And complicated. I’m not sure it makes me look very good, either. It has a happy ending, though, I promise. (Oh, by the way, Flo abruptly showed her red face this morning, after absolutely zero advance spotting yesterday or last night. This seems to be the new, no-nonsense way that my periods are arriving–and departing–now that I’m 30 lbs thinner and exercising regularly. And if I ovulated when I think I did, I’m back to at least an 11 day luteal phase, if not 12. Which can’t be a bad thing, can it?)

Ok, so on to the actual story–

There is a guy, let’s call him R, that I knew through academic channels many years ago–perhaps the last time I saw him before catching up again recently was in 2002, right around the time I met and started dating G. Back then, R and I were friendly but not friends, had some mutual friends in common, but never spent much real time together, beyond a few intense, thoughtful conversations at conferences. I felt very drawn to him, but not exactly in a sexual way (although not exactly not, either), just something almost mysterious or cosmic, like I’d known him in another life or something. But we lost touch, and stopped running into each other, and I pretty much forgot about him for many years.

Enter my recent trip to Savannah for another related conference, where I saw R (and lots of other old friends) again, after all these years. Turns out, he just got a new job in NYC and is moving here soon with his partner, and is already in and out of the city a lot preparing for that. While we were in Georgia, R and I and a bunch of other folks had a grand old time hanging out and catching up. Then, when I got back, R and I ended up exchanging a few friendly emails, and planned to meet in the city for drinks, and then, well, things took a turn for the flirtatious. Nothing explicit or particularly scandalous, but once we realized in the course of conversation that there had been a mutual attraction many years ago (for some reason we’d each been unaware of the other’s thoughts back then), things got a little complicated.

This might be a good point to interject that I am HAPPILY married. As in, beyond happy, as in, I sincerely believe G is my soul mate, and quite possibly the only person on earth who would put up with me, the real me, and certainly the only person that I could love to this degree. I also feel like my relationship with G was fated to happen (more on that later). Naturally, I felt incredibly guilty about this situation with R, and so I did the only thing I could do–I confessed to G. Given that he is the most incredible, wise, and laid back man on the planet, he responded with something along the lines of: “Oh please, that’s your big confession? It’s natural to feel attracted to other people, and also crazy to think that getting married would mean you never thought about anyone else besides your spouse.” Cue big sigh of relief on my part. G also said that it would be silly to cancel the drinks plans with R, which I had thought maybe I should. He made it very clear that he trusts me, just as I trust him. I feel very lucky to have a relationship that is so solidly built on trust and honesty and mutual respect, and I want to make sure that I continue to merit that trust.

So, like most things that start out as serious “issues” with G and me, once it was out in the open this became a pretty hilarious joke between us–G would tease me about my “boyfriend” (almost literally a boy; did I mention R is about 4 years younger than I am?) and we plotted together about what kind of sexy-but-not-trashy outfit I should wear on my “date”–and finally yesterday, the day of the big date, arrived. And it was fun! R and I flirted, yes, and had a great conversation, but it was always very clear that I didn’t and don’t intend to do anything that would cross a line. R drove me back to our place, so I even brought him upstairs to meet G.

Ultimately the reason that R and I like each other, I think, is that we are a lot alike. Not only are we both Capricorns, birthdays within a week of one another, but (and probably more importantly) we’re both academics, looking at the world in a certain way, talking and thinking in what G, who is not an academic, calls “parentheses and italics.” R’s partner–whom I haven’t yet met, but hope to, although she’s practically a mewling infant, at eight years younger than I am–is also not an academic, and I wonder whether R and I both like the idea of relating to someone of the opposite sex with whom we can really connect intellectually. Half of our flirtation is philosophical discussions over email of things like Freudian versus Lacanian desire. That is not the kind of conversation I can have with G, and that has always been okay with me. G is an incredibly intelligent person, and that’s not at issue here–he just doesn’t perform intellect the way that we academics sometimes do, with all of the jargon and posturing and unnecessary obfuscation.

I had always, not just with G, but really ever since I started trying to escape the “nerd” label as a 17 year old college freshman, compartmentalized my intellectual performance side and my social side, doing my jargon-y academic thing in the classroom and later, in professional settings, but putting it aside, for the most part, when I was “off the clock.” R made me realize how fun it can be to let Academic-Performance-Cityprof out of her cage in the off-hours too.

