Get Clucky!

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Loving movies, Hating doctors

Last night we saw a movie which wasn’t about pregnancy or fertility. It was about immigration and nation formation. But of course, because maternity and fertility are the best metaphors going, a lot of the plot for this movie was generated through a central character who couldn’t conceive (she couldn’t reproduce the nation! Her husband was sad! He became a racist soccer hooligan! Oh no!). All this to say, even thought he movie wasn’t “about” infertility, it came up a lot. I kept whispering to B about the poor infertile mom, and asking him what he will do if I become crazy like she did and start lurking creepishly around playgrounds. Oy.

He had no real thoughts. But because the movie motivated me, I have chosen for my reading-over-breakfast material this morning the always wonderful Our Bodies, Ourselves. Whatever would we do without it?! In it, under causes of infertility, I found this paragraph:

3. Endocrine problems may exist. Failure to ovulate regularly or irregular menstrual periods may be due to a malfunction of the ovaries, pituitary, hypothalamus, thyroid or adrenal glands. Normally, several specific hormones are secreted at specific times in the menstrual cycle. If any one of these is not produced or produced in insufficient quantity, the whole cycle can be thrown off. In addition, when ovulation is unpredictable the chances of conception are decreased, as women cannot count on a consistent cycle with a known fertile time. Women often develop amenorrhea (absence of menstrual periods) following the use of birth control pills, which can result in infertility. Women who have irregular periods or who are older when they start their first menstrual periods seem to be more prone to this so-called post-Pill syndrome. (502, the 1992 edition).

And I would say: this is me! I don’t know, of course, if any or many of my hormones are weird. By I know that my “cycle” is so irregular as to not really be one, I started my period rather late, and have been on the pill for oodles.

What this little self-diagnosis means to me is mostly that I will need to be really patient because it makes sense to wait a while to see if my body can cure itself of this “so-called post-Pill Syndrome.” It would make sense for it to take a while.

But the other thing that it makes me realize is that I have been asking since I was 14 what it meant that I hadn’t gotten my period yet—and I was even more worried by the time I was almost 16 when it finally happened. Yet at no point have I successfully gotten a doctor to seriously discuss ovulation/my lack of ovulation with me…it was only this last time at my regular yearly poke-n-prod that I got the doctor to concede that “it might take four months” before I could plan on a healthy conception.

I understand that doctors are not particularly motivated to talk to young girls and women about increasing their fertility. But I hate not being taken seriously—and it seems like it would be good to know any important information about my fertility before I got to the time in my life when I was really primed to have a baby. You’d think that, at the very least, when I got married a doctor would have talked seriously to me about when I should think about going off the pill. I’ve been asking about getting pregnant probably for the last three or four years.

Anyway, this morning I hate the doctors. They suck. They will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes, and we will register a new breed who are required to carry pocket-sized Our Bodies, Ourselves with them at all times in their lab coats.


In passing, the movie was really good, up until the last two minutes when the soccer hooligan business started in ernest. But there were several plotlines besides the soccer one. It’s called Up and Down, and just now is playing at the Music Box. Trot yourself over there, already.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

home again, home again, fertility jig

We were home this weekend for Easter—went to visit my parents in the small Iowa town where I grew up. It was the kind of short trip that makes you want to stay forever. And I never thought I’d be one who wanted to “stay forever” in my small Iowa hometown—I liked growing up there and all, but to live there now—lord, what would we do? So it’s a little shocking to even find the idea appealing. I love city life. Still, I find in my old young age that I like the idea of a thirty second commute, and of mattering to a place rather than just having a place matter to me.

Anyway, visiting home made me just heartsick for babies. We kept taking these long, sun lit walks through the country side, looking out for the short green buds of crocuses and daffodils and watching a medley of dogs sprint after cows and the whole scene was so fertile it made me want to burst. I wanted to have dogs and kinder frolicking; to have my parents be grandparents, a role in which they will be absolutely triumphant. I want b’s parents come to visit so that the grandfathers can build a little tree house down by the creek.

Really, this went so far that I not only decided that next fourth of July (a big family holiday) would be a perfect time to have a baby blessing but also started Planning The Ceremony to bless a baby I have not yet even had. Crazy talk!

My mom and I were discussing a girl I went to high school with who recently had a very sad miscarriage at four months. Mom, who knows we are thinking about kids but does not know we have gone off the pill, says I really don’t have to worry about this because no one in our family has miscarriages.

But I don’t think I am really “in our family,” reproductively speaking. Although if you put my grandmother, mother, and aunt and I in a room you would think we were just differently aged peas in a pod, you would not think that if you were looking at our reproductive parts instead of our faces. My grandmother and aunt both got pregnant at late ages and while using birth control (my great-grandmother too, now that I think of it) and my mom got pregnant both times the Very MONTH she decided to.

