Wednesday, February 28, 2007

A Tribute

There aren’t many men like him.

He was only 16 when the war began. He faked his date of birth, telling the Army that he was 17 and enlisted. A 16-year-old soldier who walked in front of the tank. One of his biggest regrets was that because of his injuries, he didn’t get to roll into Berlin with his brigade and celebrate victory.

He was critically wounded twice. A bombshell that exploded next to him cut off his right thumb and showered his body with shrapnel. Some of it was so close to his spine that doctors decided not to remove it because it may have paralyzed him. This shrapnel now sets off metal detectors in airports. He always laughs at that.

The second time, he was wounded in the legs. When the doctors decided to amputate his legs because of gangrene was setting in, he begged them to give him another day. “Today, you’ll lose your legs up to the knees, but if we wait until tomorrow, it will be up to your hips.” But he insisted. And the next day, the infection subsided.

He was on crutches for two years after that. When he fell and was taken to the hospital, he met a nurse. After being released, he asked her out. And married her a year later. They had a daughter two years later. And another 27 years later, their daughter had a daughter, who couldn’t pronounce his name, so she called him Goga, which was just baby-speak, but it became his new name. Everyone—his family, friends, neighbors, colleagues—now know him as Goga.

For many years, he worked as an engineer at a heavy machinery plant that had a secret weapon production arm. He knew nothing of it, but because of his employment with the plant, he was prohibited from traveling abroad until 15 years after his retirement for the fear that he may disclose some sensitive information. After that, he traveled only twice. He retraced his fellow soldiers’ steps to Berlin for a documentary film, pondering why people in the country that lost the war were so much better off than people in the country that won it. A few years later, he flew overseas to attend his granddaughter’s wedding, where, despite not knowing the local language, he won the hearts of so many people.

His passion for helping people is intense. After he retired, he got involved with a local veterans’ committee and it became his mission in life. Even after he couldn’t drive anymore, he hopped from one public bus to another, every day, to meet with the government officials to advocate for the veterans’ cause or help someone get groceries or fill their prescription or make funeral arrangements. When those war-wounded legs started to give him trouble and he couldn’t walk well, his spirit was shaken, but not broken. He continued making phone calls on behalf of “his veterans” to get help for them. And they came to visit him to say thank you. His apartment was always full of flowers.

He is an amazing cook—and always has been because his wife never enjoyed cooking. He believes that a meal that doesn’t contain bread, meat and potatoes can NOT be called a meal. Even when he lost his appetite, he still spent hours cooking from scratch for his family and friends.

He likes to sing after he’s had a drink or two. They are old songs, quite unpopular in this day and age because they promote the old ideology, but they are memories of his past. They are the songs he sang as he went to battle. And he sings them with such vigor that others want to join in.

He is a voice of reason. He is a peacemaker. When his overly dramatic wife argues with someone, he always takes her side, even when she is unreasonable. But he is also the first one to tell her to make peace.

He laughs a lot. His eyes—they are always laughing, they are the perfect definition of that “twinkle in the eye.” He tells jokes. He teases, but it is always so good-natured. He makes up his own words that are absolutely hilarious. He loves to rhyme, and some of those rhymed sayings have become so common in his family that they forget that the rest of the world doesn’t know them.

He is so loved. So respected. So admired. And he will be so missed. He is my grandpa. My Goga. And he passed away on Monday.

There just aren’t many men like him.

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Monday, February 26, 2007


On Sunday, due to complete lack of pregnancy symptoms, I decided to take a pregnancy test. You know, just to confirm that I wasn’t pregnant before going out drinking with some girlfriends on Monday.

The test was positive.

And I completely fell apart. Which was something that I wasn’t prepared for. Between sobs, I kept saying, “I am not ready, I am not ready” to the utter confusion of my poor husband who asked, “Isn’t this what we wanted?” And this is where it gets strange. Yes, this is what I wanted, what I wanted so badly for a long time. But as I mentioned last week, achieving pregnancy is not what it’s about anymore. And—at least at that particular moment sitting on the bathroom floor—all I could think about was that this could be my third strike. My third failed pregnancy. And that’s what I was not ready for.

Maybe it was just a glass-half-empty kind of morning. Maybe it was the shock of it. Maybe it was the feeling of too good to be true—again. I have tried to push those thoughts away. I have tried to be excited. And I am getting there. My beta at 15dpo is 675. It’s a solid number. My first miscarriage was a chemical pregnancy—and it was so early in the pregnancy and so long ago (before the Child) that it probably doesn’t affect my chances this time. My chances are good. I am just not naïve enough to be too excited. Instead, I am terrified.

