After years of infertility and IVF, we've finally seen light from the other side. I knew it could happen, but certainly didn't think it would be us ... our new life with twins. Gulp.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Love in a Bathtub*

The simple idea of it sooths me. It warms me, in these months of cold, when no matter the setting on the thermostat, it’s still not warm enough. It is escape, quiet, time alone. My mind doesn’t wander to problems most difficult and to-do lists full of tasks. In there here and now, I’m also deep in someone else’s life. Or in a place far away. Yet still at home, in my bathtub.

Oh, the bathtub. Ever since I was a child, it’s been my refuge. An option for entertainment when boredom strikes. A vehicle for procrastination. As a teenager, I’d spend hours, literally, in the tub with a book. The water started out steaming hot, and as it cooled, I’d alternately let some of the cool out and then refill with fresh, hot water. I’d emerge a wrinkly raisin, shriveled by satisfied.

I’ve had different bathing phases throughout my life. Once off at college, there was no option. No tub in my shared, suite bathroom, for the first three years. Finally, the senior year apartment had a nice white tub … almost new. My roommates thought me crazy, but whenever I could grab a few spare moments, that small room was all mine. Let them all use the powder room … that bathroom was reserved!

Post-collegiate apartments contained bathrooms that were afterthoughts of penny-pinching renovationally-challeneged landlords. I suppose the few square feet of floor space that a tub takes up were put to better use … in the crappy galley kitchens? No. In the almost non-existent laundry closets? Nope.

And then … salvation! J and I bought our house, just before we got married. It’s an early 1900s row house, and had been subject to some horrendous renovations. But the former owner did do one good thing. He left in place three original cast-iron clawfoot tubs, all full sized. Plus one mini clawfoot tub residing the backyard, under a leaking downspout. Add to the mix one tan laminate tub-shower-wall cubicle combo in the unfinished basement Not installed, mind you, but hooked up to a hose for water, and another hose leading into a floor drain. And not in a bathroom, per se, but just floating in the middle of the room. Apparently, he lived down there on occasion. I won’t even go into his other creepy habits that we later learned about. Freaky.

For years, I loved those tubs (the full size clawfoots). While they were dingy, marred, nicked, painted and wallpapered (?) with questionable taste, they are just the right size to hug your body. Not enough space to squirm around too much, but enough to be comfortable. They are just the right size for an across the tub rack that holds a drink and book. What more could a water-loving nymph like me want?

We renovated that house a few years ago, and oh yes, I discovered what more I could want. Namely, a little more space and some kick-ass jets and bubbles.

Winter always finds me in the bath, almost with daily regularity. I’ve been so cold lately, and it’s one of the only ways I can feel good. Just plain, old good.

The ingredients for my perfect soak include:

*A stack of magazines or catalogs, or perhaps a delicious novel
*A cool drink (in the past it’s been wine in the evening, but now I’m digging ginger ale)
*A small snack of some sort (one must be careful when selecting a snack, because occasional overboard experience do happen. Have you ever seen a gumdrop floating in bathwater? Take my word for it … ugg.)
*A concoction for the bathwater … bubbles, salts, whatever’s available. Today it will be a bath bomb fizzer.
*A kitty cat.

Running water always draws the attention of my two little felines. They love to drink from the sink faucet, so the bathtub water is simply fascinating. Once the water reaches a higher lever, Sweet White Kitty positions herself on the tub surround. Her body flattens, inches forward, and one paw reaches down towards the reflective pool of water. Usually she undershoots it, and has to reach down even further, which makes me so nervous. Eventually, paw makes contact with water, and licking and grooming commences. Not such a good idea if bubble bath has been introduced into the mix, but she usually figures it out.

If small food pieces or bottle caps are in the immediate area, soccer wannabe Sweet White Kitty starts her match and things start flying into the water. Which is why I know about sticky, floating gumdrops.

I’m starting to feel nostalgic. It’s been 24 hours since my last visit. I can wait no longer … I’m off to take a dip now. Ta ta!

*with apologies to Sujata Bhatt

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Sevens

Goodness .... I was tagged by Jen. This took an awful long time for me to complete - it was harder than I thought. Maybe you'll learn something new about me. I did.

Seven things to do before I die:

  1. Spend some time hanging out in Thailand (where I was born) and in neighboring Laos
  2. Enjoy my grandchildren
  3. Get back to pottery, and have my own little studio someday
  4. Help my sister get her life going, and hang out with her kids
  5. Continue to write, and get better and more disciplined at it
  6. Explore the Grand Canyon (this is more J's wish than mine, but by default, it's mine too.)
  7. Attempt to enjoy and master a competitive sport.

