The Roaring Lion

Both of my children were conceived via in vitro fertilization. This is not a secret and I have written about it before. What I have not written about is our Leo Lion’s conception. I have known what my beauties looked like from 3 days post conception. Amazing! This is our lion’s story.

The transfer process is less clinical than the egg retrieval process. The embryo(s) is/are unfrozen and sometimes they need to give them a bit of time to acclimate. For whatever reason, my precious embryos often did not make it after unfreezing. I said a prayer for each one. I mourned each one.Then I had to move on because there was always (thank you God) another one/baby waiting for its mama to be there. Just like our sweet Teddy, Leo Lion was the last embryo we had. Leo was different. When you are in the advanced maternal age group of at least 35, your embryos go through “assisted hatching” where the embryologist helps the shell open to release the embryo. Quickly after unthawing, Leo Lion was bursting through his shell ALL on his own. We all laughed at the eagerness of this tiny, precious embryo ready to go. He was moved into my womb and the waiting game began.

Have you waited to take a pregnancy test after disappointing months? I have. It is awful. This time, I skipped to the bathroom to take the test, 3 days early. I had a secret. I knew I was pregnant. I knew the day after the transfer. I KNEW. I FELT that tiny and blessed embryo burrowing deep into his home. He made it.

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A few days later, the blood test confirmed my intuition and the home pregnancy test. I was VERY pregnant.

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Skip forward to the delivery room…..Leo Lion came roaring out of the womb. He roared and roared and roared. I actually started to panic because I knew I was in for a much, much wilder ride than Teeny gave me.

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He wanted to nurse immediately and with great intent. He fought going to sleep at night. He roared letting me know he wanted to be held. His pediatrician said he was “very alert.” Leo does not do anything halfway. Even when he is just observing, his little limbs are moving as though he can move himself into the middle of the action. He is vocal about what he wants and does not want. There is nothing casual about Leo Lion. He has been this way since conception.

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I find it fascinating that from 6 days past creation he has exhibited very clear personality traits. We did not choose his name based on its meaning, but it is very apt. While IVF is considered a liberal choice, viewing and participating in the process of scientifically creating life has made me very conservative. I have known my child since conception, and I have seen his fierce determination since his cluster of embryonic cells forcefully left their shell. This is a gift and significantly cemented my view on when life begins. My child’s personality began at conception. I know this.

I love you madly Leo Lion. May you always live life fully and fiercely. I will roar behind you, my darling.

t and L

Charlie Brown

The Tiny One is 3. He is marvelous and a total stink pot these days. We have been talking about rhyming words. He has also been watching Charlie Brown. I finally deleted the Great Pumpkin episode when I could not take it even one more time. Lovely Rudolph and feisty Frosty have been recorded, but he will have none of it. I think it is because of all the naughtiness in Charlie Brown. How scandalous they speak to his little ears. I told him I would delete all of them if I heard him using the bad words he hears. If he needs to say the words, he can do so alone in his room. Who am I to judge? I love bad words. Anyhoo, he is a clever stink pot. Instead of using the word blockhead, he uses frockhead. There is that rhyming lesson. Lately it has been shortened to frock, than fock. On my honor, the only time I have said the F bomb in front of him was at 4 in the morning when he refused to sleep and he was only 50% awake. It comes from bloody Charlie Brown. My husband was unaware of the rhyming and called out from his home office/nursery, “Are you hearing this?” I yelled back from the other room while Tiny 2 was attached to my tribal breasts for the 18th hour of the day, “Yes. He’s saying frockhead. He thinks he’s fooling us.” To which husband corrected me that it was now fock. Well, fock. I do not have the energy to deal with this one. I am too tired. All I want is to magically win the lottery without playing it and for my children to sleep for 10 hours. Neither one appears to be a possibility.