But I came away from my platonic date with R feeling even happier about my life with G. The more time I spend talking to/hanging with R, the more clear it is to me that I chose my husband well. One reason of many: R has no sense of humor. Or, well, that’s not entirely accurate. He has a passable sense of humor, meaning he’ll laugh at what’s humorous, but he’s not CRAZY FUNNY, like G is. I could go on for pages about how and why G is so freaking hilarious. He’s an incredible mimic, and can capture almost any accent or pattern of speech in an uncanny way, which makes for amazingly funny impressions of people. He is incredibly observant, and both of us love to people watch and crack jokes on strangers (does this make us mean? we make sure we’re not overheard, though). Plus his wit is sharp, way sharper than mine, which means he can play the dozens like a champ–not so much with the Yo Mama jokes, no, but sweetly barbed Seinfeld-esque quips, oh, yes. And isn’t that the language of love? I cracked one little joke* at R while we were out and he practically fainted, poor thing. Intellect without sarcastic humor is like peanut butter without jelly, as far as I’m concerned. Tasty, but kind of dry and sticky if you get too much of it.

So after R got the tour of our place, chatted for a few, and took his leave, G and I ate a little dinner and hung out, and somehow we ended up pulling out some old photo albums from my college and grad school days. And there, in a series of photos from 1998 or 1999, several years before I’d officially met G, there was a photo of him in my photo album! Maybe this doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but I was so amazed–I have always claimed that I’d met G once, briefly on the street in front of a famous Brooklyn restaurant a few years before we’d really “met,” and that even then I’d thought he was incredibly cute but also thought he’d seemed unavailable.** But G, of course, had absolutely no recollection of said pre-meeting meeting, and I think always kind of doubted that this random guy I had met was actually him. Even I had some doubts in my mind–was my memory really that good, that some guy I had talked to for fewer than 30 seconds back in 1998 was the same guy that I ended up falling in love with in 2002?

Well, ten years ago I was ALWAYS taking pictures, especially of people I found attractive, and it turns out that while I was hanging out with my girlfriend that day in 1998, the day that we ran into G briefly on the street, I had my camera in tow per usual. And snapped a photo–two, actually! One of G alone, and one of him talking to her. And those photos were right there in my old photo album, which I clearly had not opened since at least 2002, because I had no idea. Isn’t that just bizarre?

And it’s probably ridiculous, but that was a crazy kind of confirmation for me of how fated G and me are. We were meant to meet when we did, and probably not before. And we are SO good together, and there was some part of me even in 1998, when I was very far from being ready for him, or he for me, that recognized him and wanted to capture his image for posterity. I think that’s pretty cool. Not to mention cool, finally, to have documented proof that I DID meet him way back in the day, and wasn’t just imagining it to have a romantic/funny story to tell.

So that’s my happy ending. R is a swell guy, and I actually hope we can be good friends, but G is my true home in life. I have the photographic evidence!

*totally a garden-variety tease of the type that G and I trade back and forth all day and night. R had black mitten-gloves on on Wednesday, those gloves that are mostly fingerless but have a mitten top that folds over to cover your fingers in the cold–MITTENS! on a grown man!–and it was 60 degrees out that day, by the way. He also had on a hoodie and leather jacket. (whaa???). Me, joke voice: “What are you, a hobo? You’re wearing fingerless gloves?” Him, smiling, but slightly wounded voice: “Well, I was cold.” Me: “Yeah, I can see that.” (Cue surreptitious eyeroll. I mean, really. Step it up, man, if you want to hang with me. I can’t have a pretend-boyfriend who can’t take a joke!)

**full disclosure: “unavailable”=gay, which he obviously turned out not to be.


Busy, busy, busy.

August 27, 2007

Yet again I am slow to update, but this time I have a moderately good excuse–today was the first day of classes, so over the weekend I was busy preparing for the semester. You know, by purchasing various important supplies. I wore that second pair to teach in today, and actually survived fairly well for the full six hours I was on campus–but I was very glad to put my sneakers back on for the commute home!

