Dec 4, 2010

Packing my Bags

Well, ladies (and gents?), I'm in the process of moving my blog.

For more info, email me at or DM me on Twitter.

See you on the other side. Kisses!

Dec 1, 2010

What's in a Name

So, I've decided to move my blog. Perhaps use this opportunity to reinvent myself.... Like Madonna?

I don't know.

I'm trying to make the most of the situation and perhaps have a blog that's a little more focused. Or perhaps a new attitude or angle that will get me to write daily, rather than when I can stop reading all the other blogs and find time to write mine.

Sitting here trying to find a new name. And I have nothing. Nada. Zero.

Every name I come up with is already taken. I guess this is what happens when you get into blogging seven years too late.

I can't even remember how I'd come up with Flucky Mom. But I liked it the moment I thought of it.

What's in a name any way?

There are so many brilliant blogs out there that don't have the most original names. In fact most are pretty generic. But the women behind them are one of a kind. Smart, witty, accomplished.

Maybe my new blog name should be "Generic Mom."

(Of course not, I wouldn't reveal my new name on here. Kind of defeats the purpose.)

Perhaps it's my former ad girl background that's got me all worked up about finding a good name. After all, your blog name/title is almost like your brand name. It's a first impression. Should I be self-depricating, sarcastic or truly insightful about the name I choose? Should it be something clever? Something that ties back to a part of me?

Ok, so now I'm setting myself up for utter disappointment. Of course nothing that I wither (a) come up with or (b) still available in the bloggersphere will meet all my criteria.

Think, think, think....

For now, all I can think of is how annoyed I am to be in this situation in the first place. Maybe I should be "Pissed-off Mom." And of course, that name's already taken too!

How did you pick your blog names?

Nov 26, 2010

Outed on Thanksgiving... And Silenced?

I discovered blogging way passed the shinny coolness of it had already vanished. Everyone and their mothers has a blog. Some good, some great, some terribly bad. When I decided to start writing and sharing personal stories with complete strangers, I wanted it to be with a purpose, which is how I started my infertility blog -- The Infertility Doula -- I wanted a place where people still coping with infertility could come to and find emotional and practical advice from someone who'd been there. I felt my voice was unique in some ways.

It didn't take long to realize how much I enjoyed writing that blog. And that writing had become a big part of my daily life. A fellow blogger (Repro Jeans) recently talked about how she's always writing in her mind, albeit not all of it makes it to the Web.

So then I decided to create this blog, where I could write about motherhood after infertility and perhaps create another community for women to support one another. Selfishly, I also created it in order to be able to write more often, write more personal stories, stories that involved my child, my family and my thoughts.

In a sea of countless so-called mom blogs, I didn't know if I'd stand out. But as I began to write and find my "Flucky Mom" voice, I discovered that the more personal my entires, the more comments popped up in my inbox. And ultimately, through this anonymity that blogging offers me, I've started sharing pieces of myself that  most of the people who know me in real life don't probably know.

Blogging in some ways is serving as cheap therapy. Writing things down has allowed me to start taking a good look at myself. I have countless entries sitting in my draft box that while have yet to be visible to you have gotten me to think quite a bit about decisions I've made and decisions I'd like to make. Most importantly, all of these thoughts, sound bites and straight out venting sessions are private.

The obvious irony of course is that I have no problems sharing them with perfect strangers, my handful of regular followers and those of you who are just stopping by. But disclosing them to people who actually know me would be unthinkable.

So imagine my surprise when I heard my DH (My best friend. The only person who I can share my deepest thoughts with) out me at the end of Thanksgiving dinner.

Talking about blogging and the Web with his step-mom, I hear him say "Oh, yeah, and E has two blogs. Infertility Doula and Flucky Mom."

I felt like my whole world was pulled from right under me. I jumped right in and said "That's a private blog (referring of course to Flucky Mom). I like my anonymity."

"So it's like writing a journal?" asks my MIL.

"Yes, except that I get to be anonymous."

And not five minutes go by before DH blurbs out the name of my blog again! At which point everyone is making a mental note of it.

I know that his indiscretion was not intentional. I don't think he even realized what this blog had become for me. But damn it, it made me so angry and truthfully, terribly sad.

Sad because I have started to love this blog. It's not much, it's not big, it's not the most groundbreaking, but I do love it.

But now what? Do I shut it down? Do I find a new voice? Do I reinvent myself? ... I don't know.

I don't know. All I know for now is that I big piece of me has been taken away.

Nov 17, 2010

From Urban Woman to Suburban Mom: An Uneasy Transition

UrbanSuburban Mom's recent post about the "dating stages" of new friendships reminded me how alone I feel out here.

I was brought up a city girl. I never lived in a suburb or a house for that matter. So when I met DH and we eventually started talking about "the future" I made it very clear that the 'burbs are not my thing. "But what about a yard and having space" DH pleaded. "Sorry, I don't get that life style," I answered.

Cut to us four years later, coming to the end of our lease and starting to look for a place to buy. We had become quite domesticated by that point -- preparing elaborate meals in our closet-sized kitchen, illegally BBQing on our minuscule terrace and hardly ever going out past midnight. So we were looking for a large, more comfortable place, with a nice big kitchen and closets (you know, so that we could finally take our wedding china out of the coat closet).

In the most bizarre turn of events, we found ourselves a long cry away from a loft in Brooklyn (that I wanted) and into a lovely house in Westchester. Yes, to my utter surprise (and that of my friends and family) I actually fell in love with a house, in a charming town in the 'burbs, with great schools and 25 minutes into the heart of the city. I was sold. Spontaneous purchases of big-ticket items is not like me -- I research and agonize over almost all decisions I make. But here, I suddenly pictured us happily living in the 'burbs with a couple of kids and a dog.

After a blissful 6 months, our infertility woes began and the next 3 years were the darkest times of our lives. With each failure and passing time, living childless in a community designed to raise a family, I hated myself for ever getting wrapped up in an imaginary life. This big house, with its four bedrooms and spacious living areas became my prison. I'd never felt this claustrophobic in my life, not even in our little apartment in the city.

