Monday, December 31, 2012

A smattering of thoughts

First, here's the mini-summary of what's been up (now with bullets for a nice summary format!).
  • Visited the extended family out of town for a week.  Lesson learned: do not assume that just because family owns a computer that it will be usable.  My in-laws got phished and their solution to the problem is to leave the computer off, possibly indefinitely.  Also it's unsafe to assume anyone over 30 understands how to avoid phishing, and I should offer some education on the subject to the family to avoid this in the future.
  • Spent time visiting my grandma, and my kid still hasn't really warmed up to her. She was all about my grandpa though, so it rubs salt in the wound that he's gone and the kid isn't into reading with her great grandma at all.
  • My parents' house is SOLD! It will never again be my problem at all! SCORE!
  • so much with the hurting and the limited stamina.  I think this kid sits a good 6 inches lower into OUCH territory, so most things hurt a great deal.  Example of limited stamina: it's taken me over 5 hours to get the festive holiday cards ready to the point of needing stamps (which I haven't actually purchased yet) and I get so zonked every time I try to finish a task that takes more than 5 minutes.
  • 30 weeks. whoa. yipes. oh my. ohhhh my. surreal.
Now the questions for you readers who are smarter than me and more experienced at stuff than me (with more bullet points!):
  • Hypnobabies course: worth it?  I did lots of prep but no course the last time, and I felt the self-hypnosis helped with pain management a great deal, so I'm not sure if it's worth it.
  • Nesting: how much do I really need to do beyond having a place to sleep, some diapers, and some clothes (and the nursing pillow)? I feel twitchy about the whole thing but mostly it's because I know there's a lot of baby stuff somewhere in the boxes and I can't move them alone so it's rather moot me wanting to get at them.
  • Taking one class this semester: good idea or insanity?  It's 6 credits and I failed it once before (oh super duper hooray for the $30,000 mistake) but I'm not sure.  If I wait a year to take it, I lose a year of pay and gain a year of debt plus interest.  If I fail again, I'm out of pharmacy school altogether.
  • Childcare: how many hours a week do I need for a newborn outside of the hours I'm in class (it's 10 a week including the 4 hour lab)?  Should I plan for some certain number of hours or beg the "church ladies" to come help if we need it or hire a student to do child minding and a bit of cleaning (so mostly dishes and laundry)?  We have a full-time infant spot (PHEW) that's available starting 10 weeks post due date, so that rocks, but it's also the Monday after my final, so not so helpful or ideal.
Coming up (post preview):
  • Guest post on BALANCE from the spouse
  • Preparing for postpartum depression
  • Life in limbo and getting out

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

PAIL theme post: BALANCE

This is part of the December theme post series over at PAIL.  Go check out some more!

Ahh balance.  It's a great favorite word around my grad program.  One of the great aspirations is that at some point, someone will teach us about balancing life and work.  I get pretty fed up with how little flexibility we get as students if you suddenly have a moment where life has bigger needs than school, or if you have to work while in school (and that's a totally separate and venting post about how we're expected to work if we're going to get the cool jobs/internships/residencies and yet if we work, we are super frowned at for not putting enough time into school, so... anyway...).

So I am not working right now, just going to school, and that's plenty.  I did work last year and have occasionally this semester, but reasonably pregnant it's too much.

School though, it feels like it's a job, and it sure sucks up my time like it (more than just work, actually).  When I'm interning, we call it work.  We tell the kid that I'm going to be done with school when I start rotations because it will be going to work.

The spouse has a job where work comes home a fair bit and my school studying often eats up evenings.  It's not ideal but it's life.  Work is 5 days a week, ending a smidge earlier than 5pm.  School is 8am to 4pm most every day, but I study at home between classes, so I'm around the house an awful lot.  Maybe too much. Probably too much.  Mostly I like to cook at home and I'm too lazy to pack lunch and 3 snacks a day.

I spend a lot of time studying at home, the kid goes to daycare full days all the time, and it is what we're used to.  We were both home with the kid most of the time until she was about 3 months old when I headed back to school, and at 6 months old she started daycare full time.  This is to say that we've been attempting to balance things since and we still aren't terribly good at it, but we try.

When things are balanced well, we cook a big meal on the weekend and eat it for a few dinners and maybe a couple of lunches.  Most nights we retrieve the kid about 5pm and start bedtime at 7:30 or 7:45 (earlier if we're on the ball about it).  If the kid is being beastly and refusing sleep, then we take turns attempting to placate her or at the worst, contain her until she conks out.

When things are balanced, we have one night of kid activity, one night a week where I'm out at a meeting/study group/whatever, and one where the spouse is.  We're trying to eat together at the table and hopefully the same thing, but it isn't working well.  Maybe some day.

The trouble with balancing things is that they don't balance reliably.  A big week in exams for me or a big week at work for the spouse and it's a mess.

Balance... the goals are simple: spend enough time to get by in school and at work, spend enough time at home so we are cohesive and whole people, spend enough time out so nobody goes insane from the stress.  In practice, we fake it.  We don't often fold laundry aside from hanging clothes that wrinkle and shouldn't.  We load the dishwasher together as a game after dinner.  Sometimes we eat much later than we'd like because we were grocery shopping after child retrieval. While it's kind of cute when the kid is being a little sleep-deprived zombie, we pay for it dearly in extended bad behavior the next day.

I try really hard to set aside some time most if not every day to put away the screens (since most of my books/notes are digital, this means no studying).  Once a week we do Family Movie Night where all screens except the TV go off and we all watch a movie together (and generally we try to start as close to 5pm as possible so we can hopefully get to bed at a reasonable time).

The best way for things to balance well is when we divide and conquer.  I study, the spouse and kid grocery shop.  I sort and maybe fold the laundry during a study break, the spouse and kid put it away.  The hard part is that we'd rather do more things together, so we wind up doing that and it takes up any chance we have of getting ahead of things.

One of our sneaky tactics for seeming more balanced is to not give specifics of "adventures" to the kid ahead of time unless we are 100% sure something will happen.  Recently we went into the city for a shopping day with a holiday lights tour and a movie, but we announced it the day before as just an adventure the next day, so there would be no disappointment if we didn't get to do everything as planned.  This gives our slow adjuster time to be ready to do something out of the ordinary but prevents days of sulking due to disappointment if something she got really excited about doesn't work out.

In my fantasy of how things works once I'm working, we do a good division of labor around the house (we both cook 3 days a week and leftovers on the other, someone washes while others dry and put away the laundry, etc) and have enough time to spend hanging out being a family.  Hopefully there will be something like regular jobs for the both of us so we can keep a predictable (if irregular) schedule.

How does the kid handle it?  She's used to it so she doesn't ask a lot about it very often, but periodically we get the "Can't we take the day off and stay home? Why do you have to go to work?  Why do you have to go to school?" fussing.  We both say it's so we can pay the bills, so we can survive as a family.  I'm not sure it flies but we try pretty hard to be convincing, and then do some fun distracting thing within a few days.

How does it all work out?  I'd say we muddle through, doing the best we can.  Isn't that how life usually goes?

"That's what you've been doing with your free time"

In the spirit of full disclosure, I haven't been productive with my break so far.  I survived the semester and I have loafed since then.

Well, I haven't actually loafed around at all.  I have embarked on a craft project of near-epic proportions.  It takes up half my dining room table (but it's a tiny table, so it spills onto the piano).  I'm building snazzy paper baubles to decorate with, some for us, some as gifts, one as a memorial gift to a friend who was very close to our mutual friend who passed away this year.  The process has to this point been 3 days of getting set up to do the creative part of all this - I sliced and diced paper, hole punched stuff, made a heap of tiny glittery confetti, hacked things up and put stuff into organizers so the kid can help without dumping vast quantities of beads all over the house.

I've been meaning to do other things, but I got tunnel vision and with the varied parts, it's been quite the elaborate production.

I've also been thinking a lot about non-school things and while my head is sore in that "I've just studied for 16 hours for the third day and while I can tell you details about this drug/condition/treatment regime, I cannot tell you what I'd like for dinner, so just order take-out or whatever" sort of way.  Mostly I've been thinking about time and what we do with it and if it matters all that much what we do with it.  Today I was considering if ornament making is really a good use of our tiny evening time or if we should do something else.  The answer is clear: until I'm all done, the kid will participate.  She actually has quite an eye for designing these doodads.

Recently the spouse has been around the house an abnormal amount, but yesterday was a normal work day.  Today I got a "so THAT'S what you've been doing all day!" comment... which suggests to me that I've been "wasting" time.

I then thought some more about "you'll never get this time back" and how mad it makes me.  Picking out shiny pieces of paper and asking the kid to put them into a pattern, pick some beads, and then seeing that little smile when it's assembled and ready to hang up? Yep. I'd like more times like this.  Going from 95+% potty trained to less than 50% in one day (and for 2 subsequent days)? No thanks, I'll skip that time.