Happily, my students are adorable. No obvious troublemakers or crazies (I’ve had both in the past, and once, both in one class), and they are such a diverse and fascinating bunch! I hope this semester continues to go well.

Meanwhile, this past weekend we also attended a baby shower–and we have another one coming up in a couple of weeks. Contrary to expectation, I loved seeing our two pregnant friends, and even indulged in some energetic fantasizing about when it’s “my turn.” It helps that we didn’t get any intrusive questions about our reproductive status. For once! That was a relief. And once again our friends’ gorgeous almost-three year old daughter took my breath away with how perfectly sweet, bright, healthy and well-adjusted she is. I really hope when we become parents we can raise a child so well.

Interestingly enough, while there I overheard a related conversation among some other party guests, none of whom I know personally. The woman speaking was saying to a couple of other, much older women, “My hubby and I don’t have any children yet–but we do eventually want a couple.” The other women assured her, “Oh, you have time–” and she replied, “I know, but if you can believe it I’ll be 40 this year!” To which at least one person said, “Well, you’re still young.” She sounded relieved–“That *is* still young, right? I’m glad to hear you say that!” Everyone in this conversation was a black woman.

Of course, as I eavesdropped, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “Well, 40’s not THAT young.” But in keeping with my new attempts at more positive thinking, I immediately squashed that thought, and replaced it with, “I really hope she has absolutely NO trouble conceiving.” And honestly, I do. Still, I am very surprised when I hear these kinds of conversations–my mom recently told me about an acquaintance of hers whose 42-year old daughter still talks about their plans to have kids “in the future,” much to her mother’s chagrin. Of course, I don’t know if such seemingly naive women are only talking this way to deflect unwanted attention to their fertility–maybe they’ve been trying for years and just don’t want to tell the world about it.

If such talk is not a clever ruse, though, then I can’t help but worry for folks like the woman I overheard at the party. She could really be in for an unpleasant surprise. But as I said–I hope she’s yet another miraculous black fertility success story. For that matter, I hope *I* am, too.

A propos of that–no sign of Aunt Flo yet, although today’s only CD24. No particularly promising symptoms, except some throbbing pains in my left breast the other night, and similar but less intense pains tonight. I was also woken up out of sleep by a desperate need to pee last night at about 3am–something that almost never happens to me, and I’m in the habit of drinking a tall glass of water each night before going to bed. I have a bladder of steel, I tell you! Not last night, though.

Still, all that seems pretty dubious. And again, only CD24, and depending on when I ovulated, only 7 or 10DPO. As you may recall, though, this time last cycle I was already cramping, and my period started on the equivalent of CD26. So it looks like this month my cycle just might stretch a bit longer than last. But I’ve been eating better and exercising regularly–in years past, I have managed to forestall my period’s arrival slightly with regular exercise. So I might just have fitnessed myself into a longer cycle, meaning I could start bleeding by the end of the week.

One surefire way to know whether we’re headed for pregnancy or period this go-round is to start taking my temperature again, but, well, I guess I just don’t want to know. I’ve been enjoying the fantasy that I might have magically gotten knocked up this month, so I’m going to keep it up until I have incontrovertible evidence to the contrary.

Delusional? Maybe. But I’m comfortable with that.

The thing is, now that we’ve gotten ten cycles into this TTC thing, I feel I can understand why Mr. Fun and Ms. Wisdom might be avoiding us.

We’re people they told about their TTC efforts early on, when they were feeling optimistic. After all, Ms. Wisdom got pregnant right away, even though that pregnancy ended in a loss–when she told me about it, she had no reason to believe they’d have any trouble getting pregnant again, and staying that way. But since then, for whatever reason, things haven’t worked out. Maybe they’ve had more miscarriages. Or maybe getting pregnant again hasn’t happened easily at all, making that first quick success seem a lifetime away. And either way, every time they see us, they can probably tell that we’re wondering, “what’s happening with all of that, anyway?” Not that we have actually asked.

In other words, maybe they feel we are silently Womb Watching, that the constant undercurrent to our jovial conversations about movies and politics is us thinking, “why aren’t you pregnant?” and them thinking, “please don’t make us talk about it.”

I’ve felt that way about well-meaning people in our lives. I know how that unspoken conversation makes socializing tedious, and for us that’s without the added grief of a past miscarriage.

