The Learning Curve is Steep

You all are truly excellent people. I hope someone told you that in person lately and, if not, well clearly they are falling down on the job.

I appreciate all of the potty training commiseration and advice. I’d like to think that we truly hit bottom last night but I’m afraid we’ve still got a way to go. Another tearful pick-up and she has resorted to a game of painful intestinal Twister as she tries not to move her bowels at school. I don’t know how to fix this, only to hope we aren’t causing life-long psychological damage. My wife reports that drop-off this morning was difficult (again).

Montessori is proving hard on all of us. There are some simple rules that RR finds challenging and, as a result, test our parenting skills. She is asked to walk in and out on her own, to carry her own things and to greet and say goodbye to her teachers. These are all perfectly civilized requirements and ones that we generally have adhered to anyway. But with rules have come resistance and every arrival and departure is fraught.

This is new for all of us. We want to scoop her up and hug her when we see her but then she doesn’t want to be put down. The alternative, kneeling down to greet her, sets of a chain of little explosions starting with whining and ending in a tantrum. Yesterday, she began screaming and arching her back so severely at pick-up we couldn’t strap her into her seat. In three years of daycare, this has never happened.

We have no way of routinely hearing what is happening at school as her morning teachers are not her afternoon teachers*. Her afternoon teachers are unconcerned with potty-training and hysterics. Honestly, my own emotional internal toddler wants to cry that they are nonchalant about RR but surely that isn’t the case.

In other no-more-optimistic news, I feel decidedly not pregnant. I’m trying to console myself with the fact that even though I felt pregnant at this point last time (and the time before) I was not actually pregnant. And so, not feeling pregnant really has no bearing on anything. My progesterone results confirmed that I ovulated (73, which leaves no doubt that there is/was an egg there) but I don’t think any magic is happening.

Surely there’s a light in this tunnel. I just have to find the switch.

* We do have email access to the teachers. However, we’re on our own learning curve. We used to get a written recap each day and while it wasn’t perfect, we at least had a hint of her success and failures. Instead we review empty (or not) lunch containers and count sodden panties. We’ll get it. Eventually.

 

MORE Potty Training

Amazon has 6,526 results for potty training. If you cut it back to books, 2,662, and books geared toward the parent part of the equation? 103. Many of them have buzz words like “no cry“, one day!, or, better still, LESS THAN A DAY, three days!, 7 simple steps, stress-free. If nothing else, potty training is a perfect example of how every child is completely different. I am very sure a great many children teach themselves to use the potty, learn in three days (or less than), respond well to stickers and incentives, and prefer to move right to the big toilet armed with a stool and and insert ring. I’m also sure that there are plenty of kids who don’t do these things and plenty of girls who don’t train at light speed compared to their male counterparts. And, since this is one of those critical skills, parents are meant to remain serene, a paragon of unflappable encouragement and peace.

This is the hardest thing I’ve done as a parent. I would have loved to have heard, “Potty training is hard. It might not happen in three days. It might not happen when you offer an M&M or a sticker or a hug. It might not happen in three weeks. Or three months. It just might not. And by the way, putting actual pee in the potty might terrify her. It might.”

I think my expectations were askew. I really thought this was something manageable. Something that my kid could figure out or, at least, be persuaded to accept. It’s hard not to be flabbergasted. She’s been doing single digit addition since she could talk. Sunday she said, “I put one more drop in Mama! Two and one drop is three drops!” That’s right, not only did she add the two drops from earlier to her one new drop, she has the bladder control to place precisely one drop in the potty and then calmly walk down the hall into my bedroom and drop a gallon onto the rug.

We have rolled up most of the rugs.

I can only imagine this is how folks who had trouble getting their kids to sleep feel. There are so many sleep training methods, one of them should work and yet, since your kid isn’t like every other kid, it doesn’t. Not quite. Today is the 4th day she will be in panties from start to finish and we left her at school wailing. In fact, she started carrying on when she stepped out the front door and I wouldn’t stick my head in the back of the car as she commanded while she teetered, bawling, on the edge of the cement steps. Potty training and a new school are sending her over the edge and she’s taking me with her.

Hard.

Also hard, feeling not at all pregnant this month despite still having every possibility. I’m waiting on the results of yesterday’s progesterone test and wondering if there’s anything worth doing if it is low. Why check? At any rate, I’ll know on Sunday for certain.

Potty Training is for the Birds

You guys, I have a lot of feelings about this week. Today, RR had her first full day at her new school after a week’s worth of half days and hour-long orientations. She has managed the chaos by spitting and sputtering, hitting and kicking, and speaking in tongues. I think I expected more tantrums and less lashing out and, really, it took me until today to realize that it actually is lashing out. Last night, we swapped bedtime roles in order to disrupt the chaos she was creating. She wasn’t listening, preferring to scream nonsense syllables over everything we say. She is finding every opportunity to fight and push and stretch limits. But we’ve all had a first day at a new school. If that doesn’t wreak a little havoc on your world, nothing will.