So although it has only been nine weeks since I’ve been OTP, that seems like a long time in the biological world of my family. What it means is that I’m not like my mom or my grandmom—that I’m charting some new fertility waters all by my lonesome. So who knows? Maybe I can have a baby to be blessed next fourth of July—and maybe not.

Curiouser and curiouser, as they say. I’m just sort of hanging out these days, with my zits. Which are worse and worse, by the way—I actually had to change into a less v-necked shirt this morning so as to conceal a particularly red one on my chest. It makes me feel decidedly un-momlike to look like such a zitty teenager.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

On Second Thought...

...maybe it is not very practical to have un bebe. Today the whole prego-lifechange-lifeasmom thing doesn't sound like much fun. I mean, if I had un bebe, what would I have done this afternoon when I was spontaneously invited to run over to the Redline to have a quick beer and meet my friend's brother, in town for the day? Stayed home, that's what. Boring!

I know second thoughts aren't all that interesting, really. They don't mean that much in the larger scale of things. No overall change in the family's baby-now planning.

However, for some reason, I'm just not in to the baby thing today. I even had to look at a bunch of baby photos this afternoon, and even the feet (they're so small! they're so squeezable!) failed to generate much enthusiasm. eh. babies. they just sit there.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

In which I have some teeth filled

So I was scrambling yesterday to finish a first part of a first draft of a first chapter of my dissertation (you wouldn’t think this was very stressful, but it sort of was) and had to stop to go to the dentist. I thought it was just going to be a drive-by exam sort of thing, because I’d had my teeth cleaned a week ago and just needed to have a “hot spot” double checked. So I only put 20 minutes on the parking meter, and figured I could use the down time to get some distance on my writing before it was time to proofread.

Unfortunately the dentist did not think this was a drive-by—he thought it was time for me to get THREE FILLINGS. Fillings are ridiculous; I still do not think of myself as someone who gets them. But I guess I am. And to add insult to injury, while I was being poked and prodded and drilled the dentist and his assistant started talking about how “stupid” and “dangerous” people like the Dixie Chicks and Jane Fonda were, because of their anti-war positions of course. Some people may have forgiven Jane Fonda. But not my dentist! No! and he’s just not buying any Dixie Chicks albums, but if he had, he would smash them and throw them out. Yep!

Meanwhile, I’m lying inarticulate on my back, inhaling the burnt fumes of my own teeth. Fun. My friend Sarah points out that this is actually a really great metaphor for what life is like under the Bush administration.

So because this is the first remotely medical procedure I’ve had since I went OTP, not that it’s been so long, it made me think a lot about baby having. Here are issues that sprang to mind as the drill whirled and the bad-politics aggravated:

1: Pain. Not so very fun. I think of myself as having a pretty high pain threshold, and managing pain pretty well, but really I’m not sure that that’s true. I mean—it sucks to have a needle stuck into three different locations in your gums. It starts to happen and, if your me, your back goes tight all the way through your shoulders, your knees clench so hard they come off the vinyl of the little benchy-chair, and your eyes widen in panic. And that’s just from fitting a tiny needle into a semi delicate tissue that has, lets remember, already BEEN NUMBED! If a little shot or two makes me panicky, perhaps I should not be so bold as to presume that I can handle fitting UN BEBE through MY SPECIALS without an epidural. I’m just saying.

2. Pain Management. Who makes a good coach for me? I am not very good at being coached; it irritates me and I feel condescended to. Particularly boys. I hate boy coaches. But really no matter who is coaching I am prone to not handling it very well when I need it the most. I think the equation goes like this: if I need coaching I feel out of control which makes me want to be in control and feel REALLY CONDESCENDED to by people trying to coach me.

All this to say: labor might be hard between me and my boy. We might not get along real well. I think I am going to have to get me some really nice wise women midwife lady who can manage me in a grandmotherly, non-condescending, sort of way.

I would also like to say that one of the reasons I don’t often take well to coaching is that there are a lot of bad coaches. They should be better at the management of stressed persons, and not increase their stress by making them feel dumb or condescended to.

3. Treatment. Lying passive really sucks. Since, as I said, fillings aren’t very normal for me, I have no idea what they do when they fill one except that it involves lots of things (sticks? Creams? Creams on sticks?) that are numbered, as in, “nurse, I’m going to need a one and a three while I talk about hating Jane Fonda,” and some weird little gun that “cures” something—later I learned it was a resin. Anyway, I am happy to be pretty passive about my teeth, but not about my SPECIALS or my BEBE! So I am going to have to find myself some medical staff who are good communicators. And I am also going to just resign myself to asking a lot of questions even though I hate to feel not in the know. I am okay at that, when I don’t feel condescended to.

