Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I could never...

When reading - usually a newspaper article, wedding announcement, or obituary - I often say to myself "Wow, I could never..." I never really realized it before - but there are a lot of things that I think I could "never" do.

These include (in no particular order...): living in Manhattan (I always, always think this when reading the wedding announcements in the NYT...I know it's Manhattan-centric, but every time I read that A, a lawyer, and B, a VP at a financial firm, have tied the knot and live in Manhattan...I get a little twitchy. It might be all big cities - I've only lived in one and outside of another, really, and I'm more of a small-town kind of girl - but the very idea of living in Manhattan, well, it gives me hives. And wow, this is a long parenthetical...); having 12 children (frequently seen in local obits); living one's entire life and dying in the same town in which one was born (again, a relatively frequent occurrence in the local obits); being a member of 8 bazillion social organizations; and working in the same job for one's entire life.

I don't know if these "I could never"'s are merely a reflection of who I am - and if I am becoming more and more familiar with myself and my preferences - or if I am becoming, in some ways, a snob? Is it just that I like my life, or that I don't want to consider other ways of living?

It's starting to spill over into the having children thing. The more I read about children and messes and illnesses (usually barfy illnesses, if we're being honest here) and tight schedules and interrupted sleep...the more I start to think that maybe this child-free thing isn't so bad, after all.

Either that or my mind is trying to play a trick on me.

 In other news, we are sort-of debating becoming a two-dog family. There is a 7 yr old Beagle mix at the shelter where we adopted our fantastic puppy dog. She was brought in because her owner couldn't care for her anymore. :( We don't know why she has been there so long - but we are debating going to see her this weekend. She might just be the missing piece of our family.

I am really, seriously considering training for a triathlon. Today I swam for 60 minutes with minimal breaks. Woo hoo! I still smell like chlorine, too, which I secretly love.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Things that are driving me crazy

I feel like I've been doing a pretty good job of keeping a lid on my occasionally quick temper recently...particularly with N working far from home. This week we're going on 8 days with him gone - he had a big meeting last week on the West coast, came back Saturday, and just stayed at work, basically. He'll be home Weds.

Usually, when he is gone, I find myself kind of losing it after a few days. When he is gone, many of the little things that usually roll off my back really get to me. And then I find myself doing weird things like screaming in the car (actually, a good place to scream...), or taking it out on the dog (not physically, good grief, what do you think I am?), or slamming doors. None of which are good for my mental health or the dog's.

So with this extended absence, I have been trying to keep it under control. And it seems to be working. Sometimes I feel even a little bit zen. :)

But there are some things that drive me crazy, and I just have to get them off my chest. Which is why I am here. Because where better to list them, than on an anonymous blog? Yay, anonymity.

So here, in no particular order, are the things that are just driving me mildly crazy right now...
  • The blogs I read. Most of them are by women who have children. Which is fine. But most of them also focus exclusively on the children. It doesn't help that many of them are by women who have dealt - successfully, obviously - with infertility. So I spend some of my time - in more recent months, probably 30 minutes a day - reading blogs by women who have chosen a different path than I did. And who are now raising what seems to be a ridiculous number of children. I think I need to update my Google reader. The problem is that I can't find a lot of blogs like Holly's Nothing but Bonfires. Huh. Maybe I should check out her blogroll. I'd also love to find more women who have gone down the child free path after dealing with infertility - which is where we are, and what we are doing - but the blogs I have been able to find are either a) really religious (just not for me); or b) not being updated. *sigh*
  • Commercials. Two in particular: 
    • The Staples one with the "Wow, that's a low price!" guy. It makes me want to stab my ears. With a sharp knife. Seriously - this one even irritates me when it's on mute at the gym and I'm seeing the closed captioning. 
    • The Chevy commercials with Howie Long. Maybe it's the tone of his voice? The "you idiot, buying a Honda or Toyota, when you could get a better deal on a Chevy!" The worst one? The one with the irritating (although cute) little girl. Who's a big girl, and she's going to tell us that until our @#(%#@(* ears bleed. Gah. 
  • Religious extremists. Of all stripes. And I will leave it at that.
  • People who paint others with a broad brush, and who usually make sweeping generalizations about a) women; b) health care providers; c) Democrats; d) families without children. Obviously, I fall into all of the above categories. And sometimes it just burns my cookies when people overgeneralize and they're doing it about me. Or a group that I belong to. 
  • Our refrigerator. I should love it - it's stainless steel, relatively new, and has a water and ice dispenser (so fancy! I've never had one before!). But (okay, nitpickiness and first-world problems coming up) I can't fit much in it. It's soooo narrow. And, even worse, we can't get the drawers out to clean, because the door bumps up against the doorjamb to the slider in the kitchen. Argh. 
Okay, that's all for now. On the good side? The dog. My husband. That we live in a beautiful and warm house in a safe neighborhood, surrounded by good people. We have jobs. And health insurance. Our families are (relatively) healthy, even if they occasionally drive us nuts. We have plenty of food to eat, water to drink, and usually some wine. Or even homemade hooch. I'm busy and fulfilled with my job. Really? We're quite lucky. Which is why I sometimes need a reality check, that the things that are annoying me right now are pretty superficial. Some of them could be fixed by a quicker finger on the Mute button. Others? By removing myself from a situation, or not reading a blog that is driving me crazy anymore. I've been getting better at that. When I read something and I'm rolling my eyes more days than I'm enjoying what I've read? Time to move on. It happens to all of us.

