So, uh…

August 17, 2008

…I know I owe you all an apology. I see from checking my own site that my last post here was way, way back on May 30, 2008. Crazy. Why, that was before we even had a Democratic nominee for president!

What can I say, by way of excuses? It’s been an incredibly hectic summer; lots of family visits, lots of visits with friends, lots of leisurely reading, lots of writing (um, just not blog posts). G and I even took a fabulous beach vacation last month. Somewhere along the way, I just stopped fitting in blog time.

In fact, I hate to say it, but I am thinking of letting this blog go, officially (ha! I have the nerve to say this with regret, as if any actual readers are even left — deafening, the cry of disappointment that has risen up from the empty ranks of my blog audience). This is ironic, since G and I actually ARE about to start our first IVF cycle, this Tuesday (whoa). It may or may not work, though I hope it does. But I suppose I just don’t have a lot to say about it at this point. We’ll just see what happens, won’t we? I have been so, so lucky and smiled upon by the universe in my life so far–it certainly would be wonderful if that continued into the reproductive technology realm, but I haven’t started knitting the layette just yet.

We have three IVF tries that are covered by insurance, and that’s it. (Unless, I suppose, I switch insurance companies down the line, although Aetna really does seem like the best thing my job has to offer.) According to the RE, our prognosis is good; G’s numbers are low, but not dismal, so they can certainly glean a crop of decent swimmers to use in the ICSI process. I’m still reasonably young at 33, and my doctors assure me I’m in great health, reproductive and otherwise. So if there’s any time that IVF is likely to work for us, it’s now.

Still, it’s a crap shoot. I suspect that if we don’t have good luck with this we’ll table the kids thing and save some money for a few years, maybe consider moving on to adoption after we’ve rebuilt the savings. Or maybe we’ll give up on having kids entirely, I don’t know. I’m hoping we don’t have to make that decision. Right now, I would really love for us to hit pay dirt on the first IVF try so that we can save the other two chances for kid #2 (when I’ll be older and will need the extra help).

In the meanwhile, I may one day soon start a new blog, with a new title. Something that covers a few more of the things I’m interested in–academia, music, cooking, reading, running, writing, pop culture–things I’ve touched on here, but not in depth. I will keep you posted. Thank you, so much, for reading and commenting over the past year. You, and this blog, have been great to me, and I truly appreciate it.

Cheers (and stay classy, San Diego),

Cityprof

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Please…

May 30, 2008

…keep Jennifer over at Contrary to Popular Belief in your thoughts and prayers. She recently lost her pregnancy at 17 weeks. I don’t know whether she is hoping for comments on her most recent post, but I know it helps me to know that people are reading along in support, especially when things have taken a painful turn. So in case you’re not a regular reader of her blog I thought I would call it to your attention.

I’m just speechless, and so devastated to hear this sad news.

Take care of yourselves; I will post a longer update on me-land soon.

Helloooooooo!

May 19, 2008

Yes, friends, I’m alive. I don’t know why I haven’t been blogging–just not in the mood? I’ve been busy, but not outrageously so. I’ve certainly been spending plenty of time elsewhere on the internet: Facebook, various message boards and keeping up with other people’s blogs has definitely occupied my time recently. But my own blog, totally neglected for some reason… I guess because nothing much exciting is happening.

I don’t know how long this post will be either (answer: ┬áSO, SO LONG), as I’m starting to feel sleepy (and it’s already 1:00am) but I’m determined to post something before hitting the sack. So, what’s new? Ironically enough, even though I haven’t been writing, I certainly have been thinking quite a bit about infertility, parenting, and related issues.

So far we’re still planning to do our first IVF cycle in early August, but I have a lot of fears about it. Friday was CD1 for me (meaning my most recent cycle was 26 days), and meaning I’m expecting my next cycle to begin around June 11, and the one after that around July 7, and the one after THAT, which is the important one, around August 1. But I had some blood drawn at the doctor’s office last Wednesday, and I got a little nervous around the whole needle thing–I realized/remembered that I usually get through blood draws by looking away while the needle goes in. I guess if I’m doing the injecting, as with daily Lupron shots, that won’t really be an option, huh? G seems totally prepared to step up and do the injections for me, though, so maybe I can still keep up my “just don’t look, it’ll be over soon” approach.