I am surviving on coffee and cosmetics these days. I wear a splint due to post pregnancy diastasis recti and I use a topical treatment in effort to prevent the post natal hair loss that is most likely coming. This is my appearance reality. Needless to say, I am not at my finest. A dear friend passes along treats from her Birch Box to me. One of the goodies was an spf 15 primer by IPKN New York and it is a life saver. It is the Flash Cream Radiant Primer. I have tried most of the big name primers and have not loved any of them. Either they are too shiny, sparkly or heavy. This gives you the glow I was supposed to have during my pregnancy. It gives me a fresh face with a subtle, healthy looking sheen. It has entered the limited arsenal of I-don’t-want-to-live-without-it. If I cannot commit to wearing makeup during the day, I can always at least commit to this primer. I love it. In my current sleep deprived and outnumbered state, this has made me at least look like a version of my former self.

Prime the face, rhyme with mommy mouth bass
Sleep, don’t make a peep
Tiny, please not whiny
Baby, someday sleep maybe
Love, all the above

AND YOU SHALL STINK NO MORE

Does time sneak away from you? This post has been on my mind for over a YEAR. How does that happen? I can give a million reasons all relating to one giant belly, I mean event, but shame on me for not sharing something of such great importance.

I attended a reunion last year, and in preparation for seeing certain people only once every 10 years, I set goals for myself. Obviously to look as thin, tan and visually put together were goals, but I had a more subtle goal as well. I decided that I would be an avid listener and speak with poise. You know ‘those people’ who always make you feel good and say exactly the right thing? I wanted to be one of them. I promised I would not tell embarrassing stories about my husband or myself (I tend to not have an uncomfortable-for-other-people filter), I would only pepper a bad word in when it was ironic or endearing and I would focus on the feminine and ladylike aspect of my personality. Cue the first night and a very fun informal party….I found myself in the middle of two men who were once truly adorable high school boys, discussing armpit odor. I volunteered my own concern of smelling bad. Seriously, Katie??? I had run a million miles, paid too much money for a fake tan and I discuss body odor at the first opportunity—with enthusiasm I might add. There goes the feminine.

Despite my complete lack of the feminine mystique, I will share my most important non stink helper I have gathered, EVER.  I have tried every deodorant and have stolen my dad’s French spray deodorant, but at some point they have all disappointed me. The natural deodorants do not work and make me think of scratchy fabrics and patchouli. No offense if you like either of those, but those are visions of hell for me; just like a stinky body. I stumbled upon an article that talked about the anti-stink properties of a lemon. A. Simple. Lemon.  I am at home with a toddler who thinks I am perfect no matter what, so I thought I would try it out. It is brilliant. It is simple. It is a 36 hour smell repellent. A few juicy swipes of a lemon slice is the best damn deodorant I have ever used. (Perfectly peppered bad word, no?) Try it. Just do not try it right after shaving. Find me at the next ladylike event and I will tell you why in great detail.

What To Wear When Underpants Are Not An Option

I like to be well groomed in public. When I am home with my family, it may be a completely different story, but if you catch me in public with the tiny one, it is safe to say that I put at least a C+ effort into my personal hygiene and appearance. Briefly, after the tiny one was born I became acquainted with my real hair color and naked toenails, but I am born again in my high maintenance ways. I thought it quite romantic and clearly creative the other night when my husband told me that the hipsters were copying me in my nighttime granny panty ways with their high-waisted and unflattering shorts, jeans, and bathing attire. Perhaps I should be appalled? No. The underpants I discovered post C section were like manna to a starving man and I cannot give them up. I can only support flirty underpants during the daytime now that I am in my 30’s.

None of this pertains to my thoughts for today, but like any good play from a bygone era, you need the background information for the story. Today we talk nail color. It has been on my mind since the surgeries last month, as has personal hygiene. I have now had 5 fertility related surgeries where the work being performed was below the waist. Surgery is an equal feminine playing field because you cannot show off the cutest outfit or accessory because all you get is a hospital gown, and dammit, they won’t even let you belt it. All I had to work with were my toenails. They were the only way I could communicate that I had an opinion about my appearance since clothing, jewelry (wouldn’t a statement piece at least bring beauty and color to the sterile operating room?), fingernail polish and makeup were not allowed. They even put a shower cap over my hair, so freshly painted highlights just didn’t matter. I had my toes alone to communicate.