Eventually, we became pregnant and the pregnancy resuscitated the dreams I had for us. I loved my house again; decorating the nursery, thinking of our son growing up in this town, and us finally being able to integrate into the community. K was born and after a few months I felt awake enough to begin the socialization process. I joined a few classes and was introduced to a couple of moms. But rather than feeling content in my new role as suburban mommy, my worries slowly started to gnaw at me -- "What if I don't make friends here? What if I start feeling lonely again?"

Meeting new moms is one thing, but connecting with them on a level that goes beyond the "how cute are our babies" conversation is another.

You see, meeting these other moms reminded me of how out of place I have always felt out here. I have been told by an older friend (a lady who's lived here 20 years, who's been a great friend and mommy-matchmaker) that the other moms find me "intimidating." I try to downplay myself and blend in as much as I can. But apparently, my urban streak is just too much a part of who I am to camouflage.

And therein lies the issue perhaps. Why is it that once people move out to the 'burbs, so many of them completely banish their old selves to morph into homely, now-that-I'm-in-the-burbs-I-don't-give-a-shit look? I'm not expecting anyone to wear a Chanel suit all day long, but there must be a happy medium somewhere. Plus I'm not just talking about the self-maintenance part, but also one's ability to have interests outside of kids. I love art, fashion, food, politics, travel. I want to talk to someone about those things too.

Back when we lived in the city, I assumed that a good chunk of city-folk moved out to the 'burbs once they had kids. But looking around me, I don't see any familiar faces (maybe because 99% of our friends are still hanging onto the city-life; raising their two young kids in a two bedroom 900 sqf apartments). Despite my best efforts to socialize, I feel like a stranger in a foreign land; unable to integrate and conform to the local customs. What astonishes me about this deep dissatisfaction is that I grew up moving around every 3-4 years. I pride myself at my abilities to adapt to new place, people and situations. And yet, here, I'm unable to feel whole.

Having a child didn't turn out to be the magic bullet to transform me from urban woman to suburban mom. Although, I still hold out hope... "Maybe next year" has gotten me to the five year mark. So, as I write the check to guarantee a spot for K in pre-school next autumn, I say "maybe next year...."

Nov 10, 2010

What a Difference a Break Makes

It's amazing what a day away from your kid will do. I don't know if K just woke up in a better mood today or that I got my babysitter to watch him while I went into the city for a lunch date with hubby, but I have to say, I feel like a whole new mommy.

Up until recently, I never understood why SAHMs ever needed a day time babysitter. Perhaps it was because of the infertility struggles or my naivete about motherhood, but I imagined that once I became a mom, I'd want to spend 24/7 with my kid. Why wouldn't I, right? I mean, they're so cute and after all, if you've decided to no longer work full-time, then what else could you possibly be doing?

Well, that plan worked for the first year. Once K turned one, I realized that I was going to have my hands full and started looking for a part-time babysitter. Many months and crazy babysitters later, I finally found the angel that is Maria. My son loves her. And I love her because of it. But most importantly, I need her to help me be a better mother.

After yesterday's loss of temper, I knew I had to walk away from K for a day. A change of scenery. A lunch date with DH in a cool place downtown. Oh, and a little shopping to revive the me that's since been covered in spit up, snot and crayon marks. I miss that old me -- sometimes. Just getting dressed up to meet DH was better than a visit to the spa.

I need to feel like a woman. A woman who still takes care of herself. Who can intelligently converse about things other than which potty training methods work best or what to serve a toddler for lunch. The old me was interesting. Fashionable. And dare I say, desired.

For 4 hours, I felt good about myself again. I wasn't a mom. I was just a woman going about my day. And that break was enough to make me so excited to see my son. He too was so happy to see me. After Maria left, we played and "talked" as I prepared his dinner. He tried to test me, but the rejuvenated me handled things in stride.

As I write this, I'm back in my "mom" clothes, but I have my rock-chic (my look for today) self to thank for making me content to be called "Mama!" again.

Do you feel like a better mom when you take a break from full-time motherhood?

Nov 9, 2010

I'm No Angel

I just did something I'm very ashamed of. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a very small threshold for tolerating crap from people, but when it comes to those I love, I'm always the understanding and accommodating one. But today, just now, I lost my temper with my soon to be 2 year-old.

This last week he's been on a tear. He is hitting, throwing and not doing a single thing I ask him to do. I know, I know, it's the "terrible twos" but the aggressive behavior is not something I will ever tolerate from anyone. I've tried getting down to his level and talking calmly; I've tried time-outs; I've tried distractions. Add to it this fucking day light savings (a.k.a. 5:30am wake-up calls) and we've got a recipe for disaster.

So today, when K woke up in a particularly bad mood, I could sense that this was going to be a bad day. We played games on the iPad, we watched his favorite show, then we came down to play and draw. After fighting and putting him in time-out at least 5 times before noon, I was ecstatic to see it was finally lunch time. I served him his favorite lunch and K proceeded to throw food around (for our already fat dog to clean the floors). When I asked him to stop he threw his place out. And that's when I lost it.

I grabbed his face, told him "No!," took him out of the highchair and put him in his crib. Just like that. No milk, no book, no diaper change, no snuggles. Just straight up shoved him in his room.

There are a few things going through my head about my behavior. For one, what makes me most ashamed is to have lost my temper with a toddler. A child. MY CHILD. I went through hell to conceive him, how could I just so dismissively banish him to his room? He's a child who is still figuring out the world and testing boundaries. Why couldn't I just take a deep breath like I usually do and calmly remove him from this situation?

Second, when I think of how my own parents and friends view me as this devoted and perfect mother, I am ashamed not to have lived up to the image that everyone seems to have of me. And perhaps, it's more that I'm disappointed in myself for not living up to that image.

