A Dozen Years

I have been married for a dozen years on June 10th. I keep reflecting on this. I like the sound of it more than the sound of 12 years. I think it is the materialist in me. A dozen eggs, a dozen necklaces, a dozen doughnuts….mmmm. Like a dozen eggs, a couple of years have been cracked and (emotionally) discarded, but most of them have made wonderful food for the soul. I am happy. I am sated. I look forward with joy in my marriage. I know that a dozen years later, I am still beloved to him, as he is to me.

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My husband and I met in high school. Adolescence threw me two giant curve balls otherwise known as breasts and I went from an A cup to a D cup in one year. This is NOT the stuff dreams are made of for a young girl, despite how it may sound. There was a traumatic bra buying incident where my mother learned that she could fit her head inside the cup of my bra. I loved that woman madly, but my 14-year-old humor had not evolved enough for that joke.

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I reference my gigantic adolescent boobs because they are responsible for meeting my husband. Any and every 16-year-old boy is interested in advanced female physical development and we started dating. Any adult can tell you this is not enough to sustain a relationship and 4 weeks later it was over because he fell deeply in love with my dearest friend. I loved her far more than I liked him and we all moved on in high school. By that I mean that I detested him but still loved her.

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Fast forward 10 years and a meeting as adults. I lived in Manhattan and he lived in Chicago. He found my email address we became really good friends. His humor got me. His humor! Our locations dictated that our friendship had to come first and I am forever grateful for this. Without a physical connection, we learned so much about each other. I went through a quarter life crisis and he was my rock, my sounding board and my greatest cheerleader. To this day, he is my greatest cheerleader. His belief in my abilities lifts my heart and I pray he never finds out I am not as talented as he believes.

We have had times when we did not really like one another. We have had times when a bit of the faith in love was lost. There was a year I was really mad and did not know how to get passed it. There were a few years where we were broken together trying to start a family.

In all of that, we had faith and perseverance because of our foundation. That friendship forged on a landline phone grounded us. Our knowledge and love of what was deep down inside has sustained our marriage. I love him and depend on his love returned. He is the best father for our two boys. I pinch myself when I think about what he does for our family. A lot of it he does because that is who he is as a man, but I know there is quite a bit in it because he loves me. That makes me swoon just as it did a dozen years ago saying “I do.”

A few years ago he asked me why I had chosen to get a breast reduction. I felt like he was speaking a different language. I looked at him and said it was because they were miserable, always in the way and probably would be to my waist by now. He said, “They were the coolest thing ever.”

I kind of love that the awful teenager still resides just a little bit inside the body of the most beloved man. Cheers Patrick, to us and a dozen years!

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Into the Woods of Motherhood

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Lisa Helmi Johanson and Anthony Chatmon II as Little Red and the Wolf

My favorite musical is “Into the Woods” by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine. I had the fortune of playing Little Red in high school and also wrote my college paper about how Sondheim had taken bits of music history (Wagner’s leitmotifs being my favorite) and wove it throughout the score. He also wove all the major fairy tales we learned as children into one big, dark and intriguing tale.

My mother’s day gift was to see the national tour of Fiasco’s staging of Into The Woods at the Ahmanson Theater. My darling husband surprised me with 4th row seats (swoon) and I was skeptic but excited about the production. They had scaled it down visually and made it more abstract in appearance. The characters sat in chairs around the stage and played instruments when they were not active on the stage. I thought it could be awful and perhaps my favorite, over the top, musical would be ruined.

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It was wonderful. Without the big production to sidetrack my senses, I focused on the story more than I ever had. It was the first time I had viewed the show since becoming a mother, and really a true adult. If you haven’t seen it, the story is that all of the characters have a big wish for life. They have to venture into the woods (a metaphor for life) to try and “get their wish”. By the end of the first act, they each achieve that wish. The second act is about what happens when your wish isn’t everything you thought it would be. Sound familiar?

I desperately wanted at least 2 children. We had fertility problems. This is a major theme in the musical. I could identify…. I saw the Baker and his wife confused about how to care for a baby once their dream was realized. This hit home with me. My tiny T is a handful with big dreams and feelings these days and I struggle with how to firmly yet kindly manage his wishes and desires. I have been working on how to mother him and feeling inadequate about my progress. I felt so invigorated after seeing my favorite show through fresh, time travelled eyes. My least favorite song in the show has always been “Children Will Listen.” I did not see how it fit with the story. I thought it was a pretty song woven in for beauty’s sake. This time, it brought tears to my eyes. How could I not have understood before? The entire show is about how to navigate through the woods of life and whether you choose the good, bad, easy or hard path. What can be more relevant in that plot line than guiding a child?

