Monday, February 4, 2013

F%&* You, Unexplained Secondary Infertility

It seems like right after I got married - and perhaps even on my wedding day - I was asked: when are you going to start having kids? "I don't know," I would answer. "When we're ready." We were ready about two years later, and after just two months of trying, I was pregnant. Nearly 42 weeks later (he was ten days late), my handsome, vivacious, mischievous, hilarious, adorable son was born. He is perfect, and by that I don't mean that he is perfectly-behaved, because he's not. He's a kid and he tests us. But that's what kids should do and so, to me, he's perfect. Even when he whines. (Did I just say that?)

It seems like right after my son turned 2, the next round of questions began: When are you going to have a second? Do you want another? Soon, I would answer. Because I wanted my kids to be three years apart. I wanted them to be close; I wanted them to be in school together; I wanted them to play together and experience childhood together. And so we started "trying." And trying. And trying. And then I had a miscarriage. But we kept on trying. And after fourteen months of trying, I went to see a fertility doctor. That first visit was nearly a year ago.

After blood tests, an HSG to determine whether I have blocked fallopian tubes or residual scar tissue from my c-section, and several other tests to determine whether I am or my husband is the infertility culprit, I was diagnosed with - wait for it - unexplained secondary infertility. You can imagine the relief I felt when the doctor delivered the diagnosis. (Yes, I am being facetious.) I am fine. My husband is fine. For some reason, the sperm and egg just aren't meeting. The only cure is to keep trying. So with the help of medical science, I am. Two rounds of Clomid - check. Two rounds of IUI - check. Two rounds of acupuncture + fertility shakes + finding my inner zen + feigning indifference over whether or not I get pregnant - check. And finally, IVF - check. All failed. My consolation prize from IVF (which I went through in December): the most excruciating, agonizing, immobilizing cysts that ruptured, and which continue to cause me pain a month later.

In the midst of all this, I have a pregnant sister, many pregnant friends, and am surrounded by pregnant women when I walk through the halls of my son's preschool. I am beyond thrilled and happy for all of them. But it's hard on me emotionally. Extremely hard. Yes, I already have an incredible child. No, I do not take solace in that fact. Yes, I know there are women struggling to have their first. No, that should not minimize my desire to have a second. Yes, I am trying to stay positive and hopeful. No, I cannot turn off the part of my brain that wants to have another baby so please don't tell me or anyone like me that it will happen if I just stop thinking about it. Yes, I also know of a woman who gave up and got pregnant during the adoption process. No, I cannot give up. Yes, I know that someday it will happen and I will continue to tell that to myself day after day after day.

There is a silver lining. In the fertility world, 35 is young so I am constantly being told how young I am. I also think it's fantastic that my son has had our undivided attention for longer than expected. So far, he hasn't asked for a sibling or asked why he doesn't have one. I also think that I've probably added a few years to my life by not having two toddlers.

I am (clearly) brutally honest about what I've going through the last two years, and some friends have taken that as a cue to open up about their own experiences with infertility and, man, does that help. Talking is cathartic. But strangely, some friends think that this subject is taboo. Why the hell is that? This is one of the hardest obstacles I have ever had to face as a mom, a woman, and a person, and so many of my friends act as though it's too private to talk about and that I don't want to share. Hell, I'll share with anyone who will offer me support and who will tell me stories of other women who have gotten to the other side of "unexplained secondary infertility" with a beautiful baby in their arms. Helpful hint: if I shared with you the fact that I'm on clomid, the fact that I did a round of IVF, the fact that I've had inseminations, the fact that I am crushed when the pregnancy test says "Not pregnant" (yes, I buy the expensive ones because I always try to fool myself into seeing a line when one just isn't there), you have carte blanch authority to ask me anytime how fertility treatments are going. Trust me, I'll appreciate it.

Where do we go from here? I would love to say that another round of IVF is in the cards but I can't deal with another batch of cysts that cause me more pain than labor did. And the thought of injecting those medicines again makes me nauseous. So we're taking the zen, holistic approach for a couple of months to let my body heal and hope that the healing process brings us the ultimate gift. And, importantly, we will continue to enjoy every moment with this sweet boy.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Last Bite

I was eating a sandwich and gave my son a couple of bites. After I finished the last bite, this exchange happened.

Son (in near tears): Mommy, when someone loves someone else, they give them the last bite.
Husband: Do you do that?
Son: No, that rule is for grown ups, not boys.

You said what?

My husband told me yesterday that he liked life better before I quit the law firm.  What?!?  What is that you said?  But law firm life is terrible!  I don't have to bill every 6 minutes!  I get to pick our son up from school every day and take him to each and every one of his activities!  We have more playdates! I get to be his life teacher!  I am the one to hear all the funny things he has to say!

