Survivor's Guilt

If there's any emotion that runs rampant in infertility circles, it's survivor's guilt. A woman spends years of her life in painful, gut-wrenching, emotionally draining, and marriage-straining treatment, and then a very lucky, blessed few receive the ultimate reward at the end: a live "take-home" baby.

But for every woman who survives this gauntlet, achieves pregnancy, and delivers her baby at the end, there are literally thousands of other women who go through exactly the same thing, but have nothing, no baby, to show for their anguish at the end. These women go through cycle after cycle of IVF, fresh cycles and FET (frozen embryo transfer) cycles, in the hopes that maybe this time will be different. Maybe this will be the cycle where their motherhood dreams come true. They pay tens of thousands of dollars for a mere chance at what fertile women can accomplish for free, and many times without even thinking about it.

If there's any emotion that encapsulates what I feel about carrying Beastie, it's lucky. I read many infertility blogs. Some of them are listed in my blog roll. Some aren't. I keep in touch with a few women I've met on infertility message boards who started trying to conceive when I did, two and a half years ago, and who today are still trying. These are my sisters. I feel a kinship with them that I don't feel with any of my other friends, simply because they know. They get it. They understand things about the emotions of surviving infertility that no other person, no matter how empathetic to what we go through, can possibly understand, because they've lived it, and many are still living it.

Today I got to see one of my sisters in person, and I felt an overwhelming sense of what can only be described as survivor's guilt. I returned to my clinic to drop off my leftover medicine, a huge package of unused syringes, and a sharps container of used needles for them to dispose of. Unfortunately, they don't have a donation program, so my leftover drugs (worth, by my estimate, at least $1,000) won't go toward a couple who cannot afford IVF, but the drugs will go toward a couple whose medicine doesn't arrive in time for their cycle start, or who run out of medicine halfway through their injections.

My clinic is the largest in the area, located in the doctor's building attached to the hospital. It's strategically located at the end of a long hallway comprised of two other departments. No doors, just open waiting room areas where you can see the patients waiting for their appointments. And as an added kick in the teeth for the infertile women trucking up there two, three, and sometimes four times a week, and some for years on end, these departments are Obstetrics and Gynecology and Ultrasound and Fetal Monitoring. And at the very end of the hall is the clinic. That's right. Not only must you suffer the indignity of infertility and all that entails. You must also pass pregnant women, oftentimes with their other children in tow, waiting for their appointments in these other departments. As one who made this walk of shame at least once a week for 14 months, there is nothing more difficult than this.

I timed my medicine drop-off to occur just after lunchtime, when I knew the receptionist would be back from lunch, and hopefully before the afternoon appointments began to arrive. I didn't want any of those women, still waiting for their turns for what I've been given, and many times accompanied by their husbands, to see me. And I wore a jacket, zipped up, even though it's 80 degrees here today. I've sat in those seats, so many times, and watched other patients bring in their children for their appointments, even though the handbook they give you at your very first visit asks you to leave your other children (should you have any) at home, for the consideration of other patients. I didn't want them to see me, with my belly clearly visible now no matter what I wear. I didn't want to cause them any pain, because while I know some may see a pregnant former patient (or a current patient with children in tow) as a sign of hope, that's not what I thought when I was in their shoes.

The clinic has a new receptionist now. But the place looks exactly the same as it did when I was last there, on December 6, 2005, the day of my embryo transfer. There was a couple in the waiting room. They were holding hands. They might have been there for their first consultation with their doctor. They might have been there for a routine mid-cycle ultrasound. They might have been there for their IVF teaching appointment. But I've been where they are. I know what they're thinking. And though I'm pregnant now, I won't forget what it was like to be on the other side of things.

Hopeful Mother had her egg retrieval today. If you would, go wish her luck.

Good Riddance, Star

I don't often write about pop culture on this blog, but let me tell you, I follow it voraciously. Now, I didn't line up at my local grocery store on the morning the People magazine featuring pictures of Brangelina's offspring hit the stands or anything, but I do read entertainment websites, and I like to stay current with what the undernourished and overly tanned of our Hollywood society is up to.

So, it was with great pleasure that I read that Star Jones is officially leaving The View, next month, I believe.

It's no secret that I am as far a left-leaning liberal as one can get. And if you've ever seen The View, you know that Star Jones is...not. In fact, she's likely my polar opposite. But The View is a decent show because it offers multiple view points on hot topics, and not just one (Faux News, I'm looking at you). So that's not why I'm glad Star is leaving.

Here's a little background about her departure. Essentially, Star is leaving because Rosie O'Donnell is joining The View in September. And Rosie has nailed Miss Star publically a number of times on a certain little falsehood. Star has stated on The View, in newspapers, and in magazines that she lost weight from dieting and exercise, when in fact, she underwent gastric bypass surgery to shrink her stomach to the size of the nail on my big toe. Rosie believes Star should be upfront about her weightloss secret, instead of trying to pretend that hard work, willpower, and a good personal trainer whipped her into shape. Star is either afraid of being publically called out on the air by Rosie, or just doesn't want to deal with her on a daily basis. So she's quitting the show.

