Roe v. Wade and IVF

I don't write about politics often on this blog, although I'm sure it's not hard for regular readers to infer which way I lean.

A few weeks ago, I wanted to write a post about John Edwards, but I was just so completely disgusted by him and what he did to his wife and his marriage that I couldn't summon sentences that weren't laced with foul language and profanity.

But an article I read earlier this week has moved me to write on a potential political situation that has far-reaching consequences I never even considered: the impact of overturning Roe v. Wade on treating infertility with IVF.

The gist of the article is this: If John McCain wins the presidency (shudder), he has vowed to overturn Roe v. Wade by selecting a Supreme Court justice (or justices) who ascribe to his conservative views on abortion. One of the court's liberal members (John Paul Stevens) is 88 years old. Another (Ruth Bader Ginsburg) is 75. It seems probable that at least one of them will retire in the next four years, paving the way for McCain to select whomever he wants to fill his/her spot.

And then every pro-choicer's worst nightmare in all likelihood will transpire.

The purpose of this post isn't to argue my views on abortion. I'm solidly pro-choice. Always have been, always will be. But the impact of overturning Roe v. Wade goes beyond stripping away a woman's right to a safe and legal abortion. As the author of this article writes, it will mean the end of IVF as well.

McCain, as do most pro-lifers, believes a person is entitled to human rights at the moment of conception. With that philosophy made into law, embryos cannot be destroyed either for scientific experimentation (think stem cell research) or discarded or frozen following an IVF cycle transfer.

It is extremely rare for an IVF cycle to produce only one, two, or three top-notch embryos, all of which the patient opts to transfer. In fact, the entire purpose of an IVF cycle is to produce many embryos, to increase the statistical odds that two or three will develop into the 8-cell, Grade A embryos most doctors look for to transfer for the best odds at achieving pregnancy.

In my case, during my IVF cycle with Isabella, 15 eggs were retrieved, 12 fertilized and developed into embryos, 7 matured into 8-cell embryos, and the best 2 were transferred, and 1 of them became Isabella. 4 embryos were frozen from the original 12 that fertilized and 3 were used for my FET from which I'm now pregnant. If you can follow that "fuzzy math," we ended up discarding 2 embryos total. If the option to donate them for stem cell research had been available, I would have done exactly that.

By giving these cells human rights, John McCain and the conservative justice he appoints to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade will in essence strip away the ability for millions of infertile couples like me to have a child.

Over six million women in this country suffer from infertility. They attend their friends' baby showers and put on brave faces. They eat their lunches in the office cafeteria surrounded by coworkers talking about their kids' weekend soccer games. They go home at night to their partners, who may or may not understand what it's like for a woman who wants a child so desperately to be surrounded day in and day out by a very child-focused world.

To take the right away from infertile couples to use medical science to try and conceive a child is an injustice I cannot wrap my mind around. It seems unfathomable to me, and yet if November sees the election of the Republican candidate, there is a very good chance this will happen.

Probably Not What Jim Henson Had in Mind

A Party on Sesame Street

Isabella's big birthday party was yesterday. But with the arrival of my mom and sister on Thursday, it seems her birthday started then and has lasted for the past four days.

On Friday morning, her actual birthday, Isabella woke up and we gave her a few presents. This Clifford stuffed animal and accompanying book, which she discovered on her highchair, were big hits.

Let's hope she shows as much affection toward her new brother and sister. I'm not hopeful.

We also gave her this LeapFrog shopping cart with an attached scanner that scans 10 food items that came with it. My wonderful friend Marie, the unrivaled queen of scoring good deals on kid stuff, found this like-new shopping cart at a garage sale for $5.00. Apparently, the company no longer makes it, and people are bidding $50.00 for it on ebay! Who knew?

The hubs had to work all day, so once he came home, we continued our tradition started last year of taking Isabella to a pretty little spot on the Erie Canal about 10 minutes from our house to get ice cream. I only wish she liked the stuff, so eating it wouldn't be so traumatic for her.

On Sunday, 32 family members and a few friends gathered at my grandma's house for her big party. My sister is an amazing artist and just as she painted a Goodnight Moon sign for her last year, she made an incredible Sesame Street sign for this year's party, with a special twist thrown in.

