Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Self-Flagellation, Chapter Oh-I've-Lost-Count.

Watch your mother-in-law and spouse interact with other people's babies. Think about how they deserve to have lots of children to love. Think about how you have failed to give this to them. Wallow in self-pity and regret. Drink. Weep.

Unsolicited advice.

I have received much unsolicited "advice" while on this "journey." Now here's my turn to give some that fits into the category of Obvious Things to Do When Undergoing Infertility Treatment.

Make sure that you and your partner/spouse/whatever are on the same page.

See? Told you it was obvious.

I'm just saying.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Well, we gave it the old college try.

Got some news over the weekend that only my employer will be happy about.

I would call it a day, but thanks to my insurance company, I have enough meds for another go. Whether I want to put myself through this again is another question.

Ironically, the "When-are-you-going-to-have-another-one?" questions have been coming fast and furious over the last few days. Even one of my son's teachers asked me this morning. I had to take some deep breaths. I knew she meant well. She loves my son.

People assume that if you have one child, having #2 will be no problem. As if even having the first one was a walk in the park.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Once more, with feeling.

I really hate that I can't write about what's going on right now. But as a friend recently told me, there's sometimes such a thing as sharing too much.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

And now, a word from the grammar police.

This has nothing to do with any of my so-called themes, but I don't care. While there are many things that annoy me (like insurance companies), almost nothing irritates me as much as the misuse of the apostrophe.

Thanks to my friend Mark for sending me this cartoon.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Why I hate insurance companies.

So this infertility thing is stressful enough without having to deal with insurance companies. Today was a perfect example.

I happen to have pretty darn good coverage for infertility through my husband's employer. But when one of my many doctors prescribes infertility-related medication, United Healthcare makes us go through a mail-order outfit called Pharmacare. Usually, this works pretty well. At least it did this summer. My IVF clinic faxed in my prescription, and Pharmacare shipped me a huge box of meds. Once they even shipped them overnight mail to the Tahoe area (long story). This coverage isn't trivial: the meds for an IVF cycle can total thousands of dollars, and I have the credit card balance to prove it.

But when the process goes wrong, it goes very, very wrong. Take what happened today.

It all started Monday, as we headed into what I think is going to be our last ride on the infertility merry-go-round. (I was hoping for a miracle "natural" pregnancy after last month's miscarriage, but that was not to be.) I saw Dr. R, and he prescribed letrozole to start Tuesday, and Menopur to start Friday, with a possible Ganirelex chaser.

I knew that there was no way Pharmacare could get me the letrozole by Tuesday, so I went to my local pharmacy. But I had Dr. R's office fax the Rx for the Menopur to Pharmacare.

Tuesday, I got a call from Pharmacare saying that they couldn't fill my order because I still had a balance from this summer that United Healthcare had denied. You heard that right: the insurance company makes me use Pharmacare, and then won't pay them. Only in this case, Pharmacare had it wrong: I logged onto the UHC Web site, and sure enough, United Healthcare had paid Pharmacare. They'd paid late, but they'd paid. I called Pharmacare, talked to two different people, and got everything straightened out, with assurances that I'd receive the Menopur on Friday.

On Thursday, I called Pharmacare to confirm that my meds were on their way. Yes, they'd shipped, the kind gentleman on the phone told me. That day, I did receive a delivery of needles and syringes (to work no less), but I just assumed that the actual meds would follow the next day, because the Kind Gentlemen had confirmed that they had shipped.

Well, Friday (today) arrives, and there was no shipment for me. I called Pharmacare, and after being on hold for an eternity, the representative tells me that my prescription hadn't shipped because of a miscommunication between the billing department and the orders department.

"But I have to take this medication starting today," I pointed out, somewhat sternly.

"I'm so sorry," said the woman, and told me that they could ship it so I could get it on Saturday.

"But my doctor wants me to take it starting today," I repeated. (Those of you familiar with the joys of infertility will understand the importance of timing. My husband and I have had to excuse ourselves from dinner parties to administer shots.)

What could she do? In the end, she arranged to ship it overnight, and I had Dr. R's office call the Menopur prescription into my local pharmacy for pickup today, even though it meant I was going to have to pay more than $1,200 for the meds out of my own pocket. I mean, I did extract a promise from the Pharmacare rep that Pharmacare would reimburse me, but I'm not holding my breath.

At least I get some 1,200 frequent flyer miles. Yeah. That helps.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Insulin and its discontents.

This is going to be a serious post.

Today I found out that our friends' baby son has hyperinsulinism. The mom has been keeping a blog about it since January, but I just found out about it today through a Plaxo update. I feel badly that I didn't know until now (lost as we've been in little infertility drama, which pales in comparison), but I feel much more badly for them.

Because I don't know what else I can do to help other than offer support and lots of prayers, here are some links for more information on the disease:

Diagnostic tests
Athena Diagnostics
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Stories about kids with HI
Resources for families
Treatment of congenital HI

I don't understand why bad things happen to good people, especially to babies who haven't done anything to hurt anybody. In every picture of this little boy, he's wearing a huge smile, even when he has a tube in his nose. I need to have a little talk with God. Not that He owes me an answer, but what's He thinking?

Speaking of insulin, Dr. R thinks I have a "little" insulin resistance, based on the number of follicles I'm producing (I don't have the other risk factors, like obesity). He prescribed Metformin. I'm also supposed to cut down on carbs like pasta, which I don't eat that much, and sugar, which I do. I'd better get serious about cleaning up my act as we go into this last and final round.

Still...blah blah blah. So I have to cut down on the M&Ms (and probably my nightly glass of wine) and hit the gym a little more often. It's a far cry from what my friends and their little boy are going through.

So, here's a note to self: Self, be grateful for what you have. In abundance. And when you start moping about what you don't have, it's time to think about what you can do for someone else.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A man's point of view.

One of the unfortunate things about infertility (as if there weren't enough) is that you seldom get to hear from the guys. This blog post from AceOfSpuds captures the male point of view. Captures it exactly, according to my husband, who says that AceOfSpuds put into words precisely what he has often felt, but could not express.

But AceOfSpuds doesn't just get what the men are going through. He also manages to portray the no-(wo)man's-land of secondary infertility:

I'll let you in on something that very few people really understand. Having a baby is every infertile couple's dream come true, no question. But the baby doesn't make the infertility go away. Infertility and childlessness are not the same thing, and it's really the infertility--not the childlessness--which causes most of the grieving. Which is one reason that "You could just adopt..." is a really insensitive response.

Here's the passage that really got to me:
And even if that one child is exactly the right number for your family, you still will never forget the pain of the struggle. Even when you gaze every night at that angelic, sleeping face, you are still an infertile couple. Even when you're awakened every morning by that little bouncy creature snuggling up in your bed and telling you he loves you, you are still an infertile couple. Even when you are unequivocally welcomed into the fraternity of parenthood by playgroups, schools and other rites of passage, you are still an infertile couple. All of the joys of parenthood cannot completely make the years of infertility recede into blessed forgetfulness.
Of course, as AceOfSpuds rightly points out, that's not always such a bad thing. Sometimes the memory of what you've gone through is a "wise counselor." Like when your toddler is having the Mother of all Tantrums.

I "met" AceOfSpuds by chance. Sort of. It turns out we work at the same large company, and belong to the same childcare email list. I've always been impressed by his eloquent, even-keeled responses to some of the more "interesting" messages on this list, and have had some very nice email conversations with him. So when he wanted to add me as a friend on Facebook, I glad accepted (usually I don't add anyone I haven't met in person).

Well, of all the things to have in common, AceofSpuds and I have this. He's been much more open with the world about his struggles, as he describes here. "We need to do something about the shame that surrounds infertility," he says. Yes. We do. Again: he gets it. I think most men going through this do, but they don't know how to say it.