I have been stuck in my ways ever since Chanel introduced the color Vamp. I love a blood red, purple or almost black color on my toes. My favorite for the past few years is OPI’s Black Cherry Chutney.

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As morbid as the color is in the bottle, it makes me giddy when it is on my toes. Summertime does beg for a little more flirt and a lot more vibrancy. I have been too wimpy to try blue for 3 summers now, and the preparation for the egg retrieval was just the push I needed. I would make a strong fashion statement with my toes alone. I bought my bright blue Essie nail polish and, I must say, I rocked it with my hospital gown. I may have spent 3 days in the hospital without showering, and they may have been weighing me in the hospital bed without my permission, but at least my toes looked good.

Here are 2 summertime musts for your toes, both available at Ulta.com:

Essie Butter Please

Essie Butter Please

Essie Peach Daquiri

Essie Peach Daquiri

 

Let Me Learn From My Tiny One

I read an article last week, and many accompanying comments, about the moral wrongness of in vitro fertilization. There are topics so personal that you will not be able to change a person’s mind, and this is probably one of them. I cried while personalizing the comments, envisioning the tiny one while thinking about each word, but then realized that it bears no weight in my small world. I thought about it again today while watching my child, who was conceived in a scientific yet completely loving union, squeal with delight when he first saw the moon appear in the late afternoon. The love that overflowed from my heart for him took away any anger I felt reading those words. Seeing his innocence and pure joy in so many moments of his day made me feel silly for even spending a minute in anger over words written by a faceless stranger. I am not patient. I am not always open-minded. I judge. The only difference this time was my view point and its gentler stance, in that moment, in that situation. I am not different than “those people.” But right now, my child is different, is kind, is gentle. Let me see from the view of that sweet child.

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Why I Changed My Mind

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I take videos of Teeny all day long. When he naps, I watch them. After he goes to bed, I watch them again. I email them to my mother and father and expect responses so I can revel in his wonderfulness over and over.  There is probably not a full 60 seconds that I do not think about him. He is 16.5 months and I still cry once per day thinking about how much I love him.

This is not an activism post, but something I have been thinking about for a while and simply wanted to say aloud. I am generally socially liberal, and I used to be pro-choice. I do not like government butting into peoples’ lives and this seemed more of a personal matter than governmental. I believe in the right for all humans to be able to marry and I believe in kindness for animals raised for food consumption, but I no longer believe in the idea of pro-choice. I remember discussing this with my best friend’s husband saying, “Who am I to tell someone else what they can do with their body?” Do you know what changed this? I could not have a baby.

If you know me or have read my blog, you know that we could not have a baby naturally. Every step we took up that giant mountain of infertility treatments changed my opinion. If one woman who was not ready to have her child would just let me have that baby….  Rational or irrational, suddenly all potential babies seemed like my potential child and the idea of someone not wanting that child, not knowing that I would travel and do anything to have that child was unbearable to think about.

We finally did get pregnant, and pregnancy through in vitro fertilization is a very different process than regular pregnancy.  Everything is monitored from the moment the embryo is placed in your body. When we lost one of the embryos, we did an ultrasound at 6 weeks. Guess what, we saw a little fighter with a strong heartbeat.  The doctor did not think he would make it, but he fought. I was barely pregnant in terms of time, but I was already a mother. That little heartbeat in a yolk sac has grown into my entire world. It is an unrealistic fantasy, but I would like a whole brood of them running around (provided they all slept at night.) I can think of nothing better than just being at home with a whole team of tiny Szurpickis; breaking things, running experiments in my brand new bathroom, locking each other out of the house.  These small people are so much fun! Seeing him at 6 weeks, intent on making it to full life solidified my earlier belief that I am 100% pro-baby growth.  Pro-life is a rotten term.  We are all pro-life.

This change in mindset came from my own experience.  It is just personal.  This is my general opinion, knowing that each situation is different and shouldn’t be judged.  It is simply something to think about.