The top-right part of Isabella's sign is based on the sign my grandfather painted for my second birthday 30 years ago. My grandfather was an artist and a signmaker by profession. Each year, he made every one of his 11 grandchildren a special sign for his/her birthday. My sister is continuing this tradition with Isabella, and sunk hours of her extremely rare free-time into making this year's sign for her niece. Thank you, Karrie!

And here is this year's cake, made by the same baker who made my baby shower cake and Isabella's first birthday party cake last year. The best part about this year's cake was that it served 40 and there were leftovers, currently stored in my fridge for at least the next 5 minutes. But certainly not any longer than that.

Clearly, my daughter hates the spotlight, illustrated here by her cringing in fear as a roomful of people sang her Happy Birthday.

Want some cake?

Then it was on to presents. She received many wonderful gifts, including these awesome books from my friend Jenny and her boyfriend Adam. Thank you!

Her favorite gift of the day was this Radio Flyer inchworm riding toy, courtesy of Aunt Karrie. You're supposed to bounce up and down on it to move it along, but Isabella isn't quite strong enough to do it yet, so she was more than happy to scoot along on it.

Isabella had a wonderful 2nd birthday party, surrounded by all the people who love her. She is an exceptionally lucky little girl to have so many family members and friends devoted to her happiness. Thank you for leaving her so many beautiful birthday wishes on Friday, too.
My sister left this afternoon, and my mom leaves tomorrow afternoon. After that, things will get back to normal around here. And all of a sudden, I'm the mom of a two-year-old. How is that even possible?

Happy Second Birthday, Isabella

My sweet baby girl,

It was two years ago this morning, at exactly 10:30am, when you made your entrance into this world. You began life as an ever-alert infant, loathing your naps, clinging to your mama, and never missing a chance to express your opinions. Two years later, I see you navigating the world around you in much the same way, demonstrating that in some respects, you are my baby still. You prefer to be carried rather than to walk on your own. You're still vocal about what you want and when you want it, and you never did get the hang of the two-hour nap.

Yet in so many other ways, you've grown up and apart from me, and as happy as I am to witness your strengthening independence and your developing personality, there's a part of me who would love to have you willing to snuggle close to me forever.

This past year has marked the emergence of your true self. You are so much like your mother. We are an impatient, demanding, opinionated, and vocal duo. We are not easy-going, roll-with-it girls. This has caused friction, and luckily your father, on the polar-opposite end of the personality spectrum, is always there to mediate. You are lucky to have him for your Daddy.

But your strong personality comes with something special. You learned early on how to articulate your needs (and your wants), and your vocabulary is nothing short of amazing. You are speaking in full and complete sentences, often consisting of 10 words or more. You have memorized some of the books we read you and songs we sing you, and you recite them back to yourself when you're awake and playing in your crib in the morning. You are amazingly empathetic, sensitive, and able to express your emotions, telling departing family members that you will "miss them" when they leave our house, telling us that you "wuv" us, apologizing when your temper causes you to lash out, telling us we "scared" you when you're startled, and crying yourself when you sense that those around you are in pain.

Twice in the last week, when you saw me wearing clothes I hadn't worn in awhile, you told me, "You look so pretty, mommy." And when you saw me bringing three rolls of toilet paper into the bathroom, you first asked me "What doing?" When I told you I was bringing toilet paper into the bathroom, you said, "That's too many." (Surely, you are a genius.) When I told you two were for later usage, you said, "Good idea." Other favorites of the moment include, "Don't worry about it" when we tell you to be careful, and "I'm busy" when we need you to stop what you're doing.

You talk all day, from morning until night. Much like your mother, you always have something to say.

You are naturally curious, and constantly ask, "What doing?", "Who's that?", "What's next?", and "Where's Isabella going?".

You love playing outside, and our neighbor's dog, Scarlet is your best friend. You love giving her a bowl of water to drink from, and you squeal with joy when she licks your hards. In fact, you're fascinated with all dogs, and as a result, you know the names of most dogs in our neighborhood. And because of your outgoing and social personality, they know you too. You have earned our neighbor's nickname for you as the Mayor of our street.