Yep, maybe the dishes and research project and studying for next semester are more important than crafts.  Maybe making cookies and getting them shipped in a timely manner is more important that crafts too.  Maybe that nap I'm not taking is more important.  But it's my time and I'm going to use it in healing ways right now.  My time will dwindle very soon when the semester starts and while we're very busy over the spouse's vacation time around the holidays (and be non-existent when Little Monster gets here).  It's soothing for me to make all this stuff and the kid likes it and so does the spouse (even with the hints that I've gone off the deep end).  The dishes will keep.  My free time will not.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Really excellent moment

Scene, sometime last weekend, during Family Movie Night:

It's the weekend, we decided to order pizza delivery, and it arrives.  The spouse answers the door, the kid grabs the cat, I monitor the cat holding while the spouse disappears into the kitchen with the pizza.  Eventually I convince the kid to free the cat and proceed into the kitchen to retrieve some pizza.

There's a suspicious paper bag labeled French Fries on top of the pizza boxes, so I investigate.  Calamari!

Me: "You got calamari! And it's not even my birthday!  You're the best."
Spouse: "Well, we are watching The Little Mermaid, so I thought it was fitting."


Sunday, December 16, 2012

The hardest moment in parenting

Tonight (yet again...) is a bad night in which the bedtime wrestling match is worse than usual. It's so frustrating to have this great kid who is totally different and just awful when you try to get her to sleep (in her room, alone).

We adults don't sleep nearly as well if she shares our room, so we insist she sleep in her own room.

What makes it so hard? Aside from intentionally peeing on her bed so if there aren't new sheets she gets to sleep in our room, it's the guilt. We hoped for this child. We had sleepless nights worrying and waiting for her to arrive. It feels ungrateful to insist on this of all things. Why shouldn't we just let her sleep on our floor? I mean, aside from me getting up and having to try not to crush her 3+ times a night, her need for many lights that make it harder for me to sleep, and the hacking cough that wakes me extra often if she shares with us. We are clearly putting ourselves first by not letting the kid sleep in our room. It's hard to avoid feeling terrible for being selfish, even when it's selfishness that's key to survival.

This weekend we went to see a free movie at the theater as part of a kids' day at the movies deal. All the families with more typically-spaced kids, especially the ones with a pregnant mom and barely walking toddler just hurt my heart. It was a punch in the guts to see them and realize it was impossible (or very highly improbable) for us to ever be there, with a normal family that just happened. I had on my green-tinted glasses, I envied that reality so much. Seeing very pregnant people still has that profound ache to it, where I think it will never be me... and yet, I'm waddling pregnant right now.

Sometimes I think I expect too much from the kid because she's so great most of the time. I think I don't l let her get away with much either because she's it and I feel like a super failure when she's out of line or because I worry I'm over-indulging her all the time and I have to reign that in whenever possible.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Finals! Arg!

Tomorrow is my first big deal final.

Am I prepared? Nah.

Do I care? A little bit. 

I should care much more than I do, since I ought to be making some attempt to fix my awful GPA (well, and taking 4 credits of fluffy electives might be helping with that...) but knowing that I have very adequate grades in all my classes is not motivating me to study at all.  One final I have to get more than 40% to pass the class and more than 70% to get a B, so... nap wins!

Probably tomorrow (or today, since most folk seem to read in the mornings) I have to go in for an ultrasound to verify that the weird (moderate to severe) stabby pain is really round ligament pain.  On the upside, an OB who took my weird stabby pain seriously enough to look into it when it didn't go away in a week! (Downside: also recommended I take something that it says in my chart I'm allergic to... Reading: expected of doctors, apparently not required, but I knew that)

I'm pretty sure it's just really bad round ligament and/or hip/back pain, so that's a big improvement for me too.  then I realize that if it's this bad now, March will be just thrilling.  Sorry in advance, spouse!

Today I enjoyed a carb-fest because I am fairly convinced that I'll fail my glucose test and those results should be in tomorrow.  So maybe I'm not actually improving in being less freaked out, just freaked out about things that are statistically more likely to be true.  It continues to seem to me like the other shoe must be out there and waiting to drop, and it would be so much nicer if the shoe lands on something that's manageable rather than something that isn't (say infant death for example, or a clot for someone that ends poorly with significant damage).

At any rate, it's very hard to study while being pummeled in places that hurt (wow is Little Monster a busy fetus).  By about 9pm I am totally unable to stay upright it hurts so much, so I've missed my study group two nights in a row (boo).

And now, a return to my notes and finals and all that jazz.  I will probably be awol for a few days since I've studied even less for the rest of my finals (and my new neighbors' dog(s) keep barking and waking me up so I need extra naps). wooooooot.

Things to fix part 2: toys everywhere

One of the big things we are doing an awful job around here with is putting things away.  Currently there are about 100 plastic building blocks on the floor in the living room, a dozen pencils, heaps of books, a naked DVD, and assorted socks.


I think there are a few solutions to this constant problem. 
First, there will be fewer toys.  We have a garage and many of these toys are going out there in a weekly or biweekly rotation.  They almost all have containers they belong in already so this should go smoothly enough.

Second, there will be a reward if all the toys are picked up at the end of the night.  The star chart to earn a reward has been very successful in the past and I'm never quite sure why we quit doing it (oh, it's laziness and cheapness... hmm... at least one of those I can fix). 

Third, the plastic building blocks must go and only be used occasionally and picked up immediately after use (same for those log house things with the pointy stabbing roofs).  There will be no mulit-day building projects unless they are on a table.

Most importantly, there must be buy-in from everyone that the toys need to go away every time we are done using them.  The giant pyramid sculpture was not made by the 4 year old, so if you play with the toys, you must put them away.  Hint hint.

The cat will also need to have hir own toys, because most of the killer small toy pieces scattered around the house ended up distributed by insane cat antics.  Maybe some nice soft sparkle balls...

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Things I think I'm doing right as a parent part 1

I figure if I am talking about what I need to fix as a parent, I'd better balance that with things I think are going all right in parenting the kid.

Consistency.  When I say, "If you do this, then that will happen" I mean it and it happens.  When I say no, I mean it.  If I'm not sure about saying no, then I don't, because I really want NO to mean something narrow and specific (not some jumbled up "you might convince me if you bug me enough" or "I actually mean yes but I don't want to admit that because it wouldn't make me look good").  This burning desire to really be consistent comes from growing up with rules that changed every other week (at least) and yes often secretly meant no, while no meant "convince me" or "OF COURSE I MEANT NO" or something else entirely.  As near as I can make out, consistency is about the only thing you really need to perfect as a parent.  Everything else you can improve on but if you start off without consistency, you have lost and may never win again.

No means no is also a big deal, because I really value genuine interaction between people.  If no doesn't always mean no, it's impossible to get an overly aggressive love interest to back off.  If no means something besides no, like "if you stick around and wear me down, I'll eventually say yes" then it's dangerous territory.  This lovely article talks about why playing hard to get is a terrible idea.  I'm very thankful that when I was pursued by a man and decided I wasn't interested (because he was married and at least 15 years older than me, probably 20), and I said no, he listened, probably because I never played hard to get.  It's a dangerous game and I've known a lot of women who've played and lost because of it.

Free Range.  We let the kid be a kid to the top of her abilities.  We let her test her boundaries and abilities.  Shortly after she could walk, she went to the playground, and she started to climb up to the top of the tower, so we let her unless there was an actually dangerous spot.  As she got bigger, we changed from hanging around on or near the playground to sitting on a bench nearby, reading a book or chatting.  We have always set her down at events and let her run around unless she's being actively disruptive.  We encourage her to talk to nice strangers and meet new people, although we have covered what a bad stranger would act like, and that she should scream if someone grabs her and always tell us if someone asks her to keep a secret.  We send her out to ride her bike on the sidewalk alone around our block.  Before we moved, we sent her outside to play in the 7 acre yard alone because she knew the rules about where to go (not into "the wild" near the creek, not within 5 feet of the electric fence, not on the road or too close to it).  When she starts school, I expect her to walk to her bus stop for kindergarten and then to walk to school the next year since our district pools kindergarteners and elementaries are grades 1+.  It's only 4 blocks so she will walk in whatever weather, short of very and dangerously cold, when I'll consider driving her but will probably just get her another scarf.

Yep, it freaks me out not to attempt to control her every move.  I worry sometimes when she falls down that she's really hurt, and I want to swoop in and scoop her up, but I don't.  If she needs me, if she's hurt, she'll let me know.  When we go to a museum or the zoo, I let her frolic about unless there's a reason to keep her close (like it's crazy busy and she'd get lost fast).  Then she wears her backpack with leash.  If she behaves herself and stays close, she gets to take the leash for herself.

I figure it's better that I'm worried than that she is.  I want to be teaching the kid to be independent, successful, and confident that she can solve her own problems.

Part 2 coming sometime after finals!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Name game

Names are such a weird thing to think about.  I find that I can't stop thinking about baby names.  It would be easier if we knew which variety of baby is expected, but we don't, so that's life.