My Parenting Pearls of Wisdom

I have been a parent for just over a year.  The tiny one is 13 months today.  I am not an expert; I have roughly 5% of the answers.  I search the internet daily for answers or clues into certain things he does or does not do.  I have been in molar and illness hell since August.  (I love him madly whether he is a baby disaster or not, just to clarify.)  I do not know what to do for him in these situations other than give him Motrin, sing, make funny voices, and read “Good Night Little Sea Otter” over and over until he is soothed.

I write today because I feel proud of a piece of advice I recently gave him.  I felt it was wise and translated well throughout different phases of his life.  The tiny one discovers body parts and becomes enthralled, entranced, and engaged with each part.  He found his feet at 4 months and they are still hilarious to him.  He recently found his penis, as all little boys do.  Now, if his feet are amazing, this is clearly above amazing.   I was changing his diaper the other day and said to him, “You only get one of those.  Be gentle.  Choose wisely.”  Whether this is referring to the current manhandling, seeing if it can be shut into a door in a few years, or inappropriate choices as a 40-year-old (a girl can still dream as a mother), this is the best advice I can offer.

Namaste.

When Television Takes Over

Patrick and I were tardy to the party for a certain television show called “Breaking Bad.”  We had been meaning to watch it for years, but just started it two weeks ago on Netflix.  It has taken over our lives.  My husband works like a tornado, so we do not talk very much during the day, but our communication has started to make us sound like junkies.  Here is a typical conversation: 

Pat: I’m working late tonight, but I’m going to try and get out of there by 8 so we can get an episode in.

Katie:  Let me know if you’re going to be late.  I can’t wait.

Pat:  Did you find out how we can get the last 8 episodes Netflix doesn’t have?

Katie: No and I don’t think I can handle waiting until they get it.

We get absolutely nothing accomplished once the episodes start.  They leave major cliff hangers at the end too, so you have to keep watching.  Netflix has 54 episodes and we are on about episode 47 in slightly over 2 weeks.  We aren’t sure how we are going to function in the evening once there are no more episodes to watch.  I heard once that a definition of an addict is not how much or how often, but it is the ability to stop, or the lack of ability to stop once started.  By that definition, we are Breaking Bad addicts.  I have dreamt about it.  I think about it often and wonder what I would do given those life circumstances.  I do not feel ashamed, except at my lack of productivity.  I could chalk it up to bonding with my husband, but that is a stretch since we do not talk except to clarify during an episode.

Since I get nothing accomplished anymore, I have to cheat.  Showering is a must, doing hair is a maybe.  I had simply quit with any type of body color enhancer and embraced my natural pastiness, since that was a nighttime ritual.  Then a magical moment happened; I was introduced to Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs cream.   I had heard of the spray and recommended it with the disclaimer that I had not used it, but I did not know about the cream.  I was a little hesitant with the idea of leg cream, even though I love self tanner and regular lotion.  2 friends swear by it, so I tried it.  It is glorious!  It takes roughly 1 minute to apply.  It adds just the right amount of color and, once dry, stays on and does not smudge.  I forgot about it, slept in white sheets, and woke up with nary a smudge on the sheets!  I think the color it creates is PRETTIER than self tanner.  How have I gone this long without it?  It comes in 4 shades and is sold at drug stores for around $10.  It is my own attempt at camouflage and subterfuge.  Yes, I am reaching.  Now, it’s time for another episode.

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For the Love of Glee

Years ago, I took a brief detour away from beloved Karen Kane for a job that turned out to be nothing short of misery. My core beliefs clashed with office policies and I could not adapt to certain things that made me uncomfortable. It grew to the point of me being incapable to make a decision. I am not kidding when I say that my refuge, aside from my husband, was television. In particular, Beverly Hills 90210 reruns. Television gets a bad rap. There are articles written about how it rots brains, etc. Have you ever thought that if you saw a live, staged episode of your favorite tv show, it would be called a play? Munch on that one for a moment….Television was therapy for me those LONG 6 months.
In 2009 a television show came on the scene that changed what we expected from a series and introduced a nation to what a select few of us already knew was fabulous: show choir/swing choir/glee club. Aside from numbers being perfectly executed in a week’s time, some of what “Glee” showed was remarkably true. Social standings from the hallway never mattered in the choir room. The choir room was a refuge. I passionately loved high school and did not want to leave, but like all teens, there were tough times. I forgot the words to the National Anthem in front of the entire school. My choir friends consoled me. A girl in my grade did not like me for a month. My choir friends wrapped me in their friendships. A breakup was never that awful while practicing your favorite songs for an upcoming competition. I participated in many things during high school, but show choir was my very favorite. “Glee” made show choir cool and exposed what some of us have loved for years to many generations at one time. It brings all genres of music to us weekly, and makes school fun.