Last night, my husband and I watched the episode of HBO's uncomfortably accurate "Tell Me You Love Me" where Palek tells a roomful of friends (two of whom have just announced that they're pregnant with their third child) that he and Carolyn are trying to have a baby as well, and have been for a year. Awkward silence all around, followed by an argument between Carolyn and Palek on the drive home, followed by a fight that ends in graphic and aggressive make-up sex. All generated by two very different points of view about whether infertility is a source of shame, or a fact of life, a medical condition, that should be shared with friends.

If you have cancer, it's generally OK to tell people. But if you have infertility--and studies show that infertility patients suffer depression on the same level as cancer or HIV patients--you keep quiet. Why?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ma'am, your reservation in Hell is confirmed.

Can you use OpenTable.com to reserve spots in Hell? If so, there's a table for one saved for Maya-Anne Mays.

As reported in a jaw-dropping article in today's San Francisco Chronicle, in 2004 Mays bilked couples out of thousands of dollars by claiming that she was pregnant and going to let them adopt her child. But there was no baby: just a whopper of a lie about a stillborn girl. Mays was convicted in 2004 of three counts of grand theft, and served three years in prison.

Out on parole, she was arrested this week for doing the same thing again to couples in North Carolina. The lies she told? Well, the mind reels.

It takes a special kind of evil to cheat people who are trying desperately to build a family. One of her victims, who was defrauded out of almost $12,000, said:

"These are people that have probably tried every way to build a family. For lots of people, this is a last-ditch effort. They want to do anything to have a child, so they're especially vulnerable."
There are worse crimes, of course. I've been avoiding writing about some of the horrific cases of child abuse in the news recently not only because they kill me inside but also plunge me (and a lot of others suffering from infertility) into the "Why do some people get to have kids and I don't?" game.

It's quite likely that Mays is mentally ill. I don't really care. I just hope that she gets put away this time for a long, long while. And I pray that if I go the adoption route, I never meet anyone like her.

Monday, October 22, 2007

"Mad Men" is the best show on TV today. Period.

I know I'm supposed to be writing about movies in this blog, but some television shows outshine anything on the big screen today. "Mad Men" is one of those shows. If you're missing it, you're missing out.

Think the characters drink and smoke a lot? You didn't grow up in the 1960s. You didn't grow up with my dad.

I've got the season finale on TiVo, waiting for me. Don't tell me what happens.

(Photo courtesy of Mad Men.)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

In other news: I hate Milla Jovovich.

Actress* Milla Jovovich ("Resident Evil") was "oblivious" to her pregnancy until about six and a half weeks, according to this item in the gossip column of San Francisco Chronicle.

"It was almost six and a half weeks before I put two and two together, which was funny because my belly was getting big. I had no idea. It looked in the mirror like I'd drunk too many beers."
To those of us mired in the infertility trenches, this statement is as incomprehensible as if she had just spoken it in Ubuntu. We parse and note every twinge, every flutter and variation of our recalcitrant bodies, especially if it's during the dreaded "two-week wait" (or 2WW, if you're on an Internet board). We worry about every sip of caffeine. We stress if we even look at a glass of wine.

The only happy part of this story is that Jovovich has gained about 70 pounds during her pregnancy, the result of breakfasts that consisted of three bagels with butter, peanut butter and jelly, and lunches of Krispy Kreme donuts.

I don't really have a heart the size of a walnut. I don't really hate Jovovich. I'm sure that she's a very nice woman. And I really hate Hollywood's focus on pregnancy weight gain and loss.

But when she goes on and on about how she didn't even realize she was pregnant, well, it's like a kick in the teeth. And when she tells US Weekly, "Being pregnant, I really feel like a woman," well, you might imagine how we who can't get pregnant feel.

* Note: I use this term loosely.

This pretty much describes my mood.

Friday, October 05, 2007

"Michael Clayton" opens today. Huzzah!

The week is not lost. George Clooney's new move, "Michael Clayton," opens today.

Manohla Dargis gave it a glowing review in The New York Times. So did David Denby in The New Yorker. Like I need someone else to tell me to go see a George Clooney movie.

In other news about all things Clooney, Brad Pitt suggested that George should run for president.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


October is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.


The only thing worse than not being able to get pregnant is to find out you're pregnant, and then, 4 days later, find out you won't be for much longer.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Evacuation over. All is well.

Well, I feel kind of dumb. I arrived at daycare and hurried into the office. Everyone was working calmly. "Is everything OK?" I asked. "Yes," they said. I couldn't even tell if they knew what I was talking about.

As it turned out, everything was OK. The kids were OK, the teachers were OK, the staff was OK. No one cried or anything, not even the adults. In fact, they were all back in their rooms within an hour.

Now, I would have known this if I had been receiving my email, but my ISP's email servers chose today to crash. Here is the email I should have received, if my soon-to-be-ex ISP didn't suck:

We got the all clear. The suspicious backpack has been removed. We're back in our classrooms safe and sound.

So we had our toddler parent meeting as scheduled. We talked about tantrums, and watched videos of our kids playing. And that was that.


Here's an email you never want to get from the director of your child's daycare center:

[The center which houses the daycare center] has evacuated us due to a suspicious backpack left between A and B wings. We are all safe and happy and hanging out by the Theater just off the big parking lot. If we are not there, we are in the big auditorium that borders that same parking lot. This is probably nothing to worry about, but better to be absolutely safe. We are fine with the children. We have water and crackers and bottles for the babies.

As you might guess...I'm headed over there. I'm having all sorts of visions of fire engines and police cars and news vans. I'm trying not to be too freaked out. Of all the things.

Monday, September 17, 2007

And the winner is...

Yes, I watched the Emmys last night, and somehow managed to keep from gouging out my own eyes.

This morning, I had much better news: the winners of the 2007 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. Hard to pick a favorite, and sadly, there's no Sex Writing category, but this one comes close:

He held her desperately in his arms and stroked her silken hair, and as he drew her full red lips to his, he ravenously smothered her with lots of smooches.
Thank you, Bill Kerschbaum of Ann Arbor, Michigan. You made my day.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The doctor is in.

New doctor, new meds, new injections, new procedures. All in the last two weeks.

Once again, my body seems to defy its chronological age, responding to the new drugs like a hen on steroids. It peaked yesterday (the big day). I walked around feeling like someone was stabbing me in my lower abs with ice picks. It was all I could do to stand upright. Not that I'm complaining.

Yesterday we went to the birthday party for one of the kids from Cami's playgroup. I walked in and saw immediately that the birthday boy's mom was pregnant with #2. I'm happy for them. I certainly don't expect other people to stop expanding their families just because we don't seem to be able to. I just wish some of it would rub off on me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Vote for The Mind Reels

I thought I was done with cliques and popularity contests when I graduated from high school. Silly me. I didn't yet know about the Greek system. Or the corporate world. And just when I thought I had those milieus figured out, the Internet came along.

Please help me find a seat at the online version of the cool kids' table by voting for me in the blogger's choice awards:

Caveat: I'm nominated in the Hottest Mommy Blogger award not because I think I'm hot (I know what I look like when I wake up in the morning, and it's not Angelina Jolie), but because:

  1. I didn't think I'd have a snowball's chance in hell of winning the Best Parenting Blog, what with Finslippy and all.
  2. I write about sex. A lot.
  3. The cool kids in high school (or college, for that matter) would never in a million years have expected me to become a sex writer.
So here it is, in a nutshell: You can help me overcome years of bowl haircuts, glasses, braces, being the smart girl, having a Farrah Fawcett hairstyle, and being an overweight co-ed with a Dorothy Hamill 'do. And give me something to talk about at the next reunion.

Next up: My nominations for the world's worst parents, and my return to Human Pinchushion status.

Another milestone reached (Silicon Valley edition).