Big changes are coming to your life later this year. In a few short months, you'll become a big sister, and my greatest fear right now is not that I won't have enough love for you, your sister, and your brother, but that you will somehow feel short-changed of my time and my affection. I hope you will always remember that you were my first-born, the baby I thought I would never have, and because of this you are uniquely special to me. I will treasure the time we spent alone together, because it was you who taught me how to be a mom. Our bond is unbreakable, and will never change. I promise you that. And let me assume you that as a "first child" myself, I know how special we are to our families. Just as it's been since the day you were born, you will never want for love and attention.

So happy birthday, sweet daughter of mine. You have changed my life in so many ways, and it is my greatest joy to watch the person you are becoming.

The super-cool photo of Isabella is courtesy of the amazingly talented and way-too-humble Ness, who offered her readers the chance to email her their photos for an "extreme makeover." Thank you, Ness!

Two Thoughts

On Friday, Isabella turns two years old.

I remember crying quite a bit in the weeks leading up to her first birthday. Isabella turning one was quite an emotional time for me. I'm not sure if it was recognizing that our nursing relationship was coming to an end as she had started slowly weaning herself a few months earlier, or the fact that the little baby I brought home from the hospital 12 months previously was now taking her first steps and starting to talk and becoming less dependant upon me every day.

But I'm finding myself far less emotional about her turning two. Despite the fact that our relationship will change drastically in a few short months (something I am finding incredibly difficult to even think about), two doesn't seem like the end of anything. In fact, it seems like two marks the start of something fantastic for my little girl.

Isabella has grown and changed so much in the past year. She is still very much a demanding, opinionated, and needy toddler, but there are times when I'm talking to her that she seems so much like an adult that I forget that she's still not even two years old yet.

Each day presents a new challenge for her to master. It's incredible to watch her accomplish something (walking up stairs without crawling up them, scaling the rock wall on her playset without asking for help, toasting my morning bagel to perfection instead of burning it) that just the day before she couldn't do.

I'm beginning to realize that this motherhood business isn't always about shedding tears over the babies we've lost, although that's certainly a part of it. It's also about waiting in excited anticipation for how our children will surprise us next.

26 Week Update: Slowing Down

In the last month, I've noticed quite a few changes. My energy level has plummeted. I am tired. A lot. Getting up from sitting on the ground take a great deal of effort. My joints ache. And my still-swollen feet throb at the end of the day. Carrying Isabella up and down the stairs is really difficult for me now, and if there's anyone in my house besides me and I have to take her upstairs for whatever reason, I generally ask for that person to do it for me. I am really slowing down, and although my twin mom friends told me it would happen, I didn't expect it to start this early on. I feel like a big lumbering bear most days.

The babies are really moving quite a bit now. Most days, they are way more active at night than they are during the day.

I had my glucose test on Friday (still awaiting the results), along with my first OB appointment in almost a month. Since I was doing so well at my last visit, my doctor said I could wait a month to see her again. This was a nice break from the every-other-week appointments I've had since I found out about the twins. Alas, my break is over. I'm back to my every-other-week schedule, and I have my next ultrasound in about a week. I have gained 23 pounds.

We also picked a date for my c-section. If I make it to 39 weeks (and according to the twin book I'm reading, nationwide most twins are born on average at 34 weeks, which is scary), the babes will be born on Monday, November 17th. Incidentally, once I read that statistic, I immediately filled out the hospital paperwork that's been sitting on my dining room table since the secretary at my OB's office handed it to me over a month ago.

On the preparation front, I have zilch to report yet again. We have one donated bassinet. One donated bouncy seat. And.That.Is.All. The hubs and I have agreed that once the craziness of Isabella's upcoming birthday and my mom's and sister's visits are over next week, it's high time that we come to the collective realization that hello? We're having twins in 3 months or less, despite our great attempts to ignore this reality. My lack of preparation goes completely against my personality type. To be winging it this far into my pregnancy is shocking. Is this a second pregnancy thing? I seem to remember having all my ducks in a row at 6.5 months pregnant last time around. The hubs and I do have plans to hit a "Mothers of Twins" sale in mid-September to stock up on some things we're going to need.