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My heart broke today when I read that Cory Monteith died. I loved him on “Glee.” Through his character, I recognized different boys I knew from my own days. He had such a sweetness to him. Because everything now revolves around my child, I mourn for his mother and wonder if she is thinking about her child as a baby. My own mother wondered if it would impact teenagers to stay away from drugs. I think not, but I think it can inspire us as parents to work harder, to be more present, to be enough. I heard that somewhere, to be enough, and it stuck with me. Please let me be enough of a disciplinarian to keep him safe. Please let me inspire him enough to help him find his own passion. Please let me show him enough of my love so he always knows his self- worth.

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At the end of the school year, there was a song that was always sung and it was really in honor of the members who were graduating. It has been running through my mind as I think of the artist lost. It wasn’t a good bye as much as it was passing on to another phase of life. Rest in Peace Cory and let the river run.

“Let The River Run”
We’re coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
Let all the dreamers
Wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

Silver cities rise,
The morning lights
The streets that meet them,
And sirens call them on
With a song.

It’s asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.

We’re coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

We the great and small
Stand on a star
And blaze a trail of desire
Through the dark’ning dawn.

It’s asking for the taking.
Come run with me now,
The sky is the color of blue
You’ve never even seen
In the eyes of your lover.

Oh, my heart is aching.
We’re coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

It’s asking for the taking.
Trembling, shaking.
Oh, my heart is aching.

We’re coming to the edge,
Running on the water,
Coming through the fog,
Your sons and daughters.

Let the river run,
Let all the dreamers
Wake the nation.
Come, the New Jerusalem.

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Workin’ On My Fitness (quote by Fergie)

I recently decided to take my fitness to the next level.  And by that I really mean that I would like to reduce the circumference of my thighs before my husband’s high school reunion pool party.  I think of myself as a relatively fit person.  I run, hike, and participate in Pilates classes, AND I was once a competitive gymnast.  Yes, it was over 20 years ago, but I strongly believe in muscle memory, and I am quite certain I could still do a back handspring if pressed.  I’m not interested if you have a differing opinion, by the way….  Anyhow, the tiny one isn’t always interested in a long walk, so I ordered 2 videos off of Amazon.  This was new for me.  I figured I could do them while he napped.  I ordered Jillian Michael’s “6 Week 6 Pack” and Insanity “Fast and Furious”, the 24 minute workout.  My reasoning was that I want to be friends with Jillian because I like her energy and this was a way to bond with her, and for Insanity, my friend wet her pants shortly into the video—it was that difficult.  Normally I would not try something that induces someone to wet their pants, but I took it as a positive in this situation, and I want smaller thighs desperately.

I convinced my husband to do the Insanity video with me.  He agreed on the condition that we close all the shades so no one could see us doing it.  5 minutes into the video, I could barely breathe and I kind of hated Shawn (the instructor).  10 minutes into the video and I would have quit if Pat wasn’t there to see me quit.  15 minutes into it I no longer cared if I was doing the moves correctly and was randomly shooting limbs in different directions, hoping that I was somewhat close.  Shawn was cheering me on and I was certain he was secretly mocking me.  Shortly after that, Shawn instructed us to “Jack those Jacks”, I felt something pop in my ankle.  Shawn had no mercy for me.  I finished up the video without jumping and felt extremely proud of myself, and wished I had a video of my performance.  While it nearly killed me, it is an excellent workout in a short 24 minutes that I WILL conquer….after my ankle heals.