And now, moving on to some actual work...

Thursday, January 14, 2010


So, for the last 8 months (since we stopped seeing the RE) I have kept ovulation predictor kits in my bathroom drawer. It occurred to me a few weeks ago that I should see whether someone wants to use them, since we are not going to before they expire.

I emailed a friend - she has a two and a half year old - and asked whether she would like them. (They expire in May and June.) And then I thought, hm, I should tell her that she can just ignore me if she wants, since this is kind of a personal topic. At least for the normal people among us. I could talk about opk's til the cows come home (what brand? how did it work? did it vary according to the time of day? and on and on...). But I figured there might be some kind of line there that I was crossing by asking if she wanted to use these.

She doesn't. They're waiting a little longer before trying for another baby. So she won't use them by the time they expire.

Now I have opk's sitting in my drawer, unwanted by me or the only other local person I can think of who might have a use for them. And I don't want to throw them out. It's some kind of denial, I suspect. If I have them in the drawer, then there is always the chance that I could use them one month, that we could time things properly, and poof! we would succeed where we have only had failure. But I know that won't happen.

On a kind-of-related note, I am trying to figure out what to do about birth control. I know, I feel like a complete idiot deciding about birth control when it's not like I really have to worry about pregnancy. I've been off of b.c. for two and a half years now, long enough to get a diagnosis of unexplained infertility, and to have a lot of cycles slip by without two pink lines. But I'm getting fed up with the irregular cycles, the acne (oh, the acne...),  etc. etc. etc. So I'm debating whether to go on the Pill, or the extended cycle Pill, or a hormonal IUD. We shall see...

Sunday, January 10, 2010


It's funny what pops into mind when I am working on something relatively mindless. Yesterday, it was switching the shower curtains. Moving the one from our bathroom to the guest bath, and putting in a new one in our bath. [I had to move ours because I washed it in hot water and bleach thanks to a small mildew issue...and then the curtain and liner both shrank so much that they weren't doing the job in our stall shower...oops.] Anyway, there I was on the bathroom floor, threading hooks through the holes in the shower curtain, when I flashed back to my old boss and something she used to say quite frequently.

She was old-school feminist. And by that, I mean that she was one of the first women to go to her medical school. She did not want to change her name. She does not wear a wedding ring. She seems almost...angry...when someone asks after her husband. Part of this is personality and part is, I think, a product of the era in which she came of age.

Part of her set of core beliefs was that women who choose to have children - and who then integrate raising their children with a career - are shortchanging their careers. She chose not to have children - and she thinks that *all* career-minded women should make the same choice. That this woman specialized in a field with children boggles the mind. But there it is.

Anyway, I used to listen to her ranting about the latest pregnant employee, or lamenting the fact that so-and-so would never be the same now that she had a child, or being downright angry that an employee had the *gall* to get pregnant and now required (gasp!) maternity leave! I mean, really!

I always kind of protested in my head, but I kept quiet when she went on her rampages. There was nothing to be gained from engaging her, and I knew that I wanted a family and a career. When I got married, I added my husband's name to my own. I'm now exclusively using my married last name professionally and personally. I don't think that this reduces me in anyway, or that it means I have lost my identity.

