How We Got Here, Vol. 2

How We Got Here, Vol. 2

Buckle up, because this is a long one!

So, as discussed in Vol. 1, Matt and I decided we wanted to have a baby. It was such a delicious secret, deciding that we’d surprise everyone we know with the shocking news: We’re pregnant! No one would see this coming. I immediately got to work, researching the steps I needed to take to successfully get myself knocked up.

Yes, I know, of course, the basics of how these things happen. No one who’s ever seen 16 and Pregnant can claim that getting pregnant is an advanced science, in most cases. But my knowledge of the logistics of ovulation was severely lacking, my friends. I was honestly a little embarrassed as I learned about how to time everything, how eggs get where they need to go, and what happens to them from that point. How could all of this be stuff I didn’t know anything about? One day, I was explaining some concept to Matt, probably something gross about cervical mucous, and he said, “It’s really embarrassing that I don’t know about any of this.” I felt blissful relief, and said, “Well, you should really be ashamed of yourself.”

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I didn’t pay much attention in health class, but I’m pretty sure this is how it all starts
I was one of those teenagers who had miserable cycles every month. I won’t get into the gory details, but we’re talking incredible pain and side effects. My mom took me to the OBGYN when I was fifteen and I’ve been on some type of birth control pill or device, on and off, ever since. So it had been years since I truly experienced the curse as the gods intended me to suffer through it. I knew it would be a painful couple of months, as we tried for a baby.

Armed with knowledge, we got busy, and kept our baby-making a secret. No success in months one, two, or three. No big deal! I knew from my obsessive internet scouring that this was perfectly normal. Then, no success in months four, five, or six. By that point, a few close friends knew of our plan to have a baby (mostly because I am the worst at keeping my own secrets). Most of our friends acted as an amazing support system, cheering for us and letting us vent when we needed to, without constantly asking how everything was going. I had a couple of friends who would always say things like, “You just have to relax and it will happen when you least expect it!” Let me let you in on a little secret… when you’re exerting this much effort in careful planning and timing, there is no tricking yourself out of expecting it.

Maybe I need to interrupt myself here and remind you, gentle readers, that I am not a “hey, let’s kick back and see what happens” kind of girl. I’d love to be that girl, but I’m more the “hey, so I am following all the rules, and this isn’t working, and oh god what’s wrong with me and I can’t stand this for much longer” type of girl. (Matt is soooo lucky.) But seriously, this whole process was immensely frustrating. It felt like a cruel joke. We’d taken forever to decide we wanted this thing to be a part of our lives, and now it seemed like we might not ever get it.

After eight or nine months, I talked in-depth with my OBGYN about my fears. She had such a great attitude about all my stress. She said, “I know all the books tell you to try for a full year before you seek any fertility treatment, but I think you should have some tests if it’s stressing you out. And by the way, the people who keep telling you to ‘just relax’ are full of it. Science doesn’t work that way.”

Matt then provided a specimen (I love that word. So needlessly mysterious) for testing. The specimen, ladies and gents, was a modern day marvel. Matt’s swimmers were not only athletic and healthy, there were so damn many of them. As in, he had millions more of those little suckers than most men his age have. The doctor literally giggled as she told me the results. Needless to say, this became an instant source of jokes for Matt. (Me: “We need to leave in an hour, okay?” Matt: “Oh, don’t you worry, I’ll be ready. Great swimmers.”) I’m expecting him to get tired of these jokes any day now. Aaaany day now.

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What Matt’s swimmers probably look like inside my fallopian tubes
So, we knew Matt most likely wasn’t the problem. Something was going on with me. We were incredibly fortunate to have an amazing fertility clinic ten minutes’ drive from our house, so we made an appointment and met Dr. Katz. After looking (and raising his eyebrows) at the numbers from Matt’s specimen, he suggested that we try a couple of non-invasive approaches involving fertility drugs and careful timing.