I have to agree with Rosie on this one. As anyone who has ever lost weight knows, it's no picnic (literally). It's hard work. You can't eat the cake you want to scarf down in mass quantities, as if it's the last meal you'll ever eat. You can't slack on the exercise to get an extra hour of sleep in the morning. Losing weight and keeping it off becomes a lifestlye change that most people have to WORK for. And to pretend you've gone through this incredibly hard process and that you can relate to what millions of people go through who are doing the same when you have not is intellectually dishonest. You don't get the yellow jersey unless you've won the race.

In my opinion, all Star needed to do was come on The View and say, "Look. I've dieted and exercised for years, and nothing worked. So I decided to have a gastric bypass. And now I have to watch what I eat and maintain a healthy lifestyle." What's the shame in admitting this? And good for Rosie, who has struggled with her weight her whole life, for calling out Star.

So, what do you think? Is Star a coward for leaving? Are you as glad to see her go as I am? Or do you think that keeping her weight loss success a secret is her prerogative?

Peanut Butter Cookies

When a certain blogging friend was kind enough to use her company discount to order the diaper bag I coveted, I sent her these cookies as a thank you. Of course, because I am absolutely dedicated to cookie quality control, I had to taste them before I sent them across the country. I couldn't present her with an inferior product as a gift, now could I?

These are from my trusty Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, and at least from my perspective, they did not disappoint. I liked the addition of chunky-style peanut butter (most other peanut butter cookie recipes I've tried call for the smooth variety), and the cookies came out moist and very "peanut buttery."

Magnolia Bakery Peanut Butter Cookies

1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup chunky peanut butter at room temperature
3/4 cup, plus 1 TBSP (for sprinkling) sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 TBSP milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup peanut butter chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and the peanut butter together until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the egg and mix well.

Add the milk and the vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. Stir in the peanut butter chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheets, leaving several inches between for expansion.

Using a fork, lightly indent with a crisscross pattern, but do not overly flatten cookies. Lightly sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 10-12 minutes, and do not overbake. Cookies may appear to be underdone, but they're not.

Cool the cookies on the sheets for one minute, then remove to a rack and cool completely.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies.

A Preview of What's to Come...Minus the Beaks

Rich and I have been bird-stalking. Inside our pool area (we have a small in-ground pool, into which I will not set foot until it reaches 80 degrees, in case you're wondering), on the side of the garage, on top of the light fixture that illuminates the pool at night, sits a robin's nest. We've been sitting in the pool area at night, watching the mother sit on her nest for a few weeks now.

And last night, our patience was rewarded. We were sitting outside talking, me reading Dr. Sears' The Baby Book (according to which I should be "wearing" a sling, sleeping with him/her, and picking up Beastie whenever he/she should cry, because babies don't cry to manipulate, but because they have a need that needs to be met...all of which I'm down with, except the "co-sleeping" bit, because there's no way I'm sleeping with my kid), and Rich listening to me read the "dad" parts aloud, when we noticed the robin twitch abruptly on her nest, and stare down into it for quite awhile. Then she flew away.

I ran for my camera (or waddled quickly, as the case may be), Rich carefully placed a ladder near the nest, climbed it, and snapped a picture of the days, maybe hours-old, baby robins, their eyes not even open yet. Then we quickly took down the ladder, and returned to our viewing spot, a safe distance away from the nest.

And we spent the next half hour watching the mother fly back and forth to feed the babies, their little necks cranning above the rim of the nest each time she returned with food.

Watching nature at work like this gets me every time.

Pregnancy is a Strange (Sometimes Uncomfortable) World

Lately, I've been craving (and therefore devouring) peanut butter like you wouldn't believe. I suppose I can justify peanut butter as a semi-healthy food, although it's high in fat. I do buy the reduced fat variety most of the time, but I had some of the regular chunky variety leftover from peanut butter cookies I made a few weeks ago, and I've been mowing my way through that as well. But I do spread it all over wheat or multigrain bread, making it a healthy snack, according to my "What to Expect..." book. So, it's not all that bad, right? Oh, and I've also been eating my way through the occasional bag of Doritos. Do Doritos come in a reduced fat variety?

Sleeping is becoming a bit of a challenge. I have two body pillows that for about a month now I've placed on either side of "my side" of the bed. Then I climb in the middle. To conjure up the visual image, picture a hot dog in a bun. A very plump hot dog. Or perhhaps a sausage. Anyway, I'm a total back sleeper, and back-sleeping is a big no-no while pregnant, as it can cut off the blood flow to the placenta. Who knew? So, my sleeping positions are confined to hugging the body pillow on my right, or doing the same to the one on my left. Technically, you're supposed to "rest" your belly on the pillows while sleeping, but while it is currently large and in-charge, it's still not big enough to fit on top of the pillows.

