Wednesday, August 29, 2007

And Then They Said Pneumonia

So Conor has been sick this week. In fact, he's been running a fever over 101 F for the last 6 days. When we picked Conor up from daycare on Friday, they told us he had a fever. Not a biggie, but he wasn't himself.

To be honest, I have been through three years of colds and Conor often gets a fever at the beginning of a cold. So, I wasn't too worried.

Until Sunday, when he woke up and his eyes were so swollen, and despite the fact there were 25 people over here for a beginning of the school year party, the child did not want to interact with anyone. (Conor is a bit like me---you say Party, we say Woohoo!)

So Monday, when he woke up over at 102, I took him to the doctor. And for only the second time in my life, I cancelled a graduate class. Dave's work is going through accreditation and he is in charge of the process, which started Monday. For the first time since we've been together, Dave absolutely had to be at work. So I put my family in front of my work...and had nightmares all night long about my students. (This fact doesn't make me proud)

Might I point out to you that dual working parents have particular challenges. However, single parents awe me, especially in cases like this.

So the doc originally thought that it was strep throat, but the test came back negative. We went home with the instructions that the fever should be gone by Weds.

Tuesday afternoon, Conor's fever is over 102. Weds morning it's over 101.5. He and I go back to the doctor who hears a rattle in Conor's chest, prompting the comment "Well, he looks more lively than most children who have pneumonia; it must be just now be moving down to his chest." I'm not one of those GIVE ME ANTIBIOTIC mothers, but I'm a Very Happy Mommy that Conor is on antibiotics right now. His fever was still over 102 this afternoon, but he felt cool when he went to bed tonight.

If his fever is not gone by Friday, then we go back and I start freaking the eff out.

Dave and I are switching off which days we go to work, which normally wouldn't be a problem except my tenure package is due on Tuesday and I'm a little anxious about getting it done. But when I was explaning this to a student, I realized my statement "Let's just drug him and send him to school so I can get my work done" did not make me eligible for Mother of the Year.

This illness does not freak me out as much as the 105 degree fever Conor woke up with two years ago and which made me fear his brain was frying. Nonetheless, I want him to be fever free for a whole day. I want my energetic little monkey back. I want to see color in his face instead of that pale, glassy look of late.

I think we're getting there. I hope there are no surprises.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cheap A$$

I am thoroughly enjoying my prednisone insomnia, so I thought I'd catch up on my blog. Although I could expound on how quickly the glamour of sticking myself in the belly with heparin has completely gone away, I'd rather talk about our New Tricks Around the House to Save Stuff.

First, let us ponder floss. Yes, floss. That rare commodity that people use to clean their teeth. (I'm reeking in sarcasm. Can you tell? It's that insomnia thing) We have floss coming out our respective ying yangs around here. Dave and I go to the same dentist and after every visit, our goody bag contains a carton of floss among other treats. We are not as good of flossers as we should be. So, I can honestly tell you that we have 5 full cartons of floss around our house.

And then my darling husband went to Target and bought a jumbo size carton of mint flavored floss. He could not understand why I flipped out over a new JUMBO size carton of mint when it was a mere $.75. But then I pointed out the 5 other cartons. He claimed (!) that he did not know they were there, and ok, I believe him because in a bathroom cleaning frenzy a few weeks ago, I did put them in their new Special Place (in a basket with our zillion free toothbrushes from said dentists and the boatload of travel sized toothpaste we have, too). However, the point here is not that I'm a nut or I freak out over spending $.75 we didn't need to. No, the issue is 6 cartons of freakin' floss!!!!!

So, I've taken to flossing every single time I brush my teeth. First thing in the morning? Brush and floss. After breakfast? Brush and floss. Mouth needing a pick-me-up in the afternoon? Brush and floss. (That one is not so common) Time to go to bed? Brush and floss! My teeth are CLEAN! The dentist is going to love me!!!