Names. Ah, names. Well, our boy is still Nicholas. Our girl is still currently nameless, since the hubs refuses to relent to my choice of Lucy. Ness suggested Luciana as an alternative to Lucy in my plea-for-names post, and I actually really like it. But I am fixated on naming our second daughter Lucy, and Luciana is not Lucy and oh, pretty please, dear hubs if you're reading this, can we please name her Lucy? I can be bought!

My little Twin Countdown ticker to the right now reads under 100 days to go.


Her Peeps Came to Party

I may have mentioned a few (hundred) times here that I have a huge extended family. On major holidays, we pack a good 25 people around my grandma's dining room table, and every Sunday, about half that number gather for dinner at my aunt's house. Entertaining this bunch (plus my dad and his family, and the hubs' family too) is a major endeavor, so in an effort to reduce the number of people packed into my grandma's garage for Isabella's 2nd birthday party (her birthday is on Friday and her party is next Sunday), we decided to have a few of her friends at my house for a small party this morning.

Let's do some math, shall we?
5 toddlers + 1 10-month-old + 1 7-year-old + their parents + me, the hubs, Isabella, and my mom who is in town, all crowded into my wee little house = Mass Frosting-Covered Chaos.
I realized that the fine art of hosting a children's birthday party is not something at which I excel. I stressed myself out, made too much food (that's the future Italian grandmother in me), and obsessed over things that ended up mattering not one iota. This was my first time, though, so I will cut myself a bit of slack.
The "theme" was Sesame Street, and overall, I think I did a fairly decent job. But Oh My Holy Hell, was I exhausted afterward. The hubs and I spent a greater part of Friday scouring our house, although exactly why we did this is a bit of a mystery, because no sooner did the toddlers arrive than the entire joint was trashed again.
I also spent a great deal of time making cupcakes using the famous Magnolia Bakery vanilla cupcake recipe. So completely worth the time, in my humble opinion. What was not worth the time was the three different colors of frosting I made for them. Over the years, I have learned that I suck at making frosting. I can never quite achieve the right consistency. I should have bought jarred frosting, added the food coloring, and called it a day.
I think the favors for each kid turned out pretty well. I filled red, yellow, green, and blue Chinese take-out containers with Sesame Street stickers, Sesame Street cards, Goldfish crackers, and sidewalk chalk.

We hosted the party from 10am to 12pm, which was the perfect amount of time to retain the attention spans of a group of 2-year-olds. It was basically a glorified playdate. The kids removed all the toys from Isabella's toybox and played with them, they cooked in her play kitchen, and they grazed at the table where we served fruit, cheese and crackers, and bagels.

Everyone gathered around her to sing "Happy Birthday" (which she also sang simultaneously to herself), we opened presents, and then everyone went home, and she crashed hard for an unheard-of 2+ hour nap.

And then the hubs, my mom, and I (but mostly my mom, who was SUCH a big help) spent a good hour cleaning up the aftermath.

One party down, one to go. May God have mercy on my soul.

What? There's nothing to see here. Carry on.

Milk-Sharing: Is Another Woman's Breast Really Best?

I nursed Isabella until she was 13 months old. She took to breastfeeding right away, and I was very lucky that except for a bout of mastitis when she was six weeks old, we never experienced any problems. I can't say what I would have done if breastfeeding hadn't come as easily to us as it had. Plenty of my friends have had difficulties with it for one reason or the other, and their nursing relationships with their babies ended much sooner than mine did with Isabella.

However, as committed as I was to breastfeeding and giving my daughter the healthiest start possible to her life, if I did experience problems, I'm not certain I would turn to milk-sharing as the answer.

A recent article in BabyTalk magazine highlights a growing trend toward sharing breastmilk with other mothers. Some of these relationships are informal. For example, your child is adopted or you can't breastfeed for whatever reason, yet you still want your baby to experience the benefits of breastmilk. You locate another breastfeeding mother via MilkShare, an online resource that connects needy moms with those willing to donate expressed breastmilk to your child. Also, some mothers engage in "cross-nursing" with another mother, where you and she share breastfeeding duties for the two babies. Other relationships are more formal, whereby breastfeeding mothers who want to help other moms undergo screening to rule out communicable diseases, and then donate their milk to a milk bank for other mothers to purchase for their babies.