The scene: The curb outside my son's daycare. I was about to start my ignition when my son piped up from the back seat. "Apple! Apple!" he said. I looked in the direction he was pointing. No apple. Only car.

And then I saw it.

The white Apple Computer sticker in the rear window of the car in front of us.

Toddler developmental milestone reached: Logo Recognition.

I didn't know whether to be proud ("My son can recognize corporate logos. Can yours? No? Oh, I'm soorrrrryyyy..."), or deeply frightened. Because other than a single iPod, we don't own a single Apple product.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A sex writer's top 15 first-date tips for guys.

A male friend recently asked me for some "first-date advice." I haven't had a first date in about six years, but that didn't stop me. Here's what I told him:

1. Remember these words: "Swiss boarding school." Deport yourself at all times as if you attended an elite Swiss boarding school that emphasized manners and deportment. You don't have to bow or address her as "Milady," you just have to pay attention to #2.

2. Chivalry is not dead. Open doors for her. Pull out her chair. Help her on and off with her coat. Don't make a big deal of it, just do it. This tells her that your mother brought you up well and that you know how to treat a woman.

3. A tip for the Internet age: Don't email (or IM, or text message) back and forth for months without asking her out. Once you've established some basic rapport, seal the deal. Suggest meeting in person with a specific time and place. "Wanna meet for coffee sometime?" is lame. "Would you like to meet at the Savoy Cafe in North Beach on Saturday afternoon?" shows that you have some class. This benefits you, too: you won't waste weeks developing a deep online connection, only to discover that you have the chemistry of two Pet Rocks when you meet in person. (You do remember Pet Rocks, don't you?)

4. Don't call her on a Friday to see if she wants to "hang out" on Saturday. That's just disrespectful. She has a life. Give her some advance notice. A week is nice, but don't call her any later than Wednesday for a weekend date.

5. If you're meeting for dinner, MAKE A RESERVATION. A guy once asked me to the symphony, but neglected to make dinner reservations and so we did the Bataan Death March around the San Francisco Civic Center looking for a place to eat. I failed to see this as the first of many red flags, and my relationship with Evil Neal is now the stuff of legend.

6. Offer to pick her up (Evil Neal had me meet him at the local Starbucks for our second date, lame-o), and make sure to walk her to her car.

7. Pay for her. I'm a raving feminist, but this is the way it is. You ask her out, you pay. Even if she asks you you, you pay. Whether it's coffee or dinner, YOU pay. Comprendez-vous? If she's got any class at all, she'll reach for her purse (if she doesn't, that says something right there). But don't let her pay. Don't expect anything in return, although it's nice if she offers to pay for coffee or a drink later, if there is a later.

8. Treat waiters and other service people with extreme politeness. Nothing will turn a date off sooner than someone who's an asshole to the waiter.

9. Ask her questions about herself without turning it into an interrogation. I don't need to belabor this. You know how to carry on a conversation with another adult.

10. On the flip side, some women--especially those with training as journalists, not that I'm mentioning any names--are very good at drawing people out. Do not, under any circumstances, violate Cynthia's 20-Question Rule, wherein she asks you 20 questions before you've asked her a single one. Yes, this has happened to me. I counted. By the time our appetizers arrived, I could have written his biography.

11. Relax, and be yourself. Do not try to impress her or be someone you're not. Even if it's not a love match, it's nice to make a friend because it is a very small world. My husband tried way to hard to impress me on our first date, and I almost sprinted out of the cafe. Obviously, I gave him another chance, but that's another story.

12. Do not under any circumstances complain about your ex(es), unless you happen to find yourself talking about relationships and you can turn it into the world's funniest story without revealing the slightest trace of bitterness.

13. Relax, and be yourself.

14. A hug is perfectly OK at the end of a nice evening. So is a quick kiss if you can tell that there's mutual attraction. Note: on my second date with the man who is now my husband, I totally thought we were going to play tonsil hockey (the bottle of wine may have helped), so I went and brushed my teeth. He could tell, and gave me a hug instead. By being non-sluttish, he actually created intrigue. Nice strategy, and too bad he's forgotten.

14a. As for anything else...well, obviously one hopes for that, but perhaps not after a first date, even if you bought her a really, really nice dinner. I would worry a bit about anyone who jumps in bed with you too soon ("you" being generic because of course, you're irresistible). No matter what a woman says, assume that she will expect a relationship after you have sex.

15. Last but not least, relax, and be yourself.

I hope this helps my friend, who is inexplicably single despite his keen wit and well-developed biceps. I hope it helps you, or someone you know. Because even if you're one of my six married female readers...well, sometimes our hubbies need a reminder. Or 15.

Next up (eventually): A sex writer's top 10 first-date tips for gals. (You want sex tips? Buy the book.)

And now, because I can't get enough relationship angst, I'm off to watch "Tell Me You Love Me" on HBO.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Modesty prevails.

If my son wanders into my room while I'm getting dressed, he rushes to the corner of the bed where I hang my PJs, pulls them off the bedpost and hands them to me, as if to say, "Woman, for God's sake, put some clothes on!"

Of course, maybe he's just trying to be helpful.

I'm not sure where he got this. My husband and I, while not exhibitionists, certainly aren't overly modest. Once you've gone through the experience of giving birth, and nearly everyone has either handled or seen every part of your body, you pretty much give up on keeping it all under wraps.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

All aboard.

Some of my readers (OK, one of them) have been complaining about my lack of blog posting lately. Sorry. I haven't had much to report except for this:

My nice Pottery Barn coffee table has suddenly morphed into a train table.

Where there once were magazines and coasters, there is now a figure-eight track, complete with a bridge, a water tower and a train station with clanging bell. Oh, and several (hopefully) lead-free train cars. (Don't get me started on the whole recall disaster. I'm still recovering from having to throw out my son's lead-tainted vinyl bibs.)

My son is all about trains right now. He can play with trains for hours, meticulously moving them around and around the track. I'm not kidding. I didn't think a toddler could be so focused.

The only problem is that he falls apart when the train cars derail, as they inevitably do, because he insists on linking them altogether in a mile-long caravan. "Oh NO," he wails, when the cars jump the tracks.

"It happens," my husband tells him, but I don't think you can expect a not-quite-two-year-old to achieve such a Zen state of mind. Not when it comes to trains.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Beauty backlash.

A doctor told me today that I have beautiful ovaries.

I was not an attractive child. For at least part of my pre-pubescence, I had horn-rimmed glasses, braces and a bowl haircut. It was the 60s and early 70s, but still.

When my mom told me that beauty is on the inside, I'm not sure that my ovaries are what she meant.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Salt on the wound.

When I went to pick up Cami from daycare today, I noticed that one of the other moms was obviously pregnant. Cami's teacher then rattled off the names of all the other moms in his class who are pregnant with #2.

Shoot me. Just shoot me now, I wanted to scream. I have failed as a woman. Instead, I just stood there and smiled, hoping that she didn't notice my moist eyes.

I suppose this kind of thing is inevitable, but did I have to confront it today?

In other news, here's a great article from the New York Times about the discrimination workers face when they have to take care of a sick child or other family member. A subject I'll address more, when I'm not so tired.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A short hiatus.

I haven't blogged for a week. I'm in wait mode. And you never know who might be reading and what the ramifications will be. That's the chance you take when you write, whether it's on the Internet, or in print.

I write this blog because it helps me deal. It lets me share this experience without having to repeat the details over and over to my friends, even those who care. And it gives me a place to forget about doctors and shots for a while and write about movies.

A therapist recently shared with me a study that found that women with infertility experience depression and anxiety on par with people with cancer and HIV. This made me feel better (hey! all things considered, I'm keeping my shit together pretty well!), and yet worse.