Of course, needles are the least of my worries; actually I’ve been having a lot of anxiety, lately, about how much children might change our lives. Can I still stay invested in my career once we have children? Will I still be “me,” or will I lose myself to motherhood? Will G still be attracted to me once my boobs get (more) saggy post-breastfeeding? That last one is less about G and more about me–sure, it’s shallow and silly, but I’m very apprehensive about the bodily changes, as I’ve mentioned here before. Probably because I’ve lost so much weight recently, I’m overly conscious of my hard-won new body and what pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding are likely to do to it. And don’t get me started on my “gaining all the weight back” fears. If I do manage to get pregnant, I’m just going to have to be mindful about my eating and try to keep up a moderate exercise routine. Maybe I’ll subscribe to Fit Pregnancy.

The career thing is no small question, either. I’m finishing up my grading over the next couple of days, and so I’ve been sneaking in some work on my new book, and I’m getting really excited about it. If I get pregnant right away and give birth before the next part of my sabbatical (Fall 2009), will I actually write this big exciting book, or will it fade into “what might have been” as my sabbatical becomes a de facto maternity leave? I’m sure it sounds silly that I am worried I’ll “never” write my book–kids don’t stay infants forever, after all, and I should be able to devote time to writing during the summer months, even if I am teaching full time during the school year–but sabbaticals, uninterrupted research and writing time away from teaching, only come around once every seven years of service. If I squander this one, I’m looking at Fall 2016 as my next possible leave time. 2016! I guess I had better learn to be productive in smaller bits of time.

But all of that pales in comparison to the financial concerns. Here is where I get really terrified if I think about things too hard. For one, lately G and I have been wondering whether we’ll EVER be able to afford to buy a home. Things are so expensive here that a 20% down payment on a 2-bedroom condo or co-op is about as much as my annual salary. (!!!) How do you save that amount of money up? Neither of us has an inheritance to draw upon for the down payment, unlike so many of our friends and colleagues who’ve purchased homes in the city with their parents’ financial help. Plus, unfortunately, we owed so much in taxes this year that all of our expendable income is now going towards paying off the tax bill and none toward building up our savings.

In fact, once that tax bill is paid off, we’ll (hopefully!) be at the point of starting to pay through the nose for daycare. There is literally no room in the budget for daycare at this moment, like, zero. So the only way we can afford a kid at all is if I really do use the second half of my sabbatical as mat leave (*sigh*) and we don’t pay for daycare until February 2010, when the tax bill will be paid off and a decent chunk of money will re-enter the monthly budget.

Ultimately, I honestly cannot see how we will manage to get ahead once a child is in the picture. Or even stay where we are. Kids need so many things! Clothes, food, toys, not to mention tuition–etc, etc, etc. In this moment I very much feel that in choosing to pursue parenthood we are, in fact, choosing perpetual poverty. I know that the joy children bring can be well worth the sacrifice, but I feel like our budget is on a razor’s edge right now and I am SO AFRAID that having a child, no matter how much joy s/he will bring, is also going to mean taking on enormous credit card debt just to make ends meet (and UGH, how I fought to get out of credit card debt after graduate school! We have absolutely no CC debt right now, though we do have G’s student loans, which are more than enough debt for a lifetime).

I almost cannot fathom going down this unpredictable road when we are so financially unstable. Sure, we make decent money, but we live in one of the most expensive areas of the country, pay through the nose in taxes, and right now in addition to rent we’re paying a car note, those student loans, and the aforementioned tax bill.