While I was nursing, I did consider donating my milk to a milk bank. I had seen a tv special about women who donated their expressed milk to organizations that then sent it on to mothers of children in developing nations who were too malnourished or who were working extremely long hours just trying to survive to breastfeed their infants themselves. The benefits of breastmilk for these starving babies was extraordinary.

But with regard to the other relationships, I can't really imagine engaging in a casual cross-nursing relationship with another woman, even a close friend, as some of the women in the BabyTalk article did. Those 13 months I spent nursing Isabella were much more than a six-times-a-day feeding ritual. We bonded during the long hours spent skin-to-skin. She played with my hands and gazed into my eyes. When I wasn't preoccupied by Roseanne reruns during her 3am feedings, I stroked her fine hair and sang to her. And I cannot imagine sharing her in this intimate way with another woman.

So, for me, while I can understand purchasing screened breastmilk from a milk bank for my child (although, according to the article, the cost is an insane $5/ounce), I don't think I would ever engage in the more casual milk-sharing relationship where the donor isn't screened unless you pay for her to have the tests done. And as far as cross-nursing goes, there's absolutely no way I could do it. Infant formula isn't crystal meth, and I think I would much rather bond with my baby by feeding her a bottle of formula than have another mother nurse her when I either could not or chose not to.

Wordless Wednesday: What a Difference a Year Makes

The Shower Situation

A few weeks ago, a friend sent me this article about the debate over showers for second babies, and its arrival in my inbox was timely. Three of my closest friends (one a friend since first grade, the other two since high school) had recently offered to throw me a shower for the twins. After much consideration, I declined.

Here's why:

Two years ago, I had an enormous shower for my first pregnancy. It wasn't enormous because I opted to invite my hair stylist, the girl who drives the ice cream truck around my neighborhood, and the woman who bags my groceries at Wegmans. Rather, I have a large extended family, most of whom are female. The hubs' female family member contingent is big as well. Add some friends to the mix, and suddenly there's almost 50 people at my shower. And if you remember, every single person was extremely generous. Granted, it was my only shower. I know some people have two or three. But for me, my shower was perfect. I didn't want for much afterward, and I'm still in awe of what was done for me two years later.

I know this opinion won't be shared by all, but I've always viewed a shower as a celebration of motherhood, and a way for parents to receive all the baby crap they need to keep their newborn fed, clothed, and relatively fresh-smelling. They are called "showers" after all; as in, "showered with enough blankets, onesies, and tiny, itty, bitty socks to only necessitate three loads of laundry a day instead of four." Much like the author of the article, I don't see showers as a "celebration of the baby" so I've never bought into the whole "every baby deserves a party" thought process. The idea is a nice one I could certainly get behind if not for the underlying gift-buying obligation for the guests. Even when "no gifts" is explicitly stated on the invitation, I know I certainly wouldn't show up to a "baby party," "baby celebration," or "welcome baby" gathering for a second, third, or fourth baby without a gift, would you?

I expressed these concerns to my dear, sweet friends, who wisely told me that everyone I would invite would most likely be buying the twins a gift anyway, so why not gather them all in one place and call it a party? At first I agreed to a small "let's-not-call-it-a-shower" of around 12 people. Then I thought about it some more, and 13 years of guilt-fueled Catholic education reared its head, and I reconsidered.

We're having twins because of a conscious choice we made to transfer three embryos during our FET. We knew about the chance for multiples. We rolled the dice, and we're having two babies instead of one. I'm not having spontaneous twins. My guilty conscience says it shouldn't be anyone's responsibility to accommodate the needs of our twins but ours, regardless of how excited everyone is for us. Would we be all set if we were having a singleton? Without a doubt. Sure, if the singleton was a boy, we'd need some new clothes, and regardless of the gender, we'd need an extra crib, since Isabella is still in hers, but that's about all we'd need. Are we in for a lot more major purchases with twins? Yes.

However, I feel extremely uncomfortable with the idea of asking people to buy us more baby stuff for a situation of our own making, and one that occurred so soon after my first shower. I know this may seem silly to some or even many of you. But I just feel awkward asking for assistance. It's a feeling I'm going to have to get over really soon, because if I'll need anything after the twins are born, it's going to be help: an extra pair of hands willing to hold one of them, a babysitter so I can take a sanity break once and awhile, a kind soul willing to diaper a baby or two 10 times a day.

