Monday, December 31, 2012

Everybody's Doing It....

...What do you think they're doing in the next room?

Or at least all over the internets. 

Yes, friends, its the end of another year so its time for the annual round up. What went down, what sucked (dad is gone) what didn't (BBB is nearly here) and all things in between, all in a handy month by month guide:

January - I was a quite the social butterfly, adding a FB and twitter feed to the blog, participating in a robust book club discussion (and then some), and taking part in Dresden's fantastic "In times like these" series.

February marked five years in the blogosphere for me, got us just a little closer to sealing the surrogacy deal (but not without some stops and starts) and saw me playing a pretty personal card in the discussion around choice.

March introduced us to our gestational carrier live and direct. Her hubby too. And we knew, pretty immediately, that this was, more importantly, they were the right choice.

April - foreshadowing dreams, cleaning house and getting fit, oh yeah and my birthday.

May was a tough one. It feels like this whole month was spent working on our surrogacy contract. Everyone was right. Hardest part of the journey. To date.

June - I wrote, but not so much here, I kvetched about dad and his kvetching, and we really and truly signed and sealed the surrogacy deal.

July - the Test is positive. The Streak begins. (drops mic).

August - wow. The end of this month sucked so hard I almost forgot to include it in the round up. Luckily, a fantastic few days with Paz in an unlikely setting helped round it out.

September said goodbye to dad. Sigh.

October - Sandy storms on through. The Streak continues. Big baby keeps on a-growing.

November - shit gets real. As in ultrasounds and belly pics and a trip to see big baby BOY halfway across the country (also to test out the road trip in store for us in March). And I got rid of those f*cking boxes.

December - this month, we've been without our daughters for four years. Four. Jesus. This month, our BBB reached viability, and keeps growing and growing....And before you know it, we'll have some shopping to do. Or at least borrowing.

Added bonus: my first athletic achievement. Ever. (no hyperbole) I won my age bracket in a 5K while on a pre-Xmas trip to see mom. And didn't even realize it until later that night. Thankfully, they didn't give what is now one of my favorite ornaments on the tree away.

By the time you read this, BBB will be 27 weeks and 1 day along (and we still haven't told most friends and acquaintances). The Streak will be 169 days strong, even with a Christmas gift of the stomach flu. And I will be getting ready to kick everyone's ass in the most epic Rock-N-Bowl throw down ever tonight. Look out.

Hey 2013, I can't wait till you and me hook up.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Where I Use the Passive Voice, a lot

It's the night before the Night Before Xmas. The world didn't end, but it is a bit sadder these days. The wrapping is done. Gift exchanges have started. I got these. Whoa.

Parties are being attended (and we are realizing we have a disproportionate number of friends with December birthdays). Cookies were baked. More will be baked. Soups were made. More will be made. There are still two more days until Santa comes (and the gifts that I purchased for M from the UK inevitably won't) Is it just me or does this Xmas holiday feel unending?

I'm not complaining.

But amid all of this flurry and activity, we have yet to tell very many people that a baby (a real live BABY) will be joining our family in the new year. It seeps out unexpectedly in dribbles sometimes, like in a teary exchange with my friend at the YWCA women's shelter as I finally gave away my maternity clothes this week. But last night, for instance, we were around at least a dozen people we know and really, really like. From us, not a peep.

"You guys look great! What's new?!?"
us: Thanks! You too! hmm, not much, same old, same old...

"Any big plans for 2013?"
us: we'll see.....

We're not being coy. Or evasive. Mom, we're not driving you crazy on purpose. We are just still that shit-scared. Yes, we are at 26 weeks. And I thought I would pop the lid off at 25 with a big announce, but with every week I just want to wait one week more, just to be safe.

I never did tell my co-workers as planned because this week, as you might know if you're on the MB FB, we had another scare that pretty much immobilized me in worry. And really did immobilize our surrogate in pain.

Kidney stones, you are bitch.

All is well now. A stone (of gargantuan proportion, according to her awe-struck doctor) has passed. The pain has completely subsided. I'm hoping not to be on the receiving end of an "I'm having really bad lower back pain. I think I should go to the doctor" text for another few months.


I'm not purposefully avoiding the Newtown conversation, but I'm not really ready to talk about it either. Like Keiko, I learned from a hubby who suddenly became even more engrossed than usual with his smart phone. Like her, I joked, only to hear it wasn't a joke. Like TracyOC, I draw instant connections to all of the moms and dads who now must live without their babies, because first graders, come on, they're babies too. Beautiful running, laughing, independently thinking babies. And now they are gone.

And if you can't confidently wave goodbye to your little baby as they get on the bus in Newtown fucking Connecticut and assume they will come home, then we all truly are fucked. 

I'm not ok with the NRA reaction to this, especially since their press conference was cut short by a random multi-person shooting in our state that had our surrogate frantically texting us with worry this time. I'm not ok that I have family members with semi-automatic weapons in their house. Really, really not ok with that.

I'm not ok with how diagnoses get tossed around like they are interchangeable. I don't like the insinuations I hear connecting autism with violence, or assuming everyone on the autism spectrum has mental illness. I cringe when I hear my governor pay lip service to the need for more mental health services knowing full well (as does he) that he slashed that budget by millions and millions of dollars this year. Millions. 

I also cringe when I hear gun law reform talked about only in reference to mental illness. Because that's just what we need: another reason for someone not to seek mental health care. Here is a group seeking a more rational approach:

And here is a group you hope you never need, but are so so glad is there when you do:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


I found pieces of this lingering in my drafts this morning, and it felt right to dust it off and share it today. I and J's day.

There are so many things that I have learned in between Dec 5, 2008 and today. A world of knowing (and not knowing, and understanding that there are some things that can't be known). One of those pieces of knowledge is how little it actually takes to be thoughtful and how significant little doses of thoughtfulness can be. The ROI on thoughtfulness is staggering.

When I decided to cycle along with our surrogate earlier this year, my co-worker and friend immediately skyped and said, "oh m...are you sure?" And in that question I knew she was thinking through all that could go right and all that could go wrong. All the stuff I would have to carry with me through a pregnancy...I knew she got me.

And I failed to ever mention how grateful I was for that inquiry. How thoughtful it was.

She wasn't interested in telling me what she thought I wanted to hear. She thought it through and had a true and earnest ask, I need to know that you have thought this through and are ok with it. L, thank you, girl. For real. Because you voiced my thoughts before I did, and that helped me stay on point (what is the goal here? is it me pregnant or is it healthy baby with the best possible chances to flourish?) and helped our decision to stop my cycle go just a little smoother. I'm not saying it didn't sting, but it did get to a point where I started to feel perhaps a little greedy? What's all of this talk about two or three? Pregnancies here there and everywhere....wouldn't one healthy pregnancy, one happy result be enough.

Yes. It is enough. 

So many things struck me about our time with our surrogate and her husband the week of our transfer. 1.) they have the worst luck with flying ever. Missed flights, delayed name it. They have encountered it to get from there to here and back again. 2.) They are so chill. Laid back. Relaxed. At ease. So at ease, they put me at ease. Even with missed flights and long delays 3.) I keep thinking back to little things they said, even offhandedly, that were simply sweet and thoughtful. And how often I was caught off guard by their kindness.

Maybe, like some of you, my expectations have lowered. Maybe I shouldn't be so shocked to realize that some people are just good people. But I am. But it's a good shock. Like when you slide your hands into your pocket and feel a little $20 bill balled up in there that you forgot about. Grateful. And a little giddy.