The thing is, I am more sure than I have ever been that having children would be a wonderful thing, that G and I would make great parents, and that our marriage would, if anything, become stronger as a result of sharing the experience of parenting a child. I’m not convinced it would survive the financial hit, though, especially if we start bickering about money. In order to afford to pay the tax bill (on our new, smaller net income, as we are having much more withheld to avoid being in this situation again next year) we had to lower, drastically, the individual “mad money” we are each allowed every week–we cut it by about two thirds. Immediately, we started to squabble about little things like who owed whom three dollars in change from the Dunkin’ Donuts breakfast we shouldn’t have bought in the first place because we now need to eat every meal at home in order to be properly frugal. Once we adjusted to our new circumstances we got over that kind of pettiness, but I just cannot fathom having even less budget leeway (and more of a sense of fiscal urgency, because our child’s present and future well-being would be at stake) and the possible conflicts over money that might ensue.

My god, this must be the most boring post EVER to read. Right about now, if you’ve read this far at all, I’m sure you’re wishing I’d stayed away! Apologies.

The bottom line is, I’m anxious about doing IVF, and not all of it is baseless cold feet. Rationally, the smartest thing to do could be waiting another year to start treatment–I’ll still be young enough to have good IVF prospects, at 34–and maybe my book will be almost done, and we’ll be closer to having paid off the tax bill, and maybe found a way to build up a little more in savings… But emotionally, waiting just seems wrong. I think we’ve waited long enough. Maybe I’m foolish (probably) but I’d like to take the plunge and see what happens, in spite of all the practical terrors I’ve just laid out. I guess some part of me still believes it will work out okay for us if we just take a chance, and step out on faith.

Feel free to tell me I’m crazy, though.

I learned something about myself today.

(Oh by the way–hi readers! I guess my promised increase in blog posting over spring break didn’t quite materialize, as here we are on Thursday night–Friday morning, actually–and I’m only just now writing a new post. What can I say? I’ve been doing a lot of sleeping.)

…So, as I was saying. Learned something about myself. Today, after many days of lazing around NOT exercising, I finally got in a workout. The last time I’d worked out, if I’m recalling correctly, was Thursday morning of last week, April 17th. And that day I’d just done a quick maintenance workout, one set of each basic strength-training move plus 10-15 minutes of cardio, thinking that I’d do a “real” workout over the weekend (what do I mean by a “real” workout, you ask? Well, that’s a good question–I’ll come back to that). But somehow it didn’t happen. Then my period started on Monday, so I was feeling crampy and gross for a few days. By today, I was practically itching to get back on the workout horse, so to speak.

When I worked out today, I did my upper body exercises (push-ups, shoulder presses, bicep curls and tricep kickbacks, various exercises for my back, and crunches for my upper abs), then I went out for a brisk 30 minute run, then while out at the track in the park, I did my lower body strength workout (lunges, two types of squats, calf raises, and reverse leg lifts for my lower abs). THEN I walked home from the track, which was another 15-20 minutes of mild cardio. Naturally, by the time I got home I was exhausted. My muscles ached–still do, actually. Who goes for a run, which already takes a toll on the leg muscles, and then follows it with squats and lunges? AND a walk?

But this overexertion felt right to me, somehow. It felt like what a so-called “real” workout should be. And as I thought about it, I realized that one of the reasons I’ve been letting more and more time lapse between my workouts (I’m down to one, maybe two sessions a week, these days) is that I subconsciously expect my workouts to tax me to depletion. I don’t feel right doing just a little bit of exercise in a session; similarly, I don’t like to do “just” weights or “just” cardio when I work out. I have convinced myself that I have to do both, and indeed that I always have to train my entire body when I do weight training. No splitting up the upper and lower body exercises into different days for me, oh NO. A “real” workout means a full cardio blast and a full body strength session, and if I have time, some serious stretching too, although that’s fallen off recently.

Of course, this means that when I do work out, it takes the entire morning. On top of that, I’m so worn out afterwards that I need several days to recover. This is especially true when I go running rather than using the elliptical machine. By the time my quads are no longer sore, I’ve gotten out of the habit for a few days, or I’ve gotten into a busy moment at work or a busy social weekend and I can’t find two or three full hours (!) to devote to working out again, until a whole week (at least) has gone by. And by then I am so ready to work out again (or feeling so guilty for not working out for so long) that I do another super-intense session that leaves me sore and spent. So it’s really kind of a vicious cycle.

