Lady Share

I have to immediately share this blog post from My Broken Oven.

My favorite line: “OH NO! No sad mama! Lady share.”

We’re not even close to there yet, but S is five months younger than the twins in this post. Five months down the line is going to be a world of difference from now, in terms of S’s language skills.

I’ll return to this for guidance when that time comes. Thanks so much, Broken Oven Lady.

(By the way, I love how “Lady Share” is taking on so many meanings—Broken Oven shared the story of the lady sharing her eggs to her twins, then she shared it with her readers, and I’m sharing the whole story now in this post.)



He learned the word happy

My son learned the word “happy” today, and he says it when he feels it.

So do I.

What a beautiful day.

He brings me a little whirl of dried grass that looks like a bird’s nest, holds it through the bars of the gate of the schoolhouse yard. “Mama!” he says, showing me, his face so bright. Neither of us can stand it, we want to run to each other, I can’t get the gate open fast enough, showers of kisses.

“Will you hug me?” I ask at dinner. He hugs me. For so long. I see him smile before he dives in. He doesn’t want to stop. We keep hugging and hugging. “Happy,” he says.

“Byeee byee, caw-caw,” he says, waving to the birds and smiling at them, watching them fly away. On the street, in our back yard, out the car window.

Saying everything now. Repeating the last word of almost every sentence I say. And when I ask him to point to almost any object on a page, he can.

We sit on my bed, on the “sea of lo-lo,” and draw pictures in the sketchbook. Then we move our animal crackers across the drawing and have them drink from the lake we’ve drawn. “Mmm, ahhh,” we say for the giraffe and camel, their thirst quenched after their long journey along the crayon-red railroad tracks.

We egg-roll across the living room rug toward each other, screaming.

We run toward each other, then slowly walk backward away from each other until he falls down in hysterics. Over and over.

We turn on the music and dance until we can’t breathe. Arms up, out, down. Leg kicks. Shimmies. Clap your hands. Slap your behind. We spin out to the corners of the room, and then we trade corners, over and again, laughing.

We take a bubble bath, the only object of which is to create as many bubbles as possible. I put them on my cheeks and make beard, and he bursts into giggles. We give him a bubble beard, too. I lay back and sink down in the bubbles. He gets behind me and does the same, seeming to love how adult he feels, laughing at his pretend-relaxing, then trying to keep a straight face.

I tell him, “Please never grow tired of trying to make me laugh, or laughing at my jokes, that’s all I ask,” I say.

Our bellies hurt from so many giggles. I do this thing where I look at him slowly and seriously, and he knows that means I’m about to make a dorky face, or stick out my tongue, or tickle him, or do something with a stuffed animal, and the anticipation makes him crack up.

Naked baby after bubble bath, putting a ribbon around the toy airplane’s neck because the plane is “cold.” It’s the airplane’s scarf. And then I must make the airplane circle through the air and crash into S’s bare belly. Then the stuffed kitties become airplanes and do the same—one crashes into his belly, and the other into his back, simultaneously.

Before I make dinner, he says, “Terts!” and because I can’t say no, not tonight, we go, I take him in the red wagon, and we go. He is thrilled. It is drizzling. There is a plane in the sky then a helicopter. There is a semi-truck. There is a flock of geese noisily heading south. There are the bulldozers, excavators, frontloaders, and skidsteers—all of which he can recognize (and I can, too, now). There are bumpy bumps, hills, sweet soft rain in our faces.

At dinner, he doesn’t like what I’ve made, so I give him salami, and his eyes pop open with glee. We eat sweet yogurt for dessert and he makes me laugh so hard I pee myself a little. He is just putting that spoon in his mouth loaded with so much yogurt and keeping the spoon there, and then laughing in this guttural way. Then opening his mouth and wagging his yogurt-covered tongue at me. I “cheers” his spoon with my spoon, and we laugh some more. “Sweet Dreams” comes on the radio and I serenade him loudly, dancing around the table with my spoon as my microphone, and he jiggles his little legs.

Having him back is so wonderful. I don’t feel tired. I just want to be with him, soak him up.

He has changed. He is talking so much more. His belly is huge. We are communicating more and more. I am getting a little bit of a sense of what it’s going to be like to have conversations with him.

I am beginning to understand that the nature of our relationship is probably going to always be somewhat like this—this dynamic we have of just constantly goofing around. It reminds me so much of my grandma’s relationships with all of her grandchildren. It feels so much like that cherished relationship I had with her. I often feel like I am channeling my grandma, that I am her. Which of course I, in part, am. She’s one of my favorite people on earth so this is a very good thing. She is so beloved, especially by her grandchildren. I love that I feel her so much in my parenting and in my bond with S.

DH is home now (he has been at a long drawn-out doc appointment) so I’d better go now.



Follow-up on my last post

I meant to spend a little time responding, in my last post, from the former magazine editor in me. I was annoyed by two things: a) the “Growing Movement” part of the MC article headline, and b) the pictures of empty cribs, swimming pools, and (especially) the abandoned teddy bear on the floor…

Having been at many a headline-writing meeting, I have witnessed those moments when the splashiest words and phrases are chosen for headlines, for the obvious reason that they attract readers. So I am always a little bit skeptical of them, and often annoyed by the stigma and fear they can unnecessarily create.

Is there really a “growing movement”? The writer claims: “The movement got its (arguable) start nearly 10 years ago when Corinne Maier, a French psychoanalyst, writer, and mother of two in Brussels, wrote candidly about her own regret inNo Kids: 40 Reasons Not to Have Children.” I like that she says “arguable.” That’s laudable. Is there really a movement? Or are there just more outlets for people to express their thoughts and feelings publicly (as evidenced by the Facebook page the article references)? Perhaps it’s one and the same, but I guess it rubs me the wrong way when a conversation about a topic as sensitive as this is undermined by a somewhat exploitative headline.

(I might be more testy lately, however, because of recent headlines and news coverage of “3-Parent IVF,” which makes me see red. But that’s another story.)