Yesterday was rough. Really rough. Rougher than today (so far). Anticipation of the births day has been mounting. We had already had a minor meltdown last Friday - Friday night, mild weather, something in the air just felt exactly like that Friday mentioning the book that M happened to be reading the day our daughter's would die (what are the fucking odds?) tipped the scales. Silent night. As in, we barely talked. What was there to say?

in the air....
And then we learned of a loss of a friend. And then we learned of another loss. Closer to home. And then I got an email from our surrogate saying, "I'm just not really feeling that great...." Cue the sleepless nights and feelings of dread and overall hopelessness.

I tried to keep most of this from M. but bits and pieces slipped out over the course of the week. My anxiety dripped over everything I touched, catching innocent bystanders in its path. At one point yesterday, after I pointed out his fifth typo, my (foreign) intern looked at me and said, "you know, now you are being mean."

Sorry, dude. Sorry.

At that point, I decided to email our surrogate and just tell her how I was feeling, what was on my mind and what I needed to get me through the next 48 hours.

While she knows there were daughters and they are loved, we try not to talk too much about our previous losses and struggles with her and her husband now. We wanted this pregnancy to be new, and we didn't want her experience to be overshadowed. Why should it be? But I was morphing into a basketcase yesterday and a mean one at that. I had to do something. So I asked her for help. I asked for constant communications, just over the next day or two. Every move, every ache, please, please, tell me. I have to know. Today. I need to know.

And her response has been nothing but beautiful and supportive, thoughtful and affirming. And oh gosh I get caught between tears and laughter. She tells me I'm not a basketcase, and then tells me how BBB has the hiccups. She reassures me she went to the doc, got some meds and feels as good as new this morning. She thanks me (thanks me!) for putting our faith and trust in her to carry our child. And gosh, oh gosh. I am overcome with grateful.

To M, I say, we are so lucky.

To her, I say, thank you. Beyond words. Thank you.

To my daughters, I say, I love you. We miss you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Perfect Moment Monday - One Day Late

Darn it. I'm always late. Like, always. In this case, however, I think it's ok. It really is the thought that counts. Or rather, the recognition of a thought, specifically a moment within the last month where you have thought, now gosh, it doesn't get much more perfect than this.

Every month, Lori shares her perfect moment and moments from friends across the blogosphere in what she calls Perfect Moment Monday. Even when I don't play along, I'm always thinking about what might constitute a perfect moment. And that is truly one of the greatest gifts my friend Lori has given me.

This month, I'm lucky enough to have several to choose from: a great road trip with my road dog, M which included a stop in South Bend on Game Day and several running routes in and around Madison, WI. I might have pointed to the night at a Buffalo Wild Wings somewhere in Indiana where we revisited one of our old obsessions: NTN Trivia. Might have...if we had won instead of gone down in an "I'm all in!!!" blaze of (non)glory. Who chooses WWII as the final subject? Gah. I blame others.

Are my tenses all mixed up in this post? I feel like my tenses are all off. Past, present? Past imperfect? present perfect?

Perhaps its because I am resting in a present that feels simply perfect. Right now. This moment. Feels perfect to me. Because I am going to be a mom. We are going to have a son. A big baby boy. Wow. F*cking wow.

 It blows my mind every day. Over and over again. And I'm sorry if I can't stop sounding incredulous. But I am. Last night I read about cradle cap and colic like they were the most fascinating subjects in the world. Because they are. This morning, I ordered a ridiculously (I mean ridiculously)overpriced onesie from M's beloved football team. Because I can. So I did.

the ubiquitous boxes
I guess if I had to choose one specific moment that embodies this feeling. This overriding hope that is just here hanging out among us, it's this:

Opening up and breaking down the boxes filled with the beautiful crib sheets and bumpers (you remember - the First Big Purchase) that have lingered in the spare bedroom as cruel reminders of the day our daughters died (final sale! no returns! of course!). Opening them up, breaking them down, pulling out the contents, saving one for a friend who is newly pregnant (YAY),

And getting one ready to use. For big baby boy.

Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between. What's yours?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

One Step Beyond

Are you sure some of you didn't vote twice? Because I really wasn't sure I had that many readers these days. But JP is right. the "tells" have it. So, I am here to tell you that as of today, our SON is one day older than his big sisters, I and J.


One day shy of 22 weeks.
One step closer to viability.
One squeak closer to talking about this freely in real life.
Thankful. Grateful. Quietly ecstatic, if that is such a thing. 

But today is a windy, grey day of some mixed emotions. Yesterday, M and I both were on a cleaning spree. I finally dug into my boxes of hidden baby items and maternity clothes that were tucked into a space closet and decided what to keep (the baby stuff) and what I will never need (items with expanding waist-lines and A-line cuts).  I was surprised at how things were so tightly, neatly, perfectly packed. How many things still have the price tags on. How many baby books I purchased and never even cracked. I have only a vague recollection of packing these things away. Zero recollection of some of those purchases.Selective memory.

It felt good to itemize the items that will find their way to the local YWCA. The saying farewell and moving forward was liberating and cleansing. Freeing. I'm glad I waited until I was in a place to say goodbye gladly before venturing into these boxes. It felt even better to find some onesies and socks that will actually be put to use.

Today is day two of the cleaning frenzy. We have a huge apartment. Big rooms. Tiny closets. Its the storage space that is presenting some challenges today. So we're shifting and shuffling and throwing out and giving away, all in the hopes of finding some order and some more livable comfy spaces here. Re-purposing some nooks and crannies that could fit a rocking chair and soothing light, as opposed to just stacks of kitchen appliances and unused canning jars.

In the midst of all of this, I may have accused M of hiding "my" books and CDs in order to give his own top billing in our shelves and cabinets. I might have gotten a little proprietary over certain portions of our living space.

You know when someone just kind of stands and looks at you with that "what the fuck is wrong with you???!" look and at that same moment you're kind of overcome with that "what the fuck is wrong with me??" realization?  Yeah. Cue the mixed emotions.

All of this. This is exciting. And terrifying. We've never made it to 21 weeks and 6 days before. And here we are. And we have a sense that everything is going to be ok. Our surrogate - rock solid. Awesome. Confident. Assured. And meeting the people who will care for her (and us) in a few months - was nothing short of amazing. M and I are at risk of bursting into tears talking about how kind and caring our future caregivers seem. How readily they welcomed us and how open they are to being a part of this experience with us. Our trip truly was one of giving thanks.

But there is still that feeling of walking into the unknown. Going one step beyond where we've even gone before. Exciting. Terrifying. Exhilarating. Exhausting.

So, I think I just need to turn the music up. Roll with it. Roll with me, people.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wanna Know?

Mega road trip recap coming soon, once we're actually no longer on the road.

In the meantime, did you want to know if Baby2B is a he or a she?

I know. But I won't tell you if you don't want to know. Majority wins.

Do you want to know? free polls 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Road Trip!

So many times we (meaning me) turn to the keyboard when we need to process something hard. Something difficult. Something that we can't get our head around. And yeah, my drafts folder is filled right now with those.....

But today, today I just want to share with you the fabulous feelings that I'm feeling right now. Nothing to process. All visceral. All good.

We are on the road. In a rental. With a sun roof.

En route to our baby mama and our baby2B who has gestated for 21 weeks tomorrow.

We'll stop along the way. When and where we feel like it. I bet we're going to have a kick ass meal tonight. Someplace we've never been. We'll figure it out. When we get there. We always do.

Being in a car with M feels like home. Maybe because it was for us for more than a year. But wow! If we had then what we have now.....Semi-reliable data connections. Social media. The twitter! Happy cow! Google maps! If we had then what we have now....

Well, it wouldn't have been the same trip, would it?

But this trip. Man, we are psyched. We'll be driving through some cities we have yet to see. We'll play a ridiculous amount of name that tune with the radio. We'll quiz each other on random things. We'll do what we do. Now, I'd be lying if we said we weren't worried at all. The timing is tough. the girls' birthday is just around the corner. I think we're both conscious of some potential triggers that await us. Some things that might bring back memories of other scans and other days in hospitals and.