Third and most unnerving is the thought that I might turn into my mother. While I love my mother and have a great relationship with her today, I often look back on my childhood and remember her smacking me across the face on countless occasions for things that are/were unjustified (like not understanding a math problem while doing homework together). I don't want to become her. I don't ever want K to look back on his childhood and remember a mom who could be qualified as abusive.

I know I shouldn't just label myself for a first (and hopefully only) loss of temper incident, but the shame and sadness that I feel for what just happened is eating at me.

He's now fast asleep in his crib. I want to go in there, hug him and kiss him. Tell him I love him and that I'm sorry... but maybe the best thing is to sit with this guilt until he wakes up and never forget how shitty one can feel when you're not able to remain the adult in the relationship.

Oct 31, 2010

No Witches, Monsters or Superheros Here (at least not until next year)

"What are you going to be for Halloween?" has been the recurrent question directed at my son over the last week. I found myself having to come up with a variety of excuses and imaginary costumes in order to defuse the situation. Imaginary because K will not be in a costume. He wasn't last year and he won't be this year either. Yup, I am that evil mom who is going to deprive her son from turning into a pumpkin, a dragon or a superhero.

I have nothing against Halloween. In fact, I love the idea of trick-or-treating (especially when there's leftover candy at my house) and am pretty impressed with some of the inventive costumes I see around NYC. What I don't like about Halloween is dressing up people (read, infants, babies, young toddlers) in costumes that they have no say in picking. In fact, they don't even know what they're dressed up as. To me, it's just as silly as dressing up your pet. Sure, it's cute, but at the same time it makes me as sad as watching circus animals do tricks.

Once K is at an age when he can identify the costume and/or help pick it out (next year, I suppose), I will be more than happy to dress him up. But for now, buying an overpriced costume, that he will either refuse to wear come Halloween or become unrecognizable because of the additional layers he will have to wear seems like a complete waist to me.

Before you categorize me as the 'Witch Who Stole Halloween,' I did get in the spirit of the holiday and bought K pj's that look like a skeleton. I would post a picture, but that would fly in the face of everything I wrote above. ;)

Happy Halloween! Waaahhhhhhwwaaahhhh!!

Oct 28, 2010

Living in Limbo: My Least Favorite Dance

I'm a planner. I plan things, events, trips... That's what I do. I like to know what happens next. Where I stand physically and emotionally. My planning doesn't take away from my ability to be spontaneous for the appropriate occasions -- sex comes to mind. But, I like to be in control of my life. Certainly, one would think that after 3+ years of infertility I would have learned a life long lesson to let go, but no. It appears I can't completely change who I am.

The last 9 months have been challenging my planning genes. It all started with a job offer for DH in Minneapolis. I tried to go with the flow. Be supportive, positive and relied on my planning (here read, research) abilities to stay optimistic about our future. Well, after 6 months, I just couldn't keep it going. We'd put our lives on hold -- delaying signing up for classes, making renovations on our house, even making plans with friends. For various reasons, it all fell through; in part because I just couldn't move there. Couldn't leave our life, family and friends for a place I felt no connection to.

I'm not a superstitious person, but ever since that job opportunity, there are constant mentions about Minneapolis on TV, in the paper, magazines, shows. The other day, I picked up a bath toy that K was playing with (which was originally brought home by DH after a business trip) and it said "Minneapolis, MN" under it. Pretty crazy, no?

This whole time, we kept of laughing off these apparitions (albeit, nervously) and waited to see what will happen. And now, even 2 months after turning the job down, we still wonder whether those were signs or coincidences. In truth, larger issues that were out of our hands would have prevented us from moving there, but one still wonders.

I great relief came upon me when we finally decided to stay in New York. I started looking at nursery schools for K to attend next year; called in some contractors to finally build that infamous bathroom we've been talking about for the last 5 years; been much more pro-active at nurturing my new friendship in our community that we are now happy to be a part of.

Well, the Universe is saying "not so fast!" Over the last couple of weeks, DH has been approached by three more companies that are out of state. It's like a sick joke. Really!

Of course, this time around, I took a deep breath and already told DH I could never go to one of the locations. The other two are very different from each other, but could be very exciting in their own right.

Part of me is incredibly proud and thrilled for DH (and us). I grew up moving around, adapting to new places, making new friends. I often itch for a change of scenery, a new adventure. And yet, the other part of me was so set on finally growing our roots here that I'm nervous to walk away.

So now, I internalize the Minneapolis mentions not as sign that we should have moved there, but more as the pivotal point when everything changed... for the better, I hope.

Until things become clearer, I'm back to being in limbo. No school to commit to, no bathroom contract plans to sign. But I'm still holding on to my friendships. Off to play date.

Oct 19, 2010

"God in the Age of Doubt": A Question of Freedom of Religion

I want to preface this entry by stating that this is not a discussion about whether there is a God or not. I'm sharing my views and would like the conversation to specifically revolve around how to handle our beliefs about God/religion when faced with the curious minds of our children. 

This interesting piece by Bruce Feiler was featured in the NYTimes this past weekend. The author, confronted by his 5 year-old daughter, asks how we should talk to kids about God in the age of doubt. It's definitely a question I ask myself often, especially as I mentally prepare for sending K into the outside world (ok, it's only pre-K, but it's still a first step) where he will be exposed to thoughts, concepts and beliefs that I might not always agree with. From the moment we decided to have kids, DH and I agreed that we want to raise a free-thinker. A child (then adult) who is inquisitive and doesn't just accept beliefs as truths. Looking at K's personality, I'd say he's primed to be a free-thinker without us even trying. 