And the bending over. Oh, the bending over. While sitting in my cube at work, I have been known to let the occasional Kleenex or food wrapper that didn't quite make it into the garbage (despite my throwing prowess) lay where they land on the floor for awhile. And visitors to my cube stare at them. And at me. I know. I am lazy. And probably slightly gross.

I feel like I am getting bigger by the day now. Honestly. My belly is now an accessory, something I'm conscious of at all times, and I believe I am somewhere in the neighborhood of 72 hours before I can officially balance a plate on it and use it as a table. This may actually work out in my favor. I haven't quite decided on that one yet.

This weekend we're driving to CT for my cousin's high school graduation party. We're driving my grandma and one of my aunts. Leaving tomorrow, and returning Sunday. I told my doctor and asked her if there were any special precautions I needed to take, and she said we had to stop every 2-3 hours and that I was to get out and walk around for 10-20 minutes to avoid blood clots. I figure that will put us in CT somewhere around next Thursday.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

I Need One Female Baby, an Order of Fries, and a Medium Coke to Go, Please

This article irked me. Essentially, it says that wealthy (and some not-so-wealthy) couples from all over the world are coming to the U.S. to have a fertility treatment called PGD (pre-implantation genetic diagnosis) done, as it's illegal in most other countries. As you can probably discern, this procedure is most often done when there's a genetic disease that one of the parents has the potential to pass on to his/her offspring. But these couples aren't getting PGD and IVF done for this reason. They're using it instead for gender selection. They're shelling out tens of thousands of dollars to have a child of their preferred sex.

And here's why I have a problem with this. I think gender selection presents a very slippery ethical slope. It doesn't seem far-fetched to me that down the line prospective parents will select physical and personality traits from a catalog before undergoing PGD and IVF to produce exactly the child they desire. Will brown-haired babies become a thing of the past? Will we have a generation chock full of six-foot tall athlethes? What does this say about what we as a society value in the human race, and what we view as defects?

This kind of treatment also infers that one gender is superior to the other, at least for these couples. They are not only shelling out a tremendous amount of money to produce a child of the gender they want, but at the same time, they are paying a doctor to ensure that they don't have a child of the gender they do not want. And they don't want that boy or girl so badly that they're willing to fly halfway across the globe, checkbook in hand, to ensure it. Something's wrong here.

And besides the obvious ethical questions this issue presents, I also have a problem with this as a former (and probably future) patient of an infertility clinic. These people, most of whom already have children, are clogging up already crowded fertility clinics where there is often a months-long waiting list just to get in. I had to wait three months to get into my clinic. And my guess is that these couples, with money in hand and without the hassle of insurance coverage issues, are speedily brought to the top of the waiting list, taking the slots that should be given to infertile women, most of whom have been waiting years for the chance to have a child, no matter what that child's gender happens to be.

So, what do you think? Is this issue just another privilege reserved for the rich (or the stupid, in the case of the middle-class couple interviewed in this article who are spending half their annual income to select their child's gender)? Or do you find this an example of extremely skewed and f-ed up priorities?

Tart Up Your Tee Time!

A major event in women's golf is coming to my city this week. In Sunday's paper, a huge special section featuring the golfers appeared. Some of the star players were pictured on the cover. But instead of wearing golfing gear (visors, shorts, polo shirts, and the like) the female golfers looked like they just got finished performing at the Pussycat Dolls' open audition.

Now, I don't follow golf. I don't play it. I don't watch it. I don't understand it. (Sorry, Rich.) But there are a few things I do know about the sport. First, the major women's golfing events don't garner half the fan support, sponsorship, or television coverage that even the most minor of men's golfing events do. Second, female golfers are often looked upon as "dykes in spikes" or "chicks with sticks." In other words, they're not taken seriously. And third, if you're a golfer who happens to have breasts and a vagina instead of other "parts," you're not welcome to join as a member of the United States' premier golfing club, Augusta National. In fact, you're not even allowed to play there unless you are personally invited and accompanied by a male member.

So my question is this: Is this ad the kind of image the female professional golfer needs projected? Come see this major women's golf event! The chicks are HAWT! Look, they're not lesbians, or masculine-looking. They wear makeup! They have highlights! They look killer in a mini-skirt!

Right. Exactly what female golfers need in order to be taken seriously in a sport where the major news coverage, fan interest, and tournament-winning paychecks favor their male counterparts.

Gee, I wonder when we'll see the ads picturing Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson shaved, shirtless, and oiled down?

Nursery and Belly Progress at 30 weeks

I am 9 weeks away from having the Beastie. Oh. My. God.