It’s not just being at a new school of course, it’s potty training. On Tuesday, she blew through five outfits in two hours. On Wednesday, three. Today, she spent all day at school and we sent no fewer than 10 pairs of panties (possibly more) and a stack of shorts. You’d think that she’d have been dismayed when she realized she was wet AGAIN but, apparently, not dismayed enough to consider the potty her friend. I have every hope that she’ll have managed it at least once today but, to be honest, I won’t be surprised if we continue in the same vein. Which means that we have a long weekend of laundry ahead of us. Dammit, we’re such good parents. How come we can’t find a strategy that works?

Hand in hand with the potty training (and laundry) comes a bed. It doesn’t seem fair or smart to put her down for a nap in panties and give her no way to get to the potty. I love the crib. She loves the crib. But it’s time for the crib to go. This is going to alarm her and, I suspect, if I thought she was lashing out before, she’ll really be lashing out now. It’s our fault. We’ve babied her (see: crib) and we’re hearing a continuous stream of “I’m too little to use the potty. I need you to feed me like a baby. Carry me, mama, like a baby. I can’t. I’m just a little baby.” I know she’ll get it. I wish for all of our sakes that she’d get it faster.

That said, I’m learning the Montessori ropes (totally different than our previous school experience) and scrambling to prepare for the beginning of a new academic year. On Monday, I’ll pop in for a progesterone test at the midway point of the two weeks. But let me tell you, if the way I feel today is any indication, there’s plenty of progesterone swamping me. I’m tired, friends. So tired.

Nothing is Going As Expected

You all, there’s a whole lot of upheaval in this neck of the woods.

Today is RR’s last day at her current school and she’s moving on to Montessori on Monday. This week has been hard for her. Her classmates have been visiting with their new teachers and their shining faces have suddenly appeared on a bulletin board across the hall…without RR. Artwork is being taken down and people keep hugging her. A lot. Saying goodbye in advance.

I’m not particularly good at goodbyes. I think when most people say that what they mean is a sort of Pretty Woman definition. The, I can’t be here for this run out of the room, sort of goodbye. I don’t mind saying goodbye, it’s just that I’m totally going to cry. Everywhere. Lasts just kill me. The last time I’ll see you. The last time I’ll be here. The last time whatever.

I cried when I dropped RR off this morning. Just a little. I expect to cry when I pick her up. I’m going to try very, VERY hard not to because she still interprets tears as catastrophes, but I’m bringing tissues nonetheless.

D is away, has been away, and isn’t going to be back until Sunday. Paired with the upheaval at school, I suddenly have a baby on my hands again. Carry me like a baby, she says. Hold me, mama. Feed me like a baby, she pleads. She even held out her cup to me this morning and suggested I hold it for her like a bottle. She appears rather nonchalant about the idea of a new school but clearly something is taking a toll.

I’m not particularly chill myself. With no ovulation kit change as expected, I’m looking at a weekend IUI (at least I hope so). That means that I’m negotiating the IUI alone AND figuring out what to do with RR. The lovely and amazingly good-natured starrhillgirl has offered to take her for a Saturday morning visit, for which I’m eternally grateful. Let’s not even consider what will happen if I need to be at the IUI clinic, hanging out with RR AND picking D up at the airport all at the same time on Sunday morning. Shh. Don’t even THINK it.

This, of course, assumes I ovulate at all. The clinic nurse assured me today that to be delayed on the first clomid cycle was not at all unusual and (sort of) reassured me that I probably didn’t miss the boat and ovulate super early. She was not that reassuring when I asked a basic biology question about the lack of, ahem, activity and whether I could ovulate without it. It has happened, she said. Not to read too much into it but a yes or x doesn’t have anything to do with y would have been far more reassuring.

Wish us luck.

You Get What You Pay For Hopefully

It turns out that ectopic knee pregnancy is an actual thing. Or, rather, the theory behind it is. I am, in fact, queasy, exhausted and pitiful days 9, 10 and 11 post ovulation and have probably been this way my whole life. I KNOW. Biology is so weird, man. The fertility doc was happy to hear this was the case and identified it as a clear sign that progesterone is ramping way up and then, like a faucet, turning off heading into the 12th day. Given that I was worried he’d class me into a whole 18th century hysterical woman category, I was delighted to hear that it’s absolutely a good sign. He commented that I was particularly in tune with my body but I just wanted to say, “piffle, you haven’t seen me track down migraine habits over a lifetime. I’m not in tune mister, I’m a mechanical mastermind.”

