Monthly Archives: December 2010

Au Revoir, 2010. You will not be missed.

It’s that time again, where I recap the year using Sundry‘s end-of-year meme. I’ve done this many times before.

1. What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

I tried two different persimmons. (I didn’t like either of them)
I went on a road trip all the way to the east coast and back, set foot in 7 new states (Iowa, Ohio, New Jersey, Connecticut, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee), and met the Turkey family for the first time.
I rode 33 miles on my bike in one day.
I wrote about infertility on my blog.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Mostly, I hoped that in 2009 we’d find jobs in California and move, or I’d get pregnant, or both. We did move (yay!) but no pregnancy and no (permanent) jobs just yet. I don’t plan to make any for this year, other than just generally eating healthy and exercising, which I do every year anyway.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

Nobody especially close – a friend in Denver had her first baby, as did a friend in Seattle, and a high school friend had her third baby. I have a few friends who are currently pregnant, so I expect they’ll be on next year’s survey.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Nobody close to me, but Dan’s grandma died right before we moved. It was not unexpected, but still sad.

5. What places did you visit?

My passport expired in May and I’ve yet to renew it. We drove through 20 states and set foot in 17 of them during our big summer road trip, and made two trips to California in the early part of the year.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

Hahaha. Ha. I would like gainful employment, to be living in the Bay Area and not mooching off my mom’s generosity, and to be pregnant. In that order.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

I’ll always remember the amazing party we threw at the end of March when we were visiting California (a combination birthday/anniversary), the road trip, and the six weeks of insanity from the middle of August to the end of September wherein we found out the reason for the no pregnancy, got the opportunity to move to California, I quit my job, Dan’s Grandma died, and we moved.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting through that aforementioned six weeks with my sanity mostly intact. It was, to say the least, not an easy time.

9. What was your biggest failure?

It’s hard not to think of the entire year as a failure. I failed to get pregnant, I failed to find a new job before or after the move (thus far), I failed to finish all the Christmas presents I planned to make because I lost over a week of time with nonfunctional hands. I failed to get skinny. I failed to be perfect.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

As rough as 2010 was for a variety of reasons, I was pretty healthy the whole year. I had a couple of colds and a few stress-induced neck/shoulder pain incidents, but that was about it. Unless you count when the cat chomped into my hand and tore out the back of my fingernail (warning: GRAPHIC), and I had to take monster antibiotics, which, despite my best efforts, resulted in typical but still uncomfortable side-effects. Luckily, that’s all done now and I’m mostly back to normal.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

8 feet of space on a trailer, where we tetris’d all our stuff, and so we didn’t have to haul it ourselves over two sets of mountains.

12. Where did most of your money go?

Rent, bills, groceries. We lived 2010 pretty lean, and as a result we’re still doing OK even after 3 months of mutual unemployment.

13. What did you get really excited about?

Friends’ pregnancies and new babies. The move, once we truly made the decision to do it. I hardly had time to get excited about the big road trip since it was almost a last-minute thing, but once we started planning for it I got super excited because I knew we’d get to see so many people along the way. It was truly a great adventure.

14. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Everyone who made an “It Gets Better” video. People who have been really supportive. Dan, as always.

15. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

John McCain, particularly around the DADT debacle.

16. What song will always remind you of 2010?

This one, which sums up how I feel about 2010 in general.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:

– happier or sadder? Happier, but that’s not hard to do. Last year we’d just lost our beloved cat.
– thinner or fatter? I’m not sure, probably about the same.
– richer or poorer? Also a difficult one to answer. Poorer, I guess.

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

I got into a pretty big rut, creatively. I wish I’d done more creative things. Also, I wish I’d realized we could swim at one of the other YMCAs that had a pool before summer, because swimming is awesome.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?

I wish I’d expended less energy on trying to get pregnant for so long. If we’d done the testing sooner, we would have known the problem sooner and I wouldn’t have spent so much time beating myself up over it every cycle that didn’t work.

18. How did you spend Christmas?

Christmas eve, we drove down to the East Bay and had appetizers and drinks with several of Dan’s aunts, uncles, cousins, their kids, and assorted friends. Then we drove back up to Santa Rosa, stayed overnight at my mom’s house there, and did all of Christmas day there. We came back up here to stay in our beds Christmas night and went back down to Santa Rosa on the 26th to do my extended family Christmas thing.

19. What was your favorite TV program?

So many good ones: Mad Men, Fringe, Lost, and getting to catch up on older shows like Doctor Who.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?

I read more books in the last three months of 2010 than I read in probably the previous two or even three years. Hooray for libraries! Standouts: the Hunger Games books (though I got the set for Christmas from Dan, I’ve yet to read the third one), Scar by China Mieville, Field Work by Mischa Berlinski.