The photos only underscore the headline. They are laughably over-the-top. They look like scenes from kidnappings. Again—caricature undermining exploration.

But just to contradict myself a little, I do think that although the article rightly focuses on the mothers’ point of view, it is important to remember the point-of-view of the children, as well, in an exploration of this topic. It would have been good to hear more about what happens to children, emotionally and psychologically, in these situations—and not just through staged photographs.

But perhaps that is an article for another sort of magazine, like Psychology. 

I used to write a lot of short stories about children with unavailable parents, or parents who behave like children. People who knew my parents were bewildered by the sheer volume of stories I wrote including parent-characters such as these. “But your parents are so nice!” they would say. And for a long time, I didn’t understand it, either. Why was I so obsessed with this kind of parent? I knew plenty of people who had dealt with parental situations that, from the outside, seemed far more damaging. Where was my obsession coming from?

It took me years to understand that although my parents were, by any standards, invested and loving parents, they were often very self-involved, and I was often left to parent myself when it came to difficult issues. They knew how to handle parenting at a certain level, but once things became more complicated—in short, as I grew into a young adult—they really didn’t, and still don’t. (Case in point: when my mom was vocally really, really upset that the hotel hair dryer wasn’t working, on the morning that the embryo that became S was scheduled to be transferred into my uterus. She couldn’t stop complaining about it and how her hair looked. Even on such an important day for me, she was worried about her hair. On the other hand, she was there.) I have forgiven all of the crazy things that have happened over the years, and accepted that my role was and is that of leader, problem-solver, parent to myself and to them (although I now absent myself from most involvement in their life decisions).

These were, are, good parents. They did the best they could. I know that now. And they loved me and did not regret becoming parents (at least I don’t think they did!) at any point. They saw being mother and father as their primary roles in life.

If someone like me can be so deeply affected by her parents’ shortcomings—parents who were affectionate and wanted to be parents—I can only imagine what happens to the child whose parents regret having her altogether, or who have to force themselves to love her.

It is said that we fetishize children in our culture, and we fetishize childhood. Fair enough. But as adults we are right to protect children as much as we can from unnecessary psychological pain and suffering. We call them innocent because they are. We call them pure because they are. I make no excuses for my views on this. I witness it every day in my son and in his friends.

Wordsworth’s “Intimations of Immortality”–I fell in love with that poem in college. I think I fell in love with it at that time because I was only nineteen years away from whence I came, so to speak. As you probably know, it is a poem about being born out of immortality into mortality, and how, the closer you are to that birth, the more able you are to see the world as beautiful, bathed in “celestial light.”

“Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:/ The Soul the rises with us, our life’s Star,/ Hath had elsewhere its setting,/ And cometh from afar…(Read the whole poem here.)”

I have thought of this poem often, since S’s birth. We call him our Starman, and we tell stories of his coming from afar, from the stars, and we do the “Starman Handshake,” pressing our fingertips to one another’s, forming a circle, and going, “Neeeee, yay!” before we eat. When I forget to do it, S reminds me, sticking out his index finger. He knows what we’re doing. He more than any of us understands this form of prayer, of grace, because he is pure being, a present-moment master. His eye catches on this and that throughout dinner—what we call distraction—because of his innate unfettered fascination and ability to see beauty. There is innocence in this ability.

I think all children are born Starpeople. They will learn soon enough what the messed-up deal is, here on Earth.

Maybe some year down the road a child can learn about and handle the regret their parents had after she was born.  But not while she is young.

It is important for the regretful parents to find a place to be honest about their feelings and process them, but they do not need to crush their kids while doing so. Thanks, commenters, for making such a point of being vocal on this front!

Process, yes, try to heal and maybe even move on, yes, but don’t do so at the expense of your children’s sense of love and security. Therapy is a good place for processing. Public pronouncements that your children can easily find are not a good idea.

This post became much longer than I expected! Speaking of headlines, I’m going to delete “Quick” from before the word “Follow-up” in my own headline now.


My response to “Women Who Wish They’d Never Had Kids” and “Why Parents Hate Parenting”

First of all, thank you for replying, responding to the “Women Who Wish They’d Never Had Kids” Marie Claire article. For easy reference, right here:

And you might also want to check out the I Regret Having Children Facebook page, here:

I am also going to reference “Why Parents Hate Parenting,” here:

When I stumbled upon the Marie Claire article, I immediately thought of the moment, not too many years ago, when one of my best friends, a mother of twins, told me about the article “Why Parents Hate Parenting.”

We were standing in her kitchen in Wyoming. I was not yet on my rollercoaster ride of infertility and pregnancy loss, but I was yearning for a child and family life. She and her husband quoted the article—“I love my children, I hate my life”—nodding their heads emphatically, saying that it was true for them and for so many of their parent friends. They weren’t saying they regretted parenthood, but they were saying that they were exhausted and depressed. “It’s a depressing kind of life,” my friend said. “You have no freedom and you are just worn down to the bone.”

I nodded, but I was so completely in opposite territory that I could not understand what she was saying. I knew she had always yearned to be a mother and I wanted her to imagine how bleak she would feel if she thought she would remain childless forever. It was my biggest fear and I worried I would have to confront it head on. Which, of course, I did, in a more dramatic and traumatic way than I could have even imagined.

Now that I’m a mother, I understand the exhaustion. The lack of freedom. The depression resulting from near-constant delayed gratification. The niggling fear that I might not ever get back to fulfilling my own goals to my satisfaction. But I was so recently on the brink of childlessness, facing a future without family life, entering the bleak (to me) future of growing older without children, that I can still feel the chill of it. And I know that the bleakness would have robbed me of far more than the exhaustion of caretaking does.