But let us be clear, I'm not flossing because that's the healthy thing to do. I'm flossing because we have too much freakin' floss around here. I cannot stand to have things sitting around that we are not using. (Please see entry on husband's 59 t-shirts for more information)

Now, let's discuss water. For those of you who still doubt global warming, I thunk you on the head. For the rest of you, including those of you who might be wondering if this is only the tip of the iceberg (using a poorly chosen metaphor), there may be concern that this is just the first summer in hell in a series of summers in hell coming up. Thus, water is going to be a real issue.

Now, saving water is not exactly being cheap. Water is, relatively speaking, inexpensive. But we've gone to some pretty serious extremes around here that 1) make me feel holier-than-thou, but 2) only until we can convince others to use our tricks. We now have a bucket in our shower so that when we turn on the water and wait for it to heat up, we can save a several quarts of water. We are now washing our vegetables over a big bowl in the sink, saving the water to use outside on our starving landscaping and inside on our shrivelled houseplants.

You would be stunned to find out how much water you can save doing just those two tricks. And apparently, if you use Ivory dish soap, you can pour your dishwater outside to water your plants. And acid loving plants like hydrangeas and azaleas can handle and even thrive off cold coffee.

I know it sounds nutty and it is quite honestly a pain in the butt. (Belly? A pain in the belly? BTW, I have a huge bruise already. And I accidentally jabbed my finger tonight and have a disgusting bruise on my bird flipping finger. It could come in handy right now, though, to be honest.) OK! Back to the water. Folks, I feel like our conserving water right now is similar to saving money when you're not in a budget crisis. I always end up in a budget crisis and wish I had saved more money when I had more money. That's what I feel like now with water.

Because if this weather pattern keeps up for 10 more years, or even just 5 more years, we are all screwed.

So go put a bucket in your tub and save some water and a thirsty plant. Then go floss your teeth. You'll make more room in your linen closet.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Step Down the Adoption Path

We went to CSS today to meet with their director of adoption services and figure out what the hell we're doing. It was a very good meeting. They are starting to take names for families because they have had so much placement--they don't take families in when they are "full" or there are not a lot of children being placed so this is a good thing.

It doesn't seem like they have a lot of spectacular failures such as when the Dad shows up years later and tries to fight for the child. And I didn't gather the they've had a lot of bio mothers change their mind at the last minute (like in the hospital when the adoptive parents are heading in to take their prospective child home). But I guess "not a lot means" only 2 out of the last 10 have done this.

These are all (relatively) good things.

I did shock the hell out of her when I said I was interested in breastfeeding. Apparently, I am the first mother to mention she was interested in such things---she wasn't even sure it was physically possible. We assured her that it was.


Or rather I should say "But...." which should cue YOU to say "All my friends have a big 'but' " and then you laugh. Or maybe that's just me.

This option is very appealing to us. And neither of us are wanting to wait around because we can't figure out what to do.


We're just starting on this new treatment to see if I can get pg. I really do want to be pg again and to easily bf again. I want to make sure that our new child doesn't have layer upon layer of complications just because he or she is with us and not another loving family.

But then I also don't want to wait around and decide this is EXACTLY what we want and be 6 months or 9 monhts behind in the process.

I think we're just going to have to walk down this path. It's not going to be a cheap path to walk down. But if we don't take a step somewhere, we're not going to get anywhere. And maybe when it comes to the decision point, when we really do have to commit, it will be obvious which path we should finally commit to.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I'm Kind of Excited

Despite being swamped with the beginning of school issues again, I have spent some time googling on this new regimen for infertility.

A 2006 study in Fertility and Sterility found that this combination of drugs (heparin, progesterone, prednesone, daily aspirin, daily prenates, and daily extra folic acid) increased live births for women with recurrent miscarriage by over 40%. Of course, this treatment is most effective in women with unknown reasons for m/c, and we know that our second m/c was a trisomy problem incompatible with life. But we don't know for sure that m/c 1 was a trisomy problem and we do know for sure that m/c 3 was not. And that subchorionic bleed in m/c 2 could be an indicator of a problem.

So, we don't know much.

Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to seeing if this helps us get pg and, then, lead on to a live birth. I'm actually excited for the first time in a really long while that this might work.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Back to Plan A

We had a follow-up visit with our Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) yesterday. Although I was not altogether thrilled with our first visit, we were asked to come back after we got the results back from the chromosonal test of the last m/c and all my bloodwork, if the results were negative.

Well, all the results were negative, so I wanted to see what our "new" options were.

Oddly, the RE was more interested in the two chem pgs I've had since the m/c than the test results. My multitude of chem pgs, along with the neg results from baby's chromosonal tests, suggest a possible auto-immune issue in that I'm "allergic" to a baby implanting and my body is trying to reject it. (I may be over stating the case here, but that's what I took from it). It's hard to test for an auto-immune problem with pg, but it does follow a bit from what Dr. Alan Beer has argued about women who have recurrent miscarriages. Our doctor thinks Beer took a sledgehammer to the small-nail problem and thus turned off a great deal of the medical community. Our RE would consider himself Beer-light (or lite-beer!) in his approach; he wants to take the edge off my auto-immunity responses, but not make me susceptible to dying from the treatment. (Thanks! I appreciate that!!)

So, we're starting a whole new regime for the next 6 to 9 months or so. I stay on my folic acid, pre-nates and baby aspirin all the time. Then, after ovulation and for the next 14 days or so, I take a very small dose of prednisone, a small amount of heparin (belly shots!), and the progesterone supplements. And we'll see what happens. If my body is trying to reject these pgs even though they are viable, this should help.

Another miscarriage, especially without chromosonal problems, could rule out this as a problem. And a successful pregnancy wouldn't necessarily mean that this worked, but it could be helpful.

The dealio with this treatment is "It won't hurt, it might help." At this point, if I had any scientific evidence that dancing naked in the backyard during a full moon might help and wouldn't hurt, I'd do that, too. Nonetheless, the screams of my neighbors poking their eyes out at the sight makes that option a community health hazard, and thus, harmful. So no naked dancing. But some steroids and blood thinners? That I'll do.

Yes, I do know that this is all about perceived control. But I'm glad to have a plan. And I'm glad the plan involves trying something to help me have a baby on my own.

At the end of this time period, if we don't have a successful pregnancy, I'll be in much a much better place to say "We've tried the best we could, now let's move on to something else." And by that time, we should be at higher places on all the lists we're on so we can have more options quickly at our fingertips.

It sounds like a win-win proposition to me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Mama Non Grata

This morning, I was having a cup of coffee and reading the paper. A thunk and the pitter patter of little feet let me know Conor was up.

"Is that a little snickerdoodle!?" I asked my adorable child as he walked in the kitchen rubbing his eyes.

He screwed up his face and scowled at me, "DADDY!"

Then he angrily marched into the bathroom where Dave was taking a shower and sat with him until Dave finished, got dressed and came back to the kitchen.

Happy Birthday to me, indeed!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

My Toe

I'm so sorry to leave you with such a vulgar title to that last post. (Although, I admit, it was pretty attention grabbing)

I have been at a conference since Saturday and only arrived home 1 hour ago. And look at how quickly I come to check in on you! See how much I care!?

Well, the "old" problem with long distance running has raised its ugly head. Or I should say it's ugly toe: I've once again lost the nail to my second toe. I had let the nail grow out to long and pretty much any run over 1 hour kills it.

It is, as we refer to it in my household, my HAMMERTOE! (Da da da da, Can't touch this! Da da da da! Can't touch this!)

Trust me, you don't want to touch this anytime soon. As Dave pointed out, when I do my own pedicures from now on, I'll go back to painting the toe, since the nail pretty much remains gone while I do any long distance running.

Oh joy.

Friday, August 03, 2007

My Butt

Continuing on a week of personal revelations, I had to go to the doctor yesterday for a truly embarrassing situation.


I know I don't need to talk about such things on my blog--I control what goes on here--but 1) it's funny and 2) every time I search Dr. Google, they only list the question and never the resolution. So I'm sharing this information to Help The World.