Seven things I cannot do:

  1. Enjoy a game of chess
  2. Touch my nose with my tongue (but I can round up my tongue like a crescent roll!)
  3. Control my obsession with "Flavor Blasted" Cheddar Goldfish
  4. Master the inverted balancing poses in yoga. Or even hold them for 2 seconds.
  5. Keep sucking in my stomach any longer
  6. Multitask while cooking, without getting frantic
  7. Stand flat on my feet, without rolling them outwards

Seven things that attract me to my spouse:

  1. Gorgeous eyes
  2. His faithfulness
  3. His small, but very cute, butt
  4. His love of me
  5. His earnestness
  6. His confidence
  7. The cute way he's so technologically-challenged

Seven things I say most often:

  1. "Whatever"
  2. "Good morning, *&(*&((" (insert name of my business here)
  3. "Is there anything I can help you find today?" (See above)
  4. "Hiiiiiiiiiiiii........" (even if I've been in the same room with the person for a while. Just to break the silence. I don't dig silence.)
  5. "Yep, it's twins. Yep, I'm excited."
  6. "Thank you." (I try, so hard, to be polite, even when I'm feeling like I want to bite your head off.)

Seven books I love:

  1. Anything by Ellen Gilchrist, most especially I Rhoda Manning Go Hunting and Fishing with my Father.
  2. The Fourth Hand by John Irving
  3. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  4. The older Patricia Cornwell books. The new ones simply suck.
  5. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott. I'm currently reading this, and can see it becoming a favorite.
  6. My whole library of infertility books ... they gave me much needed information, stories of women like me, and comfort that indeed, there is a possibility of a child in my future. Perhaps I'll write a bit later about these books. I have a ton.
  7. The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook. I know, I know, you either love Martha or you hate her. But this is my go-to book anytime I need help with cooking or am in need of a cool recipe.

Seven movies I watch over and over again:

  1. The Abyss
  2. The American President (just like Jen!)
  3. Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? (Oh gawd. Tori Spelling on Lifetime. But I just can't turn it off when it appears. Why? WHY?)
  4. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (SJP and Helen Hunt back in the day!)
  5. Watcher in the Woods (another fun one from childhood)
  6. African Queen
  7. The Poseidon Adventure

Friday, December 23, 2005

The Little One

I did it! I managed to get this whole wireless thing set up - presto chango! And I spent an entire late evening / early morning on the couch, checking in on every single person on my blogroll. Wow, lots has happened in the past few weeks, and I was waaaay behind.

We babysat our 2 1/2 year old nephew the other night. Usually, we visit at his house, so we get him in small, controlled doses. This was a different story ... I'd forgotten how crazy wild little tots are. Thank goodness we had some activities planned, or he would've had us all a mess!

After a very fun dinner of grilled cheese, we moved on to work on the Christmas tree, which was lit, but not decorated. Little One took his job of the swirly paper ornaments very seriously, so seriously that he hung all twelve ornaments from one branch. There was no way to encourage him to spread them out, he thought they were perfect just how they were. And they were.

Wrapping presents, what fun, I thought! I can get some real wrapping done, and he can "pretend" wrap some smaller ones. No such luck. We all know what is more interesting to little boys ... the big, empty boxes. One large carton became a sled, a fort, a house, a spaceship, and then an Extreme Home M*akeover house once J was finished with the scissors and duct tape. Quite a creation!

And then, popping popcorn. I realized that most kids now get their popcorn straight out of the microwave, so I thought we'd have a lesson in the Amazing World of Air Popped Corn. It's so much more fun to watch, and when nearing the end, you can take the top off and watch the last few kernels pop all over the kitchen. It was a true success.

I suspect my poor kitties didn't feel the same way about the evening. They're not used to kids, and the Little One was a bit of a terror for them.

After much tail pulling, laying-on, screatching, and whippings with the fishing toy, they discovered the cardboard boxes that were still standing and full of fluff and tissue, and made their ways for safety.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Swerve: Big Decision Ahead

Oh, I am so torn. I have a huge decision to make, pretty much over the weekend, and it’s a fairly huge decision. Or at least I think it is. Is it?

