Thursday, October 16, 2008

Once An Infertile...

Technically speaking, I don't know that I can even take on the label I've assumed in the title. First of all, my own body is an untested quantity. Second of all, Co's fertility was never in question. Yes, we had obstacles to conceiving, but in the end we did so within six tries.

But certainly I have the mindset of an infertile, of someone who has struggled to figure out how to even go about conceiving, and had to study charts and OPKs and make decisions about medications.

We've both blogged before about the fertility tensions in our mah-jongg/friendship group. Co and her two closest friends all started trying to conceive around the same time...Co and her college roommate ended up with the same due date...and Friend #3 is still trying, and coming up against bigger and bigger obstacles. There are six of us who play MJ; the original threesome, myself, and two other friends. One of the two others started trying to conceive sometime last spring, and she announced last month that she is pregnant, due in May.

Of course I am happy for Newly Pregnant Friend. (I am going to have to use creative monikers, because everyone in mah-jongg except Co has a name that starts with J. or L.) But my first reaction was a pang for Struggling Friend (who, thank goodness, wasn't present when Newly Pregnant Friend made her announcement). NPF hasn't had an easy time of it; she's pushing 40, and was so nervous that after just a few months of trying she actually went to see an RE. She ended up finding out she was pregnant through a blood test at the RE's office! (It was our own Dr. Quick who told her.) But her journey was short compared to Struggling Friend's, who is still in the thick of it, still discovering more obstacles to success.

I feel badly that I feel so anxious about this pregnancy. Even with my beautiful son in my life, am I still so bitter that I can't be happy for others?? But I don't think that's the case. I have a cousin and two colleagues who are expecting, and I couldn't be happier for them; not to mention my many blog friends (and more on the IVP). I am just worried about Struggling Friend, because I remember being surrounded by babies and pregnancies in the midst of my own pain.

I spoke to Co's college roommate/Leo's Mom last week, and she is really worried about Struggling Friend. She told me we should be sure to check in on her regularly, because she is so depressed, and according to Leo's Mom, "lots of people have fertility issues but they don't walk around morose all the time." I have to say, I don't agree. Struggling Friend is definitely having a hard time of it, and I wish she would seek help. But I see her reaction as kind of, well, normal. Facing obstacles in creating your family is one of the worst kinds of pain there is. My impulse (Co's, too) is to try to share with her own experience, and the stories of so many brave and wise folks we know who have made their families in whatever creative ways they could. But Struggling Friend doesn't want to talk.

When Newly Pregnant Friend shared her story of TTC, and her funny pregnancy test at the RE's, she mentioned that she had difficulty with the OPK's; Leo's Mom said, "Oh, I never could get those to work, I told you, just have lots of sex!" And I felt a pang, not for us -- we never imagined that sex would lead us to a child -- but for the absent Struggling Friend, who had to give up that dream. And for us a little, sure, for anyone who has to buy more sensitive and expensive OPK's to make sure they work; not to mention needles and drugs and retrievals. I'll never see pregnancy as simple or easy (in fact, I shudder at NPF's blase assumption that she will have a babe in arms in May). But compassion is never a bad thing.


I've been composing posts in my head all along, but precious few of them have made it out onto the computer. So here's a sum-up of the past few weeks of life with Jo, and in the Family O in general.

Autumn is the Jewish holiday season, so we've been pretty busy. (And those of us with a foot in the Jewish and the American worlds find it crazy-making that the Christian/American holiday season comes right on its heels.) We spent Rosh Hashanah with family friends, and my mom and stepdad came down for Yom Kippur. (In past years, Co has made rules about my mom and I spending too much time together while we're not eating, but it actually went well.)

To be accurate, we spend the 2nd night of Rosh Hashanah with family friends. We had no plans for the 1st night, and ended up ordering Chinese food. Chinese food is never far from the spirit of Judaism, I suppose, but I was really sad. It was my own fault -- I stubbornly insisted on not rescheduling music class, since we didn't have plans anyway, and we realized as we reached home just before 7 that there was no way we had time to roast a chicken. The lack of traditional food triggered my sense of abandonment. I hate the way the term "triggered" is bandied about these days, but I do think that's exactly what happened...I have a wonderful family of my own, but I was raised with large extended family events. I've posted about this before, but to be concise: my mother has re-centered our family around my sister's in-laws, a fact made especially easy since both my mother and my sister's mother-in-law moved within ten minutes of my sister's house. Most of our friends have family in the area, so they get to go to their family for holidays. But we're building our own family now, me and Co and Jo, and we'll have our own events.

Nephew Sam's second birthday was yesterday, and my mom's birthday was Friday so after Yom Kippur we headed up north to celebrate. We've been video-chatting with Sam and my sister, and he calls myself, Co, Jo, and Maggie by name. In person he was most excited to see Maggie, of course. My cousin D. got some amazing pictures at Sam's party. Here are the cousins sitting together at a kiddie picnic bench:

Jo got his cute on practicing standing with a ride-on toy:

In case you were wondering, Maggie had a good time at the party too.

My dad and my sister's mother-in-law were both at the party, of course, which was anxiety-making but ultimately fine. My dad showered the birthday boy and his cousin with gifts, which is the role of the absent (grand)father, I suppose. Sam got an enormous stuffed Pooh -- he loooves Pooh -- and Jo got a Piglet, with a particularly tasty ear.

In other Jo news, he's continuing to practice standing on his own, and will take a few steps while we hold his hands (his interest in that is new). The pediatrician okayed finger foods at his 9 month appointment, so even without teeth, he's eating Ger.ber puffs (meltier in the mouth than Cheer.ios) and American cheese. He loooooves yogurt, and is even starting to eat some veggies willingly (albeit the sweet ones: squash, sweet potato, and carrots thus far). We can't believe he's ten months old!!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Here's Jo at the festival Co wrote about. He is playing with the most excellent type of toy: grown-up's trash!
J with Water Bottle

And here he is at last night's holiday dinner. Yes, I think he poses.

Finally, that second ticker up there is an awesome alternaticker designed specially to look like Jo! The creative and indefatigable Tracy, one of our very own IVP, designed and recently launched this website. Check it out!