In “Why Parents Hate Parenting,” there is an exploration of different kinds of happiness. When parents were studied in an effort to assess their moment-to-moment happiness, they were found to be unhappy—less happy than their childless counterparts. But when they were studied in an effort to understand more existential matters, “like how connected they felt, and how motivated, and how much despair they were in (as opposed to how much stress they were under),” they were not found to be less happy at all. Psychologist Gilovich says: ” ‘Should you value moment-to-moment happiness more than retrospective evaluations of your life?’ He says he has no answer for this, but the example he offers suggests a bias. He recalls watching TV with his children at three in the morning when they were sick. ‘I wouldn’t have said it was too fun at the time,’ he says. ‘But now I look back on it and say, “Ah, remember the time we used to wake up and watch cartoons?” ‘ The very things that in the moment dampen our moods can later be sources of intense gratification, nostalgia, delight.”

And that is the distinction for me, the one between my daily life and my existential life. My daily life can be a grind, but my overall life has more meaning and purpose for me now. The bond between my son and my husband and me is fulfilling on a higher level–the level that breeds deep gratification and nostalgia and delight.

Like so many commenters on my last post say, I, too, have moments when I just need a freaking-fracking break. I don’t want to stop being a mom. I want to spend a few days regaining my mental bandwidth, letting my mind wander and my body do whatever it wants to do, whenever…

Like right now. My DH and my 21-month-old son are visiting S’s paternal grandparents for five whole days. This is the longest S and I have ever been apart; we’ve been apart for only one night and day before now. I bawled after saying goodbye to him at the airport. I sat in my car and cried harder than I have in a long, long time.

But during the drive home from the airport, Led Zeppelin came on. I turned it up. I turned it up some more. I was not listening to “Hello, Everybody” or “The Sad Little Puppy” from our Music Together CD, music that brings delight to my toddler and delight to me really only through him (as proven by the fact that I pop that sucker out the first second I get into the car on my own). I was listening to chaotic adult music. And it felt so good. And it was so, so loud. I was scream-singing and car-dancing. I did this alllllll the way home. Then I got inside my house and downed a GF beer. I turned on a rom-com with lots of curse words and sex in it at four in the afternoon. I had potato chips and waffles and wine for dinner. I fell asleep in my clothes and slept in until 10 AM.

It was glorious.

When I woke up, I stared at the ceiling and simply let my mind wander. Ahhhhhhh….

Then I deep-cleaned the entire house. This sounds lame, but it gave me the sweetest of pleasure. Usually I go around the house, seeing the same damn things I want to clean or put away, and I don’t—not because I am lazy but because I physically can’t. Because I have a toddler on my hip, or I have only five minutes, or S poops, or S cries, or, or, or…something. And so I look at the same irritating whatever week after week after week, and it grinds on me, even though I tell myself to relax.

But some messes are dangerous to a toddler. Sometimes I have to clean or straighten or put away right that second because it isn’t safe to leave x, y, z lying around.

For the past few days, I have left plastic bags just lying around, and it has given me such pleasure. Or I have put things on the table—recipes, ingredients, equipment—with no fear that S will find his way up onto a chair to steal them, throw them on the floor, or ingest something he shouldn’t.

I know that when I return to a room, everything will be where I left it. It’s…incredible. Endorphins flow.

As a parent, the moment-to-moment is filled with hazards to protect your child from, tasks that must be done right then, multiple conflicting demands—should I clean up this syrup or play trains with him? Should I give DH my ear or get the soup started? Should I change the poopy diaper now or sneak in this phone call to the pediatrician? How can I do yoga and stretch in a way that is entertaining for S? If I figure that out, then I won’t be so cranky carrying him around today, and that’s important, right? Should I allow myself a break by turning on that screen or cuddle with him and a book? And on and on and on.

So it makes sense to me that the moment-to-moment would feel sucky to most women. And I do mean women

From the Marie Claire article: “For many countries, raising a family still constitutes a vast landscape of unpaid work that falls almost wholly on women’s shoulders. It’s a societal infrastructure that innately depends on women cheerfully embracing the experience, even if every impulse tells them otherwise….Here in the U.S., a lot has shifted professionally in the last few decades—women are now expected to lean in both at work and at home, never missing a board meeting or ballet recital. A 2015 study found that American mothers now spend 13.7 hours a week with their children, compared to 10.5 hours in 1965–even though a significantly larger percentage of mothers also now work outside of the home. The combination, for many, is exhausting….’Today’s mom is a domestic throwback to the ’50s, combined with the ’80s-era working mom,’ says Avital Norman Nathman, editor of The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality. At every stage, she says, there are expectations for the right way to mother. ‘Because of this, it’s really hard for women to speak out about their horrible experiences, from a miserable pregnancy to a bad birth, because you’re supposed to be this loving, glowing Mother Earth person,’ she explains. ‘It doesn’t leave much room to process actual feelings.'”

And this is the important point for me. We must leave room for women to process their actual feelings, whether we feel the same or not. Because perhaps through processing, real healing can occur—which can only benefit both the parent and the child.

It’s also important to remember the larger political, cultural context of parenting. From “Why Parents Hate Parenting,” re: the parenting landscape in Scandinavia:”If you are no longer fretting about spending too little time with your children after they’re born (because you have a year of paid maternity leave), if you’re no longer anxious about finding affordable child care once you go back to work (because the state subsidizes it), if you’re no longer wondering how to pay for your children’s education and health care (because they’re free)—well, it stands to reason that your own mental health would improve….’We’ve put all this energy into being perfect parents,’ says Judith Warner, author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety, ‘instead of political change that would make family life better.””

Okay, I’ll leave it at that, for now. I’ve got to run home and squeeze in another rom-com, after a day spent at the gym, and dallying at vegan restaurants and Victorian cafes and vintage kitchen shops. A lovely day. But a video of my son’s beautiful face just popped up on my phone, smiling so brightly as he plays piano at his grandparents’ house, and I have to say that although I don’t miss him, exactly, I grin at the thought of kissing his soft cheek again and feeling his little monkey arms around my neck.