Let me say something here for the record—although I know my two readers probably know this from their own experience. I don’t want to sound like an ungrateful bitch. I am happy that I am pregnant—that somehow, after trying, and trying, and trying, and unexplained diagnosis, and trying, and then getting there, and then losing it, and coming out of it with a fresh, clean, D&C’d uterus, I am able to get pregnant. I know how lucky I am to be pregnant when so many wonderful, amazing, deserving women can’t (and oh my gosh, I could link to so many pages here because there are so many of these women out there). I just can’t shake off this feeling that I can’t possibly be this lucky. That’s just not what I was expecting. Struggles, heartbreaks, more tests, still no diagnosis or a scary diagnosis, failed ART attempts—I was preparing myself for those. I wasn’t prepared to be pregnant. It was too easy, and that’s why I fear that this will be taken away from me. I haven’t paid my dues to the IF Association of Suffering, and that’s just not the kind of place where they give you a free membership.

And oh, how I hope I am wrong about all of this.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

My reality

Smack in the middle of the 2ww, I find myself surprisingly calm. This is a very strange place for me. For more that a year, every month I have been obsessing over every possible symptom that could indicate a pregnancy. Temperature rises—are they tri-phasic? Could this be implantation bleeding? Are my boobs sore? Am I more hungry? Am I more tired? Is this hormonal nausea or was that yogurt past its expiration date? And the list goes on.

But now, I feel different. I was still in the obsession mode two weeks ago, charting, OPK-ing, having sex on a schedule (and oh my god, I could write a whole post about how much I fucking hate scheduled sex). But after I ovulated, the obsession dwindled.

I have been trying to put a finger on what it is that’s making me pretty calm about this particular cycle.

It could be because I was relieved to see that with the exception of the excruciatingly painful and copious period, this first “regular” post-D&C cycle appeared to be quite normal, very similar to the ones I have been having for the last year.

It could be because I no longer think about my miscarriage constantly. I know that I can never fully get over it, but I have come to accept it. I am still sad, but I am no longer grieving.

It could be because I am not naïve enough to believe that after a year of trying unsuccessfully, I will get pregnant on the first try after the D&C. Sure, I have a glimmer of hope, but I am keeping it in check.

It could be because I talked myself into the notion that post-O, I have no control over what will happen in the next two weeks. I can’t will for it to happen.

It could be because I am so tired of reorganizing my whole life every two weeks. Can I have a tuna melt? No, not during these two weeks. Should I go out for happy hour with co-workers? No, not during these two weeks, unless you want people to start suspecting something because you are not drinking. Can I have a pick-me-up cup of coffee at 3 pm when my head is ready to hit the desk? No, not during these two weeks since you already had a cup this morning. Can I plan a business trip for next month? No, not yet, let’s see what the next two weeks bring—you may need to be home next month when you are ovulating. Ugh. So this month, I am not doing this. I moderate, but I do not abstain.

It could be because I had a fantastic long weekend in the mountains. Where it snowed for 36 straight hours, creating the most majestic winter wonderland I have ever seen. Where the 12 inches of new snow were as soft as goose down sprinkled on top of already existing snow base. Where all we could do was sled and ski and snowshoe, interrupted only by eating lots of comfort food by the fireplace. But it was more than that. There was something about the atmosphere of a small ski resort town that brought me so much peace. It was so drastically different from the city I live in—the city where people define themselves by who they work for, the city where a 10-hour work day is a short day, the city to which “people move to work, not to live” (as someone once told me). The contrast was not that of a big city versus a small town—the contrast was in the attitude of people: uptight and competitive versus relaxed and friendly. For three days, I felt so much more at home in this little town up in the mountains than in the city where I’ve lived for eight years. And that brought me peace.

But more than anything, I think the reason why I am no longer obsessing about pregnancy is because I realize now that the stakes have changed. For more than a year, we’ve been trying to get pregnant. Whether or not we can get pregnant again on our own—or with help—is anyone’s guess. But getting pregnant is no longer the final goal. Getting pregnant and having a healthy baby 37-42 weeks later—that’s what matters now. So, good or bad, I am not as excited about a possible pregnancy now. I am not as naïve. And although it may seem sad, that’s just my reality.

And I am OK with it. For now.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Movie night

Fridays are family movie nights at our house. We usually order a take-out, which most would assume is pizza, except that I have one of those odd kids who don’t like pizza. Or french fries. Or chicken fingers. But smoked salmon? Can’t get him away from it. Tofu? Give me more. Prunes? Best dessert ever. OK, so he is not that strange—we did, after all, spent the last two months declining daily requests for mac&cheese.