Are Ob-Gyn/midwifes use to being interviewed? I hope so.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

reality check

I was just sneaking around and reading the blog of a friend of a friend of mine...and it turns out she has been trying to get pregnant for three years and only recently found out that she and her husband can't have babies "naturally" and so has been having horrible shots and IVF preparations and other nasty expensive things.

Now, I'm not apologizing here for my own pre-pregnancy anxiety, because it is real and because where can you vent if it's not your stupid blog? But I just want everyone out there to know that I do put my own little problems in perspective.

New Favorite Game

Every morning I play a new game that is awesome. Awesome. It is called the “surely I’m ovulating” game. Here are some of the “moves” I’ve made in this game this morning:

*Fuck, I am irritable this morning. Surely, I am ovulating!

*This morning I have a total craving—not for pickles but for Radiohead. I have never wanted to listen to Radiohead in the morning before, ever. Surely I’m ovulating! Kid A, dude!

*My hair is so gross. I hope it’s because I’m ovulating.

This game has a truly riveting hold on my attention, which is not really a good thing, because can you imagine how exhausting? Plus, it very very easily slips into a different, equally as magnetic but much less appealing game, called “Surely I will never ovulate.” I play that one most days too.

Anyway, off the subject, it is snowing this March morning in Chicago. Snowing. I am a great defender of winter in principle, but I must say that this is straining even my equable limits. If I ever do ovulate, perhaps I will take my eggs to someplace warmer so that they don’t have to deal with this shit.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Wait. Was that me?

Was that me who was just complaining about how it’s bad to be judgemental? Who wants the world to back off and not judge me when/if un bebe becomes my responsibility?

Well. I just got back from the little grocery store on our corner, and found myself seething when stuck in line behind a woman who was buying, for her son, twelve packs of kool-aid and three bags of chips. And paying for it with her link card (even as I write this, let me pledge to you: I am a liberal) and being really obese, along with her son, and making me worry about heart disease.

I swear, it was sort of like watching that movie I saw a few weeks ago about the really bad but nice sexy poor british mom, except that it was a really bad but probably nice fat ghetto chicago mom.

And I am here to tell you: I judged. I sure did.

There are some larger issues to talk through here about judgement and mothering and class and how I want not to be a gentrifier. But right now I have to go now and make tacos.

So let me just say that for some reason (likely my own mother’s insane judgement/mothering/class issues) kool-aid is one of the really inexcusable things in my moral universe. Kool-aid! It’s like diabetes in a glass. And my point as I say this is not only that Kool-aid is a beyond-the-pale beverage for children (though, clearly it is), but that mothering must be reaaaally weird if it can turn snack time into a moral crisis.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

this is just fantastic

had I a baby, i would certainly partake. or rather, the baby would partake. whatever.

Even I

Would find it boring to discuss again my ongoing lack of ovulation. So I'm not going to.

However, I will say that I had a long and semi-drunken conversation Saturday night with my sole peer-group-friend-who-is-already-a-mom and she reported that -she- had periods, a little irregularly, immediately after stopping the pill.

I'm just saying.

Again, Pulled 2 Ways

I want to provide two links today: they are very different, but are both on my mind—they give you some idea of what I’m torn between these days.

First, this—§ion_id=36&page_number=1&magind=5791

Which is a link to an article in Elle (I never thought I would reference such a thing) written by Judith Warner, famed author of a book about mommy-problems ( Perfect Madness) and a participant in the general cultural debate about how culture is bad for mommies. If my tone sounds dismissive, it’s not because I don’t think there really are culture-mommy problems…it’s just that I find the whole topic rather exhausting because so few people have anything practical to say about this problem. It can be a little defeating to think about.

I received this link from a dinner guest I hosted Saturday night. B and I got to play apprentice grown-up and have two couples we like over to dinner—they are older than us, and have kids, and are very cool and urban and intellectual and creative. Both of the women, particularly, have fallen into my life at such a good time. I had long bemoaned my lack of positive role models in the next phase of life, and so I am so glad to know these two cool moms. Really, they are so cool: great shoes, guitar playing, etc.

After dinner, over tea, I went on a little rampage about my current thoughts on money and feminism… which I did because I felt very comfortable, but in retrospect maybe I shouldn’t have. I always try to be very humble about motherhood, particularly around women who are actually moms. But it was interesting to get their perspectives—one of them works and one doesn’t—though hard not to feel like I wasn’t stepping on one set of toes or the other as I danced around the topics at hand.

We reached no real conclusions, but I will say that one of the ladies did make me usually reconsider (if not to reject) my feelings about the importance of finance when she pointed out that economic gain was the major goal of 70’s feminism, and that one of the major results of it was to split the constituency of motherhood in a way that ended up not helping anyone.