21. What were your favorite films of the year?
Inception, Black Swan, The Social Network, How to Train your Dragon,
22. Did you fall in love in 2010?
More in love with Dan. We went through some pretty rough stuff, especially in the latter half of the year, and we’re still good. And we got Robin, and while it may be a while before I love her as much as I loved Petra, I still love her.

23. What did you do for your birthday in 2010?

I felt sorry for myself. I wasn’t pregnant (yet again), I tried to plan a party that nobody wanted to attend, and I cried a lot. I made up for it by throwing an awesome party two weeks later.

24. Did you make some new friends this year?

Yes, but mostly I reconnected with old friends. It’s been nice getting to know people all over again. Also, I finally got to meet some friends from inside the computer and hope to meet more in 2011.

25. What did you want and get?
Robin turned out to be a good kitty. We moved to California.

26. What did you want and not get?

The same thing I’ve wanted and not gotten for the last 18 months: a fetus.

27. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

To cap off our leap of faith with some sort of satisfactory culmination; or, in layman’s terms, if I’d gotten a damn job. Because once one of us gets a job, we can move, and then the other person will have an easier time getting a job, and then once we’re both employed we can get the IVF show on the road.

28. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

In the first part of the year, it was the same as it’s been for ages: fitting my muscular body into fashions meant for svelte people. In the last three months, it’s been: Whatever’s clean(ish) and will keep me warm, since we’re attempting to save on energy by keeping the heat low.

29. What kept you sane?

Exercise. Alcohol. Dan.

30. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I’ve gone ahead and added Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Darren Criss (who I’m pretty sure bats for the other team, and is also significantly younger than I am) to my List. But in all seriousness, I’m going to mention the It Gets Better thing again, because I think it was incredibly important.

31. What political issue stirred you the most?

Gay marriage and DADT.

32. Who did you miss?

Petra. Friends and family, who I see far more frequently now. Yay!

33. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010

Last year I wrote about patience, I think. This year, I learned that the only way to get something to change is to start it yourself.

Down with OPC* (yeah you know me)

Just before Thanksgiving, Dan got called for an interview at a creative staffing agency in San Francisco. The day before the interview, we went to Santa Rosa in search of a suit for him to wear. Luckily, they were having a really good sale, and he got two suits plus alterations and 6 pairs of socks for under $300. Score!

A week or so later, we were in Trader Joe’s and he got a call from the staffing agency. They had a job for him, temporary seasonal work at a personalized greeting card company in the city, starting the following Tuesday. YAY! We were both super excited. After a few days of trying to figure out logistics, we decided that Dan should drive our car down to the Bay Area and just stay down there for a few days with a friend to save gas, wear/tear on the car, and a 90-minute each way commute. That left me with several days to myself, sans car, after over two months of us living in each other’s pockets. So many possibilities!

The weekend before Dan started his new position, our weekend plans with friends had fallen through and we were planning a meal of chicken soup and latkes in honor of Hanukkah when Simon called us up and asked if we’d be interested in watching Wombat for the evening, getting to do auntie and uncle things with him and being sleepover babysitters. “Why not?” we thought, and drove to Oakland to see Leah and Simon off to a fancy holiday party while we played with Wombat, changed his diaper (me), and had him asleep by 8:30 PM. The next morning while L and S slept in, Wombat and I explored in the back yard, played with markers, ate an apple and a banana (well, I acquired them and he ate them), and read book after book. When I needed a break, Dan and Wombat read more books. After his parents got up and we were all finished with breakfast, Wombat and I played “Sweep the floor with [Wombat’s real name].” He cried when we left.

Three days later, I was a day into my solitary existence and decided I’d make some Mexican wedding cookies and prepare a surprise tea party for my friend Heather‘s daughters. Heather is in the midst of some pretty ungood health issues again, and she’s off work on long-term disability leave, so after okaying my idea with her, I packed up the fancy glass teapot we got as a wedding gift, and some fruity tea, and the cookies, and I walked to her house to surprise her 8-year-old and 3-year-old. We all had a great time at the tea party; everyone was well-behaved, and we took varying amounts of honey in our tea, and we wore wonder woman rings on our pinky fingers. I gave Heather an hour or so of time to do her own thing and got to hear the latest about Hannah Montana from Natty and how when Paigey climbs the pole she’s a koala bear and about a million other interesting tidbits, schooling me in what it’s like to be a little girl in 2010. Natty had just lost her first baby tooth and received a letter from the Tooth Fairy. Paigey discovered that tea cookies dunked in tea taste delicious. And I got a couple of hours of kid time.

