Wednesday, August 30, 2006

There Are Some Things That Will Never Make Sense To Me

Hubby just decided he can't go to a wake. The wake is for a one-year old child. I almost told him he really needed to go so he could support the family. I still believe that, but I understand now where he is coming from. He said he just can't go. It's for a baby. Not for a baby. He can't do it. He looked at our son, and I immediately understood. I am a Christian. I believe in God, although my mother's suffering and subsequent death really tested that, but I don't think I'll ever understand why a child is taken from its parents. I shiver whenever I think about this little boy and his parents. I can't talk anymore about this.

I Wear Short Shorts, and Never Use N*ir

I live in the suburbs, and I actually do like it. The town I live in is about 60,000 people in population, and is becoming more and more affluent and a tad bit more diverse. However, if you average all the incomes out, I'd say it's mainly middle to upper middle. Guess what we are???

At any rate, our town is pretty white bread, if you know what I mean, but with a mosque recently being built, we have seen more middle easterners coming to live. Now I have said before, that we've had mainly positive experiences. Actually, the family on the corner is very nice, and they even named their 2 week old baby an American name. So there you go. Our middle-eastern neighbors are mainly Palestinian or Jordanian in descent, and seem to be more liberal. Our backyard neighbors seem to describe what we've seen best. The wearing of abayas and scarves seems to be a generational thing. The older the woman is the more she tends to cover. It has been an education for me, I tell you! Being a teacher, I have taught many middle-eastern students. I have always welcomed the mothers, never met any fathers, to bring food in or anything else that would demonstrate their culture. Because of this, I would have families request to have me as their teacher. I found if I welcomed a middle-eastern family, and showed that I was indeed interested in learning about their culture, I was welcomed in as almost one of the family. As an example, I couldn't believe when I received not only a gift on Halloween, but a gift for Easter! I have had very positive experiences with the women of this culture. I wish I could say the same about the men.

Now I have told you that I never met any of the fathers, but I had talked with a few over the phone. I could tell that I was not as well thought of by them as by their female relations. I knew it had nothing to do with me as a person; it was because I was a woman. I am not going to lie to you all, and tell you the only time I have ever experienced dicrimination it was by an Arab man, because that is not true. I also have learned my American history enough to know that this country had a negative attitude toward women for a very long time, and to a certain extent it still does. That angers me. I cannot stand being told I can't do something simply because I'm a woman. I had a really hard time when I was younger and told I couldn't do something because I was a girl. My brother was able to drive my parents' cars without any problem. He could also stay out later. Because I was female, certain 'things' could happen to me that couldn't happen to my brother. I understand that, however, there are ways to make going out safer. It just bugged me, and made me want to do it all the more, which when I was older, I did. I went to the Southside Chicago bars, and stayed out late always WITH friends. We never let each other go home with any guy. We also used to go to Wrigleyville to hear bands. Once I was intoxicated, boyfriend and I just separated, and a singer in the band was hitting on me. I was only 21, and let's just say he was not. He was a bit too old for me. My friends knew I shouldn't let him take me home, and they didn't let me get into his car. We watched each other's backs like that.

So when I started encountering the Arab male, and was given information about cultural values etc. from my place of employment, I must admit, I was not impressed. To me it smacked of things past, but worse. Let me say this. I am not your stereotypical stay-at-home mother. Hubby even said he believed he would enjoy it more than I, was better suited for it, but as a teacher I couldn't afford to support the family. I am so not domestic. I hate cooking!!! I like a clean house, but cleaning sucks. I have volunteered my time, but staying home and doing only that while my kids are in school just seems stifling to me. My neighbor loves it; I would hate it. So you can imagine how I felt when I was treated like a servant, someone beneath these fathers, when I have a degree and was using it to teach their children. The woman were accepting and welcoming of me; the men were not.

