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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 husband is out of town. I had the house to myself after the tiny one went to bed. I thought perhaps the complete freedom might be liberating, but honestly, I’m bored without my partner. I miss him. I decided to take a bath and as I took my hair down, I thought about how hideous it currently looks and I made the ugliest face I could contortion. I am not sure why, but I sometimes choose to do this. I prefer it when I can perform this for my husband. I adore his responses. He is slightly horrified by what I can conjure, particularly if I am inspired by either old school Rachel from Glee or my perception of zombies. I thought about this during my free time tonight and I thought maybe I should be concerned that this would eventually be a major repulsion for my husband. I immediately dismissed the thought. “Come on, he’s crazy about you” was my inner response. Then I realized that this is a gift my parents gave me long ago. I have never felt unloved by them. I have never doubted the family bond of my parents, my brothers, and myself and it has allowed me to feel security in my grown up family. This is not to say that I have not been allowed to blow around in the wind on my own, because I have, and I am also grateful for this. My parents knew me and trusted the relationship enough to let me flounder and succeed or fail as needed before swooping in to save the day. I am so happy, after the fact, that they did. Here is what shaped me:
My parents let me sing multiple verses of Santa Claus is coming to town to our congregation at church, in June, at age 3. (This led to me thinking teenage boys would like to hear me sing too, which was a very successful method of birth control. Sneaky parents.)
My parents allowed me to audition for everything and drove me to said auditions. If I failed, they talked with me but let me know that failure is part of life.
When I realized TCU’s music program was terrible for musical theater goals, they let me decide whether to stay or transfer. No judgment made. For the record, I made the wrong choice.
When I asked when we were all moving me to New York City, my mother said I had it wrong and I should buy a one-way ticket and figure out where to stay. I thought she was evil. In hindsight, she was both brave and brilliant.
When I could not figure out how to live in New York City, my parents did save the day and paid for my broker’s fee for the apartment. I paid the rent.
My dad drove me out to California to go back to school. I paid for school; he paid for all the insurance needed on my 26-year-old self. I got a 4.0 and the outstanding student award for my major. I needed to pay for school myself in order to achieve that.
Catching your child on every stumble can lead to an insecure child/adult, I have decided. I am learning how hard it is not to sprint over when someone pulls the tiny one’s hair, or he falls 4 inches and bruises his forehead, but learning disappointment at a young age is ok. I would rather that he be disappointed about being in his crib and learn to figure it out, than have an adult who is constantly disappointed about everything, without seeing how to make it ok internally. I want to raise a boy who is so confident about having been so loved and believed in that he was allowed to fall a little bit, knowing he could pick himself up. All of this rambling comes from one ugly face in the mirror. Come home soon Patrick.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This was my day yesterday. I woke up feeling thin. I put on my favorite pink skinny cords with a plunging white tee and my Parisian scarf. I felt good. The tiny one and I headed to an open play class at his gym and, luck of all luck, his daddy met us there!
I made a friend at class and told her I had never been happier in life. I swear I could hear music backing up my perfect day. We got into the car and the tiny one started softly crying. I sang “Who Built the Ark” over and over as it tends to keep him calm. (The storm clouds were forming.) We arrived home and the crying turns to wailing. We entered the house and it smelled funky—time to change the diaper pail? I walked into our tons-of-time-and-money spent nursery to see a room that had been s**t bombed. (I apologize for the language, but it really is the only apt description.) Everywhere.
My long pile rug and my mother’s quilt were covered in canine diarrhea, AND my child was sounding like an abused child at this point. I stood in the room and screamed.
Needless to say, I was brought back down to earth and the music stopped playing in my head. I had a half glass of wine at 2:00 in the afternoon after dragging the quilt and rug outside to clean. At the end of the day, feeling putrid, I sprayed on my perfume to try and feel like the woman who started the day off perfect. Burberry London never fails me. I get excited every time I approach the bottle to spray. I bought it the first time on accident. I went to buy the Burberry scent my friend introduced me to, and bought the wrong one. It was a fantastic mistake.
Burberry London is not an easy going scent. It is not a hipster or new scent. It is a rich, primal, and feminine scent. Like a day that encompasses a variety of engagements, it covers all scent arenas. There are layers of florals, citrus, and musk in the scent. If it were a color, it would be a deep plum. It is not a scent that you wear to work, or give to a young girl as her first scent. It is the scent a young girl watches her mother spray while getting ready for an evening out, or a scent an exhausted mother sprays at the end of the day to recapture a little magic.
I am on videotape stealing out of my brother’s Easter basket. I was not 2 or 3 stealing out of my teenage brother’s basket; that would have been cute. I was in the 7-9 range, stealing out of my 2-3 year old brother’s Easter basket. I am honestly not sure which bothers me more; the fact that I did it, or that I did not notice a giant 1980’s video camera recording my every move. There isn’t any verbiage on the tape either. It’s like one of my parents was recording an animal in the wild doing what came naturally. I am fervently against stealing, as a side note. Whether it is physically stealing goods or stealing ideas, it is not ok. I do not know what came over me. I am an honest person; I know my flat spots and thievery isn’t among them. I blame the excitement of the goodies in the Easter basket after a mean, competitive hunt for the most eggs. Maybe I was actually just counting his eggs?
Next year the tiny one will get to participate in Easter and I cannot wait. I already talk to him about the true meaning of Easter, but for all children, the egg hunt and basket really are what make it an exciting holiday. The reverence comes later. In honor of the commercial side of Easter, here is what I would stash in my own Easter basket.
MAC lip liner in Whirl. They are recognized for their Spice color, but I swear it is secretly an eye liner. Whirl is incredible. It is like the color of your lips after a high school make-out session. It enhances red lipstick and is the perfect base to a nude gloss.
Nails Inc Feathers Effect Nail Polish. It looks like an Easter egg. This should only be worn on grown up toes or little girl fingers. The only thing creepier than an adult woman accessorized like a child is a child accessorized like an adult.
Kai Body Butter. This smells exactly like California in Spring, and it is fantastic. January through April is by far the best part of a Southern California year and this embodies it. I like the idea of smothering my body in the scent.
A Fantastic Statement Necklace, like this one from Anthropologie ($68). These have always been my signature style. I cannot wear them with the tiny one’s curious fingers, but in a year or so, I will again. When you have a basic, flat outfit, all you need is a wow piece of jewelry to off-set the boring. Costume is usually even more baroque and fabulous than real.
Target Champion Sports Bras. I need the motivation and I love the colors and fabric. They last forever.
Coffee from Koffi in Palm Springs. I had a malted mocha latte from there recently and I DREAM about it. So, so fabulous. http://www.kofficoffee.com