Growing up we didn't really talk about  religion or God in my family. It was there, but not an integral part of our lives. I became interested in religion once I hit my teenage years and went on to take many religious studies classes while in college. By that point, I was definitely not religious; I probably would have called myself agnostic. I wanted to know and understand more. It was during that time, that I came to the realization that all of it seemed fabricated. I lost my faith not because of proof of God's none existence but more from proof that the stories told were intricately weaved together to make the masses think less for themselves, thus blindly willing to be indoctrinated by power seeking individuals. So the idea of God fell victim to that equation. I didn't need God or religion to be kind, respectful, moral and productive. As Sam Harris summarized so perfectly, "Religion gives people bad reasons to be good, where good reasons are actually available."
I'm definitely not one of those atheists who goes around telling others how stupid they are for believing in God. In my eyes, if believing in God gives you comfort and helps you lead a better life, then I respect your views, as long as you respect mine.

While visiting the handful of preschools that we are considering sending K to next year, I have been asking about how secular the schools are and if religious holidays are celebrated. Almost all confirmed the non-denominational and secular environment of the schools, followed by an emphatic, "but all holidays are celebrated here." I'm assume that those holiday celebrations will not be focused on the religious meanings behind them but more on the imageries that they create. I expect that I will get drawings of Christmas trees and Hanukkah candles and Chinese New Year dragons (Sounds like when they say "all holidays," Muslim and Hindu holidays are not included. To be discussed another time.). And I have no issues with that. In fact, I want K to attend his cousins Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and find presents under his step-grandmother's Christmas tree.

What I am fearing is the misinformation that may be relayed to him as he grows up, talks to friends or reads certain books. Comments and references that are thrown out there like universal truths. When I read that atheists are better versed about religions than self-professed believers, it scares me to think of conversations I may find myself having with my son, his schools, and (when forced to) fellow parents.  But before even tackling the meatier aspects of religions, I expect to be faced with a question about God's existence.

My interpretation of freedom of religion entails allowing our kids to learn about all points of view (believers and non-believers), as well as all religions (in an accurate light and not what one religion has to say about another). I don't want to indoctrinate my child with my views and strongly believe that as parents it is our responsibility to allow our kids to think for themselves. And like Fieler concludes, we have to be honest about our uncertainties. And so, on that fateful day, as K will look to me for answers, I will simply say, "What do you think?"

Oct 13, 2010

Deciding on a Pre-K is Only the Tip of the Iceberg

I've been busy touring nursery schools over the last couple of weeks. Before I started this process, I must admit, I never understood why parents (and who are we kidding, mostly moms) stressed so much about which pre-K to send their kids to. What's the big deal?! You are going to send your newly verbal child to a school where he's going to finger-paint and learn to play with others. There will be a snack and circle-time, and before they know it, you're going to pick him up and go on with your day wondering where the last 3 hours of peace went.

Well, I'm eating my words. I'm realizing now that there's so much more to this process. I didn't expect such variety in the schools. From the facilities to the directors of the schools and the philosophies. When we first moved to our area, I saw a couple of pre-Ks and assumed that when we have little one of our own, we'd just send him to the local schools. But now that I have an actual toddler who exhibits tremendous strong will and an infectious sense of humor, I realize that I can't just send him to any old school. I want a school that will harness his strength (my son doesn't have weakness of course!). I want him to be able to continue to display that incredible self-confidence that came with his pint-size package.

My mom used to tell me that your worries become greater as your kids grow older. At first you think that if only he'd sleep through the night you'll be able to get through the next 22 years. Today, I'm finally starting to understand the wisdom of her words. K does sleep through the night (I thought this day would never come), but now I'm the one up at night, roaming the house wondering if I'm going to make the best decision for K. I try to remind myself that it's only nursery school and not the rest of his life -- my parents certainly didn't spend weeks visiting one school after another, and I turned out ok.

I think what I'm most scared of is to let my own baggage affect my final decision. I think all parents do it (mostly subconsciously); letting the good, the bad and the ugly of their own upbringing influence how they raise their children. We learn from our experiences and we set certain aspiration for our kids -- perhaps goals and achievements that we never reached. My European schooling and upbringing (read formal and rigid) is directing me towards a nursery school that will truly be an enriching experience for K. After all, I am paying all this money to send him to a school. If it's just to play with other kids and sit still for storytime, I should just keep him at home or send him to a daycare, and not a nursery school with a tuition that contains more zeros than K can count.

As they say, kids are like sponges. They learn so much interacting with daily life -- K for instance loves the grocery store and watching me cook (fingers crossed he turns into an amazing chef). We talk numbers, colors, textures, smells. But that's as far as my teaching skills go. I'm looking to theses schools/teachers' expertise to teach K things that I wouldn't be able to, in a way that only a good teacher can.

Looking at how stressed out I am over nursery school, let's hope I find a way to take things in stride by the time he's applying to colleges.

I will have to make a  decision very soon. I hope I make the right one. I'd really love to hear from you and what influenced your decision to send your kid(s) to a specific pre-K.

Oct 11, 2010

A Nobel Prize is Nice but Not Enough

So, the other day, when the big news broke that Dr. Edwards was receiving a Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for developing IVF, I thought it will be the perfect topic to discuss. Surely many of you had heard the news and were probably jumping for joy over this long overdue acknowledgment -- or like Julia at A Little Pregnant, you created a unique artwork to express your excitement; really, how can you top that?

But then, I decided to wait things out and see what the comments were going to be on the news sites. It seems that most Nobel prizes never go without some controversy. Someone somewhere just isn't going to be happy about it. So I sat there by my computer watching the comments pouring in. It was no surprise of course that right out the gate, the comments were negative and critical. Some blamed IVF for over-populating of our already over-populated planet (What about the countless unwanted pregnancies/babies?); others suggested that it went against "God's design" (Then when you get cancer please don't seek out medical treatments -- like stem cells, because it seems to me that "God" wanted you to die, plus we're over-populated anyway); while many went straight for the "why don't you just adopt" route (Really? I'd never considered that option. Thank you for enlightening me). The Vatican of course was apparently "perplexed" by the award, not that I expected any other reaction from them.

Eventually, voices of reason and sanity trickled in from people who were in one way or another affected by IVF. Considering there are about 4 millions babies out there as a direct result of A.R.T., I'd say the comments boxes should have been flooded with congratulations and thanks.