But I know that one of the few good things to come out of all this--other than my son, one of the greatest blessings of my life--is the support I've received from total strangers I've met over the Internet. So if I can help one other woman feel not so alone, writing this blog is worth it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

About the new kid in town.

My friend Peggy described Sparky as my "late transfer in."

"It's like the guy who joins your classroom after the semester has started because his family just moved to town," she said.

I'm just hoping the new guy will end up being class valedictorian, prom king and the quarterback of the football team.

My life is turning into the mid-life version of a John Hughes movie. Fabulous.

Monday, July 16, 2007

An interesting turn of events.

So I'm driving to work this morning when Dr. P calls. And believe me, whenever your IVF clinic comes up on your caller ID, you take the call.

"Is this a good time to talk?" he asked, ever polite.

"Sure!" I said. I would hang up on George Clooney, my spiritual soulmate*, to talk to Dr. P.

He gives me an update on the seven 4-cell embryos we had left over after our embryo transfer. (No, they didn't let us take them home in a doggie bag. At Dr. P's suggestion, we left them in the lab to see what would happen.)

"One of your embryos developed into a blastocyst," he tells me. At this point my mind goes all fuzzy, because I thought the chances of this happening were somewhere between slim and none. He continues: "This gives you three options. First, you could let it expire in the lab. [I know that sounds kind of brutal. Those weren't his exact words, but as close as I can remember. Like I said, my mind got all fuzzy.] Second, you could freeze it for future use. Third, you could come in and we could transfer it."

As usual when processing a critical decision, my mind goes blank. "What would you do if you were me?"

"I would choose option three." I realize that this is what I was hoping he'd say.

"When would I come in?"

"Now!" He says, laughing.

What seems like a very stupid question enters my mind, but I have to ask it. "Will transferring this one hurt the other four?"

"Not at all," he says.

So I make a u-turn and drive back to the clinic. All goes well. Dr. P addresses my concern that the five embryos will be jostling each other like some sort of uterine mosh pit. "The relation of the embryos to the uterus at this point is like 5 ants to a football field," he tells me. As the daughter of a couple who had season tickets to every sports team in San Diego, I get this.

And now I have five embryos racing toward the end zone in the fertility equivalent of a Hail Mary: the four transferred Friday, and today's blastocyst, who I have named "Sparky" because of its sheer pluck. According to a chart I found on IVF-infertility.com, at my age, Sparky has about a 7.5% chance of being born. And if we make it that far, let's not talk about the chances of twins (or more). An article about multiples that appeared in yesterday's San Jose Mercury News gave me pause, let me just say.

Luckily, I'm not a math person, and I dropped my college statistics class. I get analogies (ants on a football field). I have to ignore statistics.

* Second only to my dear husband, of course.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Movie Review: The Holiday

After a steady diet of heavy, meaningful movies like "Little Children" and "Volver," I decided I needed more lighthearted fare. So I NetFlixed "The Holiday." The previews made it look like fun, mindless entertainment: Two women swap houses for the Christmas holiday. One (Cameron Diaz) gets a charming English cottage; the other (Kate Winslet) gets an incredible L.A. mansion. And the movie has a solid cast: Kate Winslet, mega-biscuit Jude Law, Jack Black, Edward Burns and semi-biscuit Rufus Sewell. And Cameron Diaz. Who destroys the film.

You know, I've never felt that strongly one way or another about Miss Diaz. She's always seemed kind of innocuous, like a big Labrador Retriever puppy: cute, gangly, and fun to hang out with. She upstaged Julia Roberts in "My Best Friend's Wedding." She did more-than-solid comedic work in "There's Something About Mary." And, most notably, she was great in "Being John Malkovich"--in part for her completely willingness to let herself be made up to look totally frumpy. (We won't mention the "Charlie's Angels" films. I won't even link to them. Sure, I've only seen bits of those travesties, but I resent the moments of my life that I lost watching them.)

So imagine my surprise and disappointment to see her suck absolutely all of the life out of "The Holiday." She didn't deliver a single believable line reading. Not one. Maybe it wasn't her fault: she was totally miscast as Amanda, the uptight owner of a movie trailer production company.

Fortunately, her scenes are saved by the fact that she gets to play most of them opposite the utterly tasty Jude Law, who--in addition to being photographed mostly in golden tones that filled me with rather unholy emotions--manages to make you believe that 1) he's in love with the annoying Amanda and 2) he's a nice guy, despite what you've read in the tabloids about his fondness for his kids' nannies.

For example. His character Graham (Iris' brother) tells us that he cries at the drop of a hat...whereas Amanda can't cry at all. Oooh. Irony. Whatever. I cried when I saw Diaz wearing a bra in one of her sex scenes with Law. Who wears a bra when they're in bed with Jude Law? Even Kate Winslet let us see her boobs in "Little Children," because she knows that women don't have sex wearing underwire. (The following photo isn't that scene. But it shows Jude being all sheepish and adorable and hoping that we'll remember him for his other, better movies.)

(Photo courtesy of 楊曼妮的閒晃世界Mani Yang's lounging world. Some rights reserved.)

Luckily, the movie has Kate Winslet, who seems as incapable of turning in a bad performance as Diaz seems unable to stop mugging. As Iris, the lovesick writer of a wedding column for the Daily Telegraph, Winslet easily has you rooting for her to dump Jasper (Rufus Sewell), the object of her unrequited love, in favor of Miles, played by the strangely subdued Jack Black. Black plays his scenes as if he can't quite believe the script isn't giving him a chance to improvise.

For my tastes, director Nancy Meyers (of "Something's Gotta Give" and "What Women Want") should have cut down the subplot about Iris befriending an aging old-studio Hollywood screenwriter (Eli Wallach), but she seems to want to use this B-story to comment on "what's happened to the movies." Her own being Exhibit A.

Seriously. What happened to the romantic comedy genre? Is it just totally dead? I think it's been replaced by movies like Judd Apatow's truly funny "Knocked Up," which, in all its R-rated glory, manages to convey how relationships really are: messy, off-color and full of all sorts of unacceptable emotions and bodily fluids.

In "The Holiday," Nancy Meyers doesn't seem to want her characters to get their hands (or their emotions) dirty. The movie may be glossy fun, but it's deeply dishonest. It left me feeling like I'd just eaten a Safeway peach: beautiful on the outside, but tasteless and dry once you bite into it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Transfer Day.

Today was embryo transfer day. I'm not saying how many we transferred. I'm just that superstitious. But we did well. Or, more accurately, our little cells did well.

Now comes the two-week wait, or the 2WW as it's known on the Babycenter.com boards. Also known as the most agonizing period in a couple's life.

What I wouldn't give for a nice glass of wine right now.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

And in other good news...

Cami is saying more and more words. The latest: "Hello." Only the way he says it, it sounds like "Huh-doh."

He's becoming a little person.

Good news.

Just got off the phone with Dr. P. He's a pretty calm person, but he sounded almost buoyant as he gave me the fertilization report: of my 15 little eggs, they did ICSI on 13. And of those 13, 11 fertilized. Eleven. That's practically a litter.

Now I have to sit here and pray that those little cells keep dividing and dividing for Friday's big transfer. (Don't worry. We won't transfer all 11. How many we do transfer...well, that decision is like playing the lottery.)

It's so hard to keep my hopes under control. Especially when it's something that's totally, completely, out of my control.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

A few good eggs.

Egg retrieval this morning. 15 eggs. 8-15 is average, so I did pretty well for an old broad. Doctors and nurses were congratulating us in the hallway. Their optimism almost scares me.

The procedure itself was a non-issue. But then, having gone through it twice already, I knew what to expect. And after a Valium and a shot of Demerol...well, let's just say that I'm still feeling good, five hours later.