But my inability to have a child...in a weird way, it makes me feel like I am agreeing with her. And I don't. I really, really don't. I think that the beauty of feminism is that women are free to make their own choices. Some women choose to have children - some women do not. Some women choose to change their names after marriage - some women do not (or their husbands change their names, or both parties change their names). Some women choose to work after having children, other women do not. I have made my own choices - career, taking my husband's last name, etc. But I feel like the choice have children was taken away from me.

In part, I think I have these feelings because we have chosen not to pursue other avenues for having a family.  Again, each family chooses what is right for its members. For us, right now, it does not make sense to pursue other options. That is the choice we have made. But because we are not barreling full-steam down the path of different reproductive options, or pursuing adoption, I...feel like we didn't want it enough? I'm not sure how to articulate this. We really wanted a child - we were willing to do some interventions to get there - but not knowing what the problem is, or what the outcomes would be of different, more expensive, and more intensive interventions was a problem for us. But we were not willing to sacrifice our emotional and financial security to have a child. And because of that - because of a choice that my husband and I made consciously (albeit reluctantly) - I feel like I am a bad infertile. Or that we didn't want this enough.

And knowing how my old boss feels - that women *shouldn't* have children if they also want to have a career - I feel like I have bought in to her mentality. That, if she could see me now (and I may cross paths with her in the future), she would be *proud* that I do not have children, and that I am instead focusing on my career. And I don't want that - this is not a choice I wanted to make.

It makes me think of all the variables that are known to the people making choices and decisions, that aren't known to everyone on the outside looking in. We can never really know exactly why an individual or a couple makes a particular decision. But maybe we can believe that, whatever the choice or decision, that individual or couple has weighed all the evidence available, and has come to the decision that is right for them. Life - and its associated choices - is hard enough.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


I did it again...

The friend who is pregnant with twins by donor IUI? I didn't call her on her birthday. I haven't emailed since then (it's been a little over a week) and I am having difficulty getting up the gumption to even text her. *sigh* I've done this before with friends who have gotten pregnant - I think I've even written about it. I....distance myself, for lack of a better word. I don't like it - I usually realize it within a few weeks - but then I have trouble getting myself out of that no-contact rut.

Is it because she's pregnant? I really don't know. I know that's at least part of why I'm having trouble contacting her, even now that I have realized that I missed her birthday and that I am reluctant to email/text/call her. It wasn't an easy pregnancy to achieve - I think she had 4-5 IUIs - and she has had some bleeding.

I don't think I want to hear about it either way...If the pregnancy is going well, then I will need to be happy with her. If she lost one or both of the babies, I will have to help her work through it. And in the back of my mind will be one thought - that at least she *got* pregnant. At least she has been there once -  and, presumably, she could be there again.

More and more, I think the most difficult thing about this whole infertility journey is that I have never been able to *get pregnant*. I would not wish miscarriages on anyone - but I would like to know that my body is capable of at least achieving pregnancy. And on this most basic of human actions - the ability to carry on the species - it has failed me.

Maybe that's why I'm starting to push myself harder in my workouts. It's not just that I would like to lose some weight. I think I want to see that my body can do what I ask it to do. Of course, it can't do the one thing that I thought I wanted most in the world. But if it can't do that, maybe it could do another marathon. Or a couple of half-marathons. Even a triathlon.

I still get irritated with my body every month when, yet again, I am reminded of my inability to achieve pregnancy. Maybe if I realize just how much it *can* achieve, that will help me work through this.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I feel like I (and we, as a couple) have a very hard time making friends. I don't know why that is. I do seem to gather people as I move through my life, as does my husband, but we have also tended to wind up living far from those we are closest too. I think part of the problem is that we are both introverts. Well, technically, I'm on the border between intro- and extraverted, but I think that stems mostly from my comfort with people when I *do* know them well.

Most nights will find us (or me, if he is away for work) hanging out at home with the dog, watching some TV or maybe a movie, or reading. And I don't have a problem with that! I love sitting on the couch with the dog, reading, or talking to my parents on the phone about one of their many computer-related questions. But I feel like we should have a broader social circle, that we should maybe be going out to dinner or hanging out with other couples. And we don't have that.

I do think that not having kids contributes to this pretty significantly. We don't have kids - so we don't have the opportunity to meet people at kid-centered activities. I don't go to kindermusik, or gymnastics, or need to set up a baby sitting co-op. I don't carpool to take kids to school, or need to set up play dates. I met people when I was in school, but now, in this post doc? I don't know quite where I fit in.