We're stuck in a loop of about 5 names that we sort of like, pretty well but not super well.  We like my grandma's name but a hurricane shared her name not so long ago, so it's probably out (bummer).  Then there's the weird thing with matching to the kid's name or not, and not to any pet we've had in at least 10 years, and being sure the initials are acceptable and don't spell BARF or something else awful, and that we're not stealing someone else's long-selected perfect name.

I am terrible at waiting. Terrible.  You'd think that after years of waiting for child 2, and the pins and needles I'm still waiting on, I'd be used to it.  Nope, I just try to fill the space.  I stepped back from a lot of things so I'd have more time to be focused on school, and I feel less focused because I've got plenty of free time and I'm using it in ways that aren't that constructive.  It gives me time to ponder things and obsess about things and blog about them.


I feel like the only resolution to the name game will be meeting Little Monster and considering carefully which name fits hir.

Since we're stuck in this "considering names" loop, I have to learn patience.  It's unlikely to be successful but I'm going to try.

It's an honor to name something, to create a burgeoning identity with a name.  We didn't get to name the cat since zie was in a shelter first for several months and probably knew the name zie was given.  I haven't gotten to naming my computer yet (I should do that!) but my iDevice has a name, the car has a name, and it's weird that there's no name for this occasion.  It seems like I'm already a bad parent that I can't settle on a name.

So.  Name suggestions for either Little Monster (of the female variety, since we have a very nice male name left since the kid isn't) or the laptop?

For the laptop, I've considered naming it after a kind of apple (which it isn't), or something else vaguely computer related, or a fairy tale character name.  Whatever it is, it needs to be suitable to be shouted loudly when I'm scolding it so it's clear to everyone who is in trouble (because right now there's sometimes a response to my computer shouting like "I wasn't doing anything!" or "Do you mean me?").  I'm not sure if the computer has a gender, but it could.

Suggestions welcome.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

PAIL Anniversary post!

In consultation with the spouse, we've concluded that I have a very distinctive accent from a very specific (fairly unpopulated) part of the world, and anyone who's ever heard me would know immediately where I'm from and who I was, so no audio-log.

Since no video/audio, here's a Lego rendition of me with my backpack as created by the kid.

BUT. Question answering!

1) What country do you live in? If you feel comfortable sharing, what state or region as well?

I'm in the US in an area where it snows in the winter, although there's no snow yet (boo).  There are no big mountains either (phew).  My blog belongs in the central time zone because it's a happy medium.

2) What is your favorite “ordinary moment” of the day?

I really like when the kid (age 4) gets home after daycare and comes running in to tell me something and is all MOMMY! GUESS WHAT!  It's fairly similar when I'm fetching her from daycare but she has to show me a dozen things before we can leave, or "just one more game" or some other stalling tactic.  Her nonstop chatter in the 30 minutes after daycare is excellent and entertaining.

3) What is the first thing you do with your little one in the morning?

Ahem.  Often very little with the kid, since I currently am not sleeping terribly well at night and so stay in bed until after her usual departure time for daycare.  Little Monster and I exchange pokes when I'm woken up at about 3:30am every morning (or I poke in response to kicks and get kicks back).  On mornings where I'm up before the kid goes to daycare, my major project is reminding her to keep moving and doing her next task (get out of bed, get downstairs, get your clothes on, no your underwear first, get your socks on, zip your coat) because otherwise she wouldn't move for about a half hour and then she'd probably go looking for some random thing without putting clothes on at all.

4) What has infertility changed the most about you?

I'd say I'm less trusting of biology than I was before.  I used to think that eating healthy and exercise would fix everything and now I don't trust that biology will do its thing accurately at all.

5) What do you wish people knew about pregnancy or parenting through the ALI journey?
All that stuff that happened before the pregnancy/adoption, that doesn't stop hurting just because  the journey has changed.  It's long-term, life-altering stuff that goes down and it's never undone (so I would say you can't "resolve" an ALI journey, because that implies an end when it isn't really).  I think of it like if you've been a soldier, you are never a civilian in the same way you were before being a soldier.  It changes you forever and is a part of you forever.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A moment in paranoia

My strategy to "stay busy and not think about it so much" has worked to a point, and it is now.  I've been writing up a storm between papers and blog posts, so I've got a few days' posts scheduled out but I AM SO FREAKED.

That's pretty much it.  It's been a year since that last missed miscarriage and I'm so nervous about what I'm doing being pregnant (not that it was specifically in the plan since I was pretty ready to be done trying at least for a few months, but thought, "oh whatever. We're moving and we barely see each other so the odds approach zero of getting and staying pregnant for any length of time." and life laughed).

And I still feel lousy, which either makes me very nervous or very glad, depending.

At the moment I'm coping with having treated a pre-migraine with caffeine and now my heart is all aflutter and I hate it. to sum things up, while I kinda feel like a legitimate pregnant person (sort of) rather than someone just waiting to miscarry, it's still scary.  Plus my head just is not in the game for finals.  Not in the least.

And now it's time for study group, so that will be amazing.  I'm so under-studied, and I'm not sure how it happened exactly.

And where is my snow? How can it be December and there's no snow?  CURSE YOU, CLIMATE CHANGE!

Things to do differently part 1: picky eater

I figured that, as it looks now like we've got a pretty good shot at having an in-arms baby in the relatively near future, it's time to consider what parenting Little Monster will look like as compared to the kid.  I also figure this will be a multi-part series because it might help me focus a bit.

The kid is a very picky eater.  I mean very.  It isn't that she won't eat things ever, it's that she has about a dozen or so things she will eat.  Some days she just has milk for lunch at daycare because there's no catering there.  At home, we cave.  We let her choose what parts of our meals she's eating or if we're having left-overs, she gets something special all for her.  She's always been a skinny mini, but since she eats adequately across a week, we've let it go.

As a very small (size and age-wise) consumer of solid food, the kid ate everything.  She was interested in it all.  Then two things happened, when she was about 15-18 months old: I quit cooking her kid food (something mushy at the time) for consumption at daycare, and then we moved and were exceedingly broke.  Vegetables aren't cheap, so they got moved out of regular consumption.  The new daycare was much more of a "french fries count as a vegetable" mind than the previous one, so we wound up with a situation where real vegetables went out of regular consumption all at once.  If avoidable, this would be a food thing to avoid doing.

I have to say, we probably tolerate the choosiness about food more than strictly needed because we suspect the kid has at least a mild version of the food sensitivities I've got, and I was a picky eater, but I picked the things that didn't make me sick.  Since a large part of the things the kid is choosing not to eat are things I can't eat, we try not to push her to try it more because we'd like to avoid very bad reactions like I have had (think allergic reaction involving the emergency room).  When she was about 15 months old (or younger? I don't remember anymore...), we figured out she had a cow's milk allergy, but it went away at about 24 months, so that's a factor in letting her get away with avoiding some foods (ok, so lots of them).

The other thing we do wrong in feeding the kid is not eating at a table.  It takes her a long time to eat and in our general hurry to get through the (very extended by a deliberate but slow pace) evening things to do, we haven't made an effort to have everyone's meals ready simultaneously and the table available.  If we were all at a table with everyone's food ready at the same time, it would be an easier sell to get the kid to try new things and retry things she's declared she now hates.

Plan of attack for Little Monster: there will be no special kid-friendly meals, no matter what.  Little Monster will probably start off solids with table food that might get mushed up, or we might just go with full-on baby-led weaning with gagging allowed.  We're eating meals at the table starting now in practice for Little Monster's arrival and that will continue, come what may.  If we get in an awful financial spot again, we'll figure out a way to keep adequate food at least 2 meals a day by monitoring what's consumed at daycare more closely and we'll try hard to maintain a dinner schedule that includes vegetables as often as possible.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sibling rivalry

Last night we had our first spectacular melt down where the kid went on about how we never play with her and we only buy things for the baby and sob sob sob. Here's my account, live as it played out.

The kid started off the bedtime fiasco with a round of first giggling while shining one of her 3 flashlights in my eyes. I took it away, turned it off, and gave it back twice, then told her that if she blinded me again, it was gone for the night. Then, once she'd lost that one, she blinded me once with the second flashlight. At this I left because I was done with shenanigans. And then she gets that flashlight taken away too, then the lantern after kicking it around.

Then the sobbing and trying to turn on lights. Eventually the spouse got her to say she was upset about us not playing with her ever or doing anything nice for her ever or buying anything for her ever and can't she just have the week off from daycare please? To be fair, today she wanted us both to play and I was studying while the spouse cleaned. Yeah, it's no fun, but she opted not to help clean and spent a lot of time whining that she was SO BORED.

There are a few things that make me crazy about the nightly refusal to go to bed. First there's the "I'm afraid of the dark!" thing. It's town. She has a nightlight and a glowing ladybug and a street light just out the window (plus usually the lantern and 2 flashlights). It's never dark. It makes me crazy that she refuses to use any words until she's sobbing and then I can't make out what she's saying so it makes little difference what is said. Then there's the myth that a routine will work. The more we try for a routine, the more creative her "get out of routine" schemes are.