Today for mother’s day, I am going to reflect upon these lyrics. I have already lost my temper when my tiny boy refused to sit through church. I could have been gentler. I could have focused on the gift and card he made me and gave me with such a glow in his eyes. I could have let it go instead of telling him how frustrated I was. Because they always listen and they feel so deeply.

Thank you dear husband for that beautiful gift. I will share the lyrics with you mamas out there who may need the same reminder I did.

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CHILDREN WILL LISTEN

How do you say to your child in the night?
Nothing’s all black, but then nothing’s all white
How do you say it will all be all right
When you know that it might not be true?
What do you do?

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn

To learn what to be
Careful before you say “Listen to me”
Children will listen
Careful the wish you make
Wishes are children
Careful the path they take
Wishes come true, not free

Careful the spell you cast
Not just on children
Sometimes a spell may last
Past what you can see
And turn against you
Careful the tale you tell
That is the spell
Children will listen

How do you say to a child who’s in flight
“Don’t slip away and I won’t hold so tight”
What can you say that no matter how slight
Won’t be misunderstood.
What do you leave to your child when you’re dead?
Only whatever you put in it’s head
Things that your mother and father had said
Which were left to them too

Careful what you say
Children will listen
Careful you do them too
Children will see
And learn
Guide them, but step away

Children will glisten
Tamper with what is true
And children will turn
If just to be free
Careful before you say
“Listen to me”
Children will listen

***I pulled pictures off the web from the Fiasco Tour’s Website. Some of the characters and cast have rotated roles or out of the show, but it gives you an idea of the feel of the show.

THE WAITING GAME

I could not sleep Saturday night. I had decided I was going to take an at-home pregnancy test Sunday morning and the waiting was getting to me. We had our FET (frozen embryo transfer) October 17th, and like this entire process has been this time around, it did not go off without a hitch. Our first embryo did not make it through the defrost, so we had to thaw a second, leaving us with only 2 precious embryos left. The day after the transfer, I caught a particularly vicious and humbling stomach virus that left me 8 pounds lighter of water. How in the world is a tiny embryo supposed to implant in a water free, roller coaster ridden body? I was heartbroken. It felt as though we had taken every dollar spent and flushed it down the toilet along with all the water I was heaving.

Despite all of this, I had hope. Isn’t it amazing that the basic human response to a situation is still hope for the best? I did not verbalize this, I remained outwardly cautious, but inside I was glowing with hope. This WOULD work. We have been through so much, the month was ideal to start a pregnancy and I am strong enough to handle this. I felt twinges in my body like I did when the Tiny One was busy burrowing into his first home. I rested my hand over my belly in hopes that the precious, growing human would feel my warmth and presence and know all was all right. When the Tiny One would wrestle and accidentally kick my belly, I wondered if that was the beginning of the sibling relationship and it made me smile. I was sure it was going to be a girl.

Sunday brought a negative test. Today has brought a negative test as well. I am waiting for the Tiny One to arise and start his day so we can go confirm this with a blood result. I am aching with sadness, but the funny thing is, even in the reality of what I know to be true, I still have a tiny shred of hope waiting for the final results.

 

The Day of Surgery

 

It is common knowledge that teenagers have no sense of mortality. What I learned last week is that not all adults do either. I know that I will age. I know that I will not live forever. I thank God for my strong and imperfect thighs when I run past someone who is struggling to simply walk. I knew these things but I had not viscerally felt them until last week.

Our in vitro fertilization journey has been very different from the first journey when we had the tiny one. The drugs are different; the time line is a different. The medication made me sicker than I could have imagined. I sobbed uncontrollably from the hormones. I saw the needles being prepared and would sit, shake, and sob all the while knowing they were not that bad. My husband would apologize as he shoved 1 of 3 needles into my belly. I was awake most nights trying to breathe shallowly so I would not vomit. It was not like that last time….

Like last time, I produced a gazillion eggs. I am a hen. I was ridiculously proud of this. They cut short my injections and scheduled my surgery. I bought an US Magazine and looked forward to being in bed because, at my core, I am lazy. They retrieved 24 eggs during surgery. 16 were mature and I happily went to bed. I remembered the last recovery being palatable, so I forced my husband to take our tiny toddler to run at the park after his long and boring morning. They left and I read. I started to not feel great, so I went to get my anti nausea pills, which were no more than 15 feet away. I fell. I could not get up. Please Lord, do not let me vomit. The only thing worse than vomiting would be pooping my pants in public. Ok, let me vomit if it means never pooping my pants in public. I crawled back to bed and called Pat. It got worse.