To be fair, the house is more messy (the me from 6 months ago would be horrified by the state of my house today), the laundry pile is so big that I shut my eyes when I walk past it (how does that saying go: Good moms have dirty dishes, piles of laundry, sticky floors, and happy children), I am in a near-constant state of frazzled, I am slightly more impatient (perhaps more than slightly) with my 3 1/2 year old, and I am often back on the computer working the second my son goes to bed, which means less time relaxing with my husband and/or relaxing in general.  Because I did not become a stay-at-home mom; I became a work-from-home mom.  I have read a lot about the unfortunate battle between stay-at-home moms and working moms (shouldn't we all just be supportive of each other?).  But there is little written about work-from-home moms whose "desks" generally consist of a computer, slew of papers, and this morning's breakfast (and sometimes last night's dinner) caked on the surface.  (Yes, I'm talking about the dining table.) (Six - now seven - parentheticals in one paragraph is overdoing it, no?)

Somehow, I left law school ten years ago (!) feeling like it was a career-killer to say no to assignments. And so when I started in biglaw, I never said no and all-nighters became commonplace. The question I most hated from partners was this: do you have some time to help me with a project? Well, sir (there was only one ma'am at the time and I didn't work with her all too much), that depends on your concept of time.  Technically, there are 24 hours in the day, and I currently have 15 hours of work to do today so I suppose I have an additional 9 hours of "free" time that I can spend working on your project. Sure, bring it on. Needless to say, I burned out quickly. But the point of this is that I never lost that "yes-person" mentality. So even now, when I'm technically free to dictate my workload, I don't say no.  I am taking on too many things at once for fear of a work drought.

I realized last night when I was pondering what my husband told me, that all this work I took on is to my detriment.  Not only do I have absolutely no me-time, but I don't have a heck of a lot of "quality" time with my son, which, oddly, I feel we had more of when I was working outside of home. Before my life change, I insisted on being the one to do bedtime every night (i.e., read three (four, five, six) books, sing songs, tell stories). Now, I give my son a bath and say to my husband: "your turn." I was trying to figure out why, and realized it's because technically, I'm always in my office. Even when we are playing (around the dining table), eating (around the dining table), entertaining (around the dining table), and watching TV (in close proximity to the dining table), I find myself thinking about all the work I have to do. I need a shut-off switch.

Doesn't this all seem like common sense?  Some of us (I mean, me) need a blog to come to an obvious conclusion.

Anyways, so cheers to finding my shut-off switch this week.

**I want to be clear that the point of this post is not to be all "woe is me," but to simply vent - hey, it's my blog and I can do what I want to - and point out that being a mom is hard work any way you slice it.

And just because I feel like a picture is an always fun way to end a blog, here, for your viewing pleasure, is a picture of the current state of my dining table/desk (it's not so bad today) and a recent picture of my cuteness.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Remember back when I thought I would be bored this week (see two posts ago)? Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! I am completely laughing at my utterly naive self. This week kicked my ass! Mostly because I'm not really unemployed; I'm self-employed. I've got contract work and some copyright cases keeping me busy during the three and a half hours my son is at school. Do you know how short a time three and a half hours is? It's short. This week, I envisioned (1) dusting off my running shoes and going for an hour-long jog or hike at least three times, (2) taking everything out of my kitchen cabinets and giving the kitchen a good scrub, (3) returning a couple shirts I bought from Target two months ago that I chose not to try on in the store and ended up looking pretty hideous on me, (4) making some diy-cleaning recipes that I've been itching to try, (5) laying on the couch sipping my morning coffee while catching up on the news, and, oh yes, (6) relaxing, de-stressing. I accomplished none of the above.

The three hours allotted to contract work was not enough. So after I picked my son up from school on Monday and Tuesday, I gave him puzzles and tried to continue working. But he wanted to play with me. And I needed to do work. But he wanted to play. And I started to get annoyed - doesn't he understand that I need to work?! And then I caught myself. What on earth am I doing? He is the reason I'm at home in the first place - so I can spend more time with him! Sounds fairly obvious but I've been such a workhorse for the past ten years that it's hard to jump out of that mode. And I realized: there's a learning curve for being a self-employed, work-from-home mom. When we are together, I put the computer away and we play. (Note that I said computer; I haven't yet shaked the habit of checking emails every four minutes.) The rest of the week was much better because I unabashedly blocked work from my head during playtime.

Notwithstanding the craziness of my week (and the fact that my kitchen is a complete and utter mess), I feel more happy and relaxed than I have in years. So on that note, I leave you with some wise words from pinterest:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Life Choice Explained

I realized after I wrote my last post that I haven't exactly explained on this blog the reason for my recent foray into unemployment. I did, however, share it on a fantastic blog written by a lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-mom - But I Do Have A Law Degree - that I discovered upon typing the following search into google when I was looking for inspiration: "ex lawyer mom stay at home." She gave me inspiration. (So did the blog The Ex-Lawyers Club and so did numerous conversations with other former lawyer moms who saw the light and found another path, but I digress). So here is my story as posted (sightly modified) in But I Do Have A Law Degree:

I have been practicing as a litigator for nearly ten years, and I can't even believe it's been a decade. When I was a budding associate at one of the big firms, I thought for sure I would be out after year five. But here I am, ten years later, reevaluating my life and career choice.

I don't have regrets - I received a fantastic legal education that has not only benefitted me career-wise, but has been incredibly useful in life. My salary paid for a nice house in Los Angeles. We take nice vacations. My son goes to my preschool of choice.