I know this will sound juvenile, but whenever I know I'll encounter a 'few' of these Arabian male neighbors, I wear the shortest shorts I own. Yah, I know, real mature! I guess it's my way of sticking it to the man, so to speak. Just yesterday, I had to go to the kitchen to get something after I was already laying in bed. I was warm, so I was only wearing my underwear. The window coverings on the back door were not down, nor was I going to ask hubby to get up and close them. Nope. I walked mostly naked in my kitchen in front of the sliding french doors and a window. I've done this before, and if this was one of my other neighbors I probably wouldn't. But it's not. So as I walked across the kitchen, I felt empowered. I thought, if it's against your culture for me to do this, then don't look! Just so you know, though, I'm not being discriminatory. I'd do this to any man who told me I was below him in worth. So if you see some woman in short shorts with her ankles defintely on show, or if you see said woman dancing naked in her kitchen, then you'll know it's me.
Myth#43: A women's place is in the home. Nope, it's in the boardroom, or classroom or anywhere she'd like it to be. We are strong, we are smart, and damn it, WE just may rule the world one day. So you crazy fu***, look out, or we may ask YOU to do something demeaning some day.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Does This Happen in Your Home? and an Update...

May I ask the question 'How hard is it to put a roll of toilet paper on the toilet paper holder?' I mean really. Yes, this is the boys' bathroom. My bathroom is neat, AND it has the toilet paper in its proper place. I just don't get it!

***A short update on the whole sibling relationship thing. I guess they are going to try and have a relationship. She'll be in from out of town in September to throw her parents a 40th anniversary party. How ironic is that?! Glad I don't have to be there because I would have a hard time keeping myself from laughing. Their marriage is really a sad thing. I almost feel sorry for my MIL. Almost. Anyway, she said not to expect her to come by then. Okay. Then she'll be back for Thanksgiving if her parents house hasn't sold. (Apparently, they are almost ready to put their house on the market and move into their Florida home permanently. See formerteacher doing a jig of glee). So, if she comes home, she might stop by. It's hard, she says, because whenever she comes back to her parents house after having been at ours, they always start in on her right when she walks through the door. Hubby says, "Then stay in a hotel, so they don't know everything that you're doing." That was good advice. Basically, hubby isn't going to see her for a very long time, which makes me question why they had to discuss the parameters of their relationship in the first place? I mean if all you are going to do is talk on the phone or through e-mail, I just don't see what the fuss was about. Well, this is almost an entry in itself, so I'll end it here........Formerteacher who is so happy to mark the official one-year mark of her sanity. Thanks to the ils who made it very hard not to see how much they needed to go away. A big smooch in their honor...

Sunday, August 27, 2006


My husband is currently on the phone with his sister, and I keep hearing him sigh....which brings on my anxiety. The reason for the scheduled phone call? To discuss how they can continue their relationship. My answer is that if I were in this situation, I would say I love my brother, and this has nothing to do with my parents. It is a separate thing. I just don't get why this is such a production. Your brother is your brother. End of story. Will some things never be over???!!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Would I Do It Again??? Would You???

A few days ago, hubby and I were watching a special on infertility and the risks associated with fertility medications. Basically, they featured a couple who had ungone IVF and a man whose wife had taken Clomid. They talked with renowned fertility specialists, and a former FDA employee who oversaw fertility drugs. The focus was on the long-term side effects from taking these drugs.

The man whose wife had taken Clomid was talking about his wife. She had died from ovarian cancer, and they both believed that she had developed this disease from the Clomid that she injested. Her wishes were for him to continue to educate people on the risks of fertility meds.

The couple who had a daughter conceived via IVF talked about their desire to have children. They discussed the primal urge to have children. How the want to have children becomes magnified once you are told that you may never have any. They talked about the IVF procedure. How 'wacky' the drugs make you feel. In between this couple, the renowned IVF doctor speaks. He speaks about studies and inconclusive evidence and such medical jargon. He talks about informed consent. You know, telling your patient that there MAY be a greater likelihood that she will develop ovarian cancer, but the evidence thus far has shown no increased risk although previous studies have shown the opposite. They say the bottom line is that they just don't know, but they don't believe that the risk exists. Oh, and then you get a form to sign saying that yes, I understand that I may die of ovarian cancer, but then again,...... maybe I won't.......
Welcome to assisted reproduction 2006.