“Inside the Growing Movement of Women Who Wish They’d Never Had Kids”

Dear Readers,

Really curious to hear your thoughts on this article…



At least I am the smiling sun

Everyone knows motherhood is not all yummy feelings and beautiful moments. But it’s so much harder (read: less fun) to write about the times that challenge the soul. But I’m going to now…

I was REALLY looking forward to working out Tuesday morning. Scheduling Childwatch at the gym has been a pain in my arse (childwatch full, or they’re not open, etc.) and that combined with my parents’ visit and S’s series of long drawn-out colds, I haven’t worked out in almost 3 weeks. This makes me feel achey and exhausted and puffy. Working out regularly = happier me, better mama and spouse and person in general.

So I was all set to take S to the gym with me Tuesday morning because he really did seem all cleared up Monday—a little stuffy, but fine. He woke up crying and and didn’t want me to put him down. I knew he hadn’t had very much to eat Monday night, so I thought he was just very hungry. When he’s really hungry, breakfast is tough because he wants to be in my arms, and if he’s in my arms I can’t cook! And it’s tricky getting anything into him, even cereal, when he’s in this mode. I try to reason with him (silly mama), but he cries and wants me…while his tummy growls loudly. Once his tummy is full, he perks up and is happy and no longer needs to be held by me so much.

So I thought that’s what was going on. But he was extra-upset so I broke down and put on a train documentary (the history of steam trains, a scratchy black-and-white, my retired gentleman-toddler train afficionado’s favorite) so I could make something for him. But as the eggs were cooking, he runs into the kitchen and screams for me to pick him up. I say, “Please be patient, mama is cooking,” and that’s when he throws up on the floor. I scoop him up, talking to him, and feel his belly churning. The eggs start to burn just as he throws up over my shoulder, all down my back.

These are the moments we do not capture on Facebook! Eggs burning, vomit in my hair and down my back and on my toddler, who is crying so hard he is gagging.

What to do first?

Turn off eggs. Talk to toddler. Wipe his face, his eyes, hug him. Notice that the vomit is all clear water and mucous. See if it is a matter of his having an empty stomach—stomach acid + post-nasal drip from his cold = throw-up—and try to offer him some little bits of things to see if he eats them. No, no, no. Hysterics.

We both smell foul. I try to take off my shirt one-handed while holding wailing toddler. I try to take off his shirt gently. I say to myself, “Stay calm.”

So, after the drama, my little boy falls asleep fast and hard on my chest, reminding me of our newborn-couch days.

When I finally put him in the crib, I call the gym to cancel my workout.


I think I might finally have the time to make breakfast cookies (it has been so hard to feed S before preschool, and healthy cookies will help) and after I make the beds, put stuff away, make myself look somewhat presentable, allowing myself to wear the same stretch pants I wore to bed last night and have not yet taken off (everyone does this, right?) I start in on the cookies, just in case he has a quick recovery and can go to school Wednesday.

And then he wakes up.

You get the picture. Everything I tried to start, I had to stop at a midpoint. I want to take good care of him, but because we are on a strict budget, I have been planning our meals down to the penny and that means I cannot let food go bad, or miss making a particular recipe at the right time. I had planned on doing my crucial make-aheads for breakfasts and lunches for both S and DH, but I could not. S needed my arms…all day long…

It IS beautiful and I DO have yummy feelings about my baby boy needing me so much.He was so run down and agitated. My number-one job was to hold him.  But sometimes I really need to accomplish my own goals, even if that goal is simply making a batch of breakfast cookies. Not just because of the budget, but also because I am an adult human being whose brain is wired to release endorphins when goals are accomplished. I am pretty much putting aside my goals all the time, not just when he is sick. But I felt an extra layer of guilt that I was feeling impatient, my brain tugging me toward other things, while he was sick.

Still, I did put all aside and took my boy out into the industrial area behind our house, where the trucks and bulldozers were hard at work, and we could watch them from a safe distance at a picnic table. He has only seen them after-hours, when they are still. Watching them scoop dirt and skid through rocks and pour out cement was endlessly fascinating to S and the best therapy for him.

And I was so, so bored.

This is one of the things no one talks about much—the boredom. You want to be interested in what your 21-month-old is interested in, but after a while, you just aren’t. Because you are not even close to being a 21-month-old boy but are instead a forty-two-year-old woman.

There are times when I look at the book he has brought me—the one about trains, the one about trucks—and my heart sinks. Once, I said to him wearily, as he brought me the 100 Vehicles book, “Oh buddy, I’m sorry, I don’t think I can read that one again right now,” and he understood. He went, “Hmmm,” looked at the book, wore an expression that said he was processing his minor disappointment, and then went back to the shelf and selected another book for me to read. I was floored. Communication! Putting aside his desires for mine! I gleefully read the new book to him—one that involved a storyline! characters! relationships!—and thanked him for his compromise.

As soon as we’d finished, he went to the bookshelf and selected 100 Vehicles again. “Lap, lap,” he said, coming toward me, and plopped down in my lap. “Vrrrrummmm!”

Anyway, by Tuesday afternoon, I was a little worn down. He was not able to nap during his afternoon nap time. I look forward to nap time, particularly on days when he is very dependent on me, with the same sort of anticipation you feel when you are about to go on vacation. Smaller scale, but similar. Even if that vacation involves running around cleaning, high-speed cooking/baking, or staring at a television show while feeling somewhat depressed that you are watching TV during the day. (One day, he will not nap at all. This is something I choose not to think about.) I was measuring flour for cookies, listening to This American Life, feeling my brain neurons turn back on, when I heard the first cry.

“Mamaaaaa! MAMA!!!”

Defeated, I answered his call.

That evening, I was trying to get him to eat a pouch of pureed salmon because with his cold, he wouldn’t eat his usual foods. He had barely eaten a thing all day. He refused the pouch, too—but not before he saw the picture on the front of the smiling sun.

He pointed to the glowing sun with the smile on its face, which was smaller than a dime.

“Mama,” he said, with such warmth and affection, pointing to the pouch’s smiling sun. “Mama,” he said, pointing to me. Back and forth, pouch, me. Mama, mama. To him I am the smiling sun.