And. And. And.

But the road soothes. It does for us, anyway. And this: my conference and all of its madness if ov-ah. We both have the week off and have purposefully not committed to any holiday gatherings. But if we do get back in time, I've got my eyes on a local 5K Turkey Trot and a personal best. After that, there is a vegan roast in my fridge just waiting to be slathered in gravy. There is TV to be watched. There are pj's to be worn. G*d I love Thanksgiving.

Right now, in this moment, everything is so, so good. And I just wanted to share.*

*Here. Because I'm not quite ready to say these things out loud yet. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Absolute Beginners - A Crib Sheet to the Crib Sheet on Surrogacy

There seems to be no shortage of advice for visibly expectant moms. But what about those of us approaching parenthood from different places? As an expectant mom via gestational surrogacy, the tried and true pregnancy tomes are helpful (kinda, sorta, I guess) but there’s often no room to get to my questions, the ones specific to our situation. Having a baby that’s gestating several states away from you brings with it its own set of questions, worries and concerns that you, as a soon-to-be-mom, are doing everything right, or as right as can be. Which is why I am totally digging BlogHer’s Absolute Beginners crib sheets. Particularly the one written by Kymberly from The Smartness, dedicated to expectant moms via surrogacy. Finally! Kymberly takes some of those questions, worries and concerns and speaks to them.

Read and print out the entire crib sheet for surrogacy now.

Here’s me, halfway through our surrogacy journey, adding my two cents:
1. She’s pregnant! I’m excited, but I thought I’d be able to relax more than I have by now.

Kymberly advises: “Each new milestone in the pregnancy will bring with it a modicum of relief, but it is perfectly normal not to feel completely at ease until your little one is finally in your arms.  Celebrate each step forward and share your joys – and your fears – with your surrogate.”

Given our track record and the length of time it took to get to this point, my husband and I had zero expectations that the first frozen embryo transfer would be the last one. You can never completely squeeze out hope, but we had braced ourselves for an early negative. A test run, if you will. So when our surrogate emailed us a photo of her positive pregnancy test, and confirmed it a few days later with beta results, we felt like we had won the lottery. Huge hurdle #1, over.

Now, are we relaxed? Uh no. Have we told the world? Hardly. Our pregnancy right now is still on a need-to-know basis and will be until we pass a few more milestones. But not because it’s via surrogacy.

I think the “I want to relax but I can’t” curse is one that any expectant mother that has lived through any previous loss will face. I can say, however, that I would be worlds less relaxed, if I were trying to carry my own baby to term. Knowing that our child is in a safer environment than one my womb can provide brings with it a certain kind of peace.  

2. How might communication with my surrogate change during the pregnancy?

Kym says, “The matching and cycling phases likely involved a frenzy of almost-daily communication.  Once pregnancy is achieved, your rate of communication with your surrogate might shift to become more frequent or sometimes less frequent, especially if your surrogate is having a difficult time with first trimester exhaustion and morning sickness.  If your communication needs fall out-of-sync with your surrogate’s, don’t hesitate to have a conversation about it with her to get the reassurance that you need as an expectant mom.”

Early on in our pregnancy, our surrogate asked frankly, “how much or how little do you want to know?” She knew of the loss of our twin daughters. She also knew how long we’ve been trying to grow our family. And she wanted to be sure she was keeping us informed without oversharing, if that wasn’t what we wanted.

And I needed to think a bit before I answered. Would I be a little envious hearing about baby kicks and movements? Would I want to know when she was experiencing the inconveniences of pregnancy that I couldn’t? Still, would I want all of these things happening outside of my knowledge? We decided that we wouldn’t know until we tried it out. We decided that when she felt like she wanted to tell me something to go ahead and do it. If it ever veered into discomfort for me, I would say so.

We’re in the habit of emailing each other at least once a week. And we usually have emails that overlap in transit. We keep each other up to date on daily events. She sends pics, not only of ultrasounds of our growing baby, but also of her own family, which I really appreciate.

3. How can I find the right balance between having valid concerns about my surrogate’s habits and me being overly worried?

Says Kym: “Keep in mind that there is a range of what is considered “safe” during pregnancy. Within the realm of what is considered safe by medical standards, your surrogate’s decisions during pregnancy might be different from the ones you would choose if you were pregnant. Find compromise and acceptance with habits that are within safe parameters and don’t violate any terms of your mutually agreed upon contract. Have faith in the trust that you’ve instilled in her ability to carry a safe and healthy pregnancy. If you’re still uncomfortable, definitely discuss it with your surrogate and if necessary, agree together to have her obstetrician weigh in on the issue.”

This is an issue I think that’s best handled before the surrogacy even begins. Lifestyles and habits and daily obligations of potential surrogates were huge components in our selection process. Not that there were any sky divers presented to us. But I think one of the reasons we gravitated so easily towards our baby mama and she to us was that we are all fairly laid back. We saw in her a parenting style and a set of values and behaviors that we hope are similar to our own (once we have a chance to try them out).

I can honestly say I have had zero concerns about our surrogate’s habits. And seeing her and her family in action in the weekly emails affirms this. I do worry when her family is hit with a seasonal bug or it seems as if all of her kids are down with strep or ear infections or any of those other illnesses that you cannot avoid. But as I’ve mentioned, we chose her because we trust her.

If you have concerns, Kym’s advice is sound. Communication is critical. If you want additional assurances, your contract can be as specific as you want it to be. No sky diving? Spell it out. Just know that the more prescriptive you are in a contract, the more space there is for interpretation outside of those forbidden activities (it doesn’t say I couldn’t bungee jump….) Work through the language with your attorney to ensure your concerns are addressed. Talk honestly with your surrogate (and the surrogacy agency, if you are using one) about your expectations.

Dear surrogate, please don't do this.

4. What special considerations should I make for delivery?

I so agree with Kym: The birth of every baby is a “special delivery,” but the deliveries of babies born via surrogacy definitely take some extra advanced planning.

Some of the logistics that Kymberly points out here are addressed in our contract. Others aren’t, so we’ll need to have that conversation when we travel out to see our baby-to-be and our surrogate in a few weeks. We’re planning to be at the delivery, and that’s our surrogate’s wishes as well. But we never talked about the moments immediately following the birth. Who goes where? Where does the baby sleep? And what about breastfeeding…  

5. What options do I have for feeding my baby?

How cool is it that, as Kymberly points out, “You have as many options as any expectant mother does!”

While the option to breastfeed is there, I do wish the healthcare professionals around me were a little more knowledgeable about it. I broached this subject with my gynecologist last month and was met with a “Really? Wow! That’s so cool!” response.  It's encouraging that he’s so open-minded, but instead of the guidance I was seeking, I got an “awesome! Let me know how that goes,” response. So thank you so much, Kym, for pointing out, and I'm bookmarking it right now. Our goal is to try to breastfeed. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, formula it is.

Kymberly adds, “In some cases, the surrogate will nurse the baby while still in the hospital after delivery.” This is an area we have yet to discuss with ours. And I’m not sure where I am here. There is an active discussion about this in places like SurroMomsOnline, with strong feelings for and against, from both intended parents and surrogates themselves. While I appreciate those perspectives, as Kym says, “As with any new mom, how you choose to feed your baby is a deeply personal decision.”  

6. My baby is here! I’m not physically recovering from pregnancy and delivery, but why am I so tired?  

“Well, it’s because you’re a new mom! Your pregnancy and delivery may not have been “typical,” but your newborn phase of parenthood surely will be! As a new mom, you’re entitled to the same elation, exhaustion, joy, nervousness, and excitement that many new moms typically feel.”

Sometimes it is very important to state the obvious. And I was heartened to read Kym’s guidance here.

