Monday, April 23, 2012

Don't Ignore It

Hello, my peeps. It's National Infertility Awareness Week, and the theme this year is "Don't Ignore It."

One of the most painful aspects of infertility is isolation. You feel like the only woman on earth who is not either currently pregnant or raising children. You avoid talking about it because people don't really understand what you're going through, or they make comments that make you feel worse. So my plea to the world at large is, "Please don't ignore it. Please don't ignore us."


- Don't ignore kindness. If you know someone who is going through infertility, someone who has lost a child, someone who has experienced a failed treatment, say something. Something like "I'm sorry you're going through this," or "I'm thinking of you," or "How are you doing?"

- Don't ignore the emotions. People who struggle with infertility are going through a lot emotionally. And those emotions may be exacerbated by all the crazymaking fertility drugs. If you see the tears, the anger, the frustration, don't look away. Offer comfort if you can. And don't take it personally if your friend or loved one tells you she can't bear to see your children or your pregnant belly right now.

- Don't ignore the impact of your words. Out of a desire to comfort, sometimes people say things that hurt. Just about every woman I know who has suffered from infertility cringes whenever someone says:
  • "Just relax. It will happen."
  • "Well, you could just adopt. Lots of babies need good homes."
  • "My cousin's neighbor's daughter-in-law's orthodontist had the same problem, and . . ."
  • "Everything happens for a reason."
  • [In the case of miscarriage] "At least you know you can get pregnant!"
- And finally, one that I need to remind myself about -- don't ignore your own past. If you've been through it, talk about it. Make yourself available to others who are going through it. It helps.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's Okay To Be Grumpy

When I was in the depths of the Great Barren Wasteland, when I thought I would never get to be a parent, I promised the gods and all the forces of the universe that if I had a child, I would cherish that child and always be grateful and never be cross or angry or thoughtless.

What a dumb promise that was.

Not that I regret making it, not for a minute. It was heartfelt, and I did not have my fingers crossed behind my back. It's just that it was a promise impossible to keep.

Last weekend was tough. My darling miracle children were acting like wee demons, intent on pummeling me and each other. They were whiny, destructive, heedless little savages. I lost my cool. I screamed at them. I put the little one in time out and took toys away when he threw them, which make him even madder, so he threw more toys, which I also took away, until there was a great big pile of taken-away toys on a high shelf. I threatened to throw away all playthings not put away by the time I counted to some arbitrary number. And then I called a friend and committed the unforgivable sin: I joked about putting my darlings up for sale on Craigslist, or perhaps offering them to a traveling circus.

Oh, how I hated people who did that! How I swore I would never ever ever . . .

I cowered in fear that some vengeful deity would hurl a well deserved bolt of lightning at me and my progeny.

And then I realized something.

All parents go through this. All children have days when they work their parents' last nerve. The tantrums of the much-wanted, cherished child are no less terrible than those of the child conceived without much thought or purpose. The yearned-for child kicks just as hard, screams just as loudly, poops just as often as any other.

Similarly, my difficulty conceiving my children did not make me a perfect mother. Far from it. It may have made me a bit more patient, a smidge more grateful, a tad more affectionate than I would have been otherwise, but a parent who never screams at her kids is a parent who is either (a) wealthy enough to have a full-time childcare staff; (b) Buddha; or (c) on some serious drugs.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I must be doing this wrong

Last week, even more than usual, was hectic at work. I was at my desk before 6 a.m. on Monday finishing a brief.

On Tuesday, I got up early and got myself ready, got the kids fed, dressed, shod, powdered and lipsticked (or something like that -- it was stupid early), dropped them off at the appropriate centers of early childhood education, broke a few laws of both physics and the state in order to get to work in time for a meeting, performed the requisite gymnastics at said meeting, went directly to another meeting and remained entangled there until nearly 2 pm without a break for any of life's necessities, including but not limited to answering my incessantly buzzing phone.

When the meeting finally ended and I was able to attend to the Cursed Device, it informed me that my daughter's preschool had been desperately trying to get a hold of me because she was running a fever and needed to be picked up. By the time I called Atomic, he had already taken the bus halfway across town, picked her up, and tucked her into bed for a much needed nap.