At my 30 week appointment today, I found out I'll meet the doctor who will do my c-section next month, since my doctor is going to be out of town on August 22. Everything continues to go well, which continues to surprise me. I gained two pounds, blood pressure is fine, and the baby is measuring fine too. And the hospital where I'm delivering finally updated their summer class offerings, so I'm going to sign up for the PreNatal Newborn Class and the Orientation and Hospital Walking Tour. Unfortunately, the breastfeeding class is only offered on one day before my due date, and of course, we're busy that day. How can this class be offered only once the whole summer long? I'm going to have to research another breastfeeding class somewhere else.

Reality is setting in in a huge way. Besides the ever-growing pile of baby paraphanalia we're gathering (this week we've acquired a swing, the bassinette, and a downstairs changing table), the nursery furniture was delivered on Saturday. The room next to our bedroom that once held an odd collection of items that didn't fit anywhere else in the house is now transformed into a full-blown nursery. Where our baby is going to sleep. And play. And grow up.

Want to take a peek?

Here's the room just before my great aunt and Rich started painting. It was a nice lilac color.

Here's my great aunt up on a ladder. She's 78 years old. I know. It's insane. But she's a master painter, and does trim work like nobody's business.

And here's Rich painting the inside of the closet. He doesn't do trim work like nobody's business. So he sticks to the big, wide-open spaces.

And here is the nursery-in-progress. We still have to hang on the walls the little decorations you see hooked over the dresser handles. And we're probably going to get another bookshelf, because this baby is going to read by the time he/she is three years old if it's the last thing I do, dammit.

But I absolutely love it. We did a duck theme, with some ladybug accents (including a windchime, which isn't in any of the pictures). I walk into that room and I can't believe there's going to be a baby living in our house in just 9 weeks. And I can't believe how blessed I am that I'm going to be a mother. Because I honestly never thought I would get this chance.

And now, for the rapidly growing belly. I knew this month's picture (week 30) would look a lot different than last month's (week 26). I feel bigger. Moving is more difficult. But seriously, wow. What a difference a month makes. The baby is now 3 pounds, is about 15.8 inches long, is opening his/her eyes, and can sense light and darkness.

Here's the 26 week shot for comparison:

And now the ginormous 30 week shot. Yowsa.

WCB #54

This weekend it's supposed to be in the 90s for both Saturday and Sunday. And when you're a big, hairy mound like Chubbie, heat is not a good thing. Her warm-weather pose is pictured below. She beaches herself in the middle of the living room floor, belly up, and before drifting off to hazy dreamland, she begs to be shaved.

Poor Chubbie. Anyone want to come over and spritz her down?

For other pictures of cute kitties, check out Clare's over at Eat Stuff.

Father's Day Cometh

Sunday is Father's Day, and as we do every year, we're having my dad, stepmom, and younger sisters, along with my great aunt and uncle (who is also my Godfather), and Rich's father over for brunch. We do the same for the women in my family for Mother's Day. However, Father's Day is done on a smaller scale, with less fanfare, and frankly, less effort than I put into Mother's Day brunch.

It's not that I don't love my dad. I really do. But the relationship I've always had with him can best be described as distant. My parents divorced when I was two. My mom had sole custody, and when my sister and I were old enough, we began spending every other weekend with my dad. He always went out of his way to show us a good time. He took us to arcades and mini-golfing. He had a motorcycle that he took us for (slow and gentle) rides on. Later he taught me to drive. But it wasn't a textbook case of "divorced-parents-existing-in-harmony-for-the-sake-of-the-kids" sort of relationship between him and my mom. There were child support issues. There were remarriage issues on both sides. He didn't attend my college graduation, and I still to this day do not know why. And as I grew older, I saw less and less of him. Granted, he lives an hour away from me, but in the grand scheme of things, that's not that far. Now, as an adult, I don't think I see him more than five times a year. We never talk on the phone either. And while he sends me email jokes, there's no real correspondance mixed in.

I suppose I thought things might be different with the impending arrival of his first grandchild. After every doctor's appointment, I send out an email to my family and friends, including the "belly shots" I post here, and he and my stepmom both receive them. And I never hear anything back in response. No "how are you feeling?" No "how's the baby's room coming?" No "My G-O-D, you're getting fat!" Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zero. And it bothers me, although I'm not sure why, given that our relationship could never be described as close.

So this coming Father's Day, the only two men I'm really in the mood to celebrate and honor are my great uncle and father-to-be Rich. My grandfather was like a father to me, but he's been gone now for almost 11 years. So we'll honor him, as we do every year on Father's Day, with a trip to his grave in the cemetary. But I feel guilty that I don't really feel connected to my real father, especially now that Father's Day is so near, and because this year, the day has a new meaning for me, and I would hope, for him.

I suppose in the future, Father's Day will become more of an insulated event for me. A day for me and the Beastie, and perhaps someday, Beastie Version 2.0 to honor only Rich. But this idea makes me sad because my dad is a part of who I am and who I've become. I just don't think there's a way to create the relationship I want with him from one that's never really existed in the first place.