I never know when it is appropriate to call the doctor so I waited. I could no longer stand up without dizziness and nausea, and pain started spreading all over my torso. I could not sit down, lay on my back, or on my right side. I knew it did not make any sense, but wondered if it was a heart attack. Ok, perhaps now it is ok to call the doctor. My doctor said I needed to come back to his office. I had to kneel in the back of the car because I could not sit and I said things that were not nice at all whenever my husband hit a bump in the road. Really.Not.Nice. The doctor sent me across the street to the hospital where we waited for 7 HOURS to be admitted. This entire time was spent on my left side. They were unable to do a cat scan because I could not lie on my back, even after 3 rounds of intravenous pain meds. I waited 6 more hours to be told that I had fluid and most likely blood in my abdomen from an ovary follicle that failed to clot during my egg retrieval surgery, and now I needed more surgery to fix it. They thought the surgery would take 15 minutes. It took 2 hours. My sweet, precious husband was in a full panic mode waiting to find out anything. He said he was so desperate he asked a maintenance worker if he could find out what was going on in surgery. They removed 2 liters of blood from my abdomen. I could finally rest on my back and sit. It was glorious until a few hours later I was too weak to move at all. I am not sure which situation scared me more. I needed to decide if I would accept a blood transfusion. The people in my life who know me deeply know I am terrified of this. I have irrational fears of diseases and am also a control freak. I had to let go and trust because otherwise I would not be leaving the hospital anytime soon. The beautiful view out my hospital room window of the foothills, bright blue skies, and wide lanes where I could walk and run convinced me just as much as my father’s voice over the phone to embrace the transfusion. I left the next day.

My husband asked me if I thought God was punishing us for being greedy and wanting another child. That probably saddened me the most of anything we had gone through during this procedure. I do not think we were being punished. I, too, lost faith briefly, but looking back, I think a small gift was being in that room with the beautiful view. That was a small nudge to remind me what waited for me outside those walls. Life. Running. Hiking. My family. More time to depend on my body while I am young. And just maybe in a year or so, another baby. Maybe. Hopefully.

How We Make Babies

My brothers and I fought, a lot, as small siblings. My mom had a friend who was a psychologist and she told her to simply remove herself as an option the next time we were fighting. She followed the professional suggestion and locked herself in her room while the 3 of us argued over something. Apparently we knocked on her door asking for a referee and she told us to work it out ourselves. As the story goes, we stopped arguing, she heard a chair being dragged across the room, a phone being picked up and dialed and then a self righteous voice speaking. This is what she heard. “Hello Operator? My name is Katie Goeschel. My dad works at the hospital and I need you to call him. My mom locked herself in her room and won’t come out.” Enter sprinting mother and CLICK.
The tiny one needs a sibling. He needs a confidant who doesn’t have to go to his own house at night or follow a different set of rules. He needs a last option when no one else is available to play. He needs someone to teach him how to deal with confrontation and to side with him when parents are being unreasonable in his child mind. He needs a best friend and a best enemy (at times.) I may have fought with my brothers, but I cannot imagine a better life without them in it. I may or may not have been convinced one of them was a serial killer while he was going through puberty, but I am entertained and proud of the man he became.
We cannot make our own child without the help of science. We committed emotionally a while back to try in vitro fertilization again, and finally pulled the financial trigger last week. I thought I would share with anyone pondering this way of baby making, and anyone else who is curious, what the process entails as we go along. To anyone who has been told to “just relax” or “go on vacation and it will happen,” this is for you. There is nothing visually sexy or spontaneous about this. Oddly, I find it very sexy to watch my husband prepare my subcutaneous injections, but perhaps this is just me.
We ordered over $4000 worth of medications from one of the few labs who are able to provide. Everything shown in the picture is the medication that covers only 1 cycle of treatment.

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Yes, it is that expensive, and yes it is mind blowing and kind of painful to stomach when most people just buy a good bottle of wine before making a baby, but it is worth it and I am grateful that there is an option that provides the lifelong joy of a child. They have to overnight the medications because some must be refrigerated. We met with our reproductive endocrinologist for an ultrasound to make sure I was physically sound to start the process this morning. Our doctor was very excited about my ovaries and I was absurdly peacocking around today because of it. It took about 30 minutes to review the medications and reteach us how to administer all of the medicine that will stimulate my ovaries into making LOTS of eggs. We have to inject the medication at the same time each day, and we chose 9:00 pm as our shot time because my husband thought he could be home by that time to administer the shots.