After a few months of this, Dr. Katz told me that he suspected I had endometriosis, due to my continued lack of pregnancy, my history of painful periods, and the normal test results from both Matt and myself (meaning they were able to rule out several common culprits of infertility). Endometriosis is a crazy condition involving uterine tissue that grows outside of the uterus, and oh by the way, nobody knows for sure why it happens. Dr. Katz believed that I had mild endometriosis that was turning my uterus into a hostile chamber of death for any of Matt’s Michael Phelpses who dared to enter. (Honestly, I was not surprised at this theory. Of course I would have a uterus that’s in a terrible mood for no reason, and visitors would want to leave as soon as possible.)

And so, I had my first ever surgery a few weeks later, for Dr. Katz to stick a little camera through my belly button (I know… yikes) and poke around to see if there was any evidence of endometriosis. He said that if he came across any scar tissue, he’d go ahead and try to remove it. This would hopefully render my uterus slightly less disagreeable, and more prone to growing a baby. He warned us that there was a chance he would find nothing wrong in there, which would mean we’d keep exploring other causes of infertility, and he also warned us that there was a chance he’d find some seriously scary endometriosis he couldn’t do much to fix, which would make me an instant candidate for in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Lucky for us, he just found some scar tissue, and he treated it. Endometriosis is (for some reason… they seriously know so little about this whole thing) kept at bay when you’re pregnant or on birth control, but it will come back after a few months of normal, unmedicated, non-pregnant cycles. So we didn’t waste much time before going right to an intrauterine insemination (IUI). Which is basically a nurse coming at you with a fancy turkey baster.

Remember how I wrote about that whole ankle surgery nightmare, a few months back? Well. Just a couple of weeks after Matt had his surgery, I woke him up at 6:00 AM, demanded that he give me another of his prized specimens in a cup, asked him to carry the cup in his pocket to keep it safe and warm, and then drove him over to the fertility clinic where he had to hobble in on crutches, and sign a bunch of papers promising that the sample was in fact his own. It was seriously an impressive feat. The staff at the clinic then took a couple of hours to wash the specimen, weed out any of the slackers (“as if any of them are slackers.” – Matt), and then I went back in to have the swimmers inserted directly into my uterus by way of a small plastic tube. Once all the nurses had taken the time to express their amazement at my husband’s latest specimen, of course (seriously happened).

So in doing the IUI, we bypassed a lot of potential pitfalls in ensuring that plenty of good, strong Olympian sperm got into my uterus. After the procedure, the nurse told me to stay on my back and relax for a few minutes, and then cheerfully reminded me that “this has a 20% chance of working. Good luck!”

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Selfie I took from the exam room during IUI
I’d been through so many of the dreaded two week waits (TWWs) by this time. The TWW is the time between when you go through the motions of trying to conceive (either naturally or á la turkey basting) and the time when you expect to get your period. It’s basically two straight weeks of trying to learn how to be “kick back and see what happens” girl. But this TWW was by far the most agonizing. I reminded myself that while 20% was not a great statistic, it was certainly the best chance at getting pregnant that I’d had so far. And that was something.

At 11 days post ovulation, rather than the prescribed 14 (way too early to be sure anything would show up, but potentially early enough that something could show up), I took a pregnancy test. And for just a moment, before tears blurred my eyes too much for me to be able to see anything, I saw a shadow of a second pink line. Having seen dozens of pregnancy tests with just the one glaring, definitive pink line, I knew the second one was there right away. I ran into Matt’s office and brandished the test in front of his face. He very reasonably took it out of his face, since it was in essence a piece of plastic covered in urine, and squinted skeptically at it before gently saying, “Honey, I’m not sure there’s anything there.” But I knew there was a second line.

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Matt still can’t see the second line.

Two days later, I triumphantly presented Matt with a digital test I’d just taken. And with a completely straight face, just to make me laugh, he pretended to squint questioningly at the bold “PREGNANT” that had appeared on the screen.