It's probably going to be worse with my husband working in the city and only coming home on weekends. He works all the time when he is there, so I don't anticipate him gathering a group of city friends anytime soon. When he is home on weekends, we spend most of our time together. We don't go to church - we don't really have a desire to. And while we are happy with our lives, and content with the extent of our socialization, I can't help but feel that ours is a pretty lonely life, and that we might benefit from a broader circle of friends.

If something happened (let's hope it doesn't, but work with me here...) I am not sure who would help us out. Neighbors have offered to help if I can't get the snowblower started when N is not here, or to check on our house when we are away. But that doesn't translate into dinners together, or even just hanging out.

Why am I even worrying about this? Is it some sort of societal mandate that we all must socialize x number of nights per month? Is it that I read in my fluffy magazines about people going out to dinner, making plans with friends, and "entertaining" regularly?

I think I started thinking about this - again - when we visited my in laws for Christmas. They have very few...well, really, *no* friends. If family friends hadn't made the trek to our wedding, they wouldn't have had any non-family members there. And from my perspective, I do not want to end up like that. I want to have people I can call if I need to - or meet for coffee if we want to - or just hang out with. I just don't know how to go about gathering those people in this phase of our lives.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


It occurred to me this morning that there are several things I've 'discovered' over the past year that have made my life easier, in some ways, and just more pleasant. I admit to being a late adopter - but once I've made a change for the better, I tend to really embrace it.

A few things I don't think I knew about last year (or, if I did, I hadn't yet leaped over the chasm of my-god-do-I-change-my-routine???):

- The razor blades with the built in shaving stuff. Seriously. How did I miss this for so long? No more juggling soap and razor, usually dropping both. And it's faster, too. I feel like an idiot for ignoring them for so long - the higher cost is definitely worth it!
- Purity face cleanser. This was one of Amalah's Advice Smackdown recommendations. People on that site have consistently raved about the cleanser, but again. Late adopter here. It's been two weeks. My face is no longer peeling (Cetaphil, I'm looking at you); my horrible zits (likely due to overdrying my skin) are resolving; and I made it through *that* week of the month with minimal damage. Those zits that do show up are much smaller, not nearly as irritated, and disappear much faster. How can a face wash be a life changer?
- Vitamin D. I started taking higher doses after...huh. I can't remember who recommended it. Maybe the family doc I finally saw after putting it off for years? Anyway, I'm taking 2000 mg/day and whether it's that or some other change I made in my diet or lifestyle, my headaches are much more infrequent; I have much more energy; and I no longer fall asleep on the couch at 7 pm. Well, most nights. I need to make sure I drink enough fluids during the day (kidney stones - not something I am aiming for!), but other than that....
- My Blackberry. Okay, I admit it. I did NOT want this thing. But my husband got suckered in by one of those buy-one-get-one mailings, and now I don't want to give it up. Having internet/email/twitter access while traveling? Priceless. With N now working 200 miles away during the week, I love that I can text and email him easily from my phone. Some might call it nagging, I call it love...
- HDTV. I didn't want this either. But my god, have you *seen* basketball in hi def? It's amazing. Now, honestly, I probably don't *want* to see every overly tanned pore on Roy Williams' face. But the clarity of the picture is astonishing.

Now on to do some actual work...

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Eve Review

Pulled from Sundry's blog, which I love and read, but never comment on.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you'd never done before?
      Let's do bullet points...I love bullet points.
  • Ran two half-marathons
  • Published THREE papers as the first author
  • Made a lot of new recipes
  • Turned 34
2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
  • I don't really remember resolving anything at the beginning of 2009, so let's call it a clean slate. 
  • For 2010, my two resolutions are: 1) to try not to overthink tasks and chores (as in, if the house needs to be dusted, for God's sake, woman, just *dust* it...nothing was ever gained through overthinking/dreading a task), and 2) to take a deep breath before I overreact to something (usually something I have done to myself)
  • Oh, and a fitness-related one or two: 1) to run two more half marathons (and break the 2 hour mark), 2) to run one more full marathon, and 3) to do a triathlon of any distance
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
  • Perhaps the more appropriate question would be, did anyone close to you *not* give birth? 
  • Two people from my wedding (college roommate, baby #2; childhood friend, babies #1 & 2) (one more is pregnant, with twins, although it's early days yet)
  • A friend here in town (baby #1)
  • A friend from where I worked in DC (baby #1)
  • Seemingly every child of my mother's friends (babies #1 through, roughly, a gazillion)
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Good grief, not that I can remember. Isn't that awful?