I certainly don't begrudge anyone who has had a shower for a second, third, or 18th child (hello, Duggars!). In fact, I'm envious of them. In a lot of ways, it seems crazy to turn down a party three wonderful friends want to throw in your honor. But I just can't get beyond the feeling that having a shower for the twins is somehow an imposition on my loved ones.

So instead, my three friends are going to take me out to lunch or dinner, which I will thoroughly enjoy since our schedules don't allow for us all to get together too often. I won't have the shower schwag, but I'll have the gift of time spent with three awesome girls who may not understand my shower hangup but still love me anyway.

The Final Glimpse Behind the Curtain

I'm kidding of course, because God knows I lay it pretty much all out here on the Internet at least a few times a week.

But, for your reading pleasure, here are the last few questions posed by you, my fabulous readers, on my Blogaversary post.

Pru asked what I would do with 48 hours to myself. Holy hell. Where do I even begin with this one?

Sans kid and sans husband, I would most likely stay in bed until 8am, get up, drink a pot of fully caffeinated coffee (hey, 48 hours to myself is a fantasy, so in this fantasy, I'm not knocked up and humongous. Am slim and svelte and need caffeine to function) whilst reading the entire newspaper in absolute silence without being bothered by a certain someone climbing up my leg and begging for my cereal.

After that, I would shower, pack up my laptop and some books, and hit the local bookstore for several uninterrupted hours of book browsing and buying (you know, so I can add to this stack, which has sat virtually untouched for 14 months ), followed by a few hours of surfing. On the way home, I'd treat myself to a Caramel Macchiato. I would return to my blissfully quiet house, take a few hours to load new music on my iPod, go for a run, read for awhile, take a long bath, and then watch a movie on DVD. Or a DVR-ed episode of Big Brother (is anyone out there as thrilled as I am that Jessie is gone?). The next day, I might catch up on some boring household stuff that I just don't have time to do now, and then bake a cake and eat the entire thing myself. I would pick up a long-neglected knitting project, and I would spend a few hours working on query letter for a feature I'd love to write, but just don't have the time to devote to it.

48 hours alone would be incredible. A dream, really. But truth be told, I would miss Isabella a lot. I've only ever been separated from her for about 28 hours (back in April when we went to Toronto), and even that was hard (I know, I'm ridiculous).

M asked some really interesting questions.

First, she asked about something I said I would never do with my kid, and then I did it.

Before Isabella was born, I vowed she wouldn't watch tv before she was two years old, and after that, in only limited amounts. Battling infertility for two years left me plenty of time to beg, plead, and bargain with God about the truly fabulous and completely self-sacrificing mother I would be if someone up there would only send me a baby. For some reason, I thought being a good mother meant eschewing tv as if letting her watch a little tube was akin to feeding my dear sweet baby rat poison.

I actually stuck to this bargain with the almighty for over a year, and then the hubs introduced her to Sesame Street. She doesn't watch tv every day, and she only watches Sesame Street (only the monster? muppet? puppet? segments interest her) and Clifford, a recent edition, but I will admit to parking her in front of the tv for 30 minutes of uninterrupted couch time because I am oh-so-very-tired lately, and spending 12+ hours alone with a toddler while pregnant is really, really hard.

Then, she asked about my husband's most annoying habit.

Without a doubt, the hubs' most annoying habit is using something, and then not putting it back in its rightful place. I am not a neat-freak. There's enough cat hair on my floors to make a sweater for Isabella and I haven't dusted since 1998. But I absolutely hate going to look for something that should be located in a certain place and not finding it because the hubs either a) never put it away after he was done using it (meaning the screwdriver is still sitting on the counter or the nail clippers are on the bathroom counter) or b) decided to stick it somewhere else-likely a location nearer to where he happened to be standing at the time it was last in his hands.

Next, M asked about which actor I drool over.

Oh Jake Gyllenhaal, I do love you. The piercing blue eyes. The hot bod. The sexy smile. What's not to love? Jake, when you're done with Reese, call me.

Finally, she asked about the one thing I cannot live without, regardless of how tight my budget gets.