A lot had to happen after we decided we wanted to create a tiny human of our very own, in order for me to look down tonight and find myself 23 weeks pregnant with a feisty little girl kicking the hell out of me. That 16 month process was unbelievably stressful, and yet I know that many couples have a far longer, rougher road than we did. If you’re on a similar road right now, please consider making use of these three pieces of free advice from me:

1) Each month when you get your period, and you realize another month is shot to hell, make “shot” the theme of the night. I recommend vodka. Allow yourself the pity party, and then get back to work.

2) Don’t wait the recommended year to seek fertility treatment. Give it the ol’ college try, and once it starts to get to you, go talk to someone.

3) Consider sharing your struggles with close friends or family members. Sure, it’s awesome to surprise everyone with pregnancy news, but it’s also awesome when people know what you’re going through. And if they try to tell you to “just relax,” be patient with them. They really just have no idea how you feel.

Well, friends, that’s about it. That’s how we got here. It’s been a wild ride so far. Stay tuned… More pregnancy shenanigans coming your way soon. ❤

How We Got Here, Vol. 1

How We Got Here, Vol. 1

As I sit and stare, glassy-eyed, at a detailed listing for a pair of gently used baby sandals on the moms’ consignment group I’ve recently joined on Facebook, I wonder how I got to this place.

Three years ago or so, anyone who knew me would be able to tell you that I never wanted kids. I don’t particularly care for most children. They always seem to be very sticky and unpredictable, characteristics I prefer to experience in things like ice cream cones. In fact, when I started dating my husband Matt, I was pleased to set his mind at ease when I learned he did not want kids. “Oh, don’t you worry about me! I don’t want any either! Gross!” For years, I was annoyed when anyone who heard about my decision gave me a knowing look and cajoled me with, “Just wait. You’ll change your mind!” And lots of people did this. I’d show them! I’d have dogs, and cats, and I’d travel, and I’d enjoy date nights with Matt every night of the week, and I’d live happily ever after.

And I did! For a while.

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This child looks like it might try to touch me

One ordinary night, a couple of years ago, Matt took an Ambien and settled in for a peaceful eight hours of rest. Because that’s the typical result of his taking Ambien, maybe nine times out of ten. But occasionally, before he falls asleep, he gets… weird. The Ambien kicks in, and rather than drifting off to dream of guitars and Squidbillies, he wants to talk about weird things for several minutes before he passes out. He never remembers anything he’s said, the following day. (Side note: This is why I never have to worry about Matt having an affair. Or really being deceptive in any imaginable way. I have access to inexpensive and effective truth serum, around three times each month.) His transition from total lucidity to being completely out of his senses can be quite subtle. He will usually say something vaguely nonsensical, which tips me off. Examples of things he might say: 

1. “I need to search for flights to Japan.”

2. “Can you explain how electricity works, but better than the way I already know?

3. “I know you think my feet are weird but I’m just so used to them. So is my mom.”

On this particular night, Matt explained to me that he wanted us to have a baby as soon as possible. Then, he calmly informed me that he’d be happy to “go in and rip that IUD right out of there.” Then he fell asleep, practically mid-sentence. I sat there, mouth agape, my usual pre-bedtime game of Candy Crush instantly abandoned. Sure, I recognized the telltale signs of an Ambien kick, but I was still floored.

The next day at work, I felt a little out of sorts. I tried to remind myself that Matt had no idea what he was saying. I finally got so agitated that I called Matt and told him I was coming by his office at lunchtime to talk. When I arrived, I solemnly recounted everything that he’d said the night before. “Do you secretly want a baby and you’re not telling me?!” I demanded. Matt just laughed. “No! Listen! Everything is fine! It’s just baby fever!” Oh…. was that all this was? What a relief! That was a close one. I decided to immediately put it out of my mind.

Matt would occasionally contract what he called baby fever, a temporary malady causing him to wish he had a baby of his very own for a period of time ranging from one hour to several weeks in duration. The baby fever would eventually break, returning him to a comfortably anti-baby stance and leaving him with little memory of his baby-craving delirium. Luckily, I had always seemed to be immune to this virus, preferring to hold babies for no more than five minutes at a time (and that only happened when the mother of the creature looked at me expectantly, as though I’d obviously want to hold it, which I didn’t, but then of course I felt like I had to). 