This past weekend, during his 12 hours of non-work time, Dan drove north after work, arriving around 1 AM Saturday morning. After not enough sleep, we got up and got ready and drove south again, Dan going back to work and me and my nonfunctional hands (story to come) to Brian’s house, where I tagged along to a chili cookoff. The reason for the chili-festivity was to allow people to meet Brian’s friend’s one-month-old son. And so I found myself holding and patting a very small baby with lots of dark hair for much longer than I would have expected, since his parents had never met me before. They seemed happy enough to let someone else hold the baby while they ate chili, and I was thrilled to smell his baby head and watch him try to focus on faces and patterns and shadows. He seemed to like me pretty well, and I was only a little bit sad. That night, we went to Simon’s band’s concert and had a great time (except for my hands still being bad), and the next day before Dan had to work again, he and I went to Wombat’s 2nd birthday party.

The party was a lot of fun. There were colorful balloons and tasty food, and I got to meet Helen Jane and her girls. Several other very small people attended, and I removed the hull from about 18 strawberries for Wombat and his friends. One of them had a four-month-old baby sister, and I again found myself holding and patting a baby with lots of dark hair. She was super easy-going and happy to be passed around to any number of party guests, reminding me of my 30th birthday party I had at L&S’s house, when Wombat was three months old, and he got loved on by about 15 people. I held it together pretty well until I started thumbing through a Shutterfly or Blurb book someone had made documenting Wombat’s birth, and then I kind of lost it. Luckily, Dan was right there and he knew exactly why I was sad, and he gave me a big hug.

I watch other people’s children* begin, and grow, and be born, and grow some more, and change and get older and turn into people who talk and want to do things themselves. I’m learning more and more to compartmentalize how I feel about other people’s fecundity from the people (who are my friends) and their children (who I love). I was thrilled to get to meet Sadie this summer (obviously, along with Jive Turkey and HoST). I make blankets for the new small people in my friends’ and family’s lives, and that helps a little. Obviously, it isn’t fair that other people get to have something I want so, so badly and can’t have, at least not for a while yet. But it also isn’t fair for my friends to have to tiptoe around my problems. Recently, a friend who knows about our difficulties conceiving sent me an email to let me know she was pregnant before I found out some other way, and on the one hand I was touched that she was so considerate. But on the other hand, I felt terrible that she might feel constrained about sharing her news with the world out of fear of hurting my feelings.

I don’t want to be the person that people have to tiptoe around, or that people are afraid of telling when they’re pregnant or even if they decide to start trying. When we first broke the news of our infertility to our families, one of our family members wanted to know whether I’d be upset if one of my sisters ends up being pregnant before I do. And the answer to that is: probably, but I’ll still be very happy for her, and thrilled to have a new niece or nephew. I’ve said before that fertility is not a zero sum game, and whether someone else is able to get pregnant and have babies has no bearing on my ability or non-ability to do so. Separating my grief and rage at our situation and my anger at how unfair it is when yet another person we know is pregnant and I’m not has actually gotten easier, believe it or not, since our diagnosis, because we have a (potential) end in sight. And I don’t want to miss out on the amazing things that come with those pregnancies: baby showers, babies, children, because I’m feeling too mean or petty to shut off the bad feelings for a while and just be happy for other people.

I wouldn’t wish wanting children and not being able to have them on anyone, especially around the holidays. Last year was hard, especially with Petra (our first baby) dying, but this year has been incredibly rough. Maybe by next Christmas we’ll be on our way to being parents ourselves and I won’t have to worry about this anymore, and every time I hug Wombat or have tea with Natty and Paigey or hold a brand new infant I can just be in the moment and enjoy it all.

Custom Jeans

Last year for Christmas, either my sister or her husband had me in the “immediate family” Secret Santa gift exchange. Whichever one of them it was got me a gift certificate for a pair of jeans from a custom-fit jeans company based in the Bay Area, good for one year from date of purchase. At the time, I was really excited about the idea of having a pair of jeans that was made specifically to my body type and shape, since finding jeans that a) fit, and b) look good on me (specifically my giant ass), and c) don’t cost ONE MEELYON DOLLARS is a dicey proposition at best. My very, very muscular legs and butt and odd torso-to-leg-length ratio have never been easy to fit, even when I was at my thinnest adult size (probably right around the time Dan and I met, although I might have been smaller during the post-college-boyfriend breakup time because I didn’t eat anything for about a month). It seems as though while I keep getting older and getting larger, I’m getting larger proportionately, so I have the same issues in finding good jeans no matter what size the label says I am.