Now the spouse is singing her all the songs from her colic days, when walking her and singing was the only way to stop the howling from 9pm until 2 or 3 or later. Amazing how she remembers and stops her ruckus to listen to those songs.

I am not looking forward to even more of this "you ignore me and pay attention to the baby all the time" blech. Not one bit. Knowing that it's inevitable doesn't make it any less awful when it gets here.

And now she's taking a turn singing. Either we should have thought of singing as a way to (maybe) coax sleep before now, or it's a great stalling technique. I never know how much to assume she understands with a big vocabulary like that, and also night and day behavior when in public and at home. Maybe it's conscious manipulation and maybe it's not.

So maybe the singing silly a Capella songs together is more cute than just about anything else ever. I just really wish we could move this up an hour so that everyone could get to sleep on time.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Lentil Soup

Here's a first: a recipe post.  I imagine this won't happen again unless we do some more crazy experimental recipe creation and it turns out well.

1 lb lentils (I had brown ones but red would be tastier)
1 quart broth (we used beef but veggie would be good too)
2 c apple cider (if you can, I'd say make that 1.5 apple cider and half a cup apple cider vinegar)
2 c water
2 yellow apples, cubed
1 onion, diced
6-8 cloves garlic, diced
1 c dry textured soy protein, rehydrated according to directions (TVP from Bob's Red Mill is what I used)
1 c pasta, uncooked
Bacon, to taste (or use bacos so more soy)
Cheese or sour cream to garnish

I'd add if making for spice-tolerant folks, and if I'd had these around:
4 oz (or a little can) tomato paste
1 baking potato, cubed
1 stalk celery, diced (with leafy part in spice bag)
1 carrot, diced
2 bay leaves (in a little bag to remove when cooked)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin

Rinse and sort lentils (remove rocks).  Boil 1 cup water and pour over soy protein in medium bowl, set aside for 10 minutes after stirring in some seasonings of your preference (I added a dash of onion and garlic powders, and that 1 cup water is from the package, your mileage may vary).  Add ingredients to large pot, excluding soy protein, bacon, and pasta.  Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.  Add soy protein.  Cover.  Cook for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and ensuring there's still liquid on top (add more if needed).  Check to see lentils are tender and adjust seasoning.  Add dry pasta and increase heat slightly.  Boil for 3 minutes less than time directed by pasta (I picked elbows that normally cook 7 minutes, so I cooked them 4).  Cut heat and let stand uncovered for 5 minutes, then serve with bacon and dairy garnishes (optional).  Great with some nice warm bread or even in bread bowls.  I picked cojack cheese plus some salt to go with my bacon.

This was a remarkably sweet lentil soup, so the savory bacon went really well with it, but if you added the tomato paste and vinegar it would be awesome without it too.  Next time I'll probably add the juice of a lime or a lemon to cut the sweet.

Feeds the two soup-eating adults for about a week, so about 12 servings.

Nom nom nom nom soup weather.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Mid-winter festive paper greeting exchange!

Some time ago, I mentioned that SRB had a brilliant idea.  Here's the drill: if you'd like to get a festive holiday card from me, click this link here and fill in your mailing address.  Then I'll email you mine in return (or comment saying you don't need it) and we can swap festive fun holiday cards (or not, I'm easy)!  There might even be a cute picture of my cat in the card.  The kid chose some very glittery ones so there will surely be glitter.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Finals! Eeeep!

There comes this time, twice a year, when I question my sanity a little bit.  Then I remember how much I loathed writing final papers and revising them and hauling around stacks of research, and while studying 15-20 hours a day isn't any fun, it is SO MUCH MORE FUN than papers. 

My finals traditions are similar to and probably more entrenched than holiday traditions.  I watch all of the Lord of the Rings movies back to back, first with no commentary, then usually the director's commentary, then the design commentary, and then the actors' commentary because it's my favorite.  I usually make bread at least once (from scratch), and often also a pie or two, and I think there will be cookies and snack mix again this year.  A friend is deployed so I'm going to send ginger cookies.  I wonder if they'll arrive before the end of the year.  No idea how long it takes to mail things to Afghanistan.  I also make sure the festive holiday lights get put up so my late night studying is by twinkly lights so I remember that there is an end in sight.  Someday I'll just have the two board exams to take and then I'll be done (unless I decide to get licensed somewhere else too and then it's another state exam... oy...).

Last year my doctor had me eating the gestational diabetes diet so I didn't gain too much weight, so there were no goodies for me.  Then the Wednesday before finals, I discovered I'd lost the pregnancy (during a review session no less) and had the d&c Friday.  Wednesday night I made a really excellent festive holiday snack mix with a s'more theme and a sweet sauce on the cereal part of it.  If I find the recipe, I'll post it.  I ate a good portion of it that night because WHY NOT.

So far I have survived and watched The Fellowship of the Ring.  Then I watched UP and after I cried, I took a nap... so no more sad movies.  Just gruesome ones.  Maybe I'll throw the Die Hard movies into the rotation.  On the something something side, my next OB appointment is on the anniversary of one of those rotten days from last year.  Nothing like making this more scary than necessary... wheeee.

And now, back to the regularly scheduled infrequent updates.  To everyone studying, best of luck.  This is my favorite finals themed song.  I think the kid knows all the words by now.

Friday, November 30, 2012

10 types of sex after kids (and infertility)

Note: this post is irreverent and probably unprofessional. It happens. It's a blog. Also NSFW.

[Here's where I demonstrate my inability to use blogger and insert a jump cut by putting in a picture of a pot after I burned the water in it off... whoops...]

One of the blogs I love is Michelle over at Early Mama.  As an odd duck being young-ish and infertile, it's a nice place to not feel like such a mutant parent for a different set of reasons than the infertility set.  I also really like the perspective that you don't have to cancel your whole life to be a parent, or that you have to have your whole life laid out perfectly before you have children, since I hear both of those from my age peers (who either are now stay at home and happy moms who've lapped me more than once or have zero children because "it's not time yet").

Yesterday she posted a really awesome response to a HuffPo article about 15 types of sex you have in your 20s titled 15 types of sex after kids.  I laughed quite hard.  Then I thought... but there's sex after kids and infertility too!

Here's my short list, because I totally couldn't think of 15 (but I can tell you about at least that many ways to treat arthritis):

1. Newly (secondarily) infertile sex: a mix of grief and “now we can do whatever we want since we’ll never get pregnant on our own HAH! missionary position” sex

2. Striving for an additional child sex: probably more work than fun

3. Grief sex: BFN again and all you can do is cry on each other at first, and then hold each other, and then...

4. Scheduled sex: because you forgot for a few... you know... something about not sleeping with a baby/toddler/preschooler/kid around, and if it's on the calendar, we might remember it

5. Family fun night at the YMCA sex: while the kid(s) are away frolicking

6. Check out this sexy movie scene sex: inspiration, am I right?

7. Sick and sleepy kid sex: fewer interruptions, yes please

8. Interrupted sex: you have to go potty again? That's like 10 times tonight. Seriously.

9. Kick the cat sex: what was the cat doing on there anyway? Totally had it coming.
10. Wait... this is fun again sex: after nursing is over and touching is ok again, when there's no more treatments or My Fertility Friend apps or things to pee on

What did I miss?

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I will confess: I am an addict.  My current active addictions are vanilla coke and facebook.  I don't lightly toss around the label either.  One class had us give up something for 3 weeks and write about our experiences, and I went through serious facebook withdrawal.  It was awful and agonizing and when I got facebook back, I totally started using it twice as much as I had before WITHOUT MEANING TO (like I must check it about 3 times an hour, minimum).  It just happened... I didn't mean to type in facebook when I opened a new tab to... do something... what was I doing again?

I mention this because I am currently (at 5pm yesterday, since this will post early morning Thursday) sipping a very delicious vanilla coke.  I know I shouldn't.  I will doubly never sleep if I finish this thing.  My teeth are in bad shape and more coke will not help, but I had a headache...

Also because one of the topics that inevitably comes up, over and over again, in pharmacy school is the increasing prevalence of addiction to pain killers.  CNN has (what appears to be) a nice one-hour feature on the problem of accidental overdoses due to prescription drug use.  It will be rebroadcast this Saturday at 8 and 11pm eastern and pacific time in case you want to watch it.  Hint: it's a great idea to watch it and get a feel for what we all can do to help.

Did you know that the leading cause of accidental death in the US is prescription drug overdose ("accidental poisoning")?  That more people die of overdoses than in car accidents?  Did you know 80% of the world's narcotic painkillers get consumed in the US, even though we have 5% of the world's population?  Most people don't know that.  We should all know it. We all need to act to halt this epidemic.