I then made the innocent mistake of walking away from my desk for just a minute to attend to another one of the aforementioned necessities. When I returned, there was a message from my son's daycare saying that he, too, needed to be picked up due to fever and vomiting, thankyouverymuch. As I grabbed for the phone it rang -- dear, reliable Atomic again. He was on his way to pick up Dylan on foot while his guitar student (an old friend and father of two) hung out on our couch watching "Wonder Pets" with Gabby.

Half an hour later I screeched into the garage, grabbed the bottles of Pedialyte and jars of applesauce I'd purchased on the way home, and flew up the stairs.

"Hi, Mommy!" shouted my apparently unperturbed, fever-free darling. "We're playing dress-up. Dylan is Cinderella, I'm Rudolph, and you can be the Big Bad Wolf, okay?"

"App-pull!" added my content, non-barfing boy. "Bubb-bull!"

For the rest of the afternoon I multitasked, which was made easier by the fact that the role of the Big Bad Wolf was appropriate both for Gabby's dress-up game and the rapid-fire emails I was exchanging with opposing counsel. Although I can't recall specifically, I'm pretty sure I stopped short of threatening to huff and puff and blow his case down.

I saved that for the following day.

The rest of the week was a blur, punctuated by recurrent stomach ailments, looming (and, fortunately, postponed) deadlines, general whining (my own, mostly), moments of delight, that bzzbzzbzz noise my phone makes which I swear gets more insistent sounding when someone is really trying hard to reach me, and oh yeah, Atomic's birthday.

Mama said there'd be days like this . . . no, actually, she didn't.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Binky's Guide To Parenting

In the past few days, I have been inundated with links to this article in the Wall Street Journal. A "must read," according to the conventional wisdom.

If opinions are like assholes, then surely parenting advice is akin to what issues from those ubiquitous orifices. And apparently owning one of said orifices is the only necessary qualification for writing a parenting book or article. So, I've decided to write my own. Here's an abstract, for those of you who want to get an exclusive sneak peek before publication:

Kids today are not being raised right.

• Just yesterday, I saw a toddler having a tantrum in a public place.

• Someone my cousin knows – we'll call him "Johnny" – had to go to community college instead of real college (or maybe it was a public university, one of those with the word "state" in the title – I forget) because his parents, lamentably, simply did not place enough emphasis on his education.

• Also, there's a lot of crime and stuff.

Research [1] has shown that when kids turn out wrong, it's their parents' fault.

Are you worried that your kids will turn out all messed up? You should be. If you're not, they will definitely turn out all messed up. So here are my simple rules for ensuring that your kid will not turn out all messed up:

1. No children's programming on TV, ever. Period. End of story. Reruns of Matlock and Murder She Wrote are fine.

Why? Studies[2] show a high correlation between viewing Matlock and Murder She Wrote and not being either a community college student or incarcerated.

2. Feed your children only circular or cylindrical food. (E.g., Cheerios, pancakes, logs of chevre, burgers)

Why? Because I said so. Now shut up and eat your Chevre McMuffin.

3. Sleep is a privilege, not a right. Before letting their sweet little heads hit the pillow, why not require them to calculate pi to twenty or so decimal places, or compose a short sonata?

Why? Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is a powerful motivator. If you miss this opportunity to motivate your children to hit important academic milestones, you are a lazy mother.

4. The only acceptable extracurricular activities are Spanish Club and clown school.

Why? Because other kids will beat your kids up if they join the Chess Club, Spanish is a useful language to know, and clown school may come in handy if your child does end up like Johnny (see above).

5. All petitions for an allowance, requests to exceed curfew, and other applications for variances of house rules must be submitted in Latin (or Pig Latin, for children under age three), on legal-size paper, in green ink, and notarized.

Why? I think this one is self-explanatory.

The rest of the book will be filled with mildly humorous (or deadly serious) anecdotes that illustrate nothing whatsoever.