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Baby fever at its worst. This person is screaming violently into her hankie because she is so sad about wanting a baby

Inexplicably, once the Ambien incident happened, despite my intentions to ignore it all, I started to get baby fever too. All the classic symptoms. I started to think a little about what that Matt/Courtney person might be like. Some things would be almost a given… High forehead. Sensitive. Sarcastic. But would he be musical like Matt? Would she enjoy Buffy the Vampire Slayer like me? Would her feet be weird like Matt’s? Could I teach him to love all felines, big and small? And I began to wish I could get to know that little being. I realized that, for the first time, I had so much love for another person, Matt, that I was curious to experience the full depths of what our life together could become. Yes, I know it sounds very dramatic and vaguely churchy and makes you want to roll your eyes. But it’s what happened. Suddenly, I felt fine with the prospect of hanging out with this particular nonexistent child, even knowing he or she would definitely get sticky frequently. 

We eventually decided to go for it (more on that in Vol. 2). Over time, Matt and I talked about other reasons we might want a kid. Our families would be elated, we had good stable jobs, and so forth. But I’m proud to say that my future child was ultimately the product of her father’s drug-addled ramblings. We’re off to a great start. 😍

Being Shamelessly Judgmental of Parental Behavior, Vol. 3: Baby Girl Names to Consider

Being Shamelessly Judgmental of Parental Behavior, Vol. 3: Baby Girl Names to Consider

I’m not a parent, but as you know by now, I don’t let that stop me from having shockingly insightful opinions on parenting strategy, which I enjoy distributing freely to the world. For the record, I’d also do it if I was paid to do it, but for now, I do it freely. And I also really want more blog traffic, and parenting is a topic where I can get maximum value out of very few key words because parents are naturally anxious and tired creatures who seem to be constantly looking on the internet for things to help them parent.

Anyway, as I’ve said before, I won’t come right out and make fun of modern baby names I think are dumb publicly (making fun is always available upon request in a private setting), but I do want to make some gentle suggestions about unusual baby names you would-be parents might consider, if you want your kid to stand out. Because retro baby names are so popular these days, here are some types of retro baby girl names I think we’re all missing out on. (Yes, I have so many brilliant ideas about what you should call your child that I can only address one sex at a time.)

Stripper Names of Yore. Remember back in the 90’s when you’d kick back and relax at a low-class strip club? Me neither, but I’m told it was a real blast. Hop in your time machine and consider names like Tawny, or Tiffany. These are real classics, in their own way. No one says how retro you need to go. Who needs Sophia when you can have a baby girl named Crystal? And you’re really setting your little Brandy up for a lifetime of exceptional individuality. Her name will be unusual in this day and age, and plus, she’s going to make so much money giving lap dances when she’s older. Just kidding. Maybe. I mean, her name is Brandy.

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But look how much she enjoys her job!

Legit Grandma Names. People are starting to choose pseudo-grandma names for their little girls, but like what they wish their grandma’s name was. Names like Elaine, Harriett, and Nora are truly beautiful, but you know your grandma’s name is actually Ethel. It’s time to stop pretending, and just go ahead and name your baby girl Doris after your Mamaw. It’ll make her so happy! Embrace the monikers of the blue haired in your life. There won’t be another little Agatha in her kindergarten class, I can assure you.

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Grandma needs all the cheering up she can get 

Still not retro enough for you? If your baby name list still says

  1. Amelia
  2. Harper

Then I have one more idea that may help you through this.

Names of Things in Your House. Take it back to how Native Americans used to do it. Pick something you can see, maybe in your kitchen, and lock it in like it means something really important to you. Name your little girl Paprika. Commit to it and act confident, and little Paprikas, Avocados, and Tofurkeys will be popping up left and right in a few years. Just walk around your house and make a list of possibilities. Little Ibuprofen might be frustrated when she can’t find a souvenir keychain with her name on it, but she’ll thank you later in life. Again, this may seem absurd, but all you need to do is hold your head high and set the trend… and maybe teach your child how to defend herself.