Who Me? Replaceable?

A few weeks ago, we hired a college student to do my job while I'm on maternity leave. Interviewing her was a very strange experience, because I knew exactly what characteristics to look for in my temporary replacement, and exactly which characteristics would not suit my position. I knew the answers I was looking for. And the first girl we brought in was the one we ended up hiring. We didn't even interview anyone else.

The whole process of weeding through the resumes I received, calling people to set up phone screens, and then inviting three in for face-to-face interviews (two of whom I had to contact and cancel when we ended up hiring the first student we talked to. Whoops!) represented another step in this infertility-to-take-home-baby journey I've been on. In just over nine weeks, I'm leaving my job. For 15 whole weeks. To have a baby. It's insane.

And while I'm gone, someone else will sit in my cramped and horribly life-sucking cube. She'll get to listen to the personal voicemail messages my surrounding co-workers inexplicably play on speakerphone. She'll turn on my computer and do my job. And while part of me cares about the quality of the work she turns out in my absence, and whether or not my control-freak tendencies will cause me to blow a gasket when I return and see what she's done while I've been gone (because, of course, no one can possibly do my job as well as I can. I mean, seriously, people), another part of me couldn't care less. And while I've never actually been truly interested in what I do for a living, I've always been passionate about the quality of my work. But this time in my life is different.

The Beastie growing inside me right now, this currently 2.5 pound, 15 some-odd-inch-long being has become the sole focus of my "importance radar." I'm at the crossroads of a life-changing event, which I know will alter not only my perception of what's important and what's not, but also (perhaps) the identity I've developed over the past 30 years. Now, this isn't to say that I'm going to wake up on August 23rd, turn in my N.O.W card, start clipping my husband's toenails for him, and embrace W as my personal savior. But this baby, whom I've fought for and longed for over the past two years, and who is not even born yet has suddenly become the center of my world.

To tell you the truth, I have no idea what to expect. When I return to work (which if all goes as planned will include four days of working at home, and one in the office) I may jump right back in as if I never left. And I might embrace the idea of a break from full-time maternity leave mommyhood. But then again, I might not. All I know is that change is coming. And am I ready? I'm just not sure.

*For those of you who couldn't read the words written on the back of the van in my last post, it says, "Ho's Do It Better In A Van." Ah yes, don't we all.

My Visit with Mumsy

We spent this past weekend visiting my mom in Lake Placid, NY in the Adirondack Mountains. If you've never been, it's a beautiful village nestled in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Park, home to the 1980 Olympics, and full of amazing vistas, two beautiful lakes (Mirror and Placid) and completely surrounded on all sides by enormous mountains. That is, of course, unless you're visiting in the middle of a wet and soggy and windy period that's lasted for days, and which subsequently obscured any and all scenic views for the duration of your visit. Then you're stuck with one picture of some mountains, which you see to your right.

Setting the weather issue aside for a minute, it was a very nice visit with mumsy. And why, you ask? Well, simply because her rotten, socially challenged, passive-agressive, insult-hurling husband wasn't around to poison the visit. (Although I believe I saw more of him in this visit than I ever, EVER want to see again, but I'll get to that in a minute.) My mom is so much more herself (if that makes sense) when she isn't around #4, that I really treasure the rare moments when he isn't around.

We arrived in the driving rain to see my mom standing on the corner of her street under an umbrella, waving at us and directing us to her (his) house, which we'd never visited before. She had dinner waiting for us. We spent the weekend doing mainly indoor activities. She took me to several hotels that offer beautiful views of the mountains and water (when it isn't a monsoon outside, of course), including this one, which offers complimentary chocolate chip cookies and coffee to its guests every day at 3:30pm (which we obviously weren't, but partook nonetheless). Score!

And then we went to this brand new resort, where my mom arranged a tour for us. And let me tell you, if I somehow come into any money in the near future, I am so snapping up one of these suites, offered both as timeshares, and as regular hotel rooms available to anyone. The Whiteface Lodge is probably the most swanked-out hotel I've ever visited. It has two year-round heated outdoor swimming pools. A year-round outdoor skating rink. A bowling alley. A movie theatre. An ice cream parlor. And a game room. It is Dirty Dancing's Kellerman's resort on crack. The smallest suites are 500 square feet. The largest are 4,000. Each has a kitchen, a wall-mounted flat panel LCD and HDTV television, and private porches. And apparently, the staff treats the guests like royalty, which I suppose they better for what people pay to stay there. I didn't want to leave!

But leave we eventually did, and when we returned to casa mumsy, she booted up her computer to show me pictures of her and #4's recent two-week jaunt to St. John in the Caribbean. Lovely pictures of sandy beaches. Boats sailing on crystal clear water. My mom sipping fru-fru drinks. #4 in a speedo. Brilliant red sunsets. Exotic dinners. WAIT! What was that?