Unfortunately, while we are entitled to the same elation, exhaustion, joy, nervousness, and excitement that many new moms typically feel, I’m NOT entitled to the same work leave options that I would be if I were physically recovering from pregnancy and delivery.

If I were to add to the crib sheet, I would add this recommendation: Speak with your employer and/or HR department NOW about the types of leave you are entitled to and what they would be willing to offer you. In my case, my office is too small to fall under any Family Medical Leave mandates, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t work with me if I needed some additional time to get back to work. Again, communication is key and don’t be surprised if you need to do some education around surrogacy along the way.
Hurray for the home office - will you be able to use yours?

Moms via surrogacy: What questions, worries and concerns are missing? What tips/advice would you add here? What do you wish you had known during your own surrogacy journey?  

This post is part of the Absolute Beginners editorial series made possible by Pampers and BlogHer. Our advertisers do not produce or approve editorial content.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Reminder

Last night after dinner I was propped in front of my computer, busy working and feeling bitter about it, and this popped into my email and completely changed my mood:

I just came across you blog since I am very new to blogging. I would like to thank you for all of the support I get from reading your blog. I am 28 years old and currently receiving cancer treatments. I did not have any children yet and the cancer was spreading too fast to harvest any eggs. My sister is going to be my surrogate and we are currently using an egg donor also. Please stop by my blog to read up on our journey so far. Thanks again! I love feeling like I am not alone.

Thank YOU, Brenna! Thank you for reminding me to be thankful. Thank you for putting things back into perspective. Thank you for reminding me why I started blogging (because I was feeling sooooo alone, too). Thank you for reaching out and sharing your own journey. Your comment means a lot (and I hope you're not mad that I highlighted it here).

I am so cheering you on.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Where I say "oh sh*t." A lot.

A few days ago, I seriously contemplated joining the NaBloPoMo party.

A post a day for 30 days, how hard could it be? I mean, I run every day. This wouldn't even require sitting upright. And would be over in 30. Hell, Keiko's doing it times three (ps. you HAVE lost your mind, girl). I spent most of Friday drafting a few posts in my mind. And then I regained my senses.

And this morning, as I'm overcome with a pile of "oh shit oh shit oh shit" thoughts about the things I need to do, like yesterday, I'm feeling pretty thankful I didn't add one more thing to my list.

We are one week away from my work's annual conference, where we are down more than a couple staff and deadlines are looming and anxiety is rising among those of us that remain. (I thought) I was trying to keep a "don't worry! Everything will be fine! demeanor in the office, but I've been told I'm not doing a very good job of it. As in, my boss told me to take a cold shower in the middle of a staff meeting last week because I was getting so overheated about a particular item. Sorry, sorry.

Not really. But whatever.


Earlier this week, our baby mama sent us a picture of her 18-week belly. And that hit me like a ton.

Holy shit. This shit is real. Our baby2B. Right there. In there. 

"Yeah, good thing she wasn't faking it," texts M.

Hardy har (asshole). Of course. But seeing it is something different, isn't it? It was for me.

And with that pic, I'm suddenly overwhelmed with an, oh shit we should really start to like, do something, to get ready, shouldn't we? Should we?

Baby gear - we have very little. Other than a few things we bought for I and J that never made it out of their wrappers. A few onesies. A few socks. A gorgeous (and nonreturnable) crib set. No crib. No car seat. No nothing.

But the week we bought the crib sets was the week things took a terrible turn. The week I bought paint for the would-be-nursery was the week we no longer needed a nursery. (and I really can't even link back to those posts. You know where they are).

I am torn between wanting to nest in a big and wonderful autumnal way, and not wanting to count on my little chicken until its hatched.

A friend asked me about future childcare plans the other night. Holy shit. I am so not there yet. I'm still trying to think about where to put baby2B once he/she joins us. My mom was talking about buying diapers the other night and I was like, huhhh? And don't misread this. I don't have a sense of foreboding, or any reason to believe baby2B won't be here in four months. All is well, but I don't want to do anything that appears presumptuous.

Or over-confident.
Or cocky.

And if you think I'm bad, M is worse. We still haven't told the vast majority of the people we interact with daily. We think his mom knows, but we're not sure? M is begging for no public announcement until at least after I and J's day next month. And I can completely understand that.

But I'm not crazy about this feeling of being completely unprepared, when we have had such ample time to prepare. Months. Years, really.

I think I just need to get through the next few weeks, and then revisit.

In ten more days, this conference will be over. For better or for worse. In twelve more days, we set out west to go meet baby2B in person (via ultrasound) and we shall know whether we are expecting a he or a she. In one month and one day from today, we will honor the day that Isa and Jovi came to be, and then left. Four years ago. Four. They would be four.

phhhhhhhshhhhhhh. That's me. Remembering to breathe.

I think this is my cue to go run.

baby2B - 19 weeks today
the streak - 16 weeks today

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Jukebox Challenge

I think we're through the thick of it.

Power still here. Internet still pumping.

As tempting as a run in the cold drizzle is (it isn't) I think I'll just wait for the Y to reopen at noon today. Either way, the streak is safe.

M and I are set up in our home offices. The beauty and the curse of being able to work remotely. You still have to work.

We're not too stir crazy since we snuck out last night for a beer and a jukebox set where all songs had to contain the word rain in them. Not terribly original, but fun nonetheless. Even if I got teary when someone selected Box of Rain by the Grateful Dead.

My dad, neither a music lover nor someone particularly fond of hippies or their ilk, heard this when he was driving me home from college one break and I had control of the radio. He actually asked me to make him a copy of the song. That guy, he could surprise you every once in a while.

So, here are some tunes from last night:
  • Walking in the Rain - Oran Jones
  • I'm Only Happy When It Rains - Garbage
  • I Can't Stand the Rain - Missy Elliot
  • I Love a Rainy Night - Eddie Rabbit
  • November Rain - Guns-N-Roses (M's choice, not mine)
Clearly, clearly, tons more options here but I only had five bucks. Tell me what you would have played. Maybe I'll even dig up a prize from my days as a paid blogger. Oh sigh, the days....

Monday, October 29, 2012

I Heard that Sandy is a Real B.....

So then, a big ass storm's a'coming.

And apparently planning to linger over my 'hood for a day or two. We're always reasonably well stocked, so no worries there. Water check. Food check. Camp stove ready. The only panic point yesterday was realizing our wine cabinet was dangerously empty.

It's not often that I feel one with my fellow man, but yesterday at the crowded state store was one of those moments. All of us right here, we nodded to each other, we've got our priorities straight.

Laundry done, trash down, dishes washed. If I'm stranded for a few days without electricity ("Count on it" say emails and phone alerts from our electric company, PEMA and the governor himself) we might as well start with a clean slate, as it were.

Batches of soup are on the stove. Including this gorgeous, velvety roasted carrot concoction from A half-baked Life. Now if only I could find the damn duck/duct tape. I am going crazy about the duck tape. Like Mel, I get a little tweaky when I can't locate something, especially if my last remembrance of that object is me putting it away thinking, this makes sense to me now, but am I ever going to remember I put it here.

Obviously, I can't.

M thinks this is all hilarious. All of it. Tell me again why we need duck tape?

So, maybe the wine wasn't the only panic point I had yesterday. Out of nowhere, I had this awful thought: I wonder if our windows will be able to sustain the winds....

I love our apartment. Love it. It is perfect in a million ways. Our building is sturdy. Views lovely. entrances are secure - zombie-proof, even. but these windows, Oy. they might be the one thing in this grand old structure that's never been replaced. They're the kind that lose a little bit more of the wood supporting them every time you open and close them. It just crumbles in your hands as you creak them up. Half of them have to be wedged open and propped because the ropes that keep them up have frayed; the other half don't open...Ok, know what? I'm just not going to think about the windows.