I am part-owner of a small business. I’ve been in it for about five years, and I really love it. It combines my skills (marketing, public relations, organization) and my loves (shopping, homes, beautiful things). It’s been a big part of my life, and has given me amazing opportunities, freedoms, responsibilities, and learning experiences.

But owning a business is hard work. If an employee doesn’t show up, guess who must cover? If a customer is crazy and unhappy, guess who has to spend all the time taking care of it? When the holidays roll around, guess who’s here at all hours? Who goes on all the business trips, deals with all the vendors, and runs the day to day heart of the business? Moi.

The above factors can all be positives, but they can also be negatives. And I can’t do a job half-assed. So if I’m in for good, I’m in full-force. If I’m out, I’m out. No part-time, reduced-responsibilities for me.

I have a meeting on Tuesday with my partner. I need to let her know what my plans are – in or out. For me, there really is no in between. I like to think that there could be, but I’m a bit of a control freak for starters, and a partnership needs to be equal in terms of what you put in and what you take out. And I wonder, with two at home, can I give 100% like I do now? And do I really want to?

It may seem pretty far ahead to be making this decision, but it's not just quitting a job - that would be easy. It's dissolving a partnership. It's potentially changing the face of a business. It's a whole different way of life.

So with this, I put it out there: Do any of you have experiences or thoughts about staying at work vs. staying at home? Regrets? Good decisions? Anecdotal stories? Hard statistical evidence? Just wondering.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

On Line ... Almost

I'm so excited! I've almost figured out how to make my laptop get wireless access! I can't wait to read your blogs from the comfort of my couch or at the kitchen bar while I eat breakfast (or lunch or dinner ... or Oreos at midnight).

In my circle of friends, family, and coworkers, I am one of the most technologically knowledgeable.

But amongst the world of bloggers, I am ignorant ... Completely! So I will sit this evening, surrounded by my boxes of gidgets and gadgets, and hope to get it all set up correctly. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

It Takes All Kinds

I watched a cool special last night about adopting children from China. I'm a Video on Demand junkie, and it was new, so how could I resist? It was very much a homemade, how-to kind of program, but I'm a big fan of how-to kinds of publications and shows, so I really enjoyed it. It took you step by step (very basic steps) through the process, explaining each level, from choosing an agency to deciphering referral information and pictures and on and on.

Ever since I realized that adoption was a possibility for us, I've tried to incorporate the idea into my mindset. I've read about adoption, just like I've read about IVF. I enjoy talking to people who have, or will, adopt. I love reading your blogs. I hope I am one of those people who is genuinely interested, instead of tentatively curious, about adoptions and adoptive children.

I have a friend who will be using a gestational surrogate this spring, if all goes according to plan. I had no idea what an arduous and intense process it will be. Not only does she have to manage finding, interviewing and deciding on a surrogate, she also has to go through the first part of IVF, with the stims and retrieval.

I know that people who have experienced infertility are often more educated about and willing to talk about these subjects. But I love that as women, we really do have so many options available to us. And for the most part, we don't have to hide in the shadows as we decide and manage our choices. We can speak with pride about what we're doing, knowing that there is no shame for us, that we are making the right decisions about our bodies, our futures, our families. Sure, some may not agree with medical intervention, adoption and surrogacy, but we know that it's the right choice for us.

In my own little world, I know people who are making all these decisions, and I love the simple fact that we can. Just think about how many women are making these choices every day.

I've been reading a lot about pregnancy, birth, child raising and the like (big surprise, right?), and I've noticed that in more recent books, there is almost always a decent reference or specific information about all of these options. How you came to have your child absolutely does affect how/if your pregnancy progresses, how your early days with your child will be, and choices you might make in raising him or her.

A family member gave me the copy of What to Expect ... that she read in the mid-1990s. There is little to no reference to ART, IVF, adoption, or surrogacy. At all. And that lack of information certainly mirrors what kind of information and acceptance was out in the general public around that time.

We live in a good time. Sure, I wish more states had mandatory infertility coverage. I wish it was easier to adopt children, and there was less bureaucracy and paperwork. I wish the cover-your-ass legalities involved with any of these options were simply not necessary. I wish people didn't feel the need to over-analyze, criticize, and judge the choices of others, without knowing the facts.

But all in all, we do have choices. And to steal from Martha, that's a very good thing.

Hypochondriac in the Making? I Think Not.