Of course, it does also mean that I’m not getting pregnant. We’ve tried three times and let me tell you, if you’ve ever tried to get real information on trying to conceive from google, you will find yourself immersed in forum posts equivalent to ladies chatting over the toilet stall wall:

Lady 1: Omigod do you know what it means when it’s, like, sticky?
Lady 2: Totally. It’s a symptom of eating watermelons and drinking milk on the first day of your cycle.
Lady 3: Don’t listen to her. It means the rapture is coming. Do you have any toilet paper to pass under?

Not to say there isn’t useful stuff, but it’s hard to comb through seemingly relevant questions just like yours that were asked in 2002 and answered by seven people who all thought the speculation was or was not the case even though they had hadn’t been pregnant yet but would know in just three days, sticky dust. The original poster rarely comes back to shed light on the issue. So I broke out my mad research skills and hit up journal articles, studies, science. And I found what you already knew: fertility is a big fucking mystery.

Recent studies are mainly retrospectives of studies done in the late 90s and have a couple of major drawbacks for folks like me: studies about IUI success are almost exclusively conducted pairing the procedure with a drug and stats for folks over 40 practically vanish. I’m not over 40 yet but I’m staring down the barrel and who knows what age my eggs think they are. There’s a conspicuous gap in information about unmedicated IUIs. A few of the facts I did find, like 97% of women get pregnant in four IUIs, were thankfully abolished by my doctor who said with no uncertainty that four tries is a fair estimate for a 25 yr old but that seven or eight would be more likely for a grandmother like myself. So we talked about upping the chances.

I don’t think D or I mentioned this at the beginning but we were (are?) very cautious about adding drugs to my particular cocktail. The idea of twins makes her uneasy and the idea of a(nother) body-altering substance makes me uneasy. I didn’t like the odds in the studies I read, it didn’t feel like a sure bet. But, given that fertility is like betting on the lame horse in the last heat to take the crown, we decided that the risks Clomid presented weren’t enough to rule out possible success. Possible is the key word there, as he said, “It’s a $20 drug and you get what you pay for.” In my particular case, I can hope to get an extra egg out of a cycle.

Speaking of this cycle, it’s beautifully on schedule – beautifully for science but not so much for the loving scene you pictured of D and I holding hands, stars in our eyes as the doctor fades out and we daydream about nursery colors. Even if you hadn’t, you are now so let me assure you that it’s more laughing, awkwardness, debates over how many minutes have elapsed, and detailed discussion of disasters throughout history*. You’ve been reading this blog, right? Obviously there is no nursery color scheming.

Back to the point, D will be traveling when I ovulate unless an egg-based miracle occurs (in which case she’ll be traveling while I panic that it’s 5 days late). So it’ll be me and the uncomfortable speculum, staring at the ceiling and trying not to flinch, while (probably) texting her. Would it be inappropriate to FaceTime the procedure? I jest, my cervix is not camera ready.

So here’s hoping for a kit change during the week so I don’t have to worry about RR and here’s hoping that two eggs work better than one.

 

* If you’re keeping count, that’s the Lockerbie bombing for RR, and the Hindenburg and Everest for tries 1 and 2.

Roller Coasters Are a Consolation Prize

Well, you all, I was sure this month we had it in the bag. The sorts of things that happened last month that were hopeful – unexplained nausea and exhaustion – showed up times three this month. We even made it past fateful day 10 where any symptom that could have been pregnancy typically evaporates. Today, the 12th day after ovulation, we took a test because come on! How could I not be?! I’ve never felt this seasick, this bone-tired in my life.

But the test was negative and I apparently just have a novel case of the flu. My nausea has disappeared and my uterus is cramping something fierce even though my period isn’t due until Wednesday. So, I don’t approve of THAT. On the other hand, we’re off to an amusement park tomorrow and while I expect to mostly be on the ground watching RR take it all in, I’m not ruling out flinging myself down some very, very steep hill.

 

 

PMS

You know what I don’t care for? Feeling like this.

I put more salt than usual on my eggs. And then sprinkled sugar on my peaches and cream. Haven’t done in over a year.

A slightly (and I mean barely) confrontational email this morning raised my hackles more than it ought though it was quickly and happily resolved, despite my mental thunderclouds.

A lump in my chest over the not-even-real feather-ruffling and I feel like crying. Just a bit. Just while no one can see. I know I’ve no excuse for this and so I won’t, even though everything seems depressingly dingy at the edges.

Chocolate, even though I didn’t really want it, I did. And so I ate it. And it didn’t make me feel better.

Yesterday I wanted to write something about feeling pregnant or not. Until I realized I felt nothing at all and so I gave up and decided to wait until I had something to say. I had hoped it wouldn’t be something like this. I’m not a classic PMS symptom-haver but if that’s not what this is, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.

