Friday, November 30, 2007

Because Sometimes I'm a Jerk

I wanted to clarify something that I posted in my last entry, brought to my attention by a friend from the old ATL. When I said that having two children very close in age wasn't the same thing as having twins, I in no way meant to make light of the unique challenges of having your children close together in age. Having twins was most hard the first six months (but I LOVED it and wouldn't change a minute of it). All I'm saying about that is it's not so easy lifting two people with no control of their necks out of a crib from the AAP recommended "Back to Back" position at the same time. But I totally know from watching some of you that my life is even a little easier because E and L are in the same position developmentally. So all I'm concerned about is singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat to two people, rather than singing to one and trying to figure out an explanation that makes sense to why the sky is blue at the same time for someone else a year or so older. Everyone said it would be that way- hard in the beginning, but increasingly easier with time until it reached a point where I was taking two hour long uninterrupted naps lounging in the sun while my toddlers entertained themselves. All of that to say- it is a challenge having your children close together (whether two minutes or two years apart) and each has its difficulties and really fun parts. Let me state for the record that I'm sure this is also true for having your children spaced many years apart, but I know nothing about how that all works.
Anyway, if I made you feel like I was suggesting that your parenting load was WAY easier than mine- I'm sorry. For all my big talk about being sensitive to others, sometimes (this will REALLY surprise those of you who know me), I speak and write without thinking. I appreciate having it pointed out and hope that any of you feel free to keep me informed when I'm being a narcissist about my own experience.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Just Making You Aware

Saturday evening, I returned from a quick overnight trip to Atlanta. A good friend and her husband from our old community group (who had also moved away from the ATL to professor) adopted a baby in April and we were able to get most of the old group together this weekend for a shower. Additionally, Phil, of the Phil and Christys linked at the left, was having a surprise birthday party for Christy, which was successful to the point that I was afraid that Christy would need to be transported to the hospital to have her heart restarted. On Saturday, after most people left the shower, the guest of honor, Christy, Erin, Ph.D, and I were sitting around the living room talking about how funny it was- and not in a terribly humorous way, mind you- that the four of us had all struggled with fertility issues. Which led to a discussion of the fact that even now, when all four of us have children and one of us, Erin, Ph.D, has another on the way (she's waiting for her referral now), we still hear people saying the same things over and over, really, truly believing them to be facts. Most of us have a lot of compassion for the ignorance, knowing that we say stupid, insensitive things inadvertently all the time.
This past week was National Infertility Awareness Week. I wanted to post something about it, but kept wondering what I could say that hadn't been said already and much better elsewhere. But as I've noted in other places, the three of you that are reading this might not actually actively read the infertility literature and might find it helpful. So in the spirit of helping others become aware, I'm going to give you some statistics on what Rachel, the new mom we honored this weekend, considers to be her least favorite of the infertility and adoption myths. Because I know you all totally come here for the educational content and not to see pictures of my daughters. Don't click to another website yet just because I used the word statistics- I think these are interesting. As a few of you commented on my previous infertility post, one of the least helpful and most offensive things that people say to those unable to conceive is "Relax" and it's cousin, "oh, now that you're adopting you'll get pregnant." Now, for the statistics portion of our program. In a normal, healthy population of 100 couples attempting to have a baby and timing things correctly, 75% (AT LEAST) will become pregnant in the first six months of trying. The reason women's magazines and general internet sites and your doctor tell you to wait a year between throwing away the birth control is because they assume you don't know much about when you ovulate and they want to make sure that you've statistically had a fair shot trying at random. But if you're charting or using ovulation predictor kits and all of that (and probably even if you're not), you can expect to be pregnant in six months. After that, about 2 to 3 % of the 100 couples will get pregnant each month until about a year. So 12 months after these 100 couple started trying to get pregnant, about 85% of them will be on their way to having their baby. Now keep in mind, if the woman in the couple is 23, her odds are probably a little better and if she's 39 maybe a little worse. Most of the studies of this don't tend to tease out exactly the effect of age. Over the next year, if the couple doesn't seek medical advice, about 2% of them total will become pregnant. So at this point, 87 of our 100 couple are having their children. If the couple decides, "well, I guess we can't have children. Too bad- I guess God doesn't have it in His plan." and does nothing else, over the course of five years about 2 to 3% of those couples will get pregnant. If a couple tries everything science has to offer up to IVF and it fails to work and they decide to quit treatment- after 5 years 2-3% of those couple will become pregnant. And if a couple decides to adopt a baby and pursues no other fertility treatment, guess how many of them will spontaneously become pregnant? No, really, guess. Yes! THAT'S RIGHT!!! 2 to 3% of those couples who either do not pursue fertility treatment or decide to move on from it will spontaneously get pregnant on their own within five years of their adoption. So given those numbers, we all know a few people who "relaxed and quit trying" or "just adopted" and wound up expecting a biological child. But you know the old saying "The plural of anecdote isn't data." So two things happen when I drag out the old "I have this friend who adopted twins and 10 months later had a baby- it was like she had triplets-"(a side note- I promise you, having two or three babies close in age is not really like having twins or triplets). First, I inadvertently imply that adoption is some sort of fertility treatment. I have a gentle and very kind friend from a group I was a part of in Atlanta in the process of adopting from China, who when confronted with these stories and "you're bound to get pregnant now" statements always says- "That's nice. But no amount of adopting is going to regrow the fallopian tubes my two ectopic pregnancies destroyed." Second, I unmeaningly suggest that I think adoption is an inferior way to grow your family, which, while it might not have been in the original plan, is definitely your first choice right then if you're doing it. So anyway, I hope I've helped dispel that myth. All for you, Rachel.
In other news, last night Rob and I were watching on our laptop a popular television show about a group of people working in an office. Our not having cable or TiVo here in small town Arkansas is a post for another time. I thought I heard a bang coming from the babies' room. I was sure that one of the girls had banged her head on the edge of her crib Rob assured me that I was just being overly paranoid. But a couple of minutes later we both heard the unmistakable sound of more banging. We went to check on the source of the noise and heard angry crying and L.'s voice yelling "Not, not!" as she pounded on the inside of her door, where she had stumbled in the dark after hurling herself from her crib. We're now working on the crib tent situation, but I am only now recovering from the shock. Speaking of shock imagine my surprise at discovering these pictures on our camera, apparently taken by Rob the same day he took the pictures from my last post. I can only assume it was in a fit of optimism after the Hogs last victory, which we will not specifically discuss out of respect for the Gamecock fans among us. Here is L. (I'm not sure what E. is up to there in the background).