The IVF couple talked about how they barely looked at the form before they signed it. They both stated that they would have done anything to have a child. The reporter asked if it was all worth it to them. They answered unequivocally, "YES." They would do it again. In fact, they were in the middle of a cycle right then.

As I was doing errands this morning I asked myself if I would do it all over again. My answer? An unequivical YES! All of the pills, progesterone injections, shots, and shots and more shots, the egg retrieval, the transfer as well as all of the blood-draws were worth it to me, end of story. I have journals full of my feelings during the infertility treatments, and they are heartbreaking. I don't think anything else ever made me feel as powerless and out-of-control as infertility did.

After I conceived our oldest child through Clomid/IUI I went through all of the clinic stuff I had been given about IVF. I declared then that if I had to do IVF to get pregnant, then our son would be any only child! Ha! Never say never. The desire to have a child, to have a sibling for our son turned into desperation overnight. To have cycle after cycle fail, and then to be left with the one treatment that scared me the most as our only option, well I didn't even have to think about it. Risk of ovarian cancer? Where do I sign??? To me it was a non-issue. I mean 20 years down the road when asked why I didn't at least try IVF, and all I would be able to come up with would be ovarian cancer, and even that was debatable? No. I would risk it. Because every day you risk a little something. But that is what life is. When I see my boys smile at each other in the morning when they wake up, I think,"Dear God, I almost missed out on this."

So today, as I pondered IVFs worth, I thought of all that I had risked for the chance to be a mother, particulary during my IVF cycle. I risked cysts, heachaches, 'minor' pain at the injection site, emotional pain, exacerbating my endometriosis, a theoretical increased risk of breast cancer, and now a possible risk of ovarian cancer. The risk of another bout of postpartum depression. This one could be worse than the last. But had I not done the treatments I knew what would happen. I would never have a/another child. To me that was far worse than any hypothetical risk could ever be. That was a known risk, not a hypothetical one. And like infertility, you either get cancer or you don't. A 10% risk or a 30% risk, those are just numbers. They don't mean anything. Because in the infertility business, you either get pregnant or you don't. The odds don't mean anything really. The numbers are mere numbers. If 'the numbers' were right I would have never held the Tot. My RE would never have 'written my success against the odds" down. No one knows why I was able to get pregnant with the Tot when everything in that IVF cycle looked like crap. And no one could tell me why I had not gotten pregnant prior to that. Why? Because no one really knows why some people get pregnant and some don't. And besided a family history, no one knows for sure why some women get breast or ovarian cancer and some don't.

So, look at your children. Were they worth all you went through to have them? Even if you didn't undergo infertility treatments, the decision and following events are never easy ones when they involve children. Life is full of risks. Some known and some unknown. I, for one, don't want to live my life with regrets, so I chose to try everything I could to have a child. And yes, I would do it all over again. In a heartbeat.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sunglasses Are For More Than Blocking the Sun

Today my entire family went to church with us. It was a gorgeous day, and our church was holding its' service outside. This is the third year we have done this; all gather together on the third Sunday of August. You see, my mom's birthday is the 22nd, and we still celebrate it even though she is no longer here with us. It was very nice having my brother and his family, as well as my dad and his wife attend church with us. This is the church my mother attended, as well as my husband and family.

We always go to a nice brunch nearby and talk and eat. Last year I was still battling the postpartum depression demon, but this year I was marketedly calmer and happier. Everything was going very well. We ate and talked, and looked at wedding pictures. Then we all loaded up our cars to drive to the cemetary. Somehow I had forgotten that we would do that. I figured I would go on her birthday and bring a pink rose from the bush I planted in her memory. But, no, we were going as a family, which we usually do. I must confess that I really don't like going to the cemetary.