This is the first image the appears when you search “monkey’s uncle”:

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Today, I

I had a creative writing teacher in high school who started every class with “Today, I…” statements. Our directive, to write at least 15 sentences beginning with “Today, I (feel, think, believe, know, am, etc.)” served to loosen our minds in preparation for writing. It was also centering, something to which I was oblivious but, considering my excellent teacher, was probably the point. Although I’ve never enjoyed formal writing classes, exercises like this stick with me, serving as a solid platform when everything else is quicksand. Even though I skipped that class all too often, my journals that year and for years after were woven with Today, I…

Things around here are quicksand.

Today, I am anxious about a busy work week.
Today, I was exasperated with RR and I felt terrible about my short temper.
Today, I rushed things when settling into them wouldn’t have been so bad.
Today, I feel frustrated with my body.
Today, I thought I needed time alone but it turns out I just needed quiet.
Today, I slid down slides, rocked on a teeter totter and chased my daughter at the park.
Today, I started the day laughing with my wife and kid at breakfast.
Today, I’m bitter that I don’t have any signs of pregnancy.
Today, I googled “11 days post ovulation” one too many times.
Today, I wished we had plans to go to the beach.
Today, I my wife brought RR and I popcorn (which was the best thing that happened).

Today, I could still be pregnant. I’m probably not. But I could be. Today, I’m postponing disappointment one more day.

One More Week

Popped in for the progesterone test (link for the curious) yesterday and everything is just peachy. I’m not entirely sure that I wouldn’t rather have skipped it, but after some reflection, I decided I’d rather know if this cycle had a diminished chance of success. Which it didn’t (in fact, the results were good enough to make the normally taciturn nurse practically giggle). And that’s good news except that it’s not THE news.

Although I’m not an over-googler exactly, it doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally stray to the dark side. Fortunately for me, any search that turns up more than one wiki or yahoo answers query in the first five results sends me back to more respectable endeavors like wondering what my amusement park is*. For the lazy link clicker – dude, I am totally that person, so no judgement – when D didn’t get pregnant on the first go, we went to an amusement park and rode all of the roller coasters. Maybe I’ll go to some yummy cafe and have espresso. I know. I live on the edge.

Googling aside, I’m well aware that the liklihood of having actual symptoms at this point is slim. Even so, so many different-than-normal things have gone on that I’m sure I’m going through menopause, getting the flu, or dying. Probably dying. My poor wife has to endure countless rounds of symptom-dismissal-depression-symptom.

Ugh. My stomach just keeps grumbing and growling!
I’m sure I just ate something weird.
I am never going to be pregnant.
Repeat.

And then the excitement stopped. No more weird cramps. No more hot flashes. No more…anything. And then yesterday:

Oh god, I’m going to hurl. Yes. I’m totally going to…ugh. Why do I feel so awful?!
It was probably those two cookies I inadvisably ate after breakfast.
I am never going to be pregnant.
Repeat.

This weekend we have friends in town which means I’ll have to dial back my constant complaining. Let me tell you, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t complain at all if I knew that all my discomfort was caused by pregnancy. Cramps, pressure, bloating, hot flashes, intermittently sweaty palms, nausea. Dude. GIVE ME A REASON.

Alas, we wait. Of course. But it’s only one more week. At most!

Also, did you all SEE this? Clearly these guys have been coming to my house as RR’s favorite thing to say to D and I is “NO TALKING”

Conversations with My 2 Year Old

Come Back in a Week

Whoa now. Was this progesterone test a thing when D carried RR? There I was, like the Venus de Milo in repose and discussing the Hindenburg* with my wife when the nurse suggested we come back in a week for a progesterone test to see if we had a shot at a viable pregnancy. Or something like that. Essentially, it appears that while such a blood test won’t predict pregnancy, it can certainly tell us if the odds are against us.

vdmUnfortunately, for the Venus de Milo, she had to stand while waiting for something magnificent to be created. You and I are creative and can thus imagine what she really would have done once she got tired of holding up that damn sheet. 

Finding out that it “probably didn’t work”? Exactly what I wanted to do with my Thursday. But, might as well get the crushing disappointment out of the way, right? Given that we’ll have house guests throughout the second week of waiting, it’s probably a good thing to keep me from being too high strung.

Also – why did none of you tell me that my uterus would behave like an asshole after an IUI? Cramping and general discomfort ala HSG (only for an extended period of time). Apparently, my cervix doesn’t really dig being toyed with. Regardless, I forgive you in an attempt to send a subliminal message to my rouge egg and sperm that I am a nurturing mother earth who is a fertile field, complaining cervix aside. Shh. Don’t tell them any different.

* During my wife’s second IUI, we found ourselves discussing, at length, the Lockerbie bombing. I don’t know what sparked the conversation, only that I explained what little I knew of it while my wife (probably) sent out a little prayer. This time, remembering our oddly timed Lockerbie discussion, we invoked the Hindenburg. Not as a talisman, just something I happen to be doing at work right now. Go figure.