Here is E.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Solicitation for Books

Sometimes I sort of feel like the Tolstoy of bloggers. Except that I’m not a man. Or Russian. Or a brilliant writer. And I don’t really think of myself as depressing either. Okay, so I am unlike Tolstoy in any way- except for being a little too long winded in my writing. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine decided she hadn’t read enough of the classics, so she picked up Anna Karenina and began to plow her way through it. I kept telling her when we would discuss how it was going that, while I didn’t want to ruin the novel for her, it wasn’t going to end well. As you know, if you’ve read it, it really doesn’t. The thing about being an English major in college is that you end up reading a lot of what is considered “great literature.” I’m not trying to suggest that I’m the best and most unbiased judge of literary works written since the evolution of modern English or anything. In fact, most of the things I read were well-crafted, marvelously written works of art. Unfortunately, the majority of these novels were-allow me to draw deep on the vocabulary I gained during those years- real downers. And I’m not trying to say that all great novels should have a happy ending, because that’s not real life or necessarily even decent art, but there has to be at least some really well-written fiction that has some sort of hope of redemption.

I’m going to give you two of my book recommendations and I am hereby soliciting yours. It’s not like in my in my dark days a few years ago where I refuse to read anything remotely sad, but I’m looking for books where the star crossed lovers do not attempt suicide via sled. Because, frankly, when that happens, you’ve lost me as a reader, and I no longer care that you get what you deserve in the end. (If you haven’t read that one and want the recommendation, e-mail me). Okay, first on the list is Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. I feel like it hasn’t gotten the praise it deserves, but it is beautifully written, a story that’s easy to get caught up in even though when you read a synopsis you might not think so, and, at the end, you don’t want to stab your own eyes out.

Second is Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. As loathe as I am to suggest a book that’s been on Oprah’s book list, and everything I said about Peace Like a River is true of it as well. Now it’s your turn. Suggest your favorite work of fiction that everyone in the world hasn’t read (Narnia, Tolkien, Harry Potter) and tell me why I’ll like it. I’ll send the person who recommends the one I end up liking best a special present I haven’t decided on yet.

One of the fun things about having eighteen month old twins is that they are beginning to recognize what the other one likes and dislikes. For example, E. loves squash. L. thinks it’s okay, but feel nowhere near the level of passion for it that E. apparently has. I’ve noticed that when they think I’m not looking, L. will move some of her squash to E.’s high chair tray. In return, E. will usually move something of hers that she like less that L. (for example, pears) to L.’s tray. All of this food trading is messy- not that eating with toddlers is a tidy experience to begin with. So every evening after dinner, Rob sweeps up while I neaten the living room. The girls LOVE to help him with this, mostly, I think because they like to use an adult sized broom. Here are a couple of pictures we got last Sunday of L. and E. cleaning up after dinner (willingly and not in violation of any child labor laws):

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Our Second Halloween

When I first heard that November was NaBloPoMo, when bloggers attempted to post every day of the month, I had a hearty laugh at the idea of trying to participate. Obviously, there are some bloggers who are either not raising twin eighteen month olds or who are able to type using more than just their index and middle fingers. Plus, I tend to be an overly wordy blogger, so I felt exhausted just thinking about it. But I did decide that I would make the effort to blog every three to four days during November. There are a lot of things that I’ve been meaning to post about and it will give me the push I need to sit down and write.

But first, here are the E. and L.’s Halloween pictures. Although we were all sick, we went up to the university where Rob teaches where they host trick or treating each year for faculty kids. Typically, L. hates to have things around her neck or on her head, so I was a little concerned about how well the costume situation was going to go over with her. As you can see, it was a little touchy there at the beginning.

(E. was not one hundred percent comfortable in the beginning either).

Once she saw E. in her costume, though, she got more comfortable. Apparently, she thought E. looked pretty cute and reasoned that she must look good as well. These pictures were taken at the entrance to the building where Rob’s office is. He took the candy that the girls got and said he was saving it to “give to the girls when they are older,” but I have no seen any evidence of that candy, even in his normal secret candy hiding places in his closet.
The tiny giraffes climbing the stairs.
L., finally happy in her giraffe suit.
E., excited to be allowed to climb stairs without parental intervention.