It is so so easy to judge each other, especially when the topics at hand are so close to the heart, so carefully considered, and so tightly connected to our own anxiety about ourselves. Although I shared this woman’s concern about motherly constituency, I have to say that one of my big feelings after reading Warner’s article is that maybe it’s –good- I won’t really be around other mothers, because without a peer group I can have my motherhood to myself, without so much competition and jealousy and anxiety.

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about this. But imagine holding all that in mind while also thinking a lot about this:,11116,214898,00.html

yes, that is the link for the WB’s new reality show, “The Starlet.” It is the first reality TV show I have every cared about, and I am a leeetle bit obsessed with it. Here’s why: while I do not really have any desire to prove my ability to eat tarantulas (or whatever they do on those other shows) I do have a tremendous desire to be a star—a pretty one, with great clothes, desired by many and impressive to all. I don’t necessarily want to be a star in a starlet, WB-ish way, but I definitely am interested in comparing myself to those who do—in imagining how differently and how supremely I would do the little acting scenes in would do the little acting scenes in which they show themselves off.

But here’s the thing—I am too old! Too old, for sure—if having a husband doesn’t rule you out for the role of starlet, having stretch marks in your boobs surely does. Yup. No wrinkles for Hollywood.

So that is all very traumatic, to find myself in this new relation to pop culture and to pretty girls. Of course, it’s been coming on slowly for a while now but nevertheless it still shocks me.

As far as the show’s competition goes, I am rooting for Michelynn. Mercedes is cooler and probably a better actress, but she looks too Winona to say “starlet” to me.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Attractive; UnAttractive

Going on six week sans pill, I can report as of yet no signs of ovulation. This gives me daily moments of panic in which I am sure that I will in fact never ovulate, never have kids, never get to be cool and pregnant and powerful. I am fully aware these thoughts are crazy, but there it is.

Anyway, as if to comfort me, I have had signs that my hormones are changing, post pill. The signs take the form of:ZITS. Not too many yet, but a good medley of them. B searches for them gleefully, and pops them painfully. It is very irritating, and sadly (since several years ago I had to go off the pill for a few months for other reasons) I anticipate this zitness to continue for at least a few months more.

I feel very bothered by the whole thing. It feels so embarrassing and juvenile. Also it is public, which I don’t like—I’m sure people are wondering what I have done to myself.

Another thing: my hair has been noticeably more limp and wilty and, I think, oily. This might be my imagination, and it might be the weather. Regardless, it sucks.

I am told that pregnancy is often very becoming, that it makes one’s skin and hair “glow.” I hope this is true, and true for me: it seems like it would be a terribly indignity to be not only bloated and pregnant, but also zit covered.

I really have that worry; that is how small a person I am. Terrible!

I was thinking about all these things on Saturday night, because we went dancing at a club downtown (SoundBar, for anyone who keeps track of these things). Going to styley clubs is not normally my thing—they tend to offend both my wallet and my feminism.* But it was a friend’s birthday, and we thought that we’d get in free and we did not think we would have to stand in line for 45 minutes while girls-without-coats (one of my least favorite subspecies, historically) got whisked inside. We were wrong on both these counts, as it turned out, but we went in anyway and we managed to have a good time.

Clubs are, obviously, very much about looks on display, particularly women’s looks. At this moment of aging and anticipation, it is a weird thing for me to encounter that in such a gratuitous way. On the one hand I do still feel a little bit in the game—a little bit competitive with the looks and feminine displays of other women, other girls. I like that I can still get away with a mini skirt and halter top (my sister-in-law, younger and flashier than me, gave me a particularly naked one for Christmas) and I like to be desired, especially when I am dancing. It feels good and powerful. On the other hand, it’s clear that I’m not really involved in the scene there; I am too old and too married and I feel too parental towards too many of the participants. And I never can tell about what I think of that sort of display, despite the pleasure I sometimes take in it. It has always felt like a guilty pleasure.

At dinner, before the club, a couple at a table near us had a particularly darling baby (and it was not only darling because it was out for sushi, though I do find that a particularly compelling activity for a baby). The mother was breast feeding at one point: she was behind me so I couldn’t see her, but B kept me updated and assured me (this is another embarrassing thing I worry about) that despite the breastfeeding the woman had very nice breasts, not at all freakishly engorged. So I had that encounter, another feminine display, in mind while watching the girlies at the club.

I would like to say something wise here about the juxtaposition of the two, but I don’t feel fully qualified to do that. I will say that both seem to have an interesting sort of power, or rather make a sort of power out of the necessary embodiedness of women. It seems nice to say that one is healthier, more real, more valid. I think that’s probably true. But I must admit, reluctantly, that the other is not an empty category of experience for me yet…and although I have purposefully declared it bankrupt and tried, for the most part, to give it up, I will be sad when I realize that I no longer have the option of taking it back.

*Note that “my feminism” provides a useful sort of watch dog function; really, sometimes it does feel like it is its own personified thing, not totally within my control.