These two tie: High-speed Wi-Fi and DVR

Thanks to everyone who asked a question. I think my answers qualify me for Barbara's 10 Most Fascinating People of 2009 special, don't you?

I loved reading all the intelligently written and widely divergent comments on my last post. While some of you think that being a stay-at-home wife is a potentially awesome and fulfilling life for a woman, others would be driven ape-shit, up-the-wall crazy at the mere thought of it. I'm still firmly on Team Ape-Shit, but debates like these make me thoughtfully consider the other side of some interesting issues. And that, my friends, is why I love blogging. So, thank you for responding!

Could You Be a Stay-At-Home Wife?

Let's say you're a well-educated, 20-something to 40-something married woman. You have no kids because you've chosen not to have them. You have a job, or you're busy earning your advanced college degree. Could you quit your job or stop your education and become a stay-at-home wife?

The mommy wars are apparently so last Wednesday. This article explores the newest living trend: that is, affluent, child-free women who despite their education and past employment decide to stop working (or to not start working at all after college) and instead stay home to focus on laundry, house-cleaning, clipping coupons, charity work, and new hobbies.

I must admit that after reading this article, I enjoyed a brief 30-second fantasy about the many things I could accomplish if I was able to stay home without kids in the picture. I could read more than 10 pages of the book sitting on my nightstand without passing out from exhaustion at the end of the day. I could finally start the novel I've wanted to write for the past 12 years. I could take up knitting again. I could even throw all caution to the wind and learn to cook!

But the fantasy ended quickly and I gained my rightful head. I would hate this kind of lifestyle. I would be bored out of my mind after about a week.

As it is now, on the few days a month when I'm not working on a freelance project, something feels wrong. Yes, I work because I have to. We couldn't swing our bills if I didn't, which is why I'm teetering on just this side of terrified about what's going to happen in the fall when the twins are born and I can't work for awhile.

But I also work because I want to. Corporate writing is far from my dream job, but I know I'm good at it, probably better than I am at this motherhood gig. I enjoy working on a successful project. I appreciate receiving positive feedback from my clients. I like the fact that I'm able to contribute to our household income, even in relatively small amounts, and I'm extremely fortunate that I'm able to do so while staying home with my daughter, something I wouldn't give up for anything.

But I know I couldn't chuck it all to stay home if we didn't have kids and we could afford for me to do so. I worked too hard for the two college degrees I paid for (in part) myself and I spent too many years learning about the IT industry and the Marketing world, the two areas of focus for my business writing career, to make my husband fancy dinners and to perform more "in-depth cleaning" (cited by one of the husbands interviewed in this article as a benefit to having an at-home wife).

The couples with stay-at-home wives are apparently superbly happy and stress-free. With no kids around to complicate things, it's a status symbol for them that the husband has reached a point in his career where his wife "no longer HAS to work."

But I just don't get this. At.All. While I believe stay-at-home-moms have the hardest job on the planet, as a feminist, I do not understand how the well-educated and the child-free can opt out of the workforce before their golden years to focus on household chores as if this was 1950.

What am I missing here?

Never Say Never

When I became a mom, there were three things I swore I would never do.

1. I would never drive a minivan.

Let me begin by saying that I have good friends who drive minivans who, like me, swore up and down that they too would never, ever drive one. These same friends now love their minivans more than they love their husbands, and can't imagine driving anything else.

I know they are spacious and hold the metric tons of kid crap moms have to tote all over town with ease. There is no cramming of strollers and no squeezing between seats to buckle a baby in a carseat. Plus, there's the ample cup (or sippy cup) holders, and of course, for the lucky, the all-important drop-down DVD player to ensure hours (or at least consecutive minutes) of quiet driving for the parental units.

But for me, minivan = suburban mom. Yes, I live in a suburb (but my suburb is less than a quarter mile to the city's border, okay?), and yes, I'm a mom too, but I don't want my vehicle screaming my demographic. And besides, when your dream car is a Mini Cooper, a minivan is just about as far from that as humanly possible, don't you think? With twins on the way, a minivan may be in my future, but you'll have to drag me kicking and screaming into the driver's seat.