He has done this before, without prompting. With a playing card featuring a smiling sun. With a smiling-sun wooden chair at a local Mexican restaurant.

I thought in that moment that if I am the smiling sun to him, I must be—even in  my weariness and impatience—doing something right.

The bigger challenge was Wednesday. I had been looking forward to Wednesday with fervor because I knew it was going to be my only me-time this week, due to all sorts of dr appt obligations and so on. Except it wasn’t. Because in the night, S woke up with a fever. He did not go to preschool Wednesday.

In the night, around 1 a.m., I scolded my husband for not knowing the second he picked up S that he was, in my words, “on fire” and needed Ty.lenol for fever for sure. I know the difference, the second I touch S, between a low-grade fever and a high one, and I was alarmed that my husband didn’t. (Particularly since he is going to Florida alone with S soon.) DH had been holding S for a while, S wailing and moaning, and he was not doing anything about it. Nothing was done until I woke up and dashed in. DH was furious with me for getting upset with him and the next day he sent me an email saying he did not understand my behavior, that we should have been a team.

How to explain the frustration I feel that he is simply… NOT me?

I never apologized, but I should have. Instead, in response to his email, I wrote back, “Please leave me alone. I can’t talk right now.” You know, some more A+ spousal behavior.

S woke up many, many more times in the night. I think I got a total of two hours of sleep. I was an absolute wreck the next day. That’s what I’ll blame my lame email on.

So I spent another long day with my toddler on Wednesday, my me-time spent in cortisol-land. He was crying so much, and almost nothing I did pleased him. On top of that, he was very out-of-character, being aggressive with me, pulling my glasses off my face, pushing me away, butting his head into my groin, digging his fingernails into my finger pads. Obviously he was incredibly frustrated by his cold symptoms, which had resurged big time. His fever came back off and on. I tried not take any of it personally and I didn’t, at least not consciously, but it’s difficult not to have some reaction. Unconditional positive regard, Winnicott’s holding environment—I know them well. But I felt pushed to the brink.

At a certain point, I tipped over that brink by bending over the kitchen counter and letting out an “Ahhhhhhhh!” I’m not proud. S heard me, and he started crying louder. Not A+ mother behavior. He came running, probably scared (I’m so sorry, buddy!), into my arms.

I was not compared to a smiling sun that day, but we did get through it. I held him a lot, danced with him gently through the rooms, which seemed to soothe him. I also jetted at dinner time to go get my hair done, and although I was worried about him, I was also glad to talk to another adult and read a book and just zone out. When I got back, he did not seem happy to see me. His last interaction with me, on the cushions in his nursery, was one of agitation, pushing me away. I kissed his forehead and told him I loved him so much and I hoped he slept well.

And he did.

This morning, there was my son again. My smiling son.

“Mama?” he said, confused, and I gathered his soft sweetness into my arms.

He is better. He was okay enough to go to preschool, and they said he had a great day. They said he is learning to set boundaries (he’s so small and gets knocked around a lot). I loved seeing his dirt-covered face as I walked up. He was playing with another boy. He was telling him something, going on and on, like I had never seen him talk to another kid. The other kid was listening intently. Then they climbed up on something and both fell back into the grass at the same time, going, “Woah!” A game, apparently, they had been playing.

And today, right now as I type, he is finally napping.

Now he is crying my name.

It’s time to scoop him up again.

And forgive myself for the past two days, for being human.





A visit from his grandparents: Some things I don’t want to forget

I don’t want to forget how he smiled when he saw my mom and dad for the first time through our living room window.

How he took them each by hand, Ma-Maw to the right, Pa-Paw to the left, and immediately took them into his room.

Four whole precious days with their undivided attention.

I don’t want to forget how my dad, heavier and creakier now, would never refuse S when he asked him to get down on the floor, to carry him, to run with him.

“Pap-pow!” he calls my dad. “Mah-muh-ow,” he calls my mom.

How intimate he is with both of them, leaning close to their faces when they hold him, grinning and murmuring and giggling.

He must have shown them his Classic Trains train-enthusiast magazine at least fifty times. He never gets tired of it. And my parents were so easy-going and gentle, flowing with him wherever he went, whatever he wanted to do, and just looked and looked at that train magazine with him.

“Psshhh!” he says, imitating the trains brakes. “Choo-choo!” “Whooo-ooo-wooo!” “Trip-trap-huff-puff”—train going up a hill. And of course my very favorite: “Balla-booooor!” (All aboard!). “Balla-boor!” All day long. His love of trains is absolutely epic.

I don’t want to forget how he started talking so much more after they arrived. How his sweet little face takes on that serious look of concern as he tilts his head side to side and “talks”—a long stream of sentences made up of sounds that are probably exactly what we sound like to him sometimes. “Bashuh-shuh dolla badabidah, abeeya, abeeya-ya-eeya-eeya.” Impossible to capture on a recording or in typed words.

How he takes books off our “adult” shelves and sits down beside us to read them. “Hmm,” he says with delighted anticipation. And then he reads aloud—“Abeeya-beeya-taka-do,” tilting his head back and forth. He takes down Creative Visulation and Thich Nhat Hahn’s True Love and Zen and the Art of Meditation many times a week. He is particularly attached to Creative Visualization, fascinated by the 70s cover featuring women in headdresses. One morning he wanted me to read him John Hawke’s Travesty, a dark, dark wicked book, and one night he wanted  me to read to him How to Talk to the Disoriented Old-Old for his bedtime story.

He asked my parents to read him countless books over the past four days. “Buk! Buk!” Pointing. Getting Caw-Caw (his blankie). Settling in.

At the Chinese restaurant last night, he was in rare form, cracking us all up, going from the seat beside me to the seat between his grandparents. He’d climb into their arms and make them laugh so hard. Dancing, tickling them—“teedle, teedle, teedle,” he says, gently tickling them. Saying their names in his gravelly monster voice: “Ma-Maw! Pa-Paw!” Eating three fortune cookies and stealing all of my poor dad’s food. Climbing behind me on the booth and hiding there, his high-pitched delirious giggle.