I think that there are a few reasons for this, but they all boil down to not changing my lifestyle to that of a fit person. I’m still thinking, and working out, like the person I used to be. For one, I’m expecting my workouts to exhaust me just as they did when I was much heavier and much less fit. After years of going through workout spurts in which I’d go strong for a couple of months and then , as soon as I was approaching a reasonable level of fitness, start slacking off, and enter a lazy cycle for many more months (to the point that I became out of shape again and had to start all over), I think I’ve come to believe that exercise should always hurt in some way, and that if it doesn’t, I’m not doing it right.

Now, I’m not Serena Williams or anything, but I am pretty fit these days. Of course I should keep pushing myself in workouts, because that’s how you continue to grow and improve, but every workout doesn’t have to take me to my physical limit. Sometimes I really can just do a short workout, or a lighter workout, and still reap benefits from it. I have to realize that right now, I’m maintaining my level of fitness rather than trying to “get in shape.” News flash: after eight months of consistent exercise, I AM in shape. Not perfect shape, no, but I cannot consider myself a couch potato, or think something’s wrong if my body doesn’t react to exercise like a couch potato’s body.

I also think that I need to shed the supposedly time-saving idea that I can do it all in one session. Now that I am at a decent level of fitness, each component of my routine takes longer, because I need to do more reps, or more complex exercises, or run for (slightly) longer distances. It makes more sense to break up that routine over five or six days. Then, too, if I break it up I don’t have to have an open two and a half hours in which to work out–I can do 20 to 30 minutes daily. Even the busiest day has 20 unused minutes in it somewhere.

So that’s my new plan. I’m going to try to do shorter, simpler, daily workouts from now on, taking one day as a rest day (probably Saturday). Maybe I’ll try for upper body weight training on Mondays and Thursdays, lower body weight training on Wenesdays and Sundays, and 30 minutes of interval cardio, either running or elliptical, on Tuesdays and Fridays. (I’d like to fit some yoga in there too, maybe on my rest day? I definitely think I need to bring that serious stretching back into my life).

Of course, this is the kind of routine that seemed both daunting and ridiculous to me when I was out of shape–who has time to work out that often? Why do I need to do so many different kinds of exercise? Now I worry that it will be “too easy,” but I know that’s just my old no-pain-no-gain mentality rearing its head. Instead of feeling the burn I am hoping to feel the fitness.

Oh P.S. Plan IVF has officially been pushed back once again, to the end of July (or even very early August). No more push backs after this, though. I’m supremely happy with the decision, and looking forward to a summer of not thinking about infertility at all. But more on that in another post.

Hi folks! Yet again I have been neglecting the blog. This is because I have been crazy busy, and because I have not been thinking much about infertility, now that it’s clear our next step is IVF. I think we are going to wait to do a cycle until June, when the semester is over and I am fully into SummerCityprof mode. Which is to say, relaxed, carefree, exulting in my long, unstructured days and in the warm weather. A much better time to start than now, when I am a little discombobulated, a lot exhausted and weary, and moderately overwhelmed by how much teaching and service work still remains on my plate. So, June it is–and for now, that’s that.

As to the title of this post, though, there do happen to be a lot of other things on my mind. Here they are, in no particular order:

1. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that this song is getting heavy rotation on my iPod. Does this mean that it’s a good song by her, for once, or does it mean that my musical taste is on the decline? Watch the (unoriginal, but still enjoyably creepy) video and judge for yourself.

