody drop their eyes.

What became very clear, at any rate, was the kindness of the family, and the exotic tastiness of their food (I remember a lot of almonds) and their tea (I recall a beautiful tea service). What never became clear, to them at least, was much of what I tried to teach them. The kids all got up to speed in their schools, but the adults, particularly the women, seemed so baffled by not only the language but the process of participating in educational efforts, that it felt like every week we just repeated the lessons of the week before. I had taught ESL to illiterate adults before, or at least tried to (it’s by far the most challenging instructional environment imaginable, bar wartime, disability, and total apathy), and had some tricks up my sleeve, but I’m not really sure I left them much better, English-wise, than I found them.

But I know I helped them when I went grocery shopping with them. I know I helped them when I navigated the school system with them on behalf of a child who was having trouble. I know I clarified some impenetrable INS paperwork (to the best any human was able). I know I got one lady to stop applying her nasal spray to her ears, having totally not understood the purpose of the medicine her doctor had prescribed her. I know I made them feel more at home in a new country, a friendly, American face who kept showing up, smiling, carrying confusing worksheets and insisting cheerfully upon their memorizing their phone number and address (not that anybody ever did).

My dad asks after them a lot; once I took him to meet them and he had some sort of wordless bonding with the patriarch. I wish I had kept seeing them, but I gave them up when I was sickly pregnant, working two jobs, and in grad school full-time. I don’t know if they fully understood why I stopped coming. I wonder where they are, how they are doing. I know they would have loved to see Little Girl. They would have been so happy for me; they had always seemed so concerned that I didn’t have children and my family was not close by. To them, I think, nothing (possessions, comfort) could be an adequate replacement for family ties.