I'm one of those future "attack counseling" pharmacists who will tell every patient getting a narcotic or sedative not to take it with alcohol because it can kill you.  I'll probably tell them every time, just for good measure, because sometimes people aren't listening the first time.  I know several people who have very nearly died mixing a glass of wine and some vicodin and maybe a Valium too.  It's not a game.  It is your life that hangs in the balance.

Misusing prescription pain medications is a really easy way to die.  Keeping extras around the house when you are feeling better is a great way to inspire the addicts in your life (read: any and everyone could be an addict, so don't assume you don't know one) to steal them and to give rebellious teens looking for a "safe" way to get high the chance to get addicted.  If your doctor writes you a prescription for more than you need of a narcotic painkiller, you can ask the pharmacy not to give you all of it.  I understand about pain, I really do.  Pain doesn't make you an addict, but so many addicts start out in pain and get way too many pills with little supervision, it's scary.

No, it is not OK to share your prescriptions ever with anyone else.  It's illegal, and you could be liable if you gave someone the drugs that killed them.  No, getting high or buzzed is not one bit safer if you take a prescription medication rather than one you bought off the street (and remind your children of this when they are 10 or 11 and getting high is still scary).  No, it is not safe to let people get a month's worth of heavy duty painkillers all at once but we do it anyway.  If you need them, yes, get a prescription AND then get some way to lock up those meds so they don't get stolen or "fall in the toilet" or whatever.  (aside: I'm amazed at the number of people who keep their medications above their toilet.  Don't do that please.)

Treatment works and it's worth seeking help early and often if someone in your life needs it.  10-15% of the population will be addicted to drugs or alcohol at some point in their lives.  We are all in this together and we need to keep an eye out for signs of addiction - doctor or pharmacy shopping, medications disappearing around someone (after they visit, for example), working all the time or suddenly changing behaviors (like being sick from work all the time).

My active addictions are pretty harmless, but not all addictions are.  It's a serious, progressive, fatal disease to be addicted to drugs or alcohol.  Let's all step up and do our part to make sure fewer people die of it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Our infertile years

I really enjoyed Jules' news item post about this article titled Our Infertile Years that appeared at Salon last week (yep, I'm behind...).  It's a good view of what the inside of infertility looks like, something I don't think the general public has any sense of.

My experience is a bit different because of two things: first, we knew what was wrong and second, we had a small child to parent at the same time.

Secondary infertility sucks in all the ways that primary infertility does, with the added rub that you can never avoid babies/children.  It's impossible to avoid them because children, once you have them, hang out with other children.  As a parent you get relegated to the kids' section of events where you inevitably end up talking about the only thing you have in common with other parents... kids.

Our TTC history has these year-long gaps between miscarriages in which there was this constant struggle between being cautiously hopeful that I'd get pregnant and scared that if/when I did, it would end too soon again (and then it did, twice).  After the second miscarriage I went off the deep end for a few months.  There was a lot of anger at everyone and everything, me most of all.  When you combine that with a terribly 2 year old, it's extra hard in a uniquely unpleasant way.  Then there's the big change in my life, and maybe someday that will get written, but not now.

When the kid started preschool at age 3, we went to orientation.  There were about 15 kids in her class with the two teachers.  One set of twins, one pair of boys very close in age, and the rest single kids with siblings.  Most had a younger sibling, several exactly the age of the baby we didn't have.  At least by then I was sad and not so angry anymore.  Eventually it happened that one of the other kids needed a ride to preschool, and I volunteered because I knew I was the only person with only one kid.  One other mom had only the preschooler at home most of the time but she lived on the opposite end of town too.

As a couple, oh my was it an agonizing thing to go through.  Playing the blame game because it's a dual problem for us, emotions and hormones for me that often win and I get extra unreasonable. We stared down splitting up several times and at least once I arranged an elsewhere to depart to if I decided it was time.  I never felt very satisfied with a conversation we had about the whole thing, very rarely felt heard or understood at all.

The Salon article closes with the author talking about the first year with her twin boys: "In their first year, we learned how to parent our children - and not each other."  I think that the extra bonus unpleasantness of secondary infertility is this part - that you're trying to parent each other (unsuccessfully) while also parenting a small person who keeps changing and demanding new things and creatively evading all your strategies at managing behavior.

I have lots to say about all the "just be grateful you have one" commentary from some people.  First, the obvious response: "Of course I am.  Being grateful for what I have doesn't mean I don't want her to be a sister.  Being grateful doesn't limit me to wanting nothing more."  Furthermore, it's a special kind of torture to have people rub it in.  Yes, if there was no desire for more children, I'd probably spend more time enjoying the one I have.  Or maybe I'd play video games or take up skiing instead.  There's no way to examine my life without that desire for a bigger family.  It isn't me, and it will never be me.  Perhaps in time that desire would change if we knew no more was an option, but it would never be gone unless we added to our family somehow.

I don't really know how to handle the reality that just might be mine, where we have two actual children after so much waiting and worry.  If I get to pick family size, I'd really like 4 children, but I'm not deeply attached to all of them being biologically mine.  If the spouse gets to pick, it's two or maybe three, and again, not so committed to all being biologically ours.  It hurts just to think that the roller coaster of infertility may not be over, that we might decide to try for another child at some point (assuming this goes well).  It hurts to know that it will never be easy or simple or pain-free.  If we decide to adopt, then it's a whole new set of craziness and emotional ugh to go through.

In the end, I'm not sure that the infertile years ever go away.  They shape who we are and how we live and that's forever.  Esperanza has a great post about the early part of secondary infertility and how much going through it is awful (several actually, but this one is so much my experience, I'm linking to it).  Go read that if you haven't and remember those secretly (perhaps more likely to be secret than those primary infertiles, perhaps not) infertile folks around you who are struggling for just one more child.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"I don't know what you're going to do with a third of a pecan pie"

I'm feeling pretty wonky and hypertensive and maybe anemic (but there's a lab test for that, and I haven't had it, so it might just be that I'm feeling wonky) so I've been spending very little time doing things like walking or standing.  Maybe all that shopping was overdoing it, although I didn't stand for more than about 15 minutes at a shot during any of it because of testing rocking chairs and soforth.

Anyway, I made a pecan pie for Thanksgiving and about a third of it came home with us.

I requested pie delivery by the spouse and was met with "I don't know what you're going to do with a third of a pecan pie."  Duh. The answer is "eat it, or at least some of it."  Eventually the pie arrived.  I didn't eat the entire third of a pie.


I've scheduled my meals and snacks to match a hobbit's schedule, and pecan pie is decidedly not enough to be second breakfasts, even if it's a third of a pie.

And now, more water and a proper second breakfast.

Also, it's nearly the spouse's birthday, and it's one of those that ends in a zero and is a big deal.  Since I imagine nobody in real life will make a big fuss about what an awesome human the spouse is, here's a little tribute.

Spouse, you are totally awesome.  I know your job has recently started to be pretty awful and its future is uncertain, but you rock for sticking with it and making the best of the situation.  I appreciate all the things you do for me and the kid, all the hours at the library with her so I can study, all the cat vomit cleaning, all the little things.  The big things are great too, like the putting up with me and supporting my sorry bacon through school (some more) and loving me despite my very glaring faults.  It doesn't go unnoticed.  We appreciate you.  You're the super coolest co-parent and I'm glad to have you along for the ride.  It's so cute when you're playing with Little Monster (aka poking at my belly and being kicked in response) and making up silly songs.  If you haven't noticed, it makes me cry a bunch.  I do insist that if you want my blog to have a theme song, it must not involve the words "bloggity blog blog" because you are much more creative than that appropriation of Frosty the Snowman's song suggests.

I hope this next decade brings all the happiness and joy that you deserve, and that you enjoy it when it gets here.  Happy birthday!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Monday Snapshot: Cute outfit! edition

This is part of PAIL's Monday Snapshot feature!  Go check out more, and learn about Kristen's really cool blog Buck Up, Buttercup here!

I pretty much have a "no photos" policy in the name of maintaining anonymity, however I feel that pictures of clothes or food or people without identifying things in them are fair game.

Here's a picture of what will be Little Monster's "coming home" outfit from the hospital because it's that rad.  I've avoided buying baby stuff because I keep thinking it will jinx things, but at the same time, well, our budget just isn't such that we can wait to buy everything once we have a baby in our arms.  So it's time.  Time to buy a single totally new outfit for child 2 so nobody can say it was all hand-me-downs.  Time to buy some maternity clothes so I can wear something that fits besides a single skirt and 2 shirts.  Time to stop being quite so scared.

Behold, the most excellent future baby outfit ever, according to me.

That's right.  Mommy's little monster.  Bwah ha ha ha! With little monster hat and those cuffs that fold over like mittens!  Swoon!