Yes, my friends. There were pictures (read that: plural) of #4 in a speedo. I was so deeply disturbed at the sight that I was rendered speechless as my mom continued to cycle through the pictures as if I were viewing yet another shot of a gecko on a palm tree branch. What she doesn't know was that when the peepshow was through, I immediately retired to the bathroom where I poured bleach directly into my eyeballs to try and expunge from my mind what I had just seen. The horror of those pictures is beyond description. I will never recover.

We capped off the weekend by working on assembling the favors for my baby shower on July 9th. I'd post the pictures of the very cute favors here, but some people who will be in attendance read this blog (hi Marie! Hi Jenny!), so I'm keeping them a secret for now.

And yesterday morning, my mom packed us up with snacks for the road, and we drove the five hours back home. Now, I'd have to say that while seeing #4 in a barely clothed state rocked my very fiber to the core, and made me shudder in horror for a full hour after the viewing, seeing this on the highway as we headed home had both Rich and I almost driving off the road we were laughing so hard. Anyone care to validate whether this is actually true?

#4-Free Friday and Some Lovely Lemon Scones

There is much joy throughout the land today, as Rich and I are off to visit my mom in Lake Placid for the weekend. Notice I said "my mom" and not "#4 and my mom"? That is because (drumroll please) he's not there. He is (if you can believe this) in Denmark visiting the dying au pair who raised him. You can't make this stuff up, people. #4 is a silver spoon trust fund baby whose parents foisted him off on a variety of "house staff" while they went about their daily lives. However, cute and dimply Ricky Schroeder he is not.

So my mom is #4-less, and invited us up to visit her, knowing full well it would be a cold day in hell before we'd EVER visit her with him there. In fact, my mom has been married to him for almost three years now, and I've never even seen where they live (she moved into his house). And in three years, I've called "their" house exactly once, and that was to tell mumsy that I was pregnant (she calls me every weekend).

I will post a recap of the weekend on Monday.

My doctor called yesterday afternoon, and I don't have gestational diabetes. Yay! I am however, still anemic, so now I have to take two iron pills a day instead of one. My digestive system is going to love me for that one.

I'll leave you with a scone recipe I tried recently. I am a big fan of scones, since visiting Fortnum and Mason in London 11 years ago and enjoying High Tea there, which included my first intro to scones. And clotted cream. Mmmm...

This recipe came from Joy of Baking. The aroma of lemons in your kitchen while making and baking these scones is heavenly. Next time I make these, I'll probably add a teaspoon or two of fresh lemon juice, to make the finished product even more lemony.

Lemon Cream Scones


3 cups flour
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 TBSP baking powder
1/4 tsp coarse salt
3/4 cup, plus 3 TBSP heavy cream
3 large eggs
2 TBSP finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I used a scone pan). In an electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix at low speed until the mixture remsebles coarse sand.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup cream, 2 eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add the cream mixture to the flour mixture, and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Turn out onto lightly floured surface, and form into a flat disk, about 8 inches across and 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut into 8 wedges. and transfer to baking sheet.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining egg and 3 TBSP heavy cream to make an egg wash. Brush scones with it, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until tops are golden brown and firm, about 40-50 minutes, or 20 minutes in a scone pan.

Life at 28 weeks

I had my 28 week OB appointment this morning, along with my gestational diabetes test. The 10oz orange drink I had to chug in 5 minutes didn't taste bad at all-very similar to orange soda (pop). My dear great aunt made me drive over to her house this morning and chug-a-lug there, because she was concerned I would pass out or vomit up the stuff. Apparently, another aunt told her this was possible, and although these are possible side effects, I'm not prone to such displays. Then, my great aunt followed me in her car to the lab, sat with me while I got my blood drawn, and then followed me next door to sit with me in the waiting room of the OB's office until my name was called. Only then did she leave. Ahh...the love of an over-protective, slightly neurotic family.

My 28 week appointment itself was routine. My c-section date moved to August 22nd, from August 21st. I'm measuring right on target. Gained a pound, putting my total weight gain so far at 12 pounds, and my blood pressure is good as well. I'm going to sign up for some classes at the hospital where I'm delivering: Prenatal Newborn Care, Breastfeeding, and then the required Orientation and Walking Tour. Hopefully, between these classes and the books I've been reading, I'll figure out how not to kill my child the day I take him/her home.

In other news, the glider I ordered came in. It is oh-so-comfortable to...glide in...and the matching ottoman even glides. Here's Chubbie breaking it in. And yes, her time in this chair is limited. As soon as we move it upstairs to the baby's room, she, along with Claudia and Louie are banned from it. They can sleep on my couches, chairs, and bed, but not on this chair. Notice the pillow, placed to keep kitty fur (of which she is never in short supply) away.