So this is why we keep trying to make contact with them, in spite of having little success. I want them to know we love them, we are still their friends when they feel like being friendly again–lately I’ve come out of hibernation a bit myself, and it’s been such a relief to find that my friends don’t hate me for being so distant, that they’re still there and still doing their best to be supportive.

And if we ever do get a chance to sit down over a meal with Ms. Wisdom and Mr. Fun again, I may have to break the silence about our own TTC efforts, if only so they know they aren’t alone in the world. They don’t have to spill their guts to us if they don’t want to, of course, but I hope knowing that we’re out here will make whatever they’re going through feel a tiny bit less isolating.

If anyone out there reading has advice on how to broach the subject of TTC and fertility with friends and acquaintances whom you know or suspect are struggling–I would love to hear your thoughts.

Finally, seeing red.

July 10, 2007

After another 48 hours of zero period signs, not even spotting, I am thrilled to report that some very light bleeding has started, accompanied by what are very obviously menstrual cramps. Since I already went through my crushingly disappointed phase on Sunday, I’m just relieved that my period has finally deigned to show up. My worst nightmare would be full-on bleeding while we’re on vacation next week. But I should be almost finished by the time we leave for Cape Cod on Sunday. Whew.

In other news, we went to see Transformers yesterday, which means I could finally read this blog entry, one I stumbled upon during recent efforts to go from totally clueless to very marginally literate in the wide world of blogging. As you may have noticed, this blog currently has no blogroll, no list of blogs that I read, because until I got the bright idea to start my own blog, I wasn’t much of a blog reader. This is pretty lame of me, yes, and I have no real excuse, as any time I’d stumbled on or been directed to a blog I found it pretty interesting. But I wasn’t versed in the whole process of subscribing, keeping up with new posts, leaving comments, etc. So lately I have been spending long hours of each day trying to catch up on Every Blog in Existence. Well, okay, every infertility-, academia-, or blackness-related blog in existence, since those are my main life issues these days.

It’s slow going, as you may expect–and all I can say is, it’s a good thing I discovered the blogosphere after tenure.

ANYWAY. So, Transformers. I thought the post over at the ABW’s site was incredibly smart, and I don’t have much to add in terms of actual critique. But I do need to say one thing: I left that film feeling so, so… OLD. Sure, most big budget Hollywood blockbuster movies are made for teenage boys. But maybe 17-19 year old boys–boys who can drive, whose voices have changed, who have probably had sex at least once with someone other than themselves. This one seemed written for 12 or 13 year olds, max. If you’re over 30, I’d suggest you go see the new Die Hard instead.

On to the “infertility” portion of this post: we went to see Transformers with a dear, dear friend–G’s best friend N, a guy that I really do adore. N married us. He has so, so many endearing qualities, really. He also has no kids, and has never tried to make a baby with anyone, including his now ex-wife. (You can see where this is going, right?) N knows we’ve been trying, has heard us express how much it sucks. His advice has always been, “well, just keep fucking–gotta work sometime, right?” True enough, unless of course fucking actually doesn’t work for us. Which it hasn’t so far. (And PLEASE, N and everyone else, stop saying things like “must be fun to try!” to me. This is how I can spot the People Who’ve Never Tried to Make a Baby at fifty paces–there is NOTHING fun about sex on a schedule, but only those who’ve never tried it are likely to think there is.)

But maybe there’s a reason people like N think baby-making sex is easy and “fun”–they don’t even know how it works! Yesterday after N’s most recent assertion of “just keep (having fun) fucking,” I grumbled something about how that window had closed a couple of weeks ago, and he totally didn’t get it:

Me: You know there’s only like 24 hours every month when a woman can actually get pregnant, right? [not technically true, as an egg can sometimes live for up to 48 hours, but close enough since most sources say 12-24 hours.]

N: [sure I am kidding] What? 24 hours? Getouttahere!

Me: [patiently] The egg only lives 24 hours max after it’s released, that’s why the sperm is supposed to be waiting in there already… [trails off in face of blank/incredulous stare]

N: [uncomfortable silence, then brightens.] Look, I say Just Keep Fucking!