The clinic has a monitor mounted right above the table, so I got to watch as they aspirated each follicle. This took my mind off the fact that there was a needle poking around inside me, which wasn't the most comfortable thing in the world, let me tell you. But not a whimper out of me.

So now the waiting begins. First I have to wait for the fertilization report, which I'll get tomorrow. Then, after the embryo transfer on (probably) Friday, I get to wait two long agonizing weeks for the pregnancy test.

For now, I'm ensconced on the couch, watching movies. First up was "Catch and Release," which really was a lot better than I expected. And I'm thinking a nap is very much in order.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Welcome to my pharmacy. I mean, my life.

Here's a glimpse into my life over the 11 days. If you're afraid of needles, avert your eyes.

I'll walk you through it. From left to right:

  • Menopur. Or human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG), which is extracted from the urine of postmenopausal women. (Who are these women donating their urine? The mind reels.) Menopur is stimulates the development of multiple eggs. We won't go there right now. Anyway, every night, my husband mixed this up and injected it into my hip. You can see the needle in the center of the photo. This one hurt like a motherf$#$&*(#$. Good times.
  • Diazepam, better known as Valium. Yeah, baby! I get to take one tonight, to help me sleep, and then I have to take one tomorrow morning at 7:30am to relax me for my egg retrieval. If you call me at about 8am, you'll get to talk to one happy camper.
  • Leuprolide Acetate, a.k.a. Lupron. I already talked about this one in an earlier post. That little needle with the orange cap is what I use to inject it. Twice a day, morning and night.
  • Gonal-f. That's the white and red needle in the front that looks like a pen. In fact, it's called the Gonal-f RFF Pen. Which be all James Bond and stuff (you know, in the event that James had to suddenly help Pussy Galore produce multiple eggs), except that I had to keep it in the refrigerator. So there was no chance of me pulling it out my purse and trying to write a check with a fertility medication worth several thousand big ones. Instead, I got to screw a needle onto it and inject myself twice a day. (That's five injections a day, for those of you keeping score.)
  • Doxycycline. That's the prescription bottle back near the alcohol prep pads. An antibiotic that both hubby and I get to take twice a day to prevent any infections that might screw up the proceedings.
  • Novarel. Are you tired yet? I am. Novarel is human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). Hubby injected this one into my hip last night at precisely 9pm. My caffeine- and alcohol-drinking days are officially over, at least for a while. Novarel induces ovulation in about 40 hours, which is why my egg retrieval is at 9am tomorrow, 36 hours later. Don't want my docs going in there and finding empty follicles. Not at these prices.
In the back is the sharps container. I love having something that says "biohazard" in my kitchen. So appropriate.

I think that's it. And I haven't even touched on the side effects, the most irritating of which is that I now have the water retention of a camel, which is a great thing to have during bikini season. But it's temporary, and I can live with that.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Sunday morning appointment.

Back at the clinic. This morning, I saw Dr. S, who is my own personal IVF cheerleader. He was sporting a cut in the middle of his tanned forehead, the result of a minor accidentinvolving a soccer ball and his daughter's cleats.

The first thing Dr. S said to me was, "You just keep continuing to defy your age!" (I told you. Cheerleader. Which is what you want when you're going through IVF.) I thought he was going to jump for joy when he saw the number of follicles I had. Really, I could produce a litter. (My words, not his.)

I'm afraid to get too hopeful.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Approaching the finish line.

Saw Dr. P. this morning. I never thought I'd be so happy to have someone wax eloquent about my uterine lining. (He termed it "perfect." It's probably the only time any part of my anatomy has been called that.) Anyway, yippee. And it seems that I'm growing a baker's dozen of follicles. Yippee squared.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's come to this.

Remember those days of partying until the wee hours of the morning? When you never met a tequila shot you didn't like? (Well, I do. Stop judging me.) Those days are gone, friends. Here's what I drink out of shot glasses now:

It's not actually dirt, although it looks (and tastes) a lot like it. In fact, it's some Chinese herb concoction prescribed to me by my acupuncturist. I take 3 scoops, twice a day. I have no idea what's in it, but it's supposed to turn my womb into some kind of embryo incubator.

Cleary, at this point, I would drink a bat guano smoothie if it would help me get pregnant.

Monday, June 25, 2007

How to make a working mom feel like crap.

My son knows exactly how to buy me a ticket to a Guilt Trip, First Class.

Until recently, we had no problem with the morning day-care drop-off. (OK, that's not exactly true: the first month was HELL, but that was back in September. ) We based this delusion on the fact that Cami would run to the toys and books, and begin playing. He'd even sometimes point to the door and wave "bye-bye" to us.

Well, the first rule of parenting is "Never get too comfortable." Our Golden Age of daycare drop-offs ended about 3 weeks ago. Now, as soon as we make a move toward the door, Cami begins screaming bloody murder.

My husband, who has been doing the drop-offs, told me about this new phenomenon, but I didn't quite grasp the implications. (I was choosing to forget those days in September, when I would walk to the car in tears, and Nima, off on a business trip, didn't "get it.")

This morning, I took Cami to daycare. All was fine--despite his insistence on having his binky and lovies, and on my reading him the same book three times--until I told him I had to go to work. He began crying and hurled himself across my lap. As I disengaged him and slunk out of the room, telling them that I loved him and would see him at 5, he began shrieking.

All I could think of is the email Nima sent me after his first day care drop off, back in September:

Let me just say, that regardless whether you're a mom or a dad, until you drop your child off in a foreign place and watch his eyes swell up with tears and the piercing shriek of his discontent fill the hallways out to the roadside, you do not know misery.
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. I suck.

Friday, June 22, 2007

This month's gratuitious self-promotion.

Oh, joy. I got the good news this week that my publisher is reprinting What Men Really Want in Bed, the book I wrote with my husband. For a writer, this is goodness indeed.

The things that happen after you appear in Glamour. (Don't worry. I'm not running out to buy a Mercedes. I'm just hoping to earn back my advance. Such is the business of writing.)

There's also a rumor that Dr. Drew has mentioned the book on Loveline. Still trying to find out if that one's urban legend. We heard it from a friend, who heard it from another friend. It would be super-swell if it were true.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How to fly with your toys.

Wondering how you're going to get through airport security with your lovely (and expensive) ELISE without having it confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration? SFGate.com writer Violet Blue has published a handy guide on flying safely with your sex toys (if you must).

Knit a Viking hat for your baby. Seriously.

If you're sick of all those fey little baby bonnets out there, here's your antidote: a baby Viking hat from Bella Knitting. The only catch is that you have to knit it yourself, but that's a small price to pay from a baby accessory that will set you apart from everyone else in your playgroup.*

What saves this from being sort of weird is the funny commentary by the creator, Sarah Fama:

How, you may ask, is a baby like a Viking? At a glance, the two may appear to have nothing to do with one another.

Vikings are remembered for their elaborate tattoos, skilled metalwork, and possible settling of the New World before Columbus. Babies are known for their inability to walk upright, which generally prevents them from visiting tattoo parlors, working at forges, and discovering continents.
If only--if only--I could actually knit. My mother, grandfather (may he RIP), mother-in-law, and grandmother-in-law: all knitters. Me: The last garment I sewed was a slutty Quiana dress I made back in the '70s for my junior prom. In other words, I am not a knitter.

But I can certainly appreciate a knit Viking baby hat. And I pray that I have another baby if only so that one of the other knitters in my life can give me one of these. (Knitters: are you listening?)

Thanks, as always, go to the ever-cuddly Great White Snark, whom we would all like to wrap in a warm Log Cabin Blanket. If only we could knit.

* Playgroup, n., an excuse for moms to get together and drink wine while their babies engage in parallel play.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

And we're off.

Well, here we go, folks. I started Lupron injections Thursday morning.

Giving myself shots has become a non-issue. I just pinch up a roll of tummy fat and jab in the needle. Like throwing a dart, as one of my doctors described it.