In my life, I've always been a pretty healthy person. Basic illnesses, a bout with mono, a kidney infection that I'll never forget, regular colds and flus. I've learned so much about my body during these past three years, and I feel much more in tune with any aches and pains and what my body might be telling me. Too, in tune, perhaps, now that there are real, live babies inside.

I sneezed last night, laying in bed, and experienced the oddest, strongest pain in my groin. It was so odd, and so scary at the same time. Not like a punch in the belly, not the bowling-ball in the gut like after retrieval, but sharp, yet widespread. I know in my head that this must be normal, right?

I hesitate to call my doctor for something that must be so normal - I don't want to be as annoying as the patient she told me about. The poor woman was so uptight about causing damage that she literally called daily with questions like "I walked by a store where they were repainting. I'm sure I breathed some fumes. Did I hurt my baby?" I am determined not to be that woman. I'm all for asking for help when help is due, but I'm certainly going to have to be able to figure some things out on my own, right?

Doctor Google came to the rescue and assured me that it's just ligaments stretching. Which seems odd, because you can't even tell I'm pregnant. By looking at my belly, that is. Which I also find odd at 12-weeks with twins. Shouldn't something be showing? No worries, it will come soon enough, I'm sure.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Keeping Up with Room Service

They're still there, and apparently, they plan to stay. La Utera de Laura is a hospitable residence, and they seem to be happy with the room service. The maitre'd brings them their meals accordingly, and even though it's been more McDonalds than they might prefer, they haven't penned any complaint letters. The room service has been so good that they're actually measuring a little bigger than they should, which is great. Because their host, moi, has dropped a few LBs in the process.

The spa services have been a bit rumbly lately, as the hosts belly has been acting up, but it all makes for interesting entertainment for them. They would shout and scream with delight and the crazy, bumpy massages they're receiving, but they just read that voices only travel through air, not fluid. Even though their vocal cords are developed, they have noone to talk to. Poor little ones. Imagine, being able to talk, but not being able to talk ... what torture! Instead, Baby B demonstrated delight by doing a little side-roll-arm-raising demonstration while on Candid Camera.

They've spoken to the hotelier about securing their reservations for the next five and a half months or so, and have been told that as far as the establishment can tell, the room will still be available for them. As long as they don't throw a crazy kegger and get kicked out.

* * *

I'm finally experiencing a slight respite in the holiday chaos that is my life right now. The miracle of part-time employees is a blessing, allowing me to attempt to think about my holiday shopping and such. Quite frankly, I think my friends and family are sick of getting gifts from my store, so I'm trying to branch out a bit.

* * *

I feel challenged sometimes in how to talk about this pregnancy, and the circumstances surrounding it all. I was pretty open about doing treatments and IVF while it was happening, and certainly don't feel closemouthed about it now. I was out with a group of college girlfriends the other night, and when one of them asked "Oh, do twins run in your family?" I had no problem whatsoever saying, "Oh no, we did in vitro."

With friends and people near my own age, I feel so comfortable talking about it, and when talking to that particular girlfriend, I followed it up with a brief conversation about how I don't mind talking about it, because I wish I'd known some more people to talk to and help me when I was going through it. And that it's something I wish more women would talk about. Also, I suspect this friend might be having problems, and I wanted to let her know about me.

On the flip side, last night we told a group we're involved with at church. Many of them, I know well, some of them know about our IVF and such, and I don't mind talking personally to in a more intimate situation. They are all wonderful people, and I don't take their questions to be rude, just interested, but at one point, I just didn't know what to say. Practically all the ladies - ranging in ages from 30 to 70 - asked if twins run in our family, were you taking fertility drugs, etc. etc? I just said no, smiled, yes we're excited, and on and on.

I didn't feel totally uncomfortable, just unprepared. However, two women in the group have twins, and I'm so looking forward to talking to them. And another woman spoke to me afterwards, and just said "I'm so excited for you ... I know how long you've wanted this." It's all she needed to say. She didn't need gruesome details, didn't really care, which I loved.

* * *

I had no idea how lucky I was with all these ultrasounds. I didn't realize that with a regular, singleton pregnancy you usually only get one, or maybe two, ultrasounds. I've already had three...and counting. I feel so lucky, I can get this fix, the little bit I need to keep me going. I can see now why those private ultrasound studios are popular, and although I think he's totally whacked, I can begin to understand why Tom C. thought it important to buy a machine just for he and his child-bride.

The babes have three and a half weeks before they make their next on-screen appearance. Maybe somersaults or thumb-sucking is in the works?