Ever since I've had Conor, I've had problems running. And not just the typical problems in that I can't find the time to run. I've had Poopy Problems when I run. Bloody Poopy Problems.


Now you know how I feel.

First, I noticed I couldn't wear tampons when I ran without this problem occurring. Then I noticed that if I had not completely, ahem, cleared my bowels before I ran, I'd have this problem. Now that Dave and I are training for a half marathon, I remember that if I go over a certain distance, I have this problem. Since this distance is less than 13.1 miles, I cannot adequately train for the half-marathon.

Before you start freakin' out on me, the most likely culprit is hemorrhoids.

And indeed, that is the doctor's speculation. Yes, I had to go see the doctor who won't laugh at my jokes. (This is not the same as the dermatologist with a personality deficit) I like my internist, but he does not get my humor. I cannot find the link to my previous post in which I Made This Doctor Laugh. But Dave made me promise that I would not tell him any jokes. (HA!)

How could I help it? He has to look up my butt. If somebody didn't laugh during that visit, it would be one of the most embarrassing moments of my life!

So, the joke involved whether I had a history of hemorrhoids in the past. I told him my delivery nurse pointed one out after I gave birth to Conor, but I didn't know if I had any more because I really don't look spend a lot of time looking my bottom.

A slight smile and a "Heh heh", and that was all I needed.

ANYHOO, he didn't find any big 'rhoids but gave me some medication for my booty and I've set up an appointment with what I'm assuming is a proctologist who can get a deeper look in to see if anything is going on up a bit further. (Yippee!) Can't wait for that appointment!!!

So there.

You'd be surprised how many people have this same question out there on the Internet. So, now I have done a service and provided an answer. There will be a follow up post or two on the resolution.

I'm sure you can hardly wait.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Adoption Vs. IVF: Part 2


So what about IVF? What are the pros about IVF? Well, first of all, it’s cheaper than adoption. (Who knew?) And I hope that the first part of tome makes you realize that it’s not like there are dozens of adoptable children just hanging around waiting to be picked up. It’s a lot harder, expensive, time oppressive than it looks.

But IVF has very big risks, especially that it can fail. Adoption ALWAYS has a child at the end of the path. IVF does not. But with a successful IVF, I’d get to be pregnant again, and I’d be able to easily breastfeed. (Well, as easy as breastfeeding ever is. But still, it would be objectively be easier than adoption)

One big problem is that we don’t know where I fall in the IVF success risk. I get pregnant a lot more than the typical early 40ish woman. Am I more like a 35 year old? Will IVF be as successful for me as it would be for a 35 year old? And I’d like to point out that the rates are not all that encouraging, even for a 35 year old. But I honestly and truly do not think I’m a typical early 40’s woman.

That said, there is another option that we had originally thrown out: donor eggs. I originally felt that it was a very vain option: if I wanted donor eggs, then I must believe that I have to be pregnant to add to our family even if this child is not genetically related to me. On the other hand, if it is not important for me to have a genetic connection to my child, why wouldn’t I go ahead and adopt? That was my reasoning until we saw all this crap about how expensive adoption is and how fraught it is with failure.

And this IVF route is not as expensive as you’d think: $23,000 and the possibility of 6 fertilized eggs which could yield 2 or maybe 3 children! We could have a really big family! On a per child basis, it could be pretty cheap. Of course, daycare would set us back a bazillion dollars and we’d be 80 before everyone graduated from high school. (I’m kidding, folks!)

Of course, I’m being very positive in those statistics: It’s possible to only get 2 fertilized eggs and to have them not implant and then you are left with nothing for $23,000. That's a bad, bad thing. The current success rate is 60% at our clinic, but it all depends on how many fertilizable eggs the donor produces.

And then there’s the “issue” with donor eggs. I’m not supposed to let anyone know that we have even heard of it, much less considered it. It’s supposed to be a taboo subject that parents might want to (should?) keep this information away from their donor-egg children and even more so from the community around them. It might affect the children’s identity in the future, because they are not technically genetically related to their birth mother.