5. What countries did you visit?
  • Ooh, a fun one! 
  • Canada (I know, I know, but I needed to use my passport, okay?)
  • Iceland! (for a conference) (but I did fun stuff too)
6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
  • A "real job" - one in which my taxes are assessed *for* me
  • Oh god, it's so terrible, but a little more money would be really nice. We have a very nice life, but...we run a little too close to the line for my comfort. 
7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
  • May, in general, because that is when we decided not to pursue IVF or other, further, infertility treatments. 
  • December 14 - my husband started his new job
  • January 20 - the (FINALLY) end of an error in Washington 
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
  • I think I had a couple: publishing those three papers and surviving; presenting my data multiple times (and surviving!); and, generally, learning how to be a calmer person
9. What was your biggest failure?
  • Also learning how to be a calmer person. Because I think I failed a lot more than I succeeded.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
  • Oddly, yes, since I am generally a very healthy person. But nothing serious!
  • I injured my...I think it was my LEFT foot. I swear it was a stress fracture, but I was told it was just an "overuse injury". Six loooong weeks of no running. I hope never to repeat that feat. Ha. 
  • Official diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Thanks, mom. 
11. What was the best thing you bought?
I can't believe I am going to admit this, but I think it was our new TV. Which I can actually hear. And which is a joy to watch movies on. Other than that, we really didn't buy much.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
This is a hard one for me. I would say the President, because I am an unabashed fan, but even he made me cringe a few times. My husband, for sure - he puts up with me on a daily basis.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
This is a much longer list...and because I am in a snarky mood, we'll go with: organized religion; opponents of same-sex marriage (seriously, why? why is this STILL a debate?); various pseudo-celebrities who exploited their 15 minutes of fame for another 5; opponents of science and rational thought... I believe I shall stop there.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, food (although doing better on that now), and Target.

15. What did you get really excited about?
My progress in my chosen career field, and the realization that I can *do* this!

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
I'm always a bit behind, but I'd have to say that Cat Stevens song from the phone commercial. And I can't even remember the name. Gah.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Happier. I think.
– thinner or fatter? The same. But working on becoming thinner.
– richer or poorer? Poorer, definitely. Hoping to swing this in the other direction, and soon. A real job will help.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
  • Engaging with the world around me. 
  • Just *doing* things instead of overthinking them (e.g., I never went skiing last year because I overthought driving a hour to go to the closest hill...).
  • Having more pride in my appearance and accomplishments. 

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Random dinking on the internet. Come to think of it, I'm going to add that to my list of resolutions.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
At home, with my husband and the dog. We opened a few presents from my Aunt, skyped with the family, and hung out. I baked and cleaned the kitchen. Oh, and I think I did laundry.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?

22. What was your favorite TV program?
LOST, Amazing Race, NCIS, How I Met Your Mother, and the Big Bang Theory.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Um, no?

24. What was the best book you read?
I really liked the Lost Symbol, and I'm in the middle of the Vince Flynn CIA books, which I am enjoying immensely.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Networked iTunes libraries. Oh. My. My husband has the BEST music.

26. What did you want and get?
First-author publications! I now have 3! :)

27. What did you want and not get?
Pregnant. Also, a reason why I can't get pregnant.

28. What was your favorite film of the year?
We're a little behind in our film watching. And honestly? Nothing is standing out. *sigh*

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I'm going to have to look back at my calendar. Oh, right. We went to lunch and shopping in a little town nearby. I had fantastic tiramisu, as well as a HUGE salad. It was fantastic.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
An improved ability to just take a deep breath, and then let (whatever) go. Also, the ability to *not* eat everything in front of me.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Nonexistent. Yoga pants at home, a variety of sweaters and jeans at "work".

32. What kept you sane?

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Um, none?

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Same-sex marriage. Seriously people. It's legal here now. Get over it. We have bigger things to worry about. And honestly? Has ANYTHING changed? No.

35. Who did you miss?
My college roommate. We didn't talk nearly as much as we used to. I miss her.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
This is a tough one... I don't meet many new people. I'll say the new post doc who arrived in September.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
Just keep moving. Standing still is not an option.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
I'm terrible at these types of questions. Sorry.