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I choose not to give myself the shots for 2 reasons: I feel very connected to my husband when he gives me the shots, and they burn and make me queasy, so it is best if he does them. As the medication kicks in and the days continue, I will bloat as the eggs push against my abdomen, run out of non-used injection spots and bruise because of it and possibly become somewhat emotionally irrational as I have excess hormones running wild in my body.  The emotional part did not happen last time, but I will no doubt blame any moodiness on it.  I think this is fair. We have 1 day down and about 11 more to go before I undergo surgery to retrieve the eggs in hope of creating beautiful little embryos. Maybe it will work and our tiny T will have his own brother or sister, but maybe it will not.

Happy baby

Our doctor feels good about our chance of success and gave us a 50/50 chance.  This is high in the world of ivf. It is not in our hands and we have accepted that whatever happens in this next year is ok. Our small boy is enough, but 1 more would make our cup overflow with joy.

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.

Needs and Wants

There are needs and then there are wants.  I count my blessings, when I run, that all of my needs are provided, along with many of my wants.  I am still greedy.  Here are my wants:

  • A new couch.  Mine is repulsive.
  • An outdoor rug for my courtyard.
  • To live in a stronger school district for the tiny one.
  • Hair extensions.
  • Botox.
  • In all honesty, I desperately want a Chloe handbag.
  • To win the lottery even though I don’t buy lottery tickets.

We just met with our fertility specialist who told us that we have roughly a 0% chance of having a child naturally.  Suddenly, my wants change, and unfortunately they are wants.

  • A second child.
  • Another happy and HEALTHY tiny one.
  • More belly laughter from someone under 1-year-old.
  • More diapers to change.
  • More croup to keep me awake at night.

We have decided that there is another round of ivf left in us. There is another round of injections, potential surgeries, emotional hurt, financial (God awful) stress, and weight gain (forgive my vanity) in us to try.  If you have not been through this, let me give you hope.  It can work.  I remember sitting in my doctor’s exam room, crying that I could take no more after having to cancel our second round of ivf in exchange for a second surgery.  It takes you to the depths of despair, but I had an incredible partner to catch me in those moments.  Surprising no one more than myself, every day I thank God for how hard it was to have this tiny bundle of joy.  I am more patient because of our struggle to conceive him.  I value each repulsive diaper because I wanted him so badly.  I see beauty in a sleepless night at 4 a.m. because I so desperately wanted to rock my own child.  Truthfully, the money we spent seems like a bargain because of what it gave me emotionally in return.  I can only say this after the fact.  Had it not worked, I would have been resentful of forgoing numerous glamorous vacations and Chloe handbags.  The glorious side of today and not yesterday is the worst case scenario: if the tiny one is the only child we are graced with, he is enough.  Enough joy, enough laughter, and enough love to share.  He was our need.

Motherhood Is A Gift That Doesn’t Come Easily To All

Last year Patrick and I decided not to celebrate Mother’s Day. We thought it could jinx our pregnancy. We had lost the tiny one’s twin early on, and he had been in jeopardy as well. It was too raw for us to celebrate with any confidence. This year, I cannot wait, but I don’t see it as a day about me. I see it as a day dedicated to being grateful for the opportunity to be T’s mama. I see jokes online about how it’s a day to not have to wipe rear ends or be awakened early, and I know there is truth there, but I see this day differently. Maybe it is because aside from a no napping stretch early on, T is an easy baby. Maybe it is because I only have 1 child, which is infinitely easier than 2. Maybe. I think it comes from all the stress, prayers, and the emotional roller coaster ride we took to create this beautiful baby boy. My greatest luxury is this wonderful little family I am a part of, so today my post is in answer to the trite articles written about the difficulties of being a mother. I can tell you that there is a vast population of would-be mothers out there who’s greatest desire is to clean poop off their own child’s bottom or live with sleep deprivation.
• Today I want you to wake me up in the middle of the night from a deep sleep. I am grateful to be the person you want to comfort you. This time goes too fast and I will take any opportunity to spend time with you when the night is dark and still.
• Please twist on the changing table while your bottom is still dirty. It makes me laugh to see you curious about your world and lets me know that you are growing stronger.
• Please make a big mess today with your food for me to clean up. It is better than any movie I could be watching to see you discover how to squish watermelon and then drool it out.
• Please cry a few times today and reach for me. You will not always want me this much and I savor it.
• To my husband: please do not buy me an expensive gift. I stay home with our child every day. That is the best gift you have ever given me, including my Manolo Blahniks and UCLA gymnastics tickets. Besides, when do you have time to shop? You work constantly to make sure I can stay home. Thank you.
• Please chuck your toys across the room. I have been waiting to see your arm strength.
• Please don’t take a nap today. It will panic me enough to research a million things online and learn something I did not know. It may even help me get in touch with friends I haven’t communicated with while seeking their advice.
• Please bite me while nursing. You are the only human in life who has been able to teach me patience. I love you.

teddy 4months 16.2 lbs