We went out into the empty industrial park toward the “terts!”. Trucks. The bulldozers and frontloaders and whatnot in a fascinating construction site, after all the workers had gone home. The bright white moon above. My dad, who is an expert in the construction industry, telling my boy the names of each. The two of them had raced there, to the terts, across the deserted parking lot, S’s little arms pumping. (He slowed down and reached for my hand when it was time to cross the street–he learns so quickly.) “Mun!” he said, pointing to the moon. “Ball!” Yes, the moon is a ball. “Terts!” He is a boy through and through, nothing more fascinating to him than vehicles and machines and dirt and rocks.

At the bookstore, he had taken down a book all about trucks, drawing in his breath and running over to where we sat to show us. Then he went and got three more—of the same book! So all four of us could have the same book and we could all read along. He’d point to the different vehicles and I’d read aloud the names. He pointed so quickly I could barely keep up.

Under the white moon in the pink sky a the construction site, my dad climbed up onto the bulldozer’s tracks (illegally, I’m sure) and showed S the inside where the gears are. He called for his Ma-Maw, and so she climbed up, too. They’re always game, my parents. I have countless shots of them wearing crazy Asian basket-hats at a thrift store to make S laugh.

“Lemur-lemur-lemur-le-ma-le-ma-le-ma,” he calls out when it is time to snuggle. And my parents would lie down with him and Lemur-Lemur, Oowa, Kitty Meow-Meow, and Groves (Grover), and he’d tell all of them all about his day. He’d grunt and struggle over the mountain of pillows to get to my dad, and happily burrow down right beside him, inside the curve of his arm. “Pa-Paw,” he’d murmur sweetly, full of love and relief.

I always want to capture it all. I always have this feeling of not wanting to forget one thing. But it is impossible to capture and document it all. I’ll leave it at that, with gratitude for having been able to live it.





Leaves in the baby pool, tiger chasing train

The end of summer, the beginning of fall. It was a little chilly when I took Mr. S to the pool yesterday afternoon, a few brown leaves floating on the surface of the water. But we stayed in there for over an hour anyway, S getting out the usual pool toys from the container—car after car, truck after truck, watering cans and buckets to give them showers and baths.

I put him in his little floaty vest. I draped my arms over a tiny raft and frog-legged around the baby pool. It was just the two of us. It was one of those rare times when I felt absolutely at ease. All around us, people were sunbathing, reading, leisurely swimming. I had a distinct sense of being in the easy flow of life.

Over the past week, S has been tipping onto his tummy, sticking his legs out like I do, and floating beside me . “Ahhhh,” we both say in unison. “Ahhhhh, ahhhh.”

And now the daredevil is tipping onto his back, too, giggling and squinting up at the sun as he floats. Much shorter time than he floats on his front, but I can tell he enjoys the thrill.

Yesterday, he made another leap. Blowing bubbles. I put my lips to the water and showed him–close your mouth, blow like you are blowing into a harmonica.

That did it for him. He blew like he does into his instrument. And there he had it—bubbles!

He makes a sound when he blows bubbles. He starts making it even before his lips touch the water.

God, it was beautiful, floating and blowing bubbles with him yesterday. I felt as though we were suspended in time.

“Bubbles!” he exclaimed. He climbed onto my back and we floated some more. Mama whale and baby whale, just like I used to imagine us when I was swimming during pregnancy.

He has a poster now on his wall of a mama dolphin and baby dolphin, right over his crib. He does the sound for fish—kiss, kiss—every time he sees it.

At home, we listened to classical music. His eyes grew round and his lips parted when the music swelled. Every time the music swelled, he looked at me and clapped his little hands so hard. “Yay!” he said. “Yay!” Then he listened some more.

What would it be like to hear that sound for the first time–the swell and drama of classical music?

At home, we dove onto the new bedspread on our king-sized bed, which is golden yellow. “Yellow!” I called out. “Lo-lo!” he replied. We rolled back and forth, tickling and laughing and singing out yellow.

Then out to the wooden train table and countless wooden trains. We lined them up by color. We raced blue trains and red trains. I got plastic tiger and chased the trains down the track. I thought he would pass out from laughing. “Roar!” I said, clop-clop-clopping the tiger after the trains. And if I stopped, he’d do sign language for “more” and say the word more—which, when he says it, sounds like, “Muh-ine, muh-ine.”

I can’t seem to keep in mind the new words he says. It’s like they evaporate from my memory. And then when he says them again, I go, Oh yeah, he can say that now, I forgot!

And he can understand everything. Everything.



Preschool, coffee shop, trains

I am sitting in a coffee shop while S is at preschool, trying to find direction. It’s been so long since I’ve had time to let my mind wander, time to tackle my to-do list, time to be creative, that I don’t know where to start. I start to do one thing, hop over to another, watch the clock. This is only my second coffee-shop day, so I haven’t yet found my rhythm, but I will.

I feel ridiculously lucky and privileged. I will soon enough have to begin working again, at least part-time, but for now, I can do things like write a blog post.

Things continue on an upswing. It is no surprise to me that studies show that moving homes is one of the most stressful life experiences, after death and divorce. Disruption to routine is no joke! And disruption of resources. We moved in mid-Feb and in mid-June, and two and a half months after the second move, I still have to remind myself every morning, “You’re home.”

Good people around here. Down-to-earth. Friendly. Can have substantial conversations. Being a native Midwesterner, I definitely do feel at home. Having lived in Brooklyn for about a decade, I look around and see city folks who look like people I could hang out with. I also sometimes hear the slight Appalachian twang and see the beards and flannels that remind me of my childhood and college days. I keep having to pinch myself. Are we really here? Have we found our long-term home? The place where S can grow up, make friends? Where we can form a community?

I realize that things have seemed unstable for so long!