It takes all of 3 minutes. I feel very Grey's Anatomy, but without a hunky doctor to administer the shot.

I occasionally make my hunky husband do the honors. He hates causing me pain. But really, it's not that big of a deal. I hardly feel a thing.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A true story.

We went to a party this afternoon at the home of one of the managing partners at my husband's firm.

These people are so rich their nanny is named Mercedes.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Movie review: Shortbus

"Shortbus" is a funny, painfully honest look at the sexual lives and relationships of a group of New Yorkers, gay and straight, who meet in the infamous underground salon Shortbus. The acting is a little uneven, but the actors are so open and likable (and daring) that you forgive them, and come to care about them. In the end, this isn't a movie so much about sex as it is about isolation, loneliness, and people's attempts to connect.

Note #1: Be warned, this is so NOT a first-date movie. You'll see full-frontal nudity, male and female, and a variety of unsimulated (and often amazingly gymnastic) sexual antics. All within the first 5 minutes.

Note 2: Despite note #1, the nudity and sex aren't necessarily erotic. That's according to my husband, who could barely tear his eyes away from the PowerPoint presentation he was working on.

So much for my attempt to NetFlix a movie that would a) appeal to my interest in art-house movies and sex while b) appealing to my husband at the same time. ("Honey! It's about sex! There are naked people having sex! Look!")

Once again, the question: What's the difference between erotic, and pornographic? I just wish there were more movies like this--that dealt openly with sex, without the soft-focus titillation of most Hollywood efforts. I'm also wondering why a movie like this has to released unrated, while splatter porn like "Hostel 2" gets an R. But that's a topic for another post.

(Photo courtesy of idealterna.)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

The happiest robo-tot on the block.

Scientists at Osaka University in Japan have developed a robot that acts like a toddler in order to "better understand child development."

No word on whether the Child-Robot with Biomimetic Body (CB2 for short) will have authentic toddler tantrums, or whether that particular feature will have to wait for Toddler 2.0.

You know, I'm for anything that helps me understand my toddler better. But I dunno...I just find CB2 kind of...well, creepy. And I feel like a big meanie for saying that.

(AP photo by
Koji Ueda, courtesy of SiliconValley.com.)

Friday, June 08, 2007

O happy day.

"Ocean's Thirteen" opens today. Here's the glowing review from the New York Times.

Not that I'd let a review, positive or negative, keep me from George.

How nerdy are you?

I can't believe I took this test. But I did. My score:

I am nerdier than 32% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

My nerdiness is "not nerdy, but definitely not hip." Ouch.

So then I had to find out whether I'm a slacker mom. My score said I'm a "Pretty in the City Mom." Oh, as if. Here's the description:

You might have a subscription to both Parenting Magazine and Vogue. While picking up a darling Easter outfit for your tyke at Bloomingdale's you're tempted to grab a pair of Manolo Blahniks for your own tootsies. You are a fabulous mom, and you take care of yourself fabulously, too.

HA HA HA HA HA. Manolo Blahniks. As if, times a hundred. The only time I've been close to a pair of Manolos was once when I wandered into a store in London, and just as quickly wandered back out (before I was asked to leave).

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Man sues drink company for erection.

Viagra, step aside. Meet your competition: flavored water. From The Feed:

A man is suing the makers of a drink called Boost Plus, saying that it gave him an extended, painful erection that wouldn't go away and required surgery. The man, who we will call "Lucky," had a case of severe priapism, and required a shunt to make his erection go away.
Now I really have heard everything.

Thanks go, once again, to the ever-perky Great White Snark for the tip. Like I said the other day, my guy friends really seem to have their fingers on the pulse of the Internet. So to speak.

Monday, June 04, 2007

At-home fertility test gives new meaning to the phrase, "Asking for trouble."

Let me tell you why Fertell, the new at-home fertility screening test, is great technology, but a really bad idea.

First off, I'm all for anything that reminds people that fertility is not just the woman's issue. 40% of the time, the problem's the guy's (as this article on Fertell in the New York Times reminds us). So if Fertell gets both partners taking responsibility early on for getting checked out, that's goodness.

As the veteran of more negative home pregnancy tests than I care to count, I'm just worried about what happens when couples get less-than-positive results from this test. There's going to be panic. Crying. Finger-pointing. More crying. All before that first call to the doctor is even made. Believe me, it's much better to get the results verbally from a gentle medical professional who can actually explain your results. (The Internet doesn't have great bedside manner.)

Or, Fertell could give you confusing results. I would have passed the female Fertell test with flying colors (my low FSH level almost puts me in the category of "medical freak"), but I'm over 40, so no way should I wait to consult my friendly medical professional.

I'm not saying don't buy Fertell if you have an extra $100 lying around. Just have lots of tissues on hand. And don't procrastinate if you think there's a problem.

Because believe me, when people call infertility a "journey," they're being kind. "Death march" is more like it.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

A shot for your G-spot.

I don't even know what to say about this article in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle about "G-Spot Amplification." Woman are paying $1,850 to have their doctors shoot collagen into their G-spots in an attempt to achieve "heightened sexual arousal."

Trust me, you can get turned on for a lot less by hopping over to your local bookstore and buying some erotica. Or porn. Or whatever turns you on mentally.

Because 99% of sex happens between the ears.

And all these other desperate efforts to have an incredible sex life are just going to produce the opposite. I'm just saying.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Is it a remote control? Well, in a matter of speaking...

(Note: The image in this post is possibly NSFW. If, that is, you can figure out what it is.)

One of the fun things about being a sex writer is that my male friends feel it's their civic duty to send me links to sites about adult toys.* Their emails say things like, "thought this might be good to know in your line of expertise." Indeed. Take a look at ELISE, which my friend Dr. Tim tells me is "apparently the state-of-the-art":

This lovely little toy comes from the fine folks at the Swedish company LELO (tagline: "lust objectified"), who coyly call it a "pleasure object." No, it's a vibrator--and it's OK to call it one. It would also OK for those fine folks at LELO to send me a "review copy," seeing as how I'm sort of a journalist and all.

After all, someone has to fall on her sword--no pun intended--and evaluate the truth of statements like "The powerful vibrator assembly is engineered to maximize intensity whilst minimizing noise." (Frankly, I'm just willing to try any product that uses the word "whilst" in its marketing copy.)

And then there are the friends (again, male) who send me to sites that, while not strictly about sex, do appeal to our baser instincts. Take MyFreeImplants.com, a site to which the ever-perky Great White Snark directed me. His note said, "Fodder for you...this is hilarious." I can't decide whether to laugh or burn my A-cup.

* They never tell me how they find these sites. But then, I may not want to know.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The search for the female Viagra.

So in my copious spare time, I'm contributing to a collective blog, Blogadilla.com. It's the place where I'm posting all the stuff that doesn't quite fit this blog. Although recently, I made an exception.

You see, one of my fellow 'Dillas (as we're calling ourselves), dubbed me the Blogadilla sex maven. He convinced me to contribute a weekly sex factoid. Being a pushover (and a sucker for free publicity), I said OK.

Today's Blogadilla bit: a recent article in the New York Times about a drug that's being investigated as the female equivalent of Viagra. Hope you'll check it out (the article, not the drug).

And if you want to give me your thoughts as to how women can rev up a flagging libido, please do. Because I really want to know. I mean, I really want to know. If you catch my drift.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Movie Review: Volver, Part II

Well, I take back everything I said in my last post about Volver. I finally watched it through to the end. Maybe it was the wine, but I got kind of choked up at the end. I can't say that this film moves at the pace of oh, "Desperate Housewives," but it packs much more emotional resonance.

So don't listen to what I said before. I get cranky sometimes. Rent Volver and see for yourself.

Even if it's not your cup of tea, you still get to look at Penelope Cruz.