This year my dad decided the kids, with the exception of my boys, were old enough to hear the letters written by my mother to them. So after we put some roses in her vase, my dad started reading. Now my nephew has always been a sensitive boy, my mom was right about that, but you know how it is with 10 year olds, they don't want to show their emotions. Course, this 33 year old doesn't like to show her emotions either, so I understand! The letter that my mom wrote to him was beautiful, and I could see the tears in his eyes. He's the oldest grandchild, and was very close to my mom, and he remembers the most. At any rate, my dad read the letters to the rest of the grandchildren. My mom even wrote one to S. and any future grandchildren she may have. She spoke about how long we tried to have him and how much we love him. She talked about how she can tell I am a good mother to him. And she talked about not knowing how long she'd get to watch him grow. That is what I think struck my nephew the most. She told him that she didn't know if she'd be able to watch him grow up. She didn't know how long this disease would let her live. But she wanted all of the children to know how loved they were, and how wonderful their parents are. She even wrote a letter to my sister-in-law and husband telling them how special she thought they were, and how much she loved them as well. There was more that she wrote, but it is pretty personal. I have covered the jist of things. Afterwards, my dad took my nephew to the side. Upon his return, my nephew was sobbing. It about broke my heart. It was then that I felt my eyes tear up, and was happy that I had left my sunglasses on. Because, you know, sunglasses are for more than blocking the sun. Sometimes they are for keeping your emotions to yourself, for hiding the tears. It's been over three years, but I still miss my mom terribly. My mom is dead, and sometimes all I can think of is how much it sucks.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Sometimes It's Better To Move On

Last Friday, I went to an event hosted by one of my mom's group friends. Most of the group was there, and I learned something. I was right. One of my MOPS* friends describes people in your life as being part of one of two groups. (Excuse my run-on sentences tonight). She calls this the 'elevator'. She says some people bring you up and some bring you down. You need to have people in your life who bring you up. This group brings me down. Now I am not telling you these people aren't nice. They are. I'm also not going to tell you 'it's all me', because it's not. I have always sensed a feeling of competitiveness within the group. Is it merely a coincidence that all but two of us had babies within a month or two of each other??? If you guessed that I, infertile mertile, was one of the two who did NOT have a baby at that time, then you would be right. And the thing that pissed me off about that time when it seemed someone was always announcing a new pregnancy, was that everyone knew I was trying, unsuccessfully, to have a baby. Yet virtually every conversation centered around their pregnancies. Morning sickness, aches and pains, and how awful they looked. Yah, all at a time when I would have given my left arm, or my husband's left nut, just to be pregnant. And NO ONE worried about miscarriages. I mean why would you? Getting pregnant was easy, why wouldn't staying pregnant be just as easy??? Part of myself has held onto the belief that if they were really my friends they would have asked how I was doing. Or discussed their pregnancies for a few minutes, and then gone onto something else. I certainly did not expect anyone to stop talking about pregnancies or babies in front of me, but have a little sympathy. The other part of me says that I should have let them know how uncomfortable it was all making me. I mean if you've never gone through infertility or pregnancy loss, maybe you wouldn't understand how talking about your pregnancy might affect someone who has. I don't know. All I know is that I followed the advice of the other mom who was dealing with infertility, and took some time off from the group. Upon my return, people commented on how long it had been since they had seen me, and what had I been up to??? HUH? Did you ever think of picking up the phone and asking me? I felt like the loser again. Can't get pregnant, and no one cares about you. Oh, and my mom had officially been dead a year now, so it was so, like time to 'get over it'. Yah.

When I did get pregnant, I wandered in and and out of the group as my schedule allowed. I sought out other groups and activities. And I learned as we all had our second, and now third, kids things just changed. There are now 15 kids in the original group. The last playdate I had, about 18 months ago, my basement couldn't fit everyone. You know, things change.

