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:  SO, 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.

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.

Um… IVF here we come?

February 26, 2008

In other words, folks, the SA results are not good. We’re going to have to repeat the sample to make sure, but it looks like we’ve got inadequate sperm count (only 6 million when they like to see at least 40 million), not-so-great motility, and questionable morphology too. Crap! I worried that we’d be dealing with male factor, but still can’t believe BOTH of us have turned out to be “broken.” This plus my blocked tube means we are not a couple who are statistically likely to start a family on our own!

So, unless the second test shows that these results were a crazy fluke, it’s looking like IVF may be the next step for us, rather than Clomid/IUI. With male factor, I think IVF + ICSI are fairly standard procedure, and both are covered by Aetna (well, up to a limit of three cycles per lifetime–generous, but not that generous).

In the when-it-rains-it-pours file, I ALSO found out today that I’m a carrier for sickle-cell anemia. I have to call tomorrow to see if I can track down G’s blood test results (I’m utterly confused as to why those weren’t ready to be given to us along with the SA info). If it turns out that he’s a carrier as well, we’d have a 1 in 4 chance of having a kid with sickle-cell disease. That would mean that our IVF cycles would also have to include preimplantation genetic diagnosis. I doubt that our insurance covers this, as the certificate of benefits (which I have SCOURED, believe me) makes no mention of it either way. At our clinic, PGD costs an extra $2500 per cycle. I am REALLY hoping that G is not also a carrier.

So that’s my news. Also, apropos of crappy news, thanks, all, for the commiseration about our tax bill last post! Ugh, right? We’ve managed to reconcile ourselves to it, and have even figured out a decent way to budget for the payments (even with lower net salaries, since we’ve also had to ask the IRS to withhold a bunch extra from both of our paychecks so that we won’t have this problem again next year). But still, damn. The tax news does sort of pale in comparison to the infertility news, although after a good cry behind closed doors at work today, I’m even feeling a bit better about the infertility stuff. It sucks, yes, but it’s not the end of the world, or the end of our plans for parenthood.

G, of course, is his usual upbeat self in spite of the news. I am hoping he’s not just putting on a brave face for my benefit–he definitely plays the role of being my “rock” in hard times, but he doesn’t always take care of his own emotional needs, or let me play that same role for him. So I’m trying to keep the channels of communication open in case he does have unhappy feelings he wants to share, but he claims he’s okay, and that he’s “saving his emotional breakdown energy” for something really insurmountable. Which is a pretty healthy attitude. I hope I can maintain a similar level of mental health this summer*, which may be WAY more eventful than I expected it to be.

.

*If we do have to go straight to IVF, it won’t be until May, for a whole host of reasons that I’ll explain in another post.

Hi folks! As the first part of the post title makes clear, things around here have been crazy. Big shout outs to those of you who left comments on my last couple of posts, though, especially the ones who just found this blog. Jennphur, cdb, and SJH, welcome–sorry you wandered in right when my posting has slowed down due to the beginning of the semester, but hopefully my schedule will improve by the end of the month so that I can blog more. Meanwhile, good luck on the current IVF cycles, cdb and SJH–I hope they lead to healthy pregnancies and beautiful late 2008/early 2009 babies.

Apropos of that, it’s finally the week for G’s SA, this Wednesday (wow, time flies!). I’m going in for bloodwork as well. Should be an adventure. I will be SO glad finally to know just what is up with G’s sperm. Hopefully it’s perfectly normal, and we can go on to Clomid and IUI with no concerns. My guess is that if we do have male factor issues, depending on the problem, my doc might want us to skip to IVF–and that makes me more nervous, just because of the injections. I’m sure I can handle it, of course, but if I have a choice between a pill and a needle, I’d probably choose the pill in most cases. Well, we’ll see. I’ll certainly report back when we have some news (probably by Wednesday afternoon).

Unrelated to fertility, and related to part two of the post title, I do have a question for you all: what’s your take on Valentine’s Day? Personally, I’m torn. I know that it’s just a “Hallmark holiday,” and that it’s pretty much a completely arbitrary date that has nothing concrete to do with anything about “love.” And that it happens to be a convenient way to stimulate consumer spending in the dull period between the expensive winter holiday season and the spendy spring/summer months. But on the other hand, I sort of love the romance of a day about romance, and the one time that I was dating someone who was all invested in those external “romantic” signs (not G, alas), it was lots of fun to get dressed up and go out, be given fancy presents, and get treated like a princess for the evening.

At this point I guess I sort of split the difference. I got G a really nice card, which I plan to fill with nice sentiment, and if we don’t go out to dinner (we’re wait-listed for reservations at our current favorite restaurant, so it might not work out) I suppose we’ll have a nice dinner at home, or perhaps do something more fun than romantic, like go see Jumper. But I’m not expecting lavish gifts–I told G, yes please to flowers or candy or something simple–and I’m figuring it ultimately won’t be that big of a deal.What about you? Big lovey-dovey plans? Or do you scoff at such silliness? 

This is a drive-by post, especially fast because I am about to get dressed and leave the house to enjoy the sunny, breezy, 64-degree weather before it departs and we are reminded, once again, that this is JANUARY. But: 

My period started on Monday (and it’s been consistently heavy, but not at all crampy! I think this is better than the reverse). That makes last month a 27-day cycle, which is fast becoming the New (Old) Normal for me. I am, again, assuming that the weight loss is responsible for this shift, and that the weight gain, which was gradual but dramatic between 2002 and 2007, was responsible for my cycles getting shorter and shorter.

Speaking of weight, I’m down a little more, to 162.5 as of this morning. After all of my dithering last post about not wanting to lose more weight, I’ve decided that my goal will be only to get down to 158, a total of 40 pounds lost, and then see if I can maintain for at least six months (or until I get pregnant). That will put me at a BMI of 25.9, only one point away from “normal.” Which, given that I don’t want to completely get rid of my curves, or change sizes AGAIN, is okay with me. I think 158, which after all is very close to my weight in college and graduate school when I was a pretty effortlessly fit person, is a healthy place for me to be. In 2008 I am all about a healthy relationship to food and exercise and the scale.

So that’s my body-related goal. The professional goal, or goals, that I alluded to in the previous post probably deserve an entire post of their own, but in brief: I’ve decided to become an Intellectual and Creative Powerhouse. Hmm, that’s the first time that I’ve phrased it in quite that way, but I think it’s fairly accurate, although a less brazenly egotistical way to put it would be that I’ve decided I want to live up to my fullest intellectual and creative potential.

This means that I want to produce, and publish, more and better scholarly work, and that I also want to write and publish fiction. Of course, I think it may take me a while to get to the point where I am producing publishable fiction, so that part of the goal is on a different plane than the first part is. Publishing more and better scholarly work mostly requires me to find time to put to paper the things I have already been thinking about–although the “better” part also implies that I will have to think harder, be less lazy, and take more intellectual risks. Which is what tenure is for, I think, so I’m in a good position to do it.

My other 2008 goal, which hopefully does not conflict too much, timewise, with these professional goals, is to love life, and especially to love the people whom I am lucky enough to have in my life, even more than I already do. I am spreading the love in 2008!

I think maybe all of these goals go together, really. What I want to attract in 2008 is physical, intellectual, and emotional abundance, joy, and power. I hope that spiritual manager of mine is listening.