While I pondered how to tackle this news and the reactions that ensued, I started reading opinion pieces from respected writers and bloggers. I think this Op-Ed piece by Robin Marantz Henig (author of "Pandora's Baby: How the First Test Tube Babies Sparked the Reproductive Revolution") exemplifies the overall perception of where our society stands 32 years after the first IVF baby, Louise Brown, was conceived. The piece declares (and it's not the only one) that we have come a long way and that "our attitude toward Dr. Edwards's research has completely changed: I.V.F. is now used so often it is practically routine." (She does point out that some skeptics are still out there, but that the numbers are marginal.)

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that we've come along far enough. While I can't imagine anyone still believes that IVF babies will come out with genetic defects (or some kind of monsters), as long as people and even the press continue to callously use "test-tube babies" to describe the progenies created via ART, I think it's pretty clear that the stigma persists. (Plus not a single test-tube was ever used. Petri dishes sure, but no test tubes like in your high school chemistry class.) That terminology is incredibly dated and yet thrown around today to categorize our kids -- "Oh, yes, so-and-so also has a test-tube baby. You should meet her" -- as though our kids are somehow abnormal; part of some grand experiment.

Even if I manage to move beyond this hair-raising terminology, I cannot get past the comments suggesting that we don't deserve to have the family we want. Whether it's the "playing God" comments, the "just adopt" comments or "we're already over-populated" comments, they all point to one thing: If you're infertile, you should not have kids. And if you want kids, then adopt. But only if you're of a certain age, married and not gay. Our society, as progressive as we believe it is, still establishes the boundaries of what it deems to be right and wrong according to some archaic set of believes that predate our abilities of rational thought and tangible scientific progress.

Awarding a Nobel Prize is a wonderful step in the right direction, but the fact that it took them more than three decades to grant this acknowledgement (and thus, robbing Dr. Steptoe who passed in 1988 from being celebrated) is nothing to boast about. The Nobel committee claims that they need proof of the legitimacy of the scientific discovery before awarding a prize. Establishing certain benchmarks is certainly necessary before honoring someone with a coveted prize. But 30 years is not an acceptable measure in this case since the committee in no time honored scientists like Fritz HaberAntonion MonizJohannes Fibiger*all of whom were proven wrong shortly after their prizes were handed out.

Winning a Nobel Prize for pioneering modern day ART has allowed for the science that is for many of us our only hope to receive front-page placement in the news, but it isn't doing much to shed light on the personal heart breaking journeys that too many of us have taken/are taking.

Where do you stand on this matter?

* Thank you Mel at Stirrup Queens for pointing those out to us.


Oct 4, 2010

Home Alone

I don't know if it's because I'm an only child and had to know how to entertain myself, but I enjoy the occasional home alone nights. When DH has to work late, it means it's a quiet night for me to watch what I want, while doing my nails after having carefully performed a blue-wax lip hair removal treatment. (Listen! I'm Mediterranean, it's in the genes!).

My parents were young when they had me and enjoyed a very social life. While I grew up with a lot of love (I'm still incredibly close with my parents), I was often left to keep myself occupied. My parents bought me lots of great dolls, games and books. But I have very few memories of actually playing with my parents. I loved TV, which I guess helped pass the time without needing company. I watched my shows (from cartoons to series that would probably be deemed inappropriate for children) and listened to a lot of music in my room. Played with my dolls and games. At night, no one ever read to me: I had these books-on-tape things and I'd just put on my walkman and turn the pages until I was ready to go to sleep. I think I was probably doing such a good job at being on my own without ever getting into trouble that my parents began to let me babysit myself at age 6! Something that is unfathomable to me today. (I'm smelling a new blog entry here: "Fucked up things my parents did that I would never do!" More to come.)

So, point is, I grew up with a capacity to just make the time pass... Up until I met DH, I always liked being alone. Sure, I had friends to go out with and boyfriends to bring back home, but at the end of the day, I liked my own company just as much. I knew DH was the one when life with him was better, brighter and more fun than when I was on my own. In fact, 99% of the time, I want him by my side.

But on occasion, I enjoy spending a night or a day on my own (I threw in the "day" part as wishful thinking, of course). Free to do whatever I want. Minutes turn into hours and I can honestly say, I had a great time all by myself. When I have the privilege of having my babysitter for the day, I doll-up for no one else other than myself and do a little window shopping, go for lunch and end the day with a nice latte somewhere fancy. All without ever feeling the need to call a single soul.

While no one would label me anti-social (No really. I promise I have lots of friends), I relish the quiet, the silence. And perhaps because I get so little of it these days, a night like this one is just worth sharing with all of you.

Now, if you'll excuse me...

Oct 1, 2010

Cutting the Monitor Cord

Before I became a mother, I always assumed that I would experience the proverbial cutting of the umbilical cord once my kid hit puberty. You know, when I was no longer cool enough to be seen in public with, when my son was becoming his own man, asserting his independence. I am mentally preparing myself for the kind of mother I will develop into and hope that my love for him will be reciprocated -- probably via a silent code of acknowledgment; a smile, a look, an occasional hug. Sure, I'll wait up until he comes home from a party, but pretend I wasn't waiting up for him -- Oh, I'm just watching TV. Did you have fun? And then he'll proceed to tell me how his life is going. The life I'm no longer the center of, but only an observer with front row seats (I know people. I'm connected like that).