And the baby's crib and dresser have arrived! They are being delivered a week from Saturday. Once the furniture is in place, I can start decorating a little bit. I promise I'll post pictures once the furniture arrives. I can't believe that in less than 11 weeks, I'm having a BABY. I know you'll find this hard to believe, but most days I still can't fathom that it's actually happening. My house is full of baby stuff already (besides the glider in the middle of our living room, we have the huge travel system carrier-car seat-stroller thing in its box in the dining room, baby books donated from Rich's school's library on our dining room table, and a spare bedroom full of gifts, and the baby's bedding, curtains, and lamp shade, which I bought, and I haven't even had my shower yet) and I still wake up at times thinking that it could all be taken away from me in an instant.

Other than the crib bedding, the glider, a light switch cover, and a night light, I haven't purchased anything for Beastie. No clothes. No stuffed animals. No toys. And the things I have purchased I see more as "home decorating" than things purchased for my child. I know this isn't normal. I mean, mothers-to-be purchase things for their children before they're actually born, right? Ah infertility. You wreck havoc on my brain even while pregnant.

Beastie is moving around like crazy. He/she has had hiccups at least a few times a week, and is rocking and rolling in there all day long while I'm sitting at my desk at work. It's amazing to me how what began as small little "flutters" or "bubbles" has erupted so quickly into stomach-rolling, full-on waves of movement I can not only feel, but also see as well.

It's starting to get difficult for me to launch myself out of the comfy chair-and-a-half I'm always sitting in when I'm at home, and likewise out of my bed, and out of the bathtub. I'm doing that pregnant woman "oof!" noise when any kind of movement-from-a-reclined-position is required. And for a girl with questionable posture to begin with, slouching is slowly becoming a thing of the past as well, because it feels like I've got a book shoved up under my shirt.

Luckily, though, my energy levels are still pretty high, although I do tire more quickly than I did before.

So, August 22nd it is. Start your engines.

Little Man

On Saturday night, I watched a documentary film called Little Man. This film is the story of a couple and their child Nicholas, who was born premature at 25 weeks. He weighed only 1 pound at birth. He spent 5.5 months in the NICU (Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit). The film chronicled not only his struggle to survive, but the absolute devotion of one of his mothers, and the detached, self-preservation of his other mother.

I know what you're thinking. This is not the sort of movie someone 28 weeks pregnant should be watching. But I had read a review of the film a few weeks ago that said this movie was absolutely gripping, and I know it's won several awards as well. And frankly, I needed to see it. And once I started watching, I was completely riveted.

I'll spare you an exhaustive plot summary, but essentially what happens is that Nicholas's difficult life started even before he was born. His parents worked with a surrogate, who carried Nicholas, because both women were in their mid-forties at the time. Nicholas was biologically related to one of the mothers, as is the couple's first child, a daughter, but they didn't find out which one was the biological mother, as eggs from both women were implanted during the surrogate's IVF cycle. They did thorough research, picked a surrogate whom they thought was wonderful, healthy, and a fantastic mother to her children. They paid her tens of thousands of dollars, as is the going rate for surrogacy these days.

Only after finding out she was pregnant with their son did they discover the women had lied on her surrogacy application. She wasn't in perfect health as she claimed. She had only one kidney. She had a history of pre-eclampsia (a life-threatening disease for both mother and fetus caused by extremely high blood pressure rates, and which causes pre-term labor), and a host of other issues. Pre-exlampsia caused her to go into labor with Nicholas at 25 weeks.

Nicholas was a teeny, tiny baby when he was born. His life in the NICU was spent literally covered with tubes, pumps, and needles. He "crashed" (or wasn't breathing) at least four times. One of his mothers felt that everything under the sun should be done to save her son's life. The other would visit the hospital infrequently, because she believed Nicholas had no quality of life at all, and that her partner wasn't keeping Nicholas's best interests in mind when she made the medical decisions to prolong his life with everything technology had to offer.

This movie raised several questions in my mind, which were posed throughout the movie by the documentary filmmaker, who was, coincidentally, one of Nicholas's mothers (the one who never left his side in the hospital). When does caring so much for your child become cruelty? The mother never wanted to cause her son pain, but clearly what he endured throughout the film must have. At what point do you say "Enough is enough" and turn off life support? Could you ever do that for your child to spare him pain both now and in the future? And perhaps most interestingly, What are we to make of a society that is creating selected disability? Meaning this: medical technology can keep almost every premie baby alive indefinitely. Nicholas went home after 5.5 months with oxygen tanks, feeding tubes, central line IVs, and a whole host of other equipment. The movie showed him growing until about age 2. He was virtually blind, couldn't walk, had massive hearing loss, a feeding tube in his stomach, and had several other diseases, including one that affected his central nervous system, making him unable to regulate his own body temperature or his muscles. So he's alive, but is he really? What is his quality of life? Is it even right to prolong the life of a premie whom you know will suffer, in some capacity, for the rest of his life?