2. I would never buy my child a cell phone.

I don't care if every 3rd grader in Isabella's class has one. I don't care that she will try to convince me that she needs one so I can contact her at any time. I don't care if she whines, begs, and pleads for one until she bursts a blood vessel. Last time I checked, schools still have land-lines, and so do most children's birthday party establishments and sporting venues. I'd be willing to wager a bet that her friends' parents' homes will have them too. If I need to reach her or she needs to reach me, chances are neither one of us will have a problem. It's my opinion that children need cell phones about as much as they need their own motorcycle; that is, not at all. If she wants one when she's a teenager, she'll get a job and pay for it herself.

3. I would never have a gigantic plastic monstrosity of a play gym-swingset-climber thing in my backyard.

I've long hated these things. First, even the smallest ones are enormous. Second, they're mostly made of petroleum-based plastic, which makes the environmentalist in me grimace, and third, they're normally made of insanely bright colors, which again seem to scream, "Look at me! I live in the suburbs. I have kids! In fact, I have lots of them! And my big hunk of plastic is ruining the view of your gardens-deal with it!"

Sticking to two out of three of these isn't bad, right?

For her upcoming birthday, on my suggestion, my mom purchased Isabella this:

And while it is all of the things I mentioned above (although the colors aren't as eye-searingly bright as some I've seen), and I still haven't quite come to terms with looking out my window and seeing it in my backyard, the kiddo absolutely loves it. Seeing the joy on her face as she asks to hit the slide "Again! Again!" makes it worth the fact that I have put her happiness above my own agenda, something that doesn't come easily to me.

But I'm still never buying her a cell phone, dammit.

Better Than Cankles

My mom is currently on a hiking vacation in New Hampshire. My sister is currently on vacation in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. To say that I am insanely jealous of both of them doesn't quite cover it. As someone who always took at least one week-long vacation during the summer during my adult years, I am still getting used to the "stuck at home with the kid and an empty wallet" deal that is my life now. Come join me, won't you, at my Pity Party, Table For One?

But lest you think that it's all counting the cracks in the ceiling over here, allow me to assure you otherwise. I have big (and I do mean big) news.

Behold, this past week's newest twin pregnancy development - the nastiest feet on the planet:

I looked down at my feet at some point last week and was quite startled to see that they had swollen to twice their normal size. To give you an idea, my feet are normally quite small. I wear a size 5.5 or a 6. Now they require their own zip code. A nurse at my doctor's office assured me this was normal, and told me to avoid standing still in one place for a long time and to keep them elevated whenever possible. She told me to call immediately if one grows freakishly larger than the other. Uh, damn straight you'll be getting a phone call if that happens!

The runner's callouses, tan lines, and chipped unpainted nails finish the look, don't you think? They look like two baked Virginia hams.

I made the mistake of jamming them into heels for a wedding on Friday night. They didn't fit at the beginning of the evening, but somehow showing up to a formal evening reception in a downtown hotel wearing flip-flops, the only shoes I have that currently fit, while tempting, wasn't something I was willing to do.

Of course, as soon as I stuck my inflated feet under the white linen table cloth at table #16, I kicked my shoes off faster than you could say "Barefoot and Pregnant." I am high-class, ya'll. For reals.

Rather than teeter around like a cripple all night, once seated, I pretty much remained seated. And shoeless. At the end of the evening when I went to cram my feet into the shoes again, I realized my feet had swollen even more-I couldn't get them on at all.

And so, dripping with panache and style, I slung my heels over my thumb and waddled barefoot out of the hotel ballroom, down the long hall, down the stairs, and to the entrance to the parking ramp. The hubs went and got the car to pick me up, in which I collapsed in sheer relief.

Stay classy, San Diego.

In other far more interesting and pleasant news, Sasha of My Wombinations gave birth yesterday to her son, Alan. He is a beautiful, healthy baby weighing in at 8 pounds, 1 ounce. Congrats, Sasha!
Also, the August issue of the online parenting magazine Root and Sprout is now live! I have two articles in this month's issue: one on cooking with kids of all ages and another on teaching kids to recycle. While you're reading, check out the Giveaways section and register to win some great prizes. And Melissa, the site's talented and extremely dedicated creator, is always looking for articles. You know you want to see your name "in print," so read the writer's guidelines and submit an article.

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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