But, when my video monitor broke a couple of days ago, I felt a pang in my chest. No, I'm not ready for this yet! Of course, it's not like the separation I'm going to adjust to in a few years, but I didn't expect to feel such panic over losing my connection to him while he's drifting into peaceful slumber. I don't know how parents did it before video monitors. I love being able to watch him sleep, surrounded by his stuffed animals, completely oblivious to the world. His arms spread out, moving from position to position in his comfy crib. The video monitor isn't so much voyeuristic as it is my umbilical cord to him when he's in his own world of dreams. I miss him when I can't hear the little patters of his feet running around the house. (Walking is not an option. He must RUN everywhere.) I'm not alone in my dependence on this device, my husband loves it too; it's his only chance to "see" him when he comes home at night. Then it serves yet another purpose in the mornings: watching K talk to his bed buddies -- Big Blue Dog, Happy Dog, Mini Dog and Mr. Bear. He babbles to them, maybe telling them about the dreams he had or just checking how they slept.

I went to see an exhibit of Leon Levinstein's New York photographs at the Met the other day. Each portrait more intimate than the next. But one just grabbed me and didn't let me go. It was a picture of a mother cuddling with her baby on a beach. The way she's embracing him with her long elegant arms, with undeniable love. While her baby is nuzzled up into the crook of her neck. They are both laying there, between wakefulness and sleep. That perfect state of bliss. Well, that's how I see me and K. I want us to stay like that forever, but I know we can't. He's growing up so fast and now that I don't have a video monitor, I can't watch him sleep. I'm not ready to let go yet.

When/what was your moment of realization that your baby isn't going to remain in your arms forever?

Sep 28, 2010

Am I Also Allowed to Feel Guilty?

Today, Liz over at Mom 101 (she needs no introductions, of course!) talked about the guilt she feels about being a working mom and missing out on some important events happening in her kids' lives -- from first words to routine pediatrician visits.

As I told Liz, guilt and motherhood go hand-in-hand; it's an intrinsic part of the parenting experience. The large majority of working moms feel like they are missing out on what ought to be their natural right to watch their children grow up and are trying to juggle too many things at once. All this guilt seems to be rooted in our aspirational image of the perfect woman. You know, the one who can attend every soccer game while nailing it at boardroom meetings, the one who has a fully cooked meal waiting for her family after she's worked a 10 hour day and not a single hair out of place. Being a woman, a wife, a mother, a working mom, all strung together so effortlessly. We all know this delicate balance -- whether we experience it first hand or not -- and empathize deeply.

Which led me to wonder: Am I allowed to feel guilty too for not being the perfect mom and wife even though I don't work? I wonder what would happen if I talked about feeling guilty for letting my 21 month old watch more than his daily 20 minute allowance of television or for procrastinating to make his check up appointments or for willing the day to go by faster because I cannot physically do another Lego tower. After all, this IS my job, right? My "job" allows me to be present for every "first" in my child's life, every pediatrician appointment, every laugh and every cry. And perhaps therein lies the issue: there is no more novelty. It becomes difficult to decipher what would be deemed a "special event" from just another milestone.

The reality is that I do feel guilty for not always giving K. a hundred percent. We have good days when I can look at myself in the mirror and say "You get a gold star!" But then there are days I know I could have done better. I could have played more, read more, been more patient, less frustrated... And yet, I don't feel like I'm allowed to publicly admit of my occasional meager performances. What would the reactions be? A few eye-rolls? Some "lazy-mom" comments?

But like Liz's kids, I know that K. doesn't feel less well taken care of than the next kid at the playground. Most importantly, he knows he has two hundred percent of my love. I see it in the way he looks at me, in the way he shows his affection towards me and others, and in the incredible personality he has (He knows my love for him is and will always be there, which allows him to be himself).

Working-mom or stay-at-home-mom, we're all doing our best. And unfortunately, our best isn't always good enough. The quality of our mothering will only be truly judged once our kids are grown (how much time they're spending at the therapist about their mom-issues) and can understand why parenting is the toughest job there is. Until then, we shall all continue to feel guilty about our perceived shortcomings.

Sep 24, 2010

Yogi Tea Wisdom to Live by

I have a bunch of blog entries sitting in my draft box that have never seen the light of day and probably never will. I worry sometimes that they will just pop out into the bloggesphere, like an evil plan to air out my dirty laundry. And by dirty laundry I mean blog entires that would qualify as incomplete thoughts, unfinished points, and aimless rants at best...

I usually start writing with a purpose. I start with a real thought. One that I hope will intrigue you, make you laugh or at least have you nodding along. And don't think I'm completely insecure in needing your approval, I do also write for myself. After all, that was the whole point of this blog. And then along the way, I get caught up in trying to be "clever," for lack of better word at this time of night. Why do I get in my own way, I wonder. Just write the thing, post it and see what happens!

I think therein lies my problem. I am thoroughly incapable of just writing something (or even at times doing something) without self-critisizing -- This could have been better written; You sound so dumb; What if they don't get it; Really?! Is this the best you can do?! -- it's quite sad, really.

So, before I start questioning this simple, random entry, I have decided to follow the wisdom imparted to me this evening by my Yogi Tea: "A Relaxed Mind is a Creative Mind."

I don't take to preaching at all, but I shall take master Yogi's advice and allow myself to just write without fear.

Sep 22, 2010

Last Taste of Summer

I love summertime. And this summer was a truly special one. We spent an amazing 5 weeks in the Mediterranean with my family. K swam every day and was spoiled rotten by his grandparents. It was also the first time that I'd left him to spent 5 days alone with DH. Before I left, I never thought I would ever be able to leave K behind, but after the first day in the south of France -- living a second honeymoon -- I've decided that we should do this every summer! I think it's also good for K to know that sometimes mommy & daddy have other things going on and that he has to make his way.

My favorite shot of K. from this summer

There is a snack that K. loved having while we were with my parents. We ended up bringing back two large boxes with us to the states. It so happens that today is the last on those bars It is filled with pistachios and dried fruits -- all of which remind me of my country. I'll miss seeing K's face as be slowly munches through the whole bar. Savoring it with constant "Hmmm...Yummmms." It's a taste of summer that we'll have to recreate in the colder months (I think my parents have another box on the way for us).