I have more questions than I have answers. But this movie truly made me take a step back and examine where my own beliefs fall on this issue. And I'm still mulling them over today.

WCB #52: One Year Anniversary Edition

It's the one year anniversary of Weekend Cat Blogging over at Eat Stuff, and to celebrate, Clare asked that we snap a picture of our kitties playing with their favorite toys.

This is Claudia and her favorite noctural pleasure. She only seems to want to play with this toy at night, while we're either getting ready for bed or sleeping. That's probably because it makes an enormous amount of noise. I wasn't able to capture her in action, but essentially she'll either sit in the center or on the outside of the toy, and bat the pink ball around and around the exterior with her paw.

Now, though, after yesterday's adventure, I think she wishes we'd replace the ball with Fieval.

For more cute kitty pics, head on over to Clare's and be sure to wish her a happy anniversary!

The Thing Upstairs

We hadn't heard it now for several weeks. The nocturnal scratching and digging noises coming from the attic above our bedroom. Claudia took a much desired but highly forbidden trip up to the promised land last month, and whether it was because her scent scared it off, or she ate it with some fava beans and a nice Chianti, we haven't heard it since.

Last night, though, we came face to face. The mysterious source of the 3am wakeup calls. It looked like this, although not as cute, and minus the couture.

And when we met, I screamed like a 7 year old girl.

We met on the stairs to the attic. I was going down. He was going up. He was admittedly small, and probably more scared of me than I was of him. And I consider myself an animal lover. And mice? Not that big a deal, right? I mean, Christine even named hers. But I was seriously skeeved. My reaction actually surprised me. And the first thing I did after this close encounter of the vermin kind? I ran to the bathroom and scrubbed my hands. Vigorously. Even thought my hands were obviously nowhere near the mouse.

The cats knew immediately that something was up. They were all upstairs, milling about in the hallway for quite sometime. They either sensed the unwelcome visitor, or were concerned about my girlish screams. I like to think it was the latter, but it was probably the former. They eventually settled down, though, and so did I. I went to sleep.

Rich woke me up this morning, telling me, "The mouse is downstairs. I saw it." AHHHHH!!!! Apparently, the cats had alerted him that something was up. They were attempting to jump, swat, and trap something lurking behind one of the doors in our living room. Rich took a peek, and guess who was hanging out there? Needless to say, I stayed in bed, feet firmly tucked under the covers, several feet above the floor and out of harm's way. I've realized I am a massive wuss. Feel free to laugh and throw things at me. Rich found an empty container, scooped up Fieval, and after having a good five-minute conversation with him about how cute he was, how he looked like Ralph from The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and asking him whether or not he might like to stay on as a playmate for the cats, released him outside by our garage, far away from the house.

Now I'm worried the attic is infested. We're going to buy some humane traps tonight. Oh, did I fail to mention where the door to the attic is located? It's in the baby's room.

American Dream Torte

For the Memorial Day picnic at my grandma's house this past weekend, I decided to make this complex-looking, but seriously easy-to-make torte from the All The Best Pampered Chef cookbook. It came together relatively easily (I made the pound cake the night before), and my family was impressed with both the way it looked and the way it tasted. Easy, breezy. Give it a try!

American Dream Torte


1 package (16 oz) pound cake mix (plus ingredients to make the cake)

1/2 cup water

1 package (3 oz) raspberry gelatin

1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam

1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1/3 cup cold milk

1 container (12 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 package (3.3 oz) vanilla instant pudding and pie filling

3/4 cup blueberries

1/2 cup raspberries


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed cookie sheet (or the Pampered Chef Stoneware Bar Pan, if you happen to have it) with a 13-inch piece of parchment paper. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, and pour batter into pan, spreading evenly. Bake 15-18 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes. Left cake onto cooling rack (with parchment) and cool completely.

2. Microwave water on high 1-2 minutes or until boiling. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add jam, and whisk until smooth. Invert cake onto smooth side of a large cutting board and remove parchment paper. Prick cake evenly at 1/2-inch intervals. With a pastry brush, brush cake evenly with gelatin mixture. Trim 1/4 inch around edge of cake and discard edges. Cut cake crosswise into three equal layers.

3. Whisk cream cheese and milk until smooth (I used my electric mixer). Spoon whipped topping over cream cheese mixture (do not mix), and then sprinkle with pudding mix. Mix well. (Mixture will be very thick.)

4. Place one cake layer on a serving platter. With a pastry bag filled with filling mixture and small tip of your choice, pipe a straight border around edge of cake layer. Place four large scoops of filling down the center and spread evenly to the border. Top with second layer. Repeat as above. For third layer, pipe a decorative border around the edge. Spread remaining filling down the center. Top with blueberries and raspberries. Refrigerate at least one hour before serving.

Yields 16 servings

Quick Snapshot:

  • 34-year-old writer and
    mother to a daughter
    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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