The last step in stability is finding a home we can purchase and just lay down roots. We are loving many things about the house we’ve rented, but it’s becoming increasingly important that our home is our own.

The separation from S on the first day of preschool was bittersweet, of course. My boy. My sweet, sweet little boy. He cried and reached for me, his face bright red, his mouth opened wide and crooked, exactly how he looked the second he was born.

He settled into the teacher’s lap and that’s where he stayed whenever he was outside. Inside, they told me, he enjoyed the elaborate organic snack (around a long table, with candles!), and played with the others, but outside, he needed a lap to nestle into or a hip to cling to. At least for now.

When I picked him up, he smelled of sweet essential oils and organic baked goods. I couldn’t stop breathing him in!

He was very remote and quiet at first, but once we were driving home, he exploded in song. It’s quite possible that I have never seen him so exuberant. Laughing, joking, flirting with me. His fantastic mood continued into the night, and we all three were rolling on the floor with laughter, or running like wild people after one another through the house.

I think the stimulation of preschool opened him to another level of happy.

DH gets S talking about his day by bringing out “Kitty Meow-Meow” and asking S questions in a high-pitched voice. Oh, the babbling S does in response, imitating our inflections, talking in sentences and questions in pre-words! It’s something I wish I could bottle. I can’t seem to capture much of it with a recorder.

I can see him changing. Expressing himself more and more clearly, his unique personality emerging.

I see so much of myself in him. Doesn’t matter that he is a donor egg babe, this boy is so my son.

I see myself the most in his dramatic antics. His hamming it up. He struts. He cocks his head. He runs and squeals, casting flirty looks over his shoulder. He nods exaggeratedly, with coy smile. He tickles me constantly, going, “tiddle-tiddle-de-la-de-la-la-la.” He puffs out his chest and belts out a phrase of a song so exactly that I stop in my tracks. He talks to himself as he plays with his trains, cars, stuffed animals, beginning to give them voices, beginning his long, long life of imaginative play. He takes his crayons and draws wild, expressive lines and circles and dots. “Dot-dot-dot! Dot-dot-dot!” he cries, dotting the page all over with bright color. This boy is in love with life. He is such a tiny person (5th percentile!) with the biggest life force.

But I also see myself (and DH) in him when it comes to his quieter, observant, thoughtful side. He still likes to go to the edge of a yard, room, playground, whatever it is, to see the perimeter, get a lay of the land, observe its goings-on, before delving in. He watches other  kids interact with quiet fascination. He studies the paths of ants and other insects—“bee, bee,” he calls them all—and if an ant crawls on his hand, he doesn’t flick it away, he watches it crawl and goes, “Hmmm,” as if to say, Wow, look at this.

Hmmm, is a big one. Yep, Nope, Hmmm. He gets the Hmmm from me.

He puts his little arms around me and pats my shoulder. “Mama,” he murmurs, utterly content. He presses his forehead to mine and whispers my name. I hope he never, ever, ever stops doing this.

We got teary, DH and I, after he went to bed. Thinking of how wonderful it is to see him grow into himself. But we were also hit with that slight panicky feeling. His babyhood is really now gone, and his toddlerhood will probably go by as quickly.

The other day in the store, he saw one of those collector-edition train magazines over my shoulder and his eyes popped out of his head and his legs started jiggling and he did that giant intake of breath. “Oh my gosh, what is it?” I asked. And then I turned and saw it. Of course bought it. The magazine is half his size (literally) but he wants to take it with him everywhere. He loves to look at the old black-and-whites of old steam trains, at the tiny pictures silver trains coming out of trees, the pencil drawings, the color photos from the 70s–all of it fascinates him. “Choo-choo!” he says over and over. Pointing. There’s another! There’s another! “Choo-choo!”

In the mornings, he goes out onto the sunporch to the wooden Thomas train set that has been in my family for over two decades and plays with the trains. In the afternoon. In the evening. Whenever he can. It’s his all-consuming hobby.

He’s like a retired man with a train collection and aficionado train mag.

Our local pool is right by a train track, and whenever one goes by, he does that eye-pop, leg-jiggle, breath-intake thing. I have to take him out of the baby pool and walk over to the entrance to the pool and hold him up for five minutes while the train goes by. If my arms tire and I start to head back before the train is finished, he looks panicked and says, “Choo choo? Choo choo?” pointing. I always end up staying, pointing along with him, until the caboose.

I want to write that in a card to him someday, when he is old enough to understand the deeper meaning. Dearest baby boy of mine, I will always hold you up and stay with you until the caboose. Love, Mama.




What is happening now:

  • We found the perfect program for S to start in the fall. It is my dream school! Very earthy. Our values. I participated in a day and I didn’t want to leave—that slow pace, enjoying the outdoors, forming relationships, was healing for me. S was in heaven. More on this later, but in short: This was a gift. We were on the waitlist with little hope. And then: the email. The visit. The rapid succession of good things. The peace it gives me to know that he is going to participate in something so enriching, and to know that I will have enough time to revamp my career in earnest, is invaluable.
  • My health: Wellbutrin for my head and Prilosec for my GI system, my friends. Wellbutrin is a strange drug! It doesn’t feel like I’ve taken anything at all. I just feel steadier and happier. More on this later, but I’ll just say that I realized there was no point in waiting any longer. (Thanks for the nudges, commenters. You were right.)
  • Two or three times a week of aerobic exercise at the gym. Ahhhhhh…my poor body was hurting! And I’m curing it, slowly, with oxygen and movement.
  • Got a mouthguard and my jaw pain and headaches are pretty much gone! So simple!
  • My esophagus: I was terrified, and still am a little, about something going on. This dates back to 2003. I will write an entire post about it. I have an endoscopy coming up at the end of the month and would appreciate vibes, prayers, or whatever you have.
  • My anxiety, fears of death, and recurrent miscarriage PTSD: I am much better now, but there were days  I couldn’t get out of fight-or-flight mode. I had flashback-like experiences. Not actual flashbacks, but acute memories of being “on the table” hearing no heartbeat, acute memories of feelings and thoughts. Racing thoughts about things being very wrong with my body. Terrifying thoughts about dying young. I found myself saying, I can’t have my baby, the universe won’t let me have my baby, the universe is going to take me away from him. Which are the exact type of thoughts I used to have when experiencing the pregnancy losses. I can’t have my baby, the universe is going to take my baby away from me. A few days and nights in a row I was shaky. It felt exactly like it did during recurrent miscarriage hell. Tears would come to my eyes as I kissed my boy’s head because I thought, What if I die and have to leave him? What will happen to him? My fears had mostly to do with what has been going on with my esophagus and throat. I fought with the University of Michigan to dig up my old health records from 2003, because I lost them long ago, and they finally found them and emailed them to me—and what I saw put me at ease! So. I am much better now. But still nervous about the upcoming scope.
  • Sidenote: I’d like to write much more about how health scares, any kind, often bring back recurrent miscarriage fears, anxieties, inconsolable sadnesses. Probably always will. It’s good to be aware of what is happening.
  • Money: I love you all for your helpful advice. Thank you sincerely. My head was spinning. Now it is not. Now I am using this iphone App that keeps track of expenses and I can’t get over how easy it is! No more late nights with receipts. Now that we’ve been at this budgeting thing for a few weeks, we are already learning how to save money. It’s like writing down everything you eat in a day in an effort to lose weight. My spending habits are slowly changing. We are learning how to lower our grocery bill—two weeks in a row, it has been less than we projected. And DH is packing lunch almost every day, which saves us enough to have a modest meal out or two. It’s working. I’m a little worried about how preschool costs are going to impact us in “real life,” but we’ve put it in the budget and it at least looks like we’ll be okay. Small steps, but I think we’re heading in the right direction.
  • DH and I have been getting along much better. We’ve been affectionate with each other, sweet and nurturing.

That’s the Relief Update, for now. I’ll keep you posted on how things progress. I have a lot of doctor’s appointments coming up, targeting health issues, and it’s my hope that by the end of it, I’ll have more self-care tools, and less worry. In the meantime, I’m drinking 1 cup of 1/2 caff a dat and no alcohol, tomatoes, citrus, and so on, to keep acid and inflammation low. I did find a study online that said drinking one glass of wine a day is actually associated with fewer esophageal problems! Well, hot damn. Still, I’ll be safe for now. I told myself that if I can’t go a month without drinking alcohol, then that’s kind of ridiculous. More soon, all. And thanks again.

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  • About Me

    Me: 41
    DH: 38

    Fertility issue:
    Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
    6 pregnancy losses
    All early
    5 with my own eggs
    1 with donor egg

    Abnormal embryos

    Factor V Leiden heterozygous
    MTHFR heterozygous

    AFC: 2 - 12
    AMH: 0.2
    FSH: 6.8
    E2: 40
    LH: 2.8


    April 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac only). D&C to remove products of conception at 9 weeks.

    Oct 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac & yolk sac). Took Cytotec to induce miscarriage at 9 weeks. PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, night terrors followed.

    Winter 2012 -
    Two rounds of Femara/Clomid + IUIs at Columbia and RS of NY. The idea: to produce more eggs and increase chances of catching a good one. BFNs.

    April 2012 -
    Natural conception, first try. Ultrasound showed activity in the uterus, but no complete sac. Diagnosed with "missed abortion." Natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    June 2012 -
    Conception after 7 mg Femara for 5 days + IUI. Diagnosed with chemical pregnancy. Natural miscarriage at 4.5 weeks.

    August 2012 -
    Natural conception, without trying. Chemical pregnancy and natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    October 2012 -
    ODWU at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM).

    January 2013 -
    IVF with Dr. Schoolcraft.
    Straight Antagonist protocol

    What he predicted:
    I will produce 11 eggs
    Good chance 1 will be normal
    30% chance 2 will be normal
    Transfer 1, then a 45% chance of success
    Transfer 2, then a 65% chance of success

    What happened:
    7 follicles stimulated
    6 mature eggs retrieved
    2 died during ICSI
    4 fertilized
    3 out of 4 embryos CCS-tested
    All abnormal

    Aug/Sept 2013-
    Frozen Donor Egg IVF at Reproductive Biology Associates (RBA)
    What Dr. Shapiro predicted:
    6 or 7 will fertilize
    1 we will transfer
    1 - 3 we will freeze

    Protocol: Lupron, Vivelle patches, Crinone

    8 frozen eggs from donor thawed
    6 fertilized
    1 Day-5 Grade A XBbb blastocyst transferred
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst frozen
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst frozen

    September 13, 2013: Pregnant

    Prenatal vitamins & baby aspirin,
    Vivelle patches & Crinone

    Beta #1: 171
    Beta #2: 706
    Beta #3: 7,437

    6 w 3 d: measured 6 w 1 d
    FHR: 80 bpm
    Fetus did not grow
    7 w: FHR 121 bpm
    8 w: heart stopped
    9 w: D and C

    Test results: We lost a normal karyotype male for unexplained reasons

    Quit stressful job
    Anti-inflammation diet
    Gluten-free diet
    Vit D, DHA/EPA
    Therapy/energy work
    Creative Visualization
    Art Therapy

    March 14, 2014:
    Double FET at RBA
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst

    March 24, 2014:

    Prenatals, baby aspirin, Folgard, Vivelle, Crinone, Lovenox

    Beta #1: 295
    Beta #2: 942
    Beta #3: 12,153

    1 fetus implanted

    Measured on track

    Fetal heart rate:
    7 wk: 127 bpm, 8wk:159 bpm, 9wk: 172 bpm

    Due date: Dec, 4 2014!

    NatureMade (USP Seal) Prenatals and 4000 Vit D3
    Baby aspirin
    40 mg Lovenox
    DHA and EPA
    Folgard 2.2

    Born: One perfect baby boy 12.4.14

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