(Photo courtesy of Cinencuentro.)

Movie Review: Le Petit Lieutenant

I really wanted to like this movie, especially since I figured its premise--guns! cops! murder!--would get hubby to admit that for once, I had added a good film to our NetFlix queue. Even if it did have subtitles.

Alas, my movie-picking abilities failed me. While well-acted, Le Petit Lieutenant suffers from glacial pacing and a plot twist halfway through that had both of us tilting our heads and saying "Wuuuhhh-at?" And not in a good way.

One reason to see this movie is for Nathalie Baye's performance, which stayed with me for days. Baye can say more with one glance than most American actresses can say in a two-hour movie. She was great in An Affair of Love, (or, in the original French, the way more interesting Une liaison pornographique).

So rent Le Petit Lieutenant to watch Baye, one of the great French actresses. Just don't expect "CSI" (despite one very grisly morgue scene) or "Law & Order." And if you can explain the end to me, I'd really appreciate it.

(Photo courtesy of ladconcord)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Erotica: a definition.

The scene: a dinner party with lots of free alcohol. The situation: someone has just found out that I'm a sex writer. The question, usually asked with a smirk: "So, what's the difference between 'erotica' and 'pornography'?" My response: (Insert stammering and blathering about 'literature' and 'aesthetics.')

My friend Tim, of Planet Timbotron and Letters from Estonia fame, has come to my rescue with this definition:

Erotica: hinting about a lady and a donkey.
Porn: showing a lady and a donkey doing it.

Tim didn't get a Ph.D. from Stanford for nothing. Thanks, buddy. I owe you one.

Now THAT's a mom.

No self-respecting blog on motherhood would be complete without this testament to a mother's love for her child: a Star Wars birthday cake.

Get the full story, including "making of" pictures, at Great White Snark.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Feeling lucky today.

Between my cough and my son's, I only got about 4 hours of sleep last night (part of which was spent with my head resting on a stuffed Shamu - don't ask). So I left work early, a little before 1pm. I get on the freeway and this is what I see:

Seems that a big rig lost control on southbound Highway 101 and slammed into the center divide, bursting into flames and sending concrete chunks flying. I saw the flames.

I managed take take the next off-ramp, where I almost had an accident of my own because some moron had stopped his car and was hanging out the door to take a picture. I'm glad I didn't do the same--though I was tempted. Turns out that the flying concrete hit some woman's SUV in the northbound lanes, and she later died. I would have had a picture of a fatal accident on my cell phone. (I would have made a bad photojournalist.)

Here's the aftermath of the crash, from the San Jose Mercury News:

I just keep thinking: What if I'd left work a little earlier? What if I hadn't stopped on my way out to say goodbye to a co-worker, who, as I was leaving, told me to be careful? With my husband out of town, who would have noticed I was late picking my son up from school?

I go through my day in a fog of petty concerns. Until a close encounter with a disaster slaps me upside the head.

So I'm feeling lucky. But I still can't fall asleep.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Movie Review: Little Children

Blog theme trifecta: a movie about both sex and motherhood.

Not to mention the suburban horrors of your local playground at 10:30am (hint: it's Mean Girls, fast forwarded 20 years).

I can't say that I enjoyed Little Children while I was watching it (except for the sex scenes, which were way too short, IHMO). But in the days since I saw it, I can't stop thinking about it. I could have done without that voiceover, but that's a quibble.

This is an insightful, disturbing portrayal of infidelity, maturity (or the lack thereof), and the horrors of suburban life.


The new guy at Cami's Music Together class is not someone I dated.

How did I find this out? I made my husband go introduce himself. (I'm so clever. I should work for the CIA.)

This revealed that his name was not...oh, Ewan, shall we say. And he did not have a British accent. So. Not the guy.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Volver, Part I

Thoughts while watching Volver, while drinking a glass of wine.

I wish I lived in Spain.

No woman should wear a plaid skirt. Even Penelope Cruz.

However, I do wonder: Why can't I have breasts like Penelope Cruz?

OK, Penelope Cruz is supposed to look like Sophia Loren. I get it. Now can someone fix her hair? My father loved Sophia Loren.

While I like the characters in it, this movie is really slow. I don't think I'm supposed to think that. I'm supposed to think it's Incredible and Meaningful. And Touching.

What do the windmills mean?

My husband just walked in. "Is this where she's pregnant?"
"Penelope Cruz is pregnant?"
"Oh, maybe not. I guess it's Salma Hayek."
"Salma Hayek is pregnant? By whom?"
"I don't know. Google it."
Men are so useless. I did Google it. Salma Hayek is pregnant, and engaged to some French bazillionnaire. In fact, she's as big as a house. Seriously. More power to her. But where have I been? How could I have missed this?

Oh my God. Penelope Cruz is peeing. I mean, her character is peeing.

Back to Volver. Oh, shit. Penelope Cruz can sing, too. Life is so unfair.

Her dead mother has come back from the dead, halfway through the movie.

God, I'm tired. I'm going to bed. I'll watch the rest later. (Note: If I can stand to stop a movie halfway through, it is Not A Good Sign.)

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Notes from the Underbelly

Please don't let "Notes from the Underbelly" get cancelled. It's smart, well-written and funny. In other words, a tiny oasis of intelligence in the wasteland that is the TV sitcom.

Never mind that the two main characters are somehow able to afford a stunning house on the salaries of a high school guidance counselor and a landscape architect. (I live in the San Francisco Bay area, so when it comes to real estate, I am Bitter, table for one.)

Stacy Traub, the creator (whatever that means in Hollywood) , also did "Kitchen Confidential." Another show I liked very much, but that got cancelled much too soon.

If you've had a kid, or know someone who has, you'll like this show. Plus, Jennifer Westfeldt has great highlights. And that's what I notice.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another test aced. Yippee?

Got the results of my Lupron challenge test today. I passed, with flying colors.

In fact, my FSH was lower than last time. We're talking low single digits. It's like I'm getting biologically younger or something. What is this, The Picture of Dorian Gray? Only kind of in reverse, and with my ovaries?

Maybe the acupuncture and herbs are working.

Still, I'm not getting my hopes up.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Funniest book ever.

Well, maybe not ever. I still have a soft spot for David Sedaris. But I have to say, Augusten Burroughs' Possible Side Effects is the first book to make me laugh out loud in a long time. I mean, serious belly laughs, loud enough to make Nima tear his attention away from his laptop to yell, "What's so funny?" from his spot on the couch downstairs.You can read the first chapter on his Web site. He has a blog, too.

But what, may you ask, does this have to do with motherhood, sex, infertility or movies? Well, I'll tell you.

I work for a company that provides employees with chair massages. (They're not free or anything, but still, I can't figure out why more people don't take advantage of them.) The massage therapist, Jean-Claude, is this very lovely man from Benin. (Yeah, I had to look for it on the map, too. That's what a public education will do for you.) Jean-Claude's voice alone, with its lilting French-African accent, could lull one into a trance. But I digress.

One Thursday, we were talking about my stress level, which is nearing Code Orange levels. And Jean-Claude told me in no uncertain terms--yet in that very soothing massage-therapist sort of way--that I was not to read any more books about infertility or to see sad movies (I made an exception for The Last King of Scotland). Instead, Jean-Claude ordered me to watch comedies and read as much humor as I could get my hands on.

I emailed some writer friends for suggestions. One of the recommendations was Possible Side Effects. And since I recently watched Running With Scissors, I knew about Burroughs.

So there it is. My efforts to avoid thinking about infertility led me to hilarity. By an author whose work has been made into a movie that touched on themes of (bad) mothering, and sex.

Wasn't it graceful how I did that?

Tennessee teachers terrorize teens.

Yes, the title of this post sucks. But my mind is reeling faster than Britney Spears through the doors of Promises Malibu Treatment Center.