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Inspiring, no?
Being Shamelessly Judgmental of Parental Behavior, Vol. 2

Being Shamelessly Judgmental of Parental Behavior, Vol. 2

There are certain things you parents do that really make me tired, and as I mentioned before, I feel pretty comfortable judging parental behavior. To a point. I mean, I’m not the type to be like, “I feel that the Montessori style of learning may not fit well with Junior’s penchant for eating crayons.” I may (okay, will) think it, but I’d only ever say it behind your back. Anyway, I’d like to address social media mom behavior number two:

Posting milestones in which you project impossible emotions onto your baby. Your child is three months old. You celebrate the big day by posing said child with a large stuffed animal and a Pinteresty-looking sign that proudly announces, “I’m three months old!” You include with this photo a list of things you’ve decided your baby loves or hates, as though the baby has pulled you aside and made you aware of his preferences himself. Example: “I’m three months old! I love watching Bubble Guppies, sleeping, and keeping my Mommy on her toes!” 

First of all, that child did not make that sign. Who do you think you’re fooling? And second, we know the kid is completely non-verbal, Mom. He doesn’t care that he’s three months old, or have any concept of numbers. I bet even I could add and subtract better than him. Sure, he’s drawn to the bright shapes he sees on that TV you plopped his immobile body in front of, but you may as well put Scarface on for him. He might learn something about life on the mean streets of Miami. Tell him it’s baby powder. 

No, Ma! I wanted to watch Goodfellas!
No, Ma! I wanted to watch Goodfellas!

Important note, in conclusion: this shameless judgment of parental behavior doesn’t apply to any obviously exaggerated emotions you project publicly onto your child for my own amusement. In fact, do this more. Example: “I’m three months old! I prefer bourbon to scotch, and enjoy binge-watching The Wire with my wife Linda when I’m not crunching numbers! #accountantlife.” 
Hedgehog! Because you deserve more in the way of visual aids than one crying gangster baby
Hedgehog! Because you deserve more in the way of visual aids than one crying gangster baby

Being Shamelessly Judgmental of Parental Behavior, Vol. 1

Being Shamelessly Judgmental of Parental Behavior, Vol. 1

I want to make fun of modern baby names more than anything. But I’m not brave enough to make fun of modern baby names, even though I happen to have strong feelings on that particular topic. The problem is that some friend of mine, or maybe a publisher who thinks I’m the funniest and wants to Venmo me one million dollars ASAP (that’s how book deals work, right?) will happen to have a kid named Laeykynn, and will get hurt feelings. So I’ll keep quiet about that for now and make sure to include a chapter about it in my first book, once I’m rich enough to buy new friends.

Luckily, I am brave enough to make fun of some social media mom behaviors! I hear that you parent-types love when The Childless make fun of you. Since I have so many judgmental things to share, I’ll dole them out one at a time. Behavior number one:

When you post basically the same photos of your infant every single day for so many days on end. I know you love your new baby, and I appreciate getting to see a photo every now and then. I’m probably genuinely curious about your offspring (even if I don’t like you). But when you post three photos of your sleeping infant on Wednesday, and then do it again the next day and also the next day, oh and then you post some more sleeping infant photos the next day, I begin to question your sanity. How are you not aware that your child looks the same in every photo for several weeks after he or she is born? Kid’s not even smiling yet, and he’s definitely not doing anything interesting. I’d bet my million dollar book deal advance on that. Switch up the backgrounds for us, or something. Add a loving family dog, a jaunty hat, or a onesie that says “Got Milk?”

In short, do more of this. Do less of this:

Wednesday 9 AM: Check out my new baby!
Wednesday 1 PM: Omg look!
Wednesday 6 PM: Little Laeykynn!