Sunday, November 25, 2012


We've been visiting the spouse's parents for a few days and it's been a daunting thing, as usual.  I worry a lot about setting a child free in a pristine, child-resident-free environment.  My in-laws have totally redone the house since the spouse and my brother-in-law lived here, down to, well, everything.  New shiny white paint, new very white carpet, new crumb-free furniture, new bathroom that's never had soapy bath toys chucked at it.  The strangest piece to me is that they left on Friday and we've been here all alone since then, eating their food and making a (minor) mess.  Not sure who planned that exactly, but whatever.  I am unwilling to be in charge of the extended family's inability/unwillingness to make plans (with us) any amount in advance, and if that means we stay here alone for 3 days of our 5 day visit, that's life.

We went shopping on Black Friday, and I think it's probably the first time I've done so on purpose.  Our local crunchy stuff parenting store had a really good sale, so we went.  It wasn't crowded and they had cider and cookies (aww, how cute!) and 75% off cloth diaper covers in a size we needed (kapow!).  Then we went to the Baby Stuff Warehouse Store to make sure the carseat we bought (some time ago, when it was on clearance) will actually fit in the car.  As it turns out, it had become a Toys AND Baby Stuff store since our last visit maybe a year ago or more, so parking was a nightmare but apparently everyone left just as we arrived, so eventually we got the carseat temporarily installed and the kid and I test-drove various strollers around.  We're both pretty happy with one that's $100 less than the perfect stroller, so we'll see how that all goes when we are ready to actually buy a stroller.

While we were there, we looked at the 50% off baby clothes... and despite having resolved not to buy any newborn sized clothes, the perfect outfit combo thing presented itself, so we cracked and bought it.  There's another picture for the snapshot tomorrow too, although I'll try to rotate it properly.

Saturday we went shopping again (oh how I hate shopping) at a small business that sells used children's clothes and stuff to enjoy their 40% off everything sale.  Mostly we got things for the kid because she has gotten enormous but not quite enormous enough to fit into many of her long pants, but we did pick out a few things for Little Monster.  It's a challenge to have to keep reminding her that she can't get frilly pink or purple dresses for the baby because boy babies don't wear frilly pink or purple dresses.  I feel like "dress" is the line for me.  All other clothing that we already own for babies will be worn by Little Monster, pink or not, but no dresses on boys unless they are old enough to decide so for themselves or the kid does the dressing in the context of "pretend play."

It's a good thing our town has very few places to shop.  It keeps me out of trouble.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stories in any other format...

Historically we around the Future PharmD household have had long commutes.  It started with the spouse taking a half hour each way by bus, then me with 1.5 hours each way, then the spouse commuting 45 minutes each way and me being a shuttle in the 2 hour travel extravaganza that was taking the kid to preschool last year (how did I think that was a good idea?).  This meant we decided on audio books as a way to fill all that empty time driving alone or with a touchy small child awfully early in the morning.

Esperanza wrote an interesting post about adaptations of books to movies, and of our lives to blog posts, and it got me thinking.

The first book I "read" without ever seeing the text was The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and we listened to it on cassettes driving to visit my grandparents.  I remember it from when I was 5 or 6.  When I got older I read the text itself, and then later saw the movie and then the remake of the movie (and the TV series too, I think).  All these versions of one story mean a multiplicity of views of the characters that's more fully developed than if only one interpretation were available.  Example: in the recent movie, Marvin the brilliant and depressed robot's performance is heavily influenced by the original radio plays while Arthur's performance comes more from the text (of the later books, actually).

Since theater is an interest of mine, I am always thinking in terms of performances and interpretations of the text.  We went to see The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe as put on by a local school recently and I was struck by how little the actors understood how scary living in opression is.  At no time was I convinced the animals in Narnia were really afraid of the Witch.  This didn't bother the kid at all because she doesn't know the story and this play wasn't set in the context of World War II.  It was just fun for her.  The medium is the message, and the message she got was straight from that overly cheery play and not from the story of 4 kids lost in the woods who suddenly have to save a whole nation of scared "people."

Around here, we are considering the merits of books as physical things versus digital things.  I've taken to buying textbooks digitally because they are just too enormous to haul around and I can't have my computer out to take notes and a 5 inch thick book open in my tiny study space.  I can fit the tiny tablet next to the computer though, and it's much more portable AND I can switch between textbooks easily without any hauling or bookmark-finding.

Some (many? most?) people don't read a book more than once.  I am peculiar in that I am almost always reading a book but rarely is it a new book.  I've got maybe 20 that I rotate through and reread.  Since I've been reading some of these for years now, they are starting to get pretty worn out.  Also since they're favorites, a great many of them we also own as audio books in one format or another (some cassettes, some CDs, mostly digital files, shows you how long we've been collecting audio books).  The spouse thinks it's gratuitous to add digital text copies to the two versions we have already.  I think it makes sense to add digital copies to preserve the physical copies either for special occasion reading or just in the name of collecting, and since a few physical copies are already disintegrating, it avoids replacing them.

The current family approach to new book acquisition is: digital books for very heavy or very short-term books (brain candy, read once sorts of things), physical books if we really want to read something, audio books as we see fit but probably for things with replay/reread value.

I just don't know what format I want to show the kid.  She can't browse digital books in the same way she can physical books on the bookshelves.  She can't tell if I'm reading, playing a game, or doing school work if I'm using the iPad.  She can tell exactly what I'm doing if I'm hauling around a book and reading it.

So what do you all think?  Should we add another format of the same stories or should we keep reading the physical copies that aren't in such great shape because someday, knowing what we read over and over has value?

Friday, November 23, 2012

"I don't know how you do it!"

If I had to list the most common question that I get after mentioning that I'm in pharmacy school and own a small child, it would be that.

Exactly what "it" is beyond "be in professional school and have a small child at home" I'm not sure, and that's a post for another time.

There are several answers to that question, and at least one friend who's starting med school with a 14 month old next year was really curious, so you're all (3 or 4 of you) stuck getting the answer.

1. I don't. I have an amazing spouse who picks up the slack in parenting, cooking, and house cleaning.  I do the laundry and sometimes the dishes and grocery shopping, but that's about it.  It's wicked hard to be the primary parent while the co-parent is in professional school and some classmates have more success at making this work than others.  Sometimes the parent in school just doesn't sleep (see those who work full time in addition to school... sheesh. I am not nearly smart enough to sleep that little and be successful at school and survive at work) or have free time.

Aside: when I describe my study/school routine to people, they are either shocked and in disbelief at how much I study and go to school, or just disbelieve that it's possible.  I study less than I hear med students do in most weeks, and I think that's for the best, but my grades aren't super shiny (see repeating that class I failed... whoops...).  It's a lot of time and I'm glad to put in the time because I want to be prepared to make as few mistakes as possible so I don't hurt people.

2. In the "I don't" vein, a lot of things slide.  Most laundry never gets folded. It gets chucked into drawers in heaps (I do fold t-shirts so they fit in the drawer).  There are always dirty dishes.  There's always a basket of laundry waiting to be put away.  We try but usually fail at planning meals a week at a time.  We get take-out too often, especially during weeks where I have lots of exams.  We have on occasion recruited my semi-retired mother to come stay for a week or 10 days around finals so someone else can help mind the kid and cook and clean because I study 18+ hours a day and while not studying, my brain is kind of mush and only useful to regurgitate stuff that will be on the exam (so no conversation attempts then please).

3. We ask for help.  Our faith community has a list of people willing to provide childcare, and the kid will go hang out with other adults at least one night a week starting soon so I can study and the spouse can deep clean.  If someone ever utters the words, "If there's any way I can help..." I make a note in my spreadsheet and I contact them for crock pot meals or childcare or rides to wherever I need to go if the spouse has the car.  When we were in a bind for baby food, we recruited three people to help make some and freeze it for us.

4. My Little Pony, Bobby's World, and Voltron.  The kid is a well-practiced TV zombie and she can spend up to two hours watching it with little adult attention needed.  Is this my favorite? No.  Does it mean that in an emergency I get a couple more hours to study? Yes.  Other favorite TV shows from when she was smaller: Fraggle Rock (awesome because a DVD can be set to play 4 episodes in a row and then adults can sneak off to the office to study), Super Hero Squad, Garfield and Friends, and Caillou.

5. I actually leave the house to study.  If I'm home, I will be interrupted, no matter how well-meaning the spouse and kid are.  If I need to be uninterrupted, I have to leave, and I do.  According to the academic success types at school, it's a bad idea to study at a coffee shop, noisy public library, or other random and noisy public place.  If I didn't study in such noisy places, I'd get very little night or weekend studying done.  I find that restaurants are a decent place to study as well because as a person alone, I get stuck somewhere in the far back where it's pretty quiet.  I just have to remember to ask for a pitcher of water because I will get forgotten about, and that's fine by me.  Studying at school during the day is a great strategy too.  Go early before class, stay late after class, study during breaks between classes.

6. When it's time to be home, it's time to be home and the books go away.  Really.  I schedule free time into my week (and there's about 10 hours of it right now but it turns into more like 20 overall with cleaning/meal prep time too) and I make an effort to be school-free and involved in family time when it's on the schedule.  This means I have to stick to the rest of my schedule so I'm not worrying about whatever I'm not doing during that time.