Me: [bangs head on table]

See what I am working with? Yeah, there are plenty of people out there who figure, ANY time you have sex you could get pregnant. For folks like this, the whole process of the menstrual cycle, of ovulation, of (literally) how babies are made, remains a magical mystery. P.S., this guy is forty years old, and has an elite Northeast college degree.

Still, I wonder whether we would be pregnant by now if I were so woefully unaware of the workings of my own body. Maybe ignorance IS bliss. Of course, it’s too late for us, but to any people out there just starting the TTC process, I recommend avoiding the internet and anything written by Toni Weschler. Babies come from the stork, and that’s all the information you need. Well, that and Just Keep… you know.

Maybe because of that whole myth of black hyper-fertility that I mentioned a few posts ago, TTC without success has led to some interesting reactions from friends over the past eight months. Some of you are probably wondering why my friends even have the opportunity to comment–why did I tell anyone we were trying in the first place? Believe me, I ask myself the same question fairly often.

But I tend to be pretty open with my close friends about what’s going on with me. TTC is one of the bigger things that’s been going on with me this year, so it’s tough not to talk about it at all (although I’ve managed to avoid telling my mom directly, because I don’t want her to worry–I think she has an idea of what’s going on, though). And ultimately I’ve only told six friends: two from my circle of academic friends, two from my circle of old college friends, one who is both an old college friend and an academic, and my best gay (male) friend. Does that seem like a lot? At the time, for a talker like me, it seemed like the bare minimum.

There are a number of downsides to telling people we’re trying, though. First, there is the problem of Womb Watch. This starts out fairly innocently, when you’re only a few months in. Once I told her, one of my girlfriends began every phone call with “Are you calling to tell me you’re pregnant?” Naturally, this started to become less charming when the answer kept turning up no, month after month. This is also the reason G and I have decided our parents can’t know yet–they are hardly clamoring for grandchildren, but we hate to get our folks’ hopes up every cycle, only to have them dashed again. This is pretty bad for our own hopes too, but that’s for another post.

I also seem to have overestimated my six friends’ discretion, as a recent birthday dinner with another college friend began, “So, I hear you guys are trying to have a baby!” Turns out, she did not hear this from any of the friends I’d told directly, but rather from a guy at the periphery of our circle that I haven’t talked to in at least a year. I’m still trying to trace this leak back to the right source, although as G says, our presence in the rumor mill might be the natural consequence of spilling the beans at all. If I don’t want people to “hear,” I probably should have kept things completely to myself. Wait, so you’re telling me I can’t have it both ways?

Another downside to telling friends is the “helpful” comments they sometimes make. I’m not the first infertility blogger to make a list of these, and I surely won’t be the last. But let me share some of the stuff I’ve heard from well-meaning people: “Have you tried ___?” In the blank, insert anything from the obvious: ovulation predictor kits? (the answer is yes) to the obscure: evening primrose oil to “regulate your cycles”? (also yes) I’ve also been told, after I made the mistake of expressing a bit of ambivalence about the adoption option (to a friend whose child is most certainly NOT adopted), “Well, you’ll feel differently if you’re not pregnant in a year.” Thanks for the vote of confidence, girlfriend.

Then there’s the ubiquitous, “As soon as you stop thinking about it, you’ll get pregnant.” Otherwise known as, “Just relax!” Now, the “just relax” advice does not (yet?) make my blood boil the way that it does some infertile women, but I do still find it annoying. Not only does telling me to relax, to stop thinking about it, to just enjoy myself, rarely result in immediate results (“Oh, you think I should relax? Thank you for telling me that! It’s like a weight has suddenly been lifted–I’m now so relaxed I could probably conceive without even having sex!”), but it also ignores the possibility that something could be medically amiss with G or me. More annoying still is the way that “just relax” implies that I and my overanxious nature are the only thing keeping us from getting pregnant. In other words, it’s all my fault.

Then again, maybe it is. I have had a stressful year. Some studies have shown that the stress hormone cortisol can adversely affect ovulation, others that women who engage in mind-body stress relief techniques have a higher pregnancy rate. Still, being told to relax seems a lot less helpful than being handed a gift certificate to a spa, or some chocolate. Or better yet, a good bottle of wine. Now that’s a friendly tip I can use.