It was a great Christmas present. But I was also 5 cycles in to trying to get pregnant and so I decided to put off ordering the jeans, thinking for SURE I’d be pregnant within a month or two and wouldn’t be able to wear them for a long, long time, so maybe I should wait and see what my body would turn out to be like post-pregnancy? I put the folded up printout of the groupon in the book Dan gave me for Christmas (Neil Gaiman’s Odd and the Frost Giants) and pointedly didn’t think about it. Or if I didn’t get pregnant right away, I’d for sure be losing some weight soon (something I intended to do before getting knocked up so seeing the numbers go up on the scale wouldn’t be quite so horrifying), so I should wait to order the jeans until I was at my newer, more svelte size. I didn’t think about it some more as the months went on, and I still didn’t get pregnant, and even though I was spending an average of eight hours in the gym a week, I wasn’t getting any smaller.

I had my body fat tested at my gym in early July, before we went on our long cross-country road trip, and the calipers said I was at a low-normal 18.6%. I knew that I wasn’t going to be getting any smaller unless I stopped lifting weights or stopped eating altogether, so I gave up on the idea of shrinking and tried to make peace with my Williams-sister-esque body. At the time, we were about to make the decision to start the testing process to see why, precisely, I wasn’t getting knocked up, and if it was due to low body fat or overexercising there was no way I wanted to make things worse by trying to lose weight or stepping up the exercise. (It wasn’t, obviously, because that would be easy to solve.) In the back of my head, I knew there was a pair of custom-made jeans just waiting for me to order them, but I thought once we had the testing done and we knew better about what was going on that we’d be able to fix it and I’d get pregnant and that would be that.

Once we had the test results in, it was clear that there was no easy fix. And then we moved to California, and all of our books got packed up in boxes, trucked to California, and have been living in the garage ever since, just waiting for their next journey to wherever we settle once one of us (or both! please let it be both, soon!) gets a job. Of course, all of our books included Odd and the Frost Giants – stashed somewhere in the 20-some boxes of books we moved from Colorado.

Since we’ve been here in California, Dan and I have done our best to stay physically active and to eat as healthily as we always have. I will admit that I’ve eaten more bread in the last two months than I ever did in a full year in Denver, but that’s only because bread here tastes SO GOOD. But other than that, our diets haven’t really changed – we eat mostly fruit and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and good fats, with some chocolate every day because what is life without chocolate? We’ve been going on long bike rides at least once and sometimes twice a week, and on the days we don’t ride our bikes we’re doing yard work, house projects, and several days a week do 15 minutes of dedicated exercise in the house, him with his sledgehammer and me doing crunches, leg lifts, lunges with free weights, jumping jacks, and pushups. It’s not an hour or two in the gym every day like I used to do, but it’s better than nothing. I thought maybe if I wasn’t doing a lot of weight lifting for a while, some of that muscle I had would atrophy a bit and I’d shrink again, and on Thanksgiving I wore a pair of pants I hadn’t put on since last spring, and they fit quite comfortably, so I don’t think I’m getting any bigger.

This morning, I stepped out of the shower and looked at myself in the full-length mirrored doors of the master bedroom. What I saw made me feel horrible. I had a big body image freakout, and had to spend a few minutes talking myself down from the dysmorphia demons that seem to lurk around every corner. Then, I looked at the calendar and realized I needed to use that custom jeans groupon soon, or I’d never be able to use it. Luckily, Dan thought he remembered which box held the book with the printout and was able to find it pretty quickly – “It was right on top!” he said. I began the ordering process with a sinking heart, because I knew I’d have to put in some actual body measurements.

My waist may be larger than it was when we got married, but it isn’t with additional fat, just additional muscle. Nevertheless, it made me want to punish myself for being bigger than I’ve ever measured myself in my life – one of the main reasons why I almost never measure myself and never weigh myself, because the numbers make everything worse, even worse than looking at myself naked in a full-length mirror.

Jeans successfully ordered, I started to think about why it had taken me so long to get around to doing it. I knew that I wasn’t getting any smaller, and I certainly wasn’t getting pregnant like I thought. I guess it was just the last vestige of hope, that one bit of magical thinking that if I ordered the jeans, it was truly admitting that I wasn’t going to get pregnant at all without that serious medical intervention. I was admitting that my body wasn’t the ideal shape and size I’ve been fighting since childhood to have, and it really isn’t ever going to be that way again unless I contract a wasting disease or fall back into those old horrible disordered eating patterns. I just hope that the custom jeans make my ass look good enough that I won’t care it’s so many sizes larger than the jerk in my brain tells me it should be.

Maybe, with the right amount of luck and hard work, I will get pregnant someday. And I guess post-child(ren) my goal will be to get back into those custom jeans I ordered on December 2, 2010, when my body was at a healthy shape and size, I was strong enough to ride 33 miles on my bike, or go on a 12 mile ride and feel like it was easy. But if I never do? If I’m only able to wear those custom jeans for six months, and I’m never able to wear them again after the hypothetical babies come? It will still be worth it, because I’ll have a physical record of what I looked like, what my body shape and size were, right at this moment in time.