7. Excellent childcare, 5 days a week.  Somehow this often surprises people... but I'm not sure why.  It's not like small children can sit through a boring lecture any better than me (although once the kid went to chemistry class when she was a few months old and napped the whole time, which was awesome).  I am thrilled that the kid gets to spend time with other kids her age and a caring adult who really likes hanging out with the preschool set and she is thrilled to get to play all day and do art projects and all that jazz.

8. You just get through whatever life hands you.  I didn't plan out this whole "school and small children" combo deal.  I did decide that I was going to stay in school so I didn't kick myself later for not finishing it now.  We decided together that we could make me in school and a family work, and we were too chicken to wait to have children (good decision in light of secondary infertility suck-fest), so we just made it work.  If (heaven forbid) something happens and I'm suddenly a single parent, because I'm in school, I know that I'll have a job soon that will pay the bills and that I could live in lousy on-campus housing in the meantime.  If I were a stay-at-home mom, I wouldn't have that security of knowing I had a career waiting (almost) for me.  If we'd waited to have the kid, we probably wouldn't have been any more successful, and life would be profoundly different and this would be a primary infertility blog for a long time, since school is spendy and so are infertility treatments.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


It's Thanksgiving in America today, and I am very grateful for all the things I am lucky enough to have.

I am grateful for a spouse who loves me back and is happy to be co-pilot of our silly little family.
I'm grateful for a kid who is such a joy until 7:45pm every day.  She's creative and friendly and awesome before 7:45pm, and that's fantastic.
I'm grateful that the cat hasn't succeeded in killing me by tripping me on the stairs yet, and that we still have the goofy critter despite that motor vehicle accident a couple of years ago.  Well worth the small fortune we spent on hir.
I'm so grateful for second chances, and third and fourth and even fifth chances.
I'm thrilled and grateful to magically be pregnant and so far, successfully so.  I'm grateful to have managed to keep enough hope to try one more month when I was really ready to quit.
I'm grateful that I have a nice place to sleep and a spouse with a job that pays the bills, even if it's recently changed to be a far less pleasant job.  I even get to have a washer and dryer in my own house! How miraculous is that!
I'm grateful to be suffering through pharmacy school now rather than waiting 10 years to go back to school, and that I get the chance to be in school at all.  Wahoo educational system that mostly works and has gotten me this far!
I'm very grateful for all you lovely folk around the blogosphere for making me feel at home and like I belong somewhere and like I'm not totally insane as I go through all this weirdness that is life complicated by infertility and loss.
I'm grateful for my extended family and their love and support, even if sometimes they aren't totally sure how to show either one.

I'm grateful that this little bloggy project has managed to reach 100 posts today in just over a year.  It's been a wild ride and I hope things calm down some but remain interesting just a little bit.  Little things are pretty great too and deserve their moment in the spotlight.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

So how are you?

Stuff lately:

Me: So ready to be done for the semester.  Some of my electives end early (one is finished, one just has another week to go I think...?) and two core classes are just presentations now, so that's weird.  I'm contemplating actually making a study plan to get ready for finals, and I'm going to actually do that today. Really.  Suffering through what is hopefully the end of my most recent sinus infection with a side of almost ear infection, and I think the last one was exactly a year ago, when I was much less pregnant and also slightly less nervous about the whole thing.  Today I opted for the z-pack so I should be better soon enough after 7 weeks of bleh.  Food is not my thing at the moment but I have now gained a kilo over what I weighed pre-pregnancy, so I'm just gonna keep eating stuff.  Craving beef and lentil soup, so it's burgers tonight and lentil soup tomorrow.  Still doing a terrible job remembering to eat so I'm setting up more reminders in my online calendar.

Spouse: playing some Spiderman video game (that the kid picked out at the movie rental place) on the TV and the Penny Arcade game on the iDevice (and I like that one too), excited to see family for Thanksgiving, even willing and excited to go shopping for Little Monster provisions during sales this upcoming weekend (not that this is surprising in the least), also spends several minutes a day chatting to Little Monster and sometimes singing ridiculous made-up songs

Kid: resisting sleeping in her room because "it's too dark."  I discovered the other day that during naps at daycare the room is dark except for a crack of light from the closet.  Her room is never that dark at night, plus she has a night light, a glowing ladybug that projects stars onto the ceiling, and a glowing Lego lantern person next to her pillow.  Currently we are having the Great Nightly Struggle to get her to stay in her room and at least pretend to be asleep.  Still.  After about an hour of negotiating, punishing by taking things away for the next day, and room escapes, she goes to sleep.

Cat: finds eating my larger vining philodendron to be a great pastime and is still longing for the out of doors.  I wonder if zie's secretly throwing up somewhere because it's a supposedly poisonous plant, or if it doesn't bother hir iron stomach.  At least my miniature rose and decidedly poisonous dieffenbachia remain intact.  The dieffenbachia's name is Happy by the way, as named by the kid.

Little Monster: seems to enjoy lectures on immunomodulation, addiction, and leadership styles (go figure).  Has distinct sleeping and kicking periods, including one about 3am that I've been waking up for (and then I don't get back to sleep for several hours).  Zie is due to be a well outfitted pre-baby with the upcoming shopping trip.  I think next weekend we'll put up the crib and start assembling various baby stuff in it.  Or I'll decide it's bad luck and wait until there's an actual baby around to do that.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In which I'm pretty amused that my body worked

As part of a class project I've been researching treatments for "morning" sickness in pregnancy, including the natural remedies and all that jazz.  My personal recommendation is Sea Bands or a similar product that's squishing that spot on your wrist, by the way, and if that doesn't work, go ask your doctor's office.  The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (that's the lady-parts doctors) recommend taking vitamin B6 at a 25 mg dose, three times a day for treating nausea and vomiting in pregnancy, and adding an antihistamine to that if needed as the first-line treatment.

Then I was browsing places in the diet where you might be getting a lot of vitamin B6, because there's some evidence that having a higher level of B6 decreases nausea and vomiting, so maybe people who never get morning sickness are just eating lots of whatever food it is.

And highest on the list? Chickpeas or garbanzo beans (why we can't just have one name, I have no idea, silly English).  What did I eat almost exclusively in weeks 9-15 of pregnancy?  Hummus aka chickpea paste on crackers.


Maybe there is something to all that "your body knows what you need" deal.

Monday, November 19, 2012

On beauty

I briefly thought of myself as beautiful, for a few months when I was 14.  I didn't try to change a thing about myself for at least 6 months, which is certainly some sort of record for me.

I really like this blog post that a friend linked to about why we need to tell our (daughters) that we are beautiful.  It goes right along with Jules' recent post about loving our bodies just as they are, because our bodies have done some amazing things.  Beautiful is certainly how I look at pictures of my mom and my grandma at my age, so me thinking otherwise is probably wrong.

So I'll have to make it a project to tell the kid that I'm beautiful and to tell other little ones that their moms are beautiful too, and I'd even venture so far as to say that complimenting other moms on their beauty is important because we forget.

By telling the wee ones all the time how beautiful they are, we are establishing that youth=beauty.  As they grow, we stop telling children how beautiful they are, but not because they are less beautiful.  We stop because they get self-conscious and don't want adults telling them anything about themselves AND YET they get all nervous about suddenly not hearing what they've always heard about themselves (silly adolescents with frontal lobes the size of raisins, pretending to dislike things they actually need a lot of).  Do you hear anyone call a woman in her 30s beautiful without her having made an effort to look beautiful (vast make-up and fancy outfit)?  Why on earth not?

So let's fix this, one child at a time and one mom at a time.  Let's speak out loud what is true: moms are beautiful just as much as kids and just as much as childless young women.  Beauty changes when we age, yes, but it remains.  Let's all make a point to tell the beautiful women in our lives that they are beautiful just as they are.


Sunday, November 18, 2012


This is part of PAIL's monthly theme post series! Check out more traditions here!

Aside from being one of my favorite songs from a musical, (note that I've seen far more musicals than most people, so this is a pretty significant statement) tradition is something we are trying to build around here.  Pre-kid, we established the tradition of alternating whose family we saw for Thanksgiving.  It's also traditional for me to make at least one if not three or four pies for Thanksgiving, no matter how many people are going to attend whatever dinner it is.  Once we had apple pie for breakfast for a week afterward because I got so overexcited about apple pies that there were three for the 7 people at dinner (including the kid who ate two bites and then was done), plus at least one other pie.

In terms of holiday decorating, we decidedly do ornaments.  The kid has gotten an ornament each December from her aunt, and we adults started with a moose ornament theme, adding one each year.  I think now we've moved on to adding bird ornaments.  There are no holiday decorations for December until after American Thanksgiving (how do you Canadians decide when to put up seasonal decorations without that line?).  We do a festive winter pine tree and the spouse's family traditionally goes out to hack one down from a tree farm, and we went and got one ourselves last year, despite it being well outside our budget.  We even pretended to let the kid pick it out.  She decided she didn't like the one we chose, then we walked around a bit more, suggested a few more, and then looped back to that one, and poof! She liked it!  With only the mini car now, I imagine this is out but we'll go along to cut down Grandma and Grandpa's tree.