I would like to pause here for a moment and direct you to reread the beginning of this essay. I will even point to yesterday. A child who has gestated in his/her mother’s belly for 9 months is more susceptible to identity issues as a teenager and adult than the only black person in the family? More?!?!? Is that how “bad” IVF advocates think adoption is!?

I don’t get it. And I don’t get why women are so unwilling to talk about it. Women like Jane Seymour, Elizabeth Edwards, Joan Lunden, Holly Hunter and Geena Davis who appear to most likely have used egg donors to have their children. (In fact, pay the $2.95 and read the recent NY Times article yourself). How can IVF with egg donor be more identity shaking for the child than adoption? I think the real issue is the very high probability of being able to lie to child about his/her origins and get away with it. How can that sort of untruth ever be helpful? (For the 50% of you who have used donor eggs and are not going to tell, I do not judge you. I simply cannot keep my mouth shut for that long.)

The analogy I’ve heard about egg donation is that it’s sort of like a kidney donation or even bone marrow donation. Somebody had a need. Some other healthier person had extra. Once “it” leaves the donator for the donated, the donator has no claim on it again. This whole process has even spawned a new word: biogenetic child to distinguish that some children are both biologically and genetically related to their mother.

So there we are, people. You now know a lot of what I have learned in the past two months. (I should have entitled this “What I did on my summer vacation.”) That’s a boatload of information and I should get an A on this project. Nonetheless,


Ok? We don’t know if we’re going to adopt, if we’re going to choose IVF, or if we decide to choose IVF whether we’ll use donor eggs. WE DON’T KNOW. I hope that all of a sudden I just get pregnant “naturally” with a healthy child and save us about $20,000 in the cost of finishing up our family.

I also don’t know that if we decide to use donor eggs that we’ll tell you. As Dave and I have discussed, you can’t unring that bell. And if we, upon further discussion, see why we should keep this a big secret, we really don’t want the internets knowing about it.

We’ve had to wrestle with putting this out here (for the three of you who are still reading the end of this loooong essay) because if we do decide to do IVF regularly, that idea that they are donor eggs is now planted in your head.

But it bugs me to think that there’s some myth that egg donor children are more fragile than adoptees in their self image and identity issues. I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to put my (in my head) egg donor child’s ego over my (in my head) African-American adopted child’s ego because I see a boatload of advantages for identity/adjustment/ultimate self-concept for the (in my head) egg donor child. The weird thing is how feisty I get in thinking about defending that in-my-head adopted child. The adopted child could have real issues of abandonment and difference that the egg donor child will never, ever have.

So there. That is where we are in the process. We have a great deal of information spread in front of us and we’re going to have to make some decisions soon. This essay is probably more for us to help sort out our decisions than for you to follow. And it really does help for us to get it out.

We have some time to make all these decisions and hopefully be surprised with a healthy pregnancy. Until then, we’re going to keep plodding along until we find that next child who is supposed to be in our family, whoever he or she is.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Adoption Vs. IVF: Part 1


Ok. Grab a cup of coffee because you might be here a while.

Last year, after the second miscarriage we started looking into international adoption as the way we’d build our family. Dave and I had often talked about adoption even when we were just dating thinking that we might be too old to get pregnant. That’s why when we got pregnant with Conor so quickly, it was a surprise.

So it was even more of a surprise was how much resistance I felt within myself when we started looking into international adoption. I know that international adoption is the preferred way for most American couples these days, but it, at least at that point, was not the path that was right for us to take.

Why? Breastfeeding. A very big part of my conception of myself as a mother involves breastfeeding and the bond that Conor and I have developed through my being able to feed him with my body. It would bother me tremendously if our second child did not get a chance to bond with me in that way.

Also, I know I’m not a developmental psychologist. Nonetheless, it concerns me what could happen (or not) in the first year (or two!) or so of a child’s life before we adopted him or her. Children are incredibly resilient. But our understanding is that many international adoptions occur with children at least a year old and often, you’ll be assigned your child and then still have to wait 6 months until you can go get him/her. With the likelihood high of me causing an international incident trying to hurry the process along, It just doesn’t feel like that’s the right path for us.