Which brings me back to last Friday. I had a good time talking and eating good food, however, I don't fit in. I just don't. There is nothing wrong with any of us, we are all just different people. My one friend, who doesn't attend any of the group's functions anymore said, "Formerteacher, you have to understand that they all used to be in a sorority. That isn't bad, it just explains a few things. They are all pretty, they all were/are successful in their careers, and they all have money. Their lives are just different." I liken hanging with the group to hanging with the 'cool kids'. The women are married to doctors and lawyers, businessmen etc. They all live in very nice, expensive houses. And, upon leaving last Friday, one left in the BMW I used to covet prior to having the kidlets. The new style. I found myself wanting things again instead of being happy where I am in my life, which is how I had been feeling. I am just so over trying to compete in a game I never will win. One mom just had another baby girl, another is pregnant for a third time and hoping for a girl this time. Her comment from a few years ago still rings in my ears, "I want to fill every room in my house with kids.' And she probably will, and she'll probably have that girl. I started to feel a little envious. That's when I knew....staying in this group isn't healthy for me anymore. I have to remember what one of the moms said to me that very night about my husband, "Hubby is one of the nicest guys and a great dad. I still remember last year at D.'s birthday party when all of the other dads went outside, J. was the only one in the playroom watching the kids." And you know what? She's right. I have an amazing family. Two beautiful, heathy little boys, a cute, yet tough little dog, and the best husband I could have ever hoped for. God sure blessed me with a lot. Now I need to allow myself to enjoy it all.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

You Can't Go Home Again & a Question

Tonight we went to the town hubby and I lived in when we were first married. Hubby and I love it there. It has quaint shops, victorian homes and great restaurants. We ate outside at one of our favorite restaurants that is also good for kids. Hubby also was able to get upset again when someone called the Tot a girl again. Hee...hee.., guess the haircut didn't help. Then we decided that we would show S. and Tot our old apartment. We loved our old apartment. It was in between two victorian homes and within a whole neighborhood that is picture perfect. And Hollywood thinks so too, as this town has had more than one movie filmed in its borders, blocks away from where we lived.

At any rate, we told S. that we were going to show him where mommy and daddy used to live. His response? "I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SEE WHERE MOMMY AND DADDY USED TO LIVE!!!" My response? "Well, you are going and you're going to like it." Hey, I never said I had great comebacks.
BTW: What do you think....Does the Tot look like a girl??? Trust me, I will NOT be offended.

Just A Thought

Act like what you do makes a difference. It does.
---William James

Many times I think to myself, 'What have I done to make a difference in this world?' I get up in the morning, make everyone breakfast AGAIN and wonder what have I contributed to this world? When I taught school the answer to this question was easy: I am preparing children to go out into this world and be successful. I show warmth and compassion to many children who have been shown neither. I care, and try to show kids that they are worth something, that they can attain their dreams. I also try to show them that not everyone in the world will see them as I or their parents see them. For example, my answer to the common refrain of 'It's not fair!' was ,"Life isn't fair and the sooner you realize that, the better off you'll be."

All of the sudden, today it hit me. Many of the things that I did while teaching are the same things I do with my children every day. I remember when I was teaching that I used to think that the childrens' parents had way more influence over them than I or any teacher ever could. So how come as a parent I don't see my importance? Does a paycheck mean that I have made more of a difference to the world? Does a paycheck make that more legitimate? Why do I think every so often, that hey I have a degree and I am doing THIS? Truthfully, why do I not see my job as a SAHM as important as a PAYING job? I saw how improtant mothers and fathers were when I was teaching. I could tell right away if a certain child had a parent who was involved in his/her life. I remember as a child wanting my mom to be home. I remember being happy when my mom went on a field trip, was a room mom or showed she cared about me in another way. Wasn't that important? Or was her paying job MORE important? If you asked her, I did, she would have told you that while she liked her work my brother and I were far more important. We were the best things that ever happened to her, she said. And I will tell you that my boys are the best things that ever happened to me. My husband included. So why do I not see my role, my job, as mother as being as important as my job of being a teacher was?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Two Sets of Twins, Four Adults and a Dog!

(Laura takes the best pictures! In the picture of us on her blog, I look about 90!)

This past weekend, hubby, kids and I had the pleasure of visiting our friends at teacherhouse. It only took us five hours, which was good considering how much construction there was in all of the states we passed through. Hubby could not believe that I would actually want to spend five hours in the car. Truthfully, I believe he thought I would tell him never again after this trip! He was wrong though. We all ended up having a wonderful time.