Which gives me time to wonder how in the world I'm going to keep The Streak going if running along the river is not an option, my YMCA shuts down, and the treadmill in my in-law's basement is inaccessible.

This morning, day 106, I pounded out an extra mile on the Y's treadmill, because who knows when the next chance will be. I came home and took an extra long, extra hot shower, because who knows when the next chance will be. I made an extra large pot of tea, know where this is going, right? Funny how the littlest of comforts can take on such meaning if you've been told you won't have them again for a bit.

The shower, the tea, all of that can be managed. But the streak, man. The streak.

My hallway is long, but not that long, to trot up a mile would definitely have my downstairs neighbor ready to kill me. I suppose I could run in place? The only other option I can think of is to run the stairs of the building.  Up and back. 76 times.

Sweet Jeebus, please stay open YMCA....

Mom is here, staying with her sister. We're not sure if her Delaware neighborhood has been evacuated, but I think I'll probably follow her back down later this week to be sure her house is where she left it. While I'm slightly concerned about my windows, I am more than slightly bothered by the tall, old, dying pines hovering over the roofs of mom and her pals' little homes. They've begged to have them removed before one falls on its own. I'm hoping this is not the week they're proven right.


The one thing I am not worried about is sweet baby2b. S/he and baby mama are safe, far far away from Sandy's path. 18 weeks and one day today. I honestly, never, ever saw surrogacy as something that might be described as comforting. But this journey continues to surprise and amaze me.


Stay safe, friends. I'll post as electricity allows.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Diary of a Submissive - A BlogHer Book Review

When the ubiquitous Fifty Shades of Gray hit the streets (and seemingly every middle-aged woman's kindle) earlier this year. I loved it.  Not because I actually read it, but because it kept our pal S in stitches for weeks. She would giggle and titter as she explained to me and M how she would have to call her baby sister for logistical directions (and sometimes diagrams) to illustrate how exactly they were doing that. Fifty Shades came at a time when our friend needed some real diversion and relief. And it gave her exactly that. 

So when the opportunity to review Diary of a Submissive: A Modern True Tale of Sexual Awakening hit my desk, I said sure. I could use something completely different from my usual reading fare. I put on my best free spirit hat on and said bring it. WTFN.

So I opened Diary of a Submissive with a open mind. (After warning my husband that he would be in serious shit if he made fun of me.) It's research, dude. See the disclaimer.*

Alas. This whole submissive thing, I don't think it's for me.

"You don't say," says M. Who would know.

But here's the thing. I truly enjoyed the writing...when I wasn't squirming or pushing back feelings that were triggered from being in a former relationship where the lines of dominant male vs. just plain old abusive asshole were more than blurred.I found Sophie Morgan incredibly skilled at crafting scenarios, not just sexual ones. Her intro is brilliant. She uses a second person present tense narrative (not as easy as it seems) to pull the reader in as a wayward bar patron accidentally witnessing a public scene of humiliation.
There is something dark and yet compelling about it that means while normally you'd be horrified, instead you're intrigued.
And I was. I found myself pulled in despite myself. But then the triggers. Oh the triggers. I was actually more than fine with the physicality of it all. But when the name calling starts, what makes Sophie hot, gave me shivers. Not the good kind.

Stories of sexual domination and submission should come with disclaimers. Kind of like McDonald's coffee. Well yeah, sure the average person would realize, but just to be safe....

Yet Sophie, a young, independent women trying to craft her career as a journalist takes great pains to assure the reader that her experiments with submission take place within safe relationships. Friends first. Lovers next. Dominants after that. I truly started to like her first real Dominant partner Thomas so much that it pained me to read how far the experiments led. I felt betrayed the moment Sophie said she did. Yet she kept going....

So, yes, while I struggle to get my head around arousal through submission, I recognize I have my own baggage to carry. Yours might contain some ridiculously sexy handcuffs and for that, I say, get on with your bad self. I'm eager to hear and join the conversation around this book. I hope you are too.

*disclaimer: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club, but the opinions expressed here are nothing but my own. (duh). 

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Streak

Way back before "Meatless Mondays" was a thing, my mom refused to eat meat on that particular day.

Now before you get all, oh isn't that progressive....just know that didn't mean we ate healthy; it just meant she didn't eat meat. And because she cooked for us, we didn't either. Growing up, Mondays meant fettuccine alfredo, pot cheese and noodles, pierogi, baked mac and cheese. pretty much any butter/dough/cheese combo you can think of. Come Tuesday, all bets were off. We'd come home to find a big bloody chunk of something defrosting in the sink. Quick, bring out the roast before dad passes out from his perceived starvation.

Mom didn't eat meat because this one time when my grandfather was really sick she made a deal with god and said, hey, god, if you get my dad through this, my offering to you is this... I'm paraphrasing. But I am fairly certain it went something like that.

And that time, Gig got better and mom kept her promise, and still does even though Gig has been gone for 30+ years. Except for when she forgets what day it is, which I think happens a lot after you retire.

At some point, dad became a more willing participant of the meatless Monday. I'm fairly certain it was when I got sick, but maybe that's just me being sentimental. In the beginning, mom would cook him a separate meal if the absence of meat was proving too traumatic. But after the turning point, he even helped keep her on task, "Now, now, mom, today's Monday. Don't forget...." (My dad was one of those men that called their wives "mom" which I think is freaky on a number of levels, but I digress).


You say you're going to do something and you do it. No matter how disjointed or kakamaymee or completely unrelated to anything it is. Word is bond. Even when you don't say it out loud. But especially when you say it out loud.


So, a couple of months ago I found myself wondering if I could run every single day. I saw it as a kind of solidarity with our surrogate. As in, if she can stick a nearly 2 inch piece of metal into her butt cheek for us every morning, I can certainly crawl out of bed and jog a bit, no? I wasn't doing that, so I might as well be doing something.

So I tried it, and before you know it, more than a week was under my belt. And then two, and then three, and at some point, I typed it out loud. And then the thought makes itself known....

Well, hell, I'm running, and we seem to have a baby on the way....

All is well, so I better not stop...

Yes. I know (cognitively) that there is no correlation here. Just like M (cognitively) knows that wearing or not wearing the appropriate MCFC jersey (watching the match live or not... wearing the knee socks or not.... seeing it at our home or his dad's..... with other people or get the picture) may or may not influence their win. I know that my running or not running is not going to affect the outcome of this pregnancy, but I've thought it out loud and well, there you go.

Better safe than sorry.


Today is day 78. I haven't missed a day. For a day to "count" I have to run at least one mile, at at least an 11-minute mile pace. I was easy on myself with the "rules" because I knew I was contemplating a half marathon somewhere in there and I wanted to give myself a little flex for recovery if I needed it. I didn't, but boy that mile minimum came in handy last week when I had to cut my run short due to a major. wardrobe. malfunction along a busy street (couldn't keep my pants up).

Yes, I ran right out of my pants.


I ran every day as I camped out at the hospice center last month. The first day, I was completely distracted, lost my way, ran through bee hives (no stings) and found myself a few miles beyond what I hoped to run, with no water, and no shade in the middle of the frigging day. I wondered why I was so fatigued, looked at my phone (which I had with me for any emergency) and saw it wasn't 89 degrees like I thought; it was 99.  JFC. Turns out, I was the emergency that day. I called my brother to come rescue me.

"The next time you go running, why don't you take the van with you. Heh. Heh," he said as he handed me a water and blasted the a/c.

Hardy fucking har.

The next day, there were a lot of people in and out of dad's room and we were all trying to give each other a little space, a little privacy. I took the opportunity to head out with my sneakers, much more certain of my route this time. Just to be safe, I told M and my brother where I was going. Showed them on the google map. If anything happens, come get me. I mean it. Start out in the opposite direction and just grab me off the road.  They promised.