I've worked at a big firm, at a small firm; for complete assholes, for lovely mentors. I've pulled countless all nighters. Most years I made - and far exceeded - my billable hour requirement, and last year, for the first time, I fell short. I was in trial until the day before my due date (I am probably the only woman relieved that my son came a week late because I needed the rest). I breastfed for a year and pumped in the most interesting of locations, including in a public restroom, during a break while deposing the plaintiff in a multi-million dollar case, while driving.

I always thought I would be able to balance it all, but when my son turned three, I realized that I could not be a litigator and the kind of mom that I wanted to be. Those two very full-time jobs simply don't mesh for me. I feel like a cliche in that I constantly feel guilty about my inability to either put in 100% at work or 100% at home.

Mostly, it's the stress of the billable hour requirement that I simply can't deal with. If I take a day or a morning off, I have to make those hours up sometime. But when? After a full day of work, followed by cooking dinner, bath time, play time, book time, and bedtime? After all that, I am spent and need to just melt into the couch.

So, inspired by the quote "She took a leap of faith, and grew her wings on her way down," I am giving my notice this week. And I'm scared. But extremely excited at the same time. Financially, it will be a big adjustment and a struggle, but I'm setting myself up with some contract work and other (hopefully) interesting work that I can do from home. I am also exploring the wonderful world of blogging (you can find me at A Tired Working Mommy - unfortunate name but I was clearly tired that day).

I wish I could have made it work, and perhaps this is just a phase in my life and I'll go back to full-time litigation in the future. But I haven't felt this happy and carefree in a very long time, and I'm looking forward to the possibilities that lie ahead. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Unemployment Achieved

Notice given. Last day + drinks + sad goodbyes had. Unemployment achieved. Tomorrow is my first Monday of unemployment. I will take my son to school, come home, and...and what?!? What do I do?

I do have some contract work lined up (my bank account is relieved), and I'm looking forward to running errands sans weekend crowds. But the whole point of this exercise is to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. And that's really my conundrum. What do I want to be when I grow up? (Since I'm posing questions that are impossible to answer, here's another: when am I officially considered "grown up"?) I'm trying to turn my interests into something marketable, lucrative, and fun, but there's a little bit of fear in me that holds me back from just pressing the "go" button. I suppose I should take this all one step at a time. That would be loads easier if I had a definitive plan, but I think I may actually try and enjoy the lack of one and see what happens. So far, I've contacted organizations I'm passionate about to offer my services; I'm volunteering for a women's conference; and I've even made breakfast plans with an old friend. In the middle of the day. Of course, a little bit of work and a lot of play time with my three-year-old cutie pie are in the plans.

For the past ten years, I've had to account for my time in six-minute increments. That means that I literally have had to write down every itty bitty task I've done during every minute of the day for the past ten years of my working life. In a word, it sucked! I am very looking forward to enjoying week one of unemployment without giving a thought to the billable hour. To that, I say, hallelujah!

Homemade Suds

About a year ago I decided to try making my own laundry detergent. (Sidenote: maybe this is why I got tired of working full time. Trying to be a diy-er + full-time lawyer + wife + mom = tired combination.) I whipped up another batch yesterday - took me all of 5 minutes - and thought: it's time to share. This recipe does not require an arsenal of chemicals. Three ingredients: borax, baking soda or washing soda (whichever you have handy), and a bar of soap.

I was skeptical about whether or not this recipe would really get our clothes clean. But it does, and I have a pretty messy son! Added bonus: clothes come out static free so no need for fabric softener. It is so easy to make, and I get my own personal satisfaction knowing that I am saving the landfills from plastic bottles; saving the money in my wallet for other goodies; and saving my family, the earth, and my washing machine from harsh and unnecessary chemicals.

Here's how to make it:

1. Grate one bar of soap into a bowl using a cheese grater. I use Dr. Bronner's castile soap, which is made almost entirely from organic oils. It is a bit pricey for a bar of soap so I opt for the peppermint scented soap, which is about $1 cheaper than the other scents if you buy it at Trader Joe's. (Clothes do not come out smelling like peppermint; just a mild, fresh scent.) Costs about $3.50. But you can use any bar of soap you like. Some folks use Fels Naptha for its stain-fighting quality but I'm skeptical of the ingredients. The whole point is to stay away from ingredients I can't pronounce and that are not fully disclosed (such as "fragrance"). My son helps me with this part - he loves grating the soap!

2. Add one cup of baking or washing soda. I use baking soda because I always have a few boxes laying around.

3. Add one cup of borax. Borax can be found on the bottom shelf of the detergent aisle at any store or Target. It costs $4 for a 4-5 pound box. This box will last you more than a year. There is an ongoing debate about the safety of borax (click here for the pro and con). I wouldn't bathe in it (as some folks used to do), but I tend to think that it's fine for use as a laundry detergent.

4. Mix together well.

5. Store in a glass mason jar or tupperware or whatever you have at home, and use 1 - 1 1/2 tbs. per load. I have a front-load HE washer, and it works great! You will not see suds. That's OK. It's working, I promise.

Happy washing!