"The Gift of Magi" by O. Henry
I also was reminded how lucky I am to be married to the most amazing guy on the planet (ok, at least on my planet and that's what counts!). For over 6 months, we've been exploring the possibility of moving to another state for what could be an tremendous career opportunity (and LOTS of money) for DH. From the start I wasn't thrilled about the idea of moving but I wanted DH to pursue it for the experience and possibly a way to leverage the offer at his current job. For 6 months we went back and forth (this must have been the longest interview ever). I really put my best foot forward and did everything I could do be supportive. I know he wanted this and I wanted it for him. Eventually, I broke down and told DH I couldn't move; that being out there, isolated, in a city that doesn't speak to me would make me miserable and eventually lead me to resent him. In the end, we chose our marriage (each other) over money. Our story was like this wonderful short-story by O. Henry, "The Gift of Magi." If you've never read it, please do.

Perhaps out of fear that we might be leave New York behind, we were pro-active and made the most of what our area has to offer. We had a spectacular day at the Storm Kind Art Center, which is now by far my favorite art center. K ran free, weaving through the giant sculptures. He and I went to the Children's Museum, which he really enjoyed (albeit exhausted me in the process). We went countless times to the Museum of Natural History -- it's always a joy to see him go "Woowww!" at all the life-like animals.

On a sad note, a friendship that I cherished, unravelled. For over 6 months I had noticed that things weren't the same but was willing to accept the lame excuses she was giving me. But as her silence grew longer and more pronounced, I eventually confronted her. From the conversation I discovered that the person I thought I knew and loved had only been an external layer, and that peeling things down to her core, she was actually a very insecure person. Distorting reality and facts; seeing things through a lens that can't be rationed with. Despite it all, I still miss her terribly and am saddened by the loss. But I guess people come in (and eventually go) for a reason. But summer is ending with new friendships that I've made with women who seem to have a stronger head on their shoulder. New season, new friendships. Hoping these will not disappoint me.

Tomorrow is the first day of fall, and I wanted to make the most of this Indian summer we're having this week to do something new with K. I'd never been to The Cloisters. We had this incredibly lovely morning there. The religious art was truly beautiful (that's where it stops for me). But the most stunning was the peacefulness of the courtyards. Surrounded by the gorgeous views of the Hudson, I watched K. sniff the flowers and lean over the fountains. I know he won't remember any of our cultural outings together, but I will never forget them. He is growing up so fast (he goes down the slide all by himself now) but thankfully I have pictures that I will forever cherish.

A last taste of summer, that can be lived again and again thanks to little bits of life -- a snack bar, pictures, books. Oh, I am so going to need those come winter.

Sep 21, 2010

The Invisible Line of Parenting

On my Infertility Doula blog, I talked about an invisible line that can sometimes divide an otherwise strong and close community of women (and men) who are all trying to make it to the other side of infertility. This led me to wonder whether a similar visible line exists in the parenting community. I guess, I don't so much "wonder" it, as I visibly notice is daily; whether it's at the playground, parenting blogs and parenting literature.

Like the infertility community, we all have so much in common. Whatever it took to become a parent (au natural, via IF treatments, adoptions, etc.), we are doing our best to raise our kids and turn them into productive adults. And yet, how we go about it can vary drastically. Before we even start raising our kids, there's the natural vs. medicated vs. cesarian groups. Once they're born, then it's all about breastfeeding vs. formula (Stirrup Queen has a great post about that). Then there are plastic toys vs. wood toys only. Or attachment parenting vs. independent parenting (I'm not sure if that's the correct terminology). You get my point.

We sub-divide ourselves into groups of moms who only believe that their way is the only way to care for a child. And chose to solely seek out friendships that will not challenge our mindsets. Sort of like political affiliations, I guess.

As for me, there are certain decisions that I made for myself and K. that I felt/feel were right for us. They were decisions that were affected by my past and what I wanted for my future (one day at a time). And now, as I try to assimilate myself into this world of suburban moms, I've come to meet some mothers/parents who each have their own philosophies about parenting and are accepting of our differences. We don't pass judgement on how we've managed to keep our little toddlers alive thus far (and you know that's a hard task) and we share all the initial wisdom we've acquired thus far.

Motherhood is truly a gift (albeit one that requires frequent diaper changes and patience). I'm not suggesting that we sit around a camp fire and sing Kumbaya, and braid each other's hair, but before we roll our eyes at this mom or that mom at the playground (or in the bloggesphere), let's try to remember that we're all (ok, most) on the same team.

Sep 17, 2010

When I grow up, I want to be a ...

I was always a driven person. As a high school student, I busted my butt to get good grades and get into a good university. While in college (Ivy League) I had my eye on law school and finished my education in 3 years with a 3.75 GPA. Upon graduation, I found myself back in an emotionally abusive relationship with my on-again off-again boyfriend, which led me to want to take a break from studies (to get out of my own head) and instead work (to be around new people). I was hired by a great advertising agency, did really well and after 4 years, I was one of the youngest senior account supervisors. I decided to leave my more corporate job for a career as a stylist and right as things were picking up (magazine calls, good photography team, etc.), I faced the greatest challenge of my life: Infertility. Up until that point I felt like I was destined for greatness...

Here is am now, 5 years later and I find myself wondering what I'd like to do when I grow up. Part of me really envies working moms or even new moms who have an acceptable "excuse" for the 1-2 year emptiness in their resume. How could I possibly even make it to the interview process with the big gap in my resume? Should I just put something like this?

  • Motherhood 2009-present (New York, NY)
  • Crippled by infertility 2005-08 (New York, NY)

No one would buy that right? ...

I guess I'm disappointed in myself. I thought (as did everyone around me) that I would be making something of my life that would be of note. Don't get me wrong, I feel so lucky to be able to (finally) say I'm a mom (I'm ashamed to even complain when so many are still coping with IF). When I finally became a mom, I thought that title was going to validate me somehow. And in many ways it has. It is truly rewarding and I wouldn't trade it for anything. My son is relatively well behaved, has clean clothes and nutritious food on his plate. I'm doing pretty well overall. But I feel guilty for not being able to say that I'm 100% content. I want more. There. I said it! I feel so guilty about that feeling. I honestly thought that once I became a mother, nothing else would matter. That perhaps my only real ambition was motherhood -- you certainly would have thought so if you'd seen how I dedicated I was to making my infertility treatments work. And now, I wonder what else is in store for me.