Towards mile three I started to feel funny. It was getting to be dusk and headlights started coming on. My heart started to jump every time I saw a car turn my way. Every car looked like my altima. Every mini van looked like my mom's. This run was no longer therapeutic; it was just not over soon enough.

As I was rounding the last corner into the development where the hospice was tucked away, I checked my phone and saw, "mom wants to know when you'll be back." Shit. I called, and couldn't get any reception. I could hear my brother's girlfriend pick up the phone but not what she was trying to say to me. I got frustrated and yelled, "just wait for me! Just wait!"

As if she (or anyone) had anything to do with it.

And then I started to sprint. Like a crazy woman. Cutting through the yards and not-yet-developed lots. Praying there was no hidden rabbit hole waiting to wrench my ankle.

Wait for me. Wait for me. Wait. gasp. For. pant. Meeeeeee. Please.


And he did. He did. I tried to collect myself as I walked back into the hospice and to his room (because you are explicitly not supposed to freak the fuck out at the hospice. I think that's actually written somewhere) so I smiled. Told the reception guy I was already signed in and waited for him to chase after me. By the time I got back to dad, he was still there. Barely. Breathing heavily. Incredibly labored. We both were.

I will never forget that sound. My gasping. His gasping. Only his stopped.


I don't know how I would feel know if I missed my dad's last breath. Does that breath carry more weight than any of the others I have listened to? Does that moment define his dying more than the others (ok, technically, yes, it does) but you know what I'm asking, right?

I was certain I would make it back in time. But I was also willing to live with the consequences if I didn't. What I wasn't willing to do was forsake the streak. Not if I could help it. Because in that moment in time, it felt like the one thing that I DID have control over. Even now, it is the one thing I can choose to do, or not do. Something completely up to me, not other forces, not things beyond my comprehension or control. There is no mystery in lacing up shoes. Choosing to put one foot in front of the other. Go.

I run for me. I run for baby2b. I run filled with gratitude that I am physically able to run. I run consciously aware of my breath and do not take it for granted. I run to the trees and blow kisses and say my daughters' names out loud. I run because I do not pray. But this feels something close to it.

baby2b: 14 weeks and 1 day.
day 78 of the streak.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


Here I am. Writing about the inevitable. Albeit a little late.

My father passed away Saturday evening, September 1, 2012. And I am running through the stages of grief in no particular order. Anger seems to be taking up most of my time. Followed by indifference. Followed by guilt at the indifference and relief I am feeling, then quickly consumed by more anger which I try to wash away with forgiveness and memories of his crooked smile and bad jokes and moments of tenderness and words from people who knew him as a younger, less bitter man. And that's when the Sad creeps in. And I try to hold on to that as long as I can.

I try to wash away the mean and suspicion and distrust that colored his final hours - he blamed us, and hospice. We were all out to kill him, you see. He was "fine" before he got there. And most times the washing works. But then another "crisis" pops up and I see the thinking of my father in his son, my brother, and it disgusts me, and somehow I blame the dead as much as the living. Which may or may not be fair.

This grief march is so, so different than the one we have taken with our daughters. This is a conclusion that I braced myself for ages ago. My tears washed through my car on trips back and forth from Delaware all summer; they cleaned my kitchen, watered my plants, mixed with my sweat when I ran.

When he finally passed away, I was at his side, dripping in sweat from a run cut short by a cryptic text from my brother. I remember saying, "Ok, pops, ok." over and over again. More to myself than anyone else. My brother shook with sobs. My mom obsessed about closing his eyelids. He was surrounded by family, which I think is the only thing he ever wanted.

I didn't cry for my dad at his memorial service. But I did for his brother and sisters and the grief they were feeling. I did for his co-workers and our old neighbors who thought enough of him to spend their Saturday with us. Other people's emotions moved me to tears, because mine were somehow absent.

I was focused on making sure the organist got paid, that the urn was properly placed, that my mom wouldn't tumble down the stairs as she walked back to her seat after the reading, that everyone knew how to get to the luncheon, that my brother wouldn't lose his shit, that my brother's friends would order from the bar so my mom wasn't stuck with a ridiculous tab from all of my brother's cronies' libations.

My cousin (my favorite and my dad's) asked me how I was at the service and I was honest. "I'm fine. Because I have shit to do." And she laughed. And I think we both know that this is not the hard part. It's when the quiet settles in. Because it will be quiet without dad.

My mom is here this week, staying with her sister. We're going out to lunch today. I'm taking her to dinner on Friday. In between there are old neighbors and friends to fill her time, oh yes, and this most recent "crisis."

It seems my brother's girlfriend chose the weekend of his father's memorial service to tell him she is pregnant. And it seems all of their friends knew first. Before him. According to my mom, he is livid. And scared. And angry. And not ready. And hadn't planned for this. And full of all kinds of volatile emotions. He feels betrayed and hurt and blindsided.....

I'm sorry. I guess I just assumed a 35-year old man with a daughter knew where babies come from.

My mom is so upset because he is so upset. I am upset because this is not her problem, and this is my father's son. Finding himself in a situation that people would die for - a beautiful woman that loves him has just told him she is having his child. And all he can do is think back to past wrongs done by other people. All he can think of is how the world is doing him wrong, is out to get him, because this was not his plan.

There is no gratitude, no grace. Only anger and blame, placed on everyone else's shoulders but his own. And that is so my father. There is the legacy. And that breaks my heart.


I'm trying to reach my brother now, and have been for the last two days. I'm hoping he's found someone to talk to, someone older, someone wiser. I'm hoping he has calmed and is seeing things a little differently. I am hoping things work out.


baby2b: 11 weeks, 3 days. First "real" ob appointment this Friday.
running streak: 59 days, including my first half marathon last Sunday. woot.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Saying Goodbye

When and how to say goodbye, or giving permission to let go, is a personal decision, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Some families have difficulty starting the conversation but find that once begun, it can be a gift....

Some families begin these conversations with:

  • What I love most about you....
  • What's will always remember....
  • What I will miss most about you...
  • What I learned from you...
  • What I will cherish...

(excerpted from "When Death is Near a Caregiver's Guide" published by Quality of Life Publishing Co.

In my last post, I was wondering how much time we had left with dad. Today I think we are a little closer to the answer. I don't think he will be coming home from the hospice center. I am here with him now. Night shift. He's resting now, but it's touch and go. Once he's up, he's quickly agitated. His body twitches, jerks. He wants up. Wants out. Doesn't want anything touching his body. Obviously a naked dad wandering the halls in a weakened state is nothing that anyone wants.

I have always winced at the phrase "battling cancer" but this time I feel like I am watching exactly that. Right in front of my eyes.

I could tell my brother was bothered by the morphine pump. But he hasn't seen him in action. Hasn't seen how it takes four nurses to calm him. He doesn't know that he almost hauled off and hit mom a few days ago at home. He's angry, dammit. And he's never been terribly good at directing that accurately.

It's hard to watch him here, as physically weak as I've ever seen him. Completely dependent. And be ok with how annoyed I have been with him. Lately. Always. But I don't know what to say. I've been trying to fill out the sentences above and I don't have the answers yet.

For all of his weaknesses, for all of my frustration, I do know this: he loves me as much as he is capable of loving. For all of his grumbles and crankiness, there is nothing more sacred to him than his family, meaning, me, my bro, my mom. M has been elevated to that level as well. Because he loves me.

He is so fucking stubborn. And I can't decide if that is something I admire or drives me crazy. I think both. I am also fairly certain M has said the same of me.

He's sleeping now. If recent history can be trusted, I'm thinking maybe I should try too while I have a chance. The Nationals are on. I don't know if he can hear the tv, but it's soothing to me.