So back to the movie night... We usually order out Chinese or Japanese because the Child can’t get enough of fried rice and miso soup. We then spread our “picnic blanket” in front of the TV and spend the evening eating our dinner on the floor and watching a movie (more likely than not, the same movie we saw last Friday because seriously, apparently you can’t get enough of Nemo or Cars).

Once in a while, we invite our neighbors to join us for movie night. They have two girls (2½ and 15 months), and the Child plays with them quite a bit. He is the big brother they don’t have. One thing you should know about this family is that they love to eat and love to cook. Now, I love to eat and I love to cook, too, but not like they do. They are from Lebanon, and the food they cook—oh my, the flavor, the color, the taste. Amazing. So when they come over, I feel the pressure to cook instead of ordering a take-out.

Last night, I made some sweet potatoes that I could throw in the oven tonight before they come over. I mixed the salad dressing. I made sure enough cake was left from Valentine’s day to have for dessert. I got up half an hour early this morning to prep the chicken and place it in the crock pot so it would be ready when we got home after work. I felt good. I wasn’t stressed.

About an hour ago, at 2:30 pm, I realized that I never turned on the crock pot. The one that has a whole chicken in it. The chicken that was to be my main dish tonight.

I guess it will have to be Chinese take-out after all.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Sick and sad

When you have a child, everybody tells you that the first few years of his life—especially if he spends time in a multi-child environment such as daycare or preschool—are a major bootcamp for his immune system. What they don’t tell you is that your immune system is also going to go through hell and back. The first year of daycare just plain sucked for us—Husband and I were sick just as much as the Child because he insisted on sharing all of his germs with us. The next two years were better—both because our systems bucked up a bit from the nightmare of the first year and because we learned to take some preventive measures (like not finishing his leftovers with the same spoon or not letting him drink from our glasses). But this time, we failed miserably to keep this nasty cold at bay. What sucks even more than getting sick is that it comes smack in the middle of ovulation time—the first time we have a chance to try after losing a pregnancy more than two months ago. While it may have looked very cute and adorable and all on Friends when Monica and Chandler were doing the nasty when she was sick, I am sure that making a baby with a coughing, snotty, feverish wife is not what my husband would call a fun time… Preschool germs, I hate you.

Also in the it’s-not-fair category, this week’s Thursday night line up on NBC. Is it me—or does every single show I watch these days have a pregnant woman on it? Yesterday’s Scrubs just about killed me. I went straight to bed and I cried and cried and cried. Don’t get me wrong, I really love the show, but this time, it really hit me hard. Just when I think I am out of the woods, feeling positive and looking toward the future, I come across the reminders of what I lost or what may go wrong next time… And it makes me crumble. I can’t seem to go forward without immediately taking a huge step back.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


I have been spending a lot of time on the internet lately, mostly browsing blogs. I found quite a few that speak to me—amazing writing, interesting perspectives, heartbreaking or inspiring stories. A lot of my bookmarked links are infertility blogs. Others are parenting blogs. And I find that I fit somewhere in-between, not quite belonging to either camp.

I am a parent, and I relate a lot to the trials and joys of parenting that parent bloggers write about. I also relate a lot to the trials of infertility, but I am a newbie at this. I know the impatient waiting during the 2ww, I know the heartbreak of yet another BFN, I know the obsession over BBT, I even know the horror of a lost pregnancy. But I don’t know what it’s like to have a medicated cycle, I don’t know the devastation of a failed IVF, I don’t even know a lot of the medical terminology used in many IF blogs.

I wholeheartedly hope for the best possible outcome for the individuals whose blogs I am reading (and there were two awesome happy announcements this week that nearly made me cry with joy), but I feel odd commenting because I have not been in their shoes. I don’t want to offend them by pretending that I understand. And I also don’t want to offend them because I already have something they want so much—a child. I feel guilty.

Hoping to find someone who is in a similar place as me, I searched through secondary IF blogs and found a few that I loved. But once again, these women (and men) are much farther on the infertility journey than I am--and once again, I feel guilty for having so little "experience." After the IF diagnosis last summer and the referral to the RE, we decided to wait until the end of the year before doing any additional tests to possibly determine the cause of our so-far-unexplained IF. And then we got pregnant. And then we lost the pregnancy. So what do we do now? Did this pregnancy wipe the slate clean and our IF problems are no more? The pessimist in me tells me to quit dreaming, but optimist has a least a glimmer of hope. But the question remains: How long do we wait now?

Who knows, perhaps a year down the road, we will be all-too-familiar with ART terms. Or we will be filling out adoption papers. Or we will be going through another heartbreaking loss. Or we will be setting up the crib again. For now, I am somewhere in-between.