So, we put adoption on hold misguidedly thinking that we were too old for domestic adoption. Then we found out we were not too old and were thrilled to hear that people “our age” could domestically adopt infants.

Yes, most domestic adoptions are with infants, and the adoptive parents often take the child home with them from the hospital and sometimes are even in the birthing room with the biological mother. WOW! An infant that would come home with us within a few days of his/her birth! And we could breastfeed!! It’s not easy, but it’s certainly possible.

Also, it was crystal clear to us early in considering a domestic adoption that the child’s ethnicity did not matter to us at all. In fact, we were quite open to what is known as “transracial” adoption as well as biracial adoption. We don’t need for our adopted child to look like us. This helps the adoption process a lot. For one thing, it also makes the process much more likely to go quickly. By saying we’re open to all healthy children, we have many more opportunities to find our child.

However, there are still issues.

First, mothers change their minds. The process for domestic adoptions is that biological mothers look through the profiles (i.e., photograph albums) of a range of prospective parents working with an agency. Then she picks the family who could be the parents of her child. The adoptive parents and the bio mom most often meet and decide to proceed with the adoption. However, the bio mom has every right in the world to change her mind. And after birth, 20 to 50% of them do. (As a statistician, it bugs me that the agencies can’t give us exact numbers. It’s an objective data point: either the adoption placement did or did not occur. How many did not occur out of the total number of adoption processes that started? Easy peasy, folks.)

Second, it takes a long time. Catholic Social Services has quoted us at least a year for a healthy non-Caucasian child and well over 2 years for a healthy Caucasian child. A Child’s Hope in NC has suggested that it’s 6-12 months for an African American or an African American biracial child and well over a year for a Caucasian, Latino, or Asian American child. Adoption consultants, charging $2500 to represent you to up to 30 or 40 agencies around the country, can shorten the time for placement with some guaranteeing placement in less than a year. But we discovered that they tend to work for the most expensive agencies, and we just don’t have that kind of money. (We’ll talk about why we have ruled out foster care adoption at this point in our search in another blog)

So that takes us to drawback number 3: Money. Before I quote numbers, remember that in the US, you can take $10000 off your taxes the year you adopt. And this is right off your taxes, so it’s essentially a refund from the government for the adoption. Catholic Social Services (CSS) charges $12,500 for any and all adoptions. That is an appealing option. A Child’s Hope charges (I think) about $13,000 for an African American adoption, $15,000 for an African-American Biracial adoption and $23,000 for everyone else. (Does that information bother you? It should.) The agencies the consultants work with start at $23,000 for African-American adoptions and go on up to at least $35K to $50K for Caucasian adoptions. There can be additional charges for the mother’s living expenses and searching for the father to give up his rights for all of the agencies except CSS.

So CSS seems like a good option, no? It certainly does to us. They are also one of the few agencies that do not make you pay half the money up front and then the other half when/if you get the baby. CSS only has you pay upon placement of the baby. The problem is that it’s just no way of knowing how long it will be until we have a child placed with us. (6 months? 2 years??)

And I haven’t even started to address that adoption causes for the children of same ethnicity adoptions (e.g., abandonment) much less transracial adoptions (e.g., identity, feelings of difference) reported by adult transracial adoptees . There are no insurmountable issues involved here. It is clear to us that we would not back away from adoption because of these issues. In fact, we want to arm ourselves and protect our child from having to deal with this.

But in any case the adoptive family needs to take many extra, important steps to make sure they don’t screw it up. I’d argue this is even more an issue when there is already a biological child in the family. (A strike against us, btw, in having a bio mom choose us)

There is humor in this, as always. The funniest thing I’ve heard is that an advantage for transracial adoptees occurs when they are teenagers and their parents start acting like parents of teenagers do all the time: embarrassing their poor children. Transracial adoptees can act like they have no idea who those old embarrassing farts are and can generally get away with it! I think that’s a hoot!

So now you know what we know about adoption and what we perceive are the big pros and cons for us.

Tomorrow, we’ll present the IVF issues.