Boom. There it is. That good memory. That perfect moment I've been searching for all day. Why is the drone of the baseball announcers and his snoring so calming to me? Because those were the sounds of almost every night one summer. Pre high school, but old enough to sneak out of bed and not get in trouble. Me. Dad. The old pleather couch. Bag of sour cream and onion chips (don't tell mom) Baseball until we both fell asleep. Tv on. Crumbs everywhere. That. That was great.

I knew I needed to be here tonight.

I know more memories will come.

I love my dad. I know he loves me. That's all there is to it, no?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Blog by Numbers

  • Baby M/m is doing great. At last ultrasound, was measuring right on time. Which means today is 9 weeks 2 days.
  • Heartbeat was 175 (and our gestational surrogate is placing bets that it's a girl. How about you?)
  • Today is day 44 of my running streak. 
  • 30:48 was my finish time for a 5K this weekend. A personal best, and also the very first time I've ran with the woman who inspired me to run, my girl S.
Now, the last number is the one that's affecting my life the most right now and the one that is the most unknown. How many more days does my dad have to live? Are we talking months? Weeks? Days?

This weekend was a rough one. M and I were both exhausted, but we got to leave on Sunday. Mom, she gets to stay behind. And apparently things got worse when we left. Cancer is clearly pushing into his brain and he has equal moments of lucidity and talking straight up nonsense. He thinks he's mobile but he's not. He fell twice when we were there and thank god for M because I wasn't getting a 200+ lb man off the floor.  His weakness is making him frustrated. His frustration is making him mean. His meanness makes me snap back...none of this is pretty.

He's spending a few days at the hospice facility now, which will be a relief for my mom, who is crumbing under her own exhaustion. I'm debating renting a car and heading down tomorrow for a few days, but the problem is, once Labor Day weekend hits, their little beach town will quadruple in size. I'll need to make it back before the weekend rush or my 3+ hr drive will turn into a 5+ one. Guaranteed.

So we'll see.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Testing It Out on Strangers

So, there I was, finally seated on the last flight home from an awesome work trip in a city far away from home. A woman in a business suit shoves her bag under the seat and plops down next to me. We're both tired and a little loopy from airplanes that don't show up, flights that keep getting delayed. We smile at each other, make small talk as the plane gets ready to lift off. We both had good weeks. We're both looking forward to being home.

"Any kids? I have two."

"Well, one's on the way....."

"Get out! Oh you're gonna love it...." And she then goes on to tell me to eat everything and anything I want since breastfeeding "sucks the fat right out of your body. It's freaky at first, but you get used to it and holy shit you can eat fritos without even stressing." I'm barely paraphrasing here. And then her TMI alarm went off and she went back to reading her book. I smiled politely and did the same.

And there you have it. I said it. Of course she assumed I was pregnant, not my surrogate, but why insert details into a conversation that will never be remembered with a person you don't know? At this point, it's not important. What's important is that one is on the way.

Measuring 7 weeks 6 days as of today. 8 weeks tomorrow. Right on schedule. Heartbeat is 155 bpms. Good and strong.

Back to "the telling." I blame Paz. She started it.

The night before we were at yet another conference-hosted party (yes, people! Paz and I in the same city, doing work-type stuff. Being ooh soo professional, but basking in the serendipity of being there together and being able to spend some quality time with each other, and Vanilla Ice, and KC and the Sunshine Band, but those are stories for another day). So, this party. Me and Paz. And this incredibly tipsy guy telling us about his life in Colorado and how much he loves to snowboard, and how cool it will be to get back on the slopes this year after a few years off to raise his son. He can't wait to be on the mountain with his son. Out of nowhere....

"She's pregnant!!" Says Paz pointing to me, who thankfully is sipping a mineral water.

His eyes light up. Mine try not to register shock. Do I clarify? Let it ride? It is really that far from the truth? We're pregnant. I just don't happen to be holding that baby in my belly. I smile. Say nothing, other than "oh yes its quite early," because I can see him eying my gut. The stinker.

And it really wasn't until the words were said out loud, with other people listening, that this really registered with me. And I am fairly certain that's why Paz did it. Not for snowboard guy, but for me. We are going to have a baby. Baby.

Baby, baby, baby.

And now that the seal is broken, I've started to wonder how best to share the news with our non-blog reading family and friends. I'm not ready yet. M isn't either. But we have started to think it through. Family will be easy. They know the road we've been down and that gestational surrogacy was the path we were exploring. They just don't know that we're cruising along on it right now.  With a baby on board. I am sure we will share the news with friends as it comes up. No worries there.

That leaves the folks that need to know because M and I will be taking some time off work and will be appearing around town with a real live baby some time this spring. Mainly, work colleagues and bosses. At what point do we let the cat out of the bag? For me, that list extends a little farther out than M - members of my association, my Board, the lobbyists and consultants I work with - I will need to explain why I'm not in the thick of things next budget season. Do I give them a heads up now? The latest possible moment? Somewhere in between?

People: what did you do? Moms and dads via surrogacy, adoption, any way that didn't involve an obvious visible indicator that a child would soon be joining your family - when did you alert folks beyond your tightest circle of trust? How much or how little of your story did you share? I'm curious because we are veering into being more than just your story to tell. More on that later, but for now, tell me.

When did you tell your boss?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Didn't Mean to Leave You Hanging

Well, hi.

I realized yesterday that I've left you hanging. I'm sorry.

Last week's ultrasound was great. Our little guy measured 5 weeks and 1 day, a few days short of what our doc predicted, but nothing out of the ordinary. Sac there. Fetal pole there. Now its time to get growing. Hoping to hear a heartbeat on the 16th.

Our GC is nothing shy of fantastic. This morning, she asked me a very honest question: how much do you want to know about this pregnancy? She promised to tell me everything, or nothing, what would I prefer?

I'm not sure.

It doesn't help that my mind is muddy this morning - last night's dal and mustard greens dinner was delicious, but it has both M and I a little doubled over today with some, um, cleansing, effects? I'm just not thinking straight.

I've loved the open communication so far. In fact, its been a wealth of info from multiple sources. Our GC's and nurse's calls or emails almost always overlap, racing to keep us informed. Couldn't ask for more.

At the same time, I'm already getting a little nervous about planning a visit to share a doctor's appointment. I know she would love to have us at one. I feel we should be at one. But I don't think I can manage being there for the big one - the full body scan. You know, the one that came out perfectly for I and J days before an infection pushed them out of my body.

I don't want to jinx anything. And I know M feels the same way. He gets nervous about being around ANY pregnant woman because he doesn't want any bad luck to brush off. Seriously. He said it pretty bluntly the other night:

This whole out of sight out of mind is a wonderful thing for my mental health. 

And I don't disagree. I trust our GC and already told her to just keep doing whatever it is she does. She has four beautiful kids of her own. All perfect pregnancies. What knowledge can I impart about pre-natal care? She got it right. Me, well, I didn't. Not being self-effacing here. Just stating facts.

Knowing that our little one is in the hands/womb of someone safe frees up all of this head space to think about other things.

Like baby names.
Like where a crib might go. 
Like what kinds of songs we might sing to him/her.
Or if my sister in law will let me borrow that kick ass baby carrier when baby S grows out of it.
Like Pottery Barn Kids.

I don't feel like a walking time bomb waiting for my body to fail. I feel like an expectant mother. With hella perks. 

It took a very, very long time to get my head to this place, but right now, at this moment, this is feeling like the right decision, and the best of many worlds.


Little guy without a cute nickname: 5 weeks, 6 days based on first u/s
Day 24 of running streak.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Bad Habits

I'm feeling a little growly this morning. And I think I've figured out why.

I'm angry with myself. Really bothered, in fact, by some bad habits that I seem to be developing lately.

It seems that I'm getting into the habit of inserting certain things into conversations where they don't need to be. I'm adding information that does nothing for the recipient. What is it doing for me?