Conclusion: All you have to do is follow these simple rules and your kid will absolutely not turn out all messed up. And remember -- if your kid does turn out all messed up, it's because you applied the rules wrong. So it's still your fault. Sorry.

[1] Just Google "research parents' fault" -- you'll see. Also, I read several parenting books and they all agree.
[2] My own carefully conducted research, which included reviewing the Tivo playlists of my parents, my inlaws, and some of their friends.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Barfday To You

Poor Gabby. She has yet to make it through a birthday without someone throwing up.

It started the day she was born. Right before I went to the OR for the c-section, they gave me some medicine that was supposed to settle my stomach and keep everything down. Let's just say the medicine did not have the intended effect. So much so that one of the labor and delivery nurses, who have surely seen everything, actually said, "wow."

When Gabby turned one, we were in Santa Fe with family. The morning of her birthday, I picked her up and she launched herself over my shoulder, landing on her head on a stone floor. She screamed until she threw up, and because she had thrown up the advice nurse said we'd best go to the emergency room, so off we went in a blizzard to have her checked out. She was fine, thank goodness, but the whole thing kind of put a damper on the day.

Last year, we scheduled Gabby's birthday party for a Sunday. The night before, Atomic started running a fever, and by morning he was barely able to move from the bathroom. Charming. We cancelled the party.

This year, we scheduled a party almost two weeks before her actual birthday so she could celebrate with her friends. Out of an abundance of courage, or a dearth of good sense, we agreed that she could have a slumber party and let her invite three little girls. She's been out of her mind with excitement for weeks, planning the menu (peanut butter and jelly sandwiches), the cake (strawberry and princess-themed, of course, with sprinkles), and the guest list (ever changing until the moment I pressed "send" on the evite).

The night before the Big Event, she looked a little pale and had dark circles under her eyes. I noticed that her nose was running. Her head felt a bit warm. We gave her some Tylenol, put her to bed, and hoped for the best.

This morning she had no fever and her energy level was fine, so despite her still-running nose we proceeded as planned.
By noon she was sounding congested, so we decided to scale it back from a slumber party to just a regular party. We called all the parents and told them what was up, and gave them the option to back out if they wanted to spare their own household from whatever crud was rampaging through Gabby's system.

Bless their hearts, they all showed up anyway. And then, midway through pizza and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, Gabby barfed.

The amazing part is that after some tears and a quick bath, she managed to blow out the candles, have a bite of cake, open her presents AND thank everyone for coming before crashing out on the living room floor in her new sleeping bag.

My poor sweetheart. I hope the Birthday Party Curse is now past us. Otherwise things are not looking so good for Dylan next year.

Update: Nope, the birthday curse continues, and expands. We were supposed to celebrate Dylan's birthday tomorrow. Sure enough, Gabby came home from school tonight and promptly barfed. WTF? The kid never barfs. Except when it's someone's birthday.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mommy's Xmas List

Dear Santa,

I have been a very nice mommy this year. I only swore under my breath, and only when the occasion really really warranted it, like when the brand new Snow White underwear got pooped in five minutes after an epic and unproductive potty session. And I hardly ever pretended to be asleep when the kids woke up and started crying or pulled the covers over my head and waited for Atomic to deal with it. Really, I swear.

So here is what this very very nice mommy would like for Christmas this year:

1. Two hours during the day to get a mani/pedi
2. A nice dinner out with my girlfriends
3. A lock for the bathroom door

That's it. I don't need a Wii or an iPad or whatever fancy gizmo is in fashion this year. Just a little bit of time, and a little bit of privacy.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Gabby's Bedtime Story

Last night at dinner, Gabby said "Mommy, Daddy, I want to tell you a story." I happened to have my laptop on the kitchen table, so I took dictation as she spoke and asked a couple of questions along the way. Here's the story:

"Once upon a time, there was a princess named Daddy, and his name was Michael. And the Mommy-King was named Gina."

"And what did the King and the Princess do?"

"They hang out together."

"What else? Did they have an adventure?"

"They had some pancakes at the beach. The prince and the princess went on the beach and they got to fly away and a wolf came, and they put on the wings and they fly away from the wolf!

That's how it goes."