It seems that some teachers from Scales Elementary School in Brentwood, Tennessee, decided it would be a simply fabulous idea to stage a fake gun attack on sixth-grade students who were on a field trip to a state park. (Watch the video from ABC News here.)

You know, 11-year-olds don't have enough to worry about. Let's traumatize them. That'll win us a teaching award.

They told the kids that there was a gunman on the loose, and made them lie on the floor or hide under tables. Soon-to-be-unemployed Assistant Principal Don Bartch, who led the trip, said, "We got together and discussed what we would have done in a real situation." And then they held hands and sang "Kumbaya." No, just kidding.

Principal Catherine Stephens said later that the incident "involved poor judgement." Ya think?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Last King of Scotland.

We watched The Last King of Scotland last night. It's the story of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin (Forest Whitaker), as seen through the eyes of his (fictional) personal doctor, Nicholas Garrigan (James McAvoy). Forest Whitaker completely deserved his Oscar for the role. Completely. No question. It's no wonder that he won a whole slew of awards.

Rent the DVD and watch the special features, especially the one where the producers talk about how they almost didn't cast Whitaker, whom they considered a great actor but a "gentle giant." But he told them he had "a little bit of Idi Amin" in him, and proceeded to give an audition in which he completely scared the shit out of the poor director, Kevin Macdonald.

Then watch footage of the real Amin, and try not to get the chills.

Whitaker nails Amin, who was charming one minute and then utterly insane the next, not unlike some Silicon Valley executives I know. Makes you glad that some of these people don't have access to a militia.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Let the bloodletting begin.

I had the first part of the Lupron challenge test this morning. I'm afraid I didn't study very hard.

Part 2 is tomorrow morning. I won't get the results until Tuesday.

This is all about waiting.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'm feeling a little better about Grey's.

After last week's disastrous episode, Grey's redeemed itself a little tonight when it depicted Addison having an experience that is sadly familiar to every infertility patient: Everywhere Addison turned, someone was getting pregnant.

It's almost eerie. When you're not trying to get pregnant, you hardly notice pregnant women. The moment you start fertility treatments, however, is the signal for the Universe to start a baby boom. Pregnant bellies pop up up (or out) everywhere; you can't walk down the street without tripping over a stroller. Best of all, you get to enjoy other womens' stories about how their husbands got them pregnant the first time out, or in between business trips to China, or most cruelly, "just by accident."

Of course, Addison--having the advantage of being a fictional character--handles it with grace and aplomb. My reaction was/is usually to have a second glass of wine. And then feel guilty about it, because all the advice out there tells you not to drink when you're trying to conceive. In yet another cruel twist of Fate, the time when you most need to drink is precisely the time when you're not supposed to.

Monday, May 07, 2007

WTF is wrong with Grey's Anatomy?

Hubby and I sat down last night to watch the highly previewed two-hour episode of Grey's Anatomy. Yes, through the miracle that is TiVo, we watched Thursday's episode on Sunday. Without commercials. It was bliss. (I'm not trying to advertise for TiVo; I don't even own their stock anymore. It really is the best invention ever, other than maybe penicillin.)

Anyway, Grey's USED to be my favorite guilty pleasure. It had great writing, good characters and interesting plots, although unlike the first few seasons of ER, it did not have George Clooney, my spiritual soulmate.

Unfortunately, Grey's Anatomy is turning into a soap opera. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that it's turning into a really BAD soap opera. Even worse, it's veering dangerously close to the territory once occupied by Ally McBeal, a show I loathed with all my heart. (Alessandra Stanley wrote a great article recently in the New York Times about how Ally McBeal "marked a turning point in the devolution of women's roles in television comedy--the moment when competent-but-flaky hardened into basket case.")

Let's take Sunday's episode--oops, I mean, Thursday's episode--as Exhibit A. When Addison (Kate Walsh) first slinked onto Grey's, she was fabulous. She was calm, sexy, evil. She had whiny Meredith and the other interns quaking in their tennies. She was tough, and in control, and thoroughly confident in her sexuality. I hated her, but in a good way. She was friggin' my role model, because she was everything I'm not.

Thursday's "2-Hour Event" trashed that image for good, even as it tried to set up the premise for a proposed Kate Walsh spin-off that looks like a refugee camp for every former ABC star. (Look! It's Sark from Alias! And Francie! But is it the evil Francie, or the good Francie?)

This episode completed Addison's transformation from cool, fur-clad villainess to whiny, shallow nincompoop. She can't even drive down PCH without getting hair in her eyes. She can't cross a Santa Monica street without getting tangled up in her wildly inappropriate black satin jacket. She babbles at a cute guy in an elevator, and after he leaves, she starts hearing voices.

Were the writers taking mushrooms?

But that's not the worst part. The WORST part is when she announces to her former best friend Naomi (Merrin Dungey, a.k.a. Francie!) that she doesn't have a man, she's going to have a baby. 'Cuz you know, having a baby is just that easy and is a super way to make yourself feel better about having been dumped by by Alex (Justin Chambers, who looks like he can't believe that the writers are making him give the brush-off to the smokin-hot Kate Walsh).

After giving her a lame warning about how much work babies are (Ha! Ha! Ha!), Naomi says she'll take Addison's FSH, estradiol and antral follicle count. While this statement is no doubt Greek to 90% of the viewing audience, it surely made every fertility patient in the U.S. hurl rotten fruit at her TV set. Because everyone knows that you can only do these tests on Cycle Days 1-3. And you're telling me that Addison's timing is that good? Right. Then we get treated to a scene where Addison's poring over a binder of sperm donors like she was picking out curtains for her loft. Which made me hate her again, but not in a good way.

we get a scene (in between scenes back in Seattle, which is confusing as all hell) where Naomi tells Addison that her FSH is high (the fertility kiss of death) and that she has a follicle count of 2. "There is no fertility potential," Naomi says. Wait. This is one of the "best" fertility specialists? Hasn't she heard of books like Inconceivable by Julia Indichova, who managed to get pregnant after five reproductive endocrinologists told her she couldn't? No matter. It's a Plot Twist. (I know, I know, it's just a TV show. But when you're talking about people's health, shouldn't you at least give some nod to the facts?)

But just as bad is that Addison just sits there and accepts this stunning bit of bad news. Game over. For most of us, this is just the beginning. The beginning of spending hours on the Internet, taking your temperature, timing sex, having pins stuck in you, drinking foul-smelling herbs, taking drugs that make you moody and bloated, poking yourself with needles and hormones, and doing ANYTHING you can to get pregnant.

This could have been a great plot line about Addison's journey through infertility. (Although God, do I hate that term "journey." What I've experienced more closely resembles a doomed expedition across the Sahara. And that's despite the fact that I apparently have the FSH level of a woman 10 years younger, and my ovaries respond to stims as though they were Miracle Grow.) Instead, it becomes an excuse for her to whine about how barren and dried up she is, which compels Tim Daly to kiss her.

I went to bed feeling pissed off, and depressed. So depressed that I'll let LTG, one of the writers on TelevisionWithoutPity.com, sum up my feeling about the muddle that Grey's has become (even though she's writing about the ridiculous George-Izzy pairing):

...the constant inappropriate sexual and romantic connections and misconnections and the triangles (and every other polygon you can imagine) are ruining this show. I used to love this show because I'd watch these screwed up people muddle through their lives as best they could and at some point in every episode I'd look at a character and think, "That's me. That's my damage, and that's how I can deal with it or choose not to deal with it." But this constant bed-hopping is not me or anyone I know or anyone I want to know.
This portrayal of infertility is not anything or anyone I know, either. C'mon, Shonda. You can do better than this. In a time when every dumb celebrity is popping out babies like a Pez dispenser, we need you to do better.