2. More on music–we scored tickets to go see Gnarls Barkley at an “intimate” show at the Highline Ballroom later this week. It’s one of those tiny little shows that you read about in the Voice or Time Out and think, “Man, that must have sold out in two seconds! How do people ever get tickets to that kind of thing? I NEVER get tickets to that kind of thing!” Well, here’s how: go to see a much less well-known artist at the same venue a few weeks earlier, thereby getting on that venue’s e-mailing list; receive an email about the “intimate soiree” with Gnarls Barkley with info about when the tickets go on sale; sit at computer with ticket-buying website open at the appointed time and take action as soon as the clock turns over to the exact minute that tickets become available. Oh and, totally get lucky!

3. We just paid our 2007 federal tax bill. It was thousands upon thousands upon thousands, just as I posted here a while back. Ugh. But I think we have a good plan in place for how NOT to be in this situation next year. Also, I am trying to look at it as a blessing and a sign that we are doing well, financially. And looking at it that way, I don’t mind paying our share for the greater good, which is what taxes are about, after all. But I certainly would feel better overall about paying taxes if I knew my money actually were going to health care, national infrastructure, or education, rather than endless war. Sigh.

4. On a lighter note, despite the hard work that teaching continues to be, I have been having a lot of fun with my students lately. We just read Paul Beatty’s White Boy Shuffle, which is truly hilarious. And, apart from great material, I think I am a better teacher now, post-tenure, than I used to be. I remember my department chair, who is also a friend of mine, telling me that I might feel more comfortable in the classroom once my book came out, and thinking she was nuts. What did the one thing have to do with the other? But it turns out that she was right, although not for intellectual reasons. I do feel more confident in myself as a scholar now that I have tenure and my book is out, but I also feel less stressed about maintaining my “authority” in the classroom by being a hard-ass. For some reason, now that my job is secure I am much more relaxed and able to see my students as human beings, and therefore to cut them some slack while still maintaining a reasonable, and reasonably brief, list of rules. That’s making life in the classroom much more liveable.

5. Oh readers, I am again lusting after shoes. There are good reasons NOT to buy these shoes. They’re not particularly practical. What red shoes are? Plus, I’m going on sabbatical this fall, so I won’t have as many work-related places to wear these shoes. Did I mention I am now on a severely restricted budget (see #3, above) when it comes to spring clothing purchases, and buying these shoes will take a huge chunk out of that? And, as at least one optimistic friend has pointed out elsewhere, my feet might change size if/when I’m pregnant! Won’t I be sorry if I buy some almost $200 shoes and then I can’t wear them for more than one season? (To that I say, yes, but that would be the least of my shoe worries). Hmm. I still might get the shoes, practicality be damned. I mean, if I am likely to be pregnant soon, how many more chances will I have to buy myself frivolous clothing items? I’m guessing, not many. Every spare penny is going to be devoted to strollers and diapers and Babylegs and unpainted wooden-not-plastic educational toys–I might be glad, then, to have those red peep-toe pumps around, if only just to look at wistfully and remember the hot cityprof tamale that once was.

…Or maybe I’m just being dramatic.

6. G turns 38 this week! My sweet, sweet hubby is now solidly into his “late 30s,” even if he doesn’t look a day over 29. Most of his birthday present was “honey, we have $100 in the budget for your birthday–buy yourself whatever you want!” but I also got him this t-shirt, which refers to one of the funniest moments from one of our favorite Will Ferrell movies, Talladega Nights. I hope he likes it.

7. Happy to say I’m still maintaining my 40-lb weight loss, with my weight hovering right around 158 (it had been hovering around 160 or 161, but after a bout with the 24-hour stomach flu last weekend, I seem to have reset at a few pounds lower). And now, especially after being so impressed by my girl step up’s success with reaching her final goal, I’m considering ramping up my exercise and trying to lose those last 5 pounds standing between me and my ultimate goal weight of 153 lbs. We’ll see. It’d surely be nice to be at my slimmest and healthiest possible going into the IVF process, especially since I know the hormones can mess with your body in weird ways. But I’ve been so busy at work that it’s been hard to fit in more exercise, especially more cardio (I’ve been keeping up my weight training pretty well). Maybe I can really get back into a workout groove when our spring break FINALLY rolls around on April 18th.

Look for more frequent blog posting around then too.