Think back to the days when you were early in loss. Or think back to posts you may have read here circa January 2009. Those days when all you (I) wanted was a bright orange shirt that said, "my babies died" to remove me conversations and give me a free pass from any social obligations. To explain my awkwardness. To justify my moods. Think back to the moments in line at the supermarket or Starbucks when someone asked you if you wanted soy milk with that and it was all you (I) could do NOT to say, "my babies died!" as if that was the answer, or lack of an answer, to anything and everything that someone could possible ask of you.

God dammit. I'm doing it again.

On at least three occasions, this week, someone has asked me "how are you?/can we meet on..../have you had a chance to...." and my response has been this:

"My dad's not doing so well."

True? Yes.
Essential information for this person? Probably not.
Does it have any bearings on the actual question being asked? Yes. No. Sometimes. Not really. Kind of?

I hate that I need people to know this. Why? Why???? What am I looking for? Empathy? Sympathy? A free pass? Am I the only girl who's dealing with aging parents? Fuck no.

I'm bothered that it feels like I'm using this situation like a crutch. I'm annoyed at the way I find myself speaking about my parents lately. Both of them. I'm embarrassed at my lack of emotion. My seeming callousness. My "I'll handle everything attitude." Who the hell am I and do I really think they couldn't make it without me and the horse I rode in on? Please.

I'm not asking for an "it's ok" here. Because it's not. It's just not. That's what someone said to me yesterday when I said, as usual, "My dad's not doing so well."

She said, "I am so, so sorry."
I said, "It's ok."
She looked me in the eye and said, "It's NOT ok. And I am so, so sorry."

And that's when I realized, that here I was, finding a need to tell everyone and anyone my dad is dying and yet at the same time not able to process any kind of response they might give me. What am I doing here?

I am sure part of this is a defense mechanism. Coping mechanism, whatever you want to call it. But there are other ways to move forward here. Like I said, I'm not asking for "it's ok." I'm writing this here not for absolution, but to Name it. Change it.

Stop it.

m, stop it. Handle your business. Be private about it. Share what needs to be shared. Leave other people's parts of the story out of it unless its essential. Stop playing a martyr, or "good daughter," take off whatever ill-fitting wardrobe this is. Death and dying bring drama. Don't add to it. Take those lessons learned about abiding and DO THAT. Just be there. For chrissakes, just shut up and be there. 

All those things you wanted/wished for when you were grieving? Remember them. Do them. Be that. Say that. 

Ok. okokokokok.


I'm leaving work early. I'm walking home now to a (hopefully) clean apartment and bag packed for the weekend. Hospice is now fully in place. Delaware during any spare days becomes our norm. And that's ok. It is. It is ok. We have the ability to be there. So we will be. And I will quietly abide. And then I will go and run and cry and walk with M and sit in the sand for a few hours and then go back. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Breathe in. Breathe out. And be thankful for those breaths.

First ultrasound is tomorrow.
Day 18 of running streak.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Bucket List for Summer - The Tech Edition

And I thought, nice! How timely! Because I've been meaning to share with you some things that have really improved my quality of life lately, too. I call them Game Changers. In fact, that's kind of a catchphrase around here lately. 

Last week's news: Clearly. Game. Changer. I mean, it doesn't get any more game changing than that, does it? And I'm happy to report, all remains well. Betas are fabulous. All levels are where they should be. Our GC is scheduling her first ultrasound later this week. We anticipate being able to see a heartbeat in just a few weeks. 


Ok, where was I? Oh yes. I wanted to share with you these techy things I love, and a few non-techy things that are pretty awesome as well. Almost all of these gems are free. Because I am all about the Free. I should probably note that this isn't a sponsored post of any kind (But hey, if someone wants to float something cool my way, I'm all ears. DM me). Now, here we go:

Tune In - This is a free app for your phone, iPad, mobile device, whatever, that lets you live stream real radio stations from around the world. This isn't Pandora. This isn't limited to what you can get (and pay for) on satellite radio - these are real stations with real DJs. Our kitchen dance parties have stepped it up a notch. First we were hooked on the University of California college stations, then we flipped over to Parisian public radio. BBC6 is pretty damn solid. I get my techno fix from Byte FM out of Hamburg. People: Game. Changer. 

Park Mobile - Another mega game changer. As you know, I've been spending a lot of time in Delaware lately due to circumstances out of my control. What is under my control, however, is fitting a few hours of beach time in while I'm there to decompress. It has become essential to my well-being. But parking meters - those @#$@! meters. They are a bitch. Even if you remember to stash your handy bag of quarters in your glove compartment.

Now, at least in the slower lower DE area, you can pay for your parking meter WITH YOUR PHONE. As in, get the app, type in your parking space, punch in your credit card, set the time. You get a text 15 minutes before your time expires and - wait for it - you press a button and your meter is extended. Sweet Jesus. For those of you who spend more than 2 hours at beach locations, you understand this is a beautiful, beautiful thing. Park Mobile, I heart you.

Evernote - This bad boy takes my obsessive note taking (psst, new article over at BlogHer. Check it out!) to a whole new level.  It's like having your little note book with you everywhere. I can pull down lists, groceries, blog post ideas from anywhere. Anywhere! I use this for work when I don't want to schlep my laptop around. I use this when I sit on the balcony and think of something I don't want to forget and have nothing near but my phone. You can clip web pages and add them, you can use audio, video, photos. Or just make lists and lists and lists. Like, ahem, I do.

Smart Girls at the Party - This makes me happy for every mom who is raising a little girl right now. In this world of crazy, there are smart and awesome and cool things out there that aren't snarky, aren't mean. They simply celebrate the wonderfulness of being a girl. Amy Poehler, you rock. 

The coolest hardcore techno compilation you will ever want. (if you're into that. I am) My pal Matt is 100 degrees of awesome. He's a London-based multi-media artist who also happens to throw down some amazing mixes. You can download them here. For free. But while you're there, go see what else he does. This particular mix is 2 hours long and filled with tunes that make me reminisce about a time I subsisted on beans on toast and clementines and played video games for days and maybe, just maybe, went to class.  I listened to this on the stairmaster last night, and felt really bad for the machine when I was done with it.

Ok, these next two items aren't electronic, but you could probably get them in a digital format? That counts, right?

Brendan Brazier's Thrive - You might recall a few months ago, I admitted to wanting to step our eating game up a little bit. To try to eat even healthier. This book right here - this was the ticket for us. I love everything about it. When we started with the P90X, a few of our friends wouldn't shut the hell up about their paleo diets and how we were really missing the boat if we didn't want to ingest pounds and pounds of animal flesh each day. Protein, man! Protein! That just wasn't cutting it with us. We thought there has to be some plant-based athletes that have figured this out. There is.

First I found the No Meat Athlete. That took us to Brendan's book. His whole m.o. is eating foods that are the most nutrient dense. There are also sections on eating to reduce your carbon footprint, water usage, etc.If you dig it, there's a follow up Thrive Food cookbook that we're making our way through right now.

660 Curries by Raghavan Iyer - Again. Game. Changer. M and I - we both love Indian food. We both admit that I haven't done a fabulous job creating flavorful curries at home. I mean, stuff is tasty enough, but nothing to knock your socks off. These recipes knock your socks off. With a quick trip to the indian grocery and the Asia Mall (yes, it's really called the Asia Mall) we had everything we need to grind our own masala blends, and get real with this shit.

We've had the book for a little more than a week. Made 4 recipes so far. And we stop and say, Wow. Holy shit. This is awesome. In between nearly every bite. This isn't a veg cookbook, but with 660 recipes, you can skirt around the meat based ones pretty easily if you don't want them. 

Alright! That's what I've got! Enjoy. 

Now, any game changers you want to share?