In the name of being broke, we've established that the kid gets a single present from us and one from Santa.  So far it's been pretty successful and I hope it's a few years before the kid realizes that other kids get more than one present from their parents.

I am a big fan of twinkly lights and I'll put them up all over the house.  During this decorating process, we've established the tradition of everyone having egg nog and playing festive holiday music.  Egg nog is a tradition from the spouse's family again, but it's delicious, so we have adopted it.

Our approach to traditions is to choose ones we both like to be our family's own.  We try to negotiate well ahead of the tradition's timing how it will be implemented and what will happen so nobody is upset about it, which goes well among the three of us and less well among the extended family.  My mother in law has tried to establish having a big holiday cookie baking day at her house with me and my sister in law, but it's hard because my sister in law gets weird during the holidays (often declaring herself Scrooge, probably because she gets subjected to the vast swath of her large family asking why they don't have kids yet and passing off babysitting to her as a result) and I'm in school, so 10 dozen cookies just don't have time to be eaten before New Year's if we don't make them until after the end of finals.  Perhaps now that the kid is big enough to be really involved in cookie baking, this will work out better.  Interestingly, despite not usually being invited, the spouse has joined us for cookie baking for a couple of years (while my brother in law leaves the house lest he be asked to wash something or otherwise help).  Perhaps we just need to make it a family tradition of our own so nobody gets left out.

I am hopeful that we'll create some bigger traditions with the kid's collaboration (and maybe even Little Monster's input eventually).  Growing up my family traditionally didn't put nametags on presents so it was a surprise to guess who each present was for (bonus surprise!).  This doesn't go so well now that my mom's memory is dwindling, so we've given up on it, and it's a smidgen sad but mostly just life.  Back on the farm it was traditional for me and my sibling to get up and do all the chores as a surprise present as well, but no more farm, so that's also out.

We've sort of established with my family that for our festive December dinner, we cook something elaborate and everyone helps with the chopping or frying or something.  Last year we made baked egg rolls and that clearly required everyone's help with all the chopping and then rolling... and it was delicious, and gluten free and/or dairy free and low salicylates and we almost got the kid to try one (but she did eat some carrots and bok choy, so that's something).  I think this year we'll do lo mein.  This reminds me of an excellent (if sacrilegious) book in which Jesus and his best buddy Biff start a tradition of eating Chinese food to celebrate Jesus' birthday, which I hear is a thing common in big cities because Chinese take-out places are open Christmas day (you lucky ducks).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The 10 year hole in the heart

Just about ten years ago, a very dear friend lost his fight with depression.  I've written about him before, maybe a couple of times.  I didn't obsess about the upcoming anniversary at all this year, and that's new.  This morning I was thinking to myself that it was already mid-November and whoa.  The date dawned on me.  I did burn off all the water I was attempting to boil to make pasta this morning because I was taking a break from school and apparently also from paying attention... oops.

I think about him every day, but not every day do I wonder if it's partially my fault that he died (anymore), that if I'd told someone else how badly he was doing something else might have happened.  I guess time has healed things a little bit so that's something.  In the first months after he died I was sure I'd never feel whole again.  Now I'm used to being broken and I think the ways the pieces have gone back together is for the best.  Just because there are gaps in who I thought I was doesn't mean I'm useless.

The thing that's been the most helpful of all is this song, actually.  Being cracked and broken can be beautiful too.  All those gaps make for quite the light show on the other side.

Anyway, if there's someone in your life who's struggling with depression, don't wait forever to address it.  If it's you who might need help, don't wait.  You're worth it and we need you around.

So lyrics about love that's probably more romantic than friendly, but still profoundly helpful with life reassembly.

(Diana Jones)

I want to know you, know where you've been
Know how you came through
The sound of your voice, your original sin
Where we are is where we begin

Cracked and broken and beautiful
Cracked and broken that's how the light shines through
Cracked and broken and beautiful

I want to see you
In the full of the morning, in the last of the evening
Unfurled and uncovered
And in the same light I want you to see me

Cracked and broken and beautiful
Cracked and broken, that's how the light shines through
Cracked and broken and beautiful

And I want to feel where our edges are rough
What our corners are made of
Where you and I start, where we both come apart
And where we both come together again

Cracked and broken and beautiful
Cracked and broken, that's how the light shines through
Cracked and broken and beautiful

When china breaks
It's never the same
When I felt your love
My heart became

Cracked and broken and beautiful
Cracked and broken, that's how the light shines through
Cracked and broken and beautiful

Friday, November 16, 2012

V day

That's right, it's viability day today.  24 weeks holy wow.

I realized while reading Post Secret the other day that a chunk of what's making me so mopey and broken-nervous-feeling lately is how much those losses hurt, in addition to the perpetual infertile-freak-out-things-will-crash-at-any-moment nerves.  Last winter instead of getting out the usual decorations for the festive winter holidays, we just made blue snowflakes out of paper.  It was a great game for everyone and the spouse in particular made some achingly lovely ones.  We decided to collect a new bird ornament every year after the kid chose a pheasant as her ornament (and then it got hung on the naked and unstable curtain rod until we moved, so it could be a few years before it resurfaces).  I snuck a small blue bird ornament into the mix as well, because even though everything was sad and lousy and awful, the Blue Bird of Happiness was out there somewhere, waiting to be chased until it turns up right at home, where it always was. 

Sidenote: The Blue Bird is the classic early 20th century play first produced by Stanislavski, that really famous Russian teacher of acting.  In it, a brother and sister go off on a journey to find happiness by catching (a sight of? I don't recall if they need the bird or just to see it) the Blue Bird of Happiness.  In the end, it turns out to have been in their house in a cage all along.  I often forget how spoiled I have been to see so much truly great theater, and that trying to create it is a valuable endeavor, even if you don't get there.

I think that as time goes by, I'm going to get out the blue paper and make some more snowflakes because it's still all right to be sad for what will never be, even in the middle of that silly blue bird twittering like crazy right here at home.

Sidenote 2: The kid's latest career aspiration (based solely on interests) is to be an ornithologist.  One of the mobile devices got a guide to North American birds app installed and she's been tormenting the cat playing bird sounds whenever the opportunity presents itself since.  Cutest thing ever to see the cat come tearing into a room, set to pounce on that noisy bird, and then look totally lost when THE BIRD IS A LIE.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The coolest class I've taken yet in a whole lot of years of college

This semester I got to take a few pretty snazzy electives including Spanish (apparently my pronunciation has improved during the semester, but that's not saying much, as it was profoundly awful at the start. The spouse accused me of sounding French and then Japanese while practicing...).  The highlight was a class on Lifestyle Modification though.

What's that all about, you may be wondering...

The short answer is that whenever your doctor says, "Improve your diet and get more exercise" there ought to be someone for you to see to help you figure out what this means.  Depending on what's wrong with you, just getting on the right diet can mean you get to scale back your medications a lot.  Think of it as getting a prescription for exercise that you take to an extra-cool pharmacy and we help you fulfill it.

The long answer is that with the success of the Asheville project where pharmacists were hired by a company (the city of Asheville NC) to cut healthcare costs by optimizing medication regimes and improving health, there's about to be a big market for people who can run a service like this.  Wearing a pharmacist hat, we fix medication problems and help people find medications that work best for them and their lives, while wearing a Lifestyle Modification hat we help implement little steps toward healthy changes in diet and exercise that in turn mean changing medications because maybe people don't need them anymore.

How super cool is that? Really!  If people with hypertension can learn to stick with an appropriate diet, you can see a drop in blood pressure equal to that you get from most first-line medicines.  Yep, programs like this usually need the support of a dietician to make it work for the greatest number of people, but with pharmacists at the center, it's a great model AND we get to use all of our skills (I really like using skills beyond "try to read the doctor's mind based on what is prescribed and what the patient can tell me" and "telephone the insurance company... again..." whenever possible).

The other thing that's nice about it is everyone at the company can benefit from company-wide wellness efforts, not just people who are already sick enough to be taking medications.  Things like smoking cessation groups or online classes are often available in a program like this, as are a certain number of mental health visits a year.  Often cheap gym memberships or having a gym in-house gets included for everyone at the company, not just for those in the medication management part of it.

This class focused on how to figure out a diet prescription for someone to lose weight (and about how fast it's safe to lose weight), how to develop an exercise program that will work for someone without them overdoing it, and how exercise changes medications we're taking (that's the technical stuff with names so long we abbreviate it to PK and PD that is really fascinating and complex and makes me appreciate the miraculous workings of our bodies).  We covered a little bit of the business of getting set up and resources to support such a business, and I'm considering seeing if I can weasel a rotation doing this into my schedule.  I have the problem that I want to do ALL the rotations, especially ones that are far away, so that's bound to be an obstacle.