As Laura said in her blog, we have been friends since about five years ago while we were both having infertility problems. The funny thing is that while I was going through that awful time, I never expected anything good to come out of it. Certainly nothing good like meeting a new friend. Yep, we were internet friends first. We joked about how I posted to her upon my first positive pregnancy test. The line was SO faint that I simply didn't know if it was true or not. Laura posted back,' A line is a line is a line'. I think she was the first person I told I was pregnant. Shhhhhh....don't tell hubby!

I was so excited when her and her brood came to visit in Chicago. Both of our firstborns were under a year, and my mom had recently passed away. The strange restaurant that we ate at is now one of the places to eat, but not so back then. Yah, that was an eventful night. I remember driving home that night and hubby saying it was too bad they didn't live closer. I agreed.

We both endured some hard times in between that visit and now. Miscarriages and cancer diagnoses, as well as the births of our beautiful second born sons. Through it all, we continued to post. And when she moved into her adorable capecod house, we decided to meet up. Which leads us to this weekend.

Laura expressed how she felt some pressure in entertaining us since we were from the far cooler place of Chicago! She vastly overrates our hipness, though. Hubby, the kids and I were happy just hanging out. Our children got along famously! Oh, and I think she understands now why I e-mailed her to tell her about S.'s facination with doors!!! This 'phase' has lasted two years! The highlight of the weekend to me was when Laura and I got to go out and have some time to ourselves. You know, we actually got to talk without being interrupted:) I no longer am an IKEA virgin, as she called it, and had a great time looking at everything they had to offer. We had great conversation and everything just seemed so easy. I felt as though we had been friends for many years, and that we had met more than two times. It was good.

I believe that I even left calmer than I came. Laura and her husband are so laid back while I am definitely ....not. Since they have kids too, I didn't have to worry about everything the kids were touching. What a relief! Her kids are so adorable, and were so welcoming to mine. It was great to see that although they are raised by different parents, there are some things that are just being three. That took a lot of pressure off of me, that I put on myself. Hubby and I have recently employed what we refer to as the "C. approach" to discipline, and we find that it works very well with our oldest. So thanks guys for that!

During our return trip home, hubby and I figured out how we could comfortably accommodate teacherfamily when they come to Chicago, which we hope will be soon! Our oldest son can't wait to see K. again, he'd also like to see Ocho but I don't think she makes long trips. Our whole family would love to spend another weekend with them, anytime. It's funny how you can meet the best people in the weirdest ways.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A Good Time Was Had By All

We all ended up having a good time at my dad's wedding. My dad ans his wife , step-mother still sounds weird to me, got married in the chapel at her church. Her son, my brother and I each read a scripture passage and were witnesses. It seemed so surreal, and a bit uncomfortable, watching my dad get married to a woman other than my mom. Did I mention that she, D., has the same name as my mother. How's that for irony?

The reception was a lot of fun. It was great to see old friends and family members we haven't seen in awhile. My mom's side was also there. My aunt even flew in from Arizona! She thought she would get some relief from the hot temperatures there, but alas, no. Our past week has been sweltering! I did end up giving a speech. Most of it I did not have planned beforehand. I did have some things I knew I wanted to say, but most of it was impromptu. The next few days I felt like I had somehow taken away, I guess, from my mom's memory. That she would think she wasn't as important to me as she used ot be. It comes down to the last line in my speech. I said that I felt like D. was a friend, but she is also like a mother. I call her my other mother. My mom will always be my mother, and I'd do just about anything ot have her back. I don't want her to think she was replaced, because no one could ever take her place. My head knows that she knows that, but my heart feels differently. There are still days when I can't believe she's gone. Generally, I am in a very good place right now. I hesitate to even write that because I fear I will jinx it! I do really like the woman my father married. I am so happy for him. So happy that he found happiness again.
I love this picture! This is my father and nephew at the reception.
Hubby and I with the boys. The jewelry I was wearing was from my grandmother's cocktail ring my mother used to wear. I had it made into earrings and a necklace. I had both of the women who meant the most to me there that day.
Hubby and I. Would you believe that this is the first picture of just us that we've taken in almost two years!

Me and the boys. I wore this dress to the chapel. I didn't think a black cocktail dress was appropriate for church.