I woke up this morning with a new sense of hope and aspiration. I'm thinking of going back to school. A clean slate. A new beginning. Maybe finally an ability to have it all.

I still have to put more thought into this and of course, I'm already thinking of the 100s of reasons why I couldn't possibly go back to school. Money and time being the key hurdles.

Dear readers, do you feel 100% fulfilled?

Sep 14, 2010

Appreciation, or lack-there-of

I'm sure I'm not the only one who doesn't feel appreciated by her toddler. I guess after years of infertility and dedication to bring K into this world, I thought I would be blessed with the kindest, gentlest and most compliant little guy... Instead, I'm constantly bombarded with "Nooooo!", followed by lots of hitting and temper tantrums. I know, I know, it's his age, but K is an incredibly... what's the polite word for it again? Oh yes, strong-willed child. It's his way or the highway.

For instance, this morning started at 5:30am. I tried sleeping through his whines and shouts (No crying really. Just demanding that I get him. NOW!). Eventually I got him at 6:45am and got ready for the day. Today is a day when I don't have my babysitter and in my new found determination to get out of the house as much as possible during my full-time mommy day, I planned for us a fun filled adventure into the city. As I'd hoped, K took a nap and I patiently waited for him to wake up before hitting the streets. I made sure he first got some outdoor play, followed by lunch and then The Children's Museum of Manhattan. What could go wrong right?

Well, everything. He played nicely with the kids at the park. Great. But by noon it was time to go to lunch and of course, big meltdown in front of all the nannies. I don't know why I feel so embarrassed when meltdowns happen in front of other care takers. I was so hoping that one of them could give me some pointers --- come on nannies, you know this crap better than I do. Can't you see I'm an amateur?! Pretending not to hear his screams, I strolled down the street to a restaurant that I know has things K likes for lunch. And cue the temper tantrums. We weren't seated by 5 minutes when K decided that he MUST have the knives placed at our table. Then it was the salt shakers. Then wanting to eat his soup on his own without a bib. I couldn't eat my food fast enough. Raising my voice and giving him a stern "No!" was making it worse.

With the hopes that K will finally appreciate what mama had in store for him, I finally arrived at the museum. It's a children's museum, what more could he possibly want, right? Wrong! He wanted to keep doing the same activity 100 times. And my feeble attempts at trying to entice him to explore another area of the museum just led to more floor swimming on his part (Although I did consider doing the same at one point out of sheer frustration). He was having fun no doubt, but I wasn't planning on spending the entire day in there. But I remained patient until it was time to go. Needless to say, I left the place in complete frustration, after trying to coerce K to leave the Dora the Explorer room and finally get into his stroller.

When I plan a day of fun to solely make my child happy, I expect a little appreciation. No thank-yous of course, but a little cooperation would be nice. Anyone with me on this one?

Aug 27, 2010

Cleaning Out My Infertile Past

This is cross-post from my other blog ( I thought it was a good way to begin. It's a little dark, but I did have some dark days. I promise that things will get lighter from here on out.


In the spirit of cleaning out the clutter that has taken over my house since we started our IF journey and now further solidified by the presence of a toddler, I decided to venture into that corner of my house that is filled with stacks of papers and files that would put any hoarder to shame.

Sifting through the towers upon towers of papers, I found myself surrounded by my past. In one corner I had all the brochures and pamphlets handed out during the "Welcome!" meetings at the countless IF clinics we'd visited. Whether it was to find a clinic to start a cycle or a clinic to get a second opinion, they seem to contain the same information immortalized by the cliché family and baby pictures. I used to work in advertising, so I can appreciate the importance aspirational imagery, but I personally always found those pictures tough to look at (Will that ever be us?). And somehow, even today, as the picture perfect families were staring back at me, they brought back all of the sadness that they used to stir up in me.

Then in another corner were my medical records, dating back to my first visit to a new OB/Gyn. We had moved out of the city and purchased a house to fill with children (Ha!). The basic medical information quickly turned into extensive test results, ultrasounds, semen analyses, surgeries, IUI and IVF cycles. I had made meticulous notes of each cycle -- I guess treating that chapter of my life as the biggest PhD thesis helped me stay as sane as possible. Amongst the pages after pages of notes, time tables and consent forms were the pictures of the embryos that were at once my only tangible hope, only to always become the sources of my greatest despair.  There they were, our first two embryos; DH even has arrows pointing at them with each of their names. Eventually we got wiser and never named them again, but after every transfer, I would keep that black and white print out of our embryos by my bedside and wonder what kind of kids they'll become.

In the final pile were the receipts from the clinics, the labs, the anesthesia, the freezing of embryos, and of course the medications. As if it weren't bad enough that IF rips a hole through your heart, it also rips a hole in your pocket. When we bought our house, we knew it would need all sorts of repairs, but once the cost of IF treatments became an undeniable reality, we put everything on hold. Being the optimist that he is, DH would want to keep things moving along with our house (It's going to happen! Let's just fix these windows), but I would sternly stop him; reminding him that we don't know when our treatments will end and that we need to hold on to this money for our baby. Well, today we do have our miracle boy, and yes, our bathrooms are still outdated, but it was the best money we'd ever spent (and unlike the housing market, things around here only trend upwards).

So now, almost 3 years since my BFP, I only have two piles: one for recycling and the other for shredding. Somehow I think I'm going to have a hard time letting the pictures of the children (embryos) that never were slip through the sharp blades of my shredder. I think in the end, I'll have to stash them somewhere deep in my desk drawer to be rediscovered many years from now.

That corner of my home office looks tidy and clean now; yet empty somehow.